Monday, August 30, 2010

Barbeque Burgers

Have a super busy day planned? You know.. like every other day! Well this is a super easy and super delish crock pot dinner to whip up. Your family will be sure to love the burger that's simmered in this homemade quick bbq sauce! Recipe can be reduced or doubled for larger/smaller amounts of burgers cooked. Want to cut your time even further? Have a store bought bbq sauce that you love already? Just skip the bbq sauce portion of this recipe and use your favorite sauce instead.

Burger Tip: When pan frying, grilling, or making burgers of any key is to not over handle the meat while forming your patties.  Handle as little as possible and as gently as possible. Over working the meat while shaping toughens the meat creating a dense patty with a hockey puck turn out!
Pan Fry Burger Tip: If your like me, our family does alot of outdoor grilling during the summer months. Just because summer is over doesn't mean you have to give up a great burger! To pan fry burgers, again...handle lightly so the patties stay tender, in skillet on high heat, sear your seasoned burgers on each side. Once they have good color on each side, turn your heat down to low and place a lid on the top of your skillet and finish cooking, turning occasionally. By using the lid you are going to create steam...steaming your burgers creates a very moist burger! Want to add a deep beef flavor to your burgers? Dissolve 1/2 beef bouillon cube in 1/4 cup water and pour over burgers before placing a lid on top.

6 Tablespoons brown sugar
6 Tablespoons vinegar
2 cups ketchup
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 pounds ground beef
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper

Mix brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce together and pour half of the sauce in crock pot.

Mix salt, pepper with the raw hamburger. Form into patties and lay in hot skillet. Sear burgers on each side until a nice browning is on each. (hamburgers will still not be cooked in the centers, this is ok!) Remove seared patties to the crockpot and lay on the sauce. Burgers can be stacked if needed. 

Pour remaining sauce over the top of the stacked burgers, cover with crock pot lid and turn on low for 2-4 hours or warm all day.  Serve on hamburger buns.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Yummy Sausage Gravy

Ok…so now that you can do buttermilk biscuits you gotta have the gravy to go with it right!? Well this is my recipe and it’s a family favorite for sure. Its simple to make so let’s get started!

Your favorite sausage browned/drained and set aside.
¼ cup or half stick butter/margarine

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

Step #1: In a medium skillet on medium heat, melt ¼ cup or half a stick of butter/margarine. Once the butter is melted, shut the heat off for now.

Step #2: Add ¼ cup flour and mix the butter and flour together. It will look like a yellow paste.

Step #3: Add 2 cups of milk to the paste and turn heat back on to medium high. Using a whisk, (yes a whisk) stir back and forth over the butter/flour so that it completely melts into the milk and there are no lumps.

Step#4: Once you have the butter/flour mixture completely incorporated into the milk, turn up heat to medium high. This is where your gravy will thicken so you don’t want to walk away and ignore it. Just keep stirring constantly until you start to see the gravy thicken. You want to turn your burner off, removing your gravy from the heat JUST BEFORE you reach the consistency that you want.

Step #5: Add your already browned / drained sausage. (I use and we love Jimmy Dean Sage Sausage in the tube) Salt and pepper your gravy to your taste and serve over your buttermilk biscuits! It’s DELISH! Feel free to double this recipe up if you want more gravy! Just remember..if your making more gravy in one big batch.. it might take a bit more time to thicken. You can even turn the temp up on high to thicken..just be careful and watch it stirring constantly so it doesn’t scorch.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Hint: seriously…if you want to make these babies from scratch....and trust me you do… you might as well double the recipe right now because your family will do a Pillsbury protest after sinking their teeth in these!

Reg recipe makes 12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour *not self rising

¼ tsp baking soda

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 tsp baking powder (be sure its fresh)

1 tsp salt

½ cup shortening (cold* and cubed)

¾ cup buttermilk (shake carton well before using)

Heat oven to 450*

In medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powdered, baking soda and salt. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture looks like fine crumbs. (I use my fingers to work the cold shortening into the flour mixture) Stir in butter milk until dough leaves side of bowl. (it will still be soft and sticky)

Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead dough lightly 10 times. Roll or pat dough ½ inch thick. Cut with 2 – 2 ½ inch round cutter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart for crusty sides/ touching for soft sides.

Bake 10 – 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with sausage gravy, honey or your favorite jam!

TIP: Cold Shortening * cubed shortening that is well chilled in the refrigerator will melt and cause air pockets in the biscuits and create that light fluffy texture your craving!

Ending Butter Confusion!

Butter, margarine and other varieties are all fats and oils. These all add richness and flavor to our food. That said, each type of butter/margarine all do specific things in our cooking and baking.

Real Butter: is made from cream and has to be at least 80% butterfat. It is super creamy, rich in butter flavor and practically melts in your mouth. You can buy it in non salted and salted types. Unsalted butter can also be called "sweet butter" because of the fact that it doesn't contain any salt. Whether you use salted or unsalted butter in recipes you do not have to adjust the amount of salt that a recipe would call for. Also if you are using butter, it will pick up any kind of odor so be sure when you get home.. to store that baby in an air tight container!

TIP: have you ever been baking/cooking and ran out of butter sticks so you just figure you will use the butter from the tub? Well that might just be why the dish came out just not quite right. Use only sticks for baking. Whipped butter or tubed butter will give you a totally different texture! Why? Because it has air beaten into it :)

Butter-Margarine Blends: you can get these in sticks and tubs at any store. These are blends of both butter and margarine. Usually 60% margarine and 40% butter.

Lard: (one of my grandmas staples along side with real butter) is a saturated fat made from rendered pork fat. (rendered means using a low heat to melt fat away from meats, then its clarified by straining so that the fat can be used for cooking/baking.)

TIP: lard makes the tenderest, flaky and lip smackin I gotta have another one biscuits and pastry! Just sayin!

Margarine: is a butter substitute made with at least 80% fat and flavorings from dairy products. Lots of margarines have vegetable oils made from various soy beans and corn oil. Taste/texture all depends on the brand you purchase. But once again... use only sticks when baking!

Reduced-fat or light butter/margarine: both contain water & air. These should be left to use as spreads or table butter if you'd like to reduce the fat. It is not something that should be used in baking. Why? You want some flavor dont you!? :)

Oils (Cooking spray, olive oil, vegetable oil): cooking spray is available in all sorts of varieties. I love the "flour" cooking spray as it takes lots of time off the traditional method of greasing / flouring pans. You can even use the low fat versions as a way to cut fat by spraying any type directly on food! Olive Oil (we use that alot at our house) contains no cholesterol but does contain fat. Its also heart healthy because its high in monounsaturated fat. You can find extra virgin, virgin, olive oil and light olive oil. All are wonderful oils! Vegetable oils are oils that are a blend of corn, cottonseed, peanut, safflower, canola and soybeans. Use caution when buying vegetable oil if you or someone you know has a peanut allergy.

Olive Oil Tips: Olives are fruit! Air, heat and light will cause olive oil to turn rancid so keep this in a sealed container in a cool cabinet. Olive oil comes with lots of price tags! Save the more costly olive oils for salads, salad dressings, and crusty breads. That said, the quality of the olive oil you are buying is by the price tag. I use a moderately priced olive oil for my cooking.. and a more pricy one for our salad dressings.

Check out our Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe coming up next!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Super Quick Fiesta Taco Casserole

Yes, I said I would be sharing dishes! So here you go..have a Mexican night! This recipe is super simple and takes very little time!

2 pounds lean ground beef (browned and drained)
1/2  onion diced
1 1/2 can spicy chili beans in sauce, undrained
2 cup salsa (your choice on the heat level)
Tortilla Chips
1 cup sour cream
4 medium green onions sliced
1 medium tomato chopped into a dice
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese
shredded lettuce

Heat oven to 350*. In a skillet brown hamburger and 1/2 onion and drain. Return beef/onion mixture to the skillet and add beans, salsa. Heat to boiling stirring occasionally.
In ungreased 9x13 casserole, pour meat mixture in and spread evenly. Spread with sour cream and sprinkle with shredded cheese and green onions.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with lettuce, and tortilla chips.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Family Tradition....

I only know that it started not too far back in the family tree. My Grandma Keeton was one of 13 or so children (I can't remember the exact number) yes...they had a lot of kids back then :) Her mother worked in the fields with her husband and since my grandma keeton was the oldest girl she was in charge most of the time for raising her younger siblings. This involved everything from running the house to cooking for the family. Maybe that is why she got so great at it!

Sometime after meeting and marrying my Grandpa John, they decided to open a cafe in their own town. (a tiny town and the cafe was only two blocks from their house) Now when I say "cafe" its not like today's "cafe" with tiny tables, eclectic decor, coffee machines producing frothy latte's and Internet access. No this was more like what I think of it as a diner, or a mom and pop restaurant. The "Hardy Cafe" was its name and although at the time it wasn't much to look at on the outside, it was full of charm and great food on the inside. Farmers and locals from all over would come in bright and early for some of my grandmas fresh baked rolls, cakes, pies and food.  It was "homemade" right down to the biscuits and gravy. My grandma would walk to the cafe as early as 3:00 am to start rolling out doughs for pies, biscuits, breads, kringla ect. It was quite a treat to go there and visit her. And I was fortunate to be able to visit her most weekends.

Her cafe had the old fashioned counter with swivel chairs, a display case with her wonderful desserts, hand dipped ice cream counter with all of the pretty glass dishes and sundae toppings and leather bound booths with the coat racks on the ends.  I used to love to go with her there in the early mornings. I remember that the cafe was divided into four large rooms. One right after the other in a long row... The front obviously for customers, then the kitchen, following with her pie room, and then the office and cooling room as she called it. She said she made pies and rolls in the room by the kitchen because the heat would help all of her desserts rise nicely. After everything was baked she would carry it to the back room to set on long tables to cool.

Man could she crank out some pies! The back room always looked like it had a slight haze to it..sort of like what you would see on a really humid day outside. But this was from the flour that would poof up as she kneaded. Cinnamon rolls, Carmel rolls, Pecan rolls, Kringla (which is something that to this day I love to was like my bottle growing up I had it that much) and honestly every pie you can possibly imagine.

And then as the morning progressed, she would send me out front and let me "stock the candy counter" goodness I loved that job! And she had this old fashioned adding machine that she would let me goof around on. I rang up some outlandish sales I tell ya! Customers or "family" as you would hear grandma say it...would start coming in bright and early for breakfast. I remember saying to my mom once "wow we sure do have a big family" and she would laugh. But most of them were just farmers and such that would come in day in and day out for their breakfast, coffee and conversation. Grandma just got to know everyone after years of seeing them each day. Now I can't leave grandpa out. He was grandmas "get this for me" guy :) I would take many trips with him down to the farm to "collect the daily eggs" and let me tell ya... its "collecting" literally! Still warm from the chicken! LOL They both worked that cafe like a well oiled machine for many many years. And over that time... I watched...helped...and learned alot :)

I am thankful each and every day that they taught me and my mom how they made all of that stuff. And it is something that I enjoy teaching my kids (even though they are boys) to make as well....grandmas cafe lives on!!!!

This is a picture of my grandmas house in Hardy, Iowa. Unfortunatly, I don't have a picture of the Hardy Cafe :( Pictured here is my mom, Karen. May she rest in peace and know that I think of her each day!

Blogging 101!!

Welcome to my kitchen! I am excited to have you joining me in the kitchen....:)  It is my hope to share with you some awesome recipes along with tips and tricks to use while you bake and create! Its like scrap booking only this time your using pots & pans or a decorating bag..hee hee.

Everything is true and tried. Yes tried! Because I don't claim to be a "professional" in the kitchen. Its just a honest love for creating dishes that brings me a creativeness that I enjoy. I am, like most of you I am sure, that I get tired of being in a rut in the kitchen. My family likes variety and doesn't want to eat the same stuff over and over. Likewise, I am a mom! So spending an entire day in the kitchen on one dish is not my idea of fun! I like things that taste like I've spent hours/days...yet is simple, quick, and affordable ( outlandishly costly items here or those hard to find items) to cook.

I didn't learn to cook Beef Wellington or Rack of Lamb. I could probably muster up one if I tried..but honestly who has that time!? I mean who wants to go to five stores to get every ingredient that they need and come home with a grocery bill that is a shocking $100.00 for one meal. And chances are that if this is the first time you are trying that recipe, it wont come out looking or tasting nearly like what you saw on TV. I know..because I've been there.

My recipes and cooking tips are things that I've LEARNED! By good ol' fashioned trial and error and of course practice, practice, practice! Sharing these recipes with you allows you to cut to the chase and not have to go through all of those tediously annoying steps. If you simply follow the directions, your dishes too will be amazing.

And my email is available in case along the way you have any questions too! I am always happy to help! SO CHEERS!!! Here's to baking and cooking and sharing our love for food!