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"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook”
~Julia Child

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Beach Party Blowout: Cheese Burgers In Paradise AND Key Lime Cheesecakes

So this past weekend I ended up throwing a party, with one of my favorite themes, BEACH.  I had bought quite a few decorations from Oriental Trading Company (if you ever need decor they are a definite must, reasonably priced and ships right to your door).  The food and drink put it over the top with my homemade salsa and guac, "Cheeseburgers In Paradise", Individual key lime cheesecakes, and the piece de resistance Pink Panty Pull Downs (AKA Porch Crawlers) as the specialty cocktail.  Everything was absolute delish, and eventhough I didn't have an amazing turn out in terms of number of people (tons of peeps were out of town, including my BF who was partying the weekend away in Vegas for his brother's Bachelor Party) the quality of people who showed, is really what made the difference!

"Cheeseburgers In Paradise"
(Homage to Jimmy Buffett )


  • 2lbs of ground chuck (80-85% lean)
  • 1.5 cups of Open Pit BBQ sauce, (or sauce of choice)
  • 3 medium jalapenos minced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2lb-1lb of spicy colby or cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 1/2lb-1lb of American Cheese
  • 8 hamburger buns (just cheap white bread)
  • garlic powder/or salt, salt and pepper to taste
  1. put your 2lbs of ground chuck in a medium mixing bowl, add you jalapenos and garlic, mix thoroughly (if you aren't as sissy just use your hands, everything gets much more evenly distributed that way)
  2. add 1 cup of BBQ sauce, mix, if doesn't look too wet add the additional 1/2 cup and mix thorughly
  3. Roll out your burgers into 8 even balls.
  4. flatten your burger out, and then take the slice of colby cheese and break up so you can fit it all into the middle of the burger.  Should have about half of an inch or more of burger all the way around with your cheese in the middle.  Now bring those sides up over the cheese so that it is completely incased and no holes are showing with cheese poking through.  This is important or else you cheese will simply cook out of your burgers. 
  5. Place burgers on tray, cover with saran wrap, and leave over night, they will stay together better when cooking the next day.  Sprinkle your burgers with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  6.  Simply warm up a nonstick pan to medium/high heat and start grilling your burgers.
  7. When they are nice and brown on both sides place onto bottom bun, and add 1 piece of American cheese.  You can cover with tin foil and place into a warm oven so they stay warm until company arrives/you are ready to serve.

Key Lime Cheesecakes 

  • 1.5 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted


  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice
  • 1 tblsp of key lime zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 12 thin slices of key lime
  • Can of whip cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a standard muffin pan.To make crust: In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter until crumbs are moistened. Press crust into bottom of each muffin cup
  2. To make the filling: Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar, flour, zest, and lime juice, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon cream cheese mixture over graham cracker crusts. Bake until just set, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.
  3. serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of a key lime sticking up out of the top.

Pink Panty Pulldowns

  • 10 12oz light beers
  • 1/5th of vodka
  • 2 cans of pink lemonade concentrate
  1. Just mix everything together in a large punch bowl (or use a large pot and transfer part of the mixture into pitchers or punch bowl).  Make sure the concentrate is completely dissolved.
  2. Serve over ice.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri sauce Tapa Style

Okay so this tasty treat was something that I happened upon when trying to come up with something different that Joe and I could cook together one Friday night a few weeks back, that was both creative, relatively quick, and tapa style.  I crossed paths with this recipe while meandering through the Food Network Website (sometimes I am just simply inspired when browsing through the recipes).  The occasion, since I am sure you very well want to know, was nothing out of the ordinary for one of our Friday nights, just dinner and a movie.  However, I wanted to make it a little bit more special and so wanted something that would tantalize the senses.  The movie we were watching was Julie and Julia (of course one of my favs) and I paid homage to Ms Julia Child, by cooking in my 1950s style purple gingham dress, heels, and pearls.

It actually ended up being quite a production starting off, as I was planning on simply taking the bus to Lincoln ave and trekking a couple blocks to get to Trader Joe's.  Alas mother nature had a different plan when she brought in a torrential downpour the minute that I was getting off the train.  Needless to say I tried to hail a cab for over a half hour (which the bus still hadn't arrive at that point either) and then had joe pick me up after I was done with the shopping extravaganza.  Trader Joe's had EVERYTHING I wanted and then some, including miniature Heirloom Tomatoes which I promptly picked up for a heirloom and feta cheese salad (doesn't that sound refreshing?).  I also grabbed a box of Trader Joe's frozen mini crab cakes and made a quick remoulade.  So without further ado, a appetizer that I will surely make again and again!

Flank Steak Crostini with Chimichurri and Vidalia Relish



 Buy pre-marinated steak from Trader Joe's, I got the Carne Asada Style and let me tell you it was divine.  One package was plenty for the two of us OR you can marinate your own however you would like it.

  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (2 to 3-pound) flank steak
  • Kosher salt

Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup Basil
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 to 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vidalia Relish:

  • 3 Vidalia or other sweet onions, skin on, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • Canola oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 serrano chile, minced with the seeds or use Sirachi (Rooster) spicy thai sauce (about a spoonful)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

To serve:

  • 1 baguette
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper



Mix the wine, oil and black pepper in a nonreactive dish. Add the steak, turn to coat, and marinate at room temperature 1 hour.


Pulse the herbs and garlic in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add 3/4 cup oil, 1/4 cup vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste, and pulse to make a soupy vinaigrette — it will look a bit creamy until it settles. Add more oil and/or vinegar if too thick. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to high. Remove the steak from the marinade and season with salt and more pepper. Grill, covered, until nicely charred and medium rare, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing across the grain.  If you don't have a grill/want to take the time, use a George Foreman OR simply pan fry on the stove.


Brush the onions with some canola oil and season with rub, salt and pepper. Grill the onions, turning, until charred and soft. Remove from the grill and chop coarsely. Chop again with the green onions and then stir them together with the chile, oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper.
**I have also made it without grilling the onions, while grilled onion are super delish, if you do not wish to take the time the relish with raw onions was still quite good.

Slice the baguette on a diagonal 1/4-inch thick. Brush with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill briefly, until just starting to crisp (can also throw in the oven for a few minutes). Top each piece with some sauce, a slice or 2 of steak, more sauce and some relish.