Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers

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I’ve been in a cooking rut. It’s been really boring. Maybe it’s my odd work hours or maybe it’s something else, but we’ve been eating a lot of the same stuff around here. So I made these burgers in hopes of turning things around. I tend to make a lot of veggie burgers. It’s so quick to whip them out of anything in the pantry, whether its beans, quinoa, or even some sort of vegetable fritter on greens. When I saw this recipe with the combination of sweet potato and black beans, I knew it would be a favorite. I love being right about this kind of thing.

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I’m one to stray from recipes and throw in what I have in the fridge just to use it up. Thats what happened here with the green onions (because I’ve been growing my own!) and bell pepper. It ended up being a great addition and the texture was wonderful. I’m always looking for that.

We ate these on some homemade brioche buns and that may have just put them over the top. You can find that recipe, where else? Smitten. I’ll make a batch in the bread maker and keep them in the freezer for burger emergencies like these. Perfect every time.

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Ingredients:

2 cups coarsely mashed sweet potatoes (about two large)
1 cup black beans
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup panko or bread crumbs
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Pierce potatoes all over with a fork and wrap loosely in paper towels. Microwave for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove the potatoes from the microwave and slice them down the center to allow them to cool.

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In a large bowl, mash the black beans. Add in sweet potato and mix together. Add in spices, salt, pepper, green onions, bell pepper, bread crumbs, flour, and the egg. Mix together until well combined. Chill mixture in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.

IMG_4460Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Scoop large spoonfuls of mixture into the hot pan, pressing them flat and round.(I found it easier to shape the patties while dropping them into the pan, rather than forming them on a separate surface) Cook about 5-6 minutes, until the bottom begins to golden. Gently flip the patty and cook the other side for another 5-6 minutes. Repeat until you’ve used up the mixture. Top and build burgers as desired.

 

Source: Adapted from How Sweet It Is


G-Ma’s Salsa

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I’ve been lucky enough to come from a family of wonderful cooks.  I remember the days when extended family would descend on one of the grandmother’s or great aunt’s homes, grab a utensil or a pan, contributing what they could to the meal. Everyone would file through, filling their plates with meats, sauces, heirloom casseroles, fresh salads, and of course, delicious desserts.

Growing up, my Dad’s mom lived in the house below ours. (It’s a super-rad duplex by the beach!) I loved having my Grandma so close and I consider myself lucky to have learned many things from her, including a few tips from her authentic style of Mexican cooking. On the occasional Sunday, she makes a big breakfast for anyone who can stop by. It always includes Menudo, (which I know I never gave a fair shot, but come on) chorizo, eggs,
sometimes carne con chile, and always a fresh batch of her classic salsa.

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This salsa is kind of a big deal. My best friend Amy has parents who grow their own chilies and make a fresh batch every day, but this is still her favorite salsa.  My friend Bob is equally in love with it and his wife also comes from a family of amazing cooks. When my G-Ma knows that they are coming, she’ll make an extra batch.  And we always eat it.

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Ingredients

1 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 pickled jalapenos (I use the Embasa brand)
2 teaspoons jalapeno pickling juice (that comes with the jalapenos)
¼ of a white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Juice of a lemon
Handful of cilantro, chopped

Instructions

Cut the jalapenos into large chunks, discarding the stems. Toss them into a blender. Add the tomato juice, jalapeno juice, half of the lemon juice, and only one of the peeled tomatoes into the blender. Blend until the jalapeno is finely chopped. Add the rest of the tomatoes. Pulse the blender for just a second or two. You want the tomatoes chopped, but still chunky. Pour tomato mixture into a bowl. Add remaining lemon juice, salt, garlic, onion, and cilantro. Give it a good stir and enjoy.

Note: If you prefer more spice, simply add more jalapenos. I prefer mine on the mild side, so I find that two is the perfect amount for me.

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Source: Taught to me by my Grandma Esther, additionally, learning by watching my Mom make her salsa the same way for most of my life.

Quinoa Cakes on Greens

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I must have cursed myself. I boasted about what a great start the year was off to far too soon. I should have known better. Thirteen is a temperamental number… I must proceed with caution. It’s been almost a year, (that can’t be true?!) since I’ve been sick. So this now unfamiliar pain in my throat is throwing me off. Is it the normal January cold? The awful flu I’ve so artfully avoided? It can’t possibly be strep again, that won my tonsils in the war of ’08… Allergies? I’ll go with that until further notice.

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After getting a call from my boss telling me to take Tuesday off I wasn’t sure what to do with my sudden abundance of time. So, naturally, I made a mess in the kitchen. After ruining half a batch of cupcakes, I scored with these. Major win. I had made these before, but never with all the additional veggies. On a whim I added the lime juice and cilantro. In my opinion, that was the best part.

This is a pretty customizable recipe. I think that as long as you have the binder (breadcrumbs and eggs/other vegan substitution) it would stand up to substitutions. You’ll just have to try and let me know.

IngredientsIMG_3631

2 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 a yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil for the pan

Instructions

In a medium bowl, combine everything except the bread crumbs and the eggs. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and make sure all ingredients are all mixed together well.  Add the eggs and give the mixture one final mix-up until the eggs are incorporated. Form the mixture into evenly shaped patties, about 4 inches in diameter.

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Heat some olive oil in large pan set over medium heat. Add the patties to the pan, giving enough space between each one. Cook each patty until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes, depending on your heat. Using a spatula, carefully flip the patty over and cook the other side until it is the same golden brown. Repeat with remaining patties. You may need to add more olive oil to the pan between batches.

Note: I prefer mine served warm on top of greens and hardboiled eggs with a lemon vinaigrette. 


Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats, via Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via The Curvy Carrot

Roasted Butternut Squash

Well, he’s here. We’ve been waiting and waiting and he finally made it. James Ryan, the newest addition to the family was born on 1/2/13. Not only is he the first little one to officially make me an Aunt, but now I have a reason to buy toys. I have a reason to bake robot cookies, and super hero cakes, and best of all, dress up vegetables to look like really cute things in hopes of him giving them a try. Not that any of that will be my job, his mom and dad are already extraordinary parents. I want to be like my Aunts are; full of fun, adventure, creativity, new surprises, and especially helping to spark my curiosity about the world.  I’m so excited I get to pass that on to a new little punk.

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 Recently, I’ve been all about the roasted veggies. Beets, carrots, squash, pumpkins. It seems that the hot oven just brings out the natural sweetness and transforms them into a better, friendlier, even chattier (yes, they get along better with other foods) version of the vegetable’s self. And what I love most about it? It couldn’t be easier and the oven warms up our little apartment on a cold day. (This genius finally called the gas company to fix our heater, yay!) Plus I feel like my favorite chef, Ina Garten while doing it. If she roasts, everyone should.

Ingredients

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks about the same size
A few glugs of olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Instructions
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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the cubed squash on pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Give it all a good toss to make sure it is evenly coated. Keep the squash in one layer. Roast it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes. When it is fork tender, it’s ready. Try not to eat all of it while standing over the warm oven.

 Note: I use this in salads, on top of pizzas, in sandwiches even. 

Green Juice Smoothie

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With the year drawing to a close, I can already feel myself trying reset and start fresh again. For me, it’s more about un-doing what happened in December because I know at least in our families, there are so many treats around its just tough not to over do it a little (or a lot.) So here I am, a few days after Christmas, trying to figure out what to have for breakfast. I’m still in that window where I could probably convince myself that pie is a viable option, but at this point, pie is just not pie without the whip. 

So then I decide that a smoothie is just what I need. Then I remember that The Green Juice Smoothie has spinach in it so thats a double win. Perfect. I’ve escaped dessert for breakfast for one day… until tomorrow at least.

I found the recipe over at Annie’s Eats, one of my very favorite blogs. I modified mine just a bit, but we’ve been eating a lot more pears than we used to. I just always forget to add them in. I’ve frozen the bananas before or left them room temp and it comes out great both ways.

IngredientsIMG_3306

1 banana (frozen or at room temp)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups spinach, rinsed and dried
Honey, to taste

Directions

Add all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Serves 2

 Source: just slightly tweaked from Annie’s Eats Green Monster Smoothie

Homemade Pizza Sauce

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I’ve been on a “from scratch” expedition lately. Everything from chocolate syrup, doughs, salad dressings, extracts, and sauces. (Plus so many more on my list!) With Jordan and I trying to save and live on a tighter budget it makes zero sense to buy things like this when I already have the ingredients in my pantry. Plus, now that I’m tasting the amazing difference, I’m not sure I can ever go back.

I found this recipe over on Food Wishes. (It’s actually a whole series on homemade pizza!) What I love about it is the way you start out browning your spices, which I hadn’t thought to do before. The possible flavor combinations seem endless here, but I haven’t strayed too much yet, just adding some basil, extra garlic, and pepper. (Jordan’s favorite) The consistency of this sauce is solid and I think it could handle any number of substitutions, so I see it as the perfect place to start. Plus the fun addition of baking soda takes me right back to those early elementary school volcano experiments…

 Yield: enough for 4 medium pizzas, depending 

 Ingredients

1 can whole peeled tomatoes (28 ozIMG_3019

4 cloves garlic

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano IMG_3065

A few fresh basil leaves

pinch sugar

small pinch of baking soda

1/2 cup water

 Instructions

Empty the can of tomatoes into a bowl. Cut each tomato in half, squeezing as many seeds out as possible into a separate bowl. Discard seeds. Run the tomato liquid through a strainer to catch the leftover seeds. (Note: if a few seeds make it in, it’s fine. Just aim to get the majority.) Crush tomato halves with a masher or clean hands.

Set a medium sauté pan over low heat. Add olive oil and garlic and cook just until it starts to sizzle. Add all the dry herbs and pepper. Stir into garlic and oil for about a minute, keeping low heat. Take care not to let the garlic or herbs burn.

Add tomatoes to the pan. Give it a good stir. Add in salt, pinch of sugar, and the half cup of water. Stir well. Let sauce come to a light simmer. Add a very small pinch of baking soda. A foam will begin to rise out of the sauce. Using a spoon, skim the foam off the top and discard.

Let the sauce simmer on medium-low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes. Toss in some basil. If you prefer a thinner sauce, run it through a blender until it reaches desired consistency.

Slightly adapted from Food Wishes