Avocado-Chicken Burgers

The only drawback of these flavor-packed chicken burgers is that they have to be pan-cooked in order to keep their shape because they are very moist. Worth the mess!

The original recipe notes that the ginger, garlic, cilantro and scallions incorporated into the burger makes them similar to a dumpling filling. They were fresh and light.

I loved the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce and loads of toppings. I served them with a generous amount of sauce, and jalapeño and avocado slices on potato rolls. There were so many toppings that we forgot to add lettuce! I may even try them topped with arugula next time.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yasmin Fahr. I used freshly ground chicken thigh meat and froze the formed burgers for 20 minutes prior to cooking. We ate them with pickles and chips.

Yield: Serves 4

freezer for 20 min before cooking

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or fish sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  •  Kosher salt
  • 1 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup mashed, ripe Hass avocado (from about 1/2 avocado; slice the other half for serving)
  • 2 scallions, light green and white parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, grated, minced, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, grated or minced (about 2 tsp)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat (I used freshly ground chicken thighs)
  • 2 T neutral oil, such as canola oil, or ghee
  • potato, brioche, or other burger buns, lightly toasted, as desired
  •  butter lettuce or other tender lettuce, for serving, or arugula
  • 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced, for serving, optional

To Make the Sauce:

  1. In a small serving bowl, combine the mayonnaise and soy sauce.
  2. Season with the juice of 1 lime wedge and salt as needed.

To Make the Burgers:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to mash and thoroughly combine the chopped cilantro, mashed avocado (see Tip), scallions, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of the soy-lime mayonnaise sauce.
  2. Add the chicken and gently combine. Form into 4 large balls.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for 20 minutes to help maintain the shape while cooking.
  4. Heat a large (12-inch) cast-iron or heavy skillet over medium heat until very hot, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  5. Add the neutral oil or ghee, then add the chicken meatballs, spacing them out in the pan. (We cooked 2 at a time.)
  6. Use a metal spatula to press them until they form 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  7. Cook without moving for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes, until a deep golden crust has formed and they easily release from the pan.
  8. Flip the patties using the spatula and cook until done with a nice crust on the other side, about 3 minutes more. If the patties need more time, cover the pan and cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to avoid scorching.
  9. Squeeze a lime wedge over the patties and serve sandwiched between the buns topped with lettuce, a healthy slathering of sauce, avocado slices, jalapeño slices if using, and cilantro sprigs, if desired.
  10. Serve with the remaining lime wedges and mayonnaise on the side.

Tip: Resist the urge to add more than 1/4 cup mashed avocado to the ground chicken, as the burgers will get too soft and fall apart during cooking.

Fried Chicken & Biscuits

Over the years, my husband has perfected his ultimate birthday menu. Our entire family looks forward to the annual feast. 😉 After his approval, I do try new variations of a few items on the menu- with the exception of his absolute favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake.

I wanted to try this recipe because it is meant to be made in advance, served at room temperature, and made to travel for a picnic. This is ideal because his birthday is usually one of the first days of the year we are able to eat outside on our back porch. We also eat leftovers for a couple of days! The leftover chicken stayed crisp and was great at room temperature but we preferred to re-heat the biscuits the following day.

The fried chicken recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Tejal Rao, inspired by Masaharu Morimoto’s katsu in the cookbook “Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking.” The biscuit recipe was adapted from Sam Sifton’s all-purpose biscuit recipe, also from The New York Times, but is lightly kneaded so it’s not too tender to form into a sandwich. I modified the method and proportions. I also omitted the hot honey butter for salted butter but included the recipe below.

We ate the chicken sandwiched by a split biscuit with or without salted butter and half sour pickle slices. The feast also included Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese, Sweet Potato Spoon Bread, and green salad with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. (and birthday cheesecake for dessert, of course) ❤

This dish would be perfect for a Memorial Day or Father’s Day celebration as well. Chicken breast meat can be substituted for the thigh meat, if desired.

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Biscuits:

  • 3 cups/450 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 tablespoons/37 grams baking powder
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 7 T/100 grams cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups/360 milliliters whole milk

For the Fried Chicken:

  • 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in half if large (I used 9 thighs and cut the larger pieces to make 15), at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 T/170 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp cayenne
  • 3 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs
  • about 2 cups/200 grams panko bread crumbs, plus more if needed
  • canola or other neutral oil, for frying (I used vegetable oil)

For the (Optional) Hot Honey-Butter and To Serve:

  • 10 T/142 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 T honey
  • hot sauce, a vinegary variety such as Crystal, to taste
  • sliced half sour, fridge pickles, or dill pickles, for serving
  • salted butter, at room temperature, to taste

To Prepare the Biscuits:

  1. In a bowl, use a fork to mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
  2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or a fork to mash it into the flour until the mixture resembles large, lumpy crumbs.
  3. Stir in milk until a dough comes together.
  4. Flour your hands, then gently gather and knead the dough in the bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it springs back slightly to the touch. (If the dough is sticky, sprinkle additional flour as needed.)
  5. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and rest dough in fridge for half hour (longer is okay!). (I prepared the chicken while the dough was resting.)
  6. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough to 1-inch to 1 1/2-inch thickness.
  8. Use a floured knife or round cutter to cut about 12 biscuits, about 2 1/2 inches wide.
  9. Re-roll the scraps and cut again as needed.
  10. Place biscuits on a rimmed, parchment paper lined, baking sheet and bake for 15 on convection, or up to 20 minutes in a conventional oven, or until they have puffed up and the tops are slightly golden.
  11. Let cool completely on a wired rack at room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container if not using until the next day.

To Prepare the Fried Chicken:

  1. Trim excess fat and any membranes from the meat, then lightly hammer the thickest parts of the thighs with a mallet or rolling pin. Season each side with coarse salt.
  2. Mix flour, cayenne and salt in one wide bowl. (I used a glass pie dish.)
  3. Beat eggs in a second wide bowl, or glass pie dish, and place panko in a third.
  4. Dip each chicken thigh in flour, coating it all over and patting off the excess, then in egg, allowing extra egg to drip off, then in panko, making sure each thigh is entirely coated in bread crumbs, and using your hands to press loose crumbs into any places where they look scarce.
  5. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, pour in oil to a 2-inch depth and heat to 350 degrees F. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet and clipped on a thermometer.)
  6. Fry 2 to 3 thighs at a time, flipping them with tongs over every two minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 8 minutes total.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack set over a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season lightly with salt. (This step is very important in order to maintain the crispy texture!)
  8. Let cool entirely at room temperature, at least 1 hour. (I baked the biscuits at this point.) The sandwiches can be assembled after cooling or transfer the rack to the fridge and leave the chicken uncovered overnight.

To Serve:

  1. When both the chicken and biscuits have cooled (or the next day), mix together soft butter, honey and hot sauce until smooth, if using. (We opted for plain salted butter.)
  2. Cut or split open the cooled biscuits, smear each cut side with honey butter or salted butter, and sandwich with a piece of chicken.
  3. Top with pickle slices, as desired.

Note: If traveling, loosely wrap each sandwich in a piece of parchment paper and pack side by side in a hard container, in a single layer, so the sandwiches aren’t crushed. Serve with additional hot sauce and pickles on the side.

Chicken-Spinach Burgers with Feta & Tzatziki

These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.

Yield: 7 to 8 burgers

For the Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (can substitute ground turkey)
  • 4 cups baby spinach, long and/or thick stems removed, chiffonade
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped, finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 5-6 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil and/or cooking oil spray, for grill
  • 8 potato rolls, split, lightly toasted (if desired), for serving
  • sliced red onion, tomato, and/or avocado, for topping, as desired
  • tzatziki sauce, for topping (see below)

For the Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • dash cumin
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup grated English cucumber, squeezed dry (I used the small holes of a box grater)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used the juice of half of a Meyer lemon)
  • fresh dill or parsley, minced, to taste

To Make the Burger Patties:

  1. Using a meat grinder fitted with the medium disc, grind 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (Alternatively use 1 1/2 pounds of pre-ground chicken or turkey.) Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cut spinach, scallions, garlic, crumbled feta, cumin, salt, pepper, egg and panko. Using a fork, mix to combine.
  3. Add the ground meat; mix gently with a fork until just combined.
  4. Form into 7 to 8 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

To Make the Tzatziki:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients with a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Refrigerate so that the flavors can develop while the burgers are cooked.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as desired. Additional lemon juice can also be added.

To Finish & Serve:

  1. Coat the grill grates with vegetable oil and preheat on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator to bring the burger patties to room temperature. To prevent sticking, coat the burgers with vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray.
  3. Cook the burgers until lightly browned on both sides and until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve the patties on rolls topped with tzatziki and sliced red onions, tomatoes, and/or avocado, as desired.

Note: Burger patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

S’mores Blondies

I first made this crowd-pleasing dessert for our last summer beach day and sunset before the start of school. I’ve already made them again! Insanely delicious.

The bars are not overly sweet and they have an amazing texture. I weighed the dry ingredients to ensure perfection. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I modified the method. Fabulous!!

Yield: 24 blondies
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 135 grams), or store-bought graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into chunks (I used 78% cacao Lindt)
  • 2 ½ cups/150 grams mini marshmallows
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of excess parchment on the long sides of the pan. (The excess will help you pull the blondies out later.)
  3. If using whole graham crackers, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine powder. Alternately, you could put the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add them to the bowl. If using store-bought crumbs, add them directly to the food processor.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the crumbs, and pulse a few times to combine.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  8. Turn the mixer to low and add the graham crumb mixture and mix just to combine.
  9. Add about ¾ of the chocolate to the mixer and mix to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use damp hands or a small offset spatula to press the dough into an even layer.
  11. Bake on the lower rack until the bars are golden at the edges and the surface has a crackly appearance, 25 minutes on convection or about 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate on top of the marshmallows and return the pan to the top rack of the oven.
  13. Bake until the marshmallows have softened and are lightly toasted and the chocolate is melted and gooey, 10 to 14 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. If any of the marshmallows have puffed up, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture them; they will deflate easily.
  15. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, 45 minutes.
  16. Using a thin knife, slide the blade between the blondies and the pan on the short sides of the pan, then use the parchment sling to carefully remove the blondies.
  17. Let cool another 10 minutes, then slice into 24 even pieces and serve.

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

I have made slow-cooker pulled chicken sandwiches in the past but felt like they would be improved with slaw. This version fulfilled that wish! We ate them on soft potato rolls with chips. It was a wonderful, casual dinner that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful night.

This recipe was adapted from Just Cook It! 145 Built-to-be-Easy Recipes that are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. I used broccoli slaw as a base for the cole slaw topping and opted to not toast the rolls. With minimal preparation required in the morning, it’s a great dish to serve after a busy day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 8 to 10)
  • potato sandwich rolls, split, toasted if desired, for serving
  • slaw (recipe below), for serving

For the Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 12 ounces broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s) or Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage
  • 1 large Ruby Frost or Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 1 very firm Anjou or Bartlett pear, cored and juilienned
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Chicken:

  1. In a slow cooker, whisk together the apple cider, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and then season generously with salt and pepper.

To Make the Slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline set to 1/8″, julienne the apple and pear. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise by hand, if using.
  3. Add the fruit to the mayonnaise mixture, followed by the shredded cabbage/broccoli/Brussels sprouts.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Pile the pulled chicken on soft or toasted potato buns, top with slaw, and serve.

Note: The pulled chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Berry Breeze

Mr. BrookCook searched for the perfect Mother’s Day cocktail and this was it. 🙂 Springy, tasty, and, in the vein of a Moscow Mule, topped with a splash of ginger beer. I loved it!

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Camille Austin of Hakkasan in New York City, via Town and Country magazine. It would also be perfect for the upcoming holiday weekend- and all summer long.

Yield: 1 drink

  • 2 oz lemon vodka
  • 4-5 blackberries
  • .25 oz fresh lime juice
  • ginger beer, to taste
  1. Muddle blackberries in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add vodka and lime juice; shake over ice.
  3. Strain into ice filled double old-fashioned glass or copper mug.
  4. Top with ginger beer, to taste.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel, a lime wedge, and/or blackberries. Serve.

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Grilled Glazed Salmon & Bacon Sandwiches

More… Salmon! Easy and delicious. Grilled too. 🙂

This post is really belated. We ate these yummy sandwiches on Memorial Day… Thank goodness it’s still fabulous grilling weather! They were such a great alternative to standard holiday grilling menu items.

I served these sandwiches with German Potato Salad with Dill and Pasta Salad with Peas and Summer Beans on the side. For dessert, we enjoyed a Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie (a family favorite!), Milk Bar Sugar Cookie-Cake Squares, and ice cream, of course! I almost forgot to mention our New York Soft Pretzel appetizer- yikes! It really was an All-American feast.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Marcia Kiesel. I served the sandwiches on brioche rolls but would opt for potato rolls next time. Too much bread for me! 😉

Yield: Serves 4

For the Glaze & Salmon:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish, drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  • canola oil, for rubbing
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Light a grill.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the mustard, horseradish and honey.
  3. Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the salmon over moderate heat, skinned side down, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  5. Turn and grill for 3 minutes longer, until the salmon is almost cooked through.
  6. Turn the salmon again and spread each fillet with 1 tablespoon of the horseradish glaze.
  7. Turn and grill until glazed, about 30 seconds.
  8. Serve the remaining glaze on the sandwiches, below.

Note: As with any sweet glaze, brush the honey-horseradish-mustard sauce on the salmon in the last minutes of grilling, or else the sugars in it might burn.

For the Sandwiches:

  • 4 kaiser, brioche, challah, or potato rolls—split, toasted and buttered
  • 4 red lettuce leaves
  • 8 thick bacon slices, cooked until crisp, as below
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, cut into 12 thin slices
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the bacon in a single layer, divided between 2- 9×13-inch pyrex dishes.
  3. Bake for 30 or 35 minutes, until crisp. Remove from pans and place on a paper towel-lined, rimmed baking sheet to drain.
  4. Spread the remaining horseradish glaze from the Grilled Glazed Salmon on the rolls.
  5. Place a lettuce leaf, 2 crispy bacon strips and 3 slices of Granny Smith apple on each buttered roll and set a salmon fillet on top.
  6. Close the sandwiches and serve.

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