Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

I love a good turkey burger. It’s really fun to add different flavors because the turkey can take on pretty much anything. Plus, the more extra ingredients you add, the juicier the burger. I love the Italian turkey burgers I’ve featured on SeaJetCook before, but this time I’m going Mediterranean.

These Mediterranean turkey burgers are super simple to whip up on a weekday night. Most of these ingredients are listed in my kitchen staples, but you can almost always find all of them in my kitchen at all times: extra lean ground turkey, frozen spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. I love adding the spinach to the turkey burger because it adds moisture and fills space with ultra-healthiness. The sun-dried tomatoes add acidity, flavor, and a nice chewy texture; and the Parmesan adds the ooey-gooeyness that tricks you into thinking that this healthy burger is naughtier than it is. It’s as easy as that!

I love the sun-dried tomato in here, it adds a really special kick of flavor to the burger. So delicious, so juicy, and so healthy!

I love the sun-dried tomato in here, it adds a really special kick of flavor to the burger. So delicious, so juicy, and so healthy!

What you’ll need:
1.25 pounds extra lean ground turkey
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

It's easier to mix with your hands

It’s much easier to mix everything together with your hands, so get in there and get messy!

Set your grill pan on medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray (or, get the BBQ up and running!). Because the spinach takes up so much space, this recipe makes about 6 turkey burgers. Section off about 6 equal-sized sections of the turkey mixture. Roll one section into a ball with your hands, then flatten and throw it on the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil to keep in the heat and moisture.

I definitely understand living a busy lifestyle, so I love how easy this is to whip up.

I definitely understand living a busy lifestyle, so I love how easy this is to whip up.

Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve on a bun or by itself, it’s good either way!

Advertisements

Let’s Talk Steak

Steak is a treat food for me. I don’t eat it all that often because it’s a little pricier than my go-to chicken and it’s not as healthy to eat all the time. But if you do it right, steak can be budget-friendly and good for you. Plus, I think it’s even easier to cook than chicken. Steak is a lot more forgiving because you can cook it to your liking, whereas you can only cook chicken until it’s done (no rare or even medium-rare chicken, please). So before I get into a simple steak recipe, I want to share some basic tips for cooking steak.

Steak is a delicious, easy treat.

Have you ever heard of the hand test to check if the steak is done? No? Well no more cutting the steak open to see if it’s cooked! And no meat thermometers either. Cutting the steak open or poking a hole with a meat thermometer lets the juices run out and makes the meat dry (not to mention it’s not super pretty either). Instead, all you need is the palm of your hand to check if your steak is rare, medium rare, medium, or well done. Simply press on the meat and compare to the pad of your hand as is shown below:

Raw: Open the palm of your hand. Relax the hand. Take the index finger of your other hand and push on the fleshy area between the thumb and the base of the palm. Make sure your hand is relaxed. This is what raw meat feels like.

Rare: Press the tip of your index finger to the tip of your thumb. The fleshy area below the thumb should give quite a bit. This is what meat cooked to rare feels like. Open up your palm again and compare raw to rare.

Medium rare: Gently press the tip of your middle finger to the tip of your thumb. This is medium rare. Press on the steak and see if it feels similar – this is my favorite doneness.

Medium: Press the tip of your ring finger and your thumb together. This is what meat cooked to a medium doneness feels like.

Well Done: Now gently press the tip of your pinky and your thumb together. Again feel the fleshy area below the thumb. It should feel quite firm. This is what well done meat feels like when you press on it.

Got it? It’s pretty simple really, and it’s amazing how accurate that test is. Just remember that the meat continues to cook for a little bit after you take it off the stove or grill.

Next tip: Always let the meat rest so it can reabsorb the juices. Don’t you hate when you cut into a steak and the juices run all over your plate and into your potatoes? Instead, let the steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting into it. Cover it with aluminum foil to keep it warm.

Last tip: When buying steak, I generally gravitate towards less marbling (less fat). More marbling may mean more flavor but I think it makes the meat tough and chewy, not to mention much less healthy for you. If you get a cut with the fat around the outside instead of throughout, then you can cook the steak with the fat on for the flavor and then just cut it out when you eat it. Also, you don’t have to buy filet mignon to have a good steak. You can get decent cuts of meat for a decent price if it’s just any regular weekday night. Save the splurge cuts (like filet mignon) for special occasions.

Ready for a super simple steak recipe? Here goes…

What you’ll need:
2 steaks, any cut
1 teaspoon steak seasoning

What you’ll need to do:

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Get your pan really hot before you put your steaks in – searing the meat will lock in the flavor and juices. Season both sides of the meat with the steak seasoning (if you don’t have steak seasoning, just use some salt and pepper). Cook the steak for about 5 minutes on each side using the hand test to check doneness. Serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy!

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

When Parmesan is included in the name of a recipe you immediately think indulgent, right? Believe it or not, this dish was inspired by a Biggest Loser Recipe. So not only is this dish delicious, but it’s deceivingly figure-friendly too.

I find that I get into a veggie rut every once in awhile. I cycle through broccoli, green beans, and Brussels sprouts throughout the week. Occasionally I’ll throw some asparagus into the mix, but that’s just another green vegetable. Don’t get me wrong, I cycle through them because they’re my favorites. Cooked carrots or corn are too sweet for me. And unless it’s a salad, I often forget what else I can put on my plate. Cauliflower is the perfect answer to mixing things up. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, a great source of Vitamin C, and even has a little protein. So throw a little cauliflower in your weekday routine to mix things up! And use this easy, delicious recipe is a great excuse to do so.

I like to sprinkle on a bit of dry parsley to add a pop of color, and fresh parsley spoils too quickly in my fridge. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!

What you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or just regular salt)
1/2 tablespoon dry or fresh chopped parsley
Cooking spray

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut your cauliflower so that you’re just left with the florets.

**Tip: If you want to just buy the cauliflower in already-cut florets to save time, use about 4 cups of florets.

Spray an oven-proof covered casserole dish with cooking spray. Put your cauliflower florets in the dish, and spray them lightly with the cooking spray. Mix with your hands to evenly coat. This helps the Parmesan, garlic, garlic salt, and parsley adhere. Once evenly sprayed, add the seasonings and mix with your hands.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

My Healthy Fried Egg Sandwich

For those of you who don’t know, I have been training for a half marathon. It’s coming up in 3 weeks (yikes!), so my long runs are getting up there in mileage. And after a long run, I need to eat. Immediately. It’s important to replenish your energy and rebuild your muscles with a combination of carbs and protein. This fried egg sandwich accomplishes both of those nutritional needs – the bread gives you the carbs you need to replenish glycogen, and the egg gives you protein to rebuild your muscles – and it takes about 5 minutes to make, satisfying that urgency to eat.

Don’t let the word “fried” fool you. Instead of frying the egg in oil or butter like in a traditional fried egg sandwich, I just use a little cooking spray. I also use high-fiber whole grain bread and light mayo instead of their high-calorie counterparts. It’s a great post-workout snack or even a quick, healthy lunch.

Ooey, gooey, and delicious. You can barely tell it’s healthy!

What you’ll need:
2 eggs
2 slices high-fiber whole grain bread
1 tbsp light mayo
Optional toppings: ketchup, pickle relish, or mustard

What you’ll need to do:

Put your bread in a toaster and toast to your liking; set it and forget it.

Set a small pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. After it has heated, crack one egg into the center and let it cook for about 2 minutes – you’ll see the white of the egg start to cook.

Kind of like a pancake, when you see the white start to bubble and cook you know it’s time to flip.

Flip the egg, and cook for another 2 minutes.

The yolk will cook over-easy, which makes for some great dipping later.

After it’s done, put the first egg on your toast (which should be done by now; if not, you burned the bread).

Repeat with the second egg. Once that egg is done, top your first egg with the second egg.

Smear your second piece of toast with the light mayo and top your egg sandwich.

Yum. And so easy.

Cut it in half and enjoy. You can dip your sandwich in the yolk that has run all over the plate – yum!

Two-Step Homemade Sausage Pasta Sauce

One of the best things you can do as a cook is make friends with your butcher. Not only can they give you tips on how to cook the meat, but they can also point out specials on good cuts of meat. And honestly, they’re generally ignored and love to strike up a conversation. My butcher makes this delicious sweet Italian sausage without the casing, which is perfect for sauce. It’s especially easy because I don’t have to cut the sausage meat out of the casings (which you can certainly still do). It’s the “cheater” way to make a good sauce that tastes like you’ve labored for hours (it’s way better than anything from a jar alone), and it only takes as long to make as your pasta.

Delicious dinner in less than 15 minutes!

What you’ll need:
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 jar pasta sauce (tomato basil, tomato garlic, or whatever is in your cupboard)
1 tbsp olive oil

What you’ll need to do:

Set your saucepan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. If you get your sausage meat in the casings, cut the meat out of the casing so you only have the ground sausage. Put your ground sausage in the pan, then break apart with a wooden spoon.

Keep breaking that meat apart as it cooks. If you think about any good meat sauce, you just get little pearls of sausage instead of big chunks.

While the sausage meat browns, continue breaking apart into small pieces – you want it to be evenly distributed in the sauce. After the sausage meat is cooked all the way through, add your pasta sauce and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for a few minutes (or until your pasta is done cooking).

Let it simmer so the flavors have time to marry.

Enjoy!

Turkey Meatballs: Part 4 – Marinara Turkey Meatballs over Quinoa

We’ve finally made it to the last installment of my turkey meatball series. As you’ve read, most of my turkey meatball recipes are healthy spins on old favorites. First and foremost, the turkey meatball itself is a healthy spin on a traditional Italian meatball, using brown rice instead of bread crumbs and extra lean ground turkey instead of pork or veal. Then we had the turkey meatball lettuce wrap take the place of a traditional meatball sub, and the turkey meatball soup is a healthy version of a matzoh ball soup.

Part 4 is the  pièce de résistance in my healthy swaps. Instead of serving a traditional meatball over a pile of pasta, I’m serving the already-healthier version of meatballs over quinoa with a big scoop of marinara. It absolutely satisfies my craving for Italian food (which I crave often), while being much more figure friendly. I bring this to work for lunch all the time, and my coworkers always ask, “What smells so good?” The quinoa soaks up the garlicky marinara, and the herbs in the sauce bring out the oregano in the meatballs. It’s a perfect, delicious, guilt-free weekday meal that takes virtually no time to make.

Already packed in a Tupperware for lunch. Yum.

What you’ll need (makes 1 serving):
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup marinara sauce (whatever is in your cupboard)
4 turkey meatballs

What you’ll need to do:

This recipe is less about cooking, and more about assembling already cooked ingredients. I usually have quinoa already cooked and packed in Tupperware in my fridge, the turkey meatballs have already been cooked on the weekend, and I just use a store-bought jar of sauce.

If you don’t already have the quinoa cooked, simply follow my Quick and Easy Quinoa recipe. You need one part quinoa to two parts water. Like I mentioned, I usually make a big batch and store it in my fridge for up to a week. If you haven’t already made your quinoa, bring your quinoa and water up to a boil in a small saucepan. As soon as the water starts to bubble, cover and turn the heat down to low. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Assemble your dish by putting down 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, top with the turkey meatballs, and slather with the marinara. If you’re bringing this to work for lunch, just reheat for 1 minute on high in the microwave. Delish!

Turkey Meatballs: Part 3 – Turkey Meatball Soup

We’re on to part 3 of  my turkey meatball series, and you’ll have to trust me with this one. When I first heard of turkey meatball soup, I was very skeptical. So one night when Clinton was out of town, I made this dish for myself (I didn’t want him to be a guinea pig for a dish that even I was unsure of). Because I put in the work on Sunday to make a big batch of turkey meatballs – like I’ve been preaching over the last couple posts – I grabbed a few from my fridge and gave it a try. Needless to say, I’m so glad I did!

This dish reminded me of matzoh ball soup. The broth is slightly salty, which adds a different flavor to the turkey meatballs. At the same time, the pops of garlic, onions, and oregano in the meatballs add plenty of flavor to an otherwise boring broth. Besides, it’s kind of fun to break into one of those meatballs and take a giant scoop of meat, cheese, and broth! As long as your turkey meatballs are made ahead of time, it’s a delicious, 5 minute dinner dish that uses only kitchen staples. Added bonus: it’s about 200 calories, over 25 grams of protein, and very low carb. It’s perfect for a lazy Wednesday night.

Trust me, this is delicious. And wouldn’t you want to try any dish that takes only 5 minutes to make?

What you’ll need (1 serving):
4 turkey meatballs
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Heat up your turkey meatballs and chicken broth separately so that the turkey meatballs have the opportunity of heating all the way through. The turkey meatballs take about a minute on high in the microwave. The chicken broth takes a minute on high in the microwave, too – heat the chicken broth in the bowl you’re going to eat the soup in.

Put the meatballs in the warm broth and top with the Parmesan. The Parmesan will get all melty and gooey – delicious! This is an easy one to pack for lunch, too.

Enjoy!

Tangy Yogurt Veggie Dip

In my opinion, veggies by themselves can be pretty boring – especially if you eat them every single day (as you should). In the interest of being healthy, I make it a point to snack on veggies every day for either my morning or afternoon snack. They’re easy to throw in with my lunch for work, and they’re great to snack on while I’m sitting at my desk. But I always need a little something else, something to go with the veggies that adds a little richness and makes my afternoon snack slightly more filling and satisfying. This is where my Tangy Yogurt Veggie Dip comes in.

Rather than dip my veggies in Ranch dressing – which believe me, I’d love to do – I have this dip to satisfy my craving. Ranch is too fattening, processed, and high in sodium to qualify for a healthy snack; it cancels out the veggies. Instead, this dip has all the creaminess of Ranch, but it’s not processed and it’s high in protein, which adds nice balance to the fiber-rich veggies. Plus, I added lemon juice and a little cayenne pepper for a little zing. It’s easy to make little containers to pop in your lunches for work, or even bring to a BBQ or serve at a party.

This one was inspired by my favorite health expert – Bob Harper.

What you’ll need:
2 tablespoons nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash of cayenne pepper

**This makes the perfect serving size for a snack, but increase the amounts based on how much you need. It’s just two parts Greek yogurt to one part lemon juice. Add cayenne pepper to add a little heat.

What you’ll need to do:

Take all ingredients and mix. Simple as that!

I have these little containers that I throw these ingredients in, then seal the lid and shake.

Serve with any kinds of veggies. My favorites are baby carrots, celery, slices bell peppers, broccoli, or cauliflower.

Italian Turkey Burgers

At the risk of sounding super cheesy, this one is healthy for the hips, but tastes naughty on the lips!

This recipe is one of the best happy accidents I’ve made in awhile. In fact, I just made it tonight and was so excited that I had to post about it right away. Turkey burgers have a tendency to be bland, dry, and frankly unappetizing. But at the same time, they’re incredibly healthy, so I try to eat them every once in awhile to mix it up. When I came across a recipe for an Italian Turkey Burger, I was intrigued and thought I would try it out.

This morning, I wrote down all the ingredients I would need and planned to stop on my way home from work. The recipe called for lean ground turkey, crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Since the seasoning, garlic, and Parmesan are all in my kitchen staples, I knew I had them in my kitchen. All I needed was the turkey and tomatoes. After spending some time at the market gathering ingredients for dinner and other meals this week, I checked out and went home. Not long after getting home, it hit me: I forgot the crushed tomatoes. Shoot!

But then I got to thinking… crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic… that’s basically pasta sauce! And I always have a jar of basic pasta sauce in my cupboard because it’s a kitchen staple. So I swapped out the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic for my basic tomato basil pasta sauce, and came up with these 3 ingredient Italian Turkey Burgers.

And I must say, these are delicious. Not in the this-is-a-fine-Tuesday-night-meal way. But in the finger-licking, oh-my-God-this-is-amazing way. Because of the pasta sauce, these are juicy and tender, not at all dried out like a typical turkey burger. The sauce and Parmesan add a huge punch of flavor that reminds me of biting into a giant, gooey meatball – and not the healthy kind, the naughty kind.

I wrapped these in lettuce, which gave it a nice crunch and texture to offset the burger – not to mention, it’s much healthier than a bun. But you can certainly put these on a bun, as well, or even eat them plain. You really can’t go wrong.

YUM.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):
1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 cup pasta sauce – I used a tomato basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Set a grill pan (or a large skillet) over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray.

Dump your turkey in a medium size bowl. Add the pasta sauce and Parmesan, then use your hands to combine.

3 simple ingredients. 1 amazing dinner.

Divide the mixture into four (approximately) equal parts. Roll 1/4 of the mixture into a ball in your hands, then flatten to make a patty. Place these in the pan as you go.

Because the pasta sauce is red, it gives these the allusion of looking like beef.

Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until it’s no longer pink in the center.

Wrap in lettuce, put them in a bun, or just eat it plain. Whichever way you choose, get to it! I will definitely be making these often.

Wrapped in lettuce and served with a side of spinach drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette. This unexpected Tuesday night meal was definitely worthy of a Friday.

Egg White Omlette Loaded with Turkey Bacon and Veggies

Happy weekend! As you saw in my pancake post, weekends are my favorite for making killer breakfasts. So if you’re in the mood for something more savory but still super healthy, this egg white omlette is for you. In under 20 minutes, you’ll have a hearty, protein-packed, garlicky, smokey, delicious breakfast. And most of the ingredients are already in your fridge.

With all the flavor packed in this dish, you won’t miss the less healthy breakfasts at all. You’ll still get the creaminess with the bits of Parmesan, you’ll still get the texture of the eggs, and you’ll still get the smokiness and saltiness with the turkey bacon. Eat up and enjoy this guilt-free breakfast.

What you’ll need (makes 2 servings):

  • 1 cup egg whites
  • 4 slices turkey bacon
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 pinches of shredded Parmesan cheese (about 4 tablespoons)
  • As many veggies as you can pack in, such as:
    • Tomato
    • Bell pepper
    • Mushrooms
    • Broccoli
    • Zucchini

**Tip: Use the steamable veggies you already have in your freezer, or toss in any veggies you need to use up in your fridge. The more you pack in, the more full and satiated you’ll feel after eating tons of “free” foods. Spinach is necessary, but all others are optional.

What you’ll need to do:

Pop your frozen spinach in the microwave to defrost because it takes about 5 minutes to cook. Drain out any excess water after it’s done.

Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and spray with cooking spray. Once it’s hot, put in your turkey bacon. You’ll want to brown it on both sides, so cook for a few minutes on one side and then flip and cook a few minutes on the other. After it’s done, remove from the pan and slice into thin strips.

This is what your turkey bacon will look like. Just make sure it’s browned on both sides.

While your turkey bacon cooks, prep your veggies. Chop any fresh veggies you have, or continue defrosting any frozen veggies after your spinach is done. It’s important that all veggies are ready to throw in before you even put eggs in the pan because they cook so quickly.

After your turkey bacon is done and all your veggies are prepped, turn down the heat in your pan to medium heat – you’ll be using the same pan for the omlette that you cooked your turkey bacon in. Put half of your eggs in the pan (about 1/2 cup) so that it covers the entire bottom of the pan.

Throw half of the spinach right on top of the eggs, spreading over the entire surface area. Then, sprinkle half the garlic and Parmesan over the entire pan. Add the rest of your veggies and turkey bacon (half, of course).

YUM, right?!

Because the egg whites cook so quickly, there’s no crazy omlette flipping necessary (a skill I haven’t quite mastered). Use a spatula to fold half the omelette. Don’t worry if it’s messy, you can just call it a scramble instead 🙂 Either way, it’ll still taste just as good.

Rinse and repeat for omlette #2. And enjoy!

**Note: You’ll notice I don’t add any salt. The turkey bacon and Parmesan have enough that you shouldn’t add any more. But you can add a little pepper if you’d like.