Red Lentil Burgers with Spicy Aioli

I love the idea of having one or two meatless meals a week. It’s nice to switch it up, and eating more veggies is never a bad thing. Sometimes I’ll get an idea to try some completely out-of-the-box vegetarian recipe that I’ve decided will be really good; but then for one reason or another, it turns out terribly. My husband will look at me like “did you really think I was going to eat this?”, and I try to convince myself that it has a little flavor. When I decided to try these Red Lentil Burgers from Cooking Light, I was worried that this was going to be another vegetarian recipe that was going to go to the recipe graveyard. But to my surprise, they turned out great! They were crispy on the outside and tasty on the inside. When served with a dollop of spicy aioli, my husband thought the whole combination tasted like a crab cake! I served these with zucchini noodles and an extra squeeze of lemon, and they made a really delicious meatless meal.

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Red Lentil Burgers with Spicy Aioli

What You Need

  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tablespoons cilantro, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus extra lemon wedges for serving
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha

What To Do

  1. Rinse and drain lentils; place lentils and rice in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentil mixture; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils and rice are tender. Drain by place mixture in a strainer and using the back of the spoon, push out any excess liquid until mixture is fairly dry.
  2. Place lentil mixture in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Set aside (keep mixture in processor).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add green onions to pan; cook 2 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and red pepper; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add green onion mixture, 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, and salt to food processor; process until combined.
  4. Once the mixture has cooled, diivide mixture into 12 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add 6 patties to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove cooked patties from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and 6 patties. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro.
  5. For the spicy aioli, combine mayo and Sriracha. Service patties with spicy aioli and lemon wedges.


I let the mixture sit for a bit to cool and thicken, and I think this helps the patties form together.


Banana Blueberry Muffins

When my parents come to visit, they practically stop at Jennifer’s Pharmacy to pick up gluten-free muffins before stopping at our house. Jennifer’s Pharmacy has these incredible muffins made with almond flour, banana, and other mix-ins like blueberries, peanut butter chips, or toffee. They’re so good, I’m not even offended if my parents stop there first!

Last week we were in Des Moines visiting my parents and my mom welcomed us with homemade gluten-free banana blueberry muffins. Although my mom’s were made with brown rice flour instead of almond flour, I was impressed with how the Giada de Laurentiis recipe she used rivaled the muffins at Jennifer’s.

I was loving these muffins so much that I made them as soon as we got home. The muffins don’t taste grainy or dense like one may think of gluten-free muffins; rather they are light and deliciously moist. I halved the oil that Giada calls for, and it made nary a difference. These muffins make the perfect on-the-go breakfast or snack for my one-year old! They’re so good, you won’t miss the gluten.

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Banana Blueberry Muffins (Gluten-Free)

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Giada de Laurentiis

What You Need

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 small bananas)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

What To Do

  1. Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the rice flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries. Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
  4. Spoon 1/3 cup of the batter into each muffin liner. Bake until a cake tester or wooden skewer inserted into the center of the muffins comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.


The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg; I decreased the oil and the nutmeg.

Chicken Chilaquiles

My husband has informed me that football season officially begins tonight. This means I need to set my lineup, because for the first time ever, I’ve jumped into the proverbial Fantasy Football pool. I don’t even know who my players are or how to set my line up; all I know is that this signals the beginning of a lot more TV-time for my husband.

To me, the beginning of football season really means the start of fall foods and munchies that can be served to a crowd on a crisp Sunday afternoon. When I made this Chicken Chilaquiles, my immediate thought was how perfect it would be for a small get together. The dish, which was inspired by a Cooking Light recipe, is traditionally made with eggs or pulled chicken, and partially stale tortilla chips. I made this with pulled chicken, added cheddar cheese, and topped it off with a drizzle of adobo sauce, tomatoes, cilantro and guacamole. Chilaquiles are essentially baked nachos with sauce, and who doesn’t love the sound of that?!

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Chicken Chilaquiles

What You Need

  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped (I used 2 cups of cherry tomatoes because I had them)
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, depending on heat
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cups tortilla chips
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup cheddar cheese
  • Guacamole
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • Additional sauce for garnish: adobo sauce, taco sauce, salsa

What To Do

  1. Place tomatoes and jalapeño(s) in a blender. Add broth, salt, and garlic. Cover and process on high speed for 1 minute or until smooth; set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Add chicken breasts and boil for 20-25 minutes, until fully cooked. Remove chicken from water, and cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with enough tomato sauce to lightly coat, about 3/4 cup. Set aside.
  3. Pre-heat oven broiler to high.
  4. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato mixture to pan. Add tomato paste to the tomato mixture to thicken the sauce slightly. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add chips to pan, and stir to coat with tomato mixture. Once chips are evenly spread out in the pan, distribute shredded chicken on top of the chips. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the chicken. Keep the pan on the stove until the cheese melts. Once the cheese has melted, place the pan under the oven broiler for about 5 minutes, allowing the chips to crisp and brown slightly. Keep an eye on the pan to prevent burning. Remove pan from over and top with adobo sauce, fresh cilantro, chopped tomatoes and guacamole. Serve immediately.

Blueberry Steak

Last week was our 4th wedding anniversary, so I wanted to share a dish worthy of a special occasion. This Blueberry Steak recipe is a remake of a dish from Acqua al Due, a restaurant in Florence, Italy. Since Florence is a city near and dear to my husband’s and my heart, this recipe was not only fit for our anniversary, but it is also a way for us to be taken back to our semester abroad and our trip to Italy a few years ago.

I’d wanted to try this recipe for quite some time, so when I bought a large container of fresh blueberries, this was the perfect opportunity! I did not follow this original recipe exactly since I realized my molasses had gone bad and I didn’t have orange juice when I set out to make this. Below is my rendition, which I thought turned out well. The sauce is rich in flavor and just sweet enough, without being too fruity. Although the sauce may not be an exact replica of Acqua al Due’s, it’s close enough to make me dream of our days in Florence.

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Blueberry Steak

What You Need

  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
  • 2 small shallots (or 1 medium), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 c. sherry wine
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 3 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons agave
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage, crumbled
  • salt & ground pepper to taste
  • 4 6 oz filets

What To Do

  1. Heat grill to medium high heat
  2. Season fillets with salt and pepper and leave on the counter to bring the steaks closer to room temperature
  3. While grill is heating, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute 3-4 minutes, until shallots are translucent, but not browned. Sprinkle in flour, stir to blend and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to bubble.
  4. Add sherry, ketchup, mustard, lemon juice, agave, thyme and sage and stir to combine. Add blueberries and stir to combine. Increasing heat to medium-high, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring often for about 15 minutes until the mixture is thickened and glossy.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cool then transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and puree for 30-40 seconds until very smooth
  6. Once sauce is made, place steaks on the grill. Grill for 7minutes on each side, or until the steaks have reached your desired temperature
  7. Serve the steak with the sauce drizzled over the steak

Gavin’s 1st Birthday Party

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we brought our little bundle home from the hospital! it has been truly mind-blowing to see our little baby turn into a little person in the first year of life. To celebrate this wonderful milestone, we had our family and friends over for a birthday party, complete with a petting zoo, lunch, and of course, cake. The party was a blast and we know Gavin had a ball!

The invitation from Joyful Ink:


Animals in the backyard from Cindy’s Petting Zoo:

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My mom and I made the food, which consisted of a buffet of Cranberry Tuna, Chicken Salad and Egg Salad. For the kids, PB&J and cheese sandwiches:


On the dessert table there was birthday cake, chocolate chunk blondies, and my mom’s brownies. The cakes were from Pint Size Bakery, this delicious and adorable St. Louis bakery. The cakes were designed to match the invitation; the finished product exceeded my expectations for looks and taste! Gavin’s smash cake was white velvet vanilla with vanilla bean frosting. The large cake was one layer of chocolate and two layers of white cake, alternating.


The party favors were Barnum Animal Crackers with tags from InkyInvite:


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