Sunday, March 31, 2013

Best Turkey Burgers Ever

Hello all.
Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, I've been feeling a little under the weather. Apparently flu season has come 2 months late this year, since it seems like everyone is dropping like flies these days. I'm currently ingesting about 5 pots of tea a day and gratuitous amounts of chocolate ice cream while I ride this strange bug out.
Of course, while you're sick, it's important to eat healthy despite any unhealthy cravings. And I happened upon this amazing turkey burger recipe just in time.
See, the other week, I popped into Urban Outfitters and saw this book called The Burger: An Action-Packed Tasty Adventure, a comic book-style recipe book with over a hundred burger recipes. If you can patty it, they have a recipe for it.
I tried some of their basic recipes first and I'm in LOVE with their turkey burger. A sweet and tangy combination, it's super simple to whip up and packs a ton more flavor than just plain turkey meat. Plus the sugar from the apple chunks give the burger a perfect charred look and flavor.

Plus it looks beautiful, especially when paired with some Rosemary Olive Oil Ovenfries. A complete burger and fries meal without the typical fat and oil.

To make 4 delectable patties, grab these ingredients:

12 oz ground turkey meat
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 apple (like McIntosh) peeled, cored, finely chopped
grated rind and juice of 1 small lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt & pepper

Start by heating up your grill pan, frying pan, or George Foreman (my weapon of choice).

Using your hands, gently mix your turkey, breadcrumbs, onion, apple, lemon rind, juice, parsley, salt, and pepper into a large bowl. Divide the mixture up into four balls and gently shape them into patties

Drizzle a little bit of oil onto whatever surface you're going to cook on (turkey burgers tend to stick). Cook for 4-5 minutes on each size (8-10 minutes total on a George Foreman) or until the juices run clear. Trust me, the last thing you want to do is eat an undercooked turkey burger.

Top your grill-marked burgers with some spicy mustard, ketchup, and whatever veggies you feel like. Eat the whole thing and feel no regrets.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Kuwaiti Orange (Sp)iced Tea

As I sit here in the middle of what I'd like to call "second winter," I'm desperate for any sign of spring.
A peak of sunshine behind the clouds?
A hopeful forecast with a high above 45 degrees?
I'll take anything at this point. I've even begun shopping for spring clothes, despite the fact that I can't really wear them for another 2-4 weeks (crossing my fingers the actual number is closer to 2 than 4...). Lovely sundresses and cute tops just gathering dust while I reluctantly grab another sweater each day.
Don't get me wrong, I love sweaters. Sweater season is my favorite part of the year. But too much of something can wear on a person after awhile, and I can honestly say I can't wait to ditch the sweaters in favor of light jackets and dresses.
While I can't control the weather, I can control what I cook, which led to me whipping up a delicious batch of this AMAZING summery tea. Packed with tons of flavor, spicy notes, and fragrant orange, I promise a batch of this stuff will be gone in minutes.
It's like sunshine in a cup for when there isn't any outside.

To make four cups of this tea, grab these ingredients:

1 large strip of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
4 black tea bags
4 cups of water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 quarter-sized coins ginger
3 sprigs fresh mint

Recipe adapted from Aarti Sequeira

Start by combining your water, orange peel, and cinnamon stick in a saucepan or teapot and bring to a boil. Then add your tea bags and soak for 5-7 minutes (5 if you prefer sweeter tea, 7 if you like it more on the bitter side).

Let your tea cool and begin making your sweetening syrup. Combine the sugar, a 1/2 cup water, and your ginger into a saucepan and heat until it boils, without stirring. Turn off the heat and add your mint leaves, letting the mixture cool for about 20 minutes. When it's done, strain the syrup to get the mint and ginger out, adding as much as you'd like to your main tea mixture. Be sure to taste it occasionally - you don't want your tea to be too sweet!

When it's done, garnish with an orange slice and an extra cinnamon stick.

Sip until you feel like you're basking under the sun in some remote island.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicago - Yolk

As you've seen from my other posts, I love breakfast.
And what do I love more than breakfast?
Because brunch is just an excuse to have a triple-sized breakfast after 11 am.
What's there to dislike?
And several weeks ago, my good friends and fabulous cosplayers CourtoonXIII and Sirene told me that one of the best breakfast places in the world is Yolk.
Seeing as all three of their locations are in downtown Chicago, I made a point of dragging my family there during our trip.
And despite the wait at the door, I don't think they were disappointed.

Sunny sky blues and yolky yellows covered every surface and were enough to brighten up anyone's morning. 
As an avid follower of Restaurant Impossible, I can honestly say that Chef Robert Irvine and his designer Tanya would certainly approve of this sharp interior design.

Coffee and tea were plopped down promptly while we finalized our menu decisions.

Yolk literally has EVERYTHING on their menu - scrambles, crepes, omelettes, and every style of egg you could imagine. And almost every dish comes with a side of breakfast potatoes or fruit and toast or pancakes.
I had plenty of time to decided, but still found it hard to choose. Especially after looking at the pounds of delicious food being plopped down at tables nearby.

Finally, we all decided, and the eggs came churning out.
First dish of choice - two eggs sunny side up over sausage biscuits and gravy with breakfast potatoes.

Can I just say - HOLY YOLK. I can see where this place gets its name - look at the size of those!
Then there was the meat-filled crepes with a side of potatoes and pancakes.

And my carnivorous choice: scrambled eggs with applewood smoked bacon, a side of breakfast potatoes, and a side of pancakes.

And now, a bacon close-up:

Delicious. Thick. Crispy edges. Perfection.
And, of course, the side of pancakes (which Yolk is famous for).

The entire meal was absolutely fantastic. Fresh, delicious, and just downright good. They didn't try to jazz up old classics with new spice blends or cooking methods - they used basic ingredients to make basic things really well.
And clearly, judging by their popularity, it's worked out pretty well so far.
So well, in fact, that my mom insisted on buying a tin of their pancake mix.

Just add water and you get a thick and frothy batter in seconds.

They fry up into extremely thick and fluffy cakes that cook to a golden-brown perfection.

Sweet, delicious, and totally easy.
Unfortunately, Yolk doesn't have an online store yet, but you MUST pop in if you find yourself in Chicago. It's definitely one of the best breakfasts you can ever eat.

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Chicago - Mike Ditka's

I will admit to knowing next to nothing about sports.
I've been to a few college football games, but more for the experience than the actual sport.
I typically spend Superbowl Sundays cooking, eating, and reading a book.
In fact, the only sport that I have any conversational knowledge of is English football, but that's just because my boyfriend is obsessed with it.
The moral of the story is, don't expect me to understand sports references.
Which is what I explained to my dad when he told me we should go to Mike Ditka's.
Supposedly a steak haven of downtown Chicago, it was soon explained to me that Ditka's is the upscale sports-themed restaurant owned and managed by former football player and coach Mike Ditka (see Dad, I'm learning!).
All I needed to hear was steak haven and I was down.
Once we got to the restaurant, however, their Friday Fish and Chips special was too much for me to pass up. Sorry steak, but seafood was calling.

I didn't make the wrong decision. These were quite literally the BEST fish and chips I've ever had. Granted, I haven't been to Britain, but I feel like Ditka's fish could go toe-to-toe with anything across the pond. Just my opinion.
Of course, it didn't hurt that my enormous pile of fried fish and potatoes was supplemented by this amazing loaded baked potato

Cheese. Bacon. Chives. Sour cream.
Oh. My. God.

I'm not ashamed to admit I ate the whole thing.
And, of course, there were the other dishes that paraded onto the table during the night.
The glorious salmon platter:

The classic filet:

(so sorry for the awful blur! but I had only one shot before the steak was cut into)

This delectable banana cream pie:

And a phenomenally oversized serving of chocolate ice cream that I enjoyed all by myself:

And now an aerial shot:

While I may not have understood the importance of all the sports memorabilia that decorates the restaurant, there is one thing about this place that was loud and clear.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chicago - The Ghirardelli Store

Last week I was on spring break, so my family and I popped down to Chicago for a bit.

a.k.a. Gotham City
Since I get most of my values from my family, you can probably guess that my family values food.
Especially chocolate.
And although I despise tourist traps, I have to bow down to the beacon of chocolatey heaven that is the Ghirardelli store.

As soon as you walk in, you're greeted with a warm hello and a single square of chocolate.

A few paces in, you'll find enormous bins filled with these squares and big 1/2 pound bags. Typically, there will be several women huddle around the bins, carefully considering each chocolate before snatching up several squares and putting them into their bags. And, of course, there's the pre-bagged chocolate.

I surveyed the chocolates while nibbling on my own, but not even the displays of chocolatey deliciousness could distract me from the main attraction.
Ghirardelli has a menu of signature sundaes and shakes, which means they make their own waffle cones. The smell of those things baking fill the room with sugary sweetness that reminds me of summer trips to the ice cream parlor.
Unfortunately, seeing as my family and I were going to go eat dinner in 2 hours, I didn't treat myself to one of the glorious looking sundaes being served to patrons all around me.

(I also couldn't grab a pic without looking like an extreme creeper)
Fortunately, I found this little beauty online. It's a picture-perfect example of what I was seeing roll out from behind the counter.

image from Tumblr
But, I did grab a coffee and my mom grabbed a croissant - a nice afternoon snack.

And I know I said I hate tourists traps, usually because they're busy, crowded, and have enormous lines for food, but the Ghirardelli store on a weekday was incredibly calm and normal. Instead of feeling like a hotspot off of Michigan Avenue, it had a corner ice cream and coffee shop feel.
With a lot more chocolate ;)

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Garage in Northville

It's not often that I hear my parents ranting and raving about a small local restaurant.
Usually they're talking about some big-city place.
But this week, after multiple days of telling me how much they love this new Northville restaurant called "Garage," I was invited to check it out for myself.
The restaurant is called Garage because it's located inside of a renovated car garage (sort of like Vinsetta, only smaller). 
The restaurant still has touches of its grungy and greasy roots inside, but the menu is all high-class.

We started out with a french onion cheese dip - a deliciously creamy blend of onions, bacon, and swiss cheese with a side of crostini.
This dish is the definition of comfort food.

I should have seen this coming after the first dish, but every single plate at this restaurant is heartily portioned and very very filling. Which means I over ordered, but in the great scheme of things, that's really not a problem, is it?
I opted for a bowl of seafood chowder with my main dish because it sounded so delicious.

Once again, this dish was creamy, filling, and absolutely delicious. A crock pot of butter, cream, shrimp, lobster, and potatoes. YUM.
Which meant, tragically, that I barely had any room left for these amazing mahi mahi fish tacos....

My parents opted for equally large and delicious entrees, such as the pork chop with sweet potato fries

And the perch filets

Needless to say, Garage is one of those places where you certainly get your money's worth. Dishes are plentiful, the flavors are fresh and tasty, and the atmosphere is quaint and trendy. Looks like my parents have good taste after all..

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Afternoon Toast

Since Mallory and I can't go more than a few days without eating brunch, we decided to meet up over our Spring Break for a bite to eat in Birmingham and some shopping.
She recommended Toast, a small restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a retro setting. 

I liked the place as soon as I stepped in and was greeted with this picture.

Someone please tell me where I can pick one of these up for my house?

Mallory looked very excited as she browsed the breakfast menu (which they serve till 3 pm!)

I was just as enamored by their specialty coffee offerings. Any place that has a portion of the menu devoted to coffee is alright in my book.

Once we were given eclectic mugs full of warm coffee and fully immersed in the brunch options, we ordered our food.

I must say, as much as I hate spending money on breakfast food (since I can usually make it myself for cheaper), I absolutely LOVE eating breakfast out. The enjoyment of having a smorgasbord of potatoes, perfectly crisped buttery toast, mugs upon mugs of coffee, and everything covered in runny egg yolks is enough to make me spend the extra bucks to eat out.
Which is why I ordered this:

Eggs benedict and bacon on toasted sourdough with tomatoes and a side of breakfast potatoes. A-Ma-Zing.
Mallory got this fantastically beautiful omelette with potatoes and toast.

And how was it? Here's a hint.


That's what I call taking care of business.
After stuffing ourselves full of eggs and caffeine, we made our way around Birmingham, flitting in and out of shops. I hadn't been down there in awhile, so it was nice to be able to see all the new shops the city has to offer.
While browsing, we came across an old-fashioned candy store. And since I'm actually 4 years old, I had to go inside to check it out.

My favorite part of the store was these little jelly bean bags wrapped up to look like cupcakes. So cute and such an easy gift idea for a candy lover!

If you're feeling the buzz of spring and looking to spend some time walking around, try going to Birmingham! Nothing puts me in a better mood than brunch and shopping.
Except may be second brunch and shopping.

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