Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Turkey Burgers, 2.0--peach kissed patties

this is what salt lake city looks like right now.  rated up there as one of the worst cities for air quality in the world.  thanks, my dear follower for 1, following, and 2, for sharing your picture from snowbird looking down on the gunk that the rest of us are breathing in.

with this horrible inversion comes below-freezing temperatures for going on like 3 weeks now.  yuck!  what do i need most in a time like this?  well, soups are good, but so are the summer recipes in my new cookbook.  fun summer flavors can at least make it feel like summer for the few minutes we're eating dinner and leftovers for lunches.  unfortunately it's too cold to go outside and grill, but fortunately, i have a grill pan.  a staub grill pan specifically.  it is a product i love. 

in case i don't get around to making a special post just about this product i love, here is why i love it:  it's a gorgeous sapphire blue color, it is heavy duty, it cooks perfectly even, making beautiful grill marks on chicken, burgers, steaks, and panini sandwiches.  that's right, it has a "lid" that turns the pan into a panini press.  the lid is le creuset, but it fits onto the staub like a match made in heaven.

Peach Kissed Turkey Burgers
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 c onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground turkey
2 Tbsp fresh parsley or 2 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c peach jam
1 tsp ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
peach-mayo spread (1/2 c mayo + 1/2 c peach jam)
red onion

Heat oil in skillet.  Add onion and garlic and saute, stirring frequently for 2-3 mins.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Mix turkey with remaining ingredients thru worcestershire sauce.  Add onion, garlic, and the olive oil left in the skillet.  Divide meat into 4-6 patties forming evenly sized balls and gently shaping into patties.  For best results, chill patties at least 1 hour before cooking, they may be chilled up to 24 hours.  Cook patties on grill or skillet 5-7 mins on each side.  Serve on toasted buns with Peach-Mayo spread, lettuce, red onion, and tomato.

these burgers had a great summery, tangy flavor.  mr d liked them a lot and even went back for seconds.  the tang was a bit much for me, but it had mellowed the next day, and i actually liked the leftovers better.

Pear Pomegranate Salad

don't you hate when you find a recipe that looks really good, but when you go to the store to get the ingredients they either are super expensive or they are low quality because they're out of season?  savoring the seasons with our best bites cookbook helps to overcome this problem because the book is divided into the four seasons with recipes that are "in season."  we're in the middle of winter here, so i've been flipping to the back of the book looking for some good winter recipes.  i came across this gem.  the flavors were amazing!  mr d had 3 servings, he couldn't get enough.  i almost didn't take the time to candy the pecans because i was worried it would be too much work, and it is something i haven't done before.  oh, boy, am i so glad i tried something new in the kitchen.  the pecans were the best part.  i was wishing i'd made more just to snack on.

Pear Pomegranate Salad
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 head romaine lettuce
14 oz bag spinach leaves
seeds from 1 pomegranate (about 1 cup)
2 ripe pears, chopped
juice of 1 lime

Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and set aside.  Combine pecans and sugar in a small skillet, cook, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the nuts, about 15 mins.  Place on the prepared foil and set aside.  Toss together remaining ingredients, adding the candied pecans right before serving. Drizzle sweet red wine vinaigrette over the salad and top with feta cheese if desired.

Sweet Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c sugar
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 c canola oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in blender or food processor.  While blender is running, add oil in a steady stream.  Dressing may be stored in fridge about 2-3 weeks.  Shake well before serving.

this salad was so good!  it was the perfect side dish to a healthy breast of grilled chicken.  seriously blog followers, this cookbook is a must have.  you can continue waiting for me to post the recipes i try, one at a time, or you can run out and get yours today!  at the very least, get your name on the wait list at the library.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Roula's Cafe

rather than go to lunch a few weeks ago, matt and i went to breakfast with several of our favorite coworkers to roula's cafe.  we were promised the best toast in the world by the one who chose the establishment.  i ordered the roula's classic:  hash browns, 2 eggs any style, one meat, and a side of toast.  my favorite kind of eggs are over medium, but i'm always wary about ordering eggs that way in a restaurant because i worry that they'll be too runny.  then i get nervous that they're not cooked and i'm going to end up with salmonella, and on and on.  so i went with scrambled.  i should have gone with over medium.  a few others had ordered them over medium, and they looked perfect.  the scrambled eggs weren't really scrabbled, but just more like an omelette with no filling, if that makes sense.  the bacon was really good, perfectly crisp, and the hash browns were good too.  i was talked into the wheat toast by all of my coworkers and the cashier at roula's.  the toast was really good, but i think i would have been happier with the sourdough toast.  all in all, i was happy with my meal, but i think it could have been better if i'd ordered differently.  the atmosphere was very inviting, and the restaurant was very clean.  you order cafeteria style, and then your food is brought out to you.  roula herself even came out to our table to ask if our food was good.  i'd definitely like to go back to roula's, either for breakfast or to give their lunch menu a try.  and as always, the best part of the meal was the company.

Holiday Lunch at Penny Ann's Cafe

right before christmas our team at work had a team lunch at penny ann's cafe.  i was nervous that we were planning on having lunch there with such a large group because a few months ago my grandma wanted to take my sister and i to lunch there, but when we arrived at lunch time, the place was so crowded there wasn't a table big enough to seat the 5 of us.  luckily, our team leader is a regular at penny ann's, so she had reserved a spot for the 14 of us.  everything on the menu sounded awesome, and i had a hard time deciding among a grilled cheese, a burger, chicken strips, etc.  i finally settled on the california ciabatta.  oh, my, it did not disappoint.  turkey, bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat ciabatta roll with mayo.  i got my sandwich with the 50/50 fries, 1/2 sweet potato and 1/2 regular.  as usual, i did like the sweet potato fries better, but i did like the salty flavor of the regular fries.  as i surveyed the table as the team ate, there didn't appear to be anyone unhappy with their meal.  and to top off the meal, our team leader had special ordered a bahama blueberry pie for dessert.  the pie was a great ending to the meal, served with a huge bowl of vanilla bean ice cream and a huge bowl of cream.
the serving staff was incredibly friendly and on the ball, and the price was very reasonable.  and as always, the best part of lunch was the company!

New Cookbook

dear 3 blog followers, you just happen to be the 3 luckiest blog readers in all of this crazy land we call internet.  why?  my baby brother's thoughtful wife bought me a new cookbook for christmas.  but not just any cookbook.  this cookbook:

i've been wanting this for awhile, and several recipes on lunch with matt and mikelle come from the Our Best Bites blog, so i am excited to be trying their recipes from the cookbook and sharing them with you.  i hope you're excited too!

Lasagna Soup

i've seen pictures of this lasagna soup popping up on the internet for the last few months, and with this cold winter weather we're having, trying a new soup recipe seemed just the ticket.  i headed over here to get a recipe and followed it almost exactly, just making some adjustments based on the comments to make for better leftovers and using a different kind of noodle so that i could use whole wheat noodles.

Lasagna Soup
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage
3 c onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crush red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 28-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c chicken broth
8 oz whole wheat rotini noodles
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add sausage, breaking it into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 mins.  Add onion and cook until softened, about 6 mins.  Add garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes, cook for 1 min.  Add tomato paste and mix well, cook for an additional 3-4 mins.  Add tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins.  In a separate pot, cook the noodles to al dente.  In a small bowl, mix ricotta, parmesan, salt and pepper.  When ready to serve, place a dollop of the ricotta mixture in the bottom of each bowl, top with a serving of noodles, and ladle soup on top.  Top with a pinch of mozzarella.

this was very yummy.  especially once you gave it a good stir and mixed the bottom cheese in throughout the soup.  it tasted just like lasagna in a bowl.  if you're not anticipating any leftovers, you can cook the noodles in the soup when you're simmering it for 30 mins.  you don't want to do this if you're planning on leftovers because otherwise the noodles will soak up all the broth and your leftovers will be just dry "lasagna".

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I have to rant for a second about a commercial that is making me crazy.  I hate commercials in general because they are so illogical, and often treat today's men like the most ape-like and stupid creatures who ever graced mother earth with walking all over her surface.  Thanks to DVR I can skip ads with impunity, unless during football I catch up to the recording.  Anyway, back to the one I hate most right now.

The Arby's campaign with the detective from New York talking about fresh sliced meat.  The other places cut their meat in a factory (eeewwww GROSS), and send it in a truck to Subway, or where ever.  Arby's, unlike the industrial other factory meat-sliced places slices theirs in the store, so it is "fresh sliced meat".

Ok, "sliced fresh" means NOTHING!  It has nothing to do with the meat freshness.  The Arby's "beef" is a processed log of meat stuff, not prime rib.  And when it is sliced has nothing to do with how fresh the meat is.  Like you could pull out a month-old ham from the back of the fridge, lay it on the counter, and make it fresh-sliced with your handy knife, thus transforming it from almost too funky to eat to fresh and new.  Does Arby's really think this verbal slight of hand fools any one? Obviously, yes.

Thank you for indulging me.  I may just make the rant a regular feature of this blog.

Penny Ann's Cafe

Our local restaurant this week is a favorite of your bloggers' team leader; Penny Ann's Cafe, at 1810 South Main in Salt Lake City, Utah.  We went there for our team holiday lunch, an annual tradition for our team.

The cafe is on the bottom floor of a good-sized apartment building.  It is kind of hard to see, unless you look hard. From the outside, nothing stands out.  Inside, there is limited space.  The tables are close together, and there is a packed-in feeling.  I'm sure part of that comes from the fact that our big group was there in the heart of the lunch hour.

The atmosphere was welcoming and had the feel of a mom and pop diner rather than a chain place.  The smells were pleasing to the nose, and the patrons were characters, with collars ranging from blue to white (and even some who look like they've never worn a collar).

Now, to the best part - the food.  The menu was rangy, but not trying too hard.  Rather than order the burger (my usual go-to) I went with egg plant parmesan.  It was a huge portion, and came with pasta on the side with my choice of alfredo or red sauce.  Back to the egg plant parm; it was not over-breaded. The crust was firm, and just right to add a pleasing texture to the whole, with out taking away from the egg plant.  The light crust also let the egg plant speak for itself and it told me a lot, like "I'm yummy, I'm just the right temperature, and I will fill you up."

There were several of the team there, and I was not subtle about looking at other people's plates.  The pasta some went with looked great, the turkey sammys others chose looked wonderful, and I had burger envy after seeing huge and yummy looking burgers on others plates.

I say go eat there.  I want to go back and try breakfast.  It looks like the kind of place that does breakfast right.

The Soup Kitchen

Romeo and Juliette, Penelope and Ulysses, chocolate and peanut butter and grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Just as certain couples belong to one another, certain foods do as well.  Today's perfect pairing is grilled cheese and tomato soup made by The Soup Kitchen.

 The Soup Kitchen is 2012 South 1100 East in Salt Lake City, in Sugar House.  It is a clean but well-worn building with uneven floors, and faded posters on the wall.  The tables and chairs are Spartan throwbacks to a simpler time.

There are several soups and sandwiches on the menu, including hamburgers.  The tomato soup and the grilled cheese is my favorite.  It is comfort food at its best, hot soup in which to dunk a toasted, cheesy, warm sammy.  The sandwich is nice and crunchy on the outside (unlike some wonder bread grilled cheese that are limp and saggy) and the cheese is molten and wonderful,

I can't end this post without mentioning the all you can eat breadsticks.  They have totes filled with three different kinds, plain, garlic and cheese.  When the grilled cheese sandwich is too much, just set it down, take a breath, and dunk a bread stick in your soup for a couple bites.