Monday, July 26, 2010

Turkey Burgers with Apricot Glaze

Another quickie dinner for the Eisenbergs, I'm afraid. Nobody here but us chickens, too hot, too busy to do much else.  For those of you who didn't catch the previous post, the fabulous plate that the dinner is on is a disposable, compostable plate  made from palm leaves that have dropped, been cleaned and pressed into plates.  They look like wood and are strong like styrofoam.  I'm in love with them!  You can check them out at Marx Palm Leaf Plates.  I have some other photos of the plates that I'll put at the end of the post.

With only two people at home now we have a lot of leftovers and I hate to throw them away.  I had pulled a recipe out of a magazine that called for turkey burgers with a currant glaze, but I had some wonderful apricot glaze leftover, along with the mustard dressing that I had made for the Red Rice and Sausage dish previous post), and then there were peaches... What can I say - it's peach season in North Carolina and I can't resist them when I head to the farmers' market.  Apricot glaze and peach - YES!  Needless to say I had to revamp the recipe to suit my pantry and the season.

Here's the burger recipe:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1-1/3 pounds ground turkey (not breast)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons mild flavored oil (light olive or canola)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup Good Food Apricot Spice Barbecue Glaze ( if you make your own, include fresh ginger), more to serve at the table
1/2 citrus fruit - tangerine, lemon or orange
2 ripe peaches
Whole grain buns

I have some very fragrant lemon-thyme growing at my house, which I knew would be perfect with the apricot/ginger sauce and peaches.  When using fresh herbs you don't want to use the tough stems, so slide the leaves off against the direction in which they are growing.  Fresh herbs can be hard to chop when they are wet, so I usually chop them dry, and then wash them.   A tea holder is a great tool for this.  If I had one of those individual ball holders I would use that, but since I didn't, I used this individual mesh tea holder, and it worked just fine.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the meat, chopped thyme, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and salt. You can see how nice and pink the meat is - if it's brown at all, it means that it's been exposed to the air and wasn't stored properly. I like to mix it all up with my hands, using a light touch to combine everything together.
Divide the mixture into 5 patties, each about 1/2-inch thick.  They will look quite large, and maybe a little thinner than you'd like them, but when they cook they tend to draw up, and will be thicker and smaller after they've cooked.
(I actually had more than 1-1/3 lbs, which is why there is a small blob in the middle- for our dog, Molly!)
Spray a cast iron skillet with some cooking spray and turn the heat on high.  When the pan is very not - just before smoking, add the burgers.  Let the burgers cook for about 3 minutes, turning down the heat just slightly if they appear to be overbrowning.  Flip the burgers over and let them cook another 3 minutes. Place half of the glaze in a small bowl.  Brush the burgers with the glaze.  Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to low to medium (depending on your stove - you don't need the burgers to brown anymore, but you do need to get the centers cooked). 

 Let the burgers cook another 2 minutes, and then  flip them over again,brush with the glaze and let them cook for 1 more minute.  The interior temperature should be about 165 degrees.  They will continue to cook after you remove them from the pan and while you brown up the peaches.

While the burgers are cooking, slice the peaches in half to remove the stone.  Slice each peach half into 5ths, and squeeze the juice over the slices, and then dab on some of the apricot glaze. 

These are freestones, so the pit comes right out of them.  If you don't get freestones, you will have to cut the peach off of the pit - it doesn't look as pretty but tastes good just the same!

When the burgers come out of the pan, turn up the heat to medium-high, add the peaches and cook them until they are browned.

Serve the burgers on toasted buns with some of the reserved apricot glaze and grilled peaches.  If you want to make your own apricot glaze, puree canned apricots with some fresh ginger, lemon, tamarind, salt and mustard.

Have any of the Lowfat Mustard Sauce left from the previous recipe?  Here's another dressing you can make from yesterdays:

2 tablespoons of Lowfat Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt (I use Oikos)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon water, or more to taste

Mix everything up with enough water to make it the texture you like.  Use 1-1/2 teaspoons per person on mixed greens (1 to 1-1/2 handfuls per person).

Here's another view of the plates:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I've just put the photos of the desserts in my new CD-rom up on Facebook.  There are 73 photos and they're arranged by category: cookies, pastries and then cakes.  I haven't figured out yet how to put a link for facebook here, so sign on and then search for Amazing Desserts.  Please give me a thumbs up (like) if the photos make you drool!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Rice with Sausage and Roasted Vegetables

Before I get into the recipes, let me tell you about the plate that I used.  It's a biodegradable and compostable palm plate that I got as a promo from Marx Foods (  The plates are made from palm leaves that have naturally dropped from the palm trees and then cleaned and formed into these fantastic disposable plates.  They have the feel, weight and durability of styrofoam, but they're really quite nice to look at and to eat off of -and of course they are environment friendly.  My husband's comment  was "too bad they don't have a lid.  They'd make the perfect green take-out container..."  Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed eating off of them.  In fact, they are so nice, there is this urge to clean them and use them again, but that's not a great idea because they have ridges in them that wouldn't clean well (I don't actually know if they'd hold up to washing but the thought was there...) The next time I need  disposables, I'm definitely ordering a set of these palm plates.  They come in lots of great shapes from round, square and hexagonal dinner plates, to smaller salad plates and soup bowls.  Check out the website to see the full array of products - Marx Palm Plates.

I must say that this is not the prettiest food that I've ever made, although it did look more appetizing than the picture shows.  I had some leftover sausages that I wanted to use up, and some fabulous veggies from the farmer's market so I thought a jambalaya-type dinner would be just the thing.  The problem is, I don't really like garlic, onions, and hot spices, so a true jambalaya was not really feasible.  I decided to use some of the elements of jambalaya and then just make it up as I went along.  It really was a taste extravaganza and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  I decided to pair it with salad with a very tangy mustard dressing.  The recipe for that follows.

The recipe would serve 2 adults and 2 kids.  To serve 4 adults, use all of the vegetables (I used half and then mixed the remaining half into the leftover rice to be used as a side dish tomorrow) and increase the rice to 1-1/4 cups.  You probably won't need more liquid, as there was plenty, which I evaporated by cooking the rice with the cover off for the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Red Rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onions (more if you like onions and none if you hate them!)
2-3 small sausages per person (I used turkey breakfast links)

1 cup short-grained brown rice (1-1/4 cups if more servings are needed)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can low-salt chicken stock
2 bay leaves

Roasted Vegetables
1 zucchini, quartered and cut into 1/4-inch thick chunks
1 red bell pepper, halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 baby or chinese eggplants, stems removed and cut in 1/2-inch x 1/4-inch thick chunks
1 or 2 handfuls of cremini or white mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the rice:
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick dutch oven or saute pan.  Add the onions and sausages and cook on medium heat until the sausages are brown, stirring the onions occasionally so they don't burn, and turning the sausages so they brown on all sides.  Remove the sausages to a bowl (they won't be cooked through).

Stir in the brown rice, paprika, dried thyme and dried oregano.  Stir to coat the rice well, and then add the canned tomatoes with the juice, the chicken stock and the bay leaves.  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 50 minutes.

 Meanwhile, dice up all of the vegetables and mix them with the olive oil, salt, oregano, thyme, paprika and Worcestershire sauce.  
Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminim foil (nonstick, if you have it), and spread the vegetables in it in a single layer.  Place in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes.  Increase the heat to 450 and cook for another 15 minutes, until the vegetables are browned and cooked through (if you prefer the vegetables a little more al dente, you can start them out in a 450 degree oven and cook for only 20 minutes - enough time to brown them but not soften them too much).
When the rice is almost done, check to see if it is too soupy. 

If so, move the lid a little so that some of the steam can escape.  If the rice is fully cooked, but too soupy you can remove the lid completely and cook for a few minutes uncovered.  About 3 minutes before serving, cut the sausages into 1/2-inch chunks. Add them to the pot, replace the cover, and let the sausages steam on low heat, just to finish the cooking. 
Stir in the half of the roasted vegetables and reserve the remaining veggies for another meal ( if you need more servings, you can add all of the veggies).

Serve the red rice directly from the pan, or portion it out, as in the opening photo.

If you'd like the dish to be more like jambalaya, add garlic, Andouille sausage, celery, cayenne and black pepper.  You can also add chicken and shrimp.

Salad Accompaniment
I wanted a salad with a bit of a punch to it.  I used organic mesclun mix, bok choy, carrots and sugar snaps, with raisins as a garnish.  I thought the cruciferous bok choy and the sweetness of the remaining ingredients would taste great with a super-mustardy dressing.

Lowfat Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 - 3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon agave syrup or honey
2 tablespoon olive oil
fresh herbs to taste, optional

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, soy sauce and syrup.  Little by little, whisk  in the olive oil.  Add pepper and herbs if desired.
This is a pungent mustard dressing.  Use sparingly.

Makes enough to lightly dress  6-8 servings (1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons per serving)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pecan Snowballs

I just got back from my son's wedding, so it will be awhile until I start posting again.  In the meantime, the recipe for my favorite cookies just went up at Frigidaire's recipe section.  To see the recipe, click here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two Variations on Lite Ravioli

There are only two of us home now, and with temperatures topping 95 degrees, there are lots of days when I don't feel like cooking much.  On this particular day I had some left over citrus marinated chicken breast, but it wasn't enough for a meal and neither of us had felt like having it for lunch.  So..

Buitoni Lite Ravioli were on sale at the market so I bought some of it along with a  bunch of broccolini, mushrooms and some Fat-free half and half.  I had some nice smoky tasting corn that had also been grilled the night before, fresh herbs from the garden, white wine  and Italian cheeses, which I always keep in the house.  By the time the pasta water boiled and the ravioli cooked, all of my add-ins had been cut  and my whole meal was ready to eat!  Did I mention La Brea frozen French rolls that bake up like fresh ones in 5 minutes?  That's an easy summer meal.

Variation 1
Here's my mis-en-place (my ingredients for the dish).

For two people I used 2 handfuls of mushrooms (these are Cremini), which I sliced 1/4-inch thick, 1 ear of corn, kernels removed, 1 bunch broccolini, chopped, and about 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (leaves removed from woody stems and then chopped).

I also had about 1-1/2 small grilled chicken breasts, which I diced into bite-sized pieces.

I got  a large pot of salted water boiling for the pasta.  When it was rapidly boiling I added the ravioli and cooked it according to package directions, but undercooked by 1 minute.  When the ravioli went into the pot, the rolls went into the toaster oven at 375, for 5 minutes and then the toaster was turned off, but the rolls left in the hot oven until ready to serve.

 To get the mushrooms nice and brown, I heated about 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large, stainless skillet or saute pan.  When the oil was hot,  the mushrooms were added and stirred often, turning the mushrooms and cooking them until brown.  In the chicken went, and it was sauteed briefly just to brown the chicken a little.

 I added about 1/4 cup wine to the hot pan (this is called de-glazing)and cooked on medium to high heat, stirring everything around until the wine evaporated ( maybe 1 minute max).  The pan was set aside until the ravioli was  just 1 minute from being cooked. At that point the pan was placed back on a medium heat and about 1-1/2 cups of fat-free half and half  was added to the pan, along with the herbs, and simmered until the ravioli was ready. 

When the ravioli was done, it was added to the cream mixture, and the broccolini  was blanched  in the boiling pasta water for 30 seconds (if you need to empty the pot to get the pasta out, add the broccolini first and just let it cook for 30 seconds). The broccolini was added to the saute pan, the corn stirred in, and the whole thing tossed together.  Then the pot was moved off heat, covered and allowed to rest and blend flavors.  Before serving, I added some fresh ground pepper and some grated Italian cheese.

I like to use a mixture of Romano, Asiago and Parmesan.  The asiago is mild and smooth, the Parmesan is salty and the Romano adds an earthiness.  Because I like a coarse girnd, I usually do it with my Kitchenaid mixer attachment (it's also really easy to clean.).

I put the bricks of cheese in the top, grate it on low speed, catching it in a container below, and then I add 1/3 of it back into the grinder, so that some of it is finer.

Here you can see the coarsely grated and the cheese that has been put back in and is finely grated.

I should say that this makes a very thin white sauce.  If you like a thicker sauce, reserve 1/2 cup of the half and half and place it in a jar.  Add 1 tablespoon flour on top of the liquid.  Cover and shake it vigorously.  After you add the half and half to the pan, add the contents of the jar.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the mixture cook for a few minutes to thicken the sauce and cook out the raw taste of flour.  Continue with the recipe.  The final product will be a little bit thicker still, as the starch from the pasta and the cheese will thicken up the sauce a bit.

Shopping List for Variation 1 (above)
1 package Buitoni Lite Cheese Ravioli
2 teaspoons olive oil

2 handfuls of mushrooms, sliced
1-1/2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob
1/4 cup white wine or Vermouth
1-1/2 cups fat-free half and half
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped
1 bunch broccolini, chopped
freshly grated cheese, about 3-4 tablespoons, or to taste

 1 tablespoon flour

Variation 2

Basically, this is the same recipe, as above, except instead of using leftover chicken, I used chicken sausage (tomato, basil mozzarella chicken sausage which i got at BJ's), which I sauteed up with zucchini and mushrooms (in case you haven't guessed by now, I don't eat garlic or onions, but they would be great in either of these if you like them).  Another nice addition to this would be some cannelini beans.  Because we had had the above ravioli fairly recently, I wanted to make the sauce a little different, so I added some different spices (thyme and basil in the above, and basil and lavender in this variation), and I also made a pink sauce by adding in about 1 cup of tomato sauce. 
The pink sauce is a bit heavier, but not as filling as a traditional red sauce, so it is still suitable for the summer.  Because it's lower in fat, it also is nice for the summer.
Each of these recipes serves 3