Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bison Burger with Grilled Onions and Mushrooms

Over the past few months I have been attempting to provide my family with more wholesome and healthier meals.  It's a work in progress and I seem to learn something new every day, but we are definitely making baby steps in the right direction.  Comparing ground meats, I recently discovered how much better bison meat is compared to beef and in some ways better than chicken and turkey.  It is lower in calories and saturated fat than beef and pork.  It provides more protein than pork, turkey or chicken.  And is lower in fat and cholesterol than all of them.  You can take a look at this Ground Meat Comparison Chart for all the details based on the USDA National Nutritional Database.

My first venture into using bison meat was a "clean" hamburger.  Everyone in the family truly enjoyed it, including myself.  And I tend to not like homemade hamburgers-I always find them to be too meaty.  I know, I'm crazy.  For hubby and me, I served it over brown rice, topped with grilled onions and mushrooms.  For the boys, I made mini burgers and served them on whole wheat dinner rolls with cheddar and the onions and mushrooms on the side.

1 lb Ground Bison
1/3 tsp. Tamarind Paste
1/3 tsp. Soy Sauce
1/3 tsp. Cider or White Vinegar
Dash Hot Pepper Sauce
Scant pinch Ground Cloves
1/4 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/8 tsp. Sea Salt
1/8 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 Tb Olive Oil
1 Onion, sliced thick
8 oz Creminis, sliced

Mix first 9 ingredients together and form 4 burgers patties, pressing an indentation in the center to help keep the burgers from thickening too much in the center.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and add onions and mushrooms.  Cook until tender and brown.

Grill until desired doneness. Serve with lettuce, onions and mushrooms.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pumpkin Spinach Pasta

This is an adaptation of a recipe I got from a friend many years ago.  Back before I had kids and I had to actually commute for work and I took lunch breaks, a good friend shared this dish with me for lunch one day.  It was so good I thought for sure this was some butter-ladened dish that I was going to regret eating the next morning when I stepped on the scale.  So I reluctantly asked what was in the sauce and to my surprise, I learned that it was pumpkin puree!  Only pumpkin puree…no butter, no cream.  It was my friend's sister-in-law that had made the pasta, so of course, as soon as I got home from work that day, I immediately had to bug her to get the recipe. 

The original recipe did not include spinach, nor did it have as much garlic as my version.  Perhaps my taste buds are desensitized from a lifetime of eating LOTS of garlic, but I always like to amp-up the garlic in my recipes.  And why not; its good for you!  The recipe states to use Campanelle Pasta, but you could easily use whatever pasta you have on hand.  In the picture below, I used Whole-Grain Shells.  (I also forgot the basil this time around, but it was just as yummy nonetheless.)  I love that my entire family loves this dish and I can get them to eat so many vegetables in one sitting!  (It makes me feel better about the fact that the boys had chicken fingers and french fries for lunch today!)

1 lb Campanelle Pasta
3 Tb Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 pkg Baby Bella Mushrooms, halved and sliced thick
1 lb Chicken Sausage, halved and sliced
10 oz Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and drained
1 can Pumpkin Puree
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
1-2 c. Chicken Stock
Parmesan, to taste
1/4 c. Chopped Basil

Boil pasta, leaving it a bit undercooked as the chicken stock will soften it.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet and sauté the onions and garlic until they lightly brown.  Add mushrooms and sausage and brown.  Add the spinach and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

Once pasta is cooked combine with sausage mixture.  Stir in the pumpkin and pepper flakes.  Then stir in chicken stock to desired consistency.

Garnish with parmesan and basil.