Italian Burgers

If you haven’t noticed already, Italian is my favorite cuisine. I love all the flavors and aromas that come with cooking a good Italian meal. I had the idea to create an Italian burger a few weeks ago, and since I was able to stock up on ground beef from Harris Teeter last week, I was finally able to make these, and since my husband was home for dinner I was able to have him throw these on the grill!
The concept of these is really just like a meatball parm, but just in a burger patty and served burger style, not sandwich style. I was really pleased with how these came out and will definitely be making them again!

Ingredients (Yielded 3 burger patties)
-1 pound ground beef
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
-1 block parmesan cheese (will only use 9 slices from it)
-2 large buns (toasted on the grill)
-1 cup Tomato & Basil pasta sauce (I used Classico)

1. In a mixing bowl, place the ground beef. Add the chopped basil, minced garlic, garlic powder and garlic salt. Combine all ingredients and form into 3 burger patties.
2. Over medium heat on the grill, cook for 5-6 minutes per side…or until desired cook temperature is reached. While burgers are cooking, heat tomato sauce.
3. When burgers are cooked, place 3 thin slices of Parmesan cheese on each burger and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to melt. Serve on a toasted bun with tomato & basil sauce.

Parmesan Chicken Marsala

Growing up I always thought I hated chicken marsala. I’m embarassed to admit I’m guilty of my own pet peeve…the “I haven’t tried it, therefore I hate it syndrome”. Chicken Marsala was never cooked in my household, which led me to believe…I must hate it! Boy, how wrong I was. Over the winter, my husband and I would occasionally have dinner at his brother and sister-in-law’s house, and one night they cooked chicken marsala. How I could have ever thought I hated this dish is beyond me. But what was more surprising, was that my husband liked it too!!!
After making this a few times, I wanted to make the sauce a little thicker. I did this my making a roux before adding the marsala wine and also adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream while simmering the sauce. The results were just what I was looking for, the marsala sauce was perfect consistency. I served this with angelhair pasta and fresh grated parmesan cheese. It seems that I make this dish for special occasions…this was our New Years Eve dinner, and then my husband asked me to make this for his birthday a few days ago. I make this without mushrooms since they aren’t my favorite, just add them in if you prefer them in your chicken marsala.

-2 boneless chicken breasts, butterflied
-1 cup marsala wine
-Italian seasoned bread crumbs (enough for dredging)
-Flour (enough for dredging)
-1 egg
-1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
-3 tablespoons heavy cream
-1 tablespoon butter
-1 and 1/2 tablespoons flour (for the roux)
-1/4 tsp garlic salt
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tablespoons chopped shallots
-2 tablespoons EVOO
1. Over medium heat, heat the EVOO. Add the minced garlic and shallots. Dredge the butterflied chicken in the flour, egg, then breadcrumbs and add to the hot pan. Cook for 6 minutes each side, sprinkling the garlic powder and garlic salt on each side when cooking.
2. When chicken is cooked, remove from heat and set aside. In same pan, melt the butter. Add the tablespoons on flour to form a roux. When roux has formed, add the marsala wine and whisk until blended. Add the heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and place chicken breats into the sauce. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
3. Serve chicken with angelhair pasta and top with remaining Parmesan cheese.

iPhone Cake

As soon as June rolls around, I am so lovingly reminded by my husband that it is his “birthday month”. Since his birthday isn’t until June 20, that makes 20 days I’m either reminded his birthday is coming up or he tries to find out what I’m getting him for a gift. This year I really wanted to do something special since he always puts together and awesome birthday for me! His favorite cake is yellow cake with mocha icing, so almost every year that is what I made for him. I wanted to make a cake that would really knock his socks off! After doing a bit of Googling, I saw that other people had made iPhone cakes, and some of them were amazing! Some were also serious fails, which made me nervous to attempt such a cake. Since I’ve taken art classes for years, I was pretty confident in my artistic ability to pull off the tiny details in the app making.

I was planning a suprise birthday party for him this past Saturday, so I started making the cake on Wednesday. This was also my first time working with fondant and making fondant myself…yes I was getting concerned I was in over my head! Anyway, I made a batch of fondant and made all the colors I’d need for the apps. This actually took alot longer than I thought, I worked for about 3 hours that night. I was surprised how easy it was to work with the fondant, as long as my hands were covered in Crisco and the counter was covered in Crisco and powdered sugar, nothing ever stuck or cracked.

On Saturday, the day of the party, I attempted the big sheet of black fondant for the iPhone as well as finished the apps and baked the cake and mocha frosting. Even though the apps were done, I knew I wasn’t out of the woods yet, the black fondant seemed like a daunting task. The cake still had potential to be an epic fail. To color the fondant black, I actually mixed in Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa along with a few drops of black food coloring….it actually tasted amazing since it was mostly cocoa based. I made sure there was more than enough powdered sugar on the counter when I started to roll it out, and every time I moved the fondant I’d sprinkle a little more underneath to prevent sticking. It’s funny, I literally jumped for joy when I perfectly layed the sheet on the cake with no cracking, splitting, or sticking….success!!! I then rubbed a litle crisco over the cake to disolve any remaining powdered sugar and give it a nice sheen. After a combined total of 8 hours the iPhone cake was complete!

I displayed the cake at the surprise party and everyone was so impressed. My husband was floored! He was definitely very curious about what kind of cake I was making since I had to hide the apps in the fridge for a few days in foil with a big “Do Not Touch” sign haha. What is best about this cake, is that it tastes as good as it looks….cocoa fondant with mocha frosting underneath…yum!

Marshmallow Fondant Adapted from Allrecipes
-1 bag mini marshmallows
-5 cups powdered sugar (4 will be used in fondant, 1 will be used during kneading)
-3 tablespoons water
– 1 tub Crisco
Betty Crocker Gel Food Coloring (if making colored fondant)
1. Place marshmallows in a microwaveable bowl. Pour water over top and mix. Place in microwave and cook for 30 seconds. Remove and stir. Microwave an additional 30 seconds until they are fully melted.
2. Add 4 cups of the powdered sugar in 2 cup increments to the melted marshmallow mixture, stirring with a Crisco coated spoon. Once most of the powdered sugar is combined, completely coat your counter and your hands with Crisco, also coat counter with some of the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Remove fondant mixture from the bowl and place on counter. Continue kneading for around 10 minutes until a strong fondant has formed. If you plan on refrigerating for later use, make sure it comes to room temperature before working with it again.
3. To color fondant, it is best to use a gel food coloring. I used, Betty Crocker Gel Food Coloring. Just place desired amount on the fondant and knead the color into the dough. It may appear marbled at first, but if you continue to work with it, the color will eventually become uniform.
Mocha Icing Adapted from Allrecipes
-2/3 cup cocoa powder
-1/3 cup strong, hot, brewed coffee
-3 and 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-1/4 cup butter, melted
-2 tablespoons crisco
-1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon instant coffee grounds
1. In a bowl, combine the cocoa, brewed coffee, powdered sugar, metled butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir to form icing. Add in the teaspoon of instant grounds and crisco. With a hand mixer, beat for 1 minute, or until Crisco is fully combined.

Spinach Breakfast Quiche

It has been a busy few days having family in town, and we have more family coming into town tomorrow! It seems to be like a hotel around here! When we have guests staying with us I like to make something that can be easily reheated in the morning for breakfast. I had found this recipe for a Breakfast Quiche last week on the Foodbuzz Top 9 and it sounded too good to pass by. I wanted to take it one step further an add spinach to it, and I can’t tell you how good this was. Having the hash brown crust really made a difference and kind of set it apart from other quiches I’ve had.

-3 cups shredded frozen hash browns, thawed and drained
-4 tablespoons butter, melted
-3 eggs
-1/2 cup milk
-1/2 cup half&half (I used fat free)
-3/4 cup real bacon pieces (you can use real bacon, or I used Hormel Real Bacon Pieces)
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1 cup cooked frozen spinach
-1/4 cup diced scallions
– salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. In a bowl, mix the drained hash browns and the melted butter. Pour into a 9inch pie dish and press down to mold the hash browns into the dish, with some coming up on the edges to form the crust. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
3. In a mixing bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. When crust has finished baking, pour egg mixture into hash brown crust, make sure to press mixture down to pack spinach into crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. Garnish with a few chopped scallions.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie Pies

A few weeks ago during one of my couponing trips I picked up two 6-packs of Keebler Mini Pie Crusts. I really didn’t know what I would make with them yet, but since I was able to get them for around $1, I knew I’d eventually be able to come up with something. The other night I was in dire need of something chocolatey, what a shock! I swear I can’t go one day without having chocolate. If only somehow there could be a new fad diet in which the more chocolate you ate, the faster you lost weight.

As I was scrolling through a Paula Deen cookbook I have, I came across a recipe for a chocolate chip cookie pie. Her recipe had it made as one large pie, but I thought it might be cute to use my mini crusts and make these individual pies! Now that I made these and used the crusts, I’m thinking this would be such a cute dessert idea for a dinner party…mini apple pies with ice cream, mini cherry pies, mini pumpkin pies…so many possibilities! These chocolate chip cookie pies are pretty rich and decadent, so having them in the smaller size works out great!

Ingredients- Yields 4 Mini Pies
-1/4 cup flour
-1/4 cup packed brown sugar
-1/4 cup white sugar
-1 egg
-4 tablespoons butter, melted (This is a Paula Deen, you know there will be a lot of butter involved!!)
-1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-4 Keebler Mini Pie Crusts
-1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, I did not use in this recipe)
-1 teaspoon of powdered sugar (for garnish, optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, egg, and melted butter. Add the chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into the mini pie crusts.
3. Bake for 30 minutes.

Mexican Burgers

Summer is officially in full swing here in Charleston, and I have to say I love it! Although the weather stays pretty mild well into December, a Charleston “winter” is from about January to mid-March. Nevertheless, we welcome the hot weather as we thaw out from the bone chilling 40 and 50 degree temperatures we must endure during the winter. Yes it can get entirely too humid sometimes and 80 degrees can be considered a ‘cool’ day, but there is nothing quite like a Lowcountry summer. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is being able to go out on my brother-in-law’s boat and just anchor up to one of the many sandbars or little islands in the rivers and just float in the water and drink a cold beer. There is definitely a lifestyle here that you can’t get much of anywhere else. I’m still a Jersey Girl, but right now I feel at home right here in Charleston. And to those of you that have never been to the Lowcountry, I challenge you to visit here and not fall in love with it…it is almost impossible.

To me, burgers are synonymous with summer. I wanted to put a fun little spin on a burger. With my Mexican Burger, I’m challenging Taco Bell’s “Think Outside the Bun” slogan by putting Mexican cuisine right back on the bun! This is really easy to whip up, and you can put your favorite taco toppings on it too. I like mine pretty simple, which is why I only used salsa and sour cream.

Ingredients (yields 3 burgers)
-1 pound ground beef
-1 packet taco seasoning (I used Ortega for these, but I prefer Old El Paso)
-3 slices sharp cheddar cheese
-3 tablespoons mild salsa
-3 teaspoons sour cream
-3 toasted burger buns
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the ground beef with the entire contents of the taco seasoning packet. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Form 3 burger patties.
2. On the grill over medium-high heat, grill patties 5 minutes each side, flipping once. Our until desired cook temperature is reached.
3. Remove patties from grill and place one slice of cheddar cheese on each. Place burgers on baking sheet and place under the oven broiler for 3 minutes, until cheese is fully melted.
4. Top with a tablespoon of salsa and a teaspoon of the sour cream and serve on a toasted bun. Make it unique by adding your favorite taco toppings!

6/4 Couponing

This wasn’t the best week for my couponing. Since last weekend was Memorial Day, there were no coupon inserts in the paper and all of the coupons in the P&G April insert expired May 31. I check online for what coupons will be coming out tomorrow, and still didn’t see many good match-ups that would have made me want to wait to do my shopping tomorrow. I really just wanted to pick up the few things I could get for free, or super cheap.

These next few weeks my husband and I will have some family coming into town so I know I’m not going to have to do much cooking past this Thursday. I still have 2 packs of chicken in the freezer that I can get 4 meals out of…I really hope Harris Teeter has some good meat sales in the next 2 weeks so I can restock! I also have a few filets of frozen Mahi Mahi that I can cook for myself when my husband is working. He is going offshore fishing again on Tuesday so hopefully he will come back with some more fish for the freezer!

I don’t have my meals planned yet for next week…but depending on what I decide will determine whether I need to buy any veggies.

The purchase that I’m most thrilled with is the John Freida. The bottles retailed for $5.49 each. Publix was having a saled and they were each $2 off, I combined that with a $3 off coupon I had…so the bottles became .49 each!

What I got:
-1 box elbow macaroni
-1 carton of eggs ($1.62, I didn’t have a coupon for but needed them for baking)
-1 box Raisin Bran cereal
-1 box thin spaghetti
-4 boxes Ronzoni Garden Delight fettuccine
-3 bottles Jack Daniels BBQ sauce
-2 bottles John Freida Root Awakening Shampoo
-1 bottles John Freida Root Awakening Conditioner
Total Spent: $7.49                                       Total Saved: $34.82

Chicken Bites with Dijon Sauce

This recipe came about one night when my husband was working and I was home alone for dinner. I had an uncooked chicken breast leftover and was really looking to do something simple with it. It only takes a few minutes to fry these up and the dijon dipping sauce tastes way more intricate than it really is! This would also make a fun little appetizer for a party. Just leave a bundle of toothpicks next to it and its easy for people to snack on.

1 chicken breast, diced into nuggets
½ cup flour
¾ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
1 egg
2 tablespoon olive oil

Ingredients-Dijon Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons mayo
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic rosemary seasoning (I use a 4 in 1 Bread Dip Seasonings jar-find this in the fresh baked bread section of your grocery store)

1. In a frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Season the flour with the garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, egg, then the bread crumbs.
2. Cook chicken 2 and 1/2 minutes,flip each piece and cook an additional 2 and 1/2 minutes, covered.
3. To make the dippign sauce, mix the mayo, the dijon mustard, and the garlic rosemary seasoning. Serve immediately.