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August 2007

Gourmet Hamburger Recipes

Gourmet hamburgers are always a big hit at Labor Day parties and I found some recipes that are sure to delight your tastebuds. Everyone has their own special style of creating gourmet burgers and there really is no right or wrong way, as long as it turns out juicy.

Although sirloin makes a tasty burger, it also tends to make a dry burger. When using sirloin add some type of liquid such as Worchershire, Soy or Dale's Seasoning to the mix. Ground beef that contains 20 to 30 percent fat will make a juicy burger, but they tend to shrink up. You can lose as much as 20 percent of the volume during cooking, so be sure to add extra meat to your patties.

Ground turkey or chicken are good choices for those who are watching their fat and calorie intake. Simply replace either meat for ground red meat in your favorite gourmet burger recipe. Make note that turkey and chicken tend to get mushy, so add a small amount of bread crumbs and an egg to provide elasticity.

When grilling gourmet hamburgers select coarse ground meat as it will hold up better over the hot coals. Finely ground meat has a tendency to turn mushy and fall apart. Adding large chunks of vegetables such as onions and green peppers can cause your gourmet burger to crumble. If you decide to add vegetables, be certain to finely chop and incorporate ingredients well.

Sargento Cheese offers a free brochure that includes a variety of gourmet hamburger recipes. Indulge in Island Jerk Burgers with Habanero Lime Coleslaw, Steakhouse Peppercorn Mushroom Burgers, Tuscan Olive Burgers, or Southwest Caesar Burgers.

In addition to gourmet hamburger recipes, Sargento Cheese offers a variety of free instant download recipes, along with an entire recipe collection at their website. To obtain your free gourmet hamburger recipes, sign up for their free newsletter, watch cooking videos and more, visit their website at www.SargentoCheese.com.

Wishing you a safe, happy and fun Labor Day!

Gourmet_burger


Gourmet Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches Recipe

Gourmet Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches are the perfect Hurricane Party food; particularly, if children are present. Everybody loves PB&J and it definitely ranks at the top of comfort foods. Additionally, sandwiches can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, which can come in handy if the power goes out. Wrap individual sandwiches in plastic wrap to retain freshness.

Gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can be served on just about any type of bread. Most people prefer using pre-sliced bread, but there's no reason you can't cut your own. Some people like to grill them, while others like them plain. If you decide to grill them, you'll need to have melted butter on hand.

Feel free to substitute items and create your own unique version of gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When serving at a party, offer a variety of breads, both chunky and smooth peanut butters, and a selection of jellies and jams. Set up a buffet and include bowls of "toppings" such as raisins, chocolate chips, chili peppers, marshmallow creme, sunflower seeds, etc.

Sliced fruits are excellent to add to the toppings buffet. Bananas, strawberries, kiwis, mandarin oranges, grapes and mangoes are popular selections.

A fun way to keep guests occupied during the storm is to engage in a gourmet peanut bully and jelly sandwich creation competition. Guests create their own concoction and people vote for their favorite. Prizes are award to the top competitors. Kids are particularly fond of this game, but be forewarned -- things can get messy!

Gourmet_peanut_butter

Gourmet Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Recipe

Serves 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes or less

Ingredients:

2 slices Sourdough bread
1-2 Tablespoons Dark Chocolate Dreams Peanut Butter by Peanut Butter & Co.
1-2 Tablespoons Raspberry Preserves
1 Tablespoon Macadamia nuts, chopped
1 teaspoon shredded Coconut, toasted*

*To toast coconut, melt 1/4-teaspoon of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add coconut and mix with butter. Stir constantly until lightly browned.

Directions:

Spread peanut butter on one piece of bread and raspberry preserves on the other. Top with macadamia nuts and shredded coconut; put bread slices together and Enjoy!


Mind Altering Pink Margaritas Recipe

Pink_margaritasMind Altering Pink Margaritas Recipe

When I say these margaritas are mind-altering, I am serious. Actually, I think the mind alteration comes from the fact these things are so incredibly smooth you tend to suck them down rather than sip them. It's a little too easy to over-indulge, so be careful.

If you decide to serve mind altering pink margaritas during your Hurricane Party, I HIGHLY recommend doing so long before the storm arrives. You don't want a bunch of mind-altered drunk people wandering aimlessly about in the midst of a Cat 3 storm.

It should go without saying, that if you drink these mind altering pink margaritas you should NEVER, EVER drive or operate heavy machinery. Drink responsibly and stay safe!


Mind Altering Pink Margaritas Recipe
Serves 6 (8-ounce drinks)
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups Ice
1 cup Margaritaville® Tequila - This is a crucial ingredient. Don't skimp on the brand!
4 ounces Cointreau (orange liqueur)
4 ounces Rose's Cranberry Twist Cocktail Infusions
1 or 2 cups Margaritaville® Margarita Mix - quantity depends on how much mind alteration you desire. (Available in most grocery chains and liquor stores)
Margarita salt, optional
Lime wedges, optional

Directions:

  1. If using margarita salt, lightly squeeze lime wedge and run it around the rim of the glass, then dip rim in salt. Some margarita salts have a special lid that allows you to easily dip the glass. If the salt you purchased doesn't have this lid, simply pour salt onto a small plate. If you don't have limes, you can dip the rim of the glass in the margarita mixture.
  2. Add ice to blender pitcher. Pour in tequila, Cointreau, Cranberry Twist and Margarita Mix. Blend on high for 60-90 seconds or until mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour into individual glasses. Add the lime wedge to the drink if desired.

That's it. Pretty easy, eh?

These ingredients are primo and will cost about $75 total (based on a fifth of tequila). Believe me, it is worth every penny. Ask guests to share the expense. They'll be glad they pitched in ;-)

If you try these cocktails, please come back and share your mind-altering margarita experience. That is, if you can remember :-)


Spicy Pecans Recipe

Spicy pecans are a must-have at Hurricane Parties. Actually, spicy pecans are great for any party and make excellent gifts as well! They are easy to make, require few ingredients, taste ever-so-yummy, and provide the body with essential fatty acids.

Here are two of my favorite Spicy Pecan Recipes. One is sweet and one is hot, and both will leave you wanting more!

Spicy Pecans Recipe #1
Serves 10. Yields 5 cups.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg white
  • 5 cups pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place egg white in a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white until foamy.
  3. Pour pecans into egg white foam and using a wooden spoon, stir until thoroughly coated.
  4. Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
  5. Sprinkle mixture over pecans and stir until thoroughly coated.
  6. Spread pecans in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for one hour; stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove from oven and let pecans cool on baking sheet.
  9. Transfer to airtight storage container.

Spicy_pecans_2


Spicy Pecans Recipe #2

Serves 12. Yields 6 cups.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Hot Pepper sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups pecan halves

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Melt butter over low heat in a large skillet.
  3. Add garlic, Hot Pepper sauce and salt to melted butter and saut├ę for 1 minute.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and add pecans to butter mixture; stir until thoroughly coated.
  5. Spread pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake pecans for about 1 hour; stirring every 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and let pecans cool on baking sheet.
  8. Transfer to airtight storage container.



Gourmet Food Store


How to Host a Hurricane Party

Tailgator_blender_hurricane_party For those of us who live in Hurricane Alley, hurricane parties are a way of life. Typically hosted in a spacious home equipped with hurricane shutters and generators, people unite to have fun, reduce stress, and literally eat all the food in the house -- at least frozen and refrigerated foods ;-)

A few weeks ago a friend of ours purchased the Tailgator Gas-Powered Blender. This gadget is an absolute Must-Have for any party, but particularly Hurricane Parties. The engine is something you would normally see on a gas-powered weedeater. With just one gallon of gas, you can crank out 6500 frozen concoctions. In my opinion, this is the ultimate machine for making frozen margaritas!

When hosting a Hurricane Party, safety is the #1 Priority so make certain you have all the necessary supplies. Typically, guests will bring their own sleeping bag and flashlight and an appropriate hurricane party accessory such as board games, playing cards, snack foods and bottled water.

Everything you need to know about hosting a Hurricane Party can be found in an article I published, entitled How to Host a Hurricane Party. For me, gourmet food is a must have so the remainder of this week I will be publishing Hurricane Party recipes and party tips. Stop back by to grab these yummy recipes, or better yet subscribe to The Cheap Gourmet newsletter. Simply enter your email address in the Newsletter Subscription Box on the right side of this page. Each week you'll receive an update of blog posts.


Meatless Mondays

Are you looking for ways to trim fat from your diet? Are you bored with the same ole' side dishes or burnt out on your summer salads? Would you like to learn more about vegetarian cooking or find delicious, yet healthy, recipes? If so, I have a resource for you!

MeatlessMonday.com is a website filled with scrumptious goodies for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. According to their website, "Meatless Monday is a national health campaign to help Americans prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer - four of the leading causes of death in America."

Considering all four of the above run rampant in my family, I want to do everything I can to remain healthy. How about you?

At MeatlessMonday.com you can subscribe to their weekly newsletter, Eater's Digest, which is packed with nutrition tips, advice and mouth-watering recipes. Yes, healthy really can be mouth-watering! You'll also find a Nutrition Library that offers a Health and Nutrition Dictionary, Healthy Eating Plans, How to Read Food Labels, and much more.

MeatlessMonday.com boasts an entire section dedicated to chili, where you will find Chili recipes, a guide to Red Hot Chile Peppers, Chili Origins and History, and more. It's quite interesting!

You'll also find unique recipe e-Cards you can send to your friends and family, learn how to start a community Meatless Monday campaign in your area, download nutrition guides for children, get tips for becoming a Grilling Gourmet, and learn how to eat healthy on the road.

Click the link to learn more about MeatlessMonday.com. I hope you enjoy your visit!

Bon Appetit!


Twenty of the World's Healthiest Foods

Twenty of the World's Healthiest Foods

by Kathy Browning

Healthiest_foods_2

If you visit The Cheap Gourmet Blog regularly, you already know that I am a freelance writer. One of the first articles I ever received payment for was published at Associated Content.

AC used to offer many opportunities for new and budding writers. The pay was minimal, but it helped writers build their portfolios and gain exposure.

In recent months, Associated Content has undergone changes both to their business model and administration team. Some are good, some are not so good.

One of the biggest changes has been to add a Performance Bonus. Basically, the more people who read your articles, the more money you can make. And, the nice thing about it is the bonus income is limitless. If you can send people to your article for 50 years, you'll get paid residual income for 50 years. Not bad, right?

The downside is, AC has started rejecting a large percentage of articles. They have also started low-balling the prices they pay. As one who has written for AC for more than two years, it's been quite shocking to receive offers that are less than half of what I used to be paid.

Worse yet, nearly 20 out of 30 articles are rejected on the basis of "We are seeking unique content for our library. However, if you would like to resubmit this article for free you can still earn income from the performance bonus." Hmmmm.... it sounds kinda fishy to me.

My beef is, if it isn't unique content and that is what AC is seeking, why is it okay to submit it for free? Wouldn't that just muck up the uniqueness they are seeking?

I published "Twenty of the World's Healthiest Foods" and while I did receive a paltry offer, the editor commented the topic was "too broad". Okay. The article is about healthy foods - 20 of them to be exact. The focus is 20 healthy foods. Can someone please tell me what is "too broad" about it? Is it the fact that I listed 20 foods? Is 20 too many for any one person to comprehend?

If 20 healthy foods isn't too much for you, stop over at AC and read how these amazing foods can provide health benefits to you. Not only will you learn which foods are the healthiest, you'll also learn why they are healthy and how much of them you should eat.


Hell's Kitchen Finale

Gordon_ramsey_2 The Hell's Kitchen Finale was intense as tempers flared and food was burnt. I was rooting for Bonnie, the Underdog, but in the end Rock won out. I'm happy for Rock though and for once, I actually agree with Chef Gordon Ramsay. Rock is a family man, with a beautiful wife and two adorable children. Winning the Hell's Kitchen competition will definitely change his life for the better. So, CONGRATULATIONS Rock!!

If you think you have what it takes to be the next Hell's Kitchen winner, there's still time to audition. For details and to download the application visit www.Fox.com/hellskitchen.

Auditions are being held in the following locations during the month of August:

August 24th - Denver, Colorado - The Art Institute of Colorado
August 26th - Ft. Lauderdale/Miami, Florida - Riverside Hotel (Ft. Lauderdale)
August 29th - Chicago, Illinois - The Illinois Institute of Art

If you're a Chef Gordon Ramsay fan, you'll be happy to know that he will be returning to the Fox Network this fall. His new show, Kitchen Nightmares, has Chef Ramsay hitting the road to redirect restaurants in crisis. It's sure to be a hair-raising experience and a jolly good time.


Spicy Boiled Peanuts Recipe

Spicy_gourmet_boiled_peanuts_3 Spicy Boiled Peanuts are part of the Southern culture and a necessity at hurricane parties. They are super easy to make, but take a few hours to cook. You can make them plain or spicy. You can add beer or vodka or tequila. You can eat them hot (the preferred method) or cold and they can be frozen for up to six months.

Although we live in a sub-tropical climate, we prefer our boiled peanuts to be spicy hot. I've become interested in growing peppers, so pretty much everything I make these days has one of my gorgeous beauties tucked inside ;-) My recipe for spicy boiled peanuts is no exception. I experimented with this version and believe this is the best yet. Feel free to adapt it to suit your needs.

Spicy Boiled Peanuts Recipe
Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1/2 to 2 hours

Ingredients:
4 pounds Green Peanuts (only available between June and August)
6 quarts water (substitute with 2 quarts beer and 4 quarts water, if desired)
2 medium Cowhorn peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
6 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning

Directions:

  • Place peanuts in colander and rinse well.
  • Pour water into large kettle or stock pot.
  • Add peanuts, peppers, salt and seasoning.
  • Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  • Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until peanuts are tender.
  • Remove from heat and allow to soak in water for 30 minutes.
  • Drain and serve immediately.

Summer Cool-Down Recipe Contest

What's your favorite summer cool-down recipe? Is it a frothy beverage, a cold and creamy soup or a tantalizing crisp salad? Perhaps you have a family recipe for homemade ice cream or gelato? Whatever it is, it could win you a KitchenAid Chef Series Food Chopper from Nubella.com.

If you aren't familiar with Nubella.com, stop by and check them out at www.Nubella.com. This website is packed with health and wellness information, free recipes, nutrition facts and more.

The Summer Cool-Down Recipe Contest ends on August 16th, so don't delay and enter today!  Good Luck!

UPDATE: This contest has expired. Check with Nubella for new contests, events and healthy lifestyle information.


Need an Energy Boost in the Morning?

Are you in need of an energy boost in the morning? Instead of reaching for that pot of coffee, make yourself a bowl of Blueberry Oatmeal Energize instead. This recipe is provided by Viveca-Stone Berry, founder of FatigueBeGone.com and author of "Fatigue Be Gone Jumpstart eGuide".

If you're feeling tired all the time and/or suffer from insomnia, you should check out Ms. Stone-Berry's guide. For less than the cost of a fatigue-causing lunch, Fatigue Be Gone Jumpstart eGuide can literally change your life. That's what it did for me.

Thanks to the information tucked in the pages of this guide my doctor was able to get to the bottom on the cause of my chronic fatigue. It's called adrenal fatigue and it affects nearly 80 percent of Americans. You can learn all about adrenal fatigue by visiting www.FatigueBeGone.com.

Blueberries

Blueberry Oatmeal Energize Recipe

15-20 Fresh, Frozen or Dried Blueberries
One serving of cooked Oatmeal
2 Tablespoons Flax Seeds
1 Tablespoon Wheat Germ
Itsy bitsy crunchy Apple slices
Slivered Almonds
Teaspoon of Cinnamon
Add 2 Tablespoons of Milk (soy, rice or almond are preferred)

You can use any type of oatmeal that you like. If you're in a hurry, you might prefer the quick and easy microwavable oatmeal. My personal favorite is rolled oats, also known as old-fashioned oats. They take about 15 minutes to cook, but I think they are more flavorful than quick-cooking or instant oats.

Once you try Blueberry Oatmeal Energize, stop by and let us know how you like it and the energy boost you experienced.


How to Store Fresh Herbs

Fresh_herbsHow to Store Fresh Herbs

There's no doubt about it -- fresh herbs offer a more bountiful flavor than dried herbs. However, with fresh herbs you don't have the luxury of keeping them on the shelf in the pantry. Whether you've grown your own fresh herbs or purchased them from the store, it's important to properly store them in order to retain their freshness.

Fresh herbs should be stored in the refrigerator. If you're able to use them within 1-2 days, simply rinse the herbs, wrap loosely in a paper towel, and place in a perforated plastic bag. Store in the crisper drawer.

To keep herbs fresh for up to one week, you'll want to snip the ends at a diagonal, then place the stems in in a jar of water and cover with a plastic bag. Store on refrigerator shelf. Just use caution, as the glass jar might tip over and cause a mess!

To keep herbs fresh for more than one week, place the herbs in a plastic zip-top storage bag. Gently press out excess air, then store in the freezer.

One of my favorite herb-saving tricks is to lightly chop the herbs and put them in an ice-cube tray. Fill the tray with water and freeze. Store the cubes in a freezer bag and pop one or two into the food dish you are making.

I like to make a variety of herb trays. For instance, I'll make one or two trays each of Italian, Mexican, and American herbs. If I'm making lasagna, I can grab a cube or two from the Italian freezer bag. If I'm making Mexican lasagna, I can grab a cube or two from the Mexican freezer bag. If I'm making American Chili, I will grab some cubes from the American freezer bag. You'll be amazed how much time this will save you in the kitchen!


Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad

Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad is one of my all-time favorite summer salad recipes. It's super easy to throw together and low in calories. You can have it for lunch or dinner and can serve the chicken hot or cold. Whenever I bake chicken breasts for dinner, I like to bake a few extra so I can add them to salads. Preparing the chicken ahead of time greatly reduces the prep time!

Caribbean Caesar Chicken Salad
Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 head Romaine lettuce
2 cups fresh Pineapple, cut into chunks
1 cup Mango, peeled and cut into chunks
2 4-ounce boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
2 Tablespoons Salad Dressing (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse chicken in cool water and pat dry. Place chicken in glass baking dish and bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  3. Wash and dry romaine lettuce. Cut off bottom, trim leaves, and cut into bite-size pieces.
  4. Place lettuce in medium bowl and add pineapple and mango chunks. Toss well.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Slice chicken breast and place on salad.
  7. Add 2 tablespoons of your choice of salad dressing, if desired

This recipe and many more are available in my cookbook, "The Diva Diet". This spiral-bound cookbook provides more than 100 healthy, yet delicious recipes and can be purchased for just $23.49 at Lulu.com.