Creating memories in the kitchen...One meal at a time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Two Favorite Granola Recipes-- Part 2

                         Pictures from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

     Originally made as a gift for my coconut loving brother in law, this granola was an instant hit with our family as well. The list of ingredients is fairly simple and besides baking time comes together in a snap. The recipe originates from Alton Brown on the Food Network. I haven't tried a recipe yet of his that isn't great.

Coconut Cashew Granola                                                                                                                     Alton Brown via Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Printable Version

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.
Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.
Can be stored for several weeks in an airtight container.

Posted by: Sallie
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Two Favorite Granola Recipes Part 1

                                                  Pictures from A Bountiful Kitchen Blog

   I've loved granola for as long as I can remember. I mean really, what's not to like? Rolled oats sweetened with honey and brown sugar, mixed with lots of goodies-- cashews, coconut, slivered almonds, then baked to golden, crunchy perfection. It's easily adapted too. You can add dried fruit like raisins or cranberries and sometimes I switch up the nuts for variety.
     Not only delicious, it's really quite simple to make. Toss a few ingredients together, give it a good stir, spread it on some cookie sheets and bake. It does require 1/1/2-2 hours baking time depending on how crunchy you like it, but that will give you plenty of time to clean your toilets, take a nap (in my dreams), or pick up that great book you've been dying to finish.

     Granola is a great multi-tasker. Served for breakfast with some milk, sprinkled in a fruit and yogurt parfait, or snatched by the handful for a quick-on-the go snack. Stored in an airtight container, it can last for several weeks.

I have two recipes that I LOVE and alternate between (and just spotted this one that I'll be trying next.) The first is Seven Wives Inn Granola. It originates from a historic bed and breakfast here in St. George, Utah  that's been here since 1891 called, you guessed it, The Seven Wives Inn. Spotted here and here on two of my favorite blogs, this granola is almost identical to the granola my Mom made us growing up.  If you can buy your ingredients in bulk from a health food or warehouse store, you'll save yourself some money too.

*Plan ahead. This recipe takes 1 1/2-2 hours to bake.**

Seven Wives Inn Granola
Printable Version

8 cups old fashioned oats

1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups wheat germ
8 oz coconut
8 oz salted pecans or almonds (I like to use slivered)
8 oz cashews
8 oz sunflower seeds, shelled
1 cup raisins, optional (I left these out)
½ cup water
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
½ cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl or other container.
Put the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and stir. Bring to a boil. Pour this over the dry ingredients and stir. Spread on 2 large cookie sheets, and bake for 1 ½ hours, stirring about every 20 minutes.
Cook until the granola is done to your desired (crunch) taste.

*I highly recommend using a scale to measure the ingredients.*
                              Stay tuned for another delicious granola recipe coming soon.

    Posted by: Sallie
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Lemon Buttermilk Sheet Cake

With my in-laws as well as brother and sisters in laws close by, we frequently have get-to-gethers for birthdays, Mother's Day, etc. Of course I always volunteer to bring the dessert whenever possible (for selfish reasons.) Nine times out of ten it involves chocolate, but with the summer heat, lemon has been my go-to alternative. I love it's fresh, light, and tart taste.
I love cakes for feeding a crowd and not only was this lemon cake delicious, it was something a little different than your standard chocolate/vanilla frosted cake. I loved the look and taste of the glaze and lemon sugar topping. It was a major crowd pleaser and will be making frequent appearances from now on. 
Lemon Buttermilk Sheet CakeRecipe from America’s Test Kitchen Best Summer Desserts found via Our Best Bites
2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) cake flour (no substitutions)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup white sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
3 cups (12 ounces) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons buttermilk
Make sure the oven rack is in the middle position (unless you’ve found that another position works better in your oven for baking) and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking dish and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the white sugar and lemon zest on medium speed until moist and fragrant (about 1 minute). Remove 1/4 cup of the sugar mixture and place it in a small bowl. Cover and set aside.
Add the softened butter to the remaining sugar mixture and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time, until incorporated. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 2 additions. Mix until smooth (about 30 seconds)
Scrape the batter into the reserved baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (about 25-35 minutes). Be careful not to over bake. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
While the cake is cooling, whisk the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Gently spread the glaze over the cake and sprinkle evenly with the reserved sugar mixture. Allow to cool completely, at least 2 hours.

Posted by : Sallie
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Asian Sesame Noodles With Marinated Chicken And Vegetables

Are you sick of heating up your kitchen for dinner? Are you trying to use your food storage to make meals that your family will actually eat? Do you like Asian food? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you've got to try this.

There were so many things I loved about this meal.

*I didn't have to turn the oven on.

* It used several ingredients from my food storage (noodles, sugar, oil, peanut butter).

*The veggies. Don't leave these out. They added a fabulous fresh taste and great texture. (I was a little skeptical about the red cabbage. I'm not a huge fan of it in salads but it was delish.)

* The marinade does double duty for the chicken and the noodles.

*Easily adapted to fit your family's taste. You could slice or dice the chicken and turn it into a one pot meal. Add broccoli, snap peas, snow peas,or bean sprouts. I think bok choy would be a great substitution if you don't like cabbage. You could also skip the chicken for a delicious vegetarian meal. 
*I love, love, loved all the different tastes and textures. The tender noodles, moist grilled chicken, fresh veggies, and the sweet and spicy sauce. Because it was summer, we ate the noodles slightly cooled instead of hot. Another great summer meal to add to my collection.

**Cook's Notes:
The chicken only needs to marinade while you are making this dish but can marinate for longer.

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients. Most, if not all can be easily found in your favorite grocery store. Also, a little goes a long way. You'll have plenty of leftovers to experiment with other delicious Asian dishes.


Marinade for chicken and sauce for noodles:
3 cloves garlic
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. white vinegar
c. soy sauce
1 T. hoisin sauce
T. sesame oil
3 T. vegetable or canola oil
1-1 1/3 c. brown sugar (depending how sweet you like it--I of course use it all )
T. sesame seeds
T. lime juice
T. peanut butter
t. ginger (freshly grated or ginger powder)
t. red pepper flakes
T. sweet red chili sauce *My favorite is Mae Ploy brand*

16 oz. thin spaghetti noodles or angel hair pasta
1/2 c. green onions, sliced
1/2 c. carrots, sliced
1 red or orange bell pepper, sliced thinly
c. red cabbage, sliced thinly
4-5 chicken breasts

Combine in a bowl the ingredients for the marinade. If the peanut butter is too thick and won't whisk into the sauce well, microwave it for a few seconds (I microwaved mine for 15 sec.) until soft. Once marinade is smooth, take 1/2-3/4 c. of the marinade and place in a Ziploc bag or in a bowl with the chicken. Put chicken in the fridge until ready to grill. Set the rest of the marinade aside until the noodles are cooked.

Cook the noodles until tender and then drain and rinse. While noodles are cooking cut the vegetables very thinly (you don't want big chunks of vegetables, just thin slices). When the noodles are drained and cooked, place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables to the warm noodles (this will help soften the carrots). Pour the remaining dressing (not from the chicken, the extra) over the noodles. Let noodles sit until chicken is cooked.

Grill the marinated chicken until cooked through. Serve the grilled chicken along side the sesame noodles. Garnish the sesame noodles with sesame seeds and sliced green onions.

Source: Deal To Meals
Posted by: Sallie
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta

I have to confess. This summer I have been L-A-Z-Y in the kitchen.  My excuse is the heat. I mean really, it has been 111+ here! Turning the oven on isn't appealing in the least. Instead we've been doing a lot of grilling and stove top cooking. But after reading through this recipe and discovering that it  required only 15 minutes of baking time, I decided to go for it.

Boy am I glad. I. All the flavors of chicken cordon bleu, with the addition of tender penne pasta. It's hands down my favorite meal I've made in a long time.

First, tender penne noodles are nestled in a divine, creamy, cheesy, alfredo like sauce. Next comes bite sized nuggets of tender chicken, a sprinkling of bacon, and delicious ham. The addition of bread crumbs on the top  finishes the dish beautifully.

The whole family loved it. In fact, it was such a hit that my oldest daughter has already requested it for her birthday dinner in January.

Served with a side salad and some nice steamed veggies, this is comfort food at it's best.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta


  • 10-12 oz. penne or ziti pasta (I used 12)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, separated
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into strips or bite sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced ham
  • bread crumbs (I used the Italian flavored ones)


  1. Cook pasta according to its package's directions. Drain. I always add a little olive oil after I drain it and stir in around so the pasta noodles don't stick together or the pot.
  2. Heat cream cheese on stove over medium low heat until melted. Stir in heavy cream. Stir until completely combined. Add onion powder and garlic salt until it tastes how you would like it to. Stir in cheese until smooth consistency.
  3. In a 9x13, layer noodles, chicken, bacon and ham. Pour sauce over top. Sprinkle top with 1/2 cup cheese and bread crumbs.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until heated through.
Recipe Source: Chef in Training
Posted by: Sallie
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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

No Bake Energy Bites

I enrolled my toddler in a little cooking class called Snack Attack.  It is a fun little 30 minute class that includes a story and preparing a corresponding snack.  She came home with the recipe for these yummy little energy bites one day and I knew they had to be good because she had eaten all of them in class!  They are easy to make and very delicious.  Perfect for a snack on the go.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (you can also substitute raisins or dried cranberries for a healthier version)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.  Makes 18-20 bites.

Posted by:  Julia
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Restaurant Style Salsa

Picture From The Pioneer Woman

We love Mexican food and can never seem to get enough. I LOVE this salsa recipe. It's quick, easy, and delicious. The only problem is, the recipe calls for a can of diced tomatoes with jalapenos which only certain stores carry and that can be a pain. Not wanting to make a special trip for one ingredient, I decided to give this recipe a try. It's fantastic! It reminds me a lot of Chili's salsa which is the best! 

Restaurant Style Salsa                                                                                                               Printable Recipe


  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Onion
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (more To Taste!)
  • 1/2 whole Lime Juice
  • Preparation Instructions

    Note: this is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.
    Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you'd like---I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.
    Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.
    Recipe Source: Pioneer Woman
    Posted by: Sallie
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    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Paula Deen's Lot's O' Meat Lasagna

    In case you haven't noticed, and not  intentionally, I've been on a kick lately. Trying to find some good old-fashioned, basic, go-to recipes. I love trying new recipes and different versions of our families favorites, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it's so nice to have a recipe you know you can depend on to give you great results every time. My latest quest ?Lasagna.

    I have a few lasagna recipes I really like. The Pioneer Woman's recipe, this amazing version that I usually save for company or special occasions, and this fun mexican version. Although they are all delicious in different ways, I was still on the lookout for something new.

    Then as luck would have it, when my friend Andrea and I were planning what to feed our boy's soccer team and some of their families at an upcoming tournament, she suggested a lasagna recipe her brother had e-mailed her. After reading over the ingredients, I had a feeling it was going to be good.

    After tasting it, I had to agree, it was delicious. I loved the combination of both ground beef and sausage. The addition of ricotta as well as cottage cheese ? Let's just say it totally makes the lasagna. The soccer boys and their families devoured it. It's a keeper.

    Lots O'Meat Lasagna

    • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (the original recipe calls for ground chuck so do whatever you like best)
    • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
    • 1 onion
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons ground oregano
    • 1 teaspoon ground basil
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano *we don't like chunks of tomatoes so I puree this. Sometimes I add a little more if the sauce looks too dry)
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
    • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
    • 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
    • 1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese
    • 1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmigianno-Reggiano
    • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 9-12 oven-ready lasagna noodles (Barilla is my favorite. see cooks note at bottom)
    • 2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella *


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    In a large saucepan, combine ground chuck, sausage onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled; drain.
    Return meat to pan and add oregano, basil, salt and pepper. If desired, puree tomatoes in food processor. Add tomatoes or tomato puree, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.( If the sauce looks too dry, I add a little more of the tomato puree.)
    In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese,ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and eggs.
    Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan. Place 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.
    Bake 45 minutes, covered in foil. Remove foil, top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
    **Cooks Notes 

    If you use Barilla brand of oven ready lasagna noodles, you will need to use 12 noodles because they are fatter and shorter. When I halved the recipe for 8x8 pan I used about 6 noodles.

    I  never use pre-grated cheese. They use a substance on it to keep it from clumping which keeps it from melting as nicely as freshly grated cheese.

    Recipe Source: adapted from Paula Deen
    Posted by: Sallie

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    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    My Go-To Brownies

    I love brownies. Always have, always will. Great for  picnics and potlucks, packed in lunches, with a nice tall glass of cold milk or nestled in a bowl with some silky hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream. Yum.

    For a long time this Paula Deen version reigned as my favorite. Until I made these. Don't get me wrong, I still love Paula's version and make them quite often but these babies are everything I love in a brownie. Fudgy, moist, dense without being too heavy, and the kicker---little pockets of chocolate chips  in every bite.

    Considering that during marathon season last year my husband and I consumed at least 10 pans of these babies, I think we can now claim to be experts on the subject. I'd make a batch on Saturday night, let them firm up in the fridge overnight and the next day cut them into bite sized pieces, perfect for snacking on all day long.

    *Although I haven't gotten around to making it, I've included the turtle variation below.*

    Turtle Brownies

    Makes 16 brownies

    10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    1/4 cup water
    24 ounces good quality, semisweet chocolate chips
    5 eggs
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2 pan with butter.
    In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar and water, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add 12 ounces of the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next. Combine the dry ingredients and mix gently into the chocolate mixture. Stir in the remaining chocolate and vanilla.
    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels just firm to the touch, about 30-35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. While brownies are cooling, prepare the topping.

    Caramel Pecan Topping Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
    • 6 tablespoons water
    • 2/3 cup heavy cream
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 3 cups pecan halves and pieces


    In a heavy saucepan, bring the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt to a boil over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring and let the caramel cook until it turns golden, 10-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla. The hot caramel may spatter when you add the cream, so be careful. When the caramel stops bubbling excessively, stir until smooth, and then stir in the pecans. Spread the topping over the cooled brownies in an even layer. Let cool, then cut brownies into 16 squares.

    Recipe Source: The Family Kitchen Cookbook

    Posted by: Sallie
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    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin

    Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin

    4-5 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    2 pork tenderloins (about 1¼ pounds each)
    2 tablespoons canola oil (if preparing in oven)


    Stir together garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub the paste all over pork. If you like or have the time, marinate overnight. If not, no worries, it will still be great!
    Grill preparation:
    Sear the tenderloins on all sides, then grill for about 20-30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Try to let it rest before slicing.
    Oven preparation:
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Heat canola oil in a large, heavy saute pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add pork, and brown all over, about 4 minutes.
    Transfer pan to oven. Roast pork, turning occasionally, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees, about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board, and try to let it rest 10 minutes before slicing.
    Recipe & Picture Source: Kitchen Confidante 

    Posted by: Sallie

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    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    The Best Hamburger Buns

    What better to go with the perfect hamburger, than the best hamburger buns? After making these homemade hamburger buns from King Arthur Flour and these cute little brioche buns I was on a quest to find the best hamburger buns to go with my perfect burger.

    Luckily, my search was quick and easy. Along with her recipe for the perfect hamburger, Annie also had her perfect hamburger bun recipe. Originally printed in the NY times and adapted by another of my favorite food bloggers, Deb from Smitten Kitchen  who searched through over 100 different recipes, searching for the one. That's dedication!

    With the perfect amount of fluff and firmness, these buns were every bit as good as the burger. They baked up golden and buttery with a hint of sweetness. The texture was heavier than your high quality white bread but lighter than a true brioche and complimented the burger perfectly.The process was just as easy as making your average dinner roll.

     I did half with sesame seeds and half without, thinking that my kids would turn their noses up at the seeded ones, but they were the first to go.

    Now I've got my perfect burger and my perfect bun. It's going to be a great summer!

    Light Brioche Burger Buns

    3 tbsp. warm milk
    1 cup warm water
    2 tsp. instant yeast
    2½ tbsp. sugar
    1½ tsp. salt
    1 large egg
    3 cups bread flour ( I ended up using between  3 1/8-3 1/4 cups)
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    2½ tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
    For topping:
    1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
    Sesame seeds
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt and egg.  Mix briefly to combine.  Add the flours to the bowl, and mix until incorporated.  Mix in the butter.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 6-8 minutes.  The dough will be somewhat tacky, but you want to avoid adding too much extra flour which will create tough buns.  
    Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours. 
    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal parts.  Gently roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the baking sheet, 2-3 inches apart.  Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise again, 1-2 hours, until puffed up and nearly doubled.  
    Set a large metal pan of water on the lowest rack of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400˚ F with a rack in the center.  Brush the tops of the buns lightly with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake the buns about 15 minutes rotating halfway through baking, until the tops are golden brown.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

    Recipe Source: Annie's Eats via Smitten Kitchen and Originally printed in the New York Times.

    Posted by: Sallie
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    Friday, June 1, 2012

    The Perfect Hamburger

    Grilling season is in full swing and I've been on the hunt for the "perfect burger" recipe. 

    My husband has become quite the grill-master but he's not always around when the dinner prep begins and I like having a go-to recipe that I know is going to give me great results every time. After a few mediocre attempts, I stumbled upon this recipe. Just looking at it convinced me that this was "the one!"

    Boy, was I right!  Classic seasonings and good old-fashioned ingredients, nothing fancy here, turned out some of the best burgers we've ever had. The only change I made was subbing out the ground sirloin for ground chuck. I'm usually a lean ground beef kinda girl but when it comes to burgers, if you want it  nice and juicy you need that extra little fat. These burgers were so  good in fact, that we ate them two nights in a row and my husband announced he will be eating them every night when the kids and I take our annual cousins trip to my Moms.

    If you're a beginner at the grill, see the great tips below from the girls over at The Sister's Cafe. I'll just add my two-cents. If you want the "perfect burger" you gotta have a homemade bun. Just sayin.

    The Perfect Hamburger

    1 lb. ground chuck
    2 Tbs. finely chopped yellow onion
    1 tsp. minced garlic
    1 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
    1 or 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    4 slices cheddar or Swiss cheese (optional.Truth be told Kraft singles are my absolute fav)
    4 hamburger buns, split
    Sliced tomato for serving
    Sliced onion, for serving
    Torn lettuce for serving
    Sliced dill pickle for serving
    Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or other condiments of your choice for serving

    Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.

    In a large bowl, mix together the beef, yellow onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Form the mixture into 4 patties, each 3⁄4 inch thick.

    Grill the hamburgers directly over medium-high heat, turning once, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Check for doneness by cutting into a hamburger near the center or testing with an instant-read thermometer. No pink should show on the inside, and the internal temperature should register at least 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. If making cheeseburgers, place a slice of cheese on top of each hamburger during the last 3 minutes of cooking.

    During the last 2 to 3 minutes of cooking, toast the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the grill. Serve the hamburgers on the buns with tomato, white onion, lettuce, dill pickle and condiments. Serves 4.

    A Few Tips for the Perfect Burger:
    1. Brush your grill with oil and then heat to medium.
    2.  Put  all the ingredients together in a bowl and add any “stir ins” your heart desires:)
    3.  Using your hands or a fork, gently stir together.  Be careful to handle the meat as little as possible–the heat from your hands will start to melt the fat creating a dense and tough hamburger.
    4.  Gently create 4- 5 patties that are 3/4 inch thick. (per pound of meat)
    5.  Have you ever had your burgers form rounded tops when cooking, causing your condiments to slide off?  Well, the smart people at America Test Kitchens found if you use your thumb to create a small depression in the center of the burger, it will prevent that during cooking.  I have done this ever since I read that –and it works like a charm!
    6.  Place hamburger patties on the preheated grill and close the lid!  Do not poke, smash or flip more than once!  This will make all the juices to come out and your will be left with dry as a bone burgers!  Leave on the grill until no longer pink inside, turning one time!  Usually this is 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how thick you made your patties.
    7. The last few minute of cooking put a slice of cheese on top your patty.
    8.  While the cheese is melting, toast your buns on the top rack of the grill.
    9.  Gently place your perfect burger between your lightly toasted buns, and pile with your favorite toppings.  

                                          Stay tuned next week for the best hamburger buns ever!

    Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma via Annie's Eats

    Posted by: Sallie
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    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Dulce-de-leche Banana Toffee Pie

    Banoffee Pie kept popping up all around me. In recipe books, on Pinterest, and food blogs. In case you have no idea what Banoffe pie is, it's simply a pie made with dulce de leche (basically a thickened, soft caramel sauce) bananas, cream and toffee. I'd wanted to make one for quite some time but I had reservations.The thought of boiling a can of sweetened condensed milk and having it magically turn into caramel seemed like some kind of trick and maybe a little scary. Would the bananas be mushy or slimy? Would the caramel be so rich that it overpowered the whole pie? So each week when I made my dessert selection, it was passed by.

    Finally after seeing my friend and fellow blogger Anne pin this and describing it as "rich and oh so yummy" I knew she wouldn't lead me astray and decided to make it to go with our Sunday dinner. Coming from the gals at Our Best Bites didn't hurt either.

    I followed the directions here to make the dulce de leche. The sweetened condensed milk is removed from the can and cooked in a pie plate with a water bath. I also came across this crock pot method which I will be trying for sure.

    I also went the homemade route with my cookie crust. I'm not a fan of store bought cookie or graham cracker crust. Trust me, it makes a BIG difference in the final product.

    After one bite, all my reservations floated out the window. A crumbly, chocolaty cookie crust, silky smooth dulce de leche, perfectly firm, non slimy bananas, crunchy chunks of chocolate coated toffee, and a divine, sweetened cream cheese topping.  In my opinion, the sweetened cream/cream cheese mixture is what took this pie from so, so to pure bliss! (The other recipes I came across just called for straight whipped cream.)

    I'd also be willing to bet, this would be just as delicious with a traditional graham cracker crust.

    **One word of caution, I would serve this pie within 6-8 hours of assembling. The dulce de leche did seem to break down a little and get slightly less firm.**

    Dulce de Leche Banana Toffee Pie

    8-serving chocolate cookie pie crust (I used this recipe. You'll have leftovers.)
    1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    2 bananas (make sure they are really firm and not too ripe)
    1 cup crushed chocolate-covered toffee bars or Heath bits
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    8 ounces cream cheese (light is fine)
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    Prepare Dulce de Leche according to these instructions. When done, allow to cool slightly and then spread onto the bottom and up the sides of the cookie crust.
    Cut the bananas into 1/4″ slices. Lay the slices over the Dulce de Leche. Sprinkle with about 1/2 of the toffee bits and set aside.
    In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream. Beat with electric beaters until medium peaks form. In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese and the brown sugar with the electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the whipped cream and mix with the electric mixer until fluffy and combined. Gently spread over the toffee bits and then sprinkle with remaining toffee bits. Chill for several hours before serving. Serves 8-10.

    Recipe Source: Our Best Bites
    Posted by: Sallie

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