Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to dress up rotisserie chicken, and big news about Not Ketchup

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Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup fruit ketchup sauce at Sam's Club Fountain Valley with CEO Erika Kerekes
Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup on the floor at Sam's Club - yes, that's right, Sam's Club

I haven't had a lot of time to cook lately, and the photo above is one reason why.

This summer has been all about Not Ketchup, my new food business. While my kids were away at camp, I made cold calls, met with new retailers, spoke at a conference, did store demos, and generally ran around trying to get Not Ketchup into the hands and mouths of food lovers around the country.

Last week marked a big day for Not Ketchup: After half a year of negotiating and paperwork, Sam's Club in Fountain Valley, about 45 minutes south of my home, started selling a two-pack of Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup. I went down there to offer samples to Sam's Club members a few days ago and the response was great, from both customers and the people who work there. I was nervous but the day went really well. And I can't tell you how proud I was to see my product featured in the food section next to brands that have been around for decades.

Rotisserie chicken glazed with Not Ketchup fruit ketchup sauce
Store-bought rotisserie chicken gets a glam makeover with a Not Ketchup glaze

Ironically, the more involved I get in building my food business, the less time I spend in the kitchen. One of my favorite shortcuts is to pick up a store-bought rotisserie chicken and glam it up with Not Ketchup. Two minutes of work, 10 minutes in the oven, and you end up with a delicious, juicy bird glazed with a tangy, fruity sauce. Serve a little more Not Ketchup on the side for dipping, throw together a salad or steam some vegetables, and dinner is done.

I promise to get back to a more normal blogging schedule with real recipes soon...someday...well, if I'm being honest, probably not that soon. Que sera, sera. Apologies and thanks for bearing with me.

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Rotisserie Chicken with Not Ketchup
Dress up a store-bought rotisserie chicken by brushing it with any flavor of Not Ketchup fruit "ketchup" sauce. Two minutes of work, 10 minutes in the oven, and dinner is ready.
  • 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, cooked
  • 1 cup Not Ketchup sauce, any flavor, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.Put the rotisserie chicken in a baking dish. Pour the Not Ketchup over the chicken and spread into all the crevices with your hands or the back of a spoon.Warm the chicken in the oven 10-15 minutes, until the Not Ketchup glaze is bubbling and looks glossy and sticky. Take the chicken out of the oven and let rest 5 minutes. Serve immediately with more Not Ketchup on the side for dipping.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Erika's ultimate chicken burger, no grill required

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I know you're supposed to grill burgers.

But for chicken burgers - even when the ground chicken mixture includes plenty of dark meat - I find the grill too aggressive. There's nothing worse than a dry chicken burger. And that's what I get when I cook chicken burgers on the grill.

My favorite chicken burger is moist, well seasoned, studded with chopped green onions, and cooked in a skillet on the stove. Three ingredients, not counting the bun, the garnish, and the sauce. You'll have dinner on the table in less than half an hour.

About the sauce: My favorite for chicken burgers is Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup. The combination of sweet, tangy, peppery and savory brings a lot of zest to the delicate chicken. In fact, when I was first working on the recipes for my Not Ketchup sauces, I tested the blueberry prototype on chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken tenders, and roast chicken. Blueberries and chicken...who knew?

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Erika's Ultimate Chicken Burger
A moist chicken burger that's well seasoned, studded with green onions, and served with Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup.
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 burger buns or rolls
  • 1 cup Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup
  • 2 cups baby lettuce mix or arugula
In a large bowl, mix the ground chicken, green onions, and garlic salt with your hands until well combined. Divide the chicken mixture into four equal parts, then shape into four patties.Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then place the chicken burgers in the pan. Cook about 10 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook until the burgers are cooked all the way through, about 8 minutes more. Put the burgers on a plate, cover with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.To serve, spread some Blueberry White Pepper Not Ketchup on the bottom half of each bun and place a chicken burger on it. Drizzle with more Not Ketchup, add a handful of lettuce or arugula to each burger, and place the other half of each bun on top. Serve immediately.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Not Ketchup fruit ketchup #giveaway to celebrate the Not Ketchup Tour O' Texas

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I just flew back from the Not Ketchup Tour O' Texas, and boy, are my arms tired.

{ba-dum bum}

Seriously arms are tired. As are my legs, my feet, my back, and my brain.

My 12-year-old son and I went to Texas to demo Not Ketchup, my new line of artisan fruit ketchups, at all nine Central Market gourmet superstores. Nine stores in five cities in 12 days. At each six-hour demo, we gave out between 500 and 800 samples.

I'm not great at math, but I'm pretty sure that adds up to four aching feet, 12 hours of staring into space and babbling incoherently, and three or four well-deserved naps this coming weekend.

The trip was a huge success. Central Market's customers loved Not Ketchup and bought a ton of it. My son Weston was the best sales associate ever - he charmed the pants off every customer we met. We got comments on Facebook from Central Market customers like this:

And this:

Now we're home and I'm catching up on client work, Not Ketchup work, and blogging. While I'm getting some great new recipes ready for you, I thought I'd share the Not Ketchup love with a little giveaway. There are a bunch of ways to enter - see the entry form below.

The lucky winner gets:

  • A Not Ketchup 4-Pack Sampler, including one bottle each of Cherry Chipotle, Smoky Date, Blueberry White Pepper and Spiced Fig Not Ketchup (retail value $36)
  • A Not Ketchup t-shirt (the same one the kids are wearing in the photo above, size XL)
  • A nifty Not Ketchup squeeze bottle, good for squirting Not Ketchup decoratively onto your burgers, steak, chicken, sandwiches, sausages, cheese plates and more
Good luck to all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pulled pork baked taquitos

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If it were January, I'd be making some New Year's resolutions.

Work less. Pay more attention to the kids. Stop multitasking. Breathe. Exercise. Cook dinner. Blog more!

But it's June. I can't work less or important things won't get done. My kids are busy themselves, thank goodness, too busy to realize just how distracted I've been. Multitasking feels essential. I'm breathing and occasionally exercising. Cooking dinner? A few times a week, better than nothing.

But hey, at least I'm here writing this post.

On Memorial Day, for the first time in months, we had friends over for dinner. I made pulled pork and (of course) served it with a Not Ketchup bar. Guess what? All four flavors taste great when mixed with slow-cooked shredded pork shoulder. My favorite for pulled pork is Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup, with Spiced Fig Not Ketchup a close second. Blueberry Not Ketchup always has its fans. And Smoky Date Not Ketchup is a good all-around choice too, especially for kids who might not like the spices in the other flavors.

The next day I mixed the leftover pulled pork with shredded Mexican blend cheese and rolled it up in flour tortillas, then baked them until crispy. It was one of those forehead-smacking moments: Why haven't I ever thought to do this before? They were tasty and so much fun to eat - especially when we dipped them into guacamole and more Not Ketchup.

Of course, you can put just about anything inside a tortilla and roll it up. Beans, cooked vegetables, leftover rice, chopped rotisserie chicken. Just mix it with some shredded cheese before rolling and baking. And serve a delicious dip on the side.

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Pulled pork baked taquitos
Mix pulled pork with shredded cheese, roll it up in flour tortillas, and bake in the oven until crispy. Serve with a fun dip on the side, like guacamole, salsa, or Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup sauce.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then spray the foil lightly with cooking spray.In a medium-sized mixing bowl, blend the pulled pork with the shredded cheese with a large spoon.Lay one tortilla on a cutting board and spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling lengthwise on the bottom third of the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling. Lay the taquito on the baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.Bake the taquitos until golden brown and crisp, 10-15 minutes. Serve immediately with guacamole and Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup on the side.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 8 taquitos

Monday, May 5, 2014

Arianna Trading Company organic tomatoes: A "good news, bad news" story

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GOOD NEWS: Last week I got to see my friend George Menzelos of Arianna Trading Company. George has been importing the most beautiful single-estate organic olive oil from Greece for a few years now, and this year he's also bringing in organic tomatoes, currants, and a sesame herb salt. George left me samples of all his products to inspire my cooking and, we hoped, a blog post or two.

BAD NEWS: After George's visit, I got buried in work, both for a new client and for Not Ketchup. A few days after I saw George, I was stuck in my home office until after 10pm. I didn't even have time to make dinner for my family.

GOOD NEWS: My 15-year-old son Emery decided to make dinner. He cooked up penne pasta with a rich tomato meat sauce. Emery even brought a bowl down to the office for me.

GOOD NEWS: That was the most delicious bowl of pasta I've ever eaten - not only because my child made it for me (what mother could resist the charms of that?) but because the tomato sauce was sweet, thick, and intense.

BAD NEWS: A few hours later I realized that I might have heard Emery say something like "I decided to make pasta because you had all these tomato products." I went to the refrigerator. George's tomatoes were gone. And on the drying rack I found this:

BAD NEWS: I hadn't taken any pictures and we'd eaten all the pasta. Hard to write a blog post without pictures.

GOOD NEWS: I found some leftover sauce in the refrigerator, so I photographed that instead. It was so delicious that I ate it the next day straight from the plastic container with a spoon. Cold.

GOOD NEWS: See the line above about "the most delicious bowl of pasta I've ever eaten."

Arianna's organic strained tomatoes will be available very soon - and when they are, I suggest you run right out and get some (keep an eye on the Arianna website to find out where to buy them). Here's what George says about his organic strained tomatoes:
Our organic heirloom tomatoes are hand-picked ripe from the vine, then peeled, seeded, and strained by mechanical means in an allergan-free facility. These GMO-free "true breed" tomatoes have been cultivated by the Gousiaris family in the village of Ilias in central Greece for over 100 years. It takes 5 kilos of tomatoes to produce about 1 kilo of our strained tomatoes, which are pasteurized in the jar the old-fashioned way. They are tomatoes your grandmother would love.
CONCLUSION: Emery's pasta was indeed a happy accident. I'm thrilled that I'm no longer the only cook in the family, but clearly I need to get better about labeling the food in the refrigerator if I need to keep it for blogging!