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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Avocado-Lime Cheeseburger [Recipe]

I’m bored with my usual birthday posts. More often than not, I end up making promises for this blog—and to myself—that I’ll most likely never keep. So, since it is a Thursday, I think today would be the perfect day for the next installment of my randomly recurring “Taste Bud Thursday” series instead. And since, for many of you, tomorrow marks the official start of the Memorial Day weekend and the start of grill season, I thought I’d share my recipe for avocado-lime burgers.

To be honest, I don’t remember exactly what inspired me to concoct this recipe. If I had to guess, I would say that I probably ordered something similar at a restaurant and figured I could make them at home. I’ve spent years experimenting on this recipe, years of pulling my hair out trying to keep my patties from falling apart. The avocado is excellent at keeping the patties juicy and plump. However, it’s best feature was also my worst enemy. I’ve tried adding bread crumbs and oatmeal, and I’ve tried using less avocado. My burgers fell apart all the same. Finally, after some research, I found a link that led me to an advice page for celebrity chef Rachel Ray’s website. In it she recommends refrigerating or freezing the patties for at least an hour before grilling. She goes on to point out that the patties should only be flipped once in cooking process. Excessive flipping contributes to breakage. Other websites recommend forgoing the bread crumbs and oatmeal all together. I gave Rachel Ray's suggestions a try and sure enough, it worked!

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter you will know that I actually I posted the above picture two weeks ago. I had teased this recipe and had hoped to post it that Thursday but—oh well! Here it is now. I hope you enjoy. Please, comment with your feedback below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And happy summer!


INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS

Makes 4 servings

Burger Patties

  • Half of a California (Hass) avocado, cubed
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb Extra lean ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/2 Tbsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp French’s Worcestershire Sauce, Reduced Sodium 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 whole California (Hass) avocado, halved and sliced into strips
  • 4 slices Pepper jack cheese


Optional Ingredient
  • 4 roll Arnold Sandwich Thins, Pre-Sliced, 100% Whole Grain 
  • Uncooked red onion(s)
  • Mixed greens
  • Alfalfa sprouts (not pictured)
Steps
  1. In a large mixing bowl, lightly mash cubed avocado with lime juice and cilantro and mix well. (I personally like to leave this mixture on the chunky side.) 
  2. Add ground beef, onion and garlic powders, and worcestershire sauce. Mix well. 
  3. Divide into 4 quarter pound patties and lay out on paper lined tray. Patties will be VERY moist and fragile. 
  4. Refrigerate or freeze for at least an hour or until firm. 
  5. When ready to grill, lightly salt each side of the patties before putting on the grill.
  6. On a lightly sprayed grill, cook first side for 4–6 minutes, then flip. 
  7. Layer avocado and cheese on top of burgers and cook for an additional 4–6 minutes. 
  8. Serve with sweet potato fries and your favorite cold beer.
On a side note, I calculated the Weight Watcher’s points for this recipe. The patties are 8 PointsPlus each with avocado slices and a slice of pepper jack on top. I prefer to use Arnold Sandwich Thins (3 PointsPlus) for my bread. I serve this with some 3 PointsPlus sweet potato fries and wash it all down with about a hundred points in beer.




Thursday, May 1, 2014

UPDATED (2014) Weight Watchers 4 PointPlus Red Velvet Cupcakes [Recipe]


This past Valentine’s Day, I decided that I wanted to bake a red velvet cake for the Spousal Unit. As I set out on my mission, I remembered that the wife had just started back on Weight Watchers and was very conscious about what she ate. A brief search on das here Interwebs, and—BLAMO!—Weight Watchers red velvet cake recipes! I soon realized that all the search results were blog re-postings of a recipe originally posted to Food.com in 2005 by a user going by the name mariposa13.

I decided to give it a try. It was only 4 Points a serving, after all.

The cake turned out nice and was a hit with the wife. It was denser than regular cake but still pretty moist and flaky. The frosting, when the pudding and Cool Whip were blended together (more on this later), had a consistency and flavor similar to whipped frosting used by bakeries. Overall, the end results were unmistakably red velvet cake.

However, I wasn't satisfied. I had encountered several stumbling blocks as I prepared the recipe as originally written. These challenges got me thinking about ways to improve and update the recipe. When I learned that I could follow-up on my theories for my final project in the technical writing course I'm taking at Georgia State, I leapt at the opportunity to experiment.

So, dear friends and followers, I am proud to present to you the results of this culinary endeavor. We'll call this the first installment of "Taste Bud Thursdays," a new randomly-recurring series serving as my response to the over-saturation of Throwback Thursdays. I hope you enjoy the results, and—Please!—feel free to comment with your reviews and suggestions for improvement.


INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS
My notes on how and why I felt that the original recipe needed to be updated can be found after the jump.


Makes 16 servings at 4 PointsPlus each [1]

Cake:
  • 1 box (16.5 Oz) Duncan Hines Signature Red Velvet Cake Mix [2]
  • 12 oz diet Dr. Pepper soda [3]
Mix cake mix and diet soda. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners [4]. Pour mix into cupcake pan. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until toothpick poked into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.

Frosting:

  • 2 small boxes of Jell-o fat-free, sugar-free instant cheesecake pudding mix [5]
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 4 oz (half a container) fat-free Cool Whip, thawed 
Whisk pudding mix and milk together until smooth. Pudding will thicken as you mix. Once the pudding is thoroughly mixed, add Cool Whip and whisk well. Refrigerate until ready to serve [6].


Tips and Things I Learned While Play with My Food: