World’s Best Turkey Burgers

I’ve seen a few burgers on Pinterest claiming to be the “World’s Best”, and while I’m sure they are very good……I can with great confidence (and perhaps great conceit) that my turkey burger truly is the best.

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World’s Best Turkey Burgers

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs of ground turkey

1 small onion or 1/2 of a large onion, diced

1 jalapeno, deseeded, deveined, and very finely diced

2 T of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 large palm fulls (2 T or so) of cumin

1 small palmful (1 to 1 1/2 tsp) of ground ginger

salt and pepper, to taste

1 T or so of EVOO

burger buns of your choosing, I used potato buns here

Suggested Toppings

mozzarella cheese (or another mild, good melting cheese)

fresh avocado

ketchup

mayo

 

I cannot take credit for the combo of spices used here; my good friend and former work colleague Penny Rosone-Nemeth told me about this grouping of spices she had been using since borrowing a Bengladesh cookbook from another colleague of ours, so I decided to give them a go and loved how they tasted in a turkey burger. I’ve done it with beef as well, but beef has a stronger flavor and I don’t think you can taste all the spices as well, so in addition to being healthier, I actually prefer the taste of the turkey burger in this instance.

So! I start out by cutting up all my fresh onion, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro and dumping in a big bowl with my ground turkey and dried spices.

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Then I add in the EVOO,

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and mix everything into the meat evenly with my hands. Yes, its messy, but it’s the right way to do it!

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Once combined, I form my mixture into 4-5 evenly sized patties, with a bit of an indentation in the middle. The reason for the dimple in the middle- burgers always plump in the middle when you cook them, so if you start them not as wide in the middle, they will be an even thickness once they are cooked!

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Then you just need to cook up and dress these beautiful patties of goodness…….I did them on the stove, but you can cook them however you like to cook your burger. Just make sure its cooked all the way through, because unlike beef, you don’t want to serve turkey anything less than well done.

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Also another tip, regardless of the surface you are cooking on: only ever flip your meat once. flipping back and forth will dry it out. So, flip over once you have a nice crust on one side, and you feel the meat is cooked about 1/2 way through, like shown above.

I threw some fresh mozzarella cheese on my burger once I flipped it over so it got nice and melty…..

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cut myself some nice fat slices of avocado, dressed my bun with ketchup and mayo, and then inserted my burger. I can tell you that it took some serious self control to stop and take a picture before I shoved this thing in my face in very shameless fashion.

Seriously, it is SO good. I don’t take the title “World’s Best” lightly. Try it, and thank me later.

Buffalo Chicken Tacos (From a Rotisserie Chicken)

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Buffalo Chicken Tacos

1 breast of a leftover rotisserie chicken

30-40 dashes of hot sauce

4-6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings

chopped lettuce

tomatoes

shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese

sour cream or ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing

guacamole or fresh avocado slices

I love buffalo chicken. I love tacos……..buffalo chicken tacos? Mindblown.

I never knew that I likes spicy food until I was an adult, because it was just never served in my house growing up. Now, nothing makes my mouth water like hot wings. I’m getting hungry again just thinking about them!

So this idea, like many of my cooking creations, came from me trying to utilize what I had in my fridge to make a meal. Jose and I hadn’t been dating that long, and we were at my apartment, wanting something yummy to snack on. I saw leftover chicken breast, tortillas, hot sauce, cheese and fat free ranch……and the buffalo chicken quesadilla was born. It was so ridiculously easy, and still to this day Jose will say it’s one of the best things I have ever made.

So just to make it a bit more interesting, I turned them into tacos so I could add more veggies, and guacamole. I prepared the guac in my previous post before starting my tacos.

So, this is almost embarassingly easy. I start by shredding about one breast from my leftover rotisserie chicken, dropping it in a pan, and dousing it in hot sauce. I don’t usually measure, but I did count how many dashes I used and it ended up being a bit less than 40 for the amount of chicken I had.

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Since the chicken is already completely cooked, you just want to heat it over medium heat until hot, and the hot sauce starts to become absorbed by the chicken. It should only take a few minutes.

In the meantime, I get my toppings together. I used a shredded cheddar/monterey jack blend, chopped grape tomatoes, chopped lettuce for some crunch, low fat ranch dressing, and my awesome and fresh guacamole.

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Once my chicken is warmed, I put the pan aside so I can heat up my corn tortillas. I never really ate corn tortillas, always did wheat, until I started dating Jose, and now I much prefer them for tacos. They have more texture and meatiness to them.

I put the chicken aside because I want to completely focus on my tortillas, as they can very quickly burn if you’re not paying attention.

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You want to put a tortilla directly on the burner, over high heat. Each side only needs to warm for about 10 seconds, unless you like your tortillas more charred. I use tongs to flip over my tortillas; my boyfriend uses his bare hands (!!!) but I’m too much of a baby for that.

I like just the edges of my tortilla starting to char, like this:

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doesn’t that look yummy?

If you don’t have a gas stove, no worries; you can put your stack of tortillas on a plate with a moist paper towel, plastic wrap the whole plate, and put in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

Either way you go, it should only take about a minute to have the tortillas ready for loading up. I start with 1/4 to 1/6 of my chicken (depends on how meaty you want your tacos, and how big your breast was)

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Then I add my cheese next, so that it can melt next to the hot meat

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and then my dressing, lettuce, tomato, and guacamole……..are you hungry yet?!?!

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And now it’s time to eat!

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This is a regular in our house, because it healthy, delicious, and so easy.

Guacamole!

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Guacamole

2 ripe avocados

fresh cilantro

1/4 cup finely diced red onion

1/2 finely chopped jalapeno, with ribs and seeds removed

1 lime

salt and pepper, to taste

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I absolutely love avocados with every fiber of my being. So creamy, smooth, and rich……I like them in my salads, on my sandwich, burger, in my tuna instead of mayo, and even turned into a sauce for my pasta. I crave them on a regular basis, and nothing beats that craving like the king of all avocado dishes- guacamole.

As inconvenient as it is, you can’t always meet that craving right when you have it…..because its not that easy to buy an avocado that is ripe enough to eat, but not totally mushy and beyond it’s time. So, usually buy a few avocados when I make my weekly run to the grocery store that feel somewhat firm but not rock-hard, and they are ready in 2-3 days for whatever yummy application I have.

So back to the guac- I start by very finely chopping about 1/4 to 1/3 cup red onion, Image

A good twist of fresh cilantro (2-3 TBs),

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and, 1/2 of a very finely diced jalapeno, with the ribs (white connective part) and seeds removed. If you want it super spicy, you can leave them, or use the whole jalapeno instead of just half.

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I then throw all of those ingredients in my bowl so I can start working on my avocado.

I’ve seen some really awkward butchering of avocados……and it’s so unnecessary because they are a cinch to get out of the skin and pit once you know how.

I start by running my knife around the avocado lengthwise, until it is cut into 2 equal parts. I give it a twist, and the 2 sides easily will come apart, with the pit resting in one side

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I could just get a spoon and eat this thing right out of the skin. But I know the end result is so tasty and takes almost no time at all, so will be patient…….

So instead of taking a spoon and shoveling this perfect avocado down the hatch, I spoon the meat right out,

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and dump in the bowl with the rest of our ingredients.

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So what about the side that the pit rests in? Super easy. You take your chopping knife and whack it into the center of the pit,

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give a little twist, and the pit will pop right out! Don’t discard your pits; they will be used later, so just put them aside. This process will be repeated for the 2nd avocado, or as many as you have if you are making a larger portion.

Once they’re all in the bowl, it’s mashing time! I use a potato masher, makes it sooo easy.

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I had a friend see me using the masher, and boldy proclaimed “that’s how how Puerto Ricans do it! You’re supposed to use a fork!” To that I say, pish posh. It’s the perfect tool, and gets the job done in a fraction of the time. You will want to mash until you get the desired consistency; I like some texture and don’t want it perfectly smooth. So after you get the texture you want, toss the masher in the sink and switch out for a spoon for the rest of the preparation process.

After a good amount of experimentation, I found that the perfect ratio of lime to avocado is 1/2 a fresh lime for each avocado used. So, I used one lime for this batch. Give the lime a quick roll  on the counter to get the juices going, slice in half, and squeeze into the bowl.

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Give it a stir, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste…..and BAM you’ve got fresh guacamole. So easy and delicious, there’s no reason to ever buy the premade stuff! And, you want to throw in your pits because they help slow down the browning/oxidation process.

I like to do the chip test to check for the correct amount of salt:

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I am almost always eating my guac with chips, and since the chips are already salty, I like to taste it on a chip so I don’t over salt.

I usually like to do the chip test a couple……few…..5 times, just to make sure the first time isn’t a fluke or anything…..and so no one dies. Not because it’s delicious or anything like that, just because I’m so concerned about everyone else.

Ode to the Rotisserie Chicken

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Oh rotisserie chicken, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways….

You are delicious, and perfectly cooked. You are hot and ready whenever I am, and make dinner easy not just one, but at least 2 nights. Your humble plastic encasement does not do justice to the magnificent wonder that lies inside.

This week I will begin a several part series of rotisserie chicken recipes that are super scrumptious, and super easy. And I’m starting with Buffalo Chicken Tacos!!

Homemade Pizza

I feel like Fridays and pizza just go together, don’t you? Nothing like finishing off your week with a warm, chewy, cheesy slice….or 5……no judgement…….

So, I am really spoiled living here in Long Island because I could drive 5 minutes in any direction and run into a local, non-chain pizza place with great pizza. And thought I could easily pick some up, it’s really fun sometimes to make your own pizza.

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I start this process with a trip to my local pizza place. Instead of picking up a pie, I pick up some dough. Maybe one of these days I’ll try to make my own……but there’s is SO GOOD.

For this pizza, I’m doing a white pizza (no red sauce, just fresh mozzarella and ricotta cheese) with chicken cutlet (hooray leftovers!), kalamata olives, grape tomatoes, and marinated artichokes

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To start, I dust some flour on my clean work surface, rolling pin, and hands.

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I then place the dough in the center of my floured area, and begin to roll out, aiming for the size of the baking sheet I am using.

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Once I’ve arrived at the desired size and shape, I move the dough to my ungreased baking sheet. All the flour used to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter and rolling pin will also prevent it from sticking in the pan.

Here’s a trick that makes it a bit easier: roll the dough around the rolling pin,

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pick it up and place on the baking sheet, an then unroll.

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You can then make minor adjustments in the pan if necessary.

And then the fun part: dressing your pizza! You really can put whatever you want on here. Make it look pretty. Make a fun face. Make it exactly the way you want.

I started with a little olive oil, salt and pepper

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then my ricotta; I use part-skim, just because that’s what I like and what my Momma used when I was growing up

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So creamy……so delicious. I definitely had a couple of spoonfuls. Hey, that’s part of the priviledge of being the chef…..gotta make sure it’s ok, right?

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I then add my equally delicious fresh mozzarella. “Regular” mozzarella would be fine, but the fresh stuff really puts this pizza over the edge. It’s worth the extra money.

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And then the rest of the pizza bling, and into the oven it goes! 350 degrees, for 20 to 25 minutes. I checked mine at 20 and it didn’t look done, so I put it back in for 4 more minutes and then it looked just right:

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Does that not look perfect?!? I cut into 8 pieces, and 2 pieces was more than enough. Let me tell you, it was delicious. And not only delicious, it was easy, fast, and pretty cheap.

Another fun idea would be to cut the dough into 4 pieces to make individual pizzas, or do calzones! This dough is so versatile……I’m excited to experiment with something new next time.

Mediterranean Salmon Salad (2nd Salmon dinner for the week)

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Thank the good Lord for dinners that you don’t have to put together from scratch……and just because they’re made from “leftovers” doesn’t mean that they have to be boring, or even the same thing you just ate.

Remember this happy little piece of salmon from the other night? The cute guy on the right with just a little bit of EVOO, salt and pepper?

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Well, for this dinner, he’s front and center.

Now, I have a confession to make. This whole combo of flavors and ingredients for this meal is not my original creation; I got the idea after eating a very similar salad at Panera this past summer. But, it’s only served seasonally, and after making a special trip there just to order that salad and finding out it wasn’t on the menu and having a mini-meltdown, I thought it would be a good idea to make my own. So this is my take on it, from what I remember.

So, you gotta start out with some lettuce for a salad, right? If I had the time to pick up some fresh field greens, I would have gone with those. But alas, life happens, and after an emergency trip to the vet for my poor little Zelda who hit her eye, it didn’t happen. I always have romaine hearts in my fridge, so I knew I would still be okay.

Another confession- I absolutely hate washing and drying off lettuce. Abhor it. Almost as much as I hate buying the pre-washed and chopped lettuce in a bag that goes slimy in 2 days and having to throw it out and wasting my money. So, while I may not own tons of fancy cooking gadgets, I do own a cheap salad spinner which I absolutely love.

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So once I have my nice clean lettuce that’s been torn into bite-sized pieces, I can start to adorn my green foundation: I have here 1/2 of my cooked piece of salmon,chopped walnuts, feta cheese, red onion, mandarin orange sections, kalamata olives (the purple ones), and some croutons. I can say with certainty that there were no croutons on the Panera version, but I love croutons and will add them to pretty much any green salad I am having if at all humanly possible.

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So now to assemble a citrus vinaigrette! I started with a good splash of orange juice (maybe 1/4 cupish, if you’re measuring), a spoonful of dijon mustard, a pinch of salt, pinch of pepper, and whisked in some extra virgin olive oil until it looked and tasted like a dressing. If I had a fresh orange, that juice along with some of the zest would have been wonderful, but it was fine with the orange juice I already had at home.

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Fancy shmancy chefs will say that you should toss your salad with the dressing in a bowl before serving. I say, eat your salad the way you want. Often times, I will toss everything together before serving as opposed to pouring the dressing on top of everything, but I didn’t want to toss my salmon and have it break up into lots of little pieces. So, I went for the pour on top method here.

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Looks pretty. Tastes yummy. Healthy, AND super quick to put together, because I took a little extra time when I was making dinner for the night before. All reasons this is a winner for me!

 

 

Honey-Mustard Glazed Salmon with Lentils (Dinner 1 of 2 Salmon Dinners)

ImageFlavorful salmon on a bed of lentils, flavored with bacon. A super yummy, not-so-complicated dinner!

If you don’t eat pork, you can omit the bacon. If you don’t have chicken broth, you can use water.

To feed 2 people, you will need

For the main components:

About 3/4 lbs of salmon filet, I am doubling this to cook extra for tomorrow’s dinner

1 cup of lentils

4 slices of bacon

1 med shallot (or 1/2 a small onion + 2 gloves of garlic, minced)

3 big or 4 petit baby carrots

2 cans of chicken broth

For the honey-mustard glaze:

2 big spoonfuls of dijon mustard

2 big squeezes of honey

a couple pinches of fresh or dried thyme, if you have it

For the lentil dressing:

a big spoonful of dijon dressing

a splash of OJ (a couple of tablespoons)

a couple of tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

And, of course, salt and pepper to taste for all components

So let’s get started! I have chopped up the bacon into smaller pieces and thrown them into my pot for the lentils over med high heat. They will start to cook up and render their fat in the pan.

I always find that when I take off my bacon just a bit before I actually think it’s done, it comes out crispy and perfect.

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While my bacon is working it’s magic, I chop up my shallot and carrots. You may have noticed that I measure the amount of carrot I use by unit of baby carrot….is this unconventional? Yes. But, that’s how I buy my carrots. They are already clean, peeled, and ready to go. and I can use them in their current form, or I can chop them up as I need them. If you have regular carrots, I would use 1/2 to 1/3 of a whole normal sized carrot. Be thinking of me while you have to peel and clean that sucker……because I skipped those steps!

I love shallots. If you have never worked with them, they are like a cross between an onion and garlic, with a great not-overpowering flavor. So as I mentioned above, you can substitute some onion and garlic if you don’t have any shallot on hand.

Also similar to garlic, it can burn easily and doesn’t taste very good if it does, so I would thrown in the chopped carrots for a minute first, then add your shallot. Since this is going to all cook in with the lentils anyway, we are just cooking a bit first for flavor.

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So once the bacon has become crunchy and delicious, remove from the heat and place on a paper towel lined plate. And just try not to eat it all while the rest of the meal is coming together!

Now, it’s time to throw in our chopped veg. (If you have decided to omit the bacon, you would first heat up a couple of tablespoons of EVOO, then add your veggies.)

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You want to cook just for a couple of minutes, because as I mentioned above, the shallot can burn quickly!

Then, it’s time to add the lentils and cooking liquid; broth or stock if you have it, water is fine if you don’t.

ImageThen it’s time to put a lid on it, and move onto salmon and dressing prep. They can take a good 40-45 minutes to cook, so I set a timer for 20 minutes, and then put my salmon in the oven once it goes off, so that everything is done at the same time.

The honey mustard glaze could not be any easier…….it’s literally just equal parts of honey and mustard. So it is easy to adjust for however much you need.

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Then you slather it with love on your salmon. I am making 2 meals worth of salmon, and tomorrow’s meal doesn’t call for it, so I am only covering the salmon being used for this meal with honey mustard. I cut down into individual servings first, but that’s not necessary. I also sprinkled with a bit of dried thyme, though I would have used fresh if I had it on hand. Not totally necessary, but I think it gives it a little extra somethin’.

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I am a follower of the Pioneer Woman method for cooking salmon: a whole piece in a cold oven, set to 400 degrees, baked for 25 minutes.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/07/pams-day-of-deliciousness/

Since I cut off smaller individual pieces first, I pulled those out at about 18 minutes, and continued cooking the larger piece for another 5ish minutes.

So whilst the salmon and lentils are working away, I make the dressing for the lentils. Right in the same bowl I made the salmon glaze; they both have dijon mustard and a sweet element, so no need to dirty another bowl!

I add my dijon mustard and orange juice to the bowl first, and then whisk in some EVOO until I have dressing, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper at the end. This is just to dress up the lentils, but we don’t want them drowning in it so it may not look like much, but we don’t want a ton. Just enough to flavor.

Hopefully, your lentils and salmon will be finishing up at about the same time. When you pull the salmon out, there will be some black burned areas where the glaze spilled over on the foil, but don’t fret, because we are removing the salmon from the foil and skin for serving, so it won’t be seen or tasted.

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You know the lentils are done when they taste tender throughout, not hard/crunchy in the middle. I like them soft, but not too mushy. They will need to be drained from the extra cooking liquid.

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Add back to the pot, mix in the dressing, then the bacon that was cooked at the very beginning of the dish.

ImageAnd now all you have to do is plate it up, and enjoy it! I like to take a couple of big scoops of lentils and create a nice bed in the middle of the plate for the salmon, which I remove from the skin and place on top. And I like to eat it with some good, crusty bread.

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You want to get that good bite of salmon, bacon and lentils all on the same fork…..

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This makes a nice dinner for 2, with some leftover lentils you can enjoy the next day. The boyfriend review gave this 2 enthusiastic thumbs up, and was pretty stoked about the leftover lentils…….he’ll be enjoying them with his staple snack of corn tortillas heated on our gas stove, and queso blanco.

AND, I’ve already got a great start on tomorrow’s dinner!