Ohh yes I did. Mr. J’s birthday burger was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger! I’ve tried in the past making fried mac & cheese fritter to top a burger with, but haven’t had luck keeping it together. Stuffing it was a success! We topped them with bacon jam, caramelized onions, and sliced tomato.
1 box prepared mac & cheese (w/ butter & milk. There will be extra, also known as a side)
1/2 pound ground meat (I used ground pork for mine & ground beef for Mr. J’s)
1 slice of cheddar (or shredded)
suggested toppings: caramelized onions, bacon/bacon bits/bacon jam, tomato slices
Prepare the Mac & Cheese according to your package. Then refrigerate at least 10 minutes stirring a few times to cool it down.
Divide the meat into 2 halves and form the ground meat into a ball for each burger. Pull off about 1/3 to become the “cover”. Form the remainder of each into a patty.
Spoon about 2 tablespoons of mac & cheese onto the center of each patty.
Add some extra sliced or grated cheese.
Place the remaining ground meat ontop and pinch with the edges of the patty. Work it with your hands to really connect the top to the patty. Form it into a ball and then flatten a bit.
Grill to cook through. The meat is thin but you want to be sure the meat cooks all the way through without any raw meat amongst the mac & cheese.
This was a fun one. It definitely felt unusual and like a good choice for a birthday burger. The little one got a head-start on dinner but then I gave him some mac and cheese when we were eating and he loved it! I mean, who doesn’t, but like father like son!
Happy Birthday Burger Mr. J!
Here’s the history of the Birthday Burgers:
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese
One drizzly Sunday I was hell-bent on making corn & zucchini something. As in, there were already groceries in the house and I willingly ventured to Wegmans…on a Sunday…with the little one…after going to Target. I do love taking the little one on errands partly because he seems to enjoy it, and I want him seeing people/places/learning how to behave in public/knowing we need to do things beyond playing together. But let’s be real: most grocery stores are BA-NAN-AS on Sunday afternoons. Also, we need a rule against 85-year-olds doing their errands on the weekends.
Anywho, I got it into my head that it should be like a pancake-ish. Mine ended up being a little more eggy/fritter-y but we still got the little one to eat it. (he’s not so into eggs right now)
I loved these as a non-traditional side dish for our house. They reheat well too.
Corn & Zucchini Fritters
adapted from Menu Musings’ Corn Cakes with Cilantro Lime Cream
2 cups corn (I used cooked frozen)
2 small zucchinis, shredded & moisture squeezed out
2 tbs chopped chives (optional)
1 tbs fresh thyme (optional)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees (or warm a pan if frying them – I did both).
Mix together corn, shredded zucchini, chives, thyme.
Whisk the eggs and milk, then add panko, cornmeal, garlic, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Add the wet mixture into the veggie mixture and stir to combine.
Use a muffin tin, muffin-top pan (my fav), or a baking sheet and spray liberally with non-stick spray. Add the zucchini corn mixture and bake. Cooking time will vary depending on your baking vessel. I partially cooked by baking for 10 minutes to set before pan frying.
Or pan fry until crisp. I pan fried to finish them off for about 3 minutes per side to crisp the edges.
I liked these a lot! They might not be a meal you remember for life, but they’re a fun way to enjoy some veggies in a form I don’t have daily. They reheat well and could be made as mini balls with toothpicks as an appetizer! They’re pretty mild flavored and friendly for the kiddos or your favorite vegetarian.
I was just hearing from some very intelligent folks that figuring out what to make for dinner is just so hard. I view meal planning like a puzzle. You need to have the pieces and see where they can go. If they aren’t in the right spot, you move it around until it clicks. It can seem daunting but you need to start somewhere.
1) Know Your Audience:
Think about who likes what, who wants leftovers available, and who will be making what throughout the week. Also who would be likely to eat what. When feeding the little one, I go for something familiar with something new, or variety. Variety is key.
2) Look at Your Schedule/Weather and Write Out Your Plan for the Week:
I literally even schedule in leftovers or “anything goes” or breakfast. Not every day needs to be the. perfect. meal. or something totally new. Write it on a scrap of paper from the recycling, or onto a calendar, or on an app, or whatever works for you. I use a marker board calendar in the kitchen. I move the meals around depending what happens but seeing them in writing helps us.
3) Start with a Few Categories:
To keep some variety, I’ll usually use a few categories to get me going. Salad, Burritos, Pasta, Panini, Omelette, Burger, etc. Picking a few helps me figure out a bit of a starting point. You could do the same with ethnicities: Italian/Greek/Mexican/etc. It’d also be fun to give characteristics like baked/crunchy/raw/grilled/cheesy/etc.
4) Don’t feel like every part has to be the star:
If the main dish needs your attention, give yourself a break on the side dish(s). Couscous cooks in 5 minutes. Raw peppers or cukes to dip into salad dressing or hummus = an instant summer side.
5) Track your favs and keep a list somewhere.
Pintest can be helpful with boards by category or a board of pins to try versus tried & true. I keep a list on my phone of ideas from menus or magazines or cooking shows or whatever. If you pull recipes out of magazines then a binder might be helpful.
Do you plan your meals? What works for you?
These are pigs in blankets minus the hot dog. This hardly warrants a recipe, but these are easy, delicious, and fun to serve. What else is there? Serve with some fruit and you have instant breakfast.
maple breakfast sausage links
Pan fry the sausages until cooked through. (Do this prep the night before for an even faster breakfast!)
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Pop open the roll of crescent rolls. Gently unroll the triangles and lay a sausage link onto the wide end.
Roll the dough around the sausage and keep rolling to the point.
Bake according to the crescent roll package, 9-12 minutes.
Serve with maple syrup for dipping. Enjoy!
I love these. I made them awhile back for a group brunch and loved them for the a) ease and b) crave-ability factor. I made these again and they were a hit. The little one had already had breakfast and then sat with us and gobbled a few bites and then ate a whole one himself.
We tend to be slaw/potato salad folks around here. I almost made this as potato salad, but that takes so. much. longer. This, as pasta salad, was super quick…like end of naptime quick. I boiled the pasta and started to fry the bacon while the pasta got a chance to cool. It got dressed to hang out in the fridge until dinner time. Voila! This is best when chilled for 1-3 hours and served then. To serve the next day it’ll need some mayo/plain yogurt/sour cream. The blue cheese dressing is more on the oily side versus the purely creamy side.
Bacon Blue Cheese Pasta Salad (serves 4)
1/4 box of large elbow pasta
2-3 slices of bacon
1 1/4 cup blue cheese salad dressing
2 tbs fresh chives, chopped (or green onions)
salt & pepper
crumbled blue cheese (optional)
hot sauce (optional)
Directions: (prep at least 1 hour in advance)
Boil pasta according to the package, cooking until soft, less than al dente.
Chop and pan fry the bacon until crisp, then drain.
Let the pasta cool. Stir a few times so it doesn’t become one chunk of pasta. Once cool, mix in 1 cup of the blue cheese dressing and the chives. Add in salt & pepper. Then cover and refrigerate at least an hour, preferably 1-3 hours.
Before serving, mix in the rest of the dressing and most of the bacon, reserving a little for the top.
Serve with the rest of the bacon on top. Enjoy!
This was great! I liked the flavor and the subtlety of it. I didn’t add in additional blue cheese or hot sauce, but this could totally become buffalo blue cheese pasta salad. I used the good, produce-area, blue cheese dressing. I think this is so easy that it is worth repeating and adds a great alternative to the normal, often-lackluster pasta salad.
I did NOT cook that much in May. Normally I have a few interesting items here and there but I thoroughly enjoyed slooooowly getting back to real life after my work event. I had some fun restaurant excursions to Stoked for wood-fired pizza and to Tres Gatos for tapas! I’m all about the fast-ish dinners now that it is nice out and it is more fun to take walks through the neighborhood, or play in driveway with T & his yard-sale bubble mower, or whatever. Mr. J has a new train schedule and gets home earlier -woohoo! I love whenever we can all eat at the same time!
Let’s pause for the sous-chefs who have not had a blog appearance until just lately:
I was really proud of the ramen burgers! I kind of can’t believe the ramen buns stayed together! It was such a fun one to try! I loved the teryiaki & green onions on a burger.
I loved a quickie flatbread pizza with turkey kielbasa, sweet potato, red onion, and a mustard sauce. It was so perfectly fast and some variety to my typical dinner flavors. The babe loooves sweet potato so having some leftover was great.
Puff pastry has such an important place in my heart. I always love it. This eggplant parm pockets were so fun and cooking the eggplant the night before made them even easier. This meat-less meal was spot on and perfectly portioned!
The Little One:
He’s so funny right now. I mean, we always think he’s funny. That’s rule 1 of being a parent. He seems like such a little kid rather than a baby now! We just got him crocs and they’re just the cutest. He loves playing outside and his current favorite toys are books (especially this strawberry one & this truck one), mega blocks, and cardboard boxes. He’s not so into the talking & words but I can’t get over how much he knows. He will go retrieve a specific toy or book when we ask for it, he correctly identifies which dog is which, he knows some body parts, and will mimic some words when we say them like go, milk, choo-choo, beep, etc. T is still a rockstar-sleeper and still eating well. Fingers crossed he keeps both up!
This guy rockin’ the bed-head, pre-haircut last week:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor I’m counting it, I got this watercolor flower print on wood and love it.
do something a different way: I’ve been focused on putting things where they belong, in the moment. Otherwise I find myself straightening up later which seems like more work.
drink more water: yup, going strong especially with no coffee until 10oz of water…at least on weekdays
make more interesting side dishes: nope
cook more soups & sauces: nah
watch more movies: we just laughed our way through Sisters
make working out a higher priority: Mr. J’s train is earlier so I’m been pretty good about getting up and moving before waking the little one. Plus, work is starting a walking challenge going so I’m psyched to see that.
Yes to breaded eggplant. Yes to Parmesan. Yes to puff pastry. I love all these things so I was secretly psyched for a cooler drizzly day to whip up this dinner. Ohh so good. I liked how quick these were and all the flavors I wanted while still feeling different. Puff pastry is so foolproof. Fill it with anything and you’ll have a happy dinner.
Also, let’s discuss my sous chefs: note how they flank where I stand at that neon-green cutting board. It is so nice they want to be a part of everything, but sometimes I just need some room. I fear the babe will think their names are Bailee Move and Windsor Move. They are cute though, aren’t they?
(for 1 sheet of puff pastry making 4 pockets)
~12 slices of breaded eggplant (3 slices per pocket)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the eggplant until crisped, flipping once. (I cooked mine the night before to speed it up).
Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut into 4.
Top with a slice of eggplant, a few small dollops of ricotta, some shredded mozzarella, and a slight drizzle of tomato sauce (not too much! it’ll get soggy!) Add another eggplant slice and keep the layers going…3 slices per pocket. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Pinch together opposite corners and keep tucking the puff pastry underneath. Cut a few slits into the sides to vent.
Bake 25-35 minutes. Check at 25 minutes – mine needed a few more minutes to get golden brown.
Enjoy! Serve with some tomato sauce for dipping if desired.
I really loved this. The crispy, buttery, flakey outside with the eggplant and all the cheese inside – ohh so great. The little one likes the breaded eggplant and gobbled it up a dinner and lunch in a row. Yes! Winning all around!
Have a happy Memorial Day weekend!
I’m always ready for a new pizza. I ran through Delish’s unconventional pizzas and was so ready for kielbasa, sweet potato, and red onion and I added a buttery mustard sauce. It was so great. I’ll always love pizza dough but using naan is just so much faster on a weeknight.
2 naan breads
1 sweet potato
1/2 turkey kielbasa
1 cup Monterey jack cheese
3 tbs butter
3 tbs dijon or grain mustard
1/4 cup red onion
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees and preheat pizza stone if using one.
Cook the sweet potato either baking it, pealing & boiling it, or microwaving it.
Heat a skillet to medium heat.
Melt the butter and add the mustard. Mix well, add some salt & pepper, and spoon onto the naan.
Bake for 10 minutes to toast the bottoms a bit.
Add the sliced kielbasa to the pan to warm through and caramelize the edges.
Slice or chop the sweet potato and the red onion.
Remove the naans from the oven, top with cheese, kielbasa, sweet potato, and red onion.
Bake for 15 minutes until the crust crisps and cheese melts.
I loved this. The mustardy sauce with the kielbasa was so spot on. Naans are the perfect individual serving. They are doughy and get a bit crisped. The baby loves sweet potato so we were all too happy to have half a leftover sweet potato.
Mr. J and I definitely have a little eater. Maybe he’s taken cues from us, or the pups who eat all that is served in one sitting, or his genes, or he’s just himself and is hungry, interested, and into food at this moment. Right now we’re taking the approach of just keeping serving varied foods and he’ll eat it or not but there aren’t other options at that meal. T has several teeth coming in so texture or mouth-feel could be a part of his current trends. Here’s what he’s been loving, or not into lately:
Into: feeding himself with forks & spoons.
It is pretty hysterical to see him speed up the fork usage by manually putting something onto the fork- after several attempts to spear it hasn’t worked. Baby + spoon + yogurt = a true testament to how challenging aim is. He’s so proud of himself!
Not into: grilled cheese at Gram & Pops house
Huh? I thought you were part mouse always wanting cheese! Quesadillas are often a staple for him so this surprised me.
Into: grilled sausages & grilled herbed potatoes
Sometimes he passes over meat, and grilled/charred pieces but he was into both of these the other night!
Not into: tortellini
Long-shaped pasta is always a hit, farfalle was gobbled down recently, but both hot tortellini and tortellini salad were no-gos this time. Who ARE you?
Always into: fruit – all.the.fruit, sweet potatoes, muffins, corn, beans, raw tomatoes, cucumbers
Hit or miss right now: green beans, avocado, eggs, deli meat, pickles, some foods if he has them in close succession.
mixed results so they’ll keep appearing and we’ll continue to see what happens.
Get. Ready. For. This.
I made the ramen burger and it was AWESOME! Yes! SHOUTING! It was so great! Yay! The crispy ramen buns stayed together and had the perfect toasted sesame flavor. The burgers had green onions and teriyaki. So good.
When I started thinking about a) I haven’t blogged in forever and b) what should the come-back meal be? I went high! RA-MEN BURG-ER. This video/tutorial is the best.
Ramen Burgers for 2
2 packages Chicken ramen
1/2 pound ground meat (I used pork)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs teriyaki marinade
1/2 tsp sesame oil
3 green onions, diced
Boil water for the ramen and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then drain and rinse with cold water.
Whisk the eggs with a fork.
Add the noodles and 1 chicken flavoring packet to a large bowl. Mix/toss together until well coated.
Spray 4 patty-sized containers with non-stick spray. (Don’t forget this. I did and went back and washed, dried, and sprayed the containers to then put the noodle mix back in. Safe>Sorry)
Press the noodles down and cover with plastic wrap. Press or weigh the noodles down. I stacked my toddler’s bowls and lightly weighed the top noodles down. Refrigerate 20+ minutes.
For the burgers, mix together the ground meat, garlic, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, and green onions.
Form into patties and then grill the burgers.
Heat a skillet to medium high heat and pour some sesame oil. Pan fry the ramen buns for 2-3 minutes per side. Flip just once.
Serve with more chopped green onions and teriyaki sauce.
It was really good! I think the sesame oil was really the key. I had some black sesame seeds which were also really good. I loved the flavors and was so excited the ramen worked! The craze is totally worth it.