Taco Burgers and Pickled Cucumber Tomato Salad

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Tonight from Martha’s “budget” menu, Brian chose Taco Burgers.

A zippy burger twist, I was very intrigued to try. Not usually a huge fan of jalapeños, I think the pickled juice made them milder and more palatable. The patty tastes like taco meat, flavored with salt and pepper and a generous teaspoon of chili powder. I am a big fan of this recipe and will definitely make this one again.

The grocery list:

1 lb lean Ground Beef

1 jar of Sliced Pickled Jalapeños

1 t Chili Powder

S&P

3/4 t Sugar

1 c chopped Iceberg Lettuce

1 Cucumber

1/2 medium Red Onion

1 large Tomato

4 Hamburger Buns

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This is the star ingredient of the night. You will need as many of these suckers as you can stand to top your burger and 2 tablespoons of the juice to make the dressing for the salad.

I found this at Safeway in the Hispanic food section. They had lots large cans in authentic brands but after some thorough searching I found El Paso brand in a small jar! America.

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Start by making the salad so it has some time to marinate in the dressing. Slice about half of the tomato into four slices to top the burger later. Dice the other half of the tomato into 3/4 inch chunks for the salad.

Pour 2 tablespoons of pickled jalapeño juice into a medium sized bowl and whisk it with 3/4 teaspoon of sugar. Add the diced tomatoes to the mix.

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Chop the ends of the cucumber off and slice it into thin half moons. You can slice it right down the middle and chop each half or cut 3/4 of the way down the cucumber and slice the whole (see picture). After beginning the latter end ending with the former, I found the first way to be more efficient and safer with the knife.

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Slice up half of the red onion. Set aside some of this to top your burgers later if you wish.

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Add the cucumber and onion to the bowl and mix with the tomatoes and jalapeño juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Wrap with cling wrap and set in the fridge until later.

Steal a cucumber slice.

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Use your hands to mix the pound of ground beef with a teaspoon of chili powder. Form four equal-ish sized patties. Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. If you are lazy like me, just sprinkle the side facing up. Place this side in the pan first and sprinkle the other while it is in the pan.

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Cook the patties for four minutes on each side in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. I was going to use my new grill pan, but I accidentally added some oil to a very hot pan and created a smoke storm in the kitchen. Use Pam if you don’t have nonstick.

Add a slice of cheddar cheese during the last minute of cooking if you wish. I did.

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Load ’em up! You can top with the salad, that would be amazing. Or you can use the tomato and onion you set aside earlier and the lettuce I mentioned in the grocery list. Don’t forget the jalapeño!

Even I, a wimp, ate 2 on my burger! Delicious! 🙂

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Zippy Corn & Zucchini Salad

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My parents are off on a surprise trip to California, leaving me the benefactor of some fine vegetables. I scored big time: mixed greens, scallions, three ears of corn, four tomatoes, a hefty bag of green beans, and a lone zucchini. Since I’m all by my lonesome this eve it just made sense to eat the zucchini (and it was also on its last leg). Mom gave me a great recipe from Rachel Ray for inspiration.. or help.

1 tbs. olive oil

1 ear of corn

1 small zucchini

2 small tomatoes

1 scallion white

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 c. of fresh parsley, loosely packed

1 c. spring greens/arugula/spinach

1 tbs. butter

S&P

Parmesan

Optional: Squeeze of lemon and 1/2 tsp. zest

This recipe takes more time to prep than to cook. At least in my case, I’m a very slow, methodical chopper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet while you prep, I set the heat to medium/high – your stove may not need to be as hot.

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Begin by slicing the kernels off the cob. Be careful here, watch your fingertips!

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Core the zucchini by slicing it in half lengthwise and cutting out the middle. It will look like a cute zucchini canoe. Cut each half into six rods and cube.

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I used two small tomatoes that I got from my mom, but you could use grape tomatoes and leave them whole. Core and dice the tomatoes. Slice the white of a scallion, save the green for another meal.

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Now we get cookin’! Add the corn to the skillet and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

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Add the zucchini, sliced scallion white, and red pepper flakes to the skillet. Season with kosher salt and a little pepper (beware of pepper here, the red pepper flakes already add a kick). Cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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Add 1 tbs of unsalted butter to the mix, stirring it in. Rachel Ray says stir until its creamy, but I don’t think that is the proper adjective. There is no cream to this mixture IMO. I let the butter stew for a couple minutes before removing the skillet from the heat.

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Toss the salad with the diced tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Almost any herb will do here but I always have fresh parsley on hand, the same cannot be said for basil or tarragon. I added a nice squeeze of lemon juice and a little zest here.

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Pour over a small amount of greens, about 1 c., and top with shredded parmesan.

*I couldn’t help using my new wooden bowl for this meal!

The corn and zucchini are the stars here. In fact, skip the greens, grab a paddle, and just shovel the salad into your mouth.

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A perfect, healthy, irresistible meal for one. 🙂

Tomato Tart

It’s such a dreary day outside – rainy and freezing. I wanted to make something for dinner that made me feel all warm inside, but I couldn’t decide between soup or macaroni and cheese. So while I debated, I made a quick appetizer. This tart is gorgeous; the perfect dish to bring a little beauty to a somber day.

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I, of course, forgot to purchase puff pastry as the recipe calls for so I had to get a little crafty. Instead of a flaky puff pastry crust, I made a French tart crust. Which sounds amazing, but upon puff pastry research I found the recipes to be very, very different. Did you know amazing homemade puff pastry takes days to make? That’s why you buy it. To make matters worse, I do not own a tart pan. This stunner was made with a pie plate.

1 sheet of store bought puff pastry, or a random mod – but really, use puff pastry

2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin – any medium tomatoes will work!

Kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard (with chardonnay – love this stuff)

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

1/4 tsp. rosemary

1/4 tsp. thyme

Squeeze of lemon juice and a few zests

1 tbs. olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Preheat to 450 and move a rack to the bottom of the oven.

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Slice the tomatoes up thin, imperfection is acceptable here. Spread them out in a single layer on paper towel to soak up the juices. Pat the tops with a paper towel, too. Sprinkle the slices with kosher salt.

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Pull out your shell, roll it to 1/4 inch thickness (at most!), and press into your pan. Now if you have a tart pan, this will be a seamless process. If you have a pie pan, you will have to refrain from pressing the dough all the way up the side, just under an inch of height. Spread mustard over crust and poke with holes.

Note: My crust looks ridiculous, but don’t hate. It did its job well – transporting tomatoes into my mouth. Your puff pastry will look gorgeous in comparison.

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Place the tomatoes in the shell in a swirl formation. Start from the outside and work your way in, overlapping the slices, and using the smallest tomatoes for the center.

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Sprinkle the tart with the rosemary, pepper, and dried thyme. Squeeze a little lemon juice over top and zest a few zests over top.

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Drizzle the tart with olive oil, you can eyeball this – just don’t overdo it!

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Grate some parm over the whole tart and pop in the oven for 25 minutes.

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Viola! I ate a very large piece.

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By the way, Amanda came over and we made macaroni and cheese together!

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Yum. 🙂

What’s for lunch? Mini Quesadillas!

Well, its that time of year again… meatless Fridays! I haven’t decided what I am giving up for Lent but I have decided that I am going to be on point about veg Fridays. To get Brian on board, I need to incorporate protein. I decided that Fridays will be bean days! I have a pantry stocked with dried beans, waiting for me to experiment with.

In honor of this entrance into beanhood, I am having black bean mini quesadillas for lunch! Adapted this recipe for the Enterprise.

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Cheddar cheese, shredded

Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded

Olive oil

My additional fixin’s:

Grape tomatoes

Sour cream

Cilantro

Black beans, from a can (I have yet to prep my dried beans!)

In a mini skillet, for my mini tortillas, I heated a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil heats, drop in a tortilla. Flip it over a couple times until it begins to brown and bubble.

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Then add the cheese and any other veggies you’d like inside the ‘dilla. I chopped up tomatoes and threw in a few black beans. Don’t over fill! Cheese will spill onto the pan and burned cheese smells awful. <<this obviously happened to me in the process.

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Reduce the heat, I didn’t because the Enterprise does not operate on low, and cover the pan. Check every minute or so until the cheese is melted and keep your eye on the bottom of the tortilla so it doesn’t blacken. A little black adds a nice flavor, a lot of black and it becomes a Charred Mini Quesadilla.

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Once the cheese is all gooey, use a spatch to flip half of the quesadilla over (like an omelette). And slide onto your plate!

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Top with sour cream, a little cilantro, MORE tomatoes, onion if you like it, guac if you have it or are willing to sacrifice an avocado (which I was not)! Go ahead and make three. I ate all of them.

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Ole! 🙂

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