Sunday, January 30, 2011

Burgers with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Red Onions

I think the law school is throwing us 1Ls a few curve balls this semester--more classes, more homework, more job searching (would you please think good thoughts for me?).  I sort of feel like I've never had more to do than right now (although I'm sure that will change with time!).  

It definitely helps to have an extracurricular activity that makes me happy.  Todd and I are part of Tucson's newly formed lindy hop performance troupe, Vernacular Revolution.  We meet every Saturday for a couple of hours, and that really helps clear my mind.  Which reminds me, in addition to our own performance, we're going to team up with break dancers in March for a benefit.  We're going to do a break dance-charleston battle--how exciting is that!  I've never battled before, but I think it's going to be a good time all around!

So, yeah, can I tell you about these burgers?  They feel very fancy, like something you'd order at a gourmet burger place (Zin Burger, anyone?), but are basically effortless to prepare.  The onion/sugar combo is real sweet so balance with Tabasco sauce accordingly (or use less sugar).  Also, while I normally use butter to caramelize onions, I omitted it this time.  Brown sugar gets kind of soupy like butter when you put it over heat.  We used a grill instead of a grill pan--it's only January yet already starting to feel like spring!

Burgers with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Red Onions
(slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman)
  • 2 pounds Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • Tabasco Sauce, To Taste
  • 1 whole Red Onion, Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1/8 cup Mayonnaise
  • Whole Wheat Buns
  • 1 cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • Red Lettuce
Place the ground beef into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper. Add a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. With your hands, mix the meat and seasoning well. Set aside.
Next, for the onions, heat a medium skillet over low heat. Dump in the sliced (not too thick, not too thin) red onions. Now add 2 generous tablespoons brown sugar. Give it a toss to combine the ingredients, and then allow the onions to caramelize over low heat for about twenty minutes, tossing occasionally.
While the onions are caramelizing, make the spicy mayo: Place ¼ cup mayonnaise into a small bowl and simply add a few dashes of Tabasco. Stir together and test for taste.
Next, slice the rolls in half and spread each half with about ½ tablespoon of butter. Place them face down on a grill pan or skillet over medium heat. Lightly grill the rolls so they’ll be tough enough to hold the spicy mayo. Let the rolls cool on a plate until you need them.
Form the meat into two patties and place on a grill pan or skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Allow each to cook about 3 minutes, then using a spatula, rotate 45 degrees, leaving it on the same side.
Flip the burger and cook it for a couple of minutes, rotating it 45 degrees again to get the nice grill marks.
Now add a large helping of caramelized onions over top of that patty, followed by an equally generous helping of crumbled blue cheese.
As it finishes cooking, spread the spicy mayo on the buns and transfer the burger onto the bottom half of the bun. Top with a handful of greens and top with the bun.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Action shot

Oh, hey!  It's Food. For Todd!  Such a handsome guy.  Love him.  

But seriously.  Would you like some vegetables with your vegetables?  I love vegetables...they're just super.  If only one person is chopping, this dish is kind of a chore, but if you have a friend who'll help you, you're golden!  

Martha Stewart adds a 1/3 cup of oil to her ratatouille, but I just omit it altogether, and it works fine.  If you're skeptical this veggie-loaded recipe, don't be!  It seriously tastes good and works lovely as a main course!  If you'd like to beef up this dish, try adding some spicy italian sausage with the onions in the beginning. 

(via Martha Stewart)
Serves 8
2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggplants, (2 pounds), peeled in strips and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 to 5 medium zucchini, (2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 yellow or red bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

In a Dutch oven (or other heavy 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat, cook onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in eggplant and zucchini; season generously with salt and pepper.

Add 3/4 cup water; cover, and simmer until vegetables are beginning to soften, stirring once, about 5 minutes. Stir in bell peppers; simmer, covered, until softened, 5 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and thyme; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Partially cover; simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. If serving immediately, stir in basil. (If freezing, leave out basil.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Portobello-Black Bean Burgers

My first experiment with meatless burgers! And I can tell you this is definitely not your average burger!  

These are a little high maintenance for the weeknight grill out, but surely a recipe to try on a weekend.  I highly encourage taking your time with these little ones, and maybe even making the burgers smaller so they cook faster.  Mushrooms hold a ton of water, so they may turn out a little on the mushy side if you don't cook them long enough.  I couldn't find portobello mushrooms at the store, so I used baby bella instead.  

Portobello & Black Bean Burgers
adapted from 
Cara's  Cravings
2 packages portobello or baby bella mushrooms
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup canned chopped green chilis
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup minced onions
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup eggbeaters, or 1 egg
Wipe the mushrooms clean and place in a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until mixed well. Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Divide the mushroom mixture into 4 equal portions. If it seems too soft to shape into patties, just scoop each portion onto the skillet and flatten slightly with a spatula while cooking. Cook for about 10 minutes on each side, or until a crust is formed. If the burgers are still wet in the middle, transfer the skillet (as long as it's ovenproof) to a pre-heated oven (mine was set to 400) and bake to finish them. Serve with sliced avocado on your favorite rolls.

Nutritional Info (burgers only)
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 184.0
Total Fat: 5.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 620.5 mg
Total Carbs: 28.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.6 g
Protein: 8.6 g

Friday, January 21, 2011

Moo Shu Noodles

A moody photo of our food

Here's a Rachel Ray recipe that I've been taking it to the bank since the first time I made it.  Now that Todd and I know its ins and outs, it takes simply no time at all to make!  

Also, have you heard about lindy hop power couple Dax and Sarah?  They've made it to the semi-finals on Paula Abdul's new show, Live to Dance!  Check out their latest performance!  Dax is nursing a painful back injury, so they deserve an especially hearty round of applause.  We won't know if they've made it to the finals until next week, so stay tuned.  They're doing a lovely job representing lindy hop to the mainstream media.

Which is all to say, Todd and I are teaching the intermediate series at Swing Cats in February!  Here's a feel  for what we'll be going over in our first lesson! So pumped!

Moo Shu Noodles
Serves 2, with leftovers for a second night (from Rachel Ray)

12-ounces egg fettuccine

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 pound boneless pork chops, thinly sliced
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 2 tablespoons ginger (about a 2-inch piece), peeled and grated
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 (or whole, like I did) small head Napa or Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Place a large pot of water over high heat to boil. When the water comes up to a bubble, add some salt and drop in the fettuccine. Cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain the cooked pasta and reserve.
Place a small skillet over medium heat with 1 turn of the pan of oil, about 1 tablespoon. Add the beaten eggs to the pan and scramble. When the eggs are done, reserve them in a bowl.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 3 turns of the pan of oil, about 3 tablespoons. Season the pork with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve warm.

Add the scallions, ginger and garlic to the pan, and cook until aromatic and the scallions are tender, about 1 minute. Add the shiitakes to the pan and stir-fry until golden brown, 4-5 minutes.Combine the hoisin and soy sauce together in a small bowl.  Add the cabbage to the pan and stir-fry until tender, about 5 minutes. When the cabbage is tender, add the reserved pork and scrambled eggs back to the pan along with the hoisin-soy mixture. Stir-fry to fully heat through, about 1 minute, and then toss with the reserved cooked pasta. Cook to heat through and serve.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Even since my friends and I went wild for Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen a few years ago, ris-AHH-toe (and when we play our cards right, beef wellington) has been way popular around here.  Risotto is also pretty fool proof, just don't rush it...

This recipe really works because it requires so few ingredients, and there are a bunch of ways to mix it up.  I used shitaake mushrooms instead of chantrelle and farro instead of brown rice (cutting down cooking time by about 20 minutes).  I omitted the butter and cheese (and it still tasted good!), because farro will naturally turn out creamy.  

P.S.  Here are a few pics from the Mad Men themed party we had last weekend:
The alcohol spread.  
Circa, 1960
Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
From How to Cook Everything
1 ounce dried mushrooms, such as porcini or a mixture of chanterelles, morels, etc.
1½ cups hot water
5 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons butter, plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 medium onion, minced
1½ cups short grain brown rice
½ cup dry white wine (if you have it)
parmesan cheese (if you have it)
In a small bowl, soak the mushrooms in hot water until soft, 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Scoop mushrooms out of soaking liquid, squeeze them dry, and roughly chop.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, stirring for about a minute, then add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 3 minutes, but do not let the mushrooms brown. Add the rice and stir until it is coated with butter. Season with salt and pepper, then add wine, if using. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.
Add mushroom soaking liquid to stock (careful to hold back any sediment collected in the bottom of the bowl). Add ½ cup of stock to rice at a time, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Continue ladling in the stock and stirring the rice until the rice is tender (at least an hour, if using brown rice). When risotto is done, stir in the softened butter and parmesan, if using.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Turkey Chili with Tomatoes and Beans

This is my go-to chili recipe.  It's healthy, not too heavy, and is prepared in the blink of an eye...perfect for evenings when, by the time you get home, you've already been hungry for hours.  I generally like to bring the heat, but this recipe is not dauntingly spicy.  If you have a delicate palette, go for plain diced tomatoes.  Might make the chili with these scones next time....mmmm mmmmm

Turkey Chili with Tomatoes and Beans (serves 4)
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
2 10-ounce cans Rotel tomatoes (or two small cans diced tomatoes with hot peppers) or 1 28-ounce can of tomatoes with bunch of extra shakes of chili powder
4 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup reduced sodium beef broth, chicken broth, or water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
In a large pot, heat oil over moderately high heat and add turkey and onion. Seasoned with 2 teaspoons chili powder, salt and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, until turkey becomes opaque. Add remaining ingredients, raise heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until flavors have had a chance to mingle. Serve then slurp from bowl.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mad Dog makes you smile

Just rediscovered this clip.  I think it's impossible to watch it without smiling!  I especially love the intro and the way the couples play with out for the drags and the itch!  Oh yeah, and how excited are the dancers cheering on the jammers?! Love it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sweet Potato, Corn, and Jalapeño Bisque

My recipe book is made up of recipes I've printed then put in laminated pouches and assembled in a 3-ring binder.  For a while, I had this nasty habit of printing out most recipes that looked good then putting them directly into my binder system---no bueno!

The binder became untrustworthy because I had no idea if I would like the recipe or not, and it also became a big, big mess.  Now, I have a special spot for recipes I want to try and recipe face offs (like, I have two ratatouille recipes and two shepherd's pie recipes, so I'm going to have them face-off and then choose one-- it's going to be intense!!!).  

This soup was a recipe I've been wanting to try.  Unfortunately, it hasn't made the final cut for my official recipe book.  Despite the jalapeño, the soup is hardly spicy; rather, it's mostly sweet.  I don't like sweet soup, but you may like sweet soup, in which case, go for it!  This is super quick to make, too--less than 30 minutes. 

Btw, the Bachelor is back, and I'm totally watching it.  Lord help me.

Sweet, Corn, and Jalapeño Bisque
“Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found From The Times-Picayune of New Orleans” (Chronicle Books, 2008)

Serves 3 for dinner

1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Scant pinch ground cinnamon
Finely chopped scallions, green parts only, or minced parsley
1. In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until just soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and stock and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, purée contents of pot, in batches if necessary, until smooth.
3. Reheat soup, stirring in jalapeño, corn, molasses, salt, cayenne, black pepper and cinnamon. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve, topped with scallions or parsley.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Creamy Pesto Fettuccine with Asparagus, Peas, and Edamame

Happy New Year, friends!  

Todd and I had a great Christmas break visiting family in Michigan.  Eating highlights included: lamb burgers and beer at the Arbor Brewing Company in Ann Arbor, shrimp mold, and cookies...we ate a million of them.  Seriously, a million.  oh and homemade sweet pickles.  I cleaned out my mother-in-law's jar...twice.  

And here are a few pics from a photo booth our friends set up for a new year's party!  yay!  

And, while all of this has admittedly little to do with creamy pesto fettucine, I've still got to tell you about it.  It's a total staple around here.  The pesto makes this dish feel so indulgent that I use fat free Greek yogurt.  I love edamame, so I usually double up on those.  Egg noodles give the dish a lighter feel but regular semolina pasta works great also.  Don't forget to taste for seasonings!  

PS: Asparagus is totes not in season right now, so it can be kinda spendy at the moment....

Creamy Pesto Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas, and Edamame
Serves 4
(Adapted from Pink of Perfection)

1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch segments
1 cup unshelled edamame beans — I used frozen
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup pesto
2 heaping tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 pound egg fettucine
chopped fresh chives to sprinkle on top
Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta, and cook until al dente.  Meanwhile, shell the edamame, if necessary. Heat 1/4 cup water in a medium-sized skillet until boiling. Dump in asparagus, and steam for three minutes. Lower heat and stir in edamame and peas, stirring until heated through and then drain. In a small bowl, stir together Greek yogurt and pesto. Return pasta to its cooking pot, and toss with pesto mixture and steamed vegetables. Sprinkle with chives and enjoy while dreamily staring into your lover's eyes.