Friday, June 29, 2012

Barbecue Chicken Burgers

Do you have a particular day of the week you eat a certain food?  Spaghetti Monday?  Pizza Friday?  Pancake Saturday?

Burgers are our food and Sunday is our day.  (With the exception of last weekend.  Nathan made us burgers on the grill both Saturday night and Sunday.  Just your classic beef topped with lettuce, tomato, onions, mustard and ketchup, but man were they good).

Usually, though, I am the one whipping up the burgers and with the plethora of creations to choose from, I tend to make a new kind every weekend.  (Hence my previous posts for Buffalo Chicken Burgers and Green Chili Chicken Burgers). 

If you haven't begun to notice, I'm on kind of a kick with using chicken instead of beef- it just tends to allow the flavor additions to stand out and really shine through the meat.  This time is no exception.  In fact, I currently have written at the top of this recipe printout "these and the buffalo chicken burgers are the top two so far!!"  I mean, how can you go wrong?  It's barbecue meets cheddar meets chicken meets burger.  And what better time to share this recipe than just in time for the Fourth!

Barbecue Chicken Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

1 pound ground chicken
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 scallion, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons brown sugar
5 tablespoons barbecue sauce, divided

1/2 red onion, sliced into rings
4 slices extra sharp cheddar
4 burger buns

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cornmeal, scallion, cilantro, paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, cayenne, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce.  Lightly but thoroughly mix with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. 

Form the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties.  Place the burgers and onions on the grill, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes, then flip.  Turn the onions as well.  Brush the cooked sides with half the reserved bbq sauce.  After 3-4 minutes, flip the burgers again. glazing the other side with the remaining bbq sauce.  Place a slice of cheese on each pattie, and lay the buns, cut side down, on the grill.  Close the lid and allow the cheese to melt and the buns to toast.

Remove all the food from the grill, assembling the burgers as desired.  Serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

**Alternative cooking method:  Broil the burgers on a foil lined baking sheet on the top rack in the oven for 10-12 minutes: brush the top after 3 minutes, then flip after 2-3 more minutes, brush after 3 more minutes, and then let cook another 2-3 more minutes.

Adapted from Annie's Eats.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

I'm 26 today!  Yay!

Over lunch Saturday, Nathan and I decided we should celebrate at Six Flags so that is where we are headed today (this means I can already cross one thing off my 26-by-27 list!)

But I'm here to talk cake.  When I was young, I loooooooved cookie cake.  For several years I would request one for my birthday party.  A big slice of a giant, soft chocolate chip cookie topped with frosting from the local supermarket.  Oh how I loved them.  This year I decided it would be nice to revisit my childhood except with a homemade version and it did not let me down.  Soft and chewy and chocolate-chippy (I am allowed to make up words today), just like I remembered. 

So after a day a rollercoasters and rides, I plan on coming home and relaxing with a slice of this cake. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

This made one 6-inch cake plus a handful of cookies- I used half of the dough for the cake, half for the cookies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and eggs and mix.  Add in flour, soda and salt and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Divide dough in half, press half into a greased 6-inch round cake pan using a wet spatula.  Make cookies with remaining dough.

Bake cake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and center is slightly set.  Once cool, top with frosting and sprinkles, if desired.

Bake cookies at 350 for 10 minutes.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Happy Birthday to me!

That's right!  Sunday is my birthday!  The big two six.  The other day I actually had to stop and think 'wait, am I turning 25 or 26?'.  Weird.

If you follow any blogs, you may have seen the 30-by-30 list before.  I have had the inspiration to create one of my own, however, mine will be a list of goals to accomplish over the next year (many of them food related, of course!).  I am calling this list 26-by-27:  26 things I hope to do before I turn 27 in 2013.  I'm feeling a little ambitious.

And so I give you, in great detail (because I just can't help it)....THE LIST :

1.  Revamp blog.  (I really want to change the look and do some other things I am trying to figure out as a newbie to the blogosphere.)

2.  Join an ongoing blog recipe challenge.  (i.e. Secret Recipe Club, Tuesdays with Dorie, etc.)

3.  Enter some sort of local food contest.

4.  Overcome my fear of the grill.  (We now have a grill, however I am a little afraid to attempt making something on it.  It's a bit out of my comfort zone.)

5.  Take a cake decorating class.

6.  Finally try quinoa.  (I gotta find out what this latest craze is all about.)

7.  Make something with a fresh coconut.

8.  Recreate the Perfect Margarita.  (The restaurant chain Red Rock Canyon Grill makes the best margarita EVER, fittingly titled The Perfect Margarita, and I need to know how to replicate one at home.)

9.  Make a bundt cake.  (The bundt pan was not my friend on Easter, destroying the look- but luckily not the taste!- of my strawberry orange cake.  I swore that day I would never make a bundt cake again but I can't let the pan win.)

10.  Make my Grandma Min's apple pie.  (As a little girl, I remember loving my grandma's apple pie and I need to recreate this fabulous dessert of hers.)

11.  Make my Grandma Audrey's spaghetti sauce.  (This was another favorite of mine growing up.  I already have the recipe, now it's just a matter of making it.)

12.  Find an awesome scone recipe.  (I actually made some scones a couple of days ago but Epic Fail they were.  I literally threw them in the trash- something unheard of in our house.  I have been searching high and low for a recipe that will not let my taste buds down.)

13.  Can something.  (I'm thinking jam but am open to suggestions.)

14.  Try a Corona-Rita.  (How did I never hear about this in college??)

15.  Make a special day trip to Dallas or Plano for Trader Joe's, Central Market, and Sur La Table.  (Dream Day!)...and maybe stop in Ikea while I'm in the area :)

16.  Attend a food festival.

17.  Take a trip.

18.  Go to Six Flags.  (It's been years since I've gone and now that we live so close I've gotta take advantage!)

19.  Reread The Happiness Project.  (Such an interesting and thought-provoking book.  A great reference for bettering yourself and loving life.  Highly recommended.)

20.  Read at least one book per month.  (I wish I could do more than this but there's just not enough time in the day.)

21.  Paint three rooms in the house.  (The guest room, office, and master bath to be exact.  Painting does wonders to a room.)

22.  Clean up flower beds in the backyard.  (I've done some planting in the front this summer, but I want to take advantage of the raised beds we have out back.)

23.  Buy an old piece of furniture and refinish it.  (Sounds like a fun and rewarding project!)

24.  Eat at one new restaurant each month.  (We like to eat at home after a long day and tend to have our favorite lunch spots but it's always fun to try something new- especially when we have an overwhelming amount of options.)

25.  Marry Nathan.  (We've been together for four years.  I think it's time.)

26.  You pick!  This is where I need you.  Please let me know your suggestions and I will choose one to accomplish!

P.S.  See that cake up there??  Recipe coming soon :)


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

Icepops for Pop!

Ok, ok, I realize Father's Day was two days ago but let me explain my reasoning behind this post.

Sunday evening I was creeping around on various blogs I follow and Shelly from Cookies and Cups did a pretty good job detailing that every day is Father's Day in her house:

"My husband gets food cooked for him everyday and he gets gifts bought for him quite regularly.
Those are basically the two defining characteristics of having a “day”, right?"

Well said.  So, even though it's now after Father's Day, you can still make these for that favorite pop in your life!  Or just make them because they're strawberries, golden oreos, cheesecake pudding and deliciousness on a stick.

Dad, if these wouldn't melt in the mail I would surely send them your way :)  Thanks for being such a great pop!

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles

Makes 8 popsicles

8 vanilla sandwich cookies (such as Golden Oreos)
8 hulled strawberries
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 (3.4 ounce) package cheesecake flavor instant pudding and pie filling
2 cups milk

Place cookies in blender or food processor.  Blend on high, stopping to stir occasionally, until cookies become fine crumbs. Reserve.

In clean blender or processor, combine strawberries, sugar, and water. Blend on high setting until smooth.

Combine pudding mix and milk in a large bowl. Beat with whisk until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in cookie crumbs.

Fill ice pop molds 1/3 full of pudding mixture. Layer with strawberry puree to 2/3 full; top evenly with remaining pudding mixture. Place sticks into molds, and freeze overnight. Run molds under hot water if difficult to remove pops.

Adapted from All Recipes.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Let's talk pizza night.  It happens about once a week in our house. 

But I'll be honest.  This pizza was born out of a 'crap, I need to use some of this stuff up in the fridge before it dies' moment.  This is how I looooooove my pizza though: chock full of goodies piled on top.  (Supreme is where it's at). 

And the crust.  That's what I'm really here to talk to you about.  This is THE crust.  This is the real deal and so easy you will never buy a prepackaged, overpriced, plastic-tasting joke of a crust again.  You can make it thick or thin, round or rectangle, one pan or two personals.  Just proof some yeast, toss in a bit of flour, beat it up (aka knead it), then let it rise while you catch up on The Bachelorette

In a couple of hours, you're ready to roll it out and top it with whatever your little heart desires (or whatever the fridge is preparing to kill).

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast, warm water, honey and olive oil and mix with a spoon.  Let sit for 10 minutes until foamy, then add salt and flours.  Mix on low speed until just combined, adding more water, one tablespoon at a time until dough forms a tacky, but firm ball. Knead for 5-6 minutes.

Spray or brush a seperate bowl with olive oil or cooking spray.  Add dough, turning once, then cover with a damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2-2 hours. 

Roll out pizza dough to desired shape and size and add toppings.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bits and Bites

Ok, so I want to change up Bits and Bites a little bit.  I want to include more fun links of interesting web finds and yummy recipes and of course I will still talk about myself.  And since I'm in charge I can*. 

1.  First off, I hope everyone had a good weekend! (I know I'm a little late with this, but that doesn't change the fact that I hope your weekend was wonderful).  Nathan went out of town so I took full advantage and went on a little shopping spree.
And shoes were bought.
And a fancy new cookie scoop.
And some pretty home things at Target.  Target = Love.
And I drank one of his Pepsi's.  Pepsi Next.  It's new and it's good and for some reason made me unusually hyper, which was kinda nice because I ended up getting a lot done!

2.  Oh yea, and as a result of the Pepsi Next Surge of Hyperness, I stayed up til 2am Saturday night  catching up on The Bachelorette since I can't do this while Nathan is home because, well, I like to keep the fact that I watch this show a secret.  Secret's out.  Don't judge me.  But I did  find the best blog ever for episode recaps and hilarious commentary! 

3.  Speaking of hilarious:  currently reading The Big Love by Sarah Dunn.  Hil. Ar. I. Ous.

4.  Grilled cheese anyone?? (Or toaster cheese?)  I tried one of these guys using some everything bagel thins, opened faced, topped with some roasted tomato salsa.  yummmmm......yyyyyy......

4.5.  Go Pokes toaster!!!  Want!  (Bday list idea?)

5.  Another new thing I'm a little hooked on: savory oatmeal.  I've made myself the soy sauce one topped with a fried egg a few times lately.  I have a feeling I may be weirding you out a lot today.

6.  Oreo ideas.  I'm on board.  Want the smores.  Now.

7.  Produce Calendars.  Excellent source. 

8.  Ok, that's all I've got for you today.  Another recipe coming soon! 

*Clarification: so I may say that I'm in charge but you can be in charge too :) I gladly accept input and suggestions on anything and everything: from what I put onto my blog to what I put into my mouth.  Please don't hesitate to share :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Barbecue Roasted Salmon

I have always despised salmon.  It's just so... fishy.  I'm a white fish person.  Or shrimp or scallops.  Or king crab (omglovemesomecrablegs).  

Growing up my mom would occasionally make salmon and would always call from the store asking what kind of fillet she should pick up for me.  "Just grab a piece of tilapia" I would usually say. 

Then, one night, for some reason, I decided to give this recipe of hers a try.  I have no idea what encouraged me to even think that my tastes would change but this became the only salmon recipe I would ever eat.  The flavor was just so amped up, it took away the feeling that I was sticking salmon in my mouth.  But the weird part is, it still tasted like salmon.  But it didn't.  It was like some kind of riddle!  I can't explain it.  It tasted like good salmon. 

So when Nathan decided to purchase some salmon at the store on the notion that "we need to eat it because it's healthy!", I tossed it in the freezer and let it sit there while I debated letting it remain there for eternity or actually doing something with it.  And then I remembered this recipe.  I called my mom, got the recipe, and edible salmon was made.  Edible salmon that doesn't taste like salmon but it does at the same time...(that's just the best way to describe this stuff).

Barbecue Roasted Salmon

Serves 2

1/4 cup pineapple or orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lemon slices (optional)

Combine first 3 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients (sugar through cinnamon) in a bowl. Rub over fish; place in an shallow baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon slices, if desired.

Adapted from Cooking Light.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies

I think it's time I shared something chocolate.  And I believe this will do.  A soft, chewy chocolate cookie studded with oreo pieces and chocolate chips.  Chocolate and chocolate in chocolate.

As I was making these late one afternoon, Nathan came home from work and spotted my package of oreos lying on the counter (sometimes I need to hide food things from him).  His eyes immediately lit up and he said "Ooooh!  Oreos!" but I smacked his hand and told him "No!  Those are cookies for a cookie!".  It must be torture to live with me. 

The wait was well worth it though because we gobbled right through these.  Oh, and they would be even more fabulous with a nice, big scoop of blue bell slathered in between, just sayin :)

Double Fudge Oreo Crunch Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup crushed Oreo cookies

Cream butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until combined.

Fold in chocolate chips and crushed oreos. Refrigerate dough for 2-4 hours (or more). When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350, roll into balls or scoop with an ice cream scooper and set on baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cheese Waffles with Chorizo and Fried Egg

Let me just get this out of my system.  I realize that I have been bombarding you with a lot of mexican food and salsa/salsa-topped entrees; however, I have had this post stashed away for a while and am kind of shocked I haven't shared it sooner because it is pretty awesome, to say the least.

First, you start off with a soft, fluffy, cheesy waffle.  Yes, cheese.  In your waffle.  This takes your typically sweet waffle to a whole new savory level.  Then you spoon on some spicy chorizo sauteed with peppers and onions.  Lay on a crispy fried egg and top it all off with some fresh homemade salsa and you have a meal.  And another bonus??  Despite the layers and multiple components involved in this dish, it is so easy to make!  It took about 45 minutes from start to finish (which was perfect because I didn't start dinner until after 7 and Desperate Housewives came on at 8!-- I told you I've had it stashed away for a while!).   

Cheese Waffles with Chorizo and Fried Egg

This served the two of us (plus an extra waffle- made 3 large waffles)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 cup cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

1/2 lb. chorizo
1/2 bell pepper
1/4 yellow onion
2 fried eggs
Salsa, if desired

Heat your waffle iron to medium high. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, butter, and cheese. Add to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Grease waffle iron with butter or cooking spray. Drop 1/2-2/3 cup batter onto hot iron and press down. Cook for 4-7 minutes or until browned and crispy on the outside. Remove to a cookie sheet and keep finished waffles warm in a 250 degree oven.

Meanwhile, brown chorizo in a skillet over medium heat. Add peppers and onions and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and wipe out or drain excess fat.

If needed add an additional teaspoon or two of oil or butter to the skillet. Crack eggs into skillet and sprinkle with coarse salt and cracked pepper.  Cook over medium heat until white is cooked almost all the way through, but yolk remains runny.

To assemble, place waffles on a plate. Top with chorizo pepper mixture, salsa, and fried egg.  

Adapted from Bake.Eat.Repeat.