Saturday, June 29, 2013

Andouille Blue Cheese Sliders

It's almost the 4th of July! What? Wasn't it just snowing the other day? I mean...I'm happy it really wasn't. But when did summer happen? Sorry for using the "S" word so soon. It hurt my soul too when I thought it.

I came across these today and I think they would be awesome in my non-existent backyard. 

They are actually made by Tiki Brand!
 Did anyone else know that there was an actual "Tiki" brand? Did anyone else actually know that they made anything other than the cheap looking Tiki torches from yesteryear? Also, that means that "Tiki" is a "brand eponym" (one thing that stuck from business school). Originally and eponym is used to describe an item that gains its name from the maker. From the Greek "after or upon a name." Sandwich, Frisbee, Braille, and Jacuzzi are all examples of this. A brand eponym, however, describes a brand name of a product that becomes the generic term for that product (or genericizing it). Popular examples include Coke, Swiffer, Kleenex, Jell-O, Band-Aid, and Scotch Tape. We say "I need to buy more Kleenex" not "I need to buy more tissue paper." Or maybe you do.

Now don't I sound smart for once? I promise it will never happen again.

Back to the 4th of July aaaaaaaaaaaaand:

Between the torches and the glowing Baggo, I am down for a SWEEEEEET 4th. Too bad I don't have either to help me celebrate. Sad face...

You know what I can do (and you should too)? Andouille Blue Cheese Sliders ya'll! These are awesome. Soooo much flavor in these cuties. Happy Hubby and I like a single pickle on it and a squirt of mustard and that's all. The spiciness of the Andouille mixed with the pungent blue cheese is perfectly paired with a single pickle and mustard on a sweet King's Hawaiian Roll. Hello Flavortowne!

Andouille Blue Cheese Sliders

1 lb. ground beef
8 oz. andouille sausage links
5 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
1 egg
Pickle slices (optional)
Dijion mustard
16 small sweet Hawaiian-style rolls

Salt and Pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Place the sausage and shallot in the food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add the egg and pulse again.

Pour the sausage mixture into a large bowl, followed by the ground beef, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Mix well then gently mix in the crumbled blue cheese.

Scoop 16 - 1/4 cup portions of meat mixture onto wax paper. Press them flat with the bottom on a glass, then reform the edges so the are tight.

Grill the patties for 2 minutes per side.

Slice the Hawaiian-style rolls in half, spread on some mustard and assemble your burgers.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kahlua Flan


BLACKHAWKS WIN!!!! I feel so Chicago-y today. I even had a Chicago-style hot dog on Sunday. It was delicious. 

Happy Hubby and I don't have live television. We just stream shows and movies from Netflix and Hulu. So I was listening to the local WGN 720 radio station on my TuneIn radio app while making dinner to listen to this game. We had our dinner and checked in with 720 to see how the Hawks were doing. Five minutes left, losing 2-1. Okay, we are either going into overtime or are moving on to game 7. So we decide to go for a walk outside. About 3 minutes into our walk we hear yelling and fireworks. We assume that means we tied it up. We turn the radio app back on and hear "I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED IN THE PAST TWO MINUTES!!!!!" Needless to say, it was a pretty great night walking around our Chicago suburb at the moment the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

We should probably celebrate with flan! KAHLUA FLAN!!!!

This was my first adventure into flan and boy was I pleased. No wonder Emeril got five stars for it. It is also much simpler to make than most flan recipes. My only suggestion for you is to make the caramel whichever way you are comfortable with. There are many different ways to make caramel (don't stir, constant stirring, etc). If you have a tried and true way to turn sugar into caramel, do it. This recipe didn't say it, but I like to add a splash or two of water with the sugar to help the initial dissolving process. Stir the water and sugar together then let it melt and don't touch it.

We were enjoying dinner with our neighbors. Plastic spoons; no dishes! Yay!

Kahlua Flan

3/4 cup sugar 
4 large eggs
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur (recommended: Kahlua)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, cook the sugar over medium heat until it starts to melt. Lower the heat and cook until caramelized to a golden brown. (Do not stir or touch the sugar, but swirl the pan to melt evenly.)

Pour into a metal flan mold or 9-inch cake pan. Turn the dish and swirl to evenly coat the bottom. Let caramel cool and harden.

Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the condensed and evaporated milks and Kahlua and whisk well to blend. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake until set and just firm in the center but still jiggles slightly, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours.

To serve, run a thin sharp knife around the rim of the flan. Place a platter or large plate on top of the flan and gently flip over so the plate is on the bottom. Lift away the mold. 

Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

I need to make this yesterday...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Peach, Bacon, and Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese

I just found out that I work next to a magical place named World Market. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend going. You won't be sorry. Just don't go on a twenty minute lunch break and expect to get back to work on time. I b-lined for the food area but I wanted to explore so much more. Happy Hubby has a birthday coming up so I stopped by to get some unique treats. My coworkers are always snacking on fun things from there so I knew it was a foodie's dream. Happy Hubby loved and is continuing to enjoy his basket-o-yummy. His favorite item, you must know, were these:

I know I have seen them in other stores before, but I never though to buy them. Happy Hubby puts Sriracha on everything. If you see this can, buy them. No joke. Just do it. You won't be sorry. I even love them and I don't normally gravitate towards spicy for a snack. To clarify, they are a flavorful spicy (like Sriracha normally is) but not hot like the Wasabi Peas the same company makes are.

It is officially summer, my friends, and nothing says summer like peaches! I am excited for Southern Illinois Peach season and when I finally get my hands on some, I will be making a not-pie (that will make sense in the future). Until then, I am enjoying the peaches I CAN find...with cheese...and bacon (duh). 

Peach, Bacon, and Gouda Grilled Cheese
slightly adjusted from How Sweet It Is

4 pretzel sandwich rolls
8 ounces smoked gouda cheese, sliced into 8 rounds
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and cut into pieces
2 peaches, sliced

Preheat a panini press. Assemble sandwiches by placing a slice of cheese on top of the bread, followed by bacon and peaches, then another slice of cheese on top to act as “glue.” Spray press with cooking spray and put in your sandwiches, cooking for 4-5 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melty. Serve immediately!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

French Toast Casserole

A couple of weeks ago, I scored some sweet swag at a garage sale.

Cashew Bacon Caramel Corn by Kudos Kitchen by Renee

Then, everyone was posting about popcorn! It's like they knew I just got my first popcorn popper!
Smoky Bacon Popcorn with Burnt Sugar and Sea Salt by How Sweet It Is

I can't even contain my excitement!

Buttered Popcorn Crunch Brownies by How Sweet It Is
Buttered Popcorn Cookies by I Was Born To Cook

JUST STOP! I'm too excited now. Have they been reading my diary?

Let us catch our breath so we can move on to breakfast. French Toast Casserole, my friends, French Toast Casserole. There are many different renditions of this delectable morning treat. This recipe is simple and is both savory (bacon!) and sweet (french toast...duh). Make it the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. The original recipe calls for one loaf of french bread. I like to get two of the day-old loaves from Jimmy John's. $1.00 for the two! What a bargain!

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf french bread (or two loaves of Jimmy John's), cut into 1-inch cubes (10 cups)
8 eggs
3 cups half and half (or cream if you want it silky rich) 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 strips of bacon, cooked and broken into pieces.  

2 tablespoons butter, cubed
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
maple syrup

Using a serrated knife cube your french bread into one inch pieces.   
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Add bread and mix with egg mixture to coat.  Add bacon pieces and mix again.

Grease a 13X9 baking dish (those non stick glass ones are awesome).  Pour all your eggy bready bacony mixture into the baking dish.  Cover and place in fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover and give the bread another stir.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over the bread cubes and dot with butter.  Cover with non stick foil and bake for 45-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Back By "Popular" Demand!! And Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa!

I'm Back!! And I Missed You!

Much has happened since I last posted. I got that job! I can't really say where I work but I CAN tell you that I wear a white lab coat and have very dirty hands ALL. DAY. LONG. Which leads to very dry skin in the winter and a new found love for all things hand-lotion related. Also, my Mom likes to tell me that I need a manicure quite often which would be a waste of money considering how jacked up my hands get five days a week. Mom, I will take a pedicure any day and every day though! Ooooooooooo foot massage....

Sorry it has taken me so long to post (more than a year). It has taken one year and a month for me to acclimate myself to my work week. Now that I am used to it, I'm sure it will change again. So, get it while it's hot! I never stopped cooking in this time. In fact, I may be cooking more! I have a year's worth of recipes to share with you! I'm excited! My picture quality is "Meh" to say it best but someday I will have some natural light in my kitchen and perdier pics to be less embarrassed of. Nevertheless, I do have confidence in the deliciousness! No "Meh" recipes here!

When deciding what my first return post would be, I thought of the wonderful season we are entering. It's officially decent produce season! Yay! You all need to get some blackberries while they are still good and put this in your face!

No your face...NOW!!!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with Blackberry Salsa

makes 4 cakes

Sweet Potato Qunioa Cakes
1 medium sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and chopped
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

 Blackberry Salsa
1 pint fresh blackberries, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeno, finely diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
the juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all salsa ingredients together in a bowl and mix.

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Add in sweet potato, onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, stir, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until potato is soft. Remove lid and add garlic, cooking for 30 seconds.

Transfer potato mixture to a large bowl (slightly mashing potato with a fork) and add quinoa, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, remaining salt and pepper and mix well. Once combined, add in egg, then mix until moistened. Using your hands to bring it together, form four equally-sized patties. Heat the same skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Add cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Serve with blackberry salsa!