Burgers Mexicana

I love making burgers that pack lots of flavour into every bite.  These are guaranteed to do just that! The addition of chipotle aoili makes anything have a hint of Mexican flavours.  Feel free to add a bit of minced chipotle pepper to the burger mix as well if you like to kick the heat up a bit.

1 pound ground lean pork

1 pound ground chorizo sausage or spicy italian sausage meat

1/4 cup minced fresh herbs – basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup finely sliced chives or green onions

1/2 cup monterey jack or havarti jalapeno cheese, grated

Gently toss just until ingredients are blended well and form into patties.  If you place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a while they will hold their shape much easier on the grill.  When you put them on the grill, gently place them on an oiled grill (or lightly oil the burger) and do not move until they have formed up.  Rotate for nice grill marks.  Flip when they are able to hold their shape, and cook through.

Grill:  avocado slices, tomato slices and onion slices

Grilling tomato and avocado slices is easier than you think – and for any vegetarian in the crowed – just use portabello mushrooms!

Chipotle Aioli:  Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 minced chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce), 1 tbsp sliced green onions and 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice -season to taste with salt and pepper

To serve burgers:  Grill buns, then spread the both halves with the chipotle aoili – place bun on bottom bun and pile it up with the avocado, tomato and onion slices – simply divine!

Chicken Meatballs

Do you ever wonder what you can do to help when someone has a baby?  Has surgery?  Just can’t get out of the house?  Needs assistance of any kind?  Make a freezer full of ready to go meal ideas, that’s what.  This is our favourite way of helping anybody.  Just make sure you find out first what kind of food they like to eat – after all, it is about what their household needs, not what you like to eat!!  These chicken meatballs are one of the best and easiest to do – they can be frozen individually and then tossed into a large ziplock bag so that when dinner comes around they can either go on the bbq and be served with tzatsiki dip, go into a tomato sauce and become spaghetti, or just served with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  The possiblities are limited only by your imagination …

Meghan and I had a great time creating food that Hayley and Mike could have ready to go after their adorable little baby girl Sloan arrived!

2 pounds ground lean chicken meat – please use a butcher and good quality meat

1 small onion, grated

lots of fresh herbs, minced very fine – I like basil, oregano, rosemary and parsley

2 cloves garlic (don’t overdo the garlic in case you are preparing these for a nursing mother or other sensitive eater)

1/2 cup finely ground bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients and blend well (your hands are the best possible tool), then roll into balls.  Toss lightly in flour and set on baking sheet.  Allow to freeze individually and then put all of them in a freezer container or ziplock bag – label it!

Veggie Burgers … you WANT to eat

My first disclaimer has to be the fact that I am not a vegetarian.  Admittedly we are carnivores, and in fact, love our meat.  Although my plate definitely has a small portion of meat on it, that is the way I start to plan my meal … thinking first of what protein I am going to work with.  Imagine my surprise when I thought these were delicious!  I wouldn’t have made them at all except that those darn kids are always turning up with some dietary changes – including vegetarianism.  In an attempt to have some easy to make dinners on hand for one daughters household I thought these would be a good idea.  Turns out they were so good we had a hard time giving them away ….

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp cumin

1 1/2 tbsp chili powder

1 19 oz can black beans – really well rinsed, drained and roughly pureed

1 tsp oregano

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/2 cup almonds, roasted and chopped

1 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and chopped

3 cups fine bread crumbs

1/2 cup soy sauce (reduced sodium)

5 eggs

2 cups carrots, grated

2 cups oats (quick cook type)

flour and vegetable oil

In a large fry pan lightly toast your almonds and sunflower seeds until golden brown – then remove to cool and use the same pan to saute onions and garlic in oil.  Place all in large mixing bowl and let it cool down while you work on the rest.  If you have a food processor use it to pulse the nuts, and then grate your carrots and puree the black beans.  Combine all ingredients in the bowl and mix well (your hands are your best tool here)

When you have everything well blended it is time to form your patties.  This is a little trickier than meat patties as I don’t find they hold the shape quite as well.  The best idea is to take either parchment or saran paper and drop a pattie on to it.  Flatten it with either your hands (or if you are feeling aggressive use the bottom of a pot ….) then wrap well individually.  Freeze them separately then store in a large ziplock bag or a freezer container.

To cook, dredge lightly in flour and brown in vegetable oil on the stove top in a fry pan.  They won’t hold together on the bbq grate, so don’t even try that.

Try these burgers, and you will be amazed.  Even for the carnivores, like ourselves, you will just love the flavour.

We liked them served on a toasted light bun or pita shell – along with:

roasted red pepper sliced, heated through

siracha aoili

To make the siracha aioli: 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 1 tbsp siracha, 1 tbsp sambal oelek, 2 tbsp freshly chopped chives as well as salt and pepper to taste

Mexican Green Rice

I love Mexican rice – for a big fiesta try making both this green (verde) rice along with red (roja) rice.  Want to create the Mexican flag colors in a bowl – make a batch of white (blanco) rice also!

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped white onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup Salsa Verde

1 cup long grain white rice

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Over medium heat saute the onions until soft, adding garlic for the last couple of minutes.  Stir in broth and salsa verde.  Add uncooked rice and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and allow to cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and remove lid.  Fluff rice with a fork and cover pot with a tea towel.  This allows the steam to release so your rice will be light and fluffy.

Stir in chopped cilantro.

Pollo Verde y Cerveza or Beer Braised Green Chicken

This is a quick and easy dish – try making enough for a couple of meals and you have filling ready for quesadillas or tacos later in the week.

quick and easy chicken in salsa verde

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup chopped white onion

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ancho chile powder

1 tsp dried Mexican oregano, crumbled

1/4 tsp salt

1 12 ounce Mexican Beer (I like Dos Equis)

1 11-12 oz can of tomatilloes (or if you have your own salsa verde already made – use that)

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1 pound chicken breast – cut into tenderloins

In heavy sauce pan sauce onion in oil until soft and translucent, add garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.  Add butter, spices and oregano.  Cook and stir just until the butter has melted.

Add beer, tomatillos (or salsa verde) and jalapeno pepper.

Bring broth back to boil, stir in chicken and turn temperature down to allow chicken to simmer.  Cook gently for about 15-20 minutes, just until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from liquid, and allow liquid to boil until it has reduced and thickened – about another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from heat. When chicken has cooled enough to handle, shred it and return it to the liquid mixture.

Absolutely delicious as a taco or quesadilla filling, or served with homemade tortillas, mexican rice and vegetables. 

Penang Style Thai Curry

Thai curries are always perfect if you really are looking for lots of flavour in every bite.  In Thailand, 1 chicken breast easily serves a family of 4 in a curry dish – lots of vegetables help out, and of course you won’t want to miss a drop of the curry so your rice is perfect to soak it all up.  This version is vegetarian, served with barbecued chicken, but it is easy to add whatever protein you are inclined to use.

Penang Style Curry served with Thai Barbecued Chicken and fragrant jasmine rice

Whatever vegetables you use are totally up for discussion – take what is in season and use that, or if you need to scrape something together at the last moment keep a jar of baby corn, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots in your pantry!

You will need:

whatever vegetables you plan to use chopped and ready

any meat sliced very thin and ready to go in

For this basic curry use:

1 tbsp red curry paste

1 tbsp massaman curry paste

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1 inch ginger, minced or sliced

galangal root (fresh if you can get it, but powdered if not available in your area)

lemongrass (again fresh is best but powdered is a decent standby)

tamarind paste

1 can coconut milk or cream

kaffir lime leaves

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp raw sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

peanut oil

cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat peanut oil, stir in onion, garlic and ginger.  Allow to soften but not brown.  Stir in curry pastes, and allow curry to cook for a couple of minutes, then add galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.  Slowly add half the coconut milk, and allow the sauce to fully incorporate.  Gently simmer ….. then add most of the coconut milk – reserving some in case your curry is too spicy.

Add as many vegetables as you like – if you want this to also be a meat curry, this is the time to add raw, thinly sliced meat.

During one of my cooking classes in Thailand I was advised to add the meat, then NOT TO STIR until the meat is cooked through.  

Allow the meat and vegetables to cook through, and taste.  This is plenty spicy enough for our family, but if you like more heat add either freshly chopped chile or red chili flakes.  If, on the other hand, your family is not keen on spice at all just start with 1 tsp of each of the curry pastes, and oh so gently, gradually increase the amount of paste.

When you remove the curry from the heat stir in the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce.  All Thai dishes contain the 4 essential elements of sweet, sour, salty and spicy from these ingredients.

It may take a bit of playing around to get the taste of Thailand into your kitchen, but you will be so glad you did!

Lemon Herb Chicken Linguine

This light and fresh summery pasta is perfect for a sunny day – takes so little effort and won’t heat up your kitchen either!

CHICKEN

4 chicken breasts

2 tbsp minced fresh herbs – basil, parsley, oregano

1 heaping tbsp dijon mustard

1 lemon – juice and zest

2 tbsp olive oil

Marinate all above ingredients in a ziplock bag for a minimum of 1 hour, and preferably overnight.  (My favorite trick is to have this already made and in the freezer, pull it out in the morning and you are ready to proceed when you get home from work!)

Grill chicken breasts until no longer pink inside, and juices run clear.  Allow to rest while you cook the pasta.

PASTA

1 pack linguine noodles (or honestly, whatever you like!)

broccoli – broken into little trees (about 1 1/2 – 2 cups) or snap peas!

1 lemon, juice and zest

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp of your best extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp roughly chopped basil

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Cook linguine in a pot of well salted water – for the last 3 minutes toss in a generous handful of broccoli heads.  Drain pasta, reserving some of the liquid.

In large serving bowl toss the cooked broccoli and pasta with the lemon juice and zest, minced garlic, crumbled feta, basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil over top, and add just enough pasta water to allow you to toss the pasta easily, and it creates just a light bit of sauce.

Slice chicken on the diagonal, and serve over the pasta.