Friday, April 29, 2005

Homemade Hamburger Buns

Hey everyone! I'm back from a much-needed break! Thanks to all who voiced concern... next time I'll put a notice up on the blog before I go somewhere!

Look, I've been working with bread a LOT lately. Here's my latest move for homemade hamburger buns. These were so good and so easy to make, I don't think I'll ever buy hamburger buns again!

  • 2 cups sifted white flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups sourdough starter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs poppy seeds


Combine the white flour, whole wheat flour, and salt in a stand mixer. Add the sugar and the starter, and mix using a bread hook for about 15 minutes. Then let rest for 15 minutes and then mix again for 15 minutes. Remove from the bowl and let rise until it doubles in size. Knead the dough and let rise again, if desired.

Divide the dough into 8 parts and roll each into a nice round ball and slightly flatten. Let rise again.

Pour poppy seeds into a plate. Brush the tops of the unbaked buns with sunflower oil or butter, and then dip the tops in the poppy seeds.

Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes. Let cool before serving.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Grilled Burgers Done Right

There are so many different ways to grill burgers. This is by far my favorite!

Lots of people like to put stuff in the meat, and I'll admit that at times I do to. Onion, garlic, herbs, whatever... but for "Done Right" burgers, it's different. Only season the meat with salt. Any other flavors, mix into the mayo dressing for the bun.

Here's a clue on toppings, "less" is "more" for this burger! I like a little mayo, pickle, and lettuce. That's it. I don't even put cheese on it, because that takes away from the flavor of the beef!

  • Ground Sirloin
  • Kosher salt
  • Sunflower oil


Form the ground sirloin into patties and place them on a platter. Liberally salt the ground sirloin and then cover lightly with oil. Flip and repeat on the other side.

Cook on a rocket-hot grill, giving the patties a 1/4 turn halfway through each side (to give the cross-hatch grill marks. Cook until about 1 minute before desired internal temperature (use a thermometer, trust me!).

Let the patties rest for at least 3-5 minutes, as they will continue to cook internally from the heat, and the meat will relax and form together.

Serve up on a bun with desired toppings.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Orange Sweet Potato Rolls

This incredibly simple dish has such a flair to it! It makes people think you worked really hard, and I do admit that its fancy name and combination makes it seem like you went to culinary school just to be able to make it!

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 5 Tbs brown sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 3 cups unbleached organic flour (plus about a half a cup for kneading)


Peel and cut sweet potates into small chunks. Steam them in a steamer until fork tender. Time needed will depend on the size of the chunks. Mash until just smooth (but not too much).

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Add the rest of the sugar, orange zest, butter, salt, and eggs. Mix well. Mix in flour and place dough onto a lightly flourred surface. Knead dough for about 5 minutes.

Let dough rise until doubled in size (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Fold the dough several times more and let rest for about three minutes.

Shape dough into small rolls and put in a butterd baking pan. Cover and let rise once again until doubled in size.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve hot with cinnamon-orange honey butter.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Maple-Jalapeno Dressing

WOW! This was so unique that I had to post it! I found it on a new cooking show (at least, new to me) on a channel called "RFD-TV"--the show is called Campfire Cafe. The host, Johnny Nix, is about as much of a complete "redneck" as can be, and I thought "Y'know, a lot of people won't want to watch this because he's just too much of a redneck" and then I tried this recipe... I think everyone should watch this show! His accent? Taste the food and get over it!

  • 2 Cups sour cream
  • 4 Tbs maple syrup
  • 6 tsp minced jalapeno
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • salt, to taste
  • hot sauce, to taste


Combine in a bowl. Serve on baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, salads, or use as a dipping sauce!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Fancy Green Beans

Okay, this is really simple, but I gotta tell you, they look and taste fantastic! They make an excellent side dish for a formal dinner! This simple side dish enhances the vegetables and shows you pay attention to cooking methods.

  • Green beans (fresh is best)
  • 1/4 tbs chopped red pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon


Place green beans, garlic, and red pepper in a steaming tray and steam them until the beans just turn bright green. They should still be crisp but cooked. The red pepper and garlic will soften from the steam and heat as well.

Toss with lemon juice and lemon zest. Serve.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Of course, we can make our own croutons! They are so much better than the stuff out of a can with preservatives! Make your salads come to live with homemade croutons!

  • Day old bread, several slices
  • Pinch of salt
  • Olive oil in a fine mist-spray bottle
  • Assorted herbs to match the salad dressing


This is simple! Cut the bread into small cube-sized chunks that you would like for your salad. I prefer about 1-inch by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch (in math, that's a "rectangular prism"). Place them in a mixing bowl "spritz" with olive oil--just enough to get the herbs of your selection to stick to the bread! Sprinke in the herbs of your choice plus a pinch of salt and toss.

Place the tossed bread on a baking sheet and place in the oven on very low heat--around 150 degrees F and slowly dry over several hours.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dragnet Sandwich

Okay, this one is really simple... but I really enjoy it! Harry Morgan made one on an episode of Dragnet. Jack Webb's character didn't seem to be too interested in it, so my friends Carson, Chad, and I got to cracking on it just to see what all the fuss was.

I have to tell you that we did like it with garlic, but that really should be optional. We also tried them with bacon and that was fun, and my Dad liked a slice of tomato on it.

  • Two slices pumpernickel bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Cream Cheese
  • Garlic


C'mon, it's a sandwich! Make a sandwich of the stuff--peanut butter on one side, cream cheese on the other and squish the garlic in the middle!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Grilled Quesadillas

I learned this trick by watching Barbecue University hosted by Steven Raichlen. If you ever get a chance to watch this show, do it. I tape it and re-watch it for learning new tips. It's worth the research!

These are exceptionally quick and are rapidly becoming my favorite grilled snack! I've varied his recipe a bit by changing the cheese (I find Muenster is great for melting) and modified it slightly to "lighten" it up. Of course, you could add chicken, pork, or whatever...

  • Tortillas
  • Meunster cheese, sliced
  • Sliced zuchini
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • dash of cumin
  • dash of salt


Prepare the butter, oil, cumin, and salt in a small pan with a brush for brushing on the outside of the Quesidillas.

Warm the tortillas on the top lid of your grill. This lets you bend them easier without breaking. Once they are warm, you can build the quesadillas.

Place two slices of cheese on half of a tortilla. Cover the half with sliced zuchini and chopped cilantro. Fold in half and place on the grill. Brush the top with the butter-oil mixture. You will probably need to turn the quesadillas in about 30 seconds--keep an eye on them. When they are ready, turn them over once and brush the other side. Let cook just about the same amount of time on the second side and serve.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Greek Pasta Salad

Hey, if you've got some leftover pasta this is an excellent salad--or even a meal in itself because it is so full of flavor! I love the taste of olives, the zing and zip that they bring! Of course, you could cook the pasta yourself if you want too!

  • Cooked pasta (any type)
  • Drained canned tuna (or use freshly-grilled tuna)
  • Olives, black, green, or kalmato
  • Cucumber, chopped
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • onoin, diced
  • tomato, diced
  • lettuce, silghtly shredded
  • bell peppers, chopped
  • Oregano
  • basil
  • parsley


Mix the oregano, basil, parsley, and lemon juice for dressing. Add some olive oil if you like, and shake vigorously.

Combine all other ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing. Serve.

Avocado and Tomato Breakfast Wrapper

Hey, who doesn't love eggs for breakfast? And when you mix in the avocado, you get an incredibly healthy snack--especially if you leave the cheese out! A small amount of cheese can add to the flavor, but because of all the veggies too much cheese is possible. If you want a lot of cheese for breakfast--heck, make a cheese omlette!

  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 1/4 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • black pepper, to taste
  • parsley, to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)
  • 1 tortilla, warmed
  • cheddar cheese, to taste, optional


Sautee onions and mushrooms in skillet with a dash of sunflower oil (or butter if you like). Add the eggs and vigorously mix for about 10 seconds then let it sit in the pan to cook. Add the spices and fold the eggs so they cook light and fluffy. Cook the eggs until they are "almost done" because there will be "carry-over heat" as the eggs continue to slightly cook after they have been taken up.

Drop the eggs, avocado, and cheese in a tortilla. Wrap and serve.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Apple Pocket Suprise

Oooh, these are absolutely fantastic! You can cook these in an oven, a toaster oven, on a grill, in a campfire... whatever you have that's hot! And the WOW factor from the wonderful flavor is an added plus!

  • 1 apple
  • Peach Preserves
  • Nuts
  • Whipping cream
  • Lemon juice
  • Cinnamon, to taste


So simple to make! Core the apple and cut it in half from top to bottom. We want them to lay "open-face up" so slice a small piece off the bottom so that they will lay flat. Dip the apples in the lemon juice (this prevents browning).

Spoon a little bit of peach preserves (or your favorite jam/jelly) on top and then top that with nuts. Loosely wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 5-10 minutes. Serve with whipping cream and a dash of cinnamon on top!

Grilled Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Hey, I got a request for another grilled vegetable recipe. Here's an EASY one! You'll have to fight people off with this one!

  • 1 large russet potato
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • butter, to taste


Slice the potatoes lengthwise in about 1/2 inch thick cuts. Put the butter, garlic, and rosemary into a saucepan and melt for a basting sauce. Season the basting sauce with salt and pepper.

Grill on high heat for 10-15 minutes, being sure to bursh occasionally with the basting sauce.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Gonzo's Magic Sauce

Okay, so this is the natural extension of "Gonzo's Magic Rub" because you gotta have the rub to have the sauce, and I'm telling you this is a great sauce! You might want to make a double-batch and keep some in a mason jar in the fridge!

  • 2 cups tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs cheap yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbs hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs Gonzo's Magic Rub
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Simmer and stir for about 10-15 minutes over low heat. Serve over ribs, chicken, pork, or whatever you like barbecue sauce on!

Gonzo's Magic Rub

Who doesn't love barbecue? This rub is great on anything barbecue, but I like it best on pork tenderloin. Rub generously all over the tenderloin and barbecue low and slow with some mesquite wood chips for smoke flavor, I'm telling you this is absoloutely wonderful!

Rub recipes are always given in a "parts" component rather than actual measurements because we never know how much you'll need. HOWEVER, you can store the leftovers in a jar and just keep it sealed up to keep it from drying out too much. I usually store mine in a "pizza shaker" and put some wax paper under the lid to keep it fresh.

  • 8 parts brown sugar
  • 3 parts kosher salt
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1/4 part minced onion, dried
  • 1/4 part minced garlic, dried
  • 1/4 part cumin
  • 1/4 part paprika

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fresh Fruit Dessert Kabobs

Man, oh, man! Does grilling fruit ever work for me! I especially like strawberries, because when the heat of a rocket-hot grill starts to work its magic on the sugars in the berries, it's just amazing! Peaches also work great on the grill! Use your imagination on this one, because you will never be disappointed!

  • Assorted fruit chunks (strawberries, bananas, apples, pears, peaches, ...
  • 1 Tbs white sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • dash of cinnamon, to taste
  • dash of powdered sugar, to taste


Mix the wine and white sugar (not the powdered sugar) in a sauce pan and reduce it to a nice glaze.

Drop the fresh-cut fruit in the lemon juice and then remove. Skewer the fruit on kabob sticks with the mint leaves in-between the fruit.

Grill the kabobs on high heat. Brush the glaze on the fruit while it grills, about 2-4 minutes each side (depending on the size of the chunks). The smell will be powerful and fruity.

Serve on a fruit plate for dessert. Dash with powdered sugar and cinnamon before serving.

Graduation Beans

Why are they called "Graduation Beans" ?? I think because my Aunt Marilyn made them for my Uncle Carl's high school graduation back in 19-whatever, and they've been called that ever since. Of course any time someone "graduates" from a school we serve them--and believe me, these beans make school worth taking!

  • 2 lbs hamburger
  • 1 onion
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 5 Tbs molasses
  • 4 Tbs mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 can pork and beans
  • 1 can lima beans (I usually leave these out and substitute black beans)
  • 1 can red beans
  • 1 lb bacon, fried and drained


Brown hamburger and onion, fry bacon and drain. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook for several hours. You're done!


Y'know, you can make your own "catsup" right? And your own barbecue sauce, right? And you can use real beans instead of canned beans, right? RIGHT? :)

Monday, April 04, 2005

Beer Bread

My Dad's cousin is owner and president of Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City. Whenever I cook with beer, I use only Boulevard's products. Okay, it's a family thing, but it's great beer for drinking and cooking!

Beer bread is easy to make and tastes so wonderful! You can mix all kinds of herbs, spices, cheese, or whatever. Here's a basic recipe that you can build off of. I usually use the "Bully! Porter" beer, a classic English porter with intense flavors of dark-roasted malt. This makes a darker bread because it is a darker beer. For a lighter bread, you might try the Pale Ale or Weat beer that they brew.

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle Boulevard Bully! Porter beer, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, for the top of the bread
  • Assorted herbs, to taste (optional)


Combine the flour, sugar, and beer in a mixing bowl. Mix well--the batter will have a sticky consistency. While mixing the batter, drink the remainder of the second beer bottle.

Pour the batter into a bread pan and let rise to desired height, usually 30 minutes to an hour.

After bread dough has risen, bake for 55 minutes at 375 degrees. When 3 minutes of baking time are left, brush the top with melted butter.

Let cool before serving. Serve as buttered bread or for dipping in olive oil.

Sunflower Seed Cookies

My Mom makes these all the time! They are sweet and unique, and probably my favorite cookie of all time. She actually got the recipe from Peg Loveland, who taught Kindergarten in Concordia, Kansas for many years. So if you are related to the McDonald's or the Lovelands or otherwise hung out with schoolteachers in Concordia, then this recipe is something that you know and love.


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar (hold back the 2 Tbs sugar in a small bowl)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 Tbs flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup salted-roasted sunflower seeds (shelled, of course!)


Wet Team. Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until soft and fluffy. Add egg and beat until smooth.

Dry Team. Sift flour, soda, and salt together.

Combine. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and blend in seeds.

Bake. Roll dough into 2" cookie balls. Roll each ball in the sugar that was held back and drop on the cookie sheet. Flatten the balls into a nice circle. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until done.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Dutch Oven Stew

We used to make this all the time on campouts when I was in Boy Scouts. It's excellent! We had 5 dutch ovens going for our troop and always ate all of it! Want to see a bunch of kids clean their plate? Make this stuff.

It also has a unique cooking process, in that you actually bury the dutch ovens in the ground for the cooking process!

  • Beef stew tips
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Cabbage, chopped
  • Onions, chopped
  • Corn kernels
  • Potatoes, cubed
  • Water
  • Salt, to taste

The amounts of the ingredients I leave to you--whatever your taste is! The water amount should be enough to cover up the ingredients. Notice that there is no other seasoning in this...


Chop everything up and put it in a camp dutch oven. Add the water. Bury in the fire pit and dig up in about 6 hours to eat.

Fire Pit:

Okay, this is the fun part! Dig a 1-2 foot deep hole in the ground, wide enough to easily contain all the dutch ovens you are using with room to spare.

Build a giant, roaring fire in the pit. As the coals start to burn down to embers, re-build the fire again to a roar and let it burn down once more--this gives a thick layer of coals.

When the fire is just down to the embers for the second time, place the dutch ovens securely in the fire pit on top of the coals. Ensure that the lids to the dutch ovens are tight. Place some of the coals on top of the dutch oven lid for all-around heat. Then take the dirt that was removed from the hole and gently bury the dutch ovens in the dirt so that you have completely covered the dutch ovens.

It is important that you fill the entire hole with the dirt--this helps the dutch ovens to become kind of "pressure cookers" and infuses all the flavors throughout the stew.

Go play for about six hours.

Come back and gently dig up the stew. Be careful not to knock the lids off the dutch ovens as you remove the dirt. It will be very warm and fully flavored and delicious.

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