Italian Caprese Sliders – Top 5 in LA Times Battle of the Burgers

Italian Caprese Sliders

Ok I admit it, I lied. It is #NationalHamburgerDay and it’s been years now so I’m reposting this one. I’m also making them for the holiday.

I know everyone is probably tired of these, but in honor of their being chosen in the Top 5 by the LA Times Battle of the Burgers, I’m reposting them (for the last time I promise).  I’ve made a new batch because I really didn’t like the pictures in the old posts.

When I was growing up my father was a true grill man – charcoal only and whatever he was making, there was one beer to splash on the food and one for him!  I on the other hand, love my gas grill (and I think dad has one now too) mostly because I’m lazy and don’t want to mess with the charcoal.  Of course, dad would probably not been caught making “wimpy” sliders and I am generally prone to enormous burgers stuffed with cheese but as I mentioned in a previous recipe for the Bacon Sliders, my husband brought home a “slider” pan which I determined wasn’t worth much, but I did like the sliders so here’s another variation.  If you have the time, it is well worth it to make fresh rolls from either your own or the frozen dough.

Italian Caprese Sliders Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 1/2      lb            ground beef

1             lb            hot Italian sausage

1             tsp          dried Italian seasoning

1             med       onion finely chopped

1                            bell pepper finely chopped

3                            cloves minced garlic

18                          (White Dinner Rolls freshly baked – your recipe or frozen dough best)

8             oz           fresh Mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4 inch thick

4             large      Roma tomatoes sliced in 1/4 in thick slices

36          large         fresh basil leaves stems removed

freshly ground black pepper

3             Tbs         extra virgin olive oil

3             Tbs         balsamic vinegar

Freshly baked rolls
Garlic, Onion, peppers and fresh herbs
Ready to mix
Mix gently

1             Gently but thoroughly mix together the ground beef and ground Italian sausage (removing from the casings if any), along with the Italian spices, chopped onion, chopped Bell pepper and 2 cloves of minced garlic.

Flatten
Use spatula to measure squares
Use spatula to measure squares
Cut squares
Cut entire pan into squares

2             Press the mixture into a jelly roll pan using a rolling pin to make a flat even layer.  Cut the meat into 2″ squares.

3             Grill 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through to a temperature of at least 160.

4             If not fresh from the oven, wrap the rolls in foil and warm on the top rack of the grill while the burgers are cooking on their second side.

5             When the burgers are done, place a slice of mozzarella on each burger and tent with foil while preparing the buns.

6             Whisk together olive oil, balsamic and remaining 1 clove minced garlic

7             Place the burger with cheese on the bottom of the bun, add a slice of tomato and two good-sized basil leaves and drizzle each burger with 1/2 teaspoon of the balsamic/olive oil dressing.

Italian Caprese Sliders
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Featured post

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

This is one of my older, but favorites so I’m reposting one of my favorites for Easter.  These were a big hit and I’m sure I’ll be making them again this year!

Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.

The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)

2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)

Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls
Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand
Dipping
Tapping off the excess
Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

Here are a couple in the baskets.

King Arthur Flour #Bakealong

Pastry

Almond Puff Loaf

Since returning to work full time, I haven’t had as much time to devote to this.   I have continued to bake and photograph, but not so much posting.  My coworkers are very fond of cakes, particularly carrot cake and I am happy to oblige.  I have always had really good luck with the recipes on the King Arthur Flour site and one of their pizza dough recipes is a favorite that I use almost weekly  Pizza Crust or Cracker Bread.  Lately I’ve been doing their monthly #bakealongs and each one has turned out really well.  I can recommend them, and will definitely make them again.  To get the recipes, just click on the title.

cake slice_8149

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries

IMG_8258

Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves

Easter Egg Cake Balls

Easter Egg Cake Balls

This is one of my older, but favorites so I’m reposting one of my favorites for Easter.  These were a big hit and I’m sure I’ll be making them again this year!

Although I don’t quite get it as I guess I’m just not that much of a cake fan, cake balls are very popular around here and I do have to admit these are pretty cute.  I mentioned to college Daughter that I was going to make some and her exact words were “send them here, send them all here” and I’ve made them for several friends, who all seem to love them.  I did have some cheesecake pops at a party recently and those are going to be my next batch as they were amazing.

The basic idea is simple, mush up a cake and icing, roll it and dip in chocolate.  The best site for ideas is Bakerella, she even has a cookbook out just for them.  Previously I made some simple chocolate ones for a birthday party following Bakerella’s instructions.  This time I used a cherry chip cake mix (I usually make my cakes from scratch, but Daughter had left this box of mix here from her last visit so I decided to use it) and some cream cheese icing I had leftover from a birthday cake.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

Cherry Chip Cake mix with eggs and oil (or homemade cake)

1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries (added to the cake batter for a little extra flavor)

2 cups cream cheese icing (homemade or purchased)

Dipping chocolate white and dark (I prefer Ghirardelli’s candy coating because I think it has the best quality but it’s not always easy to find.  Sam’s Club carries it around the holidays so I stock up but you can also use chocolate melts which you can even get pre-colored)

Cake

First bake the cake and cool completely.

Crumbled Cake

The crumble the cake in a large bowl.

Adding the icing

Add the icing.

Cake and icing mixed up

Smash it together and form into a thick disk – a spatula works but hands work better.  Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for about an hour to stiffen up.

Best spoon for making the balls
Making the eggs

This is a great spoon for making the balls or cookies.  It is a hard plastic with a rubber bottom so the portions are even and you can easily push the dough out.  It comes in several sizes and I’ve seen it at most kitchen stores, the grocery store and even at the dollar store.  For this, I used the Tablespoon size, rolling them into egg shapes and placing them on a cookie sheet.

Eggs rolled

As you can probably tell, I’m not into perfection, I just don’t have time or the patience.  I admire those who do and if you are one of them, you can make them really great.  Some of my eggs aren’t shaped exactly right but they still look pretty egg like and they don’t last long anyway.

Wrap and freeze

Next wrap and place them in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

Stand
Dipping
Tapping off the excess
Hardening

I have tried two methods of dipping, using a toothpick and putting them on a styrofoam floral stand that I got from the dollar store and just using a fork and putting them on waxed paper.  I find that the fork works better for me but they each have good and bad parts.  In order to get them to stay on the toothpick, I had to freeze them, which then caused the chocolate to crack as it hardened but they seemed to have the best shape if you can keep them on the toothpick.  Any little drips on the bottom can be trimmed with a sharp paring knife.

Fork Dipping

I switched to “warmer” balls on the fork letting them harden on a piece of waxed paper, which seemed to solve the falling off/cracking problem and seemed to be faster.  It sometimes leaves a bit of a flat base, but that is easily trimmed with a sharp paring knife or you can just leave it and serve them with that side down.  I used both white and dark chocolate, adding gel food color to the white to make a couple different colors.  Make sure you keep the chocolate warm, if it starts to thicken heat for a few seconds in the microwave to keep it easier to dip.  When it gets thick it also makes them more likely to crack (I’ve learned these things from the error part of trial and error).  The good news is that I learned the decorating can cover up the cracks pretty well!

Decorating

Here they are after the first round of decorating. Note there are cracks and not so perfect spots, but those will be fixed soon!  I used the spray on color on some of the white ones which made a sort of marbled effect that I liked.   I tried someone’s suggestion for painting corn syrup on then putting sprinkles, but I just didn’t like the way it looked and am not that much of a sprinkle fan anyway so I ended up using the colored white chocolate instead.  Plus, that worked perfectly to fill in any cracks.  I always use a small plastic squeeze bottle when decorating with chocolate, you can get them from Wilton at the craft store or pretty much anywhere and they are very inexpensive.  Just melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave.  Depending on how much you do at a time it can take from 1-2 minutes.  I start with 1 minute, then stir and do 15 second increments until it is melted, then pour it into the squeeze bottle.

Looking Better

Again, those of you who are more creative and have more patience could do a much better decorating job.

Molding and trimming the chocolate baskets

I also used a chocolate mold (from Wilton that I got at Wal-Mart) to make some little baskets.  You just melt the chocolate, put it into the bottom of the mold then put the top.  Using the same sharp paring knife I trimmed off any excess before I unmolded them as sometimes it was hard to judge just how much chocolate to put into the mold – the directions on the package just say fill “half full” but there are no markings so you just have to get a feel for it.

Eggs in Baskets

Here are a couple in the baskets.

Annual Caramel Apples for Halloween

apple 2

Here is my annual Halloween Honey Caramel Apple post, this year with some new pictures.

caramel apples square

I know, enough with the honey caramel, but I just couldn’t resist one more time.  Caramel apples are one of my favorites and Daughter asked me to send some caramel for her and friends after seeing the earlier recipes, so I made another batch.  This time it is not a sauce but a full caramel that you can use to dip the apples or form into squares to eat or give as candies for gifts.

When making caramel, the temperature you cook it to determines whether it is a thin (220) or thick sauce (240) or a soft (260)or hard (300) candy.  A candy thermometer is a must, but you can get one pretty much anywhere that has kitchen equipment, including most grocery stores for just a few dollars.

The Ingredients are very simple:

1 cup honey

1 cup whipping cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 apples (place them in the refrigerator the night before so they will be well chilled – it will help the caramel harden quickly so it will stick better)

Chopped Nuts (any kind you like – I used toasted macadamia)

Chocolate (I always use Ghirardelli Candy Making and Dipping Chocolate – this time I used the white)

6 craft sticks

If you don’t want to make your own caramel, you can always use ones from the store (of course it’s not nearly as good as these).

Wash the apples well to get off any wax or dirt.  Put the sticks in each apple.

Apples with Sticks

Make the Caramel

Use a pan much larger than you would think, the caramel bubbles up so use a big pan.  Add the cream to the pan and over medium heat bring almost to a boil.  Add the honey and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the temperature reaches 255-260 (if you plan on using them as candies I would go to 260-265 so they will be a little firmer).   Fill the sink with ice water and as soon as it reaches the proper temperature, immediately put the pan in the cold water being sure not to get any water in the pan.  Stir the caramel for a minute or two until it thickens but not so long that it is firm (if you try an apple and the caramel drips off, let it cool a little longer).  Take the pan out of the water and dip the apples, placing them on buttered wax paper.  If you have room in the fridge or outside if it is cooler (that isn’t really an option yet here – still way to hot) to set the caramel.

Honey Caramel ready for dipping
Dipped

Once the caramel has hardened enough to lift them off the paper, dip in the chopped nuts, chocolate, coconut, chocolate chips, etc. pressing them gently into the caramel.  If you prefer you can dip them in the add-ons immediately, but I think they look better if you let them firm up a little first, then you can press them in so it sticks better.

apple

Cranberry Cookie Bars – Finalist at Food52.com

cranberrybars
Cranberry Cookie Bars

I’m very exited to announce that my recipe for Cranberry Cookie Bars is a finalist in this weeks Food52.com recipe contest.  The theme was how to use up those after Thanksgiving leftovers.  Please use this link to vote for it.  I promise there will be no nasty campaign debates or unrealistic promises, just lots of great recipes at one of my favorite sites. Thanks everyone!

https://food52.com/contests/432-your-best-recipe-with-thanksgiving-leftovers

Here’s a repeat of my original post:  Cranberry Cookie Bars: what to do with that leftover cranberry sauce

Pane Bianco

It finally cooled off a little and I saw this baking challenge #bakealong from King Arthur Flour so I baked some bread today.  It turned out pretty well so I’ll be bringing it to work tomorrow.  I’m trying to get back to posting and hopefully a new kitchen and less travel for work might help.

Here’s a link to the recipe and it is a great one!

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/pane-bianco-recipe

 

 

Wedding Cake

IMG_6092

I know I’ve not posted forever but here’s my latest: a wedding cake for a co-worker.  I was happy with how it turned out and glad I was able to get it to the reception without any tragic incidents!

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