Black Bean Burgers

Eating organic can get pretty pricey, especially when it comes to meat. I mentioned to my mom one time how much we pay for organic chicken breasts ($7.99/pound!), and I thought she was going to faint. Since we aren’t exactly swimming in money, I try and plan at least one meatless meal a week to cushion the blow to our grocery budget. The only problem that I’ve found is that most meatless meal are pasta dishes, which can be problematic when you’re trying to watch calories and carbs.

These black bean burgers can be a great solution for a meat free, lower-carb dinner. They are thick, meaty and full of flavor. They come together quickly, so they are perfect for busy weeknights. You can even assemble them the night before, and cook just prior to eating. They were a huge hit with my husband, and we know keep a stash of them in the freezer for quick dinners and lunches.

Black Bean Burgers
Yields: 6 burgers
Ingredients:
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 shallot, minced

Directions:
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Using a fork, toss together the panko and 2 teaspoons of oil in a small bowl. Add to the skillet and stir frequently until light golden brown and toasted. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Set aside 1/2 cup of the beans and place remaining beans in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 tablespoon of oil, cumin, salt and cayenne. Add the egg mixture, toasted panko, remaining beans, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro and shallot to the bowl with the mashed beans. Stir until evenly combined.

Divide mixture into 6 equal portions, about 1/2 cup each. Shape into patties about 1-inch thick. (If not cooking immediately, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours.) Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Carefully place three of the patties in the skillet and cook until well browned on both sides, 8-10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and repeat with remaining oil and patties.
*Freezer Friendly* – To freeze, place uncooked burgers on a parchement lined baking sheet, freeze until frozen then store in a ziplock bag.

Source: Cook  Like a Champion

Posted in Beans and Legumes, Freezer Friendly, Healthy, Main Dish, Sandwich | Leave a comment

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I’ve never been known as a trendsetter. I’m not someone who has to be first in line to get the newest i-gadget, nor am I someone who always has the newest styles in my closet. Heck, I didn’t have internet on my phone until just a year ago. So while I may be a bit late to the party, I usually eventually get around to catching up the times.

Case in point, these chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. I know what you’re thinking, “Chrissy, these were on every food blog like 2 years ago…” I know, I know! But I just got around to making them now, ok? And if you’re still in the minority of people that have not tried these killer cupcakes yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

Now these are not your mama’s cupcakes. They consist of a chocolate chip base, filled with cookie dough filling, topped with brown sugar buttercream, then garnished with tiny chocolate chip cookie. Talk about cookie dough overload! Despite being packed with cookie dough, you’ll be surprised that they are not overly sweet. Since there are quite a few components to these cookies, I recommend making them over a two day period. The first day I baked the cupcakes and made the filling, then the second day I made the frosting, mini cookies, and assembled them. Breaking up the tasks make these seem much less daunting!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the cupcakes:
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

For the filling:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tbsp. light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

For garnish:
Tiny chocolate chip cookies*
Mini chocolate chips

Directions:
To start by making the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar. Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir together to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl on low speed, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, mixing each addition just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling, combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the flour, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla until incorporated and smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture has firmed up a bit, about an hour.

To fill the cupcakes, use a 1-inch biscuit cutter or a paring knife to cut out the center of the cupcake. Fill the hole with a chunk of the chilled cookie dough mixture. You can either leave the filling uncovered, or cover the filling with the piece of cake that you cut out.

To make the frosting, beat together the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth and well blended.

Frost the filled cupcakes as desired, sprinkling with mini chocolate chips and topping with mini chocolate chip cookies for decoration.

*To make tiny chocolate chip cookies, use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and scoop out the dough using a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon. Bake for 5-7 minutes until browned on the bottom. I used my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and cut it in half.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Posted in Cupcakes | 4 Comments

Jamaican Coco Bread

Continuing with our Jamaican theme, I’d like to introduce you to coco bread! For those of you who haven’t been to Jamaica, I’m sure you’re thinking, “What the heck is coco bread?” My answer to that? Only the best bread you’ll ever eat! It’s sweet, soft and slathered in melted butter. Some people say that it’s called coco bread because most recipes call for coconut milk, while others say that it’s because the bread is folded, and you open it like a coconut to eat it. Either way, it was one of my favorite treats that we ate in Jamaica, and it works perfect for jerk chicken sandwiches.

Coco Bread
Yields: 2 dozen rolls

Ingredients:
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (¼-ounce)
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons sugar
4-5 cups flour
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Melted butter (to brush the tops)

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the coconut milk, yeast, eggs and sugar until throughly combined. Add in 2 cups of the flour, adding 1 cup at a time, until well mixed. Mix in the melted butter and salt.

Continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is smooth. Switch to a dough hook and continue to knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until double in size.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Punch down the dough, then transfer it to a floured surface. Gently knead for about 1 minute, then let it rest for 5 minutes. Break the dough into small pieces (about the size of a golf ball), then use a floured rolling-pin to roll out the dough into a circle. After all the pieces are rolled out, brush the surface with melted butter, than fold in half and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. Brush the tops of the rolls with more melted butter.

Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Vagablond

Posted in Biscuts and Rolls | 1 Comment

Jerk Chicken

Just over a year ago, Brad and I returned from our honeymoon in Negril, Jamaica. We had the time of our lives, and spent eight days swimming, lounging on the beach, snorkeling, kayaking, drinking, and of course, eating amazing food. We stayed at an all-inclusive, which are not particularly known for great food, but we were pleasantly surprised by the five different restaurants. The food was abundant, and everything we tried was spectacular.


Paradise!

One of our favorite Jamaican delicacies that we tried was the famous jerk chicken. When we first arrived at our resort, we threw our bags in our room then set out to explore the vast property. After taking a few minutes to soak in the gorgeous beach, we were off to find some food. After a long morning of traveling, we were starving! We stumbled upon a beachside cafe that served burgers, snacks, and of course – jerk chicken.
My first taste of jerk chicken

Since then, I have been in love with jerk chicken, and have been looking for a recipe so I can make it back here in the states. (Since unfortunately, I don’t take extravagant tropical vacations all that often.) It took me a year, but I found a recipe that is very close to the chicken we had in Jamaica. It definitely has a kick to it, so make sure to have a nice cold beer nearby. If  you’re not a huge fan of spice, use habanero peppers instead of scotch bonnets.

Jerk Chicken
Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup malt vinegar (or white vinegar)
2 Tbsp dark rum
2 Scotch bonnet peppers (or habaneros), with seeds, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 green onion tops, chopped
1 Tbsp dried thyme or  2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons ground allspice
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons molasses

1 (5 or 6 pound) roasting chicken, cut in half, lengthwise (or cuts of chicken of your choice)
1/2 cup lime juice

Directions:
Place the vinegar, rum, hot peppers, onion, green onion tops, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and molasses into a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Transfer the chicken to a large freezer bag or air-tight container, then pour the lime juice over the chicken and coat well. Take the jerk paste and rub it over the chicken. (Be sure to wear gloves or use a rubber spatula, the peppers can burn your skin!) Refrigerate overnight.

Grill method: Preheat your grill to medium high. Place the chicken halves, skin side down on the grill. Cover and cook for one hour, turning the chickens occasionally until the chicken is cooked through. The chicken is done when the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165-170°F for the breast and 180-185°F for the thigh. Transfer chicken to platter. Cover loosely with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Oven method: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Place the chicken in a rimmed baking dish and roast for 50-60 minutes until the chicken is done, and the juices run clear.

Source: Simply Recipes

Posted in Chicken, Grilling, Healthy, Main Dish | 1 Comment

Raspberry Swirl Cheescake Cupcakes

For the novice baker, cheesecake tends to be somewhat intimidating. Using a funky springform pan and a water bath can be enough to turn even an experienced baker off from making cheesecakes. If you’ve never tried making cheesecake, these mini cheesecake cupcakes can be a great start. Since they’re baked right in a muffin tin, there’s no fancy equipment or complicated steps required. Plus, for those with no self-control (um, like myself), these mini versions offer built-in portion control. Just be sure to limit yourself to one or two.🙂

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Cupcakes
Yields: 32 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
4 tbsp. melted butter
3 tbsp. sugar

For the filling:
2 lbs cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

For the raspberry swirl:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
2 tbsp. sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.

Prepare the crust by mixing the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter together with a fork until well moistened.  Add 1 tbsp of the mixture to each cupcake tin and press firmly to create the crust. (A drinking glass or a small measuring cup can help to firmly press the crust down.) Bake the crust for 5 minutes, or until well set. Transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the cheesecake filling, beat the cream cheese on medium high until fluffy. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined and smooth. Add 3 tbsp of filling to each cupcake tin, then set aside.

To make the raspberry puree, combine the raspberries and sugar in a blender or food processor until well combined. Strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. To make the raspberry swirl, add three drops of the puree to each muffin tin, use a wooden skewer or a toothpick to gently swirl the filling.

Bake the cheesecakes for 20-22 minutes until the filling is set. (They look puffy when you first remove them from the oven, but they will flatten out.) Transfer to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Posted in Cheesecake, Cupcakes, Dessert | 6 Comments

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Working in a labor and delivery unit tends to be either feast or famine. Some days we are so busy that we never get a chance to sit down in a 12 hour shift, while other days we’re sitting around, twiddling our thumbs, just praying for a pregnant woman to walk through the front door. Last week, we had one of the busiest days I’ve had in a long time. We had every single triage room full, a dozen laboring moms in our labor unit, plus more potential labor patients on their way in from home. In the midst of the madness, I got called to assist on a c-section for not 1, not 2, but 3 babies. Triplets! Needless to say, I, nor the wonderful nurses that I work with got any sort of lunch break that day.

Luckily, I happened to bring in this lemon blueberry yogurt loaf that morning, and for many of us working that day, it was the only thing we ate all day! It was easy to make, and a huge hit with all of my coworkers. I loved the bold lemon flavor against the contrast of the sweet blueberries, and the yogurt in the bread keeps it really moist. Given the abundance of berries this time of year, you have no excuse not to make this bread.

Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Yields: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
For the Loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour the bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring the loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Source: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

Posted in Berries, Bread, Breakfast | 8 Comments

Light Ranch Dressing

I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce the amount of processed foods that we eat, especially with things that we eat on a daily basis. We are nowhere near perfect, but we do pretty well with staying away from frozen pizzas and microwaveable meals and sticking to fresh fruits, veggies and meats. Our one downfall area tends to be condiments. It’s just way too easy to grab a bottle of salad dressing or ketchup from the fridge instead of making homemade. I mean, my friends already think I’m a little crazy for baking my own bread and canning my own tomato sauce, they’d really think I went off the deep end if I started making ketchup!

Little did I know, it’s ridiculously easy to make your own ranch dressing. You literally dump everything into a blender, turn it on for 20 seconds, and voila! – homemade, healthier, ranch dressing. By using my favorite healthy recipe substitute – greek yogurt – it gives you the creaminess of sour cream with less fat and more protein. Two tablespoons of this dressing clocks in at only 30 calories and 2 grams of fat. So go ahead – use twice as much. Come football season, I’ll be making ranch dressing by the gallon to use in my favorite buffalo chicken dip, since we eat it on almost a weekly basis in the fall!

Light Ranch Dressing
Yields: 2.5 cups

Ingredients:
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Store in a mason jar or air-tight container in the fridge.

Source: Prevention RD

Posted in Dressings and Condiments, Pantry Staples | 3 Comments