Green Goddess Turkey Burgers with Cucumber Yogurt Spread

IMG_3380Memorial Day Weekend is upon us! A day of remembrance and spending time with loved ones…around a grill.

To help you celebrate, I’ve put together a crazy delicious, healthful turkey burger that will have you singing God Bless the Grill Out.

We’re taking ground turkey and stuffing it FULL of herbs: dill, cilantro and scallions, along with powdered ranch dip mix. What?! Yes! The ranch mix to really gives the burgers that buttermilk herb flavor that makes Green Goddess flavoring so addictive.

We’re pairing the burgers with a tart, tangy cucumber spread, very much like this one.
It is the perfect complement to the herby turkey and is light and delicious all on its own as a dip. I’ve kept this simple by just using yogurt, but adding a bit of cream cheese would make this more “spread-like” and less “dip-like” if you prefer.

I served the burgers up on Bibb lettuce leaves with crisp slices of Roma tomato (carb-free and so dang refreshing); but you of course can throw these into your favorite hamburger bun.

Let’s shape us up some patties, y’all!
Green Goddess Turkey Burgers
Time: 30 minutes – Serves 4-6 burgers
3 tbs minced fresh dill
1/4 c. mined scallions
3 tbs minced cilantro*
1/2 pkt powdered ranch dip mix (I like Simply Organic)
1/4 tsp ground garlic powder
1/4 tsp Black Pepper**
1 lb ground turkey (95% lean)
*If you are cilantro adverse, use flat-leaf parsley
**The ranch packet will be quite salty, so skip salt here

Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, mix seasoning and herbs together. Add turkey meat, mix thoroughly using clean hands (the best way to ensure thorough mixing). Shape the meat into 4-6 patties, depending on the size you’d like. Set each burger on the lined cookie sheet. Allow burgers to chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Because the meat is so lean, allowing it to rest/set up will help keep its shape when cooking). Grill, Saute or Bake until burger is cooked all the way through (no pink), about 4-5 minutes each side. Plate and serve immediately with Cucumber Spread. Serves: 4-6

Note: Prior to cooking, you can wrap the burgers in the parchment paper and place in a sealed Ziploc bag and freeze as-is for later use. Just thaw completely and use as you would any other defrosted meat. IMG_3372Cucumber Spread
2 small Persian (or other seedless cucumber), cleaned and diced (no need to peel)
3 tbs diced cilantro (or flat leaf parsley or fresh mint)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
8oz plain, NonFat Greek Yogurt
Sea salt, Black pepper to taste
3 tbs whipped cream cheese (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Adding cream cheese will thicken the dip up a bit more so it’s more “spread” than “dip.” Delicious both ways! Serves 4.

And now the assembly….IMG_3374
Using a large Bibb lettuce leaf, a dollop of cucumber spread…IMG_3375
…sliced Roma tomatoes and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper…..IMG_3377
…..the herby turkey burger….

IMG_3382….another dollop of cucumber spread…and other Bibb leaf. Crush into face.

Have a beautiful and safe weekend!

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#TBT: Gourmet Dumpling House

Try as I might,  I often start blog posts, get distracted by something else I want to write and the original post languishes, sad and unread. NO MORE! In honor of Throwback Thursday (#TBT), I’m finishing these forgotten gems (?) and sharing them. Some are from a couple of months ago, some are from years ago (fun!). Enjoy taking a look back at some awesome eats.

This post is a SERIOUS Throwback Thursday, like I think this was 3 cameras and one city ago. Sigh; the food? Still awesome.

Gourmet Dumpling House is a Boston institution. Known for their incredibly authentic and delicious food as they are for their crazy wait-times (and cheap prices). This place is the real deal.

The menu is is not limited to dumplings; far from it! The menu goes on and on with appetizers, entrees, vegetables, soups and hot pot.

On this particular night, many moons ago, two friends and I shared some of the bounty.

Spoiler alert: we did not have dumplings. I know! I’m sure they’re amazing…BUT I’m not a huge fan of dumplings or buns. I think it’s the sweetish dough or the heavy texture? Not sure. Potstickers and gyoza, I love; but I (think?) the wrapper is usually a bit lighter. Any dumpling experts care to enlighten me? Have I just been ordering the wrong things for years? Help me out, dumpling kings and queens!

Back to this particular night, here is what we devoured: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASauteed Shanghai Green beans: I love the preparation of these! Just slightly spicy, but crunchy and packed with that umami flavor I love so much.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASauteed Chinese Mushrooms Over GreensAnother deliciously savory dish. Rich, sauced mushrooms over the clean, bright taste of the (ridiculously good-for-you) baby bok choy. Good stuff. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASauteed Noodles with Chicken: I never met a plate of vermicelli noodles I didn’t like. What is it about the thinner the noodle, the better the dish tastes? Seriously, there is something so SATISFYING about thin, thin noodles sauced, spiced and twirled onto your fork (or chopsticks as the case may be).  Face-cramming awesomeness.

Gourmet Dumpling House is no joke and no cakewalk (bunwalk?) to get into. Be prepared to wait; and be prepared to be blown away by the quality and flavor of your dishes.

Want to check out other #TBT?
#TBT: Cabo San Lucas

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Blueberry, Mozzarella & Quinoa Salad

IMG_3545Hooray it’s Carby Salad season!
I do like my grain/cous cous/pasta salads…
Cous Cous Asparagus, Craisin Salad
Cobb Pasta Salad
Proscuitto, Pesto & Artichoke Salad
Greek Cous Cous Salad
Curry Quinoa Salad
Caprese Pasta Salad
Tortellini Pasta Salad
…to name but a few.

Let’s add this one to the roster, shall we?

We’re taking fluffy light quinoa, tart, fresh blueberries, sharp, crunchy radishes and pulling it together with lemon juice, creamy dreamy mozzarella and a burst of fresh herbs. It’s a perfect side dish to grilled fish or chicken but is delightful on all its own.
I love it. I love it. I love it.

You will too.

Blueberry, Mozzarella & Quinoa Salad
Time – 15 minutes (plus chilling time) – Serves: 2

1 c. fresh blueberries, cleaned
1 c.  thinly sliced radishes (about 6 medium)
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
1/4 c. cilantro and/or a mix of cilantro and basil, chiffonade (or finely chopped)
(or just basil if you dislike cilantro)
1/3 c. dry quinoa (yields about 1 c. cooked)

1 lemon Zest and Juice
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Sea Salt, Black Pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together salad ingredients. In a separate small bowl, whisk together salad dressing. Pour over salad ingredients, stir to combine. Allow salad to chill  in fridge about 2 hours or overnight. Serves 2, but easily can be doubled or tripled for a party.
Alternative (Mexican-style) Version:
swap out the lemon juice for lime, radish for jicama, and mozzarella for cojita, and use all cilantro and/or flat leaf parsley – another really refreshing twist!

Carb-haters, simply omit the quinoa and you still have an incredible refreshing summer salad! IMG_3547
Love you forever, grain salad.

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TBT: Cabo San Lucas

Try as I might,  I often start blog posts, get distracted by something else I want to write and the original post languishes, sad and unread. NO MORE! In honor of Throwback Thursday (#TBT), I’m finishing these forgotten gems (?) and sharing them. Some are from a couple of months ago, some are from years ago (fun!). Enjoy taking a look back at some awesome eats.

Last summer, my dear pal, Jen decided to go all-out for her birthday. She hosted the big event at the beautiful resort of Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas (now just the Resort at the Pedgregal) and asked if a few friends would attend. My only response was “where is my sunscreen?”
Heading to our seaside villa

After a simple flight through Dallas over to Cabo, I arrived at the beautiful Pedregal. We were fortunate to be housed in one of their gorgeous 2-story, 3-bedroom, 4-bath villas and let me say, I am a villa girl. I hadn’t realized it before when staying six girls to a standard room on other vacations, but yeah, villa life is the life for me.

My sleeping bed and my napping bed. Of course I have two. WHY WOULDN’T I.IMG_0226Living room and dining room. Why yes, just this area was bigger than my apartment.

DSC00514Me enjoying a glass of wine in our private plunge pool. NBD.

IMG_9574Our daily delivery of beers and snacks at 4pm. Again, I must stress that villa living is the way to go.

We tore ourselves away from our lush accommodations to head to the beach/pool for cocktails sunning and swimming.

IMG_9519Lazy days….

We managed to leave our beautiful little cocoon to go out exploring at dinner. Cabo is famous for their spring-break type bars and clubs (whoo hoo, college!); but we knew for certain we did NOT want to eat at anyplace like that (sorry Señor Frogs).

Jen had done a bit of research on restaurants; and after wandering (somewhat aimlessly) through central Cabo, we found our destination: Maria Jimenez.

This darling spot had received wonderful reviews on Yelp for its quality and authenticity of Mexican cuisine. Sold.

Upon ordering cervezas and margaritas, we were brought complimentary sope; little fried tortas with cheese and beans.   IMG_0239
That would be my friend Allison really enjoying her sope.

For entrée; Jen and I shared this Combo plate of magic; a mix of carne asada, enchiladas, rice and beans. We loved it.  But not as much as we loved the mariachi that came around to serenade the birthday girl (we would tell every restaurant it was Jen’s birthday for the entire birthday weekend. She ate alot of complimentary cake. As one should on their birthday weekend)

Breakfasts were a simple affair at our darling villa. We shopped at the small food market outside of the resort and picked up some fresh things to have on-hand. Girl cannot survive on guacamole alone. Although I tried.
Our typical breakfast: Eggs with onions and avocado, homemade tortillas and some cereal/fruit.

After another lazy day around the pool, we headed out to discover another dinner spot: Los Tres Gallos. Also located in central Cabo, we settled on their beautiful and breezy patio for a sunset dinner.

IMG_9585Los Tres Gallos is known for their from-scratch food and outdoor kitchen that shows off their assortment of fresh produce and dried chiles.IMG_9586

After ordering the specialty margaritas (Jalapeno Margarita for me), we nibbled on a few tortilla chips with some mole sauce for dipping.

Having been in Cabo for two days and not having had my fish taco fix was inexcusable; I was happy to remedy that.
Mixed seafood seasoned and stuffed into homemade tortillas with salsa and guacamole. Just YES. I will always eat the guacamole first. Always. #avocadosforever.

Our final night dinner we stayed at our resort to dine cliff side at El Farallon, the resort’s fine dining restaurant.

IMG_9540I GUESS this view will do. Sigh. IMG_9551
The premise of El Farallon is whatever is fished and caught that day is sold. Period. Once you’re seated, your waiter guides you to the ice rack where the fresh items are waiting; and you literally say “I want that for my dinner.”  That is all. So simple and perfect. (There were some steaks available for the seafood adverse but why are you friends with those people?) IMG_9559
A trio of starters and soup is to brought to each table. The items do not vary by table, everyone is served the same starters and soup. On our visit we enjoyed a calamari tempura, ceviche and a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and cojita. Our soup (unpictured) was as crab bisque that I was too busy devouring to take a photo of. IMG_9561
I enjoyed a (personally selected) piece of red snapper and grilled corn along with seasoned rice. Sides were selected from a blackboard menu by the fish rack. I opted to add two shrimp to my entrée; and was so glad I did. Dinner was fresh, flavorful and accompanied by this incredible view.


I guess it was all right.

IMG_9565(birthday dessert #4)

So grateful to have spent such a lovely and food-filled weekend with friends to celebrate Jen’s birthday.  #villalife4eva

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Everything But the Eggs

$160 at Trader Joe’s and I forgot to buy eggs. Groceries. Sigh.

I can’t stress this enough; DO NOT SHOP HUNGRY. After a 3.5 mile run and several errands; I decided to hit my local Trader Joe’s for groceries – without having had anything to eat. Mistake.

I also hadn’t grocery shopped in a few weeks and my freezer and pantry were bare, so yeah, $160 later….I have stuff! Let’s see what I got:

Fresh Fruit & Vegetables: IMG_3356You know I love my crazy salads and roasted vegetables, so tons of vegetables needed.

  • Sweet onions, Whole Carrots (I have officially jumped off the baby carrot wagon. They are always slimy and taste like nothing. I’ll spend the extra 7 seconds to peel and chop a real carrot. #thankyouverymuch)
  • Bag o’ Lemons (I’m addicted to my daily lemon-water), Whole Broccoli (Peel and slice the stems, use as crudite), Red Pepper, Fresh Dill, Baby Spinach, Baby Arugula, Roma tomatoes, Grape tomatoes, Fresh Garlic, Lime, Scallions, Fresh Cilantro, Sweet Lettuces (perfect for “wraps”)
  • Blueberries (rinsed and in a bowl in the fridge; perfect for snacking).

Frozen Fruit & Vegetables IMG_3360Just a few fruits and vegetables to stock up the freezer.

  • Green beans, Broccoli, Spinach, Tri-color Peppers, Mixed Berries (for smoothies) and Basil (love you Dorot frozen herbs).

Frozen Treats (see “Do Not Shop Hungry”)
IMG_3361While I think Trader Joe’s has great frozen meals; I do not buy many of them. It’s more cost-effective to make my own meals plus I control the ingredients (and this would be a pretty boring food blog if it was all prepared foods). However, I picked up a few “ready-made” items to have on-hand for busy nights/food ruts.

  • Crabmeat-stuffed flounder (I’ve bought this before on a friend’s recommendation and really liked it! It’s perfectly portion-controlled; has good nutrition and is delicious. Worth it.
  • Argentinian Red Shrimp; I’ve been buying these for a while now. They have a taste and texture similar to lobster; need I say more?
  • Mushroom Flatbread, Spinach & Kale Pie and Eggplant cutlets. All “NEW to me” items I’m looking forward to trying, especially the eggplant cutlets. Eggplant is one of those dishes that I love when someone else prepares.
  • Dr. Praeger Garden burgers. I’ve been buying these for years. I love that they DON’T try to be “beef-like.” They taste like vegetables and edamame and have a great texture. I like to smush them into a wrap with lettuce and cheese.
  • Chicken and Cilantro wontons: These satisfy those potsticker cravings; and are tiny, perfect for soup!

Pantry Stock-up IMG_3362The cupboard was looking a little bare; so lots of essentials to re-stock!

  • Spices: Sea Salt, Black Pepper and ground Garlic.
  • Coconut Milk (for cooking/baking) Coffee (for life-giving properties), Crushed Plum Tomatoes (for cooking? no idea why I bought these)
  • Red Pepper Dip: I like to “dip.” I always have cut-up vegetables around and I like to make little snack plates. I’ve always loved this dip; low calorie but really flavorful.
  • Grains: Whole Wheat Cous Cous, Brown Rice Pasta, Brown Rice Cakes, Quinoa and the necessary Macaroni and Cheese for comfort food moments.

Proteins & Dairy: IMG_3364
Proteins, cheeses and dairy, oh my!

  • 0% Greek yogurt and Horseradish Hummus for dipping (see “I like to dip”)
  • Coconut Coffee Creamer: NEW to me! Very excited about this; as I’m always experimenting with non-dairy coffee creamers. I love that this has only 5 calories per tbs and pretty good nutritional stats. SOLD!
  • Whipped Cream Cheese (lower in calories than “block” cream cheese; this makes a perfect spread mixed with fresh dill and black pepper for sandwiches or crackers)
  • Shaved Parmesan & Reduced Fat Gouda Cheese: Two of my favorites that I usually have on-hand
  • Almond Milk for cooking/baking, Unsalted Butter for baking/cooking
  • Ground Turkey…which I made into crazy delicious Turkey Burgers (stay tuned)

Random Fun Things (RFT)

IMG_3365And this is where the “do not shop hungry” really comes into play…..

  • Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks and Spicy Soy and Flaxseed Tortilla Chips
  • Espiral Wine NEW to me! I tried this with a friend and loved it! A little fizz, really light and totally affordable ($5.99 here in Cincinnati, whoo hoo)
  • Roasted Coconut Chips: I am addicted to these. I use them as a topping on cereal, ice cream, even Asian stir frys or crunchy salads.  I wish the bag had more than 2 servings

Lady things:

IMG_3366I love both of these items from Trader Joe’s and usually have them: Micellar Cleanser Cloths (which I love these for lazy nights) and Honey Mango Shave Cream (super moisturizing for sensitive skin)

All of this and I still forgot to buy eggs. Yup, that’s me. Wanna come for dinner?

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Superfood Salmon Burgers (Gluten-Free)

IMG_3337With burger grill season upon us, I wanted to create something a little less decadent (like Black and Bleu burgers) and little more “my pants still fit.” Let me tell you, that struggle is real.

However, salmon burgers were an easy choice. Salmon is versatile and full of good fats and filling protein. I give you the option of canned or fresh salmon here so you can be grillin’ and chillin’ with only having had walked to your pantry. Nice, right?

For the add-ins: I knew I wanted the burgers to be “beefy” for lack of a better word meaning chock full of good-for-you ingredients so you can save room for beers, chips and other grill season staples. So we stuffed sunflower seeds and fresh tarragon in here, along with an onion and Old Bay seasoning.  Tons of burger flavor without the burger. Rather than bread crumbs; we’re using cooked brown rice for a filler. Gluten-free AND adds a dose of healthy whole-grain carbs? I mean, just yes. .
What we have are big, beautiful burgers stuffed with salmon, herbs, brown rice and sunflower seeds; all providing that hearty taste with tons of Omega-3s, protein, fat,  low-glycemic carbs and flavor. Your pants will thank me (thanking pants? It’s a thing).
IMG_3334Happy grill season, friends.

Superfood Salmon Burgers
Makes 4 burgers ~ 30 minutes
8 – 10 oz Canned or Cooked Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon Fillets
2-3 tbs fresh tarragon, cleaned and minced
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbs lemon juice
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1/3 c. brown rice, cooked
1/4 c. sunflower seeds, raw, unsalted (pulsed briefly in a food processor)
Salt and Pepper to taste
pinch Old Bay Seasoning
1 – 2 eggs, beaten

Baking: Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease a cookie sheet.
Grilling: Pre-heat grill. Grease a fish tray.

In a large bowl, flake salmon. Add the next 6 ingredients and mash together well. Season with salt, pepper and Old Bay to taste (Taste your mixture before adding the egg to ensure proper seasoning). Stir in the beaten egg, until the mix holds together (you may want a second egg if your mixture is looking dry). Place bowl in fridge for 15 minutes to chill/set-up.

Form mix into 4 patties (squeezing out excess moisture). If you find your patties are still too moist; shape them first then allow them to sit on an uncovered cookie sheet in the fridge for another 15 minutes.  Ready to bake: 20 minutes, flipping once or grill: 7-10 minutes, flipping once.  Makes 4 burgers.

These are perfect on the grill, then plated over a spinach salad with a dollop of Dijon mustard (Spinach, another superfood!). For the gluten-friendly in your life; throw these into toasted burger buns with lettuce/tomato and onion.

Or you can be like me….
….and #putaneggonit.

Hungry for other Salmon burgers? Try these Brunch-Style Salmon Cakes

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A Taste of Cinquecento Boston

A quick trip to Boston found me in front of a lot of family fun and a quick, but lovely dinner with my friend, Jen.

After discussing revisiting one of our old haunts; Jen proposed Cinquecento, a new favorite of hers. A quick perusal of the menu had me more than ready to try it, fork in hand. IMG_3210Cocktails were a simple affair; a Campari & soda for Jen and a Prosecco for me. However, their signature cocktails sounded delightful and I had major cocktail envy when the table next to ours were raving about their Minuetto: Prosecco, Vodka, Elderflower, Grapefruit, & Lemon. Um, yes.
(could I please have this poster delivered to my house? please and thank you)

After reviewing the Antipasti and Contorni for starters we settled on two to share: Chilled Snap Peas, Radish & Ricotta Salada and Fresh Burrata, Fennel, Pistachio Oil & Figs.

Both were excellent. The coolness of the snap peas with the radish crunch and salty tang of the ricotta was a perfect palate opener. I can see myself recreating this dish for summer dinners in the days to come. IMG_3215
Fresh burrata? What is there not to love? The light creaminess of the cheese paired perfectly with the astringent bite of the fennel and the sweet and tangy figs. We crushed this.
IMG_3214Entrees were an easy choice for us. While the Pesce e Carne sounded decadent (hello…Prosciutto Wrapped Veal Tenderloin, Cabbage Fonduta and Marsala) and the Lobster and Whole fish specials were intriguing; we were there to shove house-made pasta into our faces. Real talk.

I opted for the Bucatini alla Carbonara: House Made Pancetta, Pecorino & Black Pepper because I always #putaneggonit.  Jen selected the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese: Veal, Beef, Pork, Pancetta & Parmigiano, a dish she had previously and loved.

My dish was charming. The expertly cooked bucatini was sauced with the delicate egg and pancetta carbonara. My gluttonous self would have liked a touch more pancetta; but I suppose that would be have been gilding the lily (gilding the bucatini?). I happily sopped up each saucy bite with the table bread offered. Always, always #putaneggonit. IMG_3218
The star here was the Bolognese. The tagliatelle was the perfect pasta pairing; silky enough to easily twirl on the fork yet sturdy enough to hold each tender bite of sauce. What a sauce. I could taste each complex layer of flavor: the mirepoix, tomato, cream and three tender meats. I wanted to snatch the bowl off the table and run away and hide with it. But I was wearing heels. I am also not in the habit of snatching my dining companion’s dinner, but there is a first time for everything.
IMG_3211I look forward to returning and trying more of the menu. And next time, I’m wearing flats.

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