These days we feel like we have put in our time on the highway and up in the air and prefer hanging out together baking cookies, taking in movies, playing games and waking up in our own beds. Mr. H and I relish every moment because we know it won’t be long and our children will have their own families and our house may not be their primary holiday destination. I guess when that happens we’ll hit the road again, but for now our home fires are burning.
When it comes to our holiday menu, I have it made this year. Since one of my dear friends had the good taste of giving me a gift certificate for a Honey Baked ham, I have decided to pretty much take the day off. I’m planning on making some easy side dishes and drinking too many glasses of sparkling wine and calling it close enough.
Even if I hadn’t been blessed with this wonderful gift, I find that the main event is never really hard to plan; it is all the other meals surrounding it that usually pose the problem. I bet you could ask 100 people on the street what they are having for Christmas dinner and they could tell you down to the last detail, but ask the same people what’s for dinner tonight and you would get the old deer in the headlights stare.
Last night my daughter’s boyfriend came over for supper and to exchange gifts with her. Since they are college students and will pretty much eat anything that won’t eat them first, feeding them is not a difficult assignment. I love having them hang out with us, so I wanted to do something really fun. I decided to make a new (or new to me) recipe from my old favorite Holy Cross Lutheran Church Cookbook.
I had been meaning to try this recipe for years and finally jumped off and made it a few weeks ago. The results were so simple and good that I knew I had to share it with you. I’m just sorry that I didn’t post it sooner so you’d have an easy option for the meals leading up to the big one on Christmas Day, but there’s always New Year’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday.
No doubt this recipe was probably originally made by the Bruins family (who are credited with the recipe) to feed a hungry youth group assembly and I don’t blame them because it would be just perfect for that. It is simple, economical and can be easily adjusted to feed an army of adolescents or a house full of hungry relatives staying at your house at Christmas.
1 – 1/2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
1 small sweet yellow onion, very finely chopped
1/4 of a medium bell pepper (I like red or orange), very finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons powdered beef bouillon (or crushed bouillon granules)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten
1 French batard or baguette
6 slices American, cheddar or Swiss cheese
To Serve, traditional cheeseburger toppings like, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup, mayo or chipotle flavored mayo (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place ground beef, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bouillon, pepper and egg in a large bowl; set aside.
Slice bread in half lengthwise with a serrated knife. Separate halves and scoop out insides to hollow out. This should give you about a cup to a cup and a half of breadcrumbs.
Add bread crumbs to the meat mixture. Without overworking the meat, mix the ingredients together until they are well combined. Fill the hollowed out bread halves with equal amounts of the meat mixture, packing meat slightly into the bread.
Wrap bread in foil covering only the bottom and the sides leaving the meat exposed. Place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 30 – 40 minutes or until desired doneness is reached. About 5 – 10 minutes before the end of the baking time, top with an even layer of cheese and return to the oven to melt.
Remove from the oven, cut into 3 - 4” wide slices and serve with toppings.
Chipotle Flavored Mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper with adobo sauce from the can
Mix ingredients well before serving.