Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

I've never made a veggie burger. Heck, I never even tried one until this year. I just have a hard time wrapping my head around a burger that isn't meat. I love meat! Why take out the meat?? Meat can be lean, meat is tasty and has more protein than any veggies could dream of having. But,people sure seem to like them, so I gave one a try at a place renouned for their veggie burger, Rebar restaurant in Victoria. It was fabulous! Even so, it took me a while to get going on making one for myself, though I've been compling recipes galore...lentil-quinoa, mushroom-pecan-rice, black bean, and a zillion different flavour combinations. Today, I decided to embrace the bean.

Black beans are full of fibre and nutrients, and have some protein too. Not like a pork chop or anything...but some. And combined with a whole grain, they form a complete protein. I do love the little guys in chili and burritos and soups and salsa, so why not a burger? I combined a few recipes for maximum flavour and a bean-rice-nut combo that sounded good to me, and put my own spin on it. The resulting mash was a little scary, I admit. I formed it into patties that were disturbingly mushy..there was no way these would make it on the grill. Instead, I pan-fried them with a little cooking spray. All I can say is thank goodness for non-stick pans. The gooey rounds did brown nicely and seemed to firm up a bit....I tasted a little corner to see what the situation was. Hmm tasty, but sandwiching it in a bun seemed foodhardy; as others had warned me, black bean patties are quite mushy and will likely just squish out if bitten in a bun. However slapping it on a plate was not at all appealing...what to do. I decided to place them open-faced on a half bun with some cheese on top and bake it to melt the cheese and get the bun crispy, like I do with sloppy joes. Filled with trepidation, I pulled them out of the oven, two little soldiers all covered in cheese and smelling yummy. At first bite, I fell in love. OMG. These taste like MORE...the only problem with them was stopping at just two. I don't know how to describe the taste, but if I tried it would include spicy and savoury and delicious...and the cheese is essential. I cannot emphasize enough how important the melted cheese is. Make these. You'll thank me!

Sherylyn's Spicy Black Bean Burgers
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
1/2 cup whole-grain rice (I used a blend that had black, red, brown, and green rices in it as well as some other grains)
1/2 cup spicy Clamato juice
1 Tbsp flax meal
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp miso paste
1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Cook the beans according to directions, then drain, reserving 2 Tbsp of liquid. Add that to the flax meal in a small bowl and mix. Cook the rice in the Clamato juice and 1/2 cup water and cool.

Combine all the ingredients and pulse in a food processor until everything is uniformly combined but not pasty (I used a food grinder and ran it all through using the coarse grind plate).Form into 6 patties. At this point it would be to your advantage to refrigerate them for a while to firm up; I just plunged ahead.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the patty tops too. Slide the patties into the pan and cook for about 8 minutes per side, until brown and crispy-ish on the outside. Careful with the flipping, they are pretty squishy.

Place a patty on half of a whole wheat bun, and top with sharp cheddar. Bake at 400 for about 6 minutes, just until bun is crisp and cheese is bubbly.

Enjoy! Totally worth the effort.

Nutritional values: Each patty has 135 calories, 4g fat, 4.4g prtein, 22.8g carbs, 3g fibre, and 100ish mg sodium.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Appies 101

I am calling this post "Appies 101" because these little morsels are embarassingly simple to make. Gosh they are sure are pretty though, eh?

If you can hollow out stuff and stuff bits of stuff into other stuff, you can make these. I am not writing them up as proper recipes, it's really not necessary as you'll see. Exact amounts are not needed; what IS needed is patience for all the mini stuffing, and self-control not to eat them all up as you go!

Caprese Bites

So named because they are basically a one-bite caprese salad. Just cut the tops off of a bunch of cherry tomatoes and hollow them out. Season with a little salt and pepper, then stuff in a basil leaf and a pearl bocconcini. Drizzle with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I used a dropper to get just a drop on each). Repeat for as many times as you can stand; these little guys will be VERY popular and go fast!

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Herbed Cream Cheese

Cut an English cucumber into 1.5" slices. Using a melon baller, hollow each one out, removing the seeds but not all the way through (leave a "bottom" on them). Mix together cream cheese, chopped fresh dill, chives, parsley (whatever you've got as long as it includes dill, dill is KEY here), and a smidge of minced garlic, dehydrated onion or onion powder, salt and pepper. If you can let the mix sit in the fridge overnight, even better. Just before serving time, stuff a teaspoon or so into each cucumber cup, and garnish with a sprig of dill.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Published at last!

Hi folks
Just wanted to crow about having some of my food pics published at last! There is a new website that has accepted my submissions. If you visit the site you might recognize some of the food as mine! So excited and proud!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Trail Mix Cookies

These cookies are adapted from a Clean Eating recipe...I was skeptical that one could make a whole batch of cookies with the only fat being one tablespoon of nut butter, but it worked great! I tried a few different versions before settling on this one. It's a pretty flexible recipe, as long as you keep the same proportions of liquid to dry. I added in a bunch of seeds and nuts cuz that's just how I roll. What you end up with is a deliciously crunchy cookie that is healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Well, almost!

Have you tried these yet? If not, you really should!

Trail Mix Cookies

1 1/4C wild oats
1/2C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground flax
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp finely chopped walnuts
1/4C dark chocolate chips
1/2C golden syrup (or honey or agave syrup)
1 Tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter)
1 large egg white
1 tsp vanilla
olive oil cooking spray

Combine the dry ingredients (oats through chocolate chips) in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients until well-combined. Add them to the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Form into 20 cookies (about one heaping tablespoon each)and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with olive oil. If you like a flat, crisp cookie, flatten them out to desired thickness, as they don't flatten during cooking at ALL. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Nutritional values: For one cookie (1/20 of recipe): 97 calories, 3.2g fat, 2.6g protein, 15.9g carbs, 1.5g fibre, 50g sodium.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cranberry Turkey Burgers

Turkey Burgers are the absolute best kind of burgers, in my humble opinion. I never make beef ones, but do make bison ones once in a while, which are also good. I just love the versatility of turkey though; you can add all sorts of different flavours to dress it up. These ones taste like Thanksgiving, if Thanksgiving was a summer BBQ!

I like to use ground turkey thigh. If you are fancy like me, you can grind it up yourself in your meat grinder. I just looooove being able to do that, as I know there is nothing in the ground meat but turkey thigh, no skin or fat bits or goodness knows what else. However, that said, the ground turkey packets are perfectly fine for this. I don't recommend using breast meat as it dries up too much, and there are no other moisteners in this recipe.

I am leaving the recipe as I'd regularly do it, with just the turkey thigh, but yesterday (due to availablity issues) we did them with a combination of mild Italian turkey sausage, chicken breast, and chicken thigh, and they were FABULOUS. The extra fat content in the sausage balanced out the chicken breast, so all was well in Yummyland.

Cranberry Turkey Burgers

500g (about 1 lb) lean ground turkey thigh
1/8C chopped onion
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C dried cranberries
1 Tbsp A-1 sauce or BBQ sauce
1 tsp each fresh thyme and sage, chopped (or 1/2 tsp each of dried)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients well, but do not overmix (will makes meat tough). Form into 4 patties (this makes large patties, you could also make 6 medium ones or 8 sliders) and refrigerate until ready to grill, at least ½ hour. Grill on BBQ or use stovetop method.

Stovetop method: Preheat a frying pan on medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and place burgers in pan, patties should not touch. Cook on both sides until browned and cooked throughout, about 8 minutes per side.

These are lovely with a slice of havarti cheese melted on top, served on a whole wheat bun with dijon mustard, mayo, lettuce leaves, and maybe some red onion. I would not use stronger-tasting condiments, as they would overpower the delicate cranberry and sage flavours.

TIP from my mom: Roughly chop the craisins to get a more even distribution and release the cranberry goodness.

Nutritional values: for each large burger patty, there are 194 cals, 6g fat, 24g protein, 8g carbs, 1g fibre, 292mg sodium. With bun, cheese, and condiments, mine came to 400 calories. Add a salad and you've got a perfect summer meal!