Alton Brown's Mini Man Burgers

I'm not one for meal planning, so when I realized I needed to cook a pound of ground beef before it spoiled, making sliders for dinner was a spur of the moment idea. Google was it's usual productive self and coughed up this recipe from the Food Network.

Alton Brown's Mini Man Burgers

At first I thought the recipe was for sliders, like the really tiny ones, but then I noticed it called for three-inch buns. I had a pack of slider buns in the freezer that were two-inches across (like the size of Hawaiian rolls). This wasn't a big deal, of course, but it did require some modification of the instructions.

One thing I loved about this recipe was that I never had to touch the meat. You put a piece of parchment down on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, and put the meat on top of it. Then you cover the meat with plastic wrap. I used four or five pieces of plastic wrap to make sure it hung over all the edges of the cookie sheet. Then you roll out the meat with a rolling pin (or a bottle of Malibu Rum) until it completely covers the pan.

Malibu Rum rolling pin
Next, you remove the plastic wrap and cover the meat with the seasonings. Then you lift one side of the parchment and fold the meat in half onto itself. Next time I make this recipe, I will add an extra step at this point. I will leave the parchment where it is and cover it with a fresh piece of plastic. Then I will lightly roll it again to make sure that it is really in the corners of the pan, that it is an even thickness, and that the two halves become one melded layer.

After you peel back the parchment, Alton Brown instructs you to cut the meat into eight equal squares for three-inch burgers. For two-inch burgers, I cut the meat into twelve squares, which were the perfect size. Using a spatula, I slid the squares off the parchment and straight into a frying pan. (I don't have a griddle, which Alton Brown suggested using.)

The burgers were delicious, juicy and nicely seasoned. I definitely recommend this recipe. Even my husband liked it.


A Hole in My Closet

Oldnavytee
It has been hot here the last couple days which has revealed a gaping hole in my wardrobe. I have exactly one shirt I can wear when it is hot outside. (See above.) It doesn't look like it would be great for hot weather, but it is tissue-thin. I wore it yesterday. I am wearing it again today because, as I mentioned, I don't have anything else. Also, I can get away with that because I am not going into the office.

The problem is my arms. This isn't a "I hate my chubby arms" insecurity that a lot of women have. I have batwings, and my batwings have their own batwings. I have always had big arms, but losing so much weight so fast has made them so much worse. Trust me when I say they are hideous. That is a statement of fact, not an exaggeration.

Most of the time, I wear a cardigan over a cami, or a cardigan over a dress, or something with long sleeves. Last weekend, we went to the fair and I just couldn't do it. It was so hot. I took off my cardigan and hoped we didn't run into anyone we knew. That's not going to work for me for the rest of the summer.

I'm open to suggestion here. Do you have a favorite hot weather top with sleeves? I have some shopping to do. Fortunately, I am a world class competitive shopper.


Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

I was invited to take part in a cupcake challenge at work. Almost immediately, I knew I wanted to make cookies and cream cupcakes, but I wasn't quite sure how to go about doing it because I am so not a baker. My standard is chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Why? Because I found two recipes that are pretty much foolproof. I didn't think those would be fancy enough for a cupcake challenge though, so I fancied them up with processed foods.

Don't these look amazing? I am seriously impressed with myself.

Cupcake_mine

Here's how I did it:

I made the Pioneer Woman's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever, my preferred chocolate cake recipe. It makes 24 cupcakes. Reduce the baking time to 17 minutes. This cake is so ridiculously moist that you almost can't overcook it. It's a great recipe if you want to make your cake a day ahead, because it won't dry out.

I followed Bakerella's suggestions, from her Cookies and Cream Cupcakes recipe, about adding the Oreos. For the cupcake portion, I quartered regular Oreo cookies and put one cookie in the bottom of each cupcake liner. I filled them about 3/4 full with batter, covering the cookies completely.

For the buttercream frosting, I followed a recipe of unknown origin, but it is easy to remember.

  • One pound of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • Two pounds of powdered sugar
  • Two teaspoons of vanilla
  • Heavy cream
  • (For the cupcakes above, add six tablespoons of Oreo cookie crumbs)

In your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Seriously, SLOWLY. My kitchen was a disaster after this part. Put the vanilla in whenever. After all the sugar is incorporated, add a little bit of heavy cream at a time until the frosting is the consistency you want it to be.

To make it cookies and cream frosting, Bakerella suggested two to three tablespoons of fine Oreo crumbs. I think I used six. When I tasted the frosting after three tablespoons, it didn't taste cookie enough for me, but it was prettier than the final product. Also, next time, I think I will only use one teaspoon of vanilla. (Note: For the crumbs, I crushed regular Oreos in my magic bullet blender, with the cream included.)

Once the cupcakes cooled, I used a pastry bag and a huge closed star tip to swirl the frosting up high enough to hold an Oreo Dubl Stuff cookie. (This is the frosting kit I have.) Since these were for a competition and I had never used a pastry bag before, I did quite a few practice runs on waxed paper before trying to frost the cupcakes.

Let me know if you try these, and if you are brave enough to calculate the calories! For Christmas, I am going to try a version using Trader Joe's Peppermint Joe Joes, and maybe some crushed candy canes.


What I Wore: 3/14/12

I am getting a new corporate headshot taken. We were told to dress business casual, in dark solid colors. Every time something like this comes up, I need to buy new clothes because I am still shrinking out of my old ones (albeit at a much slower rate now). For this outfit, I only bought the blazer. I had everything else already.

What I Wore: 3/14/12

 


What I Wore: 3/12/12

I wore a ridiculous number of items on my body today, yet I was still chilly when I went outside after lunch. Here it is, from top to bottom:

  • Silver hoop earrings
  • Silver mommy necklace
  • Bra
  • Shaping camisole
  • Black ribbed tank for layering
  • Gray ribbed rank with large, graphic floral pattern
  • Black cardigan
  • Black La Mer watch
  • Wedding rings
  • Panties
  • Black tights
  • Denim pencil skirt
  • Socks
  • Boots
What I Wore: 3/12/12

 


Vicarious Shopping: Nothing Over $50

Nothing Over $50

 

Dorothy Perkins knot dress
$44 - dorothyperkins.com

 

Sugarhill Boutique heart dress
€30 - zalando.de

 

H M stripe dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Belted dress
£22 - axparis.co.uk

 

 

H M layered dress
£25 - hm.com

 

Platform wedge shoes
$42 - kohls.com

 

Dollhouse high heel boots
$29 - makemechic.com

 

Open toe shoes
£30 - bankfashion.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Monsoon gold cluster ring
£12 - monsoon.co.uk

 

Beach jewelry
$34 - macys.com

 

Flower jewelry
$8.99 - amazon.com

 

 

Leather jewelry
€17 - colette.fr

 

ASOS neon jewelry
$11 - asos.com

 

Zara flower jewelry
$50 - zara.com

 

Shiny belt
$44 - lodis.com

 

 

All Saints buckle belt
$50 - allsaints.com

 


My Kids Didn't Learn That Sh*t in My House

I do not curse. Mostly. Almost never. I have slipped up only a handful of times since my oldest child was born four and a half years ago. I know my kids are going to be exposed to that type of language, but it is not going to be through me or through the media to which I expose them. It is not going to be a part of their everyday vocabularies.

Knowing that is how I feel about it, you can imagine my dismay when I heard my two-year-old clearly say, "Fuck," a couple weeks ago. I asked her what she said, just to be sure I heard her properly. I had. Then my four-year-old piped up with it. I asked them where they learned that word, and the four-year-old told me that a new kid named Sterling, in her preschool class, said it to her. I sternly told them that "the F word" is a "very, very naughty" word that they are to "never, never" say again. A little too sternly, actually. I made the four-year-old cry.

The next day, I mentioned it to the four-year-old's teacher and she said they had been working on that with Sterling. It wasn't that big of a deal. I knew my girls wouldn't be saying it again. They are normally the naughty word police. Watch out if you slip and call something stupid. Those girls will be all over you.

Last night, the girls were chattering away. My attention was elsewhere until the four-year-old said to me, in a teary voice, "Sissy called me a 'bitch.'" (Actually, she said 'binch,' which was totally cute.) I asked where they heard that word. Again, from Sterling. I told them that it is a very naughty word, almost as bad as they other one, and that they are absolutely not allowed to say it. Then I asked them if Sterling had taught them any other new words. Thankfully, no. I told them that Sterling says naughty words, which is not ok, and that if they hear those words, they should not repeat them.

This time, I was livid. I am mostly a "let kids act like kids" kind of person. I know my kids will eventually learn all sorts of precious gems from other kids but, right now, when they are so small, I am trying to lay a foundation that will help them stay out of trouble. I didn't think I would have to be talking to my preschoolers about why we don't say fuck and bitch.

This morning, I talked to the director of the preschool. She was not suprised to learn that Sterling had taught my children those words. Actually, she was a little surprised about the two-year-old because her only exposure to Sterling is before school and after, when all the classes are the playground. I was a little surprised to learn that Sterling had been kicked out of his last preschool for language. This is a four-year-old kid I'm talking about. The director assured me that they have worked with him extensively on this and they keep a very close eye on him so that the other children aren't exposed to it. Not close enough, clearly. I can understand about the first incident, when he was new to the school, but it is still happening. The director assured me she would speak to my daughter's teacher about Sterling.

There is nothing else I can do, I suppose. My girls won't be using those words again anytime soon. I won't give Sterling's parents the evil eye in the parking lot, even though you know I want to. It can't be easy parenting that kid (I didn't mention that he is also physically aggressive), but they need to do a better job. He is FOUR YEARS OLD. Those parents are doing a lot of things wrong.

What would you have done? Anything different? Nothing?


An Atheist's Lent

I always observed Lent when I was Catholic. Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday (today) and Easter Sunday. It is a period of sacrifice in order to facilite self-reflection and growth. I could use all of those things. For the next 40 days, I am going to focus on the health part of my Year of Health and Finances. My sacrifice is going to be strict adherence to my post-surgical diet, exercise, and supplement regimen. STRICT.