Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chickpea Burgers: don’t say “yucky” until you’ve tried it!

I am on a tiny quest to find a great, and I mean GREAT, veggie burger. A while back I posted a fantastic black bean burger, compliments of my sister. We have been eating that one quite a bit. It’s a super easy recipe, and the best part? You must freeze them before you cook them so it’s easy to whip up a batch and keep them in the freezer for a quick dinner or lunch.

Last month I tried a lentil-walnut burger which tasted great, but totally fell apart in the bun. I haven’t posted that recipe (check out my favorite cookbook –The Moosewood Cookbook- to see it), because I only give it a C- in the ‘bun-worthy’ category. Kinda turned out like a lentil-walnut casserole with ketchup and mustard on top…..all served on a crumbled bun….  sounds worse than it was, but really, a burger must be eaten in a bun with two hands!

I know there are lentil-olive burger recipes out there, but to date, I haven’t found one….can you advise?

I’ve eaten lots of those ‘veggie’ burgers (they’re mostly soy) from the freezer section in the grocery store and this past weekend we even splurged on a frozen quinoa burger from the health food store – which was pretty darn good in my estimation – bun worthy and all. Hubby didn’t like it much though…..

Today I share a creation using the humble chick pea. The flavor was super!!! The ‘bun worthy’ factor was not an issue, cuz I wised up and used PITA BREAD!! An excellent solution I must admit! These were great! And they made awesome leftovers for lunch the next few days. As you may know, I like a hot lunch and leftovers are the key. Try ‘em – you’ll like ‘em! And stop saying, “Yucky.”

Here’s what you need:
1 C chopped onions
1 C chopped celery
Salt, pepper
15 ounce can chick peas (garbanzo beans, I think they are called also)
2-3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons of each: Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, Balsamic vinegar and dried thyme
2 C cooked brown rice
¾ - 1 C oats

Here’s what you do:
Take the scary old onions from the back of the fridge (Don’t judge me!! ) and chop them up. Sautee them with some celery. Salt and pepper to taste.

Best trick ever: Drop the whole garlic cloves in a whirling blender to get the best ever minced garlic! Add the chick peas, sauces and spices and whirl until a mush.

Add the deliciously sautéed veggies and whirl until another mush.

Add ½ of the rice and continue to whirl.

In a big bowl add the remaining rice and the oats. Make a judgment about how much oatmeal to add- you want it firm, but not dry. Moist, but not wet….. They’re vegetables! Don’t fret!  Let them rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes – helps them firm up.

Form into patties, dredge in flour (or skip this step) and fry.

If you have the guts, fry them next to your son's dinner - two juicy and great smelling beef burgers. Poor kid.....

Serve in pita bread to avoid the dreaded C- in the ‘bun worthy’ category.  The flavor of this burger easily stood up to all the usual burger toppings – lettuce, tomato, condiments, etc. Enjoy this one!

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Spice Rack Challenge: Coriander: Bulgar Salad

Monday, May 21, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

Great Memorial Day Ideas Right Here!! 

Have a great holiday weekend everyone...
.(am I really dreaming of my 3 day weekend already??? )

You bet 'cha!  

Many heart-felt thanks to all those who have served in the US Military 
 and have paid the highest cost for freedom. I thank you. Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans and to those who honor freedom everywhere. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Dip That Remains Nameless

Sautee onions and garlic to taste.  Drain and rinse 1 can black beans.

Mix in processor: beans, sautéed veggies, 2 chipotle peppers (we like it hot, so I keep the seeds in….. add them slowly, cuz they are pretty spicy), 3 T lime juice, ½ t cumin, 2 T water. Mix till very smooth.

Place beans in cute dish.

Make guacamole: 2 avocados, lots of lime juice, salt (I like sea salt here) and a small bunch of cilantro.

Guacamole goes over beans. Shredded cheddar goes over guacamole.

Make a fresh salsa: dice 1 Roma tomato, ½ fresh jalapeno (seeds removed), some cilantro.  Salsa tops it all. Dig in. 

I like to keep the seeds in the chipotle peppers, but I remove them from the jalapeno. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Oatmeal Bake

Dear Readers, Can you handle two oatmeal recipes in a row? I think so!

OK people. Admit it. We all need to eat healthier. More kale. More nuts and seeds. More whole grains. sigh…… , but it’s not easy with all the sugary, fatty foods surrounding us. That cholesterol number is looming over our heads like a heavy cloud. And don’t forget about the blood pressure number….. sigh…. talk about stress!!!

Well, I’m one of the lucky people who LOVE kale, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Bring on the leafy greens! I think recently I mentioned that I am leaning more and more toward an entirely vegetarian diet and could probably even dip into the vegan world. Now, please don’t cancel your subscription to my blog just because of this news. Eating green stuff doesn’t mean you must wear tie-dye and dread locks. In fact, I’m not even sure what dread locks are or how to spell it….. dread……dred…... don’t ask me! I just know what tastes good and oatmeal is right on the top of my list.

I love old fashioned oatmeal with a big scoop of dark brown sugar and a tablespoon or so of coconut oil for breakfast….. OMG. Add in some fresh fruit and I am a happy girl.

Please try this and let me know what you think. You will be surprised at how delicious and easy it is. It’s kinda like a wholesome, chewy, chocolaty, healthy granola bar on a plate.

This recipe comes from a vegan blog I follow, Vegan Fazool. See the original recipe here.

Here’s what you need:
1 ¾ C old fashioned oatmeal
¼ C white sugar (you can use less here)
¼ C brown sugar
¼ C chopped walnuts
¼ C sliced almonds
¼ dried cranberries or raisins (here in Michigan we are blessed with an abundance of dried cherries, use ‘em if you have ‘em!)
¼ C – ½ C chocolate chips (original recipe calls for vegan chips, but I use regular ones)
1 ¼ t baking powder
½ t salt
½ t cinnamon
3 T ground flaxseed whisked with 4 T water (this is the vegan equivalent of an egg, I believe)
½ C non-dairy milk (We love Silk. You could use almond milk or any of the many varieties of non-dairy milk out there.)
¼ C applesauce (You may use ¼ C oil here, but it’s nice to keep it low-fat. Any combo of oil and applesauce will work, as long as it measures ¼ C)
½ t vanilla

Here’s what you do:
Whisk the flaxseed and water together and let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Combine the dry ingredients…. Oatmeal through cinnamon.

Add the wet ingredients to the flaxseed mixture and mix well.

Add the wet and dry stuff together and mix well. It will be pretty wet, but that’s OK. Pour into a 8x8 baking dish which has been sprayed with Pam. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 

(printable recipe)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pumpkin Granola: Yes, I still have canned pumpkin!

Homemade granola is ridiculously easy to make at home, just takes the tiniest bit of time and effort. And the bonus? Great taste. It’s better for you too. This one is better for you at least; whole grain oatmeal, flax seed, pumpkin and almonds. Gotta steer clear of those granola recipes laden with oils and sugars.   Just take a second and read the calorie count on store bought granola and I bet I will convince you to try making it at home. This ones earns a 'heart-healthy' tag from me! 

And although it tastes great, you shouldn’t be adding chocolate chips to your so-called ‘healthy’ stuff--although I’ve been known to add a chip or two to my oatmeal. In fact, my next post is going to be a super healthy oatmeal breakfast bake with nuts, dried fruit, flax seed and yes, chocolate chips. Stay tuned.

How to eat granola? Sprinkled on yogurt or over ice cream, in a bowl with milk, or straight (my personal favorite). I actually have a tupperware of this stuff in the closet in my classroom as I write this. I love a good mid-morning snack!  You should see me shovel the stuff down. I do feel a tiny bit guilty as my students open their tiny packets of cookies and pop tarts while I dig in to my homemade goodness, but hey, I share.

This recipe comes from Liv Life. Check out the recipe here.

Here’s what you need: (do NOT let the long list scare you away!)
2 ½ C rolled oats
3 T flaxseed meal (I’m starting to use this stuff all time lately, just sprinkle it on where it seems tasty. I actually add it to smoothies and my morning oatmeal.)
1 handful whole raw almonds
¾ t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t ginger
Pinch cloves
Pinch allspice
½ t sea salt (original recipe called for ¼ t salt)
1/3 C brown sugar
¼ C pumpkin puree (regular readers know my fondness for canned pumpkin!)
2-3 T corn oil (original recipe called for grape seed oil, which I don’t have)
2-3 T maple syrup (a secret ingredients to lots of stuff – don’t skimp here)
½ t vanilla

You add these in at the end:
1 handful dried cranberries
2-3 T salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds – so yum!)

Here’s what you do:
Mix the oatmeal, flaxseed, almonds,  cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt in a big bowl. Whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, syrup and vanilla. Mix it all together. Pour out onto a baking sheet which has been lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Stir. Bake 10 more. Stir. Bake 10 more. Stir. Allow to cool. Simple, right? When the granola has cooled down, add the cranberries and pepitas.

Your house will smell great – think Thanksgiving and Christmas and sitting by a roaring fire all rolled into one. 

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Lemon Chicken

One Year Ago: Buckwheat Pancakes

One Year Ago: Chocolate Flan

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I don’t even know where to start today. So many changes happening around me – lately I feel overwhelmed by the pace of life. It’s simply spinning!

Our oldest child graduated from the University of Michigan recently with a degree in Nursing. She has found a full time job and a great apartment. Seeing her transition into the beautiful young women she has become is such an overwhelming feeling. Her heart is gold and she will go far in this life. I can only stand by and watch in awe.

Our middle child is graduating from dorm life to apartment life; he’s spending the summer away from home and I’m a wreck over it all.  For some reason I can’t imagine that I’m even old enough to have a kid his age…. what’s happening here??   I can remember when my entire life and possessions could fit in the back of a Pinto wagon, including my bike. I guess it’s his turn to jam it all in a car and head out into this wonderful world. Another heart of gold.

Nothing profound to say about kid number three, except that I am stunned that he will be done with high school and on to the next chapter of his life in one short year.  Stunned. I am enjoying every minute with him and trying not to hover.  One more great big heart of gold (and a great sense of humor to boot!)

And yet, with all these transitions spinning around me, life steadies on; it presses forward.  I look out my kitchen window and see the trees blooming again; my parsley miraculously made it through the mild Michigan winter and I am already using it in my meals. A little green miracle waiting for me.  

And see what beauty greets me each morning as I open my front door – a spectacular draping of lavender wisteria – another miracle - and proof that life continues on in spite of all the change.  Can you see the tiny robin’s nest snuggled in the wrought iron post? That spot is filled every year with robins and their glorious blue eggs. Could you find a better place to wait for your babies to hatch? Life circles around and I get to experience it.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sausage Bundles in Balsamic Glaze

Still working my way through the long list or promised recipes. Curious? Click here. 

sausage meatball appetizer

I served these at an Irish Dinner Party that I donated to a silent auction for my son’s band. A local couple won the dinner (way back in October) and they had their party in March, which seems like forever-ago. (Did it really take this long to post this???)  My menu that evening was full of Irish goodness: fish stew, glazed corned beef, classic mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, cabbage, and for dessert, an over the top carrot cake.

I went pretty simple with the appetizers: cheese straws and these sausage bundles. The recipe for the cheese straws can be found here, on my other blog (Food Talk: Mlive). Believe me, when I insist that you add both of these to your appetizer collection.

Here’s what you need:
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 egg
½ C Panko bread crumbs
½ t basil (or oregano or sage)
½ C water
½ C ketchup
2 T brown sugar
1 T soy sauce
1 T balsamic vinegar

Here’s what you do:
Mix the meat, egg, bread crumbs and basil well with a fork. Make small balls, about 1 inch in size. Patiently brown them in a tiny bit of oil over medium heat. Turn them delicately with a tongs. This is your only chance to get them nice and brown, so be patient.

Mix the ingredients for the glaze. Pour over the bundles and continue to cook, reducing the liquid till it’s almost gone. It’s nice and sticky. 

On another note: I sauteed an entire head of cabbage with a Granny Smith apple and a huge sweet onion for about an hour to create the BEST cabbage side dish. Sometimes I do this and serve it over plain egg noodles.... totally yum (if you are cabbage lovers, like we are :)) Look at those great colors! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Broiled Green Beans

(I have shared this recipe on a Green Day Link-Up at Raindrops and Daisies. Check out the other green photos here!)

Yes, you read that correctly – BROILED green beans. My new favorite thing and considering that I am the queen of ROASTING, that says a lot. Blistered. Salty. Lemony. Dippable. Finger food at its finest.  Irresistible.

Wash, trim, dry, toss with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill. Place under broiler for about 1-2 minutes at a time, tossing at one minute intervals….continue for about 8 minutes. Serve warm or at room temp.