Quinoa Sweet Potato Burgers

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

There’s a small, organic, all-natural food market near my house. Once you sift past the tall aisles filled with pricey protein powder and every vitamin known to mankind, you’ll find a humble food bar in the very back. They sell a range of prepared foods that are all remarkably healthy and tasty. Split pea soup, mushroom quesadillas, strawberry walnut & baby spinach salad, curried quinoa and chickpeas. I’ve tried it all. The next thing is better than the last. My go-to item on the menu is the black bean and sweet potato burger. I’m a carnivore by nature but there are days I just want to skip it. It’s one o’clock at the office and I’m craving something that satisfies, without the heavy regret that usually follows. This burger does the trick: meaty black beans and a sweet potato binder that fill you up in a really good way. You might even lose that three o’clock sugar craving.

In a similar way, this Bon Appetite recipe dubbed the “Stellar Quinoa Burger,” is a lunch game-changer! A chance to make killer meatless burgers at home? Done and done. Topped with a healthy dollop of guacamole atop a toasted english muffin, this burger is a serious rival to its beef counterpart. So much lighter and much less guilt than greasy beef. Rainbow quinoa, zucchini, mushroom and sweet potato come together in a truly colorful, wholesome way. I doubled the recipe and I’ll be enjoying happy desk lunches all week!

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yield: 4 burgers

  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • ½ small zucchini
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (from about ½ uncooked)
  • ¾ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 English muffins, split, toasted
  • Guacamole for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Prick sweet potato all over with a fork; rub with 1 Tbsp. oil, then season with salt and pepper. Roast directly on oven rack until tender, 30–45 minutes. Let cool. Remove and discard skin; mash flesh with a fork. Set aside.

  2. Remove stem from mushroom; discard. Pulse cap in a food processor until finely chopped. Coarsely grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater; gather up in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

  3. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over low. Cook shallot and red pepper flakes, stirring often, until shallot is soft, about 2 minutes. Add mushroom and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to release their liquid but have not taken on any color, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in quinoa and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

  4. Add breadcrumbs, lemon juice, and about ¼ cup reserved mashed sweet potato to quinoa mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. If mixture is too loose, add more sweet potato to bind.

  5. Divide mixture into 4 portions and form into patties, pressing firmly together with your hands. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium skillet over medium and cook 2 patties until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side; season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and 2 patties.

  6. Build burgers with patties, toasted English muffins, guacamole, tomato chutney, and sprouts. Do Ahead: Patties can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine (Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe, NM)


Chestnut Soup with Cognac Cream

Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” Nat King Cole says it best (or should I say, sings it best). I grew up listening to these Christmas words among others sung by the voices of Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby and Johnny Mathis. When I close my eyes, I can still see the familiar scene: It’s evening. The light is dim and my mother is tidying up the kitchen. My father hasn’t returned from work yet. I’m in the living room, watching and listening. The tree is a-glow. Not a light, bow or berry our of place. They know that Santa’s on his way, he’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh. So calm and so serene. This is Christmastime.

Although I didn’t grow up eating chestnuts, since I’ve been with my husband I’ve eaten them every Christmas Eve. His family roasts them and eats them warm. It’s a real treat, so soft and flavorful. Recently, a good friend of mine shared this recipe with me: chestnut soup. It sounded unreal… I love soups. And to boot, a cognac cream on top. Hello! This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine, from many years ago. It makes a perfect starter to your Christmas meal. I bought whole chestnuts so I could get the full experience. To save on time, you have the option of getting vacuum packed, ready-pealed nuts. Either way, this one is worth the effort! Merry Christmas, everyone!








All Photo Credit: Ashley Cuoco

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients for Soup:

  • 2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups boiled chestnuts* (see instructions below for cooking) or 2 cups vacuum-packed chestnuts (about 10 oz), halved

Ingredients for Cognac cream:

  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tsp Cognac
  • pinch of salt
  1. To boil chestnuts (1 lb nuts will make about the 2 cups you’ll need): using a sharp, small knife, cut an X in each chestnut. Cook chestnuts in a large pot of boiling water until just tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the nuts to work surface. Remove hard shell and papery brown skin while chestnuts are still warm.
  2. Melt butter with oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and thyme and sauté until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth and chestnuts. Cover partially and simmer until chestnuts are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Puree soup in batches in a blender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  4. To make cream, whisk whipping cream, cognac and pinch of salt in a medium bowl until thickened but not stiff. Bring soup to a simmer over low heat. Ladle into bowls. Swirl spoonful of Cognac cream into each bowl and serve. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine.