Grilled Burgers

I love grilled hamburgers. I mean who doesn’t love a juicy, smoky grilled burger? I use a natural gas grill for all of my grilling and in my opinion it is just as good as a charcoal grill.

For a better burger, flip them just once while grilling.

Linda Stradley of What’s Cooking America web site notes that “…even the ancient Egyptians ate ground meat, and down through the ages we also find that ground meat has been shaped into patties and eaten all over the world under many different names.”

So get out there and start grilling some burgers. It will surely please your family.

Grilled Burgers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
Kosher or Seasoned salt
4 slices Cheddar Cheese
4 hamburger buns

Divide the meat into four equal portions. Form each portion into a 3/4 inch burger. Season each side with the salt.

Heat the gas grill to high. Grill the burgers approximately four minutes on the first side with the lid closed. Flip over the burgers and grill approximately three minutes. Add a slice of cheese to each burger and continue grilling until the cheese is melted. The above times on my grill and on high heat produce a well done burger. Reduce the cooking time if you prefer a medium rare burger.

Serve the grilled burgers on hamburger buns with your favorite condiments. If desired, also serve with tomato, lettuce and onion.

grilled burger

Sweet Tea

Mother’s Day is tomorrow. So, wishing all you moms out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.

All Southern Ladies can cook. Right? My Mom was a Southern Lady who could not cook and rarely attempted to cook anything.  Early on in my childhood, she became the sweet tea maker with my dad doing all the cooking.  She wasn’t bothered by her lack of cooking ability and laughed along with family and friends when they joked about it.

I believe this is how she made the tea.

Sweet Tea

2 tablespoons Lipton Loose Tea
1 quart boiling water

Pour the boiling water over the tea leaves. Brew three to five minutes, then strain. Sweeten with sugar or honey to taste. Serve over ice cubes.


Hot Artichoke Dip

This hot artichoke dip is an amazing appetizer that will disappear quickly and leave you craving more. Unlike a lot of artichoke dips this one doesn’t have spinach as an ingredient. This dip is thicker and richer thanks to the addition of cream cheese.

For ease of preparation this recipe uses the canned variety of artichokes. It is interesting to note that the Globe Artichokes were brought to the United States in the 19th century by French and Spanish immigrants.

Hot Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Hot Artichoke Dip

12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cups of canned water packed artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup white wine

Combine all ingredients and mix by hand until blended. Transfer the dip to a 1-1/2 quart size oven safe bowl. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until puffy and golden. Serve warm with Blue Corn Chips.


Italian Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Pasta. Nearly everyone loves pasta. Tomato sauce is not the only sauce that can be used with pasta but in my opinion it is the best one to be paired with it. No need to buy the tomato sauce in the jar when homemade is so easy to make. This is a simple tomato sauce that is a perfect foundation for any pasta recipe, chicken or even pizza. Typically, I serve it with Angel Hair Spaghetti, with the addition of ground beef to the sauce.

According to Wikipedia, the use of tomato sauce with pasta appears for the first time in the Italian cookbook L’Apicio modern, by Roman Chef Francesco Leonardi, edited in 1790.

This recipe is adapted from a beloved cookbook that is no longer in print, European Cooking, Copyright 1958. It has traditional recipes from twenty-four countries, this recipe being adapted from Italy. The book was purchased by a family member years ago while in Europe and, fortunately for me, handed down to me.

The picky eaters in your family will love this. I know because it is a favorite of several picky eaters in my family.

Don’t worry about using canned tomatoes in this recipe. Just try to buy a good brand. I have used this recipe substituting fresh tomatoes in the summer and can’t tell a big difference between the two. This recipe can be doubled and it also can be frozen.

Italian Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
cup chopped onion
1 28-ounce size can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 14.5-ounce size can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil

Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Heat oil in a dutch oven and saute the onion until translucent.  Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, beef stock, salt, pepper and bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and simmer uncovered 1 1/2 hours.  Stir occasionally.  Add oregano and basil and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Makes approximately 1 quart.

Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 quart Tomato Sauce (see above recipe)

Heat olive oil and brown meat. Drain and return to the pan. Add tomato sauce and simmer uncovered about 1/2 hour. Serve over your favorite pasta.


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries are a natural for Valentines Day. Adding chocolate to the juicy, sweet yet tart flavor of a strawberry takes it to another level. Making chocolate covered strawberries is so easy that you should make it for that special person every Valentines Day.

Usually around Valentines Day, I can find Florida grown strawberries from a local specialty foods store and this year was no exception. I used Florida grown berries in this recipe today. I find them to be tastier than the ones grown in California.

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

1 (12 ounce) package of semisweet chocolate chips
1 pound of fresh large strawberries with leaves

Gently wash the strawberries and very carefully completely dry them.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave until melted. Be sure to stir the chips every 15-30 seconds to prevent burning or scorching. Remove from the microwave and stir to make sure completely melted. Carefully grasp the stem or leaves of the strawberries and dip into the chocolate and swirl in chocolate to partially cover. Give the strawberries a gentle shake as you take out of the chocolate. Place the strawberry on a prepared cookie sheet lined with tin foil. Repeat with the remainder of the strawberries. Allow the chocolate to harden. Enjoy.  


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Cream of Potato Soup

I love homemade soup and make it quite often. I very rarely buy the canned variety. Homemade is so much better and usually not that difficult to prepare. With the cold and snowy days we have been having, a hot and hearty soup is a must for lunch or dinner. This soup is a favorite of my family on wintry days.

The soup is rich and made even richer by the addition of cream cheese and heavy cream. While the soup is not low-calorie, it is comfort food that will surely help soothe the winter blues.

Cream of Potato Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken stock or broth
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Stir in the potatoes, salt, pepper and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are fork-tender. Use a potato masher to roughly mash the potatoes. Cut the cream cheese into small pieces and add to the soup. Stir until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream.

Serve the soup with your favorite toppings such as grated cheddar cheese, bacon pieces and chopped green onions.  


Pineapple Casserole

There are a lot of versions of the Pineapple Casserole on the web.  Most of them have Cheddar Cheese and Ritz crackers as ingredients.  This recipe does not include those two ingredients.

When I first got this recipe, I thought surely that it was a Southern recipe, even though the family member who gave me the recipe is from Grand Rapids.

The recipe was given to me over ten years ago and I have been making it at least once a year since then.  It makes a wonderful, slightly sweet  and delicious side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter dinners.  It goes especially well with Ham.

We associate the pineapple  with Hawaii.  But the pineapple is actually native to South America and was introduced to Hawaii by early European Explorers.  Try this Pineapple Casserole recipe, your family is sure to love it.

Pineapple Casserole

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of whipping cream
1 cup of crushed pineapple, drained
4 cups of cubed white bread (with crust)
1 cup of walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs and the whipping cream  to the creamed mixture.  Beat together.  By hand, mix in the drained pineapple, bread cubes and walnuts.  Pour into a 9 x 13 inch  pan or 2 1/2 quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Bake at 350° for 30 to 45 minutes till golden brown.  

pineapple casserole