Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

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It’s summer and I start my venture of cooking lighter food.  Out with the roasts, lasagnas, stews, and in with the salads, cold dishes, tons of fruit and these amazing Mediterranean Turkey Burgers.  I had a craving for cucumber dill sauce one day and had ground turkey so I decided to make a light turkey burger and to my delight they turned out great.  Super easy to make and oh so delicious.  Trust me these are a must this summer!

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Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Serves 4

The Goods: 

  • 1 Lb. Ground Turkey
  • 2 Tbs. Olive Tapenade (or chop up some of your favorite olives)
  • 2 Tbs. Sun-dried Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Tbs. Feta Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pita Pockets
  • Dill Pickles, sliced thinly
  • Cucumber dill sauce
  • Lettuce
  • Feta Cheese

 

The Process:

  1. Heat the grill to med-high heat
  2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Season with a bit of salt and pepper
  4. Form into Burger patties and pat down slightly.
  5. Place the patties on the grill and cook on each side about 5 minutes or until they have those great dark brown grill marks.
  6. Once done cooking, let sit for a few minutes.
  7. Cut the Pitas in half
  8. Assemble the turkey burgers by putting some cucumber dill sauce inside each pita pocket.
  9. Then put in the lettuce, the turkey burger, top with pickles, feta cheese, and more cucumber dill sauce.

 

 

Lentil Salad

IMG_2275I never knew I was known for my  salads until I asked a friend what to bring to a BBQ and he said “well you’re known for your salads so one of those would be great.”  I got to thinking what made my salads so distinct and came to the realization that I rarely keep them traditional.  Lettuce and dressing, no thank you.  I load on chopped fresh veggies, quinoa, goat cheese, roasted veggies, nuts, etc…

This Lentil salad is a perfect dish to bring to a BBQ.  It’s insanely easy to make ahead and keep cool in the fridge; which also allows the flavors to meld.  And it will hold up in  the heat so you don’t have a wilted mess of lettuce.

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I got this recipe from my Mom and of course put my own few touches on it.  This is a simple recipe to have in your arsenal and great to bring to a BBQ or dinner party.

Lentil Salad

The Goods

  • 16 oz (about 2 1/2 C.) Lentils – Rinsed
  • 1/2 C. Chopped Sundried tomatoes
  • 1 C. Chopped Cucmber
  • 1 C. Kalamata Olives
  • 3 Heaping Handfuls Chopped Spinach
  • 1 tsp. Oregano
  • 3/4 C. Red Wine vinegar (more to taste)
  • Olive Oil (3/4 C.)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Cracked Black Pepper

The Process:

  1. Cook the lentils to the package directions
  2. Chop the cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Spinach and put in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add the vinegar, olive oil, and spices to the veggies mixture and toss to mix.
  4. Once the lentils are done cooking, strain the excess liquid from them and toss them into the veggie and vinegar mixture. Stir everything to combine well.
  5. Taste to add more spices.
  6. Let sit overnight. Serve cool.

 

 

 

Swedish Pancakes

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Swedish Pancakes were the favorite “breakfast for dinner” meal growing up and I am perfectly fine admitting that I have not nor will I ever grow out of this tradition.  If you have ever been to an IKEA and ventured to their cafeteria you have more than likely seen pictures of Swedish pancakes; maybe you have even tried them.

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Traditionally they are filled with Lingonberry Jam (delicious and tart) but you can fill them with whatever else you would like to make them “kid friendly.”  While this is quite an easy meal to make and takes all of 3 ingredients, it takes time so it was usually a team effort in our household.  Mom would fry the pancakes, one of us would spread the jam on the package and roll them, and the other would top them with some sprinkled powdered sugar.

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I am not sure where my craving came from the other day but it arrived in full-force and I was not going to be deterred from making this meal.  Fulfilling my hankering, I gobbled my two down and unashamedly went for another one.

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This isn’t a meal I make routinely, so when I do it brings back wonderful memories of my childhood and of my Swedish heritage.  My Grandma passed down the Swedish traditions to my Mom, my Mom passed them down to us, and I plan to pass them along in the future.  They’re too good not too.  I mean we are talking about lick-your-lips and drool-inducing Swedish Meatball and Swedish Pancakes.

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Swedish Pancakes – 14 pancakes

The Goods:

  • 1 C. Flour
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 C. Milk
  • Butter
  • 1 jar Lingonberry jam

The Process:

  1. Beat eggs stiff
  2. Add flour slowly with milk
  3. Mix batter so there are no clumps
  4. In a non-stick man melt butter over medium heat
  5. Add about 1/4 C. Of the batter to the pan and swirl around so it covers the entire bottom of the pan
  6. Let cook until slightly brown on the bottom and the air bubbles pop
  7. Flip over and cook for another minute or until light brown
  8. Lay flat on a plate and spoon in a spoonful of jam and spread out evenly
  9. Roll the pancake up
  10. Continue with the rest using butter after each pancake

*Note: I like to keep them warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

Eggplant Parmesan Pizzas

IMG_2090 This is absolutely the lazy man’s version of Eggplant Parmesan.  I love Eggplant Parmesan but don’t always have the time or patience to make the entire layered process so this ended up being a great and quick substitute. IMG_2088 Instead of pan frying the eggplant slices, I grilled them instead which gave them a slightly smokey or charred flavor which I really liked.  I am sure I am the only one who thinks about that minuscule detail but it somewhat changes the entire flavor profile of the end result.  So yes, I am completely nerding out on the difference between pan frying and grilling the eggplant. IMG_2089 These were great coupled with a nice big arugula salad but would also be great appetizers or a side dish. The Goods

  • 1 Medium-Large Eggplant
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 C. Parmesan Cheese
  • 1-2 C. Mozzarella Cheese
  • 3 Large Tomatoes
  • 2 C. Pasta Sauce of your choosing
  • 1 C. Fresh Basil, chopped finely

The Process

  1. Turn on the grill to a medium-high heat and the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Slice the Eggplant about 1/4 inch thick and coat evenly on both sides with olive oil.
  3. Season the slices with salt and pepper.
  4. Slices the Tomatoes in 1/4-1/2 inch slices and top with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  5. Put the tomatoes in an oven proof dish or baking sheet and roast in oven for about 10 minutes while the eggplant is grilling.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside.
  6. Lay the eggplant slices on the grill and cook on both sides for about 5-6 minutes or until you have nice brown grill marks and have significantly reduced in size and become soft.
  7. While the Eggplant is cooking, chop the Basil and set aside, and Mix the cheeses together in a separate bowl.
  8. Once the eggplant is done remove from the grill and place in a glass baking dish coated with olive oil or non-stick spray.
  9. Top each eggplant slice with your pasta sauce of choice, a bit of the cheese mixture, and layer a tomato slice on top of the sauce.
  10. Top with remainder of cheese and the fresh basil.
  11. Place the eggplant in the oven and let broil for 3-5 minutes until the cheese has completely melted.
  12. Let cool and serve warm.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Creamy Polenta

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These stuffed peppers were the product of needing to use up 2 beautiful bell peppers and I was craving a really savory and filling meal.  I determined what I wanted to incorporate and then just went for it.  I was incredibly happy with how it turned out and would definitely make it again for a dinner party as it presents so nicely.  It makes for a perfect winter meal since it is on the savory side and is best served warm.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers with Creamy Polenta – Serves 4

The Goods:

Stuffed Bell Peppers

  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 C. chopped Basil
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 lg artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Shredded mozzarella

Creamy Polenta:

  • 18 oz. Polenta, pre-cooked.
  • 1/2 C. milk
  • 1\2 C. Parm cheese
  • 2 tbs butter
  • Salt and pepper

 

The Process:

Bell Peppers

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Cut off the tops of the bell peppers and save the tops but discard the ribs and core.
  3. Coat the outside of the pepper with olive oil and place in a baking dish upright.
  4. Roast for 30-45 mins until tender.
  5. 1/2 way though the roasting, on the stovetop on medium heat saute the bell pepper and onion in olive oil for 3 minutes. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
  6. Add the ground turkey, garlic, red pepper flakes, and carrots and cook until done.
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix, and let simmer until well cooked.
  8. Once done remove from the heat.
  9. Once the bell peppers are done pull out of the oven and leave on.
  10. Spoon the turkey mixture into each bell pepper.
  11. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  12. Put back into the oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

 

Creamy Parmesan Polenta.

  1. Remove cooked polenta from its package and into a large saucepan and heat over medium-high Mash up with a potato masher.
  2. Add milk and butter and mix well removing all the clumps.
  3. Add the Parmesan mix in until melted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once done, remove from heat.
  6. Spoon polenta onto the middle of the plate.
  7. Place the stuffed bell pepper in the middle of the polenta and  Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

Kale Apple Salad

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Have you ever had a dish at a restaurant and immediately thought about how to re-create it at home?  Since imitation is the highest form of flattery, I took special note of all the ingredients I was picking up while eating this salad filing them away into my next grocery list.   What I ended up picking up from Trader Joes was: 1 bag of pre-cut Kale, 1 Granny smith apple, Parmesan, and honey roasted almonds (candied almonds would work too).  In my pantry I had everything for the dressing I planned to make: Olive Oil, Red Wine Vinegar, Honey(agave would work too), Dijon Mustard, and Pepper.

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I personally love the tartness from this salad but I can see how it may not be for everyone.  Kale is bitter to begin with and then coupled with a tart green apple, and vinaigrette dressing.  This is where I would recommend playing with the dressing to your liking.

 

Kale Apple Salad with Honey Roasted Almonds (Ingredients from Trader Joes)

The Goods:

Salad:

1 Bag of pre-cut and washed Kale / 1 big bunch

1 Granny Smith Apple

Parmesan Cheese (finely grated)

Honey Roasted Sliced Almonds

 

Dressing: Mix the below together and adjust to your liking.

1/4 C. Olive Oil

1/4 C. Red Wine Vinegar

3 Tbs. Honey

1 tsp. Dijon Mustard

Cracked Black Pepper

 

The Process:

  1. Use a mandoline* with the setting that makes thin strips and shred the green apple. Cut the strips in 1/2 or even 1/4 them to make them the same size as the kale.
  2. Finely chop the kale until is is shredded thinly.
  3. Combine Kale and Apple in a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the dressing a little bit at a time to the Kale/Apple Mixture and toss until well incorporated.  You may have some dressing left over.
  5. Add the shredded Parmesan Cheese and Almonds and toss again
  6. Top with a bit more Parmesan Cheese and Almonds and serve

*If you do not have a mandoline, I would finely slice the apples lengthwise, then cut thin strips, lastly cut them in 3rds so you have small 1/2 inch pieces.

 

 

 

Carrot Cake

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There is nothing better than Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting!  I am of the opinion that the quality of the Cream Cheese Frosting will either make or break the cake.  Being particularity picking about this tidbit is important because I do not like overly-sweet frosting and really like to taste the tang of the cream cheese.  Do not even think about putting toasted coconut on mine, no way!

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Growing up, my Mom let every family member choose their birthday meal and cake.  We pretty much knew what each person would request and thankfully we all had a different cake requests.  Mine obviously was Carrot Cake, the best, so it wasn’t until I left the nest that I realized I would have to get the recipe.  The entire cake is made in a Cuisinart so when I inherited my Grandmother’s machine I was ready to wreck havoc!  I have now made this recipe for several like-minded friends birthdays who also love Carrot Cake, so it is now a go-to.

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You’ll notice on this recipe that I do not have an end shot of the final result and there is two reasons why.  I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the final presentation to remember to take a picture and laundry was being switched over.  Secondly, I brought it over to a friends house for a house-party and it was devoured before I could take a picture.  Apparently it paired well with the cheese and crackers that were set out as appetizers.

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Carrot Cake – Abby Mandel’s Cuisinart Classroom

While this is made in a Cuisinart, you can obviously make it without one.

 

The Goods: 

Cake:

  • 2 C. Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking soda
  • 2 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Ground allspice
  • 1 Tbs. Cinnamon
  • 7 Large, dried pitted prunes
  • ¾ C. Pecans
  • 5 Med. Carrots ( 3 C. Shredded)
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 C. Sugar
  • 1 ½ C. Canola Oil
  • ¾ C. Golden Raisins

Frosting:

  • 8 Oz. Cream Cheese
  • Powdered Sugar
  • Vanilla Extract

 

The Process:

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle level
  2. Turn to 325 degrees
  3.  In the Cuisinart:
  4. Metal Blade – Mix: all dry ingredients and process for 2 seconds.  Leave 1 Tbs of mixture in bowl but transfer the rest to another.
  5. Add prunes to the flour mixture and process for 10 seconds.
  6. Add nuts and process for 5 seconds.
  7. Transfer to another bowl.
  8. Shredding disc: Shred the carrots and add them to the bowl with the prune mixture.
  9. Metal blade: Put eggs and sugar in processor and process for 1 minute or until it’s thick and light colored.  Add oil and process for 1 minute or until fluffy, only stopping to scrape down the sides.  Add dry ingredients and combine by pulsing 5-6 times until the flour disappears, do not over-process.
  10. Add Batter, carrots and prunes, and raisins to mixture and combine well but not over process.
  11. Pour batter into a greased and flour pan and smooth with spatula.
  12. Bake for 55 minutes.
  13. Allow cake to cool.
  14. Make Cream Cheese frosting by combining: cream cheese, powdered sugar (to taste), and 1/4-1/2 tsp of vanilla (adjust to taste).
  15. Top with Cream Cheese frosting.