BrokeAss Gourmet

BrokeAss Gourmet

I grocery shop more often than the average American. Firstly, because I am a professional food writer and recipe developer, and therefore require more groceries for the work I do. But also because I like to shop in small increments, buying only what I need for a few days at a time, which means everything (well, almost everything) in my refrigerate is fresh (and nothing gets wasted--I really hate waste).

So, every few days, I create an email to myself or open up the "Notes" app on my iPhone, and start to create a grocery list with ingredients for the meals I plan to cook in the next few days. It's generally a decent system (unless I accidentally delete the email or Note, which, clumsy phone user that I am, has been known to happen), but it's not perfect. 

But recently, I learned about a brand new cooking app called Hoorray! It's billed as a "social network for food enthusiasts," and it is. Users can share recipes, find recipes and save (like Pinterest, you can create collections of things to cook), and interact with their favorite food content creators (like Serious Eats). But as far as i'm concerned, the coolest thing about Hoorray is that it's a completely brilliant grocery list generator. 

This is what it looks like when you open it up. Like Facebook or Twitter, you have a feed based on whom you follow (so to speak).

Click on a recipe, and you're brought to easy-to-follow, scrollable content. See, for example, my recipe for Marinated Goat Cheese

So you scroll through your feed, checking out the recipes you'd like to cook. But rather than having to type out the ingredients your need (or go find a freaking piece of paper and a pen), you simply ask the app to send the ingredients to your grocery list, which gets handily created for you, with easy-to-use checkboxes for your grocery trip.

I'll be uploading recipes to Hoorray regularly in the coming weeks, and would love to see you on there. You can find me here:


To celebrate this exciting launch, the good people at Hoorray are giving me a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card to give out to one lucky BrokeAss Gourmet reader! To be eligible for this awesome giveaway, download Hoorray, create a profile, and comment on this post with your Hoorray handle. The winner will be chosen at random.

Hoorray is available for iOS and Android. Come cook with me!  

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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.

"How on earth did you finagle hanging out with Rick Bayless?!" my mother texted me last Thursday evening, after seeing a slew of photos in my Instagram feed of the world-famous chef out and about with a group of Bay Area food bloggers and myself. 

"I'm not really sure!!" I texted back, giddy. In truth, I was invited by Negra Modelo to join a blogger tour of the Mission District in San Francisco with Bayless, culminating in a party/cooking demo wherein he would talk about Negra Modelo and working with Latin American ingredients, but in a looser sense, I really wasn't sure how it all happened. How did I get so lucky as to get to do this kind of thing---for a living, no less? 

(I should probably also say here that I am a total dork when it comes to meeting celebrity chefs. Introduce me to a famous actor and I am totally cool. But put me in aroom with a Michael Chiarello or Alex Guarnaschelli and I will flush like a tween meeting One Direction for the first time. So needless to say, meeting Bayless in person made me a little bit nervous, and a whole lot excited. 

Fortunately, Bayless could not have been more down to earth, which put me immediately at ease. The tour also could not have been more delicious. 

We started at a fantastic Mexicatessan, where we sampled fresh huaraches, which are thick, often stuffed, corn tortillas, similar to pupusas

We ate them with Mexican crema and plenty of fresh cabbage, and, of course, cold Negra Modelo. So delicious. 

Next, we headed to an incredible Mexican butcher, where we learned about the local history of "flap meat", also known as carne asada. 

And what's a tour without dessert? Obviously, we had to make a stop at Reyna Bakery, a long-standing family-owned Mexican bakery, where we tasted several different Mexican pastries. These, which were filled with sweet berry preserves, were outrageous.


Our next stop was a Mexican restaurant in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco, and just as we begun wondering how we were going to get there, a trolley showed up.

That's right. A trolley. (I know it looks like a cable car, but I assure you, there were no cables in sight.)

As you can see here, Bayless is definitely participating in Movember. (Also pictured here, sitting next to him, is his super-cool culinary assistant, Katy.)

Then, we were off to the party portion of the evening (as if the tour hadn't been fun enough!). There, I was greeted by two awesome things:

My cute boyfriend. 

 And a cold Negra Modelo. 

The night was incredibly fun. We learned about several Mexican ingredients, including avocados, chiles, onions (as it turns out, there is a difference between white and yellow onions--use white ones when you want raw onions for salsa or guacamole, and rinse them first!), and, yes, beer. 

I've long been a fan of Negra Modelo (which I can honestly say goes with just about anything) and the opportunity to drink it while eating delicious food AND hanging out with the great Rick Bayless was just too wonderful to pass up.

As we nibbled tacos and sipped our Negra Modelos, I looked over at two of my dearest food blogging friends, Amy and Sean, raised my glass, and declared, "We have a good life." 

Also wonderful, was the awesome group of food bloggers I got to spend the day with. Some of whom I knew, and many of whom I got to meet for the first time. If you want to check them out, here they are:

Special thanks to Negra Modelo for making this incredible day happen (Negra Modelo on FacebookInstagram or Twitter or follow their hashtag#ThePerfectComplement), and to the great Rick Bayless for joining us and sharing such wonderful kitchen wisdom! I was compensated for this post, but all opinions are my own. 

Hidden Fig Honey Cake

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Cook Time 35-40 minutes
  • Estimated Cost $9.50

Since the figs are baked whole, they turn jammy and sweet inside, and every bite of tender cake is met with a taste of that figgy goodness. 

The first time I had Rosh Hashanah honey cake (and the next several therafter), I was not impressed. So often, it had a dry, crumbly texture, and a cloying aftertaste. This never seemed right to me, especially for a dessert intended to symbolize the sweetness of a new year.

This year, I have decided, our Rosh Hashanah dinner is going to be the most delicious yet. I have the sauce for my Jalapeño-Honey Chicken all ready to go, and my Olive Oil Challah dough has been prepared and needs only to be braided into a sweet, round loaf, and baked to golden-brown perfection. With a meal that good, there's no way I'm finishing things off with a crappy, dry cake, tradition or not.

I made this cake crazy moist with eggs, oil and a healthy dose of unsweetened applesauce. Just to make sure that every bite is rich and sweet and flavorful, I plopped fresh figs (Black Mission ones make for a dramatic presentation) into the cake batter (I left the stems in for a little extra drama).

Finally, I topped the whole thing with chopped almonds, which toast up gorgeously in the oven as the cake bakes.

Since the figs are baked whole, they turn jammy and sweet inside, and every bite of tender cake is met with a taste of that figgy goodness. This is a perfect end to any Fall meal, and would be amazing with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside. That said, you could probably also get away with serving this with coffee and calling it breakfast. 

However you serve it, if you're celebrating Rosh Hashanah tonight, I hope your new year is delicious and sweet and a little bit quirky--just like this cake.


  • 3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil, such as vegetable or grapeseed Pantry
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee, brought to room temperature $1.50
  • 3 eggs $1.50 for 6
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce (you can make it yourself with this recipe--just leave out the orange and cardamom) $2.50 for 12 ounces 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar Pantry
  • 3/4 cup honey Pantry
  • 2 1/4 cups flour Pantry
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder Pantry
  • 1/2 teasoon baking soda Pantry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt Pantry
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon $1.50 for 1 ounce
  • 12 fresh whole figs (any kind--I used Black Mission figs) $4 
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds Optional

Recipe Serves 12


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper (trim with scissors as needed),, a little oil or use cooking spray. 
  3. Using an electric mixer or a whisk, mix together the oil, eggs, applesauce, brown sugar and honey until well-incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. 
  5. Add the flour mixture and coffee to the wet mixture in the bowl. 
  6. Mix gently, just until smooth.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and shake gently to even the top. 
  8. Arrange the figs, bottom-side-down in the pan, making sure to distribute them evenly.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Let cool to warm or room temperature and cut into squares, ensuring that each square has a fig in it.