Spicy Turkey Burgers

Spicy Turkey BurgerBird on a Bun
My family has a group chat so that we can check in during the day to discuss such important matters as When was the last time you showered?, Did you put the dishes in the dishwasher? and We’re out of cereal. My personal favorite is the afternoon ritual of What does everyone want for dinner? If I am lucky, I will get an actual text response, usually from my husband because, like the old people that we are, we text in complete sentences. My kids like to respond with emojis and more often than not, the response is the cheeseburger emoji.

I am an unapologetic burger lover and I have passed this love of meat and cheese on to my children. My husband also loves the sacred burger but, because he is a better person and more concerned about such things, he will oftentimes opt for a turkey burger to give his arteries a break. While I applaud his efforts, I have found it difficult to emulate them because I had yet to find a turkey burger that is worth it. They tend to be flavorless and dry. Sometimes I do come across a recipe that I have to try.

This recent find is what’s for dinner tonight since it is hot as Hades and there ain’t no way I am turning anything in the kitchen on when it is 95 degrees out. Plus, the kids have practice and burgers be fast and easy. Slice up a watermelon and you have a quick cool tasty hot summer dinner…

Spicy Turkey Burgers
Adapted from the Food Network
Yields 4 Burgers

I recommend first cooking up a small test burger to check that the degree of spiciness and seasoning is to taste. That way, if you are not too keen on spice, you can add the chili paste gradually.  Read more…

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch

Amy's Kinda Almost River Rum PunchRollin on the River
If you find yourself in the vicinity of the Truckee River this Friday at noon, I am sorry.

What you didn’t know (as you made your reservation to enjoy a relaxing rafting trip floating down the river) is that you would be joined by 50 plus softball players who are in town for a tournament. If you are lucky, they won’t be doing dugout cheers….

Growing up, I spent the majority of my summers at the lake. I rode my bike everywhere and lived in my bathing suit. At least once a summer, we would raft down the Truckee. I loved it. The water fights. The swimming holes and best of all, the ice cream at River Ranch when we were done. Somewhere along the line that changed.

The concept sounds great. Beautiful scenery. Lazy float down a river. Perfect way to spend a summer afternoon, right?

Sure, until the splashing and the boat tipping start. Add in the water cannons and you spend what is supposed to be a relaxing trip with your head on a swivel trying to outsmart teenaged future Navy Seals wondering where the next ambush is coming from. (I call them Seal Teen Six.) I guess I’m just getting old!

There is a nice reward at the end. Besides the aforementioned ice cream, you can find the biggest plate of nachos you’ve ever seen. And, perhaps the most necessary to your sanity, one of my favorite adult beverages, the River Rum Punch.

Fruit Juice and rum has never steered anyone wrong. And, an extra float of rum on top goes a long way to easing the stress of constantly looking over your shoulder.

I don’t know exactly what actually goes into the River Rum punch, but this is pretty close. Even if I had the recipe, there’s something about sitting and relaxing on the deck after your trip, watching people negotiate the final set of rapids that make it taste that much better….

Amy’s Kinda Almost River Rum Punch
Yields 1 cocktail Read more…

Zucchini Pickles

Zucchini PicklesPickle Play
The recent hot weather means that my garden is in full swing. The cucumbers have found their way into various salads. The green beans have been perfect when lightly steamed. And, we’ve been eating the super-sweet cherry tomatoes like they are candy. It’s been manageable so far but I can tell that veggie overload is coming soon.

If there is one problem with growing your own veggies it’s the possibility that you will find yourself with too much. Sure, you could give some to your neighbors and friends but sometimes even that is not enough to lessen the load. Or worse, what you have a lot of isn’t what everyone wants to eat. Homegrown tomatoes are easy to give away. (There have been times when I had to break up fights in the office when I brought my extras in. Okay…fights might be a strong word.)

Zucchini, on the other hand, can present a challenge.

I love zucchini. My family merely tolerates it unless it comes in chocolate bread form. So, when I do plant it, I always have more than we will consume.

If you find yourself up to your ears in squash, try making these Zucchini Pickles that I adapted from the Zuni Café Cookbook. It’s one of my all-time favorites and a must-have for the avid cookbook collector. These Zucchini Pickles are an interesting way to use up your squash harvest. And, they make for a nice change from the usual summertime backyard dill pickles. It’s nice to have choices…

Zucchini Pickles
Adapted from the Zuni Café Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant

Yields 2 to 3 pints Read more…

Almond Stone Fruit Tart

Almond Stone Fruit TartGone Stone Crazy
In case you haven’t been in the produce section lately, I am here to let you know that stone fruit season is upon us! And, that makes me very happy. It also creates a bit of a problem…

I am a fool for stone fruits. I look forward to this season every year. To me, there is nothing better than a juicy peak-of-season peach. I have been buying nectarines by the dozen…and don’t get me started on the cherries. I’ve become a bit of a stone fruit hoarder. I just can’t help myself. I see ‘em and I gotta have ‘em.

My fruit hoarding has presented other problems. Usually, I can count on my family eating all of the fruit before I can even get to it. But, my current obsession means that they are having trouble keeping up—which is how I found myself with a few pounds of black plums that needed to be consumed ASAP. So I made this almond stone fruit tart.

The best thing about this tart is that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand as long as you let it dry a bit before baking. I’ve made it with peaches and nectarines. Cherries are good too or even a combination of all three and, of course, plums or pluots are amazing!

Almond Stone Fruit Tart
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. She uses orange sections for her tart. I decided to be different…

If you want to make this tart gluten-free, we recommend using King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour instead of the regular flour.

This tart takes some time to make, and we have marked where is possible to prepare some of the steps a day or so in advance for ease of assembly on the day you bake it. Read more…

Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…