Food Mashups Don’t Have to Be Garbage

The way I see it, there are two main motivations for cooking: cooking for function and cooking for fun. Cooking for function is what we do on Thursday night as the family swoops in from various activities, and there’s about 30 minutes (max) to make dinner with whatever is left from the weekend’s grocery shopping. This camp is fueled by quick and easy recipes with concise ingredient lists, supermarket shortcuts, and proven kid-approved family faves. 

Cooking for fun is what we do on weekends when we carve out a couple hours solely because we feel like putting on some tunes, making some magic, and worrying less about how quickly the dishes get done. That’s not to say that there can’t be crossover between fun and functionality; in fact, there often is. However, this camp is where we have space to be messy and creative, and it’s fueled by recipes that cater less to necessity (i.e. they might not be so weeknight-friendly), and more to desire. 

And on some level, don’t most of us desire to have it all? Of course we do! That’s why a good food mashup, what we endearingly refer to as a Frankenfood, is one of the best options when you find yourself itching for a fun jaunt in the kitchen. Much like a musical mashup, a Frankenfood is born of two distinct dishes that have been skillfully stitched together in a way that is hopefully not only pleasing, but newly inspiring. 

WATCH: How to Make Chicken Parmesan Dip

Now, I will be the first to admit, the internet is rampant with ill-conceived mashup recipes that oftentimes hold more shock value than mouthwatering appeal. Something like a cheesy Top Ramen breakfast burrito is amusing and it can be fun to tag your ramen-loving friend wherever you encounter it on social media for a laugh, but actually preparing that recipe… I’d venture a guess that it’s neither fun nor functional. That’s not what I’m talking about. 

RELATED: 56 Mashup Recipes That Prove Two Foods Are Better Than One

I’m talking about recipes that satisfy the hunger for something legitimately delicious, but also feed one’s sense of playfulness and curiosity. These Frankenfood recipes check every box. Each thoughtfully marries two food items that we love in such a way that you’re not just excited to eat it, but you want to serve it to company too. These are recipes that are fun to make, and even more fun to share. 

Chicken Tikka Masala Dip

Here you have all of the warming, aromatic flavors of classic chicken tikka, but delivered in let’s-get-this-party-started format. Meaning, the next time you find yourself hosting or attending a group gathering, you’d be seriously amiss to show up without a dish of Chicken Tikka Masala Dip now that you’re aware of its existence. Because if there’s anything you can count on in this world it is this: People love dip, especially a hot chicken dip. That being the case, can you even fathom what it might feel like being the bearer of the greatest hot chicken dip in the room, and very likely the greatest hot chicken dip to ever enter the lives of every person you see standing in that room? I think you can fathom it. Visualize it, live it.

Get the recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala Dip

Piña Colada Snack Mix

Imagine everything you love about a tropical beach cocktail… but make it crunchy. With sugary-sweet pineapple, rich and toasty coconut, brightly tart lime, and the perfect balance of saltiness, this snack mix hits all the right notes for a taste of paradise. Serve it by the bucket at your next pool party or munch on it to get hyped during your drive to the beach—no matter where/how you enjoy it, you won’t be able to get The Piña Colada Song out of your head. And for once, that won’t be a bad thing.

Get the recipe: Piña Colada Snack Mix

Everything Bagel Salad

It’s hard to not love a salad that lets you have it all. This everything bagel-inspired bowl of greens falls squarely into that realm of abundance. Everything lovable about an everything bagel experience is deliciously represented, but you can eat it gracefully with a fork. A hearty bed of spinach cradles the smoked salmon, the capers, the red onion, the whole gang! The bagels are here too—as toasty croutons! And yes there’s cream cheese, it’s the luscious backbone of your creamy dill dressing!

Pardon the explosion of exclamation points. I just want to prepare you for what’s going to happen when you set a platter of Everything Bagel Salad down at virtually any brunch scenario. It’s everything!

Get the recipe: Everything Bagel Salad

Beef Stroganoff Pizza

Something happens when you layer beef stroganoff on top of a pizza. Something that commands respect. Simply put, this meaty mashup is the Mufasa of pizzas. Make it/consume it when you need to feel invincible. Or just whenever a powerful hankering for something unequivocally savory and substantial comes on. Beefy, shroomy, and sour creamy, with just the right level of garlic and onion, this is a solid beef stroganoff formula, served on pizza crust rather than egg noodles. With cheese. Plenty of cheese. So yeah…

When I say, “stroganoff!”—you say “pizza!”

Get the recipe: Beef Stroganoff Pizza

Gumbo Burgers with Roux “Ketchup” 

This is the type of recipe that the serious gumbo enthusiasts in your life might be offended by, I can’t say for sure. What I can say with certainty is—no risk, no reward, baby. If a shrimp-and-sausage patty bound with white rice and seasoned with the holy trinity and Creole spices speaks to you, nothing should stand between you and these Gumbo Burgers. Especially because you’re going to top those patties with a homemade roux-based, ketchup-like condiment that’s apt to make you believe that no dream is too big upon first taste. 

As Guy Fieri would say—because there really is no other way to say it—these burgers are a one-way ticket to Flavortown, U.S.A. 

Get the recipe: Gumbo Burgers with Roux "Ketchup" 

Rotel Potatoes Aligots

If you’re unfamiliar with traditional potatoes aligots, this may seem strange. However, the classic French dish is simply a high-level comfort food that involves folding (no shortage of) melted cheese into fluffy mashed potatoes. The result lands in a territory that’s so close to cheese dip… well, no one could blame you for dipping in with a hunk of crusty baguette versus a utensil. Which is why this marriage of rib-sticking food items makes all the sense. We’ve upped the aligot anti by swapping the traditional Gruyère or Comté for perhaps the most valiant of melted cheese products, Rotel dip. 

Personal endorsement: Even as a mashed potato fanatic, I wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of this recipe to begin with. But upon tasting them, with tears in my eyes, I immediately pledged my allegiance to Rotel Potatoes Aligots as my new favorite food item. If I barely had a dollar to my name, but I had a pot of this practically-cheese-dip potato dish, I would consider myself a wealthy woman indeed.

Get the recipe: Rotel Potatoes Aligots

Greek Salad Lasagna

A plate of lasagna with a Greek salad on the side—that’s a great meal. Truly, it’s hard to beat. In fact, the only way to top such a family favorite duo might be, ah yes… to gracefully make them one. And so it is! Briny olives and feta, along with bell peppers and spinach, are layered into saucy homemade lasagna, and the whole shebang is topped with (you guessed it) a cool, crisp salad. The contrast of hearty, rich and cheesy baked pasta against the bright crunch of vinaigrette-dressed salad is, more or less, the most perfect Sunday supper one can hope for. And if you’re looking for an impressive make-ahead move, you can prep the lasagna, pre-bake, and stash it in the fridge up to four days in advance. 

Get the recipe: Greek Salad Lasagna

Caprese Ice Cream Sundaes

Friends, this is a food mashup for the ages—and also for the adventurous. But hey, tomatoes are a fruit and seasonal fruit goes most splendidly with ice cream, right? So saddle up and let’s do this thing. We’re looking at an immaculately buttery burrata ice cream (A.K.A. your new favorite flavor) topped with basil-infused candied tomatoes (I swear, if you follow the recipe, you would never know these weren’t some kind of miracle maraschino cherry, had you not bought the tomatoes yourself), and a honey-kissed balsamic syrup. Inspired by the flavors of a standard caprese salad, this decadent sundae is nothing short of shockingly delicious. 

Get the recipe: Caprese Ice Cream Sundaes

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