Apple Chicken Burgers with Basil and Gouda

The other day, we were having breakfast at a local restaurant, when a menu card caught our eye. Among the various offerings was a chicken burger with roasted apple slices. Huh. That sounded kind of good, and we made the decision that I would have to take that idea and run with it – and soon. If words on a paper can make us drool when we’re already stuffed to the gills with breakfast… well, that’s some serious potential, right there.

Well, inspiration came to fruition pretty quickly – we were blissfully enjoying these burgers the very next evening. Not being facetious on the “blissful”, either – these were amazing. I’m not usually a fan of poultry burgers, but I addressed my concerns (blah flavor, dry texture) by adding some shredded apple into the ground chicken – a weird epiphany, I know. It was also out first time “harvesting” our newly planted basil, and – especially after a LONG weekend working on our side yard – that made it feel even more special.

I knew that my husband really – REALLY – enjoyed his burger, but had to laugh this morning when I went to pick up the images from the folder he’d saved them to.

Instead of just “Chicken_Burgers” – how he’d normally name it – the folder was named “Fucking_Amazing_Chicken_Burgers”. Hrm. I guess he really loved these! Can’t say I blame him, they really were ridiculously good. I’ll be adding shredded apple to all future poultry burgers I make!

Apple Chicken Basil Burgers
(Makes two big burgers)

1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1 pound ground chicken
1/2 cup grated apple (I used golden delicious)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/4 cup olive oil

1 apple, thinly sliced (I used golden delicious)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt

Gouda cheese, sliced
Buns (can be gluten free)

Mix together mayo and basil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Combine chicken, grated apple, salt, pepper, and garlic. Gently use hands to get a really good mix going, making sure that everything evenly distributed and everything is well incorporated. Divide meat mixture into 2 evenly sized balls. Flatten each ball into a patty that is roughly the size of your burger buns – maybe a little larger.

Brush one side of each burger with olive oil, flip over onto grill, brush the other side with olive oil. Grill over medium heat until fully cooked. This is poultry – please cook until well done!

While burgers are grilling, saute apple slices in olive oil and salt until they start to tenderize. You want a slight amount of crunch, but not TOO much!

To construct the burgers:

Split the buns, spreading basil mayo on both halves of each bun. Arrange a layer of apple slices on top of the bottom bun half.. Top with burger, and a generous layer of gouda slices. Crown with top bun, enjoy!

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How to Make Silk Flower Pomanders

2.5 years ago, I posted my first wedding floral design tutorial, planning to make it a regular thing. With floral design being one of my earlier ADD career incarnations, I’ve got about 15 years experience (off and on for a decade of that) – a lot of floral knowledge! – kicking around in the back of my head, ready to share. Procrastination took over, though… so here’s my second floral tutorial. Better late than never, right?

For the past few years, June really makes me think of weddings. Not because June is the stereotypical “Wedding Month” (August was always FAR busier, for me!), but because it’s Pride month. While weddings happen all year, and can / do happen every day of the year… the sea of rainbow really had a way of making me stop to think about weddings, marriage, and happiness. When you’ve been in the wedding industry for 15 years, it’s easy to lose sight of some things.

For instance, it’s easy to take weddings – and marriage – for granted, when you’re one of the many for whom it’s available. I’ve never had to consider the idea that I wouldn’t legally be able to marry my husband, that there’s any chance of being denied any of the legal benefits to being married, etc. Hell, even before that… we didn’t need to worry that our falling in love, dating, or getting engaged could result in any sort of fallout with family, or provoke hatred and violence from strangers. No one sees our marriage as a “threat” to their own, no one campaigned against our rights to marry, etc. We didn’t have to fight for it.

As a Canadian immigrant living in the USA, I still haven’t wrapped my head around why gay marriage is even an issue. If anyone’s marriage is threatened by someone else’s ability to marry – regardless of anyone’s plumbing – perhaps it’s *their* marriage that needs to be examined. You know, NOT the marriage of the happy couple who wants nothing more than the right to be together. UGH. I’ve ranted about it before, so I’ll cut the tangent short, here.

As you may know, I was a sponsor of the Twin Cities Pride Festival for a few years, providing all of the floral design for their commitment ceremonies area. The year I moved to MN, we went to the Pride Festival, and were shocked to see that the ceremonies area consisted of a single, unadorned garden trellis – no flowers to speak of! I signed up for the following year, and created many floral arrangements for the site.

To this day, I still receive compliments about the designs – especially the pomanders pictured to the right and below. Yes, the silk flowers were very cheap and not the most realistic… but the color and visual impact that they brought to the site completely transformed the entire look and feel of the ceremonies site!

(Don’t judge! We needed durability, first and foremost, as these flowers would be outside – through various weather conditions- for several days. Then they would be packed away for a year, and brought out to decorate the following year.. lather, rinse, repeat. Nicer flowers would NOT hold up!)

Anyway.

In honor of Pride weekend, I’d like to show you how to make them. Pomanders are a great way to decorate wedding ceremonies and receptions: Put them in trees, suspend them from garden hooks, or hang them off the corner of chairs or church pews. As a DIY thing, they’re a great way to save money on decor, and can be made WAY ahead of time – so they’re great for pre-wedding time management.

Happy Pride Week / Month, everyone!

DIY Wedding Pomanders

Materials:

Styrofoam balls – I used 3″, you can use larger if needed.
Chopstick or BBQ skewer
Ribbon (Preferably satin type, 1/2″ – 1 1/2″ wide)
Silk flowers – MANY*
Silk greenery or accent flowers (such as baby’s breath), if desired
Pins (I like beading pins. Perfect length + bit larger head)
Decorative accents, optional**

* Flowers: I like to buy stems with many small flowers attached – ideally the kinds where the flower heads are easily pulled off. It’ll require a LOT – the small pomander pictured took about 50 smallish flower heads! (1.5″ – 2″ in diameter, when pressed flat)

** Decorative accents: Depending on the look you’re going through, there are SO many options for what you can do to really customize these. Metallic airbrush accents, spray glitter, stick-on rhinestones, sprays of wired beads, etc. I’ve seen steampunk bouquets with gears glued on, and I’ve seen pieces of Lego successfully use in a wedding bouquet. Have fun with it!

Alternatively, you can use larger flowers (such as the silk roses pictured above). Cut the stems to 1.5″ – 2″ long instead of pulling the flower heads off the stems.

Using a chopstick (preferred) or metal grilling skewer, puncture a hole right through the middle of a styrofoam ball.

Cut a length of ribbon. You’ll want it big enough not only for the loop, but for the ribbon through/under the styrofoam ball as well. As an example, if I want a 12″ drop (IE: the ball sits 12″ below whatever it’s being hung from), I’d allow 24″ for the loop, 6″ for the two ends to pass through the 3″ ball, and then another 6″ or so for knotting, etc… meaning a 36″ length.

Fold the ribbon in half, “good” side out.

If using a chopstick, fold the two edges of ribbon over the end of the chopstick by 2″, and push through the styrofoam ball, before knotting them together on the other side.

If using a (sharper, pointier) skewer, knot the two ends of the ribbon together (small, tight knot). Use the skewer to GENTLY push the knot through the styrofoam ball.

Carefully pull the knot out of the other side and knot another time or two – you’ll want the knot to hold the ball on securely, and pushing the knot through – rather than un-knotted ribbon – has a tendency to leave a fairly wide hole.

Start affixing flowers to the styrofoam ball. I like to push the ~1/4″ rubber/plastic nub on the back of the flower into the styrofoam, then secure with a pin. I push the pin through the flower somewhere near(ish) to the center of the flower, but not through the hole in the very center of it.

If you’re using larger flowers with the small pieces of stem attached, just push the stems into the styrofoam.

If your flower type has several layers of petals, try to push it through a spot where most of the layers overlap – it’ll be more secure that way. On this type of flower, I made sure to catch the pin through part of the plastic center, so that it’ll remain on the ball. If I had pinned it just through the petals, there’s a good chance that the center would eventually fall out.

Continue attaching flowers over the entire surface of the ball. Be sure to lift petals of an already-affixed flower to be able to place the next flower fairly close to it – you don’t want any styrofoam showing between the individual flowers.

Once your ball is completely covered with flowers, attach your decorative accents, if using.

If you would like to attach a decorative bow, tie one in a length of ribbon, then push a pin through it.

Pin the bow to either the very bottom of the pomander (hold it up by the loop to see where the very bottom actually is!), or to the top, near the loop.

Your pomander is complete, and ready to bring some color and visual interest to your celebration! Now… make a bunch more.

To do a pomander set like the one on the right, feed one end of a ribbon through the ball, rather than two ends. Knot and proceed as described. Once you have two pomanders ready, tie the ribbon length from each together in a pretty bow. This style is especially great for hanging from trees, as pictured.

Like what you see? We added a second post, More Silk Florals with updated photos of some faux floral decor we’d done for another year of Twin Cities Pride!

How to Carve a Watermelon Bowl… CANADIAN Style!

Inspiration really can come from the weirdest of places. Remember the story of how my French Martini Upside Down Cake was conceived? Jann Arden, an auto-correct Fail, French Canadian culture, and talking pineapples… oh my!

Sometimes the most simple thing can spark an idea… and that’s what happened with today’s post.

About a week ago, I posted my blog entry on How to Carve a Watermelon, Caladium Style… Caladium being a pretty variety of plant with large pink, white, and green leaves. As with all my blog posts, after I finished publishing it here, I posted links on Facebook. Now, as an out-and-proud Canadian immigrant, I shouldn’t have been surprised when the following comment was posted as a reply:

“Ok, when I first read the title of the post, I *swore* it read “How to Carve a Watermelon Fruit Bowl – Canadian Style!” ;)”

So, thank you for the inspiration, Sarah Elizabeth! Once I read your response, I knew I *had* to go out and make a Canadian style watermelon bowl – Canada Day IS just around the corner, after all!

To my Yankee friends and readers – no worries, I have a “Stars and Stripes” version coming right up!

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