October 29, 2010

the HAMBURGER HUNT continues

Do you remember way, way, .....way back in May when I embarked on my search for the areas best hamburger? Well I did, if you don't remember or you have come on board since then you can read about it here. I have still been searching. I just keep forgetting to tell you about what I have found. What kind of rotten no good burger eater am I, anyway?

There are alot of burgers to be eaten in West Michigan let me tell you! Sheesh...really one needs to spread it out or one could start looking like Wimpy. That one being me of course. So I still am not going to reveal my fave, because believe it our not I have a couple burgers, that need to be tried before I go off and name the BEST!

In the mean time here is what I found over the Summer.....

Franks is located on Main St. Zeeland, the window reads "Frank's Best Burgers Around, est. 1924". I met my good friend Karen there....this was pre-Ranch visit, so we had some business to discuss as well as some burgers to eat. My camera decided not to function so these pictures are taken with my camera on my phone. Thus the weird blur.

Bacon Double Cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate shake...do I hear an Amen!

Frank's Special Burger, ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato and special sauce, with onion rings, and a Coke....do I hear another Amen from my sisters and brothers...Amen!

Frank's is definitely in the top 5. It has a great small town atmosphere. (Which could be good or bad...when I walked in I felt like I got the "ain't never seen you in here before" look, but it was probably just my hormones making me think crazy thoughts) I don't think a thing has changed since 1924. Everything is cooked behind the counter, in a very small space. If you live within 30 miles of this place I suggest you take your kids on a field trip to Zeeland and have yourselves some burgers with fries/onion rings and shakes. It is very affordable and family friendly. Everything is priced under $7 , with specials Monday - Thursday.

This place is in my old stompin' grounds. When Kenny and I first were married and we lived downtown Grand Rapids, in the residence housing, we ate out alot. I had a stove with two burners that I thought was going to blow the building up every time I turned it on...so we played it safe and ate out. Now that we are old and have four kids, we just don't head down to "the cottage" like we used to. My favorite is the Bacon Blue Cheese Burger. Any surprises there? Bacon+blue cheese=HEAVENLY.

This night I had the Cottage Burger which also has bacon on it along with green olives, lettuce, tomato, American and Swiss cheeses and hickory mayonnaise all on a rye bun. It was pretty much a killer burger. I also am a fan of the Cottage Fries which are pretty much what most would call home fries, deep fried, and I like to ask for a side of mayo to dip mine in. Oh my....the Heart Center is only a few blocks away on "medical mile" if you feel you are having a coronary after you eat here you can head right over there. Straight shot!

Pete's in pretty much an institution in Byron Center. Pete's recently did a major renovation, adding a deck for outdoor dining and well, I was never inside before the redo, but Kenny says that they really made a lot of improvements. I always thought of it as a dingy biker bar, but now it's very family friendly, and.....the no smoking law in Michigan has made many of these burger joints a breath of fresh air...literally.

Pete's BURGER ROCKS! I ordered the McPete's. I think it's supposed to be their take on the Big Mac. Well step aside Big Mac the McPete is taking the world by storm. Toasted bun, nice thick burger patty, cheese, generous portions of fresh tomato, lettuce, and onion and of course the special sauce, which was finger licking, scrape up the drippings with your fries good!

I would definitely recommend you give Pete's a try. The menu could be considered "bar food", but the variety is great at a decent price. Mexican, steak, salads, sandwiches, burgers is nothing priced over $10. They also have a children's menu.

Wally's in Saugatuk

I visited Wally's with my husband and two of my children(the other two were off with friends, just in case you wondered). I did have a burger. I have a picture of that burger. But that is really all I have to say. Sorry Wally. This burger was really not worthy of words. And the service was less than desirable...kids menu? There wasn't one. Wally's is more of a night life spot, I would not recommend you rush there with your family. Saugatuck has many other great spots to eat with out wasting calories on a burger at Wally's.

Otherwise known as the Ottawa Beach Inn, has been a mainstay for 30 years. If you live in West Michigan have gone to the beach in Holland, and you have never stopped at the Ottawa Beach Inn (or OBI to the locals), well then shame on you! I love this place. Nothing fancy. But not shabby either. I have eaten here many times over the years, but never had their famous Mushroom Burger, which my friend Meg told me I must have, and I needed to have it with her. OK Meg, twist my arm. So Kenny and I met up with our friends and they treated us to a sunset cruise on their boat and then we moseyed on over to the OBI for burgers and "stuff".

I HEART onion rings!

What can I say I have another Top 5. My Mushroom Swiss Burger was fantastic. Covered with Swiss cheese and an abundance of sauteed mushrooms. It was a melt in your mouth burger. And with onions rings and a glass of Chardonnay this gal was happy camper!

Their menu has something for everyone. Steaks, pasta, seafood, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and from 4-6pm you can partake in the early bird specials all $7.99, eight options. Sundays you can get yourselves some delicious BBQ chicken out in the front parking lot. This is perfect for those of us who don't want to put shoes on and change out of our bathing suits. Just walk right up from the beach and fill your tummy's on BBQ, and of course there is take out from the regular menu so if BBQ is not your thing no worries.

I hope you give the OBI a try! Next time I go I am going to try the BBQ Western Burger...it has bacon on it!

Look at this little peanut eating her breakfast at lunch. She was one of my lunch friends, but then she off and went to Kindergarten, so now I'm stuck eating lunch with just her mom. (wink)

Wolfgangs was one of the many "burger places" that I was recommend to try. I had been there for breakfast only. Wolfgangs is known for its breakfast. They have fabulous breakfast, all day every day...yummy yummy breakfast. But I was unaware that burgers were something I needed to try there until someone suggested it to me.

OK although my burger was good......Wolfgangs is definitely a breakfast joint. Not a burger joint. Nor are they trying to be a burger joint. They have one burger on the menu, I think just in case some wacko shows up that doesn't eat breakfast for lunch and feels they need something more in the lunch category.

There was nothing wrong with this burger. It was actually pretty good. Definitely substantial. I did not go away from my lunch date under fed, but I would stick to ordering breakfast at Wolfgangs. That's their specialty. It's awesome. The menu is one of the most entertaining menus I have ever laid hands, take a look. With menu items like the Dan Weiskopf= two poached eggs on a toasted bagel layered with asparagus, red peppers, onion, and spinach, topped generously with hollandaise why would anyone in their right mind order a burger here?

I did. I won't again, because there are to many other amazing choices.

Burger Search Continues.....

I have a few more places in West Michigan to try and report on. Then I will give you a running list of all of them and my top 5. I will then start my search of West Michigan's best PIZZA. If you have any non-chain family friendly pizza places you think I need to try I would love to hear about them.

Have a great weekend!

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October 28, 2010

Sauerbraten part II

My recipe notebook with all kinds of recipes jotted down from my host-sister, neighbors, and friends. 1988.....sheesh some of you were probably still wearing diapers back in 1988. I don't want to know who you are....cause my hip is already aching today making me feel old, I don't need to get it from you too!

I assume you have been marinating your roast (Sauerbraten part I), and yesterday I gave you all the sides to go with your it. So now lets finish this thing.....


Your roast has been marinating 48-72 hours. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Place the meat and all the marinate and vegetables in a 6-8 quart roasting pan.

Add one cup of water.

Cover with a tight fitting lid. Place in 325 degree oven. This roast will need to be cooked for a minimum of two hours, max four hours. Set your oven timer for 90 minutes. Don't open oven or even peek at it before 90 minutes! When the timer goes off, check roast, if roast looks dry add more water. If not put cover back on pot and cook for another hour or two.

These cookies from Traders Joe's are a problem. I am madly, deeply in love with them. I can't live with out them. However, my love for these gingery morsels is not the problem. The problem is that TRADER JOE'S will not open a store in Grand Rapids, Mi!!!!!!!! Or even Lansing. Lansing would be closer, nicer, doable. I realize that I am not the only soul with out a Trader Joe's in my backyard......but dang. Grand Rapids, is a big town, "Trader we got it goin oawn in GR", we even have a bring Trader Joe's to Grand Rapids, Facebook page. Trader.....tap, tap (loud buzz from my mic) are you listening Mr. Trader Joe? I know people that drive all the way to Detroit on a regular basis to stock up. Detroit can be a dangerous city...you could be held liable for us West Michiganders driving into danger to get your Triple Ginger Cookies. Think about that would ya!

Sorry....some things just get my undies in a bunch. So now back to our regularly scheduled food blog......

While your roast is cooking you will need to pulverize about 4 gingersnap cookies depending the size cookie you have. You will need 1/4 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs. This step all depends on your taste preference. By using gingersnap cookies to thicken your gravy, your gravy will have a slightly sweet taste. If you would rather stick to the more traditional type gravy then just use 1/4 cup of flour to thicken the juices from the roast.

After your roast is finished cooking, let it rest 15-20 minutes with the lid on outside of the oven before removing meat from the pan and placing it on a platter. Cover with tin foil to keep warm. You will need a sauce pan with a strainer over it, pour all the juice and onions etc. into the strainer. Press out juices with back of spoon. (If you don't have a strainer like this your colander would work just fine, sit it on top of your pan)

Put roasting pan on stove top over medium heat, deglaze pan with 1 cup of beef stock, scrape all the yummy bits loose from pan with spoon.

Pour the stock through strainer over the previously stained vegi's, you want to get all the flavor out. Press juice out with back of spoon again.

Bring juices to a slow boil, add the 1/4 cup gingersnap crumbs plus 1 tablespoon flour and whisk until smooth. Let cook for 5 minutes on a low boil. If you prefer not to use cookie crumbs then use 1/4 cup of flour and follow the same directions.

Now you are ready to serve your Sauerbraten meal. If you made Spaetzle you can put them in the oven that is still warm from cooking the roast to heat them through. Microwave your red cabbage.

Oh my heavens, I just drooled....I really hope you try the gingersnaps in your gravy it really makes it so delicious.

It's hard to photograph dark, moist meat....it doesn't appear very appetizing...but believe me this is melt in your mouth.

There it is the perfect bite! Das schmeckt!

Bon Appetite!

Gutes Appetite!


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October 27, 2010

SPAETZLE and other easy sides

Spaetzle, spaetzle, spaetzle....say that three times fast. Spaetzle is a traditional German noodle. When I lived in Germany, I actually was sent over to Oma's house for the afternoon after school one day to get a spaetzle making lesson by my spitfire of a German host grandmother. This woman was memorable, and lovable...and she taught me to make spaetzle with the love a drill sergeant. Part of the problem was my language was not quite up to par and then her dentures were clacking.

Spaetzle is like pie crust the more you make it the easier and the better it gets. I don't make spaetzle nearly as much as pie crust so bear with me as I demonstrate the art of spaetzle making.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 medium eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-6 tablespoons of water
13 cups of water + 3 teaspoons of salt for boiling
4 tablespoons of butter for pan frying

ACHTUNG! Here we go!
Sift the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt out on to parchment paper.

Dump flour/salt into mixer with the dough attachment on the mixer.

Make a nice nest for the eggs. Crack the eggs into the nest.

Start the mixer on slow and gradually add the water a tablespoon at a time. By the way Oma did not have a nice Kitchen Aid mixer we did it all my hand!

You want a nice firm dough. Not too sticky, definitely not runny.

It should hang on to your mixer like so but still be pliable....comparable texture to pizza dough.

You can make spaetzle without one of these doo-hickeys a Potato Ricer...call it what you will. I learned to make spaetzle by smashing the dough through the bottom of a colander into the boiling water. And before I bought this one, I pinched off pieces and threw them into the boiling water....I would not recommend that method.

One more spaetzle making tip...if you high strung or easily distracted like myself, you can make these noodles ahead, at a time when your kids are not running around and opening every cupboard and hungry waiting for supper to be put on the table. Even if you are as calm as a cucumber I would suggest you do this a few hours in advance and then heat them up before you are ready to eat.

1. Fill pot with water add 3 teaspoons of salt and bring it to a rolling boil.
2. Spray Pam or any non-stick cooking spray on your Potato Ricer.

3. Fill the ricer with about a cup of dough at a time. Now get out your mOOscles.

4. Now press the dough through the ricer and slice it off with a knife as it comes through. As seen above.

5. Drop the pieces of dough into the boiling water, they will stick together a bit and look all funky, these are random type noodles they do not need to be uniform. Let them boil for aproximately 3-5 minutes. Then take a strainer and lift them out tapping all excess water off.

5. Then you can transfer them directly to a frying pan with 2 tablespoons of melted, on the verge of browning, butter. See how it is just getting brown on the edges...Perfectamundo!

Drop those little guys in there, and fry them up. You will do this in two shifts. Use the second 2 tablespoons of butter for the second 1/2 of your noodles.

You want them to get brown and slightly crispy. Transfer them to a glass dish. Later when you are ready to eat. Place the dish in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes just till they are warmed through.

Now I am all about easy. So if all that seemed just a bit too complicated for your busy schedule or your temperment. Then grab a bag of these noodles at the store, boil them up, drain well, toss them in a frying pan with some butter brown them up and Voila! Speedy Spaetzle...just don't tell Oma.

So I am assuming you have your Saurerbraten marinating, so this is why I wanted to give you some sides to go with your roast and gravy. You can also boil up potatoes and toss them with some butter and parsley as an alternative to the noodles. The other two sides I serve with Sauerbraten are Rotkohl / red cabbage, and butter spiced carrots.

Isn't that beautiful?! Red Cabbage is very differant from Saurerkraut, so if you have an aversion to saurerkraut, you need to put all that behind you and give this a try. It compliments the Sauerbraten perfectly. I have made it from scratch....but I is much easier and taste comparable to Aunt Nellie's so I pop open a jar and warm it in the microwave. If you can't find Aunt Nellie's, in the canned vegetables aisle, then look in the International section of your grocery store. It would be with the German or Dutch food products.

Butter Spiced Carrots (print recipe) are something my kids love and also go well with this meal. Very easy. I happened to have a parsnip so I cut that up this time too. Usually I just do carrots. Boil carrots in a 1/2 inch of water, for 10 minutes, watch carefully so the pan doesn't go dry. Pour off any excess water and toss in 2 tablespoons of butter toss it around add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper and a dash or three of ground ginger. Super easy beautiful side dish.

Tomorrow we cook the Sauerbraten!

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October 26, 2010


The above buttons would be three ways I would describe myself. In fact, I think I might wear them right across my chest for a week or two proclaiming to the world that I am an up beat, sleep deprived numb skull. Not necessarily in that order.

I'm addicted to these wacky buttons.

Or do you call them pins?

We had this discussion tonight. We hit on some heavy topics in our home......

I pin them on my purse or camera bag. They're fun to share too. Thanks to Traci for the link to these cutie patootie buttons. Check it out and tell me which are your favorites. I kinda like the "fruit cake", I haven't come across that one yet. I have found them at Francesca's in our local mall or at Model Drug Store in Holland, Mi. I have bumped into them in other parts of the country too.

Buttons/pins I have had: shutter bug, cup cake, silly goose, sun shine....and many others.

Just something fun I wanted to share with you!

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