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)

By in Beef ·

Slow-Cooker Maple Dijon Pot Roast


Pot roast with Dijon mustard, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, even bacon if you choose. I served this one for our Easter dinner and we loved it. I didn’t bother with the bacon (mostly out of laziness) and it was wonderful. I can only imagine how crazy good it would be with bacon. You sear the beef and brown the onions in the morning and after 8 hours in the slow-cooker your dinner is ready. It just takes a few minutes to simmer and reduce the juices into gravy. Excellent over mashed potatoes with roasted carrots and a simple spinach salad (as pictured). Leftovers we had Chicago-style, piled high on a bun with giardiniera and sauce on the side for dipping.

Slow-Cooker Maple Dijon Pot Roast


2 1/2- 3 lbs. beef chuck roast
4-5 slices bacon, diced (optional- I used 2 Tbsp. olive oil)
2 yellow onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
1 1/2- 2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
fresh thyme, for garnish (or a few pinches dried thyme)

for serving: mashed potatoes, creamy grits, egg noodles, or roasted carrots, etc.


1. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Set a large Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. If using bacon, add the bacon and cook until some fat starts rendering and it begins to turn golden. Push the bacon to the sides and add the beef. If using oil, heat the oil with the pan before adding the beef. Sear both sides of the beef until golden brown, about 10 minutes per side, and transfer all the meat to the bowl of the slow cooker.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat (if necessary). Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in a few tablespoons of chicken stock and bring to a boil, scraping up any of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the onions and pan juices into the bowl of the slow cooker.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining chicken stock, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, paprika, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour the liquid mixture over the roast. Close the lid and cook on LOW heat until the meat falls apart and is meltingly tender, about 8 hours.

5. Transfer the roast to a serving bowl or platter and cover with foil. Pour the cooking liquids into large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook until the gravy is reduced to desired thickness. (I used a little cornstarch + water to help the gravy thicken.) Cut the roast into chunks and pour hot gravy over the top.

Serves 6-8.

(Adapted from TheKitchn)

By in Beef ·

Slow Cooker Barbacoa (Shredded Beef)


Oh my goodness this beef is good. It’s meat to mimic Chipotle’s Barbacoa but I can’t say how close it gets because I usually choose the chicken or pork when I order a burrito. But I suspect it’s much much better because WOW, so much flavor! And tender and easy because you just throw it in the slow cooker. Beef roast slow-cooked with onion, garlic, smoky chipotle peppers, lime juice, cider vinegar, cumin, allspice, cloves, and oregano. We melted cheese over tortillas on the stove and then stuffed them full of the shredded beef, lettuce, onion, salsa, and guacamole, etc. And had this favorite Mexican Beans and Rice on the side. This recipes makes quite a bit of meat. Leftovers can be turned into freezer burritos to be enjoyed later.

Slow Cooker Barbacoa (Shredded Beef)


3-4 lbs. beef rump or chuck roast
1/2 yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
3/4 cup chicken or beef broth
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo (I use 3 for medium heat)
juice 1 lime
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. cumin
2 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 bay leaf

for serving:
warm tortillas
cheese (Monterrey, Colby, or Pepper Jack)
shredded lettuce
diced tomato
guacamole or sliced avocado
sour cream
diced white onion
chopped cilantro
salsa or pico de gallo


1. Trim beef of any fat and cut into several large chunks that will fit in your slow-cooker. Place the onion, garlic, broth, salt, pepper, chipotle peppers, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, oregano, allspice, and cloves in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour over the meat in the crock pot. Add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for ~6 hours or low for 8-10 hours, until the meat is fork tender.

2. Remove the meat from the sl0w-cooker and set aside to cool slightly before shredding. Return the meat to the slow cooker and toss with the juices (the more of the leftover juice you use, the spicier it will be). Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve. Serve with warm tortillas and toppings.

Serves ~8.

(Adapted from The Lean Green Bean and Spicy Spoonful)

By in Beef, Southwestern ·

Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger


Teriyaki is one of those foods that gagged me as a kid. For whatever reason, I couldn’t handle the smell of whatever brand sauce my mom loved using to make her stir fry and so I assumed forever hatred of all things teriyaki. Well… my taste has matured in the last decade and let’s say I take it back. I love a good bowl of rice topped with teriyaki chicken, salmon, or veggies (one of my favorite dinners from Whole Foods). And pineapple teriyaki sauce with grilled pineapple and avocado on top of a burger- yes, please!

This recipe makes quite a bit of that yummy teriyaki sauce so I froze the remainder and a month later made the burgers again- sauce all ready to go! I’m sure ground chicken or turkey (thigh meat for a juicy/rich burger) would be excellent substitutions.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger


1 lb. lean ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken)
1/4 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce (or more if you like it spicy)
4 slices fresh pineapple
8 whole wheat hamburger buns
8 lettuce leaves (Bibb if my favorite)
sliced avocado

pineapple teriyaki sauce:*
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup pineapple juice
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1 small clove garlic, minced


1. To make the sauce: Combine the cornstarch in cold water and dissolve. Set aside to thicken. In a small saucepan, mix soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, grated ginger and garlic over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer until sauce reduces, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cornstarch and water mixture, simmer until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
*Makes enough sauce for approx. 8 burgers. Leftover sauce can be frozen for later use.

2. To make the burgers: Combine the ground beef with grated carrots, scallions, ginger, soy sauce and sriracha sauce. Mix throughout but don’t overwork the mixture so the patties don’t get tough. Form 4 equal sized patties.

3. Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the patties on the hot grill and cook until they reach desired doneness, grilling the pineapple next to the patties during the last 5 minutes or so. Optionally, you could brush a little teriyaki sauce on the pineapple slices as they grill.

4. To serve, place a piece of lettuce on the bottom of each burger bun. Top with the cooked burger, teriyaki sauce, avocado, and grilled pineapple.

Makes 4 burgers.

(Adapted from Skinnytaste)

By in Beef, Seafood ·

Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine


My posts have slowed down a bit recently and I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon. This longggg winter has evolved into a pattern of Clara getting sick, nobody getting sleep, tired me going crazy stuck home in the cold with a sick toddler, escaping out of town to restore my sanity, picking up germs traveling, and the cycle repeats. Are the trips worth it? Absolutely. But I could do with a little health and warmth around here. That’s my excuse anyway for why I’ve been less focused on cooking. It’s happening. I still have some awesome recipes to share. But excuse me if they’re a little less frequent.

Clara and I are headed out of town again next week (home to VA!). And then to Utah again in April for another sister’s wedding. (Poor Dustin gets left behind. But he’s so busy I’m sure we’re hardly missed. Until he’s comes home and has to make microwave his own dinner, that is.) I’m also hoping to sneak up to Ann Arbor sometime in March. We need to see more of this part of the country before we’re gone permanently. (No news on that front. We’re just aware that Dustin finishes residency in June and we’ll be unemployed and homeless if we don’t figure it out soon!)

Our Valentine’s Day didn’t turn out quite as, uh, romantic as expected. Clara was extra sick (since her baseline is sick now-days) and so instead of dinner and a movie out, we stayed in and babysat so our neighbors could go out. I did make pasta (Dustin’s true love) and red velvet cupcakes (recipe shortly!) and we rented a movie after the babes were asleep. So this past weekend we finally made it out to dinner at a Moroccan restaurant I’ve been dying to try. It was a small, funky smelling, hole-in-the-wall, practically under the freeway, but surprisingly charming kind of place. And we weren’t disappointed. The food was fantastic and we’ll be back. But I have to say. I think my own tagine is just as good.

This is my latest attempt at Moroccan food with a tagine consisting of ground beef meatballs simmered with carrots and raisins in a spicy tomato stew. The ingredient list is long, but the method is straightforward and the flavors outstanding. Best served over couscous or with warm pita for soaking up the rich broth.

Moroccan Beef Meatball Tagine


1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1/3 cup coarsely grated onion
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 large egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
up to 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (I just used a pinch)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups thinly sliced carrots
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. tumeric
1/8 tsp. saffron threads, crumbled (recommended, but won’t be ruined without)
1 cup beef broth
28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro + extra for garnish
5 oz. baby spinach, chopped
couscous, for serving (I used this recipe but halved the oil)
lemon, for serving (optional)


1. To prepare the meatballs, gently mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Roll the meat into 2-inch round meatballs and place on a baking sheet.

2. Preheat oven to 350 F.

3. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until the onion is soft and browned, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and stir for 2 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes with their juice, and raisins. Bring the stew to a simmer. Carefully add the meatballs to the stew, gently pressing into the liquid to submerge. Sprinkle the cilantro over top. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through and the carrots are tender, about 35 minutes.

4. Add the spinach to the stew and cook for another 5 minutes, until wilted. Gently stir in the spinach, making sure not to break up the meatballs. Remove the cinnamon sticks and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over couscous garnish with cilantro and lemon.

Serves 6.

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

By in Beef ·