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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pesto Parmesan Turkey Burgers and Some New England Sights

Where to start?  I guess, with the food, since this is a food blog, right?


This is a quickie recipe that I whipped up a few weeks ago.  We had some ground turkey hanging out in the freezer, like it does, and I wanted something different.  Burgers are always welcome, but a little variety is nice.  A look in the pantry turned up a jar of Trader Joe’s pesto.  Bingo!  One easy recipe, coming up!

Note: We had two 3/4 pound packages of farm fresh ground turkey (one white, and one dark meat) that we combined to make these.  The farm fresh meat is very moist, so we added bread crumbs.  If your ground turkey doesn’t seem extra moist, you can skip the bread crumbs.  Bottom line--the patties should hold together, so you be the judge.

Pesto Parmesan Turkey Burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 1/4 cups grated fresh parmesan
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 1/2 tsp garlic pepper rub
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Pesto Mayo

Your favorite mayo (we like Hellman's!)
prepared pesto

Mix all of the burger ingredients (except the things for the pesto mayo) in a medium bowl and form into patties.  (We got 8 for this amount)
Cook in a hot pan with a little heated olive oil, or grill for about 4 minutes per side.
For the pesto mayo, just eyeball the amounts until you get it to your liking.
Add any additional toppings you like.




And now, some shots from around NH.  These are some taken at Odiorne Point State Park, in Rye, NH.  We love visiting here, and we’re out at the coast all the time, anyway.  The park has the Seacoast Science Center, which is full of exhibits featuring the local wildlife.  The building itself is built on and encompasses the home originally built on the land in the 1600’s.  Here is a bit of history about Odiorne Point from

In the dense growth of shrubs and vines, covering much of the park's 330 acres, remnants of Odiorne's past silently remain. Reminders of other eras and stark contrasts; idyllic summer estates and gaunt reminders of coastal fortifications. In terms of man and his settlement of this coastal land, Odiorne Point remained a true wilderness until almost 400 years ago. During summer migrations Native Americans of Pennacook and Abnaki tribes visited the area which they called Pannaway. Permanent settlement began in the 1600s.

In 1623 an agent of England's Council for New England cameto fish and trade in the New World. David Thomson journeyed to New England on the ship Jonathan to establish the first New Hampshire settlement at what would become Odiorne Point. Many others followed, and the original settlement grew and spread along the coast and up the river.

John Odiorne joined the settlement in 1660. He acquired several acres of land from the shoreline west into the marshes beyond. Like the others, he farmed and fished. The Odiornes remained on the property for several generations, always a part of the continuing changes in the Odiorne Point community.

By the 1700s the settlement was well established, but the governing and trading activities had moved north into the deep harbor area of Strawberry Banke (now Portsmouth). The farms of Odiorne Point helped to feed the burgeoning port of Portsmouth for about 150 years.

After the Civil War farming gradually gave way to a colony of hotels and large summer homes. Generations of families spent their summers by the sea. In this era of large seaside resorts, a grand hotel called the Sagamore House was built on the property. Over the years smaller parcels of land were sold for summer homes and estates. Formal gardens and tree-lined drives ornamented the properties. By the late 1930s seventeen families lived on Odiorne Point, including an eighth generation descendent of John Odiorne and the last of the Odiornes to live on the ancestral homestead.

World War II (WWII) brought drastic changes to the landscape and to the lives of these people who loved their land by the sea. In 1942 the federal government purchased all the property from Little Harbor to the Sunken Forest, as well as the adjacent marshland. Within a month the Odiornes and their neighbors were gone.

Military structures were quickly built to house personnel, armaments and supplies. Massive concrete casements, often called bunkers, were constructed and camouflaged with thick vegetation. Because of their open aspect to the sea, many of the estates were demolished, and Route 1A was closed. Odiorne Point became known as Fort Dearborn, and for nearly twenty years, was part of the chain of coastal defenses that protected Portsmouth Harbor and the naval shipyard. In the late 1950s Fort Dearborn was declared surplus property. It was sold to the state of New Hampshire for $91,000 in 1961.

You can see a photo of the original house in the photo on this page.  The old  house is still there and now a part of the Science Center.   Sadly, the area was taken over during World War II and used as part of the coastal defense.  This photo from shows one of the bunkers that is still there.


My dad grew up on the coast, and his father had the chance to buy a very large, very gorgeous home that is still there today, for $5,000.00.  Everyone back then thought the homes on the coast would be destroyed.  Thankfully, they weren’t.  But sadly, my grandfather didn’t buy the house! 

And here are a few more photos from our trip up the the White Mountains yesterday.   There’s a couple of vista shots, and a few of only the second time in my life to see a moose up close.  We almost didn’t take the Kancamagus Highway to cut through the mountains, but I’m glad we did.  This “little” guy was hanging out on the side of the road!  I was able to get right in front of him, and then he crossed the road and went by just a few feet from us.  Being a city girl, this was very exciting!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Browned Butter Blueberry Maple Muffins


Think Blueberry Pancakes. In a nice little handheld size. And no slaving over a hot griddle making pancake after pancake. These are almost instant gratification!

Some of you may remember the Daring Bakers Cake, Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, from Shuna Fish Lydon. One of the best cakes ever, and the one I’m requesting for my birthday in September. It’s amazing how browning the butter makes the whole thing better. And it’s a simple step, too! Just make sure you run the browned butter through a strainer (a metal mesh one, so it doesn’t melt!) and let it cool slightly before you add it to your recipe.


So, I was thinking about muffins, as I often do. Yes, really! I love them like family. They make a nice breakfast or a delicious snack. It’s cake that’s contained in it’s own little hand held package. Want fruit? Go for it! Nuts? Chocolate? Whatever you feel like!

While I was thinking about muffins, I inadvertently drifted over to breakfast--->pancakes--->blueberry pancakes--->maple syrup--->muffins! The light went on over my head and hit me like a dozen muffins. Or in this case, ten.

Blueberry muffins. Nearly everyone loves them. But putting a spin on them is the fun part! To mimic blueberry pancakes, I could add maple syrup. And browned butter to get the flavor you get from frying your pancakes up in melted butter.

Oh, yes. Now we’re talking! These are right up there in my top 5 favorite muffins now. I’ll definitely make them more, and in fact, they’re now my official blueberry muffin recipe!

I used frozen Wild Maine Blueberries in these. You know, the little tiny ones? But you can use any kind you like. And even though I think purple muffins are extremely cool, I did rinse them before using. I wanted to see if the browned butter gave the batter some color, and it did. After baking, they were a nice caramel color.


Maple Syrup. Please, if you love me, use real maple syrup in these. Not the doctored up corn agave-maple-syrupsyrup with artificial maple flavoring and coloring. In this case, I used a maple agave blend from Trader Joe’s. It’s real maple syrup blended with agave. It’s one of my new best friends! If you can’t get your hands on that, maple syrup is perfect.


I adapted this recipe from one found in 100 Muffins and Scones, by Felicity Barnum-Bobb. This book is packed with mouthwatering recipes to feed my muffin addiction!

Browned Butter Blueberry Maple Muffins
adapted from
100 Magnificent Muffins & Scones, by Felicity Barnum-Bobb

To print this recipe, click here.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup blueberries (if frozen, rinsed and set aside to dry a bit)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup, for brushing over tops


Heat oven to 375, and lightly grease your muffin pan.
Melt the butter in a small pan, letting it go until it starts to brown and smell nutty. Don't let it burn, but stop
when it gets deep brown. There will be dark sediment in the pan, so pour the butter through a wire mesh strainer
and set it aside to cool a bit. Don't worry if a bit of the sediment makes it through the strainer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and sugar.
In a smaller bowl, toss the berries with 1/4 cup of the flour mixture.
In a large measuring cup or smaller bowl, whisk the melted butter, maple syrup eggs and salt.
Pour the wet stuff into the dry stuff, mix just until blended--then fold in berries.
Fill the muffin cups evenly (I got 10 muffins) and bake for 18-20 minutes.
Do the toothpick test--it should come out clean.
Let the muffins cool a few minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the edges, and turn them out on to a
cooling rack.
Place the cooling rack over a parchment lined pan, and brush the tops with the maple syrup.


A question to you, my readers--what are your favorite kinds of muffins?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quinoa Polenta with Sautéed Lentils and Portobellos


This dinner was put together one night when looking for a way to use up a package of steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s, a few Portobello mushroom caps, and some quinoa. Yes, I said steamed lentils! It’s a pack of 2 1/2 cups of lentils, vacuum sealed and ready to go. Now, there’s no reason at all why you couldn’t make your own lentils, but I think it would be better if you made them ahead and let them sit in the fridge for a day. Just like you do for fried rice. It lets them separate and firm up, and hold up better to sautéing—so they don’t turn to mush.


The quinoa part of this is done polenta-style, with some fresh grated parmesan, and is from Whole Grains for Busy People, by Lorna Sass. Couldn’t be easier! I’ve made this quite a few times already, even adding an extra bit of half and half at the end for a little more creaminess. Delicious!

Lorna’s book is loaded with great recipes—I have a ton marked to try. And it’s not a vegetarian book, by any means. There’s plenty of meaty recipes in there, but whole grains are included. And they’re all quick, weeknight meals, with grains that cook quickly. But don’t feel the need to limit them to just weeknights!

So get your quinoa polenta going in one pot, and start the lentils in another pan. If you like, you can do the mushrooms in a third pan, but I just transfer the lentils to a bowl when they’re done, then do the portobellos in the same pan. They’re very quick to cook up, so your other stuff isn’t going to get cold.


Don’t look at the three elements and think it’s too complicated, please. Each one is extremely quick and easy, I promise!

Quinoa-Style Polenta
From Whole Grains for Busy People, and slightly changed

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth (or use vegetable broth if you prefer)
1/2 cup grated fresh parmesan
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp of your favorite fresh herbs, minced (or about 1 tsp dried)
salt and fresh cracked black pepper

In a saucepan, bring broth and quinoa to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 12-15 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Stir in the remaining ingredients and set aside.

Sautéed Lentils

2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup chicken broth (or vegetable if you prefer)
2 tbsp of your favorite fresh herbs, minced (or about 2 tsp dried)
fresh cracked black pepper

In a skillet over medium low heat, heat some olive oil, then add the garlic and saute for a few minutes, being
careful not to burn it.
Increase the heat to medium high, and add the onions--cook for a few minutes.
Add the lentils and broth, and simmer for about 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
You want to cook off most of the liquid.
Add the herbs and pepper.
Set aside, or remove from pan--then wipe it clean and slowly heat a little olive oil to get ready for the mushrooms...

Sautéed Portobellos

2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 large Portobello mushroom caps, stems removed and sliced, gills removed, and rinsed
your favorite herbs
fresh cracked black pepper and a little salt

Slice the mushrooms into pieces about 3/4 inch thick. Use the sliced stems, too, if you like!
Heat a bit of oil in a pan over medium low heat, then add the garlic.
Saute, being careful not to burn it.
Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
Add herbs, salt and pepper.

Layer the quinoa, lentils, then mushrooms in your bowl, and top with extra grated parmesan.quinoa-lentils-portobellos-4

Serves 3 people

My meat-eating husband absolutely loves this one! And see how it serves three people? That means the two of us for dinner, and he gets the leftovers for lunch the next day. That’s how much he loves this dish.


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Monday, May 4, 2009

Food Blog Code of Ethics

There’s been a lot of buzz around the food blogging world for the last few days. If you want to know why, you can click the link and read all about it.

Food Blog Code of Ethics

While the basic idea of this code is common sense honesty, and I’m sure—written with good intentions--there are a few things about it that rub me the wrong way. I’ll touch on those first, then give you some links to other blogs who have posted about it, as well. I urge you to also read through the comments—they’re well thought out and may bring up some points you haven’t thought of.

1) This Code of Ethics was written by two trained journalists that also blog about food. So naturally, they lean towards journalistic ethics. And that’s fine! If you’re a journalist. Which I am not. I write this blog for fun. I look at it as friends having a chat about food.

2) The authors of the code say they had heated discussions with other food bloggers before putting it in writing. What food bloggers? I wasn’t one of them. I don’t think I know any one else that was asked to weigh in on it. I think that before one word of the code was released, it should have been put out there for all food bloggers to offer up opinions on. Granted, there would have been a lot of opinions to wade through, but I think if you’re going to set up “guidelines” that you’d like to apply to all food bloggers, then you ought to give them the option to know about it and be a part of it before you release it to the world. That’s common sense.

3) Honesty. It’s a very good thing! I’m an honest person with integrity. I don’t think that if I put a little badge saying “I Follow The Code” in my sidebar, you’ll all rest easier at night. Will you? I give my readers way more credit than that! You guys can discern between bullshit and the truth. It seems silly to me to have to tell you that I’m an honest person. You’ll either think someone is or not. But more importantly, you’ll form that opinion on your own. I actually read a comment by someone who was all aboard for the code, and said it was a way to *set themselves apart as having standards* they write by.

Well, excuse me (!), but I have standards already, and don’t need a code to proclaim it! Being ethical, honest, and civil are qualities you either have, or you don’t. And no code is going to help you if you don’t already possess those attributes.

4) While we’re on the subject of honesty…I really don’t expect that the thieves out there that steal blog content and photos will suddenly say “Oh, there’s a CODE? Well, that changes everything! I’ll stop stealing your content right away and never do it again!” Please. They’re going to do it anyway, because they’re unethical, and no badge or document will stop them. They have to want to do it.

5) The authors of the code think that restaurant reviews by food bloggers should be fair. I can’t argue with that at all. But they suggest visiting an establishment at least twice before reviewing. Which would be fine if I were a journalist with an expense account. But I’m a stay at home mom, and our budget for such things come out of my husband’s paycheck. I suggest that restaurants learn consistency and put out quality food every time a plate leaves the kitchen, or own up to it—and not get pissed at the food blogger that happened to get a bad plate of food.

6) I fund this blog. Which means I’m “Supreme Ruler and Dictator” when it comes to what I publish on it. If I want to be crude (which I’m not, for the most part) I will. If I don’t want to be civil, I won’t. Please refer to my title in line one, section six if you’ve got an issue with that.

7) From the code:

“As the blogging world expands exponentially, more and more people in the culinary world believe that food bloggers—as a groupare unfair, highly critical, untrained and power hungry individuals empowered by anonymity.”

I’m betting that the ones who think food bloggers are unfair and critical are the very ones being criticized by food bloggers. They call us hacks. I have a simple solution for them. Put out better food, better books, and better products. And put on your grown up panties and realize that not everyone will kiss your ass and tell you you’re awesome! If you’re putting yourself out there publicly, be ready for criticism. It’s part of being in the public eye.

8) The badge. For the time being, they’ve decided to hold off on releasing it, and thank GOD for that. They say: “We’re conflicted about the negative message the badge might convey.”

Negative message is right! Can you imagine new readers coming to a great, honest blog—not seeing the badge, and thinking “Oh, this must be written by an unethical, dishonest hack. I must go elsewhere.”

This badge should never, ever become the defining “badge of honor.” Because there are millions of honest, ethical and civil food bloggers out there, and they don’t need a badge to proclaim it. I’ll say it again. I think 99% of food blog readers are extremely smart people and can tell when someone is trying to bullshit them—and the 1% are trolls looking to piss people off. But for someone who just starts reading food blogs—well, I hope they never have to look for a badge of honesty to decide whether to read a blog or not.


I guess that was a little more than a few. But I feel very strongly about this. Now, the authors state plainly that these are guidelines, not rules. But really, if someone decides not to follow and jump on the bandwagon, does that make them unethical? Dishonest? Uncivil?

Hell, no! But it’s a slippery slope they’re on—trying to govern a very large group of people and hold them to standards that journalists follow. And with all due respect to these ladies, rather pretentious. I don’t know the numbers, but I’m betting most food bloggers aren’t trained journalists like the authors of the code. Will people embrace it, follow it, live by it? Or will the hype die down in a few months as we’ve all moved on to something else? I don’t know yet.

Here are a few links to check out. I hope you’ll go read them, and don’t forget the comments! There are many opinions, and things for you to think about. Whether you’re a food blog writer or a blog reader—you should know about this code, and decide if it’s important to you or not. As a reader, especially. Will you look for the badge of honesty? Or will you let the blogs speak for themselves, and use your intelligence to see when someone is lying to you?

Eating L.A.

Bitchin’ Avocado


Sky full of Bacon

I’ll leave you with this: I’m an honest person. I’m ethical, and civil. And I care about my readers—I won’t lie to you. But I won’t subscribe to someone else’s idea of what a food blogger should be like. I’ll be me, without a shiny badge, and hope that you’ll still come back to read about what I have to say. And thanks to those that do!

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