Thursday, August 9, 2012

An Indoor Picnic

The past 2 weeks I’ve taken a bit of a break on the blog because it’s been all Olympics!  I love them.  Plus I had a wonderful time last weekend hanging out with one of the best women on the planet.

A couple of weeks ago though, we had my cousin and her fiance over to hang out, watch Olympics and eat yummy food.  I went a little crazy and offered them 3 “menus” to choose from (I’ll write more about that in another post) and they chose the “Indoor Picnic” menu.  

The original menu was:
Appetizer: Charcuterie
Main: Buffalo Turkey Burgers
Side: Potato Salad
Dessert: Ice Cream Sandwiches

They decided the Oreo Brownies from one of the other menus sounded more appealing, so I made those instead of the ice cream sandwiches.

We started with the charcuterie.  I was kind of glad they picked this menu because this appetizer required no cooking.  We went to Antonelli’s and got a couple of British cheeses (a nod to the Olympics) and some salami and a couple of types of pepperoni.  I bought olives and cornichons, but of course forgot to put them out.  But it was ok because everything was delicious and we had plenty of food.

The buffalo turkey burgers came from this recipe.  We used ground turkey thigh meat because it’s higher in fat and when I made the patties I replaced ½ the pepper with paprika.  I love paprika and thought it would work really well in this recipe.  It’s too hot to cook outside though so we made them inside on the grill pan.  Instead of cooking them in aluminum foil, we cooked them almost all the way and then finished by basting them with the hot sauce and butter mixture then topped them off with provolone cheese.

For condiments I made caramelized onions - just a tbsp butter, tbsp olive oil, and 2 thinly sliced onions in a pan over medium/high heat for about an hour; blue cheese salad dressing to use instead of mayo; pickles made with hops; lettuce and tomato.

Verdict: I love these burgers!  They were juicy and all the herbs and spices added to the ground turkey made it very flavorful.  I would baste it a bit longer to get more of the “buffalo” flavor and reserve some of the butter and hot sauce mixture for a condiment.  I plan on trying the ground turkey thigh meat for other burgers though because this was the best burger I have tried since adding meat back into my diet.

For sides we had some chips and a somewhat less traditional potato salad.  I went the vinegar route instead of mayo for the dressing.  This Martha Stewart recipe caught my eye because I love cornichons and capers.  The only thing I changed is I used all yellow fingerling potatoes because I wanted to keep the color light.  And I forgot the parsley.  But overall it was a very tasty potato salad.  I really prefer the vinaigrette to mayo - the sourness and saltiness of the vinegar and the pickles goes so well with the butteriness of the potato.  And the various textures make it fun to eat as well.

Then there was dessert.  Wow - am I glad they switched to the Oreo brownies.  The initial recipe I had called for 2 cups of sugar and I thought that was way too much, so I went on a search for what seemed like a good brownie recipe and then figured I’d just add the oreos.  I ended up with this one.  But then I decided I wanted to make them more interesting.  I have this recipe for homemade oreo cookies, so I made a batch of the “cream” from that recipe and used it as icing.  Then covered the whole thing with oreos.  These were seriously yummy brownies.  Uber decadent - but worth every calorie.  I usually have pretty decent willpower - I can eat one of something and then bring it to work to share or only eat one piece per night - but I struggled with these.  They were a bit too high in calories for an evening dessert (although not as bad as you would think), but I hated to bring them to work because I wanted them all!  I would like to try the brownie recipe by itself and with other additions - peanut butter cups, butterfingers (would be good for Halloween), and peppermint patties (as in the original recipe).  And the icing may become my “go to” icing for everything including cakes.  It was delicious and had a consistency I really loved.

Finally, I also made a large batch of tea with lemonade.  Nothing fancy, but I wanted to use my new beverage jar and I thought it was a good picnic drink.  Using my Maw Maw’s tea method, I brewed 6 bags of Lipton the night before - brought it to a boil and then turned it off and let it sit, covered, overnight on the stove.  I know it sounds crazy, but it results in some yummy tea.  Normally, in the morning, I would heat it back up, add a lot of sugar and mix it with more water.  But this time I mixed it with a store bought lemonade that already had sugar and then added some lemon slices for garnish.  I found it very refreshing and I do love my beverage jar!

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