Category: Aubrees

Burger Bars: A New Way to do Buffet

Burger bars are becoming the new it thing for social gatherings. It is not necessarily a buffet but it is as easy as one. The great thing is that each person is able to create their own master piece. The best thing is that as the host you aren’t slaving over a plated meal. Burger bars can be fitted to each individual guest’s dietary needs. If you have vegetarians you can have special burgers just for them but also beef burgers for those guests who prefer the real thing. Burger bars are perfect for any type of gathering. Throw together lots of toppings, a few sides, some chips and you have yourself a low key almost maintenance free event.

With so many toppings available how do you decide what to put on your burger bar? You first must decide on the level of work that you are willing to put into maintaining the meal verse socializing with guests. Maybe you want to throw the burgers on and let the rest take care of itself. In this case you need to stick to ingredients that are not going to spoil after a few hours out of the refrigerator. If you are able to balance maintaining the bar and socializing then go for the gusto. Add items that can be maintained with an ice bath so they don’t spoil and all the other extras.

It is a simple concept to throw together on short notice. There many things to consider when putting together a burger bar. First consider what type of meat you want to use for the patties. I suggest making sure you take into consideration each of you guests preferences. Veggie burgers are popular and can be purchased ahead of time. Beef burgers can be bought ahead of time however I would not recommend this type for the serious burger fanatic. Use a mixture of beef that contains a decent fat to beef combination and combine different seasonings for added flavor. This will suit many different taste buds. As for toppings below you will find a thinks to think about for your next burger bar gathering.

Buns: I am shocked at how many types of rolls and buns are out there for use with hamburgers. For the burger bar I like to use things that people wouldn’t think of when making burger at home. Bagels, rye bread, onion rolls, buns that are covered with seeds, pita bread and of course plain buns for guests who like to keep it simple.

Cheeses: Decide whether you want the cheese to be melted on the meat or can you place the cheese on a plate and have guests choose from there. I would suggest a variety of cheese for guests to choose from. Some to think about are Swiss, Cheddar, American, Provolone, Mozzarella or whatever you can think of. Some people even use cream cheese so really prepare for all of your guests different and unique taste buds.

Vegetables: You can choose to sauté the veggies or leave them raw. Many guests would love some sautéed onions, mushrooms and peppers. A quick and easy way to make this happen is to throw them in a packet of tin foil and butter and grill them ahead of time. You can then use a small crock pot to keep them warm for guests to eat later. Other veggies to consider are lettuce, tomatoes, jalapenos, sprouts, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles, relish and cucumbers. Some fruits to consider adding are apples and pineapples. Fruit adds a tangy, sweet kick to every bite.

Other Meats: For those meat eaters who love to pile it on cook some ham, bacon, lamb or sausage ahead of time for guests to have on their beef patty. This will be an added bonus for meat eating guests.

Seasonings and Sauces: Don’t forget the seasoning salt and ground pepper. Consider putting out Cajun spice for those guests that like to spice up there burgers. Sauces to consider are hoisin, barbeque, A-1, ranch and sweet and sour. You will also want to add the standard mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise to complete your burger bar.

Of course not everything in this list needs to be added for a successful burger bar gathering. Include the items that will satisfy the taste buds of your guests. Then sit back and enjoy all the praise you get for the best gathering idea ever.

Pizza: The Healthy Way to do Pizza

Peanut butter and jelly, pen and paper, cheese and crackers, all things that just see to go together. Two things that don’t seem like they would go together are pizza and healthy. I will divulge secrets that will turn that into a myth. Nowadays it is possible to choose toppings that will make your pizza healthier than you ever pictured it could be.

Let us start with the base. Everyone thinks pizza must be made with lots of white flour, eggs and oil. I will dispel this myth quickly with some low fat options. I will start with whole wheat flour. Try using whole wheat flour in your crust mixture. The thinner the crust the healthier it will be for you. Another item I like to choose for a super healthy crust option is whole wheat pita bread. This will make sure your pizza still looks like a pizza but adds a healthy crust alternative.

Next let us move into the sauce. Everyone has a different preference in sauce. Some people enjoy thick hearty sauce. Most sauces off the self will contain high amounts of sugar. If you are choosing a sauce from the shelf make sure it contains olive oil, little sugar and contains natural ingredients that you can pronounce. You will not want any ingredients included on the label that you cannot say. I suggest making fresh sauce. It might be more difficult but I promise it will be healthier. Blend Roma tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, lots of garlic and Italian spice. After you remove it from the blender you will have the healthiest sauce for your pizza imaginable.

Toppings and cheese will be the most difficult topping to keep healthy on your pizza. Make sure to keep all blends of cheese healthier by choosing low fat varieties. Another option is to use fresh parmesan instead of any cheese at all. This will give your pizza the hint of cheese flavor without all the calories. When choosing meat toppings think about low fat options such as turkey and chicken. Ham, bacon and sausage are much higher in fat. If you feel these are a must for your pizza just make sure to choose one type and go light. Vegetables are where you can go wild. Cover your pizza with all the onions, peppers, garlic, broccoli, avocados, watercress, squash, and spinach you want. Nuts are also another topping to explore with your pizza. Add some almonds for crunch and health.

I hope you will use these tips the next time your family puts together a pizza night. Choosing healthier options will prevent that feeling we almost always get after eating the fat laden pizza we are accustom to. Healthier options allow natural processing through your body and will leave you ready for some family fun. Enjoy!

Restaurants: All Important Ambiences

Ambience is defined as the mood, character, quality, tone and atmosphere of an environment. It is the single most important word that people can use when describing a restaurant. I know what you are thinking. At first it is what I thought also. What about the food? What about the services? Aren’t these things important too? Yes, of course they are important but ambience is the most important part. The feeling that people get when they are in your establishment will make them return or not. A restaurant could use the best ingredients, hire only the most experienced servers and without the stage being set you have lost that customer forever.

When developing the space for seating within your restaurant take into consideration the size and placement of your tables. Are you going to use square tables or round? Chairs with high back that are soft or hard chairs with low backs? Do you want to be able to have quant quite tables for two or is your restaurant intended for bigger parties and families? Make sure that your space has maximum seating while maintaining the warmth and feel you are choosing to express in your restaurant design.

Noise also needs to be minimized. Make sure that the sounds that are heard within your restaurant are the sounds that you are meaning to be heard. Do you really think your guests want to hear toilets flush or pots and pans banging from the kitchen? Make sure those sounds are muffled and silence is limited. Make sure your music fits the ambience you are creating. Don’t play rock if you are going for an environment inviting to families just like you wouldn’t play Mozart at a bar. Little things like this are so important in the overall picture you are creating.

Something most business owners don’t take into consideration is the temperature of their establishment. Make it pleasing to the majority and make it a temperature that makes people want to stay and eat. Make sure your heating and cooling elements are not hitting customers directly. Also take into consideration that certain spaces will heat the establishment in different ways. Tables set by the kitchen will be warmer so take this into account when placing tables and vents. In order to have an even temperature you will need to have several different thermostats so plan accordingly.

Ambience is also created in the way restaurant facilities are kept. Make sure your cooking areas and restrooms are presentable and inviting to customers that will use them. Another thing you might need to do is rearrange your facility to accommodate for the position of wait staff areas and bathrooms. Customers enjoy sitting in areas where their privacy is maximized and that traffic is minimized. Most guests will not choose areas in the middle of the restaurant so make sure every seat feels like a cozy cove meant just for their party.

People are looking for certain things when they eat out. It matters how an establishments smells, looks and feels. It is important that a customer be relaxed and gable to get what they would like to out of the meal. It is important that if you are serving customers on paper plates and plastic cups your ambience is a backyard bbq. There is something about the way the seats are placed, the type of music that is played, the temperature and even where the bathroom is located. Ambience is the key to making a restaurant successful. Ensure you have the correct ambience for you clientele and the food and service will find their way.

Staying Safe with Alcohol

Bars are a place as a society we frequent to go, kick back, relax and have a drink. A problem exists when people choose to have an unlimited amount of drinks and then choose to get behind the wheel. Note I am saying CHOOSE. Drinking and driving after the bar or any party where alcohol is served is a choice. The bar is not the problem, the drinks aren’t really either, however it is the person that chooses to drive instead of asking a sober friend or taxi company to escort them home. How many drinks are too many? I am not quite sure for you but I know my limit is one. One drink and I will not drive. There are too many statistics already and I don’t need to be one nor does my family. Here are some friendly reminders to keep you safe after a night out at the bar with friends or even a social gathering where alcohol is served.

The best tip is to be the designated driver. You will save money, stay sober, and wake up feeling good to go. As the sober driver make sure you are on a constant look out while driving home. Drunk drivers are everywhere and just because you played it safe doesn’t mean everyone will be. Use the highway and keep a lanes distance form other cars. Try to travel before midnight on Friday and Saturday nights when people are wrapping up their partying. Keep your eyes peeled at all times.

If you need to drive to get home the best tip is to stay sober. It is not worth the risk. If you are at home it is a different story, if you have a designated driver who isn’t going to touch a drop of alcohol go ahead kick back. However, if you see your designated driver having any alcohol be the first one to call a taxi for your group. It is always better to be safe then sorry.

While having a beverage at a bar, restaurant, or social gathering drink slow. There is no need to chug your drink. The alcohol will not affect you right away. You might feel fine, get behind the wheel and realize when you see the flashing lights in the review mirror that you might have had too much. Don’t drink things you are unfamiliar with. Alcohol content varies a great deal form drink to drink so choose wisely.

When hosting a party be a good host. Don’t let your guests leave after they have drank. Keep them at your home, offer snacks, and keep an eye on the bar these are all ways to cut down on the consumption of drinks. Another great idea is to offer non alcoholic drinks and store drinks an hour or two before you expect your guests to leave. Make the last hour a coffee and chill social. This way the alcohol has time to process and you will be able to determine the state of your guests before you allow them to leave your home.

The bar is a great hang out. It is a terrific release from a long week at work but really is a cell a great place to bunk it after. Not so much I would say. So be careful, explore bars with your friends and share the sober responsibility. In the end it is worth it.

“It takes 8,460 bolts to assemble an automobile, and one nut to scatter it all over the road.” ~Author unknown. Don’t be that one nut!

BBQ Burgers: How to Get It Just Right

Who doesn’t love a good burger? Hamburgers are a staple dinner in most American homes. On a nice warm summer day, what better way to spend it than some potato salad, watermelon, and grilled burger made to perfection. Burgers can be topped in so many ways but really the most important step to the whole process is preparation and grilling. Without those two things you are just eating beef and why would anyone want to do this when they could have the best.

Let’s start with first things first – preparation of that patty. Many people are tempted to use super lean meat and use fillers such as breadcrumbs and egg to “beef” up the patty. These things are not necessary at all for a remarkably juicy hamburger. What you really need is beef that is at least twenty – three percent fat and some seasoning salts, lots of seasoning salt!

Next you will want to divide the meat and make patties. Make the patties an hour or two before you are going to grill them. Storing them in the refrigerator will allow them time to get firm and will permit the meat to stick together during grilling. You will also want to handle the meat as little as possible. Don’t pack the meat solid you really want a light “fluffy” patty. Most people think thick burgers are the best. In my opinion in order to get an evenly cooked burger it is better to go bigger not thicker. Especially using beef that has a high fat content what will happen during the grilling process is that the fat will drip off the burger and will shrink in roundness. You want to avoid having more bun than beef at all costs. The experience is the beef itself not the bun.

Now prepare the grill. Warm the grill to medium – high heat, scrape any residue off that is left over from the last time you grilled and get ready to BBQ the best burgers of your life. Once the grill is warm allow yourself time to just grill, block all other things out and bring your meat out to meet the grill. Here it goes put the burger on the grill and let it sit, don’t touch it! Leave the lid open and just sit and watch the grill take over. It may be difficult for you not to touch it and squish it down to make sure the insides are getting cooked but trust me don’t! Let it sit for a full 4 minutes and then…Flip it over and do the exact same thing to the other side. After 8 minutes on medium-high BBQ grill heat you will have a little slice of hamburger heaven.

A Guide to Find the Best Restaurants

Eating out is such a luxury these days and really if you are going to spend forty to fifty dollars on a meal don’t you want to make sure you are going to get good food, great service, and an atmosphere you can’t wait to return to? I have several ideas to help you locate a restaurant in your home town or on vacation that will leave your taste buds satisfied.

A great source out there is of course the internet. Also, phone books give us a detailed list of restaurants in the area that are available. This list will help you at least narrow down what is available for your taste buds and allow you to at least narrow the field ethnically. There isn’t a need for a great bbq joint if you are craving burgers or seafood when craving steak. After you have settled on that you can then start the real hunt.

Start asking local people you run into. A lot of locals will be more than happy to share their knowledge of the local food arena. If you are on vacation this especially true. The best part of this is when you engage a local in conversation not only will they be able to give you information on local places to eat but will probably be apt to share their knowledge of local attractions, boutiques, spas and so forth.

Of course if you are out and about and your nose smells something delicious go in and try it out. Look around you will be able to tell if the customer seems pleased. Check out the menu that is always free. Ask the hostess about specials and the establishment’s reputation. Most of the time a hostess is a minimum waged employee who will be happy to tell you if the restaurants food is not very tasty. Of course this is only true if their boss isn’t lurking near by.

If you see a restaurant that has a full parking lot that is usually a pretty favorable sign that you have hit the jack pot. My suggestion is to put your name in with the hostess, and sit at the bar for a drink. By the time your wait is up my guess is that the bartender and locals will have filled you in on what entrée they would choose.

Put yourself out on facebook. Most of the time a friend or two will have an acquaintance in the area that can lead you in the right direction. Social networks are great for this type of thing. People love to give their opinion you just need to ask.

Following this advice I am almost certain your taste buds will be smiling. Enjoy a good meal out with someone you appreciate. Take time to savor the food and memories that you are sharing and pass the favor on. Share with people you know about good places to go to eat.

Want a Good Time? Find a Bar

What is a Bar? A bar defined is an establishment that serves alcoholic drinks; beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails, for consumption on the premises. A bar, to me, is a place to hang out, drink beverages you don’t get to enjoy at home, in the company of friends. No matter how you define it bar mean different things to each individual who is a patron. The type of bar that is good for one is not always good for another. Bars can be elegant, bars can be dives, some charge a cover (a fee to get in), some serve dinner, some have entertainment, some don’t. Bars are all different that is part of the fun and excitement that comes from going to the bar.

The origin of the word bar comes from a particular counter that beverages are served on. When you sit at the bar in an establishment you are in direct dealings with the bartender. The chairs around the bar are usually a stool with some type of high back for support. The chairs are squeezed together to promote mingling between customers. Behind the bar is the location where the bartender keeps all the glasses and bottles of liquor. Sometimes, depending on the décor of the establishment the bar has shelves where lights, mirror, and ornately decorated woodwork.

What type of bar you visit is up to you. There are all types so whether you are a classic lady trying to get a glass of wine or a biker looking malt beverages well equipped bars will have something for you. There are some important differences that distinguish the type of bar. Although, a bar might be intended for one demographic and end up being favored by another for reasons as simple as the dance floor.

Types of bars:

Cocktail bars/lounges are usually set up inside of public places like an airport or hotel. These bars are usually a bit more upscale and require certain more appropriate public attire.

Dive bar (Biker bars) are usually a little seedier. They are set up on the outskirts of towns and are very informal. These are the bars you attend when you are looking for a place to really just chill and drink – a lot. It is a place popular among the locals hang out like being part of a club. Many dive bars also have pool tables, dart boards, and juke boxes for entertainment.

Wine bars are classy establishments. Patrons go there to have a quiet drink. Food is not a requirement for a wine bar. Most give you the opportunity to sample a vast selection of wine before you choose one to order. Usually all wine bars serve is wine, beer and liquor are not served.

Entertainment bars serve many different types of patrons. Topless bars, dance clubs/bars, sports bars all draw their own crowds. Still the main purpose of an entertainment bar is to provide the customer with something to do while enjoying their beverages. These types of bars are incredibly popular throughout Michigan. Whether you want to play a game of pool or just sit back and enjoy the view entertainment bars usually have something for everyone.

Whether you are married or single bars have and will continue to be a place to visit, relax, enjoy old friends and make new friends. If you are ever considering a move to a new area visit the local watering hole to get a feel for the locals. It can’t hurt that’s for sure, a few drinks among strangers never really hurts anyone does it and what better way to be introduce to a new community?

What Type of Burger Will You Try Tonight?

Heavenly, delightful, juicy, delightful, tantalizing, mouthwatering, enjoyable, delicious, tasty, scrumptious, delectable these are just a few of the words that describe a hamburger. Burgers have been a part of America’s favorite past times forever. Whether it is a bbq, a picnic or a night out the occasion is most likely perfect for a burger. Burgers are perfect for any situation. Hamburgers, more commonly known as burgers, are defined as a cooked patty of ground meat, most often beef, which is served between two buns. Goodies such as ketchup, mustard, lettuce, onion, cheese and pickles usually accompany the burger to enhance the flavor. Hamburgers have grown in popularity and thus so have the combinations of condiments that can accompany them.

Burgers can be made out of all types of ground meats and ground vegetables. Beef is the most popular type of meat used in the United States. Ground turkey, ground sausage, ground chicken, ground tofu and ground vegetables are often popular choices also. Some people often use chicken breast and refer to this as a burger also.

Popular burger combinations vary all around the United States and world for that matter. In this section we will look at all the different combinations and maybe it will be the inspiration for tonight’s dinner.
The term with the “lot” will refer to the following toppings being added tomato, beetroot, lettuce, onion, fried egg, bacon, pineapple, and cheese.

Texas Burger: A beef patty covered with mustard, jalapenos, cheese, with or without vegetables.

An Australian Burger: A beef patty with the “lot”

A Sloppy Joe Burger: Ground beef that is left loose served with chilies and a mixture of bbq sauce, brown sugar, and mustard. These burgers are best eaten with a knife and fork.

A Butter Burger: This is a regular beef patty served with a bun that is grilled with butter on it.

A Patty Melt Burger: This is a thin patty of beef served with cheese and sautéed onions served between two pieces of rye bread and then fried to perfection.

A Hawaiian Burger: This is a beef patty served with ham, bacon, pineapple, teriyaki sauce and cheese.

A low Carb Burger: This is a ground turkey or chicken patty served between two pieces of lettuce.

A Juicy Lucy Burger: This is a burger in which the cheese is squished between the ground beef. Warning: The cheese will be hot – use caution when taking that first bite.

A Cheeseburger: This is the traditional way to eat a burger. A ground beef patty is cooked to order and then covered with cheeses, pickles, onions, lettuce, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.

A Barbecue Burger: This burger is made form a mixture of ground beef, onions and barbeque sauce grilled to order. The bun is then coated with a layer of bbq sauce and grilled enhancing the bbq flavor of the meat.

A Carolina Burger: This is a ground beef burger served with cheese, chili, onions, mustard, and coleslaw.

A Curry Burger: This burger mixes ground beef, ground chicken, and ground lamb and seasons it with curry powder, yogurt, onions, and green peppers and then served on a bun.

A California Burgers: This is a ground beef patty served with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, guacamole, bacon and cheese.

A Slider Burger: This is a small beef patty served on a small bun with added sautéed onions.

A Colossal Colon Clogger: This is a burger popular in Canada. It is a 24 ounce ground beef patty, served with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon and two fried eggs.

A Luther Burger: This is a beef burger served with bacon placed between a bun made out of donuts.

A Slug Burger: This is a burger made entirely from a mixture of meat, such as pork, soybeans and is deep fried in oil.

Tonight try one of these variations. You can grill at home or visit a tavern in your local area to discover one of these explosions of goodness. You will for sure taste some burger goodness.

Connecting With Kids During Pizza Night

By Friday night I am spent. A long week at work, kid’s activities that spill over into our Saturdays so I know that tomorrow is looking busy already. Fridays are the one night I don’t want to think about washing dishes, cleaning the house, worrying about what I am going to make for dinner, if there is even food in the house or kids whining that they don’t want to eat what there is for dinner. So instead of worrying about any of this I instituted Friday, Family Pizza Night. Whether we are home in Northville or on vacation in the UP say in Marquette my kids insist on finding a pizza joint!

Kids love PIZZA! It is the biggest treat for them to go out to dinner because we only make time for this on Friday nights. So after a long week I know when I pull in the driveway there will be a Caravan of kids waiting for me to venture out for pizza. This is my favorite time of the entire week – pizza dinner with my family. So if your family is anything at all like ours you might think about instituting your own special night of the week. The family bonding we do over pizza on Friday nights is beyond comparison.

Kids tend to talk when they are happy and pizza night makes them happy. They will begin to tell you all about their week. Who did what during class, what girls wore what brands, yes some of it is just the stuff of preteens but what are family has found is that these Friday night pizza nights have allowed us to have some of the more serious topics. Pizza night allowed us to information that our daughter keeps private thinking she will get someone in trouble if she “tells”. Pizza night is not like “telling” it is having a conversation with mom and dad where the information about kids smoking and talking about drugs comes out. It allows us to keep the lines of communication open with her so for us pizza night with her is our moment in the week to find out all the things that are going through her head.

I am so thankful for Pizza night in my home. Take my suggestion and add a pizza night, or whatever food night your kids love, to your family’s routine. You will find out more about what is going on in your child’s head then you ever thought was going on and it is the prefect non-threatening time to do just that – Pizza night.

Easy Tips to Save a Few Bucks While Eating Out

In times such as these eating out is a luxury. Who can possible afford forty-five dollars for one meal out, each week, for a family of four? Although, there are times when going out is almost a necessity, coming home from soccer, dance practice, football games or on those days when everyone is just to whipped to plan a meal. Eating out is so convenient for busy days and days when you just need a break. However, a budget is easily blown to bits when a family of four decides to take a break from their kitchen to eat out. Think about it, on average, forty-five dollars a week times fifty-two weeks is a whopping two thousand three hundred forty dollars a year. Here are some easy to follow tips so that your family can continue to enjoy a night out even while going through this economic downturn.

Beverage Choice: The first suggestion is to drink water. Soda beverages run about two dollars and fifty cents per drink. For a family of four that is ten dollars in drinks alone. If usually a fruity cocktail or draft beer was the drink of choice that could run upwards of ten dollars for just two adult beverages. Water is free, with unlimited refills. Another benefit of drinking water at a restaurant is that is fills you up so you won’t be as famished when your meal arrives. If you just must have an adult drink, ask about any specials or current promotions to save a bit of money. The other tip is to share a drink – just make sure the waitress isn’t peeking shares are individually charged if caught!

Try Something New: You always get the chicken salad so why not try something that the restaurant is trying to promote. These meals are distributed at a discount price to get people to try them. So ask your server or check the insert in your menu. Something new, at a discount, could be your new favorite!

Sign Up: Many restaurants have deals on the internet. If you fill out their customer form they will send you coupons, often buy one get one free type offers, to keep you coming back. Another great things about signing up for these promotions is that around your birthday they pass out free meals, free desserts and such as a gift to you from them. At the very least you are bound to come up with a coupon that gives you a percentage or straight dollar amount off and who doesn’t like to save a few bucks!

Eat Linner: Instead of waiting for dinner try stretching out lunch into an early dinner, late lunch. Meals are often times less expensive off the lunch menu. If you just can’t ask for a lunch portion at dinner. Many restaurants will do this, allowing you a less expensive meal with almost the same amount of food. Portion sizes are often so out of control at dinner time that a lunch size meal will do the job and save you a pretty penny.

Follow the Golden Rule – Share: Sharing a meal is a great way to get a deal. Dinner portions are often served larger than any other time of the day. Dinner meals, at most restaurants, can easily be shared between two people. This is sort of like that buy one get one free deal. If you just can not share a meal make sure to divide your meal when it arrives at the table and take the second portion home for leftovers. Leftovers make a terrific quick lunch for busy professionals.

Ditch Dessert: Is it really worth five or six dollars for one slice of pie or scoop of ice cream? No, if you are craving dessert stopping at a local bakery or ice cream joint it is a lot less expensive. Half gallons of ice cream these days are only around three bucks, pick one up and enjoy a sundae bar at home. What kid or adult, for that matter, wouldn’t love to create dessert? That is an extra special treat after a wonderful night out.