Archive for July, 2011

Curried Turkey Burgers

Burger time! I had a dinner request for burgers last week, however I wasn’t in the mood for the same ol’ plain beef variety…so I thought I’d try something new with a healthy curried version adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe. I changed a few things by adding an egg to help bind the meat, used red onion instead of scallions and added a tablespoon of flaxseed and ground cumin. I topped off our burgers with a yogurt-cucumber dressing instead of mayo and subbed slices of juicy mango for the mango chutney for what I had on hand.

To complete our meal, I made a large batch of my crispy baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with sea salt, ground coriander, cumin and a dash of red pepper. Delish! I only had one gluten free hamburger bun left and we were running a little short on time so the photos are of Chris’s wheat buns sans the red onion since he isn’t a fan. I love the beautiful colors and textures of this dish, definitely a yummy and lighter replacement for a beef burger if you want to give something new a try!

It was raining like crazy around dinner time so I wound up cooking these indoors on a skillet, which worked out well. Since it was really dark out, I had some issues with lighting on my photos so I didn’t have many to choose from for this post – gotta love the weather  :)

Curried Turkey Burgers (adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe here)

Ingredients

1 1/3 lbs ground turkey breast (I used 1/2 lean, 1/2 extra lean – you could use ground chicken instead)
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup minced red onion
2- 3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro (might could sub parsley or mint if you really dislike cilantro)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced (could probably sub 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
sea salt or to taste (it really brings out the flavors of the spices! Don’t skip)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp curry paste or curry powder
extra virgin olive oil for brushing

For serving
5 hamburger buns, toasted if desired (I used Udi’s GF buns for mine but the photos are taken of Chris’s burgers using whole wheat)
leaf lettuce
sliced fresh mango (or mango chutney)
sliced red onion
slice fresh tomato
cucumber-dressing, optional (recipe below)
Directions
1. In a large bowl, combine ingredients ground turkey through curry paste and form into 5 patties.
2. Brush patties with a little olive oil. Heat a skillet or grill pan and cook patties 5-6 minutes on each side over medium-high heat or until cooked through.
3. For serving, add lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced mango, red onion and cucumber-yogurt dressing on a toasted hamburger bun with the patties and enjoy!

*To make the cucumber-yogurt dressing, combine 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/3 cup plain yogurt, 2 Tbsp mayo and a 1/2 cup finely chopped english cucumber. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve over burgers.

July 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm 14 comments

The Tale of Two Pestos

Since we live in a townhouse and do not have our own yard, I bought a mini basil plant that I can keep on the counter so I can “grow” at least one fresh herb. The first two ideas that came to mind when I thought of basil recipes were pesto and strawberry-basil ice cream – I am not sure why I thought of ice cream of all things…I do enjoy unusual flavor combos.

I didn’t have the ingredients needed for ice cream so I went for pesto, after all, I have been craving pasta lately! I recently caught an episode of Giada at Home where she made a California-style pasta dish of Linguine with Arugula and Avocado Pesto and I couldn’t wait to put my own spin on it. However, I also had been thinking about a sun-dried tomato version as well since the arrival of my NutsOnline order…I couldn’t decide which to make. Instead of choosing between the two, I couldn’t help but make both :) That’s right, you have two extremely quick and easy recipes to choose from today!

If pasta isn’t your thing, substitute cooked spaghetti squash or you can use these pestos as pizza sauce, sandwich spreads, dressing for cooked veggies or over grilled chicken or shrimp! Both dishes are vegetarian but for a more complete meal and to increase the protein, add grilled chicken, shrimp or cooked vegetables to your pasta.

First up was my take on Giada’s dish — I was completely intrigued with the idea of an oil-free pesto and was in the mood for a summer meal, and this quick pesto hit the spot. I used a mix of both spinach and arugula, added toasted pine nuts instead of almonds and halved the recipe. Just a few tips for this dish, make sure you use baby arugula leaves or your pesto will taste bitter and don’t forget to wash your basil leaves to avoid a gritty texture. This creamy pesto has a brightness from the lime juice and basil, a lovely saltiness from the cheese and a great peppery kick from the arugula. If you prefer a more traditional pesto flavor, drizzle in a bit of olive oil. For me, I didn’t add any oil as the avocado added the right amount of richness for my taste buds.

I had a bit of leftover pesto after tossing with pasta and it kept for two days in the fridge, it maintains its green hue and was a delicious spread on my turkey sandwich for lunch :)

Creamy Avocado Pesto with Spinach and Arugula (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

1 ripe medium avocado, halved, peeled, and seeded
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 cup baby arugula leaves
1/2 packed cup fresh basil leaves, washed
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about one lime, you could probably use lemon juice as well)
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup lightly toasted pinenuts (or could sub sliced almonds)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 lb pasta of choice (I used gluten free rice pasta)

Optional garnish 
Basil leaves
Toasted pine nuts
Additional grated parmesan

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook according the package’s instructions or until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Place drained pasta in a serving bowl.
2. While pasta cooks, use a spoon and scoop out the flesh from the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the spinach, arugula, basil leaves, lime juice, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
3. Pour the pesto over the pasta and toss together. Add the cheese and toss together until coated, adding the pasta water a little at a time as needed, to loosen the sauce (I only needed a couple tablespoons). Garnish with additional cheese, pine nuts and basil, if desired, and enjoy!

For the second pesto recipe, I couldn’t wait to use incorporate the delicious sun-dried tomatoes that I received a week ago! These tomatoes have such a wonderful sweetness that pairs perfectly with fresh garlic, basil and good-quality olive oil. I made mine a little chunky on purpose so I could use it as a spread as well as a sauce, so feel free to add more olive oil for a more saucy consistency or to your liking. I took the tip from the above recipe and reserved a bit of pasta water as well to help moisten the pasta.

This pesto tossed with your choice of pasta is great served on it’s own or can be tossed with sauteed veggies and meat of choice for a substantial dinner or even as an impressive but simple side dish. You can serve with spaghetti squash instead of pasta if you’d like a low-carb option as well!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto 

Ingredients

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil, but need to be moist*)
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
1/2 tsp sea salt, more or less to taste
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, washed
4 Tbsp olive oil or more to taste
1-2 Tbsp boiling water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Pasta of choice (about 8 oz) – I used gluten free egg pasta this time!

Optional garnish

Basil leaves
Grated parmesan cheese
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes

Directions

1. Cook the pasta according the package instructions in a large pot of salted, boiling water, until tender but still has a bite to it, stirring occasionally. Drain and reserve about 1/2  cup of pasta water for tossing. Add cooked pasta to bowl and set aside.
2. While pasta cooks, add ingredients sun-dried tomatoes through water to bowl of a food processor and process until the tomatoes are finely chopped and resembles a paste consistency. Add tomato mixture into a small bowl and stir in the parmesan until incorporated.
3. Add the pesto to the cooked pasta and toss to coat, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to reach desired consistency (I used a couple tablespoons). Add additional crushed pepper and/or salt, if needed. Garnish with basil leaves, additional cheese and chopped tomatoes, if desired, and enjoy!

*If your sun-dried tomatoes are really dry, pour boiling water over them to slightly rehydrate before adding to food processor.

I enjoyed both so much, I can’t decide which I preferred more. I would say that if you are looking for a more traditional-tasting pesto, the tomato version would be your best bet but the avocado-arugula dish was unique – so fresh and delicious as well!

July 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm 11 comments

No-Fuss Feta Fruit Bites

Salty and sweet. Quick and easy. Pure and simple — all great combos that describe this bite-size snack or appetizer. This mini salad-on-a-stick is perfect for the summer when melons and berries are in season! Drizzled with a touch of lime (or lemon) juice, these ingredients are far from being complicated and come together for a delicious bite that is both refreshing and colorful! I can hardly call this a recipe but at least this might spark some ideas for others :)

You could use different fruits to your liking – cantelope, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries and mango would all be gorgeous and yummy! I used up the leftover fresh strawberries and juicy honeydew we had on hand but feel free to switch things up for more variety :)

No -Fuss Feta Fruit Bites

Ingredients

Fresh strawberries, sliced in half or quarters (depending on size of strawberries)
Feta cheese, cut into small cubes
Honeydew melon, cut into small cubes
Juice from fresh lime or lemon

For serving, toothpicks or short skewers

Directions

1. Take cubed fruit and feta cheese and assemble in layers, securing with a toothpick or short skewer. Drizzle with lime juice and enjoy!

Recipes Notes: Can be made ahead and chilled prior to serving.

July 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm 2 comments

Vegan Teff Spice Cookies

Cookie love! I having been thoroughly enjoying the teff flour I purchased  from NutsOnline last week and have already made these little gems along with several batches of gluten free flatbread that I will post soon. I can’t believe I hadn’t tried teff previously - I was missing out!

According to J. Fedder at Associated Content, teff is a “super grain powerhouse”! Teff is a gluten-free grain that is low-fat, high in fiber and protein, packed with vitamins and minerals, and contains all 8 essential amino acids. This tiny grain is also beneficial for diabetics since it’s great for controlling blood sugar with its dietary fiber and resistant starch.  In a nutshell, I need to incoporate more teff into my diet…why not start with cookies, does that count? :)

If you can’t find teff flour locally, check it out here at NutsOnline – they offer it for $4.99 per 1 pound bag :)

I adore molasses-ginger type cookies and this recipe was inspired by the lovely Amy Green and her Teff Almond Butter Cookies over at her Simply Sugar and Gluten Free blog! This recipe yields a soft and chewy cookie with a bit of spice without eggs, refined sugar, butter, gums or added oil. I froze a few cookies and they were even delicious straight from the freezer – amazing! Amy created a delicious ice-cream sandwich with her cookies – my spice cookies would be lovely with some cinnamon ice cream in the middle!

Vegan Teff Spice Cookies (adapted from Amy’s Teff Almond Butter Cookies)

Ingredients

1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon chia seed meal (ground chia seeds)
3/4 cup teff flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 shakes of ground cloves (or two pinches)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup, honey (not vegan), agave or gluten-free brown rice syrup
1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/2 cup almond butter

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line one baking sheets with silpat mat or parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the applesauce and chia seed meal and set aside.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the teff flour, sea salt, spices, and baking powder and set aside. In a separate bowl, heat the almond butter for about 20 seconds in the microwave. Stir the honey, vanilla, and applesauce-chia mixture into the warm almond butter. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, then stir to combine.
4. Use a cookie scoop to portion the dough into 12 cookies and roll each one. Set them on the prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart from each other. Use the tines of a greased fork to press down the center of the cookie (optional, or you can slightly flatten). Bake for 10 – 13 minutes until the cookies are set, mine took 10 and a 1/2 minutes. *Make sure not to overbake, the cookies will be soft in the middle and chewy.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze (both are delicious!)

Makes 12 cookies

This recipe is featured at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Amy’s Simply Sugar and Gluten Free blog this week!

July 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm 13 comments

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