BratBurgers

bratburger

These burgers have become one of my family’s most popular summertime grill requests- they’re juicy, tasty, and a great calorie bargain.   If you like sauerkraut, that’d be great on these burgers, or you could do some sauteed onions and peppers- but I just like plain old yellow mustard on mine!

 

 

burger press
As always, this is not an affiliate link and I’m not receiving any financial compensation, but if you want one of these for your very own, you can click here and buy one.

Now the instructions below are really straightforward on this recipe, but I do have one little secret to share that will help make these a breeze to put together- it’s my burger maker gizmo.  Very high tech as you can see!  It cost me less than $5, and works like a charm!

 

 

 

burgerpress
Here’s the underside- see, nothing underneath where you put the meat and then have to get it back out without messing up the patty! No muss, no fuss!

I like this one because there is nothing on the bottom from where I have to dig the burger out of- I just place my ball of meat on a cutting mat, cover it with a plastic baggie, (the bread, twisty tie kind- it’s thinner so it allows better formation of the patty) cover the meat ball with my burger press,

 

 

then hold the bottom part in place, while pushing down gently on the plunger thing up top until there’s resistance.  Take the press off, and, VOILA!  Perfectly shaped patties every time!  If I do it just right, the press doesn’t even get dirty- now what girl wouldn’t be a fan of that?!

 

 

vacuum sealer
This is my vacuum sealer- best $150 I’ve ever spent, in terms of keeping meat in an organized way that prevents freezer burn so it goes to waste.

One final tip for this post- I make these burgers in batches of about a dozen or so, or 3 to 4 pounds of meat, at a time. Bob grills them all at once, and when they’re cool I vacuum seal each one individually so I’ll have a quick and easy meal any time I need one.

 

 

 

 

sealed meat
I write the weight, and date sealed on each item so I’ll know how many it will serve (3 to 5 oz. of meat per person) and how long it’s been in the frozen tundra.

No, your eyes are not broken- these are not burgers, just a bunch of meat I’ve sealed just like I do my burgers, in individual packages, so they’ll be quick to thaw and cook when I’m in a pinch.

 

 

 

 

Oh, and here’s a link for the spice blend I use- we have a Penzeys Spice Shop close by, but if you don’t you can order- and they’ll send you a catalog of their stuff, which is jammed full of recipes!  Click here to find “Bratwurst Sausage Seasoning.”

 

BratBurgers
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
BratBurgers
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place the applesauce in a fine mesh strainer and allow it to drain while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Peel and dice the onion, then saute until golden brown.
  3. Place the ground turkey, strained applesauce , sauteed onion, and seasoning in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mix the ingredients well.
  4. Divide the mixture into 4 to 5 oz portions, and form into patties. See pics and instructions above for using my burger press.
  5. Grill or pan fry patties until thoroughly cooked; the internal temperature must reach 165F to ensure all bacteria is killed.
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Fiesta On The Bayou

 

fiesta plate

This dish combines two of my very favorite cuisines- the ingredients are as traditionally Mexican as they come, while the technique is quintessentially Cajun Jambalaya.  The combination is truly worthy of throwing a great big old party, complete with piñata and Mardi Gras beads! And, just so you don’t have to feel guilty when you party, each serving only has about 315 calories*, so relax and enjoy.

*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

 

tomatillo2
Tomatillos are little green tomato-y looking things. They’re covered in the green or brownish paper you can see here, so you need to peel this skin away to reveal the gorgeous little fruit.

To start with, remove the papery covering and wash the tomatillos, discarding the papery skin.  Then quarter them and place, skin side up, on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray- I know, a lot of non-stick precautions, but these things get really sticky! Keep them really close together, otherwise the juice that’s released will burn.  Place in a 400F oven and roast for 20 to 40 minutes while you prep everything else.

 

 

 

 

tom roast
Here they are, roasted. I know, they don’t look like much but these little things are amazing!!

Keep a careful watch on these things- you want them to caramelize, but not burn. Once they get fairly dried out, with some brown to almost black spots, they’re done, so take them out and set them aside. I have to say, tomatillos have not always impressed me- I’ve used them before, but recently learned about roasting them and now I’m in love! They add a sweet and tangy flavor that isn’t like anything else.

 

 

Put the chicken breast cubes in a large non-stick skillet, sprayed with non-stick spray, and sauté, allowing them to brown then caramelize.

 

poblano
These are poblano peppers- aren’t they beautiful? I love the dark green skin!

While the chicken cooks, wash and dice the onions and peppers. Just treat the poblanos like regular bell peppers- wash and then clean out the membranes and seeds. They smell like they’d add heat, but they really don’t add much, if any- maybe some warmth, but definitely a distinctively Mexican flavor.

 

 

chicken casserole

When it’s done, remove the chicken to a large casserole, sprayed with non-stick spray, scattered evenly over the bottom, and then spread the rice evenly over the chicken.

 

 

Add the onions, peppers, and olive oil to the skillet and sauté until tender and lightly caramelized.

 

frontera
This is the Fontera sauce- I found it at a SuperTarget grocery store, in the international / Mexican section. For a long time I never saw Frontera products anywhere else, but recently it’s been showing up at my Wal-Mart.

While the veggies are sautéing, combine the seasonings, tomatoes, broth, and Frontera* sauce in a bowl, and stir to combine.

 

 

 

 

TJs corn
This stuff is great, AND nothing that has the Trader Joe’s name is GMO!

 

Once the veggies are done, scatter them, along with the corn, and zest over the rice. Here’s the corn I use- have I mentioned that I LOVE Trader Joe’s* stores?!

 

 

 

Now, just gently and carefully pour the stock mixture over top of the whole thing.  Cover the casserole with foil and place in a 400F oven for 45 minutes to an hour, just until the rice is done.

 

zima

In the meantime, cut the cherry or grape tomatoes in half.  These are the tomatoes I get when I can find them.  They aren’t like anything I’ve ever had- the tang and sweet tastes come at different times!  I love these things, and eat them like candy when I can get the huge container at Sam’s Club or Costco.  Or, I get the smaller one at the grocery store and hide them!

 

 

Once the rice is done, take the foil off, and carefully distribute the roasted tomatillos over the top- I had to use a spatula and peel / scrape each one off the cookie sheet, then place it on top of the casserole.  Also, scatter the tomatoes over the top.  Put the casserole back onto the oven, uncovered, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the edges and top have toasted up a bit.  With each serving, be sure to include some of the soft inside and some of the toasted sides and top.  You can garnish with extra cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese, and/or lime juice, freshly squeezed over the top.

 

fiesta

 

So, there ya go, my take on fusion, the very best of two delicious worlds, so…

Let the

Fiesta on the Bayou

begin!!

 

 

 

 

 

Fiesta On The Bayou
Print Recipe
This recipe makes enough to feed a small army, but you can cut it in half if you're only feeding a few. No matter how many diners, this dish turns dinner into a festive event! Or, make a huge batch and freeze individual servings for a night when you you're not too pooped to party, but don't have the energy or time to cook.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Fiesta On The Bayou
Print Recipe
This recipe makes enough to feed a small army, but you can cut it in half if you're only feeding a few. No matter how many diners, this dish turns dinner into a festive event! Or, make a huge batch and freeze individual servings for a night when you you're not too pooped to party, but don't have the energy or time to cook.
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Peel the papery skin from the tomatillos, then wash and quarter them. Place on a cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil, sprayed wit non-stick spray, keeping them close together. Roast in oven until fairly dried and browned, about 20 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Spray a very large rectangular casserole with non stick cooking spray. While the tomatillos roast, Cook and brown the chicken in a large non-stick skillet sprayed with non-stick spray. When cooked through and caramelized, scatter evenly in the bottom of the casserole.
  3. Distribute the rice in the casserole, evenly, over the chicken.
  4. Clean and dice the onions and peppers and place them in the skillet. Allow liquid to release and cook off. Add olive oil and cook until very tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally.
  5. While veggies are cooking, combine crushed tomatoes, Frontera sauce, stock, and seasonings in a bowl and set aside.
  6. When the veggies are done, scatter them evenly in the casserole.
  7. Gently pour the stock mixture over the veggies in the casserole, being careful not to disturb ingredients.
  8. Cover casserole with foil and place in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until rice is done.
  9. While casserole cooks, wash and halve the cherry or grape tomatoes.
  10. When rice is cooked, remove the foil, arrange the tomatillos over the top, along with the halved tomatoes, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, in order to allow the top and edges to toast and become a little crunchy, about 15 to 20 minutes. When the top and sides a crunchy, remove the casserole and serve immediately with garnishes.
  11. Serve piping hot, with garnishes if desired.
Recipe Notes

*As always, I don't accept compensation in exchange for favorably reviewing or recommending any product or company- you can see my policy on this here.

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Apple Rice & Pork Roast Dinner

 

dinner
You can serve the pork sliced, on the side, or do what I did here, and make it into a casserole.

 

A few nights ago, I sent Bob to the store to get a rotisserie chicken- it was Weight Watchers night, and I knew I’d be starving for dinner but wouldn’t want to cook. Bless his heart, when we got home, he’d gotten a chicken, cut it all up, set the table, AND he brought me a rotisseried (I know, that’s not a real word, but it should be) pork roast for the next night!  There are many reasons I married the man, and this kind of thing is just one of them.  : ]

So the next night, I pulled out that pork roast and realized I had absolutely nothing to go with it.  Golly gee whiz, I thought to myself, guess I’ll just have to make something up, and call it an experiment.  Novel idea.  I can hear my kids’ eyes rolling round and round, ha ha!

So, I threw lots of things I know Bob loves together, and based on his reaction, it was magical!  He went back for fourths– now, you can’t beat that for a ringing endorsement!

onions
See- very thin slices! This speeds up the caramelization process. And, you need lots of onion as it shrinks down dramatically as it caramelizes. Think of it as a reduction- as the onions lose their water, and the sugar becomes concentrated, the volume decreases, but the flavor explodes.

Here’s how to do it:  To begin with, clean and peel a very large onion, then slice it very thinly.  Plate it, along with the olive oil, baking soda, and salt in a large non-stick skillet.  Over medium high heat, allow the onions to sweat, or release their moisture, then lower to heat to medium and allow them to continue to cook and brown, stirring occasionally.

 

 

If you want more detailed instruction on caramelizing onions, here is a link for a Food Network tutorial.

 

apple peeler
I’ve had several different brands- these things range in cost from about $11 to $50. The pic here is one I found at Wal-Mart, on clearance, for $11!  None of mine have lasted more than a year or two, so I just count on having to get a new one every so often. This one is my back up- I’ll never be without that again, as getting in the middle of doing 10 to 20 pounds of apples from the farmers’ market, and having one break, is not fun.

While the onions cook, peel, core, and slice the apples.  I use a fancy shamancy peeler, slicer, corer gadget to do this, like this one. Some have suction cups to hold them in place while you crank the handle; others have to be clamped onto the counter top. I like the suction cup myself, but whatever kind, this thing will change your life when it comes to cooking with apples!

 

With one of these handy dandy gizmos, I can prep enough apples for a humongous pie or cobbler in a matter of minutes– needless to say, since apple-anything is Bob’s favorite, he thinks they’re worth the investment.

Once you’ve gotten all of the apples prepped, spray a casserole with non-stick cooking spray, then add them, along with everything else, give it a stir, and cover it.  Microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all of the moisture has been absorbed.

casserole

You can serve pork slices on the side, or do what I did and make a casserole out of the whole thing.  It’s not quite as sophisticated looking, but what can I say- I like a little bite of everything in every bite!

 

 

Apple Rice & Pork Roast
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Apple Rice & Pork Roast
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Clean and peel the onion, slice very thinly, and caramelize in a large non-stick skillet, along with the oil, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples.
  3. Spray a casserole with non-stick cooking spray, then add all ingredients and stir to combine well.
  4. Microwave for 15 to 20 minutes, or until liquid is all absorbed.
  5. Serve with slices of lean pork roast, or dice the meat and stir in to make a casserole.
Recipe Notes

As far as calories* go, the entire rice mixture- not including the meat- contains right around 850 calories.  So, each of four portions will have roughly 215, or each of six portions will have about 140.  Lean meats generally have between 30 and 45 calories per ounce.  So you can figure out how much of the rice and how many ounces of meat your calorie budget allows for.  1/6 of the rice + 4 ounces of a pork tenderloin roast will run you about 270 calories; 1/4 of the rice + 4 ounces of that pork will run you around 340 calories.  To figure this kind of information on your own, go here, where nutritional information is offered for just about any food you can think of.

*To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

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Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch

lunch
Oh, so good! How can you go wrong with mashed potatoes, ham, and cheese? An ultimate comfort food combo!

 

 

 

DSC08795
I love snow! This one started around 11 pm, and I stayed up until around 2 or 3 am watching- I simply couldn’t look away. It was that really dry and fluffy kind, and it looked as if God was merrily releasing a zillion buckets of glitter, just to make everything sparkle and shine for a few hours.

Today was the first day I’ve been able to get to the gym in two weeks.  Now, I’m not going to lie- the first week, I wasn’t totally devastated when snow and ice storms pretty much shut down my sweet little town…  it was kinda nice to be hunkered down, all cozy-ed up with  family, and forced (Uh-huh! Was too!) to watch Downton Abbey and drink insane amounts of hot coffee, all snuggled up under my electric throw.  I know, right?! It’s a rough life!

 

 

H2O fitness
This is my workout outfit- a girl’s gotta have something pretty for extra motivation!

By today, though, I was dying to get out and go to H2O class!  Sadly, taking that kind of a hiatus from exercising has consequences- class was brutal.  So I went shopping.  And by the time I got home, I was HUNGRY!!  I was going to need lunch to be fast, not so high in calories as to undo all the hard work, and satisfying.

BTW- I love exercising in the pool- if you’re looking for a different kind of workout, this offers a lot- it’s virtually impossible to injure yourself, there is absolutely no sweat involved, it combines cardio and strength, you can burn upwards of 600 calories in an hour, (here’s a link for a page on the Mayo Clinic’s website that lists calories burned during various kinds of exercise) and it’s really fun!

 

Anyway, back to lunch- I doubt anyone will be shocked to learn that in a situation like this, I fell back on some of my favorite comfort foods, and I have to say, this little concoction fit all of my criteria perfectly!! It’s so simple- I’ve made it several times lately, and it’ll probably be added to my arsenal of super-duper weapons in my battle to keep losing weight.

 

TJ's mashed potatoes
These already have some butter and seasonings in them! Just microwave, bake, or make them into little potato pancakes!
tjs potatoes facts
Today I used 12 pieces, but if I wanted a lighter dish I’d use 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, here’s the trick- I always keep some Trader Joe’s* frozen mashed potatoes on hand, (see the pic above- they come in perfectly formed little pieces so you know exactly how many calories you’re putting into any dish) I usually have a few slices of low fat ham-  from a past dinner or deli slices, in my fridge or freezer, and I’ve always got some Cabot* 75% reduced fat grated cheddar cheese on hand- see the pic below- love this cheese!  You can also buy very low fat cubes of ham in the packaged deli section of the grocery store- great for this kind of thing, as well as Hawaiian pizza!

*I don’t receive compensation to favorably review or recommend any product or company- you can see my policy on this here.

 

Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy cheddar
The Cabot reduced fat cheeses are absolutely fabulous!! They don’t taste or melt like other “diet” cheeses I’ve had. They come in 50% and 75% reduced fat versions.

Easy Peasy Pimento Cheesy Cabot cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC08842
This is my mini, 1 serving casserole- I got from our local Goodwill store for less than a dollar, including the top- can’t beat that deal!

So, to put this all together in just a few minutes, put however many mashed potato pieces in the bottom of a casserole, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Add your ham, cubed up, if you like- that’s how I like mine.

 

 

Now, just cover your casserole, and microwave for a 2 or 3 minutes, just enough to melt the potatoes, and heat everything up.  Take the top off, sprinkle the cheese over the top, and cover again, then give it a minute or two in the microwave again, just until the cheese is melted.

 

cheese ham potatoes

You can eat it just like this if you like, or put it in the oven for a few minutes and let the cheese brown up just a bit.  You can eat it just like this if you like, or put it in the oven for a few minutes and let the cheese brown up just a bit.

 

OR…….. you could use a great big blow torch kind of a thing to brown up the potatoes and ham!!  How much fun would that be!?  Seriously- Alton Brown shows you what to buy, and how to use one here.  I’ve shown my husband several of these things in home improvement stores, but oddly, he hasn’t gotten me one yet… maybe he’s just waiting to get me one for Christmas this year!

So, there ya go- a hot and comforting lunch, ready in just around 10 or 15 minutes, tops, for roughly 320 calories.*   (Or just a few more if you sneak a dollop of low fat or fat free sour cream on top…  all of these things just go together!)

 

* This is a very rough estimate of calories- the calories in your dish will depend on the amounts and brand of ingredients you use.  Consult package information for exact calorie information.  *To see my policy on nutritional information, go here and scroll down.

 

Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch Concoction
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Potato, Ham, & Cheese Lunch Concoction
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Servings Prep Time
1 5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Spray a mini casserole with non stick spray.
  2. Place potato pieces in casserole and cover.
  3. Microwave 2 to 3 minutes, just until thawed.
  4. Add cubed ham and sprinkle cheese over top, cover casserole, and microwave 1 or 2 more minutes, just until everything is hot.
  5. Optional: Place casserole, uncovered, under broiler or toaster oven, and allow to brown for 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Optional: Garnish with fat free or reduced fat sour cream.
Recipe Notes

If you don't have access to a Trader Joe's store, you could always just do a double batch of mashed potatoes, the next time you make them; then use a small ice cream type of scoop to portion them out onto a cookie sheet, and freeze them. Once they're solid, just put them in a seal-able type bag, squeeze as much air as possible out, and keep them in your freezer for quick prep dishes like this one.

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