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






Banana Oatmeal Cookies

banana choc chip cookies (4)These cookies are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

banana choc chip cookiesThey are basically an oatmeal banana bread baked into cookie form. The original recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod, who also just welcomed a new little man into their life. I made the first batch last night, following the original recipe except for adding 1 cup of chopped walnuts as well. They turned out delicious and I have eaten more than I’ll ever admit (I’m telling myself that Eli needs them for healthy breast milk).

However, once they cooled off and sat in the storage container they got super soft. The texture reminded me of banana bread, not a cookie. I decided to make a few changes to the recipe. First I wanted to make them healthier – so healthy they could pass as a breakfast cookie. Second, I wanted to see if I could improve the texture for storage purposes. The original recipe’s texture is still great, just not something that should be kept in the pantry for more than a day or two to since mold could start growing pretty quickly (yes, they are that moist).

The modified recipe was a success! The cookies are a little darker and the center was much more crumbly, but not too dry. The taste is great. The whole wheat flour adds some nuttiness and the coconut oil adds just a hint of coconut. I think it is safe to say that these will please anyone looking for a tasty treat while also being healthy enough to eat at breakfast.


banana coconut choc chip cookies2Banana Bread Breakfast Cookies
adapted from two peas and their pod


  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1 1/2 small bananas), mashed
  • 2 cups old fashion rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (not necessary, but helpful)
  2. In a small bowl, combined flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix well and sent aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugars by beating well on high. Add vanilla and egg and mix well. Lastly, add mashed banana and beat well.
  4. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Stir in oats and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well-distributed.
  5. Spray two large spoons with cooking spray and use them to scoop out 1.5 tbsp size drops of dough. Place about 1-2″ apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
  7. Let cookies cool for 2-3 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before storing. Store in an air-tight container or freeze for later.

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


  • 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.


  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.


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


  • 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. 


  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 🙂

Christmas Candy

This is a month too late, but better late then never, right? This year was the year of candy. I bet I had at least 20 pounds of candy in my freezer at one point. I spent 2 days making candy with a friend and then with my family.

Conversions can be tricky when dealing with candy making. Here are a few tips:

  • Peanut Butter: 8 oz =  1 cup
  • Butter: 1 stick = 1/2 cup
  • Chocolate: 1 pound = 4 cups
  • Granulated sugar: 1/2 pound = 1 cup
  • Powdered Sugar: 1/4 pound = 1 cup

Here are some of the recipes we used:

Tiger Bark by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures


  • 1 pound white chocolate, cut into pieces or use white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 4 teaspoons half-and-half cream (I don’t use this I just melt the choc. by itself)


  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, white chocolate and peanut butter on medium for 2-3 minutes or until melted; mix well.
  2. Pour onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray and spread into a thin layer.
  3. In another microwave-safe bowl, heat dark chocolate and cream on high for about 30 seconds or more or until chips are soft; stir until smooth.
  4. Pour and swirl over peanut butter layer. Freeze for 5 minutes or until set. Break into small pieces. Yield: about 1-1/2 pounds.


Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Clusters by Martha Stewart


  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 12 soft caramel candy cubes
  • 1.5 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, broken into 12 pieces (ideally 70% coca)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on). If desired, set aside 36 pecans on baking sheet and then finely chop the remaining pecans for a decorative topping.
  2. When pecans are cool enough to handle, make 12 clusters by arranging 2 pecans vertically, side by side, below 1 pecan placed horizontally. Gently flatten each caramel; place 1 on top of each cluster. Bake clusters 5 minutes. Remove from oven (leave oven on).
  3. Place 1 piece of chocolate on top of each cluster. Return to oven; bake until chocolate begins to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven.With the back of a spoon, gently spread chocolate over caramel without completely covering it.
  4. Sprinkle clusters with reserved chopped pecans. Refrigerate until set, about 15 minutes. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Peanut Butter Balls by


  • 2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 3.75 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cup crushed crisp rice cereal (use a food processor)
  • 1 pound dark chocolate


  1. Line a baking sheet with foil, wax paper, or parchment paper. Mix peanut butter and butter together in a stand mixer. Add powdered sugar and crushed cereal. Once combied, roll mixture into balls.
  2. Melt chocolate. Drop balls into chocolate and remove with a toothpick. Place on prepared pan and let cool.


Homemade Mounds Bars by Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures


  • Two 14-oz bags of coconut (unsweetened is ideal but hard to find)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp butter,


  1. In a stand mixer, add coconut, milk, 1/2 cup butter, and powdered sugar. Mix well.
  2. Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Refrigerate for 2 hour (or put in the garage if you live in WI).
  3. Melt 1/2 pound of chocolate and 1 tsp butter. If doing this in the microwave stir every 30 sec to prevent burning. Spread over chilled coconut mixture. Chill until chocolate is set.
  4. Flip bars over and peel off parchment paper. Melt remaining chocolate and butter and spread over the coconut later. Chill. Once firm, cut into squares. They may be easier to cut at room temp since frozen chocolate can be tough.


Chocolate Angel Food Candy by taste of home


  • 1 tsp butter or cooking spray
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup (I only had light and it worked fine)
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 pound dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp shortening


  1. Line  9″ baking an with foil and grease with butter or spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combined sugar, corn syrup, and vinegar. Cook and stir over medium heat until the thermometer reads 300F (hard crack stage).
  3. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Immediately pour into the pan. Do not spread candy. It will foam up very high and may spill over a bit.
  4. Cool . Use foil to life candy out f pan. Gently peel back foil and break candy into pieces. Make 2 piles – large candy pieces and remaining crumbs/small pieces.
  5. Prepare 2 cookie sheets with parchment or wax paper. Melt chocolate with 1 tsp butter. Dip large pieces in chocolate  and then set onto the prepared pan. Let cool completely.
  6. Stir the remaining crumbs/small pieces into the remaining chocolate. Pour mixture onto the other cookie sheet. You can pour it as one large piece that you will cut up later or scoop it out into cluster-size pieces.


Peppermint Patties by Blue-eyed Bakers
*our patties didn’t turn out all that great. I am not sure what went wrong. I did use some granulated sugar, which made them gritty – bad idea. I also must have added too much corn syrup because the mixture was very sticky. I was wondering if I could add some oat flour to the picture when it was too sticky or to cut the sweetness. If I do this in the future, I’ll post an update.


  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup peppermint candies, crushed


  1. Beat 2 1/4 cups of confectioners sugar together with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract and butter until just combined in a large stand mixer with paddle.  The mixture will be very crumbly.
  2. Dust a work surface with remaining 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar.  Empty contents of bowl onto work surface and knead until smooth (this will take a few minutes).  Shape dough into a log, about 2 inches by 8 inches long.  Wrap tightly in parchment paper and freeze until very firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove dough and slice into rounds using a sharp knife.  Place rounds onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze again until firm, for at least 15 minutes.
  4. While dough is chilling, melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals.  Cool slightly.  Chocolate should be warm but not so hot that you cannot put your finger into it.
  5. Cover another baking sheet with parchment paper.  Remove patties from freezer one at a time and submerge into melted chocolate. You can use a toothpick or large spoon to help with this.  Coat quickly and allow excess chocolate to drip off.  Place on parchment paper lined pan and sprinkle with crushed candies.  Repeat, covering all patties with chocolate and candy.
  6. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.  Store in fridge, between wax paper in an airtight container.  Bring to room temperature before serving.


Trail Mix Bark 
adapted from Bite-Sized Party Bark by Happy Hour Projects


  • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp craisins
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1/2 pound white chocolate


  1. Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the ingredients except the chocolate together.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in the ingredient mixtures from step 2.
  4. Scoop out the mixture into clusters using a large metal spoon that has been sprayed with cooking spray (to prevent sticking). Let cool.


Stuffed Acorn Squash

It is that time of year that we all love (or at least I do) – squash season! Squash is by far the easiest vegetable to cook. It can be daunting but believe me, it couldn’t be easier. Especially acorn squash.  I usually like to pair spiced items like apples, cinnamon, wild rice, and ground beef with acorn squash and savory things like Parmesan cheese, sage, and spinach with butternut squash, but that’s just me. This dish was just using what we had on hand that sounded like a good combination. J just started a new job and took this for lunch during his 2nd week. He got so many, “what is that?!?” comments. Most of them where shocked that you could use squash as a bowl. Oh men, where is your creativity?

photo 5 (3)

Stuffed Acorn Squash
(Each squash makes 2 servings. Increase the ingredients as needed for more servings)


  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 6 ounces ground beef (lean)
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp silvered almonds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg (if you are feeling adventurous) to taste


  1. Prepare the acorn squash
    Oven Option: Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Slice the squash in half and scoop out the center contents. Place face-down on the foil-lined pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the flesh of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork.
    Microwave Option: With a sharp knife or fork, carefully poke all over the squash. You need to get deep enough that the holes go to the center/open portion of the squash. Place the poked squash in a microwave-safe glass dish. Place a tiny bit of water in the base of the dish and cover the dish with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 7-10 minutes. Let stand in the microwave for 3-5 minutes and then remove. Test doneness by trying to pierce the skin with a fork. Cut the squash in half.
  2. Prepare the filling while the squash cooks.
    Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add the onion and beef. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the chopped carrot, almonds and saute for 5 more minutes. Mix in the cooked rice. Season to taste.
  3. Fill each half with the prepared filling. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate if you aren’t eating it right away.
  4. To reheat, keep the squash wrapped in plastic wrap and microwave on high for 3 minutes.

Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Salad

Ahh I am so behind on posts! I promise I have been cooking and have a slew of tasty recipes to share over the next few weeks. I am finishing up my 2nd week of neurology in Madison and am loving it. While I have always thought I would go into family medicine, neurology has been a lingering interest since I’ve started medical school. This week is the end of my outpatient part of neurology and next week I will start with inpatient stroke – exactly what I’m interested in. I am really excited to see how it goes!

Anyway, on to the food (since that is why you visit). This is a recipe I made last month with carrots from the CSA. The roasted carrots and walnuts paired with crunchy barley and sharp feta is amazing. I am a bland girl, so I actually ate this without the dressing in the original recipe. If you are more normal than me and like a little more flavor, I recommend you visit Joanne’s website (linked below) and try out the dressing as well.

2013-08-24 07.20.09



Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Salad by Joanne Eats Well with Others


  • 1 cup dried barley, prepared as directed on package
  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 lb carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/3-inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, and diced
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese


  1. Prepare barley as directed on the package (simmer for 1 hour).
  2. Preheat the oven to 425F and spray a baking pan with cooking spray.
  3. Add carrots, garlic, cumin, and oil in a large bowl and toss well.  Roast for 15 minutes and stir. Add walnuts and roast for an extra 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove from roasting pan and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and add barley, chickpeas, and  feta cheese. Season to taste with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

homemade peanut butter


Homemade peanut butter is one of the easiest things to make. I like it because I can control what goes into it (take a look at a jar of skippy peanut butter once…). Be sure to use roasted peanuts or roast your own raw peanuts (raw peanuts can contain aflatoxin) I always make it plain, but you could flavor it however you’d like (honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, chocolate, strawberries, banana, etc…). If you add anything to the peanut butter, it would be a good idea to keep it in the refrigerator. If you just use peanuts, you can keep it in the pantry. Since it is natural peanut butter, the oils may separate – THIS IS OK!! Just stir before serving so you don’t get to the bottom and have a hard chunk of mashed peanuts.


  • 16 oz container of unsalted, roasted peanuts


  1. Pour the peanuts into the food processor. Process for about 5 minutes. First the peanuts with be chopped up, then it will be a powder, and eventually it will ball up. When it is a ball it will make a lot of noise, but don’t stop it yet! After a minute or so, the ball will smooth out and you’ll have peanut butter.  The longer you process it, the smoother it will be.
  2. Once the peanut butter is smooth, you can add in any extras you’d like.
  3. Store in a canning jar in the pantry (or refrigerator if you are adding ingredients besides chopped nuts).

Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bars

When I first saw these frozen yogurt trail mix bars over at The Lean Green Bean, I knew I had to make them. J and I love, love, LOVE frozen treats. I wanted to finish that sentence with “in the summer”  but realized that we really just love them all the time. I whipped a quick batch together during my 3 hour CSA food prep marathon last Tuesday. We got a pint of fresh raspberries in the CSA and I knew I had to act quick, or else they would be gone before I got around to making the bars.

We didn’t have any granola on hand, so I first had to throw that together. I used this simple recipe as a guide and just crumbled some of the bars for granola. I also didn’t use Greek yogurt because I had non-fat on hand. These turned out really good, but I’m sure they weren’t as good as the real thing – fat free dairy gets very icy in the freezer, where yogurt with a little “junk in the trunk” will be nice and creamy.

100_1580Frozen Yogurt Fruit Bars
Recipe adapted from The Lean Green Bean


  • 1 cup fat free, plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup granola*


  1. In a large bowl, mix the two yogurts together. Add raspberries and 1/2 the granola.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Pour mixture on the foil and spread to be 1″ thick. Top with remaining granola.
  3. Place pan in the freezer. After an hour or two, remove from freezer and check how frozen the bars are. Our freezer wasn’t super cold, so they were still a little soft. I used this as an opportunity to score them, making it easier to cut later.
  4. Return to the freezer until solid. Cut into bars and place bars into a freezer container. Store in the freezer.

Kitchen Sink Granola
Adapted from this recipe


  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup sliced almonds


  1. Place honey, molasses, and peanut butter in a pan and slowly heat. Stir constantly. Bring to a light boil and reduce heat, continuing to stir.
  2. Add almond extract and cinnamon; stir well. Add oats and almonds; stir well and remove from heat.
  3. Firmly press into a lightly greased baking pan and let cool. To make them crunchier, bake for 20 minutes at 350F.

Pesto 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


  • 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)


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.