Lamb Burgers with Cucumber and Mint

Lamb Burgers
Burgers are a favorite dinner item in this house. I can put nearly anything on a burger and my three year old will eat it. She may pick it off after a bite or two, but it’s almost like the word “burger” justifies just about anything included. I couldn’t quite sell her on having the tangy mint and cilantro lime yogurt on top, but I figure as long as she is willing to try something that looks like this, we are doing good.

I don’t really cook with lamb all that often. It’s not on my carnivore radar, but it really is deeply flavorful and lean at the same time. Because of it’s low fat percentage, I added an egg to the meat mixture, kind of reminiscent of a meatball recipe. We topped the burgers with cool slices of cucumber, lots of chopped mint and cilantro and the zesty yogurt sauce and called it a success. I think bits of feta incorporated into the patties would’ve been even better – there’s always room for creativity and error in creating a burger and that’s why it’s one of the most enjoyable dinners to make around here. Not to mention everyone can top them in their own way, so a particular palette doesn’t get ridiculed.

lamb burgers with mint, sour cream and cucumber

Lamb Burgers with Cucumber and Mint

1 pound ground lamb
1/2 sweet onion, diced fine (about 1/2 cup)
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped cilantro and mint, divided
1/2 cup full fat plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cucumber, sliced
buttered onion rolls

In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, onion, egg and half the cilantro and mint. Add a teaspoon of salt and pepper and mix well to combine. Form into somewhat loose patties and cook on a buttered grill or griddle about 2 minutes per side and an instant read thermometer reads at least 160F.

Combine the yogurt, lime juice and other half of the cilantro and mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on top of burgers with sliced cucumbers on buttered onion rolls.

 

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Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup - spin on the traditional Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup
I placed Olive’s bowl at the table first so it would have time to cool down while I got mine and Matt’s ready. I started hearing Olive saying, “Mmm!” and “This is so good and juicy, Mama” and at first I assumed she was putting on another one-act play because Olive hasn’t been too enthusiastic about meals, lately.  Certainly not enthusiastic enough to compliment the food.  Usually, it seems as if she just merely tolerates food until she can get down and play again.  And as I thought back while she was inhaling this soup, I remembered the last time she was this enthusiastic about food, it had very similar ingredients in a potato curry Matt made.  She is apparently our Asian flavor lover.  And I love that.  I love that she won’t bat an eye at cilantro, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and lemongrass.  She will certainly protest if I try to get her to eat…lettuce, or something else benign like that.  But big, bold flavors are her bag (as long as it’s not SPICY!) And the occasional chorus of “mmm” and “this is good, Mama,” is so few and far between that I make mental note of the dishes that inspire that response in her.  I never thought I’d care so much about someone’s opinion of food until I had a child.  But sharing food and sharing a JOY of food is precious and even more so when that person is family.

We’ve done a few spins on classic dishes in the past and have loved the results. We’ve done biscuits and curry “gravy” and a green chili corn chowder and loved the fusion of classic American dishes and flavors from other cultures.  I made up a spin on the classic Campbell’s Chicken and Rice you may have grown up eating, but instead, included all the flavors we love from Asian cultures.  It was super comforting and would be fantastic for a cold, rainy day like we’re having today.  I didn’t have coconut milk, but I think it would be a fantastic addition in place of the heavy cream.  This soup is built with lots and lots of taste-testing along the way.  Every soup should be, I think.  So I’m giving approximate ingredient amounts, but I encourage you to taste and add things you love for yourself.  We added Sriracha (of course) and lots and lots of cilantro as a garnish and some tasty frozen Vietnamese egg rolls for a side and enjoyed the heck out of this dish.  I hope you do, too!  Happy Monday.

Chinese Chicken and Rice

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

2 cups shredded chicken from two chicken breasts or 4 chicken legs/thighs (bone in)
2 kaffir lime leaves
A two inch piece of peeled ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, split
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
salt to taste
1 cup jasmine rice
1 carrot, diced small

In a large stock pot, add the (raw) chicken (bone-in) and cover with water till it’s submerged by abut 2 inches. Add the kaffir lime leaves (can be found at most chinese markets in the freezer or fridge section – this isn’t essential but it gives the soup that thing that I can’t describe but it’s wonderful), ginger, lemongrass, onion and garlic and bring the water to a boil.  Let the chicken boil until the internal temp registers at least 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.  Remove the chicken, let it cool, and pull off all the meat.  Return the bones to the pot and let it continue to boil while you cook the rice.

In a small saucepan, add 1 3/4 cups water, a tablespoon of olive oil, the diced carrot and a pinch of salt and the cup of rice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stir and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Remove the chicken bones, the lemongrass and onion and discard.  Return the shredded meat to the pot.  Add the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and salt to the broth until it tastes…right. 🙂 This is the point where you need to trust your palate. You may like it with more vinegar or more sugar, more fish sauce, whatever.  I tasted and adjusted and then added the heavy cream.

Spoon rice into bowls and ladle the chicken soup on top.  Garnish with LOTS of cilantro and serve!

Chicken Tikka Masandwiches

Chicken Tikka Sandwich with Cucumbers
I made one of our favorite Indian dishes the other day from a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine and it turned out great!  We had a ton of leftovers and so the next day, I decided to turn them into these amazing little sub sandwiches.  With tons of cilantro, crunchy cucumber and cold sour cream to offset the spicy chicken, it became the perfect sandwich.  I highly recommend doing this original recipe and then adapting it into these tasty little sandwiches.  It would also make an amazing wrap with black beans and rice!

Chicken Tikka Sandwich Shredded Chicken Tikka Sandwich

Chicken Tikka Masala (sandwiches)

1-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 and I used bone-in and the bones came right out – no problem)
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste and spices and stir and taste for seasoning.  Place the chicken thighs over the tomato mixture and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4.  Shred the chicken and remove bones (if you used bone-in).  Stir in the heavy cream and let it keep cooking for about 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.  Serve over rice with lots of cilantro, or make these sandwiches by splitting hoagie rolls down the center and layering the chicken with sour cream and topping with fresh sliced cucumber and cilantro.  And garnish with lots of sriracha sauce for extra spice!

Crunchy Coconut Crusted Fish Tacos with Sriracha Mayo

crunchy coconut fish tacos with sirracha mayo
This was a fabulous meal last night.  I love the combination of coconut shrimp, but had no shrimp on hand and so I did the same crust on cut up fillets of tilapia and it worked perfectly.  We made our quick, crunchy cabbage slaw and srirracha mayo and it was the perfect combination: crunchy, sweet, spicy and satisfying! I did a different version of this with my corn slaw recipe, but the addition of the coconut has made it my new favorite! And Olive ate hers deconstructed (who cares) and gave the fish her “more, please” seal of approval.

Mealtimes around here have become more routine.  I don’t have as much time to plan out weekly menus or to be creative with new riffs on old classics.  I suppose you could say I’m just keeping us alive!  But I do make an effort to offer variety and color and make most meals, although there’s the very necessary trip to Torchy’s about once a week 🙂 I’ve learned to give myself a break from the demands of perfection (a struggle of mine) since this sweet baby came along in November.  I think with every child you have, you get one step further away from the possibility of having all your ducks in a constant, shiny row.  And I am kinda digging it.  I think everyone feels a little bit happier when I don’t consider frozen chicken nuggets to be some sort of personal failure.  😉

coconut fish tacos

Crunchy Coconut Crusted Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Sriracha Mayo

For the Fish:
3 Tilapia (or other white fish) fillets
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/3 cup flour

For the Slaw:
2 cups chopped purple cabbage
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
2 carrots, shredded
1/4 cup cilantro
1/3 cup mayo
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the fish into 1/2 inch strips and season with salt and pepper.  Set up three bowls: the first with flour, the second with the two beaten eggs and the third with the coconut/panko combination.  Dredge each piece of fish in flour, then egg, then coconut/panko and set on a paper towel to rest while you do the remaining pieces.  Heat up olive or coconut oil in a pan and fry the fish till they are golden on each side and place on a paper towel or baking rack to drain.  Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you get the rest of dinner prepared.

For the slaw: combine all the ingredients and adjust seasoning as you like.  More vinegar, salt or pepper.  For the Sriracha mayo, just add sriracha to mayo.  Duh.  Not much to it, but it’s amazing with these tacos.  I did about a 1/4 cup to 1 TBS ratio for ours.  Adjust based on your desired level of spiciness!  To serve, start with a good amount of the mayo on a tortilla, add two fish sticks and plenty of slaw.  Enjoy!