Tag Archives: Iowa Girl Eats

Juicy hamburgers and baked parmesan garlic fries

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Dinner the other night was super simple, but it came out SO GOOD I just had to blog about it.

Juicy Hamburgers and Baked Parmesan Garlic Fries
(Parmesan Garlic Fries recipe from Iowa Girl Eats)

To be honest, if we want burgers I’ll usually just buy a pack of patties and cook them up. But we had some lean ground beef in the freezer and I just had a craving. You know how those go. So I decided to make burgers from scratch!

All I did was break up the ground beef and mix in salt, pepper, and 3 pressed garlic cloves. (Yes, I finally own a garlic press. I got a Pampered Chef press for Christmas. 🙂 How was I living without one!?!?) I also remembered a long time ago, I think on Food Network, seeing a tip to add water to your beef to keep the burgers nice and juicy. So I added some water (I didn’t measure but it was probably 2-3 Tbs.) and hand-mixed it into the beef until it was absorbed. I formed the meat into 4 patties (2 went right in the freezer) and placed them on a grill pan over medium heat.

After about 4 minutes we flipped them, added mozzarella cheese, and put the buns on to toast.

I noticed the meat was taking a little longer to cook all the way through, so I did turn the heat up to medium-high for probably the last 2 minutes.

The boyfriend’s toppings (bacon and onion).

My toppings (lettuce, tomatoes, raw onion).

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product, but that’s because we devoured these burgers. The garlic flavor was just the perfect amount. And they were so so so so juicy and perfectly cooked. I wish I knew how they turned out so good. It was either the addition of the water or the fact that I started cooking them on a lower heat. I’m not sure! But next time I make these I’m doing it the same way!

Now on to the fries!

I had one medium-sized russet potato and initially wasn’t sure if this would make enough fries for the two of us. But I cut it into really thin rounds and that ended up being plenty. The recipe said to soak the potatoes in water for 1-8 hours to remove some of the starch. I soaked these for about 2 hours.

I then drained the potatoes, and mixed in salt, pepper, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and extra virgin olive oil. I didn’t measure anything out, just did it by eye. I spread them out on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, flipping the fries over halfway through.

Oh. My. Goodness. These were so good.

The panko bread crumbs added such a great crunch. And let’s be honest, almost everything is better when you add garlic powder and parmesan cheese. The only thing I’ll do differently next time is to cut these a tad bit thicker. Some of them burned because they were too thin. I think the addition of panko bread crumbs will ensure that the crunch is still there, even if you cut them a little thicker.

Overall it was a faaaaabulous dinner!

Do you make burgers from scratch or just buy the patties? I don’t think I’ll ever buy patties again! These burgers were so amazing!

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Thanksgiving recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Sorry for the lack of posts recently – the past few weeks have been really hectic!

The boyfriend and I were with my aunt, cousin, her husband, and their five-year-old twins for the holiday. Along with some extended family, there were 15 of us at Thanksgiving dinner! We drove down to Orange County last Wednesday afternoon and just got back Sunday night after a great day at Disneyland!

Unfortunately, I totally neglected taking pictures of all the food. But I managed to snap this one – the remnants of the cranberry apple baked brie appetizer I made – it was a hit!

Cranberry Apple Baked Brie
All I did was unroll a sheet of puff pastry, spread on Trader Joe’s cranberry apple butter, put a wedged of brie in the middle of the puffed pastry, and wrap it all up. I whisked an egg and brushed a thin layer on top of the pastry, and baked at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until it was golden brown. Here’s a picture of what it actually looked like (from Iowa Girl Eats) since I couldn’t get my camera out fast enough – this dish was devoured!

This was a successful appetizer. It was gone in no time! And you can totally use any type of jam/spread you want for the flavor. I got the idea here, which used pumpkin butter. But the cranberry apple butter was an amaaaaazing complement to the cheese.

I also contributed the mashed potatoes. Unfortunately this is the only picture I got of them, haha – but that’s what 10 pounds of potatoes looks like!

You can obviously cut down the portions on this, but these are the amounts I used to feed 15 people (and we had plenty left over).

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
– 10 lbs potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
– 2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
– 24 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
– 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
– 2 heads garlic
– salt and pepper

– To roast the garlic, cut off the tip of each head, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly salt and pepper. Wrap in tin foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
–  Cook the potatoes in salted water until fork tender, about 15-30 minutes depending on how full your pot is. I actually separated the potatoes into 2 pots so they would cook faster. Drain and return to pot.
– Add garlic, butter, and sour cream. To add the roasted garlic, hold by the stem of the garlic head and just squeeze the cloves out. They should slide out pretty easily.
– Mash everything together with a masher (I made the boyfriend do this part).
– Add in milk in small amounts at a time, until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
– Add salt and pepper.

I’m so sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product! But these potatoes tasted amazing. There was just the right amount of garlic, and the sour cream makes them so creamy.

We spent the day at Disneyland on Sunday with the family, so unfortunately we didn’t get to take any leftovers home. (We had a cooler but still didn’t want to leave food in a hot car for the entire day.) But if you still have leftovers, check out these great ideas on how to use them!

Some other photos from the holiday…

Our beautiful turkey, stuffed with apples, onions, sage, and rosemary

One of the table settings

Southern California sunset (the picture really doesn’t do it justice)

Disneyland!

What was your favorite part of the Thanksgiving dinner?
I’d have to say my cousin’s yams!

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Chocolate chip cookie pie

The boyfriend loves anything that involves chocolate chip cookie batter, so I thought I’d try out this chocolate chip cookie pie recipe as an alternative to standard cookies.

It was also my first time trying out this baby.

After the disaster that was my $6.99 hand mixer, this one worked great. It had a nice low speed that didn’t splatter batter all over my kitchen. It was $19.99 at Target and came in lots of fun colors. I had the hot pink one in my cart and then decided that if I ever wanted a sous chef out of the boyfriend I’d better get the red instead. 🙂

First step was to cream butter and sugar together.

Then add eggs and vanilla.

After mixing in the rest of the ingredients (we omitted the nuts from the recipe), transfer to a deep dish pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes.

Voila!

Mmmmm, look at that gooey chocolatey goodness. This was SO GOOD. The texture was just like a pizookie – much lighter and fluffier than a cookie dough. And this probably goes without saying, but this pie MUST be served warm with vanilla ice cream on top. It’s just the only way to do it right.

The texture of this recipe was spot on. Honestly, the boyfriend and I both agreed that it didn’t even need a pie crust! And I am a girl that loves anything with a crust. But I think this batter can stand on it’s own.

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5 ingredient pasta carbonara

Last night’s dinner was super easy and quick – 5 ingredient pasta carbonara!

We decided to roll with whole wheat linguine.

While the pasta cooked I crisped up some bacon. I tried Trader Joe’s’ ends and pieces and it worked perfectly. These are just the scraps that are typically thrown away when bacon is cut into strips. There was hardly any fat and it was really cheap (I used probably less than 1/4 of the package for this recipe!).

After draining the bacon on a paper towel, but reserving some bacon fat in the pan, I tossed the bacon and cooked pasta together.

Then I quickly poured 1 egg plus 1 yolk, whisked with salt and pepper, over the warm pasta. Because I forgot to reserve some pasta water like the recipe called for (typical that I mess something up), I added about 1/3 cup of water along with the parmesan cheese and tossed it all together.

This was an easy, quick, and delicious dish. It was creamy, salty, chewy, and satisfying. I wish I had cut the bacon up into smaller pieces, but the boyfriend said he actually liked the big chunks. Oh, and if you try this, no need to add any salt – there’s plenty in the bacon!

I halved this recipe, and got the idea from Iowa Girl Eats.

What’s your go-to easy Italian/pasta dish? Do you use whole wheat, regular, or a different type of pasta?
I’ve actually come to really prefer the taste and texture of whole wheat pasta. 

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Garlic cheese wontons

Today I made the perfect football watching snack. Garlic cheese wontons. Yep – they are just as good as they sound. I got the idea from Kristin and one of her fabulous Friday Favorites posts, but the recipe is from The Family Kitchen. I’d been wanting to find a use for the 12 wonton wrappers I had leftover from these babies, and this looked like a great choice for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Now I’m going to say this right up front – I was so proud of myself for how good these turned out. There are many many times when I try recipes and the final outcome just isn’t the picture of perfection that I think I’m going to end up with. Plus, this was actually my first time frying anything! I know, it’s not that big of a deal. But I was just afraid I’d mess it up. Our stove has a mind of its own and I wasn’t sure if it was at the right temp, if I used enough oil, etc…but they came out perfectly! So, needless to say, I am very proud of myself. 🙂 Ok, on to the recipe.

I started by mincing up some garlic – 2 big guys and a baby.

And despite the recipe’s call for fresh mozzarella, I rolled with string cheese. What can I say, it was already in the fridge.

So I minced up the garlic and cut the string cheese into 12 little nuggets.

Before I assembled the wontons, I put the oil on the stove over medium heat. The recipe used coconut oil but I used canola. Then I put one cheese nugget, garlic, and a little pepper into the center of each wonton. I used an overflowing 1/4 teaspoon of garlic for each wonton, and the boyfriend and I agreed that it was the perfect amount.

Then I brushed 2 edges of the wonton with water and folded them into triangles. Once all 12 were made I carefully slipped them into the hot oil, 4 at a time. I knew I was on the right track because the oil sizzled when I put them in and they started turning golden brown right away.

I turned them over with a slotted spoon to cook both sides until they were nice and crispy. I transferred them right to a plate lined with paper towels to sop up the extra oil.

One thing I forgot, which I mentioned to do with the raviolis, is to press around the filling before sealing to get the air bubbles out. Otherwise it’ll blow up like a balloon when you put it in the oil and it won’t brown evenly, like this little guy.

We warmed up some marinara sauce for dipping – Target brand tomato, basil and garlic.

These were such a treat! We gobbled them right up.

So crispy on the outside (not greasy at all!), and warm and gooey on the inside.

The only thing I would do differently next time is use shredded mozzarella. The string cheese worked great, but it didn’t distribute throughout the wonton. I think that if I sprinkled the whole wonton with shredded mozzarella instead, it would make it so you’d get cheese in every bite. But that’s the only thing I’d change!

I’m so excited to have discovered wonton wrappers. While we were eating these, the boyfriend and I brainstormed about what else would be good to fill these with – jalapenos and cheddar or pepperoni and cheese are the next combos we’re going to try!

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Make this now – Prosciutto Ravioli

Ever since Kristin posted this recipe, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. The ravioli recipe is one of Giada’s, but Kristin made it look even better by pairing it with garlic infused butter sauce. And shockingly, although homemade ravioli sounds like it would be complicated and time-intensive, it’s actually really easy! The trick is using wonton wrappers instead of making the dough from scratch. So I guess it’s not 100 percent homemade, but I’m taking baby steps here.

I’ve never used wonton wrappers for anything before, but these were so easy (and fun!) to make, I might start experimenting some more with them. In my grocery store they were right next to the tofu.

To make the filling, combine spinach, ricotta, prosciutto, an egg yolk, salt, and pepper (I halved Giada’s recipe and it was plenty for two of us, with some left over that we’re freezing for later).

Then you just line up your wrappers and put about 1 tsp of filling in the middle. Brush two edges of the wrapper with water and fold the other half over into a triangle. Press around the filling to get any air bubbles out, and then press the edges down to seal it.

Then, either cook them immediately or place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and freeze them solid. I made these earlier in the day so they were frozen by dinner time. After putting them in a pot of boiling water, they probably only took 3-4 minutes to cook. The wonton wrappers are thinner than pasta dough, so keep an eye on them or they’ll start to fall apart in the water.

While those were boiling, I smashed two extra large garlic cloves and put them in a skillet with 1 Tbs butter and 1 Tbs olive oil. Keep it on medium-low so the garlic doesn’t burn, but you want a nice little simmer going on. I kept smashing the garlic more as it softened to get all the juices out.

When the ravioli was done, I transfered it into the skillet with a slotted spoon instead of dumping the pot into a colander so they wouldn’t fall apart. After a few minutes, it had soaked up some of the garlic butter and boyfriend and I may or may not have actually drooled into the pan.

This meal (served with a hefty side of kale chips) was to die for.

The flavors were so amazing. We didn’t even add salt, pepper, or parmesan (which I usually add to pasta before I even take a bite). This just stood on its own. And the garlic butter complemented it perfectly. The boyfriend said he wished we had more! So, first time making ravioli was a total success!

Have you ever made ravioli/pasta from scratch?

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