Green Chile and Cilantro Turkey Burger

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While the pictures are not nearly as appealing (in my opinion) of burgers without a bun, I'll be completely honest and tell you that I simply just do not miss the bun at all. If I'm picking up a burger from a fast food place I'll just eat the bun but if I'm making it, at an actual restaurant or even at Five Guys, I opt for a bunless burger.



Green Chile and Cilantro Turkey Burgers
Source: Elana's Pantry
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
    • 8 oz. canned green chiles
    • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
    • 2 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • salt and pepper 
Toppings: lettuce, tomato, guacamole

Directions:
1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
2. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, chiles, cilantro, red onion, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.
3. Form into 4 evenly sized patties.
4. Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
5. Add toppings and serve immediately.

If you're looking for a lighter burger packed with fresh flavors, this is it. If you were feeling particularly ambitious, you could roast your own hatch chiles and dice them up to put in this burger, but since hatch chiles have such a short season, I prefer to go for the canned chile variety.


General Tso's Meatballs {Gluten-Free}

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A meatball bar was probably my most genius party invention. Various types of meatballs, all on display and easily picked up with a toothpick. Granted, it took a lot longer than I expected to prepare and cook the meatballs, but it was more than worth it in the end.

Everyone loved the idea and enjoyed the actual meatballs even more. When I was on my meatball hunting mission I knew I wanted to use a variety of ground meats, because why not take advantage of the fact that I can now easily find ground turkey, chicken, pork and even veal in just about any grocery store?

I knew Tom would love these because when we order Chinese food, his order is always the same.  A large container of General Tso's chicken with white rice. I wasn't expecting everyone else to fall in love with them either, especially since they are low carb and gluten free since anything even mildly healthy seems to send certain people I know running to the nearest calorie laden item.



General Tso's Meatballs
Source: I Breathe...I'm Hungry...
Servings: 16 meatballs
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Ingredients:
for the sauce:
    • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
    • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
    • 3 tbsp. soy sauce (coconut aminos for Paleo)
    • 3 tbsp. honey
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 tsp. arrowroot powder
    • 6 green onions, green part chopped
    • 4 small dried chiles chopped (garlic chile sauce also works)
for the meatballs:
    • 1 pound ground turkey
    • 2 tbsp. minced ginger
    • 6 green onions, chopped
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/8 cup almond or coconut flour
    • 1 egg
Directions:
1. Add the sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, water and arrowroot powder together in a small saucepan until combined. Add the green onions and chiles and bring to a boil.
2. Simmer for 5 minutes until thickened, then remove from the heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and top it with a wire cooling rack.
4. Prepare the meatballs by combining all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into 16 evenly sized meatballs and place on the prepared rack.
5. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until cooked through.
6. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and serve immediately.



Alternately you could fry the meatballs in a large skillet for 1-2 minutes per side or until cooked through. These will result in a crunchier texture.

I opted to bake the meatballs because I had other ones going in the oven at the same temperature, plus I really don't trust frying anything on my stove unless I haul out the Dutch Oven and I had too much going on that day to pull that out and make any more dishes for myself. (With foil lining the baking sheets, you can just wrap up and toss the foil. The baking sheet doesn't even need to be washed.)

You really need these in your life. If you aren't interested in the healthier version, use regular flour in the meatballs, sugar instead of honey and cornstarch instead of arrowroot powder.

Weekly Menu

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Do you ever just get exhausted thinking about all of the things that you need to do? I'm currently experiencing that.

I brought home more than a few hours worth of work to do this weekend because it just wasn't possible to get it done during the actual work week. Tom and I are out of town for a wedding next weekend so I needed to make sure that I had posts scheduled and ready to go, on top of meal planning two weeks in advance. We're home the following weekend, but away the next and the one after that is the Halloween party we're hosting. Combine all of that with it being the busy time at work, me thinking it was a grand idea to start another Whole 30 on Wednesday and I'm just completely exhausted and overwhelmed thinking about all of the things that need to get done.

My goal for this weekend, aside from getting all of the work done that I brought home, is to have as many blog posts scheduled into the future as possible, as well as making a decent amount of freezer meals to save time on those busy nights.

The menu for this week is going to be pretty simple.

Sunday: green tomato burgers, corn on the cob

Monday: apple bacon grilled cheese sandwiches, chips

Tuesday: pizza

Wednesday: kale, spinach and meatball soup 

Thursday: spicy honey pork, rice, green beans 

For breakfast I'm having a kale and butternut squash dish and my lunch will be chicken ratatouille. I plan on making the soup this weekend and freezing it into individual portions. It will be my lunch for next week as well.

I also have an intense craving to do some baking so that may happen as well, assuming I get everything else done.

Oh, and the most important part of this weekend: Once Upon A Time returns tonight at 8 PM! I cannot even put into words how damn excited I am for this season.

Over the hiatus, I became a total fangirl, signing up for Tumblr, reading fanfiction, seeking out spoilers and then writing fanfiction. Yeah, it's been interesting. :)


Cookout Essentials for Man Crate

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A week or so ago I was contacted by a company called Man Crates Gifts for Men who asked me if I would be interested in sharing a post about what I consider cookout essentials. Intrigued by the idea of a 'man crate' I headed on over to their website to see what they were all about.

If you've ever not known what to get a man for a holiday or birthday and ended up with something like a tie or paper weight, this really is the solution for you. Basically, Man Crates was created to avoid terrible* gift choices like that.

(*Not saying there aren't men out there who don't want a tie or paper weight, but I'm going on a hunch that they'd be more impressed with something like oh, say, a Bacon Jerkygram.)

Who am I kidding, I would enjoy a Bacon Jerkygram. And a Sriracha crate, a Slaughterhouse Crate, or even the Hot and Spicy Crate.

As you can see while it's called a Man Crate, it doesn't specifically need to be for men. And the four I mentioned are just a few options on their site. Golf lover? Covered. Zombie fanatic? Got that too. Coffee addict? Caffeine approved.

Anyway now that I believe I've convinced you that you should order one (or two or five) of these, let's get to the purpose of this post, which is for me to share with you what I consider cookout essentials. Maybe if I'm lucky they'll even think my choices are so perfect and create the Cookaholic Wife Created Cookout Essentials Man Crate.

Or maybe not, cause that's a mouthful.

No one likes doing dishes and paper plates just ain't what they used to be. Buy these retro burger baskets in bulk and allow your guests to easily walk from the food table to their seats without having to juggle a real plate or a flimsy paper one. Checkered paper: appreciated, but totally optional. 


2. Skewers. 

Now don't go thinking I'm telling you to forego your precious beef and chicken and grill up some veggies instead, I'm just saying to include the veggies along with the beef and chicken. Zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes all are incredible when grilled. But my favorite, now that's grilled pineapple. Peaches, pears, cantelope and watermelon also make happy things happen in your mouth when you grill them. 
Now you can go for the simple bamboo skewer, as pictured above, or if you wanna have some fun with it, these adult naughty skewers are damn funny. 

Let's face it, the guy knows what he's doing. I see no reason to turn to anyone else. 'Nuff said.

Look, jalapeno poppers are one of the best appetizers out there. Jalapeno, cheese, bacon. What more could you want? Well, other than the ability to grill them. 

Smores are a necessary item for any cookout. Or well, ever. But using my vanilla bean marshmallows and topping them with bacon? It doesn't get better than that.  (Come on, you know I had to include this)

So before the weather changes too quickly into fall, have another cookout and use the ingredients from one of these crates! 

Sources: Images for items 1-4 are on Amazon, and the items are directly linked there as well, except for item 2 which also includes a link to Etsy. The first image for item 5 is my own, the smores ingredients image is from Bakerella. 


Fresh Guacamole

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It still amuses me to no end that as a child I was an extremely picky eater. I'm talking didn't even eat spaghetti kind of picky. And all foods on the plate must not touch under any circumstances kind of picky. That, combined with my mothers inability to cook, at least explains why I was such a string bean of a kid.

The first time I ever had tacos wasn't until I was 11 or 12 and they put a Taco Bell in town. We never even had tacos at home before that because my mother doesn't like them. Who in the world doesn't like tacos!?

So guacamole is something that is so foreign to my childhood that it is just amazing I ever decided to try the lumpy green stuff, much less that I like it. Now, I usually buy the 100 calorie packs that Wholly Guacamole sells for the sake of time.

I was talking to my mom about what to bring over and she mentioned that some of her work friends were coming and somehow that lead to talking about guacamole. I said if I found ripe avocados at the store, I would make that.



Fresh Guacamole
Source: Gimme Some Oven
Servings: ~ 2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
    • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
    • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • pinch of cumin
Directions:
1. In a large bowl mash together the avocado, jalapeno, onion, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and salt until combined.
2. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap, touching the guacamole and refrigerate until ready to serve.



Even with the addition of lime juice, fresh guacamole turns brown very quickly. There is nothing wrong with it, but it's just very unappetizing to eat. I decided to use this recipe because she includes jalapeno, red onion and cumin. Some people make it without and then their guacamole is just kinda boring. 

Crock Pot Sriracha Chicken Tacos

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When I was doing the Whole 30 silly me thought that I could have tacos in lettuce cups and it would be just as great as regular tacos. What I failed to realize is that my two favorite parts of the taco are the cheese and sour cream. Let's just say I was less than impressed with the meal.

Wanting to keep it on the healthier side, I made these tacos in lettuce cups but didn't pass on the cheese and sour cream. And to make them even easily to whip up, they're made in the crock pot!


Crock Pot Sriracha Chicken Tacos
Source: Laaloosh
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/3 cup soy sauce (or coconut aminos for paleo)
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 1/4 cup Sriracha
    • 3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. honey
    • 1 tbsp. sesame oil 
    • tomatoes, diced
    • 1/4 cup taco cheese
    • baby romaine lettuce leaves
    • sour cream 
    • lime juice
Directions:
1. Place chicken in crock pot.
2. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a bowl. Pour over chicken.
3. Cook on low for 6 hours.
4. Use two forks to shred the chicken.
5. Scoop chicken into romaine leaves, top with diced tomatoes, taco cheese and sour cream. Squeeze lime juice on time.


If you're making this during the week and aren't going to be around to turn off the crock pot, you could use chicken thighs which will not dry out as quickly as the chicken breasts. Another option would be to to wrap the chicken in foil until cooked, then stir it into the sauce. 

Green Pepper and Tomato Salad

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As I've probably said a thousand times, coming up with side dishes is the hardest part in menu planning for me. Summer makes it a ton easier because you can just take fresh produce (or fruit) and toss with some olive oil, or balsamic vinegar, season with some salt and pepper and you are good to go.

I found this recipe in the Food Network Magazine and ripped out the page right away. Tomatoes (while not fresh Maryland tomatoes that taste a gazillion times better, but still tomatoes) and green peppers are available year round and this quick and easy salad might just be enough to get me through those ugly cold winter months.


Green Pepper and Tomato Salad
Source: Food Network Magazine, July/August 2014
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
2 green peppers
3 plum tomatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. hot sauce
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Thinly slice green pepper into strips. Dice tomato into quarters.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, hot sauce, lemon, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Add green pepper and tomato. Toss to coat.
3. Serve cold or at room temperature.



It doesn't get much easier than that, does it? You could easily whip up this entire salad while one side of your chicken breast browned or your steak was on the grill, or whatever you were making was cooking away. 

Weekly Menu 9/21 - 9/25

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Umm, where did this month go? I swear it was just Labor Day and I was planning on what to take to my mom's for her pool party.

I am going to be extremely busy at work for the next couple of weeks and decided that I was going to get a bunch of blogging done in advance so I'm not just leaving you all without recipes. I've also done a spectacular job at failing at completing another Whole 30 during September so I gave up for this week and I'm going to try again in October...which is kinda silly because

October 3rd - wedding, out of town. At least one meal will most likely be at the airport.
October 18th - family party. Cheese, dairy, sugar and alcohol will be in abundance.
October 25th - Halloween party. Same as above.

So I'm calling it a Whole 37 to add in an extra 7 days to make up for the weekend of travel, the two parties and the two days following the parties where I'll be eating leftovers. I'm thinking January will be the next time I can do a real Whole30 for 30 consecutive days.

The menu for this week is:

Sunday: out for crab cakes!

Monday: street tacos

Tuesday: crock pot cashew chicken over rice

Wednesday: shrimp scampi 

Thursday: crock pot chili and maple pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, green beans 

For breakfast this week I'm making a fiesta breakfast bowl and lunches will be the leftover cashew chicken.

One more food related thing - so I've talked about loving Wegman's before, like a million times. Well, I went to the local grocery store instead today and spent like $60. I still love Wegman's but we need to break up. $60 a week is $240 a month. That's insanity. And it's not even like I'm buying ridiculously expensive stuff. I actually don't even know what it is, so I'm holding onto this week's receipt and gathering some others from other stores to see where in the world I'm going wrong. For the most part our grocery list is pretty repetitive (70% fruit and produce, 5% dry goods, 10% drinks, 10% meats, 5% shit Nichole adds to the cart because she's hungry). The prices seem to be comparable (aside from meats) but they're obviously not.

And unrelated to food - I GOT THE NEW IPHONE 6! I had a 4s and she was just barely chugging along, crashing apps and being annoying slow. I'm still adjusting to the fact that the phone is like 2 inches bigger than my old one, but it's 1000 times lighter and so much faster! 

Improv Challenge: Paleo Pineapple Whip

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I think everyone I know who has been to Disney World has had a Dole Whip. I am quite sad to say that during my one visit to the land of Mickey Mouse, I was not informed of  such a luscious treat and have been missing out ever since I saw the first copycat recipe posted.

Disney's version uses canned pineapple and vanilla ice cream. I wanted to make a Paleo friendly variety since that's my current lifestyle 90% of the time.

But first, let's talk about the Improv Challenge. After three years of being our faithful host, Kristen has decided to retire and has passed the Improv torch onto Lesa, who I'm sure will do a great job. In case you've missed the dozens of recipes I've posted explaining the Improv Challenge, let's review that again, while we're at it. Each month there are two ingredients and our challenge is to create a recipe using them. To find out more, or to sign up, head on over to Lesa's page.

The two ingredients for this month are milk and honey. Part of me wanted to find a savory recipe for these two ingredients, but then I was searching for recipes with the two ingredients and found this and then all thoughts of savory recipes flew out of my head. Sorry?



Paleo Pineapple Whip
Source: Detoxinista
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped (or 12 oz. frozen unsweetened pineapple)
    • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or coconut)
    • 1 tbsp. honey 
Directions:
1. If using fresh pineapple, you'll want to freeze this for 12 hours or preferably overnight.
2. Combine ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender (like a Vitamix) until smooth.
3. Transfer to a large zip-top bag. Cut off a corner and pipe into dishes. Serve immediately.



I just don't even know what to say. It's delicious. You need this in your life. And even if you bought a Vitamix just to make it, it would still be a hell of a savings over a trip to Disney World. (Well, maybe not if you're a Florida resident and go by yourself, but you know what I mean!) 

Citrus Basil Mojito Popsicles

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This year was the first year that I managed a successful indoor herb garden. I don't know if I finally figured out the trick to any successful garden or if this combination just worked out nicely for me.

I purchased self-watering pots. The majority of the herbs came from the plants you can buy in the produce section of Wegman's. I put a 2 inch layer of Perlite on the bottom of each pot, then covered it with Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil. Each plant was planted as far down in the pot as possible and I added a thin layer of more Perlite on top of the soil to ensure that no fruit flies took up residence.

I started with my first plant of basil and rosemary back in early April. I am quite proud to say that it is still surviving quite well. I added parsley, chives, thyme and mint to the mix. The only success I did not have was with cilantro because it flowered before I could get to it and then never recovered. Still, I consider this a great success.

If you didn't know, mint grows out of control. It could easily be used as a ground cover should one want a mint scented garden. It's also crack to Gidget who will fall over and roll around on the floor if you're polite enough to break off a leaf for her. (Mint is like catnip to cats)

Anyway, since I purchased my first mint plant at my first garden attempt, three years ago I said I was going to make mojitos. And I tried once and they just turned out terribly. I still have no idea what I've done wrong and have yet to attempt it again.

I saw this recipe as a way to use up the basil and mint growing at a rate that I could not assume and as a nod to my mojito making plans that had failed.



Citrus Basil Mojito Popsicles
Source: Skinny Taste
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 2 tbsp. sugar or honey 
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp. lime juice
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 4 fresh basil leaves
    • 4 fresh mint leaves
    • 1 tbsp. rum (optional)
Directions:
1. Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours or until solid.



The kick of rum in a popsicle is absolutely awesome. These taste just like summer to me and made just the tiniest of dents in my basil and mint forest.

Breakfast Pizza

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I am forever thankful to my coworker for introducing me to the Stalkerville website. While the name is a bit odd and really does nothing to convey (at least to me, perhaps there is an inside joke I'm missing?) that it is a site full of healthy recipes I really do love going through the new submissions and check in at least weekly.


Paleo is still very new to me and I am simply fascinated by all of these people who created recipes before this was even popular. I mean, obviously they had to eat, but I can only imagine it is an awfully daunting task to think of recipes back when there was so little out there to go on.

Anyway, I saw this recipe and was very curious. A pizza crust made of sweet potatoes? Topped with baked eggs and tomatoes and ham? It looked simply beautiful and I was excited to try it out.



Breakfast Pizzas
Source: Hold the Grain
Servings: 12
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Ingredients:
for the crust:
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
    • 1/4 cup coconut flour
    • salt and pepper
for the pizza:
    • 1 tbsp. butter (Kerrygold for Paleo)
    • 2 cups baby spinach
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 5 eggs
    • cherry tomatoes, quartered
    • thin deli ham, roughly chopped
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, shred the sweet potato then combine with the coconut flour, salt and pepper. The mixture should be wet, but able to be molded. Add more flour if necessary.
3. Place a 3 or 4 inch round cookie cutter on the prepared baking sheet. Fill with the sweet potato mixture, using your fingers to press down evenly and to the edges. Lift up the cookie cutter and repeat until sweet potato mixture is used up.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
5. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt the butter Add in the spinach and  garlic, cook until wilted.
6. Whisk together the eggs and add to the pan. (Add more butter beforehand if necessary) Use a spatula to lift up the set part of the eggs to move liquid underneath until scrambled.
7. Assemble the pizza by topping with the spinach-egg mixture than the quartered cherry tomatoes and chopped ham.



I opted not to add cheese to this and found it quite delightful. You could easily add in some shredded cheddar to the eggs if you really wanted cheese in this dish. I could not get over how incredibly good these were. The sweet potato crust is what impressed me the most and I am quite curious to see what other recipes I can use with this base. 

Customer Service

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We live in a world of instant gratification. Where we want more than what we need and where we expect that anything we want should almost magically appear. I'm as guilty of it as the next person. I become impatient when my phone refuses to connect to social media or when the power goes out. I've come to rely on these things and strongly dislike when my semblance of normalcy is disrupted.

Something I think has changed greatly in the course of only a few decades is customer service. Years ago, great customer service was the norm. Not because these people were paid well to do so, but because we lived in a time where pleasing others, helping others was common. It wasn't this self-absorbed selfish world we currently inhabit.

Somewhere along the way of impatience and technology, customer service has waned. Laziness ensued. Why should anyone work any harder than they absolutely need to? There's no immediate benefit, so why bother?

You used to dial an 800 number and reach a person. Now you reach an automated voice that leads you through a series of prompts that, in most cases, doesn't get you anywhere closer to resolving your issue than before you called.

This laziness, this impatience but mainly this technology has lead us to the life where when a company does something wrong we immediately blast them on social media. Because it's powerful. Because it's more than just calling and complaining. Now people can see just how much this company wronged you! And granted, I'd guilty of this as well.

The sad truth that I have come to realize now is that we spend so much time complaining about things, voicing our frustrations to these companies that we fail to ever acknowledge when they go above and beyond. Which is an irony in and of itself. Twenty, thirty years ago what we think of as excellent customer service was just your standard customer service.

Last week Dunkin Donuts started offering Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk in their stores. This is the first time they've offered a dairy free option. As someone trying to complete a Whole 30, this was much appreciated. But do you know what most of their comments on Facebook said? First there was a litany of complaints that they charge you more for almond milk because it's the same price as milk in the store. (Not in the stores I visit however. It's more expensive.) Then the complaining went onto the brand because how dare they choose Almond Breeze over Silk or any other non-dairy company. And I read through these comments, or should I say complaints, one after another of these people bitching and whining and all I could think was really? It can't just be enough that they have finally offered a dairy free option but because it is not the option that you want, it's not good enough. Make your damn coffee at home then! It's not like you already weren't!

Now I didn't just type all of this because I wanted to tell you about people complaining to Dunkin about almond milk. I typed all of this because I wanted to share with you two great customer service experiences I had.

On Wednesday my boss told me that he thought his laptop battery was dying and he needed a new one before he left for China on Saturday morning. I immediately hopped online and started price comparing to find him a battery. And I found that all of the sites had at least 3 day shipping time frames. I needed 2 day. I initially ordered from one company (and in the event of keeping the complaints to myself I shall not reveal it) who said on their website it would be delivered on Friday the 5th. Once the order was placed however, the delivery date changed to Monday the 8th. I tried to resolve this with their most unhelpful customer service employees and eventually just gave up.

Then I found the battery on Quill.com, an office supply site that I've used for many, many years at various jobs I've had. Their website also said delivery on Friday or Monday. I called the customer service line and explained my situation. I was transferred to another portion of their shipping department who was able to determine that the item was in stock in a northern PA warehouse. By paying additional shipping fees for two-day service, they guaranteed that I would have the item on Friday. I first company made no attempts to help me at all but both representatives I spoke with at Quill instantly made it their mission to get me this laptop battery on time. Impressed with the lengths they were willing to go, I immediately hopped on Twitter and told them they made my day.

The other company to provide me with excellent customer service this week was Comcast/Xfinity. Now I'm sure a ton of you have just furrowed your brow in confusion because they are not known for their great customer service skills. Now, I won't lie, I have had my issues with Comcast in the past but I truly believe they have gone great lengths to improve their customer experience.

For weeks Tom has been complaining about our crappy internet speed. If he was playing a game online and I had more than two webpages open, our internet was seriously struggling. Our wifi was pretty crappy and loading apps could take minutes. Looking online, it appeared the only way to get more internet came with a hefty price, one that I was not willing to pay.

I'm cheap. I think I've admitted that on here before, but I can't stand that we pay for all of these channels that we never even watch and there isn't a way to customize your television package to include the channels you would actually like to see.

Hesitantly, I called Comcast last Saturday, expecting that I would be told there was no way to increase our internet speeds without spending more money than I was interested in paying. Instead I was pleasantly surprised. I called, explained that our internet was terrible but that I just simply didn't have any more money to pay for it. The rep put be on hold to see what she could do and came back to tell me I could have the faster internet speed with the same television and telephone service for the same price that I was paying, it just involved a two year contract. This entire encounter took less than 5 minutes. I agreed and then she told me we'd lose our internet connection for a few moments while the new information was set to our router so we could have the faster speed. Less than five minutes later, we could significantly tell the difference.

I tweeted them as well to say I appreciated the service.

These little gestures, sharing the good instead of the bad are simply necessary sometimes. We already live in a world where terrible things happen on a regular basis, it is the absolute least we could do to share something that we appreciate. Something that made us happy. And to let others know.

(I haven't received any compensation or anything from any of these companies by mentioning them in the post. I just wanted to put the information out there.)

Chipotle-Cheddar Turkey Burger with Avocado Cream

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When I saw this recipe I was intrigued. Chipotle, cheddar and avocado are key words for me. I really like all three ingredients so combining them together in a burger seemed like a no-brainer for me.

Plus, it's a turkey burger so it's even healthier. And I used the Sargento thin sliced 45 calorie cheese AND no bun. That's like equivalent to eating plain salad, right? ;)


Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Burgers with Avocado Cream
Source: Iowa Girl Eats
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 burger buns
    • 4 slices cheddar cheese
    • toppings: lettuce, tomato
    for the avocado cream:
    • 1/2 ripe avocado
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • juice of 1/2 a lime
    • salt
Directions:
1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
2. In a large bowl combine ground turkey, garlic, chipotle peppers, shallot, cilantro, salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
3. Grill for 3-4 minutes then add cheese and grill 1-2 minutes or more until cheese has melted.
4. Meanwhile, combine the avocado, sour cream and lime juice together in a bowl. Mash until smooth then season to taste with salt.
5. Assemble the burger with desired toppings and a generous heap of the avocado cream.



This is by-far one of my favorite burgers ever and I like me a lot of burgers. The chipotles in the patty gave just enough heat for the avocado cream to cool it down. 

Malibu Chicken

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One of Tom's favorite meals is Chicken Cordon Bleu. I don't make it very often because there is something about wrapping a chicken breast and baking it that just throws any culinary skills I have out the window because I am convinced it will not cook properly. Which is silly, I have a meat thermometer that even has a "poultry" setting, but it still happens every time.

When I saw this recipe and read the instructions that you grill the chicken first before adding the ham, I knew I needed to make it right away and that Tom would definitely like it.



Malibu Chicken
Source: Creme de la Crumb
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
for the sauce:
    • 3 tbsp. mayo
    • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
for the chicken: 
    • 2 chicken cutlets or breasts (pounded to 1/2 thick)
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • 2 slices thin deli ham 
    • 2 slices Swiss cheese
    • 2 fresh pineapple wedges
    • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Preheat a grill to high heat.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
4. Remove chicken from the grill and wrap each one with a slice of deli ham. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on top. Return the chicken to the grill until the cheese melts.
5. Plate the chicken and place the pineapple wedges on the grill for 1-2 minutes on each side or until just grilled. (Optional)
6. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve with pineapple.



As expected, he loved this recipe and so did I. The pineapple adds this nice bright flavor to the chicken and the sauce is perfect.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

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There was a post the other week on the message board I frequent about making salsa. Of all the recipes I've made, fresh salsa has never been one of them which is kind of surprising since I've always liked it and its not a particularly difficult recipe to make.

Later in the week my mom decided she was definitely having people over for Labor day and asked me what I wanted to bring. With salsa on the brain, I decided I would finally make some of my own.

It didn't take me long to find a recipe that was perfect. I even visited a local farmers market for local tomatoes and the freshest of ingredients.



Roasted Tomato Salsa
Source: Closet Cooking
Yield: about 2 cups
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Ingredients:
    • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, halved
    • 3 jalapenos
    • 1 poblano pepper
    • 1 bell pepper
    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
    • juice of 1 lime 
    • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin
    • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the halved tomatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip tomatoes over and bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove from the oven transfer to a plate or bowl to let cool.
2. Increase the oven to broil and place the jalapenos, poblano and bell pepper on the foil lined sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes or each side of the peppers or until charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover.
3. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins from the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Once the peppers have cooled, peel off the skins and dice, removing the seeds.
4. Combine tomatoes, peppers, garlic, lime, cilantro and cumin together in a bowl. (You can process in a blender or food processor if you want a smoother salsa.) Toss to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.



The jalapenos I got were particularly potent and even without their seeds (or the very few I missed) this was one spicy salsa. But it was so good! I have no idea why I haven't made this before, and for such an easy recipe I should definitely make it again for parties!

My only adjustment to this recipe was to add in the bell pepper, simply because I had one that was going to go bad soon and had no other plans for it.

Weekly Menu 9/7 - 9/11

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I had truly intended to start out September as the month where I put a larger emphasis on blogging since I had pretty much failed in that aspect for the entire summer. I have a ton of recipes photographed, just waiting to be typed up, which I had planned to do on Monday since it was a holiday and raining.

However, I slept wrong or pulled something and it hurt like hell to extend my right arm forward. Seeing as that is the hand I use on the mouse and considering it hurt to even type and I knew I had a lot of work to do on Tuesday that would involve that arm, I opted not to do any extra typing or mouse using than I actually needed, which meant my blog had to suffer for the first week of the month.

I do plan on trying my hardest to make it up to you though. I have recipes to share and I know I really need to update my recipe list as well since it's been months since I've done so. I guess the silver lining to not blogging as much means it won't be a terribly long task to update that list. :/

I still can't believe we're somehow in September already and summer is over. They're already offering pumpkin coffees. I was in a craft store yesterday that had Christmas decorations out! Could we slow down just a bit? I am in absolutely no hurry to return to any semblance of winter since people keep saying it's going to be worse than last year. Which, is just not imaginable to my brain. I blocked out every threat of winter weather last year until it actually arrived and still barely made it through it without wanting to take a one-way flight to permanently warmer temperatures.

So anyway, onto the menu for this week:

Sunday: bacon wrapped pork with cherry sauce, baked potatoes and asparagus

Monday: chicken salsa verde with stir fry veggies

Tuesday: stuffed flank steak, salad 

Wednesday: bahn mi burgers

Thursday: street tacos

For breakfast this week, another repeat; the sweet potato and turkey hash. For lunch I'm trying a recipe on saw on the Whole 30 Instagram, of grilled chicken sausages with various grilled veggies.

I also made a delicious Paleo friendly dessert for my coworker's birthday last week which I fully intent to repeat this week and blog for you.

Now while I am not at all ready for fall temperatures or the following weather, I was absolutely thrilled to see honeycrisp apples in the stores already. The $4/pound part wasn't so nice, but I sucked it up and bought them anyway because they are my favorite apple and their season is so short, I didn't want to miss any chance I got of eating them! 

Secret Recipe Club: Corn Fritters

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This is the second month in a row I've received a humorous blog for my Secret Recipe Club assignment. This month I was assigned to Why Am I Not Skinny which, of course, left me pondering that question.

Then I made smores with bacon on them and was quickly reminded of why I am not skinny.



Anyway, I had a fun time going through the blog and looking for something to make. With the abundance of fresh corn we have around these parts in the summer, it didn't take me very long to decide on corn fritters.

I was also very intrigued by the picture, which showed a corn fritter topped with fresh mozzarella and a tomato slice.



Corn Fritters
Source: Why Am I Not Skinny
Servings: 8 fritters
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Ingredients:
    • 2 large ears of corn, shucked 
    • 1 heaping cup all purpose flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped (or herb of your choice)
    • salt and pepper 
    • oil, for frying 
for topping:
    • fresh mozzarella slices
    • tomato slices 
    • fresh basil leaves
Directions:
1. Slice the corn kernels off the cob and into a bowl. (There is a really easy way to do this: Invert a small bowl inside a larger one. Place the cob on top and slide your knife down. The kernels will fall into the larger bowl below. A bundt pan also works amazingly for this.)
2. Combine the corn, flour, egg, baking powder, chives and salt and pepper together. The mixture will be quite sticky. Add additional flour as needed. Form into 8 evenly sized corn patties.
3. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering.
4. Gently lower the corn fritter into the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
5. Remove with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess oil and place on a paper towel to blot any remaining oil.
6. If desired, top each fritter with a slice of mozzarella, a tomato slice and a basil leaf.



I couldn't get over how pretty the corn fritters looked with their colorful toppings. What shocked me even more is I sat down to eat one and Tom said it looked really good and really pretty. Then he asked if there were more and if I could make him one like that. Confused, I told him there was a tomato slice on it. And basil.



To which he stated it looked good as is and he wanted to try it that way. Hell froze over or we gained another planet or something because he actually ate two of them topped with tomato and mozzarella (no basil, but hey I'll take a victory where I can get it) and asked when I could make them again. I'm still in awe over this! 
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