I am a horrible baker. This is most likely because I don’t like to carefully measure things nor follow recipes exactly. I’m getting better, but the success with active yeast recipes has been less than fabulous. By that, I mean massive failure – zero success. I have eaten the by-product of these attempts, and those were bad decisions. Enter Fleischmann’s easy bread in a box. (It probably has a real name, but I can’t remember it and didn’t save the box.) I give you success. Not great success, but much better.
This past week, I ate at Burger-Fi for the first time. I don’t know if it was the fact that I’d (a) spent the previous 5 hours outside in near freezing temperature, (b) missed breakfast, (c) only ingested a coffee from the gas station up to that point and (d) walked roughly 6 miles… but …eating my Burger-Fi cheeseburger with added grilled onions and a side of the largest onion rings I’ve ever seen was seriously a religious experience. I got lost in this meal. Joy filled my brain with every bite. My co-workers were sitting all around me, and I maybe heard a dozen words they said the whole meal. I was in my own little beef and onion bubble.
I asked for a single, and they gave me a double, so win from the start. The patties were juicy. The cheese was gooey. The lettuce was crisp and fresh. The onions added a nice touch. There was a slice of tomato on it, too, which was fine. It didn’t add much, except good color. The bun was yummy, and they sear “Burger” on it, which is a fun touch. As you can see, mine must have been a texting burger because not all the letters showed up. =)
And the onion rings. OMG the onions rings. They were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen. The beer batter was crispy, crunchy, well seasoned. The onions inside were the right amount of cooked – not underdone at all and not a mushy mess. They were a little greasy, which is a good thing with onion rings.
I wasn’t sure about reviewing a restaurant, but during this meal, I was having a religious experience. I don’t like burgers all that much, but on this day, I was a convert.
Some foods taste like memories. There are 3 main foods that I closely associate with my grandparents: shrimp cocktail, Harvey Wallbanger cake and good, homemade soup. They’re both 90 now, and I’m insanely lucky to (a) still have them with us and (b) have a great relationship with them.
While visiting them recently, Grandpa made Meal in a Bowl for dinner. The name suits it. Full of vegetables with just enough ground beef and a splash of barley, it pretty much hits all the food groups – especially if you sprinkle shaved parm on top.
I asked for the recipe. This is what Grandpa told me:
“Well, you brown the beef in a pot. Add your vegetables. Let that cook a little. Then you use beef stock or water with beef bouillon, but I prefer the stock, and let it cook. Then you add the barley. Let it simmer a bit longer, and it’ll be ready when you’re ready.”
So…that’s what I had to work with when trying to recreate Meal in a Bowl. It’s not just like Grandpa’s, but it’s pretty delish. The directions are above. The ingredients are below. This makes a surprisingly large amount, so use a big pot.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 carrot
- 1/4 bunch of celery (leaves, too)
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 yellow squash
- 3 mini sweet peppers (optional, I just needed to use mine before they went bad.)
- 1 pack of trimmed green beans
- 2 boxes of beef stock
- 1 box of water (use the beef stock box, it doesn’t have to be totally full. This is optional if you think there’s already enough liquid)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (optional, flavor to your liking, Grandpa adds Mrs Dash to his bowl when eating.)
- 1/2 cup barley (not the pearled kind)
While I’m a little late – Happy New Year! This is a trite subject, but please indulge me. I’m sharing my New Year’s resolutions in the hope that making them public might help me achieve them. (Side note: I had to fight the urge to name this Lowered Expectations, since I loved that sketch on Mad TV. No idea what I’m talking about? Click here.)
Resolution 1: Create 50 blog posts. That’s roughly 1 per week, with 2 weeks forgiveness built in. It also allows for the twice-a-week-makes-up-for-a-missed-week problem that I’m sure to encounter.
Resolution 2: Read 10 books, audiobooks count. Last year, I read 8 books and listened to 1 audiobook. This seems like an achievable goal.
Resolution The Rest of Them: See something new, do something new and be happy.
Wishing you a lovely 2014!
During the holiday, I saw an episode of The Mind of a Chef on PBS. The episode’s focus was British food, and the chef made Banoffee Pie. This decadent, sweet pie is made of layers of toffee created from sweetened condensed milk, bananas and whipped cream. On the show, the chef opened the cooked can of sweetened condensed milk with a look of pure joy and crooned that it was “sexy.” I was sold. I had to make this pie, and after making it, I completely understood her reaction. This. Pie. Is. Sexy. (Please note that the picture doesn’t do it justice.)
- Pre-made graham cracker pie crust
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 medium-large bananas
- Whipped cream (optional)
- Peel the label off the can of sweetened condensed milk. Place it in a pot of water. The water level should be just below the top rim of the can.
- Boil the can of sweetened condensed milk for roughly 3-4 hours. You’ll have to keep adding water to the pot as it evaporates. I turned the can over every 30 minutes or so to help it cook evenly. (I don’t know if this actually did anything or not, but it made sense in my mind and turned out beautifully.)
- Remove the can from the boiling water. Let it cool until you can easily handle it without burning yourself.
- While it’s cooling, peel and slice the bananas.
- Once cool, open the can. If yours turns out like mine did, as soon as you puncture the can with the opener, toffee will start to ooze out the top. Yum! Take a second and sneak a lick.
- Spoon a layer of toffee into your pie crust and smooth it out.
- Add a layer of banana slices.
- Add another layer of toffee.
- Etc. Etc. Etc. until you are out of bananas and toffee.
- Top with whipped cream if you like and place the pie in the fridge to cool for at least an hour.
As with most recipes, there are modifications you can take with this pie. I used a pre-made graham crust. From my reading, it seems the traditional crust is made of biscuits (shortbread here in America). It would also be delicious with a chocolate cookie crust. If one of your skills is making awesome crust, do that. That’s just not in my wheelhouse.
The big time eater in this recipe is making the toffee, but you can buy it already made. It’s sold on the same shelf as the sweetened condensed milk. If you have the time, I highly recommend making it yourself.
So there you go. The world’s sexiest pie. And it’s British. Who knew? Make it, and you’ll understand.