BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

If you know me well, you know that for most of my childhood, through my college years, and well into my mid-twenties, I was a vegetarian (a move spurred by a particularly intense day at my hometown's local petting zoo). I reconnected with meat (an awkward phrase, I acknowledge, but it makes sense here), in my late twenties, when I began to get serious about food writing, and wanted to be open to trying everything. Today, while i do love a rare steak, can go to town on a juicy burger, and dream of juicy pork dumplings, my day-to-day tastes still tend toward meat-free. Most nights, our meals are comprised of a few different kinds of cooked vegetables, a hearty salad, and a vegetarian protein sources, like beans, tofu, tempeh or eggs.

This sensibility is not only reflected in my home cooking--it also follows me to fancy restaurants (I'll almost always choose the handmade vegetarian pasta over the steak), hotel buffets (I'll fill my plate with composed salads and grilled vegetables, which are usually pretty healthy, and, most importantly, hard to screw up), and, yes, barbecues, even those where meat is king. 

I cannot tell you how many barbecues I've been to where, even as a meat eater, I have been annoyed on behalf of my vegetarian (or vegan or kosher) friends, about the lack of really good options for those eschewing meat. Potato salad and some chips does not a meal make. Lettuce and tomato with mustard in a bun is not a proper sandwich. Moreover, it is so, so easy to do better than this. 

Here's how i like to barbecue. And yes, sure, you can absolutely add meat to this menu if you really want to. But you definitely won't need it. 

1. Start with 2 or 3 really good composed salads. And go a little unusual. Basic potato salad is always good, but why not try a flavorful roasted sweet potato salad? It's lighter, more complex, and much more interesting.

Tear up some stale bread and toss with juicy tomatoes and salty cheese for a hearty panzanella, or pick out the ripest avocados you can find and make guacamole salad, which combines all the ingredients of really good guac. Serve it with tortilla chips. 


2. This is a barbecue, so you're going to need to fire up that grill! Sure, you can break out the usual store-bought veggie burgers, or, better yet, make your own!


Generally though, I think it's more interesting to use the grill for less-expected items, like pizzas and flatbreads. Cook the stretched dough on the grill on one side until crisp, then flip, add your toppings, and cover until the cheese is melted and the bottom is crisp. 

3. While it's always nice to have wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages available, I like to make a signature cocktail. Margaritas, spiked punch, and sangria are all great, but my current favorite is this refreshing lemon-watermelon cooler, featuring fresh watermelon, mint, and Mike's Hard Lemonade.

Just combine 1 part Mike's Hard Lemonade with 2 parts cubed seedless watermelon, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and ice in a blender and pour into glasses, garnished with a watermelon wedge if you want to get all fancy. Instant refreshment. 

4. And finally, grill your dessert! You already have it fired up, why not use it for dessert? There's nothing better than this uber-easy, quick and impressive grilled strawberry shortcake. Start with storebought cake, assembe the skewers head of time, make fresh whipped cream before your guests arrive and keep it chilled in the fridge. Then when it's dessert time, just toss your cake and strawberry skewers on the grill, and serve with the whipped cream and some fresh mint. 

How do you do backyard barbecues? Let me know in the comments! 

Disclosure: I'm a Mike’s VIP sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. 

I was compensated by Mike's Hard Lemonade for this post, but the opinions and recipe are my own. Please consume alcohol safely and legally.

Disclosure: I'm a Mike’s VIP sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional disclosure.*

Today I'm teaming up with Mike's Hard Lemonade** to bring you a summer grilling pairing I can't seem to get out of my mind:  smoky, sweet grilled corn with jalapeño butter and just a touch of salty, crumbly cheese (I used cotija, but feta or even Parmesan would work just fine)

and refreshing hard lemonade.

(photo via

The spicy, juicy corn, coated in spicy, salty butter is a perfect side dish to a grilled spread (though, honestly, I've had it with a giant salad for dinner on more than one occasion), and the cold, bright lemonade serves as the ultimate complement. I topped the corn with a shower of fresh cilantro (as I do just about everything), but if you are averse, you could definitely use parsley or even thinly snipped chives. 

Mike's Hard Lemonade is one of the sponsors of the Boot Campaign, which supports men and women who serve in the United States Military. If anyone deserves a cold, refreshing lemonade, it's these brave people, and therefore, I dedicate this pairing to each and every one of them.

For more information about Mike's partnership with the Boot Campaign, check out this video


 *I was compensated by Mike's Hard Lemonade for this post, but the opinions and recipe are my own. 

**Please consume alcohol safely and legally.


  • 4 ears corn, shucked, cleaned and halved $2
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter $1 for a stick
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced finely $0.50
  • pinch salt Pantry
  • few sprigs cilantro, chopped $1 for a bunch
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lime $0.50
  • 2 tbsp crumbled cotija, feta, or grated Parmesan cheese $3 for 4 oz.


  1. Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. Grill corn pieces for 2 minutes on each side, or until light charring develops.
  2. While corn grills, melt butter in a small sauce pan. Add jalapeño, salt, lime, cilantro, lime juice and zest and remove from heat.
  3. Drizzle butter mixture over grilled corn pieces. Garnish with cotija or feta.

Rainbow Fruit Salad

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $13.00

I woke up this morning to the beautiful news that the Supreme Court of the United States had officially declared marriage is indeed a right for all.

All day long I have been weeping tears of gladness, my heart bursting with joy that my future children will be born in a land that legally recognizes all love as being equal.

That they will have the right to marry whomever they choose, no matter which state they live in.

That they will look at me with confusion and probably horror when I tell them that, not so long ago, marriage wasn't legal for everyone. 

And that my wedding will take place in a country that recognizes all marriage as being legal and meaningful.

I've been meaning to tell you: a couple of weeks ago, Evan and I got engaged. 

We had been talking about it for a long time. We were both ready--respectively, and as a couple.

I have never loved another person as much as I love Evan, nor have I ever been this sure about anything. I've never been someone who yearned for marriage in general, but I know with all my heart that I want to marry him. And I'm going to.

Every person deserves to have that option. 

To celebrate this joyous day (which also happens to be the start of Pride weekend in San Francisco!), I made fruit salad. 

Early summer produce is looking especially ripe and juicy these days.

It made the most beautiful rainbow.

The beauty of fruit is that there are so many options to get this symbolic color combination. Raspberries could replace the strawberries, orange slices could be swapped in for the apricots, yellow peaches could stand in for the bananas, kiwis could take over for the mint, and blackberries or boysenberries could fill in the bottom of the rainbow.

These fruits could also be baked into a tart, perhaps a goat cheese one, or served as part of a cheese platter.

However you make your rainbow, I hope it brings you a taste of the love and sweetness I am feeling. Today is a truly joyous day. 

Happy Pride!


  • 8 strawberries, ends removed, sliced $3.50 for a pint
  • 5 apricots, pitted, sliced $0.50
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced $1
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves $0.50
  • 20-25 blueberries $4 for a pint
  • 1 sliced Black Mission fig $3.50 for a pint

Recipe Serves 3-4


  1. Arrange fruits in a rainbow shape on one large platter or on 4 individual platters in this order: strawberries, apricots, bananas, mint, blueberries, fig. 
  2. Serve on its own, or add a drizzle of honey, whipped cream, yogurt, or vanilla ice cream.

Green Chile Burgers

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 8 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $8

One of the coolest things about being a blogger is that companies send you all kinds of cool stuff. I have a strict policy that I won't write about something unless I think it's really, actually cool (I don't want to suggest you try something unless I genuinely like it), so I find myself saying "no, thanks," a lot. Meal replacement bars? Sorry, I don't write about that here. Prepared salad dressing? Pretty sure I have belligerantly railed against such preservative-filled grossness in the past. No thank you. Microwaveable frozen dishes? This is a recipe blog and I feel confident that nobody wants to read about how I used a fork to poke holes in plastic wrap and waited 4 1/2 minutes to eat some re-heated frozen lasagna.

But every now and then a company reaches out and I am reminded of how awesome this aspect of blogging is. One such email was from none other than the Tourism Department of the City of Santa Fe. They were wondering if I might like some free green Hatch chilies to cook with?

Why yes. Yes, I would

I actually first fell in love with green Hatch chilies in 2012, when Evan and I spent a romantic week in New Mexico. They're medium-spicy with just hint of sweetness, and they get roasted to bring out a lovely smoky flavor. They can be found in every New Mexican restaurant, especially in omnipresent green chile stew. 

Also popular in New Mexico is the green chile burger, often topped with cheese. There are several variations of it, some including bacon, pickled jalapeños, and caramelized onions. I'm a big fan, so I decided to make my own version

Instead of topping the burger with green chiles, I found that infusing the meat with chopped Hatch chilies, a healthy dose of garlic, and a little red onion was the best way to get intense flavor throughout the burger (and it also means that you don't have to worry about toppings slipping off or squishing out and overloading the bun). 

If, of course, you can't get Hatch chiies where you live, any other roasted green medium-heat pepper will work just fine. You can even make this with canned roasted jalapeños. Lucky me though, I had the real thing.

I kept my meat mix simple, so as to really focus on the chile flavor. Just a little garlic, onions, salt and pepper got added to the ground beef.

I like my burger patties on the round, thick end of the spectrum for maximum juiciness, rather than flat and thin. Go with whatever you like.

This was our first grill night of the season. The smells and sounds were unbelievable

After about 4 minutes, I gave them a flip.

And served them topped with some homemade guacamole, alongside some oven sweet potato fries and kale salad with a perky apple cider vinaigrette.

Hello there, grill season. I am so, so ready for you.  


  • 3 large roasted green chiles (preferably Hatch), chopped (1/2 cup, with seeds) $3
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion (about 1/8 medium onion) $0.50 for a whole onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped Pantry
  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 or 85/15) $4.50
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper Pantry
  • fresh guacamole Optional

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Form into 1/4 pound patties (I prefer them round and thick as opposed to flat and thin).
  3. Lightly grease a grill or cast iron pan and heat to medium-high.
  4. Grill for 4-5 minutes per side until slightly charred on the outside and cooked mostly through.
  5. Serve topped with the guacamole if using, either plain or on a toasted bun.

Watermelon Salad Pizza

  • Prep Time 20 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9.50

Watermelon feta salad is a favorite of mine. It may see weird to the uninitiated to combine creamy, salty feta cheese with juicy, sweet melon, but the stark contrast of the flavors works phenomenally well together. Just as watermelon is balanced gorgeously when served with savory grilled steak, the tang of the crumbled feta, plus some bright lemon juice for good measure and a good glug-glug of fruity extra virgin olive oil turns this classic summer snack into a positively savory salad. 

Even better, it's pretty fun to eat. 

It all starts with a seedless watermelon. You really only need half of one for this recipe, but I usually buy them whole anyway, since they're such a tasty, healthy snack to have on hand. Look for a spherical melon with a dark green rind (and make sure it's seedless--seeds are no fun to deal with in this preparation). 

This is a salad for 4 people, and each person gets his or her own "pizza," so slice the melon into 4 rounds (or more, obviously--this recipe is very easy to scale up or down).

Next, we turn our watermeolon rounds into "pizzas." This happens magically, by slicing each one into 6 triangular slices and placing it on a plate. See? It's basically a pizza.

Then a light layer of thinly sliced red onions gets scattered over each slice. Feel free to go extra-light on the onions if you're not a fan.

Then do the same with that creamy, crumbled feta cheese. Remember to get every slice so each bite has a little of everything.

Next, some mint leaves, for freshness.


And finally a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, some black pepper, and a tiny touch of salt. 

It's pizza time.

 OK, fine, It's watermelon salad pizza time.

Still pretty damn good. 


  • 1/2 medium seedless watermelon (7-8 inches in diameter, end removed) sliced into 4 1 1/2-thick rounds $3.50
  • 1/6 medium red onion, thinly sliced $0.50 for a whole onion
  • 4 ounces creamy Greek, French, or Bulgarian feta cheese, crumbled $4
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves $1 for a bunch
  • juice of 1/2 lemon $0.50 for a whole lemon
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Pantry
  • freshly ground black pepper Pantry
  • salt Pantry

Recipe Serves 4


  1. Cut each watermelon round into 6 triangular slices, as if cutting a pizza.
  2. Arrange the slices in a circle on 4 dinner plates, so it looks like you have 4 pink pizzas.
  3. Top each "pizza" with the red onions, making sure to get some on each slice.
  4. Scatter the feta over each pizza, making sure it is is distributed evenly to each slice.
  5. Do the same with the mint, scatteing it over the slices, making sure there is at least one leaf on each slice.
  6. Drizzle the "pizzas" with the lemon juice and the olive oil.
  7. Top with cracked black pepper and the tiniest sprinkle of salt (the feta is quite salty, so it only needs the tiniest touch of salt).
  8. Serve immediately.