Lean and Clean Turkey Burger {Recipe}

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Mar 262015

lean and clean turkey burger with recipe

These lean and clean turkey burgers and heavy in our dinner rotation lately. Right now my kids are obsessed with “make your own” dinners. Make your own tacos, make your own pizza, and make your own burgers – basically anything that they get to assemble on their own is a hit. We have “make your own ” burgers just about weekly, and like to rotate between beef burgers, salmon burgers and ‘clean’ turkey burgers.

This recipe is quick and simple to prepare, and fits in with the kind of healthful eating we try and stick with. We like to fix oven roasted potatoes instead of french fries, and usually serve peppers, carrots, or cucumbers alongside as well.

Lean and Clean Turkey Burger
(Serves 4)


  • 1 lb lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for frying burgers)

1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. The mixture will be really soft and sticky. Wet your hands with a bit of water before you form the patties to keep the meat from sticking to your fingers. At this point you can put the mixture in the fridge to chill if you’re not ready to cook yet, otherwise proceed to the next step.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat while you begin to form the patties. Once it’s hot add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil and then as you make a burger set it right into the hot pan and pat it down a bit, then move onto the next one.

3. Cook the burgers for about 7 minutes per side, until the patty is entirely cooked through. If you want to add cheese, top the burgers with a slice once you’ve flipped them and they have about 3 minutes left to cook. Pepper Jack cheese is delicious on these!

4. Serve on hamburger buns with your favorite toppings. Some of our favorites to choose from are bread & butter pickles, salsa criolla, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados or guacamole, and ranch dressing.

lean and clean turkey burger

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Manila Clams with Wine, Butter and Garlic

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Jan 152015

manila clams with wine garlic and butter

Yum, one of my favorite simple suppers is steamed Manila clams with white wine, butter, garlic and shallots. It’s so easy you don’t even really need a recipe, although I’ve got one for you. This meal manages to be unfussy yet elegant at the same time, which is often just what we need at our house after a stretch of burgers, tacos and pasta.

One of the best parts of this dish is that it’s a one pot meal – just add a loaf of crusty bread to soak up the sauce and you’re good. If we’re feeling really motivated we sometimes also add a green salad.

Steamed Manila Clams in White Wine
serves 4

  • 3 lbs Manila clams, live
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Rinse off the clams and inspect them – discard any clams that are open and don’t close up when they are knocked together. Most clams you purchase these days are farmed clams and are quite clean so they just need a rinse – if you’ve harvested them yourself or suspect they might be sandy you can leave them in the fridge in a bowl of clean water for 30 minutes so they can flush the sand through their system.

2. In a large stockpot or dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat – when the foam subsides add the shallot and onion and saute until they’ve softened but not browned.

3. Add the drained clams to the pot and stir to coat with the butter, shallots and garlic. Pour in the wine and stir again briefly, then cover the pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.

4. Check the clams – make sure they’re all opened and discard any that haven’t. Add the chopped parsley, stir and cook for a minute more.

5. Serve the clams in bowls with their sauce and good bread on the side.

manila clams wine garlic butter

May 262014

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Because I’m on a health and fitness kick right now, I’ve been trying to come up with healthier versions of things I love to eat. I’m trying to follow some clean eating principles like less processed foods and leaner proteins. Regular hummus is pretty healthy as is, but I developed this clean spinach and white bean hummus to eliminate some of the fat (so that I can eat it in something else in the day!). It’s got a great earthy flavor that works well paired with vegetables or crackers, and also tastes delicious as a condiment in a wrap or sandwich.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe

Clean Spinach and White Bean Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz.) white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini beans work well)
  • 5 oz. fresh baby spinach (1/2 of the typical clamshell or bag of washed spinach you find at the supermarket)
  • 1 large clove of garlic (peeled but whole)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne


1. In a small saucepan heat a quarter cup of water to a simmer, then add the garlic clove to the water and let it blanch for 30 seconds or so. Leave the garlic clove whole so that it’s easier to fish out later.

2. Add the spinach to the water and cook it briefly until it wilts – then scoop it out with a slotted spoon or tongs (to let the water drain off) and transfer it to a bowl or directly to your blender/food processor. Make sure you get the garlic clove out as well. Save the water in the pan for now in case you need to add more liquid to the hummus – you probably won’t need to but if you do it will be tastier to add the spinach/garlic water than plain water.

3. Now it’s time to blend. In the bowl of your food processor or blender, combine the white beans, spinach (make sure to leave behind any extra water in the bowl), garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne and blend until it reaches the consistency you prefer. You might need to start out by pulsing the machine to get going, and depending on the ingredients you might need to add a bit more water to thin it out, but make sure not to add more liquid right away or it will be too runny.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary, and enjoy!

Note: If you’re making this ahead to serve later, you’ll want to add a bit of olive oil to prevent it from darkening slightly. Otherwise, keep it in the fridge well covered or in a airtight container and it will be good for a few days.

clean spinach and white bean hummus recipe with breadstick garnish

May 022014

clean eating turkey chile recipe

Since it’s springtime and summer’s just around the corner, I’ve been trying to eat a little healthier and shed some of my winter padding. Luckily for me I have a preschool friend who’s become a Beachbody rep (the company behind P90X and Insanity) and she recently hosted a clean eating challenge on Facebook complete with a meal plan and ‘clean’ recipes. All of the recipes she shared were quite good, but the Clean Eating Turkey Chili was the recipe my whole family enjoyed the most. Now the idea behind the clean eating movement (at least as I understand it) is to eat fresh, unrefined food with lots of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins and to avoid most processed, premade foods, caffeine, alcohol and refined grains and sugars. Sounds pretty sensible and it’s the way we usually tend to eat at home anyways but it’s always nice to have a little more accountability and encouragement, especially around weight loss, so I joined in for the week.

Of course I have trouble sticking exactly to any recipe, so like always I put my own spin on this one. I mean, what’s the fun in cooking if you can’t improvise a bit? I kept the heat from the spices pretty low so that I didn’t get any complaints from the little ones, but I like to add pickled jalapenos to my own serving for extra kick – a little hot sauce or salsa would work nicely as well. If you really want to make this recipe ‘clean’ you can cook the beans from scratch and roast the green chiles (use Anaheim or Poblano chiles) instead of using canned ones.

Clean Eating Turkey Chili
Serves 6

  • 1 TBS Vegetable oil
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange) chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and chopped
  • 1.5 lbs lean turkey, ground
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 TBS chili powder
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 7oz. can diced green chiles (with their juice)
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed (or use other beans of your choice)
  • 2 cups water
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or other large pan over medium high heat and add the onion and bell peppers, sauteing for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are softened and browned.  Add the minced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more, then add the diced tomatillos and cook, stirring constantly until the tomatillos start to soften and give up some of their juice. Remove the vegetables to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

2. Add the ground turkey to the pan and season with kosher salt, pepper, and the cumin and chili powder. While stirring, use a spoon or spatula to break up the turkey into small pieces. Once the turkey is cooked through and browned in some spots, add back the vegetables along with the crushed tomatoes.

3. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in the browned bits from the vegetables and turkey. Add the diced green chiles with their liquid, the beans and the two cups of water, mix well and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Serve as is, or accompanied with pickled jalapenos, minced scallions and sliced black olives as toppings.


clean turkey chili

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French Onion Tortellini Soup Made with Only Four Ingredients

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Jan 142014

french onion tortellini soup with only 4 ingredients

On cold, rainy dreary winter days I love to have a pot of soup on the stove. There’s something about soup simmering that feels so homey to me. Here’s a quick and easy soup my family loves – French Onion Tortellini Soup. This soup is so fast to prepare if you’ve got the ingredients on hand in your fridge. Its really satisfying to be able to get a homemade soup to the table on a weeknight with a minimum of effort and a minimum of ingredients. I like to serve this with a baguette or rolls and a salad on side, and it’s also great with a leafy green added in – spinach, kale and chard all work great.

French Onion Tortellini Soup
Serves 6

1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 quart beef stock
16 oz. Tortellini (I use the cheese tortellini from Costco).

1. Roll the Italian sausage into small meatballs and cook them in a large dutch oven or stockpot on medium high heat until they are browned all over and almost cooked through. You don’t need any oil in the pot – the sausage will release a lot of fat on its own.

2. Remove the sausage from the pan onto a paper towel lined plate and drain off the fat, leaving just a thin film behind on the bottom of the pot.

3. Saute the onion slices in the pot until they are soft and brown – the more caramelized they are the better.

4. Add the stock to the pot and stir to bring up all the browned bits from the bottom. Then add back the meatballs and the tortellini and cook for about 8 minutes more.

5. Serve and enjoy!

french onion tortellini soup recipe using 4 ingredients

Nov 192013

    Butternut soup squash bisque title

Butternut Squash Bisque is one of my favorite soups, and luckily it’s super easy to make. I’ve been making it for about ten years now, ever since we went to spend Thanksgiving at the beach with my family and I set out to find the perfect squash soup to bring along and share with them. After a lot of testing I came up with this recipe, which is very versatile and easily adapted.  This soup is so easy and comforting – perfect for a dreary fall day, silky smooth and creamy even without dairy.

Curried Butternut Squash Bisque

1 butternut squash
1 red onion (large, about 2 cups chopped)
1 TBS olive oil
2 TBS curry powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3 cups water

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

butternut soup roasted squash front

2. Slice the squash in half lengthwise, empty out the seeds from the hollows and place face down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil (to make cleanup easier). Bake for about 40 minutes until the squash is soft when poked with a fork. Remove it from the oven and when its cool enough to handle scrape out the squash from the peel and set it aside.

butternut soup roasted squash back

3. Chop the red onion into pieces (since you’ll be pureeing the soup later you don’t need to worry about having a neat uniform dice).

4. In a heavy soup pot (I like to use a dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium high heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until the onion has softened and started to brown.

butternut soup onions

5. Once the onion is cooked, add the curry powder and cook for a minute or so, stirring so it won’t burn.

butternut soup onions curry

6. Next add the squash and the water, stirring well. Allow the soup to boil gently for a few minutes – since everything is already cooked you don’t need to cook it too long at this step though. You might need to add more water, depending on how big the squash was to start.

7. Now you need to puree the soup. I love using an immersion blender for this, because you can do it right in the pan while the soup is still quite hot. If you’re using a regular blender you might want to let the soup cool down some so you don’t blow the top off the blender (ask me how I know this). Return the soup to the pot, heat it up again and you’re done!

Butternut soup squash bisque

Now this is the simple, easy, straightforward version – here are some ways to adapt it to make it even better:

  • The recipe as written is vegan, but it tastes great if you use chicken stock instead of water.
  • When you roast the squash, try chopping the top off of a head of garlic so the cloves are exposed and sticking it under one of the squash hollows to roast – when the squash is done you’ll have a head of mild, nutty creamy roast garlic that you can squeeze right into the soup when you add the squash.
  • Use a bit less water and add a half cup or so of coconut milk to the soup – you’ll have Curried Coconut Squash Bisque.
  • Add a small can of diced green chiles before pureeing, or saute a mild chile along with the onions for a spicy kick.

Wild Lime Iced Tea Cooler

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Aug 312013

Aaahhh, the end of summer is here. We’re enjoying this last official summer weekend, working in the yard, playing outside, riding bikes and grilling. The weather is beautiful – deep blue sky, no clouds, and yet not too hot to spend the day outside.There’s something so bittersweet about Labor Day Weekend though. The kids are back to school next week and fall’s around the corner but I’m not ready to say goodbye to summer yet.

Well, we can’t stop time but we can make the most of the time we have, so we’re outside as much as possible and eating all our summer favorites this weekend. We’re also enjoying a great refreshing beverage I came up with earlier this summer – Wild Lime Iced Tea Cooler. It’s perfect for a day in the garden and non-alcoholic so you can drink it all day long with no problem.

Start by making a batch of tea – I make sun tea using a bit less than a quart of water (you want to leave room for the lime soda) and about 5 teabags (whichever black tea you’d like to use – I use Lipton) in a pitcher set out in the sun on the patio for 20 minutes or so. Sun tea always reminds me of my mom and my childhood summers so I brew iced tea that way, you could of course brew it with hot water and then let it cool. Once the tea is brewed, add some ice, a cut-up lime, and a bottle of Dry Wild Lime Soda. I love this stuff – it’s not too sweet and doesn’t have anything artificial added. The soda sweetens the tea a bit and adds some carbonation too.  This cooler is just great as is and is sweet enough for us, but you could add more sugar to taste, and it would happily pair with any number of spirits as well. Serve it over ice with a slice of lime as a garnish, and be prepared to drink a pitcher before you know it!

Cheers! Salud! Prost!

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Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Pizza with Trader Joe’s Herb Pizza Crust

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Jun 112013

You have to try this – herbed pizza dough topped with caramelized onions and sauteed mushrooms. Wow was it good, and so simple to put together too. I cooked the sliced yellow onions over medium heat in a cast iron skillet until they were soft, sweet and deeply browned. Meanwhile I sauteed the sliced mushrooms (I used shittake and crimini mushrooms) in olive oil until they were soft and browned as well. The dough I used was Trader Joe’s refrigerated herb pizza dough – I rolled it out into a rough rectangle shape and spread a very thin layer of greek yogurt on top to give a little tartness to the pie – then topped it with the onions and mushrooms and baked it for about 12 minutes at 450 degrees. So so good!

We ate the pizza alongside steamed artichokes and it seemed like such an elegant meal for very little actually cooking. As for the kid report: One loves artichokes but had to be coaxed to try the pizza while the other ate up the pizza and had to be coaxed to try the artichoke (which he said was a monster). They ended up eating and enjoying both things by the end of dinner, so another successful meal at our house.

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Easy Apple Blueberry Crisp

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Jun 072013

I ended up with an excess of apples in the house the other day and made Apple Blueberry Crisps to use some of them up. I mixed up apples, blueberries and vanilla and topped it off with an oatmeal crumble. So good! Ok, here’s the deal: Fruit crisps/cobblers are so easy to make it’s almost criminal. You don’t even need a recipe – seriously. Here’s how it goes:

Choose which fruit to use. Firmer fruits work better, so think apples, pears, peaches, plums. Berries are delicious in crisps too, but add some firm fruits as well for better texture. Cut your fruit into bite sized pieces – you need enough to fill whatever container you’re using to bake the crisps. You could use a pie plate, a cake pan, a baking dish or individual ramekins. Add some flavoring; think cinnamon, vanilla or almond extract, bourbon, rum or other liqueurs. Sweeten the fruit with sugar or honey, not too much, about 1/4 cup and adjust it for how sweet the fruit is naturally. Add a spoonful of cornstarch, mix it all up and pour the fruit and juices into your baking dish.

For the topping mix up some uncooked oats, a bit of flour, some brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a few chunks of butter. Crumble the butter into the other ingredients until its into little pieces and evenly combined, then dump the whole mix on top of the fruit in the baking dish and bake it at 350 degrees until the fruit is soft and bubbly and the topping is browned.

That’s it! No measuring, no fuss, just a yummy fruit dessert.

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May 172013
glass jar of peruvian salsa criolla
After I made pickles the other day it got me thinking about other delicious condiments to have on hand in the fridge and the top of the list was Salsa Criolla. This Peruvian salsa is a kind of pickled onion relish that is traditionally served alongside chicharones (deep fried pork) as a way to cut the fatty rich taste of the dish, with the mint as a help for digestion. Of course its awesome with chicharones, but we eat it with all sorts of grilled and roasted meats and it is insanely good as a sausage condiment. A spoonful of salsa criolla absolutely elevates the plain old brautwurst in a bun. It’s also great on top of plain white rice or refried beans.
The recipe lends itself to adaptations as well – I often change out the fresh herbs I use or combine several types (parsley is always great, and I’ve made a delicious version with basil before) and it can be more or less spicy depending on the type and amount of chile peppers used. This version is not spicy at all – just has a bit of heat.
raw ingredients for salsa criolla on cutting board

Salsa Criolla – Peruvian Red Onion Salsa
Makes 3 cups

2 red onions, large
1 jalapeno, large
1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup lime juice (from about 4 limes)
1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Slice the onions thinly in half circles – you could use a mandolin to get really thin slices but I never bother – a knife works just fine.
sliced red onion
Slice the onion very thinly.
2. Seed the jalapeno, remove the membranes (to control the heat level) and slice it into thin strips.
sliced jalapenos for salsa criolla
Slice the jalapeno in thin strips.
  3. Chiffonade the mint leaves (see the photo below for the how-to).
Chiffonade the mint – stack the leaves together, roll them tightly into a log and then slice across the log into long thin strips.
  4. Put all of the ingredients into a non-reactive bowl, toss them well to separate the onion slices and combine the flavors, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).
Add all the ingredients in a bowl together.
Toss to combine.
   5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator – the salsa should keep for at least a week.
I got this cute jar at Ikea, but any airtight container will do (even plastic wrap over a glass bowl).

I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe out – I love converts to the salsa criolla cult.

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