Smashed Burgers with Fry Sauce


I love a good burger. Frequently I make them with turkey in an effort to be healthy and because I very much like a turkey burger. Often I top them with fancy things like smoked cheeses and sauteed mushrooms, sometimes honey mustard, other times pesto and arugula. But this is my (our) favorite classic burger. Not gourmet, but special enough to get excited about.

We start with grass-fed beef mixed with a homemade fry sauce (easy! and soooo good). I form the patties into balls and then smash them thin as they cook on a flat grill pan. I take them off the pan just before they’re cooked through, and then top with a slice of cheddar to melt. Sometimes I’m lazy and just buy store bought buns, but if you can find the time these light brioche buns are amazing and worth the effort. Place the patty on a toasted bun, top with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, and more fry sauce. Devour. You’ll likely have extra fry sauce so save it for those fries you serve on the side.

Smashed Burgers with Fry Sauce


1 lb. ground beef (I buy 85% lean grass-fed beef)
2 Tbsp. fry sauce (see below)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
light brioche hamburger buns, for serving
lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion (raw or grilled), cheddar, etc., for serving

Fry Sauce:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt (or more mayo)
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. juice from a pickle jar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder


1. Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. of the prepared fry sauce (directions below). Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix until the sauce and seasoning is distributed throughout the meat. Divide into 4-6 equal portions and roll the hamburger meat into a ball. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Note: I make six burgers from 1 lb. meat because they get too large for the buns when flattened if I make them bigger. You can always stack two patties on one bun!

2. Preheat a flat grill pan/griddle or nonstick skillet to medium-high heat. Coat with oil, butter, or cooking spray. Place the balls of hamburger on the pan (making sure each has enough space around it to spread out) and flatten with the top of the grill or another pan/plate. Cook, flipping halfway through if needed (my Griddler heats on the top and bottom, like a panini press, so flipping isn’t necessary) until the meat is just cooked through.

3. Place burgers on buns and top with lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, cheese, and fry sauce. Yum!

Fry Sauce:
1. Combine ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 4-6 burgers.

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

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By in Beef · Comments { 0 }

Whole Wheat Pancake/Waffle Mix

These have become our favorite pancakes lately. They’re light and fluffy, despite being 100% whole wheat (I recommend white whole wheat flour) and easy to adapt with whatever fruit/spices/add-ins you want. This recipe calls for making a mix to keep in the pantry which makes them even easier for a weekday breakfast, but you can of course just make a single batch or two at a time. I almost always add the vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. We love them filled with wild blueberries and/or topped with vanilla Greek yogurt and more fruit- banana, strawberries, etc. One morning I served them with juicy ripe peaches, maple syrup and creme fraiche- oh my goodness, amazing!

Whole Wheat Pancake/Waffle Mix


Pancake/Waffle Mix:
6 cups white whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt

Note: makes six servings, for a single batch divide by 6 = 1 cup flour, scant 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/3 tsp. salt

Whole Wheat Pancakes/Waffles:
1 large egg, whisked
1 cup buttermilk (milk or almond milk will also work)
1 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil (I usually use melted butter or coconut oil)
1 cup pancake mix

optional add-ins:
dash of cinnamon or nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
fresh or frozen blueberries or other fruit (peaches, bananas, strawberries, blackberries, etc.)
lemon or orange zest
chocolate chips


Pancake/Waffle Mix:

1. Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

To Make Pancakes/Waffles:

1. Whisk the egg, buttermilk and oil (or butter) and any of the optional add-ins in a large bowl.

2. Whisk in the pancake mix until just combined.

3. Heat a large pan or griddle over medium heat and grease with butter or oil.

4. Pour several tablespoonfuls of the pancake mixture onto the griddle (you can top with fruit or chocolate chips at this point if using them), making as many pancakes as will fit and cook for about 2 minutes, until bubbles form on top and the bottoms are golden brown.

5. Flip the pancakes and cook for one minute longer and serve.

Note: Mixture can also be used in a waffle iron following manufacturers directions. Pancakes/waffles can be frozen and reheat well in the toaster.

Makes six batches, each batch serves 4.

(Adapted from Weelicious)

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By in Breakfast · Comments { 2 }

Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan

chicken parmesan

I made this sheet pan chicken Parmesan multiple times this past year. I like that it’s not fried but still crisp. You wait to add the sauce and cheese until the last few minutes in the oven so the panko coating stays nice and crusty. Line your sheet pan with foil and clean-up is easy.

The marina sauce you use here makes a huge difference so choose your favorite. We love Rao’s Homemade Marinara but it’s expensive ($8-10 full price depending on the size of the jar) so I buy it when I find it on sale and savor every drop. And then I freeze leftover sauce and use it as pizza sauce, make turkey meatballs subs, etc.

This chicken parm can be served with pasta (my kids’ and husband’s preference) or with crusty bread (my choice) or just as is, with a side of veggies or salad. We were having the leftovers for lunch today and Clara told me that when she grows up she would like me to give her the recipe. Hopefully it’ll still be right here for her when that day comes!

Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan


1  1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or cutlets, each about 1/2 inch thick (about 1 1/2- 2 lbs. total)
1 jar (24 oz.) good-quality marinara sauce (our favorite is Rao’s)
6-8 slices provolone cheese (I love smoked provolone, mozzarella will also work)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino) cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 F with a rack in the upper third. Generously mist a sheet pan with cooking spray.

2. Stir together the panko, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a large bowl to combine. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. In a third shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs.

3. Dip each chicken cutlet first in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then in the egg, and finally in the panko mixture, patting to coat thoroughly on both sides. Place the breaded chicken cutlets on the prepared pan. Mist the chicken with cooking spray to lightly coat.

4. Bake the chicken until the panko has browned and the cutlets are almost entirely cooked through (they’ll no longer feel squishy when you poke them), about 12-15 minutes.

5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Top each chicken cutlet with about 1/2 cup marinara sauce (use up the jar),  the provolone and the Parmesan, and return to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, an additional 5-10 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4-6.

(Adapted from Shutter Bean, originally from Sheet Pan Suppers)

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By in Chicken, Italian, Uncategorized · Comments { 4 }

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Ranch

Cobb Salad

It’s only been almost 2 years since I posted. All I can say is that food and babies don’t mix for me. My last post corresponds perfectly with when I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and then the sick set in. The second time around was worse than the first for me- I had some degree of aversion to food most of my pregnancy. And it turns out having 2 kids is slightly more chaotic (and sleepless) than one, so it has taken a long time for me to find the time/energy/etc. to get back here. But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. The minute I give birth my appetite comes back and then it quadruples with the nonstop nursing. So lots of cooking and eating going on this past year. I have more than fifty drafts of recipes I want to share (many I’ve made repeatedly and have become quick-healthy-kid-approved favorites)!

My goal is to post a recipe once a week. Bonus if I can pull out my real camera and take a photo to go with it. My phone might have to do occasionally. I can count on one hand the number of time I’ve used my DSLR in the last year-ish: Gwen’s birth, Christmas morning, and Gwen’s first birthday. (She turned 1 on March 1st so no excuses now that I technically no longer have a baby!) Besides adding another girl to our family, last year we moved from Colorado to the Seattle area. And I absolutely love it here! The winters are milder, the summers are glorious, the Pacific Northwest is stunning, and I can’t get enough of this city. Dustin started working with a new pediatric dental practice (a job that may become permanent- we are yet to see), we took our first trip to Europe (babymoon!), and took our first international trip as a family (Costa Rica!).

Now that we’re somewhat caught up, let’s talk about this recipe. My post-pregnancy self craves salads and protein (and I’ve lost much of my sweet tooth which is slightly sad, but mostly great for my health). So we eat a lot of greens and meat. This salad packs in a lot of protein with grilled spiced chicken breast, bacon, and hard-boiled eggs. And I even snuck some Greek yogurt into the dressing. I included the changes I made next to the original recipe. I chose to grill the chicken because my indoor grill pan is my best friend, but come summer I’ll definitely be repeating it on the outdoor grill. My girls devoured theirs and my husband didn’t complain that he was eating salad for dinner so that’s saying something!

Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad with Honey Mustard Ranch


Grilled Chicken:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. paprika (I used smoked paprika)
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I just added a pinch)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 18 oz.)

Honey Mustard Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used half mayo and half low fat plain Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. kosher salt (I only used 1/2 tsp. and think it could be reduced further)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, drained and patted dry (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped (I used romaine lettuce)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large avocado, cubed
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I only used six)
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped


Cook the chicken and the corn:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with oil. (I grilled my chicken on an indoor grill pan headed to medium-high.)

2. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon oil, paprika, salt, cumin, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne. Rub the mixture all over the chicken. Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake until cooked through but still juicy, 15 to 20 minutes (or grill). Transfer the chicken to a plate and when cool enough to handle, cut into small bite-size pieces.

3. Meanwhile, arrange the corn on the same baking sheet. Crank up the heat to broil and broil the corn until just slightly charred, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool. (I roasted my corn in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.)

Make the dressing:

4. In a small bowl, stir together the mayo, buttermilk, mustard, honey, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:

5. Arrange the lettuce on a serving platter or in a big salad bowl. Top with the tomatoes, avocado, bacon, roasted corn, eggs, and chicken. If you’re like me, line them up in the most OCD way possible and get really annoyed when the lines aren’t perfectly straight. Drizzle the dressing to taste over the salad, and toss if you want to ruin all those pretty lines. Serve immediately. Any leftover dressing keeps in the fridge for a week or so.

Serves approx. 4.

(Adapted from Cravings)

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By in Salad, Uncategorized, Vinaigrette/Dressing ·

Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos


I’ve found a lot of favorite new recipes on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe recently. This one I’ve already made twice and know it’ll be a frequent repeater because it’s absolutely yummy (especially with ancho chili powder- you must try it!) and comes together so so quickly. Pork tenderloin might be my favorite cut of meat- it’s super lean and still has so much flavor. These pork tacos are sweet (thanks to the pineapple/juice) and just a bit spicy (from the chili powder/cayenne) and amazingly tender. We wrapped the sweet and spicy pork filling in warm corn tortillas (the Tortillaland uncooked corn tortillas from Costco) and topped them with salsa verde, a touch of sour cream, and guacamole.

Sweet and Spicy Pork and Pineapple Tacos


2 lbs. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder (I used ancho chili powder because I love the flavor)
pinch of cayenne pepper (more to taste, if wanted)
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 cups diced pineapple (fresh or frozen preferred to canned)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
warm corn or flour tortillas, for serving
salsa verde, for serving (optional)
sour cream, for serving (optional)
guacamole or avocado, for serving (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the pork pieces and add them to the hot skillet, browning on each side until golden (the pork doesn’t need to cook all the way through in this step, just get a nice color on all the pieces).

2. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the juice and pineapple and simmer the mixture until the pork is just cooked through, 5-8 minutes.
Stir in the cilantro. Serve with corn or flour tortillas and salsa, sour cream, and guacamole (all optional).

Serves 8 (I halve it to serve four.)

(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

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By in Pork, Southwestern ·