Jalepeño Popper Burger

It's football season both pro and college and that means tailgates and grilling. When you want to step up your game and wow your crowd, look to the burger.  Not an ordinary burger. You will need to impress with this jalepeño popper inspired burger. Two patties with a cream cheese, cheddar, jalepeño filling in the middle that yields a gooey and creamy burst of flavor.  These can be made in slider size or regular burger size depending on your serving needs. I guarantee your guests will definitely be asking for these again.  I hope you enjoy these.

Ingredients for 2 burgers:

3/4 to 1 lb ground sirloin
2 Tbs softened cream cheese
1 Tbs diced pickled jalepeños (nacho style)
1 Tbs diced red onion
1/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (orange or white)
Salt and Pepper
Your favorite bakery buns
Romaine lettuce
Tomato
Red Onion

Cream cheese mixture before adding the grated cheese

Cream cheese mixture before adding the grated cheese

After adding grated cheese

After adding grated cheese

Sriracha Sauce:
1 Tbs mayonaise or greek yogurt
A few dashes of sriracha to your taste
small squeeze of lime

Heat your indoor or outdoor grill while you make the patties.

In a small bowl mix softened cream cheese, diced jalepeños, diced onion together.
Add the grated cheese and mix to combine.
Set aside.
Divide meat in 1/2 and then each half in 1/2 again so you have 4 balls of meat.
Flatten your base burger and make a indented center well to house the filling.
Flatten another burger for the top cover.
Fill each base burger (with the indent) with about 2 Tbs of filling.
Top and seal with the flat burger sealing the edges together pinching with your fingers.
Reshape and repeat with the other burger.
Season with salt and pepper

Make an indentation by flattening the center of the burger a bit thinner than the rest to house the filling

Make an indentation by flattening the center of the burger a bit thinner than the rest to house the filling

Fill each patty with the jalepeño filling and top with the remaining patty.

Fill each patty with the jalepeño filling and top with the remaining patty.

Seal the edges and reshape the burger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting on the grill

Seal the edges and reshape the burger. Sprinkle with salt and pepper before putting on the grill

And here is your finished grilled burger. Place some sriracha sauce on the bottom bun then add lettuce, burger, choice of toppings and more sauce on the top bun to hold. Cut it 1/2 for serving. The center will be a creamy, cheesy and spicy burst of flavor.

And here is your finished grilled burger. Place some sriracha sauce on the bottom bun then add lettuce, burger, choice of toppings and more sauce on the top bun to hold. Cut it 1/2 for serving. The center will be a creamy, cheesy and spicy burst of flavor.

Mamacita's Chili

The perfect cool-weather dish to feed a crowd for Sunday football, this chili can be tailored for just the right amount of heat.  Like all of my original recipes, this one is rustic and fool-proof but delivers a punch of rich flavor.  I love to use Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit as a base but you can certainly use your own spice blend.  Simply taste along the way and adjust the spice and salt to your liking; this one is all about the full-bodied flavor profile.

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs top loin steak, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp Masa flour from Carroll Shelby Chili Kit or all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bottle of beer, IPA or ale
1 can (28oz) whole tomatoes or tomato purée
1 can (15oz) Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
Carroll Shelby's chili seasoning (I use 1/2 bag seasoning only)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chipotle powder
2 cans (15oz) kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (15oz) pinto beans, drained & rinsed
Frozen roasted corn, 1/2 bag. I prefer Trader Joe’s.
Optional: frozen bell pepper/onion mix, 1/2 bag.  I prefer Trade Joe’s.

Garnishes:

Scallions
Cilantro
Sour cream
Grated cheese of your choice or queso fresco
Tortilla chips

Cooking Instructions:

Season the cubed meat with salt and pepper then dust with the masa or flour and toss to coat. Set aside. Drain and rinse all of the beans and set aside. Heat a 6qt pot on medium for about 1 minute, add olive oil, and sauté garlic and onion for 2 minutes until translucent.

Add cubed, seasoned, and floured meat to the pot. Let the meat cook for about 1 minute before stirring. Cook about 2 more minutes before stirring again to develop a good crust on the meat and leave little bits on the bottom of the pot.

Deglazing the pan. Look at that flavor just waiting to be released.

Deglazing the pan. Look at that flavor just waiting to be released.

These bits = flavor gold.  Add the beer to the pot to deglaze, scraping those bits from the bottom of the pan as you stir.

Add your tomatoes, Rotel, seasonings, and stir. Add in beans, corn, and the pepper/onion mix if you're using those. Stir, cover, and walk away.  Simmer for 25 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with your choice of garnish.


Nonna & Papa's Sausage Stew

IMG_7548.JPG

I'm an Italian who learned to cook from an Italian and as we all know generational Italian recipes are a little of this and a handful of that. This Italian rustica style of cooking has always meant, it will turn out just fine, no matter what, to my extended family.

This is one of those dishes.   You'll be pleasantly surprised how much flavor the sausage brings to the sauce as it finishes.  

As a child, I remember smashing the potatoes in my bowl to thicken the sauce and dipping my Nonna's homemade bread into it. My daughter commented while we were cooking this dish that our house smelled just like Ma's (my Moms) house.  One of the best compliments I could ever get.

Garlic, tomato sauce, basil, olive oil I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does.

Ingredients:

2lbs hot or mild italian sausage (I use a package of each)

3 cups water

2 tbsp olive oil

4 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks

2 - 3 carrots, cut into chunks

2 - 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks

2 zucchini (optional), halved and sliced

1 whole yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed and left whole

2 cans of your favorite tomato purée or crushed tomatoes

2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning blend

Salt and pepper to taste (tomatoes need salt so don't be surprised if you use 1+ tsp, but taste as you go)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional) for added heat

Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Parmesan cheese, shaved

Italian parsley, chopped

Crusty bread

 

Cooking Instructions:

In a saucepan, add the sausage with 2 cups (or more as needed) water and bring to a boil; boil 5-7 minutes to remove some of the excess oils. Remove, cut into chunks, and set aside. It's alright if they are not fully cooked as they will cook in the sauce later.

While the sausage is cooking, heat a Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil, and sauté onion and garlic together. Cook just until they start to get tender and watch to not burn your garlic.

Add carrots and potatoes. Sauté together 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add tomato purée, remaining 1 cup water, sausage, celery, oregano, basil and optional pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil and cover, then down to a medium simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are fork tender. Taste and season with more salt & pepper as needed.  If adding zucchini, put it in at the 50 minute mark; it cooks quickly and nobody likes mushy zucchini.

Ladle portions into in soup bowls, then top with shaved parmesan, chopped parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, and add a slice of crusty bread.

A full bodied Tuscan red or Chianti will balance out the acid of the tomato sauce nicely.

Mangia!

Serves 6-8

Where It All Began

Assorted crostini: Gorgonzola fig with balsamic glaze, Raspberry brie, & Lemon zest ricotta with pear, glazed walnut, and honey drizzle.

Assorted crostini: Gorgonzola fig with balsamic glaze, Raspberry brie, & Lemon zest ricotta with pear, glazed walnut, and honey drizzle.

Behind Kitchenwise™, there is a mom with three girls who love to help in the kitchen. I’m Laura Ivy, wife, mother, retail merchandiser, food enthusiast, and founder of Kitchenwise.  For my family, being in the kitchen together is an everyday occurrence.  I grew up in a big Italian family where cooking and helping out in the kitchen was a way of life. Sometimes we had several generations in there at once, passing on those all-important traditions and old world techniques; fresh food, seasonal ingredients (most grown in our garden) and everything bursting with flavor.

In keeping with the fresh-from-scratch traditions that I learned from my own mother and grandparents, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my girls talking about how food should be fresh, clean, healthy, and above all made with passion.  Who would have known that all these years later, these principles would apply to my new brand?

Kitchenwise was born with a mission to find the perfect balance in design, safety, and cleanliness; smart products that look good and work even better.  For me, preparing a great meal starts with fresh ingredients, a clear vision (even when I’m just winging it), and a clean kitchen. 

Chopping the last of the salad veggies while the steak rests.

Chopping the last of the salad veggies while the steak rests.

When my daughters were little and I was making something in the kitchen they were always eager to help, especially if beaters were involved, of course. Pulling up their little step stools to see over the countertop with their aprons on, they were ready to dive in.  Like most kids, my girls wanted to mimic what they saw me doing in the kitchen.  As they have gotten older, I have started letting them help with more tasks, under close supervision, of course. 

Safety is always on my mind when we’re in the kitchen together.  We all know that most household accidents happen in the kitchen; cuts and burns send plenty of folks to the dreaded ER every day.  While a hot pan on the stove is certainly a concern for me, it’s our kitchen knives that have always caused me the most worry, but not for the reason you might think. 

I’m a clean-as-you-go cook, so there is always a sink of hot, soapy water waiting while we are prepping a meal.  It just makes the cleanup at the end of a meal seem a bit less daunting.  My girls have picked up on this as well, but letting them wash our knives by hand is just not something I am comfortable with.  As soon as they head for the sink, I find myself trying to quickly remove any sharp knives that I tossed in there.  It’s like putting my hand into a bowl of piranhas while trying to not get bitten.

Ideally, knives should be hand washed, dried, and put way as soon as you are done with them; not letting them sit on the counter to get crusty, no extended soaks in the sink, and definitely no trips through the dishwasher. But there was no way I was going to let even my oldest just grab a basic sponge and go to town on our knives. 

My daughters’ eagerness to dive into a sink of dirty dishes really got me thinking that there had to be a safer way to clean the sharp stuff; something that I felt comfortable letting them use without having to watch their every move.  Something better than a folded sponge, but short of a cut-proof butcher’s glove.  So I looked in stores and online, and came up empty.  After reading endless blog posts and articles, I found that most people would rather compromise their knives by putting them in the dishwasher than risk getting cut by hand washing them. 

When I couldn’t find anything that would fit my needs, I decided to get creative.  I tested a few concepts in my own kitchen with my girls and we really felt like we were on to something.  With a basic concept and crude prototype in hand, I reached out to some friends at Silicon Valley design firm WAGIC.  Working together, we designed and created Skrub™, the first product to be launched under the Kitchenwise brand.  

Skrub is a product that takes some of the scary stuff out of washing knives.  It’s got a cut-proof frame, is comfortable for hands both big and small, and has all the scrubbing power you will need.  Check it out on Kickstarter: Skrub Cleaning System