Friday, March 30, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

When looking for something quick to make for dinner, my husband turns to frozen Morningstar spicy black bean burgers about once a month or so.  I've been trying to stay away from frozen dinners, so when I came across this recipe I knew I wanted to give it a shot.

There isn't anything too fancy in the burgers (the only thing I had to run to the store for was chili powder since I had just used up the last of mine the other day) and it really wasn't hard to make.  I even got to use my fancy new masher I picked up at the store the other day.  I never really felt like I was doing anything wrong, though I did burn my finger on my stupid stovetop.  I forgot that the burners get hot when the oven is on (apparently the output for the hot air is directly into one of the back burners) so I bumped my knuckle on the burner and now have a lovely blister.  I did learn something new - if you burn yourself, put toothpaste (the white paste kind) on it.  I don't know exactly how it helps, but my mother-in-law suggested it, so I did it and it stopped hurting as much.

Next time I make these burgers I'll get fancy and add some toppings.  Normally my husband doesn't put anything on his black bean burgers, and I put a little sour cream on it to cut the spiciness (and I eat it sans the bread), but I think that some tomato and maybe a little cheese would go really well with this.  I served the burgers on whole wheat rolls with a side of roasted brussels sprouts and a sweet potato puree.  In all it took me less than an hour to cook.  I started the brussels sprouts first, then while they roasted I started getting the burgers ready.  When the sprouts came out, I finished mixing everything in, covered it, put it to the side, then finished up prepping the burgers.  While the burgers cooked, I heated the sweet potatoes in the microwave, then pureed it while the burgers cooled.

I'd definitely make these burgers again, I think they were better than the frozen kind!

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers (from

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly oil a baking sheet.   
- In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty. 
- In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans. 
- In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce. 
- Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. 
- Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together.
- Divide mixture into four patties. 
- Place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side

    Wednesday, March 28, 2012

    Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Rolls

    I did not participate in the pasta recipe swap on the Nest message board, mostly due to the fact that I don't have any awesome recipes to submit.  But when the swap ended and everyone posted their results, I drooled my way through the blog postings.  One that stood out to me was for Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Rolls.  Now, I love me some spinach and artichoke dip.  I even have an amazing recipe for it that I can't wait to share here, but I don't make it too often because I would end up eating it all and that's never a good thing.

    When I saw the post by Jey I fell in love.  Spinach and artichoke and other yumminess wrapped up in a lasagna noodle?  Yes, please!!  These lasagna rolls were easy to make and super delicious.  I never had a panicked moment where I thought I screwed it up (though I did have to make a panicked "we're out of shredded mozzarella" call to the husband).  It's so simple.  You cook the lasagna noodles, thaw the spinach (I heated it on a plate in the microwave for 4 minutes, then put it in my colander to squeeze out the access water), mix everything up, then spread, roll and bake.

    My adjustments that I made were that I didn't use as much roasted red pepper (though I think I'll use the full amount next time, I thought my husband hated them, but it turns out he just dislikes raw red peppers) and I didn't use as much alfredo sauce.  I did the 1 cup in the mixture, but when I went to add the cheese and sauce to the tops when it was in the muffin pan, I just scooped a spoonful into each one, not using the full leftover amount.  I also used light alfredo sauce since I was trying to make this somewhat healthier (the recipe already calls for low fat cream cheese).

    I normally wait a day or two to take leftovers for lunch so I can vary my meals, but this was so delicious that I couldn't wait; I brought it the next day.  I even brought a little extra shredded mozzarella and put it on top as I heated it up in the microwave at my office.  It's just as delicious reheated!

    Spinach Artichoke Lasagna Rolls  (from The Jey of Cooking)

    12 Lasagna Noodles
    1 8 oz. Package Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
    1 10 oz. Package Frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
    1 14 oz. Can Artichoke Hearts, quartered
    2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
    3 Cups Alfredo Sauce, divided
    3 Cloves Garlic, minced
    1 tsp. Oregano
    1/2 Cup Roasted Red Peppers, chopped
    1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

    - Preheat oven to 375. 
    - Spray a muffin pan or baking pan with cooking spray.
    - Cook and drain the noodles, then set them individually on waxed paper to prevent sticking.
    - In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, spinach, artichokes, 1 cup mozzarella, 1 cup alfredo sauce, garlic and oregano.
    - Mix well, then spread evenly on top of each noodle.
    - Sprinkle with the roasted red peppers.
    - Roll the noodles up tightly and place into the muffin tin (or baking pan, seam side down).
    - Top with remaining alfredo and mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan.
    - Bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

    Friday, March 23, 2012

    Hazelnut Linzer Cookies

    After my hamentashen baking session 2 weeks prior, I had plenty of pie filling left over, and I didn't want it all to go to waste.  So I skimmed through my cookbooks and in The Craft of Baking I came across a recipe for Hazelnut Linzer Cookies.  They looked delicious, and I knew that my sister-in-law was going to be giving birth at pretty much any second, so I wanted to make a treat to bring to her and my brother.

    These were very simple to make, and I only had a few "I have no idea if I'm doing this right" moments.  First off, I realized I didn't have any cookie cutters, so I quickly ran to my favorite kitchen gadget store Chef Central and bought this 6 piece linzer cutter set then I got down to business.  The recipe calls for finely ground hazelnuts.  I decided to use my manual food processor from The Pampered Chef that I received as a bridal shower gift.  It took a little while to get all those hazelnuts ground (and I had to pick out the large pieces still in there after I was grinding them for a while)  but it ended up working out pretty well.

    My other "is THIS how it's supposed to be??" moment was when I took the dough out of the fridge and rolled it.  At first, it was too hard and was cracking, so I let it sit for a few min before rolling it out.  It warmed up very quickly (maybe due to the gorgeous weather outside), so once I started rolling it, the dough became very soft and a little too malleable.  I ended up having to use my icing spatula to help lift the dough off of the counter intact to get the cookies looking right (and fitting together in the same shape).

    In the end, the cookies came out looking wonderful and tasting scrumptious.  I even got to use the "duster" that came with my sifter to add the powdered sugar to the top.  I always like using new kitchen gadgets!

    Hazelnut Linzer Cookies (recipe from The Craft of Baking)

    1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, finely ground
    12 tbsps (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
    finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    finely grated zest of 2 oranges
    3 large egg yolks
    1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
    2 tsps ground cinnamon
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    1/2 tsp kosher salt
    approx 1/4 cup fruit preserves (I used Raspberry pie filling)

    - Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    - Spread the ground hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until lightly toasted.
    - Remove from the oven and set the baking sheet on a rack to cool.
    - Turn the oven off if you won't be baking the cookies right away.
    - In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, confectioners' sugar, and the lemon and orange zests on medium speed until well mixed, about 4 minutes.
    - Beat in the egg yolks, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
    - In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt.
    - With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredient to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
    - Add the hazelnuts and beat until combined.
    - Turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a flattened disk
    - Wrap it in the plastic and chill until firm, 30 minutes or up to 2 days (the dough can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 month).
    - On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
    - Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out 36 cookies.
    - Transfer the cookies to parchment-covered baking sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.
    - Using a 1/2 inch round cutter, cut out and remove the centers of half of the cookies; these cookies will be the tops.
    - Chill the tops and bottoms in the refrigerator until firm, 10 - 15 minutes.
    - While the cookies are chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees (if necessary).
    - Bake, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown, 15 - 20 minutes.
    - Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment to a wire rack and let cool completely.
    - When they are cool, sprinkle the cut-out top cookies with confectioners' sugar.
    - Spoon about 1/2 tsp preserves on each whole bottom cookie then set the cut-out cookies over the whole ones to sandwich them together.

    **Unfilled, the cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.  Once filled, they are best eaten on the same day.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels sprouts - yes, those things that you made the face about as a child and still KNOW you don't like even though you've never actually tasted them - they are one of my new favorite foods.  I have to admit, that was me, too, until I tried this recipe at my husband's request.  Brussels sprouts can actually be delicious if cooked the right way (then again, pour enough butter over anything and I'll think it's yummy!).

    My husband and I bought the book "Just Married and Cooking" by Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione shortly before our wedding. We have made a few of their recipes (their spinach and artichoke dip is to die for!) and a few weeks ago was looking for ideas for a side dish.  I was a little hesitant about the Brussels sprouts, but when my husband asked if we could make it, I decided to go for it.  We've now made this recipe twice and I would probably eat them every day if I could.  It is so simple to make.  You chop, mix, roast (I clean the bowl while they are in the oven so I can use it again after), heat up the butter, mix it up, zest a lemon, and toss everything together.  Honestly, it takes very little prep time.  While making a new recipe there's usually a point where I 'm convinced I messed up and ruined the whole thing.  This didn't happen at all with this recipe, it's that easy!

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts (from Brooke Parkhurst and James Briscione)

    1 pound Brussels sprouts, cut in half
    1 cup minced yellow onion
    3 cloves of garlic, crushed
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1/4 cup sliced almonds
    grated zest of 1 lemon
    2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I use the jarred kind)

    - Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
    - Combine the Brussels sprouts, onion, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl.
    - Toss well and season with salt and pepper.
    - Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender and lightly browned on the edges, about 15 minutes.
    - Transfer to a large bowl.
    - Melt the butter in a small saute pan over high heat until it begins to brown.
    - Remove from the heat and stir in the almonds to toast lightly.
    - Pour the butter and almonds into the bowl with the Brussels sprouts.
    - Add the lemon zest and Parmesan and toss to coat.
    - Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
    - Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012


    It's the time of year again - Purim!  Ok, so it's not a big holiday to most.  Even I rarely know what day Purim is, and when a co-worker asked me what it was I said something along the lines of "there's Queen Esther (she's pretty) and Hamen (we don't like him) and then Vashti and King Ahashverosh...ummm....and they all did something...."   For the record, according to, Purim commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination

    Growing up, I remember making hamentashen with my mom every year for Purim.  These are the delicious triangle cookies (symbolizing Hamen's hat) that are filled with yumminess (aka pie fillings or chocolate).

    I was going to a party last weekend, and decided to try my hand at baking hamentashen for the first time in years.  I went classic with most of my fillings and bought Solo Pie Fillings in apricot, raspberry, prune, and poppy.  I'm not a huge poppy fan, but those are the most traditional and my father and husband both love it.

    I went a little more creative with my chocolate ones.  Originally I put in chocolate chips, as I had done as a child.  They weren't melting well and the cookies were actually spreading out, so I started using a single rectangle from a Hershey bar and folding the dough around it into the triangle.  Then for this one, I brushed the dough with egg white and sprinkled cinnamon sugar over it.  It came out super yummy!

    A few opened up and didn't keep the triangle shape, but it seemed to work better if I didn't just pinch the corners, but also folded the sides in a bit.

    Hamentashan (my family's recipe with a few adjustments)

    3/4 c sugar
    2 c flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/3 c margarine
    1 egg
    2-3 tbsp water (I used 2 1/2 tbsps)
    Various fillings- you can get cans of apricot, raspberry, prune, poppy seed, etc. in the baking aisle by the pie fillings.  You can also use any jam or jelly that you like.  Or chocolate!  Be creative!

    - Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
    - Put the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix well, counting 35-40 strokes to blend thoroughly. (I just mixed it in my Kitchenaid)
    -Cut the margarine into little pieces and add to the bowl.
    - Mix until you have an evenly crumbly mixture.  Be patient- it'll take a few minutes.
    - Add the egg and water.  Mix until the dough sticks together in a ball.
    - Sprinkle flour on your board or wax paper (or countertop).
    - Pinch off a piece of dough and roll it between your hands into a 1 1/2 inch ball.
    - Sprinkle a little extra flour onto the ball and roll it flat with a rolling pin to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Or you can roll out the dough and use a glass to cut the circles if you wish.
    - Take a teaspoon of filling and put it in the middle of the circle.
    - Fold up three edges and pinch together to make a triangle. 
    - Put it on the cookie sheet.
    - Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    Sweet Potato Burgers

    I am constantly in search of new recipes to try and I came upon this one for Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers on Pinterest.  Now, there are two foods that I have been obsessed with over the past year or so...sweet potato and avocados.  Put them both in a recipe?  I'll make it next chance I get!

    I adapted the recipe a slight bit.  The original recipe says it makes "7-8 large patties".  That just sounded like too much since there are only two of us, so I adjusted a bit and only used 1 can of cannelini beans and although it says "1 large sweet potato (about 2 cups)" I used one medium-large potato which seemed to yield a little over a cup.  The rest of the ingredients I halved as well (for the flour I eyeballed half of my 1/4 cup).

    The rolls we bought were very large wheat ones, so I tried to make the patties the size of the rolls.  What I ended up with was one large patty, one extra large patty, and one small patty with what was left in the bowl.  I also was making this after work, so to "bake" the sweet potato I put it in the microwave for 4 1/2 minutes, then let it cool enough to peel.  When I went to cook the patties, they ended up burning a little bit on the first side (I then turned the high heat down a bit when I flipped them).  I honestly don't know how long it ended up cooking for in the end.  But thankfully no ingredients needed to be cooked to be eaten, so I wasn't worried about undercooking it.

    The last obstacle I ran into was that I didn't have a masher (guess who needs to make a run to Bed Bath and Beyond??!!), so  I used a serving fork to mash the ingredients  The only problem with this was that some of the beans didn't get fully mashed, but I did the best that I could...

    Sweet Potato Burgers (slightly adapted from the Happy Healthy Life vegan blog)

    1 can cannellini white beans, drained
    1 medium-large sweet potato, baked/peeled/mashed
    1 Tbsp tahini
    1 tsp agave syrup
    1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
    1/8 cup wheat flour
    optional: additional seasoning - I used a little salt and a little pepper
    Panko crumbs
    vegetable oil for pan
    Whole wheat rolls.  
    Toppings - avocado, tomato, Dijon mustard

    - Bake sweet potato. Peel, place in large mixing bowl.
    - Add drained beans to mixing bowl. Mash beans and potato together.
    - Mash in seasoning, flour and any additional seasoning.  Your mixture will be quite soft and moist, but you should be able to form a patty. Add more flour or a scoop of breadcrumbs - or dry rice to thicken the mixture if needed.
    - Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan over high heat.
    - Form a patty from mixture and thickly coat in Panko crumbs.
    - Drop the patty in the pan.
    - Repeat until the pan is filled.
    - Cook until browned on both sides.
    - Transfer cooked patties to paper towel and cool for a few minutes.
    - Serve on bun with toppings of choice.

    **Note from original recipe: yes this patty does fall kind of apart as you eatit. But that is OK because it tastes yummy.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012

    Eggplant Lasagna

    I've never been a big vegetable eater (much to my husband's dismay).  Eggplant had always been on my "I know I don't like it, even though I don't think I've ever tried it" list until I was at a party a few months ago, tried some eggplant parm and liked it.  Then about a month ago I ordered eggplant rollatini and LOVED it.  So, when we were coming up with what to make for dinner a few weeks ago, I searched for eggplant lasagna.  Not the kind that substitutes eggplant for the noodles, but uses it as a filling, and I came across this one.

    My only complaint about this is that it says the total time is 1 hour, 10 min.  This might be the case if you start with sliced eggplant, chopped onions, etc, but I'd say it took me a good 45 minutes just slicing, chopping and prepping to make this.  In addition, "quickly brown"ing the 1 1/2 pound of eggplant wasn't done as "quickly" as it sounds!

    You can tell by comparing my picture and the one from the original recipe, mine didn't seem to have as much cheesiness to it (though I used exactly how much the recipe called for).  Maybe next time I'll add extra mozzarella and sauce to the top layer.  I should also spread out the layers more so everything is even.

    In general, it was very simple to make and it tasted delicious.  And between the eggplant and mushrooms, it gave me a good serving of veggies.

    Eggplant Lasagna

    1 1/2 pounds eggplant, thinly sliced
    vegetable spray
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    16 ounces sliced mushrooms
    9 lasagna noodles
    1 jar (16 ounces) spaghetti sauce with vegetables
    8 ounces ricotta cheese, part-skim
    4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
     1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    - In large nonstick skillet sprayed with vegetable spray, quickly brown eggplant slices; set aside.
    - In the same skillet in hot olive oil, cook onion for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.
    - Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.
    - Cook lasagna noodles in boiling salted water according to package directions.
    - Into an 11x7-inch baking dish, spoon about 1/4 of the sauce.
    - Arrange three alternate layers of lasagna noodles, ricotta, mushroom mixture, mozzarella cheese, eggplant slices, sauce and Parmesan cheese.
    - Bake eggplant lasagna at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes.