Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Frank's Stuffed Burgers

Frank is a fabulous grill master.  That's why I named the blog, "Cooking with Love and Gas." (There's ocean front property in Arizona too! ;).  He smokes an amazing Pork Butt, we've made some excellent chicken and his steaks are fabulous.  Our newest favorite, however, is the stuffed burger.

We tried them on a visit to Omaha earlier this summer.  They were awesome (and huge).  Then we found a handy dandy burger stuffer thing (like this one).  This little thing is amazing and mostly easy to use - it wasn't as easy last night when we were cooking for my aunt and uncle and almost didn't have enough beef!

We've tried a few different stuffings - one with jalapenos and bacon!  Our favorite, though, is just some cheese, mushrooms and onions.

Stuffed Burger Directions

- Ground Beef
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Seasonings
- Stuffings (whatever you want - cube them so they aren't too big)
- Bacon
- Toothpicks

Here's what you do:
1) In a bowl, mix ground beef with Worcestershire Sauce (we looked up how to say it and how it's made  on "How It's Made" a few weeks ago - you don't want to know, just know it makes beef yummy).  Also, add some garlic powder and seasonings of your choice.

2) In a pan, saute your stuffing stuff.  For the six burgers last night, I used about 3/4 a container of mushrooms that I cubed and a small red onion from our CSA (yum!).  Use a little bit of oil (or water if you don't want to add fat.

3) Cube up your choice of cheese - we had some smoked swiss that was awesome!  Any cheese would work!

4) Get your patties ready - the "shelled pocket side" and the top.

5) When the stuffing is sauted, add the cheese in there and mix (it'll melt a little, that's ok).

6) Stuff the burgers, pinching the top and sides together.  Then we've been wrapping the sides with bacon.  Cause we like bacon . . . Secure bacon with toothpicks (we break them in half).  NOTE: this is way easier with two people.

7) Cook 'em.  You don't have to worry so much about the insides cooking as they are already cooked!

8) Enjoy!!  Especially yummy with Frank's remade Bush's Baked Beans - they are awesome!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Baptism and John Wayne

My best friends and I have a strong devotion to St. Therese.  She says in her memoir that she doesn't want to be an elegant rose or a lily.  She just wants to be a little daisy at God's feet and make him smile.  When we dedicated our little blue house to her in 2004, we became the Daisy Girls.  That means we get to have Daisy Babies too - it's pretty sweet!  I got to meet the newest little Daisy baby on Saturday.  Her name is Margaret Therese . . . Greta.  She is beautiful!!

She came on Friday, came home on Saturday and became Catholic yesterday.  I don't know if her day today is going to live it up.  With the baptism so close, we friends rallied together a little reception feast.  Greta's godfather was SURE he could find this "awesome coffee cake recipe" that they'd made a long time ago.  So we did the protein.  Which was great because I have this "awesome egg casserole recipe!"

I don't know how John Wayne got attributed to this casserole (it's awesome, he's awesome so we're all good?).  I also am not sure why it's called a "cheese casserole" (but I did only put in less than half the cheese it called for).  Whatever it's called, it's yummy.  And gone - no breakfast leftovers (or pictures - use your imagination!).  Having no leftovers makes me a little sad.  We do have Southern Grits Casserole left - I'll blog that recipe later.  Right now, it's the Duke's turn!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Family Celebration

A few summers ago, I stumbled across Larkrise to Candleford episodes on YouTube.  I just watched an episode where they were celebrating Michaelmas.  Hmm . . . I thought.  A Celebration of St. Michael the Archangel . . . which I seemed to remember happens in early fall.  The St. Michael whom our son was named after (well, St. Michael and his daddy!).  And our Michael was due in early fall!  I think we need to celebrate this feast day!!

Some initial research:  According to, one of the customs of Michaelmas is the Aster (aka the Michaelmas Daisy - Daisy!!!  It's sounding a little like a God-thing  I'll have to do a post about why daisies are so important.  Or just link to our Daisy House Blog).  Apparently, the custom of pulling petals is a Michaelmas thing to. He loves me, he loves me not ;).  There's lots of other cool customs on there too - cutting apples in half so you can see the seeds representing the 5 wounds of Christ.  They've also got some recipes )

Food customs depend on the country, according to, "In the British Isles, for example, goose was the traditional meal for Michaelmas, eaten for prosperity, France has waffles or Gaufres and the traditional fare in Scotland used to be St. Michael's Bannock (Struan Micheil) — a large, scone-like cake. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare."  Scones, waffles AND gnochhi?  This is awesome. 

Plus, St. Michael is the Patron feast of Sicily where my Italian grandparents are from!

A Little Higher Out of the Hole

I just finished re-reading Anne's House of Dreams (#5 of the Anne of Green Gable's saga).  In college, I found that L.M. Montgomery's books do my heart good - especially when it's hurting.  I remembered vaguely that Anne and Gilbert lost their first child too so I turned to the girl of bosom friends to see what one is to do in this situation.

I cried during the entire chapter.  Then Gilbert got her a housekeeper to do the cooking and cleaning while she recovered.  As if! And she bonded with the girl down the way who had previously thought her life too perfect to truly be friends (I think she missed that whole orphan, terrible life pre-Green Gables part).  And then she moved on.  At least it seems.

Toward the end of the book, Anne is talking with their good friend the lighthouse keeper.  Wouldn't you love to live in a world where you are BFF's with a lighthouse keeper?  He told Anne, who was worrying that her baby wouldn't know her in heaven that, "God would manage better than that my baby would seem a stranger to me when I found her Beyond."

So, my friend that's due the day before our due date?  I've kind of stunk it up in the friend department on that one.  And yet, in a way, her son will be a blessing.  It has hurt, watching her get bigger and bigger.  And yet, seeing her son grow up?  It will give me a little taste of how big our Michael would be.  When Anne talked about her daughter a year or so later, she said, "I've followed her development day by day and week by week--I always shall. I shall know just how she grows from year to year--and when I meet her again I'll know her--she won't be a stranger."

I don't know that I feel our little Michael will be a stranger - we ask him for prayers every night.  But having a little one to see grow up, although hard, will make it a lot easier to have a visual of our little beloved.

On a lighter note (and as if the bacon were not enough celebration) I made the Pioneer Woman's Carrot Cake yesterday for Frank's Birthday.  It's awesome!! It will be my go to recipe from now on!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Say it with Bacon!!

Have you all seen the newest Oscar Meyer bacon commercial?  It is  hilarious.

And my husband LOVES bacon.  My family was never really into the bacon thing.  It never really got cooked to "yummy bacon stage" at our house.  Frank's family, however, is a different story.  His sister Kristy is a huge bacon lover as well.  A few years ago on a canoe trip, Kristy decided to pair her bacon with a roasted homemade marshmallow (which, by the way, are amazing!!).  It was a hit.  I, however, didn't try it.  Sunday morning bacon marshmallow was not appealing.

Maybe when I joined the family, my adventuresomeness (totally not a word but I think it's fun) with bacon seems to be taking off.

In order to celebrate Frank's birthday we had a "Say it with Bacon Birthday Bash" last night.  We had some of the usual bacon snacks - one of his groomsmen made some killer jalapeno poppers.  We had some bacon covered BBQ chicken and little smokies.  Kristy and Lisa cooked up some bacon Rice Krispie treats (I wished there were bigger bacon pieces in there;).  We have a tasted Sonic PB Bacon shake in the freezer.

The icing on the cake had to have been Ray's killer cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes with banana pudding filling topped with peanut butter icing, candied bacon bits and chocolate drippings.  Not only were they amazing, they were beautiful too!!  I would love to be the book/coffee shop to her bakery someday!!

And you can't have cake without ice cream, right?

I dreamed up a candied bacon ice cream.  OK, I did dream about it.  Then I woke up and searched Pinterest for recipes. My goodness there are so many bacon recipes out there!!  Who'd a knew?  I wanted to try a few of them but decided it'd be best to stay with one.  The one that caught my eye was the Maple Bourbon Ice Cream with Candied Bacon from Girl Cooks World.  Syrup, Bourbon AND Bacon?  This was screaming my hubby!  I took a look at the recipe.  Then adapted the heck out of it.  Kind of.

I took Kristy V's favorite Ice Cream recipe (it used 2 egg yolks instead of 5) and way less ingredients.  I substituted the sugar in her recipe for maple syrup (the real kind - only way to go!).  Apparently the sub for sugar to syrup is 1 cup for 3/4 cup so I for the 3/4 c sugar I used 1/3 c of syrup.  Then mixed my custard in (without curdling ONE egg!), waited for it to cool a little and added 2 TBS of Bourbon.  We let the whole mix cool and then that evening we froze it in our Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Attachment - quickly becoming one of my favorite gadgets!!

We candied the bacon two different ways.  Way #1 - we set it out on a broiler pan, spread syrup, brown sugar and fresh cracked pepper on it and baked it.  This took a long time, didn't get out a lot of the fat and after we thought it was done we turned it over and it needed MORE time - not what I was looking for on a Sunday afternoon in the middle of July.  Way #2 - Frank chopped up the bacon into 1/4 inch squares, seasoned it with pepper and fried it in a pan.  Then we  he (he was having as much fun with this as a kid in a candy store) drained the fat, blotted the bits a bit and threw them back in the pan with the syrup and brown sugar.  Kristy asked how we got the bacon so candied - evidence that Way #2 was much superior!

The Bourbon Ice Cream with Candied Bacon?  Amazing!!  Frank wanted strawberries on it too.  Then warned us all that the ice cream is a strawberry OR bacon ice cream but not both.  THAT was too much ;)  As if the syrup, bourbon and bacon could need any competition?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Climbing out of the hole

*Note - this post isn't an accusation.  It isn't a call for apology.  It's not even so much a cry for help.  You know that guck that gets stuck inside of you?  This is just me trying to get it out.  A cry for catharsis (which means the release of pity and fear)  May be not catharsis then but definitely that whole cleansing part.

After we miscarried in February I fell into a dark hole.  Then I found out at a party (Frank was at a bachelor party so I was solo) that one of our friends is due the day before we were.  It was somehow worse than finding out that my sil is pregnant the same day we found out we were miscarrying. I finally understood how someone could feel like they'd been punched in the stomach.  I fell deeper.  I ran out of the room, hid to cry and fled the party.  I opened the car windows and told myself to breath on the way home. Only to come home to an empty house and pint of chocolate ice cream (that wasn't even that good).

Frank pulled me out of it around my birthday.  He's pretty wonderful.

But there's something dark and sinister that keeps trying to pull me back in.  A photo with my best friend with all the babies - including ALL the preggos in the group.  And there's a lot of them.  One more rant about how "we cheated" and got pregnant.  One more discussion about how "if I remembered what pregnancy felt like, I wouldn't do this again."  One more facebook post about breast feeding in public or how parenting is so hard.  An unintentional blow off that the fact I hadn't needed to buy a pregnancy test wasn't a big deal.  One more dig that stings so much - and yet is just a normal part of life. 

I wish it didn't matter and that it didn't hurt.  And that all the baby talk and discussions about how "we'll probably get pregnant on our honeymoon" were just fine and dandy.  I know it's normal and I don't wish it away.  I just wish it didn't hurt.

Every month I tell myself to not hope too much.  That we are probably not.  But the hope is still there (as are the symptoms, thanks to progesterone supplements).  And the hope gets crushed.  And then I feel guilty - how do women do this month after month?  It's only been three and I can't even imagine.

I have to be careful what I wear.  Does that make me look pregnant?  The question hurts - I'll avoid it at all costs.  I have to be careful about what I dream and hope for.  In May, I hoped that I'd go back to school with news for my students and teacher friends.  That's not exactly looking as though it may be the case.

It's weird.  I look at the friend who's due at the same time we were.  I can't imagine myself that far along.  I even thought yesterday about how it may be a blessing to be able to see her little grow up - to be able to imagine our little Michael and how it may be comforting to know that they'd be the same age.

Then there's the weird paradigm shift.  I think it was last October when our NFP practitioner told us that we'd get pregnant on our honeymoon.  I'm the girl with the normal, 28 day cycles.  I'd predicted the same back before we'd even started charting in June.  So not only was I mentally prepping myself to get married, I was mentally prepping myself for the baby carriage too.  But now instead of the baby carriage and showers and cute little clothes (those ones I've dreamed of my whole life) there's a little grave and a little saint up in heaven that belongs to us.  That's a bit of a shift in dreams.

I've wondered if we should take a break for emotional sanity.  For one month off of the little ray's of hope and the fall deeper in the pit at the end of hope.  So God wasn't ready for us to have a baby - maybe that we aren't ready.  But six months ago I was willing to trust that he'd do what was best.  Now I have to ask myself if I still trust him.

The quote from my daily calendar is from Thomas Merton says that it is no use praying if we are already planning our own answer to prayer.  THIS is where I don't get NFP.  (And that whole trusting thing).   How do we trust and yet have so high a knowledge of what could happen?  I looked up "taking a break from trying to conceive" this morning.  A bunch of momma's who "took a break" only to wind up pregnant.  So much for that trying not to hope thing.

So.  There's a difference in these virtues of hope and trust.  That's probably where I need to start.  I have to trust that God knows what he's doing.  And that when it's our time, he'll make it our time.  In Hebrews 11:1 it says, "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things unseen."  Help me have enough faith to trust in you - that if I trust, you will bring us hope "and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Father - let me live in your love. Let your love give me faith to hope that your ways will not disappoint and that there is no need for this silly pit.