Monday, November 18, 2013

Hamburger Rice Bowls and Easy Hamburger Patties

Today I thought I would share one of my favorite quick fix dinners - Hamburger Rice Bowls.  This dinner is inspired by a dinner my grandma used to make when I was a child, and was always one of my favorites, Hamburger Patties in Gravy over rice.  My grandma would cook up hamburger patties, and then let them simmer in cream of celery soup (which gives them a wonderful taste) then serve the patties with the cream of celery soup "gravy" over rice.  Today I make multiple variations of this recipe.

Hamburger Rice Bowls

Hamburger Rice Bowls make an easy week night dinner.  I start with frozen patties, I recently learned a trick for making and storing hamburger patties from my mother-in-law, I will share how to do that below.  You can also use pre-made frozen hamburger patties, which are quite a bit larger, but will still do the trick.

Another trick I learned from my mother-in-law, is to prepare your hamburger patties in the oven, rather than on the stove top- I used to avoid cooking hamburger patties on the stove top because of the greasy mess it would make- cooking them in the oven is much easier!  Just lay out your hamburger patties in a layer on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle the tops with Lawry's Seasoning salt (or your favorite seasoning), and bake at 375 F. until they are thoroughly cooked through, I flip them once, halfway through cooking.  Cooking time will vary based on thickness of patties.  I make my patties rather thin, so they cook quickly.

 Here are the patties all cooked up and ready to go.

While the hamburger patties are cooking, I also have my rice cooking.  I use a rice steamer, which I love, we eat a lot of rice around here and the rice steamer is really wonderful for making big batches of rice, of course you can also make it on the stove top following package directions.  My favorite rice is Golden Star Jasmine Rice, I love the flavor and the way it cooks up.  For this recipe, I also steamed a bag of broccoli, and prepared some brown gravy.

You can use your own recipe for classic brown gravy or use a gravy packet to make up a quick batch if you don't have any beef broth on hand.  To assemble, just scoop a serving of rice in a bowl, add the hamburger patty, and broccoli, and ladle on some gravy.  This meal is super easy, and surprisingly filling, the whole family loves it.

Variations- You can make this recipe with cream of celery soup (one of my favorites) or cream of mushroom soup as the gravy, and serve the veggies on the side.  You can swap out the veggies, and instead top the hamburger patty with a fried egg and brown gravy for Hawaiian style "Loco Moco" , my kids weren't too keen on the fried egg version, but I love it!

Here's how my mother-in-law taught me to make easy frozen hamburger patties.  I buy hamburger in large family packs, and split up the package into meal sized portions to put in the freezer, some of the hamburger I turn into these patties.  I put about a pound and a half of hamburger into a gallon sized freezer bag, then flatten it out so it spreads the meat to the side and bottom of the freezer bag ( I leave at least an inch or two from the top of the bag so it will close easily) You can flatten it using a rolling pin or just press it down inside the bag until it is uniformly flat.  Then start forming the little square patties using a flat spatula ( I love my wooden flat spatulas, one of my favorite kitchen tools!)  Press a line down a portion of the hamburger like shown in the picture below, make sure to press all the way through the hamburger, so the patties will freeze separately, careful not to tear the freezer bag.

I separate each bag into 9 patties just like shown below.  You may want to separate them into 6 patties if you want them to cook up a little larger for tradition hamburgers on buns.

Carefully close the top of the zipper bag to remove any air and thoroughly seal, then lay it in the freezer, being careful not to smash the patties, so they remain separate.  The nice thing about them being packed flat like this is, is that they store nicely in the freezer.

Whenever you are ready to make them, they pop right out of the bag!

When I first saw my mother in law making hamburgers like this for us one Sunday for lunch, I was impressed by how quickly they cooked up, and was eager to try it myself.  Definitely my new favorite kitchen tip! 

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Autumn Home and An Autumn Drive

This weekend was nice, with the Veterans' Day Holiday break, we all had a much needed rest from our busy fall schedule.  We had time to play some board games together, and spent some quiet time around the house, it was just what we all needed!

Last week, Gary and I took a short drive just outside of town, and had fun taking pictures of all the autumn beauty around us.  This is one of my favorite barns, it always begs for a picture.

We always love driving over the river, the trees were beautiful!

In town, the lumber yard is busy, busy, and full of timber.

This is my favorite little silo, I love how it is tucked behind the tree.

Here is the silo from a different angle so you can see the whole thing.

I always enjoy a drive through our surrounding countryside, I love all the trees, old barns and outbuildings. Getting out for a short drive is always refreshing to me.  I'm glad we were able to go when we did, because a few days later we had such a blustery day a lot of the trees lost a good portion of their leaves.

The house is all decorated for Thanksgiving, and full of my autumn treasures.  I love my little Yankee Candle Nut Babies.

Most of our fall decor pieces are old favorites that we enjoy bringing out every year.  This year I was excited when I found a few new pieces, this darling little fox is one I added this year, he was calling my name from a fall clearance shelf.  He is so cute, I'm not sure he will get packed away, he may have to stay out year round!

I also added two pieces to my tin wind-up toy collection, and I thought they looked nice among the fall decor.  I fell in love with this tin toy, the loggers are sawing through a log! I love the little mushrooms along the bottom border!

Here is a video of this toy in action.

Just when I thought I was done adding to my tin toy collection for the time being, I came across these pecking chickens, and couldn't resist.  I love chickens and miss raising them, so this little flock will have to tide me over for now.

Here they are in action.

So that is my fall home. :)  Thanks for stopping by!

You might also enjoy my post from last winter's frozen fog drive, some of the same pictures but all in their winter glory.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

April's Homemaking Recipes Index

I love cooking good food for my family.  
Here is an index of the recipes I have posted on this blog over the past few years.

And You can find all of my baking recipes in my Baking Recipe Index.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Halloween 2013 and Mini Cakes with Cookies and Cream Dip

We had a wonderful Halloween this year.  

The Kids had fun dressing up, and spending time with their friends.

I spent the day preparing goodies for our annual Halloween appetizer buffet.

I made a batch of my Crock Pot Mulled Apple Cider and served it with whipped cream and caramel syrup. Served a family favorite Ham and Onion Cracker Spread that my sister taught me to make, just mix chopped up sliced ham, and chopped green onions to softened cream cheese, I also add a little onion powder.  I made Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots a favorite from last year, a tray of mini croissant sandwiches, and I also served a frozen appetizer favorite of ours- crispy green beans- as well as the classic onion dip and chips. Everything was yummy!  

For dessert this year I came up with a new recipe, or actually a twist of one of my favorite cake recipes.  I made mini cakes in my cake pop pan (you could use a mini muffin pan) and served it with a big bowl of fluffy Cookies and Cream Dip.  It turned out delicious, and was fun to eat!

Mini Cakes with Cookies and Cream Dip Recipe

Ingredients for mini cakes:
1 box Devils Food Cake Mix
2 small boxes or 1 large box of Chocolate instant pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup of whole milk
7 eggs

Mix all of the ingredients together in one bowl on high speed for about 5 minutes, until cake mix is well combined.  Bake in a cake pops pan or a mini muffin pan coated very well with cooking spray.  You will need to bake multiple batches.  Bake at 350 F. for about 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven and size of pan used) until cakes are cooked through.  Remove from pan and cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Ingredients for Cookies and Cream Dip:
1 large box Cookies and Cream Instant Pudding Mix
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 8 oz. tub of thawed out cool whip

Mix pudding with milk until combined and then fold in Cool Whip until thoroughly combined, chill for at least an hour until it is set up.  Serve with mini cakes, provide mini bamboo appetizer forks for easy dipping!

I love this cake recipe and have used it for many different cakes, like my Vanilla Rum Pudding Bundt Cake , which is perfect for the upcoming holidays, and a delicious version of a chocolate bundt cake with chocolate whipped cream and cherries, which is also very yummy. 

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Halloween.  Today I am busy packing away the Halloween decor and setting up my Harvest Thanksgiving decorations.  The Christmas catalogs have begun pouring into the mailbox, and I have been having fun looking through them for Christmas ideas.  

With Christmas sales starting the Friday after Halloween this year (Yikes!!), what's your tradition, wait to decorate for Christmas until Thanksgiving has been enjoyed, or get an early start with Christmas fun now?