Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Onion Stuffed Bison Burgers

there are few things i like more than caramelized onions on a juicy hamburger. in my book, a hamburger isn't a burger without onions. of course i also love cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, mushrooms, avocado, bacon, mustard, etc. etc.

this weekend, the unofficial start of summer, i decided to put a different twist on the traditional burger. i sauteed up some onions as per usual, but then i did something crazy. hold on to your hats folks . . .

i put the onions inside the burger. this is the greatest idea ever my friends. cheese and onions inside the burger. it helps maintain juiciness and you get onions in every bite. they don't fall off or get pushed around. every bite has just enough onions and cheese.

the best part was E said after the first bite, and i quote "this is frickin ridiculous!" my job is done here folks.

of course you could take this idea a run with it. the possibilities are endless. you could stuff practically anything inside your burger. go ahead, give it a try. you may find you agree with E on this one.

Onion Stuffed Bison Burgers
makes 4 burgers

2 lbs ground bison (or ground beef or turkey, whatever floats your boat)
1 package of onion and mushroom soup mix
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1/2 tbs olive oil
1 onion
1 wedge laughing cow cheese (any flavor - i used garlic and herb)

preheat charcoal grill to high heat.

in a large skillet, add olive oil and heat pan to medium heat. slice onion thinly and add to pan. cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. reduce heat to low and cover. let cook for 15-20 more minutes until tender and caramelized. add cheese and let it melt into the onions. remove from heat and let onions cool.

meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together ground meat, soup mix, and worcestershire sauce. form into 8 very thin patties. take a scoop of onions and place on top, in the middle of one patty. place another patty on top and pinch together the edges. reform into patty with your hands making sure no onions are peaking out the sides. repeat with remaining patties and onions.

grill over high heat for 5 minutes per side. enjoy!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Turquoise Breeze

have you all ever tried pinnacle vodka? you may remember my post about their whipped cream vodka in my cream soda martini. i kind of love it. it was only natural that i would try some of their other flavors (whole list of their 27 flavors here).

while out picking up regular vodka for the strawberry-rhubarb martinis last week, i picked up pinnacle's cotton candy vodka. some of you may be cringing right now and thinking it would be way too sweet. however, i have a big sweet tooth. perhaps i never really grew up, but i still like cotton candy (i can't tell you the last time i ate it, but i would take a bite of your if you got it). i also love cotton candy ice cream. so, it was only natural that this would be the next flavor i would want to try.

i first made it as our dessert drink for a girls night out last weekend. i just mixed it with some 7up. it was sweet and delicious. it tasted like dessert. very similar to the whipped cream vodka but a little bit sweeter and less creamy.

this week, i thought i'd try to mix it up a bit and used hypnotic - a bottle that has been in our liquor cabinet for many, many years now. it's a blend of vodka, cognac, and tropical fruit juices and i thought it might go well with the cotton candy vodka. i call it a turquoise breeze because it's light blue, sweet, a little tropical, and refreshing. i'm sure it would taste good with the whipped cream vodka too.

p.s. pinnacle vodka did not sponsor this post, nor did i get anything from them to write about their vodka. pinnacle has no idea who i am, i just happen to like their vodka.

Turquoise Breeze
makes 2 drinks

6 oz cotton candy vodka
2 oz hypnotic

fill 2 highball glasses with ice. pour 3 oz of cotton candy vodka in each glass and 1 oz of hypnotic in each glass. top off with 7up and stir well to combine.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

it's a good start to the holiday weekend here in maryland . . .

a sincere thank you to all who have served our country and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. may we never take it for granted. ever.

The It List - May 27, 2011


Happy Friday ladies! Can you believe it is the final Friday of May - summer is here!  
Celebrate this weekend by taking some extra time to peruse these fabulous blogs!

  • thought and musing looks amazing in layered neutrals... her scarf/belt/necklace combination is very inspiring - I want to try that!
  • lady M breaks down the color grey with all the inspiration you would ever need to completely fall in love with this color. From a gorgeous dress to your favorite celebs rocking the color - she has it all! (find lady M on twitter!)
  • 100 inspirations has an Angelina Jolie inspired outfit in a gorgeous nude hue - THE color for spring!  Check it out!
  • good clean fun takes a classic summer combo, strawberries and rhubarb, and mixes them up into a fabulous summer cocktail... just in time for the holiday weekend! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • the stylish housewife sports a classic outfit inspired by the one and only Olivia Palermo - check out her spin on the look! (find the stylish housewife on twitter!)
  • the capital barbie is loving bright orange for summer - this nail polish caught my eye!  Check out her other bold and bright picks! (find the capital barbie on twitter!)
  • rose a la mode found the perfect outfit for the long drive back from vacation and I love it! (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
  • a spot of whimsy is crushing on the interior stylings of Ralph Lauren.  You will be too after you check out these ultra classic and ultra comfortable digs! (find a spot of whimsy on twitter!)
  • sweetie pie style features the Tribeca loft of Erin Featherston - it's superbly feminine!  The girly girl in you will love it! (find sweetie pie style on twitter!)
  • alisha of alisha & brandon is bringing back a pair of old wide leg jeans to her closet and is also dishing on style versus fashion. (find alisha & brandon on twitter!)
  • infashuation had my heart skipping a beat with stripes, leopard print and white jeans. This is the ultimate in summer outfit combos! (find infashuation on twitter!)
  • the fancy red boots is letting her readers choose her new handbag for her - how fun!?!? I am loving one bag in particular... which one are you loving? (find the fancy red boots on twitter!)
  • a lucky fifth rounds up her favorite drugstore beauty finds. Who doesn't love a peek into others' makeup stash?
  • along abbey road brings us her top fashion picks from the Cannes Film Festival.  There are so many gorgeous celebrities and dresses!
  • good life for less is passionate for pink this summer - check out her fun picks from shoes, to clothes to accessories! (find good life for less on twitter!)
the IT list is produced weekly by jill of good life for less - for information on how to be involved, click here!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake

after i made the strawberry-rhubarb martinis, i had leftover strawberries and leftover rhubarb. what better to do with them than make a coffee cake?

this moist cake with a wonderfully thick crumb topping is perfect for breakfast with iced coffee. the cake is layered with a basic vanilla cake bottom, a mixture of fresh strawberries and rhubarb and a butter and brown sugar crumb topping.

truly a wonderful breakfast. i always say, eat the carbs and sweets in the morning instead of last thing. that way, you have all day to burn off the calories!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Coffee Cake

3/4 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 cup rhubarb, chopped
1 cup strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. line 9" square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2" overhang.

whisk together melted butter and brown sugar for topping. add flour and mix together with your hands until crumbly being sure to keep large crumbs. set bowl in fridge until ready to use.

in the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar together for cake until light and fluffy. add eggs, one at a time and vanilla extract. beat until well mixed. slowly add flour until just incorporated. pour batter into pan.

in a medium bowl, toss together rhubarb, strawberries, and flour until well coated. pour mixture over batter and spread out evenly. top with cold topping crumbles and bake for 45 minutes. cover with aluminum foil if topping seems to be getting too brown and cook for an additional 20-30 minutes until toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

let cool completely on wire rack. remove from pan using parchment paper overhang to lift it out. slice and serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

5 Things . . .

5 things i'm crazy about this week:

strawberry-rhubarb puree
i made this puree for the weekly nightcap's strawberry-rhubarb martinis this past weekend. turns out the puree is good in smoothies and stirred into greek yogurt in the mornings. tastes like spring!

fresh flowers
another springtime pleasure - i can't get enough of peonies. i love them white, light pink, deep fushia, and even saw one a fabulous peach color. there is nothing like freshly cut flowers to brighten my day. i was also super excited to see one of the many buds on my gardenia finally bloomed this weekend. peonies are beautiful, but gardenias will always be my all-time favorite flower! i can't get enough of their intoxicating smell.

new lululemon crops

i love me some comfy pants. these are cute, comfy, and make your butt look great! check out the cute detail at the bottom! you can find these beauties here.

my canon t1i
i am taking a photography class this spring and i cannot wait to learn even more about using my canon. i hope to be bring you better photos soon!

ever since i made these oreo cheesecake bars, i have had leftover oreos in my pantry. don't feel sorry for me though, i am conquering the package - one cookie at a time.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Strawberry-Rhubarb Martini

the weekly nightcap has been on a bit of a hiatus the past two weeks. one weekend, i was drinking champagne at N's wedding and last weekend was spent staying out of our house while we had showings and an open house to try and sell our house.

tonight it's girls night and i can't wait to have L and E (not hubs E, friend E) try these strawberry-rhubarb martinis. the inspiration for this drink came from Aida. she posted a recipe for a spring revival - a mix of strawberry, rhubarb, champagne, and cointreau. while you all know i love me some sparkly, i had to make this into a martini.

this martini tastes like a breezy, late spring evening. after all the rain we have had, it was nice to see the sun today and taste spring. it has sweetness from the fresh, local strawberries, tart from the rhubarb, and smoothness from the vodka.

this could be one of my best drink concoctions yet. try this while strawberries and in season and at their juiciest and most flavorful!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Martini
serves 2

3 oz strawberry-rhubarb puree (recipe follows)
4 oz vodka

shake ingredients together and pour into 2 martini glasses.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Puree
makes 3-4 cups

1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 lb rhubarb, washed, leaves removed, and chopped (about 5 large stalks)
juice of 1 large orange
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup sugar

in a large saucepan, stir together chopped rhubarb, orange juice, lemon juice, agave, and sugar. bring to a boil over medium heat. reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. add strawberries and bring back to a boil. simmer 10-15 more minutes until starwberries have begun to breakdown.

remove from heat and let cool. puree mixture in food processor until smooth. store in airtight container in fridge. (can be made up to 4 days in advance).

Friday, May 20, 2011

The It List - May 20, 2011


Happy Friday everyone! I am ready for another weekend... 
take some time to check out these amazing links!
  • a spot of whimsy features Jess LC's new handbag line... you will fall in love with these bags!  Be sure to check them out! (find a spot of whimsy on twitter!)
  • good clean fun never disappoints with tasty and simple recipes.  These Oreo cheesecake bars look SO good! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • fancy red boots is wearing a simple but adorable outfit that I now deem to be my "uniform" this summer!  (find fancy red boots on twitter!)
  • alisha of alisha and brandon is looking fabulous in this striped maxi dress (stripes seem to be the theme today!)... a maxi dress is such a great summer staple. (find alisha on twitter!)
  • along abbey road has a great makeup video tutorial featuring her favorite MAC products - be sure to check out her tips and favorites!
  • rose a la mode is looking particularly happy in this great outfit... check out the great deal she got on this top! (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
  • the capital barbie is loving lime lately - what a fun color for summer! This scarf is a certain favorite. (find the capital barbie on twitter!)
  • the stylish housewife is sporting a perfectly layered look!  What a great look for spring and it's inconsistent temps. (find the stylish housewife on twitter!)
  • baby shopaholic goes out on the town with some girlfriends - check out the fun beetle ring she is wearing.  How fun! (find baby shopaholic on twitter!)
  • infashuation brings some in-your-face color to you with this amazing outfit. I am loving the bold accessories and bright yellow! (find infashuation on twitter!)
  • lady M's maxi skirt looks so comfortable and stylish. If you need a simple look for summer - take notes! (find lady M on twitter!)
  • good tots pulls together sweet and simple summer maternity outfits for all those summer pregnancies!
  • thought and musing looks dashing with a simple bow in her hair. Plus, check out her adorable blazer!
  • good life for less is loving the color navy lately... inspired by the lovely Kate Middleton, of course! (find good life for less on twitter!)
the IT list is produced weekly by jill of good life for less - for information on how you can be involved, click here!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

i bought my first package of oreos. ever. now before you get all crazy, i have eaten oreos of course. i just don't think i have ever bought a package myself. apparently it's a good thing because as soon as i got home, i taste tested 3 of them. then, just to make sure they hadn't gone stale, i tasted 3 more today.

finally i wised up and made a batch of these oreo cheesecake bars. after-all, they were the reason i bought the package in the first place. it all started with a glance at this. as soon as i laid eyes of the recipe i knew i had to make them.

i know what you're thinking. this food blog has been a bit heavy on the sweets lately. what's up with that? it's true, i have been letting my sweet tooth run the show a bit. i am trying to get that under control. i am attempting to limit myself to one baked good a week. ok, this week will probably have two. baby steps.

so, feast your eyes on these babies. i only changed one thing in this recipe (besides halving the recipe). i reduced the sugar. i'm so glad i did because it surely wasn't missed.

here is the very slightly revised version:

Oreo Cheesecake Bars
adapted from recipe girl

22 oreo cookies 
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted 
12 oz, cream cheese, room temperature 
1/4 cup sugar 
1/3 cups sour cream room temperature 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
1/8 tsp salt
1 extra large egg, room temperature

preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

in the bowl of a food processor, process 14 oreo cookies until finely chopped. melt butter in a medium bowl and add oreos. stir until well combined. press mixture into foil-lined 8x8" baking pan. bake for 10 minutes.

meanwhile, with an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). scrape down sides well and add sour cream. beat until smooth. add vanilla and salt. scrape down sides and add egg. beat until smooth and combined.

with the food processor, pulse 8 oreos 2-3 times until roughly chopped. stir chopped cookies into cream cheese mixture and pour over crust. bake for 30-40 minutes. (edges should be just starting to brown.)

remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. once cooled, refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. serve chilled.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year . . .

i wish every day could be like today

1. a weekend day
2. spent grilling with family
3. in the 70's and sunny
4. include a nap
5. end on the couch with a glass of wine

life is good!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Treats

for a slight deviation from my usual recipes, this post is a request from 2 of my favorite mammals - dignan and roxy, our 2 yellow labs.
i have been tossing around the idea of homemade dog treats for some time now. all i needed was a little encouragement from my furry friends and i decided to try it.
it must have smelled good just mixing up the batch because almost immediately, roxy was at my feet hoping for me to drop something. i wanted peanut butter to be the major flavor because that's one of their favorites. in fact, if you have dogs, a great treat idea is to save your empty peanut butter jars and give them to your dog(s) when you need to occupy them for a while. they will have a grand time licking ever last ounce of peanut butter out of the bottom of the jar. (i recommend this only for plastic peanut butter jars)
these peanut butter treats were surprisingly easy to whip up. after 30 minutes in the oven and another hour of cooling, it was time to get the verdict.
i decided to trust dignan and roxy on this one as i couldn't convince E to give me a second opinion.
seems like they liked them. i couldn't find a single leftover crumb.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats

2 1/2  cups whole wheat flour (regular, if your pup has allergies)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chicken stock, plus more, if needed
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbs peanut butter

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

in the bowl of an electric mixer, add flour. with the mixer running on low, add egg, milk, and 1/4 cup chicken stock. add peanut butter and mix until blended. dough will be very dry. add more chicken stock, if needed until dough just comes together. dough should be dry and just wet enough to form a dough.

roll out 1/4" thick and cut into desired shapes. place on parchment lined baking sheets (they will not expand, so no need to space them too far apart). bake for 30 minutes. remove and let cool completely before serving and treats for good puppies:)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Coconut Chicken and Zucchini Curry

ever had a craving for curry? maybe i'm crazy but i do. i know a lot of people don't like curry. in fact that's the number one response i get when i ask new clients if there are any flavors they don't like. almost everyone says curry.

perhaps most people just haven't had good curry, because i think it's amazing. green curry, yellow curry, red curry - you say curry, i say yes please! i love thai curry, indian curry, curried fruit, chicken salad with curry thrown in, curried old socks. ok, not the last one, just checking to see if you were still with me.

(wow, how many times did i just type the word curry?)

if you haven't given curry a fair shot, i recommend this recipe. it's a slow cooker meal so you don't have to put too much effort into it. if it turns out you don't like it? wrap it up and send it to me. have i mentioned i like curry??

Coconut Chicken and Zucchini Curry

2 lbs boneless skinless breasts and thighs (or just breasts or just thighs, whatever floats your boat)
15 oz chick peas, drained
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1-2 roasted red peppers
4 cloves garlic
1 (4 oz) can tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk
1 tsp salt
2 tbs curry powder
1 tbs garam masala
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbs cumin
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 tbs water
2 tbs corn starch

cut chicken into bite sized pieces and place into crock pot. pour chick peas over chicken. combine remaining ingredients expect zucchini, water, and corn starch in food processor. process until smooth. pour over chicken and chick peas and stir until well combined. cook on low for 5 hours.

whisk together water and cornstarch until dissolved. pour mixture into crock pot and add chopped zucchini. stir well to combine and continue cooking on low for 1 more hour.

serve over rice or with garlic naan - enjoy!

The It List - May 13, 2011


Welcome to another inspiring installment of the IT list... take some time to be inspired by these amazing blogs - and Happy Friday! 
  • rebecca with an R spells out her current wish list... what made the cut? This gorgeous clutch for one, the rest you are going to have to find out yourself by heading over there! (find rebecca with an R on twitter!)
  • one hundred inspirations recreates this gorgeous 70's inspired Elle Machpherson look on a budget - I am really loving this look!
  • a spot of whimsy found these really neat graphic maps for popular cities in Europe.  They are so unique, I would love one for myself! (find a spot of whimsy on twitter!)
  • capital barbie rounds up unique graduation gifts for a stylish grad - she has some great ideas here!  I really love this bow ring. (find capital barbie on twitter!)
  • baby shopoholic got some great pieces and great deals at baby Gap recently. I can't stand how cute this denim moto jacket is!  
  • lady M is sporting an adorable floral bib necklace and has the perfect outfit to go with it. I am loving this necklace for spring! (find lady M on twitter!)
  • the stylish housewife celebrates her birthday in this gorgeous one shouldered maxi dress. Go over and wish her a Happy Birthday! (find the stylish housewife on twitter!)
  • good clean fun brings you good old fashioned milk and cookies... chocolate toffee cookies to be exact! Yum! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • sweetie pie style is crushing on coral... what a perfect shade for summer. I am loving all her picks... especially this nail polish, but make sure you swing by to check out the others! (find sweetie pie style on twitter!)
  • the fancy red boots has an adorable outfit for a day away from the city... check out her boots that she found at an unlikely spot. I love them! (find the fancy red boots on twitter!)
  • good tots rounds up 'sweet' macaron themed items from etsy - perfect for the francophile gal in your life.  This poster is just too, too cute!
  • infashuation rocks this amazing horse sweater AND she dishes on where she finds one of kind pieces like these - don't miss her tips! (find infashuation on twitter!)
  • along abbey road is giving away a gift card to Anthropolgie... need I say more? Pop on over to enter why don't you!?!
  • thought and musing has the most perfect outfit for a picnic if there ever were one.  And I am absolutely in love with her hat!
  • rose a la mode is looking perfect in plaid... also stop by to get the word on her new posting schedule. You know, the early bird gets the worm! (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
the IT list is produced weekly by jill of good life for less, for information on how you can be involved, click here!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chocolate Toffee Cookie Dough Cookies

if you have been involved in the "blog world" for quite a while now, you may remember the cookie dough balls craze that swept the internet last year. everyone raved about annie the bakers cookie dough balls. few bloggers even tried to replicate them. few were successful.

mama pea made a delicious vegan version and the chic life made a equally successful version with butter. if you know me at all, you can guess what kind will be featured here. i'm not quite paula deen, but i do love me some butta.

i am crazy about toffee so i added some toffee chips to the mix along with dark chocolate chips. of course, i couldn't leave good enough alone so i tweaked the recipe just a smudge (yes, that's the proper way to use the term smudge:) i mixed in my usual whole wheat pastry flour and reduced the sugar a tad.

get yourself a tall, cold glass of milk because one bite of these and your mouth will be over the moon but desperate for cookies best friend. these cookies actually taste like cookie dough. it's amazing! bring these to your next get-together and everyone will be raving. just take my advice and bring a gallon of milk too!

Chocolate Toffee Cookie Dough Cookies
slightly adapted from the chic life

1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 stick butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup toffee chips

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

cream together butter and sugar. add egg and vanilla and beat until blended. add flours, powder, soda, and salt and mix until just combined. dough will be crumbly. hand mix-in chocolate chips and toffee.

scoop out dough and roll into 2" balls. place on parchment paper lined baking sheet. continue with remaining dough and refrigerate balls for 15 minutes.

bake for 10-12 minutes (bottoms will be lightly browned). let cool completely and enjoy!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom's Favorites

i can't be with my mom or my mother-in-law today but i still wanted to honor them. here is a quick summary of their favorites. you may just find yourself adding these to your list of favorites.

my mother is a sucker for chocolate. perhaps her all-time favorite is this fudge tart. it is to die for.

being a bit of a breakfast hater, it warmed my heart to know she went crazy for my vanilla bean scones. in fact, that reminds me she has been hinting she needs another batch for some time now. i better get on that!

being irish (her maiden name is mcsweeny) my MIL loves her irish fare. she always orders the ruben sandwich at a nearby local deli. this past st. paddy's day we enjoyed bangers and mash together.

of course, i can't leave out the irish car bomb cupcakes. i now even have a special memory or her doing an actual irish car bomb:)

as fate would have it, i discovered this past christmas they both love chocolate pecan turtle brittle. but who wouldn't love sugary pecans smothered in chocolate? i know i'm crazy about it too.

mom - what on earth would i do without you? there is no way to thank you for everything you have done for me but your unconditional love stands out the most. i am forever grateful for the friendship we now have. i can never say "i love you" enough.

M - for whatever reason, i have been ridiculously blessed with a fabulous mother-in-law. believe me, i know this is nothing short of a miracle. i am thankful for your kind, sweet, giving heart, our fun times in the kitchen together, and your ability to raise a sweet red-headed boy into an amazingly strong, independent, loving man.
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