Sunday, October 26, 2014

Q.E.D.: Grilled Black Bean Burgers

I saw this recipe over at The Pioneer Woman not long ago. I knew I wanted to try it, but I decided to wait until the weekend. I usually don't do new recipes during the week because I want to give myself extra time in case they're more complicated than I expect.

Well, these were so quick and easy they took me no time at all. A Q.E.D. black bean burger? Say hello to your next weeknight meal!

Notes: The original recipe has these shallow-fried, but I decided I wanted the grill marks. I think it came out well. The important thing is just to get a nice crust on the outside and heat the beans all the way through.

The hot sauce is optional here, but it really wakes up the flavor of the beans. You could replace it with some lime juice or extra Worcestershire sauce.

This recipe makes 4 patties. Use your favorite burger toppings! I love mashed avocado on mine, so I included that.

Ingredients (adapted from this recipe):
2 15 oz. cans black beans
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Hamburger buns
Spinach or Lettuce
Slices of cheese (I used pepper jack)


Drain the beans in a strainer (do not rinse). Transfer to a bowl. Using a fork or potato masher, smash the beans until they form a thick, chunky paste (you want to leave some beans whole).

Add in the egg, bread crumbs, spices, salt, sugar, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix everything together with your hands. If the mixture seems too soft, sprinkle in a few more bread crumbs until it feels sticky. Let stand 5 minutes.

While you're waiting, slice the tomatoes and mash up the avocado. Heat the grill pan on high.

When the grill pan is hot, add the burgers. Cook 5-6 minutes per side. When they're done, top the burgers with spinach, tomatoes, mashed avocado and serve.

Enjoy Q.E.D. grilling any night of the week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Eat Food, Save Money: Freezer Friendly Spicy Vegetable Soup

On this edition of "eat food, save money," we're goin' cold. Ice cold.

Homemade soups freeze very well. They are also heartier and more flavorful than the kind of pour out of a can. And when you make homemade soup, you get A LOT more soup for your money than you do when you use the canned version.

Frozen meals make for an easy weeknight dinner. After a rough day when you're tempted to just eat out, if you have a ready-made dinner waiting at home, it's much harder to justify a run through the drive-thru. So, the next time you have a lazy weekend afternoon, consider helping your future weeknight self by making some soup and then freezing it.

Notes: The easiest way to freeze meals (if you ask me) is to freeze individual serving sizes in small plastic freezable containers. Then you can just pull 1 or 2 containers out of the freezer depending on how many people are eating.

Let a frozen meal thaw in the fridge for at least 24 hours. If dinner time rolls around and your meal isn't completely thawed, you can always just heat it up in a pot on the stove.

I start this soup the same way I start my gumbo. It gives the soup a nice deep color and flavor. And since the soup is made with cajun seasoning it makes sense to treat it like gumbo.

You can use hot sauce or fresh chopped hot peppers in place of cajun seasoning.

Feel free to mix up the veggies and use your favorite. You can even use a selection of your favorite frozen vegetables to make the soup more pantry-friendly.

Need some protein? Add some canned beans when you add the frozen corn.

If you want to make this even easier, just skip the butter and flour and throw it all the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

1 quart chicken or veggie stock (or water)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
5-6 carrots
1 bunch celery
1/2 pound fresh green beans (or 1 cup frozen chopped)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 onion
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
1 small bunch fresh rosemary
5-6 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour

Directions: Dice the carrots, celery, and onion. Chop the green beans into small bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic and rosemary.

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter melts, add the flour and whisk to create a roux. Whisk until the roux is the color of milk chocolate. Remove the pot from heat and dump in chopped veggies, garlic, and rosemary. Stir until the sizzling stops.

Add in tomato paste and cajun seasoning and stir. Return to heat and stir in stock. Add corn kernels. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the soup to simmer for between 1-2 hours.

When the time is up, remove the soup from heat and allow it to cool. Divide it in to single servings in freezable containers. You can defrost the number of servings you need for 24 hours in the fridge and then heat the soup in the microwave before you serve it. You can also just put the frozen soup straight into a pot and heat it on the stove.

Enjoy your frozen and frugal meal!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Apple Pie Scones

It's fall break for us! Scott and I are off on a second honeymoon and I could not be more excited. But before we go, we're doing our best to use up the food we have in the house. I had about a cup of yogurt left and a rather sad looking apple. As luck would have it, I saw a recipe for apple scones from Runner's World. Even if we don't finish them before our trip, we can just pack them in a bag and have a snack for the plane.

Notes: Scones that you buy at the store or the coffee shop are hit-or-miss if you ask me. Most of them are really dry and crumbly or dense. These are light and fluffy and fresh. The key to fluffy scones is to not overwork the dough. Don't mix it too much before you transfer it to the cake pan.

Speaking of the cake pan, this is a great trick! I usually cut my scones like biscuits and make them round, but this recipe gives you the triangle shape.

The dough it really sticky, so when you pat it into the cake pan, run your hands under some lukewarm water first.

We're charging the camera battery for the trip, so I don't have a photo for you. Trust me--they are beautiful!

Ingredients (adapted from this recipe):
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 apple

Directions: Heat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan.

Peel and dice the apple. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and baking powder.

Dice the butter and cut it into the flour mixture using either a pastry blender or your fingers. The butter should end up the size of small peas.

Add the yogurt and vanilla to the butter-flour mixture. Stir with your hands until just combined into a soft dough ball.

Move the dough into the cake pan and gently pat it evenly into the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Cut into triangles (yields 8 triangles).

Serve and enjoy the flavors of fall!