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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. 


Monday, March 17, 2014

First Place Beer and Third Place Chili

I have to say, I am not entirely sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I am the reigning champion (two years running) for the Freshwater Theatre Homebrew competition. That being said, there really wasn't much of a competition in homebrew this year. Not that I didn't think I could win anyway, because my bourbon barrel porter rocked, but...

Chili is a different matter. I take pride in my chili, I make some really good chili. And, I compromised to try to win the contest by making....you guessed it, the dreaded white chicken chili. Now, this was one stellar pot of soup (note, I hesitate to call it chili, because, I don't think it is). I was going after what I shall heretofore after call Chicken Tamale Soup, because that was the flavor I was going for. It was complex. It was flavorful, and...it didn't win. I am still disappointed in myself that I didn't just make the chili we like to eat (which is super spicy, heavy on the meat, and really tasty), and serve that. Next year....it's going to be "F**K you Minnesota, this is what real chili tastes like ! "

In the meantime, here is my second third place chili, or, for the ages, Chicken Tamale Soup.

Chicken Tamale Soup 
For the chicken:
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Mix spices together and rub chicken breasts liberally with spice blend. Grill 4-5 minutes on each side until chicken is cooked through. Remove from grill, let cool and dice into small pieces.

For the chili:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
2 cans Great Northern beans
2 cans white hominy
2 small cans diced mild green chilis
1 can cream of chicken soup (optional)
1/4 cup cumin
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup masa
Salt and pepper to taste 
1 cup sour cream
Corn chips and cheese for garnish
In a large stock pot, heat olive oil. Add onions, garlic and jalapenos, and saute until tender. Stir in stock, and canned items. Bring to a boil, then add spices and chicken. Simmer for 60 minutes, then stir in lemon juice and masa . Simmer for approximately 20 minutes more, then taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Just before serving, stir in sour cream. Scoop soup into bowls, and serve with chips and cheese. 





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sopa de Fideo

The lovely Susan Berkson from the Minneapolis Farmers Market put out a call for recipes for inexpensive, family style meals on the Minnesota Fortify food community page. Initially, my instinct was to pull a recipe from my blog, and just hand it over to her. After all, I don't usually use extremely exotic ingredients, and I am definitely not a fancy cook.

But then I started thinking about a food drive we had at work recently, and how sometimes when you have limited income, you rely more on canned goods, dried pastas, and things that can be easily stored. Then, I set about creating a dish that could rely more on those items, and less on fresh. This one combines both, and is super affordable ! After I did the calculations, this will make eight really healthy sized portions for roughly $0.85 each! Even I was shocked ! And, you could replace the meat with canned beans and save even more money.

So, this is loosely based on a recipe from an old church cookbook I have in my collection, and it is also one contributed to the book by a dear family friend. I hope you like it, I know when I made it for my husband, he ate three bowls of it !

Sopa de Fideo

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound vermicelli noodles, broken into one inch pieces
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups celery, finely sliced
2 cups onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup green pepper
1 small jalapeno, minced (optional, but adds nice heat)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/2  cups water
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a large dutch oven, melt butter. Saute vermicelli until golden brown. Add ground beef, and cook over medium heat until meat is completely browned. Add all remaining ingredients except for cheese, and gently stir. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 25-35 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve topped with cheese.



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Crockpot Mac and Cheese Bar

I have been in charge of my workplace employee gathering events for the past eight years. I love planning these, because they almost always revolve around food. I am about to hand off the baton to someone else, who will coordinate the events for the company.  In order to do this, I am organizing a potluck for people who volunteered to help this year.

My contribution to the potluck is going to be this very decadent crockpot macaroni and cheese. I was sceptical that a cheese sauce in the crockpot would be creamy, and smooth, but you won't believe how good this is.

 There is a little "cheese science" in my combination of ingredients here. Normally,  I am opposed to the "processed cheese spread" needed here. But, the oil content is needed to keep this smooth in the crockpot. Don't worry, you won't really taste it. This is amazing...and the topping choices are endless. Feel free to post suggestions !

Crockpot Mac and Cheese Bar
3 cups uncooked macaroni
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cup milk
3 eggs
1 can evaporated milk
1 pound processed cheese spread, cut into cubes
2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings, such as bacon, salsa, chili, green onions, pickles
Cook macaroni according to package directions,  leaving slightly undercooked.  In a large bowl, mix together butter, eggs, and milks. Pour mixture into the crockpot,  then gently stir in macaroni and cheeses.  Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, stirring at least once. Serve with your favorite toppings.