Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Hamburgers

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So good, I mean beyond good...

So sometimes you just really feel like a burger right?  I know!  Sometimes you feel like an extra special burger right?  Me too!  This is how this stuffed burger came about.  I don't know if it's because I was watching the Food Network the other day, or I just said to myself, "self, let's have a cheat day"!  This burger is literally stuffed with cheese & crispy bacon...
Need I say more?

The trick to keeping this delicious burger stuffed and not having the cheese ooze out is to use shredded cheese.  No, I'm not joking.  See if I'm going to stuff a burger, I don't want a smidgen of cheese in the middle, I want lots of cheese.  So when using "lots" of slices of cheese, they literally start to ooze out and then you have a semi-stuffed burger.  Part of the cheese has leaked out and even though still delicious... it's not what you wanted.  Has that ever happened to you?  Oh good, *Didi wiping brow profusely*, I thought it was just me! But if you add shredded cheese or crumbled cheese in the middle, the cheese miraculously stays right where you placed it.  It melts beautifully, is absolutely gorgeous and beyond delicious!  Then add bacon just because you can and your cheating anyway... 
You will be nominated for "cook of the year" 

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 8 (1/4lb) hamburgers

2lbs ground beef 
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar)
1lb bacon 
1 cup french fried onions (store bought, the kind we use for casseroles)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup BBQ sauce (your favorite)
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp black pepper

Toppings: French fried onions, crumbled bacon, BBQ sauce & lettuce *optional*

-Dice and cook your bacon, drain onto paper towel lined plate and set aside.  Eat a couple of french fried onions and a few pieces of crumbled bacon.

-In a large bowl add your ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, dried minced onion and pepper.  Mix well.

-Divide beef mixture into 8 even pieces. Wash your hands thoroughly and grab a few more pieces of french fried onions.

-Taking one portion of the ground beef, shape into a patty and flatten.  Add 2 tbsp or so of shredded cheese and 2 tbsp or so of crumbled bacon to the flattened patty.

-Take the end farthest away from you and fold over the stuffing mixture.  Working gently, reshape patty and lay seam side down onto a sheet.  Continue till all portions have been stuffed.  Wash your hands thoroughly and eat a couple more french fried onions, what?

-Place in refrigerator for 20 minutes prior to cooking.  Okay, just a few more onions...Grill or bake to your specific taste. For these burgers I actually baked them for about 20 minutes, flipping over once.  It's called living in Western NY and we have about 1 nanosecond of actual sunlight all week.  

How easy, yes?  Okay, let's put these babies together shall we?

-Using your favorite buns (I love Kaiser rolls), add 1 tbsp or so of BBQ sauce on the bottom of the bun.  Add your favorite lettuce.  

-Place the delicious burger on top of the lettuce.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp or so of french fried onions, and about 1 tbsp of bacon...
I know, B-A-C-O-N!  A smidgen more BBQ sauce, cover with top of roll, and take a huge bite.

You will never even miss the fries...

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quick & Easy Appetizers (no bake)

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With the wonderful warmer months peeking out at us from just around the corner...
Entertaining comes to mind.  I don't know about you, but I absolutely adore entertaining at my home during the warmer months.  Well, heck anytime, but during the warmer months, out on the deck, surrounded by a pitcher or two, twinkle lights and candles?  Yes!

We don't have to get fancy or complicated to make amazing appetizers.  Heck, we don't even have to break out a baking sheet.  These little gems are absolutely delectable!
You have nice crackers (I used gluten free seed crackers, delish), a nice hummus, deli turkey & a few gorgeous slices of baby swiss.  I know!!  You don't even have to follow the recipe, you can make your own gorgeous creations... 

I know, I love to inspire, I'm just silly that way.  *grin*

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0
Yield: 12 appetizers

24 crackers of your choice
1/3 cup hummus (I used my own own roasted red pepper)
4 slices honey turkey deli meat (cut in 3rd's = total 12 pieces)
3 slices baby Swiss cheese (cut in 4th's = total 12 pieces)
*optional* 1 medium size roasted red pepper cut in 12 pieces

-On a flat surface, gather your ingredients.  Cut the deli meat and cheeses.

-Take one cracker, spread about 1 tsp or so of hummus.
At this point you can add your small slice of red pepper right in the center of the cracker.  I don't know, it just looks pretty and all... you know I'm about pretty!

-Cover with a portion of deli meat and top with the Swiss cheese portion.

-Add a tsp or so of hummus to another cracker and place the cracker hummus side down onto the appetizer.
Continue till all crackers and ingredients are used.

-Place on a pretty platter, wrap and keep in refrigerator till ready to use.

See, didn't I tell you really simple and easy?  You have enough time to make a nice pitcher of whatever you like too...
Don't forget my invite!!

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Friday, April 19, 2013

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies

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Ever just cannot sleep?  I mean you toss and turn, and toss and turn?  That is exactly what happened last night.  I just could not shut my brain off no matter how hard I tried.
So off I went into the kitchen.  What relaxes me and always put's me in a good mood?  You got it!!

These cookies are just absolutely delicious.  I cannot even begin the praises of this very simple but out of this world cookie.  They are chock full of oatmeal, dried cranberries, the most warming of spices...
Just a simple "mmmmmm" will explain.  Did I mention how easy these are to make too?  I didn't?  Well, just call me sleep deprived.

This is a recipe I have adopted from the Food Network.  I will link you the recipe, and give you my 3 additions.

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Yield: 32-34 cookies

Oatmeal Cranberry recipe can be found HERE.

For this amazing recipe, these are my only variations:

  1. Add 1 tsp grated orange zest to flour and sugar mixture, cream as instructed.
  2. Increase flour to 1-3/4 cups
  3. Place cookie dough in refrigerator for 1/2 hour prior to baking.

-By adding the orange zest to the butter mixture, you are actually enhancing that amazing cardamom and cinnamon... you are bringing those levels to well, sky high!  Not too much orange, you don't want to overpower it, just 1 tsp.  As Goldilocks says; "just right"!

-I like cookies with substance to them.  I want a cookie that I can bite into, does that makes sense?  By increasing the flour by just a little, we can make sure we have a nice cookie to hold on to, or better yet, bite into.  What?

-By placing the cookie dough in the refrigerator prior to baking we are ensuring that the dough will firm up just a little bit, so when baking, it doesn't flatten as much.  After 1/2 an hour of chilling, bring dough out and scoop out and bake as directed in recipe.
I know, I'm full of information...
"Another double espresso please, no lemon" *grin*

So here you are my friends.  Amazing cookies that are a snap to whip up and are absolutely delicious!!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Buttered Rice - How to make your own rice side (various)

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This is one of our favorite ultimate sides, "buttered rice".  Easy, budget friendly and delicious.  I highly encourage you to not buy another "minute rice" or better yet, rice mix ever.  Not after you read this post.  You will save a ton of money, first and foremost, it is much healthier to make your own and finally, it's absolutely delicious and your family will love it!!
Looking for more flavor ideas?  You've come to the right place!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time:  5 minutes
Cook time: 17 minutes
Yield:  4-6 servings

1-1/2 cups white long grain rice
3 cups water
3 tbsp butter ( I used unsalted)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper

-Using a medium saucepan add your butter and allow to melt over medium heat.  

-Once melted, add your rice and saute with the butter for approximately 2 minutes.

-Add your water and your seasonings.  

-Let the rice mixture come to a full rolling boil.  Meaning that the bubbles are still going even after you turned our burners off.

-Turn off heat, cover, and let rice sit for approximately 17 minutes.

-When time is up, simply fluff with a fork.

How easy was that?  I know right?  Very simple and seriously delicious!

So you're going to ask me; "Didi what about these rice mix substitutions you were talking about"?  Ahhhh, you have come to the right place.  The best variations ever.  Mix and match according to your family's taste preference.  

Chicken side:  Cut butter back to 1 tbsp, add 1 tbsp chicken base or 2-3 chicken bouillon cubes to the water, omit salt.

Beef side:  Cut butter back to 1 tbsp, add 1 tbsp beef base or 2-3 beef bouillon cubes to the water, omit salt.

Spanish Side:  Cut butter back to 1 tbsp.  Add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 chopped onion to the rice when you saute.  1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cumin. Saute as above, making sure onion becomes almost translucent.  Add in one can (14.5) diced tomatoes along with the water and proceed as above.

See?  Did I not tell you?  You can mix and match flavors, create your own all for a fraction of the price with many health benefits to boot.

Have I convinced you yet?

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Friday, April 12, 2013

Dark European Bread (Bread Machine)

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This recipe was given to me by one of my patients.  She used to love to maker her own bread, and made it by hand.  I took the recipe and promptly forgot all about it...

Till about 5 months ago.  I was going thru my recipes, *what*, oh come-on, like I'm the only one that loves going through their recipes at least 2x a year...
I saw this recipe again.  I really wanted to make it, but honestly, I could not picture myself standing over a bowl kneading, I just couldn't fathom it.  So I said to myself, "self (I know scary), let's see what you can do if you play around with the ingredients and use your bread machine".  I played around with the flours a little and lightened it up.  It's still a beautiful dense bread, but now it's more of a texture of bakery bought pumpernickel loaf, instead of the very dense European.

I am here to tell you my friends, we have total success!  It's delicious, you must make this I say, you must!!

Prep time:  10 minutes

Cook time:  3.5 hours (machine)
Yield:  2lb loaf

1 cup  (see notes ) + 1 tbsp water 
1 tbsp butter melted
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp caraway seeds
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup spelt flour  What is Spelt Flour
1/4 wheat bran
1 tsp dried minced onion
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Notes: Start off with the 1 cup of water till the vigorous kneading starts on your machine.  Check to see if it needs the additional tbsp of water.  If the dough is sticky but not too sticky and pliable, you do not need the additional water.  Same with the flour.

-Place all ingredients in your bread machine in order listed, start the machine on regular cycle 2lb loaf.

-Check dough when the machine is vigorously kneading.  If it looks and feels dry add 1 + tbsp water.  If it looks and feels wet add 1+ flour.  The dough should have a uniform feel like regular bread dough, sticky but not like batter.

-Let the bread machine finish off and enjoy!!

Well actually, just slice a hunk off, slather with butter and take a huge giant bite... "oh wait that's me"!!
Whether you want to make it for a special occasion or dish, or whether you want to enjoy a delicious dark bread with your sandwiches for the week like we do.  I can guarantee you, this bread is not only simple, it's absolutely delicious!!  Did I mention healthy too?  I will definitely be using this recipe from now on to make my "rye boat dip".  I will no longer be paying those prices for a small loaf when I can make a bigger much tastier loaf at home...

Hey, isn't that why we bought the bread machine in the first place? *grin*

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Stuffed Mozzarella Meatloaf with "Nona's Sauce"

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You know how you like to try various recipes not only to change things up a little bit, but you're ultimately looking for the "perfect" of something? So I said to myself, "self, why don't you incorporate all the flavors you like in a meatloaf into one".  So I did!  This is how this recipe came about my friends.  This one not only fits the bill, well okay, okay, it rocks!  I've been told by all who have eaten it to be true.  Every once in a while I get it right you know...

The meatloaf is chock full of flavor, with a surprise in the middle, you know my fetish with stuffing things.  Then topped with the most luscious sauce ever!  You could drink the sauce, oh wait, that's me!  Dinner will be absolutely amazing... then let's not forget that awesome meatloaf sandwich later, that's the best part, yes?

Ready for the recipe?

Here we go;

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 65-75 minutes
Yield:  6-8 servings

2lbs ground beef
2 eggs
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp dried cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
2-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (can anyone really pronounce this)
2 tbsp Ketchup
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used seasoned)
6 Mozzarella cheese sticks
*I did not use salt in this recipe because the Worcestershire sauce is pretty salty*

Nona's Sauce:
8 oz tomato sauce
2-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of salt

-Preheat oven to 350F

-In a medium bowl add all your ingredients for your meatloaf.  Mix thoroughly so all ingredients have been incorporated.  

-On a flat surface, place your meatloaf mixture and flatten slightly, you're not making cutouts. *grin*  My only advice is to make sure that the length of your meat mixture will be almost equal to the length of your cheese sticks.  You do not want to have to slice off 3 or 4 pieces of meatloaf to finally find the surprise right?  Ahhhh, see I make sense sometimes.  

-Visually look at your mixture and lay 3 of the cheese sticks on one side.  Lay the other 3 right behind them.

-Take first the bottom (closest to you) beef mixture and bring over the cheese sticks, do the same with the other side (further away from you), and literally cover the cheese sticks.  We're so clever, they'll never know!!

-Smooth out any gaps in the loaf and place gently in a loaf pan, seam side down.

-Taking a knife, press the meat mixture back onto itself and basically straightening it at the same time, all the while making a beautiful little space around the meat loaf, set aside.

-In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the Nona sauce.  Adjust for salt if needed.

-Pour the sauce all over the top and now the nicely spaced sides of your meatloaf.

-Bake for 45 minutes uncovered.  After 45 minutes, carefully pull out of the oven and drain the excess juices.  Place back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes or till the sauce has nicely glazed over.

-Let rest for 15-20 minutes so the mozzarella will not ooze out of the meatloaf when sliced and the meat itself will not lose all those beautiful flavors.

-Slice and serve with your favorite side.  For us, with this meatloaf? French fries are the only way!!

I know!!  How simple right?  Did I mention delicious?  Are you hungry yet?

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Biscuit Mix Almond/Blueberry Muffins

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There is no greater pleasure than to see your children cooking and baking in the kitchen and actually enjoying it.  Well at least to me that is...
My lovely Marina (college bound, so emotional let's not go there), made these beauties the other day.  
She came over and said, "mom, I feel like blueberry muffins, is it okay if I make some"?  So my response to her was, "you are going to make them, or are you asking if I can make them"? (Didi, hoping and praying she said the latter)  She said, "no mom, I want to make them".  YES!!  So off she went!!

She followed my scribbled notes to a tee, and these pictures my friends show her amazing results.  Don't they look awesome?  I am so proud of her!! ♥
The taste?  Out of this world moist and decadent!! You can use whatever fruit you want with these, but truth be told we are very partial to blueberries, well okay and chocolate chips... promise me you will keep that secret!!
Look at how moist they are, they taste even better...

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
Yield: 12 large muffins

4 cups biscuit mix
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/3 cups milk Almond milk *see notes*
1/2 tsp almond extract 

4 tbsp canola oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1-1/4 cup fresh blueberries
1-1/2 tsp biscuit mix *additional*

*Notes:  If you do not have almond milk on hand, you can certainly use regular milk and add an additional 1 tsp almond extract to the batter. *

-Preheat oven to 400F.

-Toss your blueberries with the 1 tsp of the additional biscuit mix.  This ensures that the blueberries will not sink to the bottom. 

-In a medium mixing bowl, add your biscuit mix, your sugar and mix well.

-Make a well in the middle and add your slightly beaten egg, your milk and your sour cream.  Using a whisk, whisk all the ingredients till thoroughly incorporated.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.

-Add your blueberries, after you have sneaked a couple for yourself that is... *what*?  Mix well.

-Scoop out your muffin batter using a 1/3 cup measure plus a little more, (we tend to like bigger muffins) into your muffin tins that you have pre-sprayed with baking spray.  Basically we fill the muffin tins, I know, I know... we like big muffins.  I mean if you're going to have a muffin, then for the "love of Pete, have a muffin"!  That's my philosophy and I'm sticking to it...

-Bake for 15-18 minutes or till nicely golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

-Let cool and enjoy!

Are you heading to your pantry yet for the biscuit mix??

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi