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Monday, October 27, 2014

Tavern Sloppy Joes


There are mythical things in Iowa/South Dakota called taverns,  and everyone has an idea about how these are made. I always thought my grandma made the best, so this recipe is a bit of an homage to her.

I don't know why I was craving these lately,  but they sounded good to me. So, the traditional taverns are pretty plain meat, simple spices and not very saucy. You add mustard,  onions and pickles on the bun. My grandma's version had most of these flavors incorporated into the tavern. I updated the recipe for my tastes,  so my husband calls these "Sloppy Lisa's"...maybe they are "Tavern Vi's" after Grandma....

Tavern Sloppy Joes

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped green pepper
1 can condensed tomato soup
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1 teaspoon ground garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Brown hamburger in a large skillet. Add onions and green pepper,  and saute until tender. Stir in tomato soup, and remaining ingredients.  Simmer over low heat until thick, serve on buns with cheese and pickles.The version you see here are sliders served with shredded cheddar and pickled onions.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

French Pear Martini

We went out to dinner and a show awhile back, and Ray ordered a "French" pear martini before dinner. Apparently it was also a magic martini, because it vanished before I could even sip have my drink. He quickly ordered a second one and told me I had to reverse engineer a recipe for us to enjoy at home. 

After tasting it, and looking at the ingredients on the menu, it wasn't that difficult, but they are  magic, for sure ! They will magically disappear into your belly, but beware...they are very potent !

French Pear Martini


2 ounces pear flavored vodka
1/2 ounce elderflower liquer
1 ounces pear syrup (just use the juice from canned pears)
Splash of lemon soda, if desired
Fresh pear, thinly sliced for garnish

Place vodka, elderflower liquer and pear syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass. Top with chilled lemon soda if you want some bubbles. Garnish with fresh pear slice.




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Smoked Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Meatloaf

This was one of my most popular recent posts, and it should be, it's delicious ! Part of the fun for me having a blog is having people make my dishes, and make them their own. When someone pinned this recipe, then made a note about putting it on the smoker, I fell in love !

I never thought to smoke a meatloaf. But I had to try it. The smoke made this even better, and it was already one of my favorites ! So here is the original, with additional instructions for smoking. You have to try this, check out the smoke ring on that baby !

Smoked Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Meatloaf 

1 cup panko bread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 small jalapenos, diced finely
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and diced

Prepare smoker to a steady temperature of 250. In a large bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs and milk. Let the milk absorb completely, then add ground beef, eggs, steak seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, cheese and eggs. Mix well and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine cream cheese, jalapeno peppers and bacon. Using a 9 by 5 loaf pan, press half of the meat mixture into the bottom. Spread cream cheese mixture over the top, then press remaining meat mixture over the top of this. Poke some holes in the bottom and sides of an aluminum hotel pan, and invert the loaf pan into the hotel pan. Place on the smoker and let it go. After 2-3 hours you should be able to easily remove the loaf pan. Let it continue to smoke for 2-3 more hours until you reach an internal temperature of 200 degrees. Let it rest for 30 minutes then slice and eat. It's so pretty ! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Double Garlic Burger with Bacon, Pickled Onion and Sprouts

I have been a little obsessed with making "gourmet" burgers, ever since a visit to Kuma's Corner in Chicago a couple months ago. I have always loved a good burger, but I must admit to being a bit lazy at home when I make them. I will make a Juicy Lucy (stuffed burgers, for non-Minnesotans), who doesn't love those ? But taking out and prepping a bunch of toppings always seemed like too much work. 

Then we went to Kuma's...and they have all these really interesting combinations of flavors, with rock star names. I was in love ! And after I thought about it, it really isn't that hard, and in most cases, I could re-purpose items from my refrigerator as "gourmet". Crafty, no ? 

This recipe used two items from my refrigerator that we use over and over again: pickled onions and roasted garlic mayo. Both are simple to make, and can be used for burgers, salads, tacos, you name it ! These recipes make more than you will need for this dish, so save them on hand for other things...I know you will use them ! Add a garlic cheese stuffed burger, and it could have been on the Kuma's menu. 

Double Garlic Burger with Bacon, Pickled Onions and Sprouts
For the burger: 
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef 
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons grill seasoning 
4 ounces garlic white cheddar cheese, cut into 1 ounce squares 
Mix together the burger, Worcestershire sauce and grill seasoning in a large bowl. Separate into 8 equal portions, and make burger patties. Lay one portion of cheese on top of one burger, and top with a second burger patty.  Carefully pat together and seal the edges. Repeat until you have four stuffed burgers and set aside. 

For the roasted garlic mayo: 
2 large heads of garlic
Olive oil 
Salt 
Pepper 
1 cup mayonnaise 
Cut the tops off the heads of garlic, and drizzle liberally with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and wrap in foil. Place on hot grill, and roast, turning frequently, for 30 minutes. Let cool. Place mayonnaise food processor, then squeeze the garlic cloves out of the heads into the mayonnaise. Process until smooth and refrigerate until you are ready to use. 

For the pickled onions: 
2 large red onions, thinly sliced 
1 cup cider vinegar 
2 cups water 
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 tablespoon salt 
1 tablespoon pickling spice 
Place onions in a quart jar. Cover with remaining ingredients, and give a jar a good shake. Let sit on the counter for one hour, or refrigerate. Refrigerate leftovers after opening. 

To assemble the burgers: 
Prepared cheese stuffed burgers 
4 large hamburger buns 
Garlic Mayo 
Crispy fried bacon
Thinly sliced tomatoes 
Pickled Onions 
Radish Sprouts 
Preheat grill to high. Place burgers on grill, and grill for 4-5 minutes each side until they reach your desired level of doneness. Remove from grill and let rest. I like to grill the hamburger buns for a minute before serving as well. Spread mayo on both sides of the bun, place burger on the bottom, then top with tomato, bacon, onions, and sprouts. Top with your toasty burger bun top, and take a big bite ! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Grilled Alpaca Steak Salad

At least once a year, I try to make a meal crafted solely on ingredients purchased at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. I have to admit, it isn't really much of a challenge, because there are so many options available there, so this year, I decided to increase the challenge a bit ! 

I had seen a post recently that alpaca meat was new to the market this year, and was very anxious to try it. I stopped by to visit the lovely ladies at Alpaca Farm, and talked to them about the flavor of the meat, and the best way to prepare it, then I set about crafting my recipe. 

As it turns out, alpaca is somewhere between pork and beef, and is fairly mild in flavor. As a result, you want to prepare it in a way where it can be served rare to medium rare. Since this was also my first time tasting it, I really wanted to TASTE it, meaning not over-flavor it with lots of seasonings.Since we had a late start to the growing season, the market has a lot of greens this time of year, and spinach looked nice and fresh, so I grabbed a big bunch of it, and decided on a warm spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette. The grilled alpaca steaks would be perfect on top of it. 

Now, here is the amazing part of this salad. Every piece of it, with the exception of the seasonings, can be obtained at the market...eggs, bacon, even pineapple (although not Minnesota grown). This dish was so hearty we couldn't eat it all, but it was awesome for lunch today ! I can't wait to grab some more alpaca and try it another way. I purchased two cuts to steak to see which we preferred, one sirloin and one tenderloin, and I think we liked the tenderloin best. It was a little more tender, but smaller and thinner. Since they were both the same price, it wouldn't matter either way, it just suited our tastes better. 

Grilled Alpaca Steak Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette 

For the steaks: 
1 pound alpaca tenderloin 
Worcestershire sauce 
Montreal Steak seasoning 
Let the steaks come to room temperature, then lightly sprinkle with sauce and seasoning, making sure to rub well. Set aside.


For the vinaigrette: 
6 strips bacon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard 
Fry bacon until crispy, then set aside for salad. Remove 3 tablespoons of the bacon grease to a small bowl, and combine with vinegar and mustard. Whisk until thick and then set aside. 

For the salad: 
1 pound fresh baby spinach 
3 hard boiled eggs 
3 tablespoons finely diced onions 
6 strips crumbled bacon 
3 slices fresh pineapple, peeled and cored 
3 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled 
Assemble all salad ingredients on plates, except for the pineapple. Take steaks and pineapple out to the grill. Preheat grill on high for 10 minutes until it is over 400 degrees. Place the tenderloin on the hottest section of the grill, and the pineapple slices to the side. Grill both 3-4 minutes on each side until steak is just past rare, and the pineapple has nice grill marks on both sides. Remove from grill and let rest 4-5 minutes. Slice and place on top of salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Recipe Redux: Spinach Tomato and Chick Pea Stew (with Baked Eggs)

This is a recipe I have posted before, and have made many times since originally creating it last year. I find as I make dishes over and over again, I add and subtract various ingredients, based on what I have on hand. I also find ways to make them more quickly. 

I enjoyed eating this so much for dinner last night, I wanted to re-post it. As I read through my original instructions I thought, "My gosh, I made that way more complicated than it needed to be !" So, I am re-posting it with simpler instructions. It really is a very simple dish. And so filling. I think you could add other vegetables if you wanted to, but why ? I love it just the way it is ! 

Spinach, Tomato and Chick Pea Stew
5 cloves garlic, finely diced 
2 medium sized onions, finely diced 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
6 cups fresh spinach, chopped 
2 cups chick peas, cooked (two cans drained will work here) 
1 quart chopped canned tomatoes 
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper 
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 teaspoon cumin 
6 eggs 
Preheat oven to 400. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute garlic and onions until soft. Add all other ingredients except for the eggs, and cook for 20-30 minutes until spinach is tender and everything is cooked through. Using a spoon, make a well in the stew and gently drop an egg in. Repeat this process until all 6 eggs are in the broth. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until eggs are just barely set. Scoop out into serving bowls and serve with crusty bread. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Caprese Style Stuffed Meatloaf

Looks tasty, doesn't it ?

I purchased this giant log of fresh mozzarella, because we make a lot of grilled pizza, now that warmer weather has arrived. I started thinking about what else I could do with it. We love meatloaf, especially stuffed with cheese. What could be better ? 

This seems like a lot of prep, but it really wasn't bad, especially because I started yesterday making some of the filling. I roasted the garlic yesterday when we were grilling steaks, and sauteed the extra carrots, celery and onions while prepping some for another dish. Piece of cake...or, in this case, meatloaf ! 

Caprese Style Stuffed Meatloaf 
1 tablespoon butter 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 cup diced carrots 
1/2 cup diced celery 
1/2 cup diced onion 
1 tablespoon salt 
1 tablespoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground beef 
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 
1/2 cup milk 
1 head roasted garlic
2 eggs 
1 large handful fresh basil leaves 
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced thickly
1 pint cherry tomatoes 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a large saute pan, melt butter and add olive oil. Saute carrots, celery and onion together until soft, then set aside. In a large bowl, combine panko and milk, and let sit until milk is absorbed into bread crumbs. Mix together with ground beef, salt and pepper, vegetable mixture, roasted garlic and eggs. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread half of the meat mixture into a large loaf pan. Lay down half of the basil leaves on top of the meat, then layer the mozzarella on top of the basil. Gently place the remaining basil on top of the cheese. Spread remaining meat on top of the final layer of basil. Place tomatoes in a small baking dish and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Place meatloaf in oven, and bake for an hour or more until completely cooked through. Add the tomatoes to the oven the final 25  minutes, bake until they are bursting. Remove both of the items from the oven. Let the meatloaf rest 10 minutes before serving, and smash the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Slice meatloaf, and spoon tomatoes over the top to serve.