4/21/14

Blue Cheese Stuffed Moose Burgers







So I have this awesome mother-in-law that lives in Alaska.  And she kind of hooks me up occasionally with some awesome sockeye salmon filets, smoked salmon, and some wild game.  This time I ended up with a couple pounds of ground moose.  What to do with ground moose?  Make burgers!  Amazing, gourmet, like you paid $20 at a fancy restaurant burger.  And I do have to give The Hubs some credit on this one.  He had a brilliant idea.







He kind of has a peeve with putting blue cheese on burgers.  Not because it doesn't belong there, but because blue cheese tends to have a hard time staying on top of a burger - it more often than not ends up on the grill grates than on the meat.  The solution was to make a well in the meat and fill it with the cheese.  Brilliant I say!  And to top it off, I found a bottle of some sweet steak sauce and a chipotle mustard.  Holy crap we're getting fancy in here!  Seriously though, when you are cooking with ground meat, it doesn't mean that you have to be boring.  Splurge a little on some nice cheese.  Get a gorgeous, red tomato.  And mix it up a little with your sauces.  Ketchup and mustard can get boring.  Don't be afraid to experiment, because sometimes the end result is AH-MAZING!



Blue Cheese Stuffed Moose Burgers


Ingredients:


1 lb. ground moose burger
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
2 eggs
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
French fried onions
Green leaf lettuce
Tomato
Kroger Sweet and Spicy Steak Sauce
Private Selection Fire Roasted Chipotle Mustard
Onion hamburger buns

Directions:

1. Preheat grill over medium heat.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine meat, bread crumbs, eggs, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, allspice, salt, and pepper.  With a spoon, mix well to combine all ingredients.

3. Divide mixture into four parts.  Pinch about 1/4 of each portion off and set aside.  Take the larger portion and form into a patty in your hand.  Make a well in the center of the patty using the bottom of a measuring cup.  Fill well with 2 Tbs. of blue cheese crumbles.  Cover cheese with the smaller portion that you pinched off and press meat together to enclose the cheese.  Make sure to pinch the ends together to seal.  Repeat with remaining meat.

4. Place patties on grill and cook 8 minutes on each side (total 16 minutes).  Remove from grill and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.  Serve on onion buns with lettuce, tomato, french fried onions, steak sauce and mustard.

Serves 4
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4/17/14

Slow Cooker Picnic Ham





Pork is a traditional Easter main course.  Some have pork chops, some have pork roast.  But the ham is one of the most made main dishes on Easter.  I was never a big fan of ham.  It was always dry, chewy, too salty.  Until now.  I went to Hawaii several years ago and the food was almost hypnotizing to me.  Especially at the luaus with the roasted pig and all that wonderful pineapple.  I'm a huge fan of fresh pineapple - I'll even eat it until I have cankers in my mouth.  So when it came time to fix a ham for Easter dinner and making a ham, I combined a few of my favorite marinades and added some pineapple to it.






This recipe calls for the ham not to be marinated, but to be slow cooked in the marinade.  The soda tenderizes the meat while the orange and pineapple juices give it another level of tender (high acidity levels in the juices) as well as a sweetness.  And frankly, citrus and ginger just were made to go together.  I use a picnic ham because my family is smaller, but you could use a regular ham (please get one with the bone in.  Seriously, it's so much better.).  And it will not slice like a regular spiral cut ham would - this is tender and just comes apart with a fork.  It's a beautiful thing.







Slow Cooker Picnic Ham


Ingredients:


4-6 pound picnic ham, bone in
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 cups lemon lime soda
1/2 cup vinegar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. ginger

Directions:

1. In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except ham.  Whisk to combine.

2. Place ham in slow cooker, fat side up, and baste with sauce.  Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, basting ham every hour.

3. When finished, remove ham from slow cooker and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8-10
Recipe Updated 4/17/2014
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4/16/14

Pull-Apart Bread






Growing up, there was another Easter staple (also made frequently on regular Sundays) - Pull Apart Bread.  Otherwise known as Monkey Bread.  I did not know that this was called Monkey Bread though until I was in college.  We always called it Pull Apart.  Because, well, you pull it apart for individual servings.  It's really a dessert, similar to cinnamon rolls.  But I won't tell anyone if you don't.  You could serve it for breakfast like a cinnamon roll with a light glaze made from powdered sugar and milk. But I grew up eating this at dinner.





The original recipe for this, from my mom, calls for powdered milk.  Frankly, I never cook with it, and so I don't have it in my pantry.  Do they even sell it in the store anymore?  An easy substitute is to use evaporated milk for 3/4 of your liquid.  Your bread still is fluffy and rich.  The pecans are a nice little surprise and give the rolls a slight crunch.  The best advice I can give you for this is to make sure you don't over bake it, which is easy to do.  When I make mine, I cook it for exactly 30 minutes and it comes out perfect.  Because of the butter and sugar, it could be easy to overcook and scorch your bread, which is yucky.  Really.




Pull-Apart Bread


Ingredients:


1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbs. yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. salt
4-5 cups bread flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

1. In a stand mixer, stir together evaporated milk, hot water, yeast, and sugar.  Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast.

2. Add egg, butter, salt, and 2 cups flour.  Using dough hook, begin mixing ingredients on a low setting.  Mix until flour is incorporated.  Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from side of bowl and is only slightly sticky.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours or until double in size.

3. While dough is rising, combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Grease a bundt pan with cooking spray.  Grab palm size amounts of dough and roll into a ball between your hands.  Dip each ball into the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place in bundt pan to create layers, sprinkling a handful of pecans over each layer.  Pour remaining butter over top of rolls and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar over top.

*Note: do not place balls so tightly together that they won't have enough room to expand while rising.  Simply place them next to each other.  

5. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch higher than pan, about 30 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until browned.

7. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.  Place a plate on top of the bread and flip pan over to remove bread from pan.  Serve warm.

Serves 15-20
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4/15/14

Funeral Potatoes


For some reason, we Mormons come up with some of the most awful sounding food - Green Jello with
Carrots being the prime example.  I mean, seriously.  Ew.  I grew up on this potato casserole, but it wasn't until I went to college that I found out what it is called, at least by those in our Mormon culture.  Seriously, who calls a potato casserole Funeral Potatoes?  You see, it is a custom, similar to other faiths to bring food to a funeral.  Everyone gathers, usually at a church, after the burial and we all partake in a giant potluck.  And one of the most famous side dishes seen can be Funeral Potatoes - because this makes a large pan and can feed 10-12 people.  So there you go, the story behind Funeral Potatoes.  My family makes Funeral Potatoes at basically any family gathering - when feeding 40+ people at one time, big casseroles are a must.  And Easter was a meal that we usually come together for.  So it's become a tradition that I've brought into my own little family for Easter.




A traditional Funeral Potato casserole has yellow cheddar in it.  I like to be a little more complicated though and use several types of cheeses that makes it ultimately a white casserole.  Using several types of cheese gives the casserole a flavor depth and a little smokier taste.  A little tip about the cheeses, it can be tedious and messy to grate gouda cheese.  I cut my cheese into 4 parts, stick it in my food processor, and press pulse until the cheese is broken up into small chunks and resembles shredded cheese.  I've told you all before, I am in total lurve with my Kitchenaid food processor.  We are BFFs.  Like, forever.



Funeral Potatoes


Ingredients:


1 bag frozen shredded hash browns, defrosted
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
2 cups sour cream
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2-3 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup (8 oz.) sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup (8 oz.) smoked gouda cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup melted butter, divided into 1/4 cup each
1 cup corn flake crumbs

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour hash browns into pan.  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, milk, sour cream, green onions, parsley, cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of the melted butter.  Pour mixture over the potatoes and gently fold together.

3. Combine remaining melted butter and cornflake crumbs in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle cornflake crumbs over the top of the mixture.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese over the cornflake crumbs.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes begin to bubble.

4. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Serves 10-12
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4/11/14

Brooklyn Popcorn Giveaway Winner


Thank you to everyone who participated in another fun giveaway!  As always though, there can only be one winner.  And that person is:

Erika Sternberg!

Congratulations, Erika!  You won a $20 gift card to Brooklyn Popcorn!  Just a little piece of advice, their Brooklyn Mix is like drugs - seriously addicting!  Enjoy!  And I'll see the rest of you on Monday!  Have a wonderful weekend!  (Did anyone else just notice how many exclamation marks I just used?  YIKES!)

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4/9/14

Artichoke Spinach Dip Grilled Cheese







We sit down together as a family on a weekly basis and I ask what each person would like for dinner the
coming week.  I get the exact same answer from K1 every week: "Grilled cheese and tomato soup!"  And I mostly change the subject quickly because regular grilled cheese and tomato soup has kind of become redundant and boring in my book.  So instead of avoiding her request this week, I made a new version using Artichoke Spinach Dip.  I've seen this version several times and thought I'd give it a go.





The difference is that I wanted a truer to the original version of the dip than most recipes I found.  And it had to be cheesy.  When I use artisan or gourmet cheeses in recipes, I sometimes buy a little extra and throw it in the freezer for a rainy day.  So I went and raided my freezer and found Monterey Jack and some Smoked Gouda.  Because they had been in the freezer, they crumbled very easily.  Throw in a little parmesan, and O.M.Y. (oh my yummy!)  I did add one more ingredient that made it go over the top - cream cheese.  Spread a little on each side of the bread and it just makes this sandwich heaven.  And seriously, choose good bread.  Go to your bakery section in the market and pick out a good artisan bread (and even better, you can usually find some that's already sliced!).  It will change the sandwich entirely.



Artichoke Spinach Dip Grilled Cheese


Ingredients:


1 can artichoke quarters, drained and coarsely chopped
1 package frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Monterey jack cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup smoked gouda cheese, crumbled
3 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 loaf of bread
1/2 package cream cheese
4 Tbs. softened butter

Directions:

1. Preheat a panini grill or skillet over medium heat.

2. Squeeze the liquid off of the spinach.  Place it in between several sheets of paper towels and press remaining liquid out.  Place in a medium mixing bowl.  Add artichoke hearts, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, paprika, black pepper, and cheeses.  Toss ingredients together.  Add mayonnaise and stir to mix.

3. Lay out 2 slices of bread.  Spread cream cheese on each side of bread.  Spoon approximately 1/2 cup of mixture onto one slice.  Top with other slice, cream cheese down.  Spread butter on both sides of bread.  Repeat with remaining bread and mixture.

4. Place sandwiches in panini grill or in skillet and cook until both sides are browned and cheese has melted.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4
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