Chili Lime Chicken Burgers & Homemade Buns

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Burgers always remind me of summer. Barbecue season, camping, etc. And even though it’s the middle of January, it’s been uncharacteristically warm in Calgary, so burgers (and even barbecuing, if I had one) are actually super reasonable. Even when they’re flavoured with lime and spices, making them even more summer-y. I think I need to buy a barbecue soon here, now that I think about it.

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These burgers are ridiculously easy, super light and healthy, and so, so flavourful. The buns, of course, take a little more work, but sometimes I just find myself in the mood to knead dough, you know? It’s actually kind of therapeutic (I can’t be the only one who feels this way…) If you’re not crazy , though, you could definitely just buy buns at the store, or even wrap these in some lettuce for an even lighter option.

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Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

Makes Four Burgers 

Adapted from Against All Grain

1 lb Ground Chicken

1/4 cup Red Onions, diced

1/4 cup Red Bell Peppers, diced

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 tbsp Fresh Cilantro, minced

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 cup Lime Juice

1/4 tsp Red Chile Flakes

For serving: homemade buns, sliced avocado or guacamole, sliced tomato, mayonnaise, romaine lettuce, pepper jack cheese

1. Saute onions, bell peppers, and garlic in a bit of olive oil over medium heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until soft.

2. Place all of the ingredients, including the cooked onion mix, in a medium bowl and use your hands to combine well. Divide and shape the meat into four patties.

3. On a barbecue or grill pan, cook for 6 minutes on each side, over medium heat, or until internal temperature registers 175 degrees.

4. Serve, and top with anything you like (but the avocado is super necessary!!)

Homemade Burger Buns

Makes 8 Burger Buns

Adapted from The Kitchn

1 tbsp Active-Dry Yeast

1/2 cup Warm Water

1/2 cup 2% Milk

1 large Egg

2 tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 tbsp White Sugar

1 tsp Salt

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 tbsp Unsalted Butter

1. In a large bowl, combine the yeast and warm water and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes until the yeast dissolves.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt. Add this to the yeast mixture, and whisk to combine. Add all of the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until it is roughly combined.  Take out the dough, and knead for 10 minutes, flouring your hands/working surface as necessary. The finished dough should be smooth, slightly tacky, and spring back when poked.

3. Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about an hour until doubled in size.

4. Place the dough back on your floured work surface and divide the dough into 8 pieces, shaping each into a tight ball. Transfer the dough balls to a baking sheet and let rise until puffy and hamburger-sized, about 30 – 45 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter and brush it over the risen hamburger buns. Bake the buns until nice and golden, about 15 – 18 minutes. Allow buns to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. Buns will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or in the freezer for a month or two.

Lemon Chicken Linguine

Late night post = short and sweet post.

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This pasta is exactly what I need to eat when I’m stressed out to the max with studying for my Canadian Nursing Exam (naturally, I still somehow make time to cook…). The lemon makes it feel summery, and although it has a good amount of butter, it’s lighter than most recipes that I’ve seen, which usually contain quite a bit of heavy cream. I also used spelt pasta that I got from an Italian specialty shop, which I love. The texture is much better than some other whole wheat pastas that I’ve tried.

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This one is a definite crowd pleaser, so I hope you’ll try it!

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Lemon Chicken Linguine:

Adapted from Mama Miss

Serves Four. 

2 Chicken Breasts

1 tsp Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Unsalted Butter

1/4 cup Parsley, finely chopped

5 Lemons, freshly squeezed

2 tbsp Lemon Zest (or zest of 4 lemons)

1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Garnishes: Parsley, Parmesan, Thin Lemon Slices, Freshly Ground Pepper

1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add chicken to the heated skillet and lower temperature to medium, cover pan and grill chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165° F. Shred chicken and cover with foil to keep warm, then set aside.

2. Prepare linguine according to package directions, adding salt to water. Reserve and set aside one cup of linguine water and drain.

3. While linguine is cooking, heat butter in large skillet over medium heat until melted. Add shredded chicken and stir 1-2 minutes until heated through. Add parsley and lemon juice, and lemon zest to skillet, stir to combine. Add cooked linguine and grated cheese to skillet, toss mixture. Add a small amount of linguine water and stir to combine, adding more water as needed to create a light sauce.

4. Serve in bowls and top with parsley, parmesan, lemon slices, and freshly ground pepper.

Chicken Pot Pie for Perfectionists

I initially made this way back in November for a group of friends. I didn’t plan on sharing it here because I didn’t have time to take pictures, and also because I thought the recipe was a little long and complex. Luckily, this recipe actually makes two pies. One to eat now, one for the freezer. So five months later (I wanted to eat it sooner, but kept saving it for some occasion, and then I really wanted chicken pot pie and figured that was occasion enough) I popped this baby into the oven. And I realized that I couldn’t not share the recipe.

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It took me forever to remember where I got the recipe from in the first place. I checked all of my go-to websites and didn’t think they were quite right and was kind of stumped. And then I remembered that even though this is 2014, physical cookbooks exist. In this case, Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder exists. And I don’t know how on earth I forgot about it. This book is full of elegant (but easy) recipes that will inspire you to throw a dinner party, and remind you that it doesn’t have to be complicated. From Clam Chowder to Banana Cake with Coffee Icing to Beet and Orange Salad with Arugula and Pistachios, there are dozens of recipes that are right up my alley. It’s safe to say I need to bring this one out more often.

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I wouldn’t usually call myself a perfectionist, but in the kitchen my standards get very high – not necessarily for all food, but for the food that I cook. I am definitely, as they say, my own worst critic. And this pot pie holds true to its title. It leaves the harshest critic with literally nothing to complain about. I can’t think of one thing that could possibly make it more delicious. I could use every adjective that I know to describe how perfect this pot pie is, but I couldn’t do it justice. You must make this. I do not go around making claims like this for no reason, people.

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The only problem with a food this delicious is that it means that you will forever be comparing others to it. I honestly don’t think I will ever be satisfied with another pot pie again. I made my own pie crust, which I definitely recommend, but I kind of cheated and used a pre-roasted chicken instead of roasting my own, and I think I may have skipped a step with the stock… It’s funny, because I think if I was making this now I would probably just take the extra steps. I’ve come a long way in 6 months! Try not to be daunted by the ingredient list. It’s not supposed to be a quick dish. Take a Sunday afternoon in the kitchen for this one. You can substitute different things if you need to, but remember, this pie is supposed to be for perfectionists 😉

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Chicken Pot Pie for Perfectionists:

Makes 2 Pies 

Adapted from Dinner Chez Moi by Laura Calder 

For the Chicken: 

1 whole Chicken

Salt & Pepper

1 – 2 tbsp Butter, softened

For the Enriched Stock: 

1 large Carrot, halved

1 medium Onion, unpeeled and quartered

1 Celery rib, roughly chopped

1 Bay Leaf

a few sprigs Parsley

6 Peppercorns

1 tsp Tomato Paste

1 tsp Soy Sauce

3 cups Chicken Stock

For the Crust:

3 cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup Cold Lard, cut into pieces

1 tsp Salt

1/2 cup Ice-cold Water

For the Garnish:

3 Carrots, sliced

2 Celery ribs, chopped

16 Pearl Onions, unpeeled

1 tbsp Olive Oil

6 slices Bacon, cut into small strips

2 cloves Garlic, minced

2 cups Frozen or Briefly Blanched Peas

2 large handfuls Chopped Fresh Parsley

For the Sauce: 

3/4 cup White Wine

3/4 cup Butter

1/2 cup Heavy Cream or Creme Fraiche

Salt & Pepper

1/2 tsp Paprika, more to taste

To Finish:

Egg Wash

Sea Salt

1. For the chicken, heat the oven to 375. Set the chicken in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, rub with butter, and roast until the juices run clear, basting occasionally, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin. Remove most of the meat from the bird; set aside. Put the carcass and neck into a stock pot. Add the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 and 1/2 hours. Strain and reserve 2 1/2 cups stock for the recipe (cool and freeze any remaining stock for future use). Remove any chicken clinging to the bones and add to the reserved meat. Chop all the meat into bite-sized pieces. You should have about 5 cups of chicken pieces.

2. While the chicken roasts, make and chill the lard pastry. Put the flour, lard, and salt in a food processor and pulse to crumbs. Add the water, and pulse until the dough just comes together. Remove, pat into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until you’re ready to roll it out.

3. Prepare the garnish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt it, then blanch the carrots and celery until al dente, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and rinse in ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly in same water, then blanch the pearl onions for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain, and peel.

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the bacon until cooked but not crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the onions to the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last minute. Add to the bacon, and then add the peas, parsley, and reserved chicken meat. Season with salt and pepper.

5. For the sauce, pour the reserved chicken stock into a saucepan, add the wine, and bring to a simmer. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warm stock and cook until thick, 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of cream. Season well with salt and pepper, and stir in the paprika. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and mix gently to combine thoroughly.

6. To assemble the pies, spoon the pilling into two 9-inch pie plates. Divide the pastry into 2 disks, roll out rounds, and lay over the filling, pressing to seal the edges. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

7. Heat the oven to 450. Brush the tops of the pies with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Cut 2 or 3 slits in the tops to allow steam to escape. Bake for 25 minutes, reduce heat to 350, then continue baking until the crust is deeply golden and crisp, about 30 minutes longer. When it’s ready, slice and enjoy. Finally.

Aguadito (Peruvian Chicken Soup)

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I made soup. Soup that is deliriously good, spicy, and will fight off any cold that you have lurking. It is also green. Green foods are cool right now, right? And cilantro is full of antioxidants and is said to have antibacterial and immune-boosting properties. It is also a digestive aid, and could even decrease anxiety.

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A Cozy Kitchen has been one of my favourite food blogs for a while now, and this recipe was her Mother’s, who is from Peru. I used this recipe exactly as written, not adjusting anything at all to my own tastes, in hopes that I would get a truly authentic result. While I’ve never been to Peru, this soup is spicy and so chalk-full of flavour that I can’t imagine anything could possibly make it better.

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I don’t have a lot of experience in international cooking, but I do love finding new recipes for ethnic dishes and I can’t wait to travel more and experience the world through food, learning recipes along the way. In fact, I am already dreaming up my next trip (after Europe, this summer) to travel South America.

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I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to choose a favourite “type” of cuisine to eat or even to cook, because I love all food so much. I love Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Indian, Vietnamese (to name a few), and now Peruvian, so how could I possibly pick one? I couldn’t.

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Aguadito (Peruvian Chicken Soup):

Borrowed from A Cozy Kitchen

Serves 4 

3/4 cup Cilantro Leaves

1 Serrano Pepper, halved & deseeded

4 Garlic Cloves (2 whole and 2 minced), divided

4 1/4 cups Chicken Broth, divided

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 Chicken Thighs, skin on & bone in

2 Chicken Drumsticks, skin on & bone in

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

1/4 cup White Rice

1 ear of Corn, cut off the cob (or canned if not in season)

Salt to taste

1 Lime

1. Add cilantro leaves, serrano pepper, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to a blender. Blend until mixture is thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, carefully add chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin-side down. Cook on first side for 4-5 minutes, and until skin is crisp and slightly browned. Flip on second side and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

3. If the chicken absorbed all of the oil, add one more tablespoon of olive oil. Add yellow onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Next, add red bell pepper and ground cumin, allowing to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add minced garlic atop of mixture and cook until fragrant.

4. Add the rice and cilantro liquid mixture to the pot and mix, being sure to completely coat the rice. Gently add the chicken back to the pot and cover with the remaining 4 cups of chicken broth. The broth should just cover the chicken. Cook for 20-30 minutes, and until rice is fully cooked.

5. When you’re ready to serve, add salt to taste. This will all depend on how salty your chicken broth was. Mix in corn right before serving.

6.Add a few cilantro leaves to each bowl of soup, along with a few wedges of lime. It’s important.