Greek Chicken Burger

It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.

Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).

One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes 😉

Greek Chicken Burger Patty:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 mini bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready for assembly.

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

Instructions: 

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.

Assembly/Toppings:

  • Ciabatta Rolls
  • Tomato
  • Red onion slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tzatziki

Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!

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Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki  while also balancing out the flavor profile. 

Summer Wine Punch: 

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 qt pink lemonade
  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.

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Balsamic Marinated Grilled Zucchini

Since I had my little grill out already for the Greek Chicken Burger, zucchini seemed like a great side dish. Plus, zucchini just looks so great with those gorgeous grill marks. These are a quick veggie option for any meal, though, and can easily be cooked on the stovetop if you don’t feel like firing up and outside equipment.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp of Italian herb mix or any herbs you’d prefer.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Slice the zucchini at an angle so you have long, even slices.
  2. In a shallow dish or bowl, add the sliced zucchini and all other ingredients Mix with your hands so that all of the zucchini is covered.
  3. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to marinate.
  4. Cook in a pan or on the grill over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Serve with the Greek Chicken Burger or any other tasty summery dish you’d like! Enjoy!

 

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango Cilantro Sauce

Wanting to live vicariously through Amanda’s recent vacation to the sparkling shores of Miami, we decided to cook up our best tropical inspired meals to keep the vacation magic alive. I, being nowhere near a beach now or in the near future, was a big fan of this idea. While munching on something with these tropical flavors is undoubtedly more enjoyable while breathing in the fresh sea air and listening to waves crash in the background, I’ll take what I can get.

Since I’m currently and tragically landlocked, and any attempt at obtaining fresh, Caribbean fish seemed futile, I opted for pork. Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a cilantro kick and I knew I wanted those fresh, albeit divisive, flavors to be included. Fortunately, cilantro pairs wonderfully with mango and nothing screams tropical to me more than the bold and tart flavors of the mango. This slow roasted pork tenderloin topped with the coconut sauce was enough to give me the taste of the vacation I didn’t have, even if I couldn’t quite smell the ocean air.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Mango Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mango (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into fine pieces.
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced.
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola/vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. For the pork tenderloin, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and spread onto the pork tenderloin until all surfaces are covered.
  2. Place tenderloin in a roasting pan and roast in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 145°F. Allow to rest outside the oven for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  3. While the pork is roasting (probably about 20 minutes before done), prepare the sauce. In a small pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, salt and grapeseed oil. Stir until the onions are fragrant and semi-translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, mango, and the Serrano peppers. Allow this to simmer until reduced by at least 1/3 and thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice. Wait for the cilantro to wilt and then transfer mixture to a blender (once cooled slightly). Pulse until the mango chunks are smooth and the cilantro is well incorporated–about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can also use an immersion blender for this step if preferred.
  6. Transfer back to the stove to warm until the tenderloin is ready. Slice the rested pork tenderloin, and top with sauce. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: While I’ll admit, I actually decided to make rum runners instead for this dish to get the full beach bar experience from my couch, I would say that an aromatic white wine, such as a chenin blanc would work nicely.

 

Farmer’s Market Challenge: One-Pan Steak with Spring Onions and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s been spring in Florida since…February, basically…so I was so excited when Merideth’s true seasonal weather cleared up and we could do this Farmer’s Market challenge! There is a wonderful farmer’s market near where she and I went to college, so it felt extra fun to go revisit it for our post! Dragging my dog around the market (she had to sniff everything) was a fun experience and I definitely think I’ll be going back for fresh ingredients and the great community vibe.

Merideth and I set the ground rules that our dishes had to be made from the ingredients at the farmer’s market plus three home ingredients, salt, and pepper. After lots of wandering following the dog, I finally settled on some Brussels sprouts, spring onions, and cucumber. I had a steak at home and some butter and garlic to round out the menu. Not knowing how to incorporate the cucumber, I just ate it.

Being limited by ingredients pushed me to think more carefully about the preparation to impart extra flavor and, consequently, I decided to use my favorite technique: the one pan meal. Ingredients are added one after the other, so prepare the veggies and steak first to decrease total cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 1 ribeye steak (approximately 4-6oz)
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 bushel spring onions, trimmed halved
  • 4tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Melt 2tbs butter over medium heat in a cast iron pan, and add minced garlic.
  2. Saute onions in butter, turning occasionally, under tender (about 6-8 minutes). Remove onions and place in covered bowl.
  3. Season halved Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper. Melt additional tbs butter in pan, or as needed to cover bottom of pan.
  4. Add Brussels sprouts to pan and sear for 3 minutes. Turn and sear for an additional 4 minutes, or until tender. Remove sprouts and add to bowl with onions to keep warm.
  5. Pat steak dry and season with salt and pepper. Lay steak away from you in the pan to avoid burns from the hot butter. Using tongs, pick up steak after 3 minutes and hold fatty sides of steak again for about 10-15 seconds the pan to render the fat.
  6. Lay steak on opposite side and cook until desired doneness (I left it for another 2-3 minutes for medium rare. With about a minute left, add onions and Brussels sprouts to reheat and infuse flavor.
  7. Transfer contents to a plate and enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Because of the steak, char from the cast iron pan, and the simple seasoning of salt and pepper, this dish is good with a full-flavored red wine like cabernet. I had a local wine to go with the locally sourced vegetables!