Bacon Turkey Burgers

Early turkey burgers were definitely not the most exciting of meals.      For most part, they were dry, tasteless, fat free patties with an unappealing beige color. In the 1970’s, people became aware of the fact that by substituting ground turkey for ground beef made a burger that was a whole lot healthier.

The ‘secret’ we all know, to cooking moist and flavorful turkey burgers is by adding enough moisture to replace the fat they lack. Eggs and breadcrumbs, traditionally used to moisten and bind are good, but a little imagination can add a whole lot more flavor as well as eye appeal. Before adding vegetables, saute them for a few minutes and use a heavier hand with fresh herbs if you choose to use them. Turkey burgers require delicate handling so a heavy, cast iron skillet or one of those ‘Gotham Steel’ copper grills you can place on your barbecue would work great.

I came across this recipe for BACON TURKEY BURGERS  on website called lisasdinnertimedish.com  It combines the turkey with bacon, zucchini and onion. I found it to be real good — not to dry with a hint of the smoky bacon flavor. Well worth trying.

Bacon Turkey Burgers
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Bacon Turkey Burgers
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Servings
8-10
Servings
8-10
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy; drain on paper towel. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease. Finely chop bacon, onion, garlic & shred zucchini. Heat bacon grease that remained in skillet & saute onion & garlic until tender.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients & mix with your hands until everything is combined. DO NOT OVER MIX as it tends to make the burgers tough. Form mixture into 8-10 patties.
  3. TO BAKE; transfer patties to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 F. for 15 minutes or until cooked. TO FRY: saute patties on a large griddle or in a large skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes per side, until browned. TO BARBECUE: refer to blog information above.
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Chicken Fajitas

When I’m working in the yard, summer always tempts me to spend less time in the kitchen. As much as I love to cook, I find the ‘gardener’ in me takes over. I can’t simply just go out and do a bit of looking. The first thing I know, there’s a little weed that needs to be picked or a plant to prune and that does it — I’m hooked for hours. Nevertheless, one thing for sure and that is the fresh air and exercise builds an appetite which brings me to a fast-to-fix meal.

Today, I’m thinking some chicken fajitas for our evening meal. Before I even go outside, I’ll do a bit of quick prep work, that way it will be a ‘no brainer’ later when I’m tired.

Technically, only beef was used in fajitas, but the term has become ‘blurred’ and describes just about anything that is cooked and served rolled up in a soft flour tortilla. The origin of the fajita goes back to Mexican ranch workers living in West Texas (along the Rio Grande on the Texas-Mexican border) in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s. When a steer was butchered, the workers were given the least desirable parts to eat for partial payment of their wages. Because of this, the workers learned to make good use of a tough cut of beef known as shirt steak. The first print mention of the word fajitas anywhere in the world didn’t occur until the 1970’s.

The chicken breast I’m using in this recipe is marinated for a number of hours making it nice and spicy as well as tender. This is a great little, quick and easy hand held meal.

Chicken Fajitas
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Chicken Fajitas
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2 Tbsp oil, lemon juice & seasonings. Add chicken. Seal & turn to coat; refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  2. In a large skillet, saute peppers & onions in remaining oil until crisp-tender. Remove & keep warm. In the same skillet, cook chicken over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink. Return pepper mixture to pan; heat through. Spoon filling down the center of the tortillas; fold in half. Serve with cheese & choice of other toppings.
Recipe Notes
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Chicken Kebabs

With the passage of time, Kebabs have managed to find a very significant place in modern day cuisines. Although kebabs have their roots in the Mediterranean and Middle East, they have been able to make their way around the world.

There is something special about warm weather and the smell of grill aromas saturating the air; it just seems to take food to a whole new level.

Tradition has it that kebabs were invented by medieval soldiers who used their swords to grill chunks of freshly hunted animals over open field fires. The word kebab means ‘fry’ but is also synonymous to ‘burning’. The first kebab dates back to 17th century BC, Greece. Akrotiri, a settlement on the Island of Santorini  was buried in volcanic ash which preserved the remains of many objects, etc. In 1967, the site was excavated and unearthed stone sets for barbecuing. The stones were carved to resemble long dog-like animals that would have slots for skewers to lay in. These were called ‘firedogs’.

The nice thing about this meal is that its simple and easy. I guess you could say ‘the pizza of the grill’. The picture at the end of the blog is a very common sight we saw in the streets of Ecuador. Brion and I were never brave enough to try them but it sure smelled good in the open air.

I am using chicken breast for my kebabs today. Nothing fancy, just good eating. Enjoy!

Chicken Kebabs
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Chicken Kebabs
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken breasts into 18 lengthwise strips; place in a large resealable plastic bag. In another resealable plastic bag place green peppers, onions & mushrooms.
  2. In a large bowl, combine salad dressing, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce & lemon juice. Remove 1/3 cup; cover & refrigerate. Divide the remaining salad dressing mixture between chicken & the vegetables; seal both bags & turn to coat. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  3. Drain & discard marinade from chicken & vegetables. Alternately thread chicken & vegetables on 18 metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill over medium heat for 12-15 minutes or until chicken juices run clear, turning & basting with reserved marinade occasionally.
Recipe Notes
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Summer Food on a Stick

I was interested to know a little more about this idea of ‘food on a stick’. It seems its a fairly wide spread way of eating food. In Indonesia there are many forms of chicken satay and of course the shish kebab originating from Turkey. It all comes from a culture that has been around since before the 1840’s.

The North American classic ‘corn dog’ was patent in 1929. The patent cited that it was for a ‘combined dipping, cooking and article holding apparatus’ and was intended for ‘impaling foods such as wieners, boiled ham, hard boiled eggs, cheese, sliced fruit, etc., on a stick, covering them in a batter and deep frying it’.

This food on a stick phenomenon has grown greatly over the past 20 years or more. It has become some sort of extreme ‘sport’ on a stick. For entrepreneurs, its whatever I can put on a stick that nobody’s done before. I was reading an article that listed 83 different possibilities!

Here’s a couple of ideas I found interesting to try. TURKEY MEATBALL BREADSTICKS  and BACON WRAPPED MUSHROOMS ON A STICK.

Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Turkey Meatball Breadsticks/ Bacon Mushroom Kebabs
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Ingredients
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
Servings:
Instructions
Breadsticks
  1. In a large bowl, combine lukewarm water, yeast, sugar, oil & salt. Allow to become frothy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until dough forms a ball. Transfer to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap & allow to rise about 1 hour in a warm, draft-free place. While bread sticks are rising, prepare turkey meatballs.
Turkey Meatballs
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a bowl, combine turkey, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper & garlic. Form into 36 - 1" diameter meatballs. When dough is ready, turn out onto a floured surface. Press or roll into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Cut into twelve strips about 1-inch wide x 8-inches long.
  2. Starting with one bread stick, thread dough then a meatball, repeating process with 2 more meatballs alternating dough-meatball, ending with dough. Make sure to spread dough & meatballs away from each other by about 1/4", so the meatballs bake through & the dough has room to expand.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together garlic powder & melted butter. Brush bread stick dough ONLY with mixture. Bake for 20 minutes until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from oven & sprinkle each skewer with 1-2 Tbsp of shredded mozzarella cheese. Place back in oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve while hot with warm marinara sauce for dipping.
Bacon Wrapped Mushroom Kebabs
  1. Soak skewers 30 minutes. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap each mushroom with a bacon strip & thread 4 on each skewer. Grill on medium heat until bacon is done, about 10-15 minutes, basting with barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.
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German Banana-Orange Pancakes

You could say the German pancake is a cross between a souffle and an omelet. Baked in a round pan with sides, it is quite similar to a Yorkshire pudding in which the center is sunken. It derived from the German Pfannkuchen  and is also called Dutch baby pancake. This light, airy pancake is crispy around the edges while retaining a tender, custard like middle.

In most cases these pancakes would be served with lemon slices, powdered sugar and butter. My choice today is to serve them with sliced bananas drizzled with orange sauce.

This is one of the simplest dishes to prepare and one of the most impressive to serve. I don’t actually recall my mother making these but we certainly did eat the more ‘common’ pancakes, which were so good as well.

German Banana-Orange Pancakes
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Servings
2
Servings
2
German Banana-Orange Pancakes
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Servings
2
Servings
2
Ingredients
Pancakes (2 - 9" pancakes)
Banana/Orange Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Pancakes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans. In blender, process eggs gently until light in color. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth & pour into pans. Bake 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350 F. & bake 10 minutes more. Slide onto warm plates. Prepare banana/orange sauce WHILE pancakes are baking.
Banana/Orange Sauce
  1. In a skillet, combine butter, sugar, orange juice & zest; bring to a boil. Peel bananas & slice; add to orange sauce. Stir to coat. Remove from heat. Pour banana/orange sauce over baked pancakes & serve.
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German Bierocks

With my passion for food history and preparation, there is always a draw that pulls me back to my German roots. A lot of these recipes I recall my mother making but some are new to me that I just can’t resist trying.

In 2016, I posted a couple of recipes ( one in April and the other in August) for Potato Bread that had a meat filling baked inside. These take sandwiches to a whole new level and are so great for picnics — the perfect meal all in one.

The hand held meat ‘pie’ has a worldwide history. The British serve Cornish pasties, while empanadas are found throughout Central and South America. Italians are drawn to calzones (which are often made without meat). That brings me to eastern Europeans with their bierocks.

A bierock is made from a yeasty dough stuffed with ground or shredded beef, cabbage and onions. They were created to be carried by miners and farmers to work so they could enjoy a hearty lunch. What began as a ‘pocketful’ of beef and cabbage eventually led to the Reuben  that we know today. The BIEROCK  is a characteristic food of Germans from Russia.

These bierocks freeze well, so making them ahead of time is no problem. Just take them out of the freezer in the morning to thaw by lunch time. You can warm them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes in 30 second increments to heat through if you wish.

German Bierocks
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
German Bierocks
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Servings
8-12
Servings
8-12
Ingredients
Dough
Servings:
Instructions
Dough
  1. In a large bowl, place milk & butter. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until butter has melted. Add sugar & whisk to dissolve. Whisk mixture until it has cooled to lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over milk mixture & allow to stand 5-10 minutes, until foamy. Whisk again, adding in 2 cups of flour, egg & salt.
  2. Stir in remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time until dough comes together. On a floured surface knead dough 10-15 minutes until soft, smooth dough forms, adding flour as needed. Dough should be tacky but not sticking to your hands.
  3. Shape dough into a disk; place in a greased bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap & place in a warm, draft-free place to rise, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Filling
  1. In a large skillet, brown meat until almost cooked, 5-7 minutes. Drain grease from pan, add onions & cook 2-3 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add cabbage & cook 7-10 minutes, until cabbage is tender. Remove from heat & season with salt & pepper.
Forming Bierocks
  1. Place dough on a floured work surface, knocking it back. Divide into 8-12 balls (about 85 g each). Flatten each ball to a circle 4-5" in diameter. Spoon 2 large Tbsp of filling onto the center of each circle, leaving edges clear. Bring the edges together & pinch them to seal dough completely. Continue with rest of the filling & dough.
  2. Place the shaped 'bierocks' on a greased baking sheet & allow to rise, covered 30-45 minutes until roughly 1 1/2 times the original size. Preheat oven to 375 F. during the last 10 minutes of rising time. Brush bierocks lightly with milk & bake 20-25 minutes or until golden & hollow sounding when tapped. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
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Mediterranean Portobello Mushroom Caps

Can you believe it …. July 5th already! I guess we better be making the most of those barbecue days with simple, no-fuss meals. I can’t resist featuring another recipe using those wonderful portobello mushrooms. 

The best way to cook these beauties is to grill or roast. This type of cooking really brings out the meaty texture because they lose their moisture and get dry as well as the flavor becoming more concentrated. Portobellos are also large enough that they can sit on a grill and not fall through the grates.

I find the versatility of the portobello mushroom is endless. They have a rich, meaty texture and flavor which is retained even after cooking. You can use them in soups, stews, baked pasta, rice dishes or as a meat substitute in salads. Portobellos are excellent paired with fresh herbs, cheese, tomato or cream based sauces, leafy greens, garlic and onions.

This recipe has been one of my summer favorites for many years. It’s definitely a ‘keeper’ if your a mushroom lover.

Mediterranean Portobello Mushroom Caps
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An incredibly simple, no-fuss meal!
Servings
4
Servings
4
Mediterranean Portobello Mushroom Caps
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An incredibly simple, no-fuss meal!
Servings
4
Servings
4
Instructions
  1. Lightly oil grill& preheat barbecue to medium- high. Place mushrooms, cap side down, on a cutting board. Layer spinach, bruschetta & cheese on mushrooms.
  2. Grill mushrooms, with lid closed, until cheese is melted, 2-5 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta buns; garnished with fresh basil strips.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe & picture were featured in a Sobey's Grocery Store flyer a number of years ago. We have enjoyed these mushrooms many times so I decided it was a good recipe to share. I have also used their picture instead of my own as it gave such as nice presentation I thought. 
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Bacon-Wrapped Burgers

HAPPY CANADA DAY !

We are celebrating our country’s 150th ‘birthday’ this year. July 1st marks the historical event in which Canada gained its independence from Great Britain in 1867. This important holiday celebrates the birth of Canada as an independent nation.

Our July 1st holiday is comparable to the July 4th, ‘Independence Day’ holiday celebrated by the United States. Along with numerous parades, concerts, carnivals, festivals and firework displays, Parks Canada entrance fees are being waived in 2017 to mark this occasion.

Food and drink are almost as synonymous with Canada Day as the colors of red and white. Barbecues are definitely the preferred choice of food event for the day.

For ‘our’ barbecue, I am going with some BACON-WRAPPED BURGERS, POTATO SALAD  with BLUEBERRY-LEMON CHEESECAKE CUPS. Yum!

Bacon Wrapped Burgers/ Potato Salad/ Blueberry Cheesecake Cups
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Bacon Wrapped Burgers/ Potato Salad/ Blueberry Cheesecake Cups
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Bacon Wrapped Burgers
Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake Cups
Servings:
Instructions
Bacon-Wrapped Burgers
  1. In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients & 2 Tbsp barbecue sauce. Crumble beef over mixture & mix well. Form into 12 thick patties. Wrap a bacon slice around the sides of each patty & secure with a toothpick.
  2. Barbecue at 350 F. until meat is no longer pink. Baste frequently with remaining barbecue sauce during latter part of cooking.
Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake Cups
  1. Add boiling water to jelly powder; stir 2 minutes until dissolved. Refrigerate 45 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 F. Mix graham crumbs & butter; press about 3 Tbsp onto bottom of each of 8 -125 ml, pyrex custard cups. Place on rimmed baking sheet; bake 6 minutes. Cool.
  3. Beat cream cheese & sugar with mixer until blended. Gradually beat in half & half; Stir in jell-o. Spoon into cups; top with fresh blueberries.
Recipe Notes
  • You can find the potato salad recipe in the June 2016 blogs.
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Flammkuchen – German Pizza

I guess because of my German heritage I forever gravitate to German cuisine and food history. Although my mother’s cooking was a mix of German and Canadian, I can definitely see how she correlated the two quite well.

When most people think of pizza, Italy comes to mind. That’s why I’d like to talk about Flammkuchen, a crisp, smoky bacon German pizza. The name translates to ‘flame cake’ and comes from south Germany and the Alsace region of France. Originally it was used by bakers to test the temperature of their ovens. A bit of dough was rolled flat, topped with ‘sour cream’ and baked in their wood fired bread ovens for a few minutes. The oven’s temperature was told in the nearly blistered crispiness of the flammkuchen. When it came out just right the oven was ready to bake bread.

The classic version of German pizza is characterized by its thin, crisp, blistered crust. The dough is spread with soured cream (creme fraiche) then topped with partially cooked bacon, caramelized onions and spices. 

Other savory variations include Gruyere or Munster cheese and mushrooms while sweet versions may include apples, cinnamon and a sweet liqueur.

For those of you who enjoy a thin, crispy crust pizza, this one’s for you!

Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Flammkuchen-German Pizza
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
Caramelized Onions
Servings:
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, water & oil. Mix until dough begins to form; turn dough out onto lightly floured surface & knead until soft & smooth about 3-5 minutes. Place dough back in bowl; cover & set aside. In a small bowl, mix together yogurt & nutmeg; set aside.
Caramelized Onions
  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion & sprinkle with salt. Cook & stir about 15 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Remove from skillet & set aside.
  2. In skillet, saute bacon until it is half way to crisp, 2-4 minutes. Remove bacon to drain on paper towel. Break or cut bacon into small pieces.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about a 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Generously sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal & place dough on it. Spread yogurt mixture over crust, leaving a small border. Distribute onions & bacon evenly over yogurt. Top all with a dusting of black pepper.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven & slice.
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Salmon Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

How is it spelled? Portobello or Portabella – from what I understand there is no ‘right’ spelling. Both versions are accepted, but the Mushroom Council  decided to go with Portabella to provide some consistency across the market.

The scientific name ‘agaricus bisporus’, for these giant mushrooms comes from the Greek word ‘agrarius’ meaning ‘growing in fields’. A portabella mushroom can measure up to six inches across the top. On the underside of the cap are black ‘gills’. The stems and gills are both edible, though some people remove the gills to make more room for stuffing or simply to avoid blackening a dish. Did you know that most of the table mushrooms we eat are all the same variety? The difference is just age– white are the youngest, cremini the middle and portabella the most mature. I really wasn’t aware of that for many years myself.

In May and June of 2016, I posted some recipes on my blog for a variety of stuffed burgers  including a mushroom burger. They became very popular on the Pinterest site so I thought you might like to try some of them.

This recipe is for a roasted stuffed portabella mushroom. If you don’t care for salmon you can always change it up for ground beef or turkey using your favorite herbs and spices.

Salmon Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Salmon Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
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Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a bowl, combine all ingredients through salt & pepper, mix well. Coat both sides of mushrooms in Italian dressing & place them upside down in a baking dish.
  2. Equally distribute the salmon mixture between mushroom caps; form a mound. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese. Bake 25-35 minutes or until mushrooms are tender & the cheese is slightly browned.
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