quick turkey parmesan burgers

These days, I rarely make anything that takes longer than 30 minutes anymore. Maybe that sounds a bit ridiculous but after moving around all day, the last thing I want to do is cook something that requires lots of prep and more time on my feet. At almost 7 months pregnant and carrying more weight than ever, my feet hurt! So I was excited when I saw a recipe this month in Cooking Light for Chicken Parmesan Burgers. Looks quick and easy! The only problem is, there was no parmesan in the recipe. Anyone see a problem there?

Regardless, I love experimenting with different kinds of burgers so I put together my own version. I used ground turkey to still keep them light (and also because Trader Joe’s did not have ground chicken). If you can find ground chicken at your own grocery store though, feel free to substitute! Also, I wanted to add an extra punch of vegetables and lightly sauteed mushrooms were be the perfect addition. We really enjoyed these and I will definitely be making them again!


Turkey Parmesan Burgers

Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground turkey or chicken

1 (heaping) Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1 (heaping) Tablespoon panko bread crumbs

1/3 cup marinara sauce, plus 2 Tablespoons set aside

1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced

1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 teaspoon olive oil

Good quality rolls–I used Trader Joe’s Parm-iago Rosemary Rolls and they were fantastic!

1. Combine turkey (or chicken), parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, 1/3 cup marinara sauce, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Divide into 2 portions, shaping patties about 1/4″ thick.

2. Meanwhile, place olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms (and salt and pepper to taste). Cook about 5 minutes or until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. In the same pan as the mushrooms, place the burgers. Still at medium heat, cook 6 minutes on each side. Add mozzarella and cook for an additional minute until the cheese is melted.

4. Layer the burgers, mushrooms, and additional marinara sauce on each sliced roll. Serve immediately. Preferably with oven-baked sweet potato fries!




Crowd Favorite

Today is quite possibly my favorite day of the year. I am sitting here sipping my coffee, rocking my Tom Brady jersey with my heart racing. Football is back baby! Everyone in my family is a huge New England Patriots fan other than my husband who loves the Denver Broncos. We love him anyway. πŸ˜‰

The start of the season always reminds me of the early Sunday morning football tradition my mom began years ago–her famous Biscuit breakfast sandwiches. In fact, my mom is sort of famous in my circle of friends for these sandwiches. Anytime we are at her house on the weekend they casually ask if she is making them. They are a weekend alarm clock, waking up my family with the smell of bacon crisping and biscuits baking. Happens every time like clockwork. So incredibly simple but so addictive.


I prefer to make my own biscuits from scratch but these made a great substitute in a pinch. They are perfectly flaky and buttery and not too large.


Organic Farm Fresh Eggs, preferably cooked Over Medium


Topped with a slice of cheddar cheese and crispy Niman Ranch bacon



Definitely a crowd favorite.

Go Pats! πŸ™‚

Cinnamon Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas


Every time I visit a Mexican restaurant I vow to try something new but I always end up ordering the same thing-enchiladas. There is just something comforting about warm tortillas filled with chicken and melted cheese covered in a slightly spicy sauce. Okay…who am I kidding, I just love melted cheese?

I have been experimenting with my own recipe for quite some time and I think I finally came up with a winner. Using this fabulous recipe as a guide, I made some significant changes to make it my own including the addition of CINNAMON. I believe cinnamon makes (almost) everything better. Anyone else with me?




After poaching the chicken, I allowed it to cool and shred it into bite sized pieces.


I combined the salsas, hot sauce, and cinnamon with the yogurt. I really believe 2% makes all of the difference in the world here. You could use fat free but the filling is far more creamy and satisfying with the 2%.

Side note: Normally I do not use yogurt containers for mixing bowls but since I had the perfect amount left in the container, I figured why not? Less dishes to clean for me!


A little bit of enchilada sauce goes into the bottom of the baking dish.


The yogurt mixture is then layered with the chicken and cheese on a tortilla. I used the whole wheat handmade tortillas from Trader Joe’s. They make the enchiladas a bit larger than the ones you find in a restaurant but they have a doughy texture to them that cannot be matched.


Place each tortilla seam side down in the baking dish and repeat with the remaining tortillas. Drinking your favorite beer in the process is just an added bonus. πŸ˜‰


Cover with the remaining cheese and sauce and bake for about 30 minutes.


Cinnamon Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

4 Servings

1 lb. chicken breasts

1 1/2 cups Mexican cheese blend

12 oz. enchilada sauce

3 (rounded) tablespoons Chipotle Salsa

3 (rounded) tablespoons Corn Salsa

4 whole wheat flour tortillas

1/2 cup 2% greek yogurt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Hot sauce, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Poach chicken breasts for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

3. Meanwhile, combine yogurt, salsas, hot sauce, and cinnamon. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.

4. Take each tortilla and layer 2 tablespoons of the yogurt mixture, 1/3 cup chicken, and 1/4 cup cheese. Roll like a cigar and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

5. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve immediately.

Top with fresh avocado and the remaining yogurt mixture to take the final dish over the top. Reggie is quite particular about his enchiladas and he said these were my best to date. I will definitely be making these again!

Please enjoy! πŸ™‚



Cooking with Julie: Part 2


First, how can you not LOVE someone who has a framed picture of Julia Child in her living room?

Above all, Julie is also a really gifted chef and a gifted teacher.

“Classically trained by some of the world’s most accomplished French Masters, Julie has been teaching for more than 20 years and is a Certified Culinary Professional. She apprenticed with former White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier — and worked and studied in France at Hotel de France in Auch with AndrΓ© Daguin, Paula Wolfert, Gaston LenΓ΄tre and Ecole Ritz Escoffier. Julie was director and teacher at L’Academie de Cuisine, one of the top ten cooking schools in the United States, where she teamed with Francois Dionot for five years. She also had the opportunity to work with Jean-Louis Palladin and Giuliano Bugialli. Julie is a graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, and has taken numerous classes at the CIA-Greystone β€” and around the world.

After living and working many years abroad in Asia and Africa, she now makes her home in Napa and started the cooking school COOKING with JULIE. In her free time she volunteers at the Food Bank and C.H.E.F.S. (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) as an instructor.

Member of International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), *Certified Culinary Professional (CCP), San Francisco Professional Food Society, and Slow Food.”



We spent the beginning of class reviewing our recipes. Julie always emphasizes the importance of reading recipes from beginning to end BEFORE starting to cook. This way, you know what is coming next and there is much less stress in the kitchen. Now that is something we all want, right? Cooking is supposed to be fun! πŸ™‚


There were 8 people total in the class which really allowed Julie to give us individual attention. We were grouped into pairs and each pair was assigned a dish. I wanted to prepare something I had never cooked before so Gingi and I chose the Strawberry Gelato and Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues). Truthfully, we were moving so fast in the kitchen that it was not very easy to take pictures of each step of the process. I did manage to snap a couple action shots though.


Gingi and I received some great experience learning how to pipe and I have to say I really love pastry making. My dream is to go to culinary school and learn baking and pastry in more detail. πŸ™‚



Once everything was prepared, we sat down outside for a lovely lunch paired with the wine we tasted earlier in the day. Everything as fresh, flavorful, and incredibly light. The perfect summer lunch.


Sorrel & Mint Buttermilk Soup


Vegetables Grilled Spanish Style with Picada


Pasta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Goat Cheese


Strawberry Gelato with Balsamic Vinegar


Langues de Chat (Cat’s Tongues)


Cooking with Julie is an amazing experience and I highly recommend her to anyone who visits the Valley. My mom loved the experience and she cannot wait to do it again! πŸ™‚

Have you ever taken a cooking class? If not, what would you want to learn?



Stir it Up

Foodie confession time. As much as I love to cook, using tofu scares me a little for some reason. I like the taste of it and I usually enjoy eating it, but I never know what to do with it once I get it home. Sure, I have used tofu in the gnocchi I made a few weeks ago but I barely did anything with it other than plop it into my Vita-Mix. However, since we have started to drastically decrease our intake of meat products, I figured I should try cooking tofu at home. Usually my favorite way to eat this lovely soybean product is usually in some kind of stir fry. I figured this would also be a nice starter tofu dish. Looking in my pantry, I found this:


So, after pressing the extra firm tofu for about 30 minutes, I cut half of the block into small cubes.


I wanted to replicate that fried taste of the restaurant tofu I love, but without all of the unnecessary calories and fat–you know, lighten it up a bit. πŸ˜‰

After giving the tofu a dash of salt and pepper, I pan fried the tofu pieces in a tablespoon of oil.


After about 8 minutes, I removed the tofu from the pan and kept it in a warm place. In the same pan, I added some fresh broccoli, minced garlic, and some good ol’ H2O.




I placed the lid on the hot pan immediately. Then, adding the water with the other three ingredients, helps to steam the broccoli and infuse the garlic flavor. Delicious!


Once the garlic was almost cooked, I added the tofu and General Tsao Sauce to the pan. I stir fried the mixture for a couple minutes and then we were ready to eat.

I served my mixture with a homemade ginger rice. The combination was perfect. The bottled sauce was surprisingly not overly salty. Instead, it was sweet with a zing of heat at the end! I highly recommend it. The tofu was crispy on the outside but not greasy. In fact, after a couple of bites I was telling Reggie how great I thought the tofu was and he responded—“tofu?! I thought this was chicken! Nice work bb!” I am not sure how or why he thought he was eating chicken but you gotta love that!

Tofu & Broccoli Stir Fry

2 Servings

8 oz. firm tofu, pressed and chopped into 1/2 cubes

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup broccoli florets

1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)

1/4 cup Stir Fry Sauce (I used General Tsao Sauce from Trader Joe’s)

1/2-3/4 cup water

Salt & Cayenne Pepper, to taste

1. Heat a heavy skillet or wok to medium-high heat. Add oil and tofu. Brown the tofu evenly on each side (about 8 minutes). Remove from the pan and place in a warm place.

2. Place broccoli, garlic, and water into the same pan. Immediately place the lid on the pan to steam the broccoli. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

3. Add the tofu and sauce to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes and serve with Ginger Rice (recipe follows).

Ginger Rice

2 Servings

1/2 cup uncooked rice (white or brown)

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced ginger

Salt & Pepper to taste

If you are not using a rice cooker, Place all ingredients into a small sauce pan heated to medium-high heat. Once the rice comes to a boil, lower the temperature to low and cook until the rice has absorbed all of the water. Serve warm.

I am incredibly lucky and headed back to Napa for the weekend. I have some pretty spectacular reservations lined up. Can’t wait to share them!



Making Substitutions


So ever since I went on the No Biscuits and Gravy Left Unturned Tour, I have been obsessed with replicating my own version at home. Only one problem—I am really trying to eat only local meat (if at all) and I couldn’t find any local sausage. So, I went with the next best thing—veggie sausage. This one to be exact:


I used this as my recipe but I saved some more time by using these:


These little babies were delicious! Plus, they make a lot more sense for us because there are only 2 of us so I can pull a couple out then toss the rest back in the fridge.






I topped my serving with an over easy egg because that is how I roll. A little hot sauce would have been the perfect addition. I will be sure to add that next time-and there will be a next time because this recipe was perfect! So delicious and filling.



Eating Green

I am a huge sports fan and being from the Boston area, I am a huge fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and of course the Celtics. Since the Celtics are playing the Lakers in the NBA Finals and I live in Southern California, I am really enjoying continuation of the historic rivalry. Add in the fact that I am a cheeseball, and you get lots of green food for the playoffs—both in color and preparation.


Luckily, my CSA provided me with some beautiful, seasonal avocados. I watched Food, Inc. over the weekend and it is quite the game changer. If you have not had a chance to see this documentary, please do. Also, I would just like to add that Reg and I want the farmer they interviewed to be our friend. Love that guy! πŸ™‚

We are going to continue our research on where our food comes from but I will say this: my husband, who was practically committed to a McDonald’s diet at one point in his life (gotta love college), said he will never look at food the same way again. And we will most certainly be renewing my CSA subscription. If you are looking for one near you, I highly recommend checking out Local Harvest.

Okay back to the guacamole. As a kid I thought anything avocado was disgusting. I was a picky willful child who would have preferred to eat Macaroni & Cheese for the rest of her life. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love M&C but nothing compares to a ripe, buttery avocado. Once, I tried some fresh guacamole, it was love at first bite.

I use lemons instead of limes for the acid. It just gives it a more subtle flavor and really allows the avocados to shine!



Jenna’s Simple Guacamole

8 Servings

2 medium-sized avocados (ripe)

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/4 cup minced red onion (optional)

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Tortilla Chips, Carrot Sticks, etc. for dippers

1. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Using a large spoon scoop out the flesh of the avocados and place in a medium sized bowl.

2. Use a fork to start chopping up with avocado.

3. Add the garlic, lemon juice, onions (if using), salt, and pepper. Continue to combine until guacamole reaches desired consistency.

Enjoy and GO CELTICS!



Must Try

Good morning! I hope you are all having a fantastic week. Last night I saw The Lion King musical and I was just blown away. From the costumes to the singing, the whole production was phenomenal. I highly recommend seeing it if you have the chance.

So, a couple weeks ago one of my favorite bloggers, Mama Pea, posted a recipe for Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi and I am so excited to share the testing results with you.  The verdict? Un-be-lievable! And so easy!





I was going to pair the gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce but then I decided I wanted to make my favorite tomato cream sauce. I am so glad I did too because it was the perfect accompaniment to the pillows of tofu heaven.



While the gnocchi were cooking, I sauteed some Cremini mushrooms in a touch of olive oil, salt, and pepper. After a couple minutes, I deglazed the pan with some beautiful Marsala wine just to deepen the flavor.


Then I added a couple servings of this delicious marinara sauce from TJ’s


And whisked in a couple ounces of the tofutti to make the perfect pink sauce.


So delicious, so fresh.

Jenna’s Easy Creamy Marinara Sauce

2 servings

1 cup sliced Cremini mushrooms

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup Marsala wine

2 cups marinara sauce

2 ounces tofutti (or light cream cheese)

1. Pour olive oil into a medium sized pan and turn heat to medium-high.

2. Place the mushrooms into the pan so that they are even. Do not touch them for 2-3 minutes. Allow them to brown slightly. Then continue to stir for another 1-2 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

3. Once the mushrooms are tender and sticking slightly to the pan, add the wine and stir until the mushrooms are coated evenly. Allow the mushrooms to absorb the wine. Turn the heat down to medium.

4. Then, add the marinara sauce. Once the sauce is heated through, add the tofutti and whisk until blended evenly and the sauce is slightly pink.

5. Serve over desired pasta or vegetable.

Favorite French Toast


Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. And if I have to narrow it down even further, french toast would be at the top of that list. My family always jokes that because my mom ate so much french toast when she was pregnant with me that it became my favorite food! Now, whether or not that is true, I really want to share my french toast recipe with you. Since I was a willful (err…picky) child, I often refused to eat the wonderful meals my mother prepared and instead chose to make my own dinner, which was usually french toast. So, I have had 20-ish years of recipe testing this bad boy.


The key to good french toast is good bread. Occasionally, I will make this same recipe with a nice slice of Whole Wheat bread but the real magic happens if you can find a good “eggy” bread. Any challah or Hawaiian sweet bread would be perfect. In this case, I used an amazing Cinnamon-Apple bread I found at the Farmer’s Market. Just incredible.





Toasted walnuts, fresh berries, and a drizzle of maple syrup serve as the perfect summer toppings.


French Toast

2 servings

4 slices of bread (Approximately 1 inch thick and either challah or Hawaiian sweet bread)

2 large eggs

2/3 cup 1% milk

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

Lots of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Earth Balance/Butter (for cooking)

Toppings: Maple Syrup, Strawberries, Toasted Walnuts etc.

1. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Soak each piece of bread in mixture for 2-3 minutes on each side.

2. Heat up griddle to medium-high heat. Add desired amount of EB/butter ( I used about 1/2 tablespoon) and allow it to melt completely. Turn heat to medium and add the soaked bread slices.

3. Cook until golden brown on each side. This should take about 3-4 minutes.

4. Serve immediately with desired toppings.

Now, I am off for a really busy day which includes plans to see The Lion King musical tonight! How was your holiday weekend?



Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

When I received some blood oranges in this week’s CSA shipment, I did not really know what to do with them. I love the flavor of citrus but I rarely eat oranges plain. I refused to waste them so I came up with what I think is that next best thing-a dessert! Cupcakes, no less!

These were perfectly light and refreshing. I brought them to work and they were gone in 15 minutes! Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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Blood Orange Coconut Cupcakes

12 Servings

1 1/4 c whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon blood orange zest

1/2 cup 1% milk

1/4 cup coconut milk coffee creamer (or another 1/4 cup milk)

3/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 tablespoons Earth Balance or Butter

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 egg

Cupcake liners

Orange food coloring (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the zest, milk creamer, Earth Balance/butter, agave, and egg.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until combined. Do not overmix. Add the food coloring if you desire a brighter orange cake.

4. Place cupcakes liners into the pan. Pour batter 2/3 way up.

5. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for one minute and then transfer to wire rack for cooling.

Blood Orange Icing

1/4 cup light cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup Earth Balance or Butter, softened

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/4 cup fresh blood orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons blood orange zest

Unsweetened coconut flakes for sprinkling

1. Combine the cream cheese and butter. Add the blood orange juice.

2. Add the confectioner’s sugar 1/4 cup at time until well mix. Add the vanilla and zest.

3. Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip the top of the cupcakes into the icing. Sprinkle with coconut.

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