Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Only Quarter Pounder I Want to Eat

Confession time: I used to love Quarter Pounders. Every once in awhile I just had to have one. (Which reminds me... isn't it Shamrock Shake season and don't they stop selling them after St. Patrick's Day? Hopefully that means I'll make it through the weekend without buying one!) I loved that grease and that cheese... all of it together was just... mmm. Now, thankfully, whenever I eat one I get sick. So I've come to associate the Quarter Pounder with getting sick and don't eat them anymore.

But I still love burgers. I don't ever want to give up meat because I love burgers so much. During Mardi Gras weekend when my friend Molly was here we went to a bar on St. Claude called Siberia hoping to see a burlesque and comedy show called "Jiggles and Bits," I think. Because it was Lundi Gras, the show was cancelled. But we hadn't eaten dinner and wanted to try Russian food (we'd already had Ethiopian and would have Lebanese the next day) and stuck around to hear the sounds of "Krewe de Peaux," an eclectic lineup of a marching band from Austin, a rock n' roll trio of Japanese guys, and a very odd little man on keyboard (I left when he came on; he just wasn't my style). She got some type of vegetarian sandwich (I don't remember) and I got the Russki burger, a big beautiful burger with garlic mushrooms and spinach, cheddar and Swiss, LTP, and Russian dressing. It was divine. (I also got a side of fries. They were awesome but the burger was so good and so big that I didn't eat many of the fries; Molly didn't eat them either. During the show, a couple guys were like, "Are those your fries?" They'd gone cold but I said yes and that they could have them. The two proceeded to inhale them; it was pretty funny to watch.)

As part of my pledge to eat what I've got in my pantry, I'm also trying to go through what's in my freezer. I had two pounds of beef in there that I just kept forgetting to thaw. Finally this morning I put one pound into the fridge. When I got home it was still mostly frozen so I thawed it in the microwave in 30-second intervals. Then I made burgers.

I was curious about different ways to cook burgers so I made two quarter pounders in the toaster oven and two in the frying pan.

These taste delicious, even though they look like mystery meat. 

The ones in the frying pan looked much better. 

Instead of the usual accouterments (I know that's not how it's supposed to be spelled - it's your fault Google dictionary!), I ate it on a piece of French baguette with Vegemite spread and avocado. I LOVE avocado - love love love. "Where have you been all my life?!?!" kind of love. I had a little cheese and a few cherry tomatoes on the side. 

It was a very filling, very delicious meal. WAY better than any Quarter Pounder. Though I would still like a Shamrock Shake... 

What do you like to eat on your burgers?   

Amazing "Struggle Dough" Sugar Cookies

So I somehow wound up with a 2 pound and a 1 pound bag of sugar, as well as a small plastic container of local sugar that I got as a freebie with a grocery order. I also have a 1 pound bag of confectioner's sugar, but that's lagniappe at this point. With all this sugar and a pledge to eat out of and clean out my pantry in the weeks before I move away from New Orleans (six! waaah), I decided the other night to bake sugar cookies, thinking that they must use more sugar than normal cookies. (They don't.)

Nonetheless, I was feeling a little upset after a stressful day and had to get up early for work. If I had to get up early and do a volunteer project, I figured cookies would at least make the day better. So I Googled simple sugar cookie recipes and found a good one from AllRecipes - Easy Sugar Cookies. Fool proof, right?

Wrong. After putting together the ingredients I realized that the dough couldn't possibly be right - it was very dry and crumbly. I looked at the recipe again and said to myself, "Wait... a cup of butter... is that one stick or two?" I had only put in one.

After I folded in the second stick of butter, the dough looked much better but was still pretty crumbly. (I thought we had a set of electric beaters but couldn't find the actual beater, just the detachable beaters, so I used some arm muscle to mix everything.) But I pressed on (pun intended), hoping that the cookies would magically turn out right. 

I made little lumpy balls and set them on the cookie sheet, then put them into the oven. Instead of baking for the recommended 8-10 minutes, they needed 15 to get crackly and golden brown.

They still didn't look like the pictured sugar cookies, nor like any sugar cookie I'd ever eaten. Instead they looked like a cross between a cookie and a biscuit. They made the house smell AMAZING though... way better than any Yankee candle. 

The first one I tasted was crunchy on the outside with just a little bit of chewiness in the center. 

Because I used 50% whole wheat, 50% white flour, they had sort of a speckled look to them. All the butter made them very rich. 

Soooo good. Although they only used 1 1/2 cups of sugar, they did help clean out my pantry... every bit counts! 

What do you like to bake when you de-stress?