October was very much a blur. The national burger competition was an entirely a different experience for me and we don’t travel much anymore so that was usual for us too! The kiddos stayed with grandparents and Mr. J and I jetted off to Napa Valley for a very busy 3.5 days. We were on a red-eye back so I could be at work. Woah. I’m prepping a competition post so that’ll be soon. This month wasn’t a non-stop menu of new and exciting things, but a few fun things came out!
These Hashbrown Waffles topped with a fried egg and everything bagel seasoning was so good. I love these and am glad to have a few in the freezer for another time.
I made cute little sandwiches of crispy chicken, smoked gouda, and apple. They were so good I made them another time to blog them for you!
I had been very into ciders but the trip to Napa revived my interest in wine. Next month I’ll share a post about the final burger competition, a butternut squash soup, and a few others. November also brings the blog-a-versary and a new “year of the ___” and goals. Stay tuned!
The Baby Girl:
She loves life. She’s happy to play and be outside. Anything brother does makes her smile. We’ve been at the play kitchen a lot and she’s obsessed with dolls. She has a Cabbage Patch baby and my Raggedy Ann. Apparently she “owns” the dolls at daycare- she won’t let anyone else use them. I think some teeth are bothering her so she’s been a bit more testy. Baby C eats everything. She loves avocado, cream cheese & jelly sandwiches, and meatballs. She’s being Minnie for Halloween!
The Little Boy:
He’s so into The Beatles right now. It is adorable. He grabbed a book at the library – possibly because the cover was so colorful with a British flag. Then we listened to some in the car and he asks to listen daily. His favs are: Come Together; Here Comes the Sun; and All You Need is Love. Some meals take him absolutely for-ev-er. What’s the trick around that? Soccer has been great. We went apple picking, got pumpkins, and have played outside a lot. He’s being Mickey for Halloween!
Year of ___ decluttering/minimizing/organizing: Mr. J saved us this month! He got a travel mug organizer and a sink organizer which is helping us clear off the counters- it is a work in progress for sure.
Feeding Littles: We shoot for some meatless meals and this is a fav with Szechuan beefless strips over brown rice and some snow peas.
Work on advanced food prepping:
What I’m reading: I read Where the Crawdads Sing for bookclub.
What I’m watching: On the plane I watched Bohemian Rhapsody. Together we watched the movie Yesterday which was a fun one – and so timely with the little guy so interested in the Beatles.
Everything can be waffle-ized! I’ll admit, these could be pan fried like a potato pancake, but 1) I hate the splatter and patience of frying things and b) these get so delightfully crispy on the waffle iron. Waffle nooks & crannies to be filled with egg yolk? Sign. Me. Up.
I didn’t win the big burger competition but I’ll put together a post about that soon! For now, here’s an anytime meal I whipped up before we left for the competition.
I made these for a weekend dinner- mostly for time sake, but they’re screaming: BRUNCHHH! I also made enough for another time and dropped some in the freezer for a rainy day. I used leftover cheese sauce I had in the freezer from homemade mac & cheese but have leftover queso (does anyone have leftovers?) use that! Have a can of Cambell’s canned cheddar cheese sauce (use half a can with a 1/4 cup of milk)? Use that!
Waffle-ized Hash Browns Topped with a Fried Egg & Everything Bagel Seasoning
Ingredients: (for ~4 full waffles, ~8 servings)
6 cups of frozen shredded hash browns (~2/3 of a 30oz bag)
2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup cheese sauce
salt & pepper
3 teaspoons everything bagel seasoning
eggs (1-2 per serving)
Mix together the hash browns, shredded cheese, cheese sauce, eggs, salt & pepper.
Preheat the waffle iron (or a skillet with oil) and preheat the oven to keep the “waffles” warm.
Heavily spray the waffle iron with non-stick spray- more than for a waffle.
Scoop about 3/4 of a cup onto the waffle iron and spread the hash browns out (spread more than for a waffle).
Cook on the waffle iron for ~5-7 minutes as the waffle iron instructs (mine gets filled, then tilted in the opposite direction to cook for 4 minutes, but these need longer than the waffle).
Keep the waffles warm and re-spray and reload the iron, repeating to use all the mixture.
In a separate pan, fry the eggs sunny-side up or over easy, as you like.
Top half a waffle with an egg, per serving, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and everything bagel seasoning.
Not into eggs? Slice an avocado! Cut them into quarters, melt a slice of cheese onto the egg and add the top waffle piece for a sandwich!
What do you get when you cross a dinner timesaver with all the fall flavors? Answer: crispy chicken sandwiches with gouda, apple, mustard, and arugula. These were so quick for dinner one night – then again for lunch another day annnnd they use some of the bajillion apples we have.
Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Gouda & Apples
Ingredients: (for 4, serves 2-3 people)
4 pieces of breaded chicken (I used frozen chicken tenders, or make your own)
3 tablespoons dijon mustard or honey mustard
1 large apple
4 rolls (I used finger rolls, shoot for the same size as your chicken)
1-2 cups arugula
4 slices of smoked gouda
Bake the chicken (until cooked through, or as the package instructs).
Slice the apple into thin slices.
Spread the mustard onto the rolls then add arugula, and apple slices.
Lay the gouda onto the chicken to melt the last minute of cooking.
Add the chicken onto the sandwiches.
I also like reminding the little ones that foods can be different all the time. We don’t just eat the apples off the core, here they are with other food!
I entered a burger competition not thinking a ton about it. Build a Better Burger by Sutter Home made me think I wouldn’t get picked, but maybe I’d get some wine! I then heard I’d be in the regional finals and I won! I couldn’t believe it! I have the national finals coming up in just a few weeks. It was exciting and nerve-racking.
I had never done something like this before! Cooking everything outside- with a set time was tricky!
I entered my Parisian Burger, circa 2014 (which deserves a reshoot for the blog). It is ground pork with rosemary & dijon with arugula, swiss, truffle mayo, and a fried egg on a brioche bun. Had I thought more about the possibility of cooking an egg on the grill, I might have planned otherwise! The eggs came out well though.
The regional finals:
There were 5 regional finals, each with 4 contestants. The winner from each goes to the national finals – that’s me! We had 60 minutes to cook 4 burgers for the judges + 1 display. The judges were 3 chefs and a former Red Sox player. The competition was outside Fenway Park then we got tickets to the game!
Racing a plate to the display felt like all the Food Network shows I watch!
We got a gift card to cover travel (so for me, that was parking but my competitors were from NH, Jersey, CT) and we got a gift card for our ingredients.
Cooking eggs on a skillet, on a grill is tricky. I also didn’t want the eggs hanging around forever before serving, so cooking them in batches worked out pretty well.
When they announced the winner I was super nervous. It was a long few hours of arriving, prepping, cooking, and waiting. I felt proud. This was all new to me so I just hoped to be ton time and produce my burger the best I could. I knew it’d be subjective for the judging so I just wanted to feel good about it. I couldn’t believe it when they announced it.
I was really thankful to have Mr. J there with me. He calms me down and was the perfect support I needed.
Next up, the national finals:
In just a few weeks Mr. J and I are heading to Napa for wine & the final competition. Can you believe it? One of the 5 regional finals will win $25,000! Fingers crossed! We are so psyched for a few days in Napa! Follow along on instagram (@emilyran) and I’ll try to get photos for a post about the trip & the final round!