Double Drive Thru Veggie Burgers

Published October 17, 2016 by jenmatteson

It’s football season, which means parties, junk food, and lots of drinks! And all of those things tastes so much better when you are playing your biggest rival. For us, that means our Vikings are playing the Pack. It was an evening game, so instead of making snacks and appetizers, I wanted to make a meal; something indulgent. Well, seemingly anyway.


I’ve had this recipe for some time, and figured this was the perfect opportunity to make these delicious sounding burgers! I was a little too excited for the game I think, as I burned the bunsūüė¶ Thankfully I had more in the freezer, so I didn’t have to do the old scrape-the-burn-parts-off-with-a-knife-into-the-sink trick. I actually threw something away if you can believe it. But, just look at them…who would save them?


I was pleasantly surprised at the consistency of these burgers when forming them as they stayed together very nicely. Even better, they browned up and actually kind of looked like hamburger patties.


Building the burgers proved to be a bit of a challenge, as they kept falling to one side of the other. A toothpick wouldn’t have helped since they are so huge! Speaking of huge, Nate refused to eat it with both patties, he had to deconstruct the burger. I powered through, squashed it down, and shoveled it in! The burger has some heft from the lentils, and the crunch from the walnuts was a nice added texture.

I haven’t even talked about the sauce yet. It was out of this world! I was a little hesitant with the tofu because I don’t work with it, well, ever. I like it, I eat it, but I’ve never made anything with tofu. The sauce really tasted like it had a mayo base. I think I even fooled Nate and my parents. My parents had us over for a fish fry the following day and so I brought this sauce thinking it would be good on the fish in place of tartar. It was fantastic! So don’t worry if you have too much, it can be put to many uses! Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Vikings wonūüôā


Double Drive Thru Veggie Burgers

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4


6 oz soft tofu, cubed
3 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp agave or honey
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1 tbsp. fresh dill
Kosher salt

5 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt
1 cup cooked brown rice
1-15 oz can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained
1 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp dried basil
4 hamburger buns, plus 4 bun bottoms, toasted
tomato slices, dill pickle chips, lettuce and thinly sliced red onion for garnish


  1. Make the sauce. In the bowl of a food processor combine tofu, ketchup, mustard, agave, garlic, pickle relish and dill. Puree until well combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
  2. Make the burgers. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp. oil. Add onion and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season with salt. In the bowl of a food processor, combine onion and garlic mixture, rice, lentils, walnuts, flour and dried basil. Pulse until the mixture just comes together and whole grains of rice are still visible. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Using lightly oiled hands, press 1/3 cup of the mixture into 1/2-inch thick patties and transfer to a plate, making a total of 8 patties.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook patties until bottoms are browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is browned and patty is heated through, about 5 more minutes.
  5. Starting with the bottom bun, layer spread, burger patty, toppings, another bottom bun, spread, burger patty, toppings, spread and top bun. Repeat for remaining 3 servings.

Rosemary Focaccia with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion

Published October 10, 2016 by jenmatteson

Have you seen that commercial with Oprah saying that she loves bread? Well, who doesn’t? If you say you, I know you’re lying. You’ve got to be. What’s wrong with it? It smells good, it’s filling, it tastes so light and fluffy, and it’s a perfect vehicle for…well, anything!


I’ve been swimming in tomatoes from my garden these last few weeks, so I am trying not to overload the hubs with BLTs every night. You know what else I have a lot of, rosemary. Rosemary and bread are one of those classic duos, like peanut butter and chocolate, or tomatoes and basil. In light of that, what better than a rosemary focaccia with sliced tomatoes baked in?


I had absolutely no reason in the world to make this outside of having all the ingredients, and I really wanted to get back in the kitchen after a very busy summer. Plus it was football Sunday, which means the other half is not leaving the couch all day Рdespite how nice it may be outside. But, it really would be a perfect thing to make as an appetizer for guests, or even to bring to a potluck.


Oh, and did I mention caramelized onions? You can never have too many caramelized onions! I used yellow and red tomatoes, but either/or would work just fine on their own. Don’t be shy with the rosemary, because that is what really pulls everything together. The dough recipe itself was wonderful. It would make for a fantastic pizza crust, too!


Rosemary Focaccia with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion

Source: Adapted from¬†Cookin’ Canuck
Servings: 6-8


1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water
1 tsp honey
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil, separated
2 tsp kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1-2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used gouda, but parmesan, Romano or mozzarella would work great)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, gently stir together yeast, warm water and honey. Let the yeast proof, about 10 minutes, until bubbles form on top.
  2. Add flour, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Mix until dough is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Place dough in lighted oiled bowl, cover with plastic or damp kitchen cloth, and let rest in warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and press into a lightly oiled 9 x 13″ baking sheet, trying to keep an even layer, until it touches the edges. Using your finger, poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tbsp. olive oil and let rest until the dough becomes puffy.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion slices, cover and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  5. Top the dough with tomato slices, onion, rosemary, cheese and salt. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  6. Bake until the focaccia is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut and serve.

Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Published October 3, 2016 by jenmatteson

There are a lot of closeted beet lovers out there, and this might be just what they are looking for. And if you aren’t a beet lover, you should still try these, because they do not have that “earthy” flavor, AKA dirt. Personally, I love beets in pretty much any form. However, I struggle to make them at home outside of roasted, so this was a fun new idea to get my beet fix, along with my chip fix!


These are super quick and easy, with four ingredients. The hardest part is slicing them. I have a new fangled mandolin with one of those lame safety features, as if I’m going to cut myself. Okay, complete side story: The majority of my family would be sure I would cut myself. I’ve had two incidents using a box cutter which required stitches. One involved making a cat house out of cardboard boxes¬†with my older brother when I was 6. I sliced the inside of my wrist right open – to the bone. He grabbed a wet washcloth and tried to quiet me so we wouldn’t wake up my parents that Saturday morning. Needless to say, they did hear me crying and took me to the emergency room. Not before my mom could get the camera to take a picture, though. She loves owie pictures!

Anyway, back to the beets. My mandolin doesn’t always slice to my liking, especially round objects, so I opted to do it by hand with a very sharp knife. Don’t worry, no digits were lost or even injured in the making of these chips.


The beets¬†have a surprising bright flavor, while the rosemary does give an earthy (and I really mean earthy and not dirt this time) aroma. A pinch of salt and you’ve got yourself an irresistible crunchy snack. Pairs well with wine, so perfect for a girls night!


 Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Source: Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Servings: One (if you’re me) or 2-4


3 medium-large beets, rinsed and scrubbed
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice beets with mandolin or sharp knife and place in large bowl.
  3. Drizzle beets with olive oil. Add salt and rosemary and toss to evenly cote.
  4. Arrange chips in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two if necessary), and bake for 15-20 minutes. Keep a close eye as they can burn quickly.
  5. Remove from oven, cool (if you can wait) and serve.

No Noodle Pad Thai

Published September 26, 2016 by jenmatteson


I had the most perfect bachelorette party. Okay, maybe I’m a bit biased, but it was perfect for me! A handful of my best friends went to one of the girls’ family cabin in seek of some lady fun in the sun. Well, it was 50 degrees and rainy all weekend in the end of July. So, you can imagine we had no fun staying inside. Psych! We had a freakin’ blast! There were games, gifts, girl talk, drinks, dancing, a red flannel serial killer, late nights, drinks, lots of drinks, did I mention drinks? Oh, and best of all, fooooooood! Good food! And, food I didn’t have to cook. Somehow that always tastes betterūüôā


Why am I telling you a 3 year old story of a bunch of drunken girls that can dance and sing super well¬†;)¬†?¬†Because my friend,¬†that was my introduction to a version of this “Pad Thai”. One of the girls, Kim, made this amazing zucchini noodle Pad Thai that was out of this world! I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t missing the actual noodles, and beside that, the dressing was bomb. She¬†used almond butter, which I prefer in this recipe. Sadly, I don’t keep it on hand at all times, so peanut butter is an adequate sub.


With the crap-ton of zucchinis I had from my garden¬†this summer (check out the huge one at the top of the picture above!), I just had to make this, and what better time than a wine night with two of the five that were at the bachelorette party. I generally squeeze the excess water from the zucchini because I don’t like how well they stick together afterwards. This time, I didn’t thinking I was using them right away, so the moisture may not water it down too much. It did, so I would certainly suggest using a cheese cloth to get the excess water out. The noodles will be a bit stuck together after, but once you dress them, they’ll loosen up just fine. The dressing brings such a rich, indulgent taste to the dish, but you don’t have to feel guilty because you are getting more than your share of vegetables, and who doesn’t love that!


No Noodle Pad Thai

Source: Adapted from Cookie and Kate
Servings: 4-6


1/4 daikon radish, peeled
2 medium carrots, peeled
3 medium zucchini
handful bean sprouts
4 green onions
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 lime, cut in wedges for serving

Peanut Sauce:
1/2 cup almond or peanut butter
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp. honey
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 pinch red pepper flakes
3 tbsp. water


  1. Using a sprializer, mandolin or vegetable peeler, create “noodles” out of the radish, carrots and zucchini (you may want to squeeze the water out of the zucchini using a cheese cloth or other thin kitchen towel, clean – of course). Place in bowl and add bean sprouts,¬†onions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Toss to combine¬†and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, lime juice, tamari or soy sauce, honey, ginger and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in warm water to achieve desired consistency (you may not need 3 tbsp., you may need more. Make it how you like it!).
  3. Drizzle dressing over vegetable noodles and toss to combine. Serve with a wedge of lime and garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Lightened Shrimp Jambalaya

Published September 19, 2016 by jenmatteson

Looking for a warming fall meal without all the heaviness? This is the perfect recipe for you! This jambalaya is packed with flavor without all the fat and calories of a traditional jambalaya.


Sausage is omitted from this version and cannellini beans used to add additional depth and richness. The recipe also calls for farro, which I’ve never used before, believe it or not, instead of rice. It outperforms white and even brown rice, with more protein and more fiber and is packed with a number of vitamins and minerals you can’t get from rice. The original recipe called for raw shrimp, but I make a habit of having frozen cooked shrimp in my freezer, so use what works for you. Overall, this was an awesome dish and perfect for those fall, and even upcoming winter, evenings. I have most everything in my kitchen at all times, so this is a fun #Ijustthrewittogether and #ohiwasntexpectingcompany recipe!


Lightened Shrimp Jambalaya

Source: Adapted from Hello Healthy
Servings: 6


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup uncooked farro
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp chili powder
13 oz diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth (chicken broth would work, too)
1-15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
30 uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen already cooked shrimp – thawed them and threw them in at the end)
salt and pepper


  1. In a deep sauté pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil, celery, bell pepper, farro, bay leaves, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and tomatoes. Stir until well combined and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the vegetable broth and stir until ingredients are combined. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until broth is reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir frequently.
  3. Add beans and shrimp and stir until combined. When shrimp is cooked through, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper and serve.

Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Published June 20, 2016 by jenmatteson

When I first started cooking, I watched Food Network A LOT. I stuck to fairly simple recipes, which generally came from only a handful of shows. Semi-Homemade was one of them. The concept of this show was to make a dish using some premade ingredients, but jazzing it up by adding fresh ingredients as well. An example would be making a compound butter by adding a seasoning packet to butter (this would be instead of adding your own seasonings). These cupcakes remind me a lot of Aunt Sandy (you’d get it if you ever watched the show) and Semi-Homemade.


Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The recipe came from my sister-in-law, who is a fantastic baker and dessert maker – hey that rhymed – not to mention a bad ass wife and mother of two¬†pretty wonderful¬†kids! I fell in love with them from first bite, and the rest of¬†my family raved about them. There aren’t words to describe how beautifully moist (yes, I know, some people hate that word, but¬†guess what, it fits here!)¬†these cupcakes are. I usually don’t like overly sweet, so the bit of saltiness in the frosting is perfect. The cupcake as a whole, a little piece of heaven.


I’ve made these for my co-workers twice now, and they continue to let me know when their birthdays are so I bring them again.¬†Little do they know (until nowūüėČ ) that these are semi-homemade! Also, the pictures are so bad because I had to take them at my desk because I forgot to take some at home. Ugh.


Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Source: Adapted from Crazy Little Projects
Servings: 24


For the cupcake:
1 box Devil’s food cake mix
1 5.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (sour cream will work, too)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)

For the Caramel Frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup caramel sauce


  1. Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cake and pudding mixes, Greek yogurt, vegetable oil, water, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined; batter will be very thick.
  2. Scoop batter into paper lined cupcake tins, about 1/2 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they are cooked through. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Caramel Sauce: Familiarize yourself with the instructions for the caramel sauce before beginning – the process moves quickly. Pour sugar into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. As the sugar melts into small rocks, begin to whisk. Continue to whisk as the sugar turns to liquid, until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (or 350 degrees if you have a candy thermometer). Stir in butter. Once this is completely incorporated, add heavy cream and continue to whisk until combined and smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes or so to set up.
  4. Caramel Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, combine all frosting ingredients. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it appears to thin, add more sugar. This tends to be more of a feel and taste type of recipe!
  5. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and frost cupcakes. Drizzle cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Brussels Sprout and Cashew Fried Rice

Published June 13, 2016 by jenmatteson

As I mentioned in the last post, there was a recent addition to our family, Milou. I’ve been busy running around with her, and not blogging. Shame on me!


Just look at that sweet face! I bet you forgive me nowūüėČ Okay, on to the food!

Who doesn’t love fried rice? I certainly do, and so does Nate. The hardest part about making fried rice is the rice. The rice has to be completely cool before using, and leftover rice works the best. Unfortunately, the thought to make rice one day and use it the next rarely occurs to me.


Brussel’s Sprouts and Cashew Fried Rice

Until…my girlfriend snapchatted me her dinner one night. I immediately responded needing to know what delight she made. She promptly emailed it to me the next day with the recipe. What a friend! Now this is originally a vegetarian dish, but I did add shrimp to up the protein a little. Obviously, feel free to follow the recipe as written, or add whatever protein you like. Tofu would be a good option if you want to keep it veg, too!

I was curious to see how the flavors¬†would come¬†together with the maple syrup added in, but it was a great balance of salty and sweet. I would definitely make this again, and it’s so super simple. Nate also demanded it as he came up for air¬†once while consuming!


Brussels Sprout and Cashew Fried Rice

Source: Adapted from A Virtual Vegan
Servings: 4-6


2 tsp oil (I used a mixture of sesame and olive oil)
2 heaping cups halved Brussels sprouts
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. maple syrup (honey or agave can be substituted)
2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled (leftover is best)
1/4 cup cashews


  1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts an saute until just tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion is just beginning to turn golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add soy and maple syrup and stir to coat vegetables. Add rice and cashews and continue cooking for another few minutes until rice is hot.
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