July 5, 2014

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

In my house bacon is it's own food group. I live with three males and they can be sound asleep, but when I start frying bacon they suddenly appear out of thin air. The same goes for their enthusiasm for menu ideas. If I mention most recipes I get complete disregard or an occasional quick comment. However, if I casually mention that I'm making a recipe that involves bacon for dinner, suddenly they become very interested in everything I'm doing. Occasionally my oldest goes so far as to run around the house with a crazy voice shouting the word bacon over and over again. It's a little odd, but the boy knows what he likes and bacon is at the top of the list.

There is something very appealing about a delicious and juicy burger. My whole family loves them and I make some burger variation at least once or twice a month. Last week I made a new recipe for Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from the July 2014 issue of the Food and Wine Magazine

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Recipe Type: Main
A tender burger recipe using ground beef and minced bacon and served with a delicious yogurt sauce.
Preparation Time: 0h, 10m
Cooking Time: 0h, 8m
Total Time: 0h, 18m
Yield: Serves 8

Bacon Burgers with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 minced red onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound bacon, minced *see note
  • 6 scallions white and light green parts minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped mint
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  1. Puree the yogurt, jalapeƱos, cilantro, ginger, onion, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a food processor. 
  2. In a separate bowl combine the ground beef, scallions, mint, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, pepper, cayenne, and remaining salt. 
  3. Form into 8 burger patties. 
  4. Either using a grill or a griddle, cook the burgers for 6-8 minutes or until 180 degrees. 
  5. Serve the burgers on hamburger buns topped with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, ketchup, and/or Sriracha and the yogurt sauce spread on the bottom of the bun. 
*Note: In order for the bacon to be fully minced either use a food processor or cook the bacon until crisp, crumble, and then add to the recipe. Alternatively you can used real bacon bits. 

Be very careful that you fully mince the bacon. If the bites are too large the burgers will end up with large grease pockets. When properly minced the bacon keeps the burgers moist and is a great addition to the ground beef. 

July 4, 2014

Milk Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

I may have eaten a bowl of icing out of the fridge this morning. Last night I made a basil chocolate cake (which was actually very good!) and made a big batch of homemade buttercream frosting. This  morning it was calling for me to eat a bite, and then another, and before I knew it the bowl of leftover frosting seemed to have disappeared. This afternoon I made a batch of cream cheese frosting and had the same problem. There is something about frosting that makes me have to eat it, I can go without cake, but frosting is a completely different story.

So now that I have babbled on about frosting, it's time for a cupcake (and frosting) recipe. My husband loves trying new kinds of beer and our fridge normally has a variety of brands and types. For the last six months my husband has been nagging me to try a cupcake recipe that he found using Milk Stout online. So I finally gave in and made them today for my mother-in-law's birthday. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Left Hand Brewing.

Milk Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle Milk Stout
  • 1 stick melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl mix together dry ingredients (sugar, flour, baking soda, cocoa, and salt).
  3. In another bowl combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. One at a time add eggs.
  5. Add sour cream and mix until combined.
  6. Add dry ingredients and stir until mixture come together (do not over mix or your cake will be less fluffy).
  7. Pour batter into 24 muffin cups (greased or with liners).
  8. Bake for 12 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for another 8-12 minutes.
  9. Combine the cream cheese and confectioners sugar to make the frosting.
  10. After the cupcakes have cooled frost with the frosting.
  11. Store in the refrigerator.
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July today! These cupcakes were a great dessert for the steak, mashed potatoes, and salad that we had for dinner tonight. For a party they would be a nice way to have a dessert that both beer and chocolate lovers would like. Plus according to my family they are pretty yummy! 

July 3, 2014

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

I hate fireworks. I have never have liked them and I don't understand the fascination. Part of the reason goes back to when I was little and my mother's family thought that buying m-80's and setting them off would be fun. It wasn't and it pretty much cemented my hate of loud noises. In college I tried going to one of the huge fireworks displays at night and people were paying more attention to each other than the fireworks (if you get my drift, there more clothes on the ground than on the people). Thankfully my kids and husband aren't big fans of fireworks either so it has been almost 9 years since I have seen fireworks on the 4th. I do like sparklers, but with only males in my family they have no appeal to anyone in my house except me. So my family will be celebrating the 4th without fireworks, which is just fine in my book.

The 4th of July always makes me think of cookouts, and cookouts make me think of corn on the cob. While I would love to fire up the grill everyday, sometimes the charcoal grill is just too much effort (and my husband will not allow a gas grill anyone near our house). It's during these times that I grill my corn in the oven. It's easy and literally only takes 30 minutes. The recipe is as follows.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Simple and easy recipe for oven roasted corn on the cob. Never soggy like boiled corn.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 30m
Total Time: 0h, 35m
Yield: Serves 4

Adapted from The Food Network.

Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

  • 4 Ears of Corn
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Keeping husks on corn place directly on the middle oven rack.
  3. Roast corn for 30 minutes.
  4. Pull out and season with salt and butter.
  5. Alternatively you may also rub the ears of corn with butter and pull the husks back up before placing them in the oven.
That's it. They turn out great roasted in the oven without the soggy taste that often happens when corn on the cob is boiled. I have a huge corn on the cob obsession and when it gets cheap in the middle of the summer we eat corn almost everyday. 

Have a happy 4th of July tomorrow everyone! 

June 24, 2014

Homemade Iced Sweet Mint Tea

I have a horrible time making female friends. As far back as I can remember I have had one very close female friend and than a small group of female acquaintances. At parties in college I was more likely to be talking about political theory or science than where I got my nails done (for the record I have never actually been in a nail salon, shocking I know). To this day I have a hard time discussing 'typical' female topics. I fully admit a large part of it is my fault. I grew up with male cousins that were obsessed with professional wrestling and computers. To make matters worse I was an only child and I loved spending time with my dad, we went to sporting events, on hikes, and watched movies. Now I live in a house full of men. Most conversations in my house involve video games or bodily functions, not necessarily in that order. As I've gotten older I've realized I need to be better and more patient with forging female friendships. I have a horrible habit of getting mad at close female friends and then cutting off contact, or just losing contact through my total lack of being great about remembering to make phone calls. We all have things we can work on and one of mine is definitely being better about getting along with other women. I'm a work in progress.

Our weather has been hot and very humid. Our humidity was 83 percent today and it was 93 degrees. It was horrible. Due to the lovely summer weather I have been making lots of cold drinks. Iced Tea is a family favorite and Mint Iced Tea is a great way to use garden mint. The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Food.com.

Iced Sweet Mint Tea

Recipe Type: Drink
A refreshing sweet iced tea recipe using fresh mint.
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 20m
Yield: 2 Quarts

Mint Iced Tea

  • 12 black tea bags
  • 10 mint sprigs
  • 2 gallons water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or your choice of sweetener)
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil the 2 gallons of water.
  2. Once water has boiled add water to mint and tea bags.
  3. Let steep for 20 minutes.
  4. Discard tea bags and mint.
  5. In a heat proof pitcher add sugar (or sweetener) and then pour iced tea over.
  6. Place in fridge until cold.
  7. Serve over ice and with sliced lemon if you prefer.
This tea is strong and sweet. My husband and I are both fans of strong tea, so if you like your tea weaker reduce the amount of tea bags. The same goes for the sugar. If your like your tea sweet add the amount listed, alternately you can make the tea unsweetened or reduce the amount of sugar to meet your needs. When I make this for my whole family (including my kids) I use decaf tea bags and it turns out just as good. 

June 23, 2014

Oat and Nutella Cookies

Nutella and Oat Cookies, recipe
Gluten Free Oat and Nutella Cookies

I am jealous of adorable well behaved kids. My house seems to play by another set of rules, or at least my two boys seem to think it does. While I love my kids to no end, they can be the kids that other parents dread. You know the kids, the ones that fight at the store, touch everything they see, talk non-stop (really I don't think they breath in-between sentences), and think that having a MMA fight in the middle of the store is something that should happen. I have those kids. They are adorable, but since they travel in a pack it's like trying to tame wild hyenas. Then every once in a  while I run into another parent with multiple boys, and we share a moment. In a glance, a smile, or a joke we have instantly bonded over having all boys. The world seems a little less crazy, and then I realize my boys are currently on the floor trying to tackle each other. My word realigns back to normal and I realize I don't have perfect kids, but I love them just the same. Hopefully they will one day turn into the adorable well behaved kids that other parents seem to have, in the meantime they are still my off center version of perfect and that's just fine with me.

I have a slight Nutella obsession. I can't keep full jars in the house or I will eat them (normally with a spoon straight out of the jar - is there any other way..). So in order to avoid my waistline from becoming non-existent I only buy Nutella for recipes or as a very seldom treat. My Nutella obsession happens to work perfectly with my cookies obsession, they are a match made in heaven. Today I tried a new recipe for Oat and Nutella Cookies from the May 2014 issue of Food and Wine Magazine. Here is the recipe with changes.

Adapted from Food and Wine Magazine

Oat and Nutella Cookies

Recipe Type: Dessert
A delicious combination of Nutella and oats that makes for a great snack or dessert.
Cooking Time: 0h, 10m
Total Time: 1h, 0m
Yield: 60 Cookies

Oat and Nutella Cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 13 ounces Nutella (one jar)
  • 2 cups quick cook oats
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  3. Using a mixer, cream the shortening and sugars until creamy (2-3 minutes on medium).
  4. Add the eggs one a time and then add Nutella.
  5. Beat the mixture until smooth (another 1-2 minutes on medium).
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll the cookies into balls (1 tablespoon for each ball).
  8. Place the cookies on the baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not over bake these cookies. They should be just barely set, if you bake them too long they will be way too crunchy. 
The original recipe has a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I made the cookies as written in the magazine and I found that the cinnamon flavor was a little much. Now, that may just be my tastes, if you love cinnamon go for it. My husband thought that the cinnamon was the best part of the cookie, so you might love the cinnamon like he did. I also reduced the amount of salt. I found a full teaspoon to be too much for my tastes, so I reduced it to 3/4 of a teaspoon. However, I under salt everything so I'm a little strange. If you aren't a fan of vegetable shortening I would assume that coconut oil (you might need to reduce the total amount), butter, or another fat would work just as well. The version I made I used gluten free all purpose flour that had xanthan gum already added. If you use another type of gluten free flour I would suggest adding xanthan gum to the mixture (about a tablespoon).

June 22, 2014

Savory Rosemary Sage Bread

I have a habit of buying clearanced appliances.. Most of the time I use them, the ones I don't I give as gifts, a few sit for a few years before I get around to using them. Then there are the appliances that I get from someone else. About 5 years ago my mother-in-law gave me a bread maker. It sat on the shelf for a couple of months and then I used it non-stop for a year. Later it broke and I made bread from scratch for years. Until I found a bread maker marked down to 15 dollars (from 80!), so of course I had to buy it. Honestly, this summer it has been my best friend. It has kept my house cool when the weather is 95 and humid, which is seems to be frequently this year. My herb garden has also been crazy so I have been trying to combine my love of making fresh bread with the over abundance of fresh herbs I have in my garden. I discovered a recipe for Rosemary Sage Bread a couple of weeks back and I love it! The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Recipe 4 Living
Rosemary Sage Bread

A savory bread that is a great way to use garden herbs. Works well made in both the bread maker and in the oven.

Yield: 2 loaves 16 slices each

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 cups bread flour
Cooking Directions
  1. If making in the bread maker add ingredients in order suggested by the manufacturer of your bread maker.
  2. If you are making the bread from scratch use the following instructions.
  3. In the one cup of warm water dissolve the sugar and then mix in the yeast.
  4. After 5 minutes (when the yeast is foamy) add the butter, sage, and rosemary.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the bread flour and salt.
  6. Add the wet mixture and then knead by hand for 10-12 minutes (alternately you may use a mixer for this step).
  7. Rub the inside of a plastic bowl with oil.
  8. Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
  9. Punch down dough, and divide into two balls.
  10. Grease the inside of two loaf pans, shape the two pieces of dough into loaves and place in loaf pans.
  11. Cover top of pans with plastic wrap and allow loaves to rise for one hour or until doubled in size.
  12. While the dough is on the last rise preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  13. Bake the loaves in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped (total time will depend on your oven, if they brown too quickly tent with foil. A bread thermometer is helpful-when the bread temps 190-200 it is ready to pull out.
  14. Allow cool for 30 minutes in pan and an additional 30 minutes before slicing.
This bread is nice as a side with soup. It also makes great savory toast, my kids loved it with goat cheese (my kids have adult tastes). You can adjust the amount of herbs based on your tastes. Some people might like more or less rosemary/sage. It would also work with other herbs if you have an over abundance of thyme, dill, etc. 

Rosemary Sage Bread

A savory bread that is a great way to use garden herbs. Works well made in both the bread maker and in the oven.
Preparation Time: 2h, 20m
Cooking Time: 0h, 20m
Yield: 32 Slices

June 20, 2014

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

So I am becoming somewhat of a hypocrite. When I started this blog I had a lot of idealism and firm rules in place on recipes. While I still believe in many of the ideas, I also have realized that some of my opinions have changed. The biggest change in my opinions is in regard to the use of recipes. I was pretty firm on my stance that I would never re-print a recipe from another site. While I still don't believe in re-printing recipes verbatim, I have softened my opinions on adaptations. That's part of the reason I took a couple of weeks off from blogging, I needed a break to decide what I wanted to do going forward on the blog. I have decided that I will begin to print recipes on my site with clear links to the original recipe and clearly adapted steps and directions. A lot has changed in the last three years since I started this blog and I have realized that I am constantly in a state of change myself. I hope that none of my readers will think badly of my decisions and continue to read my blog.

Now that I got through with the heavy stuff, on to the recipe. My kids are both home for the summer and have been eating me thru house and home. We are all big sweet eaters in my household so I am always trying new recipes for cookies and baked goods. Chocolate has always been my personal weakness, I can't get enough of the stuff. One of my favorite recipes is for No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, they are so good! The recipe is as follows.

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Easy no bake recipe for chocolate oatmeal cookies. Nice way to bake without heating up your kitchen!
Preparation Time: 0h, 5m
Cooking Time: 0h, 5m
Total Time: 0h, 10m

  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups oats (quick cooking work best, but I have also used old fashioned, the texture is just firmer)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cooking Directions
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil and rapid boil for two minutes. In order for the cookies to completely set you must allow the cookies to boil for two minutes. If they aren't boiled long enough the cookies will stay soft.
  3. Take mixture off heat and quickly add oats, peanut butter, and vanilla.
  4. Drop cookies onto wax paper (I normally make my cookies about 1-2 tablespoons each, but the size is really up to you) and let cool. If your cookies don't completely set place the cookies in the refrigerator until firm.
My kids really love this recipe. Every time I make them they only last a couple of hours. They also freeze well in-between sheets of wax paper and placed in a freezer bag. Since there is no flour in the cookies it's a nice gluten free option that doesn't use a gluten free all-purpose flour mix (just make sure your oats are gluten free). 

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