Chunky Chicken Salad Sandwiches | Easy Weeknight Recipes

Back to school is starting this week and will continue all month long for many people. Whether that means bringing your baby to pre-school for the first time or heading back to a college campus, chances are time is not something to be wasteful with anymore. Gone are the long days of summer where dinner can be dragged out over a few hours. Weeknight cookouts (if you’re lucky enough to have those) will become a distant memory and budgets get a little tighter. Everyone loves a meal they can prep in under 20 minutes and it’s even better if it saves you a buck. That’s what’s so great about this Chunky Chicken Salad.

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Two words: Rotisserie Chicken. I wasn’t a huge fan of these for a long time because breaking them down isn’t fun. One week this summer, I managed to make one $7 Rotisserie Chicken act as the protein for two different dinners plus there was enough left over from both meals to feed two adults for lunch for 5 days. $7 essentially provided 14 servings at least. That’s impressive. One meal was the Southwestern Chicken Pita Pockets that I shared a few weeks ago. The second was this delightful Chunky Chicken Salad. Both recipes need about two cups of cooked chicken which is about what one Rotisserie Chicken will yield. The remaining ingredients are pretty inexpensive and can be used in many other different ways as well.

Another perk of this Chunky Chicken Salad is that it’s no-cook! All of the ingredients get mixed up and spooned onto bread. Simple, easy, quick! Dice up carrots, celery and cucumbers. You don’t have to get crazy because this is a chunky salad but you want them to be small enough so that the sandwich isn't a challenge to eat. Adding cucumbers to the classic carrot-celery combo adds a refreshing touch. I always like to include grapes in my chicken salads if they look good ad the store. Their sweetness takes the chicken salad to another level and gives it a more dynamic flavor profile. Instead of just tossing the ingredients with mayo, add in a touch of relish for a tiny zing. It’s a small extra step that makes all the difference. These sandwiches are quite tasty, and pack well for lunches. The only time you’ll spend on this dish is how long it takes you to prep the ingredients and mix everything together. I used an Artisanal Bread from the farmers market but any kind you prefer will work. Try toasting the bread before hand if it’s not too sturdy so it can handle the salad well.

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Chunky Chicken Salad
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked Chicken, chopped or shredded
1 small Carrot, diced
1 Celery Stalk, diced
½ Cucumber, diced
1 cup Grapes, halved
½ cup Mayo
1 tsp. Relish
8 slices Artisan Bread

1 - In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the chicken, carrot, celery, cucumber, grapes, mayo and relish. Spoon onto the bread and serve.

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Grilled Portobello Burgers with Simple Green Salad | Farmers Market Series

Earlier this summer as the produce was slowly growing in, picking up ingredients to challenge myself for this series was limited. We had a late start to spring and once it came, it was more like dog days of summer weather. If I’m being honest, those dog days never left. It’s been one 80-100 degree day to the next with small breaks here and there. With that said, our produce season went from bare to bountiful what seemed like overnight. I took trip after trip and stopped going because we were tiring of asparagus. After taking a month or so off from my Sunday morning market adventures, I returned to see that there was produce but still not a ton. Most of the vendors who would typically sell produce were selling plants and flowers for early planting. Before turning around feeling once again defeated, I decided to head to this one vendor all the way in the far corner of the market.

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This particular vendor is my favorite during summer and fall seasons. They have the most produce out of anyone and it’s always fantastic. From farther away, it still looked like they were only selling plants, flowers and herbs for planing. But as I got closer I could see the far table full of produce. Finally! What I had been waiting for since March was finally here! All kinds of leafy greens, radishes, spring onions, root veggies and more. There were barely two long folding tables full of veggies but it was more than I had seen since the previous fall and I was ready to dive in. It was these veggies that inspired a simple green salad. Fresh green leaf lettuce gets tossed together with bright cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, spicy radishes, and scallions. To keep the dressing from overpowering the veggies, mix together a simple vinaigrette with equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I wanted to pair the salad with something hearty but still light enough for those hot summer days. Another vendor close to this one sells all kinds of great mushrooms. The portobello caps were a fantastic deal and looked amazing so I decided to grab a few for Grilled Portobello Burgers. They marinate with balsamic vinegar before grilling up pretty quick on the stove or outdoor grill. We never actually filled our propane tank this summer so I’ve been going crazy using my grill pan. It works just as well, the only difference is you don’t get a smoky, charred flavor like on the grill. The cook time varies depending on the size of the portobello caps. The result you’re looking for is grill marks on both sides of the mushroom and for it to be slightly softened. It needs to be sturdy to act as the main meat of the burger and mushy mushrooms aren’t appetizing anyway. For the condiment, whip up the simple garlicky mayo. A clove of garlic minced or grated mixes into about a quarter cup of mayo. You can also use Veganaise to keep things 100% veggie-based.

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Grilled Portobello Burgers with Simple Green Salad
Burger Ingredients:
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 Portobello Caps
1 Garlic Clove, minced
¼ cup Mayonnaise or Veganaise
2 Hamburger Buns
2 Lettuce Leaves
2 Tomato Slices

Salad Ingredients:
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce, roughly torn or chopped
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
½ Cucumber, halved and sliced
1 bunch Radishes, sliced (or appx. 10 radishes)
3 Scallions, chopped
4 tbsp. Olive Oil
4 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Shredded Parmesan Cheese, for garnish

Directions:
1 - Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pour into a plastic sealable bag or a bowl with the portobello caps. Let marinate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise or veganaise and the garlic in a small bowl to create a garlic mayo.

2 - Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Take the portobello caps out of the bag or bowl and place cap down. There’s no need to pat dry. The balsamic vinegar will caramelize slightly for a nice, rich flavor. Let the mushrooms cook about 6-10 minutes per side* until softened and grill marks have formed. Once the mushrooms have finished cooking, spread a little garlic mayo on the bottom half of each bun. Place the Portobello over the mayo and top with lettuce and tomato. Serve!

3 - While the portobello burgers are cooking. Prep the salad. In a medium to large bowl, toss together the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radishes and scallions. Whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and drizzle over the salad. Top with Parmesan Cheese for garnish and serve alongside the burgers.

*NOTE: For the mushroom’s cook time, it varies depending on the size of the portobello cap. Larger caps will take longer time to soften. Smaller ones will cook quickly so be vigilant and don’t be afraid to peek and see if grill marks have formed occasionally.

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Club Sandwiches with Cucumber-Tomato Salad | Lighter Recipes For Summer

We are officially in the dog days of summer. August is traditionally the hottest and most unbearable of the summer months, not just for Chicago, but all over it seems. The big scary bugs are out like crazy and you feel like you need a shower for being outside five minutes. There’s also things like back to school which means back to sports and after school activities. While I don’t have kids of my own, living with two teenagers gives me a unique perspective of organizing dinner times around busy schedules and the importance of quick dinners. I also can appreciate a meal that doesn’t heat up the kitchen on a hot day. Who wants to sweat even more at the end of summertime? Bring on fall already!

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I’m always impressed by the triple decker sandwiches from diners and casual restaurants. They’re satisfying without weighing too heavy in your stomach. They’re also much less intimidating to create than you’d think. They do take a minute to assemble but that’s ok because it allows enough time for the cucumber tomato salad to marinate. By the time the sandwiches are together, dinner is ready to go. The only reason the kitchen might get heated up is if you’re cooking the bacon that same day. I did and it only added a few extra minutes to the prep time. I actually had the bacon going as I was preparing the vegetables for the salad. The cucumber-tomato salad is a simple version of a classic. Soaking the onion in water (you can add a splash of vinegar too) will keep them from overpowering the other ingredients. I love onion flavor but I don’t like when the onions are strong. Red wine vinegar and olive oil mix together for a simple dressing, everything marinades for about 15-20 minutes and you’re set!

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As much as I love triple decker sandwiches, I don't love that they can be so huge my mouth can't fit around them. It’s a joke in my family and with my friends, also my dentist, at how small my mouth is. Not kidding, he uses the kid-sized tools during my visit. It’s embarrassing. If you're ever out to eat with me and I accidentally take too large of a bite, be prepared to fill the conversation for the next five minutes. The great thing about these club sandwiches is that they pack in a lot of ingredients but they’re not towering so high that it’s an Olympic sport to fit in your mouth. A little cheese, a decent amount of meat and just enough veg to keep things fresh. And of course, you can’t forget the mayo!

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Turkey Club Sandwiches with Cucumber-Tomato Salad
Ingredients for the Sandwiches:
12 slices Multigrain Bread (or your favorite sandwich bread), toasted
½ cup Mayo or Veganaise
8 slices Turkey Deli Meat (your choice)
8 strips Bacon, cooked and broken in half
4 slices of Tomato (or 8 slices if the tomato is small in size)
4 slices Muenster Cheese
4 Lettuce Leaves

Ingredients for the Salad:
½ small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Cucumber, halved and sliced
1 pint Cherry Tomatoes, halved
¼ cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1 - Prep the Salad. Soak the onion slices in water for 20-30 minutes. You can also add a dash of vinegar too. This will help mute the flavor so the onion isn’t as strong. In a medium-sized serving bowl, mix together the cucumber, tomato, and onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar. Drizzle over the salad and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2 - Prep the sandwiches. Place two slices of bread facedown. On each side of the bread that’s face up, spread a little bit of the mayo. On one piece of bread, layer a slice of turkey, two bacon halves, and tomato. On the other piece of bread, layer a slice of cheese, two more bacon halves, a slice of turkey and lettuce. Spread a little mayo on both sides of the third piece of bread and place on one of sandwich halves. Carefully, flip the other half over to make a triple decker sandwich. Secure with two toothpicks to keep in place and slice in half. Serve.

Makes 4 Sandwiches

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Prosciutto, Spinach & Tomato Frittata | Brunch Recipe

Who doesn’t love a great brunch dish? Brunch is America’s favorite weekend meal and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the perfect blend of breakfast and lunch often times mixing sweet and savory flavors. Add a few mimosas and you’ve got yourself a pretty great afternoon! While we all love to go out for brunch on the weekends, sometimes it’s nice to have friends or family over instead. It’s much more casual and cuts travel time out of the equation. If you happen to be hosting brunch soon, this Prosciutto, Spinach & Tomato Frittata is sure to wow guests. Serve it right out of the skillet alongside a green salad with some bread and fruit, maybe even a few pastries, and you’re set!

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Frittatas are in the same realm as the quiche but more eggy and less of a custard. The eggs are whipped really well to create a lighter egg whereas a quiche is much more dense. A frittata can be as simple as eggs and cheese or it can be filled with lots of fun stuff like veggies, meat, and cheese. Some frittatas are cooked over the stove, some start on the stove and finish in the oven, and others cook only in the oven. This recipe, uses the oven-only method. For one, it gives you at least twenty minutes to finish preparing the rest of the meal plus another ten to welcome guests. It also is, to me, the easiest method. Cooking a frittata in the oven envelops the skillet in heat so that the eggs cook even. The risk of human error is reduced because you don’t touch it at all during the cooking process. If it’s the first time you’re attempting a frittata, I think that baking it is the easiest method to start.

 Frittata Ready to Bake!

Frittata Ready to Bake!

 Fresh Out of the Oven

Fresh Out of the Oven

Everyone loves ham and eggs. It’s another American favorite but for this recipe, I wanted to give it a little Italian twist. Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham similar to bacon. It’s salty and has a strong flavor so a little goes a long way. Pair it with some basil, a little mozzarella and beautiful cherry tomatoes...you’ve got yourself one heck of a brunch dish. The prosciutto almost melts into the frittata becoming a part of the eggs. Add that to the sweetness of the tomatoes, the fresh, herby quality of the basil and the creaminess from the cheese and you’ve hit plenty of flavor profiles. This can serve as the main dish accompanied by some bread and a light salad or serve it in smaller portions as a side to a large brunch feast. The choice is yours!

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Prosciutto, Spinach & Tomato Frittata
Ingredients:
15 Eggs
⅓ cup Milk
2 cups Spinach
1 cup Mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Basil
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes
8 slices Prosciutto
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1 - Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Butter a non-stick, oven-proof skillet.

2 - Season and whisk the eggs. Generously salt and pepper the eggs and whisk. Add in the milk and continue to whisk until smooth. Mix in the spinach, mozzarella and basil. Pour into the skillet.

3 - Scatter the tomato halves throughout the egg mixture. Take the prosciutto slices and lay them throughout the frittata where there’s empty space. Carefully place the skillet in the oven to bake.

4 - Bake the frittata for twenty minutes. If the egg is still wet or a little more jiggly than you think it should be, place it back in the oven and check every five minutes or so until it’s done. The center will be firm to the touch. The total time will depend on your oven. Let the frittata sit 10-15 minutes before cutting into it.

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Triple Berry Kale Smoothie | Lighter Recipes For Summer

Back in the day when I was commuting to my first job out of college, I stopped for a smoothie on the way. I lived in the East Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago and had to take the “L” all the way to the last neighborhood bordering Evanston. In other words, it was a pretty decent hike. For some reason, I also dealt with nausea every single morning and a smoothie was the only thing that would help. No, I wasn’t pregnant but it sure felt like morning sickness had somehow infiltrated my body. Since then, smoothies are my go-to whenever I’m not feeling like eating or when it’s too hot. They’re not overwhelming like a plate of eggs and toast can be and generally the lightest meal with the most fuel.

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As an adult, my smoothie game has improved from regular stops at Jamba Juice to whipping them up at home. My wallet is thankful too, that’s for sure. Especially in the summer months, it’s not rare for me to swap a meal for a smoothie. Normally I’ll trade breakfast but some days I’ll trade lunch instead. Another way my smoothie game has improved is through ingredients. I don’t use any extra sweeteners including flavored yogurt. All you’ll find in my smoothies are fruit, veggies, plain greek yogurt and milk. Occasionally, I’ll add a nut butter - almost always peanut butter - and sometimes cocoa powder but that’s it. Fruit is naturally sweet enough. It’s not necessary to add sugar or syrups or even vanilla yogurt. If you want a dessert smoothie, make a dessert smoothie but the kind that I’m talking about are meant to fill you and avoid a sugar crash.

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For those of you who reject the idea of adding greens to smoothies, give it a shot. I wasn’t keen on the idea either when I started making them at home but it’s nowhere as bad as you think it will be. The kale may as well not even exist! If the fruit included is lighter in color, the smoothie might turn out green but with berries as the star ingredient, you get a pinkish-purple hue that’s so pretty. Even if the smoothie does turn out green, the kale flavor simply isn’t there. And if you disagree? Add more fruit! By creating a wider gap in the fruit to green ratio, you’re also diluting the flavor of the kale. I usually like to stick around 1.5 fruit to 1 veggie. Here’s the bottom line: it’s an easy way to get a serving of veggies in and kale is packed with fiber, vitamins and iron.

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Here's another tip. Freeze greek yogurt in ice trays and store them for quick smoothies. It makes portioning out the yogurt super easy and mess-free and it makes the smoothie extra thick. The yogurt will last long frozen versus refrigerated and you can store in bulk. You could also freeze the greens if you want to buy them in bulk and store them without spoiling. Everything is getting blended so it's alright if the greens get a little crumbly. Fresh fruit is certainly a great idea but I use frozen because it stores easy, it's year-round instead of seasonal and it keeps the smoothie thick. Do you have a favorite smoothie ingredient combo?

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Triple Berry Kale Smoothie
Ingredients:
1 cup Milk (of your choice, I used lactose-free)
1 cup Kale (or if you prefer, spinach)
¼ cup (or 2 frozen cubes) plain Greek Yogurt
½ cup each frozen Blueberries, Raspberries & Blackberries (you can also use the frozen mixed berries from the freezer section, just make sure to use a total of 1.5 cups)

Directions:
Pour all of your ingredients into a blender in this order: milk, kale, yogurt, berries. Blend until smooth. You may need to pause a few times to scrape down the sides and loosen the ingredients at the bottom. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk at a time to loosen. Serve once blended.

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Parmesan Roasted Asparagus | Farmers Market Series

The farmers market season is arguably the best time of year (other than Christmas, of course). Everything is fresh and in perfect cooking condition. All the flavors of the season are at their best. You’ll never get asparagus in the winter that’s as good as in the summer. Sames goes for berries, summer squash and watermelon. It’s the perfect time to indulge in all the colorful options because the season never seems to last long enough. Too bad because I wouldn’t mind having summer fresh berries year round! One of my personal favorites that’s available all the way at the beginning of spring into summer and fall is asparagus.

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Asparagus is one of those vegetables that you never would have touched as a kid and then wonder what your problem was when you become an adult. It’s one of the quintessential spring and summer veggies. It adds a bright green color to the plate and it cooks up SUPER quick. Blanch it in water for a minute or so or pop it on the grill for as much time. It’s the perfect hot weather veggie because you really don’t want to cook it long, just enough to remove the rawness and soften the bite. What makes asparagus even better? Butter and cheese! That makes everything better though so no surprise there.

This recipe for Parmesan Roasted Asparagus is affordable, it’s quick and it’s super tasty. Serve it alongside a frittata for brunch or with a nice steak for dinner. That’s actually how I served it. The weekend I wrote this recipe was my first weekend at the farmers market. It was still spring, and for us the beginning of spring because winter stuck around through April. There were very few options, literally two: asparagus and rhubarb. Never having cooked with rhubarb before and not wanting to botch my first farmer’s market challenge, I went with asparagus. But how do you make asparagus interesting? You slather it in butter and melt a bunch of cheese on top, that’s how! Pair it with a simple grilled steak finished with a small tab of butter at the end and you’re good to go. It’s a hearty yet lighter dinner perfect for the warmer months.

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So now that I’ve gone on about asparagus and lightly mentioned this farmer’s market challenge, let me refresh your memory. Earlier in spring, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to cook seasonally and support local businesses while I was at it. We have a great farmers market in my town and I always felt that markets had the best the season has to offer. Since I love giving myself challenges when my to-do list is already a thousand miles long, I decided that every week (or almost every week), I would go to the market and write a recipe inspired by the ingredients I bought. Because most of May only had asparagus and rhubarb, those plans were derailed a bit and I haven’t written as many recipes as I would have liked. That’s why this series started so late in the season. Well, that and the few curveballs life has thrown my way lately. Better late than never though, right? So until the farmer’s market closes later this fall, I’ll continue to stop by the local market whenever I can and write recipes completely inspired by the ingredients I pick up. The next one I share is a double doozy to make up for the lack of market recipes. There are two recipes involved because I was able to grab a lot more ingredients since it was from a visit in June.

Do you visit your local farmer’s market every week or are you a strict grocery store shopper? I completely understand both so there’s no judgement for your answer, tell me in the comments below. Also, let me know if you have any ingredient requests! I love a good challenge so if you’d like to see me use a specific ingredient that can be found at the farmers market, tell me in the comments and if I can find it, I’ll grab it and give it a shot.

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Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
Ingredients:
1 bunch Asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Butter, cut into four pieces
½ cup Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1 - Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prep a baking sheet with tin foil.

2 - Place the asparagus on the baking sheet in one even layer. Drizzle with olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper. Place the four tabs of butter randomly over the asparagus. I did a zig zag pattern so that the butter didn’t pool on one side.

3 - Bake the asparagus for 5-6 minutes until the butter is melted. Sprinkle the cheese over the asparagus. Bake another 2-3 minutes  until melted. Serve!

Turkey Sliders with Blueberry Compote | Lighter Recipes For Summer

Who doesn’t love to entertain in the summertime? Each season has its own unique perks to inviting people over and hosting them for dinner or brunch. Winter is all about comforting, hearty dishes that are sometimes indulgent but always delightful. Fall has that wonderful crisp air, the smells are intoxicating (who can resist pumpkin and all those spiced baked goods), and the seasonal produce is arguably the best all year. Spring is a light in the dark after a long, cold winter. The days get longer and warmer, there’s sunshine, everything becomes green again and all the seasonal produce is fresh and light. Summer is bountiful with an overabundance of produce from summer squash to tomatoes to berries to greens. There’s an excess of everything and the sun is shining late into the evening. The one downside (and all seasons have one), is that summer can get hot which is not ideal for heating up a kitchen. That’s why I love these Turkey Sliders.

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Since we’re lazy and haven’t restocked the propane tank for our grill, I’ve been forced to do all the “grilling” inside. Normally, I like to use my grill pan as it’s become my favorite stovetop tool but for this recipe I used my cast iron skillet instead. Cast iron skillets are useful for many reasons. You can use them on the stove, in the oven and even on the grill, and they distribute heat the best out of any cooking tool. The trick is to heat them up before getting started. By preheating the skillet, it ensures an even cooking temperature for all your sliders so that they cook perfect every time. The grill is the ideal cooking method for summertime though. So if you’re taking these outside to cook up, use the same instructions but apply them to your grill instead! It’s so easy and you’ll have less clean up than I did.

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Now for the sliders, I actually filmed the cooking process on Instagram stories a few weeks back if you want to check it out! The videos are saved to my highlights in the “Cooking at Home” category. First, get the blueberry compote started. A compote is like a syrupy jam. Fruit cooks over a low heat with sugar until you get a gooey, syrupy consistency. It’s looser than jam but chunky so not a full-fledged syrup. It’s a great way to use up fruit that might be on its last life instead of throwing it out. Once the compote is finished, move on to the turkey burgers. Mix the meat and create golf ball-sized meatballs before squashing them into patties. Cook these over a medium-high heat. You want to cook turkey hot and fast so that it doesn’t get dried out. Because these are little baby burgers and not full-sized, they’ll cook through quick over the high heat. Once the burgers are done, I like to toast the buns. It adds an extra depth of flavor and shows your guests that you’re willing to go the extra mile. Plus, it tastes fantastic.

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These sliders are perfect for summer entertaining because you can prepare them fast, you can prepare them in advance, they’re light but still super flavorful, they can be cooked outside to avoid heating the house, and they cook up in numbers! Double or triple the batch if you need to feed a crowd and serve them as a heavy appetizers along other summery bites like watermelon, pasta salad, Mexican corn and more! Another perk...sliders are finger food so no forks required. Perfect for that upcoming late summer graduation party you’re hosting soon.

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Turkey Sliders with Blueberry Compote
For the Compote:
1 cup Blueberries
1 tbsp. Sugar
Juice of ½ Lemon

For the Burgers:
1 lb. Ground Turkey
2 Scallions, chopped
1 large Garlic Clove, minced
1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parsley, chopped
½ tsp. Lemon Zest
4 Slices Gouda Cheese (each cut into four squares)
4 tbsp. Butter
Slider Buns

Directions:
1 - Prepare the compote. In a small saucepan, mix together the berries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a light simmer over medium-low heat and cook until it becomes a gooey, jam-like mixture, about 8-10 minutes. If necessary, use a potato masher to break down the berries a little more if it’s too chunky. Take off the heat and let cool.

2 - Mix the burger meat. In a large bowl, mix together the turkey, scallions, garlic, panko bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest until well incorporated. Form into golf ball sized meatballs and smash flat to form a patty.

3 - Preheat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the grill (you might need to work in batches) and cook 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through. About halfway through the cook time on the second side, add two gouda slices so the cheese melts over the patty. Once the turkey burgers are all cooked, spread butter onto the inside of each slider bun and toast on the same grill pan or skillet over low heat for a minute or so.

4 - Build the sliders. Place the slider on top of the bottom half of the bun. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the compote on top of the of the slider and place the top half of the bun over it. Serve!

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Simple Blueberry Pancakes | Brunch Recipes

Nothing makes me happier than a hearty breakfast or brunch on the weekend. Breakfast food is my favorite, especially when I’m eating out at a restaurant. You can get great breakfast food at home though too. I might not have cracked the trick to delightful, thick and fluffy French Toast but I feel like I have figured out the trick to delicious pancakes. Take these Simple Blueberry Pancakes, for example. They’re fluffy, tasty, and don’t take too long to whip up either which is always a plus. They also freeze nicely for breakfast during the week if you’re so inclined.

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Pancakes are a pretty standard breakfast and brunch item. It seems that a classic Blueberry Pancake is often overlooked because of how standard it is. Do people even make them at home anymore? They’re so simple and a refreshing alternative to classic pancakes. It’s an easy way to mix up a standard breakfast on the weekends. The trick to great pancakes is butter...lots and lots of butter. Butter in the batter and butter on the griddle. The batter should also be somewhat clumpy. The ingredients need to be mixed but if you have a completely smooth batter, the pancakes won’t get as thick and fluffy. My final tip, a touch of vanilla goes a long way for flavor. It elevates the pancakes and adds an extra pop of flavor.

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For a richer pancake, buttermilk is also a good addition. You could substitute one cup of the regular milk with buttermilk but you don’t want to substitute all the regular milk out because you’ll get dry pancakes. And speaking of milk...you’ll notice a very specific measurement. One and three quarters of a cup of milk plus two tablespoons. This is no joke. I added more milk into the batter gradually until it reached the perfect consistency. The batter should be thick but not gloppy. It’s a very thin line you’re working when it comes to the batter consistency but I swear this measurement is on point. If you feel like the batter is too thin or too thick, feel free to add a little extra flour or milk but only a little at a time, I'd say no more than a tablespoon. Sometimes the environment can have an effect on the consistency of the batter so it can vary. Or, maybe you just have a different pancake preference which is perfectly fine too.

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I'm having brunch at a restaurant this weekend with an old friend of mine. It'll be the perfect way to kick off my birthday and the restaurant came to me as a recommendation. The menu looks fantastic and the restaurant has a rooftop so I'm kind of hoping for cooler weather so we can enjoy it. It tends to cool off for my birthday even if we're mid-heat wave. I think it's the universe's way of giving me a break, even if just for a day.

So tell me, do you make blueberry pancakes at home? Any pancake making trips up your sleeve to share?

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Simple Blueberry Pancakes
Ingredients:
2 cups Flour
¼ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
½ tsp. Salt
¼ cup Butter, melted + 1 tbsp for the griddle
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Egg
1 ¾ cups Milk + 2 tbsp.
1 cup Fresh Blueberries

Directions:
1 - In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the milk, butter, vanilla, and egg. Mix until everything is incorporated. The batter will be smooth for the most part with some clumps. Clumps are good because they’ll keep the pancakes fluffy. Fold in the blueberries.

2 - Heat a griddle over medium-high heat and add the reserved tablespoon of butter. Once melted, use a spatula or pastry brush to spread it over the entire surface of the griddle.

3 - To make the pancakes, ladle about ⅓ cup of the batter onto the griddle. Leave an inch or so between the pancakes so it’s easy to flip them and move them around. Once the batter is on the griddle, wait for it to bubble up and flip. Gently press the pancake down after a few minutes. If it springs back up quickly, you’re good to go. If there’s still an impression, let it cook a minute or so more.

4 - Continue the process until all the batter is gone. Serve!

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