Homemade Burger Buns

Want to make restaurant-quality burgers on your grill at home?  Try making your own buns!  They’re so much better than the ones you buy at the store, plus you can make only as many as you need.  This recipe has great flavor and the texture is perfect: fluffy, but dense enough that it won’t fall apart when moistened by burger juices.

Burger Bun

I’d tried a few burger bun recipes before I found this 40-minute hamburger bun recipe.  This recipe is so much quicker and easier than the other recipes I tried and comes out so much better.  Once you make your own buns using this simple recipe, you won’t go back to store-bought.

Homemade Burger Buns

Prep Time: 25 minutes (including rise time)

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1/2 tbsp. Yeast
1/4 c. + 1/2 tbsp. Warm Water
1 tbsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 Egg, divided
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 c. Flour + up to 2 additional tbsp.
Sesame Seeds

1.  First, you need to proof your yeast.  Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water.  Allow to sit 10 minutes until foamy.

2.  While the yeast is proofing, lightly beat your egg.  Then you need to divide your egg.  You only need ~1/4 of it in your dough.  To divide my egg, I pour half of it into another container then half of it again so that I have ~1/4 of the egg in one container and ~3/4 in another container.  Obviously, this isn’t an exact process so just do your best.  Don’t discard your 3/4 of an egg, we’ll use that later.

3.  Add your oil, 1/4 egg, salt and flour to the yeast mixture and mix together.  If your dough is still too wet and sticky (as mine was below), you can add up to 2 extra tbsp. flour, 1 tbsp. at a time.

Wet Dough

In this case, my dough required both additional tablespoons to reach the proper consistency where the dough is still soft but not too wet.  The more flour you add, the tougher your dough will become so you want to add only enough for the dough to hold together and be dry enough to handle.

Dough

4.  Knead the dough on  a lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic (~5 minutes).  As you knead the dough, remember that the more flour you work into the dough the tougher it will become so you want to keep just enough flour on your surface to keep it from sticking.

5.  Divide the dough in two then roll into rounds.  Flatten slightly then place the two pieces on a parchment lined pan.  (Tip: I like to use a brownie pan so that the dough has plenty of room to rise.)  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 10 minutes.  You may need to flatten again about halfway through the rise depending on how big your burgers are.

6.  While the dough is rising, add about a tablespoon of water to the remaining 3/4 egg and beat to make an egg wash.

Note: This makes an excess of the egg wash.  You don’t need an entire 3/4 egg, I just use this much since that’s what I have leftover.  So, if you’re doubling this recipe to make 4 buns, you could only use the excess 1/2 egg for the egg wash.  No need to break another egg for the wash.

7.  Once the dough has risen, brush both buns with the egg wash then sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: You can season the buns however you want.  If you want poppyseed buns or onion buns, just substitute your desired seasoning for the sesame seeds.

Buns Ready to Bake

8.  Bake at 425° F 15-20 minutes until the buns are nice and golden.  Allow to cool on cooling racks.

Split the buns and use with your favorite hamburger recipe (Check out our Smoky Chipotle Burger, it’s incredibly juicy and flavorful!)  Tip: I like to butter the insides of the hamburger buns and grill them while the burgers cook to lightly toast the buns and get some nice grill marks.

Burger Buns in Action

Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges

I’d been looking for some sort of oven fry recipe for awhile.  I wanted a recipe with plenty of flavor and a nice crisp texture.  Unfortunately, many of the recipes I tried failed in the second aspect.  Finally, I found a recipe for Parmesan Roasted Potatoes that had a good combination of spices and had the texture I was looking for.

Potato Wedges

This potato wedge recipe has a wonderful garlic parmesan flavor with a nice saltiness that you look for in a french fry-type dish.  The texture is perfect with a nice crunch on the outside and a soft inside.  You’re sure to love it!

Perfect Oven-Roasted Potato Wedges

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. freshly-grated Parmesan Cheese (I use Parmigiano-Reggiano)
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
3/4 tsp. Paprika
Sea Salt
Fresh-cracked Black Pepper

1.  The first thing you want to do is scrub your potatoes since you’ll be eating the skins.  You’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals from the skin… you don’t need any more from dirt stuck to your potatoes.  My potato scrubber is this cute googly-eyed guy that Amanda gave me for Christmas!

Potato Scrubber

2.  Once you’ve washed and scrubbed your potatoes, cut each one in half.  Then cut each half in half and slice the halves into wedges as seen below.  I usually get ~6 wedges down the length of the potato.

Potatoes Sliced

3.  Soak the wedges in warm water for ~10 minutes.  This will help remove some of the starch from the potatoes allowing them to crisp up nicely in the oven.

4.  While the potatoes are soaking, combine your seasonings: parmesan, garlic salt, and paprika.  Then drain the potatoes and pat dry with paper towels.

5.  Put potatoes in a large bowl and add olive oil.  Toss with your hands until all the wedges are well-coated.  Then add your seasonings and toss again until the cheese and spices are well-distributed.

Potato Wedges Seasoned

6.  Arrange the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake on the top rack of the oven at 425° F for 25 minutes.

7.  After 25 minutes, flip the potato wedges and return to the oven for 15 minutes.  I use tongs to flip each piece individually to make sure they get cooked on both sides.  When you flip the wedges, they should be browning on the bottom.

8.  When the wedges are done, they should be a beautiful golden-brown color and crispy on the outside.  Season to taste with a little sea salt and black pepper and stir.

Finished Wedges

Serve as a side alongside your favorite burger (check out our Smoky Chipotle Burger) or grilled dish.

Serve Wedges

Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

This is actually one of my boyfriend’s recipes, but it’s one of my favorite things he cooks for me (the other is Karahi Steak which I hope to post soon) so I wanted to share it with you.  I am a very lucky girl to have a boyfriend who cooks such great food for me.  The recipe is adapted from a little cookbook titled Indian that I found on a shopping trip to TJ Maxx.

Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

Fair warning, this is not a quick and simple dish.  This is a dinner to serve when you’re in the mood to spend some time in the kitchen.  You’ll be making your own cheese, but don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds.  Making the cheese is actually pretty simple, you just need to plan ahead because it’s best if the cheese is made the day before.  Trust me, it’s WELL worth the work.  This dish is SO DELICIOUS you’re sure to love it!!!

Paneer in Chili Tomato Broth

Prep Time: 10 minutes for dish

Cook Time: 60 minutes for paneer, ~40 minutes for dish

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1/2 gallon Whole Milk
2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
3 tbsp. Canola Oil
4 Green Cardamom Pods
2 Bay Leaves
1 Onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. Garlic Paste (often found in the Italian ethnic section)
2 tsp. Ginger Paste (often found near the fresh herbs)
2 tsp. Coriander
1/2 tsp. Turmeric
3/4 tsp. Extra-hot Chili Powder
5 1/2 oz. Canned San Marzano Tomatoes, diced
2 c. + 2 tbsp. warm Water
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 c Frozen Corn, defrosted
1/2 tsp. Garam Masala
2 tbsp. Cream
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Cilantro

1.  First, you’re going to make the paneer.  It’s generally best to do this the day before you want to cook this dish.  Heat your milk in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  You want to bring the milk to a boil.

Note 1: It’s easiest to make cheese with unpasteurized milk.  If you can’t find it (trust me – it’s hard), try to use regular pasteurized milk over ultra-pasteurized milk.  Unfortunately, organic milk often comes only in ultra-pasteurized form.  It is possible to make with this type (it’s what we usually use), it’s just more difficult.

Note 2: If you have a non-stick pot, a skin will probably form on the bottom of the pot so you may not be able to tell the milk is boiling until you scrape the bottom of the pot.  If this is the case, make a small scrape in the middle of the pot, but leave the rest of the skin undisturbed.  If you scrape the entire bottom, you’ll get big chunks of scalded/burned milk in your cheese (not good).

Once the milk is boiling, add the lemon juice and remove from the heat.  Stir until curds begin to form (see below).  If you don’t see many curds stir in 1 tbsp. of lemon juice at a time until the milk curdles.  You shouldn’t need to exceed 4 tbsp. lemon juice total.

Curdle Milk

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let the curds form then strain through a double layer of cheesecloth.  Once the curds have cooled, squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  Then press between two cutting boards weighted with a heavy object for 20-30 minutes.  The drier the cheese, the better it will cook later.

When the paneer is made, it should look something like this.  Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.  If you’re not making it the day before but hoping to make it the same day, make sure you allow the cheese to refrigerate a few hours.

Paneer

2.  Cut paneer into 1/2 inch cubes.  Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok over medium-low heat.  Once the oil is hot, brown the paneer cubes on each side.  Be careful, it may spatter – especially if the cheese is particularly moist.  It should look golden and delicious like this.

Brown Paneer

3.  Once the paneer is browned, drain it on paper towels leaving the oil in the wok.  Your most important task at this point is to try not to eat all that delicious cheese before you finish the dish (I always sneak a couple pieces…)

4.  Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and increase the heat to medium-high.  Bruise the cardamom pods by lightly crushing them with the broad side of a knife.  The pod should crack, but the seeds shouldn’t spill out.  Add the cardamom pods and bay leaves to the oil, allowing them to sizzle for ~30 seconds.

5.  Add the onion to the wok and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook another 3 minutes, stirring.  The onions should become a light golden color.

Note: If you can’t find ginger and garlic paste (or ginger garlic paste), you can substitute equal amounts of minced garlic and grated ginger.

6.  Stir in the coriander, turmeric (Be careful, this yellow spice WILL STAIN!!), and chili powder.  Cook for an additional minute.

Note: If you’re using regular chili powder instead of extra-hot, you may need to increase the amount to give the dish a little heat.

Add Spices

7.  Add the tomatoes and cook 4 minutes.  Add 2 tbsp. water and cook 3 minutes until the oil begins to separate.  Add an additional 2 cups of water and salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil then turn down the heat to simmer for 7 minutes.

8.  Add the paneer and corn to the wok and simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in the garam masala, cream, and cilantro.

Note: The quality of your garam masala will affect the taste of this dish.  Our favorite brand is Badshah.  It can be found at Asian markets or online (it’s available from Amazon).

Stir in Cream and Cilantro

9.  Serve with warm Naan to dip in the broth.  For a heartier dish, serve with a side of jasmine or basmati rice to spoon the broth over.

Paneer Meal

Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto

Lately, I’ve been trying to get more leafy greens into my diet.  I eat spinach – on a pizza, tossed into a pasta or grain dish (see my Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Spinach), or on sandwiches – but I wanted to expand my green horizons.  So I decided to tackle chard.  The prosciutto and garlic in this recipe give the chard so much flavor I could eat a big bowl of this by itself!  Using meat as a condiment is genius!!  This recipe will turn even the pickiest eater into a chard fan…

Sauteed Chard

This is originally an Anne Burrell recipe (Thanks Anne!).  She calls for bacon, but I had prosciutto in the fridge so that’s what I used.  It worked wonderfully!  I’ve also tried this recipe with pancetta, but it doesn’t come out as well.  If you really want to use pancetta, use 3-4 slices of pancetta for each slice of prosciutto.  (Update: I have now tried it with bacon and it works really well – maybe better than the prosciutto.  Which meat I use depends on whether I have prosciutto leftover from another recipe, otherwise I go with bacon.)  Another note, the original recipe calls specifically for Swiss chard, but when I’ve wanted to make it my grocery store hasn’t had the Swiss variety.  I’ve tried it with both red chard and rainbow chard with good results – plus rainbow chard is so pretty!  Enjoy!

Sauteed Chard with Prosciutto

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 bunch Chard (6-8 leaves)
Olive Oil
2 cloves Garlic
pinch Red Pepper Flakes
2 slices Prosciutto or Bacon, chopped
1/2 c. Chicken Broth

1.  Trim chard leaves from their stems, and cut the leaves into strips 1 inch wide.  Wash stems and cut into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces.

Chop ChardChop Chard 2

2.  Place your leaves in a colander and rinse well.  Once your leaves are washed, remove as much moisture from them as possible.  You could use a salad spinner if you have one.  If you don’t have one there is another technique you can use.  I pile my leaves on a kitchen towel, grab all four corners in one hand, and spin the towel over my head.  It works well and it’s pretty fun, kinda like a cowgirl getting ready to throw a lasso.  One word of warning, it will splatter water around the room so you want to be careful around electronics.

Note: These first two steps are my preference.  You could wash and dry your leaves before trimming and cutting them, but I find the leaves large and unwieldy this way.  Plus, the whole leaves are very difficult to dry.

3.  Put enough olive oil in a large saute pan to lightly coat the bottom (usually ~2 turns of the pan).  Peel and lightly crush your garlic cloves and add them to the pan (I was making a double batch below – that’s why there’s 4 garlic cloves instead of 2).  Add your red pepper flakes and heat the pan over medium heat.

Roast Garlic

4.  Once the bottom of the garlic cloves are golden brown, flip them and cook until the other side is golden brown.  Discard cloves and add prosciutto or bacon to the pan.

5.  Cook until the prosciutto or bacon is crisp (prosciutto cooks quickly so keep an eye on it – it won’t take long) then add the stems and broth to the pan.

Cook Stems

6.  Once most of the liquid is driven off, add the leaves to the pan (See why you need a big one?).

7.  Cook, tossing occasionally, until the leaves are lightly wilted.  This should only take a couple minutes.  If you overcook your leaves they will turn into a slimy blob (very unappetizing!).

Sauteed Chard

8.  Remove from the pan immediately (you don’t want your leaves to keep cooking) and serve.  It’s best warm!

Sauteed Chard

Boozy Rum Cake

This little golden cake may not look like much, but it packs a punch of flavor… and alcohol.  This is definitely an adult dessert.  While you cook the alcohol out of the cake, there’s additional uncooked rum in the glaze so you will taste it.  If you don’t like rum, I’m afraid this is not the dessert for you.  If, however, you enjoy rum (like me), you’ll love it!  Not only does it taste great, but it’s incredibly moist.  This cake is sure to be a crowd-pleaser at your next party.

Rum Cake

I was inspired to make rum cake after a recent trip to Kaua’i.  I’d never really made rum cake aside from a rum “ham” cake I made for an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia party.  Don’t worry, the cake wasn’t flavored like ham.  It was just decorated to look like a ham. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll understand.  But, I digress…

My boyfriend and I went to Kaua’i this spring to get away from the rainy Juneau weather.  As it turns out, the island has its own rum distillery so, of course, we had to check it out.  If you’re headed that way, I highly recommend making a stop at the Koloa Rum Company.  They offer free tastings (we stopped by twice) featuring their 4 types of rum and their Mai Tai mix.  I really enjoyed their spiced rum (which is the type of rum I use to make “Cuba Libres” aka Rum and Cokes) but their dark rum was truly exceptional with notes of vanilla.  The best part of the tasting came at the end when they served bites of their macadamia rum cake (made with their dark rum) topped with their rum fudge sauce.  Wow!  This rum cake, not the free rum, is the reason we decided to go back later on our trip for a second tasting.  The Koloa Rum Company is definitely a must-stop spot if you ever find yourself on Kaua’i.

So, once we got back, I decided to figure out how to make rum cake.  As it turns out, rum cake is easy.  This recipe is not re-inventing the wheel.  It’s essentially your classic dark rum cake recipe that can be found easily on the internet.  It may not be as good as Koloa Rum Company’s rum cake, – it is hard to match perfection – but it’s delicious.  Plus, it freezes well (alcohol is a great preservative after all) so you don’t have to eat the whole batch at once.  I promise this recipe won’t disappoint!

Boozy Rum Cake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30-60 minutes (depending on your pan)

Serves: 16-24

Ingredients

Cake
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
3.4 oz. box Vanilla Pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. Milk
1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
1/2 c. Dark Rum (I recommend Myer’s)
Glaze
1/2 c. Butter (1 stick)
1/4 c. Water
1 c. Sugar
1/2 c. Dark Rum (again, I recommend Myer’s)

1.  Combine all cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat on high for 2 minutes.

2.  Grease and flour your pan(s).  The original recipe calls for using a Bundt pan, but I didn’t want an entire Bundt cake sitting around.  So, I used 4 mini cake pans (They’re actually individual deep dish pizza pans, thanks Meagan!).

3.  Pour the batter into your greased pan(s).  If you’re making multiple smaller cakes, I recommend using a ladle to divide the batter between pans.

Rum Cake Raw

4.  Bake at 325°F for 30-60 minutes (30 for mini cakes to 60 for a Bundt pan).  The tops should be golden, and an inserted toothpick should come out clean.

Rum Cake Done

5.  Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature on a cooling rack then invert onto a plate or serving tray.

Note: I was freezing some of my cakes so the ones I didn’t plan to eat or give to friends I inverted onto aluminum foil rather than a serving dish.

6.  While your cakes are cooling, make your glaze.  Melt your butter over medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add your sugar and water.  Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes while stirring.  Then, remove your pan from the heat, allow the mixture to cool a minute or two, and stir in the rum.

Note: You’re not trying to cook the alcohol out of the rum so make sure not to add the rum to the pot while it’s still on the stove.

Glaze

7.  Use a fork to make holes in the tops of your cake(s) then drizzle with glaze.  If your glaze starts to pool at the bottom of the cake, grab a pastry brush and brush that rummy yumminess back onto the top and sides of the cake(s).

Rum Cake

The rum glaze keeps this cake wonderfully moist.  The flavors will continue to develop as it sits on your counter so it’s often best a couple days after it’s made.  Sometimes I like to top mine with chocolate sauce.  In this case, I was using rum fudge sauce which certainly ups the proof of the cake.  Doesn’t this look de-lish?!  So, if you’re over 21, grab a fork and dig in!!

Rum Cake Slice

Savory Ham and Cheese Pastry

I have a giant block of Gruyère in the fridge that I bought for a pizza and I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with the rest.  I knew just who to turn to… Ina Garten.  She seems to love Gruyère, it’s used in so many of her recipes.  In looking through her recipes, I found this recipe for Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry and adapted it slightly to my needs and tastes.  This flaky, savory pastry makes a great dish for breakfast or brunch!

Ham and Cheese Pastry

I’m not generally big on breakfast.  I usually opt for some fruit or yogurt, but when I do decide to make breakfast I usually prefer something savory over something sweet.  I also want something simple to prepare.  Aside from special occasions, I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in the morning (plus, the longer it takes to cook, the later you get to eat).  This recipe meets both these criteria.  Move the puff pastry from the freezer to the fridge the night before and it will be ready to work with when you wake up.  The rest of the prep work can be completed while the oven is heating so that when the oven is hot, your pastry is ready to go in.  You can have an indulgent breakfast from the fridge to the table in 30 minutes!

Savory Ham and Cheese Pastry

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

1/2 sheet frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
Sliced Deli Ham (I used Black Forest Ham)
Gruyère Cheese, sliced
Dijon Mustard
1 Egg
1 tbsp. Water

1.  Cut puff pastry in half.  Lightly flour cutting board and roll each half out to ~ 6″ x 6″ square (these pieces don’t have to be perfect, we’ll even them up later).

2.  If one half of your puff pastry is smaller than the other, place the smaller piece on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Spread a thin layer of Dijon over the pastry leaving a strip along the edge clean.  Keep in mind this is a breakfast/brunch dish so go light with the mustard.  If you want to make this for lunch, feel free to up the Dijon.

Spread with Dijon

3.  Layer your ham slices over the mustard.  I used 5-6 slices.  Feel free to use however much you like.  Just keep in mind you’ll have to be able to close the pastry so don’t pile it too high.  Then top the ham with your sliced cheese.

Top with Gruyere

4.  Combine the egg with the water and beat together to create a wash.

5.  Brush the edge of the pastry with your egg wash then place the second piece on top of the first.  Press the edges firmly together.  Now we can even it up.  Using a pastry cutter, trim the pastry so the edges are straight.  Use a fork to seal the edges of the pastry.

Seal Pastry

6.  Using a sharp knife, cut slits in the top of the pastry to allow ventilation.  Then brush the top with the egg wash.  Bake at 450°F for 20 minutes.  The top should be nice and golden.

Bake Pastry

7.  Slice the pastry and serve.  You’ll love this flaky, cheesy breakfast dish!!

Ham and Cheese Pastry

Sausage and Ricotta Pizza

Italian sausage is one of the best things you can put on a pizza.  Combine that with creamy ricotta cheese and you’re sure to have a winner!  This sausage and ricotta pizza was inspired by one of the best restaurant pizzas I’ve ever had: the Sporkie at Bertucci’s.  If you’re ever in Massachusetts, you should definitely check this place out.  The bread is great and the pizzas are incredible! Since I can only count on getting to eat there once or twice a year, I knew I had to figure out how to make it at home.  Thus, this pizza was born, and now I share it with you to enjoy…

Pizza with Sausage and Ricotta

Sausage and Ricotta Pizza

Prep Time: 10 minutes (not including time to make the dough and the sauce)

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

No-Knead Pizza Dough or 1/2 recipe Thick Crust Pizza Dough
Tomato Sauce for Pizza (and Pasta)
~3 oz. Fresh Mozzarella
3 oz. Italian Sausage (This recipe is better than store-bought!)
~1/2 c. Whole Milk Ricotta
Salt
Pepper
Italian Seasoning (optional)
Garlic Olive Oil

1.  Shape the sausage into small clumps and brown in a skillet over medium heat.  Drain on paper towels.

2.  Shape dough into desired size and thickness then spread the tomato sauce over the dough.

3.  Season your ricotta with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (optional).

4.  Break the mozzarella into clumps and distribute over the pizza.  Then drop dollops of ricotta evenly over the pizza.  Finally, distribute the sausage on top of the pizza.

Add Toppings

5.  Brush the crust with garlic olive oil for added flavor.

6.  Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling and browned.

Note: The crust comes out especially nice if you use a pizza stone.  To use a pizza stone, make sure it is heated to the proper temperature for at least 30 minutes before baking on it.

Sausage and Ricotta Pizza

Let the pizza cool a few minutes then slice and serve.  Eat up!

Pizza with Sausage and Ricotta