Sunday, May 31, 2009

Burgers - Two Ways

Our electric bill typically goes down by $20/month in the summer because we are out back grilling instead of baking. Here are two different delicious burger recipes to help you save some money this summer (or really, year round). First up, a twist on the turkey burger. Second, a twist on a cheeseburger.

First up is a Southwest inspired turkey burger served with guacamole and a coucous, quinoa, and orzo blend. As I've mentioned before, we're trying to add more variety into our diet and this is a great addition. One thing to note about the healthiest choice when you are choosing ground turkey: when you go to the store, the healthier choice is ground turkey breast, not just ground turkey. Ground turkey contains both white and dark meat and is not as low cal/low fat as the ground turkey breast.

A few recipe tips: The onions in the burgers help to keep them moist. I tried out a new trick I saw Bobby Flay do - after you form the burger patty, press down in the middle to give it a little indent. When the burgers cook, they usually puff up in the middle. By starting with the indent they will end up flat - not like a baseball. I'm happy to report that this worked. Check out the photo! Now on to the recipe:

Southwest Inspired Turkey Burger
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/4 of a vidalia onion (helps keep burgers moist)
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
A few shakes of green (jalapeno) Tabasco sauce
Salt and Pepper

Fire up the grill to medium-high heat
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together by hand
Split the mixture into four equal portions
Form four burger patties, pressing down in the middle to give them a little dent
Grill for a few minutes on each side

I toasted our whole wheat hamburger buns on the grill before serving
Top with guacamole and burgers and enjoy!

Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cutting board and knife, bowl, plates, grill spatula, grill, and serving dishes

Makes 4 quarter-pound patties

Next up, a Non-Traditional Cheeseburger and Fries

Using another idea from one of the endless food shows I watch on TV, I decided to make a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the burger. We had some leftover mozzarella from the caprese sandwiches that I had for lunch during the week. Using my regular burger recipe, I added the cheese and voila! - a gourmet dinner at home. On the side, I made a delicious batch of no-fry fries. The recipe comes from an issue of a Better Homes and Gardens, "Simply Perfect Dinners" that I've had for a while (I just checked the magazine and the date is Spring 2000). There are 4-5 recipes in there that I always go back to - a great investment for $5.99! Here's the recipe.

Start the fries first, since they take longer than the burgers.

No-Fry Fries (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
Non-stick cooking spray
2 large baking potatoes (1 lb. total)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray
Cut potatoes lengthwise into thin wedges (I cut these in half again to make shorter fries)
Place the wedges into a ziplock bag and spray them with the non-stick cooking spray
In a small bowl, mix the cheese, paprika, and pepper
Pour the mixture into the ziplock bag, close bag, and toss until potatoes are well-coated
Pour out potatoes onto the baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer
Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the fries over
Bake for another 15 minutes until crisp and fork-tender

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cutting board and knife, ziplock bag, baking sheet, spatula

Nutrition info per serving: 155 calories, 3g total fat, 4mg cholesterol, 103mg sodium, 29g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 5g protein

Inside-out Sirloin Cheeseburgers
1/2 lb. ground sirloin
About 1 tablespoon diced vidalia onions
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Montreal grill seasoning
2 1-inch squares of mozzarella cheese

Fire up the grill to medium-high
In a bowl, mix the sirloin, onions, Worcestershire, and grill seasoning by hand
Split into two even portions
Take one portion and split into to even pieces
Form each of the two pieces into a patty
Take one patty in your hand, place the mozzarella square in the middle, and top with the second patty
Crimp the edges to seal around the cheese
Repeat with the second portion of meat
You will have 2 quarter-pound burgers to grill
Grill for a few minutes on each side until desired doneness

We served ours with ketchup and mustard, lettuce, and tomato.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cutting board and knife, bowl, grill, and grilling utensils

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When He Fends for Himself -- Mixed Grill

Yesterday was Tuesday, which means the regular cook was playing golf. So that leads to another edition of "When he fends for himself."

Because I've agreed to share my loner meals in this forum, I have begun to feel pressure to produce something of value. I don't want to waste this space with dribble. Therefore, I came home Tuesday with a plan. I knew we had marinated steak tips, half of an uncooked chicken kabob, and some asparagus waiting for me in the fridge. When I got home, I fired up the grill and started my prep.

I carefully placed the steak tips and chicken kabobs on a platter to bring out to the grill. On a separate plate, I drizzled olive oil and added some salt and pepper to the asparagus. I brilliantly balanced both plates as I carried them through a storm door as well as a screen door on the way out to the grill.

On the grill, I like to place the meat on the left and the veggies on the right. I have no idea why, but it makes me feel good and calm when that's the order. My mother always says I'm the messiest engineer she's ever met, but I can be particular about some things, apparently. (note from editor, i.e. doris: this does not necessarily mean that this type of organization is practiced "off the grill")

Once placed on the grill I did what I do best. I went inside and went horizontal. Five minutes later, I went back out, flipped the meat and took off the asparagus. Then, back to the couch. Again, once 4-5 minutes passed I went back out and collected my dinner.

I quickly plated my food and sat down in front of the TV to enjoy my impromptu mixed grill. I also added some leftover pasta salad (not pictured) to complete the meal.

All in all, I am quite proud of the dinner I prepared for myself. I know some of you might have been expecting a lot less from me. To that I will ask you not to lose faith. I will lose my motivation about trying to impress in this space, and I am sure to be writing about cereal and "snack dinners" soon enough. The ingredients to this meal were in place and I took advantage.
In the future, I promise you, that will not be the case...

New Treats for the Grill

It's easy to get into a routine and eat the same foods each week. In the spirit of grilling diversity, we're trying to add new items to our stable of grill friendly meals. I've posted about grilled portobellos before - this post is more about what went with the grilled portobellos. I get a weekly email from Whole Foods and they always have interesting recipe ideas. The latest edition had a recipe for portobello and pineapple grilled veggie burgers. I printed out the recipe, miraculously found almost the ingredients in our pantry, and got to work! Our burgers were served without buns (I think they were better that way!)

The teriyaki sauce was really tasty. I'd put it up against any bottled sauce at the store. When you can control the amount of salt in your sauces they always taste much better. For an easy meal, I served this on a nice green salad with carrots and green onions. No need for dressing - I just drizzled a little extra teriyaki on it.

I'll write up the teriyaki sauce here. For the full recipe and instructions, click on the link above. I marinated the pineapples and portobellos for about 30 minutes before grilling (we wanted to eat before 10 p.m.). Throw them on the grill and within a short amount of time you are ready to eat. Drizzle with extra sauce and enjoy!

Quick Homemade Teriyaki Sauce (courtesy of Whole Foods' recipe, with a few tweaks)

Juice from 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple rings
3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I only had dark)
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (I didn't have any, so I added some toasted sesame seeds instead)
Canola oil
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Put 3/4 cup of the pineapple juice (save remaining for another use), soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and sesame oil into a small bowl and whisk together to make a marinade

After you put the mushrooms and pineapples on the grill, drain the leftover marinade into a small saucepan
Bring to a boil over medium high heat
In a small bowl, stir together water and cornstarch
Then whisk the cornstarch mixture into the marinade in the saucepan and boil until thickened, about 1-2 minutes
Pour into a serving bowl
Serve with cooked mushrooms and pineapple

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: Sauce - 5 minutes; Full meal - 10-15 minutes
Mixing bowl, bowl to marinate, small saucepan, serving bowl, spoon, whisk

We had more than enough sauce for our dinner. I put the extra in the fridge to save for another use. The next night we grilled some mahi-mahi and the sauce was delicious on top. On the side I made some snap peas and red peppers on the grill. I wrapped the veggies in a foil pack and seasoned them with ground ginger, garlic powder, and a little sesame oil. They only need about 5 minutes on the grill and they come out cooked with a nice crunch.


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