Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bodalicious Burgers

Tonight is the epitome of the perfect grilling weather. The breeze is calm, no cloud in the sky, the sun is just starting to set (with no humidity), and it's 72 degrees outside. My DB has been craving burgers, and tonight was a great night to indulge. We picked up some Angus beef and set out to grill. I am not a red meat fan, but WOW- these burgers were OUTSTANDING! But, it wasn't the burger meat or cheese (though both were quite tasty) that made this so delicious- the grilled, seasoned onions were THE hit. Incredibly delicious, seasoned well, and perfect on top of the burger- make it in your rotation for your next grilling adventure. It took no time, and very little ingredients. The original recipe is posted below with my comments in italics.

8 ground beef patties (2-lb) (We made 3 Angus beef patties)
8 kaiser rolls, split (I used 3 whole-wheat buns)
2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 slices (I used 1 tomato)
8 Kraft singles (I used 3 slices)

Seasoned sauteed onions
2 Tbsp olive oil (I used 1 Tbsp)
3 sweet onions (2-lb) (I used 1.0-lb sweet onion)
1/4 cup Miracle Whip (I used 1/8 cup Miracle Whip Light)
3 Tbsp A-1 Steak Sauce (I used 2 Tbsp A-1 sauce)

1. Grill the beef patties. When the burger is near the desired temperature, place the cheese on top, and grill until warm and melted.
2. Meanwhile, slice the onions thinly into rings.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add the onions, separating them as you add to the skillet. Cook and stir for 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

4. Stir in Miracle Whip and steak sauce.

5. Fill rolls with tomatoes, burgers, and onion mixture.

Source: Adapted from Kraft Food and Family magazine (Summer 2009, page 30)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies

We are doing the Biggest Loser contest in our department, and Monday (6/1) is our FINAL weigh-in! I've been working diligently for 3 months to eat healthy and stay active, and have resisted making a lot of baked goods in order to be an active participant of this contest. With the weigh-in only 1 day away, I knew it was time to (finally) make these brownies. I need to reward myself a little, don't you think? While I'm not a chocolate fan, I am a brownie lover, and this recipe looked amazing. Oreo + Brownies? It couldn't be a better match. The end result? These brownies are dangerous, and not your average brownie! I was concerned that it would impart a coffee flavor, but you couldn't taste it, and I thought it brought out a deeper flavor of the chocolate. The ingredients are easy to find- you can get everything at your local grocery store. The key is to not over-bake these. You can't do the toothpick test for brownies- if the toothpick comes out clean, they're already over-done. Definitely let the brownies cool prior to cutting, and the brownies freeze incredibly well too. The original recipe calls for a HUGE batch, but I opted to halve the recipe (below). They are fudgey moist, rich, and outrageously good!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3-oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 Tbsp instant coffee granules (used 2.5 of these)
1 Tbsp real vanilla extract
1 cup & 2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup & 2 Tbsp flour, divided
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Oreo cookies, chopped (25 cookies)- I broke by hand into 4 pieces

1. Arrange a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 13x9 baking pan.
2. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (the bowl shouldn't be touching the water), heat butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. (This will take a while- don't overcook. Patience, friends!) Allow to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture, and cool to room temperature.

4. In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.

5. In a small bowl (or gallon zip-lock bag), stir Oreos and remaining 2 Tbsp flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture.

6. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

7. Bake 30 minutes. Do not over-bake! Allow to cool.
8. Refrigerate, tightly wrapped, until cold. Cut into squares.
If you plan to freeze the entire pan, wrap it up well in saran wrap and then foil. If you plan to freeze individual pieces, wrap each piece in saran wrap, and place them in a freezer bag.

Source: Ina Garten

Rum-tastic Rum Cake

To celebrate our friend David's new job promotion (and also a personal request from my DB), I decided to make rum cake this morning. This tried-and-true recipe makes the moistest cake you'll ever eat. It's the one cake I know that gets better as it ages- although most of the time, it doesn't last very long. This is my DB's favorite cake, and he requests this on all special occasions. And my favorite part? It uses hardly any bowls, ingredients, and it's incredibly quick to make! I normally make this in a bundt pan, but today I wanted to use my mini-bundt pan. (Tips for using this mini-bundt pan are at the bottom of this recipe.) The detailing on top of this mini-bundt pan is so pretty and detailed, I omitted the nuts (but normally I would use it if I were using a regular bundt pan). I like this cake best at room temperature, but my DB loves it chilled and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This cake is rum-tastic!

Rum Cake
Cooking spray with flour
1 cup chopped pecans (walnuts are fine too)
18.25-oz package yellow cake mix
3.4-oz package instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk (Skim milk is fine here)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup rum (dark or light is fine, but I use this)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Butter-Rum Glaze
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum
*If you're making cupcakes or mini-bundt cakes, you can reduce the butter-rum glaze recipe in half

To make the Rum Cake
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (Reduce to 300 degrees if using a dark pan.)
2. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
3. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over the bottom of the pan.
4. In a large bowl of a mixer, sift the cake mix and vanilla pudding mix. (I usually either just whisk the dry mixes or blend it in the mixer to remove lumps.)

5. Mix in the remaining cake ingredients (eggs through vanilla) on medium speed for 2 minutes using a stand mixer (4 minutes if using a hand mixer). Pour batter over chopped nuts in pan. Gently tap the filled cake pan on the counter a few times- this will make the air bubble pockets rise up and away from the outside of the cake.

6. Bake in a preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
(60 mins for using a regular bundt pan; see below for baking times using a mini-bundt pan.)

7. Poke holes on the bottom (presently the top) of the cake. Let sit for 10 minutes in the pan.

To make the Butter-Rum Glaze
* Start making the glaze in the final 10 minutes of baking time.

1. In a saucepan, combine butter, water, and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Cook until sugar is dissolved, syrup is well-combined, and a little thicker.

2. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup rum.

3. Pour 1/2 the glaze on bottom (presently the top) of cake, over the holes. Let sit for 10 minutes for the glaze to seep in.

4. Invert the cake by using a large plate or cake stand upside down on top of the bundt pan.

5. Gently poke holes on top and the sides of the cake.
6. Begin drizzling the remaining rum glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides of the cake. Try to keep the glaze on the cake as much as possible, but it will pool at the bottom of the cake stand/plate.

7. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature, so the glaze has enough time to seep into the cake, making it moist and delicious.

Tips for using Mini-Bundt pan
This was my first time making rum cake in this new pan. I had to make this cake twice because the first time, I filled it to the top and it completely overflowed (over the sides and into my oven). Here are some tips I've learned:
- Generously grease the pan with cooking spray with flour.
- After spraying, take a pastry brush and brush the oil into the grooves of the pan.
- Since it's best to slowly pour the cake batter to avoid air bubbles, I poured the batter into a measuring cup so I could accurately and slowly fill each well.
- When adding cake batter to the pan, only fill each well halfway full to avoid overflow.
- Baking time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 11-12 mini-bundt cakes (I usually do 6 mini-bundt cakes and 10 cupcakes baked for 20-25 minutes)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Greek Orzo and Grilled Shrimp Salad with Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette

Since it’s getting nice and warm outside, I wanted to find a light yet filling dinner. I was watching an episode of Bobby Flay’s “Boy Meets Grill” - he created this specific salad and it looked scrumptious! He grilled his shrimp, but I opted to cook my shrimp on the stovetop since it was raining outside. The key here is to use fresh ingredients, and having a careful eye to not overcook the shrimp! His original recipe can be found here, and my modified/stovetop method is listed below. I love shrimp so I decided to add 2 lbs (vs. Bobby’s suggested 1-lb), but kept all the remaining measurements the same. It still came out perfect, and felt that the ratio of shrimp was better by adding the 2nd pound. While it tasted great the day-of, it tasted even better the next day. The shrimp was fantastic, but the vinaigrette is the heart of this dish. Perfect for a light dinner, BBQ, brunches, and potlucks too. An incredible dish that’s full of flavor!
5/27/09 UPDATE- After having the pasta sit in the fridge, I felt that the vinaigrette flavor wasn't as robust/bold as I remember eating it. Thus, I made another batch of the vinaigrette recipe, and it tastes fantastic, and coated the pasta wonderfully. I think the pasta absorbed a lot of it the first time. The recipe measurement below has been updated.

Greek Orzo Salad
¾ lb (12-oz) orzo
16 medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I used 2-lb raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined; 26-30 count)
2 Tbsp butter
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, quartered lengthwise, and sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¾ lb (12-oz) feta cheese, crumbled

Mustard-Dill Vinaigrette
1/2 cup chopped dill, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
6 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup olive oil

1. Cook orzo pasta according to boxed directions.
2. While the orzo is cooking, heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add butter and minced garlic, and let cook for 1 minute.

3. Pat your shrimp dry, and toss it into the sauté pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp is opaque. Watch closely- Do not over-cook shrimp! When cooked, remove shrimp from pan.

4. In a large bowl, combine orzo, cucumber, green onions, tomatoes, and cooked shrimp.

5. In a food processor or blender, place dill, vinegar, and mustard and blend until smooth.

6. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

7. Pour the vinaigrette over the orzo mixture, and stir well to combine.

8. Gently fold in the feta cheese.

9. Garnish with additional dill.

Source: Bobby Flay

Monday, May 25, 2009

Garlic Cheese Bread

My biggest weakness is carbs. And lots of it. I can always skip dessert, but rarely will I skip the bread. While I have my favorite Homemade Cheesy Bread recipe, I have been wanting to try this one by Pioneer Woman. Garlic bread is one of those starters that I can make into a main dish- yep, I love it that much. If you love garlic bread, then this recipe is for you! As my DB said- "that smells HEAVENLY!". I loved the green onion blended in with the melted cheese. Don't even think of using garlic powder, jarred garlic, margarine, or Miracle Whip for this recipe. Got to go to the real stuff (and no light or fat-free versions either)! I served this dish with my Lasagna Rolls recipe. It was a match made in heaven.

3/4 cup Monterey-Jack cheese, shredded
3/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Hellmann's mayonnaise
4 green onions, chopped (white and light green parts)
Dash of salt
1 loaf of crusty French bread (used 2 loaves of crusty Multi-grain bread, totaling 1-lb)
1 stick butter, cut into 2 Tbsp segments
4 LARGE cloves garlic, minced

1. Mix cheeses, mayo, and green onions in a medium bowl. Add a dash of salt to taste, and set aside or refrigerate until needed.

2. Cut loaf of bread in half, then each half into half again. Repeat with other loaf, if necessary.

3. Working with 1/2 loaf at a time, melt 2 Tbsp of butter into the skillet and add 1/4 of minced garlic over a large saute pan on medium heat.

4. Place 1 of the 1/2 loaves face down into the skillet (cut-side down), swirling it to soak up the butter and garlic. Allow bread to toast in the skillet, removing garlic if it starts to get brown. Repeat with remaining butter, garlic, and bread.

5. Spread cheese mixture on loaves, and bake in 425 degree oven until cheese is hot and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

6. Slice and serve.

Yield: Stuffing yielded 1.5 loaves; I just made regular garlic toast with the other half loaf- delic!

Source: Pioneer Woman
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