Black bean burgers with Purple cabbage slaw

Burgers…there are a million and one recipes out there for different kinds of vegetarian burgers: black bean, sweet potato, quinoa…you name it and there’s a recipe for it.

So why am I posting another one? Because this is my go to recipe…the one even after I look at all of them, I will head back to again and again. And it’s something that I just threw together in my kitchen one night when we needed dinner and I was tired and didn’t want to think about cooking. Open a can of beans, add a pepper, some onions and spices and voila! Easy quick dinner with very little in the way of ingredients.

Then I whipped up this slaw! We like ours a bit tart because the burger and bread hide the tartness once it’s all combined. Again, we didn’t have lettuce and wanted something for the burger and thus the slaw was born. Easy, quick and tasty!

And I apologize for the lack of photos…we honestly scarfed them down so fast that there was nothing to take a picture of in the morning when the lighting was better!

Black bean burgers

1 big can of black beans, drained and rinsed
½ green or red bell pepper, diced
1 T onion flakes (or ½ onion diced and sauted)
1 T cumin
1 t chili powder
1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ t garlic powder)
¼ cp bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten with fork
½ cup corn meal—for breading

Toss everything EXCEPT corn meal into a bowl and mix together. Smash beans until your desired texture is reached (I like mine pretty smashed, but with some still visible bean chunks in there).
Put corn meal on a small plate or in a shallow dish. Form your patties and put in corn meal, coating both sides. In a skillet with a touch of oil, cook patties over low-med heat until golden on both sides, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

*The corn meal gives the burgers a nice crunchy exterior. You can just as easily cook them without.

**The burgers also freeze well. Simply form the patties (no breading) and freeze! When you are ready to cook, thaw, bread and cook away!

***Spices: More or less depending on your taste! Do you like things spicy? Add more chili powder or even a squirt of Sriracha . Don’t like cumin? Leave it out!

Purple Cabbage Slaw

¼ head purple cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, julienned
½ green or red bell pepper, julienned
1 T mayo (or less depending on your taste)
½ lime or lemon, juiced
½-1 t sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Dissolved ½ tsp sugar in half of the lime juice. Mix cabbage, carrots, and bell pepper together. Pour over sugar and lime juice mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more sugar and or lime juice, to your taste.

 

Enjoy!!!

Salsa salsa salsa

My husband B can live off salsa and chips. Seriously. He would eat it every day for every meal if he could.  He loves Mexican food purely for the chips and salsa. And yet I’ve never made salsa until just recently. Sorry B!!

A very sweet family member gave me this salsa recipe when B and I got married (8 years ago) and I just pulled it out the other day to give it a whirl. Tomatoes are in season here right now and I had a bunch that I didn’t know what to do with. Salsa seemed like the perfect choice. This recipe is quick, easy and stores perfectly! It also seems to get tastier the longer the flavors have to meld together. I made up one batch and put in in 3 small (1 cup size) jars. All three went in the fridge and we finished off the salsa about a month  later.

Yum! Perfect snack for these warmer days

Yum! Perfect snack for these warmer days

Simple Salsa Salsa Salsa Recipe
B gives it a 5 out of 5 carrots!

10 roma tomatoes, quartered
1/3 to ½ bunch cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 limes
15 oz stewed tomatoes (try my fast and easy recipe..or if from a can, then drain)
½ t crushed red pepper flakes or 1 diced japeleno (seeds removed)

Combine these in food processor and pulse until you like the consistency

Then add in:
½ med white onion, finely diced
½ t salt
1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced

 

Stir and serve!

Stewed Tomatoes

While we were in the States last year, I saw an idea on Pinterest for making your own cookbook using those old spiral bound cookbooks. You know the ones: the church fundraiser, women’s group, or garden society cookbooks filled with everything from beef gelatin to ambrosia salad. Remember those? Anyway, every time I was in an old bookstore or antique shop I looked around for one of these cookbooks with some nice drawings and headings. I found several and brought them back to West Africa with me for a rainy day when I needed a project.

So the other day when I was wanting to make my salsa and chips obsessed husband some salsa (recipe coming!) I found myself in a pinch. I needed stewed tomatoes. You can’t just run out and buy those where I am. For some reason instead of consulting my best friend Google, I pulled out one of these old cookbooks I bought. And voila! Stewed tomatoes that turned out to be delicious, quick and easy! Maybe I won’t be remaking this book after all!

The first time I made these, I left the skins on the tomatoes, but I didn’t like the pieces of skin that ended up mixed in the sauce. So the second time, I peeled the tomatoes and it was much better. These stewed tomatoes freeze beautifully, make a great pizza sauce or pasta sauce, and can well. No more searching for the perfect pizza sauce or pasta sauce for me! This is my go to recipe!!

Stewed Tomatoes
B gives these 5 out of 5 carrots!

stewed tomatoes

Every good recipe should start with onion and garlic!

2 T butter or margarine
1 medium chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
8 medium size tomatoes (not Roma), with skins removed**
2 t sugar
1 t oregano
1 t basil
1 t thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Add butter to large skillet and melt over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in butter 2-3 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer about 20 minutes, until tomatoes have cooked down and most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Enjoy your stewed tomatoes!

** The easiest way to remove the skins from the tomatoes is to basically blanch them. Boil some water on the stove. In a bowl add water and ice. Once the water is boiling, drop in the tomatoes and boil for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, transfer the tomatoes to ice water and begin gently removing the skins. The skins should sort of slid/peel off without removing much tomato flesh. If it seems stubborn, add to boiling water again for 10 more seconds and back to ice water. This works best in small batches. I did two tomatoes at a time :)

Vegetable pancakes

 

Chickpea flour, veggies and a few minutes in the kitchen make for a light and yummy lunch!

Chickpea flour, veggies and a few minutes in the kitchen make for a light and yummy lunch!

A few months ago I was in the grocery store in our capital and found a sack of Gram flour. Of course I had no idea what that was, but thought “Why not?!” and bought the half pound bag.

Imagine my delight when I got home and discovered that it was chickpea flour! I love chickpeas. Hummus, chickpea salad, falafel. You can rarely go wrong with chickpeas!

After some more investigating on how to actually use the flour and I landed on this recipe. A vegetable pancake made with chickpea flour. It’s perfect paired with some yogurt/sour cream, tahini, or even ranch (because who are we kidding? Ranch goes great with everything!).  Meat eaters could throw some bacon or smoked sausage in the batter and some Worcestershire  for a rich smoky flavor! And it’s another gluten free recipe!

The pancakes make a great light lunch or afternoon snack and store well in the freezer too. I usually serve mine with a simple salad topped with two pancakes and some yogurt. Yum!!

 

Vegetable Pancakes
adapted from Calm Mind Busy Body

Yum!!

Yum!!

B gives it 4 out of 5 carrots

2 cups chickpea flour
¾ cup water
½ cup frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and chopped
3 small tomatoes, diced
½ cup frozen broccoli, thawed and diced
¼ cup corn, drained and rinsed
¼ cup lima beans, peas or fava beans, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground cardamon
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground ginger
½  tsp chili powder
¾  tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp Moroccan Spice Seasoning (here) ** optional
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) for cooking

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients (minus the EVOO) to a medium bowl and stir until everything is mixed well.
  2. Prepare your griddle pan or non-stick skillet with some EVOO and place over medium-low heat.
  3. Using a ¼ cup, scoop out batter onto griddle spreading the mixture out to ensure even cooking.
  4. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, flipping when the first side is a golden brown.* Place on cooling rack when done to prevent sogginess.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

*The longer you wait to flip, the less even the other side of the pancake will be because the batter cooks down leaving the vegetables higher. This means that parts of your pancake will remain more doughy than others. I found that on low-medium heat, a good 2 minutes was plenty of time.

** A note about the Moroccan Spice Seasoning: I accidentally dumped some of this in the batter thinking it was red pepper flakes :) I ended up liking the slightly sweet hint from the cinnamon, so I was glad I had included it. I’ve made these so many times before without it and they are just as good without!

Millet with Broccoli and Walnut Pesto

Warm Millet and Broccoli

Millet. What? Isn’t that what we put in bird feeders? Yes actually there’s a type of millet that’s grown that Americans use for bird feed, but there’s also tons of other varieties of millet that are grown all over India, China and parts of Africa.

I can’t say that I ever ate millet in the US, but in West Africa it’s everywhere. The people eat it with yogurt, peanut butter, as a porridge and with any sauce they make. It’s cheaper here than rice, which actually makes it less preferable to eat J. In fact, a few years ago we took over 1000 lbs of millet to a village that had suffered a fire and people complained because we didn’t bring them rice!

Millet is one of those grains that most people don’t know about or at the very least forget about. It’s a shame too because it’s chock full of protein, vitamin B, iron, magnesium, zinc and other nutrients making it a very healthy alternative to rice. And it’s gluten free!

Most of the time when we’ve eaten millet here, it’s a less than pleasant experience with some unidentified crunchiness/graininess that always makes you cringe. You don’t know if you just ate was a bit of peppercorn, sand, dirt or husk. But I really want to love millet! I found this recipe for millet mixed with a walnut pesto and broccoli and knew that I’d found my solution! Toasting the millet brings out the nuttiness of the grain which pairs perfectly with the nutty pesto. Top it with some walnuts, some creamy avocado slices and a drizzle of a balsamic vinegar reduction and it’s the perfect way to add some millet to your diet.

 

Millet and Broccoli

Millet, walnut pesto and broccoli served with a balsamic vinegar reduction

Millet with Broccoli and Walnut Pesto
adapted from Eden Kitchen
B gives it 3 out of 5 carrots

1 cup hulled (pearled) millet*
2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups frozen broccoli florets, thawed *
¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped + some for garnish
1 packed cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
⅔ cup finely grated parmesan
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp  salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat place 1 cup of millet  and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until it smells nutty. Be careful to not let the millet burn. Add 2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt. Bring to boil, reduce heat and cover.  Simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed 25-30 minutes*. Once done, turn off the heat and let the millet sit covered for 5-7 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

2. Meanwhile in a food processor or blender add walnuts, parsley, EVOO, lemon juice, parmesan, garlic, black pepper and salt. Pulse twice then process until well combined. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt as needed.

3. In a small saucepan of water, add broccoli and cook to warm up, about 2 minutes. Drain well.

4. Toss the millet with the cooked broccoli and 1/2 of the pesto. Taste and add more pesto if needed.

5. Serve topped with more walnuts, sliced avocado,a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or bacon if you’re a meat eater!

Super Easy Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1. In a small skillet over medium heat, add vinegar and bring to a simmer.

2. Simmer until the vinegar is slightly thickened, 1-2 minutes. Or longer for a thicker stronger sauce.

 

Notes:

*For the West Africans, the millet you buy in the market will take about 35-40 minutes to cook and you will probably need 3 cups of water. Make sure that it is well cleaned and hulled. I would recommend cleaning and washing it, letting it dry and then toasting it. OR you can have it ground and steam it and then follow the directions starting with the pesto.

*If using fresh broccoli (lucky you!!!), clean the florets and add to boiling water for 45 seconds. Drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

 

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili

It’s rainy season here in our country and we are loving it! Not only does it mean cooler temps at night and sometimes during the day, but it also means we can enjoy eating hot meals more often!

Sometimes in the hotness of hot season we just don’t want to eat warm foods or drink hot beverages. Iced coffee, iced green tea, sandwiches and salads tend to take over. So when the temperatures are reasonable we rush to enjoy the warmer foods like soups, stews, and casseroles.

So one particularly cool evening it seemed like only some sort of soup would do for dinner. After searching Pinterest a bit, I remembered that my mom had sent me this recipe and I happened to have everything on hand (love when that happens!). 30 minutes later dinner was ready and it was delightful!

Quinoa and Sweet Potato ChiliQuinoa and Sweet Potato Chili Recipe
Recipe adapted from WellVegan
B gives it 4 out of 5 carrots

2 cans black beans
6 oz tomato paste
32 oz vegetable stock ( or chicken stock if that’s what you have)
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs chili powder
1 t dried parsley
1 t oregano
1 ½  Tbs cumin
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1” cubes
1 cup quinoa
1 small can of corn
Salt/pepper
Avocado, cheese and sour cream for garnish

  1. Heat up EVOO in soup pot over medium heat and cook onion and bell pepper until soft, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  2. Add tomato paste, chilli powder, cumin , parsley and oregano. Cook for 1 minute more, stirring constantly, allowing the herbs to “bloom”.
  3. Add stock, beans, corn and sweet potato cubes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook for 6 minutes and then add in the quinoa, stirring to mix.
  5. Cook until potatoes and quinoa are fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes, and the chili is thick. Add water if needed or based on your thickness preference.
  6. Serve garnished with some avocado slices, cheese and/or sour cream.

Meat option: Brown and drain some ground beef and add it when you add the beans!

Enjoy!

 

Just saying hello

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been surrounded by great cooks. I can remember spending countless hours in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her bake and decorate cakes for weddings and parties or whip up a cobbler or throw together chicken and dumplings. In fact while we lived with them for awhile, I would do my homework around the kitchen table and try not to be distracted by her self taught skills. When we moved into our new house with its kitchen island and bar stools, I remember doing the same thing with my mom. Watching her make anything was fascinating. Her culinary skills are well known by all our family and friends and being in the kitchen with her is one of the things I miss most about living away.

It wasn’t until I got married that I really began to explore my own kitchen, but it wasn’t until we moved overseas that my love for the kitchen blossomed. Having to make everything from scratch became very soothing and a source of great relaxation. Google became my dearest and closest friend as I figured out how to make everything that I didn’t have access to like tortillas, different types of bread, cream cheese, brown sugar and so much more. After a hard day of being in a different culture, the kitchen is where I can go to feel normal!

In our second year here, eating became difficult for me. The quality of meats here is very poor and I began to have an even harder time with textures. I have always had meat issues..not caring for the taste or texture and being disgusted by the idea of eating something that had a face…but when the meat we were getting was such poor quality, my issues took on a whole new flavor. Seeing meat began to make me physically ill and while this is totally psychological, it was a problem.

So I just stopped eating meat. Just that simple. I told B one day that I was no longer putting meat into my body and I stopped having the issues. Again completely psychological, but no judging please! And thus began my journey in being a (mostly) vegetarian. I will admit. I do have a soft spot for bacon (extra crispy) and recently on a trip back home had a taste of “the best burger” (-Dad) and it made me reconsider. But mostly I live a vegetarian life. I try to throw in some meat for my non vegetarian husband and most of what I make is quick and simple because I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen when it’s already hot outside!

These are some of my favorite kids in the world

These are some of my favorite kids in the world

So that’s what I want to bring to the table. Quick and easy vegetarian meals/side dishes with some meat options thrown in. Some baking as I have a major sweet tooth. And a lot of fun.

Please enjoy!