A few weeks ago, my friends and I had a potluck BBQ for my birthday, and I had the most delicious asparagus ever. Last weekend was another friend's birthday BBQ, and I was in charge of the turkey burgers, which were probably the best I've ever made. Tonight, I put them both together to make one supremely delicious dinner!

What You Need:
  • Ground turkey
  • Yellow or white onion
  • Fresh garlic
  • Salsa Lizano (or your own substitute)
  • Provolone cheese, sliced
  • Asparagus
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lemon
Unfortunately, most of you will be unable to make these burgers using my key ingredient - Salsa Lizano. I was introduced to the sauce in 2006 when I went to Costa Rica for the first time. I loved it so much that I stocked up on a couple of bottles before returning home. To my delight, the grocery store in my neighborhood had quite a large Hispanic section and sold my Lizano! Since moving to Philadelphia from North Carolina, I haven't been able to find Salsa Lizano anywhere, nor have I met anyone who's ever tried it. I returned to Costa Rica last May and was sure to stock up on a few bottles of that delicious, all-purpose sauce. And yes, it is a sauce, not literally a salsa, as the name may be misunderstood. Lizano is a mix of deliciously tangy and somewhat spicy flavors, best described in use as Costa Rica's version of America's ketchup.

What You Do:
  • To make the burgers, use the necessary amount of ground turkey meat (99% fat free/white meat) and add to it the desired amount of chopped onions, garlic and sauce. Mix all together, form your patties and grill (or cook in a frying pan, as I did due to the drizzly weather today). Just before they are finished, top with a slice of cheese. I ate my burger sans bun tonight, but when I do eat them I always choose potato bread. Mmmm, so good!
  • To prepare the asparagus, slice off the bottom ends of the stem and discard (don't forget to compost!); slice the asparagus stalks to the desired size (I cut mine into thirds). In a frying pan, add a little extra virgin olive oil, throw in the asparagus and cook until slightly brown, stirring occasionally so all sides get cooked. Turn the heat off and squeeze lemon onto the asparagus and stir to be sure all stalks get coated.
Both parts of this meal have really strong and delicious flavors, perfectly complimenting each other. It can sometimes be a mistake to serve more than one intensely flavored food in a meal, but you can't go wrong with these two!
The Blogger Secret Ingredient (BSI) Challenge is a fun way for food bloggers to try new recipes and new ingredients. Each week, a new blogger is chosen to "host" the contest - choose the BSI and collect recipes, choosing one as the winning recipe of the week. For over 70 weeks now, different ingredients have yielded countless interesting recipes. As the host of Week 75, I chose beets - a root vegetable I've eaten only a couple of times before but have recently grown to really enjoy. I even planted two varieties in my vegetable garden this year! Take a look at these beautiful pictures and links to the recipes you can try with fresh, locally grown beets this summer.
Beet Burgers from Aubree Cherie of Living Free
*winning recipe*
Beet Nut Bread from Chaya of Chaya's Comfy Cook Blog

All photos are owned by the respective bloggers.
What started as a "use the random bits of leftover veggies" type of meal ended up being a great vegetarian meal.

What you need:
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Asparagus
  • Red bell pepper
  • White onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Shaved Parmesan
What you do:
  • In a large sauce pan, add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water. Boil until water is absorbed.
  • Wash asparagus and pepper; chop or mince desired quantity of all vegetables.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, begin by sauteing the asparagus in olive oil. Once it is slightly browned, add the peppers, onions and garlic. Continue cooking until onions are clear.
  • Add the cooked quinoa to the vegetables and saute a few more minutes.
  • Spoon into a serving dish and top with shaved Parmesan.
High in protein, quinoa is an excellent grain choice for vegetarians, as well as those with wheat or gluten allergies. It is also an alkaline food, helping to balance the body's pH.
The great debate: brown or white rice? You've likely heard that brown rice is the healthier option. But why? White rice has had the bran (the coating that gives brown rice its color) removed, or has been "polished." With the bran still on the grain of rice, brown rice has more fiber (3.5 grams/cup for brown rice; less than 1 gram/cup for white). Because white rice has been stripped of the bran, it tends to be fortified with other nutrients. Brown rice naturally has higher levels of magnesium, zinc and manganese.

This is a tasty and easy recipe to make as a side dish for a meal, and you may find that everything you need is already in your fridge and cabinets.

What you need:
  • 1 cup rice
  • Vegetable stock, broth or bouillon
  • Vegetables
  • Olive oil
What you do:
  • The vegetables I already had and decided to use for this recipes were carrots, celery, chopped broccoli, garlic and a sweet white onion. Prep your veggies as necessary - washing, peeling and cutting to desired size.
  • I chose to saute the minced garlic and onion in olive oil to bring out the flavor.
  • While working on the garlic and onion, I measured one cup of brown rice, poured it into my cooking pot (without water) and turned the heat on low. For about 5 minutes, lightly toast the rice grains and they will cook to perfection!
  • Next, add two cups of cold water, the chopped veggies and your broth, stock or bouillon to the pot with the rice. Follow concentration instructions for bouillons; for stock or broth, substitute for all or part of the 2 cups of water. My vegetable bouillon of choice is Better Than Bouillon (be sure to check out the product review!). 
  • Bring the water to a boil for about 5 minutes, the cover tightly and turn the heat to low, stirring periodically until the water has been absorbed and the rice is fluffy.
The flavor of this rice is excellent from the combination of bouillon and fresh veggies. And if you ask me, almost anything tastes a little better with sauteed onions and garlic! Mmm.