Flavor-Packed, Restaurant-Quality Texas Burgers

IMG_2213

Texans are known in the culinary world for their ability to create powerful flavors in meats. That’s a good explanation for why this Weber recipe for Texas Burgers is one of the all-time favorites in our house. This has become one of our favorite ways to season our burgers, no matter how we cook and top them. We’ve used this blend of seasonings for burgers cooked on the grill and in the oven, and we’ve now topped these delicious sandwiches with more varieties of toppings than makes sense to list here.

What makes this combination so good? It all starts with just a little bit of kick. You don’t want to give your burgers a funny taste that strays too far from what beef tastes like. But you don’t want a bland burger with no flavor. This blend is just the right amount of taste without going too far.

So far, my favorite way to top these burgers is the assortment you see in the picture above. A few pieces or a small bed of shredded lettuce, a hunk of fresh-sliced cheddar cheese and the desired amount of your favorite barbecue sauce. Per my experiences as a Texas barbecue consumer, I’d suggest a sauce that’s a bit more smoky than sweet, but not one that’s heavy on vinegar. Honestly, one of my favorites for this recipe is Heinz’s Kansas City BBQ Sauce, right out of the bottle. Top off your burgers with a couple of pickle chips for an extra little crunch if you like.

Most importantly though, be sure you can enjoy the flavor of your beef. Here’s how you can do that. The yield for this recipe is 4 burgers.

Ingredients

1.6 pounds of fresh ground beef (I like at least 80-20, and 90-10 is even better)

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon garlic salt

4 hearty buns (I like Brioche)

12 pickle chips

BBQ sauce (of your choice)

4 pieces of freshly sliced cheddar cheese

lettuce (small pieces or leaves to shred)

Process

1 – The most important step is to blend your own burger meat and hand-patty the burgers yourself. The best burgers I’ve ever had – at home or in a restaurant – were clearly hand-pattied. So get your hands dirty and mix your beef, chili powder and garlic salt together. Start by tearing the ground beef into small pieces in a bowl, then top with the seasonings, and finally incorporate by hand.

2 – Once everything is nice and mixed, divide the meat into four equal amounts (if you want all of your burgers to be the same size) and roll each one into a ball. Then, if you don’t have a burger press, use your hands to press the burgers into patties less than an inch thick (any thicker and cooking will take longer and be more difficult to gauge).

3 – Cook your burgers with your desired method and to desired doneness, either on a grill, stovetop or in the oven. I prefer using the oven method – cooking them in an aluminum foil packet – and seeing all of the grease that drains off. You end up with a well-cooked burger that maintains its juiciness without all of the fat. The oven process can also be ideal to save time and hassle with the grill, and if you cook the meat in a packet to catch the juices, you won’t have a dirty pan or grill grate to clean up later.

4 – Lightly toast your buns, then top with your burger patty and a piece of cheddar cheese. Put your burger and cheese in the microwave for 20-30 seconds to melt the cheese perfectly and re-soften the now-toasted bun (this is a trick I like to use to toast a bun and then remove any excess crunch…I don’t like a toasted bun that creates all of the pieces that fall off, meaning parts of the bun I don’t eat).

5 – Add the lettuce and top with the barbecue sauce and pickles and serve.

We’ve tried a lot of burger combinations at our house, but this simple two-seasoning, hand-pattied option has become our go-to method for a delicious homemade burger. And if you’ve read to the very end, I must leave you a golden coin of information that may be the best part of all. The recipe above costs me less than $2 per serving, without sacrificing good meat, good bread, fresh cheese and other ingredients for toppings. Good luck finding a $2 burger this good at any restaurant. (I suggest you try this recipe instead!)

Foodie Travels: Superior Seafood, New Orleans, La.

fullsizerender-3

Superior Seafood’s profiteroles

In the culinary haven of New Orleans, which delights foodies with specialties ranging from gumbo to beignets, Molly and I were fortunate to stumble upon a restaurant that serves up a number of those classics, all in one place.

Superior Seafood, located in the city’s historic uptown, has that traditional New Orleans atmosphere feel to it and just enough parking to allow us to snag a spot on a weekday afternoon. We discovered this restaurant by searching online for a good option for lunch while driving through Louisiana on a road trip from Texas to North Carolina.

Our meal started with a fresh loaf of French bread and fresh butter. You get the whole loaf and have the pleasure of slicing off pieces yourself.

fullsizerender-2

Superior’s gumbo

Among the choices of a large variety of entrees, we opted for a few Southern classics. Molly savored a bowl of fresh shrimp over creamy grits. I enjoyed a po boy with fresh crispy, fried shrimp and a cup of seasoned gumbo. 

Satisfied but intrigued by desserts we’d seen on an adjoining table, perhaps our best part of the meal was dessert. For Molly, it was a flavorful, spiced bread pudding. For me, it was a pair of profiteroles, delicious small pastry-puff sandwich with fresh cream and ice cream. Each dessert was more than enough for one person, and each was $2. How many nice sit-down restaurants offer a specially made dessert for $2?

fullsizerender

The shrimp po boy

Along with the jazz music you’d expect as the ambiance accompaniment to delicious food in New Orleans, Superior Seafood’s dining rooms almost felt like the scene of a step back in time to a slice of America in the 1940s and 1950s. The Southern charm of the restaurant and its staff certainly added to our experience.

Superior Seafood

4338 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans, La.

SuperiorSeafoodNOLA.com

$$ (on a scale of $ most affordable, $$ middle of the road, $$$ expensive)

$5 S’mores Dip for the Family

What do you need to make this s’mores dip? Three ingredients and a cast iron pan. That’s it! This is by far one of the easiest desserts you can make. We found a similar dessert on Pinterest, but decided we wanted to make it even simpler by using regular marshmallows instead of cutting the giant marshmallows into smaller pieces. It just made sense! Here’s a look at your ingredients.

IMG_8051

OK, so s’mores are messy, right? And sometimes it’s hard to find a summer family dessert that everyone will like. But if everyone likes graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate? You’re set! Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

1 cup milk chocolate chips (about $2)

1/2 bag of marshmallows (97 cents at our local market)

1 box of graham crackers (about $1)

Instructions:

1. Take out your cast iron pan and pour the chocolate chips in the bottom as evenly as you can.

2. Cover the chocolate chips with about half a bag of marshmallows, or more if you want extra marshmallow on top. We found that leaving a little space between some of the marshmallows is fine, because they’ll expand and melt together.

IMG_8049IMG_8050

3. Cook in a preheated 450-degree oven for about 7 minutes. Don’t burn them! Just cook until the marshmallows are golden brown on top.

4. While that’s cooking, break your graham crackers into dippable pieces. (Usually into quarters.)

IMG_8054

5. Remove from oven, place the hot cast iron pan on a towel so it won’t burn the surface you put it on, and start dipping!

IMG_8053IMG_3336

Molly’s take: This dip is AMAZING. Five reasons you should try it: It’s easier than making actual s’mores, which take a lot of assembly. It’s less messy, because you’re not squishing out the chocolate and the marshmallow every time you take a bite. It’s super, dirt cheap – -all the ingredients can be purchased for just a few dollars! You don’t need to be a baker to do it–just pop in the oven for 7 minutes and you’re done. And, it’s an utter delight to your tastebuds. BONUS reason: It’s ultimately share-able and proven to bring a smile to people’s faces.

Matthew’s take: Anybody can make this dip. Bachelors. Families. Kids can even make it with adult supervision on the oven part, especially with how hot the cast iron pan gets. You could even make this dip by your fire while you’re out camping. As Molly said, this dip is better than the traditional s’mores because it’s less messy, easier to assemble and easier to eat. I give this dip a triple A+ for taste, presentation and cost. It simply doesn’t get much better than this.

Italian Savory Monkey Bread (aka Pizza Puffs)

Pizza Puffs

Home economics classes seem like a stereotypical female rite of passage in the 1950s. But in 1998, Matthew’s middle school home economics class was where he learned this recipe for “Pizza Puffs,” which he now affectionately refers to as Italian Savory Monkey Bread. It’s a delicious, incredibly simple and delightfully cheap way to make a homemade pizza of sorts without doing the work to mix even the simplest of crusts. Kudos to Matthew’s home-ec teacher Ginger Patterson for sharing this recipe, which is easy enough for a young teenager to make with minimal adult supervision.

Ingredients

1 can of eight biscuits

your favorite pizza sauce

shredded cheese

desired additional toppings (pepperoni, cooked hamburger meat, vegetables, etc.)

Step one:

Cut the biscuits into 4 pieces each and spread across the bottom of a thin casserole dish.

Step two:

Cover the biscuits with the desired amount of sauce, add additional toppings of your choice and cover generously with cheese.

Step three:

Bake in a 375-degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. (Your cooking time will vary based on your oven, the depth of toppings and how brown you want the biscuits and cheese.)

Step four:

Let cool and break apart pieces to serve. The recipe will serve 2-4 people, depending on how hungry you are.

Matthew’s take: This is one of the first recipes I learned to make on my own (other than stir-fry, which I started making about the same time by experimenting with grilled chicken, cheese and green peppers in a pan on the stovetop). It’s a delicious recipe that is mostly homemade, without any real cooking going into it. That should appeal to people who don’t like spending a lot of time and effort making dinner, while also appealing to people who don’t want to spend a lot of money buying ingredients for a meal. Quite possibly the best part is that, like a full traditional pizza, you can eat the leftovers cold or warm. These get an A+ for ease and cost, an A for taste and a B for presentation. Other than the browned cheese, there’s nothing fancy about how they look, but taste is what matters most of all to me.

Molly’s take: Despite my well-known dislike for pasta/pizza sauce, I’m glad Matthew took a chance on making these for us. They’re very easy to make, inexpensive and quite tasty! I personally loved having sausage and pepperoni on them. The more meats the better! But that’s how I usually feel about pizza anyway. This had a deep-dish pizza taste to me, which I liked, and a good combination of meat, cheese, sauce and bread. Overall, a delicious and easy meal for a family to make, since it can feed up to four people, or a couple like us, who can have it for leftovers on another day. Overall grade: A. 🙂