Saturday, April 28, 2018

"Special" Hamburger Sauce

Special Hamburger Sauce
We've been on a bit of a hamburger binge; I've already posted the hamburger roll recipe here. We eat them at home, we order them out.  We grill them, we fry them. Sweet Pie loads his burgers up with cheese and pickles and bacon and onion and, and, and.  Me, I'm a Plain Jane.  Just ketchup and tomato and pickle on the side. Once in a while I walk on the wild side and add lettuce, but pretty much not.  I don't like hot, wilted lettuce.

While I do like ketchup, it can become a little boring and the game needs to be kicked up.  I was thinking about the "special" sauce served at certain hamburger restaurants, and I thought, I can make this at home.  An internet search revealed this recipe, and it's quite good.  It's much like a Thousand Island recipe but it's not, but I think in a pinch it would make a good one, grins. Regardless it's good on hamburgers and adds a little something special.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
1 to 2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste. Best flavor develops when refrigerated for a little bit and then serve and enjoy. Lasts for a week or so in the fridge when well covered.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Potato Hamburger Buns

Potato Hamburger Buns

Sometimes there is nothing like a nice juicy burger to satisfy a craving and for us it's not just a summertime thing; it's a year-round, oh-I-need-a-burger thing, and we must give in to it for nothing else satisfies when the craving strikes.

Growing up, our burger buns were two slices of white bread that would soak up all the hamburger grease and became a goopy white mass that would drip in sheets between your fingers as you tried to eat your sandwich.  Who knew?  We thought it was supposed to be like that.  

So fast forward through the years; the designer bread for hamburgers was discovered and consumed many times over but never did I stop to think I could make them at home. Until one day I had discovered a very popular recipe from a well-known baking site and it was a disappointment.  The roll just could not, in my opinion, hold up to a truly juicy hamburger.  Good for chicken salad.  Good for luncheon meat.  Not good for hamburgers.

More time goes by and I didn't seen anything that even tempted me to try, that is, until I saw this recipe on Smells Like Home.  I was immediately intrigued.  Potatoes add moistness and a kind of body to bread, helps to make bread stay fresher longer.  I jumped on it and I'm glad I did.  

These buns are beautiful and hearty.  They stayed fresh for several days and yes!  They hold up to a juicy hamburger.  These look like a lot of work, and I suppose they are a little work.  But if you want to impress for a special occasion, these are totally worth the effort.

Potato Hamburger Buns

1 pound potatoes, peeled, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about two large potatoes, maybe a third for good measure)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups bread flour
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs (1 for the bun batter and 1 for the glaze)
5 tablespoons of reserved potato water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (nice but totally optional)

Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low; simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife or fork, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer 5 tablespoons of the potato water to a tiny bowl and reserve the liquid.  Drain the remaining  liquid in the saucepan and return the potatoes to the hot saucepan. Shake the potatoes over low heat to remove the surface moisture, about 1 minute.  Turn off heat.

Mash (or rice) the potatoes until very smooth. Measure out 1 cup of potatoes, add to a medium bowl and mix in the butter until melted. Keep the potatoes warm.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the warm potatoes and mix with your impeccably clean hands until combined.

Mix in 1 egg and the reserved potato water with the dough hook attachment and continue to mix on low speed until the dough is soft and a little sticky, about 8-10 minutes. The dough should still be warm.  Remove the dough and shape into a ball.

Lightly grease the mixer bowl and return the dough to the bowl, turning the dough in the bowl to coat it lightly in the oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot until almost doubled in volume, about 30-40 minutes. Very warm kitchens will require less time.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into an 8-inch square.  Cut the square into 9 equal pieces; separate the pieces and cover them loosely with plastic wrap or clean lint-free kitchen towel to prevent a skin from forming on the top.

Working with one square at a time, roll the dough rounds into a tight balls and return them to the work surface under the wrap; allow them to rest for 15 minutes.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Firmly press each dough round into a 3 ½-inch disk, pushing out large pockets of air from the dough. Line the disks up on the baking sheets and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Allow the dough to proof at room temperature until almost doubled in size, another 30-40 minutes. While the dough proofs, preheat the oven to 425° F with the racks in the two center positions of the oven.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the tops of the dough rounds with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through the time from top to bottom and front to back, until the buns are a deep golden brown. Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes then transfer the buns to the racks to cool completely before slicing.

Hamburger Plate
COOK'S NOTE: The original recipe says to put these on two sheets, but I was able fit the it all on one sheet by staggering them.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Favorite Oatmeal Cookies

Favorite Oatmeal Cookies

I love cookies.

I appreciate all kinds of cookies, but it's the oatmeal cookie and the peanut butter cookie that remain my all time favorites,  Nevertheless, I don't think you'll ever see me turn down a brownie, a jelly thumbprint, or a coconut macaroon, grins.

I'm particular about my oatmeal cookie--it has to be big, chewy, moist, and stodged with raisins.  And it shouldn't, at least in my mind, have a lot of spices.  I like simple and straightforward.  Keep it sweet and simple ♥

So, here's a sweet and simple recipe that has become my favorite.  It's an excellent keeper.  If stored in an air-tight container, these will stay moist for a week.  Perfect for a lunch snack, sweet tooth attack, or if you're Sweetie Pie, a breakfast dessert.  I totally think he has the right idea.


1/4 cup water, hot
 2 cups raisins

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

In a small bowl soak the raisins in the hot water maybe for a half hour or so.  Allow to cool down.  Reserve all.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add eggs and beat well.

Measure out the water from the raisins, adding any additional cool water to equal 1/4 cup of liquid.  Add to the creamed mixture along with the vanilla and mix. 

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and gradually add  to the creamed mixture.

Add raisins.  Stir well.

Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon rounded with the batter, place the dough about two inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for about 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned.  If you allow them to get too brown they will be less soft but still delicious.

Cool and take two, one for each hand!

This recipe made 3 dozen good sized cookies; I used a 1/8 measuring cup to measure out the dough and slightly flattened them on my parchment lined baking sheet.

COOK'S NOTES:   Recipe can easily be doubled if you want a huge batch of cookies.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Darned Good Salsa

I have eaten more salsa in the last three years than the sum of all my life combined before that.  It's my current addiction.  I pass up ice cream for salsa and chips. When we want a simple snack, it's nachos with cheese and of course tons of salsa.  We have it bottles of it on the pantry shelf, must be that famine mentality or something.

And of course when we go to our favorite Mexican restaurants, they immediately pour out bowlfuls of salsa from huge pitchers and provide big baskets of hot tortilla chips.  Hot or mild, they ask.  We always ask for the mild and eat the salsa to the last drop.  We've had to force ourselves to stop to save room for our meals, grins.

This is my second attempt at making a homemade salsa and it's very good.  Allegedly this is a recipe that comes from a restaurant in Tucson, but I can't swear to it, but I wouldn't be surprised.  Are there better salsa recipes out there?  Perhaps, but I'm not going to go looking for it.  This one is a keeper.


3 cans (15 ounce size) stewed tomatoes, undrained
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
4-5 stalks scallions (green onions), chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped, removing any thick stems
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon crushed chili pepper and/or 1 jalapeno

Blend all together.  Refrigerate.  Let it sit for a while for flavors to develop and then indulge.

COOK'S NOTES:  I personally do not like big hunks of vegetables in my salsa, so I put my onions, and scallions and cilantro in a food processor and give them a few pulses.  I also pulse two of the cans of stewed tomatoes into an almost puree consistency and the third can I pulse but leave it fairly chunky.  You can do whatever pleases you, all chunky, all smooth.  No rules.

A note on the 1 tablespoon of crushed chili pepper.  That, truthfully, could be too much heat for some.  It is on the verge of being too much for us, so if unsure of your heat tolerance, I would probably start with 1 teaspoon, check for heat, and add to taste.  I have a friend who adds the 1 tablespoon of chili pepper and the jalapeno, but she was raised on fiery foods and as far as she's concerned, the more heat the better.

This recipe makes a two full quarts of salsa at least.  Keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator.