Showing posts with label Chicago Tribune. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago Tribune. Show all posts

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve - Celebrate with Salsa!


What an amazing year this has been. Can you believe 2010 is almost over? I can't. It's been whirlwind - and I know that as I look back on the year I am very, very grateful for the community we have here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. You make it a joy to cook, to blog, to read, to comment. I love getting to know all of you, and I look forward to our daily conversations. So let me take this moment to thank all of you for sharing your recipes, your stories, and your lives with us!

I chose today's recipe because I'd like to end the year with a feature from the Chicago Tribune's Best Recipes of 2010.

Why the Chicago Tribune? Because 2011 will begin with a feature in the Printers Row book section I'm particularly excited about.

Editor Julia Keller interviewed me about my White House Chef Mysteries and my Manor House Mysteries!

They sent a photographer out here and everything. The piece runs tomorrow and I can't think of a better way to start out the New Year!

To thank the Trib, I'd like to return the favor and feature one of the items from their fabulous "Best of 2010 Recipes" where you'll find sauteed scallops with chermoula, chocolate peanut butter pots de creme, and sweet potato and coconut custard with toasted coconut, among other mouthwatering dishes.

Today, the last day of 2010, I suggest we all
Celebrate with Salsa!

I love salsa. All kinds. Our favorite local restaurant serves a tomatillo salsa I haven't been able to recreate at home (yet), but I keep trying.

This one is a spicy new addition to my repertoire. Delicious and easy! I used only 2 serrano chilies. If you prefer yours less hot, you may want to drop it down to one.

Salsa Verde

2 - 3 serrano chilies, stemmed and seeded (I used 2)
2 green onions, trimmed, roughly chopped (I used three because they were small)
1 or 2 cloves garlic (I used 3)
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (I used cilantro and didn't exactly measure. I think it might have been a bit more than a 1/2 cup.... but I really love cilantro)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp salt

Drop chilies, onions and garlic into a food processor with the machine running to mince finely. (Very excited to use my food processor - got it for Christmas *last* year and I've been trying out new recipes all year.) Add remaining ingredients. Process, scraping container once or twice, until smooth. Adjust with a little more water if needed for a smooth, slightly thick sauce. (I didn't need to add any water.)

This is so easy and so delicious. I know that the Trib's food editors combed through hundreds of recipes to come up with these "Best" choices. I can't wait to try out another!


A little news here:

Buffalo West Wing received an amazing and wonderful review on Season for Romance here. I hope you stop by to read it (you have to click on the little brown bar beneath the cover to find the review).

Buffalo West Wing got ten out of ten stars! I am so excited. Not only that, but from what I understand this is the first time the reviewer "Kat" gave out ten stars. Am I excited? You bet!! Thank you, Season for Romance!

And a big thank you to Lori a/k/a Dollycas! She reviewed BWW yesterday on her blog here. Lori has a fabulous spot filled with great reviews and giveaways. Thank you, Lori!

I'm looking forward to another fabulous year here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. Thank you, Avery (Daryl), Cleo, Elizabeth (Riley), Jenn, Krista, and all our wonderful friends here. You are the best!

Happy New Year's Eve.
Celebrate, enjoy, and be safe!

Love and hugs,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Build a Better Veggie Burger and the World Will Beat a Path to Your Door

We have a WINNER for our first Mystery Lovers Kitchen contest! Carol Noreen, from Wisconsin, has won the $25 gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma. Congratulations, Carol! To all our fans, we hope you'll continue to be fans, read the blog, and send us your comments. Sign up for this week's contest. There's always another chance to WIN!


One of my daughters has gone vegetarian, and in fact, has been meatless for over two years now. Her level of vegetarianism allows for dairy products, and she enjoys cheese, eggs, and an assortment of veggies, so I don’t worry overmuch about her protein intake. There’s a White House Chef mystery recipe for Brussels Sprouts that she absolutely loves. I’ll share that one here another week. But today, let’s talk about Veggie Burgers.

You’ve seen them in the store: Frozen, boxed, and fairly expensive. We’ve tried several brands and lots of varieties. My daughter’s favorite, thus far, is Morningstar Farms, and we often pick up a box of “mushroom,” or “Grillers” for her. But a couple of weeks ago, when the Sunday Chicago Tribune offered a recipe for homemade veggie burgers and promised they would not only be less expensive, but tastier, I knew we had to try it.

The Tribune recipe called for a few ingredients my daughter doesn’t care for: mustard, ketchup, chili powder, and (optional) sautéed sweet potatoes. We decided to improvise. The Trib recipe suggested a base of any of the following: kidney, pinto or black beans. Having never attempted this before, we decided to make a batch of each and do a taste test. So, a shout-out to Zak Stambor of the Trib for inspiring us. Here’s our version of the homemade veggie burger and a step-by-step account of our failures and successes:

1/3 stick butter
1 T chopped onion
1 t minced garlic (someone in the family had bagged my fresh garlic and stuck it in the fridge. It was nasty when I pulled it out. Fortunately, I keep a jar of minced garlic around all the time.)
Salt and pepper to taste
One can “bean of choice”
2 T (give or take) shredded carrots
½ t salt
¼ t pepper
¼ cup Oatmeal
1 t Worcestershire sauce (Some are vegetarian, some are not. Read your ingredients.)

Optional: cooked brown rice as additional filler (see below for our attempts with this)

Melt the butter in a small frying pan, and add the onion. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, then add garlic and little salt and pepper to taste. When this is cool, you will add it in, but do not wash the pan. You’ll need it again shortly.

We tried mashing beans in a bowl as directed, but that didn’t work at all. Improvising (which I love to do), we transferred the beans into three separate zip-top plastic bags. Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer and our fists, we smashed the beans until they turned into a nice smoosh. At that point we added the carrots, salt, pepper, oatmeal, Worcestershire sauce, and cooled onion/garlic mixture and smashed it around a bit more until well combined. It was at this point my daughter asked how we were going to get the mixtures out of the bag and into patties. Hmm… good point. This stuff is pretty sticky.

Squeezing the zip-tops, as one might a pastry bag, we placed a mound of each on clear plastic wrap, then folded up the edges and roughly formed a patty. Now… time to fry these up as originally directed in the frying pan with the remaining butter/onion/garlic.

Uh…were these supposed to be burgers? Or Sloppy Joes? The kidney beans held the patty shape—sort of. The other two bean varieties did not. Fortunately, we only made one of each. That left lots of mixture remaining for experimentation. We then added cooked brown rice (about a ½ cup) to each of the remaining mixtures and tried again. The patties held up a little better this time, again with kidney beans being our front-runner in keeping its shape.

But how did they taste?

Surprisingly, very good.

My daughter preferred the kidney and pinto bean varieties, and she liked them slightly better with the addition of rice. She said that the black bean version was not her favorite, but still good. I tasted all three, and agree. Were we to do it again, I’d stick with kidney. Easiest to work with, and excellent flavor. The best part? My daughter thinks this experiment was fun, which is high praise from a seventeen-year-old.

***Reminder: Don't forget to enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every week.

Best of luck to all, and congrats to this week's winner Carol Noreen!


Julie Hyzy’s White House Chef Mystery series features State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, and Eggsecutive Orders (coming in January). All from Berkley Prime Crime. Sign up for Julie’s newsletter on her website at