Category Archives: Recipes

Black Bean Burgers – a few weeks late – ok more like a month

Well I really dropped the ball on updating this guy, huh? I have no excuse really. I did keep up with my recipes though, so I’m going to try to get caught up on them (along with a few other things) this week. For starters…

A few Fridays ago (okay, like a month ago), I hung out with one of my best friends, Alpa, who happens to be a vegetarian. I had been planning on trying to make some kind of non-meat burger, but I wanted to do it when Alpa was around. For years she would come to our cookouts and we would get some veggie burgers just for her. We used to eat the Morningstar ones in college with all the veggie roommates. I was really skeptical of them at first, but with enough cheese, veggie toppings, and condiments, I quickly became a fan. Since then, I have tried to completely get away from buying prepackaged meals. I get migraines pretty regularly and have been struggling to determine different triggers. A big one for a lot of people is MSG, which is in tons of pre-made food. Plus, I like the idea of knowing everything that is in my food, so I’d rather just cook it on my own.

I looked up a simple black bean burger recipe to test out. I actually used the one on Whole Foods’ website.

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 tbsp. EVOO
  • Hamburger buns
  • Veggies for toppings

The recipe also called for hot sauce, but I decided to just wing it with all of the spices, I’m not a big fan of spicy (much to Alpa’s dismay)! We mashed up the ingredients into patties (it made 6) and cooked them in a skillet. Very simple. I will say that I made these another time since then. I simply threw everything into my food processor and gave it a whirl. The consistency of these was much better than when we mashed them by hand. Either way, it’s a very inexpensive meal that will leave you with plenty of leftovers!

 

My dinner date!

It doesn’t hurt to have one of these to go along with it either:

I need to start cooking some meals that will result in prettier pictures!

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A Feast Fit for a President

Screw Presidents Day. I made this Presidents Week! Earlier this week I picked out two recipes I really wanted to make for the week, both related to Presidents Day. I ordered a Colonial-era cookbook (written by Thomas Jefferson’s cousin!) a few weeks ago and had been flipping through that looking for a dinner recipe, but for some reason a roasted calf’s head just didn’t sound too appealing. Then Monday morning, my stepmom forwarded Food Network’s recipe of the day, which came from the Obama’s and the White House kitchen garden. It sounded too good not to cook. So I decided I’d cook that for dinner one night and I’d pick a dessert from the colonial cookbook. I made this on Tuesday for dinner and it was pretty easy to do and delicious to eat.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 3 tbsp. of chopped mixed fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 bunches kale, collar, or mustard greens (or mix), stemmed and corn
  • ¾ cup chicken stock

I don’t want to just copy step-by-step directions, just click on the above link.  The original recipe actually called for using a 3-4 pound whole chicken. It was easier to just get chicken breasts though. I also didn’t have the money for a bunch of fresh herbs (but I can’t wait to snag some from my sis when they start growing.). I did buy some fresh rosemary and then used dried thyme. Still tasted amazing. Coat the chicken in oil, mustard, and herbs, let sit for 45 minutes, and then bake for 30.

 

Raw chicken just always looks gross

 

 

Ok, so the greens…I can’t believe how delicious these were. And I am a greens snob! After growing up eating my mom and dad’s greens, there are little others that taste as good. These were so completely different, but a really refreshing taste. My parents’ were always vinegary, which were good. These are just cooked with the bacon, onion, and broth.  I literally stood in Whole Foods for at least 5 minutes trying to decide what kind of greens I wanted to cook, but I finally settled on kale.

 

My kind of bouquet

 

Saute the bacon and onion, then add your kale and let it wilt, after a few minutes add the broth, and let them cook for 45 minutes.

 

Simma down now, kale

 

The winning combination:

Umm...yum!

As I sat eating supper, I thought…maybe President Obama is somewhere eating this same exact thing…but probably not. I’ll post my dessert recipe soon! Hope you all are having a wonderful weekend!

 

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Some more “belated”s

Ok, I vow to get caught up on these weekly recipes. I swear I cook them all on time, it’s just a matter of reporting about them. So this past week, I wanted to cook something for Valentine’s Day, some kind of treat. I decided to get it done Tuesday so that I could take my treats over to my friends at the JBP. I found this delicious recipe over at Bakerella! Luckily it was pretty quick and easy, because I was strapped for time between work and recording.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Cookies:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature

Icing:

  • 1/2 c. butter, room temperature
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 lb. of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

I won’t go step by step for this recipe, because Bakerella does a fantastic job of explaining it all. Basically though, you just mix red velvet cake mix, butter, and eggs. It does take a long time to get the mix to the right consistency. When I first added the butter and eggs to the cake mix, I really was doubting that it would cover the mix, but with a little elbow grease, I made it work.

The icing was really easy too. Just combine those ingredients and beat with a hand mixer. Once the cookies have cooled, spread a generous amount and make a sandwich! The guys gobbled these up! Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone! What did you do to celebrate?

I’m all caught up with recipe posts now, so be ready for a fun one this week to celebrate one of my favorite holidays!

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Happy Birthday Dad

Unfortunately, this post is a lot later than I had planned. I don’t know what happened last week, but I did cook. Tuesday, the 8th, would have been my dad’s 59th birthday. My stepmom and I talked last week about all of the “firsts” that occur after a loved-one dies. Thankfully, we’re almost done with all of those firsts, and family will be around for the ones that remain (birthdays and the first anniversary of him passing), so that eases the pain a bit. I knew Dad’s birthday was coming up, but it really kind of snuck up on me and I started the morning feeling a little down. My friend Jamie made a wonderful suggestion. She knew I’ve been doing my weekly recipes, so she suggested I go home and cook one of my dad’s favorite recipes. It was the perfect way to celebrate my dad’s birthday, doing something that he loved to do.

I wasn’t able to cook the meal on his actual birthday, but it gave me more time to plan, so it actually worked out pretty well. I decided to cook his chicken and dumplings recipe and then his strawberry pie for a bonus recipe and dessert! My stepmom sent me his recipes and I made a few slight modifications.

I’ll start with the chicken and dumplings. I decided to scale down the recipe because I didn’t really need to feed an army. I also decided to make my own dumplings instead of buying them from the store. I’d never made dumplings before, so I’m sure my dad would’ve approved of that change.

Here’s what I used:

4 chicken thighs
1 qt. Chicken broth
Salt
Pepper

1 c. Flour
1/2 c. Milk
2 tsp. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tbsp. Butter

Boil the chicken and pull the meat from the bone. Heat the chicken broth and after a few minutes, add the chicken. Cook on medium while you make your dumplings. Don’t try to also make your pie while this is going on. You’ll end up going insane and might burn a perfectly good pie crust (not that that happened or anything). For the dumplings, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter (make sure it’s around room temperature). Finally, add the milk until it reaches a doughy consistency. Drop globs into your chicken and broth, they don’t need to be perfectly shaped, they look better with a little bit of character! Simmer for 10-15 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste!

Now for the pie you’ll need:

1 qt. Strawberries
1 baked pie crust
3 c. Heavy cream
1/3 c. Powdered sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla

I decided to make my own whipped cream for the pie, but to be honest, I wish I had just bought a tub of cool whip. So if you do that, forget those last three ingredients.  First, wash and quarter your strawberries. Don’t forget to sample a few as you go along! Sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar (maybe 1/4 cup) and let them marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Bake your pie crust as directed. Then combine your whipped cream and strawberries and fill your cooled pie crust.

If you’re making the whipped cream, start by whipping the heavy cream. I was using my hand mixer and really wished I had a stand mixer. I was getting impatient and didn’t want to ruin my chicken and dumplings, but then I remembered hearing about using a food processor to make whipped cream. Ho-ly crap. After standing there with my hand mixer for a good 10 minutes, I broke out the food processor…10 seconds later it was whipped. Add 1/3 c. powdered sugar and tsp. of vanilla and blend well.

Now my problem was that my whipped cream just wasn’t quite right, it tasted good, but it wasn’t completely smooth and it just didn’t look as pretty as store-bought. I also didn’t eat any of the pie until the next day and it had soaked through the bottom of the crust. Overall, the pie was kind of a flop, but I think if I did it a little differently, it would’ve been amazing. I still ate some and it tasted delicious, despite how it looked!

 

Now, embarrassingly enough I forgot to take a picture of the pie when it was done. Oops! Overall, chicken and dumplings were quite successful. The pie…could be improved, but that was my fault. My dad’s was always delicious! I had fun cooking these and trying some things I hadn’t done before. More than anything though, it was really nice to cook foods I knew my dad loved and to just spend a few hours in the kitchen with my dad again.

Dad, I miss you tons, but I’m thankful for the things we have here to keep us connected and celebrating the wonderful father you were. ❤

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Playing Catch-up

I’ve gotten just a little behind on posting my weekly recipes, but I have been keeping up with the recipes themselves, I promise! Last week (or last last week I guess) Erin came over for dinner. It’s always more fun cooking with a friend! Erin became a vegetarian a few months ago, so she brought over a cookbook, the most gigantic cookbook ever! It’s called How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, so I guess it makes sense to weigh a ton. It was overwhelming trying to pick out a recipe, but we both decided something cheesy sounded good. It’s probably not the most healthy recipe (ok, definitely), but we found a delicious sounding mac and cheese recipe. I’m a sucker for good mac and cheese. It was actually pretty similar to how I usually make my mac and cheese, but the recipe used cheddar and parmesan, plus it is baked with bread crumbs on top, yum!!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Ingredients:
Salt
2 1/2 cups milk
2 bay leaves
1 pound elbow, shell, ziti, or other cut pasta
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups grated cheese, like sharp cheddar or Emmental
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more bread crumbs
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.
2. Cook the milk with the bay leaves in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  When small bubbles appear along the sides, about 5 minutes later, turn off the heat and let stand.
3. Cook the pasta to the point where it is almost done but you would still think it needed another minute or two to become tender.  Drain it, rinse it quickly to stop the cooking, and put it in a large bowl.
4. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter; when it is foamy, add the flour and cook, stirring, until the mixture browns, about 5 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves from the milk and add about 1/4 cup of the milk to the hot flour mixture, stirring with a wire whisk all the while.  As soon as the mixture becomes smooth, add a little more milk and continue to do so until all the milk is used up and the mixture is thick and smooth.  Add the cheddar and stir.
5. Pour the sauce over the noodles, toss in the Parmesan, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease a 9×13 -inch or smaller-size baking pan and turn the pasta mixture into it.  Top liberally with bread crumbs and bake until bubbling and the crumbs turn brown, about 15 minutes.  Serve piping hot.

Swimming bay leaves

 

Cheddar and Parm - mmm!

Cheese sauce!

Erin stirring the mac and cheese

Drool!

I’m not going to lie, I ate more than my fair share of mac and cheese, but still managed to save room for dessert. Erin told me about her aunt’s recipe for apple dumplings and I love anything that has apple in it. She didn’t have a recipe written down, so we just winged it and they tasted delicious!!

Apple Dumplings
Ingredients
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 peeled, cored and quartered Granny Smith apples
1 can crescent rolls
Cinnamon
1. Melt the butter, sugar and water together on the stove.
2. Roll each apple piece in a crescent roll.
3. Place in a baking dish and drizzle the melted mix over rolls.
4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and back at 375 for 25 minutes.

 

Wrapping the apples in dough

apples in their "bath"

I could've just eaten them raw.


While we ate, Erin and I watched Food, Inc., a documentary about the food industry. It was really eye-opening and equally depressing. I could probably write a whole separate post about the film (and I might). I definitely recommend it though (as long as you don’t mind some chicken killing). Erin also made good on her promise to teach me to crochet. I must say, it’s much much easier than knitting. I’m almost halfway done with a scarf that for the first time doesn’t even remotely resemble crap. I sat around yesterday watching tv and working on my scarf for several hours. I’m becoming an old lady. Thanks Erin for being patient with me, you’re a great teacher!

I know I’m a bit behind. I’ll post my recipes, yes plural, from this week, tomorrow. Getting back to my southern roots this week! I have a few non-food related posts coming your way too. Look out!

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Recipe #4: Going Vegan

I decided to do something a little different this week. Every recipe I had tried so far was a bulk recipe, something I could pack up and take with me for lunches during the week or reheat for dinner. I had plans for dinner most nights this week so I thought maybe I would try baking something instead. Since I was sick for the past two weeks, I feel like I haven’t eaten very well. Soup, soup, and more soup, and while delicious, I just wasn’t getting everything I needed. There were several occasions where I had little more than a cup of hot tea. That counts as a meal right?

So anyway, one of my favorite blogs is a vegan blog, Oh She Glows. While I’m by no means a vegan, I think if anyone could convince me that I would want to be one, it would be Angela. I also knew I could find a fun treat that would be healthy at the same time. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything vegan before, so I thought that might be fun too. I decided on her apple pie muffin tops (giggle giggle). I love anything that has apple in it and when I looked at the ingredient list, I only needed to buy one ingredient. Sold!

I also used Evan’s dSLR camera. He just got a new fancy-shmancy one and was nice enough to let me play around with his old one. I’m hoping to get one pretty soon, I’ve only been drooling over them for the last two years or so (oh the woes of a grad student). So the pictures (hopefully) look better than usual. I definitely spent a lot more time than I expected on this recipe because I was playing around with the camera so much.

I have to say this recipe turned out a lot better than my last experience with spelt flour. I made bread a few months ago that no matter how long I cooked it, it was still mushy, doughy, and not done. I also got my first experience with a flax “egg.” I could’ve cheated and used a regular egg, but I wanted to see if the flax egg really was what I had heard. Basically, if you mix water with ground flax, mix it, and let it sit, it’ll turn to the same consistency as an egg!  I’m not going to go through step-by-step because  it wouldn’t be fair (or as good) as Angela’s post, so check out hers. And then check out a few pictures I took:

Nom nom! They turned out to be absolutely delicious. They were just the right amount of sweet and proved to be the perfect afternoon snack. This was a really fun recipe to cook. I like trying healthier substitutes for ingredients. I’ve used applesauce in place of oil before, but this time, the mashed banana was the ingredient replacing the oil. This certainly won’t be the last vegan or vegetarian recipe I’ll cook this year. Part of the reason I made my resolution was to push myself to cook things I wouldn’t have before and to experiment with new ingredients. I’ve given some thought lately to cutting meat out of my diet, but I haven’t made a true decision. Gosh, my Dad would’ve been horrified just to hear me say I was thinking that! If anyone has anything they’d like me to try to cook, let me know! I’m always open to ideas.

At least this resolution is going well, some of my others need some work! More on that later…

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Chicken Noodletastic “Soup”

Well I finally went to the doctor last week (that sentence originally said yesterday, but when do I ever post a timely entry?). Guess what? I have a sinus infection, duh. I got some meds and here we are on Monday and I feel like a million bucks compared to last week. I came home from the doctor and decided to tackle my soup recipe that I had decided on earlier in the week. I learned one major thing this week: follow. the. directions. While the dish tasted really good still, I wouldn’t exactly call it soup. I based my soup off of this recipe from Food Network, with some slight changes. I didn’t use any celery in my soup. Celery is just ok to me. It doesn’t have much flavor and I really don’t like cooked celery. It’s just mushy nothingness. I didn’t think I’d miss it and I was right. I also didn’t have any fresh thyme, just used some dried and it still tasted delicious!

I also learned the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth. Since I’ve been feeling crummy for the better part of two weeks now, I decided to take the easy route and buy chicken stock from the store instead of making my own. Chicken stock is made from the bones of a chicken and chicken broth comes from the meat. Chicken stock also has a fuller, richer flavor (you’re welcome!). I used 2 quarts of chicken stock in the soup. What I didn’t do was use 8 oz. of noodles. Here’s where I need to learn to follow directions. My bag of noodles was 16 oz. instead of 8 oz. I didn’t really pay attention to what I bought (I blame the plague). I dumped the whole bag into the pot and immediately panicked as they took over my soup. I tried to fish as many noodles out as I could, but it was still very noodle heavy. After Evan and I both had a bowl, there was essentially no liquid left to the soup…it kind of looks like stroganoff, oops. I think if I add another box of stock, it’ll be okay though.

 

Chicken Noodletastic Soup

2 tbsp EVOO

½ large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, chopped

4 fresh thyme sprigs (if you can find them)

1 bay leaf

2 qts. Chicken stock

8 oz. wide egg noodles

3 cooked boneless/skinless chicken breasts, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Coating a large soup pot with the EVOO, sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme. When they’re starting to soften up, add your chicken stock and let it cook for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add your noodles (remember, 8 ounces!). Cook for a few minutes, and then finally add your chicken and let it warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pretty simple recipe, really. I’m really picky about meat in soups (why I don’t like most canned soups), so I used the boneless/skinless breasts. Makes a huge difference.

 

Pandas love chicken noodle soup.

I’m brainstorming ideas for a recipe this week, I’m thinking of baking something, maybe a dessert. I’m not sure what I want to tackle yet. Anyone have any suggestions? It’ll likely happen tomorrow since it’s my day off and I can actually get some daylight cooking photos, hooray!!

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