I needed hamburger buns…


In honor of Works-for-Me Wednesday, I thought I would post a new twist on basic dinner items.

I needed hamburger buns, but I didn’t want to put on shoes and go to the store. So I came up with this recipe called, hmm, Mexican Corn Cake Surprise. OK, that sounds suspicious, so I’ll go with Mexican Fiesta Burgers. There we go!

What you need:
1 lb. ground beef
1 box of cornbread mix
2 cans of black beans
cheese for topping
taco seasoning
crushed red peppers
parsley and/or chives (whatever you have)

Start with the beans. Dump two cans of black beans into a pan. Do not drain!! Use a potato masher to mash most of the beans. Season with taco seasoning and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir, and they’re done!

Next, make cornbread mix according to package instructions (typically add egg and milk to box mix). Add taco seasoning, parsley and/or chives, and red pepper flakes to taste. Add a small handful of cornmeal to make the dough thicker. The consistency should be thicker than pancake batter. Drop big spoonfuls into 1 Tbsp. of oil in a frying pan. I got 8 large corncakes from 1 box of mix.

Next, make the hamburger patties. I add garlic, red pepper flakes, cornmeal, parsley, and chives to make a flavorful burger. Mix together and form into patties.

Side note: I was taking some random photos and noticed that my long-neglected, left-out-all-winter chives are coming back without any prodding from me! That’s why chives are used in this recipe… otherwise, I wouldn’t because they are way too expensive in the store! Too bad the other herbs didn’t come back…

Cook the hamburger patties. We normally grill, but it was raining. Geez, the 73-27 ground beef is very greasy! But we’re on a budget and ground chuck or sirloin are at least a dollar more…

Below is the final product. I added goat cheese on top because if I add it to my meal, I feel less guilty about slicing it off and gobbling it up.  I added a basic spinach salad on the side. I used our new favorite viniagrette, courtesy of Rachael Ray. It’s the perfect mix of salty and spicy and nutty. (Yes, I know it’s Asian, and our meal is Mexican, but we’re all about global tastes here.)

Wasabi-Soy Viniagrette
1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons -virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients except oil. Drizzle in 3 Tbsp. oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy). Dress salad.

Below is the final product. Enjoy!


Everywhere a pear

The two, large dining room windows have been naked since we moved in last May. Regular curtains were too small, and even if I did find ones that would fit, I wasn’t spending $23980345 on curtains… and they all seem to cost that much.

I am quite particular about fabric. I knew exactly what I wanted but I couldn’t find it… for almost 11 months! I would wander around JoAnn’s aimlessly each week to no avail. Then, I was at Target (where I could live) and from afar, I spotted these gorgeous bowls with pears on them, and I was hooked. I have a “thing” for fruit. I’m strangely drawn to it.

But you see, I’m on a budget. So I walked away from the $19.99 Orla Kiely pear bowl and serving tray. Then, two days later, I went back, and there were new pear items!! I saw a woman holding some pear kitchen towels, and trying not be creepy, I gasped, “Please, where did you find those beautiful towels?” She looked at me and pointed to the back of the store. Fortunately, there are enough strange people in that Target that I was just like everyone else.

As I reached the back of the store, I saw a tablecloth in the exact fabric that I wanted for the dining room table. I bought it and took it to the register, giving up my final Target giftcard from Christmas. Here is my gorgeous tablecloth:

I figured that I could match curtains to the cream color in the tablecloth, and it would all come together to compliment the chocolate brown walls.

I ran home, unwrapped the tablecloth, and discovered that it was too big for my table. Not easily discouraged, and most certainly not giving up the perfect fabric, I looked around… and it hit me. The tablecloth would make perfect curtains. I figured I would head to Target and buy two more. But then that would be $40 more. I tried to talk my boyfriend into giving me his Target giftcards, but he just looked at me.

That’s when I realized that regular long curtains would destroy the gorgeous sunlight of the room. So I was going to make valances. I measured, and amazingly, one tablecloth was exactly perfect for curtains. After measuring and sewing, measuring, measuring, cursing, measuring, and sewing, I finished them. I am proud to show you these.

Go ahead, tell me how beautiful they are. 🙂

How do you get to Amberland?

Amberland, as my boyfriend calls it, is a confusing place where my brain often resides. I have a knack for getting into situations and fortunately, an even better knack for getting out of them. I like to create new things or make current things better. The best way for you to be a part of Amberland is to jump right in and attempt to understand. Well, perhaps not understand, but at least pretend to understand and generally empathize.

I guess technically, Amberland is in the Midwest. What a lovely place. I have big hair all summer long from the humidity and freeze the rest of the year. We bought our house in May 2008.  It was built in 1941, and our 86-year-old next-door neighbor built it. I guess you would call it charming – original hardwood floors, corners that aren’t perfect, cold in the winter and summer (thank you cinder blocks ), drawers that aren’t perfect, wallpaper on the ceilings. But most importantly… it’s ours!

This blog will document my pursuits… the good, the bad, and the “thank-goodness-nobody-who-reads-this-knows-me-in-real-life-so-that-I-don’t-die-of-embarrassment” ones.