coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos

coconut-lime pork tacos I know the name for these tacos sounds a bit strange, but believe me, they don’t taste strange, in fact they taste pretty darn amazing.  I never thought coconut milk, lime and pineapple juice would be a winning combination with ground pork, but they really compliment the pork, and add a nice tropical flavor. The coconut milk while adding flavor and richness to the ground pork, also helps to keep it moist. These tacos may look complicated, but they’re not.  You can have these on the table in less than 30 minutes, making them another easy weeknight meal.  Who doesn’t love that?  Please don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients listed below, most of the ingredients are spices, in fact, I had most of the ingredients on hand the first time I made these up, except the pork, coconut milk and pineapple juice.

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parmesan-crusted pork chops

parmesan-crusted pork chops

parmesan-crusted pork chopsIt’s back to school time everyone and fall is just around the corner and nothing says fall cooking like skillet pork chops. These pork chops are crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside, just like you want a pork chop to be.  So basically, if you like pork chops, then you’re going to love these.  I made these up a couple of weeks ago because I realized I didn’t have any pork recipes on my blog, gasp.  We tend to lean more towards chicken and buffalo and I completely forgot about the other white meat, pork, so I decided to whip up one of our favorite pork chop recipes.

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buffalo apple burgers with sage-jalapeño pesto

buffalo apple burgers with sage-jalapeno pesto (1 of 1)-2

buffalo apple burgers with sage-jalapeno pesto (1 of 1)-24th of July is around the corner and it’s time to fire up the grill. Here’s a great burger recipe that celebrates the American West.  This is a lean mean tasty burger. I say lean because buffalo has 70 to 90% less fat compared to beef, and 50% less cholesterol. Buffalo is also leaner than both pork and chicken, and has fewer calories to boot. On top of that, buffalo is higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids. We’ve been fans of buffalo meat for years, going back to the mid 90’s when we were introduced to our first buffalo burger at Joe’s Garage in Minneapolis. You can pick up buffalo pretty much at any grocery store or Whole Foods. Because buffalo is high in protein, it’s also very filling, so 1-pound is perfect for a family of 4.  We serve these burgers up on mini brioche buns and they’re the perfect size.

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turkey meatballs

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DSC_0081Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs! I know, not the most exciting or creative recipe out there, but it’s a classic! These are not your typical heavy, sit in your stomach meatballs. They’re a lighter and simpler meatball, as they are just made with ground turkey.  Yep, no pork sausage is needed for these puppies. Turkey is rich in vitamin B and zinc, and is a full flavored and lower-fat alternative to ground beef. My brother Brandt, who doesn’t like meatballs, LOVED these. I served these up for dinner and he was actually just going to eat the spaghetti, but he wanted to be nice so he said I could throw a couple of meatballs in his dish. He politely tried one and then asked for 3 more. He LOVED these and was quite surprised that he did.  He wanted me to be sure to tell all of you that he loved these, because he is not typically a fan of meatballs. Of course, my kids loved these, I mean they’re meatballs right?

I paired them with my new favorite basic tomato sauce and linguine, and it was a winner dinner. These meatballs do not fall into the quick and easy weeknight category, unless of course you make them up over the weekend and just re-heat them during the week.  I like to make these on a day where I know I have some time (which is usually a Sunday).  I typically make the sauce up ahead of time (remember my basic tomato sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks) just to save time when it comes to making the meatballs, but I have made both on the same day. The meatballs themselves are pretty easy to throw together.  The only step that takes a bit of time is browning the meatballs, but other than that, it’s pretty simple and pretty calming rolling out meatball after meatball.  I usually throw on some tunes and get into a rhythm.

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favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgersSummer has officially started in our house.  We’ve hit the pool, Six Flags, played board game after board game and spent some time chilling out with friends this week.  We’re doing what we do best in the summer, and that is relaxing and taking a break from all the running around we do during the school year. It’s so nice to be able to wake up and go with the flow rather than having your day all planned out for you.   

My friend Andrea sent me her family’s favorite turkey burger recipe a while back after I posted my turkey burgers.  She said it was a family favorite and that I should give it a try.  Well, we tried these last weekend and they were a HUGE success.  These turkey burgers rock and they’re one of the kids’ favorite dishes now (ranked in the top 5).  My kids loved them so much that they asked for them again last night.  I happily obliged, as I loved these burgers as well.  They are packed with so much flavor from the Gruyere cheese, mustard, scallions and garlic.  I also love that the cheese is in the burger!  These burgers are now a family favorite in my house as well as Andrea’s, so I am positive that they will be one in yours.  

favorite turkey burgers

favorite turkey burgers:

recipe adapted from Andrea per Martha Stewart
serves 4
Note:  These burgers taste AMAZING topped with some cilantro-lime mayo

  • 1 pound ground turkey (dark meat) 
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese 
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced 
  • 3 hefty tablespoons dried breadcrumbsI used Ian’s panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
You can make this a make-ahead meal simply by assembling the patties in the morning, and covering and refrigerating them till dinner. 
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In a medium bowl, gently combine (with a fork, spatula or gently with your hands) the turkey, scallions, mustard, grated Gruyere cheese, breadcrumbs and minced garlic; season generously with salt and pepper.  
Note:  When you mix your seasonings into the meat, it’s important to remember that the more you handle the meat, and the more you squish it around, the more dense your burger will be. You might also squeeze out some of the juices and end up with a drier burger.Gently form the mixture into four patties. 
Note:  If you find that your patties are not holding together, then add a bit more breadcrumbs till they do.

Tip:  use your thumb to create a dimple or well in the center of the patty, as this will ensure the burgers cook evenly without plumping up.  Start cooking the burgers indentation side up.

You can either grill up the burgers 5 to 7 minutes per side or cook them up in a skillet.  If you’re going to cook them up in a skillet, then heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the patties until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.    

Tip: Don’t press down on the patties or you will squeeze out and loose the flavorful juices. 
Andrea’s favorite bun to use is a toasted english muffin, and it’s now our favorite as well.  The english muffin retains all the warmth of the burger.  I broiled the english muffins with a  bit of butter to keep them moist.  We topped these with my cilantro lime mayonnaise and some spinach the first night, and paired them with some roasted cauliflower and these amazing beet chips from Whole Foods.  Have any of you tried them?  They are so good and so addicting.
Another night we topped the burgers with an heirloom tomato, some cilantro lime mayo (of course) and since I was eating some lacinato kale salad, I threw some of that on top as well.  
The burger was amazing both ways. I mean you could literally top these burgers with just about anything.  John topped his with some homemade guacamole as well as an heirloom tomato.  
It’s funny how I always seem to have a vegetarian recipe on Monday and then either a burger or meat inspired recipe on Friday.  I guess you can really see that we eat both equally.

buffalo burgers with chipotle mayonnaise

buffalo burger with chipotle mayonnaise
Tomorrow is my kids’ last day of school!  Yippee!  Summer is officially here!  I have never been more excited for summer than this year.  It is time to kick back, sleep in, read trashy novels, hang by the pool for hours on end and get together with friends that we never seem to connect with during the busy school year.  Tomorrow I’m picking up the kids (swimsuit on) and heading to the pool for some much needed play time, and that much needed glass of wine, or two.  

Summer in our house is all about burgers, salads and grilled foods.  It’s hot, so I don’t like to spend too much time in the kitchen with the oven or stove on. When it comes to burgers, I prefer sauces rather than ketchup or mustard.  My favorite sauce thus far is my cilantro lime mayonnaise.  I wanted to try a different and spicier sauce for the buffalo burgers, so I found this chipotle mayonnaise recipe from Bobby Flay.  This sauce is spicy, and John and I loved it paired with our burgers.  The kids thought it was a bit too spicy, so next time I may cut back a bit on the chipotle pepper for them.  If you’re making this for adults, then keep the sauce as is.

I’m not going to show you how to cook buffalo burgers.  I just wanted to throw out another meat to consider using the next time you make a burger.  We love using buffalo meat in lieu of ground beef for most dishes, as buffalo has 70 to 90% less fat compared to beef, and 50% less cholesterol. It is also leaner than both pork and chicken, and has less calories than all three.  On top of that, buffalo is higher in protein, iron and all the omega and amino acids.   There are also no growth hormones, steroids or sub-therapeutic antibiotics used.  You can research more on the health benefits of buffalo, if you want.  I think for all of its nutritional benefits, buffalo meat is worth a try, wouldn’t you say?   You can pick up buffalo pretty much at any grocery store or Whole Foods.   We get a pound of buffalo and its plenty for 4 burgers.  Buffalo meat is very filling so you don’t want your burgers to big.  My favorite way to make up these patties is to put 1/2 cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese into the patties.  It makes the burgers so juicy!

chipotle mayonnaise:

recipe from Bobby Flay
serves 4-6
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce – You can also use a 1 tablespoon of chipotle paste and omit both the chipotle as well as the 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce as shown below. 
  • 1/2 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • juice from 1/2 lime (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Note:  If you want to cut the spiciness down, you can use 1/2 chipotle and use 1 1/2 teaspoons of adobo sauce.  Try it like that and then if you want it spicier, add a bit more of each.  
I also make this sauce using a chipotle paste as shown in the below picture. To me, it’s so much easier than opening up a can and dealing with the mess and hassle of mincing up tiny chiles. All you have to do is insert your measuring spoon and voila, you’re done. I also love that I can store the leftovers in the fridge and re-use it again and again. When I use the paste, all I have to do is stir the mayonnaise, chipotle paste and lime juice together in a small bowl, it saves cutting up an adobe chili as well as getting out the mini prep.
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Add the mayonnaise, chipotle and adobo sauce to a food processor and puree.  
Squeeze on some fresh lime juice to taste, and then add some salt and pepper to taste.  I added a pinch of salt, but didn’t use any pepper. 
Time saver tip:  You can make this sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it till needed.

Place the burger on a mini brioche bun (that is what we like to use) and top with chipotle mayonnaise, and any other desired toppings.
I’m looking for some good summer reads to sink my teeth into while I chill out by the pool.  
My genre is science fiction and historical fiction.
Here are some of my favorite past reads so you can get a clue as to what I like.
The Twilight series, (sorry, I read this series years ago and liked it).
Harry Potter, Hunger Games, the True Blood series, 11-22-63, by Steven King, the Game of Thrones series & Gone with the Wind.
As you can see, I like young adult science fiction as well as historical fiction.  I have also read tons of Henry VIII books, so I have finished that genre.
Any recommendations?  

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde

steak
For those of you that are vegetarians, I apologize for these photos.  They are really in your face kind of photos.  I am not a fan of photos of meat, but I had to take them to so show the recipe.  My friend Wendy asked when I was going to post the steak and salsa recipe that I raved about in my Monday post.  I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to post it because I didn’t get great photographs of the meat and I forgot to take a photo of the completed salsa.  She told me it’s the recipes that she comes for not the photographs (though they do help her to see what the finished product is going to look like).  So I am posting this recipe for you Wendy, as I know it’s going to be a perfect weekend for grilling out!  Yaay for that!

I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this blog.  Sometimes I will make a recipe 3 times before I post it in order to get a great photograph, seriously, I am a freak that way.  Luckily my family is not picky and loves my cooking so they bear with it.  I am striving to let loose a bit more and posting these not so perfect photographs is one of my ways of doing that.  
For those of you that love steak, this salsa is going to make you love it even more. The fresh herbs add so many flavors to a boring old steak and really make your taste buds sing!

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde:
Recipe from bon appetit

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon and mint 
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 skirt steak (or steak of your choice)
Mix 1/4 cup oil, the 4 cloves of minced garlic, and the 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
 Let marinate for 20 minutes. 
While the oil mixture is marinating, wash and coarsely chop up the tarragon, mint and parsley leaves and set aside.
 This combination of herbs smells so amazing.
Once the oil mixture has marinated for 20 minutes, add all the herbs to oil mixture and stir until well coated. Let stand until herbs begin to wilt, about 10 minutes. 
Stir in remaining 1/4 cup oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and then give the salsa one final mix.

I am passing along the grilling instructions from bon appetit below for those of you that are interested.  I did not get photographs of the process because John was grilling and I was busy prepping everything in the kitchen.  I also think cooking meat is a personal preference so I tend not to get caught up with how long or how to grill it.  Some people like their steak rare and some like it well done.  We like ours medium.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Season skirt steak generously with salt and pepper and grill until charred, 2 minutes per side for medium-rare Obviously, you will want to cook it longer per side for medium.

Transfer steak to a serving platter; let rest for 5 minutes, allowing juices to accumulate on platter. Transfer skirt steak to a cutting board and slice against the grain on a diagonal. Season to taste with salt; return to platter with juices. 
Top your grilled steak with the herb salsa!  

As you can see we paired our steak with the wheat berry and kale salad that I posted on Monday.  These two items went perfectly together.
 John and I enjoyed the leftovers below for dinner the next night. I topped the wheat berry salad with some steak and the herb salsa and then microwaved it all for about 1 minute.  
It was so delish!
Here is what’s on my weekend reading list in-between lacrosse and baseball games, of course.  

Are you reading anything fun?

Cheers to me becoming a bit less of a perfectionist (hey, sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader)!   Thanks for giving me that push Wendy!