Avocado Stuffed Burgers with Spicy Mayo

We’re big fans of turkey burgers and avocado so when I saw this I knew it’d be a must-try.  Although it’s been a long time since I’ve made regular beef burgers, I decided it would be best to try with beef first since the turkey can be dry and fall apart easily.  The original recipe calls for a spicy paleo mayo, but I didn’t have the time to make it so instead I just added some sriracha to a little regular mayo made with olive oil.  The burgers were a bit greasier than we like and a lot of the mayo oozed out but these burgers were still good on a Hawaiian roll.  Next time I think I’ll try the turkey.  Oh, and the Crispin Hard Pear Cider was a great pairing…

Ingredients:photo464565
  • 2lb lean ground beef
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons herbes de provence
  • 1-1/2 ripe avocado, sliced crosswise

Preparation:

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high heat.  Add all the ingredients except for the avocado, to a fairly large mixing bowl and knead by hand until well combined. Form into 12 thin, equal patties.  Slice the avocados in half crosswise, remove the pit and then slice each half into 3 equal slices; keep the 2 larger slices to stuff the burgers and throw the smaller ends into a small bowl to make the spicy mayo.

To build the burgers, place one avocado slice on six of the patties, then drop a spoonful of the mayo right in the center of the avocado slices. Cover with a second meat patty, then carefully pick this up in your hands and pinch the edges with your fingers to make sure your patties are nicely sealed. Finish forming the patties with your hands so they become beautiful and nice and round.

Brush the patties with avocado oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill over medium-high heat for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on desired level of doneness.

Adapted from:  The Healthy Foodie

 

Just Breathe…

I cannot begin to explain what I’m feeling right now.  This weekend we attended our first event for prospective adoptive parents since we received the approval letter from the agency.  It was both exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.  Exciting because it finally started to feel real and we’d get to meet different kids.  Nerve-racking because we really didn’t know what to expect, didn’t want to get our hopes up too much.  So, this was a back to school match event.  Here’s the premise – prospective parents and kids awaiting adoption get to meet and get to know each other in an informal, social setting.  At the end of the event both the kids and the parents complete a form (separately) making an indication if there was any kind of connection with a particular child/parent.  If any of the matches appear to be viable then social workers help get the ball rolling.  c5397c8849b7b26c0a5e4f0e394f3ada

We arrived early, both of us a little nervous and uncomfortable.  Immediately we met Michael, a recruiter from Children’s Home Society who put the event together.  All of the kids at the event were between the ages of 10-17.  Michael spoke so eloquently and with so much feeling, it brought forth a lot of my emotions almost immediately. I tried desperately to hold back tears.  We mingled and played games, trying to learn about each kid and just have fun.  We’ve said all along we don’t have real parenting experience so attempting to parent a teenager may be too difficult for us to handle so neither of us was expecting to have a strong connection.  But, as Michael said – open your heart, just spending time with this kids and making them special can make a huge impact.  We spent the day getting to know these kids and they were all so wonderful.  I was surprised at how open they were and how the smallest thing could make them smile.

After a few hours we realized we were making connections, we began to truly care about these kids.  They all had different personalities – they all had hopes and dreams and they all have something unique to offer the world.  And, they all just wanted to be happy and to be loved.

What we felt for these kids caught us both off-guard.  At the end of the event when we were completing our form, we wanted to learn more about every one of them.  I swear if we had the means, we’d take them all home with us right then!  But, unfortunately we can’t.  Surprisingly, there was one particular kid that we had a strong connection with.  A young man, who just turned 16.  He was very soft spoken and polite, but open and friendly.  He loves animals and spending time outdoors; loves history, science and art – math?  not so much.  He came up to me before leaving to shake my hand.  To tell me that it was nice meeting us, he enjoyed spending time with us, we seem nice…

So, here comes Michael – and here come the tears…  I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  It was all just so overwhelming.  We leave and head back to our friends’ house where we’re staying for the weekend.  They ask how it went and I don’t know why, but I can’t even talk without more tears.  tears

The rest of the weekend I find myself thinking about this kid – trying to picture what it would be like… is it possible we could parent a teenager?  I just don’t know.  I can’t explain it, but somehow I feel attached to him.  We both do.  After we finally got back home tonight we watched his video on the CHS website.  We don’t know many details about his past or what brought him into foster care, but we did learn that he’s been in and out of foster care since he was six.  Six.  Ten years.  Can you imagine?  We were floored.  And again with the tears…

It’s so hard to explain all the emotions I’m feeling right now.  My heart is breaking and I’m wondering, what do we do?

Sriracha Lime Chicken

Salads are great for dinner in the summer, especially with fresh ingredients and fruit.  I love the pineapple and the kick of the sriracha on the chicken.  The hubs doesn’t even like pineapple but he said he’d totally want this again.  And I’ve used the Lime Vinaigrette on several other salads.
Ingredients:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups lettuce, chopped
  • 8 pineapple slices
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, cubed
Lime Vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • Dash sea salt
Instructions

Heat the grill and season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a bowl, combine sriracha and lime.  Add chicken and marinade in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, the longer the better.  Add chicken to the grill.  Cut pineapple and add to grill for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Chop lettuce, avocado, tomato and red onion, mix with the chicken.  Whisk together ingredients for dressing and toss salad.

Source:  Lexi’s Clean Chicken

Crockpot Enchilada Pasta

Wow – quick, easy & fabulous!  Enchiladas are my go-to when eating out in a Mexican restaurant.  My husband loves the sweet potato enchiladas I make (which I realize now I haven’t posted here yet), but this was so much easier and so much better!  He spooned some into a tortilla and I just ate it in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream.  This is now on our regular rotation.  Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 12 oz bottle enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cup dried orzo pasta

Preparation:

Place all ingredients except for orzo pasta in slow cooker.  Cook on high for up to 4 hours or low for up to 8 until all ingredients are warmed through and cheese is melted.  Add in orzo pasta and stir to combine everything evenly.  Let cook for 15 – 30 minutes on high until pasta is cooked and tender.  Add additional broth or water 1/4 cup at a time if needed to ensure pasta is tender without drying out.

Source:  Crockpot Gourmet

Wild Rice Salad with Strawberries & Citrusy Tahini Vinaigrette

Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits and I picked up some really fresh, juicy strawberries for this one.   I’m a big fan of jasmine and basmati rice.  We also eat a lot of brown rice, but not wild rice.  In fact, in my small town grocer, the only wild rice I found was actually long grain rice mixed with some wild rice.  This salad was good and healthy, but I think it would’ve been better if I’d let the rice cool longer, perhaps even make the rice a day ahead.

Ingredients:photo48496

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice, cooled (follow package directions)
  • 1 cup hulled and quartered strawberries
Dressing
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.  Thin the dressing with a little extra orange juice or water, if necessary.  In a large bowl, toss the spinach and wild rice.  Add strawberries and drizzle the dressing on top.

Source: Set the Table

Blueberry, Avocado & Toasted Pecan Quinoa Salad

If you are looking for an easy, healthy and tasty salad, this is it.  First you’ve got quinoa (protein, fiber, iron), blueberry (antioxidants) and avocado (heart health, anti-inflammatory, potassium, vitamins B, C, E,… need I go on?).  I’m not a huge fan of blueberries but the blending of flavors in this salad is wonderful.  It’s light but also filling, one bowl was plenty for dinner and it was even better for lunch the next day.  My fresh basil made the dressing a little chunky so added some extra lime and olive oil.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2 large avocados, diced
  • 1 cup pecans
Lime Basil Dressing:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, extra virgin
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 large lime, juice of
  • 3 tbsp basil, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a large bowl, add quinoa, blueberries and avocados.  In a small skillet, toast pecans on low-medium heat until lightly brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir frequently and watch closely to avoid burning.  Transfer to the bowl with the other ingredients.  Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing, pour over the salad and gently stir to combine.  Serve cold.  Refrigerate covered for up to 3 days.

Source:  ifoodreal

Chipotle Lime Corn on the Cob

Who doesn’t love corn on the cob in the summer?!?  My family used to pick on how I would eat corn on the cob (picture a typewriter – row by row).  I’ve always loved corn on the cob but I stopped eating corn on the cob when I was a teenager because I was afraid people would laugh.  Needless to say, this corn on the cob is so darn good I really don’t care anymore, every single kernel will disappear!  Just be careful with the chipotle, one pepper goes a long way.  This would be great for a cook-out or neighborhood potluck.

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ears sweet corn
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
Preparation:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Remove husks and silk from corn and place in a 13″ x 9″ baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Brush each ear with melted butter and cover the dish with foil. Cook corn for 30 minutes covered, then remove the foil and cook for 15 minutes more. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, chipotle pepper, cilantro, lime juice, lime peel, and salt. Spread one heaping tablespoon over each ear of corn and sprinkle with Asiago cheese.
Source:   Uncommon Designs

Apple Cheddar Turkey Burgers w/Roasted Tomato Tahini

Holy turkey burger, Batman!  These are by far the best turkey burgers on the planet.  I’m not going to lie, it took me some time and patience to carefully prep and make the burgers just right, but it’s SO worth it.  I know we should probably skip the bun, but my Italian bread-loving husband just had to have the Hawaiian roll and I’m not one to say no to Hawaiian rolls.  These burgers were absolutely incredible, light but filling – simply perfection.  I’m actually drooling a little bit right now…maybe next time they’ll stay on the plate long enough to get a picture!

Ingredients:

¾ lbs ground turkey
1 small red onion, finely chopped
⅓ cup cubed sharp cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
½ cup shredded and peeled Granny Smith apple (about ¾ of an apple)
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Roasted Tomato Tahini Sauce

12 cherry tomatoes
5 tablespoons tahini
1 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
Pinch cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Preparation:

In large bowl combine ground turkey, onion, cheddar, dijon mustard, shredded apple, salt and pepper. With dampened hands shape into 4 burgers.  Grill over medium heat, flipping once until cooked through, about 8 minutes.  Alternatively, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook burgers until golden brown, about 6 to 7 minutes per side.

To make the roasted tomato tahini sauce; thread cherry tomatoes onto metal skewers (or wooden ones soaked in water) and grill, turning frequently, until the skins begin to char and tomatoes are tender but not bursting, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Place in a blender with tahini, vinegar, cayenne pepper and salt and blend until smooth. Add a couple of tablespoons of water if too thick.

Source:  The Iron You

A Summer to Remember

Where does the time go?  So much has happened since my last post.  We’ve been in our new house for two years now and have yet to fill it up.  We’d been trying to have kids for years – yes, years to no avail.  I had refused to get checked out because honestly, I didn’t want to know that there might be a problem.  Well, finally last January I decided it was time.  So we met with a fertility specialist and had some tests done.  Turns out both of us have some issues and the chances of us conceiving is quite small – not impossible, but highly unlikely.  We were both upset, but I was devastated.  All I’ve ever wanted was a family with a house full of children.  I’ve always pictured myself with kids – several of them.  After the initial shock wore off we looked at our options.  There are a few, including in-vitro and embryo adoption.  But it’s really expensive and there’s no guarantee that it’ll work.  Which leads me to how we made the biggest decision of our lives thus far.

adoptEven before we were married, we’ve always talked about adoption.  There are so many wonderful children that just need a place to call home.  You see, adoption was always in our plan but our plan was to have our child first, get some experience and then adopt.  Well, as we all know things don’t go according to plan.  So we decided to attend an adoption information seminar in September.  After much discussion, we decided to submit an application with a well-known agency.  I researched several agencies and the one we picked came with references from several people I talked to that had adopted.  Once our application was received we met with a social worker.  She asked the standard questions about why we want to adopt, etc.  Then she invited us to attend special parenting classes for prospective adoptive & foster care parents, called MAPP.  MAPP classes are only held once a quarter so we had to wait…. four months!

Finally, in February we start attending MAPP.  Boy, was it a lot different from what we expected.  Much to Cru’s horror, there was even homework!  From what I understand normally classes are held over several weeks with one or two classes a week.  With winter weather and cancellations, we ended up finishing 30+ hours of class (including CPR certification) in about a month.  Knowing people who have adopted, people who were adopted themselves and the situation with my mom having custody and raising my stepbrother’s kids I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it takes and how difficult it could be…. yeah, not so much.  We were a bit surprised at some of the situations these kids in foster care go through and what kind of home life they come from.  I remember one particular class where our instructor did a guided imagery exercise that had a huge impact on me.  She had us sit back and relax, close our eyes and just picture us in the situation she’s explaining.  As she talked, she’d stop every so often and ask one of us to tell how we were feeling in that exact moment.  When it was my turn I was so engulfed in emotion that I could barely speak.  It was so vivid, felt so real, I was overcome and it upset me more than I would’ve ever imagined.  Another class involved a panel of families that had been through the foster care/adoption process.  The families were very open and it was extremely helpful to be able to ask questions about their experiences.foster-care

Ah… and then there was the paperwork!  There is so much paperwork!  In addition to the background checks, fingerprinting, driving records, etc.  We each (each!) had to complete a profile that was about 30 pages.  Some of it was general information such as medical history, but most of it was open-ended discussion questions related to how we were raised, how we showed emotion, how we plan to raise our kids, etc.  These were not questions that you could complete in an instant, these were thought-provoking questions that made you really dig deep – sometimes just trying to answer the question caused an emotion that I/we weren’t exactly prepared for.  Then there was the ‘preferences’.  When choosing to become an adoptive or foster parent, you have to choose your preferences – basically what you can/can’t or choose not to handle.  There’s the basics – are you open to any gender, race, age?  And then there are the more difficult decisions – are you open to a child with a medical condition, behavioral issues, developmental delays…?  I could not even begin to list all of the different possibilities on that several page list of issues a child in foster care could have, it was shocking.  Things I would’ve never even thought about before.  The hardest part was saying no to those things I know I couldn’t handle even though it hurt me to know that there is a child with that particular issue that just needs someone to love and care for them.  In my heart I wanted to say yes to all of them but I know that I have my limits to what I can physically & emotionally handle – not to mention Cru and I have to be in complete agreement so that our marriage doesn’t suffer.  The last thing we’d want to do is bring a child into our home when we can’t give them what they so need.

So, after the emotional roller coasters we finished up and our social worker submitted her report to the state requesting our foster care license.  And now we wait…

roller-coaster-of-life

The waiting is agonizing.  Our friends and family are always checking in – “so how’s it going, heard anything yet?”  Nope, still waiting and it could be months.  We’re so thankful for all of the love and support we’ve had while going through this process.  It makes me smile to know that our loved ones share in our excitement and encourage us to continue down this path.  I certainly hope that we’ll continue to have their support going forward.  As I said before this wasn’t really part of our plan, but apparently it was His plan.  I don’t know what’s to come and that’s both scary and exciting.

 

Things on Tuesday

Loathing:

  • Professional adults that make appointments and then don’t bother showing up, calling to let you know they can’t be there or even calling you back after you’ve called them several times!
  • Anxiety about decisions made and the outcome
  • Not knowing what the future holds or what God’s plan is for me

Loving:

  • Quiet alone time with the rain
  • All of the love & support of my awesome family and wonderful friends – it warms my heart to know there are so many people that genuinely care and I don’t know what I would do without them.   When things don’t turn out as I planned or even hoped, I have to remember how truly blessed I really am…