nourishing & unapologetic
Ahhhhh, hello, long weekend! When you're young, holidays were relished with enthusiasm. As an adult, holidays are still great, but I think a solid long weekend is perhaps more eagerly anticipated than Christmas. It's a bonus day for productivity or lack there of.
If you've got a gathering to go to still, and are in need of a dish to take, consider these simple party cheeseburgers. Now, I'll concede cheeseburgers in their traditional form are incredibly easy, but these are lower maintenance and great for a group. Plus, you don't even need to fire up the grill. The original recipe is from one of my favorite bloggers, Kevin & Amanda. Their recipes are generally practical and approachable.
I first made these cheeseburgers as the main dish for the teens we feed on a monthly basis at local organization. These teens face hardship, including hunger, shelter, stability, safety, and a lack of clothing, daily. So we're always trying to provide a little bit of comfort through some great home-cooked food. Since we're cooking for a group, I try to find recipes that are teen-friendly, cost-effective and relatively quick. This one surely fits that bill.
You'll need some pretty basic ingredients and about 35 minutes. If you take these to a party, I bet you'll bring home an empty pan!
I have to disclose: I don't have any pictures to share with you. I could have sworn I took a few but I can't locate them. Food blogger fail! My apologies! But they're so good, I can't not post. Luckily, Kevin and Amanda's post have excellent photos it you're a visual person. AND, I'll update this post when I make them again.
Cheeseburgers for a Crowd
Original Recipe from Kevin and Amanda
1 pound lean ground beef (we had 90/10 on hand)
1 large onion, diced (I had a large sweet onion)
1 1/2 - 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 can of tomatoes with diced chiles, drained (i.e. Rotel)
12 Hawaiian Rolls
1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Seriously, that's all there is. I told you they were easy. No one wants to waste time on a long warm weekend with involved recipes. Make them. Take them. Let your friends reap the rewards of your kitchen wins.
Now, go forth, and enjoy the extra day! I'll be back with some other great stuff soon.
Until next time!
I have a confession: I am pretty obsessed with food. I am always looking forward to the next meal. I pin recipes constantly. I can spend hours at the grocery store looking at the offerings. My favorite books are culinary murder mysteries (yes, that genre exists!). The downside, I don't have the metabolism of a hummingbird. (thanks genetics...) so I have to keep my obsession in check.
I kind of wish I could say that I was a naturally healthy cook, that I loved eating clean, and I only bought all-natural, local food. But really I don't and probably won't. Clean eating would be Nick's department. I kid you not. He's a naturally healthy eater. At any special occasion, he'll bypass the desserts and dips as he beelines for the vegetable tray. (Word to the wise, If you want any broccoli or cauliflower, get there before he does.)
As a former fat kid (FFK), I should eat like Nick. But if you see me by the vegetable tray, know it took a lot of intentional thought, willpower, and probably guilt. Admittedly, I like all things that are bad for me. Thus, I believe in moderation and not denying yourself indulgences. Trust me, the world does not want me to give up sweets or carbs...it wouldn't be pretty.
Now you might be doubting that I was a FFK, but as soon as I track down a photo, I'll revise the post with it. I can tell you being an FFK totally shapes your self-perspective. I can rattle off the weights written on most of grade cards (which by the way is a traumatic practice that I hope has been discontinued) as compared to what my skinny friends weighed. But that's neither here nor there because for the most part I've settled into where I am comfortable and know what I can get away with and what I can't. I do strive to be healthy-ish. And, I am way more active than I used to be. I even just completed my first half-marathon. Take that S- in PE!
All this rambling about weight, nutrition, and diet leads me to the most rich, luscious brownie recipe you can hope for. Oh, the irony! But seriously, it's a recipe totally worth splurging on. Averie Cooks published this gem on the blogosphere last summer, but I didn't see them until recently. (Travesty, I know!) Making a knock off of Little Debbie's famous brownies sounded awesome to me. Most FFK's know Little Debbie was where it was at. (And I do still love the store bought treats on occasion.) Though this version blows away the cellophaned snack you would have found in your lunchbox. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Here's the scoop:
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons coffee or water ( I used leftover coffee from Nick's morning brewing)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (preferably Mexican vanilla)
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half or cream (I used almond milk with a 1 tablespoon of butter added-- but go with the real stuff)
1 cup mini M&Ms
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch baking pan (or 9x13 if you want thinner brownies) with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, melt the butter.
3. Add the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, coffee, vanilla to butter; whisk to combine.
4. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until incorporated, free from lumps, and smooth.
5. Add the flour and stir until it's just incorporated; be careful not to overmix.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top with spatula.
7. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until top has just set. A toothpick inserted to the center should come out clean. I baked mine for 25 minutes.
Allow brownies to cool completely in pan. While brownies cool, make the ganache
1. Add chocolate chips to a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power for 1 minute to soften chips. They won't be melted, this is okay. Don't stir; set bowl aside.
2. Heat milk or cream in a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl OR in small sauce pan on stove. Heat just until it begins to bubble/just beginning to boiling, about 1 minute. (I prefer the stove method.)
3. Pour milk or cream over chocolate chips and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. (I think I waited about 8 minutes.)
4. Whisk mixture until silky, smooth, and totally combined.
1. Pour ganache over mostly cooled brownies (try to wait 30-45 minutes.) Smooth ganache lightly with a spatula.
2. Evenly sprinkle with M&Ms. Cover pan with a sheet of foil, and put in refrigerator until ganache sets up, at least 2 hours.
Now it'll be difficult, but it's imperative that you let the ganache set up completely. No cheating!! After at least two hours, break these bad boys outta the fridge. Slice and serve to your heart's content.
A word of warning: these guys are rich. I don't often use this word because I have a pretty spectacular sweet tooth but these will get you. These aren't the $1.99 per box treats; these are uber high quality these brownies. Note: Brownies will keep for 1 week at room temperature or for 2 weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container...but trust me they likely won't have the opportunity to hang out that long.
Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks.
The next time you're looking for a nostalgic and totally fun grown-up dessert, look no further than this recipe. It won't disappoint you. And if need be it'll be there to carry you through any trying time. Talk to you soon!
My hubby tells me a I have a knack for "creating work outta nothin'". He even goes as far as to harp at me about my inability to "relax"... Apparently, he's still learning I'm not too good at being idle. And, as I am not the most gracious recipient of criticism either I typically get irritated and over zealously do more. That'll show him, right? :)
Well, I know he means well. (And if we don't tell him, he might be a little bit right.) I do have a wee issue with the R-word. But if I quickly reflect on my life, I don't have a lot of memories of downtime that I didn't already pre-allocated to my running to do list. I mean weekends are two more days to get stuff done...Amen?
As I get older, I am beginning to understand the value of unscheduled time, recuperation, and not being hyper motivated to just the check boxes off. Additionally, partly because of his insistence, I am truly trying to make an effort to learn to chill and do things for pure enjoyment more regularly. But, in the meantime, let's redefine "loafing." And, it starts in the kitchen!
My dear, now departed, Grandma Jennie first taught me to bake bread when I was probably about age 5. My early memories include standing on a chair, sifting flour in my mom's old metal sifter with the apples painted on the sides and greasing Folgers coffee cans with a lard covered paper towel. (Yes, lard--we were that traditional.) I am confident this is when and where my carb addition began.
One snowy weekend this past winter, on a day I am sure I could have just relaxed, I decided to brush up on my bread making skills. I was set on baking my Grandma's bread. The trouble was we never wrote the recipe down...ever. We baked by memory and instinct. But I guess recipe recall is a little like language fluency, you either use it or lose it.
Google to rescue! I spent a good amount of time searching for a recipe that was similar to what I remembered. I landed on the Curvy Carrot's blog (a old favorite I'd forgotten about) and Rosebud's Butter-Topped White Bread recipe. It was 99% accurate to what I was remembering. It was when I set the towel covered bowl of dough on my running dryer, I knew I was on the right track. A handful of hours and a few butter slathered slices later, my morning of loafing was declared a success!
4 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (= 2 packets)
3/4 cup warm water (not hot)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
2 2/3 cups additional warm water
9-10 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves
plus more butter for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans
1. In the bowl of stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, butter, additional 2 2/3 cup warm water, and mix gently just to combine.
3. Slowly add 5 cups of the flour, mixing in a little bit at a time on low speed until smooth.
4. With the mixer on its lowest speed,. slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is smooth.
5. Swap attachments--paddle to dough hook. Knead the dough for 10 minutes via mixer.
OR do it old school (My favorite way) and knead by hand. .
6. After kneading, lightly grease a large bowl with butter or cooking spray, as well as the pans you'll bake the bread in.
7. Once the dough is ready, place the dough in the greased (buttered preferably) bowl and turn over to completely coat the dough with butter/cooking spray. Cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour. (I use the dryer--don't do this if you have detergent scented laundry actually drying-- haha.)
8. After an hour, punch down the dough (yes, punch!) and divide it into two equal portions.
9. Working with one portion at a time, roll (with a rolling pin--I prefer a French rolling pin) the dough out into roughly 12″ x 12″ squares, making sure that the thickness of the dough is uniform.
10. Slowly and tightly roll up each square, sealing the edges firmly.
11. Tuck the ends of the roll tightly under the bread and place into your prepared loaf pans. Repeat with the second loaf. Cover the loaves, set in a warm place, and let rise until doubled, about another hour.
12. Place one rack on the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
13. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes initially. After 15 minutes, cover each loaf with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning too much.
14. Once covered with foil, bake for an additional 15 minutes.
15. Cool on a wire rack and lightly brush the loaves with the melted butter.
Original recipe courtesy of Curvy Carrot.
Rise to the occasion the next time you have a free morning. Ignore the 90-degree forecast projections on the 10 o'clock news and the calendar creeping towards June; bake some now. Summer sandwiches are calling for quality bread!
PS despite my husband's grumblings about not making tasks for myself, he thoroughly enjoyed this treat for days on end.