Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When Vacation Gives you Lemons...

Reentry is hard. This week I am trying my darndest to get back in the groove of the grind after a full seven days of family time in the sun, surf and sand. 100+ degree weather just isn’t as fun on the steamy blacktops of suburbia as it is in a beach chair with my feet in the cool ocean water and the beach breeze in my hair.

As it goes with vacation, I came home to a fridge of random ingredients. I had feta, some frozen ground turkey, greek yogurt, spinach, rotten milk, frozen hamburger buns, some cucumbers from a neighbor, and a million lemons. Not a bad lot, but definitely not a whole lot of options for Superman, sorry buddy :)

My neighbor and chef extraordinaire, Tawnya, had recently told me about some tasty Spanikopita burgers she made that I knew I wanted to try out. And when vacation leaves you with a million lemons, make Tzatziki? After I scrounged up some tomatoes I got to work. For a fridge full of random ingredients, this turned out pretty dang good.

Spanakopita Burgers
(adopted from Rachael Ray’s recipe)

1 pound of ground turkey or chicken
1 bag of spinach
half an onion and a couple cloves of garlic (I always always have onion and garlic)
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
Hamburger buns (optional)

For the tzatziki topping:

1 cup of Greek Yogurt
1 cucumber
half a small red onion
2 cloves garlic
cherry tomatoes
1 lemon
2 tsp Dill
Olive Oil

First thing’s first, heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add a turn of the pan of olive oil. Chop the garlic and onions.
Add to the saute pan and let them go for about 2 minutes.
Then add the spinach. I did use the whole bag. The original recipe called for frozen spinach but I just really have something against frozen spinach. Fresh spinach is so pretty! I added about half (enough to fit in the pan), let it cook down, and then added the other half
Like so

While that spinach is doing it’s thing, get started on the Tzatziki. Add the greek yogurt to the mixing bowl. (P.S. I got to use my new Bamboo fiber mixing bowls from Pampered Chef’s not yet released fall collection, I love them). Then add the 2 tsp of Dill. Fresh dill is so much more flavorful but dry will do.
Add two cloves of garlic.

Oh hey, spinach is done. Put that in a separate bowl to cool while you finish the Tzatziki. You will inadvertently cook the ground turkey if you try and mix it all while it’s hot!

Focus Karen, back to the tzatziki. Add the lemon juice.

Peel the cucumber

I really wanted the cucumber pulverized so I used the food chopper and got the pieces nice and teeny.
Add it in the sauce.
Chop tomatoes. I love the colors of these.
Score and cut the red onion (I would leave this out if I wanted the tzatziki to be more of a dip and less of a burger topping)
Then toss it allllll together.
To the spinach bowl, add the 1/2 cup feta and about a tablepsoon of oregano.
Then the ground turkey and mix it well. I just really think you can’t mix a burger well unless you get in there with your hands, so don’t be shy just do it.
Form into patties and refrigerate until you are ready to go.

When you’re ready, heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. I would recommend pan frying these versus grilling because they are a bit juicy and might fall apart on the grill.
Cook through on both sides until they are golden brown and cooked through. I think this took me about 10 to 15 minutes.

I actually ate these open faced but I thought for the picture they looked cuter with a hat. Next time I would definitely throw some Hot Pepper Rings or Pepperoncini on there because I’m insane and have to have something spicy in every meal I eat. Might try pita instead of Hamburger Rolls too!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Perfect Summer Night

It's already the 4th of July. How did that happen so quickly? We are in the thick of summer right now and I'm loving the long, lazy days with the kids (as lazy as a long day with kids can be, that is). I'm loving the late-night 8 pm runs when the sun is not even close to setting and families are still outside enjoying the end of the evening. I'm especially loving the abundance of my favorite veggies at the farmers market.

Earlier this week we went over to our friend's house for dinner (Kym, of Dumpling Soup). It was such a beautiful summer night. One of those moments where you just pause, breathe deeply and soak up the idyllic scene around you. Hanging out with close friends. Kids playing together happily in a freshly mowed, perfect backyard. The smell of food on the grill. Cold drinks in hand. We even got a little live acoustic performance from Kym's husband. A truly perfect summer night. God is good.

This meal is the epitome of summer in my eyes. Bright red tomatoes, meat on the grill, and fresh, pungent basil picked straight form the garden. Or in my case, stolen from my neighbor (thanks, Leslie). My basil didn't fare too well this summer but I have plenty of nice neighbors who let me come and steal some of their stash. :)

Tuscan Pork and Beans

Pork Chops
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
1 can of Cannelini Beans
1 medium onion
couple cloves of garlic
cherry tomatoes (not pictured) but about 10 or so
lotsa lotsa basil

Earlier in the day I prepped a few of the ingredients so we would be ready to rock when we got to Kym's. Chopped the onions and garlic...

And the 'matoes

Put them in a baggy so they were ready to go

Added olive oil, salt and pepper to the pork. Don't get hung up on an amount, just enough to coat.

When we got there, Kym acted as the very talented hand model while I photographed. Do you even know mow much easier it is to photograph these meals with an extra set of hands?!

Cambria was the overworked basil picker... because as I stated above, you need lotsa lots of it.

Open the beans and drain 'em

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a sauce pan over medium heat

Add the tomatoes, onions and garlic and cook saute until the onions are translucent, stirring every so often. About 5 minutes.
In the meantime start chopping that basil If you roll it up and then chop it you get pretty little ribbons
Add the beans to the tomatoes, onions and garlic
Stir well
Add the basil
And salt and pepper to taste

That's done. How easy was that?!

Get the pork on the grill. I leave grilling to males so I'm not sure how long on each side. As long as it has grill marks, I'm happy.
now, VERY IMPORTANT. After you flip the meat, add fresh basil on top while the other side grills. You can shut the grill. This is why you need lots and lots of basil. I hope you have nice, basil-rich neighbors like I do!
Serve the grilled pork family-style over the beans. I thought this would be even better with a squeeze of fresh lemon over the top as well.
Perfect summer meal for the perfect summer night!