Burgers and fries with
a twist some spice!
I served my lamb burger on top of a bed of spinach (so I could eat more fries) with an extra dollop of cilantro raita. The lamb burger recipe calls for a mix of sirloin and ground lamb. Because it’s so hard to buy specific amounts of meat where we lived, I went with a full lamb burger (it’s so nice to see our small town offering “big city” meats). The lamb was formed into patties and simple seasoned with salt and course pepper (my new obsession). Big Guy was in charge of grilling the burgers and they were cooked perfectly. On top of the burger, a spicy-cool raita which was a simple mix of Greek yogurt, cilantro, mint, jalapeno, salt, garlic and grated cucumber. So much flavor and really brightened up the burger. And on top of that, crunchy red onions. I adore red onion, if you don’t – leave it off.
How gorgeous are my Thai Spiced Fries? The best part – I used a short cut. I bought frozen Alexia fries and tossed them with the spice mixture before baking. The spice mixture: 1 tablespoon canola oil, juice of 1 lime, 2 teaspoons Thai Red Curry Paste, 1/2 teaspoon tamari (or soy sauce), 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.
After they were done baking, I topped them with fresh cilantro and coarse black pepper. The fries didn’t get quite as crunchy as I liked (probably due to the extra oil in the spice mixture) but they were still addicting. A little too addicting.
Whether we go out to dinner or stay at home, date nights are the best. Especially after a long, stressful week.
On Friday night, I spent some time in the kitchen prepping food for Saturday. But in between that, I put some love into our dinner. Chicken Cacciatore has been on my “want to cook” list for a while now. Warm, comforting and hearty. It’s really the perfect fall dinner.
I don’t cook (and we don’t eat) a lot of Italian but this dish wasn’t “heavy” like a lot of pasta dishes you traditionally think of when you hear “Italian food.” After a little Google search, I learned that “cacciatore” means “hunter” in Italian. ”Hunter-style” refers to a dish that’s prepared with tomatoes, onions, herbs and bell peppers. All of which were in this particular dish.
The chicken is browned on the stove-top and then transferred to the oven on top of the tomato “sauce” where it is cooked through. (The only change I made to the recipe was using boneless chicken thighs instead of bone-in.)
Perhaps not the prettiest dinner but the sauce was so flavorful. It tasted as though it had been cooking all day long. Tender vegetables and fork-tender chicken. All served with a glass of red wine. Which I’m still trying to like (hence my small pour). Big Guy joked he could have just eaten the sauce – it was that good.
Top the chicken cacciatore with shaved Parmesan for a rich, salty addition to the dish.
Plan a date night at home soon. And it wouldn’t hurt to make Chicken Cacciatore, either.
My newest Trader Joe’s obsession. It smells and tastes like fall.
Baby Little girl Haines turned 2 last week and we got to celebrate with this crazy kid. She is all over the place and I’m certain her favorite word is “mine.”
Despite it being fall and the mall in Raleigh being decorated for Christmas (disgusting), our garden thinks it’s summer. Lots of produce still coming off the plants. And I love it.
To make use of the fantastic basil that won’t last through the winter, I made an edamame and basil “pesto” that I served over spaghetti squash with a sprinkling of parmesan gouda.
(the original recipe called for cilantro – but why buy herbs when you have some in your garden?)
I also made a batch of Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal Squares as a quick and easy breakfast option.
Changes I made to the recipe, I omitted the raisins and pecans, I only used 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and I used 2 honeycrisp apples.
You can get anywhere from 6 to 12 squares. If you eat 1/12th of the baked oatmeal, you’re looking at about 100 calories. I paired a little piece with some Greek yogurt and almond butter.
But this morning, I ate a larger square (1/6th) with a good smear of peanut butter. Delicious. And easy!
Last night I met up with a couple of my girlfriends for a glass of bubbles and dinner to celebrate our dear friend Claire’s birthday. It was just what I needed in the middle of an insane week.
We caught up and laughed about some of the best times of our lives. It was good for the soul.
It may be October but I still have bell peppers growing in full force in the garden. What better way to use up bell peppers than to stuff ‘em with all kinds of good stuff? Plus, I got to use a jalapeno from the garden and the last of the tomatoes that we grew. I used this recipe but obviously didn’t have everything on hand – so I used what I had and enjoyed every bite. Also, my bell peppers are smaller than the ones you might find at the grocery store so I just chopped off the top of the peppers and stuffed them whole instead of halving each pepper. I still had more than plenty stuffing and I didn’t even add the sweet potato!
The pictures are horrific and I know it. I just wasn’t in the mood to find the “right”angle on Sunday.
But despite their looks, they’re delicious.
What is it with me and ugly food these days?
The changes I made to the recipe: I used red onion instead of yellow onion; I used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth; I left out the sweet potato; I used diced grape tomatoes instead of Roma’s; I left out the cilantro; and I used cheddar cheese on top instead of colby jack.
And I’ve been eating them all week long for lunch.
I have a bold statement to make. This is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever made at home. And it’s “light.” Mac and cheese has always been a favorite of mine. Cheese was one of my best friends growing up (and it still is – my palate is just more refined now) and I loved any and every mac and cheese. The blue box? Loved it. Velveeta? Loved it. The homemade mac and cheese with crunchy sides? Loved every.single.bite.
Most mac and cheeses involve lots of butter, unhealthy amounts of cheese and perhaps even some fake cheese (blue box, what?). But this two-cheese mac and cheese will blow your mind.
Cream cheese is mixed with a milk and chicken broth mixture that makes the most luscious and creamy sauce that you’ll swear has butter in it (but it doesn’t). The top is smothered (3/4 cup) in sharp cheddar cheese that lends the flavor we’ve all grown to love and crave when it comes to a bowl of comforting mac and cheese.
This is comfort food.
Changes I made to the recipe: I used penne gluten-free corn pasta (from Trader Joes); I only used 1 tablespoon of canola oil; instead of 2% milk, I used fat-free milk; instead of flour, I used 4 teaspoons of corn starch; and instead of reduced fat cream cheese I used whipped cream cheese. And as usual, I used more garlic than the recipe called for – the recipe reads to “smash” the garlic and I minced the garlic – I think that was an error.
On the side, a simple tomato salad with homegrown tomatoes, white balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, dill and chives.
This is what my mac and cheese dreams are made of.
Hello blog friends and happy Wednesday!!! Here’s what I’ve been up to lately…
TBT (Throw Back Thursday) to the ZTA days. This was a Christmas social in 2004.
I pulled out the scrap books last Friday night and took a trip down memory lane. They are hilarious because Big Guy is in the pictures but we were definitely NOT dating at that time. Very entertaining.
On Friday night we had a fondue date night! We pulled out a wedding present that we had not used. The fondue was good but I messed around with the recipe and I’m not happy enough to share the recipe I used.
Oh how I love being at home on the weekends. We headed to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning and I picked up some gorgeous flowers.
Sunday was the official first day of fall so I brewed up a cup of pumpkin coffee. So good! Notice that my nails are also fall-inspired now, too. No more coral nails.
The beginning of fall also means the end of summer produce. Big Guy convinced me to come help clean up the garden a bit and here’s the produce load! Lots of mators, green peppers, purple baby bells and some jalapenos. I’m going to miss summer veggies so, so much.
I haven’t bought a new bag in quite awhile and this past weekend I picked up my new “baby.” A gorgeous Michael Kors bag.
Have a great Wednesday and I’ll be back tomorrow with the best mac ‘n cheese recipe I’ve ever made. Bold (but true) statement!
I think layered salads are a southern thing. My grandmother (Mimi) has been making a layered salad for all holiday events for as long as I can remember. This past weekend we were heading to a get together with my gym friends (5am crazies) and I knew that a layer salad was the side that I just had to bring. Dinner was a low-country boil (another Southern staple) and I just wanted to offer some green to the group.
From the bottom :
Yellow Bell Peppers
Seven-Layer Salad Dressing
Layer salads are usually topped with a mayonnaise-based dressing.
This layer salad is no different. I used Hellman’s (Big Guy was not happy – he’s a Duke’s fan) Olive Oil mayonnaise. The key to this dressing is the use of fresh herbs – chives and dill. They added so much flavor. There’s also a little Dijon mustard and onion powder which add a little somethin’ somethin’ to the dressing.
I made this salad eight hours before we ate and I tell you what, the longer is sits the better. (Prepare up to 24 hours before your party.)
The only problem with the salad…it’s almost too pretty to eat.
Despite yesterday being the first day of fall, it was absolutely gorgeous. Honestly, I wish the weather could stay this amazing for more than a couple of weeks. Cool mornings, a light breeze, afternoons filled with sunshine. Shorts are appropriate but so are jeans. Jackets or sweatshirts easily solve your “chilled” dilemmas. Yes, I could get used to this weather.
I had all intentions of making a “fall-inspired” dinner but the weather is to blame for wanting to fire up the grill. Yesterday we cleaned up the garden (aka – tore down some of the summer plants) and we ended up with one big haul of produce.
The tomatoes and mini purple bell peppers had no chance. They were destined for my plate last night. Along with the grilled tomatoes and peppers, we had honey-lime chicken kebabs.
The chicken was cut into bite size pieces and then tossed with lime zest, garlic, chili powder and salt. After being grilled to perfection, they were drizzled with a light honey-lime mixture.
I just want to point out that the peppers started out purple and turned vibrant green when grilled.
Obviously I’m holding tight to summer for as long as I can.
After last nights dinner I am so not ready for fall. So until the first day of fall (which is Sunday – gasp) – I’m going to keep pretending it’s summer. Maybe I’ll even sip champs on the back porch tonight and pretend that I have a summer’s worth of beach trips ahead of me.
But I don’t think any amount of champagne will keep fall/winter away. The mornings are beginning to feel crisp. The humidity is going down (slowly). Fall clothes have taken over the stores. Sunscreen and bikinis are on sale. Instead of beach trips, I’m planning tailgates. (sigh.)
Summer is almost gone. Almost.
Parsley and lemon brighten up the plate with a fresh-from-the-garden tomato and corn salad. So fresh. So healthy. So summery.
The chicken is sprinkled with a mix of fresh minced parsley, the zest of a lemon, salt, pepper and garlic (I simply combined it all in the bowl with the chicken). Let those get to know one another for 10 minutes while you heat the grill and throw together the salad. For the salad, garden tomatoes, torn butter lettuce, corn and parsley are tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and Dijon mustard. These thin slices chicken breasts took about 4 minutes total to grill (I actually used a grill pan indoors) over medium-high heat.
The lemon and parsley is a stellar combination. And they paired perfectly with the chicken and simple salad.
Please, summer, stay a few weeks longer.
Y’all! If I can get Big Guy to eat a black bean burger and like it than I think you can please anyone with this recipe. I must admit, I’m lucky. Big Guy will try just about anything that I serve him for dinner. Now I’m not saying that he prefers this burger over a juicy, sirloin burger. No, let’s not go that far. But for a mid-week burger, this recipe is rather fantastic. It’s healthy and it came together in no time. And the best part – I picked this recipe because we had everything on hand.
I see myself making these burgers again soon. Not necessarily for dinner with Big Guy (I’m notorious for not making the same thing twice) but for me to enjoy for lunches and “single-girl” dinners at home during the week.
The changes I made to the recipe: I used 1/2 cup dry oats instead of the hamburger bun. I used 3 garlic cloves and the zest from one whole lime. I used 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (perhaps even a little more). I loved how the food processor did all the work for me. I was a little worried at first because the mixture looked very wet. I was afraid that using oats instead of bread crumbs was going to make this a recipe fail, but the oats pulled through. Each burger is about 1/3 of a cup and don’t worry about forming them into a perfect patty – it won’t happen. After loosely shaping them, I plopped them into the oil and let them sizzle away.
We topped our burgers with Wholly guacamole (seriously, some of the best stuff ever) and some fresh jalapeno slices – they added some serious heat. On the side, a simple salad of tomatoes and cucumber with parsley (perhaps a little too much), chives, salt, pepper and orange champagne vinegar.
There are lots of delicious black bean burger recipes out there (especially now with Pinterest) but I promise you that this one is easy and quick.