Paula: When I smoke ribs for friends and family, I often take an informal poll to gauge what style of rub inspires the most cheers. Asian? Mexican? I may stack the deck with my own preferences, but I still enjoy the consensus of who likes what.

Scott: When I smoke ribs for friends and family, it usually ends in tears. Mine, mostly. More than once my family has quietly abandoned ship and headed out for burgers because I miscalculated the cook time. I’m confident you don’t have that problem.

Paula: Isn’t that what guacamole and Funyons are for? The cool thing about spice blends, and a couple racks of ribs, is that it’s easy to please a crowd of diverse tastes. The Usual is for purists, because the subtle whiff of garlic, rosemary, and salt really let the rich flavor of good pork and wood smoke shine. The mix of red spices and brown sugar in Pork Perfect creates classic Southern barbecue goodness. Pass the Tupelo Two-Step, and BOOM everyone wins!

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Paula: Guilty pleasure alert: I’ve rarely met a Chicken Caesar that I didn’t like. When it’s made with care and the best ingredients, the satisfying tumble of crispy romaine, grilled chicken, herbed croutons, and creamy dressing creates one of the world’s most satisfying salads.

Over the years, I’ve been on a Caesar dressing odyssey, of sorts. I’ve blended authentic, emulsified versions made from egg yolks and anchovies. I’ve doctored up store bought varieties with lemon and Parmesan. But, those dressings are never as vibrant as the ones you whisk together yourself. I finally landed on this easy, cheater version made by enriching a pungent garlic and anchovy vinaigrette (Caesar’s two characteristic flavors) with mayonnaise and Parmesan. Trust me, you’ll never buy Caesar dressing again.

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Paula: Sweltering summer days don’t keep me away from the grill, but they do affect what I want to eat. With triple digit temps in Central Texas, the name of the game is keeping it simple. More often than not, that means giving a heap of colorful vegetables a quick char. With their vibrant colors, barely-cooked textures, and jammy sweetness, lightly charred asparagus and cherry tomatoes easily serve as the main event.

I typically grill the asparagus directly on the grates and blister cherry tomatoes in a preheated grill basket. But, you could fire off both of them in a preheated cast iron skillet over direct heat (bonus: you’ll preserve the delicious seasoned oil for a hunk of bread).

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Paula: I’m not sure if it’s cabin fever, or a deficit in my consumption of Zapp’s potato chips--but I’ve been dreaming about Saturday mornings at Fred’s Lounge in Mamou. Live broadcast of Zydeco, packed dance floor by the time most of us reach for our first cup of coffee, brunch and cold beer consumed soon after.

Unfortunately, there’s no Cajun boot-scooting in my immediate future, so I’ll have to cook myself there. The fun thing about playing with spice blends is that they transport a weeknight staple, chicken and rice, for instance, to a new locale. Take the following recipe. After I coat a chicken in Cajun seasonings, I’m inspired to give the rest of the meal a spin that would do Southwest Louisiana proud. (I tossed the rice with thinly sliced scallions, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice and sliced green olives.)

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