Archive | August, 2012

Patio Picnic Burgers

10 Aug

This is an old family favorite. My mom’s been making these un-burger burgers since before I was born. I think it was in old cookbooks from the 60s and 70s. I dont even know and it doesnt matter.


What I know is these burgers are amazing. Everyone always raves over them. Robbb doubted me when I told him I was making this. As soon as he had it, he asked me to make it again within the week!

Assembled sandwich

I made them recently for my Supper Club dinner. As I said in that entry, my mom made them for my 8th grade graduation party and then took a pic of me eating one mid-bite…..oy!

Cheese on top – not mixed through

These “burgers” are, in fact, NOT burgers. They are more of a loose meat pseudo-sort of cheesesteak on a roll. And I use my own ground meat as an added flavor-boost.

Just out of the oven

I’m not sure I can accurately describe the taste. The evaporated milk makes the meat a smidge creamy, but yet the spicy mustard and hot sauce add a twang to it. And then you mix the meat with pickles and american cheese and tomatoes….so there is a fabulous pickle-cheese flavor going on.

Here is another unburger-burger weird factoid: you dont need any condiments. The meat mixture has all the vegetable fixins and there is mustard and ketchup in the meat and it doesnt beg for any additional condiments.


I just made them again for dinner tonight. I switched up the bun a bit and this time mixed the cheese, pickles, and tomatoes into the meat – as the directions say. And it was just awesome. I served it immediately – I didnt warm it in the oven this time.

Ready to take a bite

Holy smokes! Try this for your next outdoor get-together!

Patio Picnic Burgers


  • 1 pound ground meat
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped green pepper
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tblsp hot mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Few drops of hot pepper sauce
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 8 french rolls (or whatever shape/size you like)
  • 1 cup grated American cheese
  • ¼ cup dill pickles, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced


Combine meat, onion, green pepper, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and evaporated milk in skillet. Mix well and cook until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat.

Slice individual rolls and scoop out bread on inside.

Combine American cheese, dill pickles, and tomato with meat mixture. Spoon into rolls, packing well, but lightly. Close up roll and wrap in foil. Refrigerate until serving time. Before serving, place on grill or in oven to heat up thoroughly (oven is best). Or, just serve warm!


Homemade Pizza Dough and Pizzas

7 Aug

I dont know why, but I’ve always had a hangup about making pizza. You know how you have that ONE thing where you feel nervous and intimidated to do? It was pie crust and pizza for me. Last fall my mom helped me conquer pie crust. This summer I was bound and determined to conquer my fear of homemade pizza.

During my trip to Iowa/South Dakota with Keri, Jen, and Jess, in October we made pesto pizza on the grill. I was able to see it in action and see the “pros” make pizza on the grill. And taste it!!! It tasted amazing….I couldnt wait to make it myself. But I still had this stupid fear.

Sausage and mushrooms

Dough ingredients

This summer I decided to get over it. I worked up my courage this summer and read a LOT of homemade pizza recipes. And this weekend we finally decided to try it. We wanted to start small – just our fave regular toppings of Sausage and Mushroom to start out with. Then we figured we could experiment further with different combinations in the future once we mastered the basics first.

Frothy dough mixture

Sauteeing Creminis

Robbbb wanted his pizza in the oven. He didnt trust the grill method. So I agreed to make a large pie for him in the oven. But I knew I was making my pizza on the grill! I had to have that taste again and the thin, crispy crust. All throughout the afternoon, my friend Jen was texting me motivational support about making the pizza and reminding me of little tips and tricks that she does when making the pizza. She gave me this crust recipe and said it was the best-tasting one out there. I agree with her.

Robbbs Pie – before baking in the oven

Freshly baked

I spent the majority of the time making the dough, letting it rise, separating it out, letting it rise…..then it was SHOWTIME! I got Robbb’s together nicely. Except I let the pizza stone heat up, then took it out of the oven to top it. That was a mistake. I should have topped the dough first and then slid it right onto the freshly-hot pizza stone from the oven and put it back into the oven. The crust on the bottom didnt turn out as crispy as it should have.

Closeup of baked pizza

First slice!

Now for the grilled one: The important thing to remember while your grill is heating up – move alllllllll of your pizza toppings/sauce/cheese and TONGS to the grill area so you are ready to go quickly. I arranged all of my accoutrements around my grill area so I could quickly make my pizza directly on the grill.

Dough on the grill

Then I got to work on my two little mini-pizzas for the grill. They rolled out well. I took a baking sheet and flipped it upside-down, and sprinkled it with corn meal. I was able to put my rolled out doughs onto the baking sheet and was assured they wouldnt stick! I oiled the grill with olive oil. Then I slid my doughs, one at a time, onto the grill. I cooked it on medium heat for a few minutes until the under side was done to my liking. Meanwhile, I basted the top with olive oil.

Grilling sausage/mushroom pizza

Finished Sausage Mushroom on grill

I flipped the dough over and quickly got to work topping my pizza. Sauce, cheese, sausage, mushrooms, and basil! Then more cheese. I thought it wouldnt take as long to cook as it did. It took about another 5-8 minutes for the underside of the crust to be done. Then I slid it off the grill and onto the baking pan again to repeat the process with my other pizza: Pesto, cheese, and tomato. And more cheese. I like cheese.

Pesto Mozzarella on the Grill

Sliding pizza off the grill

We were very happy with our pizzas!!!! It was delicious and easy. We will FOR SURE be making them at least once a month from now on.

My minis next to each other….delicious

Wolfgang Puck’s Pizza Dough


  • 1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp yeast)
  • 1 ½ cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bread bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the honey and stir together. Let sit 2 or 3 minutes or until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil. Let sit 5-10 minutes until frothy.
  2. Using a stand mixer: Combine the flour and salt and add it to the yeast mixture all at once. Mix it together using the paddle attachment, then change to the dough hook. Knead at low speed for 2 minutes, then turn up to medium speed and knead until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes.

3. Turn out onto a clean work surface with plenty of flour and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should  be smooth and elastic. When you press it with your finger it should slowly spring back, and it should not feel tacky.

(If you are kneading the dough by hand: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil as directed in a medium-size or large bowl. Combine the flour and salt. Fold in the flour a cup at a time using a large wooden spoon. As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic.

If you are using a food processor: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove the dough from the processor and knead it on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary, until it is smooth and elastic.)

  1. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes (you can leave it for up to an hour). When it is ready the dough will stretch as it is gently pulled.
  1. Using floured hands and surface, divide the dough into 2 to 4 equal balls, depending on how large you want your pizzas to be. Shape each ball by gently pulling down the  sides of the dough and tucking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round and round the ball 4 or 5 times. Then, on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball around under your palm until the ball feels smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Put the balls on a tray or platter, cover with pan-sprayed plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes. (At this point, the dough balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.)
  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven to heat. In the meantime, press out the dough. Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. While turning the dough, press down on its center with the heel of your hand, gradually spreading it out to a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter for small pizzas, 12 to 14 for larger pizzas. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to get an even circle. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza as you like. You can transfer the pizza to a lightly oiled pizza pan if you like, or bake it directly on the stone.
  1. Depending on your taste, spread the dough with marinara sauce or pesto sauce (about 2 tablespoons for small pizzas, 1/4 to 1/3 cup for larger ones). If you don’t have sauce, a can of tomatoes, drained, chopped, and seasoned with salt and chopped sautéed garlic, will do. Top with the shredded or grated cheeses of your choice. Add thinly sliced vegetables such as Roma tomatoes, pitted olives, red peppers, or red onions; sautéed sliced vegetables such as mushrooms,      eggplant, zucchini, or artichoke hearts; thinly sliced cured meats such as pepperoni or prosciutto; or small pieces of lightly cooked chicken or shrimp. Add a lightly sprinkling of grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese and some minced or julienned fresh herbs such as basil or oregano or dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, or herbes de Provence.

My toppings here were:

Pizza 1 – Pizza sauce, sautéed cremini mushrooms from the farmers market, sausage, and mozzarella.

Pizza 2 – Pesto made fresh from basil at the farmers market, locatelli, tomato from my garden, and mozzarella.

  1. Dust a pizza paddle (also called a pizz peel) with corn meal and slip it under the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the baking stone or into the pizza pan (or place the pizza pan on the stone – the heat from the stone will help it achieve a crisp      crust). Bake until the cheese topping is bubbling and the rim of the crust is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. (NOTE: it took about 20-25 minutes for my pizza to be to our liking)
  1. Use the pizza peel to slide the pizza out of the oven and onto a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the pizza into slices and serve immediately.

Supper Club – Summer Picnic!

5 Aug

This month’s Supper Club theme was “Summer Picnic” and it was my turn to host. We decided that it would be best to have the physical dinner at my parent’s house so we can have a pool day and also really set the stage for a summer picnic.

Me and Jeff enjoying the pool

Jeff chillin on the patio

We all got to the house early in the day and quickly got ourselves into the pool since it was a 96 degree sunny day. Much later on, my brother Chris and his wife Pam came over to join us! We were many Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade’s in at that point, so dinner was quite late. Thankfully there was minimal prep – I was able to prepare everything the night before and that morning.

I thought long and hard about my menu. I wanted something fun, but light and fresh…..I also wanted to showcase some family recipes (found in our family cookbook). I was able to combine everything and come up with an awesome meal.

Early in the day we grilled up some quesadillas (AKA “dillas”). These are a fun snack that my brother and sisterinlaw, Pat and Julie, bring to summer pooldays. They are great because they taste super fresh, are customizably spicy, and they go on the grill. Who doesnt love dillas??

Dillas on the grill

We started off the meal with Watermelon Gazpacho. My friend, Shannon, made this for our girls night last month. It was SO refreshing and tasty….I dont have to mention how fresh it is. It is so easy to make, too! Everyone remarked at how different and delicious it was. The crumble of feta on top totally pulls all the flavors together.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crumble

The main course consisted of: Patio Picnic Burgers, Jerry’s Baked Beans, and Heirloom Tomato Pie.

What are “Patio Picnic Burgers”? They are an old old family recipe that our family has been crazy about for years. It was always a special treat to have them in the summer. I remember having them for my 8th grade graduation party and my mom took a pic of me eating one mid-bite…..attractive.

Before being baked together

But what IS it, you ask? It’s not a burger, per se. Essentially, it’s ground beef sauteed with a few ingredients, then mixed with pickles, tomatoes, and cheese and scooped into a roll and then baked in the oven. Robbbb said it was sort of similar to how a cheesesteak tastes, in a way. I dont know that I agree – but I cant really explain it any other way. You just have to try them.

Finished Patio Picnic Burger

Jerry’s Baked Beans are also a family treat. I believe he got the recipe from his ex-wife (shhhh!) and he’s been making it ever since. They are delicious – the perfect amout of sweet and salty. Everyone loves them.

Beans, beans… fill in the rest

My Heirloom Tomato Pie…..I dont know where to start with this masterpiece of a recipe that I pulled out of Food Network Magazine last summer. I made it last summer for a family get-together on a poolday and everyone raved about it. This time I used all heirloom and regular tomatoes from my garden and also from my friends at Skippack Creek Farm (best tasting tomatoes ever). There is manchego cheese, herbs, tomato, and cornmeal crust…..need I say more?

Beautiful…..just beautiful

Slice of Tomato Pie

For dessert, I did another old family favorite: Ice Cream Pie! It’s just as simple as it sounds. It doesnt matter though – everyone always loves it!

Ice cream pie

Slice of ice cream

To accompany the meal, I made my friend Alex’s Sangria. He swore to me that it’s the best homemade sangria around and I think he might be right. It was the bomb. Literally.

Down one, one to go

John took a shower with his sangria

As always…..I will be posting recipes for everything shortly. And now it’s John’s turn for Thai next month!

Chris’s Bay Area Burgers

1 Aug

You know the saying “Simpler is better”? That is so true for these burgers. Sometimes people think good burgers need to contain multiple ingredients in order for it to taste so good. Wrong!

Look at those 7 ingredients!

For the past year, I’ve been making pickle burgers. They’ve been amazing (I’ll have to post the recipe as well just for something different) but we were burnt out and looking for a different burger.

Mix this by hand

Up Close Goodness

Robbb found this recipe on and I was game. I had all the ingredients (I have 9 HUGE basil plants) and wanted to try it out. I dont know who Chris is, but I imagine he lives in the “Bay Area”…..wherever you are, Chris, you had it RIGHT!!!! These burgers are just so delicious.

I make a bunch ahead of time to freeze

You can TASTE the olive oil and basil. It tastes so fresh and good. I usually make a couple pounds of meat and triple/quadruple this recipe so I can stash some in the freezer for quick weeknight meals!

Robbb’s Burgers on the Bun

My lone burger with no bun

Cut open juiciness

Thank you, Chris, from the Bay Area!!

Chris’s Bay Area Burgers


  •                     1 pound ground beef
  •                     2 cloves garlic, minced
  •                     2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •                     1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  •                     1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •                     1/2 teaspoon dry basil leaves (I use some shredded fresh leaves)
  •                     Dash of worcestshire sauce
  •                     4 hamburger buns, split

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat.

Mix together the ground beef, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil. Divide into four balls, and flatten into patties.

Cook the patties for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness. The internal temperature should be at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Remove from grill and place onto hamburger buns. Top with desired toppings and condiments. I’ve found that basic ketchup does this burger a lot of justice!

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