Sunday, September 29, 2013

Perfect Hamburger Buns -- In an hour! (Including a Whole Wheat Version)

One week after sharing how to make hot dog buns, in an hour, I'm finally able to share how to shape the same recipe into hamburger buns.  I don't mean to be a buzzkill, but I feel a little self-guilt that my recipe posts have slowed down to a trickle of one a week.  I really miss my creative hobby of food blogging. I miss not having the time to visit my favorite food blogs. I miss not having time to make new recipes, photographing and editing them, and writing a blog post. There is such a sense of gratification of investing two hours of my time to write one blog post.

With my busy job, and physical therapy appointments, I have to settle for being a "Weekend Blogger".   Most of our weekday meals are my tried and true recipes, that are already on my blog. If you follow my Facebook Fan Page, during the week I do try to share what recipe I'm making and to quickly check in to see what my friends are up to.  

So, the weekend has rolled around and this is when I focus on spending time at home, with my husband and household chores.  I look forward to my Saturday mornings, when our 5:15am alarm is turned off. Bliss. On the weekends, I try to make at least one new recipe and to write a blog post.

I promised to post a tutorial on how to make hamburger buns from the hot dog bun recipe that I shared. It just didn't seem like it would be enough. Then, I had an idea-- why not modify the recipe to be a whole wheat version?

It worked! Once again, the rolls were ready in less than an hour.  For those of you who think you are yeast-challenged, I hope that you will reconsider.  This recipe is so easy to make, and tastes much better than commercially burger buns.  The aroma of fresh baked bread-- you can't buy that! 

When I made the hot dog buns, I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand.  Sometimes, I like using my hands. It feels a bit therapeutic.  This time, I used my Kitchen Aid Stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. It worked great!  I cut the dough into twelve pieces to shape them into hamburger rolls.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Perfect Homemade Hot Dog Buns -- in about an hour!

I know that I sound like a Lenscrafters commercial, but this recipe for homemade hot dog (or hamburger) buns is as easy as it gets.  From start to finish, I had beautiful golden homemade hot dog buns in an hour. Seriously!

I love baking bread, which is fairly new to me. I used to own a bread making machine, but it broke and I never replaced it.  A few years ago, I discovered that my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer does a great job of mixing and kneading bread dough.  That's when I began to experiment with making bread rolls, and that I could have piping hot homemade rolls in an hour.  My husband's favorite bread rolls are my Buttered Rosemary Skillet Rolls.  (If you look at my Recipe Index By Category, you'll see a collection of bread recipes that I've made.)

I've always wanted to try making homemade hot dog buns. A recent trip to buy hot dog buns left me coming up empty. They were all sold out.  Necessity is the Mother of Invention, so I did a little research on how to make hot dog rolls, and I settled on a recipe from

I have a Danish Dough Whisk, that is a great tool for mixing bread dough by hand.  The dough is a bit wet, and becomes sticky at first.  For the dry ingredients, all you need is All-Purpose Flour (or bread flour), salt and Instant Yeast (with this batch, I used Fleischmann's Rapid Rise yeast).  For the wet ingredients, you use milk, water and butter.

As you can see, the dough is very soft.  Once mixed together, I dumped the dough onto a generously floured surface and began kneading the dough, adding a little flour at a time until smooth and elastic.

I cut the dough into ten pieces, then stretched them into a rectangular shape (no need for perfection here), then rolled them into a hot dog shape.  

These look a but "rustic" (in other words...crude), but after placing them into my "proofing" oven (turning the oven on WARM for a few minutes, then turning it off)...

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Hawaiian "Bullseye" Burger

Labor Day is dubbed the "unofficial" end of Summer. I'll say! My friends, from all over the country, are lamenting that it's in the 90's. We're a bit cooler on the Central Coast of California, but it's plenty warm enough to keep our love of grilled dinners going. So while school is back in session, there are still plenty of weekends left to fire up the grill.  Plus, with football underway, I'm sure there will be plenty of barbeques happening. There's still plenty of time, before I start making pumpkin recipes and hearty stews & soups.

Target is the one-stop shop for all of your grilling and backyard entertaining needs. Featuring meats, condiments, flavorful sauces and fresh sides, Target’s owned brands Archer Farms and Market Pantry offer delicious, high-quality products at a great value. Additionally, select Target stores carry Target’s Sutton & Dodge brand, delivering a full menu of perfectly marbled, premium quality USDA Choice Angus beef that is naturally aged, hand-trimmed and found in the best steakhouses – at a fraction of the price. 

Target Stores offered me a $25.00 gift card to create a grilling recipe.  Yes, please!  We shop at Target all the time, which is right on my path from work to home.  I've compared prices for many of our pantry and grocery staples, like milk, bread and even beer.  In most cases, Target prices are less expensive that my grocery store! 

On the day I decided to shop, in the Target grocery store area, the store happened to be sold out of hot dog buns (that was Labor Day weekend.)  So, I made my own hot dog buns-- and they were so good! (I will share that recipe  on my next post.)

This weekend, I wanted to use the same roll recipe to shape them into hamburger buns. Of course, I wanted to created a hamburger recipe with the ground beef and Archer Farms Sweet Pineapple Hawaiian-Style Barbecue sauce that I purchased, at Target.

Let's see... Pineapple Barbecue Sauce.  Well, that inspired to think about something Hawaiian. As luck would have it, I found a ripe pineapple at the grocery store.  I am in-love with this pineapple slicer/corer. It' s so easy to simply lop off the top of the pineapple, screw in the corer and...

...twist and then lift up the pineapple!

To make a Hawaiian-themed burger, I decided to use a combination of one pound (each) ground beef and pork.  To season the burger patties, I used sliced green onion, allspice and ground ginger-- and then I added cilantro.

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Perfect Bacon and Awesome Tips!

At a Food Blogger's Conference, I attended a few years ago, I sat through a food writing workshop. One of the adjectives that we were told to eliminate, when describing a recipe, is "awesome". I'm breaking that rule, because I'm sharing two awesome kitchen tips that I use for storing bacon, and for making awesome bacon.

Tip #1: My boys prefer thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon.  Whenever I stock up, at Costco, I buy their bacon. When I arrive home,  I roll out a long piece of plastic wrap.  I set a slice of bacon on top, and roll it over once, then add another slice and roll it over...well, you get the picture.  What I end up with is a layer of individual slices, with plastic wrap.  I put that rolled up bacon slices in to a Zip Loc bag and place it in the freezer.

There's a method to my madness, with taking the time to do this.  For one, once I open a package of bacon, I'm risking that it will go "bad" if I don't use it all at once. 
In addition, when I need one slice, (or multiple slices of bacon) I simply unwrap my frozen package and pull off a slice.

Sometimes, I slip a dull knife in between slices, and that usually gets the party started. There! One slice of bacon.  When I make breakfast potatoes, or any kind of recipe that needs "lardons" (basically thin slices of bacon), I find that frozen bacon is much easier to slice. 

TIP #2:  My preferred method for preparing bacon slices isn't in the microwave, or by frying it.  (Though, I will use my cast-iron skillet to make crispy bacon for crumbling into a recipe.) I've been baking/roasting  bacon slices, for several years. I like this method best, because the bacon doesn't become soggy, as it cooks in the fat that it has rendered.  I use a baking sheet, coated with foil, and a wire cooling rack placed on top. 

As an added flavor bonus,  I make Candied Bacon (Brown sugar bacon) which has become a favorite breakfast treat, with my men.  I simply dip bacon slices into brown sugar, and coat them on both sides, before placing them on the wire cooling rack. The only drawback, is that the rack can take a bit of elbow grease to clean.

My clever friends at "America's Test Kitchen" shared a tip that I had to test for myself.  Instead of using a wire cooling rack, I used heavy duty aluminum foil, folded it to fit the width of my foil-covered baking rack. I folded the heavy duty aluminum foil into approximately 1-1/2" folds, to resemble a fan.

Because my Big Boys love bacon, I figured I needed to make at least 12 slices. I was able to fit the frozen bacon over the folds, even though the slices overlapped a bit.  You might be wondering what the advantage is by

I generously sprinkled brown sugar all over the frozen bacon, and then inserted the rack into a 400F oven.

Baking time varies, of course. America's Test Kitchen recommends about 10-12 minutes total.  Because I used thick-cut, frozen bacon, the total cooking time was closer to 24 minutes.  My boys like their bacon to be more of the soft and chewy side. I like for my bacon to be more on the crispy side. 

Once I removed their share of bacon, and placed it on a paper towel-lined plate I returned the bacon to the oven, and broiled the slices for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on them. (The brown sugar can burn very quickly and set off the smoke alarm-- which gave my son a rude awakening that mom was making breakfast.)

The cleanup is easy!
Crunch, together, the foil (once the fat has cooled)...

...and toss.  Done.

 Here's the video, from America's Test Kitchen, though I've adapted the method by using heavy foil (which they don't mention) and adding brown sugar.  (A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.)

Here's the recipe card:

Other than the smoke alarm going off, I had two happy men.  I ate two slices, and they ate the rest.  The brown sugar gives an addiction sweet and salty flavor that is irresistible.


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