Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another Culinary Adventure

Well, the other day on The Chew, it was all about hamburgers.  Michael Simon said that grinding your own meat, making your own patties, is the absolute best way to create the most delicious burger at home.  His theory is that by doing this you know exactly what is in your hamburger meat.  Whereas if buying it already ground you truly have no idea what you're eating.  They do use scraps but from what beef parts? 

This got me to thinking and, of course, I distinctly remember the news a bit back about the pink slime in hamburger meat.  UGH!!  That just makes my stomach churn typing it!

So, my quest was and is to make the best home ground hamburger meat, thereby producing the best burger I can.  And the healthiest, too!  And, of course, we all know that hamburger meat can be used for a gazillion different things from spaghetti sauce to tacos!

At the beginning of the week, I ordered the food grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer.  On Thursday, I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, 1/2 pound sirloin, and one short rib (for the fat content).  I was all set to embark on this new journey Friday evening and that I did!!

Before I Began

The Grinding Commenced

The Patties

On The Grill

Before The Swiss Cheese

The Final Built Burger
I have to say that this was a pretty darn good burger.  It held together beautifully and was tender and delicious.  I did overcook it a bit due to the thickness of the original patty and I stupidly didn't use my meat thermometer to be sure I DIDN'T overcook it.  Silly me but with all the prep, I just forgot.  Next time I will be sure to use it.  I also wonder if I need more fat which will keep it juicy.  Michael Simon said if you have to buy hamburger meat already ground, be sure to get the 80/20 version because you NEED the fat to keep the burger juicy while cooking.  Otherwise, you'll have a pretty dry burger.

So, I may add more fat to the next batch.  I love experimenting with this and love that I now know exactly what is in my hamburger meat.  For that, the extra bit of time it took me to grind it (and it was pretty effortless short of the trip to Whole Foods), is all worth it. 

Definitely will be making my own hamburger meat from now on!  Pin It

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer Beer

Last weekend I went home to Panama City to visit family and chill for a few days.  While there, on our first day of kayaking, my niece brought along a supply of Summer Beer for us to enjoy.  And, boy we did!  Within minutes of our first sips, we were sitting on the beach as giddy as could be - praying we would be able to kayak back to the mainland when it was time!!

And so, we have found another wonderful concoction to sip on during the upcoming warm summer days.  Thank you Jenny!!  Enjoy everyone!

 Summer Beer    

Yields: 4 Servings
6 ounces Frozen lemonade
12 ounces Bottle beer
12 ounces Vodka


Blend frozen lemonade, beer, and vodka until smooth. Pour into four glasses filled with crushed ice. Enjoy!!

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

I have seen lots of recipes and mentions of Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches of late so decided to finally make one myself.  Oh my - it was delish!  A bit rich, I thought, for me - perhaps I put too much Pimento Cheese on my sandwich, but really good!  Definitely a "must have" again!  Here is the recipe.

 Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches   

Yields: 16 Servings
1 cup Mayonnaise
4 ounce Pimento diced and drained
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Finely chopped onions
16 ounce Sharp cheddar cheese shredded
Bread slices (white or wheat)


Stir together 1 cup mayonnaise, diced pimento, Worcestershire sauce, and onion. Stir in shredded sharp Cheddar Cheese.  (store leftover pimento cheese spread in refrigerator for up to one week).

To make grilled sandwiches, spread 1/4 cup pimento cheese spread on 1 side of a bread slice.  Top with another bread slice.  Lightly spread both sides of sandwich with mayonnaise.  Repeat with remaining pimento cheese mixture for desired number of sandwiches.  Cook, in batches, on a hot griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat 4-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese melts.
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Monday, April 07, 2014

The Confectioner

Since the first time I visited Disney World as a kid and stood and watched the ladies and men inside the Main Street Confectioner making homemade candies, I've been enthralled with the entire process.  I love watching others make awesome candies in candy shops throughout the county and have seen the long lost art being reproduced in places such as Helen and Savannah and I'm sure other places that escape my memory at the moment.  It always attracts me and I could stand and watch for hours!

So, one day I was watching the Food Network and a chef came on making these delightful chocolate caramels in a matter of seconds.  That's the beauty of candy making - it usually is pretty quick. Of course, I just had to make them.  I had intended to make them on National Caramel Day (April 5) but didn't get an opportunity.  So, today was the day! 

What fun to whip these up and, yes, I'll be presenting to a dear friend as a gift.  I had to taste test one and they are most delightful!  He will love them!

I definitely will be making these again.  What a great gift idea - I mean, who doesn't love chocolate?

 Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels   

Yields: 20

3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Heavy cream
1/2 cup Corn syrup
4 ounce Milk chocolate



Bring to boil the sugar, heavy cream, and corn syrup until thick and light caramel color. Add 4 ounces milk chocolate, stirring until mixed through. Add a sprinkle of sea salt. Pour into parchment paper lined loaf pan. Spread evenly. Top with cocoa nips and sea salt. Let set for one hour, cut into squares.
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cocktail of the Week

As one who used to tend bar on occasion, I love trying new cocktails.  I was watching The Kitchen yesterday on Food Network and Geoffrey Zakarian always incorporates a new cocktail at the end of the show.  This episode it was the Southside Cocktail.  And I happened to have all the ingredients.  Imagine that?  Yes, a former bartender usually always has everything on hand to make any cocktail known to man!

So, last evening I commenced to making this delightfully light cocktail.  It's very yummy!!  Try it!

 Southside Cocktail    

Yields: 1 Servings
2 ounce Gin
1 ounce Lime juice fresh squeezed
3/4 ounce Simple Syrup
1 sprig Mint
1 Mint leaf

Combine the gin, lime juice, simple syrup and mint sprig in a shaker. Add some ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Bars

I came across this recipe recently and just had to make it.  It reminded me of the peanut butter bars that they served with our school lunches in elementary school.  I don't know a kid, parent, teacher, or administrator who didn't love Mrs. Baggett's Peanut Butter Bars.  Hers were just like these but instead of having the chocolate covering, they were sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.  Next time, I'll make them just like that in memory of Mrs. Baggett. 

They are yummy either way you do it - try them!! If you have kids, they'll be happy you did!

 Peanut Butter Bars    

Yields: 50 Servings
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar packed
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups Peanut butter
2 1/2 cups Confectioners Sugar
2 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips 

1. Place all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until butter and peanut butter are melted, one to two minutes (time will vary by microwave).
2. Remove from microwave and use a large spoon to stir all of the ingredients together until they form a ball of dough that leaves the side of the bowl. Pat into a 9x13 pan.
3. Pour chocolate chips into another microwave safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted. Spoon over top of peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.
4. Allow to cool completely at room temperature until chocolate hardens again or place in the refrigerator for faster hardening. Cut into squares and serve to some awfully happy people!
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Monday, February 03, 2014

Super Bowl Fare

While I'm not big on pro football (unless I'm there in person) I always take the time to watch the Super Bowl game, year after year.  Mostly due to the commercials, as with many other folks in the country.  So, with that being said, one must provide some munchies for said football game and I came across this recipe recently that was perfect.  A little labor intensive on the front end but worth it on the back end. 

Only thing I changed was to increase the amount of hot sauce from the original 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup.  A little more liquid was needed to be able to combine the chicken, cheese, pepper, and scallions into balls. 

Another thing I might change would be just to simply use a good blue cheese dressing out of the bottle.  The dip was good but seemed a bit rich and the chicken balls are rich enough on their own. 

All in all, this is a great recipe and was a great excuse to pull out my Fry Daddy!

Yields: 12 Servings
1 Chicken store bought rotisserie
1/2 cup Hot pepper sauce Frank's Red Hot
1 teaspoon Black pepper
1 3/4 cups Sharp cheddar finely grated
1/4 cup Scallion finely sliced
1 cup All purpose flour
3 Eggs lightly beaten
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups Panko bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Blue cheese crumbled
1/2 teaspoon Hot pepper sauce Frank's Red Hot
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 Lemon juiced
1 teaspoon Garlic chopped



Have oil heated to 350 degrees F.

Pick meat from the chicken, chop finely. Discard chicken. Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the hot sauce, pepper, cheese and scallions. Toss to combine. Roll the chicken into 2-ounce balls, about the size of a golf ball.

Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate bowls. Roll each ball in the flour, then the egg, then the Panko crumbs. Set aside.

When the oil is hot, fry the chicken balls in batches. Cook for about 2 minutes per batch. Remove the chicken to paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.

To make the sauce, combine the mayonnaise, crumbled blue cheese, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, lemon and garlic in a large bowl. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Serve the chicken alongside the dipping sauce.

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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Perfect Soup for a Cold Winter's Day!

Having had chili in the last two weeks, I was looking for a recipe for a soup to make that would last throughout the work week and lo and behold, I found the ole Taco Soup recipe that I make quite often during the cold winter months.  It's hot and spicy and will warm your soul!

 Taco Soup    

Yields: 10 Servings
2 lbs Ground beef
2 cups Onions diced
2 can (16 oz) Pinto beans
1 can (16 oz) Kidney beans
1 can (16 oz) Corn drained
1 can (15 oz) Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) Diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) Tomatoes with chiles
2 can (4 oz) Green chiles diced
1 can (5 oz) Black olives drained and sliced, optional
1/2 cup Green olives sliced, optional
1 package Taco seasoning mix
1 package Ranch salad dressing mix
Sour cream for garnish
Grated cheese for garnish
Green onion chopped, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos for garnish



Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain and transfer to a large slow cooker or stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives (if using), green olives (if using), taco seasoning mix, and ranch dressing mix. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours or simmer over low heat for about one hour in the stockpot.

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