Cooking Up Memories

This is a story, all about how, my life got flipped, turned…oh wait, that isn’t my story (but bonus points for you if you kept singing along). This week’s post is all about how food makes so many memories in our lives. Todd’s birthday was a few weeks back, and I started thinking about his past few birthdays and how we celebrated. Last year, we had a big, Star Wars themed birthday party for him, and then we spent a couple nights in Castle Rock exploring their downtown area, specifically, trying their restaurants.  We ate at Yolanda’s Tacos (which is the restaurant that made the tacos for our wedding), and Guadalajara Family Mexican Restaurant. That lead to a conversation about our trip to Breckenridge last October, and the amazing crepes we had from the Crepes A La Cart, this, by the way, was the only place we ate twice on that trip. Food has an amazing power to trigger so many memories.

I’ve written before about my mom and the stroganoff recipe I learned from her, and how she wasn’t an amazing chef.  But so much of my time with her, was spent in the kitchen. I would make the dips for family get togethers, while she prepared the main dishes.  Todd’s family gave him a canister with the mix for his grandmother’s cookie recipe after she passed away. That canister sits in our kitchen as a reminder of where my husband comes from, and a woman whom he loved so very much.  Every time I eat a really good slice of pizza, I will think of my Uncle Keith who passed away in 2017, and the amazing pizza he used to make at the restaurants he worked at over the years in Berkeley.

Food can transport you back to another place and time.  I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago, and I saw a bag of shrimp chips. I bought a bag and opened it as soon as I got in the car.  As I took my first bite of the pink, fried chip, I was instantly back at my church in the 90s with my friends. My church was primarily Laotian, and because of that, I got to spend many years eating Laotian and Thai food in the homes of my friends and their families.  For Todd, anytime anyone mentions (or he just thinks of) Chico’s Tacos in El Paso, Texas, he instantly tells me about the time his best friend Ray, and himself drove all the way from Alamosa, Colorado to El Paso to get some Chico’s Tacos.

The thing is, the food isn’t the memory, but rather a catalyst to the memory.  In any context, when I see a mango margarita, I will think of my friend Sara drinking one while she sat on my kitchen floor and I cooked her dinner.  I am almost 40 years old, and every time I see a package of Reese’s Pieces, I think of my grandfather and his house in San Francisco in the 80s. For Todd, when he thinks of lasagna, he is reminded of the Christmas holidays with his family and his mom’s lasagna recipe.  And the stuffing…oh the stuffing! Todd and me both spoke many times about how our mother’s made the best stuffing, only to realize this past year that it is basically the same stuffing recipe, from the Pepperidge Farm bag…but with WAY more butter!

Part of the reason we started this blog was because of these memories. Our love of food comes from these stories.  We would love to hear your memories and which food triggers their memories.

Hangry Ohana Restaurant Review

Todd and myself made a trip up to the Parker area this past week to drop something off to a friend, so we decided to try a new restaurant while we were in the area.  Todd used to participate karate tournaments in Parker, so he had been to a few different restaurants up there in the past, and we wanted to try somewhere new to both of us. We both love Hawaiian food, and BBQ, and from what we could see, their menu was an interesting cross between those two styles of cuisine. The owners started with a food truck and grew their business into a restaurant in Parker. Since, we are avid followers and supporters of local businesses, this place seemed right up our alley! In an unassuming strip mall in Parker, Colorado, this little gem is hiding in plain sight!

Let’s take our meal piece by piece, I’ll start with the bacon fried rice…that is right, you did not read that wrong, I said BACON FRIED RICE! Lots of flavor, not greasy, and super delicious! I got the kalbi short ribs, along with the fried rice and macaroni salad. The ribs were perfectly cooked with the right amount of flavor in the marinade.  That macaroni salad was really good as well, not overly mayo-y (yes, I made up that word), and not bland like most I’ve tried. Todd ordered the mix plate with brisket and kalua pork, along with the fried rice and tater tots. Both of Todd’s selections were juicy and full of flavor. I capped off this meal with the pineapple soft serve, which was HEAVENLY!

There were several dishes on the menu I want to try on our next visit. For example, the Kahuku Garlic Shrimp, along with their Yakisoba Bowl with BBQ Chicken. Todd wanted to try the Teri Beef and the Poke Bowl. The only downside to this place is that it is in Parker, and not in Colorado Springs…we strongly recommend you check this place out the next time you are in the area, or even better yet, make a trip to Parker to check it out! And when you do, make sure to leave a review and like their Facebook page.

10471 S Parker Rd., Parker, CO 80134

(720) 287-2516

Sushi & Salmon

The past few weeks have been a bit of a blur. On Sunday, March 3rd, I was getting ready to post something about something, and then before I went to do my final edit, I got on Facebook…and that is when I saw it, a post from my friend, Elaine, that her husband, Rex, my friend of 19 years, had had a stroke and was in the hospital. I dropped my phone, and began to panic.  Rex was in California, and I am in Colorado. I contemplated how I could get to the Bay Area as quickly as possible. But avalanches on I-70 and responsibilities kept me in Colorado Springs. The next day, I couldn’t speak, my words had left me, they were in California I assume. Poor Todd, the 4th was his birthday and I couldn’t speak. I managed to get one of my nephews to make a run to King Soopers to get him a $5 chocolate cake and some candles, but even that took everything I had.  The next day, the doctors in California confirmed that Rex had no brain activity. The next few days were filled with emotions, talks of organ donation, tears, regret, stories, and more tears. On March 10th, I said good-bye to my Rex over a video call, and I am so incredibly grateful that Elaine and Churma gave me that chance to say goodbye, and he was taken off the machines. He saved lives through the gift of organ donation. And, just like that, my Rex was gone.

Now you may read this and think, “Come on, it really took you a month to write something???” And the answer is 100% yes. The loss of Rex has left the world a little darker, a little less flavorful. I have struggled with my grief and my guilt. Rex was many things in my life, but most importantly, he was my friend. He gave me two very large gifts in my life. First, he gave me a standard of what a man was supposed to be and how I was to be treated.  He loved me, unconditionally and completely, he taught me what a man that was my age, from my neighborhood, was supposed look like at his core. If I hadn’t had his example, I probably would of settled for one of the guys that came before Todd, the guys that didn’t love me as much as my friend, as much as my Rexy Poo.

Second, he taught me about sushi and salmon. To be clear, I do not like sushi or salmon, never have, and most likely, never will. But, because of Rex, I have tried countless kinds of sushi, and salmon prepared in every way imaginable. One day, we were at work, talking about food, which was a normal conversation for us, and I mentioned that I hated salmon, that I had tried it before, but I didn’t like it. Rex told me, “You just haven’t had it cooked the right way”…that was the end of the conversation. About a week later, Rex and Paul, another good friend we worked with, came to me and told me about a big dinner we were going to have that weekend at Paul’s apartment, I was told to bring some good bread. I showed up for dinner, and when I walked in, I saw salmon…lots of salmon, cooked in every conceivable way. I handed Rex the bread, and he handed me a plate with a bite of every type of salmon. He told me that he wanted me to just try each one, just a bite…and he was my Rex, so I tried a bite…and surprise, I don’t like salmon. Sushi is another thing Rex tried to get me to learn to like sushi. Every time we went out to eat to a place that served sushi, Rex would pick a roll for me to try, and I would try it, normally with the promise of a sake bomb to follow.  On one particular sushi outing, Rex and Paul were having a competition on who could eat the oddest sushi roll, Paul won the competition with a roll that contained monkfish liver. I tried about 6 or 7 different rolls that day, and several sake bombs. I still do not like sushi, but once again, if Rex asked, I tried it.

I trusted Rex, blind trust, I would try any food he asked because I knew he would never make me do something that would hurt me. I didn’t realize this while he was alive, but now these are the stories that come to mind when I think of Rex. Today these stories make me cry, but I have faith that one day these stories will make me smile again, which is what he would want. He wanted me to try new things, and because of Rex and our friends, I did, and for that I am forever grateful. Rex loved good food, good whiskey (and beer and wine), and he loved his friends & his family. He was a wonderful man, with a beautiful soul. I will miss him for the rest of my life, and the next time I am faced with a new food or drink to try, I will, I will try it for my Rex.

Frugal February – Part 4

Even in Frugal February, one might feel the urge to splurge…kind of like the need for speed, but with money! We have been very well behaved this month! We stuck to our guns about eating out less, taking out lunches to work, taking snacks to work, and we finally cut the cord with cable.  This past week, a friend of ours was having a little birthday celebration in honor of her 30th birthday (Happy Birthday Melissa!), so we used the rare night out as an impromptu date night. We were heading downtown, so we decided to try Fat Sully’s Pizza on Tejon in downtown Colorado Springs. It had been on our list to try since before it opened in Colorado Springs and we had been hearing so many good things about Fat Sully’s Pizza from our friends who had tried it, it seemed like perfect timing! We expected to spend around $30 for our date night dinner, and we were WRONG!!! Our bill was $20 and some change (before tip…always tip your servers!). We each got a slice, with one meat topping, an order of their Garlic “Not”, and an iced tea for Todd, I drank water.  The pizza slices were good, and the slices were HUGE! The problem I normally have with pizza is the sauce, my mid-30s brought me heartburn when I eat tomato based sauces…and the part of me that is convinced I am Italian, is just heart-sick over it! I, personally, rarely eat pizza because of it, and when I do, I normally request they go easy on the sauce. But this time I didn’t, I guess I was feeling kind of rebellious! Thankfully, the sauce was good, and not overly acidic, and there was no heartburn! Woo hoo! Happy dance! Fat Sully’s Pizza ranks high on my best pizza list. However, even with the really good pizza, the best part of the meal was the garlic bread…I was in fat kid heaven! The butter! The garlic! The parmesan cheese! And, of course, the bread…which was more of a pizza crust with all this deliciousness on top.  I ended up letting Todd finish my slice, which he was perfectly okay with doing, and I tried to finish the bread. I failed, but I went down swinging! That was the BEST garlic bread I’ve ever had. And to give you a point of reference for how much I love garlic bread, I’m going to tell you a little story…back home in the Bay Area in Northern California, you can buy a Colombo sourdough bread garlic bread in the grocery stores. I grew up eating it, it was my absolute favorite. On one of my trips back to the Bay, I discovered a Colombo bread stand in one of the terminals at the Oakland Airport…I purchased TEN loaves of this garlic bread to bring home with me, and I was limited to only 10 loaves because it was all I could carry. I have a deep love of garlic bread, and it is not lightly that I state that the Garlic “Not” from Fat Sully’s Pizza is the best garlic bread I’ve had. Also, just a side note…I may not have the official name 100% correct, so please feel free to comment if I got it wrong!

We will definitely return to Fat Sully’s Pizza to try the other items on the menu, specifically, we have heard that the chicken wings were really good. But for now, we were very happy with our low cost date night, really good pizza, and some amazing garlic bread! You don’t have to have ton of money to treat yourselves to a night out, just do a little research and see what options are out there. A lot of restaurants offer happy hours, weekly specials, or special tasting nights.  Make sure to join the mailing lists for your favorite restaurants and like their Facebook & Instagram pages. Deals will pop up all the time, you just have to know where to look!

What was the best deal you found this week???

Frugal February – Part 3

In my house growing up, no matter if it was the first of the month or the 28th of the month, the cabinets were always full of food. My mom was an expert on shopping well and keeping our pantry stocked. As I grew up, I lived in many different types of homes, with all different kinds of people.  I’ve lived with alone, I’ve lived with roommates, and I’ve lived with family. In all of those homes, no matter how many people lived there and how much money we had, the kitchen cabinets always had the basics, but each home has their own version of basics. I recently asked several people, on Facebook, for their top food staples, basically, what do they always have on hand.

Here are the top 15 kitchen staples:

  1. Canned Beans
  2. Chicken Thighs
  3. Cheese
  4. Rice
  5. Peanut Butter
  6. Pasta
  7. Eggs
  8. Pasta Sauce
  9. Potatoes
  10. Milk
  11. Ground Beef
  12. Stock or Broth
  13. Flour
  14. Canned Tomatoes
  15. Frozen Potatoes.

Having a well stocked kitchen is key to avoiding eating out, and saving money! This is Frugal February after all, we HAVE to talk about saving money! It is all about how you shop, and how you prepare to shop.  I remember, so clearly, watching my mom get out her weekly ads for the Lucky’s, Safeway, and Raley’s (the three big grocery stores in our hometown), and sit down to make her lists, then she would go up and down each aisle to make sure she didn’t miss a deal, and grocery shopping would take HOURS!!! I don’t have that kind of time (or patience for people, for that matter). Thank goodness for the internet, making it easier to get the grocery shopping done quicker and more efficiently. Now, I have apps for my three main grocery stores, King Soopers, Safeway, and Sprouts, and I check them weekly, and then decide which deals I want to make sure I don’t miss. Here are my top 3 tips on how to prepare for a successful grocery shopping trip:

  1. Check your weekly ads.
  2. Take inventory of your cabinets and refrigerator before making shopping lists.
  3. Learn to identify the real deals versus the fake deals.

Let’s break this down…first, check weekly ads. Pretty self explanatory, yes? Kind of…most grocery stores run their their ads Wednesday through Tuesday, except Sprouts, which runs their ads Wednesday through Wednesday.  That means, on Wednesdays at Sprouts, you have double ad day, you get two weeks of ads in one day. The reason this is such an important step, is because this is how you save money, because if you know what you are looking for, you are less likely to overspend on your budget or stray from your list.

Second, taking inventory is extremely important, if you don’t know what you have, you don’t know if you need to stock up.  How many times have you been at the grocery store and wondered if you still had eggs in the refrigerator or if you needed more pasta? If I don’t have my list and I don’t double check my inventory, it happens all the time!

Third, this one is a biggie…and yes, there are fake deals out there! Just because it is on the front page of an ad, or it says “Buy One, Get One Free” doesn’t mean it is a good deal.  For example, if a grocery store is running a buy one, get one free special throughout their store…these are normally name brand, more expensive items, and even with the discount, the per unit price may not be such a great deal.  You may be able to get a different brand, not even on sale, for less than the BOGO deal. But this is why you have to know your ads, and your market, every city is different. And, last but not least, a deal is only good if you will use the item…it is wasteful to buy an item and never use it. If your family doesn’t like apples, it doesn’t matter how cheap they are, if no one will eat the apples!

Frugal February Bonus…I add this mainly because I love a good deal. You know how when a girl buys a dress with pockets, then someone compliments said dress, the girl says “Thanks! It has pockets!”…that is how I am with deals! I brought some of Todd’s homemade chili to work the other day for lunch, someone said “That smells amazing!” and my response was “Thanks! Todd made it! We got the meat for the chili on sale at King Soopers for less than $4!”…and then I get the “you’re weird” look as they back away! Anywho…here are a few deals I found in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area in this week’s ad!

King Soopers:
American Beauty Pasta – 12-16 oz, with digital coupon, 4 packs for only $2, that works to only $0.50 per unit!

Ore-Ida Frozen Potatoes – $1.79 per bag with digital coupon (I have rarely seen these for less than $2 per bag).


Digital coupon to save $20 off purchase of $100 or more!


Strawberries, Blueberries, or Blackberries, 3 for $5.

Jumbo Hass Avocados for $0.88 each.

Comment on this post with your favorite deal of the week!

Frugal February – Part 2

Frugal February continues in our month long series about eating good and saving money. In our day to day life, have been focusing on eating dinner at home more often, and making sure we take our lunches to work. Valentine’s day could put quite a dent in a budget, if you are not careful! Valentine’s day is on a Thursday this year, which happens to be our day off, that means we have the whole day together. However, we do not have a ton of money to be frivolous and financially reckless, so we will probably spend the day together, probably watching movies and talking about our future. The last two years, when it came time to celebrate Valentine’s day, we splurged on really good steak from a local butcher, fresh & locally grown produce, and some sort of potatoes…yes, I know potatoes are produce, but a meal with steak is not complete without potatoes, and deserves a special mention. This year on the other hand, the budget is tighter, and our goals are bigger than ever before. However, budget or no budget, we love good food, and our best date nights have been in our own kitchen. This year, we are both working our side gigs on our days off, so we made our steak dinner a little early, it wasn’t intentional, but sometimes you find an deal too good to pass up! About a week ago, we were doing our shopping at the local King Soopers, when we decided to have our Valentine’s day dinner a little early. In the meat section, there is always an end cap with their sale items, and on this trip they had New York strip steak on sale.  We got 2 steaks for right around $11. We also got a bag of baby potatoes for $2.99, and a few zucchini for about $2, so for right around $16, we had a delicious dinner, filled with great conversation and lots of love.
This weeks post isn’t about how to make a romantic dinner, but rather about how to shop for a romantic dinner for two. I have always been a frugal shopper, and the one thing I have learned, especially in the past 5 years, is that cheap and quality are not mutually exclusive. If you know how to shop, and know how much you can spend, you can make a beautiful dinner that tastes as good as it looks. When shopping the grocery store on a budget, I always make a list of what we want to cook for the next week. I go through the weekly ad to find the deals, however, there are more deals in the store.  What we put on the list isn’t necessarily what we end up buying. We start our shopping trips by getting the things that are non-negotiable, the things we have to have, like toilet paper and toothpaste. Our next stop is the meat department, in every store they have designated places that hold the specials, normally end caps, not on the back wall. Once we know what the proteins will be for the week, we can move on to the sides and veggies. I always look at the name brand side dishes on sale, and then look for the store brand version of the same dish, because the store brand will (almost always) be cheaper. In our house, we always have potatoes, and we also do a lot of zucchini and asparagus.  Stock up when you can, for instance, we went to the store last night, and they had some pot roast on sale, we got a decent size one for less than $7, got home and put it in the freezer.

When you know how to shop the ad, rather than just a premade shopping list, you can come up with some excellent meals that has better quality and tastes better than anything you can get from a drive-thru!

Side note…if you want a little history on Valentine’s day…

Frugal February Part 1

Welcome to Frugal February! This month we are tightening the reins on our budget, and getting control of our finances. We have already trimmed out budget in several areas, but our food budget is always a struggle. We, obviously, like to eat, and eat well. But, at the same time, we aren’t fancy people, and our food doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. This month, we will focus on saving money in the kitchen! We are limiting how many times we go out to eat, and budgeting more carefully when grocery shopping. For the last week, we started by not eating out for dinner. Regardless of our tight budget, we still had some delicious dinners, even after spending only $40 for a weeks worth of groceries. We did simple meals like hot dogs and mac & cheese, along with tacos (a weekly staple in our house).

My favorite meal this week was the Italian sausage sandwiches. The Italian sausage was only $2.77 for a pack of 5 sausages, we got a pack of rolls for $0.87, we got some fancy fromage, a Tomato Basil Jack cheese, from the cheese case at King Soopers for $2.55. The french fries were $2 from the frozen food section. We only ate 3 sandwiches, and half the bag of french fries, which means we will still have a couple rolls left, 2 sausage links, and a half a bag of fries left for another meal. We will have hot dogs and french fries one night, and then sausage and pasta with garlic butter rolls another night. For $8.19, we will get 3 meals, which breaks down to only $1.37 per person per meal. I say this is a Frugal February victory!

I grew up in a home where my mom got paid once a month, and she had to make that one paycheck stretch to feed our family of five, along with all the strays (not animals, but rather our friends who stayed with us) my mom collected over the years, on a very tight budget. Todd’s father is a minister, and his mom fed and took care of their family, on a modest income. Our parents taught us both to cook on a budget, however, we openly admit we don’t always eat on a budget. Sometimes life gets in the way of the budget. We both work a lot, and work on our feet all day, and sometimes we just do not have it in us to cook dinner when we are both getting home after 8pm. When we decided to start Frugal February by not eating dinner out for 10 days, we knew it would be a struggle for us, and something we would have to do with great intention. We will not be perfect, we will budget for small dinners out, but we will work hard to spend little and eat well.

Super Bowl Sunday

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! In our house Sunday equals football and food! With the end of football season fast approaching, so is Super Bowl Sunday. And Super Bowl Sunday is basically a holiday, at least when it comes to the food. The combination of the food, the commercials, the halftime show, and of course, the football game itself, makes Super Bowl Sunday a family affair. Todd and myself are big football fans, and obviously big food fans as well. We like to go all out for Super Bowl Sunday, try new recipes, and create a big, tasty spread. Last year, we made a bunch of different recipes, and tried a different dish each quarter.
This year, money is pretty tight, and we are on a very strict budget, and there is not much wiggle room in the budget for a big spread. So instead of picking 5 or 6 different recipes to prepare, we decided that we would make just one dish this year. We had several to pick from, I mean, my Pinterest appetizer board is full of strong Super Bowl party worthy contenders. Between the toasted ravioli, the french dip crescents, the cheesy pesto bread, and more, we had so many options. We decided on a beef enchilada dip recipe I found on Pinterest. All we needed was ground beef, enchilada sauce, cheese, an onion, garlic, and tortilla chips. It is a simple recipe, that fit into our budget. Todd made it the other night, it was quick and easy. He used a little more cheese than the recipe called for because…well, it’s cheese, and sometimes a recipe is just a suggestion. Other than the amount of cheese, Todd followed the recipe (which is a miracle in itself), and we sat down on our couch with some of this delicious dip on a Friday night, and the fat kid happy dance soon followed. We were very happy with the way it came out, it was hearty and cheesy. It is definitely a recipe we will make again. If you are tight on a money, but need a dish to bring to a Super Bowl party, or any other Sunday Funday you have planned, this is a yummy, affordable option.

Here is a link to the recipe on a website called Add A Pinch:

Beef Enchilada Dip Recipe

Burger Time

As I type the title of this blog, the lyrics from MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” rolled through my head. I mean, I’m from the Oak town, and a good burger makes me say “Oh my Lord!” When we go out on our foodie adventures, we are always on the hunt for an excellent burger. Todd has talked endlessly about wanting to make a trip to Bobby’s Burger Palace in Las Vegas or Michael Symon’s B Spot Burgers in Cleveland. Everyone has a their favorite burger place. When we asked our friends, we got all kinds of answers. In Colorado Springs, a long time favorite was Conway’s Red Top, before it closed. We heard about a place called Blake’s Lotaburger in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place called Hinkles in Madison, Indiana, and a place called St. John’s Bar & Grill in Sunnyvale, California. Most burger lovers will ramble on and on, affectionately about their burger mecca.

My favorite burger is from Nation’s Giant Burgers back home in the Bay Area in Northern California. They are just simple burgers, no crazy toppings, no fancy buns, just a huge, juicy burger. I always chose to get mine topped with mayo, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, and bacon. Todd’s favorite burger spot is Bingo Burger. He is a lover of green chiles, and they mix the Pueblo green chiles into the meat mixture. It doesn’t hurt that Bingo Burger is a Colorado owned business, and they use locally-sourced ingredients. When Todd and myself started dating, his sister, Brenda, told us about a place on the westside of Colorado Springs to try for a good burger. We did, and we loved it! It was called The Dive, in an old converted house near Old Colorado City. Sadly The Dive closed in 2018, and now we must find a new burger spot, so feel free to send us your recommendations!

The beauty of a burger is that there are endless configurations. Different combinations of meat, different toppings, and different types of buns. You could have a burger made off 100% ground chuck, topped with pepper jack cheese, avocado, and tomato, on a sesame seed bun. Or you could have a burger made with bison meat, topped with lettuce and caramelized onions, on a potato roll. There are endless options!

Todd and myself decided to try a multitude of burgers, well not a multitude, but three different kinds of burgers to decide which we liked best. We tried an all ground beef patty, a 50/50 mixture with ground beef and ground pork, and a 50/50 mixture of ground beef and ground lamb. All the meat was from King Soopers, the ground lamb was organic, and the ground beef was 80/20. Each patty was seasoned the same way, with salt, pepper, and Old Market All-Purpose Seasoning from Savory Spice (located in downtown Colorado Springs). Each patty was also cooked in a cast iron skillet, and served on a buttered and toasted potato roll. And, since a burger is always a better as a cheeseburger, each burger had a small piece of Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses. Todd seasoned and shaped each burger. We did smaller than normal patties, just a little bigger than a slider. We tried each mixture and here is what we decided. Our least favorite was the all ground beef patty, it was good, but nothing spectacular. Second place, goes to the ground beef and ground pork mixture. Todd normally makes our burgers with this mixture, and it is more affordable than the beef & lamb mixture. The ground beef and ground pork mixture makes for a nice, juicy burger, with a lot of flavor. Our favorite of the three was the ground beef and ground lamb mixture. There was a boldness from the lamb, and a rich flavor that was unmatched by the other two. Even though it wasn’t as juicy, the flavor was amazing. Todd said that the ground beef and ground lamb was his hands down favorite, but next time he uses the ground lamb in a burger, he will try some different seasonings, maybe a little more Mediterranean flavors.

In the Low Class Foodies house, burgers are a beautiful thing, and we will honor them as such. After our little experiment, one thing we both agreed on, was that the only thing missing from these delicious burger bites, was bacon! Now we must decide which bacon is best on a burger…but that is for another post!

And just for a little fun…

Mom’s Poor Man’s Stroganoff

This coming Wednesday will mark 12 years since my mom passed away. I miss her terribly, every day. When I want to feel close to my mom, I start cooking. Food was always an expression of love in our house. The kitchen was the heart of our home, full of joy, sadness, laughter, and tears. Most of my memories, with my family take place in the kitchen. My mom was not a fancy cook, she cooked out of the necessity of feeding her family. She worked multiple jobs, she was extremely active with our church, and she had very little free time, so cooking dinner was a duty, not a task she loved. Most of our dinners were quickly made meals, recipes from the branded cookbooks you picked up at the register in the grocery store. There was the cheeseburger pie, this was the dish I used to frost with sour cream and cover in salt to make it edible. Her burgers were always cooked in the oven and dry, and if they were served close enough to pay day there was a little bit of charred bacon on top of the burger. I could never forget the random dinner she made once of cheap ramen noodles, bone-in chicken thighs, and a weird cream sauce, I have absolutely no words to explain this dish. These dinners are things I never want to eat as an adult. But there were still a few dishes she made, that I loved. These are the dishes I’ve made for Todd. I have made him stand in the kitchen with me while I cooked so I could tell him stories about my mom,whom he never got to meet. I’m still bummed that I never got her recipe for her tuna casserole, or her party punch. But I did learn to make her version of beef stroganoff. Traditionally, beef stroganoff is a fancy dish, a dish that could be found on the menu of the Russian Tea Room in New York in the 1930s. My mother’s version was not fancy, but it was a staple in our home during my teen years, and really simple to make. This past week, I decided to make my mom’s stroganoff for my lunches to take to work. There is something magical about any dish that can provide the fuel needed to get through the work day, and provides one with some beautiful memories of a loved one.

This is a super easy dish to make, and doesn’t take very long to prepare. First things first, we put our stroganoff over rice. Most people use egg noodles, which is perfectly fine, but I prefer rice. I made the rice in our Instant Pot. Most recipes for rice in the Instant Pot call for a 1 to 1 ratio, I however do 1 ½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice. I do this partially because of the altitude here in Colorado and I like really moist rice (I think this makes a big difference, especially when reheating in a microwave). I cooked the 2 cups of rice, with 3 cups of water on manual for 8 minutes, and then did natural release for 15 minutes before manually releasing the last bit of pressure. As for the sauce, I choose to use ground turkey, my mom used ground beef, it is a matter of preference. When seasoning the meat, I use granulated garlic, black pepper, sea salt, onion powder, italian seasoning, and minced garlic. In the pan, add oil (I used avocado oil), just once around the pan. Season the meat to your taste, I use the garlic heavily, I can always hear my mom telling me to add just a bit more garlic. Cook the turkey through and drain on a plate with paper towels. Put the meat back in the pan once drained, add 1 cup of sour cream, a 10.5 oz can of cream of mushroom soup, and a drained 13.25 oz can of sliced mushrooms (you can use fresh mushrooms that you saute or less mushrooms if your prefer). Mix all together on medium heat. Add more seasoning, to make sure it is seasoned all the way through. Let the sauce come to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Spoon over rice, or noodles, your choice.

It wasn’t until several months after my mom’s passing that I began to realize, that we didn’t keep any of her cookbooks. I wish I had thought of going through her stacks of recipes. Passing on family recipes to the next generation is a beautiful way to share your family’s history. I’ve watched my sister pass on our family’s food traditions to her boys. They love our mom’s lasagna toss dinner, that my sister makes for the boys, they call it Diego’s Pasta, it has kept my mom’s legacy alive through pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese!