Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

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The key to making a delicious burger is to keep things simple. Many failed burgers are the result of overcomplicating the process. If you start with good-quality ingredients and apply basic grilling techniques, then you really don’t need to do much to turn out a delicious burger. Use high-quality ground meat (go for grass-fed beef, if you can; it has more flavor) that has some fat content (80 to 20 ratio of lean-to fat), which is needed to keep the burger moist and to enhance its flavor. Handle and cook the burgers with care. Other types of ground meat, particularly lean meats, like chicken or turkey, may need a few extra ingredients to achieve the same results.

When you’re forming burger patties, be gentle with your ground meat mixture. If you pack the meat too tightly, the density will make the patty seem tough. Form the burger into a round that is the same size as your bun (it will shrink as it cooks) and then very gently press the middle of the patty to form a small dent — this helps the patty retain an even thickness during the cooking process.

Salt can draw moisture out of the meat mixture, so don’t add it to the ground meat. Instead, season both sides of a burger just before cooking.

Medium heat is best when it comes to burgers; if you cook your burger at too high a temperature, it can cook unevenly.

Don’t be tempted to press on the burgers as they cook (since they won’t puff up as much in the center) and turn the burgers gently as they cook, so you don’t lose meat juices and flavor.

Here are some burger recipes to suit all tastes.burger1

The Perfect Burger

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • Oil for the grill
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground grass-fed beef (80-85 percent lean)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 slices sharp white cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • 4 sandwich rolls or buns
  • 1 beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
  • 4 lettuce leaves, such as green-leaf, Boston or romaine
  • Ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high; brush grates with oil.

Gently form beef into four 1-inch-thick patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Make an indentation in the top of each patty. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill burgers 3 minutes. Turn, top with cheese, and grill 3 minutes for medium-rare.

Toast rolls face-down on the grill until just lightly browned, about 30 seconds.

Sandwich burgers in rolls with tomato, onion, lettuce and condiments.

burger6

Chicken Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 toasted hamburger buns
  • Lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, for serving

Directions

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; cool to room temperature.

Add chicken to vegetable mixture in the bowl. Mix to combine. Shape mixture into four 4-inch-wide patties. Brush burgers with remaining oil and sprinkle the burgers with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill.

Grill burgers until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place chicken burgers on buns and top with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise or sauce of choice.

burger3

Pork Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 4 toasted buns

Directions

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill. In a bowl, mix pork with fennel seeds. Form into 4 patties.

On a large piece of foil, combine oil, peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Fold foil around the vegetables and crimp ends. Grill the foil packet until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.

Season patties with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables with vinegar. Top each patty with vegetables and a slice of mozzarella. Cover grill and cook until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minutes.

Serve burgers on toasted buns.

burger4

Tuna Burgers

6 burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fresh center-cut tuna
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 anchovy fillet, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 celery stalks, peeled to remove strings and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 6 buns
  • Condiments of choice: cheese, horseradish sauce, etc.

Directions

Cut tuna into 1/4-inch chunks with a very sharp knife, trimming away any dark parts. Coarsely chop tuna by hand until it begins to hold together. Transfer to a bowl over a bowl of ice.

Add garlic, olive oil, sesame oil, anchovy, basil, celery, ginger, salt and pepper; combine well. Chill for up to 6 hours until ready to cook.

Heat grill to medium high and oil the grill grates. Form tuna into 6 patties and place on the grill,  4 minutes per side for rare to 7 or 8 for well done.

Serve with arugula on toasted buns brushed with mayonnaise or other condiments.

burger2

Mediterranean Lamb Burgers

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Kalamata olives, chopped

Directions

Heat a grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grill grates. In a medium bowl, mix lamb, cumin and coriander. Form into 4 patties.

Coat the burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Serve burgers on buns with crumbled feta cheese and chopped olives.

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Black Bean Veggie Burgers

These burgers are great if you are cooking for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The meat burgers can go on one side of the grill and the bean burgers on foil can go on the other side of the grill. In order to keep veggie burgers from falling apart on the grill, make sure all the ingredients in the burger are thoroughly dry before combining them.

4 burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil.

Dry black beans well on paper towels. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.

In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion and garlic. Place on paper towels to dry well.

Then stir into the mashed beans.

.In a small bowl, stir together the egg, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce.

Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
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Place patties on oiled foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side.

'Mom slipped a healthy one in so it's kind of like playing hot dog roulette.'


Milwaukee’s outrageous Bloody Mary with a mini cheeseburger is definitely not boring Sobelman's Pub & Grill photo

Milwaukee’s outrageous Bloody Mary with a mini cheeseburger is definitely not boring. Sobelman’s Pub & Grill photo.

Instead of serving up the same old recipe, jazz up your burgers this grilling season! Here are a few tips.

To add flavor and variety to your grilled burgers, why not try expanding your choice of buns? There are sesame seed buns, onion-flavored buns, honey wheat buns and 7-grain sandwich buns just to name a few. There are also low-carb buns for those who are watching their weight or bread loaves, like baguettes, as well.

Try different kinds of burgers. You can choose turkey burgers, pork burgers, chicken burgers, veggie burgers, soy burgers, bean and grain burgers, fish burgers and more!

To make the beef eaters in the crowd happy, try serving new recipes.

Many people love venison burgers as an alternative to beef burgers. Buffalo and Bison burgers are also good substitutes for beef burgers.

You can add chopped ingredients to ground beef to make your burgers more interesting. Experiment with chopped onions, tomatoes, peppers, dill pickles, mushrooms, bacon, cheese, potatoes or even walnuts.

Serving alternative condiments and toppings on your burgers. Substitute Thousand Island Dressing for mayonnaise or salsa for ketchup to add a new taste to boring burgers. You can also add steak sauce, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, tartar sauce, Ranch dressing, Italian dressing or Blue Cheese dressing to your condiment selection. The list is practically endless.

Instead of serving the usual sliced tomatoes, onions and cheese, give foods like pineapple rings, sliced cucumbers, green peppers, radishes and mushrooms a try. Sauerkraut, bacon strips, grated carrots and horseradish are just a few other delicious toppings.

Before you head out to the grill, browse the farmers’ market or grocery store to get inspiration from fresh produce. Experiment with new ingredients that can make the ordinary into the extraordinary. When it comes to creating your own, don’t be afraid to mix it up and combine a variety of ingredients that appeal to you.

burger 2

Mediterranean Burgers

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or lamb, turkey)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 kaiser or other sandwich rolls
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1/4 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 8 romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine feta cheese, oregano, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the lemon zest. Add ground meat and mix gently. Form into four 1-inch thick patties.

In a blender, puree olives, dill, parsley, lemon juice, sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a smooth paste.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot (you can hold your hand 1 to 2 inches above the cooking grate for only 3 to 4 seconds).

Grill burgers, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Split rolls and toast cut sides on the grill. Brush toasted sides with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread each with about 1 teaspoon of the olive spread.

Top with burgers, tomato, cucumber, red onion and romaine lettuce.

burger 3

Grilled Sourdough Cheddar Burger

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter or stick margarine, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground round
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (3/4-ounce) slices sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 (1 1/2-ounce) slices sourdough bread

Directions

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Reduce heat; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Preheat the broiler. You can also grill the burgers on an outdoor grill.

Combine beef, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Divide the beef mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/4-inch-thick oval patty. Place the patties on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 4 minutes on each side or until done.

Place 1 cheese slice over each of 4 bread slices; top each slice with 1 burger and 3 tablespoons onion mixture. Cover with the remaining bread slices.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat; add 2 sandwiches to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes on each side until browned and cheese melts. Repeat the procedure with 1/2 tablespoon butter and the remaining sandwiches.

burger 4

 

Italian Meatball Burgers

Ingredients

  • 6 kaiser or ciabatta sandwich rolls 
  • 8 ounces sweet or spicy turkey or pork Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 pound ground sirloin or ground turkey
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 slices deli provolone cheese (mozzarella is also ok)
  • 6 large basil leaves
  • 6 tablespoons marinara sauce

Directions

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Split rolls.

Remove casing from the sausage. Combine sausage, chopped basil and next 5 ingredients (through ground sirloin) in a medium bowl. Divide beef mixture into 6 equal portions with moist hands, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick burger patty. Press thumb in the center of each burger, leaving a nickel-sized indentation.

Place burgers on a grill rack coated with cooking spray or oil; grill 6 minutes. Turn burgers over; grill 2 minutes. Place a slice of cheese on each burgers and grill 6 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°F. Remove from the grill; let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly grill the rolls.

Place 1 basil leaf on the bottom half of each roll; top each with 1 burger, 1 tablespoon marinara sauce and the roll top.

burger 5

Roasted Piquillo Pepper Lamb Burger

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted piquillo or other red peppers 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 wide, crusty bread loaf, such as a bâtard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Basil pesto

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine lamb, rosemary, roasted peppers, salt and pepper. Form into 6 burgers about 3/4 inch thick. Put on a plate, cover, and refrigerate 2 hours.

Cut 12 slices, each about 1/2 in. thick, from the bread loaf and save the rest for another use. Lightly brush slices all over with the olive oil.

With a silicone brush or oiled paper towels, lightly oil a charcoal grill over a solid bed of hot coals or a gas grill heated to high. Lightly toast bread the on grill, turning once, and transfer to a platter.

Lay burgers on the grill; close lid on a gas grill. Cook burgers, turning once, until they’re done the way you like, about 6 minutes for medium-rare. Set each burger on a slice of grilled bread. Top with some pesto and then the remaining bread.

Burger 6

BBQ Chicken Burgers

Serves 4

ingredients

For the burgers

  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (hot) sauce
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 4 burger or other sandwich rolls

For the coleslaw

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, shredded coarse
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Make burgers:

In a small bowl stir together Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, garlic paste and Tabasco until sauce is smooth. In a large bowl stir together chicken, onion, bread crumbs, and 2 tablespoons of the sauce until combined and form into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Burgers may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Reserve remaining sauce for brushing on the burgers while grilling. Refrigerate the sauce, covered, until needed

Make coleslaw:

In a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, honey and mustard. Add remaining coleslaw ingredients and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Coleslaw may be made 4 hours ahead, covered and refrigerated

Prepare grill. Toast rolls and set aside on a serving platter.

Grill burgers on an oiled rack set 5 to 6 inches above glowing coals or on a gas grill heated to high, brushing frequently with barbecue sauce, 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Serve burgers on the toasted buns topped with the coleslaw.

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The aroma fills the neighborhood and that distinctive sizzling sound can mean only one thing – it’s grilling season. But while you’re enjoying those burgers, be mindful to keep your meals healthy for your heart. A burger doesn’t always have to be fattening or even made of beef.

Here are seven heart-smart choices along with tips for better-tasting burgers.

Grass-Fed Beef: Less fatty than corn-fed beef and the meat of pasture-raised cattle produces a lean hamburger with a clean, mineral flavor. You can add a bit of fat, such as olive oil, to your blend for more flavor. Choose ground round or sirloin–they’re lower in fat.

Bison is one of the leanest meats and very high in protein. But it is the amount of protein you get in bison meat, without the saturated fat, that makes this a great alternative to regular beef. Bison is a great source of nutrients: zinc, niacin, iron, vitamin B6 and selenium. Because bison meat is leaner than beef, it can easily become tough, if you overcook it. Adding a marinade can help keep the meat moist. Try marinades with ingredients such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh rosemary or soy sauce, garlic and ginger. 

Chicken and Turkey: More supermarket space is now devoted to ground turkey and chicken. The trick is finding the lower-fat versions to make burgers. Some ground turkey breast can be 99% fat free. In addition, ground poultry breast can have fewer calories than a typical ground-beef burger. When buying chicken or turkey for patties, ask the butcher to grind boneless, skinless breast meat. Some prepackaged ground turkey and chicken may contain dark meat or skin, which can increase the amount of fat.

Soy: Made with soy protein, these patties are great-tasting meat substitutes. Although no meat is in soy burgers, they can still have a beefy flavor. Soy burgers are lower in saturated fat, calories and cholesterol than beef patties–plus they often provide fiber. Because the texture isn’t the same as regular burgers, try dressing them up with flavorful condiments.

Veggie: Often a mix of brown rice and other grains, vegetable patties won’t necessarily taste the same as grilled meat. However, a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun with a slice of tomato and cheese is a nutritional powerhouse. Some veggie patties can be a mere 90 calories, meaning they’ll satisfy appetites without expanding waistlines. Unlike some other on-the-bun options, veggie burgers can also supply fiber. Opt for mustard, which adds additional flavor without many calories.

Portobello Mushroom: This thick, hearty mushroom is about 4 to 6 inches in diameter, conveniently sized for a bun. It has a firm texture that feels similar to a beef burger. However, portobello mushrooms won’t have the same char-grilled flavor as meat. Zero fat and incredibly few calories–only seven calories per ounce–make this mushroom a great choice. Marinate mushrooms in a low-fat Caesar or Italian salad dressing for a few hours to add flavor. Grill for about five minutes on each side.

Venison: Deer meat can be a lean option for grilling season as well. Because the meat is low in fat, it may taste drier than a beef patty. Some people also experience a “gamey” flavor from this meat. With about half the fat of a beef burger, venison offers about the same amount of protein. Because venison may seem a bit drier than ground beef, mix in some tomato or barbecue sauce to moisten the patties.

Additional tips for making just about any burger more heart healthy.

1. Use caution with toppers. If you’re trying to reduce fat and calories, stick with veggie additions like tomato, lettuce, mushrooms and peppers on your burger. Use low-fat cheeses and spreads such as mustard, ketchup and barbecue sauce. If you want bacon on your burger opt for turkey bacon.

2. Choose whole grains. By using a bun made with whole grain, you can easily fulfill one of your three daily servings of whole grains.

3. Trim patty size. Think thin and small to keep calories down.

4. Mix meats. If you crave the taste of ground beef in your burgers but want a healthier option, mix half ground sirloin beef and half turkey breast.

Forming A Burger

Don’t pack the meat too much: overworking it can cause the burger to become overly dense and tough. Gather the meat into a loose ball and set it on a work surface. Curl the palms of your hands around the sides of the patty and work it back and forth in a rotating motion so that the sides of the patty flatten slightly. Then gently press down on the top of the patty with the flat of your hand.

An ice cream scoop is a great tool for perfectly sizing the burgers into healthy portions.

Thick burger patties tend to puff up in the middle while they cook. Making a depression in the top of the patty using the back of a measuring spoon or your thumb, helps a burger hold its shape.

Keep the meat cold (it helps to wet your hands with cold water) and handle it as little as possible when shaping patties. Over-handling “bruises” the meat and compressing the meat too much will lead to dense, dry burgers. Make the burgers a few hours ahead of time and chill them on a plate covered with plastic wrap. This firms up the burger and helps it hold together during grilling. Leave them in the refrigerator until the last minute or place them on a sheet pan over another sheet pan filled with ice.

 

Grilling A Burger

1. Build a medium-hot charcoal fire (the coals are ready when they’re fully ashed over but are still hot enough that you can’t hold your hand an inch above them for more than 2 seconds).

2. For Gas Grill: Heat your grill to high heat, about 450°F or until you can hold your hand an inch over the grate for only two seconds.

3. Lightly brush the burgers on both sides with oil just before grilling. This helps prevent sticking and adds an extra layer of flavor. You’ll also need to practice good grill hygiene by heating, scraping and oiling the grill’s grate prior to grilling.

4. Do not press on a burger with a spatula while it’s grilling, All this does is squeeze out the juices onto the fire.

5. After about two minutes on the grill, give the patty a quarter-turn to get grill marks. After that, aim to flip the burger only one time. When the edges begin to brown or you see a few little pearls of blood bleeding through the top, the meat’s ready to turn over.

6. Do not overcrowd the grill. Follow the Steve Raichlen’s “30 percent” rule—leave 30 percent of your grill free of food. That way, if you get flare-ups, you have a place to move the burgers if they start to burn.

7. Make sure your burger’s cooked. While rare burgers may be tasty to some, you don’t want your burger to make you sick. 

8. Let the burgers rest, off the grill grate, for a couple of minutes before serving. This allows the meat to “relax,” giving you a juicier burger.

The Basic Burger

Yield: 8 burgers

  • 3 pounds ground beef of choice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 8 hamburger rolls, split, toasted
  • Cheese and condiments
  • Classic Burger Sauce or Spicy Ketchup or Blue Cheese Onion Topping , recipes below

Directions:

1. Combine beef, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Gently blend with a fork. Use moistened hands to form 8 3/4-inch-thick patties (about 6 ounces each). Brush the burgers well on both sides with olive oil.

2. Heat grill and grease the grilling grates. Grill burgers over moderate heat (about 5 inches from heat source) on one side for 4 minutes. Carefully turn and cook on other side for about 4 minutes for medium-rare burgers. Serve on warm buns, topped as desired.

Classic Burger Sauce

Makes About 1/4 Cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons lowfat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Mix all ingredients and chill.

Spicy Ketchup

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions:

Mix ketchup with prepared horseradish and 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste. Serve chilled.

Burger Blue Cheese Onion Topping

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

To make the onions: Heat butter in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until soft, about 8 minutes. Add vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until onions are slightly caramelized, about 7 minutes more. Remove from the pan and reserve.

Top each burger with 1 oz. of blue cheese and continue to cook until just melted, about 2 minutes. Divide cheese-topped burgers between toasted buns, top with onions and serve.

The Caprese Burger

  • 1 recipe Basic Burger, above
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups packed basil leaves (about 4 oz.), plus 8 large leaves for serving
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 8 slices
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced
  • 8 hamburger rolls, split, toasted
  • Pesto Mayo, optional, recipe below

Directions:

Prepare burgers as recipe directs and refrigerate patties until ready to cook.

Place pine nuts and garlic in a food processor. Add oil; pulse to chop. Add 4 cups basil leaves, Parmesan and salt. Process until finely chopped, stopping and scraping sides of bowl once or twice. (Makes 3/4 cup pesto.)

Grill or broil burgers as recipe directs. Top with mozzarella during the last minute of cooking time.

Spread buns with pesto. Place burgers on buns and serve topped with a slice of tomato and a large basil leaf, assorted toppings and Pesto Mayo, if desired.

Pesto Mayo

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lowfat mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon prepared pesto
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Directions:

Mix mayonnaise with prepared pesto and lemon zest. Chill before serving.

Parmesan Bison Burgers with Balsamic Ketchup

Serves 4 

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground bison
  • 1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns, toasted
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 4 thin slices red onion
  • 4 tablespoons Balsamic Ketchup, see recipe below

Directions:

1. Preheat grill to high heat.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Divide bison mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty.

3. Place patties on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

4. Place bottom bun halves on plates. Top each with 1/4 cup arugula, 1 onion slice and 1 patty. Spread 1 tablespoon balsamic ketchup on top half of each bun; place on top of burgers.

Balsamic Ketchup

Refrigerate extra ketchup in an airtight ­container for up to a week or freeze in small batches.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 pounds small tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Combine oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange tomatoes, skin side down, on a wire rack set inside a jelly-roll pan. Bake for 3 hours. Cool slightly; peel. Discard peels.

3. Combine tomatoes, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, basil and remaining ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth.

Chicken Caesar Burgers

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut up
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut up
  • 1 medium onion, cut up
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained and patted dry (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 3 medium roma tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 6 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup homemade or bottled reduced fat Caesar salad dressing

Directions:

In a food processor combine chicken breast halves, chicken thighs, onion, grated Parmesan cheese, parsley and, if desired, anchovies. Cover and process with several on/off turns until coarsely ground and slightly sticky. Shape into six 4-inch patties. Cover and chill for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Brush both sides of each patty with oil; season to taste with salt and pepper. For a charcoal or gas grill, grease grill rack of a covered grill. Grill patties directly over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until 165 degrees F, turning once halfway through grilling.

To serve, place a lettuce leaf and tomato slices on the bottom of each roll. Top each with a chicken patty. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese. Spread roll tops with salad dressing. Place roll tops, dressing side down, on burgers.

Note: The internal color of a burger is not a reliable doneness indicator. A chicken or turkey patty cooked to 165 degrees F is safe, regardless of color. To measure the doneness of a patty, insert an instant-read thermometer through the side of the patty to a depth of 2 to 3 inches.

Grilled Portobello Burgers

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 large portobello mushrooms (4 to 4-1/2 inches), stems removed
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette, divided
  • 4 slices red onion
  • 1 cup roasted sweet red peppers, drained
  • 4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 4 kaiser rolls, split
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

Directions:

Brush mushrooms with 4 tablespoons vinaigrette. Grill mushrooms and onion, covered, over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until tender. Top mushrooms with red peppers, onion and cheese.

Grill, covered, 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Grill rolls, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes or until toasted.

Spread roll bottoms with mayonnaise and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Top with mushrooms; replace roll tops.

Glazed Salmon Burgers

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen skinless, boneless salmon fillets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions (2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons chili sauce (hot or sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus extra for grilling
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage with carrot (coleslaw mix)
  • 6 sesame seed hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 1 cup thinly sliced seedless cucumber

Directions:

Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Place salmon, half at a time, in a food processor. Cover and process until finely chopped.

In a large bowl combine egg, green onions, salt and black pepper. Add chopped salmon; mix gently until combined. Using damp hands, shape mixture into six 1/2-inch-thick patties. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons chili sauce. Cover and chill until needed.

For slaw: in a large bowl whisk together 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Add shredded cabbage toss to coat.

Lightly brush both sides of salmon patties with additional canola oil.

For a charcoal or gas grill, place patties on the greased rack of a covered grill directly over medium heat. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until done (160 degrees F).

To serve, spread cut sides of buns with mayonnaise mixture. Fill with salmon burgers, slaw and cucumber slices.

Bulgur Veggie Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed parsley sprigs
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread, toasted

Directions:

Cook 1/4 cup onion with 1/4 teaspoon salt in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add bulgur and water and cook, covered, over low heat until water is absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in beans and soy sauce.

Pulse bulgur mixture, walnuts, garlic, parsley, turmeric, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and remaining onion in a food processor until finely chopped.

Form rounded 1/2 cups of mixture into 4 (3 1/2-inch-diameter) patties. Chill at least 10 minutes. Uncooked patties can be chilled, covered, up to 4 hours.

While patties chill, stir together mayonnaise, zest and lime juice.

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Put a perforated grill sheet on grill and preheat 10 minutes.(Or use heavy duty foil and poke holes in it with a large fork at regular intervals.)

Brush patties all over with olive oil.

Oil grill sheet or spray foil with cooking spray, then grill burgers on grill sheet or foil, covered, carefully turning once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes total.

Serve burgers open-faced on toast with lime mayonnaise.

Heavy Duty Foil Sheet

Grill Pan


Hamburgers patties can be made with numerous different cuts of meat and using different methods of cooking.  Common cooking methods for hamburger patties include grilling, broiling and pan frying. However, where broiling and grilling causes the natural juices (fat) to drip away from the burgers as they cook, pan frying (or searing) the patties allows them to actually cook in their own juices. A number of preparations, both external and internal, can make flavorful hamburgers.

Sometimes, the simplest approach is the best. When making hamburger patties in a pan, a liberal use of salt and black pepper, maybe all you need to bring out the best flavor. Salt and black pepper (use kosher salt or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper) allows the flavor of the meat to come through. Just dusting salt on the exterior of shaped patties isn’t enough. Put the ground meat in a bowl. Lightly break up the meat with your hands and sprinkle evenly with salt and, then, pepper. 

For some additional flavor, spices and seasoning can be added prior to cooking the patties. Add dried spices and seasonings, such as onion and garlic powder. For a little kick, add a small amount of ground cayenne pepper to the meat prior to shaping into patties. Oregano, thyme and paprika are also dried spices that go well with hamburger, as well as ground mustard seed. Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce can be added before you make your patties. They impart extra moisture to your burgers, as well as extra flavor.

The more you handle the meat, the denser and more rubbery it will become when cooked. After you’ve seasoned the meat, divide it into individual portions and, with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop.

Turn the burgers just once during cooking—and don’t be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in the pan instead of in the burgers.

Many of us depend on thermometers when we’re cooking expensive steaks, but when it comes to burgers, we think it isn’t necessary.  Burgers should be cooked to just the right degree of doneness, don’t guess. Take the temperature in the center of each burger with an instant-read thermometer.

MEDIUM-RARE BURGER: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side

MEDIUM BURGER: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side

MEDIUM-WELL BURGER: 145 to 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side

WELL-DONE BURGER: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side

Cooking on Top of the Stove:

If the meat has been frozen let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Divide the meat and shape into patties, however big or small and thick or thin that you want them. Remember that ground beef shrinks when cooking, so take that into account when sizing.

Place the burgers in a large, deep skillet and turn the burner on medium heat. Make sure the handle is turned away from the front of the stove, especially if you have children.

Place a lid on the skillet. This will prevent grease from spattering all over the stove, making more of a job for you to clean up.

Cook the burgers for about 4 minutes for medium and then turn them over in the pan. Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes. It doesn’t take long to cook burgers, just watch them so they won’t burn or overcook.

Variation:

Heat a deep, large skillet.

Slice and cook 1 onion in 1 tablespoon butter; set aside in a small bowl and keep warm.

Shape the patties large and thin, when cooking they will shrink and become much thicker and juicy.

Place the patties in the pan and cover with a lid. Cook on medium-low heat.

Turn the burgers once the top is starting to brown.

DO NOT press down-if you press down you will not have juicy hamburgers.

When they are done (use the temperature chart above), cover the top with the cooked onion and put a slice of cheese on top of the hamburger. Cover the pan again for about a minute until the cheese starts to melt.

Cooking in the Oven:

Use a broiler pan that allows fat to drip away from the meat. If the burgers are large and thick, roast at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes and then finish under the broiler to brown.

Variation:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil- put a cookie rack on top. Place the burgers on the rack and season them. Bake for about 15 minutes/ 20 minutes.

The following method works well for turkey burgers:

Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef or pork. Turkey is a leaner meat and it contains less fat. Instead of frying the turkey burger in oil on the stove top, you can bake them in the oven. Oven-baked turkey burgers take slightly longer to cook, but baking in the oven gives you a less crisp texture.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Apply nonstick cooking spray to a baking dish.

Combine 1 lb. of lean ground turkey, 1 lightly beaten egg, 1 cup of crushed crackers or bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well.

Form the turkey mixture into four equal sized patties. Place them in the baking dish.

Bake the turkey burgers for 30 minutes or until they have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the turkey burgers over once while they are baking in the oven.

Add a slice of cheese during the last 2 to 3 minutes of the cooking time. Once the cheese melts, remove the turkey burgers from the oven and serve them while hot.

The Perfect Indoor Burger

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean) or ground turkey (90 percent lean)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired

Directions

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.(This prevents the burger from bulging in the center while cooking.)  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.

 

IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat a grill pan over high heat on top of the stove. Brush pan with the oil. Cook the burgers until desired doneness, according to the temperature chart above. Turn burgers half way through the cooking time. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

IF USING A SAUTE PAN : Heat the oil in the pan over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Cook the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes for beef and 5 minutes for turkey. Turn over the burgers. Cook beef burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare (3 minutes if topping with cheese) or until cooked to desired degree of doneness. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

Add the cheese to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking. and top with a basting cover, close the grill cover, or tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese.

Serve the hot burgers on toasted buns with your favorite condiments.

img_1733

Pesto Turkey Burgers

Servings: 4

This Mediterranean-style turkey burger is flavored with basil pesto and crumbled feta cheese.

Ingredients::

  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sliced tomato and lettuce
  • Greek yogurt

Directions:

Add oil to a saute pan and heat to medium high. 

Mix together ground turkey, pesto, garlic, feta cheese, seasoned salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl until evenly blended. Form into 4 patties.

Cook pesto burgers until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve on whole wheat buns or pita bread with tomato, lettuce, yogurt and additional feta cheese.

 

Chicken Parmesan Patty Melts

4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted

Directions

In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, pepper and salt.

Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well. Shape into four patties.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear.

Top with remaining marinara, the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

Broil 1-2 minutes longer or until cheeses are melted. Top each roll half with a patty.

Pork Burgers

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Spanish onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green olives
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, halved lengthwise

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside half the onion for topping; finely chop the other half.

Preheat a stove top grill pan to medium.

Place the chopped onion in a large bowl; add pork, olives, garlic, paprika, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the salt. Gently combine, without over mixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 4 equal patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Oil the grill pan. Cook the burgers, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes total. Top with cheese (1 tablespoon per burger) and cook until it is melted, about 1 minute more.

Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with the lemon mayonnaise, some of the reserved onions and  half a roasted pepper.

Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Sauce

Serve on toasted hamburger buns or focaccia bread.

The key to perfect salmon burgers is to handle the fish delicately: don’t over season, over handle or over cook it.

Makes 4 servings

 Ingredients:

  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Green Goddess Sauce (recipe follows)

 Directions:

With a large chef’s knife, chop salmon using quick, even, straight-up-and-down motions (do not rock the knife through the fish or it will turn mushy) until you have a mass of roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer to large bowl and gently stir in onion (or scallion), basil, hot sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper, being careful not to overmix. Divide the mixture into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before cooking.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook until browned on both sides and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Serve with 1 tablespoon Green Goddess Sauce on each burger.

Green Goddess Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups

 Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, chives, parsley, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

 



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