A Vision… Realized!

What a quick weekend this was!!! After my amazingly fun evening with fabulous foodies on Friday, yesterday was packed with lots of activity. A breakdown, in my favorite bulleted list form:

  • A successful –.6 lb. at Weight Watchers weigh in
  • A delicious brunch of a turkey Reuben, egg lemon soup, and exactly 9 French fries
  • A fun trip to the Japanese supermarket, where we purchased 3 of my favorite Japanese snacks:

pocky crackers gum

Pocky, potato starch crackers, and Marukawa bubble gum!

  • An impromptu barbecue at Adam’s friend’s house, and I made a tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella cheese salad. It was quite a hit!

We got home quite late, and then this morning was almost as busy! I made my bi-weekly trip to my favorite nail place to get my nails done, and ended up with a hot pink pedicure! I’ll spare you the picture of my toes, but my fingers are adorable:

bermudashorts DSCN2592

Yet again, the color didn’t photograph well, it’s this very vivid purple called Bermuda Shorts by Essie. I hope I don’t get sick of it before 2 weeks from now! Kelsey, do you approve?

Ok, enough rambling about non-food things. After my mani/pedi, I went to my second-favorite produce market with the mission of finding something fun for dinner. After wandering around a bit, I had a vision of a dinner after seeing a freshly baked loaf of Italian bread: Grilled bread. I then did loops 3 and 4 of the store to pick up everything I wanted to use to cook tonight’s meal. I’m calling this one:

Grilled Cheese (Burgers)DSCN2595


1 lb. lean ground beef (or turkey)

1/2 c. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. Valentino hot sauce (or your favorite, to taste)

1 tsp. Adobo seasoning (I used Penzeys, but Goya is great too!)

1 egg

1/4 c. panko bread crumbs

1 avocado, sliced

1 tomato, sliced

4 slices rustic bread

2 tsp. olive oil


Mix together thoroughly the meat, hot sauce, Adobo, and egg. Then, stir in the shredded cheese and bread crumbs. Allow to sit at least 15 minutes before forming into 4 patties. While you’re waiting, light the grill, and then brush the olive oil on both sides of your sliced bread. Grill the burgers until they reach your desired doneness, then toast the bread on the hot grill. Assemble your burgers with tomato and avocado, and enjoy!

I couldn’t believe that these burgers came out exactly how I’d pictured them in my head, and tasted even better! A friend of mine suggested that I mix the cheese right into the burger, and it was such a nice change from the norm. I’ll be utilizing that method during this grill season for sure! While I was eating my burger, I said “Wow, I think this is like, restaurant caliber stuff here!” When Adam ate his, he enthusiastically agreed!

I got an email earlier in the week with a fantastic Guest for Dinner post! Teri from Make a Whisk sent along this great recipe that she wanted to share with all of you! Her site is fantastic, and you must check it out, but first, Teri, pull up a chair, have a seat at my table, and tell us about your meal!

This is how my family makes Beef Stroganoff. I've known people to be "scared" to try this, because they think of stroganoff as a complicated dish, but it couldn't be easier. I even use the crockpot!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Serves 4

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds lean stew beef or trimmed round steak, cut into 1.5 inch pieces.
  • 1 15 oz. can Beef Gravy (I use Campbell’s–two smaller cans are fine if you can’t find the larger one)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 preparation sauteed mushrooms, recipe to follow
  • 1 package of egg noodles (I used whole wheat noodles, but use whatever you like)
  • 1 cup of sour cream

1. Preheat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the beef shows some carmelization. Stir in the can of beef gravy and red wine.

2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

3. When the beef sauce is finished, prepare egg noodles according to directions on package. Right before serving, stir in sour cream. Sauce should be relatively thick; if it seems too thin, feel free to thicken with 2 tablespoons of flour whisked into a small amount of cold water. Serve over egg noodles. Garnish with extra sour cream, if desired.

Note: Mushrooms and Stroganoff belong together. If you’re cooking for mushroom eaters, you can take the easy way out, and add a large can (or two small cans) to the beef mixture as it goes into the crockpot. Or, you can take the more delicious way out, and toss in my sauteed mushrooms, outlined below. If, like me, you live with people who will not tolerate the fungi, just saute the mushrooms for yourself and add them to your portion. These fresh sauteed mushrooms have enough rich flavor on their own–they don’t need to stew with the beef all day to be tasty like the canned version does.

Sauteed Mushrooms
My own creation

  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (I used plain white button mushrooms, but feel free to be creative)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon of sour cream

1. Add extra virgin olive oil to a skillet and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (the surface will shimmer) add the mushrooms in one layer. Cook just until the edges begin to brown.

2. Once the mushrooms start to brown, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add Parmesan cheese, cook for 1 more minute, and then sprinkle with flour.

3. Once the flour is golden brown, add the cream and sour cream and stir together. Remove from heat. The mushrooms should have a buttery aroma and a thick texture.

4. Enjoy! These will melt right into your Stroganoff sauce, but they’re also very tasty on their own.

The mushrooms should be bound together with the flour and cream mixture–it tastes like cream of mushroom, but much, much thicker. Also, the parmesan cheese forms a delicious crunchy crust at the edges of each bite–yum!

img_1410-500x375 img_1408-500x375 img_1409-500x375


Thanks so much Teri! This looks like a great comfort food meal! I haven’t had stroganoff in a really long time!

Would you like to be a Guest for Dinner? I’d love to have you “over”! Send an email to mara@imadedinner.net with a description of your meal, a recipe, and some photos, and I’ll post it!

PHEW! This has been quite the long post… so since it’s past my bedtime, I’m signing off!


This entry was posted in beef, grilling, Guests for Dinner and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to A Vision… Realized!

  1. I’m glad you had a such a good weekend! I love Pocky; the strawberry flavor is my favorite. And your nails are so pretty. 🙂 As I’m typing this I’m looking at my nails, which are in desperate need of some help…

    What a great idea to make Beef Stroganoff in a crockpot!

    Andrea@WellnessNotes´s last blog post..Best Farmers’ Market Trip So Far!

  2. as usual, your nails look amazing!! i love when you show pictures 🙂

    ohhhhh grilled cheese (with a burger) … sigh …

    Sarah (Tales of Expansion)´s last blog post..You’ll never believe it

  3. Your nails are so FAB! And to think, I was proud of pushing back my cuticles and putting on a coat of clear today.

    Sarah (lovINmytummy)´s last blog post..Ode to Sunday

  4. That is such a great color for Spring! I love essie nail polish–it always lasts even longer than OPI!

    Lara (Thinspired)´s last blog post..Lazy Lazy, Pizza Crazy (05/17/09)

  5. coco says:

    what a fun weekend!!! I love that potato starch crakers!!! 🙂
    lovely nail color…. I’m going to pedi/mani today too… so enjoyable!

    coco´s last blog post..Failed attempt!

  6. meg says:

    Grilled cheese burgers! Fabulous! Love the guest post too!

    meg´s last blog post..Cinnamon Raisin Pastry Rounds

  7. Pingback: Guest for Dinner | Make a Whisk

  8. Krista says:

    Holy burger! YUM!

    I LOVE your nails! They always look so pretty!

  9. Glad you liked the recipe Mara!

    One other thing I meant to share–it’s really easy to make this recipe more healthy, and it’s one of my favorite things to eat when I’m counting points. Just be sure to sub the whole wheat noodles for regular. Plus, it tastes just as good (I swear!) with low fat sour cream. You can even half the amount of red wine, and the flavor will still come through, but it adds fewer calories. I’ve also used a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar instead of the wine.

    Teri @ Make A Whisk´s last blog post..Guest for Dinner

  10. I LOVE that you’re a fan of Valentina hot sauce too! One of my Mexican friends turned me on to it years ago, and I became obsessed. I can’t stand Tabasco, Tapatio, etc., but Valentina? Mmmmmmm……

    Great lookin’ burger!

    Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well´s last blog post..Recipe: Rainbow Chard & Roasted Beet Fettuccine

  11. carolinebee says:

    I want pretty nails! I love that you put cheese IN the burger 😀 Brillz. Congrats on the WW too!

    carolinebee´s last blog post..Earthquaaake!!

  12. Anne K. says:

    Cute nails, and it sounds like you had a great weekend. Have a good Monday 🙂

  13. Mara, great job on your weigh in!

    It sounds like you had a great weekend, I like your burgers using the toast. That sounds really great.

    I may have to try the beef stroganoff your guest poster posted, I haven’t had it since I was a kid!

    Jenn@slim-shoppin´s last blog post..Greek Quina and Avacodos

  14. Hallie says:

    Love Pocky! It’s dangerous for me though because they are so light and crispy…I can eat a zillion and not even know it 🙂

    Hallie´s last blog post..My First (Real) Two-Piece

  15. love the pedicure!! I’m lucky if I get all the dirt from underneath my nails 😉

  16. Your nails are GORGE! I’m jealous. 🙂

    And that grilled cheese…my stomach just punched me for not having one on-hand to feed to it right this second.

    Wiggs (The Beholder)´s last blog post..Grammar disclaimer

  17. Emily says:

    love the polish! essie makes some of my favorites.

    i bought my husband some of the “pocky for men”. i thought it was kinda funny; who knew dark chocolate was “for men”?!

    Emily´s last blog post..Loving Monday

  18. Jessica says:

    I love cheesy burgers with adobo seasoning, yum!

    Jessica´s last blog post..Juice love

  19. Danielle says:

    I love love love that nail color! Too cute I’m going to have look for it in the store.

    Danielle´s last blog post..Rainy Day Giveaway

  20. Pearl says:

    i grew up eating those japanese bubble gums! well, not eating, but chewing !

    Pearl´s last blog post..Coffee Pudding Cup w/ Almond Butter Crunch Topping

  21. BTW, we made these burgers last night, and they were amazing!

    Teri @ Make A Whisk´s last blog post..Blogger Jewlery at What’s For Dinner

  22. Pingback: Mara’s Grilled Cheese Burgers | Make a Whisk

  23. Marianne says:

    Guess who’s finally catching up on her google reader? I know, I suck. But that is one awesome looking grilled cheese…I mean, burger 😀

    You and your crazy manicures – I don’t think I could wear anything that bright (or pink) on my nails for 2 weeks. I’m all about the au natural.

    Marianne´s last blog post..Getting Bendy

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