My recipes are meant to be shared and enjoyed. I welcome you to re-post my recipes and text. I ask only that you credit me and include a link to my blog if you post any of my content.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Super Nutritious Hamburger Patties

My precious stepdaughters don't like to eat anything that could possibly be healthy. We made these hamburger patties on Friday night to "sneak" some fiber and vegetables into them. I must say they were mighty tasty.

1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
1 carrot, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
5 green onions, white parts and some of the green parts sliced very thin
cloves of 1/2 head of garlic minced very fine
4 teaspoons olive oil (divided use)
2-4 tablespoons tomato paste, to taste
salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence*
1 teaspoon Beef Roast seasoning*
1 large egg
1/4 cup wheat germ

If you want to really disguise the "evil, healthy vegetables" in this recipe from your little picky eaters, then walk your knife over the carrot, zucchini, green onion, and garlic until it's all minced so small that it's unrecognizable.

Warm a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 teaspoons olive oil.

Saute the vegetables until softened. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and seasonings. Cook several minutes so that all the flavors meld together.

Remove the sauteed veggie mixture to a mixing bowl and let it cool. When cool, add the egg and wheat germ. Add the ground beef and ground turkey and mix by hand until well combined. If the mixture is too soft and sticky to easily make patties, chill it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to let it firm up.

Form the mixture into patties. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil to the skillet and warm over medium heat, then cook the hamburger patties several minutes per side until nicely browned.

You can melt cheese slices (whatever kind you or your picky eaters like) over the patties when the hamburger patties are almost ready.

You can use your imagination and make all kinds of changes and substitutions to this recipe. My only word of caution is that if you have really picky eaters, don't go overboard with the amount of vegetables you add, and chop them very fine to disguise them.

* I've been buying most of my spices/spice mixtures from Penzey's. Their wonderful high-quality products are available in their store and online. I also find their catalog and online descriptions very helpful when I make my own spice mixtures:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is in the air ...

I love, love, love this time of year. Thanks in part to the fact that it's been raining for days on end, the temperatures here in North Central Texas are finally only reaching into the 70s and 80s during the day and mercifully falling into the 60s at night. It's starting to feel like Fair weather. The State Fair of Texas starts at Dallas Fair Park on September 25th This is the fair that each year gifts us with important culinary offerings such as fried Twinkies, fried Coca-Cola, fried bacon, and this year's awe-inspiring contribution, fried butter. The deep fried butter even made the David Letterman Top 10 list. Check this out: Makes me so proud of my home state (hiding my face in embarrassment). Thankfully the State Fair of Texas also gave us the world famous Fletcher's Corny Dog, so hopefully it all balances out.

The Love Of My Life and I are just giddy at the thought that open-window weather is imminent. As soon as the temperatures get a little chilly we open the windows to enjoy the fresh, cool air and seldom close them again before the temps start getting hot again in the spring. There is that occasional week or two of below 32 degree temperatures here that might make us close the house up tight; but other than that, we enjoy the cold and just warm the bathrooms with electric heaters for our showers.

The rainy weather and cooler temps are like a happy pill for our little garden. The basil and parsley we planted, both from plants and seeds, is thriving. The rosemary and oregano plants are growing happily. The jalapeno plant is setting fruit like crazy, and hopefully the habanero and poblano will follow suit. The tomatoes should start setting fruit again now, as they like it when the nighttime temperatures fall below 70.

That's the trade-off here. The summers are pretty brutal, especially for folks who like cool weather; however, the fall weather is amazing and we often have short-sleeve weather even at Christmastime. All of that makes for a great fall growing season, maybe even better than the spring growing season.

We had lots of tomatoes on our plants in the spring and a few jalapenos; however, those "rats with fluffy tails," as my mom calls the squirrels, apparently invited all their friends over and helped themselves to our "salad bar" every night, so we've yet to enjoy the fruits of our efforts. Need to figure out a way to outsmart those little menaces so we can enjoy a fall harvest!

Next up on my blog to-do list is to start taking pictures of what we're cooking and our garden and posting them here. I'm not very technological so wish me luck!

"Leftover" Cooking

Sometimes it's fun to see if you can cook "for free" to use up leftovers or ingredients you already have on hand. Instead of going grocery shopping, look in your well-stocked refrigerator, freezer, or pantry and see what ingredients you have on hand, then create a recipe to use them or do a Google search for recipes using the ingredients you have on hand.

Today we had some leftover pork tenderloin, about 1 to 1.5 pounds, already marinating in some
Annie's Naturals Shiitake & Sesame Vinaigrette salad dressing, that needed to be cooked right away so it didn't go to waste. Did a Google search for pork loin recipes and found this one:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed chicken broth
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) condensed beef broth
3/4 cup peach preserves or apricot preserves
1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped, with about 1 or 2 teaspoons of the sauce
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
salt and pepper, to taste
2 pork tenderloins, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each

Preparation:Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the onion until tender and yellow in color. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the chicken and beef broth, preserves, finely chopped chipotle chile with adobo sauce, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Stir the cornstarch and water mixture into the sauce and continue cooking, stirring, until sauce boils and is thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat oven to 400°.

Trim pork tenderloins; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Sear the pork, turning to brown all sides. Put the skillet in the oven and roast the pork to about 160° F on a meat thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Heat sauce until it begins to simmer. Slice tenderloins and arrange on a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon a little sauce over the slices and pass the rest at the table.Serves 4 to 6.

I adapted the recipe to use what we had on hand and to make it quick and easy to prepare. I sliced the pork tenderloin into 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices. I placed the slices a couple at a time into a gallon zip top bag and used a meat pounder like this to flatten the slices into thin paillards. I dredged the pork loin paillards in flour seasoned with pepper and browned them over medium high heat in a little olive oil in a skillet for 3 or 4 minutes per side. I then removed the pork loin paillards to a plate and covered them with aluminum foil while I prepared the sauce.

I used only about half the amount of pork in the recipe, and since I opted to dredge the pork in flour I didn't use any corn starch. Where the recipe calls for a can of chicken broth and a can of beef broth, I instead used 6-8 ounces of boiling water into which I dissolved a Knorr chicken bouillon cube. The other ingredients in the recipe I added to taste. I didn't have any peach or apricot preserves; however, I had fig jam left over from a Tapas recipe. It was a great substitution, adding just a hint of sweetness to the sauce.

Simmer the sauce over medium high heat until it reduces and thickens a bit. Then reduce the temperature to low, place the pork paillards back in the sauce, and let them re-heat for a few minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tips and Tricks and Helpful Hints

Although I only recently discovered my passion for cooking, I've been cooking since I was old enough to hold a spoon. I've spent a great deal of time reading cookbooks, watching cooking TV, and talking with others about cooking, and through the years I've picked up some pretty useful information. I hope you, dear readers, may find some tidbit I share in Tips and Tricks and Helpful Hints useful in your own kitchen endeavors.

Veggie broth freezer bag: When we peel and trim vegetables and herbs, we put the trimmings into a zip-top freezer bag and pop it into the freezer. When the bag is full we simmer the contents in water in a large stockpot. Then strain the liquid through a sieve and refrigerate or freeze the liquid.

We use this as the base for all types of soups, sauces, and to cook veggies. Not only does it add flavor to your soup, sauce, or veggies, it also adds nutrients. Why let all that good stuff go to waste?

When preparing soup you can add beef or chicken bouillon to the veggie broth for a great base.