Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Blue Cheese Burgers

My family loves fast food.  Me?  Not so much.  There's just nothing appealing to me about thin, flat burgers which taste more of salt than meat.  This is especially blasphemous in the land of "In N Out," which is proclaimed as heads and tails above all other fast food.  Spoiler alert guys - it all tastes the same to me.

And fast food cheeseburgers?  Thin flat patties topped with a slice of processed cheese-like product?  No thank you.

When I want a hamburger, fast food just doesn't cut it.  I'm more than happy to go to a sit down burger restaurant, or a restaurant with fantastic burgers (funnily enough the best burger in town is at the fancy French restaurant!), or even just make it at home.

And when I make burgers at home, I can make cheeseburgers with a much better meat to cheese ratio. 

How do you get that ratio you ask?  Well I'll tell you - you mix the cheese in with the ground beef!  This means with every bite, you're getting just the right amount of meat and cheese.  For the kids, I like to use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella (sometimes they complain that just cheddar is TOO cheesy - ha!  Like that's a thing.)  But for the grownups?  There's nothing like a good blue cheese burger.

Blue Cheese Burger
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp Franks Red Hot 
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp butter
4 buns, toasted
  1.  Combine the ground beef, cheese, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt and garlic in a large bowl.
  2.  Form into 4 patties.
  3. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Sear the burgers 1 minute on each side until browned.  
  4. Lower the heat to medium and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare.
  5. Serve on toasted buns.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Mardi-Gras: King Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Confession time.  We don't actually celebrate or do anything for Mardi Gras round these parts.  It's a pretty Catholic holiday despite the fact that I think it's taken on a great deal of secularization in New Orleans.  

Which is really one of the things that's most attractive about it.  The whole New Orleans connection.  Because that's just one of those magical places I am dying to visit.  Not DURING Mardi Gras, because the idea of being in those crowds of people is completely and totally overwhelming to me.  Thatmom and Thatdad used to make yearly pilgrimages there, and bring us home Cafe du Monde beignets and THAT is what started the love.  The food.  I love Creole food, and New Orleans (while it has plenty of other amazing things to offer) has some fantastic food.  Which brings us right around to Mardi Gras again.

I saw a recipe for King Cake in a magazine recently and it made me realize I could probably get away with making Mardi-Gras food without actually celebrating the holiday.  And rather than make a cake, I decided that I was going to reinterpret the King Cake to something I knew my family would be all over - cinnamon rolls.   While King Cake normally has a glaze for a topping, I'm more partial to cream cheese for cinnamon rolls.  These rolls take the flavors of King Cake and puts them in a single serving (or triple serving if you're Thatboy who eats three at a time) perfect for your Mardi Gras breakfast, brunch, or anytime feast!

King Cake Cinnamon Rolls
3/4 cup warm milk
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar (divided)
3 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon (divided)
1 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
1 egg
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (divided)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/3 cup light brown sugar
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  1. Combine the milk, yeast, and 1 tsp sugar and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining sugar, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer combine egg yolks, 1 stick of butter, lemon zest, almond extract, and 1 tsp vanilla bean paste.  
  4. Stir in yeast mixture
  5. Stir in flour mixture.  Knead with a dough hook for 5-7 minutes.  Cover and let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  6. In a small bowl combine pecans, brown sugar, and remaining cinnamon.
  7. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and roll into a 10 by 15 inch rectangle.
  8. Spread dough with half of the remaining butter (half a stick).
  9. Sprinkle with pecan mixture and roll dough into a log, starting with the long side.  Pinch the seam to seal.
  10. Slice the dough into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a greased cake pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise for another hour.
  11. Heat over to 375.  Whisk the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp water.   Brush the dough with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown.  Let cool.
  12. In an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and remaining butter on low speed to combine.
  13. Beat in confectioners sugar until blended.
  14. Blend in remaining vanilla bean paste.  Divide into 4 bowls and color with green, purple, and yellow food coloring. Spread the white frosting on top of the cooled cinnamon rolls and then use the colored frosting to decorate.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Buffalo Everything: Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

I know I know, I JUST posted a recipe for buffalo wings.  And here's another buffalo chicken recipe!  I can't help it you guys, the weather gets cold and I start putting buffalo chicken in just about everything.  It's such a spicy comfort food for me and the flavor works with just about all your other favorite comfort foods - chili, macaroni and cheese, and yes, even pot pie.

In fact, pot pie might just be the best use for buffalo chicken.  Think about it, buffalo wings always come with carrots and celery anyway, two ingredients of any self respecting pot pie.  So your brain already connects those flavors.  And if you've had buffalo chicken dip, then you're already familiar with a creamy version of buffalo wings.  Pot pie is a less creamy version of that dip - but the warm buttery crust is a nice substitute.

I made 2 individual pot pies with this recipe, because I like the crust to filling ratio better that way, but you could certainly make it into one large pot pie if you're serving a crowd. I ended up with extra filling (I always end up with extra filling) which I used in hand pies that I froze.  You could use the entire recipe to make handpies, they make for fabulous lunches. 

Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
3/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 cup blue cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.
  2. Add the carrots and celery and continue to cook another 5 minutes, or until they are soft.
  3. In a large bowl combine the cooked veggies, chicken, wing sauce, and blue cheese.
  4. Divide the pie dough into 4 balls.  Roll out 2 of the bowls into small circles and press them into small bowls or ramekins (if you're making one large pot pie then divide the dough in half and roll one half into a larger circle and fit into pie pan).
  5. Divide filling between the two ramekin/bowls.
  6. Roll out the other 2 balls of dough (or remaining half), and place on top of each filled ramekin.  Flute the edges and cut several slits in the middle of the dough.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crusts are golden brown.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Love Sandwich: Croque Madame

You guys I am killing it this Valentine's Day.  It's February 5th and I've already got presents for all three of my guys.  I'm never usually this on top of it.

I've even got our Valentine's Day menu already planned out, important since Thatkid is off school for the day and if you have kids you know they turn into eating machines when they're home.  I honestly don't understand it.  He often comes home from school with his lunch, still untouched in his lunchbox.  I have to convince him to bring snack for snacktime.  And yet, when he's not at school, he's "hungry" every 15 minutes.

So my goal for Valentine's Day is filling meals to keep him from complaining all day.  That, and putting him in charge of making it himself.  A croque madame has different components that he's already familiar with, put together in a new way.  It's got the white sauce he uses when he makes macaroni and cheese, along with a fried egg - one of his favorite things to make for dinner.  Plus it seems extra Valentine-y to make a French sandwich, doesn't it?  As they sing in the age-old classic, Anastasia, "The French have it down to an art."

Croque Madame
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, divided
4 slices sourdough bread
4 slices ham
2 eggs
  1. Make the white sauce.  Melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat.  
  2. Add in the flour and stir to create a paste.  Cook for 1-2 minutes until bubbling.
  3. Stir in the milk.  Continue to stir and cook until the milk is thick.
  4. Stir in Parmesan and half of the Gruyere and remove from heat.
  5. Top 2 of the slices of bread with 2 slices of ham. 
  6. Top the ham with half of the cheese sauce.
  7. Top with the remaining 2 slices of bread.
  8. Heat the remaining Tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat.  Toast the sandwiches in the pan, about 2 minutes per side or until browned.
  9. Place the sandwiches on a baking pan and top with remaining cheese sauce and Gruyere.  Place in broiler and broil until the cheese melts.
  10. While the sandwiches are in the broiler, fry 2 eggs. 
  11. When cheese has melted and eggs are fried, top each sandwich with one of the eggs.