Juiciest turkey burgers with white sauce and pureed cauliflower “buns”

I got a bee in my bonnet to cook up some of my, IMHO, delicious turkey burgers. This would have been the first time I would do it without starch so it was going to take some modification. First off, I needed a “bun”. Of course one could eat a turkey burger with a knife and a fork…but really? Isn’t that just a big, flattened meatball?

So the bun. I’ve made “bread” from left-over “pizza dough” before so I thought I would go with a variation of that. Because I wasn’t using any panko in the burgers (which usually is how I keep them moist), I decided to try something new. Mushrooms. MUSHROOMS! It was a genius idea, I must say. These were fantastic. As I was cooking up the burgers, I had a strong urge to make tzatziki. Alas, when I pulled out the big ol’ tub of yogurt, moldy and almost empty. YUCK! So when I dug into the fridge I came up with a winning combo of flavors for a tasty white sauce (I’m not sure how else to term it) that took only 2 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

The turkey

  • Package of ground turkey thigh meat
  • Half large red shallot
  • One cup of dry porcini mushrooms
  • Fresh oregano
  • Fresh parsley
  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax seed
  • Two tablespoons of sumac, separated
  • Salt and pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • One pat of butter, chopped

The bun

  • One head of cauliflower
  • Two large eggs
  • Chia seeds
  • Ground flax
  • One cup of feta cheese

The white sauce

  • Two heaping tablespoons of cream cheese
  • Two heaping tablespoons of feta cheese
  • A few sprigs of parsley
  • One teaspoon of sumac
  • 1/4 cup of white or rosé wine
  • Five cherry tomatoes chopped

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and put a silpat on a large cookie sheet. Cut the florets off of the cauliflower and puree in a cuisinart. Move the cauliflower to a mixing bowl. Add a sprinkle of chia seeds and about two tablespoons of ground flax. Mix in the feta and the eggs and mix until evenly coated. Spread the cauliflower mixture onto the silpat and make sure all points are of even thickness…about 1/2″ thick. If it isn’t even, the thinner parts will burn.  Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. (Note: I had made demarcations similar to bread for sandwiches to make it easier to cut later…this was not smart. I should have let it cook as a whole and then used a circular cookie cutter to make round, bun like shapes…they didn’t “fit” the burgers very well.)

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Put the dry mushrooms into the cuisinart and pulse until they are finely chopped (think 1/4″ pieces). Add enough hot water to cover the mushrooms and let them sit in that water until everything else for the turkey burgers is completed. In a mixing bowl (I used the same bowl as the cauliflower mix, just quickly rinsed) put the ground turkey, salt and pepper, a sprinkling of chia seeds (about a teaspoon), two tablespoons of flax seed, the chopped oregano and parsley, two tablespoons of sumac, a few healthy shakes of Worcestershire sauce, the finely chopped shallot and the pat of butter (chopped).

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When the mushrooms seem saturated, put then in a strainer over the sink and push them until the extra water is pushed out.

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When drained, add to meat and mix gently by hand.

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Form into patties and set aside until you are ready to cook them.

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(I made an itty bitty one for my daughter to try. Next time I would do a bunch of these and throw them in the freezer for an easy dinner for the kids)

Make sure you are checking on the “buns”. When the top is browning (like below), take them out. They get “harder” when they cool. Don’t forget to turn them a few times if you have a fickle oven like myself. 

Image(This would be a good time to cut them into the circular shapes…which is what I would have done, had I been smarter)

Either while the turkey burgers are cooking or now, you can make the sauce. Couldn’t be easier. Grab a fork and a microwavable cereal bowl. Fork in a few dollops of cream cheese, a healthy shake of feta, a teaspoon of sumac and a few sprigs of chopped parsley and mix them with a fork. Pop them into the microwave for 15 seconds. Add a splash of wine (more if you like it thinner, less if you want to keep it thick) and the chopped cherry tomatoes (and their juices), mash with the fork and then pop back in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir it up and a bit, et voila! 

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Cook the burger either on the grill or in a saute pan as you would any burger. I cook these on a bit lower heat (low-medium) turning when the first side is browned and then, when the second side is browning, I test the temp with an instaread thermometer, taking them off the heat when they hit 160.

For my veg last night I simply steamed a large batch of broccolini . The picture below doesn’t do justice to the how absolutely DELICIOUS this was. I think this would have been better with a round “bun”…or with some fresh spinach with the burger. But really flavorful and juicy.

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Overstuffed Yellow Squash Boats and Sauteed Red Wine Kale

I went all veg last night. I don’t do this THAT often (though I know I should) because, without any starches, M and I often don’t get full without a protein. I combated no protein with a tiny bit of farro. And I think it was a success. I was satiated and enjoyed the meal. And the girls LOVED it.

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As I often do, I took what I had and interpretted another recipe to make it fit my fridge. Last night I made yellow squash boats stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese (topped with toasted pine nuts, balsamic glaze and a bit of sriracha). I also made kale sauteed with red wine and yellow onion.

Squash Boats

  • 1 large squash per person
  • package of frozen spinach
  • two cups of dried mushrooms, chopped finely
  • finely sliced shallot
  • red pepper flakes
  • thyme
  • salt/pepper
  • goat cheese (frozen)

Kale

  • 1 large bag of kale, washed, torn into 1 inch pieces and rid of tough stems
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • butter
  • 1 small lemon

I made the kale first as I wanted it to sit in its juices for as long as possible. After washing and trimming the kale to rid it of the stems, I tore any large leaves into small, bit size pieces. I put them into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and let them drain while I chopped and cooked the yellow onion.

P actually helped with most of this portion of the meal. He loved “showering” and tearing the kale and stirring the onions cooked over medium heat. He has also started to have the dexterity to grind the salt and pepper over the food so I let him do that over the onions as they started to become translucent.

Once cooked, I piled in the kale and, over medium/high heat, wilted it until to became bright green. As there was so much kale in my saute pan, I had to turn the kale often and use a large pan lid to weigh down the leaves to keep them all in. As soon as the kale was bright green, I poured in the cup of red wine left over from a few nights previous and turned the heat to low and let all of that yumminess simmer. It was also at this time that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and squirted it with the juice of a small lemon. This really added a depth to the flavor. Once this was all melded together, I poured the mixture and ALL of the juice into a large bowl to sit and absorb.

Image(oops, I missed a stem!)

I put some water into my electric kettle and let it boil while I dried out the pan with a paper towel. I chopped the dry mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces and rinsed them in my mesh colander  When the water was boiling, I put the mushrooms in the pan and poured the hot water over them, letting them absorb the moisture. Once they were well soaked, I put them back in the mesh colander and let them drain over the sink. This last part used no heat…just reduced the number of bowls I’d have to clean later 🙂

At this time I preheated the oven to 350. The spinach was next. I popped a box of frozen chopped spinach into the pan and, after pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over it, let the spinach defrost, stirring often and breaking it apart slowly. Once heated, I poured the spinach and its juices over the mushrooms that were still in the sink in the mesh colander. Those sat and dripped while I prepared the squash.

ImageI trimmed the ends off of the squash and cut them in half. After removing with a spoon the seeded center and setting that portion aside, I sliced a thin portion off of the bottom so that they would sit flat.

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On the hulled squash boats I added salt and pepper, a sprinkling of dry thyme and a tiny bit of finely chopped red pepper flakes. The other flavors are so subtle on this dish that it definitely needed that zing…so don’t exclude the red pepper flakes. I then sprayed it with smart balance cooking spray…but this was mostly for convenience as it was right in front of me and my olive oil was across the room. Lazy, yo.

Back at the saute pan, I toasted a handful of pine nuts and set them aside. I put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, heated it up and tossed in the shallot and the squash innards, letting them cook over medium high heat. I pressed the remaining liquid out of the spinach and mushrooms and then added them to the mix. I had the goat cheese in the freezer to make even distribution into the filling easier. I crumbled about three tablespoons of goat cheese onto the filling and stirred it in. Add sriracha sauce to taste at this point. I don’t like my food too hot so I just did a tiny bit and then let the others heat their food up at the end as they wished.

On a silpat lined cookie sheet, I placed the empty boats and then overstuffed them with the filling.

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I squeezed a bit of balsamic glaze over the top and put them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once during cooking to allow for even temperature in my horrible stove. Test for doneness with a sharp knife. When it goes into the skin of the squash easily, it is ready.

While the squash is cooking, I used 1/2 a cup of the Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered that on the stove, after bringing it to a boil, for 10 minutes. Once cooked to chewiness, I added back in the kale  mixture to heat for serving.

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Serve the kale with a slotted spoon and portion two squash boats per person. Top the squash boats with toasted pine nuts, a bit more of the goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and/or sriracha and you have yourself a delicious and incredibly healthy meal.

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Easy grillin’ sides and a leftover lunch

On Saturday we had a going away party for our German au pair whose one year stint is over and heads home this coming Sunday. We had her invite her best au pair friends over and had a traditional all-american bbq with burgers and brats, a few bottles of napa wine, some american beer, corn hole and boy bands on the sonos.  Knowing that Anne is one the no-carb bandwagon with us, we also wanted to add in some yummy and healthy sides.

The first dish was a good ol’ plain salad: spring lettuce mix, chopped carrots, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes with M’s favorite homemade dressing (olive oil, balsamic, mustard, plain yogurt, salt/pepper and a squeeze of lemon). 

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I then grilled up some sliced cremini mushrooms on our indoor grill pan. I used the indoor grill pan as opposed to the grill outside that we would be using later because mushrooms are small, yo. I wanted the grill marks but not for them to be inside the grill. I heated up the grill pan, placed the mushrooms flat on the pan without overlapping, drizzled some good olive oil over the top and some salt and pepper and let them brown. Once they started to get grill marks, I flipped them over and let them cook for a bit more. Once they were softening, I put them into a pile in the middle and squeezed on some of my favorite reduced balsamic glaze and then coated them evenly. I kept on repeating this process, transferring the cooked mushrooms into a bowl, until I had cooked enough for 15 people (which ended up being about 25 mushrooms). 

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My favorite dish of the bunch, though, was my corn salad. I made a variation of this for Thanksgiving last year and it was a hit. And it is SOOOO easy. Once again I used my favorite roasted TJ’s frozen corn. Poured a bag of it into a deep saute pan and let it defrost for a bit. While that was cooking down a bit, I ran down to my herb garden and grabbed a bunch of basil and oregano. I cleaned those bad boys up, dried them a bit and chopped them finely (a basic chiffonade is fine for both). The corn was getting warm so I added some salt and pepper, threw in a pint of cherry tomatoes, 3/4 cup of feta (reserving the last 1/4 cup until serving), a dash of red pepper flakes and the chopped herbs and cooked them down, stirring frequently as the feta can melt and burn if it isn’t being watched/stirred. At the very end, just before serving, add the rest of the feta. 

ImageA variation on this that is a bit more indulgent and that I will be making next week for a Cinco De Mayo party is what I call Mexi-corn. I use queso fresca in addition to the feta, a sh*t ton of cilantro, a bit of cumin (maybe a teaspoon), 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt and I up the red pepper flakes a teeny bit. 

I’ve also make it in a savory version as well that has browned yellow onions, is cooked in a half cup of white wine, uses marjoram and thyme and cuts the tomatoes so that the juices meld into the flavor of the mash. 

Overall, the sides were well received and the night was a success! I recommend a rose to go with the summery corn dish, too. Holy yum.

Not all of the salad was eaten that night…and as I had people dress their salads on their plates, I was able to save what was left for lunch for the next day. To give the greens and veggies some heft, I heated up some delicious chicken sausage, cut into disks, and cooked them with sliced red onion. 

ImageI topped the lettuce and random veg with this tasty concoction and sprinkled them with hulled sunflower seeds.  I didn’t cook the sausage or onion with any oil so I used the fond on the bottom of the pan to make a fantastic dressing. I tossed some of that leftover rose into the pan, loosened up the fond, added a splash of olive oil, a splash of regular balsamic, a bit of salt and pepper, a tablespoon of plain yogurt and a tablespoon of spicy, horseradish mustard. Mixed it all up with a whisk and spooned it over the salad. It was awesome.

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Faux Coq Vin

There is a before and after with this post. Just before we started on the no _____ kick I discovered a new favorite recipe. I didn’t have to change TOO much about it and I really didn’t compromise very much of the taste.

The original Faux Coq Vin is made with pasta. And, honestly, it was freaking DELICIOUS. And I wanted to make it again and again. And that is why I started to move out of my comfort zone health wise.

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Doesn’t that look amazing? Here is the original recipe:

  • Butter
  • White onion
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Bay leaves (keep track of how many you put in so that you take out the same amount in the end)
  • Chicken stock
  • White wine
  • Hoisin
  • Whole grain dijon

Add olive oil and butter to bottom of Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Once butter melts, add chopped white onion. Lightly salt the onion about halfway to translucency. Meanwhile, cut chicken into similarly sized pieces. Salt and pepper the chicken, lightly season with marjoram, rosemary and thyme. Add hot water to a cup of dried mushrooms (I used porcini). Set aside.

Once onions are ready, move to the sides of the pan and add chicken. Lightly brown one side and flip. Once second side is browned, cover with white wine and chicken stock in a 1:1 ratio. Add parsley, bay leaves, drained mushrooms, hoisin and dijon. 

Turn down and cover (about 10-15 min). Once chicken is cooked through (internal temp of 165) remove from heat. Remove bay leaves. Take out chicken and place on a plate. Use hand mixer to lightly puree sauce. Add instant gravy flour and puree again.
Add rotini to sauce, cover and simmer. 
Bake/toast/warm bread. Once rotini is al dente,  spoon into bowls. Serve.

DEEEEEELISH!

So now I want the same dish, but I don’t want the pasta in it and I want to up the veggie content. What does one do?! SPAGHETTI SQUASH!

Before you start any of the above process, get the spaghetti squash going. Turn the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Clean out the seeds and goopy threads with a spoon. Sprinkle the insides with rosemary, salt and pepper. Place face down in a pyrex pan and add an inch of water. If your spaghetti squash is big, you may need a pyrex pan for each half. Put it in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes (or until the outside of the shell is soft enough that when punctured with a knife, it easily is cut through). Remove from the oven and place both halves on a cutting board. Take a fork and run it through the inside of the squash, making “spaghetti”. Repeat for both halves. Sprinkle with more rosemary. At the point in the recipe above where it says to add the rotini to the sauce? That is when you put the “spaghetti” in the sauce. Let it soak up those yummy, onion-y, mushroom-y juices.