Chicken Salad on Challah

This isn’t really a recipe, more of a quick pic to file under This Week’s Eats. But it’s pretty simple, so here it is, in case you want to try it yourself!

Take some pre-cooked or leftover chicken and shred it into bite sized pieces; I used some chicken breasts that had been baked with salt, pepper, garlic, and cumin. In a mixing bowl, stir it up with equal parts mayonnaise and Hal’s Hot Love. Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes (the longer the better, though, up to 24 hours), then spread on freshly sliced challah with a couple of pieces of raw onion and enjoy!

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Mediterranean Turkey Burgers with Dill Yogurt Sauce

Now that summer’s upon us in full force here in Central Texas, I am one happy blogger. One of my favorite things in life is relaxing in or near a turquoise body of water, and I can’t help but daydream about Greek Islands. In 2004, I had the great fortune to be able to spend a week in Corfu, and it was the closest place to heaven I have yet been.

So, for tonight’s dinner, I decided to combine the very American organic ground turkey in my fridge with some of my favorite Mediterranean flavors. I’ve also been on a yogurt and (especially) sour cream kick lately, so this really hit the spot. It’s a pretty straightforward concoction, but the result is, both refreshing and satisfyingly savory, if not as gorgeous as the Ionian islands.

For the sauce
1 cup cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp sour cream (optional)
juice half a lemon
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced (or dash or garlic powder)
1 flat tsp dried dill

In a bowl with an airtight lid, stir all ingredients thoroughly and refrigerate for at least two hours. This will allow the dill time to soften, and for the flavors to blend. This sauce can be used on a pita or sandwich, as a salad dressing, or as a dip for raw vegetables. It also makes an easy and delicious base for potato salad (warm or cold).

For this recipe, a side of raw vegetables for dipping makes a great addition!

This sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator, as well.

For the burgers
1 lb ground turkey*
2 Tbsp pesto of your choice
~ 1/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely shredded and diced
1 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup fine Italian breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp olive oil (if cooking on the stovetop)
2 whole wheat pitas
1 cup feta cheese
lettuce or greens of your choice
fresh Kalamata olives as garnish (optional)

1. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, pesto, onion, herbs, salt and pepper, and breadcrumbs. Stir thoroughly with clean hands until all ingredients are evenly mixed.

2. Form mixture into four balls of equal size and mash out flat on a cutting board or other clean surface, to form patties, each approximately 3/4″ or so thick.

3. These may be cooked in a skillet with a little olive oil (about 5 minutes each side) or, as I frequently do, on the grill. As is usual on a weeknight, I used my George Foreman Grill for these (about 5 or 6 minutes). If cooking outside, factor in time to get your grill prepared before tossing them on.

4. While burgers are cooking, prepare pitas by cutting them in half and warming them slightly in the oven, microwave, or high on the grill. Chop any vegetables, such as carrots and cucumber, that you will be serving alongside your burgers.

5. Assemble burgers by sliding the patties into the pita halves and finishing with a dollop of Dill Yogurt Sauce, feta, and some lettuce. Use any extra sauce for dipping side vegetables. Add olives, if using, and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

* Of course, you could also substitute lamb.

Zakynthos, by Craig Grocott, on Flickr

Spicy Southwestern Buffalo Burgers

I finally made a trip to Sprouts recently (and was impressed), and I was delighted to see ground buffalo there, so I decided to try some. Of course, the only thing I could consider making for my first buffalo dish was a burger!

I have read in several sources that buffalo meat has 70-90% less fat and 50% of the cholesterol of beef. It is also higher in protein, iron, and all the omega and amino acids. Though buffalo is surprisingly non-gamey in flavor, it does have a slightly sweeter, lighter taste, and doesn’t feel as greasy on the palate.

I happened to have an unopened jar of spicy Southwestern mustard, so I decided to go with that as the inspiration for my buffalo burgers. I created a spicy, Southwestern seasoning mix for the meat, and topped my burger with grilled onions, lettuce, mustard, and mayo (sorry, I can’t stand tomatoes unless they’re breaded and fried or cooked in a complex sauce, and I think they ruin sandwiches). The grilled onions are key here.

I also chose spelt buns for these burgers, having never eaten spelt before. Spelt is an ancestor and cousin of modern wheat and, as it is lower in gluten, may be better for some folks with mild gluten sensitivity. It also has a higher nutritional value, being rich in vitamin B2, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of niacin, thiamin, and copper. An ancient grain with a long history in the Middle East and Europe, it was very popular in America up until the 20th century when farmers turned to more intensive wheat growing. While the texture of these spelt buns is the same as their regular whole wheat counterpart, the flavor is slightly sweeter and definitely nuttier. This complemented the other ingredients perfectly to create a rich burger; I was impressed.

I grilled both the onions and the burgers on a George Foreman grill, but you could use an indoor or outdoor grill or cast-iron skillet just as well.

1 lb. ground bison meat
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin rings
1 jalapeño, deseeded and sliced
~8 leaves green leaf lettuce
4 slices of Cheddar cheese
spicy Southwestern mustard, bought or homemade, to taste
mayonnaise, bought or homemade, to taste
4 spelt or whole wheat buns, toasted

1. In a large bowl, combine meat, Worcestershire sauce, and all the herbs and spices. Mix thoroughly with your hands and then form into four balls of about one quarter pound each. On a clean, even surface such as a glass cutting board, roll the meatballs out into patties and pound lightly with your palms.

2. Grill patties until cooked through to your personal taste. I like mine just well done. Be especially attentive with buffalo burgers – because of bison’s lower fat content, they are not good when overcooked. On a George Foreman grill, I find that about three and a half to four minutes is just right.

3. Meanwhile, toast your buns and slice the other ingredients and set aside for assembly.

4. Once burgers are done, remove them from the grill and assemble your burgers: on an open-faced bun, spread mustard on one side and mayonnaise on the other. On top of the bottom bun, place patty, then top with jalapeños, cheese, onions, and lettuce. Place top bun atop the burger and press down gently.

5. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 quarter pound buffalo burgers. Really, really delicious.

Favorite Chicken and Pesto Panini

You may’ve noticed we eat a lot of pesto around here. Guilty as charged.

I put it on–and in–everything. Take this Chicken and Pesto Panini, for example. It’s so savory; each bite of the crunchy toasted bread, filled with warm, tender chicken and scrumptious, cheesy pesto is better than the last.

Before you know it, the whole sandwich will be gone! Better make two.

4 slices sourdough bread
~1/2 cup roasted chicken, shredded
~4 slices deli-cut turkey
2 large, thin slices of mozzarella
a little grated Pecorino Romano
2 cremini mushrooms, sliced
a little red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 heaping tsps pesto
4 tsp olive oil

1. Using a countertop grill or sandwich press, grill mushrooms and peppers until lightly browned. Set aside.

2. On a cutting board or large plate, assemble sandwich: brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. This will be the outside of your sandwich.

3. On one piece of bread, place mozzarella, followed by pesto, mushrooms, peppers, pecorino, chicken, and turkey. Place other piece of bread on top and press down firmly. Nudge any stray ingredients back in the sandwich with your fingers.

4. Place, oiled side out, in your grill and cook until nicely browned. Repeat with other sandwich.

Serve immediately.