Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Make Incredibly Juicy Grilled Burgers

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. Our flag flying in the breeze, the smell of hard working grills permeating the neighborhood, sun tea brewing on the porch. The crackles and booms of fireworks beginning at dusk.

I have to watch Independence Day on the 4th. Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, explosions, Aliens, fighter jets and patriotism. Can you go wrong?! The rest of the week, yes week, is spent with Spike's Force of July marathon. More explosions and James Earl Jones. A week well spent when the temps are dancing above 100, right?

Let's get to the grill!

The hubs and I have spent a good portion of the summer experimenting on how to make juicy, flavorful burgers. My burger-loving hubby certainly didn't object. When the hubs took one bite of these patties and said "these are the best ever", I knew I had something I would love sharing with you.

First off, let's start with spice blend. This burger spice can be used on anything you want to toss on your grill, but is particularly excellent in these burgers.

Burger Spice:
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all spices together. Store in an airtight container or spice shaker.

Now let's talk about beef. Ground beef. As much as we would all like to grab that 93% fat free pack, it just doesn't lend itself to a juicy burger. Aim for 80-85% fat free beef. Remember, some of that fat is going to stay with the grill. If you play some ultimate frisbee while your burgers cook, you can enjoy them guilt-free. Play hard, eat well!

If your local grocery store's beef just isn't cuttin' it for you, check out your local butchers and farmers' markets.

Juicy Burgers:
Makes 4 each 1/4 pound patties, double or triple as needed

1 pound 80-85% ground beef
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons burger spice

Line a baking dish with wax paper. Place beef in a bowl and sprinkle with soy sauce and burger spice.
Using your hands, lightly massage spices into the beef and divide into 4 equal portions.
Gently form each portion into a patty, about 1/2 inch thick. Try to handle the beef as little as possible. Using three fingers, make a large dimple in the center of the patty. This will keep the patties from swelling up into little balls on the grill. 
Layer the patties in the baking dish, using more wax paper for more patties. Allow the patties to rest for a few minutes while you fire up that grill to medium-hot. Grab a lid for your baking dish and head out to the grill. 

When the grill is hot, scrape the grates clean and lightly brush with vegetable or grapeseed oil. Lay the patties on the grill. I like to use an extra square of wax paper to transfer the burgers from dish to grill, then toss it all. It keeps me from running into the house to wash the dish.
Do not touch them for at least 4 minutes. Let them make friends with the grill, allow them to develop grill lines and seal in all that juice. 

Then flip!
Allow them to finish up for about 2-4 more minutes, depending on how you prefer your burgers to be cooked. Around 2 minutes for medium, 4 minutes for well-done. These times will fluctuate depending on the temp of you grill. 

Whatever you do, do not press on your burgers. More juice is more flavor. 

Pull the burgers off the grill and place back into the baking dish and cover. Allow the burgers to rest for at least 10 minutes. While the burgers rest, prepare your fixins. 

My favorite burger this summer has been BBQ-pepper jack. Just a little swirl of BBQ sauce on a slice of pepper jack is all I need.
Dig in and enjoy!

How do you like to celebrate the 4th?

Other recipes and ideas you might enjoy:
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs from A Cozy Kitchen

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mint Cookies & Cream Frozen Yogurt

Mint chocolate chip is good.
Cookies and cream is better. 

Mint Cookies and Cream is best. 

My favorite all-time ice cream flavor! It can be hard to find in the store. Edy's has it, but its rare that I want to pay the price in dollars or calories. 

We definitely love our froyo around here and its so easy. With just a few ingredients, you can have a sweet, refreshing treat in your bowl in about an hour. Use yogurt with a little fat content for a creamier texture.

Mint Cookies and Cream Frozen Yogurt:

3 cups 2% yogurt, Greek is best
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon mint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring (optional)
15 chocolate sandwich cookies

Mix yogurt, sugar, vanilla and mint and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Toss the cookies in a zip bag and lightly smash. 

Put yogurt mixture into your ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer's directions. In the last minute of churning, add the cookies. 

If you can't wait, enjoy your froyo immediately. Otherwise, transfer the ice cream to a freezer container and allow to set up in the freezer. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Spicy Grilled Black Beans

Love meals all cooked on the grill. 
It saves me a thousand trips in and out the back door. 
Checking the stove or oven. Taking a dish out to the hubby. 

Wondering if one of the cats snuck out before the door shut. 

Another easy side you can throw on the grill while your burgers, dogs, steaks, kebabs or whole chicken do their thing. 

Spicy Grilled Black Beans
Serves 4

2 tablespoons Frank's Red Hot Sauce (or more to taste)
1-2 teaspoons honey
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cups black beans, cooked, rinsed, and drained

Whisk together the Barbecue, Frank's and honey. Stir in onion and beans. Spread in a foil pan and cover with foil.
Place on a medium-hot grill and cook for 15-30 minutes, as long as your meat of choice requires. Allow beans to rest along with meat. Serve hot and enjoy!