Best ever homemade burger


For years my dad has been making his own burgers, affectionately dubbed, “Tommy Burgers”, they’ve always been a staple at family BBQs and events.  A good, homemade burger patty is hard to come by, many times they end up dry and bland.  Yesterday, for our Memorial Day celebration, we decided to take a stab at recreating the infamous Tommy Burger.  They were fantastic (as expected).  For added flavor, we spiced ’em up with garlic aioli, cheddar cheese and truffled mushrooms and served it on a buttery brioche roll.   Get ready to be wowed, this isn’t your average burger.  Here’s how to make ’em…


Ingredients //
1 lb. 80/20 ground beef
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
2 slices Italian bread, torn into small pieces
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Directions //
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  It works well to squish the mixture with your hands.   Form the mixture into four patties and refrigerate, covered in plastic wrap, for a least an hour, up to 24 hours before grilling.


Friday five


1.  I need to make this “Choco Taco” this weekend // Thrillist

2.  The History of the Ramen Noodle // The New Yorker

3.  The single best condiment for grilled corn on the cob – chipotle lime butter // Bon Appétit

4.  10 Buzzy Superfoods That Work // Refinery29

5.  Presto change-o…easy food hack for converting soft shells to hard taco shells // Foodbeast

Have a great weekend!

Best ever banana chocolate chip muffins


Raise your hand if you’ve ever had grossly over-ripe bananas hanging out on your counter, left to die a slow and painful death. I’m with ya, in fact last night I finally decided to do something about it as I just couldn’t watch them suffer any longer. Turns out, over-ripe bananas make the best muffins. With a little help from a tried-and-true Food & Wine recipe, I whipped up a batch of the best ever banana chocolate chip muffins I’ve ever had. It was super easy and as luck had it, I had all of the ingredients on hand. You seriously need to try these!


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients //
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 6)
3 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (plus a few extra!)

Directions //
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper or foil liners. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, melted butter, bananas and eggs; mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until the batter is evenly moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Bake for about 28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the muffins cool for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.  **Important note: I only baked my muffins for 24 minutes as they were already golden brown and I didn’t want them to dry out!  Keep an eye on yours and plan accordingly.


Happy trails to you, until we meet again…it’s Friday

If you’re a blog aficionado, then I’m guessing today’s post will probably look familiar to you.  I’m starting a new series called “Friday Five”.  As a news junkie and communications choreographer (thanks Lindsay A. for allowing me to borrow this moniker) I’m constantly scouring the web for interesting, informative and thought-provoking content to add to my arsenal of conversation starters.  Here are some of the cool stories I’m reading today.  Have a nice weekend!


1.  3 Easy Water Infused Recipes // A Beautiful Mess

2.  11 Things You Didn’t Know About Lucky Charms // Thrillist

3.  Best Airport Food Across the U.S. // Delish/Food & Wine

4.  Red Velvet Cake: A Classic, Not a Gimmick // New York Times

5.  How to Win Reservations and Influence Waiters by David Chang // GQ


What are you reading today?


International food rules even Bourdain abides by


Did anyone see the new Bourdain episode this week?  The one where he meets up with Zamir in Russia and they throw back shot after shot of vodka together?  Bourdain, who has no reservations (pun intended) about drinking may not just be obliging drinking buddy Zamir.  Turns out, it’s very bad etiquette to turn down (or mix) vodka in Russia.  Want to know other fascinating etiquette tips that will save you from awkward situations and potentially help you make friends?  Check out these 15 international travel etiquette tips from CNN, published by Budget Travel.

1.  In Thailand, don’t put food in your mouth with a fork.

2.  In Japan, never stick your chopsticks upright in your rice.

3.  In the Middle East, India and parts of Africa, don’t eat with your left hand.

4.  At a traditional feast in Georgia, it’s rude to sip your wine.

5.  In Mexico, never eat tacos with a fork and knife.

6.  In Italy, only drink a cappuccino before noon.

7.  In Britain, always pass the port to the left — and remember the Bishop of Norwich.

8.  In France, don’t eat your bread as an appetizer before the meal.

9.  In China, don’t flip the fish.

10.  In Italy, don’t ask for parmesan for your pizza — or any other time it’s not explicitly offered.

11.  Don’t eat anything, even fries, with your hands at a meal in Chile.

12.  In Korea, if an older person offers you a drink, lift your glass to receive it with both hands.

13.  Never mix — or turn down — vodka in Russia.

14.  When drinking coffee with Bedouins in the Middle East, shake the cup at the end.

15.  In Brazil, play your tokens wisely.

Read the full article here, for the insightful back story on each of these rules.



When life gives you lemons (lots of them), make limoncello


At the end of a hearty meal, do you find yourself yearning for that certain something to cleanse your palate, satisfy your sweet tooth and aid in the digestion of everything you just consumed all at the same time?  Look no further than the sweet, penetrating citrine pop of a smooth shot of limoncello.

There really is nothing simpler: spirit, lemons, sugar.  Peel some lemons, steep them in alcohol, add some sugar-water, strain, bottle, pop in the freezer, and viola, you have limoncello.  It can be good or not so good.  Too bitter or too sweet, not lemony enough or too strong, but in the end, after indulging in copious amounts of rich Italian food, you find yourself immensely pleased to be sipping this lemony delight.

I’ve never had much luck with the store-bought versions of the stuff, many are too sweet or don’t have enough kick.  We have a friend who makes some for us every year for Christmas, and it’s fabulous.  With our supply depleted, I wanted to see for myself just how easy it is to make homemade limoncello.  Side note: I love food favors – what’s a more perfect favor for a dinner party or bridal shower than a perfectly portioned bottle of limoncello (check your local craft store for cute bottles – the one pictured above with the cork is from A.C. Moore)?

Making limoncello isn’t an exact science, depending on who you talk to, everyone has a different take on how it should be done.  Here’s how I made mine.


Homemade Limoncello //

10 lemons (washed well, preferably organic)
30 oz. vodka (just a bit more than what’s in a 750 ml bottle)
3-1/4 cups sugar
3-1/4 cups water

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lemons and place the peels in a large pitcher.  Pay careful attention to not peel the white pith (it’s bitter tasting).  Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap.  Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for at least 4 days at room temperature.

To make the simple syrup (sugar-water), stir the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Pour the simple syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels.  To help with the flavor and clarity, you should strain the mixture again through a coffee filter (tedious process).  Transfer the limoncello to bottles.  Seal the bottles and chill for up to 1 month.

Bonus Points:  For a refreshing, slightly alcoholic, summertime party beverage, convert your limoncello into a limoncello spritzer.  Combine equal parts limoncello with seltzer water, add ice and garnish with lemon slices!


The only guacamole recipe you’ll ever need

Happy Cinco de Mayo! This is a holiday I take very seriously. Guacamole is by far my favorite food from the “dips and spreads” food group! So, despite the fact there’s a nationwide avocado and lime shortage wreaking havoc on guacamole lovers everywhere, my goal today is to consume as much of the green stuff as possible. [Side note: On this day alone, Americans will consume almost 81 million avocados!]  To ensure I reach my full guacamole-eating potential, I’m whipping up a batch in my own kitchen. Here is the only guacamole recipe you’ll ever need – trust me, I did all the R&D.


Avocado Tip: Avocados grow on trees, but only ripen once they’re off the tree.  If you pick up an avocado at the store that’s not quite guacamole ready, to expedite the ripening process, put it in a paper bag with a banana or an apple.

Ingredients //
5 ripe avocados, halved, peeled and pitted
2 limes, juiced
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 white onion, minced
3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions //
Place the avocados and juice of 1 lime in a large bowl, toss to coat.  Add the cayenne and cumin.  Using a potato masher, mash until slightly chunky.  Fold in the remaining lime juice, lime zest, jalapeno, onion, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro.  Season with salt and pepper.  If storing in the refrigerator, press the surface of the plastic wrap onto the surface of the guacamole to help prevent oxidation.