Ranch Burgers and Apple Slaw Apartment Style

You could pour ranch dressing on an Old Navy $5 pair of flip flops and it would make them taste good. I took a tastier approach and was so excited about my creation. I made Ranch Chicken Burgers and Zesty (mayo-less) Apple Slaw in my own kitchen…no party required!
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Ingredients:

¾ pound ground chicken
½ packet dried ranch dressing/dip mix
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 bulky rolls

Directions:

Mix ground chicken, ranch mix, and dressing
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BBQ or cook on a grill pan flipping once.
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Serve on toasted rolls with ranch dressing on top.
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Ground chicken and ground turkey are more likely to fall apart so don’t overflip! I took a tip from my pal Guy on Diners Drive-ins & Dives: I flipped them but feared they weren’t going to be fully cooked so I covered them and added a touch of water for some steam.

They were cooked perfectly! That is tricky without my trusty meat thermometer but I was so proud of myself. They were juicy and I definitely tasted the ranch.

I paired it with some slaw. This was awesome and is a nice alternative to creamy slaws. I put in some apple I planned to use otherwise but had on hand.

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded cabbage/slaw mix
½ gala apple, chopped into matchsticks
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs veggie oil
¼  cup cidar vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tbs dijon mustard
dash red pepper flakes

Directions:

Heat oils, vinegar, sugar, mustard, and red pepper over medium heat just until warmed through.
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Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Toss with cabbage and apples.
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Refrigerate several hours and pour off excess liquid.
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I liked how light it was with a zesty crunch. This would be a great picnic or bbq item. I only made enough for 2 or 3 servings which was perfect.

Green or red onion would be a great add in and broccoli slaw would be great too. Shortly after making the burgers I made them again and Mr. J cooked them on a BBQ. Aside from our poor puppy not having a yard, not being able to use a grill is our biggest issue with this apartment and something we greatly look forward to enjoying in a house someday.

These made me super jazzed about other burgers inside. I can’t eat red meat so I miss out on fun ones at restaurants like stuffed burgers since they rarely come in turkey or chicken burgers. I’ll just have to make it happen! I have a feeling Mr. J would love a blue cheese stuffed one. I was thinking cheddar or spinach and feta stuffed. Stay tuned!

Fritters are Fun

Zucchini Fritters are something I’ve been making for years. I’m not sure where I originally came up with them but I love them as a side dish. I think Mum made eggplant fritters now that I think about it….hmmm there’s an idea for next time.
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This time I used yellow squash. I think it added a different flavor but it was a good use for the sad yellow squash in my fridge.

Ingredients

1 zucchini or yellow squash
1 egg
½ cup breadcrumbs or wheat germ
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
¼ cup diced green onion (optional)
¼ cup corn (optional)
¼ cup feta (optional)

Directions

1) Shred zucchini/yellow squash and lay over paper towel to remove most of the liquid
2) Mix zucchini/squash with egg, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper and any other ingredients.
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3) Form into patties and bake 15 minutes at 375. Flip and bake another 10 minutes.
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I bake them instead of frying them since they get too oily and it’s way easier. I use my muffin top pan which definitely helps for the shape. It gets a lot more action from zucchini fritters, crab cakes, and the like especially since I’ve never made muffins.

They’re a fun side dish with only a few ingredients. I made them one night when we had our own salad bar with these on the side. I’ll probably stick to zucchini next time but add in spinach! Or corn! Or leeks! Or bacon! Or whatever!

Chopped at Home

I love watching Chopped not only for the food factor, but the competition aspect! I’m not always in the mood to be told how to make something on another cooking show. Plus, that 10-second countdown at the end of each round? Eeeek! It’s also fun to see where the chefs have come from and I love some of the judges.

My sis and I play chopped sometimes. It brings us back to the days of Ready-Set-Cook from ‘95. Ready Set Cook had studio audience members bring mystery ingredients to cook along side the chef.

On Chopped, there are 3 rounds: appetizer (20-minutes); entree (30-minutes); dessert (20-minutes).  Each round includes a basket of mystery ingredients which need to be included (in any amount) in the meal with any of the pantry items. We don’t always make 3 courses and we definitely don’t have a time limit.

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My ingredients:

Cannellini Beans
Zucchini
Israeli Couscous
Whole Peeled Tomatoes

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Sis’ Ingredents:

Leeks
Thin Cut Pork Chops
Spam

Our Meal:

Pork chops in mustard sauce
Couscous with spam and leeks
White bean, leeks, zucchini, and tomato hash

Directions:

Chop the leeks and bathe or salad-spin the dirt/sand out of them.
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Mix dijon mustard, chopped garlic, salt and pepper together and spread onto the pork chops while a grill pan is heating.
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Drain tomato and bean cans before dropping into a skillet. Add leeks, chopped zucchini and season generously with salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.
chopped_hash_290_200Finely chop spam and pan fry as if it were bacon.
Start cooking the couscous while adding spam and leeks. This will take about 5 minutes so set the pork chops on to grill.

The spam was totally the curve ball here. I have to say, it’s not as weird when sliced into small strips and fried until crispy. Sis and I eat our share of pork so we went with it.

The pork chops were good! I think our sauce had a nice not overpowering flavor. It was a good quick fix that will come in handy sometime in the future.
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I loved the hash. It also provided a good vehicle for leeks 2 ways. It was fresh and a nice medley.

We toasted the couscous before adding the liquid for a more nutty flavor. Spam was the salt factor and dropped leeks in as well.
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Overall, I think our meal would have scored well…it did by our critique! Sis’ idea for leeks 2 ways was a good one…it tied everything together. I ate the leftover veggie hash for lunch and it was still good. I probably wouldn’t have given much credit to canned tomatoes but it was a great variation from my usual sides.

In the past we’ve made ratatouille stuffed, pita chip crusted pork tenderloin with green beans and no-bake chocolate marshmallow cookies.

I highly recommend you try this game sometime! It’s a good challenge to use something you have on hand or to try something new…spam?

I have several of birthday meals to post soon (Figs, Amrheins, and the Mac & Cheese Taste-Off) so stay tuned!

The Pork is More Than Just Brine…With Butternut Squash Risotto

I don’t end up cooking much meat so I’ve never brined meat before but there’s a first time for everything. I was excited for a new technique.
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I set the country style boneless pork ribs set up in brine for the workday. The pork should absorb a lot of liquid and when this cooks off, the meat will be more tender. True story.

Ingredients

2 cups ice cubes
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tbs peppercorns

Directions

Boil cider vinegar.
Add salt and sugar stirring until dissolved.
Add ice cubes and peppercorns.
Put pork into the brine and let sit for 8 hours.
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To cook, remove from brine, smother with bbq sauce and bake for 1 hour, covered.
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The pork came out smelling amazing! It was uber tender. Fork tender…no knives required. It would have been really special with homemade barbecue sauce but was so good and I was really happy with it.

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I made butternut squash risotto to go with it. I love risotto and don’t make it nearly enough. It is creamy and delicious with so many variations! I’ve made a weight watchers one with tomato juice and zucchini. The tomato juice makes it red, flavorful, and creamy without being overly acidic. Enough about that, onto today’s risotto.

Ingredients

1 cup aborio rice
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups butternut squash
½ cup white wine
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions

Toast aborio, stirring consistently until golden.
Heat broth and wine on medium low.
Steam butternut squash and add to rice.
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Add ½ cup broth until absorbed and repeat until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Serve with plenty of Parmesan.
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The risotto was sticky and delightful. The squash was a perfect addition. What a great orange color! Needless to say, I ate leftovers for days. I thought making a ½ cup of rice might be weird to have strange quantities but we definitely had more than enough. Maybe arancini will be a fun use of these leftovers.

Pattypan, You’re So Darn Cute

The cutest vegetable in the WORLD is pattypan. Veggies aren’t always chosen by their endearing appearance but it’s such an easy one to cook and just so darn adorable. I can’t ever believe how cheap it is too. I bought 3 for $1 at a farmers market. After stuffing and baking it, refrigerate for a few days until you devourer all of them! I’ve had it as a whole meal but it would make a good side dish for 2 to share.

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Ingredients

-2 pattypan squash
-6 slices bacon, chopped
-1/2 cup onion, diced
-1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
-1/4 cup chopped spinach
-1/4 cup Parmesan cheese & another sprinkle
-dash garlic powder
-salt & pepper


Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2) In a saucepan with one inch of boiling water add squash and cook for 10 minutes. Prick with a fork to ensure it is el dente.

3) Cook bacon until crispy adding onion partway through

4) Slice the top off of the pattypan, and scoop out most of the inside. (be sure to leave a 1/8 to 1/4 inch all the way around). Chop squash.

5) combine squash, onion, bacon, parmasan cheese, bread crumbs, chopped spinach, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste and stuff into each pattypan.

6) Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan to serve.

Why not skip the spinach and add in mushrooms? Or tomato? There are so many variations to stuff these guys with.