Jalapeno Cheddar Burger with Turkey Bacon and Spicy Ranch Sauce

photo 5 (1)Anyone who knows me understands that I absolutely love spicy food.  I include jalapenos, red pepper flakes, chili peppers, cayenne pepper or any type of spice that will increase the heat of whatever I’m eating every chance I get.  And yes, I use Franks Red, and I literally do put that sh*t on everything.  Last year, after months and months of downing veggie burgers every chance I got, I re-discovered my love for real, 100% beef burgers.  As a child I was a simple burger girl, meaning I wanted a bun, a burger patty, and lots of ketchup. But as I’m growing so is my palette, and the plain old ketchup burger just isn’t working for me anymore.  I love jalapenos on my burgers, especially with cheese.  It cuts the spice so it’s not too overpowering but your burger still has a bite.  So, thanks to my almost preservative free household, I realized the other day that I’d likely have to start making my own burger patties.  I haven’t done this before successfully. I want to make a burger, and when people eat it, they’re like “Wow Kelsey, you rock my freaking socks off.”  I sat and pondered and thought, what do I love on a burger?  And then I thought, how can I keep it real? So the answer to my first question: cheese, bacon, some sort of tasty sauce, spicy jalapenos, onions.  And to my second: homemade patties, grass fed beef, turkey bacon, homemade sauce.  And so my beef burger making adventure began…

The first thing I did was go on an intense search for the perfect recipe (not really, I literally googled “Jalapeno burgers” and then switched it up a bit to make it my own.  I added onion, jalapeno, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, rice bread crumbs (I’m sure any bread crumbs will do) and 1 egg to my 1 lb of beef.  I made seven 4.5 oz burgers.  They were gone in 3 days. My boyfriend loved them so much he had seconds both Friday and Saturday.  I had the last one for lunch on Sunday.  They are, quite frankly, burgers that make you go “Wow, Kelsey, you rock my freaking socks off.” If I do say so myself.  I glazed the burgers with my guy’s favourite barbecue sauce.

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I fried the burgers in a skillet. I longed for a barbecue over the weekend, but unfortunately that would violate the building code in my apartment complex, so I settled on my stove and plan on bringing these babies to camp this winter in hopes that we can see the barbecue before next spring.  I served the burgers with a side of sweet potato fries,  I coated the fries with cornstarch before drizzling with olive oil and my favourite spices, as this helps crisp them up.

For the sweet potato fries….

 1 sweet potato per person
2 tsp cornstarch per large sweet potato
1 tbsp olive oil per large potato
Your favourite seasonings: I use cinnamon and cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
Cut the sweet potatoes into thin fry like shapes.  Coat in cornstarch.  Toss in olive oil and then season.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Try to separate the fries from each other, if they are too close together they will not crisp up, only steam.  Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction – that’s where I nabbed the cornstarch trick!

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For the spicy ranch sauce…

 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeño
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

I got this recipe here.  It made ALOT of spicy ranch dressing (and this is the recipe already halved!) I plan on halving this recipe once more next time I make it, and reducing the amount of lime juice in the sauce.  Otherwise, it was fantastic and added a lot of taste to the burger.

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While the burgers were cooking I fried up some turkey bacon.  I used one strip per burger.  I am a HUGE fan of turkey bacon.  I love chewy bacon, not crispy bacon, or fatty bacon, but chewy bacon, which is why I died and went to heaven when I found turkey bacon.  It’s pretty well always chewy and has virtually no fat.

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For the jalapeño burgers…

 1 lb. of extra lean ground beef
1/4 large onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 tbps. Worschestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 cup rice bread crumbs (or any bread crumbs)
1 egg

Cooking Directions:

1. Mix all ingredients together.  Using your hands is likely the easiest.  I diced the onion and jalapenos in my food processor.

2. Form the beef mixture into 4.5 oz patties. Next time I might make 5 oz. patties.  The patties shrunk quite a bit. Glaze with your fave BBQ sauce, or make your own!

3.  If using a skillet, cook covered on each side for 5 to 6 minutes.  Remove from heat, drain grease from the skillet, and then place back in skillet.  Place a slice of cheese on each burger patty  and continue to cook (covered) until cheese is melted.  Top with cooked bacon.

4. Garnish the burger with your favourite toppings and then covered with the spicy ranch sauce.  Serve on a whole wheat bun.

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No doesn’t that just look like the best burger you ever saw?  I serve my sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup (i.e., ketchup mixed with hot sauce…yummy). I am very happy with my first burger making experience!  Happy Baking!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

photo 1I’ve been trying to explore more daytime meal options that involve real, healthy food, and are relatively forgiving when it come to calories.  One thing I have always loved is hummus. I’m not really sure why, but I could pretty well eat it on everything and with anything. I’ll be honest…there has been more than one occasion that I’ve eating it straight from the plastic super market container that it came in…with a spoon.  Which I have to say I’m a little ashamed of.  Not because I ate an entire container of hummus in one sitting, but because I bought a prepacked version of hummus from a grocery store when it’s so easy to make yourself.  What was I thinking? I can surly go buy a small container at the store (usually around $4.00) OR I can make my own, get triple the amount for not much more money, AND it’s preservative free. 100% natural ingredients and made in a preservative free food establishment named “Kelsey’s Kitchen”.

My boyfriend and I have recently discovered how much money we have been wasting on food.  We make too much, don’t save the left overs, don’t freeze anything, constantly pick up groceries throughout the week with little to no budget, and we never make a list.  In the next few days him and I are going to plan out all our meals, set a budget, and try to figure out how to eat real, unprocessed foods on a skinny budget… I’ll let you know how it goes.  I can imagine it might be difficult to eat organic or free run with little money to spend, but we are going to do it dammit! Organic MUST go on sale every now and then, right?  I think proper food storage is super important if you want to stretch your budget out… thankfully I have been reading the 100 Days of Real Food blog and have picked up some pretty good tips for freezing and how long things can last in the fridge. I really don’t think we need to spend $200 a week on groceries for 2 people.

So. Back to the hummus. I thought to myself, you know, I’m sure it’s not that hard to make hummus.  So I took a little trip to the grocery store, picked up some chickpeas, tahini, garlic, red peppers and lemons, and put my new food processor to use.  I made two different types of hummus.  The first, from 100 Days of real food, can be found here.  It’s good, but I found the tahini extremely over powering.  I couldn’t taste the chickpeas.  And while I know grocery store bough preservative packed hummus is not very great for you, it still tastes good right? I want my hummus to taste as good as the stuff I’m used to buying.  So this one is out on my favourites list.  However, the roasted red pepper hummus recipe I found, from a a nice little site called inspired taste, is fantastic.  You can find the recipe here.  They seem to know their stuff. Their instructions are incredibly detailed, which I love, and they have great pictures to go along with each step.  I’m going to be honest… I didn’t actually follow their directions.  I sort of jumped the gun on this one and just threw everything into my food processor without really reading much into how to make their recipe.  My hummus turned out great, and I am so not complaining about it, but you know… maybe check their process out before skipping all the steps like I did.

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One thing I was excited about is for the first time ever, I was able to successfully locate tahini. I have searched high and low, all over the Asian cuisine and international sections of the grocery store, looking for this paste like substance that has been required for so many recipes! I never thought to look in the peanut butter section…. so just an FYI it is usually in the peanut butter section.  I searched it out in the organic section first and found it there.  It has the consistency of natural peanut butter.  Picture above is the 100 Days of Real Food Hummus.  I topped it with paprika.  I may re-make it but add a few more spices and reduce the amount of tahini used in the recipe.

The Inspired Taste site describes a method to creamier hummus, where you “de-skin” (ew) the chickpeas.  This process took about 10 minutes per can.  I only did this on the traditional 100 Days recipe and didn’t notice much of a difference between the consistency of the traditional and roasted red pepper hummus.

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I was very excited that I was making this recipe 100% from home… meaning that I had to roast my own red peppers.  I’ve never done this before but the process is easy enough.  Simply line a baking sheet with foil and place cored and sliced red peppers on the sheet, skin side up.  I cut mine into fours.  Set your oven to broil, and place oven rack approximately 5 inches from the broiler.  Broil for about 10 minutes or until the skins are charred.  Place the charred peppers into a resealable bag or bowl coverd in plastic wrap for 10 – 15 minutes.  This will help the peppers steam and will make removing the skin much easier.  Remove the skin from the peppers and discard.

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I think from now on I will always make my own roasted red peppers.  It takes no time and is made right at home so I know that there are no additives sneaking their way into my food.  Roasted red peppers are great in stuffed chicken, sauces, and even soups.  So never buy it in a jar again.

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Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

hummus can be refrigerated in an air tight container for up to one week.  you may also freeze it.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole red bell peppers
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) tahini (*I used only 1/8 of a cup)
  • Half of a large garlic clove, minced (*I used a whole garlic glove)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Preparation Instructions:

1. Prepare peppers for roasting.  Core and remove seeds.  Cut into fours and lay skin side up on a foil lined baking sheet.  Broil for approximately 10 minutes or until skins have charred.  Place peppers in a resealable bag or plastic wrap covered bowl for 10 – 15 minutes in order to allow for easy skin removal.  Remove charred skins and discard.

2. Add all ingredients into food processor other than the peppers a blend until smooth.  Again see here for details on a different process.

3. Add red peppers (coarsely chopped) into the processor and blend until no chunks are left.  If hummus is thick, slowly ass 1 – 3 tbsp of water and blend until desired consistency is reached.  You may save a few of the roasted peppers for garnishing.

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Pictured above is today’s lunch! A whole wheat pita (only 5 ingredients!) stuffed with sliced cucumbers, and a side of sliced carrots and green peppers with my homemade roasted red pepper hummus. Yummy!  For those of you who are wondering where the protein is, here is my response: click.

On another note…fall is only a few days away… time to pull out the pumpkin flavoured recipes? I think so.

Healthy Banana Pancakes

photo 1People – Love your food.  Too often are we apologizing for loving to eat.  Lately I’ve realized how sick I am of feeling guilty for loving food.  It drives me bonkers! I love food.  I am a foodie. And proud of it! Here’s a fun quote I found in a book I started reading about eating real food:

We forget that, historically, people have eaten for a great many reasons other than biological necessity. Food is also about pleasure, about community, about family and spirituality, about our relationship to the natural world, and about expressing our identity.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

A great read – I recommend it.  Now on to the newest real food recipe I discovered over the weekend. Despite my ever changing food routine, one thing has remained consistent through everything: Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because some of my favourite food memories have been of Sunday morning brunch.  My dad would cook up a whole slew of bacon, accompanied with Cavendish potatoes, fried in oil, paprika, parsley and garlic.  Those were my favourite.  Still are actually, although I always use fresh potatoes in replacement of the frozen bagged potatoes.  Still, there was something about those tiny cube shaped potatoes that still make my mouth water.  I would drown them in Ketchup and could probably eat them by the truckload.  Often my weekend breakfasts include fried potatoes and turkey bacon, with a side of toast and fruit.  I’ve never been an egg person.  During the week I go more towards fruit and toast, oatmeal, sometimes cottage cheese, and every now and then a protein shake.  Although lately with my recent move towards real food and no processed foods, I tend to skip the protein powder.

Over this past weekend I tried a new weekend breakfast that totally blew my mind.  I made pancakes.  I was never a huge pancake lover as a kid.  I didn’t really get what the fuss was about.  Although toss me a waffle and my heart would melt.  One thing I forgot to mention – I LOVE peanut butter and bananas.  Separately they are amazing, but together? Wow.  So I usually jump at any change to add either peanut butter, banana, or both to my breakfast.  So when a friend gave me a simple, real ingredient pancake recipe I just had to make it my own – by adding bananas.  This recipe is simple.  It’s another blender recipe. For simplicity’s sake: Add all the ingredients into a blender.  Blend. Pan fry. Eat. Done. THAT simple.  Well, you’d think so wouldn’t you.  The pan fry part was the challenge for me.  The batter is very thin, so creating pancake like shapes is difficult.  The pancakes can get too big and it’s tough to flip them.  But no matter.  They turned out fantastically (the second time).

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I made sure to use 100% Pure Maple Syrup – no added sugars or unnecessary preservatives.  You can really notice the difference in taste when using the real stuff in comparison to what you get with the processed stuff.  These pancakes are quite good, and will run you about 570 calories for the entire meal, including the Maple Syrup.  A little high, but I usually have brunch relatively late so I just sorta watch my calorie intake for the rest of the day.

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So if I’m having nothing else except these pancakes, I will make 2 large pancakes for myself, otherwise I’ll offer one up to my boyfriend – it feels like a lot of food.  I’ve actually yet to finish my entire plate.

Healthy Banana Pancakes

makes 2 large pancakes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 medium banana
  • olive oil or butter for cooking
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, diced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries or blackberries
  • 100% Pure Maple Syrup

Cooking Instructions

  1. Combine rolled oats, milk, egg whites, honey, baking powder and banana in a blender.  Blend on high until combines, scapping down sides if necessary.
  2. In a skillet on medium heat, heat oil or butter.  Once the oil is hot, take 1 cup serving of the pancake batter and add it to the center of the pan.  Adding it to the center will stop the very thin batter from pooling to one side.
  3. In the mean time, add diced strawberries and blackberries into a skillet and top with maple syrup.  Cook on medium until berries are tender and have created a juice.  I usually leave them in there until the pancakes are done, but will switch them to low after about 5 minutes.
  4. Once the pancake has become somewhat solid on the top, you can flip it.  Be very careful, and try to use a large spatula.  Once the pancake is flipped, continue to cook until cooked through the middle and brown on both sides.  It’s best to cook one pancake at a time, so once the pancake is done, I usually sit it in the oven on low heat until the second one has cooked.
  5. Once pancakes are done, add the berry mixture on top and drizzle with maple syrup.

The first time I made these pancakes I made the mistake of putting the entire batter in the pan… it was impossible to flip and ended up being a big mushy mess.  Speaking of mush.  Last week I mentioned homemade veggie burgers….ya they did not turn out. They were 100% mush. I’m trying a different approach when I re-attempt them this weekend so I will keep you posted.  Happy Baking!