Southwestern Turkey Burgers

Winter is back with a vengeance!  Mother nature does like to mess with us.  Offices were closed so I got a snow day.  It was lovely to watch the snow come down in the comfort of home.  It also allowed me to catch up with some projects I’m working on.  There is a possibility I might have to have hand surgery soon so all my knitting and crocheting projects need to get done.  Which might guarantee I won’t need surgery!  Fingers crossed.

We are also getting ready for our exchange student to come this weekend.  She has actually been here since August but they way they do it now is the student spends three months with a host family then moves on to another one.  So now it’s our turn. She is from Denmark and I’m looking forward to trying out recipes from there.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  I am looking into the Danish rye breads to give that a go.

Before winter returned we had some fabulous warm weather which meant lighter meals.  I do miss salads.  I thought it would be fun to do turkey burgers, not realising how mushy the ground turkey can be to work with.  Very sticky!  But if you can get past that you can have a great meal.

Southwestern turkey burgers 1 2017

To make the burgers I mixed a pound of ground turkey meat with half a cup of freshly grated cheddar cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, and a teaspoon of ground cumin.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Mix and form into burgers.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Brown both sides.

Southwestern turkey burger 2 2017

Finish off in the oven at 350F/175C.  Finely chop scallions, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms.  Add them to the skillet with 1-2 cups of frozen corn.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice, sea salt and pepper, finish with fresh cilantro.

Southwestern turkey burger 3 2017

As the burgers finish cooking top with pepper jack cheese to melt.  Serve over mixed lettuce greens and top with the veg mix.  We also cooked up some sweet potato fries.

Southwestern turkey burger 4 2017

An easy dinner to put together when you want loads of flavour on a busy night.

 

 

 

Mushroom Curry and I’m Getting Too Old for This!

As I sit here and write this post, I ache from the neck down.  Why?  Because my husband and I seem to really like saving money by doing house projects ourselves.  By last night we were seriously questioning our sanity.  Our current project is redoing our lounge.  We are hiring someone to do the drywall and mudding.  So maybe we’re finally learning.  Maybe.

But for three days this weekend we brought back the room to the studs. God the mess!  It gets everywhere despite our best efforts of blocking off the room.  Let’s just say me climbing in and out of the window is not the most graceful thing to behold.  But I can’t wait for the room to be finished so it’s worth the effort.

As you can imagine, not a lot of cooking happened.  No energy!  But this is a curry I made a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting.  This is a great dish for those that don’t eat meat.  It is also very easy to make on those busy nights.

mushroom-curry-1-2016

I made this on the mild side but you can easily turn up the heat with more chilis.  Again I used my “Best-ever Curry Cookbook” but as you know I changed it up.  Primarily because of the ingredients I had on hand.  In a skillet heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add about half an onion chopped and cook for a few minutes to soften.  Add 4 cardamon pods, 1/4 tsp of ground turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin, 1 tsp of coriander, 1/2 tsp of garam masala, and a few pinches of black pepper.

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Chop up 2 garlic cloves and one chili, cook for a few minutes.  If you want this on the mild side remove the white and seeds from the pepper.  Add about 10oz of chopped tomatoes.  Season with salt and grate a 1 in/2.5 cm sq piece of fresh ginger.  Bring it to a simmer.  Half or quarter (depending on the size) of about 12 oz of mushrooms.  I used white button mushrooms.

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We also had this with the peshwari naan my husband made.

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This was a lovely warming curry.  My MIL, who isn’t the biggest fan of curry, really enjoyed it.  🙂

Chili Mushroom Bowls

And just like that summer is over, at least for the kids.  Off to school they went yesterday.  Summer seemed like a blur for all of us.  I am ready for autumn to arrive.  I am ready to say goodbye to the humidity and heat, which has been pretty bad this year.  Bring on the crisp days!

When I was food shopping with my daughter we found large portobello caps that looked like bowls.  Which gave me a fun idea.  Instead of bread bowls, why not mushroom bowls?

Chili bowl 1 2016

To fill the bowls I made a quick chili.  Normally you cook chili over a few hours but as this doesn’t have beans, this can be made in less than a half hour.  In a skillet heat up a tablespoon or two of olive oil and begin to saute a half pound of ground beef.

Chili bowl 2 2016

Chop about half a cup of red onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. Add that to the skillet.

Chili bowl 3 2016

After the onion starts to soften add a can of diced tomatoes (14oz) and bring to a simmer.  Begin to season with chili powder, cumin, and sea salt and pepper.  The beauty of this dish is you decide how much seasoning to put in.  Some like it hot and some don’t.  I would say the ratio of the chili powder to the cumin should be about 4:1.  As we like it hot I added a dollop of hot sauce that I made along with chopped bell pepper.

Chili bowl 4 2016

Mix well and cook the peppers for a few minutes.  Pre heat the oven to 400F/200C.  Fill the mushrooms with the chili mixture.

Chili bowl 5 2016

Top with shredded cheese and bake until the mushrooms are cooked.  You don’t want to cook the mushrooms so much that they collapse.

Chili bowl 6 2016

Top with sour cream and enjoy!  This is a very easy meal to through together on a weeknight.  And it’s a fun twist on the whole food for a bowl thing.

 

Mexican Stuffed Mushroom and It’s a Freaking Clock

I should preface this post by saying I have friends that are teachers and they are excellent at what they do.  But as in every profession you will have a good number of bad apples.  As anyone who has been out and about this week would have heard, a smart kid got arrested for making a clock.

We live in a culture that celebrates the empty headedness of the Kardashians rather than celebrate and encourage kids to use their brains.  So a 14 year old who is smart and mechanical made a clock.  The teacher decided it was a threat and it escalated from there.  He gets hauled off in handcuffs and while charges were dropped he is still suspended!

What should have happened, instead of the knee jerk reaction the teacher went with, was the 14 year old brings in a homemade clock.  The teacher not understanding should have taken 5 seconds to ask the student what it was.  Why it’s a clock, and I made it.  Oh cool.  End of.  But no, school security is called then the police.  What I find incredibly sad is not once did common sense prevail.  You have several adults involved up to the point he is removed from the school and no one thought anything was wrong with this scenario.  And the school is saying now they did nothing wrong, they even sent home a memo patting themselves on the back, and they claim they can give him a good education.  If this happened to my child they would not go back to this school.

And you wonder why we’re in the state we’re in.  On the flip side it is heartwarming to see MIT, NASA, and even the White House supporting him.  I bet he’ll go far.

The other night I needed a quick meal for my husband and I.  Because of my back and hip, I can’t walk both dogs so I have to wait for my husband to come home.  Which means some nights we are looking at a late dinner.  Therefore I need something that can cook quickly but still be delicious.

We had some ground beef to use up so I bought large portobello caps and planned on doing a stuffed mushroom with Mexican flavours.

Mexican mushroom 1 2015

I am finding with the days getting shorter I’m losing the light!  Natural light is so important for photos but alas unless I make dinner at lunch time I’ll be out of luck.

In a skillet with a bit of olive oil brown the ground beef.

Mexican mushroom 2 2015

Chop up some onion, garlic, sweet pepper, and hot pepper.  Saute to soften the onions.

Mexican mushroom 3 2015

When the meat is halfway cooked start cooking the mushrooms at 350F/175C.  Because the mushrooms are big they can take awhile to cook.  Add a few mushrooms, sliced, to the meat mixture.  Season with chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, and hot sauce.  The amounts are up to you depending on how hot you want your dish.  Add a splash of lime juice and some cilantro.

Mexican mushroom 4 2015

Spoon the mixture onto the mushroom caps and top with shredded cheese.

Mexican mushroom 5 2015

Bake until everything is heated through and the cheese has melted.  Top with salsa and sour cream to serve.

Mexican mushroom 6 2015

This is very filling without being too heavy.  And I love the spice of this dish.  🙂

Spicy Sausage and Bursting with Pride

It’s been quite the week with the kids and the end of year celebrations.  Even though I’m not a fan of so called graduations at a level below the end of high school I still enjoy cheering them on.  Our son had his 5th grade recognition and received the President’s Award for Academic Improvement.  Each child had to do a mini speech about their favourite memory from school.  They did really well.  It’s not easy speaking in front of a crowd.  And the poor kid was struggling through a cold from hell.

Our daughter had her 8th grade recognition yesterday.  Somehow she managed to go four years straight without missing a day of school.  I have no idea what that is like.  I was always sick growing up.  She also achieved high honours 11 out of the 12 quarters.  We are so proud of our kids and what they have achieved so far.

It’s quite something to see how they are doing on their journey.

We had a chilly day a week ago and my son requested pasta so comfort food was on deck.  A local farm had some lovely jalapeno sausages.  Good ones too, not like the mealy ones we kept getting at the co-op.  So I’ll have to buy them as she has them!

Because of the jalapeno I wanted to go with Mexican flavours to highlight the heat.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 1 2015

Begin by browning the sausages in the skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Brown all the sides but don’t worry about cooking all the way through.  They’ll be finished off in the dish.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 2 2015

Set aside and add a few cloves of garlic, chopped, and a few mushrooms, sliced.  Saute until the garlic is softened.  Then add chopped peppers and scallions.  Cook for a minute or so then add a chopped tomato.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 3 2015

Add a cup of homemade stock and bring to a simmer.  Slice the sausages and add to the mixture.  Next add a tablespoon of lime juice, a tablespoon of chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, and salt and pepper to season.  Chop up some fresh cilantro and stir in at the end. Once the sausage is cooked through add the pasta and toss well.

Jalapeno sausage and pasta 4 2015

Top with a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese.  I really liked this as comfort food.  Loads of flavour and colour.  And it chased away the chill.  🙂

Peanut Satay and My Rain Dance isn’t Working

The dirt is dry.  Bone dry, just puffs of dust.  It does not bode well that we are struggling already and May isn’t over.  Usually we don’t have issues with rain.  But this season we desperately need some rain to fall from the sky.

This past weekend was Memorial Day Weekend in the states and that is also the start of serious planting in our zone.  It also means we have a ton of plants to get into the ground.  We are facing a semi-disaster with the peppers.  Half of the seedlings were small because I was behind the eight ball at the front end in getting them started in the first place.  I tried getting enough water into the raised bed but the small seedlings immediately went into shock and died.  We have some more to try so fingers crossed we succeed because I was really hoping for some home grown habaneros.

We’ve spent every day since trying to soak the beds.  It’s frustrating because we soak them leaving puddles and do that a few times but when we poke the soil it’s still dry!  This could be a long season.

This past Friday I wanted to make one of the dishes my family made for me on Mother’s Day.  Grilled chicken with a peanut satay sauce.  We had plenty of the satay sauce left over so it needed to be used up.

The recipe I got influence from was from the “Appetizers, Finger Foods, Buffets & Parties”.

For the satay mix the following:

2T each of smooth peanut butter, soy sauce, and lime juice

1T of sesame oil and brown sugar

2 finely chopped scallions and garlic cloves

Mix well and set aside.

Peanut satay chicken 4 2015Next the marinade for the chicken needs to be made.

Peanut satay chicken 1 2015Ignore the large onion.  I was originally going to use it because I didn’t have any scallions for the marinade.  But I felt the onion would be too much.  And I forgot to retake a photo!  Ah well.

In a bowl mix 4 tablespoons of peanut oil, 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or amino acids, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of lime juice.  Grate about an inch/2.5cm square of fresh ginger and finely chop 3-4 cloves of garlic.  Next add a small handful of chopped cilantro and a chili pepper, chopped.  Deseed it for this recipe because you don’t want the heat to overpower the other flavours.

Peanut satay chicken 2 2015

I chose to use chicken thigh meat instead of breast meat.  One it’s less expensive and two it has more flavour.  Cut it so it is in cubes keeping the pieces in a similar size.  Marinate for at least an hour.

Peanut satay chicken 3 2015

Skewer the chicken and heat up the grill.  Cook the chicken while turning to cook the chicken evenly allowing them to sear on each side.

Peanut satay chicken 5 2015

Serve with the sides of your choice. I like making baked potatoes on the grill, just keep them up off the flame.

Peanut satay chicken 6 2015

Spoon the satay over the chicken and enjoy!  And keep your fingers crossed for some rain!

Tostadas and That Boy has My Number

It’s Mother’s Day stateside tomorrow.  Luckily we have the kids this week and I suspect I might be spoiled once again with fabulous food and having fun with playing games.  Perfect if you ask me.  🙂

As a parent there is always the worry that your child will resent you for being, well, a parent.  I constantly worry about that being a step-parent.  Yesterday, as my son and I were going a few rounds of I forgot my water bottle at school and I forgot my homework, he showed me what he had to do for writing a short paragraph.  The assignment was to write about what he appreciated.  It was all about how he appreciated his two moms because we help with his homework, we care, we teach him street smarts, and we love him.  You can not stay annoyed with your child when presented with this!  I even missed the words that were misspelled.  Does he know how to play me or what?  LOL  It also means the world to me when I get to read stuff like that.  Being bonus mum to our two kids is such a gift.

This past Monday, in the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d make homemade tostadas.  I’ve been playing round with fresh corn tortillas but haven’t really liked them.  Well I should say they worked for soft tacos but I was underwhelmed with the flavour.  I was wondering if I was doing something wrong.  Recently we went to an authentic Latin restaurant that had amazing food and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been making them correctly!  So I decided to play with adding some ingredients to punch up the flavour first.

Before we get to the tortilla bit the meat has to be prepared first.  I chose to slow cook the steak in the oven like I did with the pulled pork.  Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.  I did a quick mixture of 2 tablespoons of chili powder, a couple of teaspoons of cumin, salt and pepper, and a few dashes of adobe seasoning.  Rub the steaks and put into the baking dish.  Add 1/2 a cup of chicken stock and a couple of tablespoons of fresh lime juice.

Tostadas 1 2015

This needs to cook for about 4 hours.  Like the pulled pork you want the meat to easily be shredded.  This is the most difficult part of the dish.  So you can see this is an easy dinner to make!  I wanted to make twelve tostadas about 4in/10cm in diameter.  In a bowl add 1 1/2 cups of masa, a tablespoon of chili powder, and a pinch of salt.  For the liquid you need a cup.  I added a tablespoon of lime juice and then the rest was water to make up that cup.

Tostadas 2 2015Mix well and then knead until the dough is fully incorporated.

Tostadas 3 2015Divide into 12 equal pieces and form them into balls.  Line both sides of the tortilla press with cling film and place a ball of dough in the middle.

Tostadas 4 2015

Press down to flatten.

Tostadas 5 2015

Heat up a dry skillet on medium high.  Cook the tortillas about 30-45 seconds on each side.  They will puff a little bit and start to brown.

Tostadas 6 2015

Wrap the cooked tortillas in a tea towel until it is time to fry.  This keeps them warm and soft.  Set aside as you prep the rest of the meal. Shred the beef and add chopped pepper and onion to the beef and cook for a few minutes.

Tostadas 7 2015Keep the beef warm while frying the tortillas in vegetable oil.  As you fry them transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen roll.

Tostadas 8 2015

Once done layer all the ingredients.  For mine I layered sour cream, cheese, salsa, tomato, lettuce, and avocado over the beef.

Tostadas 9 2015

This was a fun meal to have.  It is super easy to make and it’s fun for the kids to assemble their own with what they want.  And the lime and chili in the tostadas worked really well.

Fabulous Pulled Pork Sandwiches and the French Language

When we travel we try to learn a few phrases and bring a phrase book.  Knowing please, thank you, where is the toilet, etc can go a long way.  It certainly is better received than yelling louder in English.  Honestly, why do people do that?  Right now my husband and I are learning French.  Well, he’s reviewing it and I’m trying to learn it.

Now I know English is very hard to learn, it is such a mish mash of languages from all the influences going back a few thousand years.  I’m starting to think French isn’t that far behind in the level of difficulty of learning it.  Questions have completely thrown me for a loop!  And the proclivity for words having many different meanings that don’t connect.  And plurals.  Sigh, I learn best by hearing and plurals sound the same as singular!  I am determined to get this because we’ll be in France this summer for a couple of weeks.  I am going to do my best but I think my phrasebook will be by my side!

I can not wait for the markets and the food.  I’ll be cooking up a storm!

I had mentioned a few months ago that my son had asked his friend’s mother to make pulled pork and he asked that I make it some time.  Now that I have more time I thought I’d give it a try.  To be honest I’ve never had a pulled pork sandwich.  But they look delicious.

This is an all day affair so in the morning prepare the dry rub.  This can be done the day before as well to let the pork sit overnight.  I found an hour to be enough.

In a small bowl mix 4 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of onion powder, 1 tsp of garlic powder, and some sea salt.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 1 2015

Prep the pork.  I got a 2 pound pork shoulder.  The connective tissue on the outside needs to be removed prior to cooking. Mix the dry rub well and rub it all over the pork making sure everything is covered.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 2 2015

Chill for an hour at least.  Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.  Prior to cooking spread some mustard on the pork.  I used my homemade mustard which is super easy to make.  Then add about 3/4 cup of ale.  We used our Irish copper ale we homebrewed.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 3 2015

Cover and slow cook in the oven for about 6 hours.  After a couple of hours baste the pork every hour.  The goal is to have it falling apart but still moist.  Nothing worse than stringy dry meat!

Pulled Pork Sandwich 4 2015

Pull the pork with forks to shred it completely and put it into a pot.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 5 2015

For the BBQ sauce I used the last of the Peach BBQ Sauce I made last year.  Time to make another batch!  Add enough to coat the meat without it being soupy.  While this is warming through pickle red onion in apple cider vinegar.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 6 2015

The onions lend a wonderful brightness to the pork.  For the bread I found some local brioche that we warmed up in the microwave.  Layer the pork with shredded cheese and the onion.

Pulled Pork Sandwich 7 2015

If you would like add a dollop of sour cream.  Because I couldn’t have the bread I had my dish in a bowl with the sour cream.  Delicious!

Pulled Pork Sandwich 8 2015

Even though this takes all day it is so worth it.  Unfortunately our son had a friend over and it turns out he is vegetarian!  So he had a grilled cheese.  I promised the next time I’ll do a vegetarian meal for him.  But given his age the grilled cheese hit the spot.  🙂

It’s Chili Time!

I love fall and spring.  Warm enough not to have to wear a thousand layers but cool enough for comfort food.  We had a hint of fall yesterday so I thought it was time for warm bowls of chili.  I think this is my son’s favourite.  I make ours vegetarian.  I know it doesn’t look it from my previous posts but we do cook a lot of meals without meat.  I do use in this recipe Morning Star “beef” as it adds protein along with the beans.  But without all the fat or grease!

First stop was out to the garden.

I picked some peppers and kale for the chili.  We already had some scallions from the garden in the fridge that we needed to use up.

The recipe is:

Olive oil – to coat the bottom of the pan

Garlic – 3-4 cloves minced

Onions or scallions (we used scallions as that is what we have.)

Peppers

Mushrooms ( I used a portobello cap this time)

Lime juice

1 28oz can of crushed tomato or diced tomato

1 15oz can of tomato sauce

3/4 cup of black beans.  If they are dried soak them in water for a bit, otherwise you have to simmer the chili for a few hours like I had to.

Chili powder to taste (For the seasonings add the amount you like.  Some like the chili to be on fire, others not so much)

Cumin to taste

Adobo seasoning to taste

About 1 cup of fresh or frozen kale

1 cup of corn

6 oz of Morning Star “beef” (or any brand you like as it’s a taste preference)

Cilantro

Dice your veg to saute.  I usually saute the garlic and onions for a minute or so before the rest of the veg.  If you are using scallions then add those as you are adding the sauce.

Add a bit of lime juice to the sauteing veg. Then add the tomatoes and sauce, beans and corn.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the seasonings to the heat level you would like.  Add the kale and the “beef”.  Add a bit more lime juice and chopped fresh cilantro.

Once the beans are cooked through it is ready to serve.  I usually put hot sauce, sour cream and shredded cheese on the table.  This is a super easy meal and prep time is under a half hour.  The simmer time depends on the beans. And of course if you have it the next day the flavours are even better.