Monday, June 23, 2014

Meyer Lemon Butter Burgers

These burgers are my FAVORITE burger recipe to date! The Meyer lemon herb butter is stuffed inside the patty before grilling. While it cooks, the butter melts throughout the patty resulting in the most flavorful and moist burger you'll ever taste.

Burgers are perfect for weekend BBQ's for a reason: they are inexpensive, fast, and crowd pleasing -  which means they are also perfect for a busy weeknight! The butter, nestled into the burger patty, sends these burgers over the top - so much that you'll likely never grill burgers without it again. The lemon lends a bright fresh taste, perfect for a summer dinner. It's like a pop of unexpected flavor! Whip up the butter the night before, leave it in the fridge to chill, and it'll be ready to go the next day. Easy peasy.

Can't find Meyer lemons? No worries! Just use regular lemons.

Meyer Lemon Butter Burgers
6 tablespoons butter, room temp
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel
1.5 pounds ground beef (preferably 15%)
Hamburger buns
Toppings: sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, all the herbs, lemon peel, and lemon juice until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Measure out 1/3 cup butter and transfer it to a sheet of plastic wrap. Using the plastic wrap as aid, form the butter into a 3 inch log. Wrap to seal and place in the fridge until firm (if making this at the same time as the burgers, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes).

Divide the meat into 4 equal parts. Form each piece into a ball and, using your thumb, make a deep wide indentation in the center of each ball.

Slice the butter into 4 pieces and flatten them slightly. Press a butter piece into the indentation on each patty and seal the meat around the butter, completely enclosing it.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Sprinkle both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper and grill until cooked through, 4-6 minutes per side. Spread the remaining butter on the cut sides of the buns and grill the buns until slightly charred, about 1 minute per side.

Source: Bon Appetit magazine

Friday, June 20, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake (Nothing Bundt Cake Copycat)

There's a reason why Nothing Bundt Cake stores are nationwide - they are amazing! By far the moistest and more intensely flavored bundt cake I've had to date. I finally found a recipe that is a dead match for the real deal, which is perfect for someone who no longer lives in the same city as a Nothing Bundt Cake. The richest, moistest, most delicious chocolate bundt cake you'll ever make. Load it up with homemade cream cheese frosting and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven!

While the big cakes are delicious, I'm a fan of the bundlet - I love having my own mini-bundt cake to enjoy. I made a huge batch of these bundlets to test out and brought the best ones to work for sampling. Over the years I've brought tons of goodies to work and these were hands down the most quickly devoured of them all.

Make this and I promise people will be begging for the recipe. It's that good!

This recipe can be used for a large bundt cake pan or baby bundts. Directions for both are below. 

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake
For the cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix (I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme Dark Chocolate but any version will work)
1 box instant chocolate pudding
1 cup sour cream
4 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1.5 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the icing:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a bundt pan or mini bundt pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, eggs, water, and oil with a beater. Once well mixed, blend in the mini chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into your bundt pan or, if using a mini bundt pan, spoon the batter about 3/4 of the way full in each cavity. For the regular bundt pan, bake for 45-50 minutes. For mini-bundts, bake for 15-20. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan. 

In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla and then gradually add powdered sugar until desired consistency. Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag or ziplock, cut off the corner, and pipe onto the cake(s) before serving.

*It tasted best the next day so if you have time, cover the cake(s) well and store in the fridge overnight. Frost right before serving. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork and Smoked Gouda Grits

Smoky, sweet, and spicy! This dish is impressive enough for company but easy enough for a weeknight meal. One bite and you'll be putting it back on the menu over and over again.

I'm sure I've mentioned a million times how much I love grilling. The taste of food fresh off the grill is something that just can't be replicated in the kitchen! But more than that, a grill means less dishes, a cleaner kitchen, and quick cooking. While I grill year round, my grill gets multiple uses during the summer months. I just combed through the recipes I have waiting to be blogged and 100% of them are meals that I grilled!

You could easily make this dish in the kitchen if needed though I think grilling the pork ramps up that smoky flavor and pairs so well with the BBQ sauce. While your pork grills, you can whip up the cheesy grits and have dinner on the table in 20 minutes! If you're sensitive to heat, scale back the chipotle pepper. Even a teensy bit will add a huge dose of smokiness that you will love so don't cut it out completely.

Psst - No one can ever use an entire can of chipotle peppers at one time! So, after you use a couple peppers for this recipe, add a pepper + sauce to each compartment of an ice tray. Stick in the freezer until solid, crack and remove from the tray, then store frozen cubes in a freezer bag until you need a chipotle pepper & sauce again. Just thaw what you need!

Grilled Maple Chipotle Pork and Smoked Gouda Grits
For the pork:
1/2 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced *see note above
4 boneless pork loin chops
salt and pepper to taste

For the grits:
4 cups milk
2 cups quick cooking grits
2 cups shredded smoked Gouda
3 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Whisk together the barbecue sauce, maple syrup, and minced chipotle peppers. Pour half in a small bowl and reserve the remainder for serving.

Salt and pepper both sides of the pork and and grill, covered, 9 minutes on each side or until 155 degrees at the thickest part, basting with half of the BBQ sauce mixture during the last 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water and 4 cups milk to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the grits, salt, and pepper. Cook, whisking often, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in the smoked Gouda and butter until well combined. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place a piece of pork on a mound of grits and ladle with reserved BBQ sauce mixture over top.

Source: adapted from Southern Living Magazine

Friday, June 13, 2014

Honey Raspberry Chicken Skewers

Sweet, sticky, and super easy! These chicken skewers are sure to please even the pickiest eaters in your family! Perfect for a quick weeknight meal or a weekend gathering around the grill. Best part? It uses pantry staples you likely already have on hand.

I'm a big fan of the grill. Not only does it keep my kitchen cool, grilling also means less dishes! I'm a year-round griller but I definitely ramp up during the spring and summer months when the fresh produce is begging to be grilled. And if I'm grilling veggies, I might as well grill the entire meal!

Chicken is probably a staple on most of our menus regularly and who isn't looking for a new way to prepare them? These are so simple. Throw them in the marinade the night before, come home from work, thread them on the skewer, and whisk together the easy glaze while they grill.

20 minutes, start to finish. My favorite!

Honey Raspberry Chicken Skewers
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-3 inch cubes for skewers
salt and pepper, to taste
For the marinade:
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
For the glaze: 
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons raspberry jam

Salt and pepper the cubed chicken and place in a large ziplock bag. In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.

Whisk together the honey and jam and set aside.

Heat your grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers and grill for 5 minutes, or until one side is browned with good grill marks. Brush on the glaze and flip. Cook another 5 minutes, brush on the glaze, and flip again. Check for doneness; the juices should run clear and the chicken well browned on all sides.

Remove from heat, brush on any additional glaze, and serve.

Source: The Plaid and Paisley Kitchen 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Southern Eggs Benedict with Tomato Gravy

A delicious southern inspired twist on the traditional brunch favorite! Fluffy biscuits topped with crisp bacon, poached eggs, and tomato gravy. This tomato gravy takes this breakfast over the top!

One of my favorite restaurants in Asheville is Early Girl Eatery. Their food is fantastic and very reasonably priced. Last year, I tried their eggs Benedict and it was covered in this delicious tomato gravy that was absolutely amazing. It's taken me an entire year to make it at home, which is really inexcusable. One bite will leave you wishing you had doubled the recipe!

While a classic eggs Benedict uses an English muffin, ham, and hollandaise sauce over top, I thought the tomato gravy paired better with a southern twist, thus the biscuit and bacon. This was the perfect breakfast for dinner - especially when served with my easy restaurant style skillet breakfast potatoes!

You can use your favorite biscuit recipe or just pick up a can at the grocery store. 

Southern Eggs Benedict with Tomato Gravy
2 biscuits, warmed
8 slices thick cut bacon
4 large eggs, poached {a good tutorial here}
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups tomatoes, chopped 
1 cup onion, finely diced
2.5 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil to medium high. Add the onions and saute until softened and translucence. Sprinkle the flour over top and whisk, letting cook, until a lightly browned roux is formed. Add the chopped tomatoes, basil, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer on low for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the bacon slices on top, being careful to not stretch them out too much. Place the baking sheet in a cold oven, shut the door, and turn the oven on to 400. Let bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned and just starting to crisp. Remove from oven and transfer the pieces to a paper towel lined plate.

To serve, split the biscuits open and top each half with 2 slices of crisp bacon, a poached egg, and a generous ladle of tomato gravy.  

Source for the tomato gravy: slightly adapted from Early Girl Eatery

Monday, June 2, 2014

Skillet Breakfast Potatoes

The perfect accompaniment to any breakfast dish is a big pile of skillet fried potatoes. This version is just like the kind you find at your favorite breakfast spot - and couldn't be easier!

Most breakfast restaurants here give you a choice between potatoes or grits. I can not begin to tell you how difficult this decision is! I love grits... but I also love restaurant style breakfast potatoes. Until now, I hadn't completely pulled off restaurant quality potatoes at home so I typically skipped the grits (which I know how to make!) and went with the potatoes. Now, thankfully, I know how simple they are so I can whip them up anytime!

These potatoes so simple; the key is parboiling your potatoes prior to cooking. This ensures the potatoes are tender and cooked through inside and crispy and delicious outside. I also think a cast iron skillet is the way to go!

Potatoes are the perfect vehicle for adding loads of flavor. Toss in whatever fresh herbs you have on hand along with plenty of salt and pepper. And if you're my husband, you'll pile on fresh grated cheese, too :)

Wanna kick it up a notch? Fry some bacon first, use the grease to fry your potatoes instead of oil, and add the crumbled bacon back into your potatoes before serving.

Skillet Breakfast Potatoes
4 cups red potatoes, diced
1 cup chopped onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the diced potatoes and boil for around 5 minutes, or until tender. Drain.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, diced potatoes, rosemary, thyme, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper.

Saute until the potatoes are crisp and browned. Taste and add additional seasonings if desired.

See Aimee Cook

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