99 Flavors of Burgers: # 2 Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world!

Being a mom is a hard job, so I hope you get treated royally today.  That includes eating whatever you want.  So today I can cheat and eat ground beef in this indulgent Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce.

I’ve come to love smashburgers and prefer them over a traditional thicker patty.  You can use a burger press, a rolling pin, or a spatula to smash your burger patty, which I did for this version.

smashburger

You don’t need to add any seasonings to the meat, just a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  It’s important to use fattier meat (80/20) so that the smashburger can cook in it’s own grease (I know, healthy right)?

cooking smashburgers

American cheese is added while the burgers are still in the frying pan, resulting in melty goodness.

smashburgers with American cheese

The secret sauce lends the perfect amount of zing and when layered with two burger patties and American cheese, the result is amazing!

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Just for good measure, I buttered and toasted the bun.

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You know you want to bite into this sloppy burger mess.

Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce

 

Double Smashburger with Secret Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Thin smashed burger patties layered with American Cheese and a tangy sauce

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs 80/20 ground chuck
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 Tb mayonnaise
  • 2 ts sriracha sauce
  • 2 ts white sugar
  • 2 Tb sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 4 soft potato hamburger buns
  • 8 slices American cheese

Directions

1. To make the secret sauce whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, sriracha, and pickle relish in a small bowl until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is smooth.  Set aside.

2. Place a large skillet on stovetop and turn heat to high.  Separate ground chuck into chunks that are a little less than a quarter of a pound.  You do not need to shape the chunks of meat. Place them directly into the skillet and flatten as much as possible with a large spatula.  Sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper.  When the first side has browned after 2-3 minutes, flip each patty.  Smash them again with the spatula.  Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until juices run clear and burgers are done.

3. Place a slice of American cheese on each burger patty and let sit in the skillet until the cheese has melted.  Butter both the top and bottom of the hamburger buns and toast them slightly.  Place a burger patty on the bottom bun, top with secret sauce, another patty, more sauce, and the top bun.

 

 

99 Kinds of Stir Fries: # 2 General Tso’s Chicken

Since my Sticky Garlic Chicken is my most popular post so far, I decided to share my version of General Tso’s Chicken.  Unlike the Sticky Garlic Chicken, which has a very balanced flavor, General Tso’s Chicken is spicy.  My version is coated in cornstarch and stir-fried in a small amount of oil, rather then deep-frying, which makes it healthier.  I also use reduced sodium soy sauce and chicken broth.

The smaller you make your pieces of chicken, the crispier and saucier they will be.

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Stir frying involves high heat, which creates the crunch of the coating.  You only need a small amount of oil and about 20 minutes total cooking time.cooked cornstarch coated chicken

I’ve fine tuned the sauce from multiple General Tso’s recipes.

General Tso's Sauce

This recipe is quick, easy, and one of our favorites.

General Tso's Chicken

General Tso's Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Crispy coated pieces of chicken in spicy General Tso's sauce

Ingredients

  • 3 TB oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 rice vinegar
  • 1 ts minced garlic
  • 1 Tb cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
  • 1 ts red pepper flakes
  • 2 green onions, sliced

Directions

  1. Cut chicken breast into small bite-size pieces.  Pour cornstarch into a plastic gallon bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, and garlic.  Stir until sugar has dissolved.  In a separate bowl, stir 1 Tb of cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce, stir,  and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces. Cook on high about 10 mins, stirring and flipping the chicken often, until the coating is browned and crispy.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 10 mins until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet.  Turn heat back to high and add the sliced green onions and red pepper flakes.  Cook, while stirring, for about 30 seconds, until green onions are wilted and red pepper flakes are fragrant.  Pour the sauce into the skillet. Cook on medium-high for about 3 minutes, until sauce just begins to thicken.  Add the chicken pieces back into the skillet and stir to coat.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until sauce has thickened.  Serve with cooked white rice or fried rice.

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99 Kinds of Stir Fries: # 1 Sticky Garlic Chicken

I love stir fries because they come together quickly enough to be made on a weeknight, they are relatively healthy, and they can be made in a lot of different variations.  Sticky Garlic Chicken has a very balanced flavor – not overly salty, spicy, sweet, or vinegary.  The sticky sauce coats the chicken nicely and the cornstarch coating provides wonderful crispiness.

The smaller you make your pieces of chicken, the crispier and saucier they will be.

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Stir frying involves high heat, which creates the crunch of the coating.  You only need a small amount of oil and about 20 minutes total cooking time.cooked cornstarch coated chicken

My family loved that the sauce was not over-powering, but still flavorful.

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To finish the dish, I garnished with green onions.

Sticky Garlic Chicken

For a milder Asian tasting dish, give this one a try.

Sticky Garlic Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Cornstarch coated chicken pieces tossed with a sticky, garlic sauce

Author: 99Taste original by Leslie

Ingredients

  • 3 TB oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • ¾ cup chicken broth (I use reduced sodium)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 3 Tb dark brown sugar
  • 1 ts sesame oil
  • 2 ts sriracha sauce
  • ¼ ts salt
  • 1 Tb cornstarch mixed in ¼ cup water
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 ts garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Cut chicken breast into small bite-size pieces.  Pour cornstarch into a plastic gallon bag. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat.
  2. In a bowl, combine all of the sauce ingredients: chicken broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt.  In a separate bowl, stir 1 Tb of cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken pieces.  Cook on high about 10 mins, stirring and flipping the chicken often, until the coating is browned and crispy.  Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking another 10 mins until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Add the minced garlic.  Cook and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Pour the sauce into the skillet. Stir until all chicken pieces are coated.  Continue cooking on medium-low until sauce has thickened, about 3 mins. Add the sliced green onion and cook until slightly tender.  Serve with cooked white rice or fried rice.

99 Flavors of Pizza: # 1 Thin Crust Pizza

I’ve made A LOT of homemade pizzas in the past 30 years.  Every few years, I try a new pizza crust recipe, and we decide that it is our new favorite.  But I’ve never found a truly thin crust recipe – until now.  My family said this is the best pizza I’ve ever made.  The crust is the same recipe that I used for my calzones.  It requires no rising and baking it on my pizza pan with holes on the bottom resulted in a thin, crispy bottomed pizza.

For the dough, make sure you are using a rapid rise or quick rise yeast.  Add the yeast dry to the flour.  Your water must be very warm – 120 to 130 degrees for the yeast to activate.  You’ll need to knead the dough for several minutes to achieve smoothness and elasticity.

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My husband, having worked at pizza parlor in his younger days, rolled and stretched the dough.  He said the elasticity was perfect.  Your initial rolling doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, because you can finish stretching it on the pizza pan.

Thin Pizza Crust

My family will not let me divulge my secret pizza sauce recipe, which I have been making unchanged since I was eight years old.  All I can tell you is that it’s very simple and involves a can of tomato sauce with spices and seasonings.

Pizza Sauce

The crust recipe makes enough for two thin crust pizzas.  I made a large 14″ and a small 10.”  Top with whatever toppings you like.  I used a combination of mozzarella and shredded Mexican cheese, which we preferred over just mozzarella.

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To achieve a truly crispy crust, you do need a pizza pan with holes in it.  Otherwise, the crust will be soft.

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I could eat this thin crust pizza every week!  It really is that good.

Thin Crust Pizza

 

Thin crust pizza

  • Servings: 6-8
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Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie with crust adapted from Fleishmann’s

Crust ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope or 2 ts rapid rise yeast
  • ½ ts salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees)

Topping ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup pizza sauce
  • 12 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • sliced pepperoni, cooked sausage, or any desired pizza toppings
  • cooking spray & cornmeal (for dusting the pan)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with the dry yeast and salt. Stir in the hot water and olive oil, then add ½ cup more flour.  When the dough starts to come together, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Whenever the dough feels sticky while kneading, add a tiny bit of flour. After the dough has become completely smooth and elastic, cover with a clean dishcloth and let rest 10 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a thin circle. Spray a pizza pan that has holes in it with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Transfer the crust to the pizza pan and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan.  On each crust, spread on pizza sauce, top with both cheeses, and desired pizza toppings.
4. Bake the pizzas on lower rack in the oven for about 10 mins, or until crust is browned on the bottom.  Slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

99 Flavors of Hand Pies: # 1 Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzones

I’ve made calzones several times over the past year, and each time I’ve tried a different crust recipe and different fillings.  This time, my whole family agreed, they were the best.  The crust recipe is adapted from Fleischmann’s using rapid rise yeast, so you don’t need to wait for the dough to rise.  The entire dinner took 40 minutes to make, which was manageable on a weekday.  The results were amazing.

For the dough, make sure you are using a rapid rise or quick rise yeast.  Add the yeast dry to the flour.  Your water must be very warm – 120 to 130 degrees for the yeast to activate.  You’ll need to knead the dough for several minutes to achieve smoothness and elasticity.

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I rolled my dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and 8 inches in diameter.

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You can certainly stuff these calzones fatter, or us different fillings altogether.  But I loved the saltiness of the sausage and the gooey-ness the buffalo mozzarella provided.

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To seal the edge, I pulled the bottom crust just slightly over the top and then crimped them together.

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The egg wash provides just the perfect golden touch.

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Tasty perfection.

Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzone

Try this recipe for yourself.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Sausage, Pepperoni, & Mozzarella Calzones

  • Servings: 4
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Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie with crust adapted from Fleishmann’s

Crust ingredients

  • 2 ½ – 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 envelope rapid rise yeast
  • ½ ts salt
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 1 cup hot water (120-130 degrees)

Filling ingredients

  • ½ cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup hot sausage, cooked & crumbled
  • 12 slices pepperoni
  • 2 oz. buffalo mozzarella

Other ingredients

  • Egg wash – 1 egg beaten with 1 Tb water
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix 2 cups flour with the dry yeast and salt. Stir in the hot water and olive oil, then add ½ cup more flour. When the dough starts to come together, transfer to a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. Whenever the dough feels sticky while kneading, add 1 Tb more flour. After the dough has become completely smooth and elastic, cover with a clean dishcloth and let rest 5-10 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into four pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a thin circle. Transfer to the baking sheet. On one half of the circle, spread 2 Tb of marinara sauce, topped with 2 Tb shredded mozzarella, 2 Tb cooked sausage, 3 slices of pepperoni, a little more marinara sauce, and finally several chunks of buffalo mozzarella. Fold other half of dough over and pinch all along the seam to seal. Brush top with egg wash. Repeat with all pieces of dough and remaining filling ingredients.
4. Place the calzones in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush again with egg wash. Sprinkle on shredded parmesan cheese. Return the calzones to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden. Serve with extra marinara for dipping, if desired.

99 Ways with the Instant Pot: # 3 Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

This Instant Pot Southwest Chicken is great because it can be made in 30 minutes, plus it’s healthy and only 305 calories per serving.

Every part of this recipe is done in the instant pot, including browning the tortilla strips.

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First the chicken is seasoned and saute’d for a few minutes, before adding the flavorful sauce that will create the liquid for pressure cooking.

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The pressure cooking for this recipe only requires 8 minutes.  Even the time for the pressure to build up wasn’t long (about 10 mins), since the pot was already heated from the sauteing.  Then a final saute’ to thicken the sauce and a little cheese and the crispy tortilla strips are added to the top, resulting in a flavorful and tender chicken dish.

Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

Instant Pot Southwest Chicken

  • Servings: 4
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Moist and flavorful chicken cooked in the instant pot topped with crispy tortilla strips and cheese

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie

Ingredients

  • 1 Tb oil
  • 2 flour tortillas, cut into strips (easiest with a pizza cutter)
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), sliced horizontally
  • ½ ts salt
  • ½ ts garlic powder
  • 1 ts chili powder
  • ¼ ts paprika
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup salsa or picante sauce
  • 2 Tb apricot preserves
  • ¼ cup shredded Colby and Monterey jack cheese

Directions

1. Combine salt, garlic powder, ½ ts of the chili powder, and paprika. Rub each side of chicken breast with spice mixture.
2. Mix water, salsa or picante sauce, apricot preserves, and ½ ts chili powder. Set aside.
3. Turn instant pot on to sauté mode. Add oil and heat for 1 minute. Add tortilla strips and cook 1-2 minutes on each side until crispy. Remove tortilla strips and set aside. Add chicken to instant pot. Sauté on each side until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
4. Pour sauce mixture over chicken in instant pot. Put on the lid and make sure the steam release valve is set to “sealing.” Cancel sauté mode and set instant pot on pressure cook for 8 minutes. Once cooking is complete, quick release the steam valve. Open the lid and set the instant pot back to sauté mode. Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Change to the “warm” setting and sprinkle cheese and tortilla strips on top of chicken. Serve.

 

 

99 Ways with the Instant Pot: # 2 Fall-off-the-bone Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

These chicken wings literally slide right off the bone.  I mean, your bone will be totally clean and bare.  The sauce is finger lickin’ good too!  Sweet with just a hint of heat.

Since the pressure cooking makes the chicken wings super soft and tender, I followed the pressure cooking with a brief broiling in the oven to crisp them up.  Then they were tossed back in with the thickened sauce.  They were amazing!

The sauce creates the liquid needed to pressure cook the wings.  If your wings are partially frozen, you can increase the cooking time by 5 minutes.  I used a 6 qt instant pot and 2 lbs of chicken wings for this recipe.

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It only took 15 minutes to achieve fall-off-the-bone status.  Of course, first you have to wait for the pressure to build up, so that took about 15 minutes first.

I only broiled each side for 3 minutes.  I didn’t want the wings to burn!

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The final results were finger-licking amazing good!

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Instant Pot Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings

  • Servings: 4-6
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These pressure cooked chicken wings fall off the bone and have a sweet, slightly spicy sauce

Credit: 99Taste original by Leslie

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs chicken wings & drummies
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tb honey
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tb sriracha sauce
  • cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup cold water mixed with 1 Tb cornstarch

Directions

1. Place chicken wings in a 6 qt instant pot.  Mix 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 2 Tb sriracha.  Pour all over chicken wings.

2. Set steam release valve to “sealing,” place on the lid, and turn the instant pot on to pressure cook for 15 minutes.  While the pressure cooking is taking place, prepare the broiling pan by lining a large sheet with aluminum foil.  Place a wire rack on top and spray with cooking spray.

3. When the instant pot is finished with the pressure cooking, make sure the pressure valve has gone down and quick release the steam.  Remove the chicken wings with tongs and place on the prepared pan.  Place the oven rack to the second highest position and broil wings in the oven on high for 3 minutes on each side.

4. Meanwhile, set instant pot to saute mode.  Add 2 Tb honey and the cornstarch mixed with water.  Cook the sauce on saute mode for about 10 minutes or until thickened.  Add chicken wings back to the pot to cover in sauce.  Enjoy!