Tag Archives: dinner

United Steak of America Burger

During all three of my pregnancies, there were periods that I both could not cook and became slightly obsessed with the United Steak of America sandwich from Tacone.

And I knew it was probably bad for me. I knew that the food sources were likely questionable.

I just wanted this steak sandwich anyway. And the sweet potato fries.

Well last night I decided to try and create a burger version of this sandwich so I could get my occasional fix without (as much of) the guilt.


United Steak of America Burger

-1lb lean ground beef (preferably grass fed which I just discovered yesterday you can now find at Trader Joes!)
-garlic powder
-sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
-1/4 cup bread crumbs
-1 egg (preferably pastured)
-red onion thinly sliced
-Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese, shredded
-hot sauce (I used Chalula)
-sour dough bread
-barbecue sauce (optional)

In your stand mixer using paddle attachment combine beef, a dash of paprika, dash of garlic powder, rosemary, bread crumbs, egg, and a couple dashes of hot sauce. You can also do this by hand, but it always makes my hands get really cold.

Separate the beef into fourths and then form into patties. Grill on a preheated grill. Midway through grilling, add onions to grill and sourdough with cheese in the middle like a grilled cheese sandwich. Remove everything from grill.

Assemble burgers and dress with barbecue sauce if desired. The actual sandwich has “rosemary chipotle mayo”.

Sweet Potato Fries
-1 large sweet potato
-sea salt
-high heat oil

Preheat oven to 450.

Peel and slice sweet potato into fries. Place in bowl with dash or two of cinnamon, salt to taste and drizzle with oil. Toss until evenly coated.

Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and roast until crispy.

Note: I prepped my fries and placed them in the oven first. Then broke up some sibling squabbles, prepped and grilled the burgers, brought them inside and assembled them, then took the fries out of the oven. They were done at this point, but I would have preferred them to be slightly more crispy.

Sparrow, on the other hand, liked them not as crispy and stole one out of my hand midway to my mouth and then more. He was going crazy for them. So I guess we’re doing solids now!


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Fig and prosciutto three cheese pizza

If you are feeling a little adventurous, I highly recommend this pizza. It might seem a little bit of a strange combination, but it is totally delicious.

My inspiration actually came from a conversation I heard between two checkers at Whole Foods the other day. One said someone checked out in his line with a fig pizza and he thought it was weird. At first I did too.

Then I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. So I started trying to think of what a fig pizza would likely have on it and what tastes good with figs.

When I think of figs I think of fancy cheese platters and prosciutto. So I built on that for my pizza.

-grated asiago cheese
-grated Parmesan cheese
-marinated mozzarella, sliced
-figs, sliced
-favorite pizza dough
-favorite pizza base (I actually used some tomato soup because I just made it the night before and couldn’t find pizza sauce at the grocery store, an olive oil garlic herb rub would also be good I think)


Shape dough, apply base. Place sliced mozzarella over surface of dough. Next, layer fig slices and shreds of prosciutto. Sprinkle grated cheeses over the top. Bake as you would a typical pizza or according to your dough’s instructions.



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Orzo Mac N’ Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

This is somewhat adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe that I did years ago as part of a giant family Thanksgiving that I hosted and cooked for. I worked from memory and didn’t look up the recipe. I believe the recipe may have even been called “Grown-Up Mac ‘N Cheese,” or made reference to it being such.

It made enough to fill up two casserole dishes that will feed 4-5 depending on appetites. Which is perfect because I am trying to stock my freezer right now to be ready for baby #3.

Orzo Mac ‘N Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

• 1 package orzo pasta
• 1 large zucchini
• 1 boneless ham steak
• handful of shredded Mozzarella
• handful of shredded Monterey Jack
• handful of shredded cheddar
• dollop of sour cream based ranch dip (I make my own using sour cream and the herbs and spices I actually recognize from the back of a ranch packet/bottle/etc. It’s the only way I can be sure we aren’t eating some weird corn derivative or another random chemical I don’t recognize. Even the “natural” brands of ranch at Whole Foods have this. Grrr!)
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 4-5 green onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions. You want al dente because it is going to cook more in the oven.

While pasta is cooking, dice your zucchini, ham, and green onions.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in all ingredients until well incorporated, reserving a little of the cheese.

Transfer to casserole dish(es) and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake 30 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges.

Remove and serve.



* If you want to go veggie, the ham is certainly optional. You may need to add a little salt in place of the salty ham.
* You could probably also add in other diced veg. I am thinking a red bell pepper would have been nice (and a good way to use up one of the three giant ones I got in our CSA box today) or peas or corn. The original recipe only had ham and green onions and three different fancy cheeses. So I wasn’t being terribly creative by just adding in the zucchini.
* You could also just use one kind of cheese, I happened to have those three in my fridge so that’s what I used.
*This is great with a salad.
*I am sure with the sour cream based ranch, butter and cheese this is full of tons of calories. I don’t worry about those things. If you do, you might want to consider substitutes. Or not eat food like this every night of the week.

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Red Enchilada Sauce

So I bought some pre-Mexican-marinated chicken that I grilled up last night for tacos. We had a lot leftover, like we always do when I buy or cook anything. At the risk of Mexican food overload, I decided that tonight I wanted to make enchiladas with it using some of our CSA veg.

I also decided that I wanted to make enchilada sauce from scratch because a) the kind I usually buy from TJs has several ingredients I don’t recognize, b) I had a can of organic tomato sauce that I wanted to use up, c) I figured it probably couldn’t be THAT hard to make, and d) homemade always tastes better.

So a few friends sent me some ideas and I finally found a few recipes online (after getting the search terms right, most enchilada recipes that initially come up just call for canned sauce) that I looked at too. And then I decided to wing it like I always do.

Red Enchilada Sauce
-1 can organic tomato sauce
-2 cans broth (I buy mine in one of those 1 qt tetra box things or I make my own, so you can use the tomato sauce can to measure it out and as a bonus it will rinse out all the extra tomato sauce)
-1 onion, diced
-2 jalepenos, diced (got these from our garden, yay!)
-a few shakes of salt
-couple dashes paprika
-couple dashes cumin
-couple dashes chili powder
-few dashes oregano
-some oil

Heat oil in pan over medium heat then add onion and jalepeno. Sauté until onion is slightly translucent. Add spices, sauce and broth.

Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for a good bit. I did not do this because I was impatient. Big mistake. If the sauce is too hot, it will explode out of your blender. Let it cool!

After it cools down some, put it in your blender and blend until smooth. This will also help thicken it slightly.

Use as you normally would in your favorite enchilada recipe.

You can make it more or less spicy by adjusting the spices and the jalepenos.

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Helping Mommy in the kitchen or how to get your kid to eat Brussels Sprouts

I’ve read time and time again that the best way to get your kids interested in food is to have them help you in the kitchen. Stephen and I have constantly worried about kitchen safety and mostly keep Bean out of there. I just don’t want her to get hurt because she got into something or accidentally got underfoot.

However, I’ll admit it can be a bit hectic and frustrating when I am cooking each night to have Bean going into a meltdown because she’s bored and left out of what’s going on in the kitchen.

So tonight I decided that I could come up with a way for her to help and still keep her safe. I created a little work station for her and had her place cut up items on a cookie sheet. It was so much fun and she was so cute to watch getting excited over food and helping me.

Ack! The coloration is so off on this photo, but it’s my only proof. I forgot to reset my white balance when I first started shooting and I was already done with the Brussels Sprouts by the time I realized it. She was totally munching on the raw Brussels Sprouts!

So this was our little system… I’d cut stuff up and hand it to her…

Then she would take it over… (usually snacking along the way)

…and place them on the cookie sheet.

Assessing her work and feeling very accomplished.

“Hi Mama. You don’t mind…

…if I snack a little while I help, do you?”

The taste of victory…

Brussels Sprouts!

OK, as you can see from the photos she mainly played with the finished product, but she did eat a couple leaves off one. 🙂

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Five Days

This is what we’ve been up to…

-Told everyone
-Stephen and Sprout slept most of the day
-I was wired and wrote up my birth story. I was also pretty bored, honestly.
-Our friend Cara and her little family stopped by for a visit and they brought us dinner. The first few meals after giving birth are always so amazing tasting for some reason. I am not the only person that has experienced this phenomenon. Combine that with the fact that every meal around here for over a month has been fast food or something quick and easy from Trader Joe’s freezer section and I think the soup and bread she brought us has been one of my favorite meals of my life.
-We all slept

-Sprout’s first pediatrician appointment. We saw the backup doctor because the main guy is out of town. LOVE our pediatric group! The pediatrician was super supportive of all our choices and really friendly and easy to talk to
-Sprout had a major meltdown in the In-N-Out drive thru.
-I finally caught up on my sleep and took a long nap all afternoon.
-Midwife came for our one day check. Everything is going good.
-“Baby feast” with Stephen’s sister’s family and afforementioned Cara’s family. Stuffed myself with too much good food. Guys did their usual Mario Kart marathon.

-Stayed in our jammies all day.
-Stephen did a lot of laundry.
-Sprout started looking yellowish.

-It rained a lot.
-Took some pictures of Bean and Sprout.
-Pictures made me think Sprout was really yellowish, especially compared to Bean.
-Called the pediatrician and was told to bring him in.
-Rain + wind + babies + lack of covered parking = not fun. I felt like the sky was one giant hose spraying us down as we tried to load the kids in the car. Gutters were mini-rapids wherever we went.
-Doctor didn’t think Spout was too yellow, but decided to take a blood sample anyway. Heal prick #1 for our little guy. Bean was very concerned.
-Went to hospital to get PKU and hearing screening. Hospital has a parking garage so we didn’t get soaked again. Admitting took FOR-EV-ER. Then the lab took FOR-EV-ER. Heal prick #2 for Sprout. He was not a happy camper. By the time we were finished, the nurse that does the newborn hearing tests was already gone for the day.
-The sun came out. A good thing for Sprout.
-We ordered pizza.
-We slept.

-Made an appointment for the newborn hearing test
-Snuggled with Sprout
-It rained a lot.
-I made our last Trader Joe’s freezer selection for lunch
-Planned a menu for the week and made a grocery list.
-Made an appointment with my doctor because my PUPPPS rash (it’s a pregnancy related belly rash that looks really ugly and itches a lot) is getting worse, not better.
-Put Bean down for her nap for the first time since Thursday.
-We went grocery shopping with both kids after the sun reappeared.
-Sprout had a major meltdown in the parking lot of Whole Foods.
-I made dinner. I really missed my cooking. We had rosemary lemon chicken (it was OK, too much rosemary though), roasted herb potatoes (these were really yummy), a simple salad (romaine, cuties, green onions, olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt) and some toast.
-Checked out the news.
-I blogged.
-Going to take a bath.
-Going to sleep.


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Crocked Pork Tenderloin: Night two, pulled pork sandwiches

I’m not even sure this should count as a “recipe” because it is so ridiculously easy. Here goes, anyway…

Pulled Pork Sandwiches
• Leftover shredded pork from last night’s meal
• A bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
• Sub-sandwich rolls
• Your favorite fixin’s and sides

Drench pork in barbecue sauce. Then, heat up in microwave or on the stove. Place pork on sub-sandwich rolls and dress the sandwich as you like. I had my sandwich with cheddar cheese and lettuce. Stephen preferred tomato over lettuce. We both had sweet potato fries on the side. Coleslaw or potato salad would have been yummy too.


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Pasta Primavera

It’s kind of weird referring to myself as “Gourmet Lisa”. While I have been able to pull off a complicated dish or two, I’m far from being a gourmet chef. My best friend gave me that nickname I think because I actually cook.

I find that cooking is a lot less complex than people make it out to be. It’s fun and creative.

Last night I made a super easy spring dish that anyone could make and the total cook/prep time was something like 20 minutes. It made enough to serve four, but you could easily add more veggies and pasta to serve more people. You could also add cubed chicken, turkey or ham for some protein. Feel free to change out the veggies based on your likes/dislikes or what you happen to have on hand. Hope this helps some of you trying to figure out an easy, tasty meal for dinner.

Pasta Primavera
● 1 snack pack baby carrots
● 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends broken off
● 1/3 cup frozen peas
● about a handful or two of fresh broccoli florets
● 1 1/2 to 2 cups dried pasta of your choice
● 1/4 cup alfredo sauce (I used store bought, but you could certainly make your own)
● 1/4 cup milk
● 1 tsp olive oil
● 1 clove garlic, pressed

Cook pasta according to package directions. I happen to have a big pot with a steamer insert that goes on top so I steamed the broccoli and carrots on top of the cooking pasta. If you don’t have one of these, steam the broccoli and carrots separately. You could even microwave them if you want. The veggies should be just tender and not mushy. My pasta directions said 9 minutes and this was the perfect amount of time for the veggies too.

While pasta and veggies are cooking, brown garlic in olive oil in medium pan. Add peas and asparagus. Cook until asparagus is just tender. Remove from heat

Drain pasta and mix with all of the vegetables. Stir milk and alfredo sauce into the steaming dish. This will create a light alfredo flavor without overwhelming the vegetables. I did it this way because Stephen’s slight lactose intolerance can’t always handle alfredo sauce (and I LOVE alfredo sauce). If you prefer more sauce or a thicker sauce feel free to add more and/or leave out the milk.


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