Father’s day giveaway: Urban Accents Grill Master Gift Kit

Urban Accents Grill Masters kit

Our sad little  gas grill is extremely neglected. After a few winters left uncovered, blanketed in snow, it’s now pocked with rust, covered in a thin layer of dust and coated with remnants of burger and bratwurst from a rare summer BBQ in 2012.

So when it came to testing out my Grill Master Kit and Dryglazes, courtesy of the folks at Urban Accents, I took the stovetop route—with a little help from my trusty grill pan, of course. In spite of my grilling aversion, my wings—coated heavily in the Caymen Citrus Dryglaze—were fantastic. Moral of the story: Grill or no grill, Urban Accents makes the good stuff.

Want to give your dad (or baby daddy) the gift of grilling (or roasting) perfection? Enter my Father’s Day Grill Master contest for the chance to win and Urban Accents Grill Master Kit (a $49.95 value)—complete with Vermont Grill, Santa Fe BBQ, Athenian Herb and Mandarin Ginger Dryglazes; and Chicago Steak & Chop, Kansas City Classic Rub, Argentina Steak Rub and Sonoma Pepper Spice Blends.

Entering is easy: Just follow Better with Butter on Pinterest, pin this post, then come back here, fill out the form below (paste the link to your pin in the “Pin link” form). Contest ends June 6.

Enter to win the Grill Master Kit


The Dryglazes couldn’t be easier to use—throw two pounds of meat or fish into a freezer bag, add the packet of Dryglaze and two tbsp. of olive oil, shake/massage the bag to coat the meat, marinate for 20-30 minutes, throw it on the grill and VOILA—caramelized glaze-y deliciousness.

Dryglazed BBQ chicken wings

Gourmet game day

Super bowl food ideas

The best thing about game-day parties is the excuse to stuff your face and guzzle beer with zero guilt. Don’t show up to your Super Bowl party empty-handed. Seriously, don’t be that guy/gal.

I’ve even taken you half of the way there, with this handy-dandy Super Bowl recipe list:

You can thank me in free game-day betting squares.


Jalapeno popper dip

Greek 7-layer dip

Loaded bake potato dip

Hot spinach dip

White queso dip

Sliders and sammies

Spicy whiskey BBQ sliders

Out-of-this-world veggie burgers

Cheeseburger sliders

Fried pizza sandwiches

Philly cheesesteak with garlic aioli

Crock Pot faves

Slow-cooker carnitas

Crock Pot picante chicken

Crock Pot chicken, rice and green chile casserole

Crock Pot chicken taco chili

Slow cooker buffalo chicken sandwiches

Party staples

Italian deviled eggs

Potato salad

Tomatillo salsa


Bacon mini quiche

Mexican munchies

Chicken tostadas

Double-decker taco cupcakes

Won ton tacos

Mac ‘n’ cheese tacos

Mini fish tacos


Greek pizza

Prosciutto, arugula and parmesan pizza

Red pepper and goat cheese flatbread

Buffalo chicken pizza

BLT pizza


Sweet potato cakes with BBQ brisket

Bacon wrapped potatoes

Potato rings with ranch

Bacon and blue cheese french fries

Mac ‘n’ cheese french fries

Miscellaneous bites

CB&J crostini

Bacon cheddar hush puppies

BBQ chicken cornbread pie

Corn dog tots

Sweet potato chorizo hand tarts


Guava orange margaritas

Bourbon bomber

Dark and stormy

His and her whiskey cocktails

Lights-out punch

Super Bowl sweets

Brown butter and bourbon blondies

Football cookies

Salted caramel cheesecake shooters

Bacon apple pie

Dessert nachos


Bring on the beans

Let me start by saying: Holler if you love baked beans. Like, really love baked beans. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one. Sure, most will take a modest scoopful from the BBQ buffet line, but few make a plate in which their hot dogs/chicken/ribs/etc. are swimming in a sea of ‘em, like I do. In my quest to convert the non-believers, I served up a crock-pot-size vat of these beauties, studded with an entire pound of pork belly:

Pork belly baked beans
Author: Adapted from thepioneerwoman.com
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 6 hours 15 mins
Serves: 10-14


  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into 3 or 4-inch pieces, skin removed and scored
  • 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups pinto beans
  • 2 cups kidney beans
  • 1 cup cannelli beans
  • 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard

Marinade for pork belly:

  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place pork belly in a baking dish, fat side up.
  3. Mix the marinade and pour over pork belly.
  4. Cover dish with tin foil and bake for 2 1/2 hours or until pork is tender and falls apart easily.
  5. Allow pork to cool, discard all the liquid from the dish and remove excess fat from the pork belly (I left a little of the more tender fat on for flavor, and removed the thicker, tougher pieces).
  6. Shred pork belly with a fork.
  7. Combine ingredients for baked beans with the pork belly in a crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours or on medium for 5 or 6.
  8. I finished my beans of in a cast iron skillet on the stove top to let some of the excess moisture cook off. The result is a thicker consistency and a more concentrated flavor.


Bring this to your next summertime gathering, say the words “pork belly” and watch the madness ensue.

Veggie burgers for the carnivore in your life

No offense, Morningstar, but your veggie burgers don’t hold a candle to these babies. While I can’t say they’ll satisfy cravings for a big, juicy hunk of ground beef (but let’s be honest, what veggie burger will?), they’re a ridiculously addictive, filling and flavorful meal option that anyone—even the most meat-and-potato midwesterners in your life—will thoroughly enjoy. Chockfull of fiber and veggies, they’re healthy to boot.

I first encountered these at Atwood Cafe in downtown Chicago—and since spent a few random afternoons reminiscing and searching Google for the recipe. Recently, when the food memory popped into my consciousness, a search yielded the recipe. FINALLY.

They’re as delicious as I remember them, albeit a bit tricky to keep in patty form when cooking. As much as you may be tempted (and I was), don’t try and grill these—unless you do it in a skillet of some sort that sits on the grill.

Cremini burgers with goat cheese and fig aioli (adapted from Atwood Cafe’s recipe)
Prep time: 5 hours
Cook time: 12 mins
Total time: 5 hours 12 mins
Serves: 6-8


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (slightly overcooked and sticky)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat cheese for topping
  • green onions for topping
  • whole wheat buns
    Fig aioli:

  • 4 tbsp fig jam or preserves
  • 1/3 cup mayonaise

  1. Cook the rice per the instructions, except stir frequently to build up the starches and make the rice stickier.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until tender.
  3. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender and the liquid is evaporated.
  4. Stir in the brown rice and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in a bowl with oats, cheese, thyme, garlic powder and salt and pepper.
  6. Cover the mixture and refrigerate until firm, 3 to 4 hours. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip this step and make the patties immediately, but you’ll still have to refrigerate them for at least an hour or two to solidify them a bit. Otherwise, form patties after 3 to 4 hours and then refrigerate again, covered, for one hour.
  7. Heat a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Cook burgers, turning carefully with a spatula, until nicely browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
  8. Mix fig jam and mayo for fig aioli. Spread on toasted buns.
  9. Arrange burgers on buns, top with goat cheese and chopped green onions.

If you like risotto and mushrooms, you’ll LOVE these. And don’t skimp on the toppings—they really put them over the edge.

Tailgate touchdown

Northweatern Tailgate

This Saturday we enjoyed some good, old-fashioned tailgating and college-football fun courtesy of Greg and his parents Patsy and Greg Sr. The little Pace, John Henry, is the starting long snapper for Northwestern and they happened to be playing Dave’s alma mater, Miami of Ohio. As usual, I’m a little more focused on the food than the football—although I should mention that Northwestern won.

The families of Northwestern players take their tailgating very seriously. I’ve never seen anything like it. There are hours of pre- and post-game tailgating, full of food, booze and tricked-out tailgating trucks complete with huge flat-screen TVs and grills.

First I enjoyed a breakfast fit for Northwestern’s trained and disciplined athletic champions:

Breakfast of champions

As many of you know, you can’t buy beer at college games, so you gotta go all out before the game. And since this isn’t the Pace’s first rodeo, they keep a well-stocked cooler of Schlitz.

For those of you who turn your noses up at malt liquor—too good for Schlitz, are you?—Patsy’s got the cure. How about some white or red wine with that cinnamon roll and egg-sausage bake?


And then there’s the bloody mary bar …

Bloody mary bar

Didn’t know Ditka made bloody mary mix, did ya? Well he DOES.

Anyway, I had a great time. Mostly because I immensely enjoy Patsy Pace.We share a deep connection, you see … we’re both serious food pushers. Plus, she’s the life of the party and the sweetest lady ever. Every time I turned around she was saying “You gotta try this!” and putting something delicious in my mouth—gouda-filled chicken apple sausage, imported lemon Italian ice, purple frosted chocolate cupcakes, soft pretzels with cheese dip. While others resisted, I happily went with the flow and enjoyed every minute.

Lemon italian ice

Here she is with Greg.

Patsy and Greg

After the game, the players get first pickings of the RIDICULOUS spread, and then everyone else goes at it. I was slightly embarrassed by my tiny little loaf of jalapeno cornbread, which was dwarfed by the gigantic buffet trays of fried chicken, meatballs, Italian beef, mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw, pasta, lasagna, salad and much, much more.

Northwestern Tailgate_2

Northwestern Tailgate_3

And to top it all off, a cameo by Patsy’s Special K bars.

Special K bars

Gotta love football season.



Pulled pork, Baklavian treats and aptly named cocktails


Advertising folk and the people who love them are pretty damn fun to hang out with. On the eve of the first day of my new full-time copywriting job, I hung out with some of my favorite people from my old full-time copywriting job.

Marc—marketing guru, general jack-of-all trades, and personal copywriting mentor—was gracious enough to have us all over for a Sunday, North-Carolina-style BBQ.


The air was crisp, the hickory chips were fragrant, the baklava was, errr, “baklavian” (thanks Dana), and the drinks were … uhh … hot tranny messes?

Michael snatched my camera and took some action shots as I, sadly, was more interested in capturing the pork than the people.


“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whaaa?? Hot tranny messes? Get back to that part!” you say. OK. It really isn’t all that scandalous.

Fred the Hot Tranny Mess is the cocktail creation of Marc’s lovely and hilarious wife, Chris. It’s a mixture of unknown measurements of tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice, Cointreau and pink champagne. Yeah, exactly.

Cranberry margarita

OK, now that I’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to the BBQ.




After the unbelievably tender, 4-hour-slow-cooked pulled pork and delicious potato salad and coleslaw a la Chris, there were cupcakes from Phoebe’s (thanks Liz) and my homemade baklava.

Seems that whenever I’m in the same room with a pastry, it doesn’t live to be photographed. Remember this poor scone? The red velvet cupcake suffered the same fate:

Red velvet cupcake

This event also marked my baklava rematch—a long story which I’ll tell when I post the recipe (coming soon).


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