Nacho Burgers

Oozy nacho cheese sauce, jalapenos, and salsa. Need I say more? What if I put it on top of juicy burger and between two fresh, buttered, brioche hamburger buns? Did you drool a little? Because I did when I first saw this burger on the cover of Food & Wine. This burger is the sort of thing my dreams are made of.

After drooling over the photo on the cover of the magazine for almost a year, I finally made it for myself this weekend. I have to say, it was just as delicious as I thought it would be. Of course I did make a few small changes. First, the tomatoes at my grocer looked really pathetic, so rather than making my own salsa I bought some of the good pre-made stuff  from the refrigerated section (the kind in the plastic tub with flecks of real fresh cilantro and onions). I also added a dash of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce (Cholula) to the burger meat.  Mmmm!

What else can you put between delicious homemade brioche buns?

BBQ Turkey Burgers
Homemade Sloppy Joes
Shredded BBQ Chicken

Best Fajita Marinade

Whew!! It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, my in-laws flew all the way from Ohio to visit us here in China. Never having been to China (as I think is the case for most Americans!), they wanted to do lots of sightseeing. During their 2 week visit we did a lot of traveling. First we flew to Hong Kong, where we walked Nathan Road, road to the top of the peak, shopped till we dropped at the Ladies Market in Mongkok, and just generally wore out the bottoms of our shoes. After Hong Kong we had just 2 days of rest in Suzhou before hopping on a high-speed train to Beijing. In Beijing we climbed the Great Wall, walked in THE Water Cube, toured the Forbidden City, walked Tiananmen Square, and, of course, ate the most delicious noodles ever!

By the time we got back to Suzhou we had just enough time to squeeze in one last bit of excitement – by riding the scooters to Guanqian during rush hour. If you know Suzhou, you know how crazy that is! Needless to say, I’m exhausted! I *almost* didn’t even have the energy to write this post, but I had to because I couldn’t wait any longer to share this recipe!

I first made this marinade last month and I was blown away by the flavor! My search for the best fajita marinade is now over. This keeps the meat (chicken or steak)  juicy and provides just the right amount of heat and citrus. The key/secret to this marinade is the zest. Donna, from Apron Springs, wrote up a great post about it so if you’re interested in reading about why she chose zest over juice, check it out!


Here are a few more great marinade/sauce ideas to add variety to your chicken/fish/beef!
Southwest Marinade
Lemon Greek Chicken
Grilled Marinated Mahi Mahi

Copycat Jack Daniels Glaze

One thing you might not know about me is that I am a dip and sauce fanatic. I’m the girl that bugs the waiter/waitress for extra sauces – pretty much every single time I go out to eat. Extra side of salsa, a side of ranch, extra buffalo sauce, extra Yum Yum sauce…. You get the picture. Especially if there are fries and/or a wrap/sandwich of some sort. I think I might even embarrass Jesse a little bit because I’ve been known to ask for 3 or more sauces at one time.  It’s a problem, that’s for sure.

There is a popular chain restaurant that has a featured menu that is all about Jack Daniels Glaze. It’s sweet, salty, sticky, and delicious. We don’t go to that restaurant very often, but when we do, you can bet we’ll order the Sesame Jack Chicken Strips as an appetizer. And chances are good that I will also ask for an extra side of the sauce, just so I can dip my fries in it later.

When I came across this copycat on Kate’s blog during a previous recipe swap I was super excited. Of course that time around the Enchilada Casserole won the blog spot, but I didn’t forget about this glaze. When I was assigned Kate’s blog again for this swap, it was fate.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to come clean and tell you that the sauce I made would technically have to be Johnnie Walker Glaze, since the only whiskey we have on hand at the moment is a bottle of black label. It’s technically different because it’s a Scotch whiskey and not a Tennessee Whiskey, but it worked. And guess what, this sauce is pretty spot! The only other change I made was to use only soy sauce instead of soy and teriyaki because… well, because I can’t read most of the labels at the grocery store (Chinese characters) so I’m not sure if my store had teriyaki sauce!



Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Why do brussels sprouts get such a bad rap? My guess is too many people have had a bad brussels sprout experience with mushy, overcooked, bland ones. I mean seriously, they are possibly one of my favorite vegetables. I compare the flavor to broccoli, just with a smoother texture. And being a member of the cabbage family means that they are going to absorb the flavors of your seasoning really well. Typically I roast my sprouts with garlic and olive oil until the tops are brown and caramelized. But with all of our recent grilling adventures I decided to track down a new preparation method.

Before I go any further, I’ve always said “Brussel” sprouts and just now realized (through some google searches) it’s supposed to be “Brussels“. It doesn’t feel right though…

This recipe hit the nail on the head right away. The blanch ensures that they are no longer tough to eat but it’s quick enough that they are not over cooked and mushy. Then the tossing in that fabulous seasoning? Are you kidding me, match made in heaven. I love the unexpected flavor from the celery seed. Then there’s the grilling, the outside starts to turn a fabulous golden brown that really concentrates the flavor. Really really fabulous. So please, STOP HATING ON THE BRUSSELS SPROUTS and try this recipe.

Before I end this post I need to take a little personal side track. Here we go again! Jesse is headed back to China in a few weeks. Luckily this stay is only for a month (and he’ll be back for Thanksgiving!!) but it’s still a month apart. 🙁 Because of his impending trip I plan on making a lot of comfort food in the coming weeks. The boy loves his mashed potatoes (who can blame him?) and other US friendly carbs. So you can expect to see lots of those sorts of recipes. And possibly some unexpected twists…. You’ll have to stick around and see 🙂

Grilled Brussels Sprouts
(Source: Food52)

12 small to medium Brussels Sprouts
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp celery salt

Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, clean and trim the brussels sprouts. Add the brussels sprouts to the boiling water and blanch for 4-5 minutes. Remove the sprouts from the water and drain off any excess liquid.

In a medium bowl heatproof bowl, drizzle the sprouts with olive oil. Then add the seasonings and toss well, until evenly coated. Set the bowl aside. (don’t rinse it out!)

Place the coated sprouts on the grill (if you need to, you can lay out a piece of foil so they don’t fall through) and cook over medium-high heat for 12 minutes, turning the sprouts every 4 minutes.

Remove the sprouts from the grill and put back into the heatproof bowl. Toss with the seasonings one more time before serving.