Tag Archives: food

Going Big: The Avocado Bacon Burger

By Guest Contributor: Mike Majlak

Life on a Couch

Congratulations, its a monster.

GET THESE THINGS
One pound 85/15 ground beef
One package thick cut hickory smoked bacon
One whole avocado
One head of romaine lettuce
One vine ripened tomato
One package Cheddar Jack cheese
Two potato rolls or hamburger buns
Montreal Steak seasoning
Mayonnaise (optional)

Moderation wasn’t something that ever came very easily to me. My mom always tried to warn me against having “too much of a good thing” but it generally fell upon deaf ears. I didn’t want one solid piece of art- I wanted Notorious BIG posters on every, single part of my bedroom wall. And even as an adult, this is still the way I am. I don’t have a halfway setting. I’m either going big- or I’m going to sleep.

The way I think about and prepare food follows this same pattern. So when it came time to write a post for Shawny and Life on a Couch, I wanted to do an over-the-top creation based on my favorite plate in life- the all-American beef cheeseburger.

Life on a Couch

Press your own fattie!

I started with some really fresh, not-so-lean 85/15 beef from the local market. The modern health craze we see before us everyday is great- just not for burgers. Every time I eat a “lean” burger I liken it to eating cardboard. Besides, my grandfather Pop-Pop ate 80/20 burgers all day and he made it to a ripe old 91. Eat what you want, just run a little more is my theory.

Anyways- I shaped the meat into some half-pound snowball patties. I like to leave ‘em a little fatter as opposed to squishing into true patties to keep that homestyle feel. I then gave the burgers a GENEROUS (read: anti-moderate) rub of my go-to Montreal Steak seasoning and stuck them under the broiler. I live in Connecticut and there’s no way I was going out to the grill. If you live somewhere where it’s super-warm right now: 1) use your grill and 2) I’m jealous and I don’t like you until May/June.

Life on a Couch

Don’t wimp out.

As the burgers broiled, I started thinking “How do we bring this thing to the next level?” And the answer was obvious- thick cut hickory bacon. Moderation would say two slices per burger, so I figured we would go with four. Broil up the bacon and put it to the side (you can even do this before the burger to get it over with).

Life on a Couch

No caption needed here.

Now how do we really step this up? I figured about 2-3 slices of really thick Pepper Jack Cheese (I used some from Cabot that was amazing) would be logical. And then right when you started to get overwhelmed- BOOM! Open up an avocado and cut it into not-so-modest slices. If you want this burger to be super-burly, chop up some lettuce, tomatoes and prep some mayo also.

When the burgers start to approach your desired temp (I hope you like medium-rare), toss the cheese on top and let the broiler start to do its work. Now grab a couple potato buns and toast them just a bit. This is the one place moderation IS a good thing. Nobody likes a burnt bun.

Life on a Couch

Prep now, smile later.

Check out the picture. Follow my stacking order OR choose a different way. The danger level on eating this thing is probably a 9/10 so maybe eat over a plate (don’t be a slob). Luckily for me, I ate the burger over my Sactionals which have machine-washable covers 🙂

Life on a  Couch

Like reverse Jenga, with food.

Hopefully this avocado bacon burger brings you some happy summer thoughts to brighten your mood. If you really wanna follow my no moderation lifestyle, pair this bad boy with some waffle fries and a chocolate shake. After all, it is the middle of winter. If you start to feel chubby, just put on some sweats and call it a day.

Life on a Couch

Mike Majlak in the Rockies.

Mike Majlak is a published food fanatic/adventurer/photo-junkie. Follow his antics on Instagram @heybigmike.

Did you give this thing a shot?! Let me know in the comments!

– Shawny

Couch Food: 7 Steps to Mac & Cheese Perfection

We’re all just looking for a little bit of comfort. [Guest contributor: Michael Majlak]

As someone who truly believes that a good meal can transform the human soul, I’ve been spoiled with a mother who can really kick it up a notch in the kitchen. I probably never really gave her the appreciation she deserves for creating some insanely impressive homemade dishes.

Dig in!

Comfort on a plate

It’s one of those cliché arguments you have with your friends as a kid, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Every child should go through their adolescence thinking that their mom is the best cook in the entire universe. I can remember almost getting into physical fights with other kids that thought their mom made better meatloaf than mine!

One dish my mom has had perfected since my birth was this gooey, ridiculously delicious Mac & Cheese. Since we’re quickly slipping into the season for food that will keep us warm, I thought now would be the right time to bring you the recipe for a plate that anyone can make- and EVERYONE will enjoy. My mom, Robin, walked me through the whole process in 7 simple steps and I’ve laid them out below with some pictures to get your mouth watering just a bit. Throw on some sweatpants, follow the recipe, and bring a big bowl of this cheesy masterpiece back to your couch for an ultimate comfort session!

Just don’t try to say yours came out better than my mom’s…

SO MUCH CHEESE!

Gather your ingredients

Robin’s Mac & Cheese aka: the ultimate comfort food!

  • 1 lb. Cavatappi Pasta
  • 6 oz. Gruyere Cheese
  • 1 small onion
  • 12 oz. New York Extra Sharp Cheese
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  •  2 cups milk
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 cup Panko Crumbs
The beginning of something great!

Boil some pasta

  1. Preheat oven to 375º
  2. Bring water to boil in large pot; add a splash of olive oil, cook pasta until almost cooked.
  3. Grate cheeses, nutmeg and chop onion.
  4. Melt butter in saucepan add finely chopped onion, cook slowly until onion is translucent. Add flour to butter/onion mixture and heat over low for 2 minutes stirring constantly.
  5. Heat milk in separate pan or microwave until hot.
  6. Add milk to pot with butter & onion and whisk until hot [do not boil]. Add cheeses, nutmeg, salt & pepper to mixture. Blend well and when smooth pour cheese sauce over pasta in casserole dish. Top with Panko, salt and pepper.
  7. Bake 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.
Gooey, cheesy goodness.

The money shot

Bout to get crusty!

Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle that Panko

Just eat it all, who cares.

Bake it to crusty perfection

Enjoy!

— Michael Majlak

 

 

 

 

 

Rock Festivals: Do I Even Have to Leave My Couch?

With concert feeds available on demand right from your phone, tablet or TV, what’s keeping you from just watching a festival from home?  [Guest contributor: Michael Majlak]

Boston Calling Festival Red Stage

Boston Calling festival stage

This weekend I left the comfort of my fluffy couch and trekked with a group of friends to the Boston Calling Festival in the heart of Beantown. The festival has bloomed into a massive event in the three years since it started, mainly because of its unique location in City Hall Plaza and its ability to pull massive artists and infamous food options. This year’s festival would be headlined by Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, and Modest Mouse, and would be catered by some of Boston’s legendary food vendors.

It had been years since I had been to a real festival. But upon walking up the concrete steps and entering upon the red-brick of City Hall Plaza, I immediately noticed some of the staples I had been so used to seeing. You had the company reps handing out free granola samples and various swag. There were the free-spirited hippies spinning hula hoops around their waist and of course the four or five people who sported their trusty tie-dye tee and corduroy pants. Then there were the lines. There were lines for merch, lines for food, lines for beer, and lines to use the most-dreaded of all things- the festival porta-potty.

Boston Calling Festival Blue Stage

Boston Calling festival grounds

Even with all the usual suspects, sights, and sounds of the modern music festival, one thing immediately caught my attention. There was one thing added to the equation. This “intruder” I speak of most likely sits within arm’s reach of you right now. You use it countless times a day, in fact some people rarely ever put it down. You may actually be staring at it right now, holding it tightly in your closed palm as you read this post. That’s right, I’m talking about the new staple of the modern rock concert- the smartphone.

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Festival-goers on their smartphones

Everywhere I looked, there it was. Kids on the way into the show were presenting their tickets via online ticket app. They were checking their account balances on the Bank of America app, watching for rain on the iPhone weather widget and scouring the concert lineup on the Boston Calling website. The effect of social media was even greater. A girl climbed up on her boyfriend’s shoulders not get a better view over the endless sea of people, but to take a selfie to immediately post on Instagram. The #BostonCalling hashtag lit up Twitter with every minute festival detail being live-blogged through 140 characters. People checked in on Facebook and sent Snapchats to their friends of Roxy’s Grilled Cheeses and videos of The Neighbourhood performing “Afraid”. The impact of the smartphone and social media was impossible to ignore.

#BostonCalling

#BostonCalling Instagram page

With all of this technology- the live online video feed, the Instagram video, the endless pictures on Twitter and Facebook, I started to wonder if I really even had to leave my couch. Could I have just kicked back with feet up on my ottoman, grabbed a cold drink and watched a live feed of Modest Mouse on my MacBook? Since the advent of modern technology, so many have begun choosing to witness events from the comfort of their living room. Could I have saved the money spent on travel and the time waiting in lines? Could I have avoided the aggravation of being stuck in a torrential downpour amidst thousands of pesky concert-goers and just cheered on from my warm, dry sofa?

Just as I started to truly ponder this, I was grabbed by a friend and herded in with a sea of other fans in front of a large and dimly-lit stage. A few minutes later, Brand New (a band I have worshipped since my high-school angst days but never got a chance to see) appeared on stage and proceeded to strum through one of the loudest, most passionate concert sets I have ever witnessed in my entire life. Every note seared directly into the heart of myself and everyone around me. Right at that moment, surrounded by 22,000 other ecstatic fans, I understood why I needed to be exactly where I was.

Modest Mouse performs at Boston Calling

Modest Mouse performing at Boston Calling

Simply put- yes, you can experience a festival from the comfort of your couch. You can read about the acts, you can see pictures of the food on Instagram, and you can even watch the performance feeds on sponsored websites. But there’s one thing you cannot do. You cannot feel.

No one can describe to you the feeling of the bass drum pulsating through your body during your favorite band’s explosive encore. You can watch a live feed, but you cannot feel the camaraderie of 20,000 Death Cab for Cutie fans swaying back-and-forth upon hearing the first few strings of “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” You cannot feel the cold sweat rolling off your favorite beverage as it battles tirelessly against the midday sun. You cannot taste the food, you cannot feel the breeze upon your face- you cannot be there, unless you are there.

Mike Majlak at Boston Calling

Me taking in the vibes

As someone who watches quite a bit of online media, I’m not putting down catching some cool stuff on your laptop or TV. But I also understand that this life is fleeting. The reward offered from getting off the couch and witnessing life first-hand is worth the extra effort or a little discomfort. You may forget things you have read, or things you have seen, but you’ll never forget the way things made you feel.

Boston Common Flag Memorial

Boston Common Flag Memorial

With that being said, everyone needs a place to fall back to, a safehaven for the mind, a landing pad after a rigorous trip. It was an unforgettable adventure, but now I have a date with my couch

— Michael Majlak, Author: The Essential Foodie blog 

 

A note from Life on a Couch founder, Shawny Nelson: Thanks Mike for your post. I agree completely. “Life on a couch” does not advocate more time on the couch–we advocate better time on the couch! There is certainly much more life to be had off the couch and out of the house. It is precisely the exhaustion from a good music festival, the soreness from a week at the lake, or the fatigue from a day out in the sun that makes flopping on the couch at the end of the day so appealing–so incomparable. We believe that the quality of our life on a couch is directly proportional to the quality of our life off the couch…so go, get out, attend, experience…run, jump, dance, laugh and live it up! That’s life on a couch.