Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Best Beef Burger

Burgers are my husbands favorite food. I have never made homemade burgers and wanted to give them a try. With this experiment I realized I can make good burgers at home!

Best Beef Burgers
Serves 4

2 pounds ground

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

1 tablespoon
Worcestershire sauce

Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
4 hamburger buns

1. Heat the grill to high. In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine the ground chuck with Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce; season generously with salt and pepper. Gently form the mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.

2. Place the patties on the hottest part of the grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move patties to cooler part of the grill; continue grilling until desired doneness, 4 to 8 minutes per side.

3. Split the hamburger buns and toast on the grill if you like; place a burger on each bun and serve with the desired accompaniments.
Recipe found in Everday Food cookbook Great Food Fast

From my experience: I wanted to make leaner and thinner patties, so I only used one pound of lean ground beef instead of chuck. If you use meat that has less fat like lean beef or turkey, you will want to increase the mustard and sauce to keep the patties juicy. As seen in the picture above, I used a grill pan to cook them. They were really quite easy to make since few ingredients are required. The hamburger patties made great burgers too with a tangy taste from the mustard and sauce. My husband liked them, but he would eat any burger. I enjoyed my hamburger so much, I was craving leftovers for breakfast! I served the hamburgers with roasted sweet potato slices seasoned with Tony Chachere's creole seasoning.

11 Months

Here is Miss Sloane enjoying bath time at 11 months!

Sloane continues to become more inquisitive and active! She gets into everything she can possible open or get into; we are constantly on guard. She hasn't gotten any more teeth. We are still waiting for the top 6 to break the gums. She isn't walking on her own yet, but she can stand on her own for a brief moment before plopping down on her bottom. Sloane is predominantly eating table foods and we are cutting down on her formula intake. She eats lots of string cheese, fruits, and vegetables.

Sloane's Schedule:
7:45=cereal with fruit, bottle
12:00=lunch, bottle

Here is what Miss Sloane can do:
* stand alone momentarily
* wave hello or bye bye
* talks gibberish that sounds like a foreign langauge
* opens cabinet doors and pushes buttons

Sloane has figured out how to manuever herself under objects. She is having fun crawling under her high chair!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Gingersnap Dip

This recipe is one that I have wanted to try for a while. It comes from a Halloween cookbook, but I just never ended up making it in the fall. I was looking for a recipe to try this week and realized I had all of the ingredients for this dip. You all know, I love dips!

Gingersnap Dip
Yield: 3 cups

*1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
*1 cup confectioners' sugar
*2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
*1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping,
*1 package (16 ounces) gingersnaps

In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese,
confectioners' sugar, and pumpkin pie spice. Beat in
whipped topping until blended. Refrigerate until
serving. Serve with gingersnaps.

Recipe found in Taste of Home Halloween Party Favorites cookbook

From my experience: This was super simple to make, but of course I didn't follow the recipe steps so my dip turned out lumpy. I should have softened my cream cheese and/or blended it for a second before mixing other ingredients. Despite the dip's appearance, it was delectable! It tasted great with the gingersnaps and also with honey wheat pretzels (they are twisted pretzel sticks and if you haven't had them, you should). If you leave out the pumpkin pie spice or add others, it would be great with fruit. My husband liked the dip so much, he wanted to just eat it with a spoon. I will definitely make this dip again.

Christmas 2010

This was the start of Christmas. Jake had dressed up with a Santa hat on his head and hovered over Sloane singing, " Ho, ho, ho". She got so scared she started wailing. Then Jake felt so bad he tried to console her while getting ready to go out of town. As you can see she was still unsure of her dad.

We get together with my mother's side of the family every year at Christmas time. This picture shows my grandparents, my mom, my aunts, and all of the great-grandchildren. I took several shots, but this one despite being a little blurry, showed the most happy faces.

Christmas Eve

We went to New Braunfels to spend Christmas Eve with Jan and Tim. Sloane got a doll from Gran Jan and Maw but she was mainly interested in the magnetized pacifier.

Here she is getting a Little People school house. Now she likes to play with the characters. She crawls around the house with one in her hand. She also got a metal shopping cart, but since she isn't walking yet we have not fully assembled it. Sloane will be pushing it around soon though.

Here is Sloane playing with Pancho and Big Al!

Christmas Day

This was Christmas morning at my parents' house. Sloane crawled over to her toys and first picked out a dog that she will be able to pull with a string. She also got a kitchen that lights up and sings, and lots of other toys.

Here she is with her doll. She liked the eyes because they flutter open and shut.

Jake and I gave Sloane this bath toy since she loves running water and bathtime. It pulls up water and pours it out of the spout. There are cups with various holes to put in the holder. She has figured out the face if pushed in will turn it on and off. She has fun with it!

It was a great Christmas with our new addition to the family!

Recipe of the Week: Marinated Pork Chops and Roasted Grapes

This week's recipe was chosen based on what ingredients I had on hand. I am bad about letting fruit go to waste especially grapes. This recipe uses them as a garnish for pork chops.

Marinated Pork Chops and Roasted Grapes

1 cup red wine
5 black peppercorns
4 pork chops
1 clove
8 ounces seedless grapes, separated into small bunches
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dried oregano
12 new potatoes
2 garlic cloves, 1 minced and 1 whole
Sea salt
7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Fresh black pepper

In a nonreactive container, combine wine, peppercorn, clove, bay leaf, oregano, minced garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste. Mix well and add pork chops. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

In a nonstick pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic clove and grapes and cook until grapes are seared. Transfer to the oven and roast until the grapes start to release their juices, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Cook potatoes in water until nearly tender, then slice and sear them in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a hot pan for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat; add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until they have a nice golden color and are pale pink in the center. Remove from the pan and let rest for about 1 minute.

Serve the pork chops with the grapes and grape juices on top and the potatoes.

Recipe found in Home Cooking the Costco Way cookbook.

From my experience: I made this recipe minus the potatoes. The pork chop marinade needs to be assembled the day before or at least earlier so the meat can marinate for hours. I used a pomegranate red wine that sounded yummy when I saw it at the store, but tasted absolutely terrible. To get rid of it, I used it in the marinade which was a mistake. The pork chops were tainted by the taste of the nasty pomegranate wine, so choose a wine for marinade that you like. The grapes tasted great roasted and warm. They were sweeter than served cold. When cooked, they didn't release many juices however the pork chops were juicy enough without it. I would probably make this recipe again if I have some grapes that needed to be eaten fast. I am interested in trying the marinade again using a different red wine and maybe using it on chicken.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recipe of the Week: Apple-Gingerbread Cobbler

The Pumpkin Crisp recipe I previously posted in the fall got alot of good reviews, so when I found a winter version I knew that I would need to try it. This recipe requires a little more effort to make, but doesn't need alot of ingredients. The main attraction is a package of gingerbread mix.

Apple-Gingerbread Cobbler

1 (14-oz.) package gingerbread mix, divided
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 (21-oz.) cans apple pie filling
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together 2 cups gingerbread mix and 3/4 cup water until smooth; set mixture aside.

2. Stir together remaining gingerbread mix and brown sugar; cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in pecans; set aside.

3. Combine apple pie filling and remaining 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan, and cook, stirring often, 5 minutes over medium heat or until thoroughly heated. Spoon hot apple mixture evenly into a lightly greased 11 x 17-inch baking dish. Spoon gingerbread mixture over hot apple mixture; sprinkle with pecan mixture.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Serve cobbler with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe found in Southern Living 2009 Annual Recipes

From my experience: I cut some corners by omitting the stovetop heating step. Instead I put the apple pie filling into my baking dish then cut the butter and spread out the pieces laying them on top. I didn't want to dirty another dish and thought this would method would accomplish the same effect. The cobbler was great. My husband liked this one better! It has a crunchy top layer, a cake-like middle, then the pie filling on the bottom. The only thing I would do differently was my baking dish choice. I used an odd shaped casserole dish because it was prettier. I think it would taste better in a flatter dish so that you get more of the gingerbread mix with every spoonful. Try this recipe and see which you prefer.