Friday, January 27, 2012

Beer Burgers

We have been SO busy recently! I haven't been cooking much but when I have, I've been throwing stuff together mostly from what I have at the house. I haven't really had time to do a good grocery store run. We'll survive until March when things slow down.

Tonight is beer burgers and steak fries.  I got this recipe from my brother who made it one time when we were visiting.  Sweet Pea really liked it when we were out there so I had to get it from him

Beer burger sliders
Beer Burgers
serves 4

1 lb hamburger
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c good beer
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar (either brown or white)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
French bread slices

Brown the hamburgers on both sides.  Mix the rest of the ingredients except the French bread together for the sauce.  Pour the sauce over the burgers.  Simmer until the hamburgers are done as you like them.  Slice the French bread and toast, put a burger on top and pour the sauce over.

I don't usually do the French bread (I don't like soggy bread) but the burgers are good on the bread or just plain.

Updated 10/7/13.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coffee Cake

Both the girls were away this past weekend so Bob and I really relaxed, especially in the realm of cooking.  This morning Rosie Jane asked for something yummy for breakfast. I suggested a coffee cake and she said that sounded good and she wanted the one with the crunchy topping. Easy enough to do. This recipe actually comes from two different sources, the coffee cake is from my Fanny Farmer Cookbook and the topping is from The Joy of Cooking. Put together they make a yummy breakfast.

Coffee Cake
modified from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

1 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 Tbsp butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c milk

Preheat the oven to 375* and butter an 8-inch square cake pan.  Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl.  Work in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and milk and blend.  Spoon into the pan.  Sprinkle on the topping.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Streusel Topping
modified from The Joy of Cooking

1/3 c flour
1/3 c finely chopped walnuts or pecans
1/3 c brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Blend with a fork or pulse in a food processor untl the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweet Potatoes

Last night's dinner almost falls into the category of epic fail and I was looking forward to it, too!  It was spicy pasta with sweet potatoes and I saved it for last night because it was supposed to just be Rosie Jane and me home for dinner.  As it turned out the other two were home as well and Bob doesn't like spicy and Sweet Pea doesn't like sweet potatoes.  They ended up with leftovers as I still made this.  The spicy pasta part just didn't taste that great.  I don't like peanut butter and the pasta had a peanut butter/cream cheese/Sriracha/soy sauce sauce.  I figured I'd give it a try since overall it sounded good but the sauce was too creamy, I think.  Neither one of us really liked it.  On the other hand, the sweet potatoes were good.  We decided that we'd try them again, maybe as sweet potato fries or even like this again.

Sweet Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes or sticks
1/2 tsp each sugar, chili powder, and cinnamon
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 450*.  oil a rimmed baking pan; set aside.  Place sweet potato cubes in a bowl.  Toss with the other ingredients.  Spread in prepared pan; bake 20 minutes or until tender.  May need longer or shorter if you do something besides the cubes.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Fried Rice

Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane, this one's for you. I got this recipe years ago from a little cookbook called The Starving Student's Cookbook that I got from Pops and Nana when I went to college.  It's full of great, cheap, easy recipes.  I used to use it a lot, when it was just Dad and I and life was simpler. This is super easy, a great way to use up leftover rice, meat, and veggies. You can really throw in whatever you have around, just chop it up small.

Fried Rice
modified from The Starving Student's Cookbook

1 Tbsp oil
1/2 small onion chopped
1-2 c leftover rice
soy sauce
salt & pepper
1 egg

Add the oil to a skillet or wok and heat.  Add the onion and stir fry for a few minutes until softened.  If you want to add any chopped meat or other chopped cooked veggies, now is the time to do it.  When the onion is soft, add the rice and soy sauce.  I usually do a couple of swirls around the skillet.  Season with salt and pepper and continue stirring.  Add the egg, continue to stir until the egg is cooked.  Check seasoning, especially soy sauce.

One good thing to add if you have them is peas.  If they're frozen, defrost them first before adding.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spanish Omelet

I had totally forgotten about this recipe until my mom came across it and sent it to me just before Christmas. This makes a great, hearty breakfast. I should make it sometime soon; Sweet Pea doesn't really like eggs, but she does like omelets and I think she'd really like this one.

Spanish Omelet
Serves 2 to 3

Start sauce ½ hour before omelet

1 T finely chopped onion
1 T finely chopped green pepper
2 T butter
1 ½ c Italian plum tomatoes
2 T sliced fresh mushrooms
1 T capers – not drained
¼ t salt
1 T sweet basil
1 T sugar
1/8 t garlic powder

Lightly brown onion & pepper in butter.  Add tomatoes.  Cook over fairly high heat till thick – 20 min.   Reduce heat & add mushrooms, capers, salt, basil, sugar & garlic powder.  Simmer 10 min.  Keep warm over low heat.


4 fresh eggs
¼ c light cream
½ t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 T butter

Combine eggs with cream, salt, pepper, beat with fork till barely mixed.  Melt butter in a skillet and pour in eggs.  Cook until firm, lifting the sides and tilting the pan to let the uncooked egg slide under.

Slide the finished omelet onto a serving plate, top half with most of the sauce, and fold the omelet over.  Cut and put onto plates, serving with the rest of the sauce on top.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kitchen Resolutions

So it's a new year and time to tackle some issues in my kitchen.  The top three things I'm going to tackle this month are the utensil junk drawer (not to be mixed up with the junk drawer), organizing the pantry, and cleaning the fridge.  Not looking forward to tackling the last, too much funky stuff growing in the fridge right now. 

I've already started on the utensil drawer.  I heard about this method on some organizing show.  I took everything out of the drawer and put it in a box (I actually need a slightly larger box).  I wiped out the drawer and the only things that got put back are the rolling pin, some knives that I use all the time, and I think the can opener.  Everything else will live in the box until it gets used.  Once it's used, it can go back in the drawer.  At the end of the month, I'll see what's left in the box.  I know there's some things that are used seasonally - juice pop makers, egg decorating things, giant turkey forks.  Those things I'll find a new home for, probably a small storage box in either the laundry room or garage.  Whatever is left, I obviously haven't used in a month and most likely much longer so it'll go in the donate pile.  This is a good way to see what you actually use, not what you think you use. 

Hopefully by the end of the month I'll have a utensil drawer where I can find things and actually get the drawer shut without shuffling everything around, a clean fridge with no funk, and a pantry where we can see what we have and find what we need.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ham, Potatoes, and Asparagus

I hadn't planned on posting tonight, but I just had to share our fabulous, super easy dinner that we had tonight. I baked a ham last week when my family was over for Christmas.  There was plenty of leftovers and I used a bit more tonight.  I took a hunk of the ham and cubed it.  For the four of us, I had six small red potatoes and cut them into cubes as well.  I was wandering the veggie section of Harris Teeter, thinking broccoli but they didn't look very good and I saw the asparagus.  We love asparagus here!  Perfect.  Grabbed a bunch of asparagus.  After they were washed and the woody ends broken off, I cut them in half.  Put the ham, potatoes, and asparagus onto a rimmed baking sheet, toss with a bit of olive oil and pepper.  Cook at 425* for about 25 minutes.  You want the potatoes to get soft, but you don't want the asparagus to get too overdone.  I served it with pumpernickel bread and it was all delicious.

Miss Shirley's Cafe

Time for another restaurant review.  On New Year's Day we went to Baltimore to meet my sister-in-law, her hubby, and oh so cute 6 month old son for brunch.  They were in town from New Hampshire for a wedding and figured since we were sort of close, it'd be nice to see us.  It's really hard picking a restaurant for brunch in a city you've only been to a couple of times that's open for brunch on New Year's day, family friendly for a 6 month old, and that all the others are going to enjoy.  So I scoped out the internet and came across Miss Shirley's Cafe.  Wow!, did I pick a good one!

So after dragging ourselves out of bed, we hit the road to Charm City.  Fortunately there was no traffic that early.  We found a parking place and met the gang at Miss Shirley's.  We got there at a good time and were seated right away.  The wait staff was really friendly and attentive - he totally got that a plain bagel was what would keep the baby happy and gave an awesome suggestion for my meal.  They serve breakfast and lunch all day (they're open until mid-afternoon) which was nice, plenty of choices for everyone.  I'd say Miss Shirley's is for slightly more adventurous eaters, nothing plain Jane about it.  Rosie Jane and Maggie had the mini-waffles, Rosie Jane with blueberries; both had a side of bacon.  My brother-in-law had Coconut Cream Stuffed French toast; Sweet Pea had the Pratt Street Cheesburger.  Bob had Steak and Eggs and I "Got My Grits On" with shrimp.

From all the empty plates I saw, everyone enjoyed their meals.  I will probably dream about the shrimp and grits!  When he first brought out my plate, I was thinking it wasn't very much food.  I was so wrong!  My plate had three slices of fried green tomatoes, on top of each was some savory grits, then on top of that was two jumbo blackened shrimp.  It was SO good!  Everything was cooked great, the flavors were nice, and it was just the right size.  I did manage to eat one of Bob's fried green tomatoes and also a couple of bites of Sweet Pea's salad (she was too full from her rather large burger to eat much salad).

The atmosphere was nice, great food, good company.  All in all a good morning and a great way to start the New Year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Eve snacks

We had a great time New Year's Eve.  A relatively quiet night spent at home with the girls.  We snacked most of the night, watched some tv, played more Lego Rock Band on the Wii, stayed up to watch the ball drop.  I had way more snacks planned that actually were made and eaten.  We made the pretzel-M&M things again.  Rosie Jane and I made cupcakes using a box mix.  I hardly ever do that but we wanted special ones for New Year's Eve and made the Funfetti ones, frosted them then put sprinkles on top - stars or dots.  I made my sister's peppers-mozzarella-pepperoni salad.  One thing I planned on making but we didn't get to (partly because we had enough other food) was homemade tortilla chips.  I think we'll make them to munch on while we watch the Rose Bowl parade.  These are a piece of cake.  We saw this on some Food Network show, made them and loved them.  I like that you can make just a few so you don't have an open bag around tempting you!

Tortilla Chips

small flour tortillas
canola oil
pizza cutter

Take a tortilla, brush on some oil, sprinkle with salt.  Stack on another tortilla, oil, salt.  Continue until you have about four tortillas stacked up.  Using the pizza cutter, cut into triangles, probably four cuts is good.  Spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake in a 350* oven for about 7-10 minutes.  Check to see how they're coming, you want them a little brown, but not too crispy.

You can easily make these your own buy putting on different spice toppings along with or instead of the salt.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day dinner - pork and black-eyed peas

Happy New Year!!  I hope everyone has a wonderful new year in 2012.  To start off our new year, we got up early to meet family for brunch in Baltimore.  We got home and basically relaxed all afternoon, then had a nice dinner.  I fixed a pork roast and hoppin' John with rice. [As a side note, the name "hoppin' John" reminds me of my uncle whose nickname back when he was racing motorcycles was Jumping John.]  For those not in the know, hoppin' John is a black-eyed pea dish traditionally served in the south on New Year's day to bring good luck in the new year.  Bob asked me where the collard greens were, since they symbolize riches in the new year and that comment was met with groans from the girls.  We had greens on Thanksgiving which my brother made, so I guess that'll have to do.  I got this recipe last year from Parade magazine and pulled it out again since it seemed to be one everyone liked.

For those that desire a picture, here's one I took before everyone dug in tonight.

Hoppin' John
serves 6

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 15oz can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c vegetable broth or water
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c flat-leaf parsley, minced
cooked rice
shredded white cheddar
hot sauce (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in black-eyed peas, broth, salt, and pepper.  Reduce heat to low; cook 10 more minutes.  Stir in green onions and parsley. 

Serve on top of cooked rice and garnish with cheese.  Add hot sauce, if desired.