Archive | November, 2010

Tasty Turkey Burgers (I Swear!)

9 Nov

My son ate two of these for dinner. Cheese, bun, meat. Everything.

That probably doesn’t mean much to you. For context, you know how you take your kid to the pediatrician every year for the well visit and the doctor asks you what said child likes to eat?

I say “air.” I’ve been saying “air” for nine years. The child doesn’t eat. Ever.

Tonight, he ate two burgers.

I may have won the James Beard Award. Seriously–stay tuned. I can’t think of a bigger culinary accomplishment than getting my air-fed child to eat two burgers. And healthy ones, at that.

I broke out the George Foreman Grill for these, but you can make them in a cast-iron grill pan, a skillet, or on a real grill. Whatever floats your boat. Just remember to break one in half before you serve them–you can’t do medium rare with poultry. Be sure these are done all the way through. No pink. Anywhere.

A few ingredient notes: My market sells ground turkey in 1.3 pound packages. I know not why. So that’s what I used.

I used dried onion flakes. You can use fresh onion if that’s what you have. But I like the dried for two reasons: they give a great crunch without an overpowering onion flavor, and McDonald’s uses them. Which means my burgers get a ton of street cred just for having those in there. Just like a happy meal! Which, of course, it’s not (hear that, James Beard people?), but we’ll let the short peeps go with it.

There’s ketchup in these. You won’t taste it. Promise. It just makes them a bit more burger-y. If you really want yours to taste like beef, throw a teaspoon or two of Worcestershire in there.

These are a lot like my Crockpot Meatballs recipe. They use more bread crumbs because I wanted them firm, not soft like meatballs. They use more seasoning because they’re not cooked in sauce. But it’s the same principle.

We had these with a healthy serving of Sweet Potato “Fries,” which, thank heavens, are really healthy *ahem*. Because some of us *ahem ahem* ate a lot of them.

One more thing: The bun. Go Martin’s or go home, y’all. Seriously. It’s a potato bun or nothing at all. Trust me. They are beyond good. You’ll eat them on their own once you try them. I am seriously contemplating trying to make French Toast out of some Martin’s potato rolls. Amazing.

So with that, go get your grill pan rolling and put these together. Your kid might eat several. I’ll see you at the awards ceremony. 😉 You’ll need:

1.3 pounds of lean ground turkey

1 egg

2/3 cup Italian-style bread crumbs

2 tbsp dried onion flakes, or finely diced fresh onion

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp ketchup

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl using your hands and a gentle folding motion–don’t mash! Divide into eight portions. Roll each into a ball (seriously–don’t mash!) and then gently pat into a round patty, about 3/4 inch thick.

Heat your grill pan, grill, skillet or Foreman grill (I had mine turned all the way up to 425 degrees). When it’s hot, give it a quick spray of olive oil and gently lay the burgers on it. Cook until done all the way through, flipping once as necessary. Top and enjoy.

The Perfect, Easy Allergy-Friendly Dessert

8 Nov

Looks fancy, no? I’ll let you in on a secret.

That right there–plus two more big plates you can’t see–took me all of 15 minutes to make.

True dat.

They’re simple Rice Krispie treats, dipped in a very easy chocolate mixture. I made them in a fit of desperation last night. We were going to some friends’ house for dinner, and I was on dessert duty. One of their children has an egg allergy. So my normal brownies and cakes and cookies were out.

Rice Krispie treats have no egg. They also have no gluten if you buy the gluten-free puffed rice cereal (not Rice Krispies brand, but others), which makes these Celiac-friendly.

All I did was make a pan of Rice Krispie treats from the recipe on the back of the cereal box–marshmallow, butter, and cereal. I took the dog for a walk to let them cool, and then made a double-boiler out of a regular pot with about two inches of boiling water in it, and a heat-resistant Pyrex bowl. Pop the bowl over the pot of water and dump in chocolate chips (I used about a cup) with some Crisco (I used about a tablespoon and a half) to make them deliciously shiny and less melty. Stir, stir, stir over low heat until the chocolate melts evenly. And then you just (CAREFULLY–it’s HOT!) dip your Krispie treats into the chocolate, smooth it out with a rubber spatula, and pop them into the fridge to set up.

Seriously? You can do this. And you can get really fancy by making “cupcakes” out of the Krispie treats (mold the hot mixture into cupcake liners in tins and mound it up on top, and then dip those for “icing”). Even fancier? Dip the hot dipped treats into sprinkles, or melt some white chocolate and caramel and drizzle that over top the regular chocolate.

The possibilities abound. And you don’t even have to dip out the flour. Sweet, indeed.

Really Quick Swedish Meatballs

5 Nov

Really quick both in cooking time and posting time–lots going on today. I wasn’t going to post anything this morning, but I made a batch of these up for my in-laws (they’re my mother-in-law’s favorite) and they smelled so good and were so easy that I figured y’all might like them too.

I can easily see these over egg noodles with a little butter, or in a stroganoff-type sauce. I can also envision making these in the oven and popping them into a Crockpot on the warm setting for a party. Next time, I’ll make double and freeze a bunch for another time. They’re simple and good. 🙂

You’ll need:

1 (ish) pound lean ground beef

1 egg

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs or 1 slice bread, crumbled

1/2 cup milk (I used rice milk to sidestep a lactose allergy, and it was fine)

1/4 medium sweet onion, finely diced

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Add the rest of the ingredients. Fold gently with your hands until it’s all blended together. Form mixture into ping-pong sized balls and line up on the baking sheet, with a little room between them (I got 28 on a regular cookie sheet). Bake for 15 minutes until browned on top and done in the middle. Enjoy.

Crockpot Meatballs (and Spaghetti)

4 Nov

Somewhere along the line, my kids feel in hard love with meatballs. Which is odd, because DH and I don’t really eat them–I don’t do beef much, and he doesn’t like ground meat mixed with other things and cooked. But the kids begged and the husband went on a business trip, and I started messing around with food, and then shrugged and tossed it all into the slow cooker when time ran out.

Dinnertime came. And you’d have thought I imported Michel Richard to the house for a six-course gourmet meal. There were hugs and high-fives and whoops of joy and lots of “best Mommy ever!”s.

(They were pretty awesome, I have to admit. Tasty and the perfect texture and really comforting).

I mixed up the meat and formed the meatballs on Tuesday night, knowing I had a crazy-busy day Wednesday. My plan was to cook them on the stove the next day. But life intervened–the field trip I chaperoned ran long and a new work project fell from the sky (thank you, sky!) and I remembered ballet class, and realized there would be no time for simmering in a pot. So I did what any harried mom does.

I said a little prayer and tossed them into the crockpot. Raw. With sauce. And then I boiled up some spaghetti and ran around being all crazy until dinnertime.

It worked. It worked really well. It worked so well, in fact, that you’ll never catch me browning meatballs again. Because they were delicious. We had some last night and we’ll have more tonight, and the rest will be frozen in individual portions to be thawed and chucked atop pasta or thrown into rolls on future Hurricane Days.

I used ground turkey and this recipe made three dozen meatballs for me. You can use beef. But since you’re not browning these first, using anything but the very leanest beef you can find will result in an oil slick atop the sauce when all’s said and done. Nobody likes that. So get the least-fat ground beef you can. Because you’re slow cooking these, it won’t matter in the taste and texture departments.

I know these are going to seem heavily-spiced as you’re forming them. The house smells of garlic. Trust me. Slow cooking spices tones them down quite a bit. They will not be strongly flavored when they’re finished, but they will be deliciously Italian.

I hope your family enjoys these as much as mine did–you only get to be best mom ever occasionally, and we all need to hear it every so often. To make these, you’ll need:

1 pound (ish) ground turkey or very lean ground beef (I used 1.33 pounds)

1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs

2 tbsp dried onion flakes or finely diced fresh onion

1 tsp garlic powder, or 1 clove garlic, finely (FINELY!) diced

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 large jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce or a quart or so of homemade

In a large bowl, beat the egg. Dump in the ground meat, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic and salt. With your fingers, gently fold it all together until it’s blended (using a spoon or fork will give you tough meatballs–keep your movements very light and don’t smash the meat together).

Form into meatballs–mine were about ping-pong ball size. Either wrap and store in the fridge overnight, or keep moving along.

Spray your slow cooker with cooking spray or olive oil. Pour enough sauce in the cooker to completely cover the bottom. Layer meatballs with sauce, giving the meatballs a little room to groove so they won’t stick together. Finish with sauce so all the meatballs are covered.

Cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours, or some combination of that (each hour on high equals two hours on low). Serve over spaghetti, on rolls, or however you’d like.

Sweet Potato “Fries”

3 Nov

These were so good that I the family gobbled them all up before I had a chance to snap a picture for you. Uh…sorry.

Dinner? Dinner was supposed to be salmon with these on the side. But DH ran late from a trip to another state and I was on my own for supper, and…well…the fish never made it to the oven. A plate of these became my evening meal. And that’s not bad–they’re super healthy.

I’ve tried oven sweet potato fries before. They always tasted good, but they were more roasted wedges than fries. I couldn’t pick them up with my fingers–they drooped. But they were tasty with a fork.

Tonight, I decided to go with the “less is more” theory. No oil. No spices. No honey. No anything, really, besides a little cooking spray and some salt at the end. I flipped them once and left them alone otherwise. And know what?

I got fries.

Real ones. Eat-with-your-fingers fries! They were crunchy on the outside and deliciously fluffy on the inside and they were perfectly perfect for snacking. All the way through the dinner hour.

It’s not much of a recipe. But it’s going into my regular rotation. Starting with lunch tomorrow. You only need:

Sweet potatoes (I used two, which fed the kids as a side dish and me as a meal)

Cooking spray


Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cover a heavy baking sheet with foil and spray it with cooking spray (olive oil, preferably).

Wash and peel your sweet potatoes. Cut them in half width-wise, and then into fries, about 1/2 inch wide (they’ll be about three inches long if you’re using medium spuds). Lay them in a single layer on the foil, and lightly spray the tops of them with cooking spray (olive oil if you have it).

Bake them for about 20 minutes. Pull them out and flip a few over with a spatula. If they’ve started to get brown underneath, keep going–flip all of them (if they’re not browning, let them go a little while longer). Bake about another 20 minutes, until both sides are brown. Salt to taste, let them sit outside the oven for about 5 minutes, and enjoy.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

2 Nov

I’m all pumpkined out. At least for this week. *grin* We needed something a little lighter, a little more refreshing, a little different.

Lemon blueberry bread. Perfect.

I like this recipe because it makes one loaf–so many make two and you just can’t halve them and get the same results. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t doctor it up. I used some wheat flour instead of all white, ditched some nuts that were called for, lowered the butter a smidge, halved the salt, and didn’t make a glaze that was supposed to be poured on top. Glazes are for cakes, and I wasn’t going for that. And this is just as delicious without the added sugar.

I also held 1/4 cup of the flour out of the batter, tossed it with the frozen blueberries, and then added the mixture all at once, at the end of the mixing time. Tossing your berries (or chocolate chips or any add-in to a bread recipe) with that last 1/4 cup of AP flour will keep those yummy bits from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Works for breads, cakes, muffins…whatever.

Everyone loved this. I’d be delighted to give credit to someone for the original recipe but, as with so many, I found it in a bunch of places online. So I’m not sure whose it really is. Anyway, it’s good. To make it, you’ll need:

5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (I didn’t fully melt mine and it came out fine)

A scant 1 cup sugar

3 tbsp lemon juice

2 eggs

1/2 cup wheat or white-wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus another 1/4 cup, reserved

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt (omit if you’re using salted butter)

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp lemon zest

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8 x 4 loaf pan with cooking spray (I use a Pyrex pan sprayed with spray for baking; it has flour in it).

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until they’re fluffy. Beat in eggs and lemon juice. Combine the 2 1/4 cups of flours, baking powder, and salt, and beat those in alternately with the milk. Don’t overmix or you’ll get tough bread.

Gently toss together berries with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour. Stir that mixture and the lemon zest into the batter. Pour into a loaf pan, smooth the top (don’t smush it down), and bake about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.


Update: A few hours after this came out of the oven, I tried it again. It’s dense. I think that’s the wheat flour. So I’m editing this recipe to cut that down. Honestly, I think this one might be better with all AP flour, health be damned for once. Just a thought. -Kim

Dinner On the Fly

1 Nov

I’m going out with a friend tonight, leaving DH and the offspring to fend for themselves on the dinner front.

Nah. Not really. I can’t do that.

But I didn’t make a big dinner for everyone. As I type, 15 minutes before I hit the road, the kids are eating grilled cheese sandwiches (whole grain bread and lowfat, high-calcium cheese with a swipe of a light butter spread) with orange slices and wheat pretzel sticks. Halloween candy is optional.

The husband will eat Cream of Wheat, which I made earlier and put in the fridge for him. Again, whole grains and loads of calcium.

I guess the point of this is that you don’t have to have McDinner just because it’s one of those nights, you know? Pull out the (non-super-sweet) cereal; if it’s good enough for breakfast, it’s good enough for dinner. Oatmeal is great. Even a peanut butter sandwich will pass for good-enough if you make it without a ton of jelly, or use the all-fruit spread kind.

No guilt, my friends. It doesn’t have to be filet mignon every night. Fast does not equal sub-standard.

I’m off. They’re happy. Life rolls on…

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