Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Claire's Smothered Turkey Burgers

I'm really not sure what else to call this recipe, but I think what I've dubbed it will work. In figuring out my meals for the week I was looking at recipes on the Whole Foods app on my phone (oh how I heart Whole Foods) and saw one that sounded good and easy. It was Mushroom and Swiss Patty Melts with Peas. Somehow, though, I combined that recipe with one I'd seen in a Cook's Illustrated magazine for salisbury steak. I could have sworn there was a gravy of some sort for the patty melts. So much so, in fact, that when I was grocery shopping I was surprised that beef broth wasn't on my grocery list to make said gravy. Although in hindsight I don't know why I thought there'd be a beef gravy with turkey burgers. Who knows. I'm not completely with it if I have one or more kids with me while I grocery shop. If you're a mom, you know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, when I checked the recipe this afternoon to see how long it was going to take I was surprised there was no gravy included. When it came time to make dinner I decided I'd go ahead and make a gravy on my own. I love gravy, and once I had the thought of it in my head there was no way I was going without gravy tonight.

Claire's Smothered Turkey Burgers

1 lb. ground turkey
4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 ounce container mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup beef broth
2 Tbsp beef gravy mix
Onion powder
Garlic powder

Coat skillet with non-stick spray and heat over medium high heat. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to ground turkey. Mix well and form into four patties. Place patties in heated skillet. Cook 4-5 minutes per side. When burgers are flipped, place cheese slices on patties and let cheese melt.

Meanwhile, in another skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and onion and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add beef broth to pan, reserving 1 tablespoon. In a small bowl, combine beef gravy mix with reserved tablespoon beef broth. Add to mushroom, onion, and broth mixture. Stir to combine and stir until thickened.

Remove patties from pan when cooked through and top with gravy.


I really liked this. Ground turkey is just so bland to me, so the gravy really gave it a lot of flavor. Only the husband and I had gravy on ours. The boy doesn't like mushrooms or onions, so I figured he wouldn't be interested, but I knew he'd eat just the burger. The baby might have eaten it with the gravy, but he's in love with ketchup, so I figured he'd be fine without gravy as long as he had ketchup on his plate. I had originally planned on mixing some cornstarch with beef broth to thicken it up, but I couldn't find any in my pantry. I saw the container of brown gravy mix and figured that would work great--and it did! This was really easy to make and came together really fast, so it's definitely something I'll make again.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomato and Pesto Pizza

I wasn't going to post this because it was ridiculously easy, but my friend Jen said since I liked it so much I should document it so I remember it. She probably has a point, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if she was saying it so she remembers to make it at some point. ;)

I'm finally out of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (down 12 pounds!!), so I'm starting to incorporate some good carbs back into my diet. I had an apple this morning on the way to pick up my oldest from school (I don't think an apple has ever tasted so good), and then I made pizza crust with whole wheat flour for dinner. I'm still kind of timid to add carbs back in a whole lot since I had such great success with taking them out of my diet. For the first week or so I'm going to take it pretty easy and probably do something similar to what I did today--a little bit of fruit and some whole grains. Anyway, this should probably go on my weight loss blog instead of here.

I've been dying to have pizza for some reason while I was carb-free. Normally I can really take or leave pizza, but I think just not being able to eat it has made it more enticing. I was going to make a margherita pizza and a cheese pizza, but upon taking my basil out I realized the stems were fuzzy. Yuck. So, not wanting to feed my family moldy basil (or eat it myself), I had to do some quick pizza thinking. This is what I came up with.

Claire's Tomato and Pesto Pizza

1 recipe homemade pizza dough, made using all whole wheat flour
1/4 cup pesto (homemade or store bought)
3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced thin
Mozzarella cheese

On rolled out dough, spread pesto to completely cover dough. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes.


I'm sad I didn't take a picture. I thought about it before I put the cheese on because it really looked awesome with the green pesto and the various colored heirloom tomatoes. Have I mentioned that heirloom tomatoes are my new BFF? Okay, not really, but I do like them a lot. When I picked these ones out at Whole Foods today I could tell that heirloom tomato time is coming to an end. Most of the ones I picked up were pretty mushy and over-ripe. Sad. I kind of freaked out a little when I discovered my basil wasn't good anymore because I had already sliced the tomatoes, and there was no way I would let them go to waste. I was pleased with my quick thinking and coming up with what turned out to be an awesome pizza!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chargrilled Oysters Acme Oyster House Style

I know I've mentioned before that the husband grew up in New Orleans. We love to go visit, although it doesn't happen very often since it's not cheap to get there, and it's definitely not cheap once you're there. But when we do go, it's our tradition to head straight to Acme Oyster House. Heaven on a plate, I'm telling you! Well, if you like oysters. Oysters are another food I refused to eat growing up. They just seemed so slimy and gross. My parents loved them and would buy jars of them and have fried oysters. Ugh. The husband finally convinced me to try oysters on the half shell at some point, and I loved them. I know as a Pac Northwest girl at heart I shouldn't say this, but gulf oysters are so much tastier than the oysters you get in Washington. Those oysters are too briny, whereas gulf oysters taste sweet.

Anyway, we were in New Orleans in January for the husband's cousin's wedding, so after we checked into our hotel we headed straight for Acme Oyster House. I don't remember if we saw someone having the Chargrilled Oysters or our waiter told us about them or we just thought they sounded good. They were one of the best things I've ever eaten. EVER. I'm pretty sure I texted, called, or emailed my friend Jen about them as soon as I was done eating. Actually I don't think I got cell service in the restaurant so I had to wait until we were outside. But I digress.

Recently these delectable oysters popped into my head, and I couldn't stop thinking about them. Since a trip to New Orleans is out of the question, I did some Googling and found a recipe on Food.com for Chargrilled Oysters Acme Oyster House Style. You have no idea how elated I was. My mom was keeping the kids for us this past weekend so the husband and I could have a date weekend and a little staycation at home. I wanted to have some awesome yummy snacks for us while the kids were gone, so I decided to make these. We were actually supposed to go out to dinner but ended up staying home and eating these instead.

Chargrilled Oysters Acme Oyster House Style
From Food.com

12 fresh shucked oysters, on the half shell
1/2 lb unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, pureed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 ounce white wine
1/2 cup grated romano cheese

Melt half the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add your lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, green onions and all herbs and seasonings. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in wine. Keep stirring and remove from heat as soon as the green onions wilt. Let cool for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the butter and stir until completely incorporated.

Heat grill to to 350°F Place oysters on grill. When the oyster liquor starts to bubble, spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce on top of each, then top with 1 tablespoon of Romano cheese. Let the cheese melt. When oysters begin to slightly brown at the edges, remove from grill and place on a heat proof plate or tray.

Top each oyster with an additional tablespoon of the butter sauce and serve immediately with slices of french bread for dipping.


My mouth started watering just thinking about these. If Whole Foods were closer and the baby wasn't napping, I'd be tempted to run out and get some oysters to make these again. In case you couldn't tell, we LOVED these. The recipe on the website actually calls for four servings, but I halved it. The sauce smelled amazing as it was cooking (although when doesn't butter smell amazing?!).

This was my first time shucking and cooking oysters. I was a little nervous about the shucking, but I looked up how to do it (what did we do before the internet?!). Plus my brother has shucked oysters before, so I figured if he could do it, so could I. It wasn't as hard as I thought. I just held the oyster in a thick kitchen towel, stuck a knife in and twisted it open. There were two that I couldn't open which kind of pissed me off, but I figured it wasn't worth the fight, so I just tossed them.

There isn't anything I would change about this recipe, except I'd make more of it. The butter sauce was so amazing, the husband went scrounging around in the freezer for some ciabatta rolls I thought were there so we could mop up the sauce. He found them, we heated them up and ate every last drop of sauce from our plates. Man alive was this tasty!!! Healthy, no. Tasty, yes!

Lucky for you, I took copious amounts of pictures!

Well, hello, one dozen oysters ready to be shucked...

Oysters are weird looking. But tasty.

Grill, baby, grill!

Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard...

Fighting urge to go buy more oysters...

Greek Meatballs

I'm nearing the end of my two week Phase One period of the South Beach Diet. Technically yesterday should have been my last day, but I went off the diet over the weekend while the husband and I had a little staycation at our house while my mom kept the kids. So to compensate for that I'm staying on it until at least tomorrow, maybe Sunday. I'm down 11 pounds since I started, and I'm fitting in to clothes I haven't worn in YEARS, so I'm really pleased with the results I'm getting.

I did some Googling for low carb recipes to get some different ideas for dinner. The SBD website has a pretty limited number of recipes. The actual diet book has some in it, but a lot are beef which we don't eat much of. I found a low carb recipe section on SimplyRecipes.com, a website I like anyway. My kids love meatballs, so when I saw this I thought it would be a great dinner. I love the flavor profile of Greek food, although I used to really not like it. My parents always went to a Greek festival at a Greek Orthodox church in Seattle, and they'd come home raving about what they'd eaten, and it sounded so gross to me. Now I'm kind of sad we don't live there anymore because I'd really like to go!

Greek Meatballs
From SimplyRecipes.com

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large shallot, minced
1 pound ground lamb
4 ounces salt pork, ground or finely minced
Zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Freshly ground black pepper
Greek yogurt for dipping

1 Heat a small pan over medium heat and add oil, garlic, jalapeño and shallot, and cook for 1 minute, then let cool.

2 Meanwhile, crumble lamb into a large bowl. Evenly scatter salt pork, orange zest and mint over lamb, and season with pepper. Sprinkle the cooled garlic mixture over lamb. Gently mix until just combined, then form into 1¼-inch balls and transfer to a plate or sheet pan.

3 Heat a large cast iron pan over medium to medium high heat. Working in batches if necessary to prevent crowding, brown meatballs on all sides until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm with toothpicks or skewers with plain yogurt.

Note: Meatballs can also be cooked ahead, refrigerated and reheated in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.

Makes about 20 meatballs.


I used grass-fed beef instead of the ground lamb. I had a bad experience with ground lamb, so I'm kind of turned off from it after that. I also left out the salt pork because I didn't have any, nor did I have anything on hand to use in its place. Instead of Greek yogurt for the dipping sauce I bought some tzatziki at Trader Joe's (actually I'm snacking on it now with some celery).

These meatballs were fantastic!! I love the addition of mint to savory dishes. My only complaint was that these on their own weren't really enough for dinner. They're listed as an appetizer, which they'd be great for. I told the husband I thought they'd be fantastic in my Greek spaghetti. Or I thought they'd be good if you put a little chunk of feta inside them. Mmmmm. These are definitely something I'll make again, I just need to plan better so we're not all still hungry once dinner is done!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

South Beach Stuffed Peppers

I love stuffed peppers. The husband used to not like green peppers (I don't know, he may still not like them, but I love them so he's forced into eating them), so I never had them. I'd buy the Stouffer's frozen peppers and take in my lunch to work or keep on hand at home for when I was on my own for dinner. I've made stuffed peppers a few times (my friend Jen has a really good stuffed peppers recipe), so I was excited to see a recipe for them that didn't have rice or pasta as part of the stuffing.

South Beach Stuffed peppers
From Food.com

4 bell peppers
olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 stalk celery, chopped with top
1 -2 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon spike all purpose seasoning (for zest)
28 ounces ground peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded cheese (or more)

Wash the peppers, cut the tops off, and place in oiled glass dish. Cover and microwave the peppers for 5 minutes.

Saute the veggies and ground turkey with a dollop of olive oil. (I chop up the usable remainders of the pepper tops as well). Add the tomatoes and cook for 3-4 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid.

Stuff the peppers and top with cheese. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until the peppers are soft and the cheese is toasted.

Add Ins: you could add cooked rice or stir in extra cheese to the mixture before baking.


I didn't make any changes, other than using different colored peppers. I made five peppers and used yellow, orange, and red peppers. I used reduced fat sharp cheddar for my cheese.

These were some of the easiest peppers I've ever made. I love the idea of cooking the peppers slightly in the microwave first...10 minutes of cooking time at the end is fantastic! Our friend Steve was over for dinner, and we all really liked these. My kids shared one, the adults each had one, but I don't think any of us finished our entire peppers. I had enough filling for another pepper. It's actually still in my fridge because I figured it would be easy enough to just heat up a pepper, stuff it, and bake it in my toaster oven for a hearty lunch. Perhaps that will be my lunch for tomorrow!

I'll definitely make this one again, too...diet or no diet! (Don't you love finding diet food like that?!)

Jamaican Jerk Kabobs

I figured since Jamaican jerk usually equates to spicy, this would be a good dinner for the husband and I to have on our Friday night mini date, where we eat dinner after the kids go to bed. The boy doesn't like spicy, so I generally save spicy dinners for just the husband and I...it's easier than fighting at the dinner table. I love kebabs, so I was really excited to try this recipe, plus it sounded super easy.

Jamaican Jerk Kabobs
From Food.com

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, and cut into 24 chunks
2 green onions
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon gingerroot, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, cut in 1 inch pieces

In a blender at high speed, blend onions, chile, ginger, vinegar, allspice, thyme, salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil until combined. Place Chicken chunks in a zip-tight plastic bag with marinade, turning to coat. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toss red pepper pieces with remaining olive oil in small bowl.

Preheat the broiler or grill with rack close to heat source.

On 4 metal skewers, alternately thread chicken and red pepper. Brush Kabobs with any remaining marinade. Cook a total of ten minutes, turning once, or until chicken is no longer pink inside.


I have to say, this marinade smelled really weird. I was not excited about this dinner at all. The vinegar seemed really overpowering. So I figured I'd tinker with it. I increased the amount of olive oil--probably another two tablespoons--and added in some crushed red pepper. I still wasn't 100% sure about it, but I didn't really know what else to do with it to jazz it up. I figured if it was bad, we'd have turkey roll-ups for dinner instead.

We ended up really liking it! I was honestly surprised. When I went out to the grill to flip the skewers I was surprised that they actually smelled good. I was still skeptical. Even when I dished up our plates I still wasn't sure what to think. I even started eating red peppers first instead of the chicken pieces. I let the husband try the chicken first, and he said it was good, so then I went for it. He was right, it was pretty tasty. I don't know if it's something I'd necessarily make in high rotation, but I'd probably make it again.

Baked Pesto Chicken

I don't know how it's been two weeks since I've updated my blog! Well, actually I do. In looking back at my meal plans we hadn't had much new, so I wasn't posting for that reason. Then once I did have new stuff to post I just never took the time to sit down and write them out. I had planned on using my kids' naptime yesterday to update my blog, but Monday evening I started feeling like I was getting sick. By bedtime I had a fever, and that sucker held on all day yesterday. Ugh. I woke up at some point last night drenched in sweat and the fever was gone. Was that an over-share? Perhaps. Sorry about that.

Anyway, a week ago today I started on The South Beach Diet at the recommendation of my doctor (want to follow my progress? Check out my other blog...Claire's a Fat Girl's Name). I was hesitant about it because I did the whole Atkins thing ten years ago and did not like it. I lost weight, but it got to the point where I wasn't ever hungry, and I constantly felt like I was going to pass out. Not cool. Plus as soon as I started eating carbs again, all the weight I lost returned. I got the SBD book from the library and read through the whole thing before deciding if I wanted to do it. I figured it was worth a try. The book is pretty interesting, as is the diet. It's no carbs for the first two weeks, then you gradually add carbs back in--but good carbs. Whole grains, whole wheat, brown rice, fruit...stuff like that. Once you reach your goal weight you move onto a maintenance phase where you still eat only good carbs but you can splurge on "bad" food occassionally. Really I think it's pretty healthy sounding, and it's not all that different from how we normally eat.

Finding recipes for dinners has been a slight challenge, but I have the SBD app on my iPhone, and I've used the SBD website for recipes. I found a blog that's almost solely SBD recipes, Kalyn's Kitchen, and there's a SBD cookbook on Food.com (formerly recipezaar.com). I found the SBD cookbook on Ebay, but it just arrived yesterday. It's been pretty easy for my family to eat along with me...I just make some kind of carb/starch side dish for them to enjoy, and I stare longingly at it. :)

This recipe was on the iPhone app, and I thought it sounded so good. I heart pesto, and this sounded super tasty and easy--a great combination in my book!

Baked Pesto Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup pesto (from a jar)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Spread 1/4 cup of the pesto in a 9x13 baking dish. Lay chicken breasts over pesto in an even layer and spread with remaining pesto.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake chicken until cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Uncover and top with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted, 5 more minutes.


Seriously, dinner cannot get much easier than this. My whole family loved this...we all gobbled up our portions. It's definitely something I'll make again, diet or no diet. I normally have all these ingredients on hand, so it's a great quick, oh-my-gosh-it's-5:00-what-am-I-making-for-dinner recipe.

I forgot to take a picture. :( Oh, one more thing...I didn't like it as much reheated. The texture of the cheese was weird. I poured all the remaining pesto from the pan into the container I was using, so that might have been part of it, or maybe the olive oil in the pesto on the chicken did something funky to the cheese texture...I don't know.