Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Favorite Burger: The Mushroom Swiss Burger


We're still grilling here in Southern California!

The weather is nice, still a little hot during the day.  So why not utilize this great weather with more grilled dinners.   Eating outside, with food hot off the grill.  That's what a late summer is all about.  Food, family, friends, and good times!

We love a good burger and have made many versions.  I recall a conversation with my mom about her favorite burger which was the original burger, no frills and thrills.  She used to mention all the time that her sister and brother in-law (my Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Gene) always made Bacon Cheeseburgers.  She had never had one.

After a few times mentioning this story to me about my Aunt and Uncles' Bacon Cheeseburgers, and the fact she had never had one...I decided it was time to make my mom the best bacon cheeseburger ever!  She gobbled it down in 3 seconds...okay, maybe it was 5 minutes.  Although she loved the Bacon Cheeseburger, I don't think that ever became her favorite though.

I tell you this because everyone has their own favorite hamburger.  Mine is a Mushroom Swiss Burger.  There is just something about that melted Swiss cheese and the meaty mushrooms on top of a burger.  It makes it "meatier" somehow.  I just absolutely love them.  I try to order one every now and then when we find ourselves in a good burger joint, but I don't make them at home that often.  I wonder why not?  Anyway I decided it's high time that I did!



So here's to my favorite burger!  Oh, and I served that wonderful Tomato Salad with it.....a perfect side dish.  What's your favorite burger?

Mushroom Swiss Burger

serves 4

1 lb 10% ground sirloin
1 1/2 T Worcestershire sauce (or use 2 tsp of Williams-Sonoma's Burger Starter)
salt and pepper
8 oz sliced mushrooms
2 T butter
4 slices of Swiss cheese
4 kaiser rolls

Place ground beef into a bowl and add Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix to combine but don't handle too much. (use a light, light touch) Form 4 patties.  Set aside.

In a skillet over medium high heat add butter and mushrooms.  Stir and cook until soft and moisture is released.  Set mushrooms aside.  Cook patties in skillet about 7-8 minutes flipping once, until desired doneness.  (you may do this on a grill as well) Add a cheese slice to each pattie and cook 1-2 more minutes until the cheese melts.  Remove from skillet.   Add kaiser rolls to the skillet and brown 1-2 minutes.

Top buns with burgers and mushrooms.  Use additional toppings as desired.


Here are some more burgers you may enjoy:







Saturday, September 28, 2013

Product Review: Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce

 
You may know that we love our tacos around here.
We love them any way we can get them!
Chicken, oh yea,
Beef, yes please!
Fish, oh my!
 
So it was taco night and I had ran out of my homemade taco seasoning (click here for the recipe), so I picked up a quick skillet sauce at the market that is marketed by Chef Rick Bayless.  It had to be good right?
 
Well I'm pleased to say that it was!  So I bought some more...
 
The one I'm sharing with you today is the Texas Original Taco Skillet Sauce with mild red chili and cumin.  It has wonderful flavor that you can smell as soon as you open the pouch.  Just brown up some ground beef and then add the sauce and simmer.  Can't get quicker than that!
 
The flavor is "mild" and brings a great southwest taco flavor to your meat.  Excellent!  He has many other flavors for tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and more.  Can't wait to try some of the others.  I've already bought the taco sauce for quick chicken tacos.  It is perfect for quick night meal, plus the whole family will love them!
 
See how great the tacos look?  Oh, and I fried my own taco shells.  I love the real deal!

Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce Tacos

1 lb 10% ground sirloin
1 pouch of Frontera Texas Original Taco Skillet Sauce
optional toppings:  shredded cheese, diced onion, diced tomato, shredded cabbage or lettuce

Brown ground sirloin in a skillet over med-high heat for about 8-10 minutes.  Add skillet sauce and simmer for 3-4 minutes to heat through.  Spoon into taco shells and top with your favorite toppings.


Looking for other taco recipes?  Here are a few...


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tomato Salad


Here's a dish we've been eating all summer long.

In packing my stuff in early summer I came across a page I had ripped out of a Foodnetwork magazine.  It had three simple side dishes on it, this Tomato Salad being one of them.



Oh man, am I glad I didn't throw this away!  This has to be the easiest and tastiest side dish you can make.  It uses fresh ingredients that shine during the summer months with ripe cherry tomatoes and basil.  But wait!  you can pick up cherry tomatoes almost anytime of the year so you can make this wonderful dish now...or next month...woohoo!

Once you taste this you'll know why I'm head over heels in love with this dish.  Fresh basil, check!  A wonderful dressing with sweet balsamic, double check!  Simple, easy, fresh, and tasty...that's the motto here.



Makes me wonder what other treasures I have laying around the house!

So don't delay, go get some cherry tomatoes, and give this a try...it will knock your socks off.

Tomato Salad

adapted from FoodNetwork magazine
serves 4 

Cut 1 pound mixed yellow and red cherry tomatoes into halves or quarters if large; season with salt and pepper.  Cook 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 teaspoons brown sugar in a small skillet over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes; remove from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle over the tomatoes; top with snipped chives and basil.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Something Worth Sharing...

I found something great that I just had to share with all of you!

Hummus is one of the newest dips out there.  You see is everywhere you go, in stores, and restaurants alike.  Not only is it tasty, but it's healthy too!  We just love hummus and have lately been experimenting with different variations of hummus.

So naturally I was thrilled when I came across this wonderful guide to make hummus, classic style, and some unique variations on Shape.com.  It's really easy to make using a food processor.  You can whip up a healthy dip for tailgating, parties, or family appetizers in no time at all. 

Personally, I can't wait to sink my teeth in to the Southwestern hummus...let me know which one you will try!

Enjoy a new dip!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fall Salad: Crispy Chicken, Apple, and Spinach Salad

 Everyone is talking about fall...

All over "blogland" I'm seeing posts for fall flavors.  Well I have to tell you, in Southern California it is. not. fall. by. any. means.  I want it to be...but when it's been 100+ degrees outside for a couple of weeks now I wouldn't say it isn't fall. Also, I'm not craving the hearty stews just yet.  But some relief was in sight.  The weather changed yesterday...about 15 degrees cooler. Phew!

So in honor of the "upcoming" fall, which will hit us mid to late in October, I've created a wonderful salad.  Still light, but has the flavors of fall.



That flavor being apples!  I love them, and if I can get them in a salad all the better!  On top of that we have some nice toasty walnuts, blue cheese, and a crispy chicken breast.

You will need to pan fry a chicken breast for this one. It really works with this salad, making it nice and crunchy, even a little warm.   If you don't want to take the time you can use leftover chicken chunks.  It will have a slightly different texture to the salad but it's all good!  

Hope you enjoy this...I'm trying to think of fall as I eat it!





I also wanted to share some wonderful pics I took of the 9/11 memorial that was set up down at Pepperdine University by Malibu California.  So wonderful it took our breathe away.  See for yourself.  There is a flag for every person, representing their country, so you may see some wonder flags from around the globe.


Enjoy!

Crispy Chicken, Apple, and Spinach Salad

serves 4

4 boneless skinless chicken cutlets (thin sliced)
1/4 c flour 1 large egg, beaten 2/3 c Italian seasoned breadcrumbs 4 T canola oil
1 bunch of baby spinach, washed
1 apple, skin on, cored and sliced thin
1/3 c toasted walnuts
1/2 c bottled poppy seed dressing
1/3 c dried cranberries
1/3 c blue cheese crumbles

Place flour in a flat dish, as well as the beaten egg and breadcrumbs in separate dishes.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  

Dredge the chicken cutlets in the flour.  Dip them in the egg, and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs. Place chicken in hot skillet and cook on each side 4 minutes or until done and golden brown.  Remove from pan and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.  Cut chicken into slices crosswise diagonally.

Divide spinach among 4 dinner plates.  Top with apple slices.  In a small bowl add walnuts, dressing, cranberries and cheese.  Mix together.  Top salads with chicken and drizzle with salad dressing.  Serve.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Italian Breakfast Sandwich



We were out and about again this weekend looking for an investment property.  That left very little time for breakfast.  But it is the weekend...and I love my breakfasts on the weekend!  So I needed to make something that was hearty (protein) and quick.

Eggs!  You can make them really fast, but you can also jazz them up so they don't taste so ho-hum.  I'm not that great of an egg eater, but I do eat them.  That's why I like to add things to them so I tend to like them more.  


This sandwich is the perfect on the go breakfast.  You can whip it up in about 15 minutes and take it on the go by wrapping it in foil.  Otherwise it makes a great presentation at the breakfast table.  We ate our with some fresh fruit.  I chose an Italian theme for this dish.  I love the flavors of tomato and basil, and who can't resist some melted mozzarella?   I know I can't!


Try something new for your breakfast next weekend and if you are in a hurry, like me, this is the perfect thing.

 
Enjoy!

Italian Breakfast Sandwich

1 egg
splash of milk
1/2 t dried basil
salt and pepper
1 oz mozzarella cheese
1 slice of tomato
5 spinach leaves
1 whole wheat English muffin, toasted


In a small bowl whisk together 1 egg, a splash of milk, and dried basil.  Cook egg in a skillet over medium heat, scrambling egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  When egg is almost done add cheese and cook 1 minute to melt.

To assemble:  Place toasted English muffin cut sides up.  On one muffin add the spinach, tomato, scrambled egg and top with other English muffin.  Serve warm.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

General Tso's Chicken - Lighter Version

I love Asian Cuisine don't you?

On of my favorite dishes is General Tso's Chicken.  That sweet and spicy sauce gets me every time!  But...it's not very nice in keeping the girly figure.  Typically battered and deep fried it loads up on the fat and calories.  What's a girl to do?  Make a lighter version, that's what!

So I got out my trusty wok and set to work.  You can use a large skillet if you like, it works just fine.


So to cut the calories I decided to prepare the chicken in my usual fashion which is stir-frying it light oil with a coating of cornstarch on the chicken.  Once this is done you can add the General Tso's sauce and have the same flavors as the real dish without all the fat and calories.  Perfect!

This version is all about the chicken and the sauce with some added peanuts for crunch.  You can certainly add any vegetables you like to make it even healthier.  Just make sure to cook the chicken, remove, cook the veggies, then add the chicken back with the peanuts, then add the sauce until heated through.  It's more of a method than anything.  You can use this method with any stir-fry.


Stir-frys are easy to make and perfect for a weeknight meal.  So instead of calling for take-out try this version at home.  It's every bit as good as take out, if not better.

Enjoy!


General Tso's Chicken - Lighter Version




1/4 c chicken broth
1 1/2
T. tomato paste
1
T. soy sauce
1
T. rice vinegar
1 t hoisin sauce
1 t chili paste
1 t sesame oil
1
T. sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

½ 1b boneless skinless chicken breasts
¼ c. cornstarch
2 T. canola oil
1/3 c roasted, unsalted peanuts
brown rice, cooked

 
In a small bowl combine your chicken broth, tomato paste, soy sauce, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili paste, sesame oil, sugar, and cornstarch.  Stir to combine and set aside.


Cut chicken in to bite sized pieces.  Place cornstarch on a plate and roll chicken, covering all sides.  

Heat oil in a wok or skillet.  Add chicken and stir fry over medium high heat about 5-7 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Add cashews and stir until they are toasted.  Add stir fry sauce and toss until ingredients are covered.


Serve over hot cooked brown rice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans

 
Fresh in season vegetables are calling out to me!

I love going to the farmer's market and picking out fresh fruit and vegetables to use in a fabulous dish.  My problem is that I get so flustered from all the gorgeous looking items that I tend to want to over buy.  I mean really over buy, to the point I can't carry it out of the market to the car!

Talking to our local farmers is so interesting.  You can learn a lot about fresh veggies and how they are grown, picked at their peak, and even what their favorite cooking techniques are.  I found some wonderful green beans, potatoes, eggplant, and squash at one farmers stand.  I could just smell all the freshness around me and knew I had to have some for a quick dinner for MGG and me.  
Sometimes the simplest way to cook something is the best.  Roasting vegetables is easy, hands off, and brings out great flavor in your ingredients.  Add a little garlic to the mix and  you turn plain roasted green bean from ho-hum to fabulous!
Try it, you'll be pleased.

I made this dish to accompany my Chicken Cutlets with Almond Butter and it was just perfect.  Elegant yet simple.  Flavorful yet subtle.  

You decide...and make sure to let me know.



Roasted Potatoes & Green Beans

Serves 4
Time 30 min

1 lb red potatoes quartered
3 T olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic minced, divided
Salt
8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed and halved

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the potatoes with 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 clove of minced garlic.  Season with salt.  Spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes.

Toss green beans with remaining olive oil and garlic.  Season with salt.  Add green beans to the baking sheet along with the potatoes.  Roast for 10 minutes.  Toss green beans and potatoes together before serving.

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