Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Tahini Sauce

Last weekend my husband really wanted hummus with dinner.  OK, so that was the easy part but what to serve with it?  I had a package of ground turkey but somehow the thought of meatloaf with hummus just did nothing for my appetite.  I got to thinking that something Mediterranean inspired would be perfect.  The first thing that came to mind was falafel, the tasty, fried chickpea (or fava bean) fritters.  I started thinking wouldn’t turkey burgers flavored like falafel be just as good.  So out came the cookbooks and with only a little modification to a falafel recipe these burgers were concocted.  Most of the recipes I found in my cookbooks called for lots of parsley or a parsley and cilantro combination.  Since I did not have any cilantro in the fridge, I decided to use some fresh mint instead and it was delicious.  Feel free to use any combination of these herbs in your burgers.  If you want to use cilantro instead of mint use the same amount as the parsley.  Tahini sauce is traditionally served with falafel and provides a nice garlicky kick to the sandwiches.

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Broccoli Slaw

Tired of the same old coleslaw?  Broccoli slaw is a nice change when you need a cool and creamy side dish for a barbeque.  The dried cranberries really make this dish with their sweet yet tart bite.  This recipe is easily adaptable for your taste, if you don’t like bell pepper then leave it out.  Use chopped pecans or walnuts instead of sunflower seeds.  Like a tart dressing?  Use an additional tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or substitute with sherry vinegar which is more assertive.  Want it sweeter? Add a few teaspoons of sugar.  Like lots of dressing?  Double the amount of mayo, water and vinegar.  Make this your own creation.  Of course, I think it is pretty awesome just the way it is written.

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Pineapple-Coconut Pie

Our friend John from Louisville, Kentucky was visiting last weekend and he only has a few requests while here, lots of shrimp, a good home cooked German dinner and pie.  I’ve known John and his wife Karen for almost 20 years and way back when we lived in the same town, we often had dinner parties at their place or mine.  Pie was always on the dessert menu. Always.  I wanted to make something a little different this time and have been drooling over this recipe lately.  Our other dinner party guests that night, Jeff and Norma, adore coconut so I figured I couldn’t really go wrong with this pie.  The overwhelming consensus on that wine and beer soaked Saturday night was to declare this pie as simply amazing.

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Tomato Grits

I love grits and this is coming from someone who had never tried them until after I graduated from college and moved to Mississippi.  At first I was a bit befuddled by them, do you eat them with salt and pepper? butter? sugar?  Finally I decided that straight up with a dash of hot sauce was going to be my way to eat this Southern breakfast favorite.

Last week the local newspaper decided to highlight grits in one of their Wednesday food articles.  When I saw this recipe I knew that I had finally found a way to serve grits for dinner.  The original recipe called for a whole (!) stick of butter to be stirred into the casserole.  Listen, I love butter just as much as the next person, but that seemed a tad bit ridiculous, so I left it out entirely.  If you think it would taste better with some butter, I would suggest using only a couple of tablespoons, as the casserole is rich enough already with the cheese and the sausage.  In addition, you can substitute a can of Ro-Tel, undrained, for the diced tomatoes and diced green chiles.  I also used reduced-fat sausage which only comes in a 12-ounce package.  If you use a 16-ounce package of regular sausage make sure to drain away any excess fat before adding the onions and garlic to the skillet.  This casserole would also make an excellent addition to a brunch menu. Continue reading

Banana-Nut Bread

Let’s just get this little fact out of the way to start with, I don’t like bananas.  So you may be asking yourself “Why is she cooking with the darn things then?”.  Well, I have a husband who adores them and the latest hand of bananas got a little too ripe for his liking.  Although sometimes I think he leaves them on the counter too long just so I’ll bake him a batch of banana bread.  Sneaky, I know, but I really hate to throw perfectly good food away when it can be transformed into something else.  This is Jeff’s favorite banana bread recipe out of all the ones that I have tried.  If you don’t have or don’t like whole wheat flour feel free to use 2 cups of all-purpose flour.  Melted butter can also be substituted for the oil which will add a nice richness to the bread.
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Blueberry Muffins

I have been wanting to get my hands on some white whole wheat flour for quite awhile now.  Recently it (in the form of Gold Medal brand) has started showing up in the stores in my neck of the woods so I brought a bag home on my last shopping trip.  It isn’t exactly white and comparing it to regular whole wheat it does not look that much different.  However, it did seem to have a milder taste in the muffins.  I decided to bake up a batch of blueberry muffins since it was the weekend and it seemed like a nice change of pace from the buttermilk waffles I usually make.  Not to mention that blueberry muffins also make my husband extremely happy.  I have quite a few frozen blueberries hanging out in the freezer from last summer so that is what I used.  If you use frozen berries do no thaw them out or you will wind up coloring your batter a rather sickly shade of blue as you fold in the berries. Continue reading

Garlic Lemon Chicken Breasts

Chicken is a ubiquitous ingredient in our house, so this will be the first of many chicken entries on the blog.  The original recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa’s newest cookbook and calls for fresh thyme.  However, I did not have any on hand and really did not want to make a special trip to the store and spend $3 on a tiny package either.  I do have a potted rosemary plant on the front porch so that is what I used.   Besides, lemon and rosemary are one of those magical culinary combinations.  The pan sauce is tangy and garlicky and would be perfect spooned over mashed potatoes.  The sliced lemon that is cooked with the chicken will lend a slightly bitter flavor to the sauce.  It looks really pretty, but if bitter is not your thing then leave it out.  Next time I make this it will be without the sliced lemon.  When we warmed up the leftovers the next day, the bitterness was much more pronounced and not very pleasant.    Continue reading

Beef & Macaroni Casserole

I always struggle with what to do with ground beef.  I usually buy it with the intention of making burgers or chili and then when I change my mind I have to scramble to come up with something else.  I must have looked at a dozen online sites trying to find inspiration.  After wading through countless listings for (of course) chili, tamale pie and spaghetti, I was just about ready to give up.  My last hope was going to Eat Your Books which I joined two years ago.  For those of you not familiar with this website, it is a place to catalog all of your cookbooks.  They index the books which then makes your library searchable.  I still had to sift through lots of entries but I eventually found this in a cookbook I have had for years but rarely use, Craig Claiborne’s The New New York Times Cookbook.  The casserole is basically a hearty macaroni and cheese.  It takes a bit of time to put together but the results are cheesy goodness at its best especially if you use extra sharp cheddar cheese.  This recipe can be made healthier by using whole grain pasta, skim milk, 2% cheddar cheese and low fat ground beef or a lean ground turkey. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Dutch Cornbread

Pure comfort food from my childhood.  This recipe comes from my Grandmother who was raised on a dairy farm in south-central Pennsylvania.  The cornbread has a cake-like texture and is lightly sweet.  It is the perfect accompaniment to a spicy chili to a hearty black bean soup.  Continue reading

German Red Cabbage

Red cabbage has always been one of my favorite German side dishes.  When dining at German restaurants I often decide what entree to order based solely on the fact that red cabbage is listed as one of the sides.  I love the sweet and sour flavor with a hint of warmth from the cloves and cinnamon.  My Oma also makes wonderful red cabbage.  She prefers to use duck or goose fat for sauteing the vegetables which is wonderfully decadent.  However, it is not a very practical ingredient to list as I don’t know many people who keep either on hand.  She also uses white sugar and caramelizes it in the hot fat before adding the onions and apples.  I use brown sugar which gives the same flavor and lets me skip a step.  Traditionally red currant jelly is stirred into the dish at the end of cooking to give the cabbage a nice glossy finish and add another layer of flavor.  You can substitute with plum, black currant or lingonberry jam or leave it out all together.  If you omit the jelly, you may need to slightly increase the amount of sugar.  Red cabbage is the perfect side dish to accompany a pork roast.

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