Saturday, July 25, 2015

Jalapeno Cheese Burgers

Several years ago, my husband and I discovered this local restaurant in the downtown area of Winston Salem. Just like the first time I go anywhere to eat, the menu was a little overwhelming, not because there was a huge selection, but because I always wonder what is really good. After going to the restaurant several times, I finally worked up the courage to try something that I had never eaten before in my life --- ostrich! To say I was a little hesitant would be an understatement, however, I was ready to take it on and it was highly rated by the service crew. Additionally, the ostrich was from a local farm using spent grain from the brewery. Since I am very fond of supporting local and eating what is grown around you, that made it even more appealing.
When I got this burger, I was immediately in love. It was amazing! However, like most things on menus that I come to love, after a year or so, it was discontinued because the supply could not keep up with the demand. So what was I going to do???? I decided to take the flavors of the ostrich burger and add them to a standard beef patty. The results were great. I even made slider versions of this recipe last year for a tailgate, topped them with pepper jack cheese, and served them on Hawaiian style rolls and the crew went crazy!!! The recipe is very versatile. Feel free to play with the protein used, i.e. ground turkey or chicken, and even the heat level, seeds in or out of the jalapeno.
1 Pound 80/20 Ground Chuck
1 Jalapeno, Seeded and Minced
1 Tablespoon Onion, Minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon Salt
Cheese
Hamburger Buns
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to work until incorporated but not overworking the meat.
2. Portion the meat into 4 equal size patties, slightly bigger than the buns you plan to serve on. As the patties are formed, create a well in the middle by pushing your thumb down. By doing this, the burgers will retain their shape better and are less likely to bulge in the middle.
3. Grill over medium heat until desired doneness, flipping only once. A good rule of thumb is to watch for the juices to puddle in the well created in the middle and the meat to be cooked at least half the way up the side of the burger.
4. Top with your choice of cheese.
5. Serve on a toasted bun with desired toppings.

****Note: I would normally not seed the jalapeno, however, while pregnant, sometimes the spice can cause discomfort. The unseeded jalapeno provides a nice punch of spice. However, even the seeded jalapeno gives the burger wonderful flavor!****

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Banana Zucchini Bread with Raisins and Cinnamon Sugar Swirl

It is that time of year again when I am working to develop new and interesting ways to use up all of the vegetables coming from the garden. Last year, I posted "The Best Zucchini Bread" recipe; this is still a great recipe but this one is even better! Since entering my last trimester of pregnancy, I am craving cinnamon raisin bread. This recipe was created to help merge the two flavors while also adding in some nutrients from bananas, as I always seems to have 2 or 3 that get left over and become a little too ripe. This bread is so fragrant, moist, and delicious! If I had some walnuts in the freezer, I might even finely chop some and incorporate them into the swirl for even more texture. This bread is perfect for breakfast, afternoon snack, or even dessert. I hope you will give this recipe a try.
2 very ripe Bananas, mashed
1 cup Zucchini, grated
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1 Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour, plus 1 teaspoon
1/2 cup Raisins
FOR CINNAMON SUGAR SWIRL
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
Preheat Oven Temperature: 350 degrees
1. In a large bowl, combine bananas and zucchini.
2. Add the oil, egg, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
3. Add the sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon to the banana mixture. Stir to combine.
4. Add 1 1/2 cups flour to the mixture and stir until just combined.
5. Toss the raisins in the remaining flour. Once coated, add to the batter and stir to incorporate.
6. In a separate bowl, combine the light brown sugar and cinnamon for the swirl.
7. Pour half of the batter into a loaf pan that has been greased and floured.
8. Top with half of the swirl mixture. Starting from one end of the pan and working down the length, use a butter knife to create folds in the batter, creating the swirl of cinnamon sugar. Do not overwork! You want the swirl and batter to still be separate from each other. Trying to swirl too much will incorporate the two.
9. Top with the remaining batter and swirl mixture. Repeat the swirling technique.
10. Place in a 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove bread from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before turning out to cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Baked Zucchini Fries

With it now being summer, we are blessed enough to have a bounty of summer squash and zucchini coming from our garden. While traditional methods, i.e. fried squash, are delicious, sometimes you just want something new and a little healthier to do with your produce. While I have made zucchini bread, cakes, and even fritters, today, I decided to expand on my baked squash recipe and create a crispy zucchini fry to go with our summertime grilled burgers.
Admittedly, when I first made the recipe, I was a little worried. I wasn't worried so much about the deliciousness of the meal, as I am a vegetable lover, but I was worried about how the change would be received by my husband. While he is good about serving as my taste tester, he likes his squash prepared the traditional Southern way.....fried! However, even he was surprised at the crisp texture, perfectly tender interior, and savory seasoned flavor. We will be making this again!

2 Zucchini
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Eggs
1 Tablespoon Water
1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Yield; 4 Servings
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Slice the ends off of each zucchini. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. To make the fries, slice halves into 1/4-inch strips.
3. Place the flour in a resealable plastic bag. Place the zucchini slices in the flour bag. Shake to thoroughly coat.
4. Prepare the dredging stations. In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg and water. In a separate shallow dish, combine the Panko and seasonings, stirring well. Place a rack on top of a baking sheet to allow a place for the coated strips to rest.
5. Remove one strip at a time from the flour, shaking off the excess. Coat in the egg mixture and then press into the seasoned Panko. Place on the baking rack. Repeat the process until all of the strips are coated.
6. Make sure that there is room between each zucchini strip on the rack. If your baking rack seems to be too crowded, prepare two pans for baking. Too much room is much better than not enough! The room between the zucchini fries will allow them to become crispy and brown on each side while baking, just as the rack allows the bottom to crisp and not become soggy.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before removing from the rack.


Friday, June 12, 2015

Blueberry Orange Streusel Muffins

As summer time approaches, I am thrilled to be back in the kitchen making breakfast throughout the entire week. To say that I was looking forward to my two month hiatus from work in order to focus on other personal endeavors, such as recipe development, would be an understatement. While I do make time throughout the year to make dinner almost every night, sometimes you just crave some extra time to focus on other meals and slow down to enjoy the blessings of the season.
My first endeavor since starting my summer break was to get back into my muffin addiction. I, admittedly, love a delicious, homemade muffin. There is just something about the warm scents that fill the house when making breakfast breads that comforts the soul. These muffins combine my love for warm flavors, such as cinnamon and ginger, with the tastes of the season, like orange and blueberry. Even though you may be thinking that these are just your standard orange blueberry muffins, you would be very wrong. The orange is a subtle addition to the recipe, playing a backup role while still exerting its delicious essence. The streusel topping adds a decadent, crisp layer to the tender, soft muffin.
You should make some time to try this recipe. Your family and friends will thank you.
FOR THE BATTER
1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
1 pinch Salt
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/2 Cup Milk
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 Cup Frozen Blueberries
FOR THE TOPPING
3 Tablespoons Quick Cook Oats
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Butter, Cubed
Yield: 6 Jumbo Muffins
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat the muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a large measuring cup.
4. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. The batter will be lumpy and thick. Stir the blueberries into the batter.
5. Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
6. Combine the topping ingredients. Work the butter into the oats and brown sugar until it resembles a course sand. Sprinkle over the top of the batter.
7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and the spring back to the touch. You can test with a toothpick if you are not sure.
8. Remove from the oven and carefully run a knife around the edges of the muffins. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day Stew

The cold, gray days of winter have set in for the long haul and are beginning to drain the color from everything around, including our food. Too often, our winter meals become very monochromatic and less appealing than their spring and summertime counterparts simply because of what is in season on the vegetable aisle. I also find that wintertime can often become a repetitive set of meals from week to week, adding to the cold weather blues.
This week, we had another round of snow, like many people around the country. While snowed in, I was determined to make something warm, comforting, and flavorful without all of the heaviness of a typical wintertime meal. My favorite go to in a situation such as this is a large pot of bubbling stew.
I call them stews because I prefer my soups thicker and heartier than traditional recipes. I love to see chunks of vegetables, filled with color, in a bowl with a flavorful broth. This stew was perfect.
Although you may look at this recipe and think that is it just another vegetable soup, you would be missing out on something extraordinary. The incorporation of the stock with the herb combination transforms this standard stew to something new and intriguing.
So as you are bundled up inside your house during these winter days, give this stew a try. Serve it with a nice grilled cheese and you are ready for a comforting meal. The only way you will be disappointed is if you don't make this right away!
2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil
1/2 pound Stew Beef
1/2 Onion, diced
1 cup Carrot, diced
1 1/2 cup Potato, diced
1 1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 quart Whole Tomatoes
1 Bay Leaf
2 1/4 teaspoons Salt, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper, divided
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Dried Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Parsley
1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat. When the oil is glistening, add the stew beef to the pan. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Allow to sear on the first side for 2 minutes before stirring. Continue to allow the meat to sear on all sides for a total of 5 minutes.
2. Add the onion to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrot and potato, cooking for another 2 minutes.
3. Pour half of the stock into the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape all of the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining stock.
4. Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking each apart as added.
5. Add the remaining ingredients.
6. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and allow to cook for 90 minutes.
7. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy!

*Note: This stew can easily be made vegetarian without missing any of the flavor. Simply omit the browning of the meat step and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Delicious!