Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My best burger and fries

Burgers and fries...I'm not sure that there is much else to say besides that you should make this immediately. 


My Best Burger
1 pound ground beef
1/2 small onion
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (2 good shakes)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper (a few good grinds)

In a large bowl, add the ground beef.  Grate the onion over the ground beef using a microplane or the small-holed side of a box grater.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.  Using your hands, gently mix until well-combined. 

Form into 4 patties and chill in the fridge until you're ready to grill.  I'm not going to tell you how to grill them because if you don't already know how to do that, I'm not sure anyone can help you.

Serves 4 (or 2).

Truffle Oil and Parmesan French Fries
3 medium russet potatoes, washed (and peeled, if you're into that kind of thing)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper (a few good grinds)
1 oz. Parmesan cheese
3 tsp truffle oil

Preheat oven to 450.  Slice the potatoes into 2 inch by 1/2 sticks.  Place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and mix well with your hands until all potatoes are evenly coated. 

Bake for 30 minutes, turning fries once halfway through.

After the fries are done grate the Parmesan over the top and drizzle on the truffle oil before removing fries from the baking sheet.  Toss to coat. 

Serves 2 very hungry, happy people.

I served this gorgeous dinner alongside Dark and Stormy cocktails.  Recipe here.  So completely refreshing. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A race to remember

I missed running.  After running a half marathon last year, I lost my drive.  Burn out is totally real, plus I had pretty much crippled my hips with poor training.  

Then I got pregnant and had the perfect excuse to stick to walking.  Running with a basketball attached to your front is awkward and ya know, I didn't want the baby to fall out.  

After Sam was born all I wanted to do was get out of the house, but my stupid c-section benched me for 6 weeks.  Around week 4 I decided to throw caution to the wind and walk the dog.  I didn't die.  At week 8, I ran my first mile and I've been trying to get my groove back ever since.

But then I had another excuse- I was SO tired.  There is a reason sleep deprivation is used as torture- after weeks of no sleep, I would have confessed to pretty much anything just to get some shut eye.

I signed up for the Memphis Soul 5K BBQ run in the midst of my postpartum haze.  I  figured it would motivate me to get in shape.

It didn't. 

And then...out of nowhere...a miracle happened.  Sam slept through the night.  12 beautiful hours of peace and quiet.  Then, he did it again.  And again.  A whole week of glorious sleep- I was beyond thrilled.  

My cheer squad!

Any race that starts at a bar has got to be a good time.

This would be my pace- what up, slow folks?  The 10 minute pace group was HUGE and likely full of a more than a few liars.  10 minute miles are no joke. 

I finished in 36:27 which would be a 11:44 minute mile- booyeah!

And then I came home and made bread.  I know, I know- not the best way to cool down, but so, so worth it.  Plus, since I didn't buy bread this week, Nick's sandwiches would have been very sad without it.

I followed this recipe from TheKitchn to the letter and it was wonderful! The tutorials were also super helpful.

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm one of those fancy bloggers who gets everything all set up and pretty and uses a light box to get the perfect shot....then I stop being polite and start getting real.  Please note the giant stuffed carrot in the background. 

Does anyone else think that sea monkeys and yeast are the same thing?  Alive, yet not alive...and 100% weird.

Kneading is seriously so much fun.

My first rise was in the oven with just the light on.  This provides just enough warmth to get the dough puffing.

Check out that crumb!!!     

If only I had a video of the bread happy dance I did after this came out of the oven...I probably wouldn't post it, but I would watch it on bad days and remember how completely awesome I am.

Finally, a PSA for you, good readers- don't start making bread at 6:45 PM.  You will be up LATE. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Desperately seeking autumn

I think I'm losing my Texas flair.

I'm hot ALL.THE.TIME.  And I hate it.

There, I said it.  

I'm hot and it's only been 80 degrees this week.  I realize it's somewhere near 110 in Dallas and that I am completely lame for complaining about a hot New England summer.  

In my defense, I must say that I am attached to a small person for at least 10 hours a day and he is a freaking furnace!  This kid sweats all the time.  I don't know how many times I've checked his temperature only to find out he's a totally normal 98.6. 

Since I'm hot all the time, the most logical thing would be to bake, no?  I realize I am a masochist, but I had a very important playdate to attend and treats were necessary.  And because I am so desperately longing for fall, I figured I could transport my taste buds forward with a well-chosen cake. 

When I think of fall, I think of cinnamon: apple pie, spice cookies, chili.  Cinnamon adds warmth to any dish.  To indulge my autumnal desires, I found the Sour Cream Spice Cake recipe in my very favorite cookbook- Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook.  I love my 1st edition- it is so charmingly retro and informative. 

Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake

Adapted from the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook:

For one 13x9 oblong cake:

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla (my addition)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used low-fat)
3 tbsp salted butter, melted
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease the 13x9 pan. 

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.  

In a stand mixer, add eggs and beat until very thick (5 minutes).  Then, gradually beat in the sugar.

To the egg and sugar mixture, alternate adding the flour mixture and sour cream until all combined.  Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly.

To make the cinnamon swirl, combine the melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  Stir until well combined.  Dollop the mixture on top of the batter.  Using a knife or offset spatula, carefully swirl the cinnamon sugar into the batter.  Start by putting the tip of the knife in one corner of the batter- it should be touching the bottom.  Without removing the knife, drag it in a straight line through the batter to the other end of the pan.  Move it over about 1 inch and repeat.  Do this until you have waves of cinnamon sugar in one direction.  Repeat going the other direction.

Bake about 30-35 minutes. 

2 year old approved!

Mom approved!

More scenes from the day:

I swear, someday they will be the best of friends.

They just don't know it, yet.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Mystery of the Red Bananas

 In case you weren't aware, the lovely yellow bananas we all love are under attack.  Considering the sheer amount of banana love out there, this is pretty concerning.     

I decided to expand my banana horizons and try red bananas.  Allegedly, they are not susceptible to the same fungus as our beloved Cavendish bananas and thus will be around for years to come.  

Plus, they are pretty!  

The problem started after I brought them home.  As I am always hungry, I tried to peel one for a snack.  I tugged at the top, squished at the bottom.  The banana would not open.

Finally, I got a knife and sliced it.  Rather than meeting squishy banana flesh, I found a rock solid interior.  It was downright crunchy.  One sniff told me it was astringent and decidedly not ripe.

Ok, I thought, that's fine.  I'll wait a few days.  Perhaps I bought a "green" bunch but couldn't tell because they're red.  No sweat.

A few days went by- I tried again.  No dice.  The banana was still hard.  (TWSS!)

So, I googled.  According to a comment on Chow, "They don't give strong visual cues, but they do get a little softer as they ripen, and the skin will become more tender, yielding easily to pressure from a thumbnail. Try one every day or so and you should develop a sense of when they're ready."  And Melissa's Produce said pretty much the same thing.  Apparently these beauties have a slight raspberry flavor, although I'm pretty sure I will never taste it.

It's been a week now of watching and waiting- being tormented by their steely presence.  They're mocking me, daring me to throw them away only to ripen in the trash.

I will not give in!  They have become more than a banana to me- they are a challenge!  My personal science experiment.

And they will sit on my counter until they ripen and I get to try their sweet glory or they are ambushed by fruit flies.

Whichever comes first.