Sweet {Pecan} Turkey Burger with Spicy Yogurt Aioli

I LOVE that show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on the Food Network.

Well, really anything on the Food Network.

But, who doesn’t enjoy see those amazing dishes, and learning about what food gurus think is the BEST of the Best?

It seems like we’ve all had those few dishes that really stick with us: The ones that we dream of as we eat random green leftovers for lunch, or choke down that rubber chicken they serve at conferences and college events…. again. The ones that we crave all the more because they are so unattainable – Nestled in a cozy booth in a restaurant far away, or at your grandmother’s table in another state.

Well, I’m no guru, but this is one of those meals.

I’ve eaten this burger exactly once, about 5 months ago, and I’ve thought of it about 127,000 times since then. So, I decided to do something about it!

Inspired by Barley’s Brewing Company’s Turkey Nut Burger, this sandwich is spicy, sweet, juicy and fresh. The pecans are surprising. The aioli is secretly healthy. Best enjoyed with crispy baked sweet potato fries.

Oh, yes.

{Perfect for a summer dinner, or a “wishing for summer” dinner… like tonight}

The secret is really in the maple syrup, pecans and aioli, so feel free to use your tried and true burger recipe (I based mine off of this one), or even use ground beef, chicken or pork. Those caramelized, sweet pecans are to die for!. The millet, onion and veggies in this version do a great job of keeping things juicy… just be very careful when flipping. The lower fat content can cause the burgers to crumble easily…. but it’s so worth it : )

Sweet Turkey Pecan Burger with Spicy Yogurt Aioli

Serves 6

For the Burger:

  • 1 lb ground turkey (lowest fat content may not hold together as well when formed into patties – try 93%-lean)
  • 1/4 cup cooked millet (you can substitute couscous, quinoa or another grain if you have it on hand)
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

For Grilling:

  • 3 T olive Oil
  • 2 T pure maple syrup

For Spicy Aioli:

Measurements are “to taste” – add a little more spicy or sweet if you’d like!

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • About 1 T Sriracha Asian Chili Sauce (available at most grocery stores!)
  • About 1 T honey
For Caramelized Onion:
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1T olive oil
  • 2T fig or balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle of brown sugar (optional)
For Garnish – Optional:
  • Sliced tomato
  • Spinach
  • Cheese of your choice

Directions:

  • Prepare millet according to directions, or (like I did) use leftovers!
  • Preheat grill to medium-high.
  • Prepare aioli: Mix yogurt, chili sauce and honey to taste, cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Prepare caramelized onions: Place ingredients in pan on medium heat, stir often until crust forms, golden brown, fragrant. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add celery; cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, basil, oregano, salt and pepper; cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds more. Remove from heat.
  • Add millet to the pan, toss, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  • Add onion and grain mixture to the ground turkey and stir until combined; do not overmix. Form the mixture into 6 patties.
  • Mix olive oil and maple syrup. Press crushed pecans onto the top of each patty, and brush with the maple-olive oil mixture.
  • To grill: Oil the grill rack, and grill the burgers for 5 to 6 minutes per side, flipping gently to avoid breaking them. Garnish, and serve immediately!
  • To cook on the stovetop: Coat a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the patties, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Cover and continue to cook until lightly browned but still juicy (the juices should run clear, not pink), about 4 minutes more. (An instant-read thermometer inserted in the center should read 165° F.)

Don’t forget those fries…

Enjoy!

What is one of your “Best Thing I Ever Ate” dishes?


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Get your {Greek} on

BIG news!

No, mom… not THAT big news.

We booked the cruise portion of our summer European adventure!

{<– The Husband at the Greek Garden for his 25th. I embarassed him, but I think the Birthday sash is rather dashing.}

The trip is starting to feel real for the first time, and I am beyond excited. The second leg of our two week excursion, the cruise will take us to Sicily, Italy; Ephesus, Turkey; Athens, Greece; and Crete, Greece…

{source}

I’m ready to leave NOW!

Ok, not really.

…it will take me three months just to decide how to fit eight pairs of shoes, two purses, twelve bottles of nail polish and three jars of almond butter in my suitcase.

And maybe sunscreen.

I like to be prepared…There are a million-and-one things left to plan, but in honor of getting this far, I’m making a Mediterranean dinner for The Husband… it’s one of his favorites (and one of the first “signature” dishes I crafted after we were married : ) It was inspired the “rice bowl” at one of our local date spots, The Greek Garden!

We love this dish because besides being healthy-to-the-max (can you say protein, veggies and healthy fats galore?!) it is super versatile. Eat it hot, eat it cold, make ahead, eat it with chicken as an entree or nix the chix for a veggie dinner or side dish! This is also great to make for a crowd, and is always a hit a potlucks…

“Get Your Greek On” Mediterranean Quinoa

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Quinoa, cooked per directions on package (white or red, you can also substitute other grains – farro is fun – just gotta love quinoa’s protein-punch!)
  • About 1/2 cup diced cucumber (I like to use English cucs, because you don’t have to worry about peeling!)
  • About 1/2 cup diced orange bell pepper (I just like a mix of colors – green, red, yellow, will do.)
  • About 1/2 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • About 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • About 1/4 cup seeded, diced tomato
  • 3 T EVOO
  • 1t parsley
  • 1t oregano
  • 1t dill
  • 1t thyme
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives (optional)
  • Sauteed, sliced chicken breast (for a non-veggie option. Use same spice mixture to season!)

Directions:

  • Drizzle cooked quinoa with EVOO, toss (don’t overcook! You want it to have a little texture…)
  • Chop vegetables, crumble cheese, add to quinoa – gotta love that color!
  • Chop fresh herbs, add to quinoa mixture along with spices
  • Ganish with chopped olives or chicken, if desired

I love to serve this with toasted pita and hummus, and (you’ve probably guessed it) a little Greek yogurt.

So Fresh. Like a little bit of summer in your mouth.

Try it, and Enjoy!

{Warm up} Spicy Carnitas Chili

It’s freezing.

As in, the temperature stood at a grand total of 5 degrees yesterday morning as I headed out the door to work. Yuck.

The Husband and I had planned on swimming after work this week, but because of the wet, blustery weather we decided against it.

My feet had already been damp all day long, and the thought of jumping in a pool made me want to die.

So instead, I made chili.

So worth it.

This recipe is based off of my favorite Turkey Chilli recipe from Eat, Live, Run, and was inspired by Alexandria’s Tacos De Puerco – A braised pork belly taco with tomato-ancho sauce, queso fresco and cilantro… that is to die for.

And so, Spicy Carnitas Chili was born… Try it!

Spicy Carnitas Chili

Ingredients:

Makes about 8 servings

(Don’t be intimidated by this long list – it’s easy!)

  • About 2 cups (a little more or less works just as well) of cooked pork loin, cut into bite-sized cubes (I used leftovers that I had roasted with cranberries, rosemary and apples. Great flavor!)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large green (or red or orange or yellow…) bell pepper
  • 8 cloves of garlic (yeppers – e.i.g.h.t.)
  • 1-2 Jalapeno peppers, or 1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, seeded and chopped (depends on how HOT you like your chili! The chilies add an amazing depth of flavor, but can heat things up pretty quickly. Watch out!)
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1T ground cumin
  • 2T brown sugar
  • 1 t oregano
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 regular cans of black beans
  • About 2 cups of corn, fresh or frozen
  • Chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt for garnish

Directions:

  • Chop onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeño pepper (or chilies). Sauté everything in two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium/low heat in a large pot/stockpot.
  • After about five minutes, add cooked, cubed pork loin (or add pound of lean ground turkey). Cook until the meat begins to form a crust (or has browned if you are using raw – about 8 mins.). Stir to keep things moving!
  • Add chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, oregano and tomato paste. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly (Don’t worry – the crunchy stuff on the pan is flavor!).
  • Add red wine , stir – this will “deglaze” the pot.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, beans (drained and rinsed), and corn.
  • Give it one last stir, then cover and let simmer for about an hour. Check and stir occasionally.
  • Serve piping hot with a hearty garnish of chopped cilantro, shredded cheese and plain Greek yogurt. A few tortilla chips would be a nice addition as well…

Enjoy!

This soup is thick, and almost has a smoky BBQ flavor that is out of this world. The meat is tender and falls apart – each bite is full of rich, fresh flavors and textures (and, like most soups, it just gets BETTER sitting overnight in the fridge!). Awesome for a group, perfect for a snowed-in weekend, and just different enough to keep your taste buds entertained.

You, on the other hand, might need a few Lifetime movies, nail polish, a good book and a backrub.

Or maybe that’s just me.

The Husband’s {Annual} Dinner

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are gearing up for a fun New Year! We’ve been in three states and will have slept in five houses by the time we head home this weekend…. but boy, I love it :)

Now, back to where I left off: My husband and I have a great relationship, and one of the keys of our happy marriage is that I do the cooking. I love it. He doesn’t. I like trying crazy things. He eats them without complaint (and maybe just one supplemental packet of fruit snacks later in the evening).

Well last year, our friends started getting on him about his lack of cooking prowess. He asserted that he could cook if he wanted, he just didn’t LOVE it.

They said he was full of it.

So, he set out to prove everyone wrong…. and made me one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten (complete with handmade dark chocolate truffles and baked brie en croute.) Where did that come from?! He said it was his way of making up for lost time. And, his reason for making exactly one dinner per year for the foreseeable future. Quality, not quantity.

A year later, and with no dinners prepared in-between, he decided to make this a celebrated annual event. So, on to the computer, and off to the grocery store he went. (And yes, that means he has made dinner for us exactly twice since we were married June of 2009. No, not even mac n’ cheese).

I Christmas shopped, and he cooked (and called when he needed to know why Kosher salt was different from other salt, where the dill was kept, and if you put meat between the halves of the broiler pan or on top of it). Though he has some cooking vocab to master, dinner was totally delightful. And, it included eggplant, Greek yogurt and cauliflower.

Mind. Blown.

Try the recipes he used below (and maybe your man could even take a stab at it! At least once a year…).

You can find them all at FoodNetwork.com!

The Husband’s Second Annual Dinner

Encourage him to give it a try – You won’t be disappointed! Unless you have to clean up after him…

Tastes like {Home}: Vegetable Beef Soup

Everyone has that unique set of flavors, textures and smells that instantly transport them back home…

We’ve all been there: You’re rushing around making dinner after work, and then all of the sudden you find yourself sitting in your mom’s kitchen with the table at eye-level, a spoon in your hand and something dribbling off of your chin…

In your mind, of course.

For me, one of those time-travel dishes is my mom’s “Vegetable Soup.” With loads of vegetables, chunks of beef and its signature apple cider vinegar tang, it is my ultimate comfort food, and the first recipe I asked my mom for after the Husband and I were married. It’s also very easy to make. Definitely a bonus.

Some other yummy benefits:

  1. I almost always make it with leftovers – Clean out the fridge, stretch your $ and get an amazing depth of flavor!
  2. It gets better the longer that it sits – Seriously. It’s wonderful piping hot from the stove, but even better in two days.
  3. You can make a huge pot of the stuff and eat it for weeks – Let it “marinate” in the fridge, then freeze for great take-to-work lunches and fast dinners.

Here is the usual drill: The Husband starts dropping subtle hints that he would like to incorporate some meat into his dinners. “Hey babe – You know, you could say ‘Or just add chicken!’ to this meal on your blog. It’s REALLY good, but some people might like chicken…. yum, chicken… mumble, mumble, beef….mumble, drool…”

Then, after a few more meals, I can tell by the look in his eyes that the man needs some red meat. And, if I would like the trash taken out or my windows happily scraped or my next shopping trip approved, I had better serve some. Fast. (Ladies: Chickpeas can only take you so far in your marriage… Sometimes, it takes a pot roast to get things done).

So, I toss a roast, veggies, seasonings, some red wine and the kitchen sink into a crock pot before I leave for work, and we are greeted with delicious smells and a fast dinner when we get home. My favorite vegetable additions are sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts (fresh, cut in half), baby carrots, fingerling potatoes, onions and a couple of cloves of garlic.

Well, with just the two of us, we always have a ton of meat, broth and flavorful vegetables left over. That is where the soup comes in. Just separate everything, stuff it in the fridge, and pull it out when you’re ready. The exact quantities don’t matter (ANOTHER reason I love soup… ) so just go with what you have!

Homey Vegetable Beef Soup

Ingredients:

About 6 hearty servings

  • 3-4 cups Beef broth (Reserved from the roast, or purchased)
  • 1-2 cups Beef roast, cooked and slightly shredded/chopped into large bite-sized pieces (Or, whatever you have left. I like more veggies than beef, so even a little is fine!)
  • 1-3 cups of leftover roasted vegetables (or whatever you have left), roughly chopped (While not necessary for the recipe, the flavor is wonderful. If you aren’t making this from leftovers, just add 1-2 potatoes, cubed. They will cook with the soup.
  • 2 bags of frozen mixed vegetables, or one “family sized” package (corn, green beans, carrot cubes…you know the one.)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • About 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, or to taste (trust me… it makes the dish!)
  • About 1/2 cup of green lentils (Just for fun!)

Directions:

  • In a large pot, add all ingredients except vinegar, stir and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 1 hour, or until vegetables are tender. Add vinegar toward the end of the cooking time. Add pepper to taste – you shouldn’t need additional salt.
  • Serve with crusty bread, cheese and sliced apples. Warms you from the inside out, reminds you of dinners when you were 12…

Enjoy!

It’ll make you (and your man) happy for weeks to come.

What are some of those flavors and foods that make you feel like a kid again?