Sunday, August 16, 2015

Juicy Pub-Style Burgers (and a little honesty about being a food blogger today)

My fingertips have been hovering above my keyboard.  I'm really not sure where to start this blog post.  Bear with me, for just a moment or two as I digress from sharing this juicy burger recipe that I ground myself-- even though I don't even own a meat grinder.  (This recipe comes from America's Test Kitchen.)

Inhale.  I've been blogging for seven years.  Seven wonderful years, that has introduced me to so many wonderful people who love to cook and bake as much as I do.  I've been blessed to attend food blogger festivals, and I have been able to rub elbows with celebrity chefs and celebrity food bloggers.  I've enjoyed some great perks-- like, when the UPS truck shows up with kitchen tools or foods for me to test and develop recipes for.  How could I not love that?!!  Food blogging has been my creative outlet, and has encouraged me to step up my game with what I feed to my family. 

There was a time when I would make some extra pocket money, that I used to pay website designers,  or to purchase cookware or gourmet ingredients.  But, in recent times, the food blog community has changed a lot.  It's become more competitive, and I don't make as much extra cash as I once did. It seems that I've reached a fork in the road, where I feel a little left behind (and somewhat guilty) in maintaining regular food blog posts.  In short, I have broken a few of the Golden Rules of having a successful food blog, within the last year or so.

What rule is that, you might wonder?

I've been blogging rather infrequently-- sometimes with two weeks of no blog posts being posted.  This, I've been told, can cause a loss of readership.  By my recent stats, I can see this is happening.  It's discouraging, for me, because I cherish each and every person who has faithfully been reading my food bog.  I so enjoy visiting my favorite food blogs, and discovering new ones. I spend at average of 2 hours (or more)  to edit and organize my food photos, and to write the blog post.   I have a full-time job that I love, but it has become more and more demanding of my time and energy.

So,  I had to make a choice. I chose to spend more of my time focusing on my family, my health, my job and less time on social media.  That, my friends, is another Golden Rule that I've broken in the Food Blogger community. The most successful food bloggers don't only have beautiful photos and recipes, but they are very active on Twitter, Facebook and blog more than once a week-- some blog every day! 

Thank you to those of you who remain faithful readers of my food bog.  I have no immediate plans to quit food blogging altogether..   I won't allow statistics to make me feel like a failure.  I will continue to share the simple food (and desserts) that I make for my family and friends when I can.  One day, I'll be able to retire. Then, maybe, I can make this food blog my full-time job and be rich! (Just kidding/wishing on that last thought.)

Thank you for listening.  Muwahhh!  Exhale.

Okay... on with this recipe:

It is highly unusual for me to eat burgers from a big chain take-out place-unless, there's a good Mom and  Pop place that char-grills their burgers. Then, I'm in!

While you don't need a meat grinder, you do need a food processor to make this recipe. You also need to buy Sirloin Steak Tips.  Maybe you've seen this cut labeled as Round Tip Steak, Tip Steak, Sandwich Steak, Ball Tip Steak, Breakfast Steak, or Knuckle Steak?

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mexican Style Grilled Steak (Carne Asada) and Simple Refried Beans

If I had to pick a comfort food that brings me back to my childhood, it's Mexican food. My father, God rest his soul, was Hispanic. For as long as I can remember, he always had a bowl of homemade salsa on the table, and he loved tortillas and refried beans.

While I seem to have inherited more of my mother's German light skin, I've definitely inherited his love of beans and tortillas. Unfortunately, I have never been able to find a canned refried bean that didn't taste gross.

I am still trying to find my own authentic recipe for making refried beans the way that my Nana did. I like for my beans to have some texture to them (definitely not pureed) with a very subtle flavor of pork. I have no doubt that there's a lot of lard involved, too. I'll keep looking, and when I find the Holy Grail of refried beans recipe-- you can count on me sharing it on my blog. I promise.

Carne Asada is one of my favorite choices for tacos or burritos.  There are plenty of recipes for Carne Asada-- some involve marinating the meat in citrus.  You can use either flank steak or skirt steak.
This particular recipe doesn't use a marinade, but it's quick and flavorful.  As with many of my recipes, these come from America's Test Kitchen.  Here's how and why they developed the recipe:

To create a recipe for a carne asada platter that satisfies like the original, we started with skirt steak. Since it’s most tender and juicy when cooked to medium, it allowed us to create plenty of char on its exterior without overcooking it. We eschewed the standard lime juice marinade in favor of a dry salting to promote faster browning on the grill and then gave the steak a squeeze of fresh lime before serving. To speed up charring even more and create a large enough area of concentrated heat to cook all four steaks at once, we cut the bottom from a disposable aluminum roasting pan and used it to corral the coals. For heady garlic flavor, we treated the cooked steaks like bruschetta, rubbing their rough crusts with a smashed garlic clove.
I've made these twice-- once using our Weber grill...

 ... and then, another time, using our gas grill. 

Because we are cooking for two, nowadays, the gas grill was the easier version, because we use less charcoal.

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