Friday, May 29, 2009

Melanie W.'s Burgers

(Sorry this isn't the best picture...Josh is out of town with the camera so I had to use our video camera)

Once again I couldn't find any ground meat other than beef, so mine were regular beef burgers instead. I just got the leanest I could find. I thought they were so so yummy with the zucchini and carrot mixed in! I loved the flavor, and I liked knowing I was eating a few extra veggies at the same time.

I served mine with cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, a little mayo, ketchup, and mustard. Yummm! I didn't have any lettuce or would have added that also. I didn't have thyme or Italian seasoning, so I just added some basil and oregano. And instead of garlic cloves I just used garlic powder. My only complaint about the recipe is that the patties didn't stick together very well, but I didn't make them to impress anyone so I didn't really mind. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jessica's Turkey Burgers

When I was 20 or so I went on this crazy diet that involved many many turkey burgers. After the experience of turkey patties day in and day out I had to swear off the TB FOREVER! I was soooo sick of them. So when it came to my attention that this weeks recipe was my forgotten nemesis I truly battled with the idea of revisiting what I had come to know as the horror of Turkey Burgers.
I decided to bolster up some courage and give them yet another try.
These turned out stupendously terrific

Here's the skinny on what I did
- I served them on Pretzel Buns (these can be found at Hyde Park Produce) a little spendy but so worth it
- I added 1/4 tsp. of ground mustard, it gave them a nice kick
- I upped the salt a tad
- White Cheddar was the way to go
- Classic Yellow and a dab of BBQ Sauce
- Served with Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips

These will definitely be integrated into my cooking arsenal

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cami's Turkey Burgers

I'll be honest, I wasn't too sure about these based on the recipe. I'm not a huge ground beef person and haven't ever used ground turkey before we started this little group. So, I'm expanding my cooking comfort zone. Jason and I really liked them though and I will definitely make them again. Hopefully soon!

I accidentally used the zucchini for dinner the night before in a mixed veggie dish and so I just did extra carrots. I also added some Worcestershire sauce and served them on onion rolls, which were awesome! Jason had his with cheddar cheese, ketchup and mustard. I had mine with provolone, ketchup and pickles. The texture was perfect and they cooked up pretty quickly. They were a bit too crumbly for a grill but I don't have one so it doesn't matter.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Turkey Burger with Grated Zucchini and Carrots (from Real Simple Magazine)

Total time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

3/4 pound ground turkey
1 med zucchini, grated
1 med carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 teas. dried thyme*
3/4/ teas. kosher salt
1/4 teas. black pepper
1 large egg
olive oil

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except for the olive oil. Form the mixture into 4 patties (although mine usually ends up more than 4 patties because I think I make some of them smaller for my kids). Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium heat.** Cook the patties, turning once, until no trace of pink remains, 4 to 5 minutes per side. *When I don't have thyme, I just use an Italian herb mix (which contains thyme) and it tastes just as good. **I don't think you can grill these burgers...they are pretty soft patties and I think they would fall through the grill.

Real Simple suggests serving it like this:
4 slices cruty bread
4 small leaves Boston lettuce
4 T. mayo (optional)
2 teas. fresh lemon juice (optional)

Heat broiler. Place the bread on a baking sheet and brush with 2 T. olive oil. Broil until golden brown and crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer the bread to individual plates. Top with the lettuce leaves and burgers. If using, combine the mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl and servie with the burgers.

To be honest, I've never tried it the way the magazine suggests (mostly because I'm not crazy about mayo on my food). We've had them on plain hamburger buns as well as soft rolls or Kaiser buns. Nicholas (age 7) likes his with BBQ sauce. Sophia (age 4) is a purist and likes them plain with her bun. Greg and I like ours with regular hamburger fixings and a slice of sharp white cheddar cheese, or with lettuce, tomatoes and avocado slices. I like to put homemade bread & butter pickles in mine (although the store-bought ones are ok, too). It's pretty flexible and I like that my kids get a little dose of veggies. And it's pretty quick and easy to put together on a busy night.

When did you start baking / cooking?
I feel like I've been baking and cooking for as long as I can remember. My mom has no recipes for anything she cooks, so when I was little, one of my favorite things to do (and even now when I'm with my mom) is to get the spices for her and watch how many pinches of this and that she puts into her food. She cooks by taste, so my other favorite part of cooking with her was tasting. I always enjoyed baking, but I did a lot of baking when I was in law school because it was a nice, timed way to take a break from reading and outlining. And at the end, there were yummy treats to be had.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
Oh, so hard to pick just one. I love anything that requires zesting the oils that spritz out when you zest. Also love a good silicone spatula. Oh, my KitchenAid (ten years and running...).

Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
Ginger--fresh is great, but powder is pretty good, too. I love that you can use it in cooking and baking and it just wakes up food.

What is your favorite book?
Once again, so hard to pick one. To Kill a Mockingbird is an old favorite. I recently read Charlotte's Web with my son and forgot what a good book that was. And Mama, Do You Love Me? is one of my all-time favorite books to read to my kids.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Anywhere tropical, but somewhere with no mosquitos. That's a tough one. I love going to Hawaii and I'd go back in a second...even if they have mosquitos.

If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?
I wouldn't. I spent most of my early childhood after we moved to the U.S. wishing that I had a different (*American*) name because no one could say my name right and I remember wishing my name was as simple as my friend Susie's in the first grade. Then when my family got our U.S. citizenship, my parents said we could choose a name if we wanted. And I couldn't come up with a name that I liked enough to change my name. Same with my last name. Couldn't wait to get married to change it and when I did, I couldn't part with it altogether. So I compromised and hyphenated.

Where do you currently live?
Chicago, Illinois

Where are you from?
I was born in Korea, but moved to the U.S. when I was five. I got to Chicago by way of Kansas, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, D.C., Minnesota, and Utah.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cami's Lemon Scones

This was a really easy and tasty recipe. I have only made scones once before and am still surprised how easy they are. It is probably the easiest Baked recipe we've tried so far.

I feel like these could use a little more lemon flavor. I even used about 1/2 cup of zest. I agree with LuAnn that a lemon glaze would be nice. I've been eating mine with raspberry jam since they turned out ever so slightly dry. They would be fine alone, but hey, why not heap on a few more calories to make them exceptional. I am curious how the candied lemons would taste. It looked like a lot of work and I only had 4 lemons.

During baking some of my scones expanded and needed to be cut apart. It didn't really bother me but if I were serving them at a fancy brunch I would use two pans instead of one to make sure they stay independent. All in all, I will make these again.

Danielle's Sour Lemon Scones

Yum! I really like how these came out!

At first I was kind of grossed out that it calls for three sticks of butter (for only 12 - 18 scones!). I try to minimize my butter usage whenever possible, and I figured I'd could probably just use less. I asked LuAnn if she thought I could get away with using less and she said they'd likely be too crumbly (she said they were pretty crumbly as it was).

Based on that, I decided to try to substitute sour cream for some of the butter. And it worked out great! I cut out one of the sticks of butter and put in about 1/4 cup of light sour cream. The scones weren't really very crumbly at all, although they still maintained a scone-like texture. I think they came out perfect.

Also, LuAnn and Cami both recommended I try making the candied lemon peels to add more lemon flavor. I almost didn't because it looked like too much work, but I decided to go ahead so at least one of us could give an opinion about it. I like having the candied lemon peel in the scones, but it really was kind of a pain. I'm not sure if it was worth it. But if I do make the candied peels again, I think I'll cut the water and sugar in half (way too much syrup) and I won't boil it so many times (four times seems pretty excessive). I feel like it boiled too much of the zippy lemon flavor out.

Overall, I really liked these, and I would definitely make them again. It's kind of funny that my two most successful recipes out of this book have been lemony goodies.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sour Lemon Scones

Yum. I like scones. But this was the first time I had ever made them. I do wish they were more lemony. I like that they aren't too sweet because breakfast items often tend to be too sweet for me. However, when you sprinkle sugar on top before you bake them I would really pile it on because I think it adds just enough sweetness. I didn't do the optional candied lemon peel because I was working from a photo copy and I didn't have the instructions for it. I encourage someone to try it. It might make them sweeter. Also...just in case you don't have buttermilk you can put a tablespoon of lemon juice into 1 cup of milk and make your own. That's what I's all the same.

Changes I'll make next time...try to get more lemon flavor in there and I'd like to try a sugary lemon glaze on top.

Baking background: I baked bread and cookies with my mom as a kid. But she didn't do anything fancy and was always trying to make things healthy...but she was a high school Home Economics teacher before I was born. I've often felt like I didn't know how to cook, but I'm realizing that I have a decent knowledge base. And really...with google...anyone can do anything anymore.

Kitchen tool: My favorite kitchen tool was my Cuisinart mini food processor, but now it is the Magic Bullet (which I am borrowing from my mom until I'm done making baby food). Aside from making baby food I use this several times per week.

Spices...uh I don't really know one spice from another honestly. I've heard of these tests you can take to see if you are a super taster and I know I am not one of them. Although I know when I use fresh Italian spices rather than dried everything tastes better.

My favorite cook book is my 3 ring binder that has all the recipes I collect from friends and family.

If I could travel anywhere it would be to Europe...haven't been anywhere in Europe.

If I had to change my name?? Ha ha...this is a funny question because I didn't like my name growing up...I wanted to be Jennifer or Rachel or something. But LuAnn is me and me is LuAnn and I've never been able to pick another that would fit me. I mean can you go from being LuAnn to anything else? I like my name now.

I currently live in Chicago and am remembering why I love it now that it is warming up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cami's Chinese Chicken Salad

This was a really good salad. Katie is right, it is nice and light. I think next time I'll add more soy sauce and a little orange juice to the marinade to give it just a little more zing. I added less olive oil than the recipe called for and I'm glad I did. It was perfect. I went ahead and added water chestnuts but I wish I would have used celery like Melanie. That looks really good.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Melanie W.'s Chinese Chicken Salad

I thought this recipe sounded yummy and really wanted to make it even though it seemed like half the ingredients aren't available in Ecuador. So I did, but without the mandarin oranges, chow mien noodles, water chestnuts, and crasins. I also opted to leave out the sesame seeds because I didn't want to buy any.
In order to make it not so boring, I added some chopped almonds, regular raisins, and some celery I had lying around. I'm really glad I added these things. The raisins gave it the sweetness I thought was necessary, and the celery and almonds gave it a nice crunch.
Josh and I both thought the dressing wasn't strong tasting enough. Josh even added a dash of garlic powder. I should have gone easier on the oil, mine was a bit too oily. I think it would also taste good using a bottled Asian or even Italian salad dressing, to give it more of a kick. Overall, it was pretty good but I think it would have been even better if I'd had the mandarin oranges and chow mien noodles!

Danielle's Chinese Chicken Salad

Sorry, no picture.

I have to admit, I wasn't at all diligent in actually following the recipe. I kind of used it as a starting point and then went with the ingredients I had on hand and the time I had available. That said, it turned ok but not great. Max said he liked it pretty well though.

I didn't add chow mien noodles because I didn't have any. I threw in toasted sliced almonds instead. I also didn't plan ahead enough to have time for the chicken to marinate, and I think that would've made the salad better. I was actually in a hurry, so I only had time to throw it all together once the chicken was done cooking. My chicken was still warm when I ate the salad, which I think was a little weird. Cooled marinated chicken would've been a lot better.

That's what I get for not reading the recipe ahead of time. If I try this salad again, I'll definitely follow the directions better next time. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Chinese Chicken Salad

I love this recipe because it is really light but beware... I love to eat more of it than I need! My friend made it the other day and omitted the Oil she said it tasted fine.

3 cups cooked chicken, cut up bite size
(I use the canned chicken from Costco (just one can))
1/3 cup salad oil (I use Olive Oil)
3 Tablespoons lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 head lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces (I chop mine up with a knife)
2 11 ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
1- 8 oz can Water Chestnuts, drained (I have never put these in before)
3/4 cup chow mien noodles
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)

I also added craisins to it. I like the sweet taste it gives every now and again.

Combine cooked chicken, oil, lemon juice, sugar, soy sauce and ginger. Marinate 1 to 2 hours. Toss lettuce, mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, chow mein noodles and sesame seeds with dressing. Servs 10-12. (That would depend on your serving sizes!)

I like to wait to add the chow mien noodles, craisins if you add them and sesame seeds till you are dishing up as the chow mien noodles go soggy.

I really like this recipe when I want something light but good!

I started baking when I was really young. I remember my mom helping us as kids make cookies and other fun things.

My favorite kitchen tool.. Hmm... there are so many I love. I think my kitchen scissors are my favorite though! You can do so much with them!

Oh my favorite spice is deffinitly Italian Seasoning! When I was in Seattle for a work Conference I went to Pikes Place Market and there is a spice shop there! I loved getting spices there they are fresh and taste SO much better!!

My favorite Cook Book would have to be the betty crocker cook book I have! I love the simpleness of the recipes.

If i could Travel anywhere it would be to scottland or South America. I want to go to South America for a month so I can work on my Spanish. Also, I think it would be pretty amazing to do some geneology on my last name! :)

If I had to change my name?? Ugg idk... I really like Katie

I currently live in Ontario, Oregon! I grew up in Hermiston Oregon about 3.5 hours from here!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Elise's S'more Nut Bars

I'm finally posting!

I halved this recipe because Dan and I can never finish a whole 9x13 pan of dessert before it goes the way of all the earth.

The crust was DELICIOUS! (Mine didn't have puddles of butter on the top, Danielle, but I didn't grease my pan at all. I figured the crust had plenty of butter already.) I was a bit unsure on the baking time since I was using an 8x8 pan, but I baked it for 16 minutes and it turned out beautifully soft but still held together.

(After it had been in the oven for 1 minute I realized I had forgotten the brown sugar, so I whipped the pan out of the oven, dumped the crust back in the bowl, and added the sugar. Luckily it wasn't too late!)

The chocolate I used was Baker's German Sweet Chocolate--48% cacao. My bars still turned out super chocolatey--a little too much for me, but they are still excellent as long as taken in small doses. I am not a big fan of marshmallows, so I melted them into the cream instead of just folding them into the chocolate mixture. I think I could have added a couple more and maybe it would have toned down the chocolate a bit. Were these supposed to be firm? Mine were pretty soft and squishy even after they chilled, so I didn't want to give any to Violet (she'd make a mess all over her face and hands with something like this). Maybe they are firmer now that they've been refrigerated overnight. I'll have to check.

Instead of peanuts, I used pecans. Yummy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Whiteout Frosting

I made this frosting and put it on cupcakes from a white cake mix for my niece who turned 19 today and is visiting. There is really something special about this frosting! There is part of me wondering where the sweetness is that I am used to, but still knowing it is perfect the way it is. It is the same experience I had while eating a cupcake from Cupcake Jones in Portland, most favoritest ever cupcake place. But be not make this frosting if you are on a is loaded with butter. I think it could have done with a bit less.

Heading Cami's warning of runny frosting I let mine reduce extra long...about 20 minutes. Then I mixed it for a while to get all the heat out and then I put it in the freezer for a couple minutes. My butter was room temperature and mixed in well. I was worried about my white chocolate being lumpy because it didn't look like it was melting smoothly, but it mixed in well. My frosting was smooth and light. I put it in the fridge for a couple of minutes before frosting my cupcakes.

I was relieved to read your post, Cami, because I had just returned from Treasure Island and Village Foods...neither of whom had cake flour. TI usually carries it, but was out...should have more tomorrow. VF didn't seem to carry it at all. I got a white cake mix. The task of finding these special ingredients is kind of cramping my cooking efforts lately. It is rewarding when I find everything I need and make yummy food, but can be frustrating. Oh Walt Disney said..."keep moving forward."

Jeannie's Sloppy Joes

We enjoyed these very much. I didn't read the recipe carefully enough when planning so I didn't realize you were supposed to use the crock pot. Didn't matter! I made them (like Melanie: 1 lb. ground beef, halved other ingredients) in a regular pot and let the sauce simmer down for about 10 minutes. Took about 30 minutes from start to finish, so a pretty easy and tasty dinner.

Whiteout Cake

Oh the Whiteout Cake. I have to admit. This recipe was a dud for me. Twice. I made it last weekend as a cake. The cake was dense and not very good. The frosting was great, but lumpy and thin. I was mortified. There was no way I was taking a picture of that.

So, I was determined to try again yesterday. I whisked the egg whites longer, making them fluffier. I chose to do cupcakes instead of a full cake. I did as the instructions suggested and added an extra yolk to the batter. The batter looked so much better. I was hopeful. Unfortunately the cupcakes came out looking good but tasting and having the consistency of corn bread. Yikes. I was so discouraged I didn't even attempt the frosting again. I will though. I will. I think I've had it with the cake recipe. I'll find another white cake recipe to use the frosting with because it was really good.

So, that being said, I am curious if other people have the same problem I do with this recipe. Maybe it's my stove. Maybe I over mixed it. Maybe I under mixed it. Maybe I didn't get the butter temperature just right. Maybe I over or under baked them. I don't know. I would love to know if this works for you. If I've scared you off and you don't want to try it, I understand. I would encourage you to at least try the frosting. It was delicious. I think I didn't have the butter cool enough, causing the frosting to be runny. I also think I didn't mix it enough, causing it to be lumpy. Please try it. Make a cake mix and throw this frosting on it. Whatever you do, please try it and tell me how it worked for you.

On to the questions:

When did you start baking / cooking?
I have been cooking and baking as long as I can remember. I remember helping my mom make playdough when I was really young. I started doing things on my own when I was about 8.

What is your favorite kitchen tool?
My KitchenAid mixer. I love that thing. I use it at least once or twice a week.

Do you have a favorite spice? If so, what is it?
My favorite spice is cumin. I discovered it within the last few years and add it to a lot of things. It has a deep, rich flavor.

What is your favorite book?
Um, I have a lot of favorites. I think Freakonomics is probably one I could read again and again.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
I would love to travel to Europe.

If you had to change your first name right now, what would you change it to?

Where do you currently live?
Chicago, for the next 25 days and then Columbus, Ohio.

Where are you from?
Hermiston, Oregon

If you could eat one thing for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A hearty salad with turkey, black beans, corn and tomatoes with either southwest dressing or barbeque sauce and ranch.

*Updated to add a disastrous picture.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Melanie W.'s Sloppy Joes

I love Sloppy Joes, and this was an easy, yummy recipe! I decided to use only 1 pound of ground beef, and then halved the rest of the ingredients. It made about 8 sloppy joes, enough for dinner and leftovers the next day. Perfect!

I opted to leave out the green peppers since I don't like them, I didn't add any dry mustard (didn't have any) and simmered it in a stovetop pot for about 45min (don't have a crockpot). It turned out to be the perfect consistency for my taste. I've made some sloppy joes that turn out way too thick. I liked the touch of chili powder...I don't think I've ever used it in my sloppy joes, and I liked that this recipe didn't call for a ton of ketchup like other recipes I've used. It was yummy and I'd definitely make this again.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cami's Sloppy Joes

I know. I know. This doesn't look like Sloppy Joes at all. Well, I made a few modifications. I have good reason. When I got married Jason had a list of things he would prefer I never ask him to eat. He had different reasons for each item but Sloppy Joes was indeed on the list. Other things on the list were macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, tatertot casserole and jello with carrots in it.

So, I still wanted to try this recipe. I divided it by 4 so it made 4-5 servings. Perfect. I also added roasted veggies (zucchini and squash) and served it over rice instead of on buns. Jason thought it was good, but probably wouldn't request it again. I also thought it was good. If I did make it again I would probably add a lot more veggies. I think it added a lot of hearty flavor.