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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Black Bean Burgers

I finally found my pictures of our black bean burgers that I took last summer and so I can finally share them with you all. I first had black bean burgers at chilis and then tried them at Bahama Breeze and then got my husband to try them and he agreed-- we needed to find a way to make our own because they are amazing. Seriously, the guy hates black beans. He loves meat. And yet in complete confidence he told me that these were even better than a beef burger. Yes, he likes them better than meat. His secret is safe with me.
Anyway, I tried some recipes on pinterest but finally took the leap and made my own recipe up and Bingo! Our family black bean recipe was born. These are delicious so I make a large bunch. Also, it seems we tend to serve them to others who are stopping by and they also love them and ask for the recipe-- so here it is!
With everything I make, modify it to YOUR tastes! I like spices, so I go heavy on them. Start with three drained cans of black beans or three cups of black beans that you soaked according to package directions. Add them into a food processor. Next, add two avocados. This will act as your binding agent-- tried eggs but avocados taste so much better and there won't be a trace of green left in a few minutes after blending if the neon green color weirds you out. At one time, I was that person, but I have come to love avocados in all their neon greenish yumminess. Okay, so begin pureeing. Now, add in 2 tsp of cumin and 2 tsp of chili powder. I also add a tsp of garlic. If I have cilantro on hand I add just a pinch since my husband is weird about it-- but if he isn't home, it's a big handful! Puree some more. Add in a 1/3 cup of salsa. Puree some more. Now, I add some serano peppers in and maybe a teeny tiny bit of red onion. Because I am weird about red onions. This is where personal preference comes in-- if you like bell peppers, add them. Jalapeno-- go for it. It really depends on you. Puree it all up. I wish black beans looked prettier than mud, but just like the black bean soup, the consistency looks like mud. I know, a HUGE selling point. But, hang in there-- the taste is amazing!! Okay, so now grab a spoon-- do NOT-- DO NOT attempt to shape these into burger patties by hand! Trust me, its a big mess. I know. So, scoop out a large amount that looks like it will fit on your desired bun of choice. Use a decent size spoon to get bigger scoops.
Let them cook on medium heat for about ten minutes on a lightly greased skillet, flip, add cheese on top if you aren't a vegan, and then allow them to cook for about another 5-10 minutes. I haven't tried these on the grill yet, but if you did, I'd use a grill pan or non stick spray.
We top them with tomatoes or salsa or both. You can add some lettuce and onions or cilantro (yum!)-- make it your burger, but this is a good jumping off point! Enjoy-- these are truly one of our favorite things to eat!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Healthy Black Bean Soup

The winter chill is upon us and our menu for the week or two has lots of soups on it! Warm the body up from the inside out-- this is one of our favorites and we enjoyed it tonight as the temps plunged under 20 degrees-- Brrr! This can be adjusted to your tastes-- like it spicier, add some chili powder or hot salsa or jalapenos-- it's a great base recipe that can be personalized to your tastes-- but here is how we enjoy it!
First, we add two spoonfuls of oil-- we used coconut, but olive oil is just fine and dandy (also, if you've never used coconut oil before, this is not the recipe to begin-- stick with some evoo and it will be delicious!)
Next, add a tablespoon of minced garlic. Notice my handsome helper? This is also a good recipe to make with your kids-- lots of fun and they get bragging rights at dinner.
We chopped one medium onion and one bell pepper-- don't worry about the size because this is one of those times where size doesn't matter!
We sauteed all of that with a few red pepper flakes and salt and pepper (this up to you on how much) and breathed in the heavenly aroma (disclaimer-- this soup will also open up your nasal cavity-- esp. if you lean on the spicier side of things-- added bonus if you have a cold!).
Next, we added two and a half cups of vegetable broth. We just made a Big HUGE batch two weeks ago and yeah, well, thats why we are going to be immersing ourselves in soup! I can't wait-- literally, I LOVE soups in the winter!
Anyway, back to the current pot of soup-- next, we added two cups of water.
Now, onto the beans-- the star of the soup! We added three cups of rinsed black beans-- a little nervous about how much you like black beans-- cut it back to two and just add one cup of water-- see, you can totally adjust this to your tastes!
We added one cup of salsa.
A tbs. of cumin and a bay leaf.
Now let it simmer to a low boil for about 20 minutes. While we wait, here is what we were up to this weekend:
Our Baby got dedicated-- it is such an honor to raise all of our children in the ways of the Lord and keep ourselves accountable with our church body as their parents. Our daughter celebrated a birthday and we had a fun afternoon celebrating with family. She is such a delight to our family-- she adds the sugar and spice for sure!
Okay, back to our soup-- time to blend it up. I start on low and then high (time will depend on your blender).
At this point it looks like mud-- but I promise you, it tastes amazing!!
If you stop here, it's completely vegan-- but we couldn't help ourselves and added a small scoop of sour cream and sprinkled on some cheese.
It was delicious!
I hope this soup makes it on to your table and would love to hear what you and your family enjoy on cold winter evenings! "Soup is a lot like a family-- each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor."- Marge Kennedy

Monday, January 5, 2015

Missing and Longing

I know we have been absent here on the blog but we just like many others succumbed to a busy holiday season. We enjoyed lots of special family time, birthdays, and most importantly celebrating Christ's birth. I had planned to begin blogging again by sharing our family's favorite black bean burger recipe-- but while I was searching for those pictures I kept stumbling across garden images. I have to be honest here, we are all aching to get back into the yard to garden. The produce we grew last year is still blessing us at meals, but I think that's just fueling the anticipation. We all keep peeking out windows and longing for the day when we can turn up the soil and put our first seeds in. I did find this pictures of some gardens we were able to visit last summer that I had hoped to share back then, but why not now on the eve before we are about to get some snow?
This is my parents back yard garden. My father was raised by an Italian immigrant who gardened along with many of their neighbors. I can remember helping in my grandfather and dad's garden. My dad's has always been what I call a salad garden-- lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplant and squash. We are hoping to help get him going with peas and beans this summer and maybe some radishes. He has been adding compost and grass clippings to it for years and the soil is very productive.
While we were visiting my parents, they were watching a friends garden. Actually, it's way more than that. Their friend is a professor at a college and has turned some of the land there into rented plots for people to garden. All the gardens must be organic and pesticide free and it is amazing-- they are growing some really productive plants!
We helped harvest peas (which are now being enjoyed by us through out the winter) and some basil (our basil last year was a dwarf variety and not great for saving).
We love visiting Longwood Gardens and their vegetable garden is drool worthy! They have numerous gardens and this year it was neat to be able to identify the plants and see how we could incoporate some of their trellis methods (last year many of ours collapsed under the weight of the plants).
Finally, here are some from our own yard... ah how we miss you!
As we wait, the garden once again reminds me of a biblical lesson to wait upon the Lord and wait for Him. Do I anticipate Him? Long for him? Love how the garden reveals truths that God has for me. Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."