Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waffle Casserole

This recipe was given to me just over two years ago while I was pregnant with my daughter. She was pregnant at the time as well and we were all exchanging recipes, trying to come up with ideas on things that were easy to make for when our new arrivals came. Two years later, I save this in my holiday file for a great breakfast. I haven't changed her recipe at all, it's even in her own words. I will say that I have also made it with apple jelly instead of apricot jam, but you need to melt the jelly. Thank you, Ashley, for sharing your hubby's favorite breakfast!!

What You Need:

1 box plain frozen waffles (square work best, but round are okay)
2 lbs breakfast sausage (the crumble type, not smoked sausage, I use Jimmy Dean reduced fat)
1 chopped onion
4-5 eggs beaten (depending on how "eggy" you want it)
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning
1 small bag chopped pecans (I think it's about 1/2 - 3/4 cup)

1 small jar apricot jam or preserves (10 oz)
8-10 oz maple syrup or pancake syrup
1-2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (depending on how much spice you want to balance the sweetness)

What To Do:

Cook the sausage, then add onion and cook a few minutes more. While those are cooking, toast the waffles and cut into 1" cubes. Mix all together in a large bowl. Add beaten eggs and poultry seasoning and mix well. Pour into your largest baking dish (needs bigger than 9x13, I think I use 10x14 or 10x16 or something like that). You can add the sauce either before the first baking (20 minutes at 350), or after the first baking when you add the pecans and bake another 10 minutes (total 30 minutes cooking, pecans may burn if you add them at the beginning).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fun Bars

Another holiday time treat I like to make is Fun Bars. It's another one of those recipes where it takes longer to cook then it does to put together. It has very few ingredients too which is yet another reason why I make it every year. We travel to visit my husbands family on Christmas Eve each year. The whole family gets together for pierogi's, this sauerkraut and mushroom dish as well as a soup that hubby's Aunt usually makes. While I'm not in charge of dessert, I tend to make lots of different goddies for everyone to munch on. It also means that I'm in the kitchen most of the week before Christmas, so I like it when most of my treats are quick and simple.

What You Need:

a boxed cake mix (the regular kind, not a butter recipe or one with pudding)
1/2 a stick butter, melted
1/2 c water
1 c mini M&M's
1 c nuts (peanuts or walnuts work best)
3 c mini marshmallows

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 375.
Stir together the cake mix, butter and water. The mixture will be really thick and sticky so just do your best to get it all combined. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the cake mixture into an even layer as best as you can. If you wet your hands slightly, you can press the mixture into the pan fairly well without getting very messy. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and sprinkle the marshmallows on top, followed by the nuts and mini M&M's. Put back in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the marshmallows start to melt and hold the toppings on. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Crack - two ways

First off I have to say just how much I love not only the name but the treat as well. Basically it's nothing more then sugar, butter and chocolate. Sure you can throw in some nuts for you good measure and there is some sort of cracker in there too but in reality it's the biggest sugar high of your life. Hence the name. These two recipes aren't mine, however I did add my own spin too it. The first one comes from a post on the Craftster website and was how I was first turned on to it. The second comes from the Food Network's Claire Robinson. Click on thinks for the appropriate recipes. I've made adjustments because I use half sheet pans, so that's what my recipes are for.

For Version One:

1 c butter (2 sticks)
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
1 (12oz) bag chocolate chips
1 c holiday colored M&M's

Preheat oven to 400 degree and line your rimmed baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat. Spray the foil with a bit of cooking spray. Line the saltines up to cover the bottom of the baking sheet. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes and carefully pour over the crackers, spread it out as best you can and then put it in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and if any of the saltines have shifted, very carefully put them back into place. Let cool for just a few minutes and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top. Once they've melted, spread to coat the toffee layer and then sprinkle the M&M's on top, pressing them into the chocolate slightly. Pop in the fridge to finish cooking completely. Brake into pieces.

For Version Two:

1 c butter (2 sticks)
1 c dark brown sugar

2 sleeves graham crackers (I used the cinnamon ones)
1 c mini chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degree and line your rimmed baking sheet with foil or a silicone mat. Spray the foil with a bit of cooking spray. Line the graham crackers up to cover the bottom of the baking sheet. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the butter and brown sugar to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes, stir in the chopped pecans and carefully pour over the crackers, spread it out as best you can and then put it in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool just a few minutes before sprinkling the mini chocolate chips over the top. Pop in the fridge to finish cooling completely and then break into pieces.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How To Make: Homemade Mounds Candy

Chocolate and coconut.... Chocolate and coconut!!! Two of the best things in the world when combined is chocolate and coconut!! Mounds bars are probably my favorite candy, or at least in the top three. I love to stick a bag of the fun sized ones in my freezer and have them as an after supper treat. Making your own isn't quite as easy as opening a bag bought from the store, but it is more fun!

What You Need:

14oz bag shredded coconut
1 cup powder sugar
5oz sweetened condensed milk
2 bags of chocolate chips

What To Do:

In a bowl mixed together the coconut, powdered sugar and condensed milk. This does take a little effort to get it all mixed throughly. Alternately, you can place the powdered sugar and coconut into a food processor and pulse a few times to chop the coconut up finer, like you would find a store bought mounds bar, but I never feel like washing mine afterwards so I don't do this. Using your hands, shape the coconut mixture into small balls or semi flattened logs. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and place in the fridge for about an hour to set. This hardens them up a bit so it doesn't fall apart when coated in chocolate.
Heat the chocolate chips up in a heat safe bowl over barely simmering water until melted. Dip the coconut centers into the chocolate one at a time and place back on the parchment lined sheets. Let set on the counter for about 15 minutes, then pop into the fridge to finish setting. Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Here's another sweet treat to add to your goodies this holiday. Coconut Macaroons, is another easy recipe, with a few ingredients. Egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks and folded into sweet coconut and creamy condensed milked, then baked till nice and golden, makes a stick to your teeth awesome cookie. I am in love with coconut and I have a very hard time not eating them when they come out of the oven!

What You Need:

14oz bag of coconut
14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites, room temp
1 tsp of cream of tarter
Pinch of salt

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 325 and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray. Normally when I line my sheets with parchment I don't spray them, however these are a very sticky cookie and because the have no other source of fat (ie: butter or oil) they tend to stick to the paper too if you don't spray it.

In a large bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla and a pinch of salt. In another large bowl, start whipping the egg whites on low to medium speed. Once they become frothy, add in the cream of tarter and turn the speed to high. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Working in thrids, fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Once all combined, drop by rounded tablespoon full onto the prepared baking sheets and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Let cool before eating if you can!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Five Minute Fudge

I kid you not! It seriously only takes 5 minutes to make this delicious fudge recipe. Plus it only have 5 ingredients too. I'm not sure where the recipe came from, most likely some vast internet search, but I have been making this, and several variations for the last few years. See, I have 3 brothers in law and I swear they only put up with me because I can cook, and cook well. They also happen to be some of the hardest men to shop for when it comes to the holidays. One year I decided that I was just going to make them all fudge and be done with it. The following Christmas came and all they wanted was more fudge. Now ever year for Christmas I make a few different kinds, pack them into cute tins and they're all done. This recipe has become a life saver for me. I just made a batch this afternoon for one of the boys who won't be here on Christmas this year, but will actually be here tomorrow. It's something that's so quick and easy, I'm sure you'll be adding it in with your holiday baking in no time!

What You Need:

1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Line a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper and just barely spray with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large, microwave safe bowl, add the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and salt. Place in the microwave for one minute. Give it a stir, and place back in the microwave for 30 seconds. Give it another stir and if it's not completely melted and smooth, place it back in the microwave for 30 more seconds. Once it's all melted and smooth, stir in the vanilla. Pour it into your prepared pan and place in the fridge to cool completely. I let mine set overnight to make sure that it's solid all the way through.

Monday, December 6, 2010

How To: Boil Shrimp

Few things are harder to cook right then shell fish. Most have internally thermometers, turning a bring red when done but shrimp are a little different. Yes they turn red, but they also become opaque, and go from being perfectly cooked to over cooked in mere seconds. They also tend to lack in flavor. By salting the water and adding in some lemon juice and lemons you can punch up the flavor a bit. You can add in dried chilies or even whole spices like peppercorns or coriander seeds.

What You Need:

lots of boiling water

What To Do:

Bring a lot pot of water to a boil. Once it's at a roiling boiling add in salt. You want fairly salty water, it should taste like the sea. Cut a lemon or two in half, squeeze the juice into the water and then add the lemons themselves into the water as well. If you water isn't boiling still, wait for it come back up to a full boil before putting in your shrimp. You'll notice that they sink to the bottom and start to change red almost immediately. Once the shrimp become opaque, start to just barely curl and float to the top, they're done. If you serving them cold, shock them in ice water as soon as you pull them out of the boiling water to stop the cooking. If you're eating them as part as a dish, pull them out a little before they're done and toss them with whatever your serving them with to finish the cooking.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Chicken Fried Steak

Southern Food and comfort food go hand in hand for me. I mean it's down south where you find heavenly fried foods, mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and flaky buttermilk biscuits smothered in gravy. Sometimes I wonder how these southern belles stay so skinny with all the amazing food. Chicken fried steak is something I could eat every day. It takes my favorite protein, fries it and then drenches it in gravy. Whip up some mashed potatoes and peas to go along with it and I'm in heaven! There are several types of steaks you can use like top or bottom round but I like using cube steaks. They stay pretty tender when cooking.

What You Need:

4 cube steaks
2 cups flour
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs onion powder
2 eggs
1 c milk
salt and pepper
oil for frying

For the gravy:
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk

What To Do:

Season the steaks with a little bit of salt and pepper. Mix the flour together with the garlic and onion powders. Mix together the eggs with the 1 cup of milk and set up a breading station. Take each steak and dip it in the flour, carefully shake off the excess, dip into the egg/milk and then back into the flour, just like you would for fried chicken. (Hence the name, Chicken fried steak!) Set the coated steaks into the fridge for 15 minutes so that the coating has a chance to stick and dry out a bit. In a large cast iron pan, heat enough oil to come about an inch up the side of the pan to 360 degrees. Carefully lay your steaks in and cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping once. Once done, remove to paper toweling to dry and very carefully remove all but 1/4 cup of the remaining oil. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour and let cook for a minute or two. Then slowly whisk in the milk, cooking until thickened. Season it with lots of pepper and serve over your steaks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Galore!!

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I don't know about you, but I have tons of turkey leftover still! In reality, it took us three nights of Thanksgiving supper to finish up all the leftovers we had. I have a horrible habit of making way to much food. It's not that I don't know how much people eat, or how much I really need to make, I have a problem with making EVERYTHING! My table included an 18lb tukey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes with a brown sugar and pecan topping, stuffed mushrooms, stuffed celery, corn, bacon braised Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie AND pecan pie. Did I mention that this was for three adults and two kids? Oh and I had planned on making even more food but was talked out of it. Like I said, lots of leftovers!

So now that everything is gone but the turkey, it can be hard trying to get it all eaten up. You can always freeze the cooked breast in slices for later use or you can take just about any recipe and use turkey instead of chicken.

You can shred it up and use it to make Tostada's.

You can chopped it up and add it into Soup.  Or even a salad or two.

You can even slice it and make some great sammies.

Still have more then just turkey left over? You can mix your veggies together with leftover gravy and turkey, cover it with biscuits and bake for an easy pot pie, or even cover it with leftover mashed potatoes for a turkey version of shepherds pie.

When you use your imagination, you can find lots of idea on how to get things out of the fridge without feeling like you're eating the same old leftovers AND without throwing them in the trash!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicken and Pasta a la Ruby

Chicken and Pasta a la Ruby is a dish that was inspired by something my husband once had at Ruby Tuesday. It was as if Chicken Parmesan and baked Ziti had a baby and covered it with alfredo sauce to keep it warm at night. This is comfort food to the max and definitely fills your belly on a cold night. This dish does take a little bit of effort but it's something you can do the morning of and still have it taste wonderful after you bake it. You can easily make this a quick dish by buying jared sauces but I tend to make my own. In the ingredients, I've said to use your favorite jarred pasta sauce but to make a quick sauce for this dish all I do is sautee some onions and garlic, add in a big can of crushed tomatoes, some oregano and parsly, let it simmer to thicken a bit and I have sauce that took very little effort.

What You Need:

Parmesan crusted chicken
1 jar favorite tomato pasta sauce
1lb ziti shapped pasta
4 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs flour
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Make the parmesan crusted chicken as directed and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cooked the ziti noodles until just barely done. You want them to have a slight "crunch" to them because they will continue to cook and absorb the sauce when you bake it in the oven. When the pasta is done, drain it and stir it together with the tomato pasta sauce. Transfer the pasta to a 13x9 pan with deep sides.

In a sauce pan, melt the butter together with the olive oil over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add in the garlic and cook it for about 30 seconds or until it's fragarant. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute to remove some of the flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk so that you don't get lumps. Once the milk is all combined, turn the heat up to medium high and bring it just to a simmer so that it begins to thicken. Slowly whisk in the parmesan cheese and continue cooking until the cheese is all melted and you have alfredo sauce.

Pour about 2/3 of the sauce on top of the pasta. Place your parmesan crusted chicken on top of that and drizzle the rest of the sauce over the chicken. Bake in a preheat 350 oven for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. If made early in the day and cold, bake for 1 hour.

Turkey Club Sammies

Since Thanksgiving is just a few days away I thought I'd give you an easy after Thanksgiving meal to use up some of your turkey. It's a very simple sandwich that I like to serve with some oven fries. Turkey Clubs are a quick go to meal in my home and my husband absolutely loves them and asks me to make them quite often. I make them right on top of my griddle but they would be awesome done in a panini press too! Want to use up some more leftovers?? Skip the tomato and slather on some leftover cranberry sauce. YUM!

What You Need: (Per Sammie)

1 thick slice of turkey breast (two if it won't cover the bread)
2-3 thick cut slices of bacon
2 slices provolone cheese
2-3 slices tomatoes
2 slices bread
thousand island dressing for dipping (optional)

What To Do:

I use my electric griddle and cook the bacon until it's nice and crispy. I then sear the turnkey in the drippings that the bacon leaves behind. It heats it through and gives it some more flavor. Butter the slices of bread and place one, butter side down, on the griddle. Top with a piece of cheese, the tomatoes slices, bacon, turkey and last slice of cheese. Top with the other slice of bread, butter side up and cook like you a grilled cheese sammies. Serve with thousand island dressing for dipping if desired.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Steak Au Poivre

I am a carnivore to the 100th degree. I love love love steak in particular. Steak Au Poivre, traditionally is a fillet mignon, seasoned with crushed peppercorns and served with a sauce made from cognac and cream. I make mine using Ny Strip steaks because they cook up quicker then the thicker fillet mignon. Do yourself and favor and make sure you buy a good cognac because it will make a huge difference. Also be very careful when adding the cognac to your pan. It has a decent alcohol content and will flame up very quickly. Always remember to take the pan off the heat before adding in alcohol, especially when you cook with gas. You run the risk of having the bottle explode in your hands.

What You Need:

2 -4 steaks (Ny strip is a great choice, fillet mingon is classic)
2 tbs peppercorns
1 tbs butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/3 c cognac
1 c cream
Salt and pepper

What To Do:

Crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or use a heavy bottom skillet to crush. You want a nice coarse crush to the peppercorns. Season the steak with salt and the crushed peppercorns and set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat with the butter and olive oil. Sear the steaks for a 2-5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of your steaks and the done-ness you desire. Remove the seared steaks from the pan and set aside to rest.
Remove the pan from the heat, especially if you cook with gas. Add the cognac and set a flame. Be very very careful when lighting the cognac as it will flame up really quickly. Once the flames die, add in the cream, bring to a boil and whisk until thickened. About five to six minutes. Serve over the steaks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tilapia Al Forno

Fish is something all Americans should be eating more of, but if you're like my family, fish isn't something we eat very often. I'm not the hugest fan of the taste so I'm always looking for a way to almost cover the taste up without covering it cocktail sauce. Cooking fish fillets al forno is something I can handle. I still taste the fish underneath but the crunch from the panko, the flavor from the garlic powder, and the fruitiness from the extra virgin olive oil, make this a fish dish I can handle!

What You Need:

4 (6oz) tilapia fillets
1/3 c olive oil
1 c panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

What To Do:

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Season each of the fillets with salt and pepper and place on the back sheet.
In a small bowl, mix together the panko with the garlic powder and olive oil. Divide the panko among the four fillets so that the crumbs form a crust on top of each of them.
Bake 8-12 minutes for until the fillets reach 130 degrees. Let rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Roasted Fennel and Apples

Fennel and Apples are such a classic combination. When you cut into a fennel bulb, the scent of anise hits you. When eaten raw in a salad it has an unmistakable crisp flavor but when roasted it becomes sweet as the anise flavor mellows out. We all know what apples taste like, and most people think of cooked apples as dessert but they have a great savory quality to them as well. Roasted together with some great herbs it makes the perfect side dish for any kind of pork dish.

What You Need:

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs
3-4 large apples
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
veg oil

What To Do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees with a sheet pan left  in the oven to preheat as well.
Cut the apples into quarters and remove the seeds. Cut each quarter into half so that you get a total of eight pieces out of each apple.
Cut off the tops of the fennel (of the fennel fronds) and discard. Thinly slice the bottom off of each bulb to remove the dry end. Then cut each of the bulbs into quarters and remove the small core at the bottom. Finish slicing the fennel so that it's roughly the same size as the apples. Combine them together in a large bowl some veg oil, a big pinch of salt, some pepper and the rest of the herbs and garlic powder.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven and drizzle just just a touch of veg oil. CAREFULLY dump your bowl of apples and fennel onto the sheet pan and spread out into a single layer. Preheating the pan lets them start to cook and crisp as soon as they're in the oven. Roast for about 35-45 minutes or until golden. Serve along side pork chops or a pork roast for the perfect meal.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Savory Palmiers

From left to right: prosciutto/parmsean,
olive tapenade, roasted tomato pesto
Most people know Palmiers as these sweet crunch cookies. My mom as a little girl, would walk down to the local bakery with her grandfather just to get these yummy "elephant ears." Palmiers, however, do not have to be a sweet treat. They can make terrific savory appetizers too. Just like the Olive Tapenade from last week, these savory palmiers are quick and easy to make, and the combinations are nearly endless. This recipe is actually three different ways of making them.

What You Need:

1/4 c olive tapenade
1/4 c roasted tomato pesto
6 slices prosciutto
2 tbs parmesan cheese
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed

What To Do:

Lay our your puff pastry dough and spread the tapenade, OR the pesto over the top, OR lay the slices of prosciutto over the pastry and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Roll one of the long sides of the pastry to the center of the sheet, followed by rolling the opposite side into the center. Then slice with a serrated knife about 1/4 inch thick. It's easier to slice them if you flip the whole thing over. They won't unravel as much that way. Place the palmiers onto a parchment line sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until puffy and slightly golden.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Olive Tapenade

With the holiday's right around the corner, many of us will be having large more formal suppers. Appetizers are usually involved and an olive tapenade is something that is very easy to put together and yet is considered to be something fancy. I like using Kalamata olives, however just about any olive you can get from the olive bar in your local grocery store will work just fine. I like serving mine on top of crostini which is just a baguette that has been sliced on the bias, then drizzled with olive oil and placed in the oven to get cripy. When it comes out and is still warm, rub it a clove of garlic. Serve the tapenade on top of the crostini.

What You Need:

1 c pitted Kalamata olives
1 tbs capers, drained
2 anchovy fillets
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well combined. Seriously, that's it. You can't get much simpler then that!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Taco Burgers

Hubby's been wondering why I haven't been making him burgers lately. When I told him the grilling season is over, he wasn't two happy. He loves hot, juicy burgers so last week I made them two nights in a row and he was very satisfied. The first night I made Cowboy Burgers and the next I made these taco burgers. There is salsa and spices mixed into the ground beef which not only makes them juicy but packed with flavor too. If you enjoy taco's as much as my family does, these burgers are going to become a huge favorite in your house too!

What You Need:

1lb ground beef
1/4 c chunky salsa
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt and Pepper
1 c shredded cheddar cheese or 4 slices
4 slices tomato
sour cream
4 hamburger buns

What To Do:

Preheat a grill or pan over high heat. Meanwhile, combine the ground beef with the salsa, cumin, garlic, chili powder, salt and pepper Make into 4 patties.

To do this quickly and easily, make 4 even balls out of the ground meat and place them onto a cutting board. Take a small dessert or salad plate and use it to press the burgers into a patty. It makes even round patties every time! Don't forget to press an indentation into one side of each patty to help keep them flat. Because these patties have salsa in them, they are going to be a little more fragile then you're used too so be careful when handling and cooking them. Cook your patties to your desired done-ness, only flipping once. Top each with the cheddar cheese during the last minute of cooking to melt it. Top each bun with a burger, lettuce, tomato and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cowboy Burgers

During the winter months, when the snow is flying, I often get stuck in the house. We live on a mountain side and since I'm a mini-van momma, it's not easy making it back up our driveway. I rely on my husband and his four wheel drive jeep to go grocery shopping. Just one problem, it's a stick shift and while I can drive it, I'm not comfortable doing so. (Honestly, I'm short and have a hard time reaching the petals!) We normally go after he gets home from work and since its almost an hour drive to the grocery store we tend to eat out. There isn't to many options either, it's fast food or a chain restaurant. Not into fast food, we always opt for the chain. One dish they have there is a cowboy burger. This dish is so covered in bbq sauce, it's all you can taste. One night, my hubby asked if I could make him something similar. Knowing my prowess in the kitchen, I of course excepted the challenge. It was just a burger after all and not hard to make in the least! They are great big half pound patties, covered with cheddar cheese and bacon, and then piled high with these crispy onions and topped off with bbq sauce!

What You Need:

2lbs ground beef
4 thick slices tomato
8 slices, thick cut bacon
1 large onion
1 cup flour
8 slices cheddar cheese
4-8tbs bbq sauce
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
salt and pepper
oil for frying onions

What To Do:

Season the ground beef with salt and pepper and form into four 1/2lb patties. Create an indention in the middle of each patty, just on one side. This helps keep the patty flatter so you won't be tempted to press them down and squeeze out all the juicy goodness. Cook the bacon and set a side. Slice the onion very, very, very thin and toss in the flour and set aside. Heat enough oil to fry the onion in, while you preheat your grill or pan for the burgers. Shake all the excess flour off the onions and fry, in batches if necessary, until crispy and slightly golden. Cook your burgers to your desired done-ness, only flipping them once. Cover with cheese during the last minute or so of cooking so that it melts. On the bottom of each hamburger bun, spread just a touch of bbq sauce. This helps keeps the bottom from getting soggy. Top each bottom bun with a burger, slice of tomato, two pieces of bacon, some crispy onions and one to two tbs of the bbq sauce. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Plum Crumble

Plums, which are in season from May to early October, have been the best buy for fruit in my local supper market lately. They have 2lb bags of dark purple skinned plums for just under $2, making them the cheapest fruit I can buy right now. When plums are ripe, they're soft and sweet and are wonderful in this dish. They cook down and become this beautiful ruby red color. The topping is sweet and crunchy and once you learn the recipe, you can use it for just about any fruits. Stone fruits, like plums, peaches, and nectarines work really well as a crumble. Apples are another great choice and with apple season in full swing, a crumble is a great way to use up some of them. You'll noticed that I didn't put any sugar in with the fruit. When you have ripe fruit, it's generally sweet enough and no extra sugar is needed. To make sure this is true for you, taste a slice or three from your fruit and add sugar ONLY if them seem a little sour.

What You Need:

2lbs plums, sliced
juice of 1 lemon
2 cups old fashion oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
pinch of salt

What To Do:

Combine the oats, flour, brown sugar and butter in a bowl, mixing well so that everything has been coated with the butter. Place in the fridge while you slice the fruit. Mix the fruit with the lemon juice and place it in a deep dish pie plate or similar dish. Bring the topping out of the fridge and using your hands, squeeze together a handful of topping to make a clump and place it on top the fruit. Continue doing this until the fruit is covered and the topping is all used up. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until the topping is golden and the fruit is soft and juicy about 45-50 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top if you choose.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I know what you're probably thinking: "What in the world is that??" That dear friends, is not a mutant veggie from another planet, but Romanesco. This is actually a type of cauliflower and taste very similar to it. Sometimes called broccoflower, it's bright green in color and looks like it could be used as a form of torture! I promise you though, that the pointy "flowers" of Romanesco are very tasty and can be used in any way that cauliflower is used. This is more an informational post for you all, instead of a recipe. All I did, and all you have to do, is break or cut off the points and use them as you see fit. I steamed mine for about 5-8 minutes or until they were tender and sprinkled a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese on top. Romanesco would be good in a veggie stir fry, in cheese sauce or even sauteed with a little olive oil and garlic. I hope you decide to give this wonderful a veggie a try soon! I promise you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sweet Potato Hash

Pound for pound, sweet potatoes are by the far the best deal in the super market when it comes to nutritional benefits for the price you pay. Sweet potatoes are packed with lots of vitamins and mineral and can be used in so many ways. Anything you can do with a regular potato you can do with a sweet potato and more. They are great in pies, awesome as chips and yummy as fries. Sweet potato hash is not only delicious along side some eggs in the morning but as a side dish with supper too. It's colorful and has so much to offer not only your taste buds but your eyes too. After all, we do eat with our eyes first!

What You Need:

3 slices thick cut bacon
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp sage
½ tsp ground cumin

What To Do:

Dice the bacon and cook until it’s rendered all it’s fat and is slightly crisp. Remove the bacon but leave the fat in the pan. Add in the sweet potato and let cook for a couple minutes before adding in the rest of the ingredients. Continue cooking until the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through. Stir the bacon back in and serve.

We really, really, really, loved the depth of flavor in this recipe.  I wasn't a sweet potato fan before, and I still wouldn't consider myself one. I think I would love this recipe even more with regular potatoes.  Either way, it was a great side dish to our meal and we even made it twice in one week!  It's simple, quick, and the smells that come from this dish are to-die-for!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicken Tostada's

Latin American inspired food is one of my favorite things to eat. I love finding different Mexican restaurants and seeing how much they differ from each other. I was upset to find out that there isn't one close enough to where I live to get my fix as often as I'd like. I've had to come up with my own versions of certain dishes just to satisfy my hunger for all the spicy goodness I love. To me tostada's are sort of like a layered salad on top of a crispy tortilla shell. Of course there is more to it then that. I like to layer mine with a homemade spicy red salsa, refried beans and shredded chicken. You can use beef, pork or leave out the meat all together if you'd like. 

What You Need:

1 large onion
1 lb tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, skins on
2 jalapeƱos or 1 Serrano
1/2 c plus 2 tbs veg oil
1 rotisserie chicken, removed from bone and shredded
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
shredded lettuce
refried beans
corn or flour tortillas
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

What To Do:

Preheat your broiler. Meanwhile, cut the onion into quarters. Place three of the onion quarters along with the tomatoes, garlic and chilies on a sheet pan and drizzle with the 2 tbs veg oil, salt and pepper. Place under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat and cooked till softened and charred in places but not burnt.
Dice the remaining onion and set aside. Once the tomatoes are cooked, place everything into a blender or food processor (squeeze the garlic from the skins) and blend or pulse until everything is combined. Stir the chicken and 1/2 the chopped cilantro into the salsa and set aside.
Over medium high heat, heat the remain 1/2 c veg oil in a large enough skillet to accommodate your tortilla shells. Once the oil starts to shimmer, fry the tortillas, one at a time. Use tongs to help keep the tortillas immersed in the oil and make sure you turn them over once or twice so they cook evenly until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. 

To assemble the tostada's, spread a thick layer of refried beans on top of a tortilla, then top with chicken, and what ever remaining toppings you'd like: shredded lettuce, diced onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese and sour cream.

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