Tag Archives: grilling

Beef Fajita Tacos cooked with Pompeian Varietals Olive Oil

Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comTracking Pixel

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian.

A few years back I took an olive oil appreciation class at a food conference in San Francisco. I sampled olive oils in a process very similar to sipping fine wine or whiskey. I learned that all extra virgin olive oils weren’t the same. Some are good for grilling meats, while other olive oils are good for using on vegetables and lighter dishes like fish. Still other olive oils are best used to finish dishes like soups and salads. It all depends on the variety of olive, where they are grown, what time of year they are picked, and how they are processed.

It was such an interesting class that I took the opportunity to buy a bottle of very expensive olive oil directly from the grower – a summer harvested variety grown in Northern California. It was an indulgent souvenir of the trip that I justified by telling myself that it would last longer than a bottle of wine. Still it’s not something I’d do again as it's way too pricey, so it’s lovely to see that Pompeian is now bringing quality olive oil to my local grocery store at prices that everyone can afford with their new Pompeian Varietals Collection. (It’s not just extra virgin olive oil, but vinegars and cooking wines, too!)

Pompeian Varietals Collection reviewed at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Making Beef Fajita Tacos

I was sent a bottle the Picholine Olive Oil to grill with, which was perfect because we’re big meat eaters. Since I had a couple of steaks in the freezer (I buy the manager specials from the grocery store and stock up) I decided to cut them up into strips and make them into beef fajita tacos.

The green fruitiness, hints of herbs, and slight bitterness of the Picholine Olive Oil perfectly brought out the beef and seasoning flavors. I didn’t notice an oily taste either since some olive oils can be overpowering and quite noticeable.

Making Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Beef Fajita Tacos at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Beef Fajita Tacos


  • 1 pound lean beef steak, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Pompeian Varietals Picholine Olive Oil
  • Your favorite taco fixings
  • 12 small corn tortillas


  1. Place steak strips, seasonings, and olive oil in a bowl. Combine until meat is thoroughly covered. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Grill steak strips on griddle pan or large skillet on high heat until cooked through.
  3. Serve with pepper stir fry, avocados, salsa, queso fresca, shredded cheese, hot sauce, cilantro, etc. on corn tortillas.
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: 12 tacos (feeds 4)
  • Serving size: 3 tacos per person
Pompeian Varietals Reviewed at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Pompeian Varietals Collection

What I like about the Pompeian Varietals Collection of olive oils is that they leave the guess work out of choosing what olive oil is best for the recipe you'll be making. TV chefs like Mario Batali and Rachael Ray have educated us that extra virgin olive oil is the way to go when it comes to cooking. But do we want to go with a full, mild or medium bodied oil? With the Pompeian Varietals Collection, it’s right on the label!

  • Arbequina – a mild-bodied extra virgin olive oil  is for fish and vegetables.
  • Picholine – a medium-bodied extra virgin olive oil is for meats and sauces.
  • Koroneiki – a full-bodied extra virgin olive oil is for soups and salads.

What’s really fun is that you can learn the history behind each bottle of olive oil starting at the mill, country and harvest date, and ending at your kitchen table. By visiting the Pompeian Varietals website, you can track the lot number located on the back of your Varietals bottle to discover where it’s traveled and its unique harvesting process and origin.

What Pompeian Varietals Olive Oil would you try out first?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian.

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pompeian Olive Oil.

I’m a big fan of grapeseed oil. It has a light, clean taste, which means it’s a great oil to use in baking. Due to grapeseed oil’s high fluidity, it reduces excess oil from absorbing into food. This means a few less calories! In addition, it’s a good source of Vitamin E and antioxidants.

Grapeseed oil is perfect for all sorts of cooking from stir frying to sautéing. And due to it’s high smoke point, it’s a wonderful oil for deep frying and grilling.  Since July is National Grilling Month, Pompeian, a leader in olive oils, is sharing simple tips and recipes to help you get a taste of the Mediterranean without leaving your backyard. For example, why not use Pompeian Grapeseed Oil instead of butter when sautéing fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market? Or try making your own marinades or salad dressings using Pompeian oils and fresh herbs from the garden? Healthier and way cheaper, too!

Speaking of price, it used to be that you could only find grapeseed oil at gourmet and health food stores – très expensive for even the smallest of bottles! So I was pleasantly surprised to find Pompeian Grapeseed Oil for only $5.75 for a 24 ounce bottle at my local grocery store. It’s even cheaper if you print a dollar off coupon on the Pompeian website. That’s why Pompeian Grapeseed Oil is now my official go to grapeseed oil brand.Pompeian Grapeseed Oil at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

While you’re at the store, check out Pompeian OlivExtra Mediterranean Blend. The oil blend is a healthy combination of canola, extra virgin and grapeseed oil, which represent key components of the Mediterranean diet. The higher smoke point and unique flavor combination of this oil blend make it ideal for everything from salads to grilling marinades.

Pompeian Olive Oil is partnering with Hungry Girl to create easy-to-follow, healthy grilling recipes that are inspired by the Mediterranean diet. Lisa Lillien, also known as Hungry Girl, has created three delicious grilling recipes using the Pompeian family of products for all of your summer cookout occasions, including: Hungry Grilled Romaine Salad, Spicy Mustard Chicken Kebabs, and this one for Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers.

This shrimp dish would make a great party appetizer, too!

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Jalapeno Peach Shrimp Skewers


  • 12 ounces (about 20) raw large shrimp, peeled, tails removed, deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (not packed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped seeded jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cups canned peach slices packed in juice, drained and blotted dry
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Pompeian Grapeseed Oil


  1. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes to prevent burning. (You'll need four.)
  2. To make the sauce, place 1/2 cup drained peach slices in a small food processor or blender. Add all ingredients except shrimp and remaining peach slices. Puree until smooth. Transfer half of the sauce to a small bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve (for dipping).
  3. Bring grill to medium high heat.
  4. Evenly thread shrimp and remaining peach slices onto 4 skewers. Brush both sides with some of the remaining sauce. Grill until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, brushing with remaining sauce as they cook.
  5. Serve with the refrigerated sauce for dipping!
Prep Time: 45 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes
Servings: Makes 4 servings
  • Serving size: 1 skewer

Independence Day grilling recipes

Fourth of July vintage postcard

Happy Fourth of July! If you’re looking for some last minute grilling recipes, check these out:

Marinated Vegetables with Tofu cooked three ways

Grilled Marinated Vegetables with Tofu #hollandhousecw

My husband likes to go mushroom hunting in the forest behind our home. A couple of weeks ago he came home with a Berkeley's Polypore. If you find a young one (the older ones are too tough) you can eat them as long as marinate them overnight. I used a vegetable marinade recipe from The Wild Vegan Cookbook: A Forager's Culinary Guide (in the Field or in the Supermarket) to Preparing and Savoring Wild (and Not So Wild) Natural Foods, which I found on the author’s website.

Since the mushrooms reminded me of cooked marinated tofu, I thought I’d try doing something similar with store bought vegetable and tofu, and would improve the marinade using Holland House’s new Champagne Vinegar and a few additional ingredients like soybean paste and lemon grass.

To sauté: place in a hot skillet and cook until done, stirring occasionally. To roast: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place vegetables and tofu in a large roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Stir vegetables and cook for another 15-20 minutes until done. Combine ginger, lemon grass, oil, wine, Worcestershire sauces, Holland House vinegar, soybean paste and sorghum in a large, non-reactive glass or plastic bowl.

I tried cooking the vegetables three different ways – sautéing on the stove top, roasting in the oven, and grilling in a grill basket. Grilling gave the vegetables a smoky, grilled flavor and the tofu tasted like hamburgers done on the grill. This would be a perfect party recipe for your vegan or vegetarian guests! However, I preferred roasting them in the oven, since that method brought out the flavors of the vegetables and the marinade. Sautéing had a similar effect, but required a bit more effort.

You can serve the vegetables hot as a side dish or cold as a roasted or grilled vegetable salad.

If you cannot find soybean paste, you can use 1 tablespoon of soy or tamari sauce instead. Instead of sorghum, you can use honey or agave nectar.

Grilled Marinated Vegetables with Tofu #hollandhousecw

Marinated Vegetables with Tofu

Based on a recipe from The Wild Vegan Cookbook


  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh lemon grass
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Holland House Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soybean paste
  • 1 tablespoon sorghum
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2” thick cubes
  • 1 pound fresh vegetables (peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.) cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water (optional)


  1. Combine ginger, lemon grass, oil, wine, Worcestershire sauces, Holland House vinegar, soybean paste and sorghum in a large, non-reactive glass or plastic bowl. Stir with a whisk until sorghum has combined with other ingredients.
  2. Cut up tofu and place into bowl.
  3. Cut up vegetables and place into bowl.
  4. Put the cloves and black peppercorns in a stainless steel mesh tea and cooking infuser, a hop bag , or tie into a piece of cheesecloth. Place into center of marinating vegetables.
  5. If needed, add water to bowl so marinade covers vegetables and tofu.
  6. Cover and marinate overnight, stirring once or twice if possible.
  7. Drain in a colander and cook as follows.

To grill:

  1. Place vegetables and tofu and grill over a low flame until done.

To roast:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place vegetables and tofu in a large roasting pan and cook for 20 minutes. Stir vegetables and cook for another 15-20 minutes until done.

To sauté:

  1. Place in a hot skillet and cook until done, stirring occasionally.
Prep Time: 12 Hours
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1 to 2 cups

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comWhile I love how easy it is to use premade World Harbors marinades for Smoked Beer Can Chicken, there’s something to be said for making your own marinade. First, you can control what goes into it, so if you have a food sensitivity you don’t need to worry about anything making you ill. Second, making your own marinade is very inexpensive, especially if you have most of the ingredients on hand.

Apple Ginger Marinade uses several items I always have in my pantry like NAKANO rice vinegar, soy sauce (gluten free tamari sauce, actually) and olive oil. The only ingredients I had to go to the grocery store for were for the fresh ginger and apple juice concentrate – and it was worth the effort. This is the best marinade I’ve ever made and the chicken was delicious and moist! I bet it would work for grilled or roast chicken as well as pork or fish.

I served it for guests along with Wine & Rosemary Couscous and Roasted Marinated Vegetables.

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Apple Ginger Marinade for Smoked Beer Can Chicken

Based on this recipe from Mizkan


  • 1/2 cup NAKANO Seasoned Rice Vinegar - Roasted Garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate
  • 3 tablespoon gluten free tamari sauce
  • 3 tablespoons natural ketchup with no high fructose corn syrup
  • 1 piece (1x1-1/2 inches) fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (grate the zest and juice the lemon)
  • 1 (2-3 pound) chicken


  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Marinate chicken covered in refrigerator at least two hours and up to 24 hours. (I like marinating chicken in a Ziploc bag overnight.)
  3. Remove chicken from marinade and discard. You can boil marinade for several minutes, to use it as a basting sauce.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 Hours
Total Time: 2 Hours
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person

Save money with NAKANO

You can download a coupon for 50 cents off your next purchase of NAKANO rice vinegar here. Also, for more recipes using NAKANO rice vinegars, sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is NAKANO’s parent company.)

You can connect with NAKANO online on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of NAKANO, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Brined Chicken Quarters from “Dadgum, That’s Good, Too!”

Brined-Chicken-QuartersI love using my Masterbuilt Electric Smoker, which is why I’m always on the lookout for smoking and grilling cookbooks like John McLemore latest book, “DADGUM That’s Good, Too!” John’s mission is to make it fun to cook up traditional Southern recipes like brisket, baby back ribs, Boston butt and more using Masterbuilt smokers, grills and indoor fryers. But his cookbook isn’t all about meat. He shares recipes for Southern classics like blackberry cobbler, shrimp and grits and gumbo, too.

John’s recipes are simple, straightforward and perfect for those new to smoking, grilling and frying. With the holidays here before you know it, this would be a great cookbook to help walk you through making turkey. “DADGUM That’s Good, Too!” contains recipes for Brined Whole Turkey, Dadgum Good Smoked Turkey, Garlic and Herb Deep-Fried Turkey, and Smokin’ Fried Turkey. Whatever way you prepare it, the turkey will be dadgum good, I guarantee! However, if you’re nervous about cooking a big turkey, practice on chicken first with this recipe for Brined Chicken Quarters.

This recipe benefits from two processes for the ultimate taste and texture. First, brining the chicken hydrates the meat and ensures a juicy result. Second, the smoking process infuses smoky flavor into the meat. Combining the seasonings and moisture from the brine with the low-and-slow smoking process makes for a perfect piece of chicken. Brushing the chicken quarters with olive oil helps the skin turn a nice golden brown, too.

Brined Chicken Quarters

Serves 8


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 gallons ice water
  • 4 chicken quarters
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Suggested wood: Apple


  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine 2 cups water, molasses and salt. Bring to a boil until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger and garlic powder. Set aside and let cool.
  2. When mixture is cooled, stir in 2 gallons ice water, mixing well. Place each chicken quarter in a brining bag or oversized plastic bag. Pour brining mixture over each chicken quarter and place in a bowl. Refrigerate, turning once, for 6 to 8 hours. A plastic bucket that is deep enough to have the meat completely covered will also work.
  3. Preheat smoker to 225°F.
  4. Remove chicken from brine after at least 6 hours, and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining salt. Pat dry and brush with olive oil. Place on middle rack of smoker and smoke for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove meat from smoker and enjoy!

Pictures and recipe courtesy of John McLemore and Masterbuilt.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website. I received a complimentary review book to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Suzy Sirloin’s Rub for Berkshire Pork

suzy-sirloin-logoWhen I attended the BlogHer 12 conference in New York earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sample some of Suzy Sirloin’s sliders at the Mom Central “First Drink’s On Us” party. While I was noshing away, I got to meet Suzy herself, aka Suzanne Strassburger.

Suzy is a fifth generation member of the Strassburger meat family. Strassburger Meats is a high end meat company specializing in Berkshire Pork and Prime and aged beef. Suzy has taken that generational experience and knowledge one step further by creating a new brand: Suzy Sirloin. Not only are her sliders delicious, but her beef, lamb, veal, turkey and pork contain no hormones, no antibiotics, no artificial ingredients and they’re minimally processed. You can order her products online here.

While Suzy and I were talking, she handed me a few recipe cards. I wanted to share her Rub for Berkshire Pork with you if you’re smoking or grilling pork tenderloin (hopefully Suzy Sirloin Berkshire Pork!) over the Labor Day weekend. Also, a small glass container filled with this pork rub mixture would make a terrific homemade holiday gift for the griller on your list.

Rub for the Berkshire Pork

Recipe courtesy of Suzy Sirloin


  • 1/2 teaspoon porcini salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon lavender


  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Work into the surface of the pork meat.
  3. Store leftover rub in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Healthing up your Labor Day burgers and fries with Everyday Health’s Recipe Rehab


This week, Chefs Laura Vitale and Jet Tila remake the Stellar family’s favorite burgers and fries. I hope this inspires you to health up your Labor Day grilling party plans. I loved how Chef Jet added seasonings and flavor to his turkey patties and baked the patties in the oven. And adding feta? Wow!

I wasn’t as thrilled that Chef Laura was frying her lean sirloin burgers in a pan. And her food seemed to lack seasoning – just salt and pepper on both the fries and the burger. So it was no surprise that…well, I’m not going to tell you who won. Instead, you can watch Chef Laura and Chef Jet battle it out below. Or watch them individually rehab their burgers and fries – Chef Laura here and Chef Jet here – and decide for yourself.

Picture and video courtesy of Everyday Health.

Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs

Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comEven though school has started for many of us, that doesn’t mean that grilling season is over – especially with Labor Day just around the corner! That’s why you should check out Cooking Light Way To Cook: Grilling.

This  cookbook features more than 400 full-color how-to images illustrating a variety of healthy grilling techniques and over 125 recipes. I’m sure you’ll find some that are perfect for parties, weekend or even school night grilling.

Start the grilling over direct heat to get good grill marks and charred bits, and then move to indirect heat to gently finish the cooking. Serve with lime wedges.

Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Tequila-Glazed Grilled Chicken Thighs

From Cooking Light Way To Cook: Grilling


  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds), skinned
  • 3⁄4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1⁄3 cup tequila
  • 1⁄4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat using the burners on both sides of your grill. After preheating, turn the left burners off and leave the right burners on.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub evenly over chicken.
  3. Combine pineapple juice, tequila, and honey in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 3⁄4 cup (about 10 minutes). Combine cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl, and stir well. Add cornstarch mixture to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and stir in lime rind, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and red pepper.
  4. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray over right burners (direct heat). Cover and grill 5 minutes on each side, basting occasionally with juice mixture. Move chicken to grill rack over left burners (indirect heat). Cover and grill an additional 5 minutes on each side or until done, basting occasionally.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes
Servings: Serves 6
  • Serving size: 1 thigh
  • Calories: 241
  • Calories from Fat: 7.6g
  • Saturated fat: 2.1g
  • Sodium: 374mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 17.2g
  • Fiber: 0.4g
  • Protein: 18g
  • Cholesterol: 64mg

Recipe and picture used with permission.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub

Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

You’ve heard of beer can chicken, right? You know, the recipe when you shove a can of beer up a chicken’s backside and grill it? Well, if you have a smoker, a few tools and World Harbors premade marinades, it’s even easier.

First, you need a smoker. I use a Masterbuilt Digital Electric Smoker. (You can read my smoker review here.) While you can simply use a beer can and perch your chicken on top, it’s so much easier to do some with a rack. I have two - Steven Raichlen Stainless-Steel Beer-Can Chicken Rack with Drip Pan and a KitchenAid BBQ Vertical Chicken Roaster. Both will hold the beer can in place so you don’t have to worry about the chicken getting knocked over.

Here’s what the chicken looks like on the racks (the two in the back). The one in the front is placed on top of the beer can, sans rack, and was propped up by one of the other chickens in our smoker.

Preparing Beer Can Chicken at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comThe method I use is based on a recipe from the Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook. I have a lot of barbecue cookbooks, but this one’s my favorite especially since it was recommended by an English friend who learned how to smoke meat when he went to school in Austin.

Tip: Save the chicken carcass and skin to make stock. There’s nothing better than smoky chicken stock in soups and turkey stuffing!

Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Smoked Beer Can Chicken with Dry Rub


  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup dry rub of your choice
  • 1 can beer
  • 3 cups World Harbors marinade


  1. Remove the giblets and rinse the chicken cavity.
  2. Season the chicken inside and out with the rub. Press the rub on to the skin, too. Allow to sit for at least an hour on the counter top.
  3. Open the beer and empty half of it into the smoker’s drip pan.
  4. Refill the can with your favorite World Harbors marinade. I like Italian Grill, but Maine's Own Lemon Pepper & Garlic is also a good choice.
  5. Shove the can into the chicken cavity, and place on your beer can roaster if you’re using one.
  6. Set up your smoker for indirect heat. Use wood chips, chunks or logs to set up a good level of smoke. (Electric smokers use pellets. I chose Jack Daniels Wood Pellets, but you can use hickory, apple, mesquite or other woods that go well with chicken.)
  7. Maintain a smoker temperature of between 225 and 275 degrees F. (I set my smoker for 250 degrees.)
  8. Set the chicken on the grill on the beer can base, and cook for three hours. If you don’t use a dripping pan full of beer and water to “steam” the chicken, baste with more World Harbors marinade every hour.
  9. When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about three to four hours), test for doneness by inserting a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, the chicken is done to medium. Note: the FDA recommends cooking to 185 degrees F. Many people find this overcooks and dries out the chicken, so use your best judgment.
  10. Remove the chicken and let sit for 20 minutes to let the juices “set.” Slice and serve.
Prep Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 3 Hours
Total Time: 4 Hours 10 Minutes
Servings: Serves 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1/2 pound per person

Save money and win with World Harbors

World Harbors is offering a $1 off coupon on Facebook. You can also enter World Harbors Golden Label Sweeps to win a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for Mizkan’s Splash for Cash e-newsletter for a chance to win up to $600. (Mizkan is World Harbors parent company.) Even if you don’t win, you’ll receive a terrific e-newsletter filled with with recipes and tips.

Disclosure: Mizkan, the parent company of World Harbors, provided compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

Mini Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese

Mini Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.comAre you getting tired of grilling the same old burgers, brats and franks? How about trying healthy lamb burger “sliders” with a little bit of blue cheese? This recipe comes from Cooking Light Way to Cook Grilling: The Complete Visual Guide to Healthy Grilling a terrific how to cookbook that includes techniques on the basics of grilling, setup and food prep.

You’ll learn how to smoke, marinate, brine and more while mastering the art of grilling steaks, burgers, chicken, fish, veggies and even fruit. The cookbook contains over 125 recipes accompanied by full-color how-to photos – perfect for the grilling newbie or just someone who wants to learn how to grill something besides steak!

This mini burgers would make be great to serve at your next party, too!

This Mama’s tips

Mini Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese at This Mama Cooks! On a Diet - thismamacooks.com

Mini Lamb Burgers with Blue Cheese


  • 1 1⁄4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 2⁄3 cups thinly sliced onion (about 1 large)
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3⁄8 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 13 ounces lean ground lamb
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 (1.3-ounce) mini sandwich buns, toasted
  • 1 cup arugula leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese


  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sugar to pan; cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1⁄8 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat; cook 8 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
  2. Preheat grill to high heat.
  3. Combine remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and lamb in a large bowl. Divide lamb mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into a 1⁄2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 3 minutes on each side.
  4. Place arugula evenly on bottom halves of buns; top with 1 patty, 11⁄2 tablespoons caramelized onion, and about 3⁄4 teaspoon blue cheese. Cover with top halves of buns.
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes
Servings: 8 servings
  • Serving size: 1 slider
  • Calories: 226
  • Calories from Fat: 10.4g
  • Total Fat: 4.8g
  • Saturated fat: 3.8g
  • Unsaturated fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 347mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 21.2g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Protein: 11.8g
  • Cholesterol: 33mg

Recipe and picture courtesy of Cooking Light and used with permission.

Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.

What to serve at the ultimate backyard poolside party!


There’s nothing more fun than a backyard pool party during the summer. While it’s tempting to provide the usual canned drinks and dogs and burgers on the grill, why not make the effort to make your party even more fun and memorable?

You want to keep food light, portable, and full of seasonal flavor. Here is a roundup of ideas for healthy appetizers, main courses from the grill and smoker, fun desserts and cool drinks!

Poolside salads

Salads take advantage of summer time fruits and vegetables and can be super portable if you serve them in beverage cups or small bowls.

Food on a stick

Nothing more portable than food on a stick, where it’s an appetizer, main course or dessert.


Grilling and smoking

If it’s a backyard party, you have to get the grill or the smoker going, right?


Chilly desserts on sticks – what more could you want?


Cool down with these party favorites.

What kind of food do you like to serve at backyard poolside bashes?

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Summer grilling: Chicken Mango Skewers with Lime Poppy Seed Drizzle

Chicken Mango SkewersI love this time of the year when you can use your grill to prepare a delicious and healthy meal with a minimum of fuss or planning. One way to do that is by grilling with healthy oils such as olive oil. Did you know that consuming just two tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease? Olive oil has been shown to positively affect blood flow, reduce inflammation. and lower oxidative stress, all of which lead to a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

That’s why I’ll be sharing a few recipes from International Olive Council this week. You can find these better-for-you recipes and many more, as well as a full report on the health benefits of olives and olive oil, at addsomelife.org.

This recipe has you make the skewers under the broiler, but why not use your grill instead?

Chicken Mango Skewers with Lime Poppy Seed Drizzle

Makes 6 appetizers

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes, plus marinade time


  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 3 tablespoons soy or teriyaki sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves or 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 18 chunks
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • 2 (12 to 14-inch) wooden or metal skewers
  • 12 (1 to 1 1/2-inch) chunks fresh or bottled mango, room temperature
  • 1/4 medium red bell pepper, cut into 6 pieces (optional)
  • 6 (8 to 10- inch) appetizer skewers


  1. Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons honey, soy sauce, cayenne and garlic in medium bowl or large plastic food storage bag; mix well and set aside. Cut chicken into 18 pieces; add to olive oil mixture; mix to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, stirring or turning once or twice.
  2. Combine lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon honey, poppy seeds, dry mustard and lime peel in food processor or mini chopper; pulse to blend. With machine running, add remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in steady stream. Blend until smooth. Pour into serving bowl or pitcher; cover and refrigerate until using.
  3. Remove chicken and poppy seed drizzle from refrigerator; set aside. Heat broiler to high with rack 4 to 6 inches from heat. Lightly oil 2 metal skewers and a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan. Meanwhile, thread chicken pieces on metal skewers, leaving 1/2 inch between pieces. Place skewers on oiled pan; broil 10 to 15 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked, turning once. Cool slightly; remove from skewers. Whisk poppy seed drizzle if needed. Thread chicken, mango and pepper chunks evenly on appetizer skewers. Serve with poppy seed drizzle.

Tip: To oil metal skewers, insert clean skewer into olive oil bottle; remove and rub oil over length of skewer. If desired, sturdy herb stems (such as rosemary) can be used in place of skewers.

You can also make this on a backyard grill.

Picture and recipe courtesy of the International Olive Council and used with permission.

Memorial Day grilling: Swordfish with Orange Fennel Salad #glutenfree

Swordfish with Orange Fennel SaladHere’ a fish dish for Memorial Day that features San-J’s Orange Sauce. I love the idea of serving warm fish on a bed of orange and fennel salad, don’t you?

Swordfish with Orange Fennel Salad

By Carol Kicinski of Simply Gluten Free 

Makes 4 servings


  • 4 – 6 ounce swordfish fillets
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons San-J Orange Sauce, divided
  • 2 large oranges, peeled
  • 1 large fennel
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place the swordfish fillets in a large plastic storage bag. Add 1/4 cup San-J Orange Sauce and gently shake to coat the fillets with sauce.
  2. Marinate in the refrigerator fro 30 minutes. Heat grill to medium high heat (450°F).
  3. Cut the oranges into segments over a plate or bowl to catch the juice.
  4. Measure 1 tablespoon of orange juice and combine with 2 tablespoons San-J Orange Sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Add the sliced fennel and toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
  5. Remove swordfish from marinade and discard marinade. Brush grates of the grill with some oil. Grill for 8 minutes with the lid closed, turning once.
  6. Place the orange and fennel salad on plates and top with the swordfish fillets and serve.

Recipe and photo used with permission. © 2012 San-J International. All rights reserved.