Take a basic basic (burger and fries) and dress it up a bit, without too much extra work.

Instead of fries, upgrade to a quick potato salad that tastes great served warm. Most of the prep time is oven time (while you make the burgers), so you can get it done on a weeknight.

Use fingerling potatoes instead of anything more conventional. Yes, they look a little odd. Their flavor makes up for it.

Want to wing the potato salad instead of using a recipe? Quarter the potatoes, toss them in olive oil and salt, roast them in a hot oven for 25 minutes, then mix with Duke’s mayonnaise, a dash of cider vinegar, a chopped spring onion or two, some diced Wickles pickles, kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Good stuff there. Serve it on a bed of bitter greens to go heavier on the plant content. Pair with a burger (add blue cheese to beef, or maybe some green chile to turkey), and you’ve got a soul-satisfying dinner that’s easy and beyond basic.

Love to Cook: If you have the time and inclination, this recipe for blue cheese burgers with caramelized onions is worth the effort – especially when served on brioche. Since the burgers are so rich, this lighter potato salad recipe is a good companion.

Weeknight Reality: It’s hard to beat this simple blue cheese burger prep – it takes just minutes. Use the extra time (mostly roasting time) to make this tangy potato salad.

Need a Miracle: Same burger recipe as above; you’ll probably have to opt for purchased potato salad if you’re really in the ‘need a miracle’ mode; another option would be just to wash, halve/quarter, toss in olive oil and roast the potatoes while you’re making the burgers – takes only 20 minutes. Serve them plain instead of making potato salad.



Pan-fried Turkey Cutlets with Spinach & Blue Cheese Salad | Macarons

Here’s the idea, a frequent flier at our house: green salad, topped with lean protein, followed by dessert. For this one, try a standard spinach/blue cheese combo for the salad and top with turkey tenderloins that have been pan-fried in a bit of butter or olive oil, with seasoning to taste. You’ll have plenty of time left over to try your hand at making macarons, should you choose. They’re much easier than you think, although piping them into perfectly shaped rounds takes a bit of practice. Or you could just buy some from your local bakery and enjoy having some free time.

Love to Cook: Here’s Martha Stewart’s version of turkey cutlets, if you need directions. David Lebovitz has great instructions (and recipe) for chocolate macarons, and he also has suggestions for other sites to visit for more tips.

Weeknight Reality: Make the salad, etc., using the best ingredients you can find, and then purchase the macarons. There really isn’t another mid-level option here, since there’s no shortcut in the macaron process.

Need a Miracle: Use deli turkey instead of preparing tenderloins; bagged spinach, blue cheese crumbles, prepared dressing and bakery macarons finish your list.


Pepperpalooza July 2014

Denver Omelettes | Mixed Fruit

There were luscious green bell peppers in our CSA share bag last weekend, and the ones we didn’t eat right away are now better suited for cooking than eating raw in salads. A Denver (Western) omelette (or omelet, if you prefer) is a perfect way to use them. If the idea of eggs for dinner seems like it won’t be filling enough for hungry eaters, a Denver omelette will change your mind. It makes up in hearty goodness what it lacks in sophistication. Plus, it’s super easy and adaptable. Serve with some sliced fresh fruit, and dinner’s done.

Love to Cook: This Eating Well twist on the traditional turns the omelette into a sandwich; their pairing suggestion is a tomato salad, which, you remember, is also a fruit.

Weeknight Reality: If you’re looking for the basic Denver omelette, then this recipe (with notes) from Serious Eats is perfect – and ready in 30 minutes.

Need a Miracle: Scrambled eggs, with ham, diced onion, diced bell pepper (both typically available, pre-cut, in the produce section) and a handful of shredded cheese, paired with pre-cut fruit or a salad from the salad bar.


Whether you take the easy route (potatoes) or get a little more involved (refried beans from scratch), mashing food creates both texture and flavor and adds both interest and comfort to your dinner.

refried beans and greens

Food Ideas

  • Love to Cook: Refried red beans, chopped cilantro, onion and avocado on fresh tortillas (or corn cakes)
  • Weeknight Reality: Mashed cauliflower, oven roasted asparagus, pan-fried pork chops
  • Need a Miracle: Mashed potato bar and Caesar salad (use take-out mashed potatoes, if you must; but you can make mashed potatoes from scratch in less than 30 minutes, really)

Recipe Links

Parting Thought

“Just remember, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything and the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way.”

Colonel Potter, M*A*S*H