Happy spring! May was a delicious month in the kitchen here! I’ve had more chances to cook in daylight, hallelujah. Also, the end of car-sharing logistics has finally come to a close. Phew! I just picked up my new car and I’m thrilled to wrap things up a super annoying car people. The first go-round was surprisingly great and since my accident, the dealership was sold. This time was super frustrating.
Bring on the burger season: this Bahn Mi Burger was so fun made with seasoned ground pork and topped with cucumbers, avocado, and sriracha cilantro mayo. Yummm.
Another fav this month was a little #restaurantrecreation Breakfast Hash brunch dish with tots, poached egg, and cheese sauce.
I made Cheeseburger Potato Skins as dinner, but they’re a great app too. Ground meat, ketchup, mustard, cheese, and pickles!
June will bring Mr. J’s birthday burger, and a fun little bfast series. Many of our herbs have come back and are flourishing so I’m sure those will have a June highlight. There are 2 get togethers coming up so I’ll have captive audiences to feed! Muhhhahaha! I’ve recently become obsessed with defrosting our big spare freezer. You know how I freeze all the things, well, I’m going to just have the refrigerator’s freezer until getting to the bottom and defrosting. Get ready for a week of freezer food inspired meals. I’m so inspired! Follow on insta-stories if you’re interested.
The Little One:
His new phrase is “so excited”! I love it. I had a few days off which was fun for weekday adventures to the Zoo and storytime at the library. He LOVES helping. We’ve been cooking together with the stool to the island, and he planted flowers and herbs. When we see bunnies in the yard he says “don’t eat herbs”. Jelly is still a fav, but it was so funny how into feta he was.
Year of the seasonal decor: gahhh. I missed it again. Well, I have one more day to make May happen…
do more dinner prep more in advance: I’ve done some. I’m all over the quick dinners to allow playtime outside or a walk before it gets dark.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I’m reading A Man Called Ove.
watch more movies: we watched Hidden Figures
cook more fish: nahh. Maybe in spring this will actually happen?
focus on clothes that I really like: I returned 3 dress options I got for my event. All were busts. I just ordered some steals from a Loft Memorial Day sale.
Strawberries have been suuuper cheap lately so I brought a huuuuge container and boozed some up. This takes a bit of lead time to flavor the vodka but throw it in a jar a few hours (or a few days before) and cocktail time will be here soon enough.
Strawberry Cucumber Vodka Cocktail
Ingredients (for 4):
~4 oz vodka
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 1/2 cups strawberries
3/4 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
simple syrup: 1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup sugar
~8 oz tonic or soda water
Add the vodka and cucumber slices to a glass jar and give a shake and let refrigerate for 4+ hours (mine were in there 48 hours!).
Over medium heat, cook the strawberries, 3/4 cups water, and 3 tablespoons sugar. Allow to cool, and blend or combine in a food processor. Refrigerate.
In the strawberry pot, cook the 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup until the sugar dissolves. Let cool and refrigerate. (This saves you an extra pot to wash, and “scents” the simple syrup with strawberry flavor from the remnants on the pot.)
When serving, shake together the the strawberry “juice”, 4 shots of cucumber vodka, and ice.
Add some ice to each glass, and ~2 oz tonic per glass, then pour in the strawberry mix.
I loved this. The cucumber flavor was there to totally take over the vodka flavor. If cuke is your jam, you could even make cucumber simple syrup! This is drink is cool, sweet, refreshing, and delightful. I’ll totally make this again! Make a big batch in a pitcher or pour a tray of glasses for your next party!
Lulu’s Allston has this so decadent White Trash Hash that is tots, topped with braised short ribs, hollandaise, with poached eggs. It came in a close 2nd place at a brunch battle event and I totally thought it should have won. I recreated at home during my mini stay-cation. A day home alone calls for brunch, with a 2nd cup of coffee. The pups watched me take my plate out and must have been thinking: ‘what, the heck is going on?’ or ‘can I have some?’. I made a cheesy sauce since it is easy to make a small amount.
Sooo good! Using the toaster oven made it surprisingly quick. My eggs weren’t 100% perfect but a bit runny. They’re the most testy part of putting this together. Mr. J is suuuper skilled at pealing soft boiled eggs. I am not. I use a metal insert for poaching eggs- which takes a bit of practice. I’m getting there.
Bfast Tot Hash (for 2)
2 cups tator tots
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon butter
Bake the tots until very crispy. (I popped mine in the toaster oven on broil so they only took 15 minutes.)
In a small sauce pan over medium low heat, mix together the milk and cream cheese until melted and whisks smoothly – about 5 minutes. Then whisk in the cheese and butter.
While the cheese sauce cooks, poach or soft boil the eggs. (poach in water = ~3 minutes; poach in insert= ~4 minutes; soft boil= ~5 minutes)
Lay the tots on plates, then drizzle cheese sauce, top with the egg, another drizzle of cheese sauce, and salt & pepper.
Poke that yolk and enjoy!
I know, you can totally figure this out on your own, but here are a few ways to amp up your burrito bowl. Mexican Street Corn and a quick dressing makes this so. much. better than just leftover taco filling…which is where I started. Taco night leftovers are the best leftovers out there but I love them in a completely different format.
Burrito Bowl (for 2)
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/3 cup ranch dressing
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 cup corn, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup ground turkey/chicken/pork/beef spiced with taco seasoning
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup black beans
Cook the rice.
In a small food processor, mix together the ranch, cilantro, and taco seasoning. Blend well and chill until serving.
Mix together the corn, feta, mayo, lime juice, and chili powder. Chill until serving, or make in advance.
Assemble together the rice on the bottom then top with ground meat, beans, lettuce, and street corn.
Drizzle with the dressing.
Serve and enjoy! I wish I’d had tomatoes, but we ate them all the night before. I had avocados but totally forgot! I started eating and then remembered salsa! Add whatever you have: tortilla chips; cheese; sour cream; queso; jalepenos…whatever you like!
These cheeseburger potato skins were so fun, especially for a drizzly evening when grilling wouldn’t have been ideal. Mark these down for the next time you have just a liiiitle ground meat and want to make a meal for three out of one burger’s worth. The little one is obsessed with “helping cook” so we made these together. Plus, I taught him to say garnish, so there’s that.
Cheeseburger Potato Skins (meal for 3, or appetizer for 5-6)
1/4 pound ground beef/turkey/chicken
1 tablespoon hamburger seasoning (don’t buy this, I had a packet to use up, otherwise it is: onion powder; paprika; garlic powder; black pepper; dried basil)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
pickle slices for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees, and preheat a medium skillet.
Cook the potatoes until cooked through. (I microwaved mine for 5 minutes.)
Scoop out the insides of the potatoes, leaving about a 1/4 inch thick edge from the skin to the inside.
Brush with the olive oil & spices, then broil for 5 minutes (until crisp).
Whisk together the ketchup, mustard, and worcestershire sauce.
Cook the ground meat until no-longer pink in the skillet, then add in the sauce. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
Remove the tray of potato skins and sprinkle in a little cheese, then spoon the meat mixture in.
Top with more cheese & bake for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with pickles.
Serve & enjoy!
These were fun bun-less burger, fit for inside eating. It is a tricky line of cooking food we’re all going to eat together while the little one’s has time to cool (usually a turbo cool in the freezer) while ours remains hot. Serve with a salad and poof, dinner’s done.
I’m looooving cooking with the little one. I did have to send him to tell Daddy “5 minutes” so I could quiiiiickly snap a pic before getting the hot pan out of reach. He loves spoons, spatulas, and the like. Sometimes his “helping cook” is to hold this unused, uncooked potato while I’m yielding a knife, but whatevs. He ate all the tomato out of our salad bowl which was kind of funny.
Eeeee! I’m so excited. This was such a fun burger and exactly what I needed to get back into my cooking groove. I seriously haven’t made anything interesting in weeks. It’s been all no-thought-required-meals…until now…I flavored the meat, mixed up a sauce, and topped these with cucumbers, avocado, and cilantro. They were so fun! Albeit, not authentic, but delicious nonetheless.
Bahn Mi Burgers
Ingredients: (for 3 burgers)
3/4 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon sriracha (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon Italian dressing
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro + 2-3 sprigs of cilantro leaves
3 burger buns
cucumber, sliced thin
avocado, sliced thin
Mix together the pork, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, salt & pepper.
Form patties and heat the grill and cook the burgers.
Stir together the mayo, sriracha, salad dressing, and chopped cilantro.
Chill the sauce until serving.
Top the burgers with avocado, cucumber, cilantro leaves, and sriracha mayo.
I loved this burger! I made them with pork since a) I don’t eat red meat and b) it is more reminiscent of a bahn mi and c) it can be easier to have all the same since I was seasoning the meat. I kept the sauce pretty mellow since we don’t eat tons of heat, and the little one was “helping” me cook so I wanted him to taste it. He ate some…not so impressed with cilantro but biting a bunch plain might be weird for anyone
This would be great with pickled veggies, a la bahn mi. I took a simpler route but go forth!
I’m back! I’ve resurfaced for air now that work is quieting down. Phew! I made these cute buggers back for Easter, and I took a little shortcut to make them even easier. I used sugar cookie dough for the bottom and it made them come together so quickly! I baked the cookie base the night before and whipped up the pastry cream.
Sugar Cookie Fruit Tarts
refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon light colored jelly (apricot, marmalade, apple, peach)
Warm the milk over medium low heat until it steams, but doesn’t boil.
Whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and egg yolks into a paste. (I used a stand mixer.) Add in a little of the milk and keep mixing. Pour in the rest of the milk slowly while mixing.
Pour it back into the pot and warm over low. Stir while it cooks and thickens. Don’t let it boil!
Spoon through a mesh strainer to strain any lumps out.
Refrigerate at least an hour, or until ready to serve. Lay a piece of plastic wrap ontop of the pastry cream so the top doesn’t form a pudding skin.
Bake the cookie into cups by pressing into muffin tin cups. Allow to cool then spoon the pastry cream into the cookie cups.
Top with berries or sliced fruit.
Then, brush with some jelly, microwaved for 10 seconds.
So cute! The pastry cream is light and tasty. I was glad for the cookie crunch and a little fruit for freshness. They’re cute as mini cups but would be pretty in a springform or tart pan.
I made these for Easter brunch along with Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Everything Bagel Bake. These worked well together since I had egg whites left from the pastry cream!
April becomes such a blur with work being so busy. I’m counting down and will post again once I resurface for air. I have so many things I want to make & blog! Here are a few of my favs I made in April:
This cast iron skillet pizza was so amazing. I cooked it in garlic oil. Garlic. Oil. Plus, hefting that huuuuge cast iron skillet into and out of the oven is like a workout, so that equals out the pizza. No?
I also would eat this Sausage, Egg, Cheese & Everything Bagel bake on the regular. It was delightfully not too chewy.
If I’m loading up on pizza and bagels, maybe I should offset with an Orange Julius Smoothie since it tastes a bit like a treat, but it is full of orange, mango, and a little bit of yogurt.
I don’t think I made anything this month with more than 7 ingredients. It is just one of those times. Work is bananas, my car is officially totaled, Mr. J was away for a few days, and the little pup was sick (back to normal, but she was waking up a million times per night). This is when I appreciate having some easy dinners up my sleeve, not assuming I can do it all, and we’re all cutting ourselves some slack over here.
frequent fast dinners:
pasta, frozen meatballs, my fav kitchen ready tomatoes as sauce
bfast – Mr. J just threw together a fritatta/torta that was ahhh-mazing the other night
salad bar to ensure we eat enough veggies
grocery store roasted chicken + some roasted veg
The little one:
He’s pretending more and more. “I’m a bunny” with some hops is just so cute. He wants to live outside right now. He’s loving “butter jelly” for pb&j sandwiches on the weekends since he can’t take them to daycare. Another favorite food is honey mustard. We got some fantastic books at the library. A few were dino books, one was about Bees, and a cool one was photos of all felt things (this book). I don’t really like peas, but this story was just too cute that he’ll miss dearly when it needs to go back to the library:
This month’s goals:
Year of the seasonal decor: none this month.
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. not really, but ohh well.
read more (and always carry my book on me): I’m hoping to finish Be Frank with Me before bookclub next week.
watch more movies: we watched Patriot’s Day which was well done & Masterminds which I loved
cook more fish: nahh. Maybe in spring this will actually happen?
focus on clothes that I really like: I’m still waiting on a few dresses- hopefully one will work for my event. Why can’t all women’s dresses have pockets? Or at least blazers? All blazers should have pockets. End of story.
See ya on the flip side!
Sausage, egg, and cheddar bagels for everyone! I made this savory bread pudding with my favorite bfast sandwich fillings for an Easter brunch. It was SO good and perfect for a group since I prepped it the night before and just popped it into the oven. It puffed up and was nicely soft. The leftovers were delicious too!
Smitten Kitchen made this with cream cheese, onion, capers, and smoked salmon. I went with my preferred sausage/egg/cheddar combo.
Sausage, Egg & Cheese Bagel Bake
Ingredients (serves 6):
3 everything bagels
6 links breakfast sausage
4 oz sharp white cheddar cheese
5 egg whites
1/4 cup cream cheese (at room temperature)
1/4 cup milk
Chop the bagels into bite size pieces. Chop the cheese into 1/4 inch cubes.
Pan fry the sausage until cooked through. Then chop into bite sized pieces.
Spray a baking pan with non-stick spray. Add in half the bagel pieces, then top with half the sausage and cheddar pieces.
Place the remaining bagel pieces and the remaining sausage and cheese pieces on top. Turn the very top bagel pieces over so the outside of the bagel is facing out. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Whisk together the egg whites, eggs, milk, and cream cheese.
Pour over the bagel, sausage, and cheese pieces.
Cover and refrigerate over night, or until ready to bake.
Bake at 400-degrees for about 45 minutes.
Poke a knife in to see that the egg is fully cooked. It shouldn’t be runny in the middle.
Serve and enjoy!
It puffs up and is so great! The chewy bagels are soft but such a great texture. I loved the everything bagel-ness with the sharp cheddar, the sausage, and the eggs. The mostly egg whites made it a touch lighter!
I can’t stopppp! I love these bowls with a few elements tied together with a quick drizzle of sauce for a balanced, speedy, and fun dinner. I appreciate these qualities most during my busy time of year at work and with meals the toddler can eat before/after us. Next time this one could use more texture, but it was tasty and added some good variety to the week.
Chicken & Sweet Potato Grain Bowl with Peanut Sauce
Ingredients (for 3-4 bowls):
1 cup cracked wheat (or any grain of your choosing: rice/lentils/farro/couscous/quinoa/etc)
1 1/2 cups water
3 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1 -2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon lime juice
touch of Sriracha sauce
1 avocado (or 1 cup edamame)
Marinate the chicken overnight, or for 3+ hours in Italian dressing & some soy or teriyaki sauce. Then heat up the grill.
Cook the grain: I used cracked wheat + 1 1/2 cups water to a boil, then covers and cooks over low for 20-ish minutes.
Micro the sweet potato(es) for about 5 minutes. Flip them once and poke holes with a fork.
Grill the chicken until cooked through.
Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, lime juice, and hot sauce to a bowl.
Whisk together, and add in a splash of water. Whisk again, and add more water if needed. (I started with about a tablespoon and added another teaspoon). It should be drippy enough to drizzle over the top of your bowls.
Once the chicken has sat for a few minutes, slice into strips. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice in half, then scoop from the skin with a spoon and slice into bite-sized pieces.
Assemble the bowls with 1/4 of the grain in the base of each bowl, then add chicken, sweet potato, and avocado. Drizzle the peanut sauce on top.
I loved the peanut sauce being creamy from the pb and salty from the soy sauce and a little wake up from the ginger and sriracha sauce. I cooked the sweet potato the night before so these were even speedier than they seemed! I thought I had edamame int he freezer – that would be a better texture to each bite than the soft avocado with soft sweet potato.
What’s my next bowl? I need a new theme!