Month: March 2014

meatless monday: mushroom kale burgers with seasoned oven fries


It’s back!  Meatless Monday has been on hiatus for most of the past school year because my Monday nights have been occupied by a year-long, once per week class as I work toward my gifted certification.  Since I’m on Spring Break this week (can I get a what what?), I decided to bring it back as a teaser for its fabulous return in mid-May.  Have you missed it?

For my first day of spring break, I woke up around 8 (sleeping in for a teacher), drank coffee and watched the Today Show, went to the grocery store, met my friend Lauren at Pure Barre, then ate popcorn for lunch as we watched Divergent at the movie theater.  I’d definitely call it a success.

I also had some time to peruse Pinterest and found a few different cool recipes for a mushroom kale burger.  The word “burger” is a misnomer here, but the word “patty” just sounds so…unappetizing?  Anyway, if you’re into black bean burgers or other veggie burgers, this is definitely a winner.  Every ingredient is intentional and natural, and it packs a huge nutritional punch.

The oven fries were a personal challenge.  I’m usually averse to baked fries because they just make me wish I had fried fries, but I am now a believer!  These fries are a Skinnytaste recipe, so I should have known they’d be great; Gina never gets it wrong.  I did change a couple of things though, as you’ll see below in the recipe.

Mushroom Kale Burgers

Serves 4

1 bunch kale

1 tsp. Kosher salt

2 portobello caps, stems and gills removed, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tomato

1 Tbsp. almond butter

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp. canola oil

Rinse the kale with cold water, then remove stems from kale leaves and give the kale a rough chop into mini bite-size pieces.  Place the kale in a large mixing bowl, sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, then massage the kale leaves with the salt (only about 30 seconds).  At first, you’ll think that this is way too much kale for four burgers, but you’ll see that it wilts slightly with the salt and folds in nicely with the other ingredients.  Quarter the tomato, remove the seeds, and place the quartered pieces in a food processor.  Add the mushrooms, almond butter, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper, then pulse until smooth.  Add the flour and pulse again until smooth.  Fold the mushroom mixture into the kale in the large mixing bowl, then fold in the breadcrumbs.  Divide the mixture into four even amounts and, with you hands, form each amount into a patty shape.  Lightly sprinkle both sides with flour.  Heat the oil in a large, flat-bottomed pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, place the burgers in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side.  Serve on a bun with any toppings you like–here, I used goat cheese, pea shoots, basil, and some sriracha mayo.

Seasoned Oven Fries

Adapted from Skinnytaste

Serves 2

2 medium potatoes

2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. herbs de provence

zest of 1 lime; reserve the juice for the end

1/4 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Slice the potatoes lengthwise in 1/4-inch slices, then slice each slice vertically every 1/4-inch.  Place the raw fries in a colander over a mixing bowl and sprinkle the 2 tsp. salt evenly; let this sit for about 30 minutes.  This allows for some of the moisture from the potatoes to release, allowing for a crispier fry.  While the fries are dehydrating a bit, add all of the spices together in a small bowl and mix to combine.  When the 30 minutes are up, Combine the fries and olive oil in a mixing bowl, then add the spice mixture and toss to combine evenly.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, then place the fries in a single layer.  Bake for about 25 minutes, turning the fries at the halfway mark.  When they are ready to eat, squeeze the lime juice over the fries for a kick.

I served these with sriracha mayo, which is just 1 part sriracha to 3 parts mayo (so 1 tsp. sriracha for every Tbsp. of mayo).

wildcard wednesday: shiitake, brussels, and carrot stuffed shells + salad with avocado and cumin viniagrette

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So, I’m still technically following the Wild Card Wednesday rule (use the theme or ingredient for the month), but the avocado was not center stage tonight.  I’m still on a high from our CSA delivery, and I couldn’t wait to use some more of those beautiful ingredients (shoutout again to my newest obsession, The Dirt Farmer CSA).  I thought about using some of these ingredients on a pizza or in a casserole bake, but then I had a throwback moment to one of my mom’s go-to weeknight suppers: stuffed shells.  I remember her boiling the pasta shells, then lining the cooked pieces on a paper towel on the counter while she mixed the filling and delicately placed a spoonful into each one.  She usually used ricotta and mozzarella for the filling and sometimes included some ground meat or sausage.   I decided to use some quick-sauteed veggies in my version mixed with part-skim ricotta and basil, and I think it turned out great!

The salad features some locally grown salad greens, a few edible flowers (a CSA throw-in this week and a total luxury), some avocado, a few pistachios, and the belle of the ball: cumin vinaigrette.  You might think that cumin only belongs in Mexican and Indian food, but add it to some lemon juice, zest, and some olive oil and you have a bright, complex flavor that works in fantastic contrast to the creamy avocado and crunchy pistachio.  This vinaigrette would be great on many salads and would also work nicely drizzled over a fatty fish like salmon or a lean skirt steak.  It’s so easy, and that you have to try it!  Don’t be afraid to make your own salad dressings.  If you have some olive oil, a small mason jar, and an imagination, the possibilities are endless.  Plus, a homemade dressing will always taste better than something out of a squeeze bottle.

Shiitake, Brussels, and Carrot Stuffed Shells

Serves 2 with leftovers

12 large pasta shells

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

8 to 10 brussels sprouts

1 large carrot (or about 10 very tiny carrots like the ones I received in my CSA box)

1 cup shiitake mushrooms

1 Tbsp. butter

28 oz. crushed tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for a top off at the end

2 Tbsp. fresh basil cut in ribbons, separated into two 1-Tbsp. piles

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.  Cook the pasta according to package directions, remove from boiling water, then set aside on a paper towel to cool.  While the water is boiling and pasta is cooking, work on prepping the vegetables: Thinly slice the brussels sprouts by placing each one stem side up, then thinly slicing the sprout on all four sides (you’ll be left with the dense core to throw out).  Peel the carrots into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler.  Add the shiitake mushrooms to the chopped brussels and carrots.  Heat a medium frying pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter, then add the veggies with 1 tsp. salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Gently toss the veggies in the warm butter, then continue to stir every 30 seconds or so until the veggies cook through a bit (about three minutes) but do not lose all of their crunch.  Set aside to cool.  While the veggies are cooling, heat the crushed tomatoes in a small saucepan over medium heat with the minced garlic and 1 tsp. salt.  When the veggies are warm but not longer hot, add the ricotta, parmesan, and 1 Tbsp. of the basil, then stir to combine.  Using a small baking dish, add about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce to the bottom of the dish.  Next, fill each pasta shell with about 1/4 cup of the ricotta-veggie mixture and line the baking dish with the stuffed shells.  When all of the shells are filled and in the dish, cover the shells with the remaining sauce, then bake for 20 minutes.  When the dish is finished baking, add a few extra tablespoons of grated parmesan and the remaining basil for a garnish.

Cumin Viniagrette

for 2, but you could easily double or triple the ingredients to serve a larger party

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

juice and zest of one lemon

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Shake or whisk the ingredients together, then add to a salad.  Here, I drizzled it over some salad greens, edible flowers, avocado, and pistachios.

lunchbox life: egg salad on whole grain bread


Greetings, friends!  This week’s lunches are inspired by my newest thrill: our subscription to The Dirt Farmer CSA.  A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a farm share group which supports local farmers and subscribe to a weekly or bi-monthly box of locally grown produce, meat, and dairy.  This week’s bounty included eggs, brussels sprouts, salad mix, long leaf spinach, carrots, edible flowers, butter, and a loaf of whole grain bread.  There’s something so exciting and magical about working with ingredients that were grown within an hour of your doorstep, and I’m really pumped about these new Saturday deliveries!

I’ve tweaked my base recipe for egg salad here, adding a little bit of crispy bacon and some snippets of green onion.  Like I do with many mayonnaise-based salads, I’ve substituted 0% plain Greek yogurt.  A note on this: in my humble opinion, substitutions only work if you sub a high fat and calorie real ingredient for a lower fat and calorie real ingredient.  Fake ingredients just make food taste bad, and you’ll still miss the real thing.  I’ve sung Greek yogurt’s praises before on the blog, but let me give you a quick recap: Plain Greek yogurt has a texture similar to sour cream, is neither salty nor sweet, and is high in protein.  When you season it right, you’ll never miss the mayo.  I’m not against mayo as a condiment, but it’s doing you no favors as the star ingredient in a recipe.

I sliced up the whole grain bread that smelled absolutely delicious and divvied it up between my five containers.  I also pulled apart the pieces of the long leaf spinach and created a bed of greens for each of the servings of the egg salad.  The red grapes came from the grocery store. 🙂

Egg Salad with Bacon and Green Onion

1 dozen eggs, hard boiled and peeled

4 pieces of bacon, fried crisp and drained of fat

1 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1 Tbsp. hot sauce (optional)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

four green onions, finely chopped

Chop or dice the boiled eggs and place in a large mixing bowl.  Crumble the crispy bacon with your hands into the mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, combine the yogurt, mustard, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and green onions.  Pour this dressing over the egg and bacon mixture, then stir to combine.  Refrigerate for four hours or overnight and enjoy on a sandwich, pita, or with salad greens.


lunchbox life: thai rice noodle salad


Another weekend comes to a close, and another week is upon us.  We just found out that our Mercer Bears will face Duke in the NCAA Basketball tournament this Friday, so keep your fingers crossed for a Cinderella story win!

This lunchbox life is similar to the lightened-up pad thai that I posted a few weeks go, but this time I’ve used chicken instead of shrimp and the dish is chilled instead of hot.  Have you ever had a noodle salad at an Asian restaurant?  There are many variations on this theme–sometimes they use sesame oil, sometimes it’s cream-based, but there are usually chilled rice noodles swimming in some sort of tasty goodness.  This dish is bathed in a peanut dressing and is filled out by hearty ribbons of savoy cabbage and crispy sugar snap peas.

And yes–technically this is two pasta salads in a row!  Can you blame me?  Spring is upon us.  In fact, the first official day of spring is Thursday, March 20–yay!

This would be a great simple supper or lunch for company, too!

Thai Noodle Salad

4 oz. rice noodles

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs

1 Tbsp. canola oil

2 garlic cloves, grated

1 tsp. grated ginger

1 small head of savoy cabbage

8 oz. sugar snap peas

for the dressing:

2 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

juice of two limes

2 Tbsp. water

Prepare noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water, and set aside.  Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.  Heat the canola oil, grated garlic, and grated ginger over medium-high heat and add the chicken.  Cook for about 4 minutes on each side, then remove the chicken from the oil and let cool on a paper towel-lined plate.

Rough chop the savoy cabbage and place in a large bowl, then add the sugar snap peas, noodles, and chicken.  Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing, then pour the dressing over the salad mixture and, using tongs, mix the salad to combine, then chill overnight or for at least four hours.


wild card wednesday: spicy shrimp, avocado, and goat cheese sandwich on ciabatta


Welcome back to Wild Card Wednesday!  This month’s focus is a special ingredient: avocado.  Now that the weather is warming up, it’s the perfect time to integrate some of that creamy delicious green goodness into your supper plans.

The spicy sauce in which the shrimp is tossed is nicely cooled off by the goat cheese and avocado.  If you’re a vegetarian, you could omit the shrimp but use the spicy sauce as a spread and still have a delectable sandwich, especially if you added some sprouts and/or a tomato slice!

The spicy shrimp sauce is deceivingly light.  Instead of using sour cream or mayonnaise, I pulled out my handy-dandy 0% plain Greek yogurt that not only cuts down on calories and fat, but also adds protein and has the same consistency.  I tossed in some fresh lemon juice, salt, and Sriracha sauce, and voila!  A full-bodied sauce that’s totally good for you.

You could use and kind of bread here, or even make it a wrap, but I saw a nice loaf of ciabatta at the Fresh Market that called my name in the store, so that’s what I chose.  Be creative–this combination of ingredients was great!

Spicy Shrimp, Avocado, and Goat Cheese Sandwich on Ciabatta

for 2

16 shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 Tbsp. canola oil

2 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled

6 leaves of Bibb lettuce

1 avocado, cubed

1 loaf of ciabatta, halved and sliced lengthwise

1 cup 0% Greek yogurt, plain

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

Place the ciabatta in the oven at 400 F for 10 minutes, then take out and let it cool.

Heat the canola oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat.  Season the shrimp with 1/4 tsp. salt, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkle of pepper.  Add the shrimp to the oil and cook for about 1 minute on each side.  Spoon the shrimp out of the oil and place in a small bowl lined with a paper towel; set aside.

Add the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Sriracha, and 1/4 tsp. salt to a small bowl and mix to combine.  When the shrimp cools, remove the paper towel from the bowl.  Drizzle the shrimp with about 3 Tbsp. of the yogurt sauce and toss to coat the shrimp.

Place the tops and bottoms of the ciabatta on a cutting board or plate, cut side up.  Spread about 1/2 Tbsp. of the yogurt sauce on each slice of bread.  On each of the bottoms, place 3 leaves of lettuce, then 8 shrimp, then 1 oz. goat cheese, then 1/2 cubed avocado.  Place the tops of the bread on the top of the sandwich, cut in half diagonally, and you have a sandwich worth telling people about!


tasty tuesday: bourbon infused meatloaf sandwiches



Man, it has been awhile since I’ve had time to make a proper meal in the Bungalow Kitchen. I’m sorry y’all, but February was full and the first week of March was manic. Here’s to hoping that we can fill the pages here in the next few weeks!

I’ve been dreaming about making things from Edward Lee’s Smoke and Pickles since we got it back around Christmas. I’ve attempted a couple of items previously, but this one sandwich stuck out to me as something that I just had to have. After all, it had Bourbon and Bacon and it was meatloaf and an egg and OMG ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE GOOD AND HOLY. It did not disappoint.

Eddy Lee

As is my practice, I encourage you to check out Lee’s book and since he has not shared the recipe online, I will not post it here. I amended his actual recipe to not include coca-cola, but I substituted soy sauce and molasses instead. I can’t imagine too much of a difference if the soda had been used, though. Just know that this recipe produced a very moist meatloaf that pulled apart easily. Add more breadcrumbs if you want a more substantial loaf. I would recommend adding a little more bourbon and garlic and adding some herbs to the loaf and the gravy.

The glaze that Lee recommends is perfect for any meatloaf (a simple mix of ketchup, soy sauce, and brown sugar) and provides a nice sweet layer to the dish. It crusts on the outside. The egg, as it often does, ties the dish together. Without the ripeness of summer, the tomato is optional, I hope to fire up this dish again with some in season tomatoes. I can only imagine right now.

I added arugula to the top to add a little peppery kick and because you should always have some green on your plate, even when making a meatloaf sandwich that is savory and sweet and amazing.

You should serve this with a glass of bourbon, because the dish has bourbon, and food tastes great with bourbon, and life is better with Bourbon. Bourbon.

Also, for those keeping count, this dish has beef, bourbon, and bacon. 3 Bs that are no problem at all.


lunchbox life: basil-pistachio pesto pasta salad


…say that five times fast!  I am really looking forward to enjoying this all week.  We have had the most gorgeous weekend in Macon–mid-60s, bright blue sky, and everyone is in a wonderful mood.  It’s amazing to see what some sun can do for our attitudes, am I right?  Warmer weather is great for a myriad of reasons, but I’ll add one more: pasta salad.  Oh yes.  I have many variations of pasta salad in my back pocket, but this is a new one that I’m very excited to share with you.

First of all, this isn’t your mama’s mayonnaise-y pasta salad (although that can be great, too).  This pasta salad is held together by some easy-to-make homemade pesto and is lightened up by adding volume with veggies instead of extra pasta.  It’s also a beauty full of my favorite color: green!

There are many ways you could vary this dish to fit your tastes.  You could definitely add chopped chicken breast or shrimp for some protein, sub your favorite veggies for the ones I’ve used, or add in some grape tomatoes or pine nuts.  This would be a great side dish to take to a potluck because it would travel well, looks a little fancy, and will offer the guests something green amongst the other goodies.

Basil-Pistachio Pesto Pasta Salad

For the pesto:

5 garlic cloves, skin removed

1.5 oz. basil leaves

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pistachios, shells removed

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Place all of the above ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor; pulse to combine.  When the ingredients are evenly shredded, turn the processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil.  Set aside.

for the rest

8 oz. whole wheat fusilli (spirals)

1 lb. asparagus, woodsy stems removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced then cut into half-moons

3 cups arugula (you could sub spinach here if you like)

1/2 cup pesto (above recipe OR store-bought)

Prepare pasta according to box directions.  Drain pasta and rinse with cold water; set aside.  Place the cut asparagus and zucchini in a medium pot, cover with water, then bring to a quick boil.  As soon as the water is boiling, turn off the heat, drain the water, and rinse the veggies in cold water.  In a large mixing bowl, add the pasta, veggies, arugula, and pesto.  Mix to combine and refrigerate.