Week 5: Legumes – Red Lentil Burgers

I love lentils. Lentil soup is my favorite. But I wanted to try something a little different with them, so I thought this recipe would be perfect! I had read it a while back in an issue of Cooking Light, and I found it easily on their website. The aioli is delicious and garlicky! I also thought some onion rings would be just the right thing to finish these off.



First, combine water, lentils, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes. Drain; set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, and 3 garlic cloves; sauté for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, mushrooms, marjoram, and pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add wine; cook 1 minute or until liquid almost evaporates.



Place onion mixture in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add the lentils, breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and egg whites. Cover and chill 30 minutes (to help firm up the mixture).

Divide the lentil mixture into 6 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Heat the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add lentil patties, and cook for 5 minutes on each side.



Line the bottom half of each hamburger bun with an arugula or lettuce leaf, and top each bun half with a burger, 2 teaspoons aioli,  1 onion ring, and the top half of the bun.

The burgers will be difficult to flip, they remain fairly soft, even after cooking, so just handle them with care. Once they are on the bun, they are great!



  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup dried red lentils
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup finely diced carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons Madeira (optional)
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Remaining ingredients:

  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 6 onion rings

Adapted from Cooking Light


Week 4: Music Inspired – Firecracker Shrimp

I love listening to music while I cook, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I was a little iffy about this weeks theme, only because I could not immediately think of a song I really enjoyed, that I could translate into something edible. All the songs I like are about love, heartbreak or murder (if you’re a Coheed fan, you understand.) Not exactly “food”  related. But then iTunes started playing “Firecracker” by Ryan Adams, and I thought, hmm, something spicy, something explosive! I found this deliciously adorable recipe for “Firecracker Shrimp.” If you ask me, they even look like little firecrackers, the way the crispy tails stick out the end, it’s like a fuse waiting to be lit!

These were really tasty, and very simple to make. Don’t let the egg roll wrappers scare you. They are very easy to work with.


After you clean the shrimp, you’ll need to make a few cuts along the bottom, so that they aren’t curling up. We want them to lay straight.


Now place the shrimp in a medium bowl with the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger and allow to marinate in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Next we can start wrapping them up! You really can do this anyway you like, but I’ll show you how I did it. Place one wrapper on your work station and fold one corner in towards the center. Now place your shrimp on the wrapper towards the upper third of the wrap, with the tail sticking out past the straight edge you made with your fold. Now fold the opposite corner in towards the center over the head of the shrimp (or where the head would be if it still had one.) Now just roll up like a burrito, and seal the edge with your cornstarch/water mixture.



Now they are ready for the fryer! (try not to drop them in and splash oil like the picture below)


After they are browned ona ll sides, drain on paper towel and serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.

  • 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled with tails on and deviened
  • 1 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, grated
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 12 egg roll wrappers, cut in half into 2 triangles
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • oil for frying
  • Sweet chili sauce for dipping

Adapted from Closet Cooking

BONUS! Week 3: Korean – Sweet Chili Shrimp

I decided to have another go at Korean food, since asian flavors are among my favorite. For dinner I made Sweet Chili Shrimp and served it with some Soba noodles. If you have not tried soba noodles, I suggest you do so. They are delicious! Soba is buckwheat pasta. Traditionally soba is served chilled or in a hot broth, but I usually serve it in the same manner that Americans enjoy regular pasta, hot with seasoning or just butter. This time I seasoned it with a mixture of olive & sesame oils, vinegar, soy sauce and some sesame seeds, and served warm.


Place cleaned, peeled & deveined shrimp in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper, and add 2 tablespoons of sake. Stir to make sure the shrimp are seasoned evenly, and set aside for about 10 minutes.


Heat a frying pan with butter (or oil) and grill shrimp until cooked thru. You may need to do this in several batches, depending on the size of your pan.


When all the shrimp are cooked, set them aside and prepare the sauce.


In medium bowl, combine sweet chili sauce, ketchup, chili garlic sauce, sugar, rice wine, vinegar, water. Mix together cornstarch and water, and add that in too. Stir until completely combined and smooth. Then in a large pan heat sauce to a boil.


Add shrimp to sauce and stir until sauce is thickened. Serve and enjoy!


  • 1-2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp sake
  • 4 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • 3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sake
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp water

adapted from Heart, Mind & Seoul

Week 3: Korean – Korean Fried Chicken Wings



Here’s another first for me! I have never eaten or prepared a Korean dish before now! I was a not sure how this was going to go when I first googled “korean recipes.” I saw a few things that piqued my interest, but then finally settled on “Korean Fried Chicken Wings,” cause you know I love me some wings! And, Asian Zing is my favorite sauce at Buffalo Wing Wings, so I was hoping these might have a similar flavor. They were delicious! Shawn ate 3 or 4 before I could even put them on a plate. You know a recipe came out good, when you are both standing in the kitchen and eating over the sink, instead of acting like civilized humans. These were that kind of good. So lets get to it!

Clean your chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Season with salt & pepper, the coat with Wondra flour.



Heat oil in a deep skillet or fryer to about 375˚, and fry wings for 5 minutes. They will still be very light in color and not cooked through, but don’t worry, we’ll cook them more!



Now, set the half cooked wings aside and prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan combined water, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, chile and sugar, bring to a boil. Add honey, and allow sauce to reduce to about half. It will become thicker, like syrup. Place the sauce to the side, while you finish frying the chicken.



Place the wings back in the fryer, this time with the oil at about 400˚ and cook for another 8 minutes or so, until they become nice and browned. Remove from oil and allow to drain on paper towels.



Now drizzle the sauce over the wings and get out of the way! You don’t want to get knocked over by the rush for wings!





  • 2-3 lbs chicken wings
  • 1 cup of Wondra flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup thinly sliced ginger
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1-2 Tbsp garlic chile

Recipe adapted from The Ravenous Couple


Week 2: Mint – Chimichurri


Well, I must admit, when I saw “mint” as this weeks ingredient, I was not excited at all. I guess in my mind I could only imagine the taste of mint as it relates to candy canes, gum and toothpaste. Basically mint extract potency! When I opened the mint leaves from the market, I was pleasantly surprised by how mild the scent was. I chose to make a dish I found at A Spicy Perspective. It was, grilled skirt steak with cilantro mint chimichurri. As a side I roasted some potatoes with LOTS of garlic and a bit of lemon.

It was so freaking easy, just throw all the ingredients into the food processor, and throw your steak(s) on the grill. Done. Dinner in under 20 minutes, including time to rest the steaks after grilling (this time estimate does not include the potatoes.)

redvinegar cilantro mintcilantro chimichurrichopped saltsteak grillsteak


  • Cilantro, stems removed
  • Mint, stems removed
  • 3-4 garlic cloves (depending on size and love of garlic)
  • 3 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 c Olive Oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until liquified. You can add or decrease oil for desired consistency.

Spoon over sliced steak and enjoy!

These are the potatoes I made. Just halve or quarter some baby red potatoes, toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and lots of chopped garlic. I used at least 5 cloves. Then squeeze the juice from a half of a lemon over them, toss again, and bake at 400˚ for an  50-60 minutes. Turn potatoes throughout the baking to evenly brown.


Week 1: Appetizer – Millionaire Potato Chips


So last year was kind of a bust… But I am going to give it another shot and try again this year! This time around I will participate in only the cooking challenge and skip the baking one.

Let’s get to it!

I absolutely LOVE making appetizers, but I decided to go ultra simple this week  and use up the caviar we had left over from the night before (New Years Eve!)

I took some red baby potatoes, and sliced them super thin, while leaving the skin on. Heat some oil. I used my cast iron skillet, since I was only frying a small amount. As soon as they are golden brown, remove potato chips from oil and allow to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Simply top with crème fraîche, and caviar. These are so delicious!

I also did a variation the night beforewith roasted potato “boats.” Using baby potatoes again, take the small end of a melon baller to scoop out a divot in the potato, them slice a small sliver from the opposite side, so the potato wont roll away! Toss with olive oil, and a tiny bit of salt and pepper (remember the caviar will be salty as well) and bake the potatoes at 350° for 30 minutes. When the potatoes are fork tender, remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Otherwise the crème fraîche will melt and liquify, and that’s no fun. I really hope you try one or both of these!



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