Mini burgers that pack a punch

>> Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I was in the mood for a burger tonight but decided to skip Kellers and head to the store for a homemade gourmet burger instead. When most people think of a burger, they think a poppy sead bun encasing a skinny, greasy meat patty smothered with yellow mustard and ketchup and topped off with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar or American cheese and possibly a little bacon. Well, not my burger!

My burger tonight came in miniature form and was full of flavor that packed a punch. Simply constructed, I used relatively few ingredients but was so pleased I just had to share with you. All you need to re-create this meal is:

English muffins
Lean ground beef
Gruyere cheese, thinly sliced
Dijon mustard
Sprouts
Salt
Cracked pepper
Ground mustard
Tabasco sauce

In a bowl, mix the ground beef with salt, pepper, ground mustard and plenty of tabasco sauce (about 8 shakes). Form small patties and toss into a large skillet and cover with a lid. Cook until desired doneness. 

Heating the broiler, pop your English muffins under the fire for a couple of minutes to crisp up a bit.

Assemble your mini burgers by spreading a thick layer of Dijon mustard on both top and bottom muffins. On the bottom muffin, layer on a nice base of sprouts then nestle in your beef patty. Top it all off with a slice of Gruyere cheese and sandwich with the top muffin.

This burger works so well because of all the powerful flavors playing off each other. Gruyere cheese is pungent, Dijon mustard is incredibly spicy and deep in its flavor and the Tabasco sauce, well, that just gives the meat a nice kick. Together, encased by a simple English muffin with sprouts, well, this combo just works.  Pair with a mild couscous and freshly snipped chives and your meal is done. Add a little interest to the couscous by adding in a splash of white wine and enjoy your meal!

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Crustless Broccoli-Cheddar Quiche

>> Monday, April 12, 2010

I dropped by the store this evening for a couple of quick ingredients for my Monday night dinner. After arriving home around 6:45, I dropped my computer and changed into my kickin' around clothes I went to work on my fabulous dinner. I am a big fan of quiche no matter what the occasion but a Monday night quiche is the best. You see, you make a quiche on Monday and you are set for lunch for at least three days. Fantastic!

Tonight I went for a crustless broccoli-cheddar quiche made in individual ramekins. You can make any variety from quiche lorraine to spinach and ham to pancetta and chive, but broccoli-cheddar won out this evening. I have several recipes in my blog archives so feel free to browse!

All you need for this simple dish is:

6 eggs
One package finely shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
Broccoli, roughly chopped
Fresh cracked pepper
Salt
Paprika
Butter
Four ramekins

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter your ramekins and set aside.  In a large bowl, crack your eggs and briskly whisk with a fork. Add in the carton of heavy whipping cream and stir. Add broccoli, stir, then season with pepper, salt and paprika. Laddle the mixture into the ramekins and pop into the oven for approximately 45 minutes. That's it! Enjoy!

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Banana bread

>> Sunday, April 11, 2010

I was startled out of bed at 7 am when I heard what at the time I thought was the wrath of God but then remembered that Texas Stadium was being imploded. I was surprised I heard the series of explosions all the way at my house so double checking my sanity, I walked outside to see if it was about to rain (though I didn't think it was in the forcast). Up and about, I realized I was starving. Yesterday I worked all day long in my garden planting in the beds and patio containers. I even got motivated to roll a massive tree stump from my neighbors front yard after having a tree removed all the way to the very back corner of my back yard. Pretty much as soon as I pulled it off the curb into the street I regreted the effort I would have to put forth but managed to roll it back to where I wanted it and think it was definitely a genius move. I admit I am a little sore today. Those things are heavy!!

After inspecting all my work from yesterday, I went to the kitchen to start the day off with a cup of joe. Coffee brewing, I began to look around for what to cook for breakfast. With four bananas sitting sadly uneaten on the counter I decided to turn their browning little bodies into banana bread. I love making breakfast breads on Sunday mornings because I am set for the week with a delicious treat to take to work.

Banana bread is a simple to make and fills your home with cozy aromas. A perfect set up for coffee, the paper, Meet the Press and George. So, off I went pulling the basic ingredients from the pantry as follows:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts then pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it passes the toothpick test. Let the bread cool slightly then seperate the loaf from pan with a knife. Carefully turn the loaf pan upside down to free the bread, keep covered with a towel to preserve freshness and moisture. Enjoy!

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Maple syrup isn't just for pancakes

>> Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today is absolutely gorgeous outside! This is truly the perfect Texas Spring day. I started off the morning with a nice stroll through the neighborhood with a cup of coffee in hand. The flowers are starting to bloom, trees are budding out and the grass is a lemony-lime green. I love it!  Because I'm leaving this perfect weather for the warm weather of Puerto Rico this week, so I don't have much food in the house. Hungry after my stroll, I searched the pantry for my options.  Oatmeal caught my eye as a cozy curl up on my patio in the shade with my favorite pair of sweats on to further take in the day meal. Yes, that's exactly what I did.

I don't buy the flavored little packets of Oatmeal because I prefer to do it myself. I poured a good little bit of oats in a bowl (my eyes are always bigger than my stomach because I forget how filling this stuff is), then added in a couple spoonfulls of soft brown sugar and a shake or two of cinnamon.  A little water, a quick stir and into the microwave the bowl went. I rarely use my microwave but it is perfect for cooking up these oats. Two minutes, stirring at the half mark, and you have a hot bowl of goodness.

Now, if you think Maple syrup is just for pancakes you are quite mistaken. I use it in my cooking often, especially with meats, but a drizzle over Oatmeal is just divine. You can skip all the butter and enjoy the natural sweetness of this great combination. 

Mmmm, mmmm, I'm off to garden. Enjoy your Oatmeal, and your day!

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Pollo embanado (breaded chicken)

>> Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I will be heading down to Puerto Rico next week with a group of friends and have spent the evening finalizing our plans. Getting in the spirit, I pulled out my Puerto Rican Cookery cookbook to find a little recipe for dinner. I didn't have much to work with in the house but came across pollo embanado, which is a delicious breaded chicken.  All you need for this quick little meal is:

Chicken breasts
Bread crumbs
2 eggs
Plain white rice
Green peas
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Paprika

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow dish, coat the chicken thoroughly with bread crumbs. In a seperate bowl, crack your eggs and add a pinch of salt and mix.  Dip your bread crumb coated chicken in the egg and place in greased baking dish.  Crack with a bit of pepper and pop in the oven for 40 minutes. 

(About 20 minutes later) Prepare the rice according to package directions.  Spice it up with a bit of salt, pepper and paprika then skip the butter later.  Throw some peas on to cook when the rice is nearly done and you will have a complete meal.  Plate all the food and enjoy!!

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Simple salmon

>> Monday, March 8, 2010

Over the last week, the kitchen hasn't seen much of me. Work has been busy and I had too many plans over the weekend, but tonight, I'm back. For dinner, I cooked up a simple salmon which I paired with orzo and asparagus.  All you need is:

Salmon
Asparagus
Tri-colored orzo
Parsley, chopped
Scallions, chopped
Butter, 2 tablespoons, melted
Lemon juice, 1 tablespoon
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Olive oil
Fresh cracked pepper
Salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the salmon with your salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil, and sprinkle with one clove of chopped garlic. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the orzo according to package directions.  Trim the asparagus ends and cook over medium heat in the large skillet. Add the remaining garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt and cook until tender.  In a small bowl, combine the butter, parsley, salt and pepper.  Drain the orzo and add the buttered parsley and blend. Serve the fish with the orzo and asparagus, top with scallions and enjoy!

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