Thursday, March 28, 2013



Welcome back, dear reader, for number THREE in the 4-part burger test kitchen series. Number three, the burger I so lovingly dubbed "The American," features a beef/Italian sausage burger stuffed with apple slices and blue cheese, then topped with bacon, more apple slices, and a honey-mustard-mayo.


If you missed the first two burgers, you can check them out here!
The Greek: Spinach-Feta Lamb Burgers with Garlic-Dill Yogurt Sauce
The Moroccan: Moroccan-Style Burgers with Spiced Ketchup

As I've mentioned in other posts, I had two taste-testers helping me rank and evaluate the burgers, and this burger was a unanimous favorite. I put it in first place all by itself, while the other two had it sharing first place with two other burgers. I also enjoyed using apple slices in place of buns for this little guy... leaves room for more tasting :)

1z IMG_5111

Please enjoy: the American!

Bacon-Apple Blue Cheese Burger with Sweet & Tangy Mayo

Makes 8 sliders (or 4 regular-sized burgers).

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large apple, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
8 slices cooked bacon
1 recipe sweet and tangy mayo (below)
hamburger buns for serving

Chop half of the apple slices into small pieces. Stir together small apple pieces with blue cheese crumbles.

In a large bowl, mix sausage and beef with hands until well combined. Add black pepper and Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal parts. Then divide each part in two, forming 16 small patties. Top 8 of the patties with blue cheese and 1 or two apple slices, then top with remaining patties. Gently seal edges of burgers.

To serve: On bottom bun, place a few apple slices, then patties. Top each with a bacon slice. Spread mayo on top buns and top the burgers with them.

Sweet and Tangy Mayo

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
honey, to taste (I think I probably used about 1 tablespoon)

Stir all ingredients together to combine.

2IMG_5113 copy

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Hello, dear reader. If you missed my last post, I recently made my kitchen a burger test kitchen. With lots of meat, spices, veggies, even fruits, and several Saturday hours, I created four very different burger recipes. I wanted to take an international theme, infusing burgers with tastes from around the world. After lots of recipe reading and brainstorming, I chose four main burgers: the Greek, the Moroccan, the American, and the Tex-Mex. (Yes, I ended up with an "American" burger... that probably shouldn't count toward my "international" adventure). 

1IMG_5077 copy 2

Of the four, the Moroccan was definitely the farthest of out my comfort zone and the least conventional tasting, as burgers go. Cinnamon in beef? New to me. Moroccan cuisine is known for its use of many spices, and this burger has no shortage. Though I enjoyed trying to savor each of the flavors, I thought the many spices were slightly overwhelming. My two taste-testers didn't seem to like that they were "sweet" (I think they were tasting the cinnamon), but if you like sweet meat, it's pretty tasty.

3IMG_5010 copy

For something different, you could make a spiced mayo instead of ketchup. Or if your taste is spicy hot, you could be more generous with the paprika and balance it out by topping the burgers with sliced cucumber. Since mint is commonly used in Moroccan dishes, you could also incorporate fresh mint leaves into some kind of topping - maybe mint-spice mayo/sauce?

Let me know what you think!


Moroccan-Style Burgers with Spiced Ketchup

Makes 4 sliders (or 2 regular-sized burgers).

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon coriander
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 recipe spiced ketchup (below)
hamburger buns for serving

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and knead mixture with hands until well combined. Cover mixture and allow to sit at least 30 minutes. Form 4 equal patties. Heat a large skillet to medium heat and cook patties until cooked through.

Spiced Ketchup

1/4 cup ketchup
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Stir all ingredients together until well combined.

Thursday, March 21, 2013



Hello, dear reader! I don't know why, but last weekend I was moved to turn my apartment into a test kitchen for burgers. Sliders, actually. I'm kind of obsessed with tiny foods, and I'm always filing away ideas for a tiny food party in the back of my mind. My tiny food party will definitely have sliders.

Speaking of tiny food parties, have you seen Teri Lyn Fisher's and Jenny Park's cookbook? It's a book of foods in miniature. Need I say more? (And if you're thinking, dear reader, that's the dumbest thing you ever heard, then you're probably just like my husband. But I'm sorry, you'll have to indulge me: tiny foods are stinkin' cute.)

3IMG_5038 copyAnyway, back to my test kitchen. I even made a kind of a theme for myself: international burgers. Yes, I cheated a little because I ended up with an "American" burger, but hey, America knows how to do burgers. So after lots of careful thought about recipes and a day of experimenting, I came up with four burgers: the Greek (this one), the Moroccan, the American, and the Tex-Mex.


I'll post all of the final recipes, one by one. I had two taste-testers (plus myself), so I'll share some of that feedback on the blog, too.

Behold, the Greek!

Spinach-Feta Lamb Burgers with Yogurt Sauce
Inspired by 
Ellie Krieger’s recipe

Makes 4 sliders. (Or 2 regular-sized burgers.)

1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 pound ground lamb (can use beef instead, or half beef/half lamb)
1 scallion, diced
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
lettuce and thinly sliced cucumber for topping
pita bread, slider-sized buns, or hot-dog buns cut in half

Stir together spinach, feta, dill, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

Using a fork, mix ground lamb with diced scallion. Form into 8 small patties. Top 4 of the patties with spinach mixture then top with remaining patties. Seal burgers gently around the edges. Season tops of burgers evenly with cumin, salt, and remaining pepper.

In a large skillet, cook the patties over medium heat until cooked through.

Garlic-Dill Yogurt Sauce

1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch dried dill weed
pinch salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients.

Sunday, March 17, 2013



Happy St. Patrick's Day, dear reader! I hope you've enjoyed a wonderful weekend. It's been a wonderful weekend here, but in a very quiet, stay-at-home kind of way. As for St. Patty's day, I'm a sorry partier today. No parties, no green clothes, and no Irish alcohol (although, I suppose there's plenty of time left to change that). Instead, I got to enjoy the whole afternoon alone in my apartment. I'm italicizing "alone" in the alone-time-is-so-good-for-the-soul kind of way. It was especially lovely because it's a beautiful day today: blue skies, windows open, sipping tea, and - to be sure I don't get too Utopian on you - sweatpants.

Sweat. Pants.


Anyway, to make up for my complete lack of St. Patty's Day spirit, I thought I could at least post something green. Sound good?


Ah, pesto. Basil-nut-olive-oily goodness that makes your first bite of pasta evoke an audible "MMMmm." Or at least that's my favorite kind of pesto moment. There are so many different pesto recipes and many uses for them. It used to be the case that I would come across a pesto recipe - be it basil, mint, olive, whatever - and think, "Cool. Yes. I want to make pesto... ehh, that's too much work, never mind." But not anymore. People, it's so easy!

The recipe I'm sharing here uses olive oil, garlic, and parmesan, just like tradition basil pesto, but instead of basil we have spinach, and instead of pine nuts we have almonds. That's mostly because spinach and almonds are easy to come by and not as expensive as basil and pine nuts.


As you can probably tell from the photos, I use just enough oil to make it smooth, so that it's more of a paste than a sauce. It's a little more versatile that way: I can spread it on sandwiches for packed lunches, and use it as a dip for veggies or chips. If I want to use it in pasta, I stir in a little extra olive oil first.

Spinach-Almond Pesto

3 tablespoons almonds
2 cups packed baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
pinch nutmeg (opt.)
3 tablespoons olive oil (approx.)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and toast almonds for 8 - 10 minutes. Combine almonds, spinach, garlic, parmesan, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a food processor or blender. (I use an immersion blender.) Slowly add olive oil, one big drizzle at a time, until pesto is smooth. Add as much oil as you need for desired consistency.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

KALE ROTINI WITH BRATS (or hot-dogs-mac-and-cheese for adults)


Now at this point, dear reader, you're probably looking at the photo and the title together. And you're probably thinking I just made some pasta with kale, and then cut up some brats and put them in it.


You're so right. That's exactly what I did.

We don't usually buy brats/sausages/hot dogs, but I came across a sale on some delicious-looking gourmet brats the other day, and I got two different kinds. After enjoying them once for dinner, I started thinking like a 5-year-old who'd just enjoyed his first hot dog: Can we cut this up and put it in other food? Like mac and cheese?! (Or, you know, one of its grown-up versions...)

So here you go. A mouthwatering adult version of hot dogs and mac & cheese.


Kale Rotini with Brats

(or hot-dogs-mac-and-cheese for adults)

(pasta recipe adapted from this one at Kalyn's Kitchen)

Makes about 6 servings.

1 10-oz. bag cut and cleaned kale, stems removed
1 (or 2) cheddar brats, cut into thin bite-sized pieces*
1 (or 2) hot brats (e.g. with chile peppers, etc.), cut into thin bite-sized pieces*
6 large cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
13 oz. garden rotini
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
onion salt
dried red pepper flakes

In a large skillet or stock pot, heat about 3 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until garlic just begins to brown. Add kale and brats. Cook, stirring often, until kale is wilted. Add chicken broth and reduce heat. Let continue to simmer while cooking pasta.

In a separate pan, cook pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving about 1 cup cooking water. 

Stir pasta into the kale. If more moisture is desired, stir in as much reserved pasta cooking water as needed. Then stir in parmesan cheese. Season with onion salt and red pepper flakes. Continue to heat and stir until parmesan becomes "melty." Serve hot.

*I really liked this combination of brats flavors, but you can use any kind you like. Adjust number of brats for your desired meatiness :)