Monthly Archives: September 2012

Turkey Mushroom Burgers

Although I like to try new burger recipes from time to time, normally when I say I’m making turkey burgers my kids know these are the ones I’m talking about.  And they are happy.  This is one of my “hidden veggies” recipes.  Not only do they keep the burgers moist, they add lots of flavor too. Plus they add so many nutrients I don’t feel guilty about serving them with fries.  If you’re not a fan of crunching into a chunk of veggies you can always saute them first so they’ll be soft.  I chop them small so they cook quickly and create a cohesive mixture.

Turkey Mushroom Burger

Turkey Mushroom Burgers

1 pound ground turkey
6-8 oz. mushrooms, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 egg
Salt & pepper
1 red or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (I use one half of a bun, crumbled)

Mix all ingredients until well blended.  Form into 6 large balls.

All mixed up and ready to smash.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.  Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Flatten balls into thick burgers and place in pan.  Cook about 5 minutes on each side, until brown on the outside and done in the middle.  Serve with or without buns, with your favorite toppings and condiments.  Makes 6 burgers.

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Summery Salad

I know, I know.  It’s fall and here I am posting something about a summery salad.  So sue me.  I’m holding on to the last of summer with all I’ve got and that means eating all the summer food I can find at farmer’s market before it is all gone.  So hold your horses…posts about apples and beets and potatoes will all be coming soon.  For now, let’s all close our eyes and taste the bittersweet end of summer.

Strawberry Arugula Salad

Strawberry & Arugula Salad
(adapted from Food Network Magazine)

8-10 cups baby arugula
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1 cup snap peas
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl toss together arugula, strawberries, snap peas and feta.  In a small bowl, whisk together dijon, sugar, lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt & pepper until sugar is dissolved.  Toss a bit of the dressing with the salad, and serve the rest on the side.

I loved this salad, but didn’t really think it was hearty enough for a dinner on its own unless you are a pretty light eater.  I suggest cooking up a protein of your choice to serve with it.  We went with Italian marinated chicken breasts and it was a tasty partnership.

Strawberry Arugula Salad with Italian Chicken Breast

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Amazing Spaghetti Sauce

Summer has officially come to an end, but tomatoes are still coming off the vines and making their way into my kitchen.  Thanks to gifts from my mom and my aunt, I had a huge pile of tomatoes that needed to be used right away.  I decided to take a cue from my friend Valerie and cook these babies down into spaghetti sauce.

I have no idea what kind of tomatoes these were; there were several different varieties.  I started with a huge bowl, I would guess at least three or four pounds of tomatoes total and was hoping to end up with enough sauce for a couple of dinners. Alas…it only made enough for one amazing batch because it was so good we all had to have another helping!  Turns out tomatoes reduce in volume quite a bit when you cook them for an hour or two.

Seriously some of the best spaghetti I have ever made.

Amazing Spaghetti Sauce

3-4 pounds garden tomatoes, mixed variety
1 onion, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 pound hot Italian sausage
Salt & pepper
1 pound spaghetti

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Score the bottom of each tomato with a knife.  Put the tomatoes in the pot of water (you may have to do this in two or three batches).  Cook for 1 minute until skin starts to peel.  Remove tomatoes and rinse with cool water, or submerge in a bowl of cool water.  When cool enough to handle, remove skin and stems.  Cut into large chunks and put in a large pot (I used the same one I used for blanching the tomatoes).

Tomatoes all ready to fulfill their destiny.

Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, olive oil and water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium or medium low.  Simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have reduced down and sauce has thickened to the consistency you like.  In a separate skillet, cook Italian sausage.  Add to sauce.  Let it cook and mingle with the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add salt & pepper as needed.  I added about two teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of pepper to mine.  Do not add salt until after you add the sausage and taste the sauce, since most sausage has some salt in it already.

Amazing Spaghetti Sauce. Ready to mingle with some pasta.  You can see on the sides of the pan how much the sauce has cooked down.  Yummy concentrated flavor.

Cook pasta until tender.  Drain and smother with sauce.  Prepare yourself for many yummy noises.

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Cheesy Quinoa Bake

The more I cook with quinoa the more I like it.  This is a tasty take on mac & cheese – without the mac.  For my gluten-free friends, this is a great alternative to traditional mac & cheese (just leave off the panko topping).  Quinoa is a small grain that is high in protein and can be substituted for rice or pasta in most recipes.  Use whatever veggies you like best.  This was what happened to be in my fridge at the time and it was a delicious combo.

Cheesy Quinoa Bake…drizzled with my favorite hot sauce!

Cheesy Quinoa Bake
(adapted from Around the Table: Loving Food in RI and Beyond)

1 1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
2-3 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup onion, chopped
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Pinch of season salt (whatever kind you like, I used something called Southern Flavor, but Lawry’s or Mrs. Dash would work too)
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup panko (optional, leave out for gluten-free)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded

Preheat oven to 350˚ and butter a casserole dish.  Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Saute veggies and garlic in butter until softened.  In a large bowl whisk eggs, milk, and seasonings.  Fold in quinoa, veggies and sharp cheddar until combined.  Transfer mixture to the casserole dish.  Sprinkle with additional sharp cheddar, panko (if using) and parmesan.  Bake  uncovered for 20 minutes until top is golden brown.  Drizzle with your favorite hot sauce if you like that sort of thing!  Serves 4-6 as a main dish.

Cheesy Quinoa Bake

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Rooting for Soup

My daughter had FOUR teeth pulled this week.  After eating nothing but pudding for over 24 hours she was ready for something else.  Something that didn’t require chewing.  So I decided to make soup for dinner.  Or mashed potatoes.  And then I thought, how about mashed potato soup?  But then I thought, I have some other stuff that could go in that too.  Golden beets from farmer’s market (never tried them before, but why not?) and some other root veggies.  Mmmm, sounds like fall to me.  They all blended together to make one of the tastiest soups I have ever invented.  And that’s saying something!

Creamy Root Veggie Soup

Creamy Root Veggie Soup

1 large onion, chopped
6-8 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 golden beets, peeled and diced
1 large yam or sweet potato, peeled and diced
2-3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
4-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. fresh thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream
Milk or extra broth if needed
Bacon (optional)

Saute onions in a little olive oil for a 2-3 minutes.  Add root vegetables and bay leaf.  Cover veggies with broth.  Bring to a boil, turn down to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Add butter and cream.  Using an immersion blender, puree the veggies.  Add salt & pepper and fresh thyme.  Add additional milk and or broth if the soup is too thick.  Cook bacon until crispy and crumble for garnish if desired.  Makes 4-6 main dish servings.

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Chicken Korma

I don’t have any tattoos.  I’ve thought about it, but then I think about how often I change my mind about things I like.  Food, TV shows, decor, people… you get the picture.  We all have at least one piece of furniture/art/outfit that we absolutely adored when we just had to buy it and now we look at it and think “what the heck was I thinking?”  So I’ve abstained from having anything permanently inked upon my flesh.  But the other day at Saturday market, I happened upon a booth where a nice lady was doing henna tattoos.  Oooh…artsy and cool, but temporary!  I’ve always wanted to play with henna, so I got some to take home and proceeded to “tattoo” all over myself and my daughter.

Fun with henna. Not bad for my first effort!

While looking at cool henna designs for inspiration, I came across a couple of web sites with Indian-inspired designs and fun stuff.  And that made me want Indian food.  So we made Chicken Korma for dinner to complement our newly decorated body parts.  If you are new to Indian food, this is a terrific “intro to Indian” recipe.  The flavors are very mild and delicious, and not too out of the ordinary.  The spices used are flavorful but not hot and the sauce is to die for.  There are no ingredients that can’t be found at most grocery stores.  And it’s super simple to make.  Pair it with some rice and fresh veggies and you’re all set.

Chicken Korma. Looks pretty and tastes even better.

Chicken Korma

2-3 tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ginger, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup heavy cream

Rice for serving

Saute onion and chicken in oil over medium heat until onion is soft and chicken is no longer pink.  Add garlic and ginger and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add salt, turmeric, and cumin.  Cook 1 minute.  Add water.  Turn down heat slightly and stir in garam masala and cream.  Cook 5 minutes or so until chicken is cooked through and sauce is slightly thickened.  Serve over rice with fresh steamed veggies on the side.  Serves 4.

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Roasted Chile Turkey Burgers

I love hamburgers.  But I also like variety, and I’m always looking for (or making up) healthy and interesting variations.  Turkey burgers are a great way to go for something different.  The problem I have with some turkey burgers is that the meat is so lean the burgers can get dry.  My solution?  Lots of veggies to add moisture, flavor and texture.

For these I was in the mood for a little southwestern flavor, so I made some modifications to my usual recipe and changed this one up a bit.  Don’t be alarmed if the mixture is a little looser than your normal burger mixture, they cook up quite nicely without a hitch.  Bun or no bun, they are pretty darn yummy!

Roasted Chile Turkey Burgers

Roasted Chile Turkey Burgers

1 egg
1/3 cup red onion, chopped finely
2/3 cup bread crumbs (I usually just crumble a slice of bread or bun)
1 pound ground turkey
4 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 oz. can of diced green chiles (or you can roast extra peppers and chop them up)
2 green onions, sliced
4-6 Anaheim peppers
Cotija cheese, crumbled

Put whole chiles on a cookie sheet under the broiler.  Broil on both sides until skin is blackened.  Remove from heat and put in a paper or plastic bag to cool and steam.

In a large bowl, mix breadcrumbs, red and green onions, egg, salt, pepper and cumin with a fork until well blended.  Add turkey, mushrooms, diced green chiles.  Mix well (I use my hands for this part) until everything is combined.  The mixture will be fairly wet and loose.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in large skillet or grill (do not use an open grill, the patties aren’t firm enough to sit on top without falling through) over medium high heat.  Form 6 large balls of mixture.  Flatten slightly and lay in the pan.  Cook about 5 minutes on each side, until patties are firm and cooked all the way through.

Peel peppers, remove stems and seeds and slice into thick strips.  Serve burgers with or without a bun, top with roasted peppers and cotija cheese.  Serves 6.

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Fajita Burritos for Dinner and Breakfast!

I really wanted to make enchiladas.  But a hot day and three hungry tummies meant a quickie dinner was in order.  So with a bunch of veggies, a quick saute and some beautiful gift wrapping, a quick, delicious and healthy dinner was mere moments away.  Enchiladas can wait a few weeks.

You can chop up as many veggies as you want for this.  I always make more than I need, since leftovers can always be put to good use.  Scroll down to see where mine ended up!

Veggie Fajita Burrito

Veggie Fajita Burrito

3-4 poblano peppers, sliced
3-4 banana peppers, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup corn kernels
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of salt & pepper
Juice of 1/2 lime
Flour tortillas
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Avocado, sliced

Slice up all the veggies.

Yummy veggies. Feel free to vary to your tastes.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil.  Add peppers, onion, mushrooms and garlic to the pan.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add corn and beans and continue to cook a couple of minutes, until veggies are slightly tender and everything is heated through.  I prefer my veggies to still have a little crunch, but if you like them softer just cook a little longer.  Season with salt & pepper and squeeze in lime juice.  Stir to combine.

Cook the veggies. I like them just slightly tender but still a little crispy. And check out my cool new spatula thing!

Pile the veggies in a burrito.  Crumble some cheese over the top.  If you want to be able to pick it up, don’t overfill it.  If  you’re anything like me, you’ll add way too much stuff for that.

Build the burrito and eat!

Roll it up, decorate the top with salsa, avocado and a little more cheese.  Dive in!

For breakfast the next day, reheat leftover veggies in a skillet, add some beaten eggs, and stir and turn mixture constantly until eggs are cooked.  Put in a tortilla with some salsa and cheese and voila!  Breakfast is served.

Fajita Breakfast Burrito

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Cherry Tomato & Pesto Pasta

Popping a cherry tomato in my mouth instantly transports me to a perfect childhood moment.  I close my eyes, revel in the bright, sunny taste and the lovely “pop” of the tomato bursting in my mouth and for a split second, I’m a kid again, standing in the sunshine, raiding somebody’s cherry tomato plant while their back is turned.

I am an ungifted gardener to say the least, but I always plant a cherry tomato plant, just to have a few moments like these throughout my summer.  I also always plant basil, since it’s the one thing I actually have had consistent success with.  Not to mention, pesto is just about the most perfect condiment for well…anything.

I have discovered through my farmer’s market travels this summer that while the early bird may get the best choices, the fat, lazy bird who likes to sleep in gets the best prices.  I scored two overflowing pints of cherry tomatoes last week for less than half of what I would have paid in the grocery store.  On the ripe side, these babies needed to be used right away, so into my pasta they flew.  Add some freshly made pesto and there was magic.  Tasty, tasty magic.

Cherry Tomato & Pesto Pasta

1 pkg. pasta
3-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half and divided
1/2 cup – or more – pesto (see below for my recipe or use your favorite)
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
Grated parmesan for the top (optional)

Cook pasta until tender, but still firm to the bite.  Prep all of your ingredients ahead of time because this dish comes together very quickly.

All ingredients prepped and ready to go. Beautiful!

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and about half of the tomatoes to the pan.  Cook one or two minutes.  Add pesto and continue to cook another minute or two.  Drain the pasta and add to the pan.  Add the rest of the tomatoes and the mozzarella.  Toss well to combine.  Add a pinch of salt & pepper if needed. Serve immediately and top with parmesan cheese if desired.

Basil & Walnut Pesto

Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of salt & pepper
Handful of walnuts (or any other nut you like)
1/4 cup of fresh parmesan
3-4 cloves garlic
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Combine all ingredients except for oil in a food processor or blender.

Loading up the food processor to make pesto.

Whirl it up until finely chopped, scraping down the sides once or twice.  Add olive oil in a slow stream until the pesto is the consistency you like.  You can adjust this to your preference.  It can be coarsely chopped or a fine puree, it can be thicker or thinner, whatever you like best.  For my pasta recipe I wanted it a little chunkier; for a spread on a sandwich, I would probably blend it a little more.  Any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container for a couple of weeks in the fridge, or frozen.  Drizzle with olive oil to keep it from turning brown.

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