Tag Archives: summer

Quick Dinner – Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

29 Apr

We are getting to that time of year when things start to get busier at our house. I’m sure we aren’t the only ones either. Outdoor chores like weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and planting the garden come into play. With warmer weather also comes more outdoor activities – motorcycle rides, outdoor parties, weddings, graduation parties, camping, bicycle rides. That means less time spent at home, which translates to quick dinner options on the weekdays. I don’t want to be stressing about what to make for dinner, or punk out and make something that is quick, but completely unhealthy. Since I am on the path to healthier eating, I’ve been thinking up meal options that can be whipped up in 30 minutes or less, but are healthy, filling, and taste great. These burgers fit that bill. You get a burst of nutrient rich veggies from the spinach mixed into the burger, plus the addition of using more baby spinach in place of lettuce. The chicken is packed with protein but lower in fat than your traditional beef options, and frankly more flavorful than ground turkey. The feta cheese adds some dairy, and eliminates the need for additional salt since it helps flavor the meat. I used olive oil mayo that I spiced up with some wasabi sauce, giving the burger a little zing. It complimented the burger very well! Ciabatta rolls were a lovely change of pace from traditional burger buns, and could actually be skipped completely if you are looking to limit your intake of carbs, serving it over a bed of baby spinach with a little smear of the wasabi mayo. We enjoyed these with a large serving of garden salad, and it was delicious!

spinach & feta chicken burgers

Spinach & Feta Chicken Burgers

makes 4  1/4lb burgers 

1lb ground chicken

4oz feta cheese crumbles

1 1/2 cups baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all of your ingredients in a bowl, and form into 4 1/4lb burger patties. Pan fry – no additional oil – or grill until cooked all the way through, 10-15 minutes. Serve on toasted ciabatta bread with baby spinach and wasabi mayo. Serve with a garden salad for a light and healthy dinner! Also great for lunch!

Slow days summertime sippin’ – Porch Swing Cocktail

8 Jun

Ah summer. The days are longer, hotter, and there is always something to do! Parties, lounging by the pool, sitting around a fire, a motorcycle ride with the wind in your hair, or just kicking back in a comfortable chair on the deck listening to some music with a sweating glass of adult goodness in your hand. In swaggers the Porch Swing cocktail. It’s simple. It’s got class. The dudes on Boardwalk Empire in their fancy pants are drinking up one of it’s ingredients!

Me? I’m drinking it on the deck under the shade of an umbrella, in my tank top and flip flops, busting out the hand jive movements of this video (I’ve also caught myself doing it in the car…comedy on wheels for the other cars on the road with me!) I’m pretty sure this album is going to be my summer 2012 soundtrack. Yep.

Now, I bet you’re wondering where in the hell I found this Porch Swing at. Well, after much googling of cucumber infused drinkage, I stumbled upon this and thought ya, I have got to try this. I had never previously heard of Pimms #1 Cup. So I searched. I called liquor stores – only some of them had this old school booze. I bought a bottle. I whipped some of these up. I went back the next day and purchased another bottle because I knew it was going to be our summer sipping drink of choice. I tasted the Pimms straight up. I decided mixing it as a Porch Swing was my thing. That was 2 summers ago. Now into our 3rd summer, it’s back. It’s perfect.

This is MY twist on the original link. I don’t make from fresh lemons lemonade. I use bottled lemon juice. Ya, it’s cheating, but when you are drinking these with the hubs and you are each having 2, maybe 3, that’s a whole helluva lot of lemons to go through for fresh squeezed. I’ve done it that way, and honestly, there is no difference. None. Once you add in all the other stuff, noone is going to be able to tell you didn’t squeeze those lemons yourself. And I use plain old selter or soda water for the touch of fizziness. I had to make this porch swing my own. Do your thang!

Porch Swing Cocktail

Adapted from Insatiable Critic

Start out by making some ‘fresh’ lemonade.

1/2 cup Splenda (or whatever sugar you like, just know if you use granulated it will need shaken lots to dissolve)

2/3 cup lemon juice

3 cups cold water

mix all the ingredients together until combined.

cocktail assembly 

Fresh made lemonade

Pimms #1 Cup


English cucumber (seedless cuke) sliced into paper thin slices – about 10 per glass – DO NOT USE A REGULAR CUCUMBER!!!

Selter or Soda Water

Fill a glass with ice (I used a pint mason jar. duh). Fill 2/3 of the way with lemonade. Add 1 1/2oz Pimms #1 Cup. Add a splash of gin ( I used Seagrams) and a splash of selter/soda water.

Add about 10 of those paper thin cucumber slices. Stir to combine everything and enjoy!

Summer Lovin’ – Cornmeal Lemon Cookies

4 Jun

Here in good old western Pennsylvania, mother nature has our weather all over the place. Over Memorial Day weekend, the temps were in the high 80’s – low 90’s with hell on earth humidity. (I planted the garden in those temps. It was like taking a shower with your clothes on. meh) That being said, it’s not officially summer, but it’s hard not to think of summertime  flavors for desserts, snacks, and meals. Or the movie Grease…and the song Summer Nights….I remember a sleepover as a teen in the 90’s where I, along with 3 friends, re-enacted the scene in her living room. Ya. That’s how we roll. (Am I the only one that when someone says “oh, 10 years ago…” it makes me think of the 90’s? And then when I realize the 90’s were 20 years ago, I feel old.)  Here’s the video in case you want to give it a try yourself….

Ok…back on topic. Enter in the Cornmeal LEMON Cookie. Yep. LEMON. I love lemon. It’s got that bright tangy flavor that just makes me think of sunshiny poolside outdoor fun. Turn it into a cookie and you’ve got something magical. This recipe was originally found on thekitchn.com for a lime version. Now, I like lime too, but it’s just overpowering in comparison to lemon, so I adjusted the recipe to suit my tastes. There is more vanilla, and more lemon zest and juice because lemons are generally bigger than limes, and I used some big lemons. But the lemons do not overpower these cookies. The cornmeal gives them a nice flavor balance while making the texture more filling, rounded out. But not heavy. I’m not sure how they got only 14-16 cookies out of the recipe since my cookies were palm sized after baking – and I got exactly 24 cookies. But whatevs. The cookies are fantastic. They take almost no time to whip up. Great to take to a bbq, picnic, graduation party. Whatever you find yourself getting into this summer. Enjoy!

Cornmeal Lemon Cookies
Yield: 2 dozen cookies Adapted from thekitchn.com

For the Cookies:

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour ( I used white whole wheat)
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 sticks room temperature butter (16tbsps)

¾ cup sugar

Zest of 2 large lemons

Juice of 2 large lemons

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract (I used homemade)

2 large eggs


For the icing:

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Juice of 1 large lemon

Zest of 1 large lemon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together your flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Fit your stand mixer with a paddle attachment and add the butter and sugar to the bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.

Add the zest of the 2 lemons and the vanilla and mix until just incorporated.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add your eggs. (The mixture will separate. Do not fret. It will come together at the end!)

Add your flour mixture in 3 stages, mixing well after each addition.

Using a small cookie scoop, drop by heaping scoopfuls onto 2 cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat mats. Space the cookies 2-3 inches apart and press down with your fingers so the tops of the cookies are flat. Bake for 14 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through for even baking.

Allow cookies to cool completely.

Icing: in a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Spoon over the tops of your cooled cookies, letting it drip over the edges. (to help minimize the mess, I put a tea towel under the cooling racks to catch any runaway icing)

Store any leftovers in an airtight container and eat within 3 days. Can’t eat them that fast? Freeze them in a single layer. To serve after freezing, let thaw at room temp for 2hrs before serving. The icing will sweat out a little bit out moisture, but it’s all good. They taste as fantastic as they do freshly made! Enjoy!