Back Yard Adventures

I recently went on an adventure with my back yard grill.

I made turkey burgers.

A turkey burger hardly seems like an adventure but in my red-meat eating household, a turkey burger is a big adventure!

I looked up a few recipes and decided on a bit of a “Jamaican” influence for the flavor profile. I added in apple sauce to keep it moist, shredded carrot for texture and some unusual spices like nutmeg and ginger.

I used about a 1.25 lbs of regular ground turkey (white meat) and added a small onion which I whizzed up in the food processor till it was basically juice and a 4 0z snack cup of apple sauce plus one med carrot shredded finely. I threw in a beaten egg to hold it together and add even more fat/moisture. The spice blend was a 1/4 tsp each of nutmeg & ginger. 1 tsp of granulated garlic, plenty of ground black pepper and 2 tsp of seasoned salt. I also threw in a few hefty dashes of my favorite smokey hot sauce! The mix was pretty wet/loose but I wanted to keep it gluten-free and not add the usual bread crumbs so instead I added about 3 tb of rice flour, stirring them in 1 tablespoon at a time to carefully judge consistency. I think some chopped fresh cilantro might have been nice but I didn’t have any.

I formed the patties and grilled them on the a well-oiled backyard grill adding some Munster cheese! Ketchup or extra hot sauce is optional!

Investigating an American Classic

Happy 4th of July!

I was reviewing posts from the past that were released on or around the 4th of July and found this little gem from 2010! I investigate an American classic. Deviled ham salad sandwiches. Read on for a laugh!


Nothing like a heat wave to drive you into an air-conditioned supermarket in search of no cook meals!

So there I was in line at the deli considering my hot-weather July 4th holiday menu and I saw the deli advertising their own homemade cold salads – chicken, tuna and ham. Chicken salad is delicious – in fact I often make it myself. Tuna salad I don’t eat it because I don’t like any fish – but I can appreciate it and often make it for my husband’s lunch. Ham salad – now that is a different story.

Ham salad is right there in the weird deli food category for me. Along with pimento loaf. I have never tried ham salad. I am not sure why. I love, I mean LOVE ham. I would list ham (or really any pork product) in my top 5 fav foods! Why shouldn’t I love ham salad? Is it because it is minced meat? Considering I like bologna sandwiches and I never met a hot dog I didn’t like – this dislike of ham salad can’t be true. I discuss the situation with my husband. He reveals that his mom used to make deviled ham sandwiches.  I immediately quiz him – What was in it? How was it served? Did you like it?  He says it was chopped up cooked ham, mayo, pickle relish and of course a little salt/pepper. Served on Sunbeam “batter-whipped” white bread and…He didn’t actually like it!! He tells me that whenever he saw his mother whipping this up – he would slide down to his Aunt Barb’s house to see what was for dinner at her house. (If he was lucky, she was whipping up a pot of Johnny Marzetti!)

“Deviled ham” versus “ham salad”

After reading a few recipes and a bit of history on the web; I have to conclude that ham salad is a basic recipe of chopped or minced cooked ham, mayonnaise, relish, sometimes chopped celery and the chopped hard-boiled egg seems to be a black and white issue. You either like it or you don’t.

What makes “deviled ham salad” deviled? Well Underwood Deviled Ham Spread from B&G Brands is what makes deviled ham deviled! They claim the introduction of this product to America back in 1868. From my research I would say that “deviled ham” whether homemade or canned, contains more spice (read “heat”) in it.

The taste test.

I approached the supermarket with trepidation. What aisle would it be in? (With the canned tuna.) Would the ingredients be filled with many long words and chemical products? (It isn’t – in fact I was amazed at it’s mostly natural ingredients.) There it was in aisle 2, nestled in its paper wrapper, reminiscent of a fine Worcestershire sauce.

I whip up the two versions –  one made with deli ham that I dice up and the canned deviled variety.

I consult only to discover that I have 3 (three!!) ham salad recipes hiding among my 62 indexed cookbooks! James Beard, Irma and of course Better Homes and Garden all offer up similar versions of ham salad that I have seen on the web. Of course Underwood offers a recipe online. Theirs seems a bit more like a dip or a spread – calling for cream cheese and pimento and such. I decide to compare apples to apples – I will make both using mayo, relish, salt and pepper. That is how my plain Irish-American husband likes things. That is how his mom made it.

I prepare each version. The cat comes running – not a good sign. I refrigerate them to chill before serving. Not being a huge fan of mayonnaise, both versions scare me. Check out the picture below. I tried to make the photo look appetizing – but you can probably tell which one is which.

The moment of truth.

We both try them. We like them! Not love, but definitely not as scary as I thought. The deviled ham definitely finished with a spicy kick. The plain ham salad texture seemed more appealing. I made both with a little too much mayo. I would suggest: mix either one 4.25 oz can or about a 1/4 lb diced deli ham with 2 tsp of sweet pickle relish and 1 tsp of mayonnaise along with salt and pepper to taste. If you want a wetter texture add more mayo.Chill and serve on white sandwich bread with crisp cold lettuce.



Spring: Day 1

If you are living anywhere in the Northeast you are ready for spring and yet as a cruel joke they are predicting an inch of snow today, on the first day of spring.

We are not talking about a lovely little dusting that will “pretty up” the sprouting Daffodils and Forsythia’s and melt real quick with the next day’s warming springtime sunshine.

No we are talking bone-chilling cold, a foot of snow still in my back yard and flowers that may never be seen again.

Now that I have done my daily complaining about the weather…. onto a happier subject: BACON!

I actually met somebody the other day who says she DOESN’T LIKE bacon?!!!  I thought “no way” and “maybe she doesn’t eat it for dietary or religious reasons” and doesn’t want to say that. But after further discussion it seems that she just doesn’t like it. Not crispy nor chewy, not even the salty part. Just not her thing. It’s okay – I won’t hold it against her but this will puzzle me for a long time.

In the mean time all this bacon-talk has me hankering for my favorite sandwich of all time: you guessed it… BLT!

Extra B, Lite mayo please!

Fresh crispy iceberg and toasted white bread are a must. The tomatoes are there hiding under all that bacon!

Fresh crispy iceberg and toasted white bread are a must. Winter tomatoes are sad but they are there – hiding under the pile of bacon!




If you love guacamole and you love bruschetta- why not create a “mash-up” of the two?!

That’s exactly what I did one night for dinner. I had a PERFECTLY ripe avocado (a rare find sometimes) which I “mashed up” (pun intended!) and mixed with a squirt or two of lime juice, salt, pepper and ground cumin. I spread that on some toasted Italian bread and topped it with sliced tomatoes. A light drizzle of olive oil and some more salt and pepper and there you have the ultimate “mash-up!”

(The only thing missing was some fresh torn basil on top, but I was too lazy to go out into the garden with a flash light and get it!)

avocado and tomato toast

Demand & Supply

One thing about my local grocery store is that they rarely stock ground lamb. Sometimes around Easter I can get it but most of the year – very tough to find. Since I live in the metroboston area my “local” grocery store that is only 2 blocks from me is not my only option. I can get in the car and actually drive about 2 miles to another grocery store that is much more diverse in their meat selection and they reliably supply ground lamb any time of the year due to the demand created by the crowd that shops there.

However for the last 6 weeks or so that hasn’t been possible because the store has all but shut down.

Call it a Greek tragedy or maybe just a family feud, but obviously I must be talking about Market Basket!

While they were closed/striking the other, closer grocery store decided to step up its service and selection – a fact that I appreciated since they are only 2 blocks away. That is how I happened upon the ground lamb one day. And well-priced to boot! That immediately became the catalyst for lamb burgers on the grill.

closeup burger

Seeing that it was lamb, it definitely needed a homemade Tzatziki sauce (made of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon etc) to bring it to perfection. Served along with a side salad made simply of tricolor garden cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta with a drizzle of good olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper.

While I am excited that the folks at Market Basket won their battle, and soon I will be shopping there again, I am interested to see if my closer, local market continues to supply the demand, even if the demand dwindles – probably not. But it was yummy and close by while it lasted!

lamb burger dish Production Notes

I simply mixed in a heaping teaspoon of Penzeys Lamb Seasoning per pound of meat along with a teaspoon of salt at the same ratio and formed patties perfectly sized for grilled English muffins.  Use more seasoning if you want things a little zestier but I wanted the flavor and richness of the meat to shine through.

(and no I didn’t receive any compensation from Penzeys for mentioning their product but if they are reading they can feel free to send me some product!)

Sandwich Loaf

Sometimes you want to skip right over the meatloaf dinner and go straight to the sandwich. In the summer you definitely want to go right to the sandwich because nobody really craves meatloaf and mashed potato dinners in July.

Just cold meat loaf sandwiches with ketchup on toasted bread.

meatloaf sandwich

So that is what I made.

I actually mix the meatloaf and try to bake it either later in the evening when the day (and therefore my kitchen) has cooled down a bit or if you are a morning person you could make and bake in the cool morning hours before it gets too hot.

Either way its nice to have a small meatloaf in the fridge for those sandwiches.

Standard Operating Meatloaf Procedure

Standard Operating Meatloaf Procedure


I usually don’t get too crazy with meatloaf that is destined for sandwiches. Just ground beef, eggs, mustard and ketchup, chopped onions and herbs, breadcrumbs and a shot of Worcestershire sauce.  Mix and bake till cooked through and a little crusty on the edges. Good thing there are 2 end pieces and only 2 of us or there might be some arguing!





Cream Bread

Sometimes you stumble upon something so unique that you immediately and without any hesitation need to try it.

That’s how it was one Saturday morning when I wandered into D’Amici’s bakery. “what’s that round loaf of bread all about?” I asked. ‘cream bread’ was the answer. Apparently made with cream instead of eggs?? I am no bread maker and my mind was already racing with possibilities. I just had one wrapped up for me and ran home, stopping off only at the store to pick up a few ingredients…I had the perfect sandwich in mind.

cream bread

The bread has a really even, dense but tender “crumb” and a mild flavor. It’s like a really good quality white sandwich loaf.


…please meet the BEST patty melt you ever had:

patty melt


Caramelized onions, griddled beef patty, swiss cheese, griddled bread….. I can’t go on…

I have to go recreate this meal again, NOW!