Friday, February 25, 2011

Free Form Burgers

The original name for this recipe is Loose Meat Sandwiches. But when I was discussing this with my friends, none of them were able to get past the "loose meat" moniker - they thought it sounded gross. And since this recipe is totally NOT gross, I changed the name to avoid any further turn-offs. Because you really DO want to make these sandwiches - they are incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. The recipe comes from one of my favorite blogs, A Year of Slow Cooking. What really caught my eye about this recipe is the fact that you don't have to brown the meat before you put it in the crockpot. I've never come across a recipe that didn't require browning the meat, so I was intrigued. I hate the extra step of browning meat before putting it in the crockpot - I feel like if I have to cook it first, the whole point of using the crockpot is defeated.

So this recipe won points with me right off the bat, but it totally won me over once I tasted it. The meat is savory and full of flavor - you definitely can't tell it wasn't browned first. I served these sandwiches on toasted rolls topped with a drizzle of ketchup and mustard and a slice of pickle. Trust me and don't skip the pickle - it really made the sandwiches for me and Joe! And feel free to call it whatever you want ;)

Free Form Burgers

1 pound extra lean ground beef or turkey, thawed (make sure it's lean)
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups beef broth
8 hamburger buns
burger fixings of your choice

Crumble in the ground meat into slow cooker. Add onion, sugar, spices, mustard, and vinegar. Pour in the beef broth. Mix well until everything is fully incorporated. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir well before serving by scooping with a slotted spoons onto hamburger buns. Top with your desired fixings.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Two (er, Three) Ingredient Pumpkin Cookies

The official pumpkin season may have passed, but I still have several cans in my pantry and am always in the mood for something pumpkiny. This past weekend I realized that my pantry also contained a spice cake mix that was about to expire so I figured that I would try to marry these two ingredients in some way. I knew that that it was possible to make a cake with just mix and a can of pumpkin, so I went looking in that direction on All Recipes and found these cookies instead.

Random side note: I get a lot of recipes from All Recipes and I always read the reviews before I make the recipe, but the reviews really tend to get on my nerves. People seem to make the recipes with all kinds of modifications and then complain how the recipe is terrible. This one is a perfect example - there are tons of reviews where people added eggs, oil, etc and then gave the recipe one star because the cookies didn't turn out right. They didn't turn out right because you made them wrong!!! (Okay, vent over.)

Anyhow, these cookies require just two ingredients - a spice cake mix and a 15 oz can of pumpkin. I added in chocolate chips because I love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate. I thought these cookies were great! They tasted almost identical to these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies I make, but were much quicker and easier. They're rich and cakey and perfectly sweet. I served these cookies to my former boss and her husband when they came over to visit on Sunday afternoon and they were gobbled up.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

1 (18.25 ounce) package spice cake mix
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.
In a large bowl, stir together the cake mix and pumpkin until well blended. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cranberry Applesauce Muffins

On Monday I had a meeting at my house regarding our local March of Dimes March for Babies walk. Being the mother of micro-preemies, it's needless to say that March of Dimes is an organization close to my heart. The meeting was at 11:00, so I wanted to provide something to munch on but thought it might be a little early for cookies or brownies. I scoured the Internet for a muffin recipe that used ingredients I already had on hand and decided on this recipe for Cranberry Applesauce Muffins. I thought they would be appealing to the adults but also something my kids would enjoy for a snack.

Like most muffins, these were simple to put together. The applesauce I had was sweetened, so I cut back the sugar to 1/4 cup to compensate for that. I also used dried cranberries instead of fresh and sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on the muffin tops before baking.

I thought these were delicious. Light and sweet, but not too sweet, with a perfect tang from the cranberries. I'll definitely be keeping this in my recipe file.

Cranberry Applesauce Muffins

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a muffin pan, or use paper liners.
In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, oil and egg. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in egg mixture. Stir until just moistened. Fold in cranberries and pecans. Spoon into muffin cups, 2/3 full.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes before removing.