Bacon & Blue Burger with Sweet Potato Buns

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You may need to wipe up that drool on your face…

Ok, now you can finish reading about how to make this AMAZING burger! Not to toot my own horn, but one of the best burgers I’ve ever made! This would even be good without the blue cheese, if you’re not into stinky cheese.

You may be asking yourself, why does she keep posting food with bacon and blue cheese? Let’s just say I got a generous amount of Iowa bacon (the best) and Maytag blue cheese from my mother in law and went all out! It’s not every day when you can have these brands at your disposal, unless you live near Grinnell, Iowa. So I may have gained a few lbs this week, but it’s been worth it!!

I wanted to stick to my Paleo diet as much as I could (hence the cheese part) and I saw on Pinterest some people making their buns out of sweet potatoes. Genius! Like I said in my previous post, I love anything sweet and savory, and this is it to a T! I actually thought it tasted better than a regular bun, but I could eat sweet potatoes everyday so I am slightly biased. I will say it’s even messier with the sweet potato buns, but every good burger needs about 20 napkins along side it!

A couple of facts to make this burger taste the best:
1.When picking out your sweet potatoes, make sure they are thick and round enough for a nicely sized “bun”.
2. When buying your meat, get 80/20 ground beef. I prefer organic and grass fed, so the only option I had was 85/15, which was still good. For meals like tacos or casseroles you should buy lean ground beef, but for burgers, 80/20 is best. You need that fat to give it the good juicy flavor you want… trust me!

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To start, preheat your oven to 425°. Take your sweet potato and peel it, then slice to the thickest, most round part of the potato. Take a small plate and pour in some olive oil and salt and pepper. Rub both sides of the potato with the olive oil until evenly coated, then place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven, turning once halfway through.

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You want to make sure they’re cooked in the middle and crispy brown on the outsides. Mine look a little burnt in the pictures, but they’re not, they are perfectly roasted!

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Take a large bowl and add your meat, seasonings, Worcestershire, Sriracha (trust me), and blue cheese. The best way to mix burgers and meatballs is with your hands, don’t be afraid to get in there! Once everything is mixed evenly, form into patties. When I make burgers, I don’t skimp on size, so mine were about a ½lb. each.

Since I am home while my husband is deployed, I don’t have all of my awesome kitchenware so I had to settle for a cast iron skillet. If you have a grill or grill pan, I would recommend that. If you have a skillet like me, spray with some olive oil PAM and turn on medium high heat. Wait a few minutes and make sure the pan is nice and hot before placing your meat down. For medium burgers cook on each side for 5 minutes flipping only once (this keeps all of the juices in). Depending on your stove and kitchen appliances, cooking times can vary.

If you have bacon already made from a few days before (#fatgirlproblems) take that out and throw it in the pan for a few minutes to get it crispy and hot again. If not, you better make yourself some bacon! Place on a paper towel to soak up excess grease, I also did this with my burgers (this helps the sweet potato buns stay solid, the grease can make them mushy and fall apart).

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Before assembling, take a small bowl and mix together your blue cheese sauce. I didn’t really measure anything, but I can use my own terms. I mixed two spoonfuls of sour cream, two of mayo, about a tbsp worth of crumbled blue cheese and about three long squeezes of sriracha. Just taste it and see how you like it, add more of whatever you think until it tastes just the way you like it!

Warning: You may acquire a major food coma after consuming this burger, but your going to have a very happy belly!

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What you’ll need:
For the buns:

1-2 very round sweet potatoes (I only made 1 burger, so I only needed 1 potato)
olive oil
salt and pepper
For the burgers:
80/20 ground beef ( I prefer organic grass fed) ½lb. per burger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cajun
4 dashes of Worcestershire
a few squeezes of Sriracha (sorry I didn’t really measure!)
a handful of crumbled blue cheese (just judge the ratio of meat to cheese and add more or less based upon that)
Bacon
Greens
For the mayo:
2 spoons of light sour cream
2 spoons of olive oil mayo (Hellmen’s of course, Miracle Whip is just plain sacrilege !! )
1 tbsp or so of blue cheese crumbles
a few squirts of Sriracha, the spicier the better in my opinion, but taste as you go.


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Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche

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Paleo approved breakfast quiche?? Yes please!

Ok, so I lied.

It isn’t technically Paleo because it has blue cheese in it. This girl got herself some Maytag Blue Cheese from her mother in-law and there’s no way she can turn that down!

So, if you want to be all hardcore Paleo about it, you can omit the cheese part, but let’s be honest, what’s a good quiche without cheese?!

To tell you the truth, if you’re looking for a nice crispy bread-like crust, you won’t find it here, but that doesn’t mean this version isn’t good! In fact, I prefer this crust instead of the normal flour filled crusts. I’m a huge sweet potato fan, and to seal the deal with why I liked this quiche so much, I love anything sweet and savory.

Sweet potato + bacon + kale + blue cheese = sweet & savory!

If you like chicken and waffles, or you tend to dip your bacon and sausage in your maple syrup, (seriously, who doesn’t?!) then you will love this dish!

 Preheat your oven to 400°. Let’s start by peeling then slicing your sweet potatoes as evenly as possible, or use a mandolin if you have it. Make sure they are thick enough to make a nice crust. Once sliced, arrange your sweet potatoes in a greased casserole dish as evenly as possible and covering the bottom and sides of the dish. As pictured below.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes or until they are nice and golden brown.

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While the potato is baking, start on your bacon and filling.

I really shouldn’t have to tell you how to cook bacon! Get it nice and crispy.

Sauté your onion and garlic for 5 minutes on medium heat, then add your kale and sauté a few more minutes until it’s soft and wilted.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk your eggs, blue cheese, spices, and water. Add your veggies and crumbled bacon until mixed evenly (careful not to over mix the eggs). Pour the mixture into your dish and gently shake it to evenly distribute the mixture.

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If you love cheese, like me, add a little shredded cheddar on top. (C’mon you know you want to!)

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Turn your oven down to 350°. Bake for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven) or until the cheese is slightly browned and bubbling.

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Let sit for 5-10 minutes (if your taste buds will let you) and serve!

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What you’ll need:
2-3 sweet potatoes (I only used 2 but my dish was rather small)
butter to grease the pan, or PAM

½ lb of bacon, center cut 
½ diced sweet onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ bunch of kale, omit the stems and tear the leaves off into smaller pieces 
¼ wedge of blue cheese, crumbled (Maytag brand if you want to go all out!)
4 eggs
(this is my go to mixture for any scrambled egg type of recipe, it’s the best!)
1 tsp pepper 
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cajun
2 tsp parsley
1 tbsp water (this helps the eggs get fluffy)
I omitted salt since blue cheese and bacon are already very salty on their own!
Shredded cheddar cheese, just enough to cover the top

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Broccoli & Snap Pea Salad

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Looking for a perfect side dish to bring to your family cook out? Having some friends over for some football and BBQ? Whatever the occasion, this side dish pairs perfectly with everything on a hot summer night! I had brought this to my in laws birthday dinner, they grilled some brats, steaks, and salmon and had some corn on the cob and amazing hash brown casserole (I am getting that recipe!). This cool and crisp salad was the perfect accompaniment with the hot off the grill meats and casserole. The dressing is light and doesn’t give you that “I just ate a bowl of fat” feeling most summer salad dishes tend to give you. The best thing about this dish is it takes no time at all to make! The longest time spent making this was cooking the bacon!

I derived this recipe from multiple google search results and combined a few of my favorite ones and added my own touches and substitutions. Feel free to add or remove anything, it’s fun to be creative!

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Let’s get started! Take your favorite pan for cooking bacon (you know you have one) and fry up your bacon. I cooked mine well done, the crispier the better! While your bacon is frying, go ahead and cut up your broccoli. I call the tops “trees”. You want to cut all of the way up the stem to the trees and even cut some of those to make small bite size trees. Place in a large bowl. Cut up your onion into bite size pieces and place in the bowl. Add your craisins, cashews, and snap peas. I broke my snap peas into smaller pieces, most were torn into two to three pieces per pod. Once your bacon is done, place on a plate lined in paper towels to soak up excess grease. Once cooled, crumble that crispy bacon into bacon bits and add to your bowl, you can try to resist eating some, but it won’t work. Mix well, add more cashews or craisins if needed. I am big on ratio’s and I like everything to be evenly placed in the salad, so I ended up adding a little more of each.

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I used a special vinegar that I purchased at a small shop in Sanibel Island, FL. White Jalapeño Lime Balsamic Vinegar… fancy I know. It gave the dressing a little more flavor and turned out really good! You can buy these online and they come in all different flavors and sizes. If you don’t have any special vinegar, just use all white wine vinegar. Take a bowl and mix up your mayo, vinegar and spices. Taste before mixing with your dry ingredients to make sure it’s to your liking. I ended up adding a little more vinegar and salt to my dressing. Once your dressing is acceptable pour in a little at a time and mix evenly. If you want a lighter dressed salad you don’t need to use all of the dressing. I ended up leaving a little bit out.

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Cool in the fridge for a few hours to get a little more flavor! Serve cold and enjoy!

What you’ll need:
For the salad:
1lb bacon, fried extra crispy and crumbled (center cut is good)
4 heads of broccoli, cut into small bite sized trees
2 cups of sugar snap peas, broken into 2-3 pieces per pod
1/2 red onion, diced
1-1½ cups cashews ( I used salted and halved)
1 cup dried cranberries (I added a little more for ratio purposes)
For the dressing:
1 cup olive oil based mayo
3 tbsp white jalapeño lime balsamic vinegar (if you don’t have anything similar, just use white wine vinegar)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

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Pork Tenderloin wrapped in Turkey Bacon

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I wanted to make something that was quick, healthy and tasty! You can never go wrong with pork tenderloin, always juicy and tender! I bought the pre-marinated apple bourbon and it was fantastic! To give it a different taste, I wrapped it in turkey bacon (jennie-o style!). Nothing goes better with pork than mashed potatoes and roasted veggies! I chose asparagus. Because I wanted to make it a quick dinner, I bought instant mashed potatoes, and they turned out really good surprisingly!

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Pretty simple, preheat your oven according to package directions on the pork. Mine was 350°.  Just wrap the pork with the turkey bacon and enclose the bacon with toothpicks. Place in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the bacon is crispy on the outside and the middle is cooked through. While your pork is roasting, take a pan and cover with olive oil, lay your asparagus on the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover a little more with olive oil over top. Roast for 30 minutes or until the asparagus is soft but crispy on the tips. Make sure to turn them around with a spatula every 10 minutes. To make the mashed potatoes, cook according to package directions. And you’re done!! Pretty easy, and healthy!! Great dinner for a night after a long day at work and much healthier than buying some take out!

What you’ll need:

Pork Tenderloin, pre marinated if you’re looking to save time
Jennie-O Turkey Bacon
Bunch of Asparagus, washed and ends snapped
Instant Mashed Potatoes (I used Idahoan)
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Toothpicks

Creole Shrimp Sauté

I love Publix.

Growing up in Cincinnati area we had grocery stores called Kroger and your occasional Winn Dixie. When I moved to Florida and went to Publix for the first time I felt like a kid at Christmas! Their slogan is “Publix, where shopping is a pleasure.” Oh it is definitely a pleasure, the staff is always friendly and helpful and the food always is in good quality!

Every day Publix has someone cooking up a yummy recipe. They also have lots of recipe cards available throughout the store and the best part is that they are free!!  So I found this particular recipe card and couldn’t wait to make it for dinner! If you like shrimp with a little kick and a light olive oil based pasta, you will love this meal!

I did my usual and changed some things up from the original recipe, added asparagus for more of a color pop and also substituted pancetta in place of bacon. But if you aren’t a fan of asparagus, I would also suggest some sweat peas or peppers! You could also try some chorizo instead of bacon or pancetta.

To get started, boil a medium sized pot of water. While your waiting for it to boil, prep some of your ingredients: cut up the pancetta (or bacon or chorizo, etc) into bite-sized pieces. Chop your parsley and tomatoes.

If you are cooking with bacon, cook the bacon on medium high for 5-7 minutes or until it is almost done. If you are using chorizo or pancetta (especially pancetta) you only want to cook it ahead for a few minutes because it cooks faster. Your water should be boiling by now so go ahead and add your pasta and cook according to package directions.

Once the meat is cooked almost all of the way through, sprinkle blackening seasoning (I used my favorite seasoning Cajun!) to the shrimp and add to the skillet stirring and cooking for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, asparagus, wine, garlic, red pepper flakes. Cook for another few minutes or until the shrimp turn pink and the sauce thickens a bit.

Stir in scampi sauce (make sure you shake the bottle well before pouring!) and lemon juice. Cover the pan for a few minutes to let the asparagus steam. I only cooked them enough to be soft in the middle and a little crunchy on the outside. This gave the dish a different consistency that I love: crunchy and soft!

Take your drained pasta and place on a plate or bowl and pour your shrimp creole mixture on top, sprinkle with parsley. Voila!!

Please don’t skimp out on the lemon juice, it was my favorite part of the sauce, it gave it that tangy bite that really helped bring out the natural flavors of the veggies and shrimp! Please enjoy this with a glass of white wine such as Riesling or Pinot Grigio.

What you’ll need:
8oz. Angel Hair Pasta
4 slices of thickly cut pancetta (Get this at your deli)
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 tsp minced garlic, or 2 cloves
3/4 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
12 oz. peeled, deveined shrimp
Creole or Cajun/Blackening seasoning
1 cup of asparagus cut into pieces
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of scampi sauce
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley