hump day treat: fajita burgers & black bean hummus

Happy hump day, folks! How was your Mardi Gras? Splendid, I hope! But does anyone else feel like they need to get back on track after some serious Fat Tuesday indulgence? This recipe for fajita burgers with black bean hummus is quite fitting for you then–tasty enough to help ease your way back into healthy eating, but still a far better alternative to the jambalaya, etouffee and king cake that we so often feast on during this celebratory season. Hope you enjoy!

Fajita burger with black bean hummus

For fajita burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 pound extra lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup reduced fat Mexican blend cheese
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ medium avocado (optional topping)

Directions

Makes 4 turkey burgers

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, then form into four patties.

Thinly coat a sauté pan over medium heat with olive oil.

Cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side (I cooked mine in a George Foreman grill for 5 minutes in total).

Serve with black bean hummus.

Sprinkle with cilantro if so desired.

For black bean hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ teaspoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a food processor or blender, pulse all ingredients until they form a smooth paste.

Serve with pita chips if so desired.

*Recipe adapted from Just a Taste’s Fajita Burgers & Black Bean Hummus

hump day treat, super bowl style

With a very sharp knife, cut the top from a medium garlic bulb, just enough to expose most of the cloves.

With a very sharp knife, cut the top from a medium garlic bulb, just enough to expose most of the cloves.

hummus recipe

Wrap the bulb in foil and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, then roast for 45 minutes to an hour.

hummus recipe

After scraping blended ingredients into a bowl, mix in sun-dried tomatoes.

hummus recipe

Top with olive oil and paprika.

Roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato hummus. Honestly, you can stop right there. Nuff said. I’m a total goner for hummus. This was my first attempt at a homemade recipe, and now, I’m a believer. It’s just better, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, I find this hump day treat appropriate because it’s easy to make ahead of time and maintains its freshness for up to a week, thus making it a delicious (and healthy) addition to your Super Bowl party table. Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup Tahini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained
  • 1 teaspoon flake salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium bulb roasted garlic
  • 3 to 4 cloves of raw garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomato
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Sweet paprika
  • Paprika & Olive oil (for topping)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F

With a very sharp knife, cut the top from a medium garlic bulb, just enough to expose most of the cloves.

Wrap the bulb in foil and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, then roast for 45 minutes to an hour.

Once garlic is roasted, toss it in food processor (a blender doesn’t really work here I’m afraid) with tahini, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice.

Blend until you have a pretty uniform mixture, then scrapes the sides and add the chickpeas.

Blend until combined thoroughly, adding water, more olive oil, or lemon juice as needed to achieve your desired texture.

Scrape hummus into a bowl and top with olive oil and paprika.

*Recipe adapted from I Like This

Quote of the day:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes.” –Mark Twain

hump day treat: bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese ingredients

Spaghetti Bolognese ingredients

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

Bolognese sauce =  delicious, comforting yummyness. The taste is complex and impressive enough to serve to guests, but it also hearkens to the spaghetti sauce of your childhood. I really hope you enjoy this hump day treat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chuck or lean ground beef (lean ground beef is the lighter option)
  • ½ pound bulk Italian sausage
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ cup celery, chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ cup mascarpone
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Brown the ground meat and sausage in oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat

Drain the fat and return to pan

Mince the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a food processor.

Add to browned meat and cook until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes

Stir in the tomatoes, wine, milk, tomato paste, vinegar and seasonings; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

If you are serving the Bolognese over pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta (pasta of your preference) according to package directions while sauce simmers.

If you are serving the Bolognese over spaghetti squash (like I did), click here for directions on how to cook spaghetti squash.

Finish the sauce with mascarpone, parsley, salt and pepper.

Serve over cooked pasta or spaghetti squash.

Quote of the day:

“We are what we repeatedly do.” – Aristotle

hump day treat: zucchini, squash & feta fritters

In this hump day treat, zucchini and squash are paired with feta (and all of its tangy-creamy goodness) as well as fresh dill. You can shred the zucchini and squash using the shredder attachment on a food processor, or a cheese grater will do a fine job as well.

To keep these fritters from falling apart while cooking, and to ensure they develop an attractive brown crust, I rid the zucchini and squash of excess moisture by salting them, putting them in a colander to drain, and then wringing them out with clean paper towels.

These fritters, which can be eaten warm or at room temperature, pair well with a light salad.

Combine zucchini, squash, cheese, scallions, dill, eggs, garlic and pepper in bowl.

Combine zucchini, squash, cheese, scallions, dill, eggs, garlic and pepper in bowl.

Using your hands, form golf-ball-sized portions of the zucchini-squash batter. Then roll balls in flour-breadcrumb mixture until coated.

Using your hands, form golf-ball-sized portions of the zucchini-squash batter. Then roll balls in flour-breadcrumb mixture until coated.

Zucchini, squash & feta fritters

Ingredients:

Makes 8 to 9 fritters

  • 1 pound zucchini, trimmed and shredded
  • ½ pound yellow squash, trimmed and shredded
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (I used Panko)
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat over to 200°F

Toss zucchini and squash with salt and let drain in strainer or colander for 30 minutes. Then place zucchini and squash on clean paper towels and wring out excess moisture.

Combine zucchini, squash, cheese, scallions, dill, eggs, garlic and pepper in bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs and lemon zest.

Using your hands, form golf-ball-sized portions of the zucchini-squash batter. Then roll balls in flour-breadcrumb mixture until coated.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. To know when the oil is ready for cooking, simply splash it with a few droplets of water to see if it sizzles.

Drop four balls of batter into skillet and reduce heat to medium.

Using the back of a spoon, press balls into 3-inch-wide fritters. Fry until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes per side).

Transfer fritters to paper towel-lined baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.

Repeat 2 more times with remaining oil and batter. Serve with lemon wedges.

*Fritters were served over Bibb lettuce tossed in a soy-mayo dressing (Michael’s concoction. He suggests you start with 2 parts soy sauce to 1 part mayonnaise, and adjust from there to your liking).

*Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen.

Quote of the day:

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” –Tom Peters

hump day treat: new year’s eve cocktails

Mud & Water's signature holiday cocktail Driftwood

Mud & Water’s signature holiday cocktail Driftwood

The melancholy associated with Christmas’ end is transformed when one realizes that the merry-making isn’t over yet. Excitement and anticipation set in as the new year steadily approaches. It’s another reason to gather and celebrate, not that we in the south ever really need a reason to do either of those things.

Still, we’ll take the reason handed to us and raise a glass (or two) to 2013. My colleague Chelsea Brasted and I already began cheers-ing in the new year last week. We spent the better part of a day at local bars like Radio Bar, Mud and Water, and Hotel Indigo, videoing bartenders as they made their favorite holiday/NYE cocktails. The results were so splendid that I feel compelled to share the article with you.

The above photo is just a teaser from our video shoot. For a link to Chelsea’s full story/video series entitled “New Year’s Eve cocktails: Recipes from three Baton Rouge bartenders,” click here.

In the meantime, check out some other NYE cocktail ideas from Bitsy & Boo:

French 75

Rose French 75

Elderflower Champagne Cocktail

Starlight Royale

Blackberry Gin Fizz

Pear Thyme Fizz

Cheeky Rose Cocktail

Quote of the day:

“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” –Charles Lamb

hump day treat

Happy hump day, lovelies! Italian sausage and red bell pepper is one of those solidified, unmistakable food duos that can’t be compromised. Like other combinations that have stood the test of time (think PB&J), Italian sausage and red bell pepper may be adapted for various dishes without compromising the ingredients’ basic goodness. This dish below is a great example of that. With a few spices and some whipping cream, you have a delicious sauce, where the crunchy sweetness of the bell pepper and robust taste of sausage are the main event. You can toss the finished sauce in traditional pasta, or you can do like I did, and sub in spaghetti squash. For instructions on how to prepare spaghetti squash, click here. I hope you enjoy!

Italian Sausage Pasta copy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1½ cups whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 12 ounces of pasta of your choice (or, in my case, spaghetti squash)
  • freshly grated Parmesan
  • chopped fresh parsley (for garnish at the end)

Directions

Makes 4 servings

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, about 1 minute.

Mix in sausage and cook until brown, about 8 minutes.

Add peppers and onion and cook until almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Add salt, pepper, basil and oregano.

Cover and simmer 8 minutes. Uncover and cook 2 minutes.

In the meantime, cook pasta according to package directions.

Pour finished sauce over pasta (or spaghetti squash) and toss.

Top with freshly grated Parmesan and parsley and serve.

*Recipe adapted from food.com

 Quote of the day:

“Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.” –Ernest Hemingway

hump day treat: pesto pinwheels

Fancy in appearance and scrum-diddly in taste, pesto pinwheels are my go-to appetizer when I’m trying to impress guests in a pinch. Hope you enjoy. And happy hump day!

Press seams of the crescent roll dough together.

Spread pesto onto dough. *Note: I lay the dough on a piece of plastic wrap during this process. Read on to see why.

Top dough with sun-dried tomatoes.

Then sprinkle with goat cheese or feta.

Roll dough into a log.

Wrap plastic wrap around dough log or place dough in a plastic bag. Dough may be refridgerated for a few days before baking. Or, if you’re in a hurry, simply place plastic-wrapped dough in the freezer for a few minutes. This will allow the dough to firm up, which makes it much easier to cut into.

Slice dough into medallions, approximately half an inch in width (totally up to your discretion).

Place medallions on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! And try to share…if you can.

Ingredients

  • Crescent roll dough
  • Pesto – it can be basil pesto, it can be arugula pesto, whatever you like!
  • Fresh goat cheese or feta
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

Directions

Press seams of the crescent roll dough together.

Spread pesto onto dough. *Note: I lay the dough on a piece of plastic wrap during this process. Read on to see why.

Top dough with sun-dried tomatoes.

Then sprinkle with goat cheese or feta.

Roll dough into a log.

Wrap plastic wrap around dough log or place dough in a plastic bag. Dough may be refridgerated for a few days before baking. Or, if you’re in a hurry, simply place plastic-wrapped dough in the freezer for a few minutes. This will allow the dough to firm up, which makes it much easier to cut into.

Place medallions on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Related story: For another quick, easy and scrumptious app, check out my peach and prosciutto crostini recipe.

hump day treat: light(er) french toast

Peeps, I’m tired. Real tired. I’m in the middle of training for my new position with nola.com and it is AWESOME (truly), but there is a lot to absorb each day, and my full focus and attention is absolutely necessary.

Anyone else out there feeling nervous/excited/overwhelmed by a new job or venture? Is it zapping your energy the way a microwave zaps nutrients from food? Nerd analogy, I know, but that’s kind of how I feel right now. I was a nutritious vegetable filled with all sorts of good things, like a healthy immune system and bag-free under eyes. And now I’m in a microwave.

The upside? I’m going to come out all warm and melty and full of digital savvy that far surpasses the amount I have now, and I’m going to do it in less time than I would if I were in an oven (and by oven, I mean a not-so-digitally driven company). That’s the hope anyway. And it’s a pretty fantastic trade-off if you ask me.

So now that I’ve lengthily played out that metaphor, this week’s hump day treat is a light, but scrumptious French toast recipe. Even though you may be eating a lion’s share of Thanksgiving leftovers all weekend, you can maybe throw this dish into the rotation for breakfast.

For another healthy breakfast recipe, check out my oatmeal blueberry muffins.

I sincerely hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons agave or honey, divided, plus more to serve (It’s equally delicious with either agave or honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Sliced fruit and berries (your preference) 

Directions

Serves 2

In a baking dish, whisk together the egg, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons of agave or honey, and vanilla, until well combined.

In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta, lemon zest, remaining tablespoon of milk and remaining tablespoon of agave or honey, until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

Heat the butter in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium heat.

Dredge the bread in the milk, one by one, on both sides. Add the bread to the pan and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, or until golden.

To serve, sandwich a quarter of the ricotta between two slices of toast

Top with a dollop of ricotta and your preference of sliced fruit and strawberries. Drizzle with agave or honey to serve.

*Recipe adapted from The Fit Cook’s stuffed strawberry French toast.

Quote of the day:  

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence.” –Erma Bombeck 

hump day treat

 

Happy hump day lovelies! These baked sweet potato fries are so scrumptious that I just couldn’t resist sharing them with you. What’s more, they’re extremely easy to make. The toughest part is cutting the sweet potatoes into wedges, which really isn’t difficult at all.

Sweet potatoes are packed with twice as much fiber as other types of potatoes and they also contain high amounts of potassium, beta-carotene and the heart-healthy B6 vitamin. Basically, ladies, this is a friendly carb. I actually made these recently with a little less olive oil and brown sugar than the recipe calls for, and they still tasted wonderful.

What’s your favorite way to cook sweet potatoes? I’m always looking for new recipes, so I’d love to hear from you!

P.S. – Have you ever tried dipping sweet potato fries in barbecue sauce? So delish!

Ingredients

Makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F

If desired, peel sweet potatoes (I like the skin, so I didn’t). Begin cutting potatoes into wedges—I make my wedges smaller so that they take less time to bake.

Add potatoes to a bowl and combine with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika and brown sugar. Mix thoroughly with your hands so every wedge is covered.

Set a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray (A wire rack ensures that the fries crisp up on all sides, but you can go without one. The fries will just be a little mushier, but still delicious!).

Sort wedges on the wire rack and bake for 25 minutes, then check to see if the potatoes are close to where you’d like them. I usually flip the fries at this time, rotate the rack, and put them back in for 15 minutes.

*Recipe adapted from How Sweet It is.

Quote of the day:

“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” –Julia Child

hump day treat: grilled salmon
with creamy cucumber-dill salad

Happy hump day, lovelies! Not to sound cocky, but I feel like I outdid myself with this hump day treat. It’s the best salmon dish I’ve ever made. Having never cooked with dill, I’m now a believer in its earthy sourness. Not overpowering, but juuust right. See the recipe and photos below. I hope you enjoy! And Happy Halloween!

Cut cucumber in half and then slice each half down the middle lengthwise. Use the tip of a teaspoon to scoop out center seeds.

Cut into thin slices and place in colander with finely sliced red onion. Toss with salt and let sit in sink for at least 30 minutes, until water drains out.

Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, dill, garlic, sugar and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Cucumber-Dill Salad

Ingredients

For the salmon

  • 4, 6-ounce salmon filets (At some seafood counters, they’ll remove the salmon skin for you, so don’t be afraid to ask. It may save you a lot of trouble, especially if you don’t have a good paring knife)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the cucumber-dill salad

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/3 cup finely sliced red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons of high-quality mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Makes 4

Cut cucumber in half and then slice each half down the middle lengthwise. Use the tip of a teaspoon to scoop out center seeds. Cut into thin slices and place in colander with finely sliced red onion. Toss with salt and let sit in sink for at least 30 minutes, until water drains out.

In the meantime, make the dressing. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, dill, garlic, sugar and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.

When cucumbers and onions are ready, release any excess water by tapping colander on the base of the sink, then pat vegetables dry with paper towels. Add to dressing and toss well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Preheat grill to high heat. Clean grill rack, then brush lightly with oil. Close lid and let return to temperature. (I don’t have an outdoor grill, so I simply used my George Foreman)

Rub salmon with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and pepper. Place filets skin side down and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4-5 minutes. Flip filets over and continue grilling until done, 2-3 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove the skin if desired, and serve with the cold cucumber-dill salad piled over top or alongside.

*Recipe adapted from Once Upon a Chef’s grilled salmon with creamy cucumber-dill salad.

Quote of the day: 

“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” –Theadore Rubin