Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Belt Busting BBQ Ranch Bacon Burgers

First off, a huge shout out to our guys and gals overseas and at home, serving our country. This country is forever in your debt. 
You might think the grill is typically a man's domain. Not today loveys! This chick was Grill Mistress this memorial day with an old American standby. McDonald's beware. These Belt Busting BBQ Ranch Bacon Burgers are full of flavor and simple enough to manage easily during your grilling season celebrations.
Before we get started, quick note about grills. I have always used charcoal. My dad uses it, my father in law and husband use it, and I use it. It just gives that special smokey flavor you can't get with electric or propane. If you don't have a chimney starter, just stack the charcoal fairly neatly and soak with your choice of charcoal starter for about 10, 15 minutes. Then go ahead, spread them out, and light. Let them burn down to a nice smoulder before cooking so your grill is nice and hot. Always start with a hot surface when cooking with meat, even indoors on a griddle. Everyone has their own methods and such, but this is what I've learned from my grill loving family.
Now, let the dogs or kiddos out, grab some sweet tea, and it's on to the grill!

Grill and the usual grilling necessities (or you can use a griddle on the stove), spatula, mixing bowl, tin foil (optional), plate.

2 lbs of beef
1/2 cup or so of BBQ Sauce
2 tbs of Ranch Dressing
Dash of Tony's (yeah, I use it a lot. So what?)
8 strips of Bacon
Standard Hamburger Topping Goodness

Easy enough, just mix all the ingredients together- sans the bacon- and mix carefully. You don't want to handle your meat too much (LOL). You can customize the flavor by using which ever BBQ sauce or type of ranch dressing you prefer. This time, I used a new find that's absolutely amazing; Brother's Gold! These people are awesome at what they do and they are all homemade, award winning, true Texas BBQ sauce. I had the pleasure of meeting them at Fresh By Brookshires in Tyler, but if your not in Texas, they have a blogspot, facebook, and website where you can order from.
Okay, ending the product placement, you should now have a bowl of ground beef mixture ready to go. Form into 1/4 patties. If you have trouble with measuring, just think that 2lbs of meat should yield 8 patties. You can make them bigger, but it will extend your cooking time, and if you do go bigger, don't make them too thick, they won't cook evenly. Patties formed, wrap a strip of bacon around each one.
Once you have the patties at the ready, head out to your already heated grill. You can slap the bacon on the grill first for just a few moments to grease up and flavor the grill, but it's not necessary. If you do this, just wrap the bacon around your patties just before they really start cooking.
Now just cook until your desired doneness is reached. Flip occasionally (but not before each side has been allowed to cook a good 4 minutes), and whatever you do, don't press the burgers. This just makes the juices leave the patties and cover your charcoal. If you find your grill isn't cooking quite hot enough after about 45 minutes, you can feel free to finish them in the oven at 350*. Be sure, once they are done, that you allow them to rest just a couple of minutes to let the juices back into the burger.
We all have our favorite toppings. Me, I can't have a hamburger without cheese. My cheese of choice for this burger is pepper jack cheese. It compliments the spicy sweentess of the BBQ sauce nicely. Once your patties are close to ready, slap your cheese on there, allowing it to melt. These were also good with a nice alvacado sauce my Father In Law made, I'll have to get that recipe and post it here.

I hope this grilling season gives you readers lots of fun, lots of extra good food, and family time.

Website: http://brotherssauces.com/index.html
Blogspot: http://brotherssauces.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mac-n-Cheese Madness!

First off, Happy Geek Pride/Towel/Tarot Day!
Today we tackle what is possibly one of my favorite foods, Macaroni and Cheese! More specifically, Beefy Mac-n-Cheese. Meat, cheese, and noodle goodness. What could be better!
Now I know what your thinking, seems kinda low brow. But believe me, this goes beyond the normal Kraft powdered box stuff (though we will talk about that a bit later), and once you taste this, you won't get enough!
Onto the kitchen!

Non Edibles:
You'll need a pot, large spoon, pan, a strainer, and a spatula.

Elbow Noodles
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Parmesan Cheese
1 lb of ground beef

This is a recipe that I usually eyeball and isn't really specific. But that's part of the beauty.
First, bring to boil some generously salted water and add your noodles (usually, I use about half of a standard package). If your brave, whole wheat noodles go great with the sharp Cheddar and pesto.
While that cooks, start your beef to browning in your pan at a medium high heat. I like to season my beef with salt, pepper, and sometimes a.dash of Tony's. It just adds that little something more.
Don't forget those noodles! Usually around 8 minutes gets them nice and just al dente. Once strained and back in the pot, it's time for the cheesey goodness.
Start by adding milk and butter to the noodles (this isn't baking so just eyeball it). Usually about 2 tbs of butter and 1/2 cup of milk to start with works best. Now keep your pot on a medium low heat and start adding your cheese to your hearts content! Just grate the Cheddar and parm directly into the pot, stirring frequently so it melts. Then just a few cubes of velveeta will give it that extra melty goodness. Add more milk as needed. Once your happy with your cheese mix, throw a couple of tbs of pesto for that herby flavor. Now go ahead and add the beef and shred just a bit more Cheddar on top for good measure and enjoy.

For some variation, use your favorite chilli and add corn instead of pesto.
If you must use a box mix, always add your own extra cheese to the mix. It will be worth it.

Okay readers, hope you like it. And as always; eat, drink, and be cheesey!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

On the table today is my 3 flavor baked chicken legs! A quick and easy way to spice up the typical 9 piece chicken leg package if you don't want to fry them. I took some inspiration from Buffalo wings, and who doesn't like those!? We have Garlic Parmesan, BBQ, and Lemon Pepper! Talk about adding some choice and variety without much extra work. So, without further adieu...to the kitchen!

NON EDIBLES: Roasting dish or baking pan, tin foil, bear hands

EDIBLES: 9 chicken legs (usually they come 9 to a package in the frozen section)
Salt and Pepper
Veggie oil
Parmesan Cheese
Garlic salt
BBQ sauce
Tony Chachere (you know the stuff) Chilli Powder
Lemon juice
Lemon pepper

Defrost the chicken and preheat your oven to 350*. For less cleanup, just place your thawed legs directly on the baking pan. Toss some salt and pepper over the chicken to taste. Now, the first two you'll brush with some olive oil and then sprinkle with the parmesan and garlic salt (garlic pepper or garlic powder works as well). The next two slather with your favorite BBQ sauce (Heinz makes a good one) and some exta pepper, Tony's, and a bit of chilli power. And the last two add your lemon pepper and douse with some lemon juice. Put just a small amount of water in the bottom of the pan to keep moist and cove with tin foil. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, it's very important the chicken gets done.

And its a meal! I like to serve this with some rice and veggies. Yummy. Chicken is a pretty blank slate flavor wise which maks it so versatile so don't be afraid to bring the flavor! Happy cooking!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Of Cookies and Chaos

You heard right folks, cookies! Chocolate chip at that (did I mention I was on a diet? :3)!
Seriously though, diet or not, we all need a little bit of a break to get away from the wrong kind of order that stresses us day to day. And what better way to do that, than a homemade batch of chocolate chip cookies. Sure, you can go ahead and buy them ready made and such, but it's so much more rewarding to make your own. It's it's own kind of magic, cookie chaos magic if you will! And with this easy recipe, you can whip up a batch of "Eris's Best" in no time. Okay, okay, enough of that. On to the kitchen!

This recipe is one I modified from the Toll House original recipe my mom gave me many moons ago. I found their version to be a bit cake-y, so after a little though and a bit too much Food Network, I upped the sugar (just a tad!), lowered the oven temp, and Huzza! Ooey Gooey greatness! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Non Edibles:
You'll need 2 mixing bowls, spoon, beater, measuring cups, cookie pan, and, if you like, a spatula  

2 1/4 cup of Flower
1 tsp of Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 cup of softened butter
1 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp of vanilla
A hefty pinch of pumpkin pie spice (optional)
1 bag of chocolate chips
1/2 cup of nuts (also optional)

I know, a lot of ingredients, but these are not hard, I promise.
Before gathering your essentials, preheat thine kiln to 350*. Once that's done, you'll first start with the dry stuff. Just throw the flower, baking soda, and salt together in one of your bowls and toss it all together.
Next, beat together your butter (just toss it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so), sugars, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice into your other bowl.
Now that that's sufficiently creamy, add your eggs and continue beating until mixed.
Gradually add your flower mixture and keep on beating until you have a nice cookie dough.
Now it's time to add your chocolate chips and nuts (i prefer mine without nuts, personally).
Your dough is now ready for cooking! Just take your spoon and dollop the dough onto a VERY lightly greased cookie sheet. Toss the cookie sheet into the heated oven . Go ahead, lick the spoon, the bowl, and the beaters. You know you want to. And after 8 minutes, you will have delicious, comforting, chaos inducing cookies!

But above all, ENJOY! That's what cookies are all about.
Until next week dear readers,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome! I Come With Deviled Eggs

Greetings lovely people. Before we get down to the nitty gritty, just a few things about me.
I'm not a "chef" by any means. That is, I don't enjoy slaving long hours over a hot stove or oven (well...maybe occasionally :-P). Why am I here then, you ask? Well, you don't have to spend lots of time, or have culinary training and expertise in order to create extravagant gifts of deliciousness. Cooking has become a creative outlet for me when I can't find the motivation to write, but I love to keep it simple. It's fun to explore new - and easy! - recipes, and I hope that by chronicling  my simple creations, experiments, and tips, that I can foster a love of the kitchen in you. Now, my kitchen is very small, I don't have a proper pantry even, so these recipes will be tailored for convenience in small spaces. You can do wonders with the room you have. I cooked a whole course, Turkey Day dinner with a tiny stove and a few feet of counter space.  So sit back, relax, it's not rocket science (well, maybe a little science), and enjoy these offerings from Zaden's Kitchen to yours!

Okay, obligatory introductions out of the way, ON TO THE FOOD! That's what your here for after all, right?
In honor of Easter just past, I bring you an easy stand by Easter time treat that's great for all summer. Deviled Eggs! I know, I know. Not everyone likes these. But I do, and they are surprisingly easy and customizable. Here's a simple, slightly spicy option you can whip up in no time.

You'll need a pot, spoon/fork, knife, bowl, serving tray, and, if you like, a pastry bag/plastic bag with a hole cut in the tip.

6 Eggs
FF Miracle Whip (or not FF if you prefer. I'm on a diet!)
Course Ground Mustard
Salt and Pepper
Paprika (optional)
Vinegar (also optional)

Okay, hard boiling eggs is super easy, but a bit scary since it's hard to tell when they are ready.  I find about 15 to 20 minutes works best, but you can push it to 30 if you are nervous. Fill your pot with water and set your eggs in gently. Be sure you have the burner just below the highest setting. You want a boil, but not too vigorous as you don't want the eggs to move around and crack.
Once done, you'll naturally peel the eggs. A couple of tablespoons a vinegar in the water supposedly helps makes the shells softer, but isn't necessary. I find peeling the eggs under gently running, cool water makes for easy peeling. Now that you have the soft, hard boiled treasures peeled, cut them long ways and spoon the yolks out into a separate bowl and set the whites aside on your serving tray or plate.
Now the fun part! Add 2 to 2 1/2 TBS of  miracle whip, about a TBS of course or stone ground mustard (if you have a squeeze bottle, just a squeeze or two will do), and salt and pepper to taste. Mash this up with your fork until it's nice and creamy.
When sufficiently mixed, your ready to add the yellow yolk mixture back into the eggs. Now, if you want to get fancy, you can spoon the mix into a pastry bag or just a plastic bag with the tip cut off, and "icing" the eggs. Me? I just spoon the filling into the eggs directly with my spoon. Garnish with paprika for extra pizzazz!
And your done! These are best served cold. You can set them in the fridge (maybe a couple of hours) until they are cold or the freezer if your in a hurry (thirty minutes will be just right). 

Easy right? And other than cooling time, very quick! Now, deviled eggs are extremely customizable depending on what you like. You can use mayo, other herbs, regular mustard or honey mustard, ect. So go forth, and make them your own!