Veggie Burgers

While I’m not a vegetarian, I really enjoy vegetarian foods. Veggie burgers are one of my favorites because they often highlight delicious vegetarian flavors and are so versatile. In addition to eating them as a burger you can put them on top of salads or crumble them in egg scrambles. Store-bought veggie burgers often are full of salt and additives, so I prefer to make my own. They can be a little time consuming, so I prefer to make a bunch of them and freeze them for use later. I had a.m.a.z.i.n.g. walnut veggie burger at Jac’s in Madison and decided it was time I tried a few few new recipes. These burgers turned out great. J and Eli love them too!

These burgers can be prepped and frozen to be cooked fully from frozen when you are ready. Another option that saves a lot of time later is to prepare them fully, let them cool, and them freeze them individually. The latter option allows you to just warm them up in the microwave, on a GF grill, or in a skillet when you are in the mood. It saves a lot of time and is less messy since they are fully cooked already.

The key to freezing these is to line a baking sheet with wax paper and place the burgers on the paper individually. Be sure they are not touching. Put this in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until the burgers are hard. At this point you can remove them from the paper and place them in a freezer bag. It is critical that you do it this way so the burgers are individually frozen. If you don’t the burgers will freeze stuck together. This isn’t a huge deal if you plan to thaw them all at once, but it makes it impossible to remove individual burgers from the freezer. It is also a problem if they aren’t pre-cooked, because they will need to be thawed and then they will just a be a big pile of mush. This approach of freezing individually has been a live saver and can be used for anything you are freezing. We use it all the time in the summer when berries are in season!

 

veggie burgers-blackbeanSpicy Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers
Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

 

 

veggie burgers-chickpea walnutChickpea-Walnut Burger
Recipe Adapted from Big Mike Eats

veggie burgers3veggie burgers2

 

 

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Soup

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During the summer CSA we got a TON of sweet corn. I  mean a ton – 12 ears per week. That is way too much for 2 people to safely eat. My routine was to roast all 12 ears in the oven the night we got them. I would save the number of ears I thought we could eat in the week and then remove the corn from the others. By the end of the summer, despite eating corn like it was going out of style, we still ended up with 3 gallon freezer bags filled with corn.

When fall rolled around I decided it was time to start making a dent in the corn. Over the summer we also inherited a few gallons of tomatoes from my dad’s farm and a decent amount of hot peppers from our own garden (probably the only fruitful plants in our garden). What better to make with all of these items in the fall than soup! Pair that with a bag of dry black beans and you have a simple, nutritious, and filling meal.

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While you can use canned black beans (be sure to drain and rinse!), I chose to use dry beans since that is what I had on hand. It is best to prepare these separate and in advance. If you don’t, you run the risk of excessive gas in your soup (and subsequently in you). You can remove the gas by soaking them in water the night before you use them. You can then add these soaked beans to your soup directly. If you do this, they may be firmer than you are used to, so another option is to cook them fully before adding them to the soup. If you like to cook them in the crock pot before using them, here is a great resource. What I did was soak an entire bag overnight, cook them in the crockpot (per the link above), and then used only what I needed for the recipe. The rest I put in a freezer bag and stored in the freezer until I needed them again.

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Crock-pot Black Bean and Corn Soup

Ingredients
These are all estimates, as I don’t measure when I am putting things into the crock-pot for soup

  • 2 cups of corn (I used sweet corn but regular would do as well)
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups cooked/canned black beans
  • 1/4 cup diced hot pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Additional options – ground beef/turkey, shredded chicken, shredded zucchini, diced green peppers

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in the slow cooker
  2. Add water to desired consistency (soupy vs stewy)
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.

Black Bean Brownies to Die For

blackbean brownies

These owey-gooey brownies are possibly the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. They are rich, fudgey, and moist. And what is even better – they are made with black beans so you can actually say they are healthy. I don’ think it gets any better than this (and I swear this isn’t only coming from a pregnant woman!). J took them to work and didn’t tell anyone that they were made with black beans. they were gone in an hour and everyone was raving about them all day. The people he works at aren’t your typical “health nuts” and would probably haven’t given them a shot if they knew they contained black beans. Let’s just say their lunches occasionally consist of a bag of doritos, little Debbie snack, and a mountain dew. You get the idea.

If you have dietary restrictions, these may be the recipe you’ve been waiting for. They are gluten-free dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan. Usually when I see that list I run and hide and think there is absolutely NO WAY they could taste like a real brownie – but they do!

Black Bean Brownies
Recipe slightly modified from Chocolate Covered Kate

blackbean brownies2

Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
    (be sure they are gluten-free if you need)
  • 1/2 cup honey
    (use maple syrup or agave if you are vegan)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup add-is: chocolate chips, caramel pieces, nuts, etc… whatever you are in the mood for.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9″ x 9″ pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Combine all the ingredients except the add-ins into a food processor and blend until completely smooth (about 2 minutes).
  3. Stir in the other add-ins. Pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes*. Let cool completely. Enjoy!

*the original recipe says only 15-18 minutes. I did 18 minutes but the toothpick was still coming out with moist batter. I thought maybe it had to cool and would firm up, but after 20 minutes of cooling they were still the consistency of under-cooked cookies. I put them back in for 5 or 10 more minutes (I can’t remember….sorry!) and then they firmed up perfectly. I think the difference is when you use oil vs coconut oil. The coconut oil is solid at room temp and makes items more dense. If you choose to use coconut oil, then you can expect them to finish closer to 15 minutes, where canola oil users can expect them to finish closer to 25 minutes.

Peanut Butter Bean Bars

The second I saw these blondies I had to make them. Then I reminded myself that all thing in moderation and I decided to wait a few weeks. Well worth the wait. These dense, delicious treats taste nothing like beans and completely like peanut butter cookies. This is the perfect way to sneak in extra fiber and nutrition while also cutting out unnecessary starch. You’re family will never guess these are grain-free.

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Delicious Peanut Butter Bean Bars
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen’s Flour-less Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients

  • 1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 ts baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts*
    the original recipe called for chocolate chips but I wanted something less sweet. You can use anything here, or omit this all together. 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small square baking pan (8″ x 8″) with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor, chop the nuts if they are not yet chopped. Remove and set aside.
  3. Spray the food processor with cooking spray (lightly). Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and process on high  until the batter is smooth (this took about 5 minutes).
  4. Add nuts and fold in with a spatula.
  5. Spread mixture into the baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned and pull from the sides.
  6. Cool in the pan completely. Cut into 12 squares. Enjoy!

Note: if you want to make edible cookie dough or cookie dough dip, stop after step 4. The dough is completely safe to eat at this point. Perfect for pregnant moms-to-be who miss their raw cookie dough 🙂

Smokey Sweet Potato Burgers

photo 1While I have taken a new liking to beef (poor J wouldn’t fare well eating an entire 1/2 a cow by himself), I still really love veggie burger. We had a few sweet potatoes on the counter that I was planning to into wedges and eat as a side, I stumbled across this recipe and my plans quickly changed. A smokey sweet potato veggie burger made with a few simple ingredients I had on hand – why yes, I will put on my grown-up cooking pants and actually make a dish instead of just throwing together the simplest thing I can think of (and this was pretty simple…I can’t take too much credit).

The original recipe (as with all veggie burger recipes) said to cook it in a pan. I don’t know about you, but I have never had luck with this. They always break into a bunch of pieces or stick to the pan. They never turn out like they look in the picture. For that reason, I opted to bake these in the oven instead. I am very happy I did because they turned out great and kept their shape.

Sweet potatoes and beans are both starchy, so the idea of putting it on a burger bun, no matter how healthy, wasn’t really of interest to me. Instead, I topped with with some mozzarella and served it over a bed of spinach with hot, sautéed veggies, pepitas (fancy word for pumpkin seed), and balsamic vinegar.

Smokey Sweet Potato Burgers
adapted from a recipe by How Sweet it is

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes with skins removed (I used 3 small potatoes)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (any white bean should work)
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup flour (any kind that suits you)
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 clove of roasted garlic, minced (maybe 1-2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line  baking sheet with foil and spray generously with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes and beans in a large bowl. Mash up with a potato masher (Don’t use a food processor because the mixture will become too sticky – think hummus).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mash together. Mix well.
  4. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to firm up.
  5. Remove from refrigerator and begin making patties. Have some extra flour ready to make this process less sticky. Place your hands in the flour and then grab a small handful of the mixture. Form into a patty and place on the prepared pan. Dip you hands in the flour each time before you make a new patty.
  6. Once all of the patties are prepared, spray them on top with cooking spray and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and flip with a spatula. Spray the tops again and return to the over for 15 minutes. Remove and flip. If they seem sturdy enough, they are done. If they still seem like they could easily break or are soft in the middle, spray again and cook for an extra 10 minutes. Continue to flip and check until they seem to be cooked all the way through.
  7. Serve on a bun, over greens, or alone with freshly sautéed vegetables. Enjoy!

 

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet

This was the first meal I made in the new year. Absolutely delicious. I had never thought to mix butternut squash with black beans, let alone put it in an enchilada skillet. Genius. I modified the recipe a bit, so to see the original over at ambitious kitchen, click here. I added ground beef from our cow to make this a little heartier. If you want a vegetarian dish, you can omit it all together (like the original recipe) or substitute TVP or tofu.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet
adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

photo 1

Ingredients
  • 3 cups 1/2-inch-diced, peeled butternut squash (from about a 2-lb. squash)*
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 8 ounces of lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 jalapeno or equivalent amount of hot peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat colby jack or mexican cheese (or whatever you prefer), divided
  • cilantro and low-fat sour cream, for serving
  • Round corn tortilla chips, for serving
Instructions
*To prepare the butternut squash, I think it is easiest to roast it in the oven. I do this every fall with all of my squash and then freeze the cooked squash to use in the winter.  Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you want you can peel the squash now, but I prefer to wait until after it is cooked. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds with a metal spoon (roast them if you want). I always find that the base of the squash cooks faster because of that hole, so I like to cut just above the base. You should now have 4 pieces of squash  – 2 half circles and 2 rectangular pieces. Place squash face down on the pan. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until a fork can easily pierce the fleshy part of the squash (or when you touch the outside skin it feel soft). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. With a metal spoon, scoop out the base pieces and mash up in a bowl. Freeze this as a paste to use as a pasta sauce or in soup (or just as mashed squash). Peel the rectangular pieces of squash. The skin should come off pretty easily now. Chop the squash into 1/2″ size pieces. I freeze them in quart-size freezer bags.
  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in large oven-proof skillet. Add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and ground beef. Cook until beef is browned all the way through. Add in green pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add cubed squash, black beans, cumin, and chili powder. Cook, stirring regularly to prevent the squash from becoming mushy. 
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and sprinkle in 1 cup of cheese. Cover with a lid and let sit for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.
  3. Serve immediately. Top with sour cream and serve with corn tortilla chips.

Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans

This is a simple, delicious and colorful meal. The local Aldi had colored fingerling potatoes for $1/pound – what a deal! I added parsley I had dried from our CSA to make J’s favorite potatoes. I was listening to a segment on WPR about braising potatoes using a “reverse braising” method. Normally, when you braise meat, you sear each side and then add some water to the pan, cover, and simmer for an hour or so. This makes a deliciously tender meat. The chef on the radio show decided to venture down a similar path with potatoes. The problem with the normal braising method, you won’t get the crunchy finish you want with parsley potatoes, because the water would soften everything (including that deliciousness you seared on first). Read more below on the reverse braising method I used for these potatoes. We had some green beans in the freezer from our CSA and we severe them with steak from our grass fed cow.
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Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Sautéed Green Beans and Almonds

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds multicolored fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
    (you could also just use red potatoes, but baking potatoes won’t work well)
  • water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound green beans
  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds
  • 1-2 tbsp Butter
  • Parsley (dry or fresh, amount to your personal liking)

Directions

  • Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place all the potatoes cut-side down in the pan. Add 1″ of water. Cover the skillet and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the water is all absorbed and the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. If the water is absorbed but the potatoes are still tough, add more water.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in another skillet. Add the almonds and green beans and saute for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Once the water is absorbed in the potatoes, add the butter to the pan. and let the cut sides sear. Be careful not the burn them. Add parsley and remove from heat.
  • Serve fresh, as refrigeration will remove the crunch you worked so hard for!

 

 

Pesto Hummus

I.Love.Hummus.

I could seriously eat it at every meal with any starch, vegetable, or meat around. When I was living at school I would go through at least one 12oz container a week (usually 2 and a week was often only 5 days…). As you can see, I have a problem.

Anyway, despite shopping at Aldi and getting a container for $1.99 each, my habit was adding up. Hummus is so simple to make that I really don’t have a good excuse for not making it myself.  There are 3 main ingredients – garbanzo beans, seed/nut butter, spices. I’ve made a few batches so far this summer that have all been green – while tasty, not the easiest for convincing people hummus is delicious 😉

Pesto HummusPesto Hummus

Ingredients

  • 15oz can garbanzo beans (no salt added)
  • 1 cup of fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1/2 tsp dried garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup sunflower butter (or tahini)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste (none if you can’t find the no salt added beans)

Directions

Place the herbs in the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil and mix well. Add the beans, sunflower butter, and salt. Mix well. Add water to thin the consistency as needed.

*Since this version, I have made a few variations. One included steamed kale. Another included hot red peppers from the garden.

4 Delicious Soups!

4 Delicious Soups from 101cookbooks. Here is what Heidi writes –

– A Simple Tomato Soup: Pictured here – A simple tomato soup recipe inspired by a Melissa Clark recipe – pureed, warmly spiced, and perfect topped with everything from toasted almonds and herbs, to coconut cream or a poached egg.

– Pumpkin and Rice Soup: This was the pumpkin soup I made first-thing after arriving home from India last October – it has an herby butter drizzle and lemon ginger pulp. I serve it over a good amount of brown rice with a dollop plain yogurt.

– Coconut Red Lentil Soup: If emails are any indication, this is certainly one of the more popular soup recipes with all of you. Inspired by an Ayurvedic dal recipe in the Esalen Cookbook, it is a light-bodied, curry-spiced coconut broth thickened with cooked red lentils and structured with yellow split peas. It has back notes of ginger, slivered green onions sauteed in butter, and curry-plumped raisins. It also relies on an interested cooking method to bring it all together.

– Posole in Broth: My style of posole. This version has a vegetable broth base, lots of blossoming corn kernels, avocado and mung beans. It’s topped with plenty of chopped olives and toasted almonds.

Lentils and Chicken

Indian Lentils and Chicken by A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon corriander
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced chiles (hot or mild, your choice)–no need to drain
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh)
  • 2 large chicken breast halves

Directions

  1. Use a 4 to 5 quart slow cooker. Rinse the lentils under cold water until it runs clear. Dump into the slow cooker. Add broth and water. Add diced onion and celery. Add all spices, the garlic, and chiles. Stir to combine.
  2. Lay 2 largeish chicken breast halves on top of the assembled food. My breast halves were frozen solid.
  3. Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours. Before serving, remove chicken from the slow cooker, chop it up, and stir back in. Serve over basmati rice.