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.

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Zucchini Noodles with Homemade Pesto & Tomatoes

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My newest obsession: this World Cuisine Vegetable Spiral Slicer. AKA zucchini (and other vegetable) noodle maker. I had been looking for a good one for a little while, and after seeing it mentioned in a few different places, I knew it was the one. It’s decently compact, only $35, and works like a charm. There are plenty of fancier makes out there, but this one definitely does the trick (it makes noodles that are soooo long) and I am SO EXCITED about it and I can’t wait to experiment more with it!

I decided to try Danielle’s (Against All Grain) method of making the zucchini noodles (or zoodles!) and I’m pretty pleased with it. I might play around with it a little just to see exactly how I like mine best, but I think this is a really good way to start.

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I’d also been wanting to make my own pesto for forever and ever, and I did it this weekend! The recipe came from one of my best friend’s mom’s and it’s my favourite pesto, possibly in the world. Pesto + Pasta is one of my go-to meal’s, but usually I use jarred pesto – it’s not even close to as good, but I think it might be cheaper since basil, pine nuts, and olive oil are all quite expensive. However, homemade pesto is definitely worth it, at least every now and then! I like to freeze pesto into ice cube trays to use later on – just pour into the trays and freeze, removing them and storing in a container or plastic bag until you need to use them. It portions the pesto well, and keeps it fresh. If you double this recipe, it’ll make a full ice cube tray.

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I realize that this is a pretty summery recipe and that maybe I should be starting to use fall squashes and pumpkin and such, and I promise that’ll happen soon, but it is still really warm out here and I’m not quite ready to let go of summer! Soo pesto and zucchini and tomatoes it is.

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Zucchini Noodles 

Adapted from Against All Grain 

1 large Zucchini Squash per person

Sea Salt

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Peel zucchini. Using a vegetable spiralizer (or alternatively, a julienne slicer), place 1 squash on the prongs and line up the de-seeding hole in the middle of the end of the squash. Turn the crank until you’ve reached the end and have long, beautiful noodles.

3. Put the noodles on a cookie sheet lined with paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the noodles in the oven, cooking for 30 minutes. The idea here is that you want to get most of the water out of the zucchini. After 30 minutes, remove from the oven and use the paper towels to squeeze out any remaining liquid.

4. Add the zucchini noodles to any kind of sauce that you like, cooking for an additional 10 or 15 minutes on the stove, over low heat. *Today, I placed the noodles in a large frying pan and spooned a few tablespoons of pesto over, cooking for about 10 minutes and then added in some sliced cherry tomatoes, about 2 tbsp of parmesan cheese, and some black pepper. After 5 more minutes, a transferred the noodles to a bowl and topped with a little more parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.

Homemade Pesto

Makes roughly 4-6 servings, depending on how much you use 

1/4 cup Pine Nuts

4 – 6 cloves Garlic, peeled*

2 packed cups Fresh Basil

1/2 tsp Salt

1/3 – 1/2 cup Olive Oil (depending on how thick you like it)

1. Using a blender or food processor, puree the pine nuts and garlic until chunky. Add in the basil, one cup at a time. Process until the mixture is finely minced and just beginning to turn into a paste. Scrape down the sides of the machine. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil. Process until the mixture is quite fine, but still a little bit chunky (if that makes sense at all?!)

2. Either use fresh, place in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to use over the next week or two, or pour into ice cube trays to freeze for later use.

* I just got this garlic peeler, and I’m loving it (peeling garlic is the worst!)

Blackened Salmon with Mango Avocado Salsa

Why, hello summer! How lovely of you to join us so early this year! (Jk. That was last week. Then it snowed on Sunday. Now its meh. Typical Edmonton…) But just in case it’s lovely wherever you guys are at, here is the perfect recipe for a warm summer evening.

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Confession: I am possibly the worst barbecuer of all time. I don’t actually own one (though I want to!) and I’m honestly not confident that I could even turn one on. And since I have pretty much zero experience cooking on one, I tend to accidentally overcook meat on it and/or mess it up in some other way. Thankfully, I was at my mom’s house and she happens to be quite good at barbecuing. She gets a decent amount of credit for this one turning out so perfectly.

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I love salmon, and it is delicious on the barbecue, especially with this cajun spice rub. I think the spice rub would also work well on chicken drumsticks or thighs… yum. And holy this salsa is insanely good! I was literally eating it by the spoonful after dinner. Overall, this recipe was super easy and not time consuming at all, and I’ll certainly be making it lots (okay, if I had a bbq/could figure out how to use one I would. I’ll make the salsa lots.)

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Blackened Salmon with Mango-Avocado Salsa:

Serves 4 – 6 

Adapted from Against All Grain

1 1/2 – 2 lbs Wild Salmon Fillets

3 tsp Butter

1 clove Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1/2 tsp Oregano

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp Thyme

1/4 tsp Cayenne

Mango Salsa:

1 large Mango, peeled & diced

1 large Avocado, peeled & diced

1/2 cup Cherry Tomatoes, diced

2 tbsp Red Onion, diced

Small handful Cilantro, chopped

1 tsp Fresh Lime Juice

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1. If not already cut, slice the salmon into 4 to 6 even fillets.

2. Combine the butter and all of the spices in a bowl. Rub all over both sides of the salmon. Leave at room temperature while the grill heats.

3. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat

4. Meanwhile, combine the salsa ingredients together in a bowl and store in the refrigerator while the fish cooks.

5. Sear the salmon, skinless side down first. Close the grill lid. Cook 1-3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are. (Try not to move them until you are going to flip them over to help keep them in one piece.)

6. Using tongs and a metal spatula in the other hand, carefully turn the fish over, so that the skin side is down, and reduce the heat to medium. For charcoal grills, finish cooking over indirect heat furthest from the coals.

7. Close the grill lid and finish cooking for another 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Salmon should be just barely opaque and will start to flake along the center of the fillet when done. Serve hot with mango-avocado salsa spooned over it.