Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The 7 Habits of Highly Seasoned Turkey Burgers

 I am fortunate to have an inexpensive source of free-range, sustainably raised turkey, so about 90% of my protein intake involves ground turkey. I eat turkey burgers literally every single day, sometimes twice a day. I never get tired of them, because over the years, I have created lots of seasoning combinations, in addition to the ready-made ones that I buy at Penzey's or Aldi.

Because I'm cooking for one, all recipes are for 4 oz. of ground turkey, though they can easily be double, tripled, etc. depending on how many people are eating. Unless otherwise noted, each recipe has 1/8 tsp. of salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper. All herbs and spices are dried, except for parsley and cilantro. Onion or garlic are always dried (except in the case of chives or scallions), either powder or minced. Minced onion (aka onion flakes) will not only add flavor, but will also soak up some moisture, resulting in a firmer burger with an pleasant “crust”.

You can also improvise by starting with a base of 1/8 tsp salt, 1/8- 1/4 tsp black pepper and ¼ tsp. onion powder, and add 1/4-1/2 tsp of any single dried herb or spice. You can’t really go too wrong!

I cook the burgers on medium heat with 2 tsp. oil, covered, for 2 minutes on each side, then turning off the heat to let it "coast" for another 2 minutes. 


½ -3/4 tsp. Italian herb seasoning, preferably one that includes garlic, fennel and sage. If it doesn’t have them, add ¼ tsp fennel, 1/8 tsp garlic powder and a pinch of rubbed sage
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper


½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp onion
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (optional)
3 chopped olives (optional)
1 tsp. finely chopped lemon zest (optional)

Breakfast Sausage

1 tsp. rubbed sage (packed)
¼ tsp marjoram
¼ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp (scant) crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp ground fenugreek
1/8 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/16 tsp ground ginger
6 drops Stevita brand stevia juice (or equivalent of other brand of stevia)

OR 1 tsp Aldi poultry seasoning, adding the amounts listed above of the spices not in the Aldi blend


¼ tsp onion
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp allspice
1 Tbsp toasted nuts: pine nuts, chopped almonds or walnuts (optional)

1 tsp Bell’s poultry seasoning
¼ tsp onion
1/16 tsp celery seed


¼ tsp onion
1/8 tsp garlic
1/8 tsp oregano
¼ tsp cumin
1/8 tsp marjoram
1/8 tsp rosemary
1/8 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp nutmeg (scant)
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp. chopped parsley, packed

Simplified Gyro

¼ tsp. onion
¼ tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)

Garden Herb

1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
3 chives, chopped
A pinch of garlic powder
1 Tbsp toasted pine nuts (optional)
Top with Dijon mustard (optional)


¼ tsp onion
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp. oregano


¼- ½ tsp berbere (1/2 tsp. has a bit of a kick) Do NOT use the kind from Penzey’s! Shega Foods in Minneapolis makes the best one


¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
5 drops Stevita brand stevia juice (or equivalent amount of other brand of stevia)
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/16 tsp ground coriander
1/16 tsp onion
1/16 tsp garlic
1/16 tsp (scant) celery seed
Pinch marjoram
¼ tsp ground ginger

Hot Dog

½ tsp. Mitchell Street seasoning (from Penzey’s)
No additional salt or pepper
Top with yellow mustard (optional)


¼ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes OR 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
¼ tsp onion
1/8 tsp garlic
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp allspice

Georgian Khmeli- Suneli

½ tsp Khmeli- Suneli blend*
½ tsp onion

*1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp crumbled dried fenugreek leaves (OK without them)   
½ tsp ground fenugreek
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp dried marigold petals (OK without them)
½ tsp dried mint
½ tsp paprika
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried savory
¾ tsp dried basil

Georgian Svaneti

½ tsp Svaneti seasoning*
½ tsp onion

*this is my modified, salt-free version
½ tsp Penzey’s roasted garlic powder
1 ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
2 tsp ground caraway
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground fenugreek
few pinches of cayenne

Simple Cumin

¼ tsp onion
¼ tsp ground cumin


1½- 2 Tbsp zatar (blend of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and other herbs, found at Middle Eastern markets)
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp onion
¼ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

Holy Land Chicken Spice

1 tsp. Holy Land Chicken Spice

Ras el Hanout

½ tsp Ras el Hanout
¼ tsp onion
¼ tsp salt

Curry Powder

1½- 2 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp onion

Mrs. Dash

¾  tsp Mrs. Dash (or the cheap Aldi equivalent)
¼ tsp salt
Can add ¼ tsp ground cumin to make it taste like something from a Middle-Eastern restaurant

Cabbage Roll

½ tsp Allepo pepper
1/8 tsp. allspice
¼ tsp dried dill weed
¼ tsp onion
Optional: serve with cabbage that has been cooked in onions, smoked paprika, tomato and dill (1 tsp dried). Good with some chopped walnuts tossed in there.

Armenian Kofte

¼ tsp Onion
1/8 tsp Garlic powder
1 Tbsp Fresh mint
1 Tbsp Fresh parsley
1/16 tsp Ground clove
1/16 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp Ground cumin
Pinch Cinnamon
Pinch Nutmeg
½ tsp Smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp pine nuts (optional)

Penzey’s (for busy days)
½-3/4  tsp of pretty much any Penzey’s spice blend:
Lamb seasoning
Bavarian Seasoning
Mural of Flavor
Arizona Dreaming
Turkish (good with an additional 1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro OR 2 Tbsp. finely chopped bell pepper)
Frozen Pizza seasoning (use ¾ tsp)
Bangkok Blend
Jerk Pork

Simple Fennel Sausage

¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp garlic

Polska Kielbasa
½ tsp Smoked paprika
¼ tsp Dill weed
¼ tsp Garlic
¼ tsp Onion
¼ tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp cardamom
1/16 tsp celery seed
¼ tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp coriander
2 drops stevia
1/8 heaping tsp allspice

Polska Kielbasa Shortcut

½- ¾ tsp Mrs. Dash
½ tsp. smoked paprika
2 drops Stevita

Herbes de Provence

1 tsp Herbes de Provence
¼ tsp onion
1 tsp sage
pinch red pepper
1/8 tsp garlic
6 drops stevia

Mint Chutney

1 chopped jalapeno or 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
¼ tsp cumin
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
6 chopped chives or 1 chopped scallion or ¼ tsp onion


¼ tsp garlic
1 Tbsp shredded fresh basil, packed (or more, to taste)
1 Tbsp pine nuts

School Lunch Maple Sausage

¼ tsp liquid smoke
20 drops stevia
¼ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes or cayenne
½ tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp chopped orange zest OR 12 drops orange essential oil

Simple Rosemary

½-¾ tsp chopped fresh rosemary (do not exceed)
¼ tsp onion
1/8 tsp garlic
2 drops stevia

Swedish Meatball

½ tsp minced dried onion
¼ allspice

Faux Lipton Onion Soup Mix

½ tsp dried mushroom powder (Rub with Love brand. Or Eclectic Institute Immune Mushroom POWder)
½ tsp minced dried onion

Turkish Baharat

½ tsp Turkish Baharat seasoning*
¼ tsp onion

* Ingredients:
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons dried mint, crumbled between your fingers so it’s very fine
2 tablespoons dried oregano, crumbled between your fingers so it’s very fine
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
4 bay leaves, crumbled between your fingers so it’s very fine
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground mustard

Note: The original recipe calls for putting the mint, oregano, and bay leaves in a spice grinder so it’s very, very fine. I didn’t bother; it worked. If I was in a serious cooking mood, I would probably take the time to do it. Totally up to you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Chai It, You'll Like it!

It's that time of year to create social interactions to distract us from the distinct lack of sunlight. If you'd like to entertain, but don't want to shell out a lot of money to do so, I suggest a simple gathering of your favorite people, featuring a big pot of chai as the star of the show. Snacks optional; you can ask always ask your guests to bring a little something. However, the most important thing is to be together, and the chai is satisfying enough that no one will leave disappointed (just make sure not to have the get-together during a big mealtime). Extra bonus: it makes your entire home smell really, really good.

This recipe makes 6 servings, and it is very easy to double or triple.

2 teaspoons black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into thin rounds
2 sticks cinnamon 
3 cups cold water
6 bags of black tea (I used Benner tea from Aldi- less than 2 cents a bag!)
5 cups unsweetened milk of choice: almond, coconut, full-fat cow’s, etc. (I used almond milk from Aldi- $2.29 for a half-gallon!)
Stevia to taste (I used 60 drops of Stevita brand)

Combine first 3 ingredients in mortar. Using pestle, lightly crush or bruise spices. Alternatively, you could use a spice grinder for about 1 or 2 seconds. If you have no way to crush spices, don't worry; it will still work.

Add to ginger and cinnamon sticks with 3 cups water in a saucepan; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pan, and simmer gently 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add tea bags and steep 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add milk. Bring tea just to simmer over high heat. Strain chai into teapot and serve immediately, or return it to the saucepan and keep on the burner at very low heat (use a heavy-bottomed pan for this). Add stevia and stir well, or leave plain for your guests to sweeten to their own liking. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cauliflower: Is There Anything It Can't Do?

The answer to that question remains an enthusiastic "No!", at least in my kitchen.

This time of year, I make a lot of chocolate shakes/smoothies, using frozen raspberries to create a thick texture. As much as I love that flavor combination, sometimes I just want a plain chocolate shake, so I had to come up with something else to freeze that would provide that same thickness without adding flavor (or carbs, as did the go-to choice during my pre-Primal eating days, frozen bananas).

Since I have previously enjoyed cauliflower cooked with coconut cream as a dessert, I gave it a try as frozen texture provider in a chocolate shake, and Holy Smokes! To say it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement. For someone who eats dairy ice cream and sugar every day, this might not rev their engine. But if it's been a while since you've consumed those things for any reason, this could make your day. I used a regular blender; no Vitamix required!!

My only suggestion is that you keep the container that held the frozen cauliflower away from your nose as you eat your treat, as the cabbage-y smell may confuse your palate, adding a flavor that isn't in the actual smoothie.

Primal Chocolate Shake
Serves 1-2

2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) full fat coconut milk (from a can, not from a carton)
3 tbsp. cocoa powder (preferably NOT Dutch processed)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
13 drops of Stevita brand stevia*, or to taste

Cook cauliflower (steamed or in a little water) until somewhere between fork-tender and soft. Allow to cool at room temperature, then freeze**.

When you are ready to make the shake, if the cauliflower is rock hard, allow to thaw a little bit at room temperature (about 10 minutes). Add all of the ingredients to a blender. Blend as you would any kind of smoothie. I like to start at a lower speed and gradually ramp it up. If you like to start it on high and keep it there, have at it. 

Blend until the cauliflower is obliterated and the shake is smooth and thick.

Berry Variation

Replace 1 cup of cauliflower with 1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries
Add 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

If using any other brand of stevia, start with a very small amount, and add in tiny increments until it reaches your ideal level of sweetness

** You can also use store-bought frozen cauliflower. No need to cook it beforehand; just thaw for about 5-10 minutes before blending.