May 22, 2017

Pickle-Spiked Cheeseburgers


for the burger:
1 1/4 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped "Hamburger" dill pickle chips*
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons horseradish deli mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 slices Butterkäse cheese**
freshly ground black pepper.

to serve:
4 pretzel rolls
horseradish deli mustard
"Hamburger" dill pickle chips


In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Firmly form into 4 even patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Drain, if needed, on a paper towel-lined plate. Place burgers on buns, top with additional mustard and pickles if desired. Serve immediately.

*find these pickle slices near other shelf-stable pickles on the grocery store shelf, these pickles give the burgers that classic burger taste so don't substitute fancy dill pickles or kosher dills.

**Find this German, smooth melting cheese at stores with a well-stocked cheese section or it is frequently available at Aldi. Gouda would make a good substitute in a pinch.

My thoughts:
I've been on sort of a burger kick lately as you may have noticed. I bought the ground beef hoping that we would get a chance to grill but we were in Washington all day yesterday visiting the amazing NMAAHC and came home too tired to cook and today it is rainy so no grilling for us! Luckily, I think they were still very good even without the benefits of charcoal. I love, love, love pickles and even though I make my own I always keep a jar of hamburger chips in my fridge. It is like $1 at Aldi for a vat and they are really what gives burgers that classic diner/fast food burger taste. These burgers are loaded with pickle flavor (and lots of chunks so you really have to a firm hand with the patties or they will crack) and just a hint of onion. Super savory, super delicious and super easy to throw together--I made these for our lunch in about 20 minutes start to finish. The pretzel roll held up well to the juicy burger and the flavor really complimented the vaguely German flavors of the sandwich. Luckily pretzel rolls are pretty easy to find these days! I remember having to make my own not too long ago and now even regular supermarkets have bags of them.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

May 15, 2017

Kimchi Burgers


for the burger:
1 lb 90% lean ground beef
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 tablespoon gochujang
2 tablespoons soy sauce

to serve:
4 brioche rolls
gochujang mayonnaise*
3/4 cup chopped kimchi

In a medium bowl, mix together all burger ingredients until they are evenly distributed. Form into 3 or 4 patties. Set aside.

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the patties, flipping once, until cooked to desired doneness over medium heat. Place on buns, top with mayo and kimchi. Serve immediately.

*I bought some at Target but you can make it yourself by mixing mayo and a small amount of gochujang together.
My thoughts:
Matt has been studying sign language for a while now and goes to a ton of events about ASL. I think the most exciting one he went to was a kimchi making class in ASL where he not only came home with a jar of homemade kimchi but had learned a few words of Korean sign language!

The kimchi was great on its own but we thought we'd make something fun incorporating it. Matt found gochujang mayo at Target (who knew?), we already had gochujang, sesame oil and Korean soy sauce in the fridge (if you don't, a quick trip the Korean or other well-stocked grocery store will get you all set) so burgers seemed to be the obvious choice. The burgers are not quite as hot (unless you use extra hot gochujang!) as one might think but they are very flavorful. A great change from the typical burger.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

May 10, 2017

Very Berry Rice Krispies Treats

2 tablespoons butter
6 oz large marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups crisped rice cereal (AKA Rice Krispies)
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried strawberries*
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried raspberries
scant 1/4 cup freeze-dried blueberries


Coat 8-inch pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. Set aside.

Place all of the freeze-dried fruit into a small bowl. Lightly crush using your hands or the back of a spoon. In a large bowl, stir together the cereal and freeze-dried fruit. Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat in a large, tall pot. Add marshmallows and vanilla and stir until nearly completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in cereal/fruit mix. Use a greased spoon or spatula the cereal into the pan. Use the back of the spoon to press it firmly into the pan in an even layer. Cool, cut into 9 squares and eat.

*I used Crunchies brand fruit (if you have a bag, you can trace it back to where the fruit was grown!)

Note: Double this recipe to make in a 9x13 inch pan.

My thoughts:
Am I the only one who thinks of the '80s commercial of the mom making the Rice Krispies Treats and then tossing flour on her face before taking them out to her family to imply that they were so difficult and time-consuming to make? I swear I just saw it again this past Christmas. Anyway! Rice Krispies Treats are an even better treat to make during the warmer weather than the holiday season, they are quick, don't heat up the house and are lighter than a lot of desserts. This time of year my mind turns to berries but they are not really ripe here yet beyond strawberries so I subbed in freeze-dried fruit to provide that berry flavor. The great thing about freeze-dried fruit in something like this is that if you lightly crush it, it gives off some dust that helps spread the flavor throughout the whole bar. Really yummy and perfect for summer. These would be great at a cookout, especially for Memorial Day or 4th of July as they are red, white and blue!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

May 08, 2017

Cincinnati Chili Mac

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb ground chicken (or sub in lean ground beef)
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
15 oz canned dark red kidney beans, drained
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 oz hot, cooked, elbow macaroni

to serve:
shredded sharp cheddar cheese
chopped onion


Heat oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion and garlic until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken (or beef!). Brown, breaking up large chunks until nearly fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, spices, and beans. Simmer until warmed through and the liquid is nearly completely evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and onions. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I was planning to make chicken chili mac tonight for dinner as it is oddly chilly for May and was trying to think of a way to make it more exciting when it hit me, Cinncinati Chili is basically chili mac but layered rather than all mixed together. There are several ways to eat Cincinnati style chili:
3-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, covered with shredded cheddar cheese
4-way: Spaghetti topped with chili, cheese, onions
5-way: Spaghetti topped with beans, chili, cheese & onions
I just swapped out the spaghetti for macaroni noodles and stirred the kidney beans into the chili rather than layering them on top. The result was a super comforting dinner. I used ground chicken so it would be a bit lighter but feel free to use the more traditional beef.

Can't get enough? Make traditional Cincinnati Chili, this slow cooker version, and even Cincinnati Chili Dogs.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

April 17, 2017

Ham & Spring Vegetable Pasta Salad

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1/2 lb asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 oz small pasta, cooked and cooled
1 cup fresh or frozen peas*
1/2 red onion, diced
1 baby cucumber, diced
1 (loose) cup baby arugula

1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon

Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Saute the ham and asparagus until the ham is lightly browned and the asparagus is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together the peas, onion, cucumber and arugula. Add the pasta, ham, and asparagus. Stir to evenly distribute. Gently stir in the dressing until the ingredients are evenly coated. Refrigerate up to one day or serve immediately.

*if frozen add the peas to the pasta while it cooks for the last 5 minutes

My thoughts:
Matt's been off on spring break so I haven't had to make my usual cold dinner for him to take on the night he goes directly from work to class. He goes back tomorrow so I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and use up the ham we bought on sale (my mom hosts holidays so we never have leftovers) and some vegetables we had on hand and make a packable dinner? I love getting my farm box delivery (although I don't get it every week until the growing season really picks up), the arugula from last Tuesday was still super fresh! I tossed that in along with some asparagus, peas, cucumbers (which aren't quite in season here yet) and red onion for crunch and bite. I wasn't sure about ham in pasta salad but it was actually really good; just resist any temptation to add salt. I'm adding this to the rotation for next spring, it is a great way to use up spring and Easter odds and ends.

We also made a great spring vegetable matzo ball soup for Passover this year if you are interested!

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

April 14, 2017

Egg Salad with Ham and Watercress

6 hard-boiled eggs
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons Dijon
2/3 (loose) cup watercress
4 oz cubed ham
3 scallions/green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper


Slice eggs in half and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

Chop up the egg whites. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Add the ham, greens and scallions. Stir.

Place the mayonnaise, mustard and spices in the small bowl with the yolks. Mash with a fork until smooth. Pour over the chopped egg mixture. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

My thoughts:
I love watercress. I don't know why it isn't more popular here in the US. When we were in England nearly every grocery store (we went to a lot) and sandwich shop had something with watercress (or its cousin "cress" aka "garden cress") for sale (or as they said "on offer"). It is light, crispy and has a pleasant peppery-mustardy bite that complements creamy dishes like this one quite well. I am not a huge lettuce on sandwiches person (I always remove half of the "spring mix" that is on my beloved smoked salmon BLT) but the leaves of watercress are so small that they can be left whole and mixed into the egg salad rather than lining the bread. Adding the ham made the sandwich more satisfying and filling than egg salad normally is and added a smoky note. This recipe is a great way to use up any leftover ham or egg you might have hanging about in a satisfying (packable!) lunch.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg

March 30, 2017

Somewhat Classic Meatloaf


2 lbs 90-93% lean ground beef
2 hot dog rolls, torn into tiny pieces
1 egg, beaten
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, small dice
1 stalk celery, small dice
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chili sauce (like Heinz)


Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, egg, rolls, onion, carrot, celery, and spices. Form into a loaf. Place in a loaf pan (or, preferably, a meatloaf pan). Brush the top with the chili sauce to coat. Bake for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Wait a few minutes before slicing for best results.

My thoughts:
To be honest, I didn't want to make dinner today. In fact, I was sort of hoping the ground beef was spoiled so I'd have an excuse to not make dinner. I didn't have a plan on how to use it but since I had 2 lbs of it (normally I buy the 1 lb packages but the store was out) I thought I might as well make meatloaf and use it all up at once. I read a post about meatloaf in some e-newsletter that mentioned celery as being a "typical" meatloaf ingredient. That didn't sound right to me but whatever, I had some so I tossed some in my new chopper along with some carrot chunks and tossed it in the mix. I had some squished hot dog rolls so I used them instead of slices sandwich bread as the binder. They were soft and melted right into the meat mixture.  I loathe tomato ketchup (I only like ketchup made from fruit or other vegetables lol) so I always use chili sauce on mine which is like ketchup's less sweet, less coying, zestier cousin. I really slather it on so it seals the meatloaf so doesn't dry out while the pan takes care of any extra grease. Anyway! I am glad I went ahead and made the meatloaf, it came out really good! Tender, juicy and full of flavor. I'm glad I added the celery, I think it added some moisture and flavor without being overpowering or watery. It made a good meatloaf sandwich too. So, if you are in the mood for a classic meatloaf with a little extra veggies, try this one. You won't be disappointed.

 photo coconut-sig_zpsb2fb208a.jpg