As American as Hamburgers and Peach Pie

Glad I was graced with time, opportunity and inspiration for this blog post. I had started a post on Work/Life balance a week ago and I’m assuming it’s on my phone because it was not available on my desktop when I sat down to work. It’s probably better that I didn’t find it, it was the hum drum, run of the mill type of stuff that I didn’t want to post and I think this one is a lot better. The last post thoughts were forced because I was pressuring myself to get it done for timing reasons. Taking my time with this process has allowed me to come full circle in my thought process. I am better now than I was then and hence I believe this is the blog post and meal that I was meant to serve up.

A classic hamburger and peach pie, it was Thursday night’s planned dinner as we awaited Hurricane Florence’s potential arrival. Honestly I had foreseen that we wouldn’t be as affected as the forecasters had predicted but that still didn’t stop me from running out and buying an obscene amount of bottled water that cost $1.30 more per case than I would normally pay. Not to mention the two cases of water that I picked up for my hairstylist who has still not mentioned wanting these waters anymore, lol. It’s all good though we will drink every last bottle of the Nestle Pure Life waters one bottle at a time. So my daughter kept asking for a cheeseburger and I kept forgetting to get her one when I was out and then let’s not forget the request made by my husband for hamburgers but no store prepared patties. He wanted the homemade kind that you had to mix and shape yourself by hand. So it’s safe to say that it was going to be a Cheeseburger Night at my house. Almost everyone eats hamburgers except for Cassius. He’s not big on meats and meaty meals. Still I forged on with my idea because I knew the general consensus would be happy. Can’t please everybody all the time, us Moms know that best.

I was in pursuit of the perfect all American Cheeseburger and Peach Pie! After perusing several websites and reviews I was most inspired by the “All American Burger Recipe” via Deepsouthdish.com I braved the stores to gather the necessities that I didn’t have on hand to complete this task. I didn’t have ground chuck  and fresh hamburger buns. For my hamburgers I used 2.25 lbs of ground chuck, 1 pack of Beefy Onion soup mix, Worcestershire sauce and salt. That’s it. Pretty simple right?

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Worcestershire Sauce & Lipton Beefy Onion Soup Mix (not shown salt)

 

When I was in Wal-Mart the other day getting storm supplies I spied the mountain of peaches on display. I was on the phone with my husband at the time so I threw out there that they had peaches and I should make him a pie. Of course he was in full agreement, “peach pie was exactly what we needed to help ride this storm out”. So I grabbed my share and proceeded to get through the storm chaos as quickly as possible. In addition to the peaches I picked up two frozen traditional pie shells, a box of pre-made pie dough sheets and PET Homemade Peach Ice Cream. Even though I was planning to make my dough, please know that I am a tried and true vet to these things…sometimes things go wrong – so it’s always good to be ready for anything. I had confidence in my dough making abilities but I wanted to be able to deliver a finished product no matter what obstacles may have arisen. Always a Girl Scout, “be prepared” had been imbedded in my DNA. In the fall and winter months, you can never have enough pre-made pie crusts on hand. Nevertheless I was ready. Back at home I printed out the recipe and was ready to tackle the peach pie head on. There are 8 steps in total to achieve Peach Pie heaven. I decided to employ the use of my mixer to help me achieve the dough consistency I was looking for. Step 1 has you cutting butter into small cubes and chilling for 15 minutes.

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Cubed Butter

While you wait on the chilled butter, you are to mix together the flour and salt. Your chilled butter cubes are then introduced into the mixer slowly until your mixture is crumbly in texture. Increments of ice water are poured into the mixture to moisten the dry ingredients. Ice water is continuously added to help form the dough.

 

The dough will begin to take shape and come together as it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Once to your liking, the dough is shaped into disks and wrapped in plastic wrap. The dough must chill for at least 30 minutes and can be chilled up to 24 hours.

With the dough doing its thing in the fridge I decided to work on the pie filling. It was time to peel the peaches. Step 2 instructs you to pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees and roll out your dough. I skipped ahead to Step 4 while I waited the dough out.

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I wasn’t looking forward to peeling these peaches but my trusty peeler would be put to the ultimate test. Could it peel peaches as good as its peeled potatoes and what not? I found out quickly that a good utensil makes the most tedious jobs simple and seamless. I had those peaches peeled, quartered and then sliced in no time. In a separate bowl I mixed the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt before coating the peaches with the mixture. (Side bar – I also added a little Pure Vanilla extract to my peach slices before I coated them in the sugar mixture. I love vanilla extract and hoped that it wouldn’t hurt.) Here’s where I appreciate my thought process! Thank God I bought those pre-made pie shells. I threw away the last pie plate I had months ago. I had nothing to put my pie in other than cake pans or molds. So I used the store-bought shell for the bottom and was able roll out a beautiful pie crust for the top that I had made. The pie filling is spooned into the pie plate and then it’s covered with the sheet of pie dough.

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I trimmed the excess dough from around the pie plate and pressed the crusts together before crimping the edges with a fork. The left over dough allowed me to fashion together leaves with a knife that I arranged on top of the pie crust. An egg is beaten and then brushed all over the pie before being sprinkled with granulated sugar. Don’t forget to cut your 4-5 slits into the top of your pie. I did and I haven’t eaten that pie yet so I can’t tell you what went wrong. Just don’t skip this step. That’s what I get for jumping all over the page. I ended up with enough filling and pie crusts for two pies. The other pie dough was rolled out just like the first but I cut it into strips with my knife (no fluted pastry wheel on hand) and arranged it into a lattice pattern on top of the second pie. It too was brushed with a beaten egg and then sprinkled with granulated sugar. The recipe then advises to freeze the pie for 15 minutes before popping it into the 425 degree oven for the first 15 minutes. The heat is then lowered to 375 and cooked for another 40 minutes. Finally the pie is loosely covered with aluminum foil and baked for the last 25 minutes. It is suggested to allow the pies at least 2 hours to cool prior to serving. This was the biggest test. Everyone kept coming into the kitchen to inquire when the pies would be ready for slicing. My daughter even suggested slicing it up Fruit Ninja style which I declined for logical reasons. They were going to have to wait until after dinner to try these Peach beauties.

 

With the pies done, I took a tv break with the hubs for an hour and caught up on the latest episode of Snowfall before I got right back into action in the kitchen making the all American Hamburger. By the end of Snowfall I was getting hungry and ready to finish up in the kitchen.

A quick mix of the ground chuck, onion soup mix and Worcestershire sauce with a spoon was needed before the hamburger patties were rolled into balls first and then formed into hamburger patties. Per Deepsouthdish.com our burgers were also going to be getting a coating of melted butter brushed on each side during cooking. A sprinkling of salt also accompanied each side of the burger as they cooked. Now before I go further I should warn you that there was a bit of pre-work done before I actually was ready to cook the burgers. Hence the bacon had to be cooked, the onions were sliced and grilled, the tomatoes were sliced and we cannot forget the eggs were fried! Once all of that was done then I was ready to cook the all american hamburger because it could be eaten immediately with all of its accessories ready. Deepsouthdish.com suggests allowing the burgers to cook without too much flipping or pressing down of the burgers. Once the burgers were to my liking they were pulled and ready to be fully dressed.

The hamburger buns also received the butter treatment and were brushed with melted butter and toasted. Then the assembly of the all American Hamburger could begin. American cheese went atop the burger to melt while both sides of the buns were lathered with mayo. The burger was then placed atop the bottom bun and covered with a fried egg and grilled onion patty. The top of the burger was covered in bacon and tomatoes. A small dab of yellow mustard and lots of ketchup went atop the bottom half of the burger before the two halves were joined together in burger matrimony.

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The All American Hamburger with Cheese, Bacon, Fried Egg, Grilled Onion, Tomato, Ketchup and Mustard

Now I know some of you are thinking, that looks delicious but what did Cassius eat? He doesn’t eat hamburgers right? Well that’s exactly what happened to me when I was about ready to eat my burger and then I remembered the Cheez It Chicken Bites I had picked up in some store that week.

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Boneless Chicken Bites Breaded with Cheez It Crackers

I made a pan of these that also went great with the regular and waffle fries that I had deep-fried to accompany the burgers. They were popped in the oven at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes and voila, Cassius was taken care of. The best part of it, he loved it! And we loved our burgers! There were huge to start off with, but they also boasted tons of flavor and they were juicy. I think everybody rushed through their food just so they could get to the Peach Pie. This was one of those desserts that everyone was anticipating.

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PET Limited Edition Homemade Style Carolina Peach Pie

A slice of pie and a dollop of ice cream was all it took to quiet the normally talkative bunch. This pie was declared an official winner by my husband who requested his second piece of pie not long after his first. It was good. It was sweet but not too sweet. The peaches were dead on, they weren’t mushy. They tasted like peaches! The brown sugar and cinnamon elevated this to new heights. This was classic goodness!

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Peach Pie Minus 1 Slice

Again I was pleased with the end result for both the hamburgers and the peach pie and so was my family. I always get a kick out of something I personally enjoy but it always pleases my heart and soul when I can make my family happy. Sometimes it’s these little things that make a big impact on us and cooking for my family has been one of those things that have shaped the woman, wife and mother that I am. Figuring out this meal and blog post also reminded me that just like the perfect burger I was pursuing, I’m also pursuing like so many others, the “American dream”. When googled, the “American Dream” is expressed as “a national ethos of the United States, the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success…”

Aren’t we all working towards our own versions of what the “American Dream” looks like or feels like to us? One of the best things about being an American is the ability to dream freely and then pursue those dreams. That’s why so many people come to our country every day…the hope of better. So many of us awake each day with a dream in our hearts to do something, to create something or to be something. I’ve been dreaming all my life of being this or that, doing this or that and there are some dreams that I’ve long fulfilled and there are others that I am still working my way towards. It was a realization just the other day that I might have been circling back into old habits that were not going to get me closer to my dream. If you’ve been following me you know that I am back in the wonderful world of the workforce again. It was something that I’ve been longing to do for the last few years but the job that I am doing has long hours, is physically demanding and lacks organization to help efficiency. Too many shifts already have me getting home after 9:30pm, after my children are already in bed. There are a lot of sacrifices that I can handle when it comes to the benefit and well-being of my family but one of them is not sacrificing seeing them or spending time with them. I love my family. They pluck my nerves like nobody else in the world but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It’s my dream to give my family a wonderful life that includes accomplishing my dream of being a best-selling author, a screenwriter, a restaurateur, a farmer and so much more. I don’t want to be unhappy and unfulfilled working tirelessly for someone else who doesn’t value who I am or what I’m working towards for my family. Hence the feeling like this latest job was killing me physically and emotionally; not to mention spiritually. I was circling back into old chains that I had previously broken free of. Being a stay at home Mom had given me the freedom of pursuing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Now I was chained to this job and it was more than I was prepared to deal with. I was beating myself up mentally every day as a result.

Nothing being by chance, I had to reach out to my friend Nichole for a favor as the new school year broached. I needed a hairstylist for my daughter and there was only one person that I knew I could call and count on to help me out, my good pal Nichole that I met when I worked at SunTrust Mortgage many years ago. Nichole and I became buddies fast when I was pregnant with my son Cassius. A simple compliment from Nichole about my maternity gear has forged an unexpected but genuine friendship amongst us. Doing hair is one of Nichole’s many side-hustles. It was one of the things that I respected and loved about her the most next to her kind and giving heart. She has always been a go-getter and she is another Jill of All Trades like me but she can SANG! And I do mean, she can SANG!! She tore down Adele’s, “Rolling in the Deep” at my Lady’s Power Showcase in 2011. She can COOK! And I do mean, she can cook. She can sew! She’s hella smart! She was always a top performer and producer at work. She’s a leader and a motivator, and always a team player. I was glad to reconnect with her after life had kept us both busy in our own parts of the world. After rehashing the things we had missed in each other’s life I was delighted to find out that she had started her own Catering Company, Kenny’s Kitchen, named after her son that was keeping her busy. She is doing weddings and other events, and even meal prep options for individuals and families. I’m so proud of her! She has clung to her dreams and her pursuit of them despite numerous obstacles that she has faced personally and professionally. She is all American in her pursuit of whatever accolades and success she is seeking for her own life and family and I am proud to call her my friend. Please check out her if you’re in need of Catering Services via Kenny’s Kitchen . Talking to her reminded me that we must be fearless in our pursuit of what we want and that we can’t let our circumstances keep us from living the life we desire. The drive and motivation to be successful is as All American as Hamburgers and Peach Pie and I’m proud to be an American in full pursuit of my dream.

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A Meal Offered thru Nichole’s, Kenny’s Kitchen

Thank you all for stopping by, I can’t wait to whip up something tasty and delicious to share with you all next time!

Till then be blessed, and be a blessing!

A Very Pleasant Mom, Tameka

#AVeryPleasantLife

#Dreamchasers

#Hamburgers

#PeachPie

#AllAmerican

 

 

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Peri Peri Chicken

I know what you’re thinking. How did I end up cooking Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken? Well I saw a chef make it on one of the many cooking shows, it might have been Beat Bobby Flay. It looked delicious. Peri Peri  or Piri Piri chicken is grilled whole chicken that has been butterflied, or split or cut into leg quarters that has been marinated and basted in the peri peri sauce. The peri peri (or piri piri) sauce is made up of a blend up Peri Peri or african bird’s-eye pepper, garlic, sun ripened lemons and spices. Originally I thought this dish was Portuguese as there are spanish variations. However I prepared the African version as I used a shortcut this time, the already bottled and packaged Nando’s Medium Peri-Peri sauce. I did want to fix it but I didn’t want to buy a long list of ingredients to make the sauce, sometimes I’m here for it – the homemade taste and flavor of cooking from scratch. Then there are those days when I am absolutely not here for it. I want to cook, I want it to be good but most importantly I want it to be convenient. So I grabbed two bottles of this 4.7 oz bottle because I was skeptical if I could make such a small amount go far. But at $3.49 a bottle in Kroger, two had to do.

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Nando’s Peri-Peri Sauce (Medium)

It probably would have been cheaper to buy the ingredients and make the sauce, but again, I was buying time and convenience in a bottle. I would also benefit from getting the authentic Peri Peri flavor versus what I hoped it should be if I made it myself. So it was still a win win situation. I found mine at my Kroger on the condiment aisle. Once back home in my kitchen I prepped my chicken leg quarters for the marinade. I opted to get quarters because they are affordable, you get a gang of them, and I would have a bunch left over to cook another day. Still winning right? Right. So with my chicken rinsed and dried I covered 4 leg quarters in a gallon zip loc bag with a whole bottle of the sauce. I massaged the sauce into the meat and let the bag rest while I lit my grill. Normally I would recommend marinating your chicken overnight. If you don’t have time, 30 minutes is better than nothing. While my chicken marinated and the grill heated up, I googled side dishes that went with the Peri Peri chicken. I found a rice dish and grilled corn. Of course I included a side salad because that’s a staple at my table.

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The leg quarters marinating in a Ziploc bag covered in Peri-Peri sauce.

 

Once my coals were nice and hot I placed 4 leg quarters on the grill rack that I had already sprayed with Canola oil to keep the meat from sticking. Sometimes I cover the grill rack with aluminum foil when I want to slow down the cooking process or prevent the food from cooking too quickly. When I’m cooking bulky meats like leg quarters I try to get a direct heat source to help them cook evenly and completely. The best advice I have received to date is to cook to temperature and not time…when it comes to meats anyway. The quick marinated leg quarters went directly on the grill rack and were basted with the remaining sauce from the bag before it was discarded.

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The leg quarters grilling and basted with Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce.

 

While the leg quarters cooked on the grill I went back inside to prepare the rice dish, Portuguese Rice. Yes I know, I thought I was on a whole Portuguese thing with the chicken but I was already invested – no turning back. Again the ingredients were pretty straightforward: long grain white rice, olive oil, chopped onion, minced garlic, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, bay leaf, chopped tomatoes, water, parsley, and cilantro. The recipe calls for fresh herbs but fresh herbs go bad quickly. I keep dried herbs on hand because it’s more convenient and affordable. First you want to get your oil hot in a sauce pan.

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The chopped onions cooking in the olive oil for the Portuguese rice.

Once your onions have softened a little bit, you add in the garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. This cooks for about a minute or so and then the chopped tomatoes are added. Your tomatoes need a couple of minutes to soften and then the water, parsley and cilantro are added and brought to a boil. Once boiling the rice is stirred in and then the pot should be covered and the heat reduced to low. The recipe suggests cooking the rice undisturbed for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender. An additional  5 minutes of rest time is given before the rice is fluffed for serving.

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The finished Portuguese Rice. Looks pretty good eh?

With the rice done, the chicken was coming along beautifully. It had a slight char around the edges but it was cooking to a golden brown with splashes of red peri peri sauce. During the grilling I had used the half of the second bottle to baste and brush the leg quarters as  flipped them over. I pulled the leg quarters about five minutes after they read 165 degrees on my meat thermometer and covered them in foil.

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Peri-Peri Chicken

Along my research I also stumbled upon Peri Peri chips and sauce. Essentially it’s potatoes that have been either cut or sliced in chip form and fried and served with a sauce that is mayonnaise and peri peri sauce mixed together. I short cut it and picked up a bag of Kroger potato wedges and whipped up the sauce (1/4 cup of mayo and 4 tablespoons of peri peri sauce) while I fried the potatoes in my cast iron pot. I tossed the fried potato wedges with smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

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Kroger’s Potato Wedges with Skins

The final product looked pretty good once I put it all together. If you ever eaten at Chicken Fiesta, my finished plate almost resembled a meal from their menu if I have to say so myself. What do you think?

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, and Peri Peri Chips with Perinase

I can’t forget I shucked a couple of pieces of corn, and cleaned and then covered with olive oil, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, garlic powder, and old bay. I grilled the corn about 12-15 minutes while turning the corn over 5-6 minutes. The plate above is my husbands’ plate who doesn’t care for corn. The  plate below is the plate I prepared for myself and my mother in law.

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Peri Peri Chicken, Portuguese Rice, Peri Chips, Portuguese Grilled Corn and Perinaise

With all of the semi hard work done it was finally time to eat. Upon first bite the chicken was juicy and flavorful. The Peri Peri sauce was spicy and tangy. It wasn’t overly spicy but mind you I got the Medium version. There are a Hot and a Lemon Garlic version as well. The Portuguese rice was different. It too boasted lots of flavor but there was one flaw. The rice was still crunchy and  this was after determining at 20 minutes additional cook time was needed. So I added more water, replaced the lid and put it back on low setting to cook longer. I know I cooked it another 30 minutes or more and it still wasn’t completely tender. I didn’t care for the corn. I would have preferred it if I had boiled the corn first to get it tender and moist first before grilling. The Perinaise wasn’t my cup of tea. It was a little thick in taste and texture. In the future if I were to attempt it again, I might add more spices and fresh lemon to the mayo to lighten it up a little more. I ended up eating my peri chips with ketchup. Overall the meal was entirely delicious. The rice was still a hit, I would definitely add more water and a longer time to cook. My husband liked it. I liked it. I definitely didn’t get my kids to try this. This was way too elevated for their peculiar taste buds.

I give this meal 3.5 out of 5 stars, it delivered on the flavor and it was not very complicated to put together. With the modifications discussed I think this could definitely be a five-star meal.  So what’s next on my plate? Umm, at the suggestion of one of the doctor’s at my kid’s dental practice…baked alaska. Interesting right? Yeah, and my oldest son’s birthday is Monday and even though I bought him a traditional store brought cake, I still want to do something special for him. Two cakes for a special kid. So check back to see how my Baked Alaska turns out!

Till next time – Happy Eating  and Be Blessed!

Tameka, A Very Pleasant Mom of 4

#NandosPeriPeriChicken

#Portugueserice

#Kroger

#PortugueseGrilledCorn

#AVeryPleasantLife

#ittastesgood

 

 

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