Hamburger Side Dishes Other than French Fries

Hamburger and french fries are a classic American pairing as traditionally iconic as baseball and crackerjacks, but just because they pair particularly well together doesn’t make them your only hamburger side dish option when grilling burgers. Luckily, Martha Stewart’s recipe blog suggests a dozen tasty alternatives to place alongside the canvas that is the classic hamburger.

The following options were chosen for how well their taste profile, texture, and ease of preparation. It’s not simply an opportunity to say, “forget the french fries, and try hash browns instead.” Least of all is it an opportunity to simply suggest you pair that fine, heavy cheeseburger with a store-bought salad; no, these pairings are truly a match made in culinary heaven.

Seasoned Roasted-Corn Salad Cups

When you’re outside, maybe poolside in the summer months, grilling hamburgers, a natural partner to your entree platter is something from the corn family. On the cob, off the cob, it’s all delicious, so why not char the corn, toss it in a glass with jicama, chiles, cilantro, a little oil, lime juice, and of course, queso fresco. It makes for a juicy and delicious flavor profile, that’s just the right type of spicy.

Crisp Zucchini-Panko Fries

Potato fries are out, and veggie fries are in. Specifically, these crispy, panko-crusted wonders that transform the versatile zucchini vegetable into an irresistible side that’s perfect for dipping in whatever condiment or sauce you’d like. The panko bread crumbs help to create a very unique texture that simply goes quite perfectly with a hamburger.

Shaved Fennel, Zucchini, and Celery Salad

If you’re weighing your stomach down with a juicy, jaw-dropping hamburger, maybe make your side dish a little on the lighter side, and that’s just where this wholesome, crunchy, fresh, substantial veggie salad comes in! It’s topped with shavings of fresh fennel, zucchini, celery, butter beans, almonds, and a dressing composed of white-wine vinegar and oil.

Cucumbers with Lemon and Basil

Hamburgers are simple; after all bread, meat, veggies, and condiments is essentially a sandwich. So, take a page from it’s unadorned cookbook and whip up this quick, fresh, and healthy summer side. Make sure your basil leaves, grape tomatoes, and cucumbers are fresh before spritzing lemon juice on top eight hours in advance of your next cookout.

Simple Coleslaw

Condiments aren’t reserved only for your burger or it’s bun; consider mayonnaise- it is the perfect treat to toss along with cabbage and carrots. Add some tangy mustard and sour cream to the mix, and you have yourself a standard, classic slaw. Serve it bun-side with a spoon or just slip it between the buns as an added condiment-veggie combo!

Melon and Cucumber Salad

Barbecues in the spring or summer deserve a large pitcher of lemonade, because one of the best ways to beat the head is to consume something sweet and refreshing. Most think this is reserved for drinks, but this simple salad is not only aesthetically-pleasing (edit: gorgeous!); it’s light on the stomach, impressionable on the taste buds, and ideal for your serving platter.

Garlic-Ginger Cucumbers

Often overlooked, the cucumber is a truly versatile vegetable, especially when it’s properly seasoned and prepared right. This little dish is a classic one-two punch that’s equal parts crispy and refreshing. The combination of garlic and ginger give a unique, vaguely-asian flavor to this show-stopping vegetable side.

Pickled Vegetables

The grilling of a hamburger isn’t the only dish that requires preparation to taste incredible. Take advantage of the availability of in-season summer vegetables, simmer them in a vinegar solution for about 10 minutes, and jar them for use later that night or summer for the gift that keeps on giving.

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Louisiana Native and Cancer Survivor to be First American Civilian Woman in Space

In the not-so-distant future, Baton Rouge native Haley Arceneaux won’t just be a passenger on the first all-civilian space flight, but she will be the first civilian woman in space and the first cancer survivor to enter space, as reported by The Associated Press and The Advocate.

When she takes part in the historic SpaceX flight, the  29 year old Arceneaux will be the first American civilian woman in space, the youngest American, the first person with an artificial joint, first cancer survivor, and the first cajun in space. This laundry list of momentous records soon to be broken by this St. Francisville and Baton Rouge native isn’t at all overlooked by the future space explorer.

Arceneaux is reported as saying, “what an incredible honor this is for me to represent cancer survivors in this way,” Arceneaux said. “Until now, astronauts have been physically perfect. This mission is changing the mindset of what an astronaut has to look like. Not only is it going to mean so much to the kids to know that all of the people that are donating are helping them but also being able to see a survivor in space.”

While the launch date is yet to be finalized, Arceneaux and three other first-time space explorers could be launched on SpaceX’s two stage Falcon 9 rocket possibly as early as October. The crew will launch the Falcon 9 from the Kennedy Space Center and orbit Earth for about three days before concluding the voyage with a water landing off the Florida coast.

Jared Isaacman is the 37-year-old founder and CEO of Shrift Payments, a payment processing company. Isaacman is also an accomplished billionaire and a commercial- and military-rated het pilot. In fact in both 2008 and 2009, he flewSpeed-Around-The-World flights that raised money as well as awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This upcoming trip is to benefit St. Jude. Isaacman, who arranged and will be commanding the voyage said, “I just can’t think of a better brand ambassador representing St. Jude and representing the spirit of hope on this mission than Hayley.”

Isaacman, who purchased the flight from SpaceX for an undisclosed amount, has already donated half of the $200 million fundraising goal to St. Jude, the organization that performs cancer research and offers medical services to patients at no charge. Isaacman offered two of the three other seats aboard the flight to Arceneaux, a front-line worker and to a St. Jude donor. The Donor will be selected out of a pool of contestants donating to St. Jude during the month of February. The final seat aboard the Falcon 9 rocket will be filled by a yet-to-be determined entrepreneur.

Though, Arceneaux wasn’t only chosen because of her status as a front-line worker, the 29 year old was once a child cured at St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee, where she now works as a physician assistant helping patients with leukemia and lymphoma.  Arceneaux learned of the expedition from officials within the hospital’s fundraising organization. She recalled, “they asked if I wanted to be on board, and I was shocked but immediately said, ‘Yes, yes, please!”

Arceneaux grew up in St. Francisville and was 10 years old when first diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her left femur in 2002. While at St. Jude, Arceneaux became an ambassador for the organization and later became a summer intern in the Pediatric Oncology Education Program in 2013 before becoming a physician assistant. Arceneaux calls her continued involvement in the service of St. Jude a “dream job,” so it’s only right that she travel to space, setting a record as the first civilian woman in space, as a representative of the marvels conducted by the dream-like medical center.

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Coolest National Parks By State

If you’re looking for a unique destination that shows off the surrounding beauty of the United States, then look no further than this country’s celebrated National Park System. Country Living has prepared this finely curated listing of the coolest National Park each state has to offer. Some of the list’s parks will focus more on nature beauty while others prominently feature the history of the United States. Though, every listed park is a treasure in and of itself, and each one is waiting for you to visit! As always be sure to check local CDC guidelines, local travel restrictions, and the policies of each National Park before booking a trip.

Missouri’s Gateway Arch National Park

The iconic St. Louis landmark is perfectly placed to not only welcome visitors to the Western half of the United States, but it also recently got updated in 2018 from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Though small, this park is a must-visit for anyone craving exciting views which can be accessed by a tram-ride to the top of the arch or ground level- depending on your comfort preference.

Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument 

The landscape alone of this park will make for fantastic pictures and lasting memories, and once you set foot here, it’ll certainly become quite clear as to why this park got its name. The ground’s texture was caused by flowing lava that left the ground looking more lunar than earthlike.

New York’s Statue of Liberty National Monument

Some sights are famous for a reason, and Lady Liberty is no exception. New York State has over 30 national park sites, but there’s nothing more indicative of American iconography than the Statue of Liberty’s greeting stature over New York Harbor. To get the whole experience- crown-and-all, you’ll need to take a ferry and buy a ticket in advance, and once at the top of the crown, you’ll be able to take in an unforgettable sight of the bustling city below.

Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While this mountain range spans the borders of both Tennessee and North Carolina, it is by far the most popular national park, so expect to see other visitors alongside truly stunning views and breathtakingly smoky sunsets.

 Texas’s Big Bend National Park

This treasured locale is home to some of the most amazing night skies available in the United States. When visiting this park, you can camp or stay at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, giving you the perfect spot to take in the majesty of the expansive sky at night after your day of exploring the Rio Grande.

Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park

This park is perfect for hikers and non-hikers alike. The spectacle that is the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive offers travelers many scenic viewpoints along the path that invite you to pull over and get a closer look. Not to mention, you’re also likely to see a few bears in your travels, though remember to keep your distance and stay in your car.

West Virginia’s Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

A quiet, quaint little village lies where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. In this village, you can stand at an outlook called The Point and not only see the states of Maryland and Virginia, but you’ll also be able to see hikers from the Appalachian Trail.

Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Located in Northern Wisconsin, this park encompasses 21 islands in Lake Superior, and it is filled with a plethora of caves that are perfect for watery exploration in the summer and icy sights in the winter.

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Artists Stay Afloat with Mardi Gras House Floats

When New Orleans transitioned from traditional parades to house floats in an effort to celebrate Mardi Gras safely and responsibly, it created opportunities for Crescent City artists to find work in a year where that’s been hard to comeby, according to an article from The Times-Picayune and Nola.com.

One such group of artists thankful for the creative outlet is Stronghold Studios, as they’ve recently finished an extensive stint of building house float props for customers across New Orleans. Stronghold Studios is a perfect example of a quintessentially creative section of New Orleans, and this recent phenomenon of creating house floats has given a community of float builders, sculptors, painters, carpenters, and others craftspeople steady opportunities to work in a less than ideal (or profitable) year.

Stronghold Studios is owned by Coco Darrow and her husband Ian, and while they never intended to end up in the business of decorating house floats, they are more-than-thankful for the opportunity. While the studio typically produces movie props and party decor, their “bread and butter” is the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The Studio, located in Mid-City and founded by Coco Darrow’s father-in-law Bill Darrow produces the signage over the food booths at Jazz Fest as well as the musician sculptures that adorn the stages and festival environment.

The team of artists at Stronghold has also been behind some of the most impressive house float examples. Two iconic examples of the studio’s work are the St. Charles Avenue mansion that features a cutout of a vaccine syringe-yielding Dolly Parton as well as the second story cutout of Chef Lea Chase stirring a giant gumbo pot in Mid-City.

Unfortunately, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent cancelation of Jazz Fest, parties, movies, and all other events that would normally supply the artists with work, Darrow and her husband began to consider closing the studio in December 2020. Then, just after thanksgiving, the studio received a call from the Krewe of House Floats, and they were given an opportunity to sell their leftover props and begin working on outfitting houses as if they were themed floats.

Darrow told The Times-Picayune that the unexpected flow of commission requests “was like getting a last-minute reprieve from the governor. We were really hurting. The Krewe of House floats saved us. We knew all the spring events were canceled. This place holder gave us solid ground to stand on.”

In no time at all, the studio was booked up with countless house float projects with homeowners coming to Stronghold with ideas, and the studio bringing them to life with their materials and expertise. In an unexpected miracle, the Darrows were able to rehire the nine artists who had previously been out of work since the cancellation of Jazz Fest. Many of the artists had been out of work since the start of the pandemic, but the house float phenomenon had brought them back into the game in January.

While building iconic house floats was a surprise this year, the Darrows reported that they wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t stick around and be an important part of the studio’s calendar in the future. Ian Darrow had said, “This was never a season for us, we were usually just waiting around for Jazz Fest.”

Coco Darrow said that Stronghold is already booking float jobs for 2022, and she’s quite confident that this newfound custom of house floats will continue. She even went on to propose that the city declare a sub-holiday called “Skinny Tuesday” wherein citizens can tour house floats on the Tuesday preceding Mardi Gras.

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The Best Roasted Potatoes Around

Potatoes, when prepared and cooked right, are certainly a crowd-pleaser, and this meticulous recipe for excellent roasted potatoes from Serious Eats is no exception. This recipe will produce potatoes that are extremely flavorful, crispy, and creamy all at once. They’re delicious inside and out, and you’re guaranteed to finish the entire batch with this tested recipe. 

Ingredients for Roasted Potatoes

Kosher Salt

½ teaspoon of baking soda

4 lbs of russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled & divided)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Small handful of rosemary leaves (finely chopped)

3 medium cloves of garlic (minced)

Freshly ground black pepper

Small handful of fresh parsley leaves (minced)

 

Directions for Roasted Potatoes

  1. Adjust your oven so that your rack is in the center position and preheat the oven to 450°F. At the same time, heat 2 quarts of water in a large pot over high heat until it’s boiling. Add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, baking soda, and potatoes to the water once boiling. Stir it together, return it to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Cook it until you can stick a knife into a potato piece, and it only is met with a little resistance. This is typically 10 minutes after returning the pot to a boil.
  2. At the same time, combine your olive oil (or fat substitute such as duck or beef fat) with rosemary, garlic, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper in a small saucepan. Heat the pan over medium heat, cooking, stirring, and shaking the can constantly. Continue this until the garlic just begins to turn golden, which will be after about 3 minutes. Once the garlic is barely golden, strain the oil through a fine mesh strainer that’s set in a large bowl. Set your garlic and rosemary mixture aside, reserving it separately.
  3. Once your potatoes are cooked, drain them carefully, and let them rest in the pot for about 30 seconds, allowing the excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer the potatoes to the bowl with the infused oil, toss them to coat, and add salt and pepper to taste. Shake the bowl roughly until you’re left with a thick layer of paste that’s similar to a mashed potato-like texture. This paste should be built up on top of your larger potato chunks.
  4. Transfer the potatoes to a large rimmed baking sheet and separate them by spreading them out evenly. Transfer the sheet to your preheated oven and roast them without moving for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, use a thin, flexible metal spatula to release any stuck potatoes, then shake the pan and turn them over. Continue roasting them until they are a deep brown color and are crisp all over. You can ensure this by shaking and turning them throughout the cooking process. Continue roasting them for 30-40 minutes longer.
  5. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and add the garlic and rosemary mixture along with some minced parsley. Toss the bowl to coat, and season with more salt and pepper to taste. Then, serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes:

If you want your final product to have crispier crusts and fluffier centers, then Russet potatoes are your best bet, though if you’d prefer to have your potatoes slightly less crisp with a creamier center and a generally darker color/deeper flavor, then Yukon Gold is your ingredient.

Your potatoes should be cut into very large chunks (at least 2 to 3 inches). Medium-sized yukon golds can be cut in half diagonally and then split again to be quartered. For Russets or larger Yukon Golds, then you can simply cut them into chunky sixths or eighths.

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UL Lafayette Reveals its Role in the COVID-19 Vaccine Development

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has had a hand in the development, effectiveness, and success of the world’s first fully tested COVID-19 immunization approved for emergency use, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a press release from the school.

The effectiveness of the vaccine was determined through nonhuman trials that involved primates at UL Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center. Jane Fontenot, NIRC’s director of Contract Research commented on the opportunity saying, “We are so privileged to have been on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic. It’s very rewarding.”

Studies have shown that the vaccine is 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19 after the administration of two doses. The United Kingdom was the first nation to issue an emergency authorization for the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in December, with the United States, the European Union, and other countries following suit soon after.

Up until now, UL Lafayette has been unable to discuss their historic role in the vaccine’s development due to confidentiality agreements with Pfzier. A publication in the peer-reviewed journal Nature is the first public confirmation of the University’s participation in this astounding effort. Fontenot co-authored the publication announcing the involvement.

Rhesus Macaques at NIRC were immunized as early as last spring as part of nonhuman primate clinical trials of the vaccine. The process involved staff administering vaccines, collecting samples, and observing the animals “for any signs of problems,” Fontenot noted. “That included evidence of pain, elevated temperatures, loss of appetite – any symptoms that may have raised concern about tolerability.”

Afterwards, the NIRC staff helped to facilitate the transfer of the vaccinated animals to the Southwest National Primate Center, which is affiliated with the Texas Biomedical Research Institute. The San Antonio-located center includes abiosafety level 3 facility, meaning that it can securely handle love, airborne infectious august such as COVID-19. The New Iberia Research Center is a biosafety level 2 facility, though UL Lafayette is seeking funding to raise it up to level 3 status.

A month after first receiving the vaccinations at NIRA, the rhesus macaques underwent the challenge phase of the trial which involved them being exposed to COVID-19, and results showed that the vaccine offered protection from the virus. Then, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized by the federal Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in mid-December 2020, about one year after COVID-19 first emerged in the world.

The rapid pace with which the vaccine was developed had depended on pre-existing relationships that the biopharmaceutical giant had with research facilities such as NIRC. This was said by Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette’s vice-president for Research, Innovation, and Economic development. 

Dr. Kolluru reportedly said, ““We were instrumental in Pfizer being able to work as quickly as they did.” He went on to cite both the vaccine’s development and the role that the University played as an “example of the power of public-private partnerships. NIRC’s long history of collaborations with biomedical research companies and others provided a baseline of expertise on which the center could rely on its role in the vaccine’s development. The relationships we’ve nurtured over the decades enabled us to be a part of this historic answer to a global challenge.”

UL Lafayette’s president, Dr. Joseph Savoie said that both the University and its researchers “were prepared to meet this moment. Few areas of life have escaped the pandemic’s effects, so to contribute to something that brings hope to the world is truly extraordinary.”

The New Iberia Research Center is the nation’s largest academically-affiliated, nonhuman primate research center, and it’s home to over 8,500 nonhuman primates.

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