Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kiwi and Coconut Muffins and a Quiz

kiwi muffins rack

It's been a while since there was a quiz at Food Blogga. Are you ready? I'm warning you, if you thought the GRE was hard, wait until you get a look at some of these questions.

1. Which of the following is true about the name "kiwi"?
A. It is the presumed name of Gwenyth Paltrow's next baby, whose daughter is named Apple.
B. It is the name of a new ipod that stores recipes.
C. It is both the name of a flightless bird and the national symbol in New Zealand and replaced the fruit's original name, "the Chinese Gooseberry."

2. All of the following are true about the kiwifruit except:
A. It's an edible fruit that grows on a vine.
B. It's rich in vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and even omega-3 fatty acids.
C. It's on the list of endangered species.

3. _______ is the leading producer of kiwifruit in the world today:
A. New Zealand
B. Alaska (and there are people who deny global warming)
C. Italy

4. ________will happen if you eat the skin of a kiwifruit:
A. You'll start referring to all of your friends as "mate" and talk with a New Zealand accent.
B. Nothing, it's edible.
C. Your stomach will begin to sprout unsightly fuzzy hair. Then you'll have to visit Jeff's derm blog to find out how to remove it.

Read on for the answers.

kiwi muffins dish

Just when I thought fava beans had a lot of names, along comes the kiwifruit (kiwi) originally known as the Chinese Gooseberry. It's also known as the Macaque peach, the vine pear, the sunny peach, the hairy bush fruit, and my personal favorite, "strange fruit."

Call it what you will. Just make sure you eat these edible berries. The kiwifruit is the edible berry of the cultivar group of the woody vine Actinidia deliciosa and hybrids between this and other species in the genus Actinidia, which is native to Shaanxi, China. But who doesn't already know that?

Kiwis are grown in mild climates all over the world. Surprisingly, New Zealand is not the leading world producer of their famed fruit. The land of pasta, balsamic vinegar, and buffalo mozzarella is --Italy. Though I wouldn't recommend eating kiwi with any of the aforementioned foods.

Kiwis are both delicious and nutritious. With a flavor that tastes like a mix of citrus, grapes, strawberries, and bananas, a kiwi is both sweet and tart. Though the hairy outer skin is edible, I'd advise against eating it. That is, unless you really need the fiber -- a kiwi's fiber is tripled with the skin on. If you do eat it, then have a new container of dental floss at the ready. You'll need it.

kiwi muffins with fruit

Kiwis are highly nutritious: 2 kiwis are just over 100 calories and provide over 280% of your daily vitamin C needs! They're also a good source of cancer-fighting antioxidants, vitamin A, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Kiwis are ideal in fruit salads, but they're also wonderful in savory salads, salsas, and smoothies. If you've never baked with fresh kiwifruit, then get ready to be pleasantly surprised with these Kiwi and Coconut Muffins. Made with light coconut milk, orange blossom honey, and orange zest, they're remarkably moist and enticingly aromatic. Each bite is punctuated with juicy fresh kiwi and crunchy coconut topping. After finishing one, you may just find yourself saying, "Hey, mate, how 'bout another?"

Kiwi and Coconut Muffins

Made with light coconut milk, orange blossom honey, and orange zest, these muffins are remarkably moist and enticingly aromatic. Plus, each bite is punctuated with juicy fresh kiwi and crunchy coconut topping.

Makes 12 regular size muffins
Print recipe only here.

2 kiwis, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)**
2 cups all-purpose flour (or half AP and half whole wheat)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup light coconut milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg and 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 tablespoons orange blossom honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted sweetened shredded coconut

3 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut

Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Spray a 12 mold regular size muffin pan with cooking spray.

Peel kiwis. Dice and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut milk, melted butter, and eggs. Add the orange zest, honey, and vanilla extract, and whisk until just combined. Add to the flour mixture, and stir quickly until well combined. Fold in the kiwis and toasted coconut. Spoon the batter evenly into the 12 molds.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with 3 tablespoons shredded coconut.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

** Use kiwis that are ripe yet still somewhat firm. If they're squishy, then they'll be too watery in the muffins. Also avoid adding more than 3/4 cup as it could make the batter too wet.

You might also like these fruity baked goods:

Honeyed Orange Ginger Muffins (Quat, Optional)

Low-Fat Lemony Medjool Date and Pomegranate Scones

Pear and Cardamom Cake

The Best Ever Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Friday, January 23, 2009

It's a Food Blogga Give-Away for Clementines from Spain!

clementines bowl blue mat

Nothing brightens a gray winter day as deliciously as citrus does, especially clementines from Spain. The smallest variety of mandarins, clementines are exceptionally sweet and juicy. Since they're both easy to peel and seedless, they're ideal snacks for kids and for adults on-the-go.

So if you're weary of winter and haven't gotten your citrus fix yet, I've got some good news. Clementines from Spain is offering 5 lucky Food Blogga readers the chance to receive a 5 pound box of clementines from Spain. Here's what you have to do to win:

Just tell me why you'd like to win the clementines from Spain by the end of the day, Tuesday, January 27, 2009.
That's it.

With the help of random.org, 5 winners will be randomly selected and announced in a future post, so please check back. My apologies to my international readers, but winners are limited to U.S. residents. Winners will need to provide their real names and mailing addresses. Don't have a blog? Just leave an active email address where you can be reached. Good luck, everybody!

clementines cut

Here Are the Winners of the Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Coupons!

With the help of random.org, here are the six lucky winners of the Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Sandwich Coupons:
  1. Nancy
  2. Fresh Girl
  3. Cass (please email me so I can contact you!)
  4. Grace
  5. Janet Faye
  6. Boomerp
Congratulations, everybody! I'll be contacting you for your names and addresses so I can mail you your coupons.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Food Blogga Nominated for Best Food Blog-Writing!

Vote in the Food Blog Awards 2008

I just found out that Food Blogga has been nominated for Best Food Blog - Writing at this year's Well Fed Network Food Blog Awards!

Thank you Well Fed judges for selecting me, and thank you readers for making my nomination possible.

I should also thank Anthony, the TSA guy at the Providence airport, for inspiring my first blog post two years ago. Ever since then I have enjoyed writing this blog more than you can imagine.

2008 was a fun year. It kicked off with a shocking Food Blogga expose involving Bisquick. I talked turnips with firemen, gave football viewing tips, explored the differences between Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, reminisced about my dad bringing me Shamrock Shakes, nearly started a Weekend Eagle, er Hawk Blogging event, discovered why I can't be a raw foodie or a nudist, met some cool window washers hanging outside my window, and made Italian pizzelle cookies with Dad.

You can cast your vote for Food Blogga anytime through 8pm EST on Saturday, January 24th, 2009. There are thirteen other categories, so don't forget to vote for them too.

Best of luck to all of the nominees!


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wondering How to Use Up Those Ripe Bananas? Make Banana Cookies.

banana cookies jar

OK, no post-Kenysian economics today. I have come to terms with the fact that I'll have to take out a second mortgage on the condo to pay for maple syrup. But some things in life are worth it; and maple syrup is one of them.

So today, it's all about the bananas. And cookies. Banana cookies, that is. Yes, there really is such a thing. Though there are scores of banana cookie recipes online I decided to concoct my own. Maybe it's beginner's luck, but these banana cookies were really good.

ripe bananas

Truthfully, I think "cookie," isn't quite the right word to describe these sweets. With their enticing, spicy aroma, and soft, cakey texture, they're more like mini banana cakes or even banana muffin tops. That doesn't, however, make them any less comforting or delicious.

Enjoy them with your morning cup 'a joe or with a late afternoon tea. Apparently they're a great midnight snack with a glass of milk, as I learned by the trail of crumbs that led from the cookie jar to the adjacent counter early one morning. When I asked Jeff if he had eaten a banana cookie during the night, his eyes bugged a bit, and he said, "A cookie? Noooo." Let's just say it's a good thing he doesn't like to play poker.

banana cookies out of jar

Comforting Banana, Oatmeal, and Raisin Cookies
Whether you enjoy them on their own, with a mug of hot coffee, or with a glass of cold milk, these cakey, spiced bananas cookies will make you feel all warm inside.

Makes 26 cookies
Print recipe only here.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 2 large)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup lightly toasted old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup lightly toasted pecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar; beat in the egg, vanilla, and bananas. In a small bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; add to the banana mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in the oats, pecans, and raisins.

Drop 2 tablespoons of cookie dough 2 inches apart (as they will spread) on the parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake cookies for 13-15 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool for 15 minutes.

To store cookies, layer between pieces of waxed paper (to prevent sticking) and place in an air-tight container for up to several days.

*If desired, you can substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour; I have tried and enjoyed both.

You might also like:

Pumpkin Spice Cookies with Cranberries, Raisins, and Pecans

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Other delicious banana cookies you might like:
Alanna's Banana Oatmeal Cookies
Garrett's Banana Cookies at Elise's Simply Recipes
Karina's Gluten Free Banana Cookies
Mandy's Banana Chocolate Cookies
Tarah's Banana Oatmeal Cookies

This is the second banana recipe in a 4-part series. First there were:

Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Syrup Glaze

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What is a Cherimoya? Perhaps the Greatest Fruit on the Planet.


The cherimoya (pronounced chair-uh-MOY-yuh) is the king of fruit. This is no surprise given that this ancient Incan fruit was originally reserved for royalty.

From external appearances, the cherimoya isn't exactly captivating. It looks more like something out of The Flintstones rather than an exquisite fruit. Don't let its pre-historic appearance put you off. Slice open a cherimoya and you will discover a fragrant, ivory, custard-like flesh, hence its common name "custard apple."

When selecting cherimoyas, look for green skin with a gold hue. Some fruits may be tinged with brown, which is ok; however, avoid fruits that are black or shriveled. Allow cherimoyas to ripen at room temperature. A ripe cherimoya, like a ripe avocado, should yield to gentle pressure, and will have a browner skin. (Note: In the first photo, the green cherimoya in the forefront needs a couple more days to ripen, while the browner cherimoya in the back is ready to eat.)

Once ripe, cherimoyas can be refrigerated for 1-2 days, but they will lose their flavor if kept longer. They are best eaten as soon as they reach full ripeness; their flavor is most intense when eaten at room temperature or just slightly chilled.

cherimoya halved

What does a cherimoya taste like? A perfectly ripe cherimoya is an intoxicating combination of tropical flavors like bananas, coconut, strawberries, and mangoes. Some people also taste pineapple and papayas. Don't think one fruit could possibly have all of those ambrosial flavors? Then try one to see for yourself.

scooping out the cherimoya's flesh

Slice the fruit in half, and using a spoon, scoop out the flesh. You could sprinkle it first with fresh lime juice; you could add the flesh to a smoothie; you could even make sherbet with it. But don't. It's best unadulterated, when you can truly appreciate its unique flavor and texture. Just be sure you don't eat the shiny, large black seeds inside. Chomping on those will just send you to the dentist's office.

Once you taste a cherimoya's luscious, creamy flesh, you'll understand why Mark Twain called it "the most delicious fruit known to man."

scooping out the cherimoya's flesh

Where can you buy cherimoyas? Most U.S. cherimoyas are grown in CA and are available from early January through April. However, since they're sensitive to temperature changes, the season varies from year to year. Few major supermarkets will likely carry cherimoyas; try specialty and organic markets, or go online to reputatble sites such as Melissas.com. Though they're pricey, they're worth every penny.

You might also like these California winter fruits and recipes:

Strawberry Guavas

Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto

Shrimp Tacos with Citrus-Avocado Salsa

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's a Food Blogga Give-Away for Free Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Sandwiches!

Would you like to try a new hot sandwich for lunch that is ready to eat in 1 minute? Then this give-away is for you!

Oscar Meyer has sent me 30 coupons for their new Deli Creations Subs and Flatbread Sandwiches. That means that 6 lucky Food Blogga readers will receive 5 coupons, each good for one FREE package of any Oscar Meyer Deli Creations Complete Sandwiches (up to $3.60). Here's what you have to do to win:

Just tell me why you'd like to win to the coupons by the end of the day, Monday, January 19, 2009.
That's it.

With the help of random.org, 6 winners will be randomly selected and announced in a future post, so please check back. Winners will need to provide their real names and mailing addresses. Don't have a blog? Just leave an active email address where you can be reached. Good luck, everybody!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Walnut Glaze

mini bundt

This was going to be a post about how to use up your ripe bananas. But it turned out to be a treatise in post-Kenysian economics. Much more interesting.

Food prices are high. I paid 99 cents for a dozen of eggs last year; the same eggs are $2.29 today. A 5-pound bag of flour that used to be $2 is now closer to $5. And good luck finding a carton of orange juice or a loaf of good, crusty Italian bread for under $5.

Having lived with these price increases for the last year or so, I'm no longer shocked at the price of most things at the market. Until last week. There it was, right at eye level. I squinted. I checked to see if it was for 1 or perhaps they meant for a whole case of it.

Maple syrup: $17.99.

"You gotta be kidding me," I muttered not very softly to myself, "Are they nuts? I mean, this is Trader Joe's. Who's gonna break a 20 for maple syrup at Trader Joe's?"

Thinking I would outsmart the forces of economics, I went to Costco. They had imitation maple syrup (in large quantities) for $14. Imitation maple syrup? Uh, don't think so. I mean, I'm Susan of Food Blogga. No imitation-maple-syrup for my readers. I gotta have the real thing.

I went to a local market that I sometimes hit for that hard-to-get items. I ended up paying $14 for a 12.5 oz. bottle, but Ha!, I gave my money to the little guy. Strutting off happy with my antidisestabolishmentarianism self, and having spent more money on gas and maple syrup than I ever wanted to, I was ready to bake.

ripe bananas 2

It was all worth it after one bite of these Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Walnut Glaze. (See I told you, this was supposed to be about bananas.) Moist, aromatic mini banana cakes become irresistible when drizzled with a sweet and gooey maple walnut glaze.

Oh, and don't expect things to get better this year; food prices are projected to rise 7% in 2009.

Mini Banana Bundt Cakes with Sticky Maple Walnut Glaze
Makes 24 mini bundt cakes
Print recipe only here.

Cake Batter:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
4 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup coarsely chopped lightly toasted walnuts

Maple Walnut Glaze:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons heavy cream
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Coat two (12-mini bundt cake) pans with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together.

In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat at medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add eggs and beat well. Add the vanilla, milk, and maple syrup; beat until batter is silky. Lower the speed; add the bananas and beat briefly.

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the raisins and walnuts. Divide the batter evenly among the 24 molds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes rotating pans mid-way through. Cakes should be deep golden brown, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack for 3-5 minutes. Then flips the pans upside down and place cakes on a cooling rack. Cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze, in a small pan over medium-low heat, melt butter and maple syrup; add heavy cream and a pinch of salt. Pour into a small metal bowl. Add confectioners' sugar, and whisk vigorously until smooth. If necessary, pour glaze through a fine mesh sieve to remove any tiny clumps of sugar. Let glaze rest for 3-5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. For easy clean-up, place a piece of parchment paper underneath the cooling rack. Drizzle glaze evenly over cakes, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Cool completely before serving.

Coming soon to a Food Blogga near you:
Since I always have lots of ripe bananas to use up, I'm going to turn this into a 4-part series. Each week for the next four weeks, I'll post a recipe for using up ripe bananas. And let's just say cookies, muffins and breads are involved.

You might also like:

Chocolate Chip, Cherry, and Pistachio Cookies

Pumpkin Pie Pudding with Candied Pecans and Freshly Whipped Cream

Pear and Cardamom Cake

Thursday, January 8, 2009

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup

sweet potato and peanut soup

Last week I shared with you my first New Year's resolution: eat more hamburgers. This week, I will reveal my second resolution: cook more with peanut butter. We are a week into 2009, and so far I'm doing great.

I have been making variations of this soup for nearly 10 years now, after initially spotting a recipe for an African yam and onion soup with peanut butter. The recipe is long gone, but my love for these rich, earthy flavors is still strong.

This is a hearty, nourishing soup that will fill your belly and make you feel warm all over. The meaty sweet potatoes and peanut butter are balanced by sweet pineapple, brown sugar, and creamy coconut milk.

2009 is gonna be a good year.

African Sweet Potato and Peanut Soup
Makes 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced in half lengthwise
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup fresh or canned diced pineapple (drain canned pineapple)
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy salted peanut butter
1/2 jalapeno (the more the seeds the hotter the flavor)
1 (15 oz) can light coconut milk
salt, to taste

4 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking pan with tinfoil (for easy clean up). Brush the flesh of the sweet potatoes with 2 teaspoons olive oil; roast flesh side down for 40-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Scoop out the flesh and discard the skins.

In a deep pot over medium heat, saute onions and remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil for 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add cooked potatoes, pineapple, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce to low, and add brown sugar, peanut butter, and jalapeno; cook 7-8 minutes. Turn off heat; allow to cool 5-10 minutes before pureeing.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth; return to the pot over low heat. Add the coconut milk and salt, and stir occasionally until the soup is thoroughly combined and heated, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. If you prefer a thinner soup, simply add a bit more water or broth until desired consistency is reached.

Garnish individual bowls with thinly sliced fresh cilantro and chopped peanuts.

Cook and bake more with peanut butter:

String Beans and Tofu with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce

Crunchy Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Mom's Peanut Butter Fudge

Check out these delicious African soups too!

Susan's African Peanut and Yam Soup
Kalyn's African Inspired Crockpot Soup with Peanut Butter
Karina's African Sweet Potato Soup with Black Eyed Peas and Beans

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Don't Want the Holidays to End? Make Panettone French Toast

Italian pannetone French toast

Back in Rhode Island, there was never much to look forward to after Christmas. The holiday decorations came down, it was depressingly dark by 4:30 pm, and that once-fluffy-perfect-for-sledding-snow had turned into treacherous black ice. But there was always panettone.

Panettone is an Italian sweetbread made with candied orange, zest, citron, and raisins that is closely associated with Christmas and New Year's Day. Growing up in Rhode Island, my family received a lot of panettone for Christmas because it was a go-to gift among Italians. Need a gift for your lawyer? A loaf of panettone is perfect. Invited to someone's house for coffee around the holidays? Bring panettone. Have an exceptionally good mailman? Give him a loaf of panettone, plus a shot of anisette when no one's looking. That always warms him up a bone-chillingly cold route.

Though panettone is delicious unadorned, I always preferred it toasted with a dab of butter or some orange marmalade. However, my favorite way to eat it was my mom's panettone French toast. She would cut super thick slices (because, really, where's the fun in thin French toast?), dip them in a mixture of egg, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest, then cook them until golden brown and plump. All they needed after that was a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dusting of confectioners' sugar. And that is exactly what I'm sharing with you today.

Italian pannetone

If you didn't receive any panettone this holiday season, then go to your nearest Italian specialty market or deli and buy a loaf. Chances are they'll still have leftovers from Christmas, so you may even get one on sale. I received mine thanks to the generosity of Maryann and Joe, when I participated in their Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes in December.

Since I won't be getting fresh falling snow any time soon here in San Diego, I may have to walk over to Little Italy for another loaf of panettone. After all, winter still has a way to go.

Panettone French Toast
Makes 6 large or 12 small servings
Print recipe only here.

1 loaf Italian panettone bread, cut into 6 thick slices
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (whole or low-fat)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
butter, for the griddle
maple syrup
confectioners' sugar

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, lightly whisk eggs; add milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest and whisk until well combined.

Place griddle over medium-high heat. Melt a little butter on the griddle until just coated.

Dip one slice of bread in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip into the bowl, then place on the hot buttered griddle. Cook for 1 minute per side, or until golden brown and the egg has set. Place on a warm plate and cover until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining slices, buttering the griddle as necessary. Cut each slice into 2 triangles. Place 12 triangles of French toast on a serving platter. Drizzle with maple syrup and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve hot.

You might also like these breakfast and brunch dishes:

Chestnut Pancakes with Pancetta, Creme Fraiche, and Cinnamon Maple Syrup

Breakfast Quinoa with Dried Cherries, Raisins, and Pecans

Heuvos Rancheros with Salsa Verde

Savory Sausage and Fennel Galette

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolution 2009: Eat More Burgers. Starting With a Give-Away of La Cense Beef!

a Southwest hamburger

Eat less. Spend less money. Watch less TV. Ever notice how most New Year's resolutions are all about deprivation? Well, I'm not doing it.

For me 2009 is gonna be the year of more -- eating more hamburgers. Not McDonald's or Wendy's, but homemade. I may not have a drive through, but I've got the best hamburgers I've ever eaten. It started out with a sample of grass-fed beef from La Cense, a ranch in Montana. I was not expecting much; I'm not really not a hamburger kind of girl. They claim that their unique stress-free ranching, marbled beef, and aging process makes for a beef flavor that's truer, cleaner, and more complex. I have to say, I actually agree with them. It is delicious.

la cense frozen beef
(La Cense beef is packaged with dry ice.)

I made these burgers during an NFL football marathon last weekend. The burgers were better than the football (and there was some really good football last weekend). I grilled them adulterated. The meat was tender, juicy, and richly flavorful. Plus since they're 100% lean beef, they maintained their shape perfectly.

I thought I would just add some caramelized onions and then halfway through cooking them, I decided to turn them into Southwest Burgers. I slathered the smoky grilled meat with a spicy, creamy chipotle mayo and topped them with a mound a sweet, sticky caramelized onions and melted Cheddar cheese. Of course, all of this meaty goodness was sandwiched inside of a toasted sesame seed hamburger bun. (Ta-da-ta-ta-taaaah! I'm lovin' it!)

Now, you know you want a burger too. And starting today, you have a chance to win your own free package of La Cense beef. Here's what you have to do to win:

Just tell me what your favorite type of hamburger is by the end of the day, January 16, 2009. That's it.

One winner, who will need to provide her or his real name and mailing address, will be randomly selected and announced in a future post, so please check back. Don't have a blog? Just leave an active email address where you can be reached. My apologies to my international readers, but given the perishable nature of the prize, winners are limited to US residents.

Finally, if you like a good party, then consider becoming a member of the Grass-Fed Party, "an organization of people who support grass-fed foods and sustainable ranching and believe that American can hold higher standards to its cattle industry." Now that's my kind of New Year's resolution.

a Southwest hamburger

The Southwest Hamburger

Makes 2 (8 oz) or 4 (4 oz) burgers
Print recipe only here.

1 pound La Cense hamburger
hamburger buns
a dab of butter or canola oil

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon soy mayonnaise (or mayo of your choice)
1 tablespoon chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
a squeeze of lime juice

4 ounces sliced Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat the grill to medium high. Using your hands, form the hamburger into patties and set aside.

On the stove top, pour 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions; sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the onions and toss to coat. Cook the onions for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally until caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix mayo, chiles in adobo sauce, and lime juice; set aside.

Once the grill is hot, place the hamburgers on a clean, well-oiled grate and close the grill cover. Grill for 5-6 minutes per side, or as long as you prefer. (Don't squeeze them flat with a spatula or you'll release their delicious juices.) Use a meat thermometer for the precise level of doneness -- a medium burger is 130 degrees. Cook the meat less is you prefer it rare or longer if you prefer it well done.

Brush the hamburger buns with a dab of butter or oil. Grill for 1 minute or until desired level of toastiness is reached.

Spread some chipotle mayo on the toasted buns. Place hamburgers on the buns and top with cheese, so it will melt. Mound some caramelized onions on top, and eat immediately!

You might also like these football friendly foods:

Broccoli Rabe (Rapini) and Sausage Sandwich with Sharp Provolone

Potato, Rosemary, and Gorgonzola Pizza

Chicken, Jalapeno and Cheddar Quesadillas

Healthy Chili

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