Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Burger Bar Bash planning tips


It’s summertime and grilling season for a lot of people, aka the season to eat and cook outside cause it’s too darn hot to cook inside.

Well, kinda.

Personally I like my air-conditioned kitchen, it’s bug free and convenient, for me.

However, I also love to host parties, as you may have gathered from this blog.    And one of the funnest parties is a Burger Bar Bash.

We used to host these at least once a year when we lived out west, and it was always popular.   We hosted a couple at the campsite when we lived in a RV a few years ago.  I had very generous friends who let me use their BBQ grills, cause I only had a small one.  And I no longer even own that one, but I have my George Forman grill and quite frankly I’m happy with that.

But lately, I’ve been craving a good old fashioned Burger Bar Bash again.

So until I get around to doing it, I thought I would let you in on some planning tips.

First off, depending on your pocketbook and budget, you may only want to make all the toppings and have everyone bring their own meat.

I’m kinda funny that way, but I like to do it all.

From the meat to the toppings to the buns, I’m a bit of a control freak that way.

First off, figure out how many people you can accommodate, budget wise, or space wise.

I used to plan on just over one pound of hamburger meat for every three people.  And as I said, I like to ‘control’ it all so I make my own patties.   Told you I was a control freak on this. I learned that a 6 oz. uncooked patty would fill up most people.   And I always make extras, just in case a teenage boy or three wanders in. Quick math lesson, 15 lbs. of hamburger meat will make 40 patties.  And any leftover patties that aren’t cooked, just go ahead and freeze.
And…  I’m rather picky on the whole fat to lean ration on my hamburgers.  I like a 50/50 ratio of ground chuck and ground round.  I want some fat, but I hate to bite into a grease burger.  ***SHUDDER***  And even though I made a mixture, I did not play in the meat.   You can toss it gently together and then just barely pat the patties together.   I also had turkey burgers for those people who don’t eat red meat, as well as Veggie Burgers for those who don’t eat meat at all.  (I’ve been known to just make those for myself, cause I like them).
You can buy the veggie burger patties or make them yourself.  Your call.

And don’t forget the dimple in the burger when you grill them.   They cook evenly that way.

OK, now we have the meat handled.    Well, kinda, I’ll clue you in on one of my fave burgers later.

Next up is the buns.  And here is where I get super, super picky.  I hate, abhor, despise those buns that fall apart as soon as you bite into it.  They just moosh up and well, I won’t buy them.  And usually, the bun is way too small for my burgers and the toppings.   So, I buy French Hamburger buns.   You know the kind, they’re made from French bread, and they do hold up.  And I’ve also been known to buy a loaf of French Bread and just cut it into 4ths or 5ths and make buns that way.  And I’ve just discovered Pretzel Buns, which seem to be pretty sturdy as well.  A good Kaiser roll can work also.  Your call on that one, but please don’t use those puny little buns that get sold in an 8 pack.  I think they’re only good for those cardboard patties some hamburger chains sell, cause they can only handle a two ounce patty, a small squirt of mayo and mustard.
I’m not opinionated on this subject, at all.  Am I?

Condiments are next.  I have the usual,  Ketchup, yellow mustard, brown mustard, BBQ sauce and Mayo.  And have also been know to put out a couple of bottles of hot sauce as well.  I cater or attempt to cater to most tastes.

Then there is the lettuce, tomato and pickles and raw onions.  You can shred the lettuce and place it out in a bowl if you like or just tear up the leaves into quarters and pile them loosely onto a platter.  I’ve found that one head of lettuce will do about 20 or 30 burgers.    I also have two kinds of pickles available, as some people like Dill Pickles and others like Bread and Butter pickles.   I can go either way.  But I have to have a large slice of raw onion on my burger, and I don’t care if it makes my breath funny.  I can always pop a mint.

So there are the basic toppings, condiments, etc.   And it works.

But…

I like to go a little further.

A lot further.

I cook up a pile of bacon, have some good pastrami handy, some sauteed garlic, some caramelized onions, sauteed Mushrooms and two or three kinds of cheese for people to choose from.   I really don’t care for the processed cheese slices, but that’s me.   I usually offer some good Cheddar or Colby Jack, some Provolone and some Blue Cheese.

And here’s where it really gets fun.   Grill your burgers, brown your buns if you like, place them on a big platter and let your guests build their own.

You would be amazed at how much fun that is.
Especially when one of your guests builds a Dagwood style burger and can’t get their mouth around it.

Ummm. that might actually be me.

Stone Soup


I was hunting something in my freezer last week, and had pulled out all manner of bags and containers with bits and pieces of food that I didn’t want to ‘waste’.  And after taking a look at this pile of bags, etc., sitting on the island I got an idea.

Stone Soup…

Only a few things were labeled, no dates, and not enough of any one item to make a meal of.

I started thinking of the parable of the beggar who made a pot of soup using a stone as the starter and the villagers each contributing a little something, some herbs, a few carrots, some potatoes, and the beggar ending up with a great big pot of soup that would feed the village.

So I threw the all those ingredients into a pot.

Added a little water, just so nothing would scorch while the stock thawed.

Picked some fresh oregano and thyme from one of my herb pots outside.

Added that in and put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for an hour or so…

And there you have it.  My version of Stone Soup.

Here’s the list of what went into the pot:

Green Pepper (maybe half of one)
Red Pepper (half of one)
Tomato’s (leftover diced tomatoes from making Taco’s)
Red Onion (half of a red onion)
Field Peas and Snaps (had a partial bag)
Leeks  (leftover from when I made the Leek Pancakes)
Chicken Juice (not quite stock)
Chicken Stock
Andouille Sausage (leftover from making Jambalaya the last time)
Mushrooms
Pork Roast (just a couple of slices)

The only fresh stuff in there were the  few sprigs of Thyme and Oregano from my pots outside, I then simmered the soup for about an hour or so before tasting it for seasoning.    Found out I didn’t need to add any salt, the spice from the Andouille Sausage gave it a nice kick and I now have lots of soup.  After eating some of it, I did consign the rest back to the freezer.

At least this time the packages are labeled and dated.

Garden Dip


I think I’ve told you about the weekly get- together most Friday nights, just to chat and socialize with some women.   We discuss world affairs, local affairs, and general chit-chat.   We also bring snacks, and since I love to experiment play in the kitchen, I have fun most Friday’s.

I’ve made hummus and brought it, last week I brought this killer Feta Dip, and this week I brought this:
Garden Dip.

Well it got renamed last night, I had it in my recipe file as Garbage Dip, but they all decided it was too good to be called that.   And of course me being me, I had to play with the original recipe, which is simplicity itself, well it is if you have all the right ingredients to hand.  Which I sorta did.

Here is the recipe with the original ingredients to the side in parenthesis and in blue.

1 cup light sour cream                (1 pint sour cream)
1 sweet onion, finely chopped     (1 small onion, chopped)
1 1/2 tomato, finely chopped      (1 tomato, chopped)
1/2 cup ranch dressing               (1 package dry ranch dressing)
2 cloves garlic, minced               (1/2 tsp. Garlic Salt)
1/2 teaspoon Cavenders Greek Seasoning
1/4 package Sazon Tropical Seasoning, this could be optional

Mix all ingredients together and let sit for an hour, in the fridge before serving with either chips or with some fresh bread.

I thought I’d made a lot, but most of it was eaten and enjoyed.

I will make this again, and maybe add some cilantro, which was a suggestion made by one of the ladies.  At any rate, have fun with it yourself.

Now to go and figure out what I’m making for Tapas this week, gotta think on that one.

Subs and Muffulettas, my way


I was racking my brain trying to figure out something to make and bring to Boat Club this month, and as I was gazing at some lovely Hoagie Rolls, inspiration struck, and it didn’t hurt a bit.  Then, when I asked my DH if he had any ideas for what I could make, inspiration struck him too.   So we both had the idea of making subs out of the rolls, but then I had to go one better.   I’ve craved salty/pickle type stuff so I thought I would make a Muffuletta style sandwich out of two of the sub rolls.   Nothing like multipurpose is there?   One of my favorite things.  Well, one of many…

I think we all know now to make a sub sandwich, and since I’m making this to serve a lot of people, I’ll be cutting each sub roll into quarters or fifths.   Just large enough for the filling to stay inside, but not quite enough for a meal, well part of a meal that is.   As you may know if you’ve read my blog, there is always a surfeit of food at one of our potlucks.

To start with I’m spreading some mustard on one side of the roll, and layering the meat and some cheese on top of that.   And to top that off, I’ll add some sliced tomatoes and some shredded lettuce.   I’m putting a wonderful hot pepper relish on the side, as well if someone wants to doctor the sub up a little.   Some people like a little hot with their sandwiches.

Look at the pretty tomatoes.   I had a yellow tomato as well as the regular red ones.

I just wrapped up the sandwiches in some plastic wrap and cut them when we reached the club, that way the fillings didn’t fall out.    I’m lucky I have a large tray I can place them on.

Now for the fun one.   As I said in the beginning I’ve been craving something pickled and salty and decided to make some Muffuletta style sandwiches out of a couple of the Hoagie Rolls.    I know these are not real authentic, but they taste good.    I was in the big city (well, it’s bigger than the one I live in), and saw some Olive Salad on the shelf there, but it looked like it was mostly green olives and pimento’s so I decided to use some black olives in there as well as some Kalamata olives to augment it.   Hey, it’s my blog and I can augment if I want to.

At any rate, I did do a taste test first, and then added the chopped black olives as well as a bunch of the Kalamata olives and it looked very pretty, tasted good too.

 

The red and green and black olives all look so pretty chopped up.

I do love my little 2 cup food processor.   Makes life just a little easier.  The mixture of the olives looked so pretty, the red of the Kalamata, the green, the black, and it tasted good too.  And I threw in a couple of my favorite garlic stuffed olives as well.    Oh,  and before I forget,  I did add a tablespoon or so of EVOO to the mixture, and placed it in the fridge for a couple of hours for the flavors to mingle and get to know each other and generally hang out for awhile.   Less of a shock to them that way.

After that I got my sandwich meat out of the fridge, I started to put the sandwiches together.   I’ve discovered this brand is great for a quick Sub Sandwich and I usually have it on hand.

I know a true Muffuleta will have  a lot of other Italian meats, but this is my version and you’re stuck with it.
Drizzle a little EVOO over both sides of the bread

then spread  it with the olive mixture.

After that, layer the meats and cheeses on top of the olive salad (next time I make this, I’ll cut back on the black olives a little, they weren’t tangy enough, but it still tasted good).

Spread more olive salad on the other side of the rolls and place very carefully on top of the meat mixture.   Then wrap them tightly in some plastic wrap and place a heavy weight on top of them for about an hour in the fridge.  I did skip the weight part, didn’t have room in my fridge to do this properly.  Just wrapped the Sandwiches very tightly.

See, all wrapped up and ready to go to the party.

And here they were.    I did cut them into smaller slices, and they seemed to go over well.    I have to admit to having some Muffuletta left over, but that could be because I didn’t put it out?   At any rate, I got to nosh on it for lunch yesterday.   And it was still awesome.

Shredded Beef


Shredded Beef for February Boat Club

I guess by now you realize I go to a lot of potlucks, giggle.   We have a standing date once a month with a local club and then there is our social life which tends to revolve around food, so I get to make something at least twice a month for potlucks.

Since it is February, and everyone has sweet stuff on their minds, I thought a nice, spicy dish would be a good counterpoint.   And last year there were a lot of sweets at the February Boat Club Potluck.

One dish I love to make is Machaca, or Shredded Beef.   It’s one of those dishes that comes together fast, cooks without any fussing around, and is usually pretty popular with everyone, but vegetarians.    Of course, you can make it vegetarian if you like, just add more beans.   In fact I would add a couple of different kinds of beans for variety, along with the kidney beans, I’d add some black beans and some pinto’s.   Beans are good food.   At least I like them.

I usually make this in a crock pot, but have also cooked it on top of the stove and in the oven.   If you do make this in the oven, the flavor will be a little richer, but you don’t lose anything by cooking it in the crock pot either.    Another wonderful aspect of this dish, it can be stretched very easily by the addition of a couple more cans of beans and a few more veggies.  And with the price of meat, that’s a good thing.    Personally I like it when I’ve stretched it more than when I do the original recipe.    And it’s fun to serve to people.   I have to say though,  when you dish it up and place it into a taco, you do need to add the Verde sauce to it, it adds another layer of flavour which I think this needs.   You use the Verde sauce as a condiment, adding it to the meat while cooking, doesn’t do a thing.  I know, I tried it once, and it wasn’t very good at all.  And I think you should learn from my mistakes.   Not that I make all that many, but…

To start with, and this is so sinfully easy I’m embarrassed to tell you how simple it is, get your pot out, whether it be a crockpot, or a pot on top of the stove or a large casserole dish.

All the vegetables, and of course the beans.

 

A big old chunk of meat

 

The meat is in there, hiding, really.

Place your meat in there, add a couple cans of Kidney beans, a chopped onion, a chopped green pepper, one can of tomato sauce, (I like El Pato Mexican tomato sauce), one can of chopped green chiles, 2 tablespoons of chile powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 whole tomato chopped.  Stick the lid on and let it cook.   If you’ve got this in a crock pot, don’t even lift the lid for 5 or 6  hours.   When the meat is fork tender,

At this point it really tastes good, I had to taste, quality control and all that.

pull the meat out and shred it with a couple of forks, add it back into the saucy goodness of the pot and let it cook another hour or so.

It will be saucy.   If doing this on the stove or in the oven, let it cook for a couple of hours, then check for tenderness.  As soon as it’s fork tender, pull it out and shred.   Add back into the pot and let it cook for a little while more.

Made one up before we headed over, final product had to pass inspection, of my mouth that is.

Serve with flour tortillas, Verde sauce and some cheese.   And don’t be surprised when people lick their plates.   It has been known to happen.  But they usually turn away or hide in the corner when they do it.

Shredded Beef

3-4 lb. chuck roast, not too fatty
2 cans Kidney beans
1 can El Pato Mexican Tomato Sauce or
1 can Tomato sauce
1 can chopped green chiles
1 tomato, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2-4 tablespoons Chile powder

Dump it all in the crockpot and set for low and let simmer for 6 hours, minimum.   If cooking on top of the stove, cover and let simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender.   Same directions for the oven, set the temp at about 350 degrees.
When the meat is tender, remove from the sauce and shred, then add it back into the pot and let it simmer or cook for another 1-2 hours.   Serve with flour tortillas, green taco sauce and shredded cheese.

And here’s the rest of the dishes that were brought last night.   And I have to apologize I didn’t get a shot of the roasted tomatillo salsa.   Every time I got close to it, people were eating it, and of course I had to taste it as well, it was good.

Baked Ziti

 

Hot and Sour Soup

 

7 Layer Dip

 

Green Salad

 

Brownies

 

Smoked Chicken

 

Veggie Plate

 

Meatballs

And there you have it, another successful night at the Boat Club.   As usual everything was excellent, and I ate too much, sigh.  Oh well.  I will survive.
Hope everyone has a great Valentines Day.