Wednesday, June 10, 2009

the classic burger

Here's a great summer BBQ recipe for juicy, flavorful burgers. We eat red meat a few times a month now that CostCo has organic beef on a consistent basis. I used to be really picky about onions in burgers, and I never liked the way they'd shrink up to pucks. But if you mince the onion finely you'll get a flavor that can't be beat. And when shaping the patties, make big circles thinner in the center than the outer edges. It's a strange shape but with good shrink factor.

The Classic Burger
(from Sunset magazine)

Prep and Cook Time: About 30 min.
Makes: 4 servings
Notes: If you want absolute bacteria safety, you need to cook your burgers to 160ยบ. This recipe will keep the burgers moist. To make cheeseburgers, about 1 minute before burgers are done, top with sliced cheese; continue to cook until cheese melts.

1 pound ground lean beef (7% fat; or organic)
1 large egg
½ cup minced onion
¼ cup fine dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 hamburger buns (4 inch wide), split
Butter or margarine spread
¼ cup ketchup
4 iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed and crisp
1 firm-ripe tomato, cored and thinly sliced

1. In a bowl, mix ground beef, egg, onion, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, garlic, salt & pepper with hands until well blended (but don’t overwork the meat). Divide mixture into four equal portions and shape each into a patty about 4 inches wide.

2. Lay burgers on an oiled barbecue grill over a solid bed of coals or high heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hands at grill level only 2-3 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook burgers, turning once, until browned on both sides and no longer pink inside (cut to test), 7-8 minutes total. Remove from grill.

3. Lay buttered buns, cut side down, on grill and cook until lightly toasted, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

4. Spread ketchup on bun bottom. Add lettuce, tomato, burger, and salt/pepper to taste. Set bun tops in place.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

baby album gift

Here's a fun & practical baby gift with a cute matching card. I had quite a bit of celery, amethyst and plum cardstock that I used making baby gifts for two very special ladies. (Heads-up: they do use a LOT of paper.) The small scrapbook albums and mini clipboards are easy to find for a good price (albums and re-fill pages go on sale regularly at big craft stores).

The original album and clipboard idea is
Nichole Heady's. The blank calendar page is a free download at her blog here.

The card layout is a Lauren Meader sketch found here (great sketch because I could fit the monogram I wanted to use, and it incorporated all the papers I used in the album).
I used a big polka dot stamp and filled it with tiny stamped sentiments & images.

Big score on the basket - an Easter find at the grocery store for $5 that perfectly held an 8x8" album and with a cute gingham liner (woo hoo!). The album has a small square window on the front where I put a picture of the newborn baby.
The idea is to pull out a calendar page monthly, clip it to the board, and leave it out somewhere just ready to record little memories and 'baby's first's' right as they happen. At the end of the month, just glue/tape the filled calendar page and pull out a new one. Everything was monogrammed, so here I used a simple stencil to cut out the name and flower, and modge-podged it to the clipboard with a small foam brush.
The 6x6" album and clipboard sizes mentioned in Nichole's post were not easy to find. Instead, I used a less expensive 8x8" album with a 6x9" mini clipboard. With the larger page size, you can see a nice border of pretty, patterned paper, and there's more room to squeeze pictures into the collage. It's helpful to stamp the dates on the calendar pages, if you know the baby's birth date. Just one less step for a busy parent. Making two albums at the same time made the stamping go quicker (but it did take awhile to do). I purchased the patterned paper in cheaper 18x18" sheets which were quartered and used as pages for mounting the calendar. The purple mat was fixed to the patterned paper but the calender page was very loosely taped into place.

Nichole also has a download with the text above. I stamped the circle border and the personalization (part whited-out). If doing again, I would leave more room to sign it below the printed text.
The opposing page in the album has a re-positionable decorative tag indicating the baby's age. There's plenty of room for a single photo, or a whole collage of small photos.

In order to get in a full year of events, I had to add pages to the basic album. I wanted to be able to record events during the birth month (labeled as 'NB'), and during the month the baby turns one (labeled as '12'). You end up with one extra page for photos only, with no opposing calendar, which I labeled '1 yr'. There was also a slide-in photo page in the album I bought, so I included it as a place to add memorabilia. I also printed a pretty copy of the mom's birth story, which she had sent out in a email.

I had a LOT of fun making these gifts. It actually took a bit of thinking, and ended up costing a bit more than I had expected, but it was so very worth it in the end.