Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Black Bean Burgers : What to do with that lonely red pepper in the veggie drawer

Got one of these peppers in the bottom of your vegetable drawer? Here’s what to do – grind it up with some onions, garlic and black beans, add spices and an egg…. Voila! AWESOME black bean burgers.

This recipe comes from my lovely sister, who made these for us a few weeks ago. She served them with sweet potato fries and broccoli salad. Yum.  I put roasted tomatoes and avocados on mine and served them in a toasted flour tortilla. No time for sides in my house.

I think the best thing about this recipe is that you must freeze the burgers before baking them and you bake them from the frozen state, which makes them perfect for a weeknight meal.

Here’s what you need:
A red or green pepper
½ onion
3 cloves garlic
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg (or vegan egg substitute) 
1 T chili powder
½ T cumin
1 t hot sauce
¾ C oatmeal

Here’s what you do:
Process the oatmeal until fine. Set aside. Process the pepper, onion and garlic until very smooth. Strain out the liquid and return the veggie pulp to the processor. Add the beans and process until very smooth.

Remove the mash to a bowl. Add the oatmeal, egg and the spices. Form into 4 patties, wrap, and freeze.

Bake at 375 degrees on an oiled baking sheet for about 20 minutes. Flip them after about 10 minutes. No need to thaw them!

Excellent! My new favorite vegetarian meal! 

Bonus: have you toasted flour tortillas like this yet? Very fun! Put them in the oven until crispy. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jenny Meets President Obama

I got this picture here

Did you ever wonder what my daughter looks like? Well, there she is.... the beautiful blonde in the back row!

I know.... totally COOL!

Oh yeah... that's the President of the United States in the front row! AWESOME :)

She shook his hand. What more can I say?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snickerdoodles : A snack for my students

I made Snickerdoodles today for my 7th and 8th graders. They are reading a Jerry Spinelli novel called Loser. It’s the story of a sweet and unique boy named Donald Zinkoff.  Donald is clumsy, he is not great at school or sports, he raises his hand at the wrong time, and he falls down with laughter at his own jokes. Because he is different, he is labeled ‘loser’ by the other kids. Of course by the end of the novel the kids have learned to appreciate Donald for who he is and Donald gains self-confidence. The book is filled with lessons about bullying and the importance of accepting people as they are. Great lessons not only for 7th and 8th graders, but for all of us.

The essay question posed to my students is to explain this quote from the book (pg 94). “As with all discoveries, it is the eye and not the object that changes.”  Three well-written paragraphs, typed, one quote from the novel, due tomorrow. J

Another note about Donald Zinkoff – he loves Snickerdoodles.

¼ C sugar
1 T cinnamon
1 ½ C sugar
1 C butter
2 eggs
2 ¾ C all-purpose flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
¼ t salt

Mix ¼ C sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and mix well. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Shape dough into 1 ½ inch balls. Roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove while warm and cool on rack. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Photo Journey : Weekend in Detroit

Just spent a fantastic weekend in Detroit with the family. How blessed I am!
Highlights included:

1.       Seeing my two kids who are away at college – they were sweet enough to drive over and spend the day with us! I love that my adult children are carving out paths in this world for themselves. 

2.       Coffee with an old high school friend. We just recently reconnected and it feels good. Roots. 

3.       A gourmet meal of black bean burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli salad, hummus, jalapeno poppers – all prepared by my awesome sister! Oh! And she made my favorite cake… how thoughtful was that? Recipe here. (Thanks B!)

4.       An afternoon at the Detroit Institute of Arts viewing the Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus exhibit. It was so excellent! See some Google Images here. If Jesus really looked like that, I want to know more about Him - beautiful. 

.         5. Church at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown. Beautiful. Traditional. Comforting. I can hardly believe this happened, but I met my old Sunday School teacher from when I was in 5th grade and she REMEMBERED me and my long hair.That's like 45 years ago. MAN! 

6.       Lunch at Greektown. Gotta love when they yell “Opa!” I had Moussaka, which for those of you who are regulars to my blog will know includes eggplant, which I love.

7.       Dessert and more dessert! Sugar BUZZ.... 

8.       A drive through the Heidelberg project. Check it out at Wikipedia if you are interested in urban art….. seeing it in person is quite an experience.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baked Barley with Onions and Mushrooms – an anchor to my day

Dinner is an anchor to my day. Even when my husband is gone on a business trip, I must have a serious and satisfying meal at the end of my day. It gives me something to look forward to during the day. It starts the evening on the right foot.

Sometimes when my husband travels, we here at home resort to frozen pizza or scrambled eggs; peanut butter toast or Jimmie Johns; cheese and crackers or chips and salsa - -- alright, let me be honest - - sometimes I stand at the fridge randomly eating out of various containers... but these foods don’t anchor me down. These meals (NON-meals, really)  leave me dissatisfied; wanting more.

I am currently in a ‘barley phase’ – I made the most awesome Barley Porcini Mushroom soup (recipe here)  last week and also Vegetable Barley soup. (recipe on the back of the barley box).  Last night I baked it. So good.

Sautee lots of onions and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil. Add in 1 C barley and continue sautéing for about 10 minutes. Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Add 3 C boiling vegetable broth. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 – 60 minutes.

I ate mine with sautéed zucchini and a tiny bit of leftover homemade pizza sauce.  Talk about an anchor meal. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sour Cream Coffee Cake – a classic

So I am great at planning wonderful holiday meals. I can think of special dinners in a jiffy.  For example, Christmas dinner at our house was a fantastic homemade Beef Burgundy served over buttered noodles, roasted brussel sprouts, roasted tomatoes (the fancy kind with the vine still attached), green beans and the most decadent Triple Layer Mocha Cake on earth (one of my best recipes).  I set the table, I pull out the crystal and china, I decorate. I am a woman on a mission: the task of feeding hungry people the meal of a lifetime. I am woman – hear me roar! 

It’s the other meals that stump me. Like breakfast. A house full of people – 9 big eaters. What to serve? Why’s it so difficult to come up with a single idea???? Bagels? Cereal? Scrambled eggs? Pop Tarts?? I go completely blank.

First of all, everyone is waking up at different times…. You have the standard ‘early riser’ like me…. Sitting here in front of the computer, drinking my weight in coffee, watching the sun rise and waiting for the folks scattered around in the house to arise.

You have the ‘I’m awake but not coming out of my room yet’ people. What are they doing in there? Reading? Thinking? Waiting for the smell of bacon to entice them out? It’s not going to happen I tell you.

Then you have the classic ‘Sleepy Teenage Boy’…. Heaven only knows when I will see them. Ten o’clock? Eleven? Noon? One? Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.

Lastly, you have the ‘Good morning Mom! I am having breakfast at ____’s house. See you in a few hours’ person.

So I return to my original question: What to make for breakfast? The answer: Coffee Cakes. Today I offer a simple recipe, but a great one. And one that everyone in the house can enjoy according to their own personal morning schedule. Enjoy!

1/2 C butter, softened
¾ C sugar
1 t vanilla
3 eggs
2 C flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 C sour cream
6 T butter, softened
1 C brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 C chopped nuts

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the vanilla and the eggs – one at a time. Mix the flour, soda and powder together and set aside. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternating it with the sour cream. Don’t over mix the batter.

Prepare a 10 inch bundt  pan. Spoon a third of the batter in the pan and spread it out with a knife.

To make the streusel, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the cinnamon and nuts. Sprinkle this over the batter and then spoon the remaining batter over the streusel. I use a knife to smooth it all together.
Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bavarian “Everyone Loves These” Meatballs

If you read my last post you know I love collecting (well, have an addiction to) canned pumpkin. In that post I also ‘fessed up to owning my fair share of canned cranberry sauce, canned mandarin oranges and peanut butter….. Someone in the comments admitted to hoarding ketchup, which I must admit I also do… BUT… and this is BIG!  ONLY IN THE SUMMER! HA!

I hosted a party last night for co-workers and served these meatballs WHICH CALL FOR TWO CANS OF CRANBERRY SAUCE! Yes, I know! The pantry gods were smiling.

I doubled the sauce and tripled the amount of meatballs. This is the perfect amount for a full crock pot.

12 ounces chili sauce
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
27 ounces sauerkraut, undrained (more or less is fine also)
½ C brown sugar
16 ounces meatballs

Mix the sauce. Pour over meatballs and gently stir. Pour into crock pot and cook all day on low.

Truly, everyone loves these. The sauerkraut kinda melts away so even if you ‘don’t like’ it (what’s wrong with you?), you will never know it’s in there. The first time I made these was for a huge church party. I was in charge of 300 servings of meatballs. I made a roaster full of these, plus a roaster full of a spicy Mexican meatball and also a roaster full of an Asian meatball….. everyone loved these. They always do.

Now, off to eat some mandarin oranges. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Dog Treats and a Confession

Here’s a confession I will make publically. I have an addiction to canned pumpkin. They go on sale – I purchase them. You laugh? Well, it’s true.

Here is my current collection. You can tell they come from a variety of stores, brands, and probably years. Picture this: I am standing in the grocery store and the little voice in my head starts …. can you hear it?  “Tracy, you better pick up some pumpkin. You might need it in case you want to make (____blank______).”

  What goes in the ‘blank’ you ask? Take your pick: bread, soup, risotto, pie, pancakes, … The truth is I really don’t use as much pumpkin as I dream of using. So when I saw this recipe here, I thought it would help clean up the clutter in my pantry. Dog biscuits. Dog biscuits?? Sure, why not?

Sparky LOVED them. LOVED THEM! I made two batches and gave some to all my doggie friends for Christmas.

One can pumpkin
¼ C peanut butter (you might notice I have the same addiction to peanut butter…. You never want to run out of peanut butter… I’m just saying….)
2 eggs
2 C whole wheat flour

Mix. Roll. Cut. Bake. 350 degrees 30-35 minutes. Oh I almost forgot - use parchment paper. 

I have the same hoarding issue with cans of cranberry sauce and mandarin oranges. Remind me some day to tell you my horror story about mandarin oranges…. It will have to be when my children are not around – or my husband for that matter. (A careful glance at the photos will reveal that I found another jar of peanut butter while gathering my cranberries and oranges. I guess if I have to have an addiction, this one’s not too bad! )

Guarding the coats at the annual Choir Christmas party last week. 

addendum: Since I am in the confessing mood, I will add to this post by saying : I have given these darling treats to all my doggie friends... only to be told that the treats had gotten MOLDY!!! The shame! The horror! My reputation is tarnished!  If this note does not completely turn your stomach away from not only this recipe, but me (...please stay....) I suggest that you bake these suckers until they are totally dry and hard. Then use them quickly.