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!
This weekend. This weekend. Man, it's been a full one!
Friday we had the incredible fortune to go see the man, Mr. Garth Brooks, in concert in Tulsa. Yes. And, you don't have to ask, it was awesome!!!!!!! (You may think I've already overused the exclamation point, but I assure you it's totally warranted in this instance.) Seriously, our puppy's half-namesake is a PERFORMER extraordinaire.
Recap of the concert, in brief, he sang the hits--the old stuff, the good stuff. Nick's sisters and significant others joined us for the memory-making night. It was a blast!! Despite our really pretty decent seats (in a section filled with mostly lame-o sitters), we stood, danced, and sand along. I can't tell you how thrilled we were to have scored tickets and gotten to go. And it was all the better to share it with A and B and their guys!
Despite a late night, and still in Brooks afterglow, it was a semi-early wake-up call to work Wichita's Bridal Fair on Saturday and again on Sunday. It was time well spent passionately sharing the stellar talents of Ashley and company of Events and Design by Ashley.
So really, after all that, I should not have wanted to cook. But, my hunger generally always supersedes my exhaustion. Fast-forward to tonight's dinner. I had this spaghetti squash lingering in the fridge. This misty cold evening seemed to be the best time to put it to use. I decided to make a recipe I'd already made because, well it was easy and it had such rave reviews from Nick: spinach dip spaghetti squash.
If you've never made a spaghetti squash, don't be intimidated. They're totally approachable. Plus, this vegetable will absolutely fit into your January diet resolutions. Well, not this recipe, but the veg itself. Next time you're in the grocery store, please pick one up.
Spinach Dip Spaghetti Squash
Originally inspired by Taste and Tell
~30 minutes; 4 servings
1 spaghetti squash, seeded
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 half large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or a scoop of minced refrigerated minced garlic)
½1/2 cup sour cream (I usually use light)
4 ounces cream cheese (full fat, or light version, either work)
1/3 ¾ cup grated Parmesan
3 cups packed baby spinach
1¼ cup canned artichoke hearts, chopped (sometimes I use these if I have them)
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or your other meltable favorite)
Family, friends, fulfillment, and food, that's where it's at. 2015, you're doing us right so far. Seriously, try spaghetti squash. You'll feel like a B.A. in the kitchen and you'll be doing your body a favor by using this low-carb or gluten-free substitute. Win-win.
Now, onward through this month!
Until next time-
HAPPY NEW YEAR, Born Daily Readers! Welcome 2015!
Nick and I decided to rally for one final adventure in 2014: we roadtripped to Fort Worth, Texas to celebrate with another fellow SEK'er. We rang in the New Year with ah-mazing Mexican food and music at the World's Largest Honky Tonk, Billy Bob's Texas. Albeit quick, consider the trip a success.
I hope wherever and however you celebrated, it was exactly as you pleased. Now most of us, especially, in the Midwest are ushering this year in with frigid temperatures and/or snow. I really do love each season, but my affection for winter stops after a few good snows.Nick LOVES the cold months (primarily because the colder it is, the more accessories you can sport--scarves, hats, sweaters, etc.). Now, one winter trend I can fully support: soup!
(I know this is the time for lighter, healthier eating...and I'll probably try to incorporate a few better-for-you recipes in the coming weeks. But in all honesty, I stand a better chance at resolving to move MORE (i.e. half-marathon training, anyone?) than to eat cleanly. Balance, right? The struggle is real...)
Anyhoo, let's talk soup. Have you ever been to Olive Garden and ordered Zuppa Toscana? Maybe? Okay. Great, that makes one of us. But I saw this soup on Pinterest pinned from a blogger I fancy--Damn Delicious. She's refreshing and has shared many a recipe I've bookmarked and a few I've actually made. This soup's creamy broth has a teeny kick and is studded with tender potatoes and chunks of sausage. It isn't that pretty, but it's pretty dang good. And it's relatively low-cost and easy. Plus, in our house, it's a husband favorite.
Spicy Sausage and Potato Soup (Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana Copycat Recipe)
(Slightly Modified, Original Recipe from Damn Delicious)
~45 minutes from start to finish; 6 servings
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound spicy sausage*
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of chicken broth (I prefer low-sodium)
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed (Russet is what I commonly use, but whatever you have on hand is fine)
3 cups of spinach
1 1/2 cups whole milk or heavy cream (I generally use milk because it's what we keep in the fridge)
Salt, Pepper, and Crushed Red Pepper
*I typically use Jimmy Dean HOT Sausage, but have used hot Italian sausage with the casing removed as the original recipe calls for.
Make this soup. And plan to add it to your regular rotation of meals. As we trudge into January, let's rock some killer Winter accessories and warm our souls with soup (and hot chocolate, of course!).
Until next time.
Well, Dad's Election Day has come and gone. And, it didn't turn out the way we hoped. At all. It left us with a lot. Shock. Disappointment. Frustration. And, an opportunity for reflection. It also made me exhausted and hungry.
Politics, such a funny animal. It's you versus another human being. Somehow, this noble goal of serving your fellow citizens and community goes to the wayside. It seems the fact that both candidates are both spouses, parents, friends, etc. is often forgotten; the other side is just a barrier in the way of a mission. The 2014 political season, especially in Kansas, certainly brought out the worst in some. Intentionally, the Pope camp stayed out of the muck.
The summary of our first foray in politics goes like this : We outlined. We planned. We campaigned cleanly with no bashing, misinformation, harvesting of votes, or other games. We voted. We waited. And though the others are difficult, the waiting is the worst. My dad decided to run for County Commissioner in mid-to-late May. Campaign tasks kicked off in the summer and we pushed through to November 4th. It was a busy few months. The Subbie got a lot of miles on her, we walked in a number of parades, tossed a lot of candy, shook a lot of hands, and did our best to get the message of VOTE POPE out. The entire time we waited to see what the people would say at the polls.
We were told to be confident. So many people wanted change. So many said they would vote, or that they'd vote for him if they lived in the District. We went into Election Day hopeful, but not overconfident. When we got notification that the votes weren't on our side, it was a big let down and frankly, quite surprising. But my Dad, ever the optimist with rich, constant perspective, accepted the results graciously. He said, someone wins and someone has to walk away disappointed. I kid you not. He was naturally bummed, but not bitter or disheartened. He knew what he'd invested and those who supported him. He took comfort in the fact that his integrity was intact.
I, on the other hand, was deeply bothered and was for a number of days primarily because the loyalties I thought would carry through didn't all pan out. The enthusiasm and respect for the duty to vote was disgustingly low--only about 9,000 people in a county of 23,000+ voted. I also just couldn't believe that the people of our County didn't see how wrong they were. They wouldn't get the chance to experience fairness, genuine concern for others, experience, and sense of humor my Dad had to offer.
All that said, what I know: this experience has reaffirmed that my dad is still as much of my hero as he ever has been. His integrity is uncompromising. His stamina doesn't wain. He's positive to a fault. His sense of duty is resolute. He is confident in his values, beliefs, opinions, and abilities. He is absolutely who you should want to serve you as he's not motivated by personal intention or personal gain, but by the desire for progress and protection. He is a character with character.
Remember I said this experience made me hungry...? Hungry for simple comfort food to be exact. So onward we go! But this recipe isn't one of my normal go-to comfort food dishes. In fact, this recipe makes something that I used to despise: Sloppy Joes. For many years, I had a love hate relationship with ground beef. It's a total texture thing. But, I'm working on it. This is my proof.
I pulled this recipe from The Picky Palate Cookbook after Nick challenged me to make something I'd never made from one of my recently unpacked cookbooks. If' you've never heard of Jenny Flake from The Picky Palate, you should spend some time getting to know her blog and food.
This recipe is super simple and relatively quick. Skipping the can and creating it from scratch totally makes the difference. The flavors are richer and you know exactly what you're eating (including some vegetables!).
No Can Sloppy Joes
Original Recipe in The PIcky Palate Cookbook, page 100
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
3/4 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (or sweet peppers)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
Hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
1. Heat olive oil in large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and peppers. Cook about 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Add garlic and cook another minute.
3. Add ground beef, salt, and pepper and cook until browned. Drain the grease from the meat and put back into pan.
4. Add ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and salt to small bowl and combine.
5. Mix sauce mixture with meat mixture. Stir until well combined.
6. Reduce heat to low and simmer the meat mixture.
7. Spoon on to buns and top with cheese or other condiments. Serve warm.
Now. that my belly is full and my head a little more clear...
Many have encouraged Dad to run again in 2018. I think he's ruled that possibility out. But, perhaps the apple won't fall far from the tree and we can have another Pope in the ring in the future, when I'm a little older, hopefully a little wiser, and more connected. Until then, I'll stay in the kitchen where I know the landscape, the priorities, and can call the shots.