Happy Monday! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  It was a busy one for the O'Dempsey's.  There were bridal parties and graduation parties to be attended, housework to get done and of course a little cooking in the kitchen to top the weekend off. 

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our one year wedding anniversary!  I feel like just yesterday Adam proposed, and now here we are celebrating one year of marriage.  It's amazing how quickly time flies.  

In honor of our anniversary, I'm serving up a juicy and ever so delightful burger for two.  You're going to love all the explosive flavors that are packed into these turkey burgers.  They offer the perfect amount of kick, while still maintaing a good-for-you profile.  Hope you like them! 

Pico de Gallo Enchilada Turkey Burgers
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
For the Burgers

1/2 pound lean ground turkey 
1/2 bell pepper (any color), diced
1/4 sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons enchilada sauce
1/2 jalapeño pepper, sliced (optional)
seasoned salt 
garlic salt 
non-stick cooking spray 
2 slices monterey jack cheese
2 hamburger buns 

For the Pico de Gallo 
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-3 tablespoons lime juice 

Directions
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, bell pepper, onion and enchilada sauce. If you want to spice up your burgers, also add jalapeño slices.  Mix well.  Form ground turkey into two burger patties.  Season with seasoned salt and garlic salt. 
2. Spray a medium skillet or grill pan will cooking spray.  Heat over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add burger patties; cook for approximately 7 minutes on each side (time will vary depending on thickness of patties). 
3. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl combine Pico de Gallo ingredients.  Mix well. 
4. Once burgers are cooked to desired doneness, top each burger patty with one slice of cheese.  Heat until melted. 
5. Place turkey burger on a hamburger bun or roll.  Top with Pico de Gallo.  
6. Serve with a side of tortilla chips and leftover Pico de Gallo.  Enjoy!
 
 
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While a classic cheeseburger is always delightful, sometimes it's fun to mix things up with new sauces and/or toppings.  So today I'm showing you how to make a mouth-watering Barbecue Turkey Burger.  Even when using extra lean ground turkey meat, this burger is moist, flavorful and simply delicious.  

I'll be serving the burger with a side of Sweet Pepper Potatoes.  The savory  potato bites and the sweet peppers are a great complement to the sweet and savory burger. 

Barbecue Turkey Burgers
Total Time: 25 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
2 cloves garlic, pressed with a garlic press
2 teaspoons seasoned salt 
1 cup barbecue sauce
2 hamburger buns 

Toppings
1/2 tomato, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced 
lettuce

Directions
1.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and seasoned salt.  Mix well. 

2. Form meat into 2 patties.  (I make my husband's a bit bigger than mine). 
3. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add burger patties and sliced onion.  Cover skillet.  Let burgers cook for about 5 minutes on each side. 
4. Add barbecue sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring sauce occasionally. 
5. Once the burgers are cooked through remove from heat.  Place them inside the hamburger buns and top with lettuce, onion and tomato. 
The side dish
I'll be serving the burgers with a side of Sweet Pepper Potatoes.

Sweet Pepper Potatoes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

What you'll need
1/2 pound russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup sliced mini-sweet peppers
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
minced fresh chives (optional)

Directions
1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add butter.  Continue to stir to keep from burning.  Once butter is melted, add potatoes. 
2. Reduce heat to medium and sauté the potatoes, without stirring, until the potatoes are golden brown on the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
3. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally,  until potatoes are golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.
4. Add peppers and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
5. Remove from heat.  Garnish with chives.  Serve and enjoy!
Sweet Pepper Potatoes Recipe adapted from Cuisine Tonight For Two Magazine 

The leftovers
Since it is close to impossible to buy just two hamburger buns, you will most likely have about six buns leftover.  This drives me crazy, because I rarely end up using the remaining buns, and then they end up in garbage at the end of the week.  I'm honestly surprised that I haven't pulled a George Banks and ripped open a pack in the grocery store, so that I could remove all of the buns that I don't need.  

Since such behavior is borderline inappropriate, I decided to accept the leftover buns, and challenge myself to see how many unique recipes I could create using hamburger buns.  The end result was a week of  really great hamburger bun inspired recipes.  I'll be sharing these recipes with you next week during "Bun Week."  Stay tuned!!
 
 
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I've got a lot going on in the kitchen tonight.  First, I'll be making homemade marinara sauce.  For those of you who grew up with me, you'll be pleased to know this is my Dad's marinara recipe!  For those of you who didn't, all you need to know is this sauce is to die for.  It's so good that people have been known to eat spoonfuls of it as though it were soup.

The Main Dish
I'll be using the marinara to make marinara burgers. Tonight, I decide to skip the bun and serve my burger with a small side of pasta instead. 
The Side Dish
I'll also be serving the marinara burgers with a pea-pod, cucumber and tomato salad.  It's not your ordinary lettuce salad, but aside from its great taste, I think that's what I love most about it. 

Let's start cooking!
I start tonight's meal making frenzy with the marinara sauce. 

Homemade Marinara Sauce 
Total Time: 50 minutes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes

What you'll need
28 ounces diced tomatoes (I prefer Saporito or Dei Fratelli)
10 ounces tomato puree
1/3 cup olive oil 
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions
1. Add butter to a medium saucepan. Melt over medium heat; add olive oil and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, sugar, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil. 
3. Reduce heat to low.  Let simmer for at least 30 minutes. 

 *Note -- depending on the acidity of the tomatoes, you may need to add more sugar.  Be sure to taste before serving and adjust accordingly. 

Now that the marinara is finished, I can get started on the marinara burgers!

Marinara Burgers
Total Time: 30 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

What you'll need 
1/2 pound lean ground beef or lean ground turkey 
1/3 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk 
3 scallions (green onion), diced 
1 teaspoon sage leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
2 cups marinara sauce 
1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions 
1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the mozzarella and marinara.  Mix well. 
2. Form meat mixture into 4 thin patties and place on a side plate.
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3. Place 1/4 cup mozzarella on top of 2 burger patties. 
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4. Top the mozzarella with the 2 remaining patties.  Form well so that the mozzarella cheese is enclosed in the middle of the burger. 
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5. Add olive oil and burgers to a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the burgers are brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. 
6. Add marinara sauce to the pan.  Top burgers with mozzarella cheese.  Cover and let burgers simmer in sauce, while stirring sauce occasionally, until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
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7. Serve over hamburger buns or you can skip the bun and serve with a side of pasta instead. 
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Last but not least, here is how I make tonight's salad. 

Pea-Pod, Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Total Time: 15 minutes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

What you'll need
2 cups pea-pods
1/3 cucumber, diced
1 tomato, diced

For the dressing
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper

Directions
1. Cover the bottom of a small skillet with water.  Add pea-pods; cover pot with lid.  
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2. Steam pea-pods over low heat for about 5 minutes or until pea-pods are tender; drain.
3. Put pea-pods in a bowl of ice water for 1 minute.  Remove and let dry. 
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4. In a mixing bowl, combine pea-pods, cucumber and tomato. Gently toss.
5. In a separate bowl, combine vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, salt and pepper.  Mix well. 
6. Drizzle dressing over vegetables.  Toss well.  Serve and enjoy!
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Got leftover marinara? No problem.
To utilize my leftover marinara I cook about 1 1/2 cups penne pasta and top it with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I then cover my foil pan and put it in the freezer.  I now have a great dish that I can easily toss in the oven on a night that I don't have time to cook. 
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Alternatively, you can just freeze the sauce and use it at a later date.  Next week I'll be making pepperoni lasagna bowls, which also require marinara.  So you can store the leftover sauce and use it with me next week as well.
 
 
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When I'm craving good bar food my mind typically wanders to mini cheeseburgers.  The idea of bite-sized meaty delights is ingenious, and I love whoever thought of it.  I also love that these have become a popular appetizer to serve at weddings.  (A word of warning to guests of future weddings that I will attend -- if the bride and groom serve mini cheeseburgers at the reception, watch out.  I have no shame in chasing down waiters to get my hands on these mini bundles of joy.  Yes, I'm just that classy).

The only other bar food that I could possibly love more than mini cheeseburgers are buffalo chicken wings (another very lady-like meal to devour, I know.  But who cares, you're at a bar)! 

So when I saw a recipe that combines these two great bar food loves of mine, I immediately knew I had to try it out.  And they turned out to be just as good, if not better, than I had hoped. 

The Main Dish
Tonight, I'll be making mini buffalo chicken burgers.  This meal is great when you want to lounge on the couch and watch football but crave the delights of delicious bar food.  

The Side Dish
Keeping with the bar food theme, I'll be serving the sliders with a simple side of sliced carrot and celery sticks with ranch dressing.  

Mini Buffalo Chicken Burgers
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes 

What you'll need
5-6 Pillsbury® buttermilk biscuits (I prefer the Simply Buttermilk Biscuits)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 celery stalk, sliced
1/3 cucumber, thinly sliced
Ranch dressing
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (I prefer Franks Red Hot Wings Buffalo sauce)

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Directions
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. 
2. Bake biscuits as directed. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
3. In a skillet, heat chicken, buffalo sauce and celery over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until hot. 
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4. Split biscuits horizontally.  Spread ranch dressing onto top halves of each biscuit.
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5. Spoon chicken mixture onto bottom halves of biscuits; top with cucumber slices and biscuit tops.  
6. Serve the buffalo chicken sliders alongside sliced celery, carrots and ranch dressing.  Enjoy!
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How to make shredded chicken
1. Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil.  
2. Add chicken.  Heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Note, be careful not to over cook the chicken or it will become rubbery. 
3. Let chicken cool for about 5 minutes.  
4. Place one fork at the end of the chicken breast, and use another fork to pull chicken towards you.  Continue this motion until the entire breast is shredded. 
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*Note -- I'm going to save the leftover baked biscuits as I'll be using them later in the week to serve alongside my minestrone soup.

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Buffalo Chicken Sliders
 
 
The Main Dish
It’s the Friday before a long holiday weekend (thank goodness), so I’m celebrating by putting a Mexican spin on a classic American dish, and creating what I like to call Fiesta Cheeseburgers.

The Side Dish
I’ll be serving my Fiesta burgers with homemade guacamole and chips.  And because it’s Friday, I think a Corona might be in order!
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Let’s start cooking!
I start my meal making frenzy by mixing up homemade guacamole.  This is a recipe I learned from my friend Meghan while we were studying abroad in Australia.  Once she introduced us to this dip it quickly became a staple item in our household. 

What you’ll need
 1 avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
 1/2 tomato, diced
 2 tablespoons sweet onion, diced
 2 cloves garlic, chopped
 1/4 lime, juiced
 salt and pepper
tortilla chips (for dipping later)

Directions
  1. Scoop avocado into a small mixing bowl.  Be sure to set the seed aside.
  2. Using a fork or potato masher firmly mash the avocado until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Add in tomato, garlic and onion.  Mix well. 
  4. Squeeze lime juice over guacamole mixture.  Season with salt and pepper. 
  5. Put the avocado seed in the center of the bowl to prevent the guacamole from turning brown.  Cover the bowl with saran wrap and place in the refridgerator to chill until you are ready to serve.  

* Tip -- if you’d like to spice up your guacamole you can mix in half of a chopped jalapeño pepper.  If you do add in the jalapeño, I'd then replace the lime juice with orange juice.

While the guacamole is chilling, I get started on the burgers.   

What you’ll need
 1/2 pound lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
 1/2 green bell pepper, julienned
 1/2 sweet onion, julienned 
1 cup lettuce, finely shredded 
 2 tablespoons taco seasoning 
1 tablespoon chili sauce or ketchup 
1 tablespoon butter
2 slices jack cheese
2 wraps
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
salsa
homemade guacamole 

Directions
  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine meat, jalapeño pepper, chili sauce, taco seasoning, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Form meat into two patties. 
  2. In a medium skillet heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Once butter is melted add burger patties.  Cover skillet.  Let burgers cook for about 5 minutes on each side. 
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3.  In a small skillet heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter, onion and green pepper. Cover skillet.  Let onion and green pepper          cook until they are melted down to desired tenderness.
4.  Check the center of each burger.  Once they are slightly pink on the inside, top with jack cheese.  Let burger cook covered for 1 more minute or until cheese is melted.
5.  Remove burgers from heat and place on a cutting board.  Carefully slice burger patties into long strips. 
6.  Place burger strips on wraps.  Top with onion, green pepper, lettuce and salsa. 
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7. Fold up each end of your wrap about 1-inch towards the center.  Then roll one side in towards the other to form a nice pocket for your burger.  Cut wrap in half.  
8. Place wraps on your dinner plates.  Add guacamole and tortilla chips. 
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I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend!