Tag Archives: BBQ

Burger Bonanza

1 Aug

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I’ll admit it. I had a total “food baby” after last night’s delicious BBQ supper. But it was SO worth it. You all know how much I love burgers. Add on a buffet of delicious toppings, AMAZING local corn on the cob, tasty salads, baked beans and multiple tempting desserts? Summer perfection!

 

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These pictures don’t do it justice, but here you can see the array of toppings on the burger bar. This is the third time I’ve done build-your-own-burger as a summer party, and I have to say, it’s one of my favourite ways to entertain in the summer. After all, who doesn’t love a good burger? I used store-bought burgers and buns, but the tasty toppings take it up a notch.

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To choose from, we had:

  • sliced tomatoes
  • bacon Smile
  • sautéed onions
  • hot peppers
  • sliced avocado and leftover guacamole
  • salsa
  • the standard mustard, ketchup and relish
  • Dijon mustard
  • spicy mustard (mix of Dijon, grainy mustard and Ancho chile powder)IMG_2393
  • BBQ sauce
  • Velveeta cheese slices
  • goat cheese
  • homemade pickled red onions
  • homemade dill pickles
  • homemade red wine onion relish (those last three items are from my new Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes book – they were all pretty simple and DELICIOUS!)

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To start things off before the burgers, we had “Cowboy Caviar,” which is a tasty dip made with fresh corn (recipe says used canned, but why would I when the fresh stuff is so good?), black-eyed peas, green onions, tomatoes, avocadoes, fresh flat-leaf parsley (recipe calls for cilantro but I switched it – there’s a lot of haters out there when it comes to cilantro) and oil/vinegar/seasonings. Sooooo good! That big bowl disappeared pretty quickly! We also had a Hungry Girl cucumber dip and veggies.

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Main course was the aforementioned burgers, a salad I made, 3 other tasty salads brought by guests, baked beans Red heart brought by a guest, and LOTS of corn on the cob (I may have overestimated there just a bit – there’s quite a bit leftover – guess what you’ll be seeing in my meals this week? Winking smile). I had some of everything, and went back for more of the sides!

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Desserts. SO. GOOD. We had fruit (watermelon, muskmelon, honeydew, cherries) – gotta keep things healthy, you know? I made peach blueberry cobbler (I think what my family calls a cobbler is technically a crisp, as it has an oatmeal topping, but we’re not going to change now). Mmmm…one of my all-time favourite summer desserts. So simple, yet so delicious! To go with the cobbler, I made homemade vanilla bean ice cream – I may never buy store-bought again! And to top it all off, I made “Better than you-know-what Cake” (I think you can all guess what “you-know-what” is without me telling you, right?Winking smile). For those of you unfamiliar with this dessert, it’s basically a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, soaked in sweetened condensed milk (AKA the Nectar of the Gods) and caramel sauce, then topped with Cool Whip and Skor bits. Not for the faint of heart! But I cut back on the oil and sugar in the cake and used low fat Cool Whip, so it’s practically calorie-free, right?IMG_2421

It was a great night – tasty food, warm weather (as the shiny-ness from my sweaty face in this picture shows), and great friends. If I’m going to splurge on some 80/20 food, this is my favourite way to do it – tasty, homemade, comfort food…mmm!

I’m not going to share all the recipes with you today – but I’ll start with Bobby’s Red Wine Onion Relish. This stuff was so good, I would have no problem eating it straight up (in fact, when I got my second plate, I took a spoonful and did just thatEmbarrassed smile). And it was actually easier to make than I expected. I would have thought that you had to caramelize the onions, but the recipe only calls for sautéing for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Before I give you the recipe, let me just say, even if you don’t like wine (which I don’t), this stuff is GOOD. It definitely kicks the burger up a notch, and I think it would be good on any sandwich, or even grilled meat. You really should try it soon!

Red Wine Onion Relish from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries and Shakes

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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, halved and thinly sliced (I used one red onion, one Vidalia, because I have lots right now and I love their sweet flavour)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a medium sauté pan or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the wine, vinegar, honey and thyme and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency, 5 to 7 minutes.

Transfer to a bowl, stir in the parsley, and let cool to room temperature. The relish can be made 2 days ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Makes about 2 cups.

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Sautéing the onions. The 10 minute cook time and occasional stirring were much more low maintenance than caramelizing them!

 

 

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This is right after I removed from the heat and stirred in the parsley. I didn’t transfer to a bowl first (sorry Bobby), but by now, that shouldn’t surprise you, as you know what a rebel I am in the kitchen.

 

Ok, for the other recipes, I thought we’d try something fun. Leave a comment in the comments section or on facebook, or email me, and let me know which recipe you’d like to see on here first. Depending on the response I get, I will post whichever recipe gets the most votes in an upcoming post (don’t worry, I may share more than one). I thought I’d do a “readers’ choice” post later this week, where I share the recipe you choose and answer the questions I got last week (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten)! So, the more you respond, the better the post will be!

Fellow Canadians, how did you celebrate the long weekend?

Fajita Fiesta

30 Jul

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Happy Long Weekend fellow Canadians (and happy Saturday everyone else)! I hope you are enjoying the beautiful summer weather.

Last night was our first round of entertaining for the weekend, so I decided to do a BBQ version of fajitas. I love fajitas. They’re actually one of my go-to choices at restaurants when there’s not a lot of healthy stuff to choose from, as it’s easy to pick and choose which toppings you want. And it’s a great meal to feed a group for the same reason – you put what you want on your fajita, so it suits a variety of preferences.

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But since it is summer time and grilling is practically an institution when entertaining, I decided to take things outside and do the meat and veggies on the BBQ instead of in a skillet on the stove (bonus: saves calories because you don’t need oil).

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I decided to do a “mixed grill” of chicken and steak (but I marinated all the meat in the same bag – I don’t know if that’s a no-no or not, but you know me, always the rebel).

The marinade was pretty simple, and, not to toot my own horn, but it turned out really well. The meat was tender and super-flavourful. I used 2 Mesquite-marinated steaks from M&M, so they added a bit of their seasoning, then I added:

  • lime juice
  • red wine vinegar
  • Ancho chile powder (Ancho is great because it’s not as spicy as a lot of other chiles, but still adds great Mexican flavour)
  • cumin
  • Epicure salsa seasoning
  • a few cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • salt and pepper

IMG_2336I put my steaks and chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag and marinated in the fridge for several hours, turning the bag several times to distribute the marinade.

I grilled the meat over high heat, then removed, covered with foil and let it rest while I grilled the veggies (red pepper, Vidalia onion and zucchini), which I sprayed with PAM for the grill and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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After the meat had rested for about 10 minutes (this helps keep all the juices in), I thinly sliced it (along with the veggies) and plated it all up. For tortillas, I went with Dempster’s whole wheat Body Wise tortillas (I know corn is more authentic, but the grocery store didn’t have them and I wasn’t in the mood to go hunting).

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We had a wide variety of other toppings, which included:

Our sides were delicious, local corn on the cob and red cabbage slaw (same recipe I made for my mom’s birthday, only with the addition of a Granny Smith apple I had leftover) .

I think it was safe to say that the meal was enjoyed by all. This is a pretty easy meal to put together for summer entertaining, and a nice change from the usual steaks or burgers (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Speaking of burgers, we’re hosting a build-your-own-burger bar supper here tomorrow night for between 12 to 18 people! It’s going to be epic, with lots of decadent toppings and some seriously delicious 80/20 style desserts! So I may or may not make it on to HHH to update you tomorrow, but I plan to do NOTHING Monday, so for sure I’ll be back by then.

Since in my town on the August long weekend, we celebrate Friendship Festival (yes, one of the advantages of living in a small town, we are cool enough that we have a weekend-long festival devoted to friends), I would like once again to wish you, my blog-friends, a happy long weekend. May it be filled with food, family, and FRIENDS!

Corny

18 Jul

Happy Monday everyone! First, of all, to address the “loose ends” from yesterday’s post. If you haven’t read it yet, I really suggest you do so, it’ll make this one make a lot more sense…go ahead, I’ll wait.

Back now? Ok. IMG_2207First for the potluck summary. I sort of felt an “angel on one shoulder, devil on the other” vibe with my contributions – a big bowl of watermelon and cherries and then peanut butter chocolate gooey butter cakes with m&ms. And that, my friends, is where the pictures stop. Based on my general mood lately, I made a deal with myself that I was going to go, eat what I wanted, enjoy, no pictures for the blog…and I did. And it was fun.

I had a hamburger( with a bun…gasp!), some tasty salads, more dessert than I care to admit (mine and stuff that other people brought) and some fruit (see…I was healthy). I spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, chatting, with a bit of swimming thrown in to cool off, then ate 2 pieces of Delissio pizza (it’s been AGES since I had that stuff, and it is seriously yummy) and had ice cream for dessert. All in all,  a perfect summer day.

My “de-funking: list? I did it all. I’d love to say that I instantly and magically snapped out of the funk, but it didn’t happen quite like that (but really, when does life happen like that?). It was nice to be out of the house and with other people for most of the day yesterday to keep myself distracted. Sometimes, funks just happen, but you can’t let them take over…you just have to pray, be grateful for what you have, and move on with your life…at least that’s what I try to do.

I hope I didn’t scare any of you off with all of what I shared yesterday. It really was helpful for me though to have a place to share my feelings and be honest…so once again, thanks for listening!

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Now that we’ve got that our of the way, let’s move onto happier things – like the fact that corn is in season (now you’re starting to get the post title)! I used that corn in an absolutely delicious grilled veggie and bacon pizza creation Friday night, and I’d love to share it with you.

Friday was sort of a weird day eating-wise, with a late lunch, then a classy snack, and a late supper. So since I knew I’d be eating dinner pretty late, I prepped in advance before I went out.

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I grilled an ear of corn, a big fat slice of zucchini and two thick slices of Vidalia onion, then chopped them up and put them in a tupperware for when I got back.

I tossed the cold grilled veggies with cumin, salt and pepper. I crisped my crust as per usual in the oven, then for sauce, I used some of this absolutely delicious corn, black bean and roasted red pepper salsa I bought when we were in Buffalo (brand is Desert Pepper, but can’t find a link online). I topped it with 1/3 cup shredded light cheese, and most of the veggies (the rest of which I ate cold…delightful!), then sprinkled lots of chopped fresh parsley on top of that, and topped it all off with 1 tablespoon of bacon bits.

Now, I know that bacon bits are processed and real bacon is probably better, but I don’t really use bacon all that much, so it would go to waste if I bought it, so for that reason, bacon bits work better for me….sorry! I baked this guy to melt the cheese, just 5 or 10 minutes (although it was so late that this seemed like much longer). IMG_2188

Let’s go in for a close-up, shall we? ‘Cause this guy was GOOD! Herby freshness, just a touch of spice from the salsa, the charred taste of the veggies, gooey cheese, and salty bacon. Pretty much summer pizza perfection…so simple, but so good!

 

If you were to create a perfect summer pizza, what would you put on it?

Summer Potluck Success

27 Jun

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I was just saying on the weekend that I find summer can be quite challenging when it comes to healthy eating. Yes, there are so many fantastic fruits and veggies, but there are also so many potlucks, BBQs and get togethers…and ice cream, let’s not forget about that either. Winking smile But, if you’re smart about it, you can enjoy these events without going overboard. I don’t always succeed, but here are a few tips from yesterday’s church BBQ.

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1. Be smart about what you bring. Yes, you may be thinking, “this would be a great time to make that killer recipe for _____ (insert favourite calorically rich dish here),” and yes, it might be, but why not bring something that you KNOW will be both healthy AND delicious, since you have no way of knowing exactly what will be available. Everyone had to bring a dessert and a salad, so I made a nice healthy ranch/broccoli slaw (basically the same as this one) with all light ingredients, loads of veggies, and fresh herbs for flavour. And for dessert? Hungry Girl’s cheesecake brownies.

2. Eat smart before. IMG_1919I do try and “save my calories’” for a food-centred event like a BBQ, but I don’t want to show up starving. So for lunch, I opted for  a delicious, satisfying and veggie-packed meal: HG Girl-fredo with LOADS of veggies, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, with a vanilla iced coffee and a sugar free candy for “dessert.” Filled me up nicely without weighing me down.

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3. Go bun-less. If you look at the photo of my plate, you’ll see a nice juicy sausage with lots of sauerkraut and no bun. Someone asked me if I was off bread or something like that. I (truthfully) answered no, and said that a bun’s a bun, and I’d rather have more dessert. Winking smile Honestly, you can have a bun anywhere, right? And while I’d have one if I was cooking the meal at home for myself, I would have a bun, but at an event where there are lots of tasty sides and desserts to choose from, why not have more of those and forget the bun. Plus, the sausage was so tasty that I really didn’t miss it.

4. Be selective on the salads. Of course, there will be the creamy calorie bombs, but thankfully, yesterday there were many healthier options to choose from. I took a very small portion of Caesar, and then loaded up on my salad and a few others like bean, berry and spinach, and tomato and cucumber with feta (confession: I went back for a more of a few of those, and also had a *tiny* serving of the marshmallow/pineapple/orange salad….LOVE that stuff). And sorry the photo’s not the greatest. I was in a rush, as at events like that, I don’t love being that weird girl snapping pics of her food, so I was trying to get ‘er done quick.

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5. Fruit first. When it comes to dessert, if there’s fruit, GET SOME! I also found a jello/berry angel food cake that looked good, as well as one of my brownies and a couple jube jubes (confession: went back for more watermelon, and a few tiny bits and bites of other things). We all know by now that Hilary is NOT a happy camper if she doesn’t get dessert. So, of course I’m gonna take some, I just have to choose wisely.

Now, I know people will say, “it’s not all about the food, try and focus on the people there and talking with them” (which I do)…..but let’s be honest: it’s a church picnic. It IS all about the food. So enjoy it, be smart, and if you DO go overboard (which I have done on more than one occasion), tomorrow’s a brand new day!

How are you successful at potlucks and summer events?

Summer BBQ…done right!

21 Jun

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Hands up if you love summer. Hands up if you love barbeques. Hands up if you want to enjoy barbeques all summer long and still look good in your skinny jeans come fall. I thought so. Let’s face it: barbeque meals are delicious, and nothing says summer more than the grill. It’s also SO easy to splurge/go overboard with calorie-packed drinks, meats, sides, salads and desserts. BUT, it is also SO easy to make a totally healthy, guilt-free spread that you (and your guests) will enjoy. My friends, I give you Exhibit A: The Family Father’s Day BBQ – prepared by yours truly and enjoyed by all. Here’s how to do it.

1.IMG_1848 Start things off on the right foot. Our family was coming from an AMAZING concert (a local a capella choir with a guest quartet…both AWESOME!) and I knew everyone would want to munch as soon as they arrived at the house. I prepared HG’s Caramelized Onion Dip and served it with assorted baked chips. I also had PC Blue Menu Tzatziki and veggies for dipping. Let me tell you, those veggies and chips were gone fast! Everyone enjoyed it all, and yet it was a starter that didn’t weigh me down. One of my classic strategies when I’m at a party with dippers and dip (whether I’ve made it myself or someone else has) is to go heavy on the veggies, light on the chips. I try to take most of my dunks with the high-fibre, low calorie veggies, and limit myself to only a few chips (even if they’re baked, the veggies will always be healthier).

2. Lean on lean meat. SIMG_1843ure. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may seem like the go-to choice for a healthy BBQ. And while they’re great, the breasts can get old after a while, do you agree? Pork tenderloin is another amazing choice, and I believe a serving is even slightly lower in calories than the chicken! And since you’re flipping one large piece of meat instead of a bunch of smaller pieces, I find tenderloin easy for entertaining. For Sunday’s gathering, I cooked 5 tenderloins (there were only 10 of us, but it’s SO great leftover) in 2 different ways.IMG_1844 

The first was my own creation: a lemon-herb marinated tenderloin. All you do is put your tenderloin(s) in a large ziploc bag with fresh chopped herbs (I use sage, thyme and rosemary), lemon juice (fresh or bottled), fat-free Italian dressing, salt and pepper. Let marinate in the fridge for a couple hours.

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The other 3 tenderloins got the Bobby Flay treatment: his DELICIOUS garlic mustard glaze that I found on one of my favourite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, a couple years back. I’ve only ever tried this glaze on pork tenderloin, but I’m sure it would be great on any number of grilled meats (even those boring old breasts).

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Garlic Mustard Glaze

From Bobby Flay via Smitten Kitchen

1/4 cup whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons Spanish paprika (I just used the smoked stuff I had in my drawer)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours before using.

Even after using this on 3 large tenderloins, I still had extra. I just brushed this on the meat immediately before grilling, and basted with a bit more during cook time.

FYI, I cook my tenderloins by preheating the grill to high heat, getting a nice sear on each side, then reducing the heat and cooking for about 10-15 more minutes (depends on size and how well you like your meat done).

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3. Pick Smart Sides. Don’t drag that lean meat down with traditional mayo-packed salads. I love pasta salad, and I make it much healthier by packing it with loads of veggies, using fat-free Italian dressing instead of oil or mayo, using whole wheat pasta, and boosting the flavour with chopped fresh herbs. Instead of the usual mayo-heavy coleslaw, I made a Hungry Girl recipe for Hawaiian slaw – complete with pineapple and ham! And to round things off, I made what is a classic in our family – asparagus salad with tomatoes, feta, fresh herbs and my mom’s red wine vinaigrette.

4. Don’t desert dessert.

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Since it was father’s day, I had to make date squares (my grandpa’s favourite). And while you can rationalize and tell yourself they’re healthy (after all, think of all that fibre from the dates and oats, right?), I know how much butter is in there (I made them after all), and though they may be delicious, I wouldn’t quite count them as healthy. So, I took advantage of the local strawberries, bought some other non-local (yet tasty) fruit (raspberries, watermelon, pineapple, cherries) and created a couple of light and tasty dips.

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The first dip is a bit of a Hilary classic – and with 2 ingredients, it can be a classic for you too. All you do is mix one fat-free sugar-free refrigerated Jell-o chocolate pudding cup with some fat-free Cool Whip. This stuff is light, fluffy, and most importantly, CHOCOLATE! Good for any fruit (or cookies. or cake. or….) any time.

The second dip was lime – nice and summer-y. I love anything citrus-y, especially lime, in the summer. The base is actually quite similar to the frosting I made for last week’s rhubarb cake. I mixed together fat-free cream cheese and Greek yogurt with a bit of Splenda, then added Cool Whip. But instead of vanilla extract, I added the zest of one lime, and the juice of half of a lime (you may want to use the juice of the whole thing, it all depends on how juicy your lime is). And you’ll need a bit more Splenda to counteract the acidity of the lime.

Both dips complemented the fruit well, and made it so tasty that I actually ate a bit too much! Embarrassed smileBut it’s only fruit, right? So it can’t be that bad!

All in all, it was a great summer BBQ without the guilt! Better still? Great leftovers! For lunch on Monday, I had some of the leftover slaw, some of the onion dip and veggies, IMG_1854leftover fruit and then a cheese string and some yogurt. And the pork tenderloin found its way into a nice lunch time salad, along with some berries and lime dip.

How do you keep your summer barbequing healthy?

Burger Builder

14 Jun

I’ve said it before. I’m saying it now. I’ll say it again: I love burgers. Beef, veggie, chicken or turkey, I love ‘em all. IMG_1749But, for the most part, the burgers I eat at home are pre-made store-bought ones. And while that’s ok, I thought that since I like burgers so much, I should give making my own a try (and, Katie’s chicken burgers did inspire me, I must admit). So on Sunday, I made 2 batches of homemade burgers – one veggie, one chicken. I had the veggies for lunch (as you can see from the photo, I went bun-less on that one) and the chicken for dinner. Read on to see how to make both!

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Keen for Bean Southwest Veggie Burgers (makes 6)

1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup refried beans

2 tbsp chopped garlic

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1 tbsp Epicure salsa seasoning

1 tsp Epicure Nacho Cheese Dip mix

1 tsp Epicure Pueblo Bean dip mix

1 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

***Note: I am a hot and spicy lover, but I found these patties just a tad over the top. If I make them again, I’ll dial back the spices again, which I suggest you do too if you can’t take the heat.

Mash the black beans with a potato masher in a bowl. Add all other ingredients, mix together.

Using your hands, divide the mixture in 6 and shape into patties. If not using all immediately, store between waxed paper in an airtight container in the freezer (note: I haven’t defrosted any yet, so I’m not 100 % sure this works).

To cook the burgers, spray a non-stick pan with PAM, preheat over medium-high heat. Cook the burger until browned on one side (about 3 minutes), then flip and brown the other. * I would NOT advise you to grill these – I think they’d stick really bad and/or fall apart. Homemade veggie burgers are best for the frying pan I think.

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This is what the burger looks like after being flipped. As you can see, I ate my first burger bun-less with a side salad (wanted to cut calories since I knew I’d be having birthday cake later that afternoon), but I think these would be great on a bun with a slice of cheese melted over and some salsa. Like I said above, there was a touch too much spice, but overall, I really liked the flavour of these burgers. A nice change from your usual veggie burger.

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Moving right along to the chicken burgers. I think chicken burgers are a great opportunity to play with herbs/spices and flavourings. That being said, since I was making a whole “batch,” I wanted to go with something fairly neutral, not too strongly flavoured, that would be more versatile, so my seasonings this round were pretty basic. I’ve got all summer to experiment though! Winking smile

Basic Chicken Burgers (makes 5)

1 450 g package lean ground chicken

1/2 cup broccoli slaw, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion

1/4 cup liquid egg whites

1 tbsp Epicure French onion dip mix

1 tsp Epicure Herb and garlic dip mix

1 tsp salt, plus a few shakes pepper.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Use your hands (the best tool, really) to mix it up. Divide mixture in 5, then shape into patties. As with the veggie burgers, store any you’re not using layered with waxed paper in an airtight container in the fridge (haven’t defrosted any of these yet either, so no results report here either).

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I cooked my burger on the grill over high heat and put a cheese slice on right at the end to enjoy it cheeseburger-style, and topped it off with onion, pickle, lettuce, tomato, ketchup and vinegar – oh yeah! My sides were roasted cauliflower (nice and crispy this time) and veggies with some spring green hummus.

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So, chicken burger review. My favourite part of these burgers? The ingredient list – only 4 things, plus spices. And I like the little veggie boost from the broccoli slaw and onion. I didn’t think the flavour was anything special or outrageous. They were good, but nothing way above and beyond your average chicken burger. I’m definitely going to be more adventurous with the next batch. Can’t wait to see what I come up with?

Are you a burger lover like me? What kind is your favourite? Any good recipes/tips/tricks to share?

How to get to Sesame-less Street

30 May

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Remember Saturday’s tasty supper that I showed but didn’t tell about yesterday? Because I love you, today you get a show AND a tell (side note: don’t you just love how in this photo, you can see a bit of all 4 of my colourful new napkins? My mom laid them out on the dining room table, ‘cause she likes ‘em). And the title will make sense in due time….patience, my friends. Smile

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So the inspiration for the protein part of my meal came from something I made for the birthday party I catered back at the beginning of May: pineapple chicken teriyaki kabobs (that and the fact that I still had some of the marinade I bought left over: Clubhouse Teriyaki). I pierced a chicken breast with a fork (since I noticed on the bottle it said to pour over “pierced” meat), poured on some marinade, put in a ziploc bag, and let it sit for 30-40 minutes (I would have done it for longer, but I had a busy yet delightful Saturday filled with an amazing workout, baking muffins, yard work, baby holding and a quick grocery trip, so I didn’t get back home until almost 6).  IMG_1598

I liked the teriyaki and pineapple combo at the party (I’m a big fan of sweet and meat. Well, who am I kidding, I’m a big fan of sweet and anything), but didn’t really feel like going to the trouble of making skewers just for myself. So when it came time to grill, I preheated the grill to medium-high, sprayed it with a bit of PAM for Grilling, and threw on the chicken and one nice slice of pineapple, which I lightly brushed on each side with a bit more marinade.

Now for the “sesame-less” part of the title. IMG_1597In the first Hungry Girl cookbook, there is tasty recipe I’ve made once before for “Crazy Good Cold Sesame Noodles.” Only issue? No sesame seeds in this house (I think maybe you see where I’m going with the title). I made my own version, omitting the sesame seeds (it’s only have a teaspoon anyway) and making a few other substitutions which created a delicious end product. Again, dear readers, because I love you, I will show (and tell) you how I did it. Here’s the link to the original recipe, if you want to go by-the-book.

Side note: I used my last package of tofu shirataki noodles for this ( Sad smileWaaah! Happily though, my sister informed me that they are available at the natural foods store right across from her new house!!!!! Smile Road trip soon)!

HHH Crazy-Good Cold Sesame-less Noodles (adapted from Hungry Girl)

Ingredients:

1 package tofu shirataki noodles (I used the fettucini, because that’s all I had, instead of the spaghetti ones).

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. reduced-fat peanut butter, room temperature (I had to microwave mine a bit for easier stirring)IMG_1600

2 tbsp. skim milk

2 tbsp. chopped red onion

A handful of chopped fresh chives and cilantro

2 tbsp sliced snow peas

1/2 tbsp. light or low-sodium soy sauce

1 small clove minced garlic

A pinch of brown sugar twin

Optional: salt (I used garlic salt, naturally)

Directions:

Rinse and drain noodles well. Pat VERY dry with paper towels. Place noodles in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Drain excess liquid from noodles, and pat them again until thoroughly dry (the more dry the better!). Cut noodles into spaghetti-length pieces.

Set aside. In a separate small dish, combine peanut butter, milk, soy sauce, garlic and sweetener. Mix well. Feel free to season this sauce to taste with salt. Pour sauce over noodles, add chopped veggies and mix thoroughly. Allow to chill in the fridge (I was a bit time crunched, and they weren’t as cold as I wanted, so I actually popped mine in the freezer for a few minutes: true story). Then enjoy! MAKES 1 SERVING

IMG_1601The veggies you see on the plate (sorry I didn’t get a better close-up) are a garlic-ginger stir fry. I heated one teaspoon of sesame oil over medium-high heat in a non-stick pan (I know you’re not really supposed to cook with sesame oil because of its smoke point, but what can I say, I’m a rebel, and I love the flavour). To that, I added chopped garlic (a shocker, I know), TONS of chopped fresh veggies (celery, cauliflower, snow peas, broccoli, red pepper, asparagus…think that was it) and a little bit of chopped fresh pineapple. Seasoning-wise, I added ground ginger (would have used fresh if I had it), and after a couple of minutes cooking, a couple of splashes of soy sauce, salt, and then a touch of white wine vinegar (probably not a traditional Asian ingredient, I know) and a hint of brown sugar twin (going for kinda the sweet ‘n sour vibe).

The whole meal came together wonderfully and was a delicious Asian flavour combo. Mmmm…I Red heartgrilled pineapple.

That same pineapple found its way into dessert (cold though, not grilled), and my newest (banana-less) venture: pin-ango soft serve: a nice cold bowl of IMG_1602tropical goodness. On the previously mentioned quick grocery trip, I decided to pick up some form of frozen fruit to make my carb reduction slightly easier (an update on that: carbs are slowly coming back into my life as of last night). I briefly flirted with the 5 fruit blend (mango, strawberry, grape, melon and cranberry I believe) but ultimately went for the mango chunks. Really, that bag was only $2.99 (I think…or maybe $3.99). If you think about how much fresh mangoes usually cost (unless you’re lucky and score a cheap case), and consider the quantity you get, and it’s already peeled, chopped and frozen, it’s a pretty good deal.

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As you can see from the photo, I combined the frozen mango with the fresh pineapple. I did the usual procedure of my banana soft serve, except that since I was using half fresh fruit, no added almond milk was needed. The fresh pineapple made it a bit softer than usual, but it was still nice and chilly, and there were a few mango chunks (which I actually enjoy). Mmmm….double pineapple pleasure in this meal!

This delicious, fresh, fruity supper was the perfect end to a perfect day. It was low-key, I was able to get some stuff done around the house/yard, and meet the beautiful baby daughter of a long-time friend. She slept in my arms for over an hour…I was all warm and fuzzy inside after. Seriously, I felt like I had a big grin on my face as I walked around the grocery store! Open-mouthed smileGotta love babies!

What makes you warm and fuzzy inside?