Stuffed Burgers

For Mr. J’s bday we had a multi-day celebration. Since his birthday was a weekday AND a Bruin’s playoff game, I knew it should be fun, quick, and something to psych him up for the game (as if he needed help getting excited)!
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I made stuffed burgers after having such success with the burgers on the grill pan inside. I see them on menus but of course they never seem to offer them as turkey or chicken so I can’t usually partake.

I made Mr. J a beef burger stuffed with blue cheese and bacon. I made myself a turkey burger stuffed with Monterey Jack and bacon.  SO good! They were also very easy.

Ingredients:

1/3 pound ground beef/turkey for each burger
2 slices of bacon, cooked & crumbled
2 tbs chopped, shredded, or crumbled cheese
2 rolls

Directions:

Form the patty with most of the meat for the burger. Reserve the last bit for the top.
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Add cheese and bacon.
Apply the reserve to the top of the filling while forming the sides to meet the top.
Grill on each side, covering if needed to cook through
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He was happy to have ground beef at home for a change since I do everything in turkey or chicken. We both thought these were fun and want to try again too! I was thinking going Greek with feta and spinach would be great as well.

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Memory Meal

In honor of a very special man Mr. J’s family lost I wanted to remember him at home since the  memorial service wasn’t for a while. I asked Mr. J’s Gram what Gramp would pick if he could have anything to eat. She said: pork chops, apple sauce, and sweet potatoes.

I took a spin off these and went with it. I made Sweet Potato Anna and Rye-Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan sauce. It was good. Definitely not a light summery meal but it was a cool and rainy day which went perfectly!
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Rye Stuffed Pork Chops with Apple Thyme Pan Sauce
I found this recipe on a blog called A Sweet Chef check it out. This recipe looked amazing on there! I have nothing against apple sauce but thought adding apple into the pork would be more my style.

Ingredients:

For the stuffing
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, separated
1 cup rye bread, diced small (about 2 slices)
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup dried apples, diced
1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves (I went with dried)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the chops
2 boneless center-cut pork chops (about 5 oz each)
1 tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the sauce
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. shallots, minced (I used onion instead)
1 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
chopped fresh thyme leaves (again, I used dried)
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(I added in a smidge of maple syrup for sweetness)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toast bread in 1 tbsp. butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium high heat until crisp and then transfer to a bowl.  Return pan to heat.
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Saute onion, celery and apples in 1 tbsp. butter over medium heat until soft.  Stir in thyme.  Add vegetables to bread cubes.  Toss mixture with broth, vinegar and seasonings until liquid is absorbed.  Wipe out the skillet.
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Prepare chops.  Fill pockets with bread mixture.  They will be full, but you’ll probably have some left-over stuffing.  Saute chops in oil over medium-high heat until brown on one side, about 3 minutes.  Carefully turn the chops over and add any extra stuffing to the pan at this point.  Transfer pan to the oven.  Roast about 8 minutes, then remove the chops and stuffing from the pan and set aside.  Tent with foil to keep warm.
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Saute shallots (onions) for the sauce in 1 tbsp. of butter in same skillet over medium heat.  Add flour and cook for 1 minute.  Deglaze the pan with cider, wine and vinegar.  Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Finish sauce with thyme, salt and pepper.
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Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Anna

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato peeled & sliced thin
3 tbs melted butter
1 tbs dijon mustard

Directions

Slice the peeled sweet potato into thin slices (I used a mandolin)
Melt butter and mix mustard in
layer potato slices and drizzle butter on each layer adding salt & pepper too
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Bake 425 for 30 minutes until the edges are brown& crispy!
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Father’s Day

I have such a wonderful father and I hope he is having a terrific day even though his daughters are off on vacation right now. Sis and I are off to the bahamas but I wanted to take a minute to celebrate my Dad. He’s so caring, strong, and such a great support to me. I’m very lucky to have him.

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photo photo courtesy of Sideral via Creative Commons


He’s not where I learned any cooking tips from though…dill and parmesan cheese are his favorite additions to everything! He makes great Mac & Cheese from a box and AMAZING omelettes. If you’re ever lucky enough to have my dad offer you an omelette, you take it.

Here’s to you Dad!

Calzone Queen

I was racking my brain for what to make for my Boston visitors. There were 6 of us and I wanted something everyone would like and that wouldn’t be too tricky to pull off while still getting to see everyone. I decided on calzones and now, it’s official: they are my signature dish.

I figured for 6 people I could made them ahead of time and warm when folks arrived. It turned out I was too distracted by wedding invitation stuffing to make everything in advance, but I busted out a few  tasty new ones alongside a previous favorite.

I made turkey meatball, spinach, and mozzarella as I’ve made before. I called it the “North End’er” for my guests visiting Boston.

We also had a sausage, red & yellow pepper calzone called “Fenway Favorite” which was a big hit.
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A new one was broccolini & cheddar I called “Cambridge Common”
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and a BBQ chicken and caramelized onion “Houston Misses You” calzone. Does BBQ chicken relate to any area of Boston? I was stumped on connecting that one.
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BBQ Chicken & Onion Calzone

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
1 cup bbq sauce of your choosing
1 onion
2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
1 dough ball

Directions

Marinate the chicken in BBQ sauce before grilling it. I made some BBQ sauce before hand but any kind you like would be fine
Fork apart the grilled chicken and slather with BBQ sauce
Chop the onion and caramelize in a skillet
Sprinkle chicken and sauce, the onions, and cheese onto half of the dough ball
Repeat until it seems like WAY too much (trust me on this)
Close the calzone and make some air slits on the top.
Brush with eggwash and bake at 425 for 20 minutes

I liked it a lot. Probably because I knew I had made the sauce. It was so easy! I also added in a few bottled sauces with too little left to use productively. Liquid Smoke was new to me but adding some in made a nice touch. I wasn’t as meticulous as usual about getting filling all the way to the edges because I was chatting. I’m shocked that I got all 4 into the oven at the same time (2 on one pan)!

Guess what I’ve been eating for lunch this week!

I’ve Got An Ap For That…

While I sadly do not yet have an iPhone I may have just made the best restaurant APpetizer at home!

In honor of my Mac & Cheese-loving-Mrs. Z, I made some fried mac & cheese bites when she was visiting Boston with her husband (who planned a guest blog post for me!). Mrs. A & Mr. D joined us for a mini staff (and husbands) dinner party.
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They were amazing. Albeit not perfect, they were still delectable and I’m onto a good thing. I think the technique was really important. I stole a tip from a blog, Dinner With Julie. She recommended making the mac & cheese then refrigerating it so it can easily be cut. Definitely a good tip. Check it out on her blog!

 

You may have seen me make mac & cheese before here or proclaim my love for it here. I wasn’t sure how this would go so I just whipped up some basic mac & cheese with small shells and cheddar.

Ingredients

mac & cheese (boxed or prepared as you like it)
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
2 eggs whipped
1 cup panko

Directions

Prepare mac & cheese
Refrigerate several hours in square dish 1” thick
Remove from dish in 1 piece and cut into cubes while oil is heating on medium heat in large skillet.
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Dredge the mac & cheese cubes in egg and panko before dropping into oil. Turn halfway until evenly golden brown.
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My oil wasn’t quite hot enough at first so the first round wasn’t as crisp but they were still good. Next time, as I’m sure there will be a next time, I would mix in some shredded cheese after preparing the mac & cheese so the bites would be more cheesy. I rarely fry anything because I think it’s such a bother and I don’t like the sputtering oil. Mr. J and I had JUST started a wedding registry and joked when we saw the a deep fryer…as if anyone needs that at home. Dangerous!

They were fun and more unusual than I go for aps. I was really happy with them but plan to only break them out on special occasions. I’m glad I attempted them. I now wonder if they could be made ahead of time and broiled briefly before serving to stay warm? We’ll see…

Guest Blog: The Fabulous Food Truck Festival

Allow me to introduce a guest blog post from Justin! Justin writes:

 

Lately, I hadn’t been out taking as many photos as I usually do, and when I saw The Fabulous Food Truck Festival advertised on Boston.com, I knew it would be a great opportunity to get some photos and try some local food truck fare.

It was advertised that all items were $7 and under, and that quantities may be limited, so it was encouraged to arrive on the earlier side of the day. I am definitely glad I got there when I did – about 30mins after it started – because it gave me a chance to get some photos and still have time to get in lines for food.

I walked around taking photos for a bit, then decided to get into the line at Grilled Cheese Nation. It was the longest line at the time, so I thought it would be good to get that one out of the way. I also thought it was a good plan to start with a grilled cheese – not too heavy – before going on to something else. I went with the Brie Me Up – Blythdale Farm Brie with sliced local Asian Pear on Iggy’s Organic Pain de Mie Bread. I wanted to go with something a little more daring than a traditional grilled cheese and was glad I tried this. My only critique would be that Brie doesn’t hold up well when melted, so the sandwich looked a little bleak when it was handed over. The flavors were great, though, and I love pear.

Brie Me Up

After that, I noticed most of the lines getting longer and longer, as it was around a typical lunchtime by then. I got into the line at The Eat Wagon and quickly realized that the sun was more intense than I thought, as I ended up standing in line for at least 30mins and got a little burn on my head, neck and arms. When it was my turn, the staff let me know that they were out of cheese, and I could wait or have it without. I decided a burger without cheese just isn’t fair, so I waited another 10mins or so. I went with the Eat Burger – Grass fed beef, lettuce, cheese, onion dip, potato chips. I’m not sure if it was the long wait or that the ingredients were that good, but it was a GREAT burger, cooked to a perfect medium as I like it. The onion dip and chips were such a great idea, and a great combination of textures. I normally eat my burgers with blue cheese dressing, so I was especially partial to a burger with a dip for a condiment.

The Eat Burger

I originally had wanted to get a couple things for dessert – there were cupcakes and a frozen yogurt truck on site, so I had to choose one first. I went with The Froyo Truck first, as the line was a little shorter. By the time I was done there, Kickass Cupcakes had sold out; I was a little bummed that I missed them because I haven’t had them since living in Massachusetts. At The Froyo Truck, I had California Tart, with dark chocolate chips and mango. I would typically go with a chocolate option, but because I don’t regularly eat a lot of fruit, I thought Emily would be proud that I hopped off the normal path and went with a lighter choice. The staff at The Froyo Truck mocked me a bit for getting the small size, but I was trying to eat from as many trucks as possible, and it turns out the small was a little bigger than what I would picture.

California Tart

It was a great day, and the weather was perfect. I got some good photos, and got to try some great mobile food. Emily wasn’t able to make it, and I know she would have loved it, so I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled for another event like this.

 

Would you like to be a guest blogger? Email emily@thethreebiterule for more details!

Take Out Olympics

Sometimes I’m sure I have the most fun meals ever. Don’t be jealous, make this party happen!

Take Out Olympics are like a take-out potluck. Each guest spends the agreed upon amount on take out and everyone shares! It’s a fun way to get to know food in a new neighborhood, to try something new in the area, or for the host not to spend forever cooking! To make it Olympics you can add the requirement that it be international cuisine and vote on winners for categories of your choosing. You know how much I love to vote on food!

We did a relaxed version for lunch at the office. SO FUN! You can consider it olympic pre-trials if you wish. There was so much great food from all different places! We went with $10 for any cuisine you wanted.

I went to Boston Kebab House and went to the Meze Bar and got some fried zucchini fritters and some tortellini salad. There were so many great ones to choose and I spent $9.13. It came with my choice of wheat or plain pita. Now that it’s nicer out I’ll definitely stop here for lunch items.

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Ms. J got Mmmac & Cheese in Faneuil Hall. We sampled traditional and a beef one.

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Ms. M got chips and guac from Andale which I wasn’t aware is Zolcalo on the go! Unfortch the guacamole didn’t compete with somebody else’s guacamole. Our next Ms. K provided chips and quac from Boloco. Theirs won out because it was richer and they didn’t stretch the avocados too thin.

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Ms. K got us cheese quesidillas with chips and salsa from somewhere nearby, but we didn’t catch the name. Maybe they should remain nameless since they put the salsa onto the chips making them soggy.

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Mr. K went to Thai’s Bistro to get drunken noodles. They were deliciously spicy which I loved and now I know a good spot nearby.

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Not-my-Mr. J went to one of my local favorites, Sultan’s Kitchen. He got a chicken and rice dish with tomatoes.

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Mrs. A had a brilliant thought and got grilled cheeses from CheeseBoy! We had the classic and a tomato basil. Both were as good as I imagined though it seems tough to justify walking 15 minutes to get grilled cheese but I guess the cheapskate in me is OK with it since they’re less than $4.

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Ms. S spent her $10 the most creatively. She went to McDonald’s and got 10 $1 fry packets.

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Ms. C got us dessert at Bailey & Sage. She got strawberry fozen yogurt with oreos and coffee yogurt with heath bars. Amazeballs as she would say.

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It was really fun and actually an ideal amount of food. We were rudely interrupted by a fire alarm but it was wicked fun and a great introduction to some alternative restaurants right around us.

Guest Blog: Dessert Diva

While I’m in NYC working an event I’d like to reintroduce you to Miss Liz.

Miss Liz writes:
For the last few months, I have been the de-facto “party planning committee” work (Me-physician assistant working at at hospital-this will be come important later). Collecting money=annoying, but menu planning=fun. Well, one of our physicians left for a fellowship position last week, so I made trifle, which is one of my specialities.
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But this presented a problem because I really couldn’t make the same thing for another physician’s going away party this week. Someone suggested cupcakes but I wasn’t completely sold on the idea. The next morning during rounds, one of our physicians is eating a frosting filled donut (Yes, physicians eats frosting filled donuts for breakfast and then talk to you about diabetes and heart disease!). The donut inspired me, why not try filling cupcakes with frosting?
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Overall, it was actually very easy and went well. I used boxed cake mixed and make the cupcakes as per the box.
After they cooled, I used a knife to pop the top off, then with a pastry bag filled with frosting I injected until the top of the cupcake bulged.
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Then I frosted the cupcakes as normal. Everyone loved the cupcakes and thought they were so fancy. Its a great easy and fun dessert especially if you need to take it to go!
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One suggestion-I made two batches chocolate and vanilla. The vanilla cupcakes were considerably smaller and I had a harder time getting the top off. So next time, I would air of the side of making bigger cupcakes.

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I also made mini-cupcakes. These are great and remind me of my childhood, when my mother would make small muffins for us which we called “baby girl muffins”. But I didn’t even attempt to fill these! I use this all the time, mostly for brownies. I know it sounds crazy, but I prefer brownies from the box. So, i just spray the tray with pam and bake. When the brownies are done, you don’t have to cut anything and it makes serving very easy!
Thanks Miss Liz! If YOU are interested in being a guest blogger email emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Ranch Burgers and Apple Slaw Apartment Style

You could pour ranch dressing on an Old Navy $5 pair of flip flops and it would make them taste good. I took a tastier approach and was so excited about my creation. I made Ranch Chicken Burgers and Zesty (mayo-less) Apple Slaw in my own kitchen…no party required!
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Ingredients:

¾ pound ground chicken
½ packet dried ranch dressing/dip mix
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 bulky rolls

Directions:

Mix ground chicken, ranch mix, and dressing
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BBQ or cook on a grill pan flipping once.
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Serve on toasted rolls with ranch dressing on top.
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Ground chicken and ground turkey are more likely to fall apart so don’t overflip! I took a tip from my pal Guy on Diners Drive-ins & Dives: I flipped them but feared they weren’t going to be fully cooked so I covered them and added a touch of water for some steam.

They were cooked perfectly! That is tricky without my trusty meat thermometer but I was so proud of myself. They were juicy and I definitely tasted the ranch.

I paired it with some slaw. This was awesome and is a nice alternative to creamy slaws. I put in some apple I planned to use otherwise but had on hand.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage/slaw mix
½ gala apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs veggie oil
¼  cup cidar vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oils, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and red pepper over medium heat just until warmed through.
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Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Toss with cabbage and apples.
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Refrigerate several hours and pour off excess liquid.
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I liked how light it was with a zesty crunch. This would be a great picnic or bbq item. I only made enough for 2 or 3 servings which was perfect.

Green or red onion would be a great add in and broccoli slaw would be great too. Shortly after making the burgers I made them again and Mr. J cooked them on a BBQ. Aside from our poor puppy not having a yard, not being able to use a grill is our biggest issue with this apartment and something we greatly look forward to enjoying in a house someday.

These made me super jazzed about other burgers inside. I can’t eat red meat so I miss out on fun ones at restaurants like stuffed burgers since they rarely come in turkey or chicken burgers. I’ll just have to make it happen! I have a feeling Mr. J would love a blue cheese stuffed one. I was thinking cheddar or spinach and feta stuffed. Stay tuned!

Hot Hot Hot

Caliente Kitchen

We went back and forth about what to do for dinner when we were in Florida but it’s not an area where we could wander and peruse menus. We spent the day strolling a wildlife refuge peeking at gators and the rest of the day we were on the beach. For dinner we started with mojitos. I got a great blackberry mojito and Mr. J had a super refreshing cucumber mojito.
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Mr. J spotted a few menus but was undecided and I was in the same boat. I saw Caliente Kitchen which was right across the street so we ended up there.

It was such a fun dinner! We both really enjoyed it and were happy with the choice!

Ohh the chips.
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Good thing the chips weren’t bottomless because they were so good we could have kept going! They were fresh and had the greatest seasoning. I think it was chili powder and cinnamon. YUM!

I took my cue from the beautiful beaches and couldn’t get enough seafood. I chose shrimp tacos with a cilantro dressing. There was a nice zest to the sauce and I loved them. I don’t get enough fish tacos.
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Mr. J got traditional beef tacos. He thought they were good and enjoyed the whole thing.
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It was a great last vacation meal before heading back to Boston.