Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dijon Chicken Burgers

Hello and welcome to the first meat-centric recipe post on The Lovely Prelude in months!  This recipe is definitely much healthier than your traditional hamburger (which, don't get me wrong, is delicious!), and it is inspired by the "Favorite Turkey Burger" recipe in Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast, which is a staple in our home.  Matt and I have been trying to eat much healthier, and rarely ever buy red meat anymore, which could easily be very distressing to me.  These burgers, however, are so satisfying and have such a great combination of flavors that they can almost convince me that I don't need red meat (almost!).  The original recipe calls for turkey, but I just as easily subsituted ground chicken for an almost identical taste.  I omit the cheese from Martha's recipe, but I just add a slice of cheese to the top of Matt's burger and I hear no complaints. 

Now, Matt's best friend, a self-proclaimed turkey burger connoisseur, tried the turkey burgers made with this recipe and declared them even better than his favorite restaurant's turkey burgers. I call that a success! 

At this point, I've been making these for so long that I just "eye-ball" the measurements.  It's really difficult to go wrong here. 

Dijon Chicken Burgers
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (preferably 93 percent lean)
1/2 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
4 hamburger buns

1. Heat the grill to high.  In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine the turkey with the Gruyere, scallions, breadcrumbs, Dijon mustard, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper.  Dividing the mixture evenly, gently form the mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties.
2. Lightly oil the grill.  Place the patties on the hottest part of the grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move the patties to the cooler part of the grill; continue grilling until cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes per side.
3. Split the hamburger buns and toast on the grill if you like; place a burger on each bun and serve with the desired accompaniments. 

In my case, the desired accompaniments were sauteed collard greens and a slice of tomato, with extra Dijon.  Matt's desired accompaniment was a simple slice of cheese--my man's easy to pleasy.  We had them with spicy roasted potato wedges and cauliflower. 
(love, haley)

Monday, July 30, 2012

I think Abbi Would Approve of This Outfit

Hello my Lovelies!  I am so excited to be helping Abbi out with some blog posts while she is having her vacation in Spain--some folks just have all the luck.  Matt (my beloved) was away all last week for work and a bit of fun, so my sweet friends took turns entertaining me while he was out of town.  Wednesday night was Jenna's turn, and we went to Barnes and Noble to read gossip and bridal mags, and drink coffee.
It's no secret that Abbi is the fashion-forward sister, and so when I manage to put together an outfit that's pretty cute, I always think to myself, "Abbi would approve of this outfit."  This particular outfit, which features my BRAND NEW J.Crew shorts (which I got on sale!) and my favorite pink shoes, was perfect for a girly night of Katie Holmes drama and elaborate wedding dress dreams. 

These shorts are perfect for the "tied-shirt" look; they have a slightly higher rise, so it didn't show too much stomach. 

Two of these little bracelets were only a dollar, and I love them for layering for a splash of color. The pink one was a gift from Abbi!  

As you can see, I got some very important reading done.  I love adding colored shoes for unexpected color in an outfit, and these pink suede flats definitely deliver. 

Shirt: Old Navy
Shorts: J.Crew Outlet
Belt: GAP
Bracelets: Cotton On and Abbi
Shoes: Urban Outfitters
Earrings: Tiffany's (gift from Mommi and Brent) 

(love, haley)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adios (for 10 days)!

Good morning, you lovely folks!  I apologize for the irregular posting this week, but I've been prepping to travel to Spain for a few days with my beloved and the rest of the Diego family.  Between buying all my travel essentials (Bonine for motion sickness and lots of magazines) and getting Mia situated at her boyfriend's houses (she's a lucky pup to stay with two wonderful families), the week just got away from me.  I'll be gone for 10 days, and my creatively inclined, awesomely talented sister, Haley, will be taking over The Lovely Prelude in my absence.  She's told me some of her post ideas, and y'all are in for a good time.
I can't wait to post my photos of Spain when we return!  Adios, mis amigos...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Last week, JP and I were feeling lazy.  We were dangerously close to ordering Thai food, but I checked out this recipe and dashed the ideas for take-out.  Can anyone pass up fried sweet potatoes?
This recipe is super easy, and at least the fried part is paired with a spinach salad to up the health factor.
This recipe comes from Cooking for Two by Jessica Strand (2009), and it's a wonderful date night meal.  Have your boo deep fry the pancakes, though, because that oil gets hot.  I took care of the potato prep, and salad, so we each had our dinner duty.  All in all, Monday night had a bit more pizazz than the pad thai we would have ordered for the 50th time.

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Spinach Salad
1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch
2 large egg whites

1. In a medium bow, combine the sweet potato, garlic, and salt, then add the cornstarch.  Using a standing or hand mixer, whip the egg whites on high speed with a tablespoon of water until soft peaks form, 2-3 minutes.  Fold the egg whites into the potato batter.
2. Fill a heavy pot or deep fryer (who has one of those?) halfway with oil (we used peanut).  Heat oil to 350.   (It shouldn't take too long).  Place a cooling rack on the counter next to the stove (or fryer), and arrange a layer of paper towels beneath the rack.
3. Drop large tablespoons of the batter into the oil; to avoid overcrowding, fry only about 3 fritters at a time.  Fry until golden and crispy, about 3-5 minutes, turning once or twice while cooking.  Place fritters on the rack when done and cool for 2-3 minutes before serving.  Continue process until batter is gone.

Spinach Salad
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. zested orange peel
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
4 cups spinach
1 c. cherry tomatoes
1/4 slivered red onion

In a medium bowl, combine first 6 ingredients and whisk the dressing until emulsified.  Add spinach, tomatoes, and onion, and toss veggies until coated.  Serve half salad to each person, and top with 2-3 pancakes.  If you're like JP, add a little sour cream to the pancakes; it can only help!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Every Last Detail

Just a quick link to check out Every Last Details blog!  JP and I used Smiley Face Photo Booth at our wedding in Saint Augustine, and Wanda (the owner) used photos from our event at the examples in her post about choosing a photo booth vendor.  We really liked the company, and would totally recommend them for any events in Saint Augustine/Jacksonville.  Any group that would use JP and I as advertising has my vote.

Friday, July 20, 2012

My life in photos

 Man, this week has had some serious ups and downs.  I'm looking forward to ending on a high note tonight with a dinner party; might wear this white polka dot dress to hostess.  It's a great H&M find, and is guaranteed to get compliments!

 Remember when I mentioned back in May that I registered for a half-marathon?  Well, I had to miss it for the best possible reason (little sister getting engaged trumps everything).  To make up for it, I've registered for a race in September, and am hot on the training schedule!  Summer and Amber are running it, too; it's a Summers girl mini-reunion in Maryland!  I'll keep you updated, and you know I'll post my running mix.

 The main reason for doing races of any kind is to indulge in dinners like this: sweet potato pancakes on a spinach salad.  Yeah, my man's the best for making these. 

 Worst outfit photo ever, but I love love love this peplum top from H&M.  Check out a close-up of the patten below.  So adorable!

 Purple, peach and yellow parrots.  If only I could wallpaper our bathroom in this...

 Obligatory cute shot of Mia.  She's been so low-key lately; I think the heat is officially getting to her.  Never fear, though, as she is still getting plenty of affection from me and her beloved JP.

 Oh, last weekend we got a Costco membership.  It was hard to talk JP out of buying a gazillion pounds of mayo, but eventually we just got a trough of fabric softener, enough laundry detergent to last us a year, and called it a day. 
That place is exhausting.

Uniporn and rainhoes cupcake (I did not come up with the name, though it is a major reason for me ordering it) with Vietnamese iced coffee (cold-brewed coffee, 2 shots espresso, ice and sweetened condensed milk).  Clearly, I was going for health on Sunday.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to use up 2 lbs. of kale

Two weekends ago, JP was in charge of grocery shopping for the week.  There was a list involved, including 'kale.'  I figured Safeway would sell kale in the same 10 oz. package I usually buy at Trader Joe's, so I planned two meals involving the greens. 
JP came home with TWO POUNDS of kale.  Oh, and he then went out of town for half the week, leaving me to rustle up some ways to get rid of all this green.
To give you an idea of just how much kale this is, please see the above photo with Mia; you can see that the bag is about the size of her torso.  And the photo with the legal pad is to show that I was about to challenge myself to eat more than a foot of kale.  Does that make any sense?
First up, I cut up some zuccini, summer squash, and carrots, threw in some olive oil and salt/pepper, and roasted it for 20 minutes until tender.  This was easy to throw on top of rice, quinoa, toast, you name it.
I also made Dr. Weil's marinated kale salad, highly recommended to me by Katrina.  This is perfect, as there's not heat involved, and the leftovers can sit in your fridge for a few days.  I don't put in the parmesan cheese, and it's still really delicious.

Next up, I sauteed it with peas, onions, and carrots and threw in some quinoa.  Slightly different from roasting, as the greens don't cook for nearly as long.  This might have been my favorite.
Kale was a great addition to these cookies- NOT!  Cookies are nothing but butter and sugar; nothing healthy to see here.  Just making sure you're reading closely. :)
I also added it to my favorite Big Curry Noodle Pot, stirring some in the broth before adding the noodles. 
Not pictured: making two green juices for dinner one night for JP and I, and having it wilted with just some water in a sautee pan for breakfast two days.

All said and done, it took me about a week to get through 2 lbs. of dense, leafy greens.  I did realize, though, that it's so easy to just add a handful or two of greens to nearly any dish or meal for some added nutrients.  I felt better about what I was eating, and, to be honest, it helped curb my craving for popsicles and other summery sweets.
A little bit. 
Thanks for inadvertently challenging my greens-intake for a week, JP!  You brought all those green juices on yourself...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mom's Oven Pancake

These oven pancakes are the basis for any wonderful morning memory from my childhood.  I remember my mom (it's easy enough that my dad could have made it, but somehow it's always Mom) blending a few ingredients in our blender, pouring the batter into a hot skillet, and letting it bake to fluffy, eggy perfection.  She would top it with a bit of melted butter and some powdered sugar and serve with some fruit on the side if we were still hungry. 

This breakfast is simple, and it's meant to be shared, making it perfect for a couple or trio (let's be honest- any more people than that, and you should just make two).  I always liked getting a part with a batter bubble in it, where the pancake puffs up makes a perfect piece for you to pinch off and eat with your fingers. 

JP and I have oven pancakes every once in a while, and he generally goes nuts with the toppings: pumpkin butter and maple syrup, three different jams, etc.  We bypass the melted butter on top, but never the dusting of powdered sugar. 
It keeps life sweet.

Oven Pancake
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. milk (animal milk or any alternative works great)
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour
dash of salt

1. Place medium, heavy, oven-proof skillet with butter in oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Blend ingredients until smooth, about 45 seconds.
3. CAREFULLY remove skillet from oven with oven mitts, pour batter into skillet, and return to oven.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and set.
5. Remove, cool for 2 minutes, dust with 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar if desired. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Crafty Friday: Embroidered Earbuds

I have an iPhone that I love dearly.  It came with Apple earbuds, which I do not love as dearly.  They are constantly getting tangled in my purse, and I really don't want to have to carry around a small tool specifically to wrap my headphones around, as it will inevitably get lost in my bag.  What to do?
Wrap them up with embroidery thread!  They'll look like friendship bracelets for your ears.
I followed this great tutorial.  I already have TONS of embroidery thread in my craft box, I had lots of time over the second weekend JP was gone, and Netflix is chock full of 90s romantic comedies to watch while knotting.  Throughout the all-day crafting, I watched Sleepless in Seattle, My Best Friend's Wedding, and  She's All That.  Don't worry, though; Mia made sure I got frequent breaks to play tug-of-war, scratch-my-ears, and take-me-out. 
I'm so happy with the way these turned out!  Very cute, very girly, very un-tangled.  I added a dab of clear nail polish to each knot to keep it secure, and it's held up well for two weeks now.  They are a bit heavier now, so I wouldn't take them for a run as they may not stay as well in your ears while bouncing around.  My iPod shuffle earbuds are shorter, though, and less prone to tangle; how nifty!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My life in photos

 A wonderful, weeknight summer meal: crabcakes (made with potato chips!), asparagus, and sweet potatoes.  Yum yum!

 I call this my Xena ring; it's pretty much the toughest thing I own.

I baked 'Everything but the Kitchen Sink' cookies in anticipation of John Paul's return home from a brief NYC work trip.  I'm not sure what he was happier to see upon his arrival back, me or the baked goods...

 Mia's a lady when relaxing on the sofa.
 Oven pancake!  This deserves a whole blog post; check back next week for more.

 My favorite new outfit: purple tank, yellow spotted Van Halen pants, brown accents.  You may notice that the Xena ring plays a part in this ensemble.  It just works.

JP met me at work for a coffee break (what a nice boy!).  And yes, I did order a plain, iced coffee, while he went for a caramel frappuccino with whipped cream.  Hey, when you can grow a full beard in, like, an afternoon, you can drink those girly things.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

This will be a quick entry because Mindy Kaling's book of essays is easy to review: pick up this book for a fun, easy read.  Seriously.  If you've watched The Office, or seen The Five-Year Engagement or No Strings Attached, you've heard of Mindy Kaling.  She's the funny girl you want to be best friends with.  She'll sit down and have a real, deep conversation about the merits of Beyonce music videos, help you pick out an outfit that won't highlight your body issues, and appreciates the self-portraits on your phone that don't make your head look massive.  Her book isn't laugh-out-loud funny, like Tina Fey's Bossypants, but it's way more accessible and a bit kinder. 
Also, she reaffirms how awesome Amy Poehler is in real-life.  This is vitally important to me, as I have to beleive that Amy Poehler is strikingly simliar to her Parks and Rec character.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lentil-Walnut Burgers

I've never been a die-hard beef burger girl.  Sure, I'd eat them, but there was very little savoring going on.  When I became old enough to shop and cook for myself, it was more so about turkey burgers and toppings (guacamole, a thick slice of tomato, raw red onion, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized sweet onion, a great coarse Dijon mustard...you get the drift).  I just didn't find the beef itself satisfying, but more greasy and messy than anything else (I really don't like to get my hands super-gross while eating.  JP and I have now moved onto cloth napkins because the situation with paper napkins was getting ridiculous). 
These "burgers," made with no meat, are incredibly flavorful, and almost don't require a ton of toppings.  A slightly spicy, Mediterranean aroma will fill your kitchen, and the patties have a texture of thicker, grilled hummus.  It sounds weird, but it's absolutely delightful, and a great substitute for the traditional beef burger. 
Lentils are a great source of iron and protein, and walnuts have a ton of manganese, which helps with nervous system function and enzyme production.  There's one egg in here for binding, and a lot of great spices to help speed up metabolism. 
JP and I bypassed the yogurt sauce and pita for guacamole, mustard, tomato, spinach, and red onion on whole wheat buns.  Paired with blistered sweet potatoes, we were in foodie heaven last week!
Also, these burgers are dense.  Not bad, but certainly plan on one patty per person; leftovers are delicious reheated!

Friday, July 6, 2012

My life in photos

In my downtime, I've been working on a craft involving a lot of embroidery thread.  I can't wait to share it with you next week; it's coming along really awesomely.

We're currently dog-sitting for two of our couple friends while they've escaped the summer heat of DC.  Shriver is on the left, and Tanner's on the right.  Mia's loving all the wrestling companions!  Haley has described Mia as "Roberta from Now and Then," which means we're not worried about them being at home without parental supervision.
Also, it means that my sister is the best for remembering my deep adolescent love for Christina Ricci films.

 JP is keeping them entertained by playing the guitar.  Or, as my Rosetta Stone would tell me, Mi esposo esta tocando la guitarra por el perro.  Esposo, if you read this, am I right?

 Holy smokes.  It's been hot here.  At night, it cools down to about 85.  This is pretty universal, though, right?  I mean, it's hot pretty much everywhere this season.

We had a crazy, freak thunderstorm here last Friday, with hurricane-force winds (up to 90 mph!) and insane lightening.  Mia and I felt like we were in a car wash. 
When we went for a walk on Saturday morning, there were trees down all over the place and lots of street signs were gone.  One of the streetlights' glass coverings had fallen from a bridge over our sidewalk; it was HUGE.  That's Mia's head off to the right, and the glass is about the size of 7 Mia heads. 
That's how I measure things.

This was our Fourth of July. Laundry and dogs. And jet lag. JP fell asleep at about 8.

 However, before he passed out, we made an awesome dinner.  I can't wait to share the recipe with you next week!

 My new running album.  They're Canadian, but don't let that stop you from downloading Synthetica!

This is more for Elizabeth than anything else.  My final daily outfit photo for JP, and also an example of something I would have never worn in high school.  A tee shirt tucked into short-shorts WITH A BELT?!  My, how things have changed.