Sunday, July 31, 2016

Steakhouse Burger

Summer is meant for grilling, we have multiple dinners prepared outside each week. And that means burgers and brats will find their way onto our menu quite often as well. Hamburgers aren't always my most favorite, but especially in the summer they generally sound good.

I prefer the usual toppings on mine: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, ketchup and mustard. I'm also not much of a cheeseburger fan, I like cheese but just not on my burgers. The meat should be well seasoned and my bun toasted. And well done, not much pink for me, I'm getting better, as the hubby absolutely prefers rare meat. That's the perfect burger in my opinion.

We made these for dinner this past week, as it had been awhile and they represent a good typical burger for me. I think my onion and tomato are hiding under my bun there, but it was good. My big tomatoes have yet to ripen so we grabbed a couple from the farmers' market earlier that day. Oh and that bright colorful salad looking thing on my plate? That's a little creativity and using up of old veggies in the fridge. We enjoyed it as both a salad and a salsa sort of dip with tortilla chips. I love simple summer meals like this one. And that color, I absolutely love all the bright, beautiful colors on our dinner plates this time of year!

Steakhouse Burger

2 pounds ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
black pepper
Lawry's seasoning salt
Buns, toasted on grill

Preheat grill.

In a large bowl, combine together meat and all the seasonings. I don't usually measure the pepper and salt, just a good sprinkle in of both will work. Form meat into patties, you should get six or so depending on size.

Grill burgers until nicely browned on the first side, about 7-8 minutes. Then flip using a spatula and let cook on the other side until meat has reached desired doneness. If desired, toast buns on grill before serving. Remove burgers and buns from grill, serve warm with favorite toppings.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Buckwheat Pancakes

Breakfast around here hasn't been too exciting this summer. Lots of toast, eggs and smoothies. As much as I love to cook, mom gets tired of preparing a full on meal three times a day plus all of those dishes that go along with it. I've only made muffins once and pancakes maybe a few times. With the weather cooling down just a tad this week, I thought I'd treat the kiddos to pancakes.

They're not your typical hot cake. I like experimenting with new ingredients, and flour being one of them. Unlike some, buckwheat flour is one that can easily be adaptable to most recipes that call for regular flour. It definitely has a unique flavor, offering a bit of a nutty taste to your baked goods. Buckwheat is actually a fruit that is similar to wild rhubarb,so although it's treated as a grain, it's actually gluten free. As far as baking entirely gluten free with it, I'm not familiar with it at all. I do however, love how it amps up the nutritional value in our foods, so for that I will keep a small supply on hand at all times.

When I first started making these for the girls, they were a little unsure of the dark color, which I honestly expected. I like keeping the recipe with half all-purpose flour, mainly to not turn them away. Maybe someday we'll try whole wheat and see what we think. The cinnamon adds a wonderful flavor, they smell like a gingersnap or molasses cookie almost. After the first bite, each girl said they taste just like our "normal" pancakes. Sometimes I'll sprinkle in a few mini chocolate chips while I'm cooking them over the stove top. I prefer mine with a bit of homemade jam smeared over top.

It won't be long and I'll be in back to school mode again, only one more month to be exact. I anticipate filling the freezer with a couple batches of these to help ease back into our morning routine. I know these, along with some fresh fruit will be what my girls need to keep their bellies full until lunch.

Buckwheat Pancakes

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk

In a bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add in oil, eggs and milk and whisk until well combined.

Heat a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Spoon batter onto skillet and let cook until small bubbles form around the edges, flip pancake and let cook until browned. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve pancakes warm with maple syrup or jam. Makes 8 big pancakes

Friday, July 22, 2016

Taco Salad Bar

It's starting to get ungodly hot here in Iowa, as I'm sure everywhere else is feeling the same way. I love the heat, it's that humidity that makes it unbearable. The only way I want to be outside, is if I'm floating in the pool with a drink in my hand. In fact, we did that for two hours yesterday afternoon and it was great!

Along with not wanting to be outside much, it's hard to want to turn on the oven or stove to do any cooking. In our house, the kitchen, dining room and living room are all open and run together, so it can heat up quickly in those areas if I have the oven going. It's wonderful in the fall and winter, but not so much during this heat of summer. So we're trying to eliminate using the oven as much as possible right now. One night I set up a fun little build your own taco bar, we even sat outside on the patio to eat, even though it was starting to get humid. But it was nice and the kids enjoyed it.

I did heat up the taco meat on the stove, but if it would have been in the 100's like these past few days, we would have most definitely gotten out the crockpot and let the meat cook in there all day long. You can also brown it up before bed the night before, when it's not quite as hot.  Or simply go for a meatless meal and leave that out, black beans provide more than enough protein for your meal.

The idea is to set up small bowls of your favorite taco toppings, letting each family member build their own taco or salad. I did splurge on some Doritos for walking tacos for the kids, we had tortilla shells and I settled for a few blue corn chips to go along with my guacamole. I also have a big head of cabbage in my fridge that we've been slowly using up this week. Instead of purchasing more lettuce, I sliced the cabbage up. It provides more nutrition, more crunch and, it's so much prettier on your plate than green lettuce.

We do this sort of thing frequently in our house, and not just in the summer, but throughout the year. Because really, who doesn't love tacos? If you've got a party coming up in the future, or want to get together with friends. Consider a build your own taco bar. It's a hit among adults and kids. Everyone will go home happy!

Taco Bar Supplies:
seasoned taco meat
black beans
shredded cheese
lettuce or cabbage
diced tomato
diced bell pepper
taco sauce or salsa
sour cream
tortilla chips
tortilla or corn shells

Easy Guacamole

3 ripe avocados
1/2 of lime
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp diced onion
small handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
small handful cilantro, chopped

Peel and pit avocados, mash them with a fork in a medium bowl. Squeeze in juice from the lime and garlic, mix together. Mix in all other ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve immediately with chips or let chill in fridge until ready to serve.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Slushy Cocktail Punch

We definitely entertain a lot more in the summer, we've got the perfect backyard for it. Lots of space for kids to run around, a fire pit, a nice patio area and recently, a pool we've added. So it's not uncommon to find me inviting over family and friends for the weekend to grill out and just enjoy each other's company. Entertaining and cooking for others is truly what I love doing most.

Along with planning out my menus and preparing lots of delicious food, I love a good cocktail. I'm not your typical beer gal. I like the more fruity, frilly types of drinks or a good wine. I mixed up a batch of this slushy punch for the Fourth of July weekend, it's been forever since I've enjoyed a glass of it.

The punch is great without alcohol but who doesn't love a good drink now and again? You get a nice cherry, pineapple drink that's slushy from the base being frozen and then mixed with your choice of a lemon-lime soda. It's the perfect way to cool down during these dog days of summer. I mix up a pitcher and let the rest of the base stay frozen in the freezer. That way I'm able to keep the nice slushy texture I like and won't be wasting any.

Next barbecue or get together you plan to attend this summer, make sure to include this fun, slushy punch on your menu. It's been a favorite of mine for many years! Here's a couple more adult beverages you might enjoy as well:

Watermelon-tequila punch
Strawberry champagne cocktail

Slushy Cocktail Punch

6 oz. box of cherry jello
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
46 oz. pineapple juice
3 cups cold water
3 cups rum
2 liters of lemon-lime soda

Bring two cups of water to a boil on stove in a small saucepan. Once boiling, mix in sugar and jello and stir well until fully dissolved.

Pour pineapple juice into a large bowl with a lid. Mix in jello mixture. Add in cold water and rum and stir well to combine. Cover with lid and freeze overnight.

When ready to serve, mix punch base with soda and stir well. Since there is alcohol in the base, you shouldn't need to thaw out ahead of time. You may serve in a punch bowl or in smaller increments in a pitcher or cups. Keep any unused punch base stored in freezer.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Cherry Pies for the Freezer

I've spent much of my time in this past week preserving sour cherries from my sister in-law's tree. Monday I easily spent a good eight hours or longer in the kitchen; rinsing, pitting, mixing together pie filling, making pie crust and so forth. Typically Josh's grandma and a nearby neighbor receive the majority of the fruit from her tree, but what started out as a request to make a couple of pies, ended up in over thirty pounds of cherries sitting in my fridge. Being the foodie nerd I am, I was excited and anxious to get started on my new project.

Never having baked with these particular cherries before, I spent much of that first night researching online and in several of my cookbooks for ideas, inspiration and just plain facts on preserving this fruit. I first made a batch of this jam and while it turned out pretty good, it only yielded four jars worth and required a lot of fruit and my time. I remember Josh's grandma saying how good of pies these cherries made, so that was next on my list.

I've never been a big fan of cherry pie, mom always used the store bought filling and it tasted mediocre, nothing real special in my opinion. But these, man do these make a good pie. This is what I think of as an all American pie, besides apple of course. I didn't use a ton of sugar for sweetening because I wanted the tart fruit to be the shining star in this dessert. You end up with a nice combination of tart and sweet, paired with a nice, homemade flaky crust, it's a real winner. The only thing that can make it better, is a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

So I ended up making four mini pies to deliver to share with our neighbors and then another five for the freezer. I've got a great start on my Thanksgiving desserts now, they will be a real treat come November! By the time I got done with all of that though, honestly, I was tired and over these darn cherries. The rest we ended up pitting and storing in quart sized freezer bags. I plan to send home a good amount with Josh's grandma when they come for a visit, she'll be needing to make some pies of her own. The rest we'll use for any of the desserts we want to make come winter and in smoothies. I was told they make a great addition so we're excited to give that a try.

Cherry season is definitely a short lived one, maybe even already coming to an end depending on where you live. If you can get your hands on some, by all means do so! Get your hands in the flour and make a pie, or maybe even a fruit crisp. If that's not your style, then at least freeze some to enjoy this winter. Try them in your smoothies, make a fruit filling to add to yogurt or spread on toast for breakfast. Freezing them couldn't be easier. You'll need to pit the fruit using either a pitter or simply your hands. In fact, towards the end I did this, gently tear the cherry in half and remove the pit from the middle. I then measured out the fruit in 3 cup increments and placed them in quart sized freezer bags. Three cups will be a good amount for any sort of dessert I plan to make. I didn't worry about flash freezing them because they will end up being used in desserts for the most part and I just didn't have enough time and supplies to do that. 

We're gearing up for the long holiday weekend at our house, it's also Josh's birthday. I'm planning on serving at least one cherry pie along with homemade ice cream for dessert. I can't think of a better summer time treat!

Cherry Pie {Freezer Friendly}

for the crust:
2-1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 stick cold butter,cubed
1/2 cup chilled shortening
1 cup ice water

for the filling:
5-6 cups pitted sour cherries
1-1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
3 tbsp tapioca


In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, salt and tapioca. Let set for 20 minutes so tapioca can activate.

Meanwhile, to make the crust, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut in butter and shortening, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add in water, half cup at a time. Using your hands mix together dough, making sure not to overwork it. Once it comes together in a ball, set aside.

Roll out half of dough onto a well floured surface using a rolling pin. Carefully place into a pie plate, trim excess dough to about 1 inch, leaving just enough dough to make crimped edges. 

Fill pie plate with prepared filling and set aside.

Taking the remaining dough, roll out again using the rolling pin. Cover pie with top crust. Trim edges and then roll the top and bottom crust together underhand so that it's sealed. Crimp the edge with your fingers or a fork.

If baking right away, brush crust with a beaten egg to give that nice golden brown finish. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes to set crust. Then bake at 375 for another 30 minutes, filling should be bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving.

If freezing: place prepared pie onto a cookie sheet and freeze for several hours. Then slide into a large gallon size freezer bag that has been labeled and store in freezer. You may also cover with foil if you don't have any freezer bags on hand. Pies will keep for up to 9 months in the freezer. No need to thaw when ready to bake, you'll just need to increase baking time by about 15 minutes.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...