Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quick Update

Hello friends!

In case you were wondering if I'd been abducted by aliens, I just wanted to let you know that I'm still here. It's been a bit of a mish-mosh of health issues and life's little curveballs as usual, but I am working on something that I hope to have posted by tomorrow morning. (Monday)

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend and I'm looking forward to checking in with you all soon!

Here's a sneak peak at what's coming...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hamdoggers With Red Bell Pepper Sauce

A little twist on the basic burger with a homemade thousand island style sauce.

OK. I'd picked up some ground beef on Saturday and needed to either use it or freeze it, so I started thinking about what I wanted to do with it. I'd made both meatloaf and goulash in the last couple of weeks, so I didn't want those. Hmmm... hamburgers sounded good, but I had well over a pound of meat to work with and that was certainly more than I needed for two burgers. Plus, it had been raining all day and our grill isn't in a covered area.

I rummaged around in the fridge and perused the pantry and as I began taking stock of what I had to work with, it hit me. I could make burgers for dinner and use the rest of the ground beef to prepare a meatloaf to pop in the freezer for another day. Brilliant, right?

So, I gather up all of my ingredients and start prepping everything for the meatloaf and about half way through the mixing process, I realize that I've totally forgotten to take out enough plain ground beef to make the burgers. Yeah, well. All I'm gonna say about that, is that middle age can be a scary place.

Obviously, I couldn't remove any of the ingredients from the mixture, so I figured that I'd just have to make these burgers with the meatloaf mixture. That's when the hubbers came out to the kitchen and said "Oh, by the way, I tossed out what was left of the bread this morning. It looked like it might have been stale." Ummm, it looked like it might have been stale? "Yup". Did you smell it? "Nope." Was there mold on it? "Um, not that I could see." Well, did you take a piece out and really look at it? "Nope."  ???  MmmHmm, he's middle aged, too.

So... now I have another dilemma. What am I going to serve these meatloafy burger thingies on? Let's see... Crackers? No. Oreos? Unh- uh. One english muffin? Uh, negatory. And then I see them. Eureka! Small sub rolls. And there were exactly two of them. Now....

How, exactly, do I fit a round burger on an oblong torpedo roll? Well, I make the burger fit the roll! That's how. Kinda umm, hot dog shaped. Yup. They'll be... hot burgers? No. Hmmm, ham dogs? Noooo... Ha! Hamdoggers! Yeah. That's the name and I'm stickin' with it.

Hamdoggers With Red Bell Pepper Sauce
(makes 4 hamdoggers or 2 and a small meatloaf)
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 Red Onion
  • 1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
  • 1 Lg Egg
  • 2 Tbls Ketchup
  • 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Small torpedo/sub rolls
  • Lettuce for serving

Roughly chop the bell pepper and onion and place it in the bowl of your processor or in a blender. Pulse until the pieces are very finely minced. You can do this by hand, but make sure that you mince it as finely as possible.

In a large mixing bowl, combine a little over *half of the pepper and onion mixture, bread crumbs, egg, ketchup and seasonings with the ground beef, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. (*the rest of the pepper and onion mixture goes into the sauce. Recipe is below)

Divide the mixture into fourths and taking one fourth at a time in your hands, pat, roll and shape the mixture into log or hot dog shapes**.

If you're making only 2 of the hamdoggers, shape the remaining meat mixture into a small meatloaf, place it on a parchment lined cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for several hours. When it's completely frozen, lift it off the paper and place it in a zip-top bag and then pop it back into the freezer. This will ensure that it keeps it's shape and will be ready to go in the oven at a later date.

Lightly brush a non-stick skillet with about a teaspoon of vegetable or light olive oil and cook the hamdoggers, over medium high heat, for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. You want to gently turn each one three more times, in order to maintain a hot dog or sausage shape.

**(Some ground meat brands have more moisture than others, so if you find that your mixture isn't staying together, just put it back in the bowl, add more bread crumbs {approx 1/4 cup} and combine it all thoroughly, until you get a mix that holds it's shape.)

Red Bell Pepper Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 Cup Ketchup or Chili Sauce
  • Minced Onion & Bell Pepper (left from the recipe above ~ approx 2 Tbls)
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk it together. Any leftover sauce will keep for several days, in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes a great salad dressing too!

The Rolls

Slice the rolls lengthwise, but not all the way through. Since most sub/torpedo rolls are rather thick, I scoop out some of the inside. It just makes more room for the meat and condiments. You can toast the rolls in a 325 degree oven, for about 8 to 10 minutes, if you want to.

The Assembly

Start building your hamdogger with a single leaf of romaine, some shredded or whole leaf iceberg, or a handful of baby spinach or arugula. Then add your hamdogger and a generous helping of the red bell pepper sauce and you're good to go!

You can kick it up a few more notches by adding other toppers, like sliced or chopped onion, pickled jalapeno slices, sauteed peppers and onions, or maybe pop it in the oven (before adding the sauce) with some oooey, gooey shredded cheese. Have fun with it! After all, it's already (at least in my hubby's opinion) a step above your basic burger and the possibilities are limited only by your own imagination and creativity. And we all know that bloggers and the people who read blogs are some of the most imaginative and creative people on earth!



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Don't forget that you can print this (or any) recipe using the "Print Friendly" button at the foot of each post. It's a great little feature that allows you to remove any pictures (or any text that isn't relevant to the recipe) before printing. That can save on ink and paper & in today's economy, who doesn't want to save a little cash when you can?!

I'm sharing at these fabulous parties this week:

Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps On The Porch
Mix It Up Monday at Flour Me With Love
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm
Tasty Tuesday at 33 Shades of Green
Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just A Housewife
Tuesday Talent Show at Chef In Training
Tasty Tuesday at A Lettered Life
Terrific Tuesdays at Adventures of a DIY Mom
Tasteful Tuesdays at Nap Time Creations
Saturday Show & Tell at Cheerios and Lattes
Scrumptious Sunday at Addicted To Recipes

Friday, October 5, 2012

Saltimbocca alla Romana (Chicken)

Saltimbocca, translated means "jumps in the mouth".  If you've ever eaten veal or chicken saltimbocca, you'll understand just how appropriate the name is.

Like most cities, we have our share of Italian restaurants to choose from and the majority of them serve really good food. Oddly enough and much to my dismay, only one of these fine establishments (at least, that I've ever been aware of) offers Saltimbocca on their menu.

I don't get out to that one particular restaurant as often as I'd like to and I don't usually cook veal at home, so my go-to meat for this dish is boneless chicken breast.

Monday, October 1, 2012

American Chop Suey (Goulash)


I grew up eating goulash. Not the Hungarian style goulash that I've shared with you HERE. I'm talking about the dish that most New Englanders call American Chop Suey. So, where did the name come from? Well, according to Wikipedia, it got the name because it's "often a haphazard hodgepodge of meat and vegetables". OK. Sounds plausible to me. It's also called Macaroni and Beef, Beefy Mac and Hamburger Casserole in other areas of the country.

Regardless of what you call it in your neck of the woods, Goulash is a dish that transcends regional culinary boundaries and even more important, considering the skyrocketing cost of groceries these days, an economical and delicious way to feed the family a hearty, filling and most of all, delicious meal for virtually pennies a serving.

If you do a web search, you'll find that there are as many recipes for this dish as there are home cooks serving it to their families. But the basic ingredients are pretty much the same across the board. Ground beef, tomatoes, macaroni, onion and green bell pepper. Some cooks use tomato sauce, paste or puree and others use whole or diced canned tomatoes.  Some use onions, but not green peppers and some use additional veggies, different seasonings and/or toppings. It can be cooked on the stove top, or in a crock pot and it can be baked in the oven. I prepare it pretty much the way my mother made it, but I do one major thing that she didn't.

I cook it all in one pot. Yup. No more filling a huge pot with water and waiting for it to boil. No more waiting for the pasta to be cooked just right and then practically melting your face off when pouring it into a colander to drain. And... That means there are fewer dishes to wash.

You're welcome.

American Chop Suey (Goulash)
  • 1&1/2 Lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Med Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced (I used green and red)
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1-2 Tbls Vegetable or Light Olive Oil
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Oregano
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Water or Beef Broth
  • 1 Lb Elbow Macaroni

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, drizzle in the vegetable or light olive oil and cook the onions, bell pepper and garlic over medium heat until they are just getting soft. Season with the salt pepper, oregano, basil, onion and garlic powders. I don't measure these but I probably use about a teaspoon of each.

Add the ground beef to the pot and turn the heat up a little bit. (about medium high) Cook the beef until it's lightly browned, breaking it up with a spatula or fork as it cooks. I sprinkle in a little bit more of the seasonings at this point, too. You want this well seasoned because you're going to be adding in water or broth to cook the pasta.

When the beef is fully cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and one full can of water or beef broth. (the 28oz can) Stir well to combine and allow it to simmer on medium low for about 8 to 10 minutes, uncovered.

Add the box of elbow macaroni and if needed, another (small) can of water/broth. You want the liquid in the pot to just cover the macaroni once it's been stirred in.

If you like your goulash to be a little juicy, use only 2/3 of the box.

Partially cover the pot and simmer on medium low heat for about 8 to 12 minutes. (depends on how much macaroni you're using) I give it a good stir about half way through. Check it at 8 minutes, if you prefer your macaroni to be more al dente.

I usually make a green salad and slice up some crusty Italian bread to sop up all of that tomato-y, herb-y, onion-y goodness.

Hubbers likes grated parm on his (lots of hot sauce) and if he's not in a cheesy mood, he'll top it with a little sour cream. I use a little shredded Cheddar or Monterrey Jack, if I have any in the fridge.



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Don't forget that you can print this (or any) recipe using the "Print Friendly" button at the foot of each post. It's a great little feature that allows you to remove any pictures (or any text that isn't relevant to the recipe) before printing. That can save on ink and paper & in today's economy, who doesn't want to save a little cash when you can?!

Wow! My Chicken Enchilada Lasagna was featured this week at Addicted To Recipes!

I was featured, I was Featured by Addicted to Recipes

I'm sharing at these amazing parties this week: (adding the URLs as I link up)

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