(Rachel – The Vegan-Eatin’ Daughter)
This morning at 5:30 am, Jared hopped out of bed and yelled “Rach, come on, we’ve gotta go!”
“Where? What? What’s going on?” I asked in a bit of a frantic haze.
“To the bathroom. We have to take cover.”
In seconds, I threw the comforter off of me, jumped out of bed and started heading to grab Jackson, when I thought to ask, “How do you know a tornado is coming?!”
“I hear the wind” he responded, “but I guess I should check the weather.”
I paused and quickly checked the local weatherman’s Facebook page to see that the storms were not severe.
“You mean to tell me, you woke me up from my deep sleep and asked me to go wake my soundly sleeping baby so we could take refuge from wind?”
“Sorry, the wind sounded like a freight train. I really thought it was a tornado. In hindsight, I guess it could have actually been the freight train that runs through town.”
To his credit, we did get the car into the garage before it was pelted with a hail storm that came through shortly after and we were scary close to a bad tornado not long ago, so his heightened awareness was not completely displaced.
Texas weather is just crazy! Just a couple of days ago, we were grilling up some corn on the cob and pineapple and I was whipping up a batch of these sweet potato black bean burgers to enjoy on the patio after an afternoon at the pool. Today, we were pelted with hail and are on alert for more severe weather this evening. Thankfully, we have leftovers and so even though it’s windy and rainy outside, it’s summer inside!
10-month old Jackson LOVED these burgers. In fact, he ate an entire patty with avocado. Here he is with just a few crumbs left. Baby approved.
I think the key to a good veggie burger is getting them a little crispy on the outside and cooked until firm on the inside. I’ve found that if I only cook them on the stove, they are too mushy on the inside unless the patty is very thin, but baking them alone doesn’t give them the outside crunch that I personally really like. If you don’t have time to do both, you can certainly just bake them, but I would probably skip the bread crumb coating if you do it that way.
Rachel’s Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
Makes 8-10 patties
1 sweet potato, chopped and boiled until fork-tender
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup oats, coarsely ground (see picture in directions)
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (whole wheat if you can find it), divided in half
1/2 cup corn, fresh, frozen & thawed, or canned & drained
2 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. cayenne (if you like spice–omit for little eaters)
Heat oven to 350 F. Either spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper.
In a large flat-bottomed skillet (cast irons are great), saute onions and carrots on medium-low heat with a little olive oil until onions have a nice golden color. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mash one can of drained black beans (a fork, potato masher, or your hands will do the job), then add the other can of drained black beans and just lightly mash them, leaving some whole. Add the sauteed veggies and all the other ingredients, except for 1/2 of the bread crumbs, and mix well, mashing some of the sweet potatoes to help bind the mixture.
Put the remaining bread crumbs on a small plate or pie pan.
Form the patties. Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup, slightly over-filled, to measure out each patty. Patties should be about 1 inch thick and 4 inches in diameter.
In the same pan you cooked the veggies, add just enough oil to lightly coat the pan and turn the burner back to medium low. Dip the patties into the panko crumbs, gently pressing the crumbs into the patties. Add panko-crusted patties to the pan (2-4 at a time depending on the size of your pan), letting them get lightly golden brown, then flipping. The first side browns quicker.
Transfer the patties to the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
Serve on hamburger buns with your choice of toppings. Avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper, lettuce, chipotle mayo (just blend a chipotle pepper with 1/2 cup of mayo), are all great with these.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-mj
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
I think any of our regular readers know my affections for kale at this point. I do love that cruciferous veggie (in fact, this recipe sneaks in two cups of it), but I’ve been keeping quiet about another favorite food of mine. Possibly the the humblest legume out there, the lentil.
I don’t have a funny or inspiring story to tie into this recipe, so I’m just going to indulge in one of my favorite guilty pleasures, talking geeky about health food.
“What’s a lentil?” You ask. Well, I didn’t know either until about two years ago when I started eating a plant-based diet. I wish I had known about them when I was a college student trying to eat healthy on a tight budget. A pound of lentils costs less than $1.00 and will yield 5 cups of cooked lentils. Each cup boasts a whopping 17 grams of protein, 16 grams of fiber, folate (90% RDV), iron (35% RDV), magnesium, and much more, yet only has 1 gram of fat and 230 calories. All that, and they cook in 30 minutes (versus 4+ hours for most dry beans) with no soaking required.
Like most legumes, lentils aren’t a powerhouse of flavor on their own, but they pick up the flavors of whatever they are cooked in nicely. I use them in soups and spaghetti sauce all the time. This week, I discovered a new use for them. Instead of using canned beans or slow cooking kidney and black beans for my usual veggie chili recipe, I used lentils.
I know it’s warming up and, for some, chili is a winter dish, but I love any quick one-pot meal in the summer that doesn’t require turning on the oven or hovering over the stove for long. You can make a lot at once, and then take the next night off or easily pack up the leftovers for lunch at the office. And if you top it with a hit of diced avocado, some cilantro, and a squeeze of lime , it really brightens up the flavors and brings a bit of summer color to this warm dish.
What’s your favorite under-the-radar ingredient or food that you love to tell your friends about?
Rachel’s Lentil Veggie Chili
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. grated ginger
1 T. cumin
1 t. cayenne
1 t. salt
2 serrano chilies, whole
1 sweet potato, chopped
14 oz can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup (1/2 lb) dry green lentils, sorted for dirt & rocks* & rinsed
6 cups water
2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
2 cups kale, removed from stem
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes (optional for an extra spicy kick)
Other: Brown Rice and/or crackers, avocado, cilantro, & lime
In a large pot, heat a little bit of olive oil and saute onions and carrots with a pinch of salt on medium heat until soft. Add garlic and ginger and saute for 2 more minutes. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and salt. Add serrano chilies, sweet potato, tomatoes, lentil, and water. Cover and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 30 minutes with the lid tilted, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid. Add corn and kale & optional red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 more minutes. If you want a thicker soup, continue to simmer uncovered until you reach the desired consistency.
Serve over brown rice or with crackers. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
*Before cooking any dried legumes, pour them onto a solid surface, like a paper towel and sort through them looking for sticks, little rocks, or clumps of dirt. Please don’t skip this step. I find something in probably 50% of my dried beans. You don’t want you or your guests to bite into a rock!
I’ve always loved a perfectly ripe banana for a quick snack. On hectic mornings, I’d often grab a banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, a swig of milk and call it breakfast. Once, when my four kids were young, we all headed in a crazed mass exit toward the car where I would drive them to school. Realizing I’d forgotten to eat, I instructed my then-thirteen year old son, Zach, to “run back in the house and grab me a banana.”
I watched, perplexed. as he ran to the front door of the house then took an odd pose, his head slightly to the right, his arms to his side, and then ran back to the car in this weird position. “What are you doing?” I asked. He answered in all seriousness, “I thought you told me to go to the house and then run like a banana.”
I swear, when puberty hits our children their hormones start eating their brain cells. But I digress.
Back to bananas for breakfast. As some of you know, I’m determined to eat my way to lower blood pressure. One of the ways to do this is to eat more potassium rich foods. And a banana is loaded with potassium. In fact, I read that a bite of a banana has more potassium than most potassium tablets. Almonds, too, are praised for all sorts of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure.
Another new food craze I love is salted caramel anything. So I combined a simple banana smoothie with almonds and unsweetened almond milk (only 35 calories a cup!) then added a touch of caramel and sea salt. (Sea salt does not raise blood pressure the way iodized chemically produced salt does, and you need less of it to flavor your food since it so rich in minerals.) There is only 2 teaspoons of caramel syrup (about 40 calories) in each shake, but because you use one of the teaspoons to rim the glass and as a decoration on top, you get the feeling that it is much sweeter as you get a tiny taste of the pure caramel with each sip.
This new smoothie/shake is the breakfast of my dreams. I’m hooked. It also makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack or a bedtime treat, since the ingredients also relax you for a good night sleep. It could be a fluke, but I have noticed my blood pressure has lowered since having one of these banana and almond treats per day.
Served in a martini or margarita glass not only adds more elegance but allows you to rim the glass in a bit more caramel and sea salt, and gives you more surface area to garnish the top with the same.
Becky’s Salted Caramel Banana Nut Shake (Healthy)
1 rounded T. roasted almonds (salted or unsalted both work)
1 banana, peeled and chopped into 2 inch slices (preferably frozen)
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
4 t. caramel syrup, divided (There are several non-dairy alternatives for vegans, including caramel agave nectar, or google recipes for vegan caramel. )
½ c. ice
Sea salt – couple of tiny pinches
Into a blender put almonds, banana, and almond milk, 2 t. caramel syrup, ice and small pinch sea salt. Blend until smooth and almonds are just specks.
Pour about a teaspoon of caramel syrup around a plate, approximately the size of the rim of a martini glass. Sprinkle this circle with a tiny pinch of sea salt, lightly. Dip the rim of the glass into the syrup and salt, twisting and turning to coat evenly. Do this twice to prepare two martini glasses.
Pour half the smoothie/shake into each glass. Squiggle a bit more of the syrup (about 1/2 t.) to garnish the top of the drink, and sprinkle with one more tiny pinch of sea salt. Prepare to fall in love.
Variations: Add protein powder to buff up the protein and drink the whole recipe to make a complete breakfast smoothie.
Add liquor (rum, coconut or vanilla vodka) to turn this into a yummy frozen cocktail.
Try it with coconut milk instead of almond milk.
In a hurry? Skip rimming the glass.
For those of you who have seen the HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers,” you may recall the choking-back-tears comment from Don Malarkey as he described his comrades of the 101st Airborne, many decades after WW2. “Brave, so brave… it was unbelievable.” Greg and I had the privilege of a lifetime 4 years ago, when we got to spend 2 weeks in Europe with Buck Compton and Don Malarkey, two of the paratroopers portrayed in Band of Brothers.
We stood at the sea of white crosses in Normandy as a friend played taps. Don, Irish and emotional, wept openly as Buck wiped away a tear and swallowed. We walked with these old soldiers through the Bastogne forest where they once nearly froze and starved in foxholes to protect our freedom in the Battle of the Bulge. They remember their dear friends whose legs were blown off in this lovely green forest, once white with snow and red with blood and lit up with terrible fire and noise of war. I gathered pine cones on that misty summer day, to give to my children and grandchildren. To help me remember the sacrifice so many made to secure our freedom.
We visited with a family whose parents/grandparents were liberated from their own home by Easy Company soldiers. The family showed us a room with a red stain on the floor. It was were a Nazi was shot and killed. They looked at Don and Buck with such admiration and gratitude.
Everywhere we went these two vets were instantly surrounded when people heard that there were American paratroopers among us. They are rock stars in Europe where children grew up hearing of the “angels coming out of the sky” in parachutes to save them from the German soldiers.
They are rock stars to me.
Greg and I had lunch with Don this year as he was passing through town with a friend. He’s had to give up his beloved nightly nip of Johnny Walker for his health now that he is 90. His hearing is going, but he seemed awfully pleased when I kissed him on the cheek.
Buck, dear Buck, that gentle brilliant kind soul passed away in January. (Click here to read one of many tributes to this brave, humble man who eventually became a judge. )
I doubt there will ever be a Memorial Day when I don’t think of that trip and those heart-tugging experiences, and of these men.
Thank you to Don & Buck for sharing your stories*, and for risking your lives for our freedom.
Since Don can’t toast Memorial Day with a glass of scotch anymore, I’m dedicating this Bourbon Pork Loin recipe to him and all the Easy Company men. (The recipe is also “easy for company.”) Since the alcohol burns off, it’s safe to serve to the whole family. It is one of Greg’s absolute favorite meals, and every man I’ve served it to looks heavenward with joy after they take a bite.
“Band of Brothers” Bourbon Pork Loin
Call of Duty by Buck Compton http://tinyurl.com/m6ld3t
http://www.marcusbrotherton.com/(Marcus is the collaborator and has fabulous video/pictures relating to Buck’s book)
Recently Marcus Brotherton interviewed and collected stories from the 101st airborne (Easy Company) into a book called: We Who Are Alive and Remain:Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers by Marcus Brotherton.
http://www.bandofbrothersbooks.com/(website with video)
This weekend I cleaned out my refrigerator door and overflowed the trash can with expired bottled salad dressings and corn syrup-filled marinades. It dawned on me that I haven’t eaten bottled dressing in years. Once you start making your own fresh dressing, it’s hard to go back.
Usually I make a simple vinaigrette or something like my mom’s Lemon Drop Dressing, but sometimes Jared and I crave the creamy classic, Ranch Dressing.
When Jackson was just a few weeks old, Jared got a hankering for a salad with ranch dressing, but I was nursing the baby and couldn’t get up to help him. So from the rocking chair in the living room, I walked him through the steps of washing, drying and chopping the parsley, mixing it with vegan mayo, salt, pepper, minced onions, and garlic powder, and thinning it out with a little unsweetened milk.
Unsure if he got the seasoning right, he brought the bowl to me so I could taste it. Just as he stepped onto the carpet, our cat Marvin, jetted in front of him, tripping Jared and sending the bowl into the air. Like a scene out of a Steve Martin comedy, the bowl came down landing right on the cat. In a panic, Marvin took off, shaking frantically throughout the living room sending ranch flying in every direction, coating us, baby included, the furniture, the walls, and the carpet.
The house (and the cat) smelled of onion and parsley for days.
If you can chop parsley and dodge schizo cats, you can make this dressing. It’s a great base for other creative combinations, too, like Avocado Goddess Dressing or Roasted Pepper Ranch. You can use dried parsley in this recipe too, but the fresh parsley really pops.
Rachel’s Vegan Ranch Dressing
Makes 1 cup of dressing
1 c. vegan mayo (We like the Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise)
1/8 c. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 t. dried minced onion
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. freshed cracked pepper
2 T. unsweetened non-dairy milk (add a little more for a thinner consistency or less for a thicker dip)
Combine ingredients and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator. Let sit for a couple of hours before using if possible. It should keep for about three days.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Vegan Ranch Dressing
The URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/24/vegan-ranch-dressing/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved
When my little brother Gabe and I were pre-teens my parents would often take us to a timeshare resort in East Texas for the weekend. Most of the time, we’d each bring a friend along. My girlfriend and I would spend our afternoons lounging poolside or goofing off playing putt putt, while Gabe and his friends would spend the day fishing or schooling all the other kids in kickball.
At night, when the sun set and all the activities quieted down, we’d finally hull up on the cabin patio together with the tall pines towering above us and eat grilled burgers or barbeque chicken and fresh seasonal fruit. In the Spring months, the cool night air would drift in, and one of us inevitably would make the challenge.
“Let’s go jump in the pool.”
“It’s too cold,” another would whine.
“We can get in the hot tub afterwards. Come on it will be fun. Don’t be a wuss!”
To that, we’d all shimmy on our cold swim suits, still wet from the afternoon and chaise each other down to the pool. “Last one there has to jump in first,” the lead would holler back.
The older teenagers in the adjoining hot tub looked with disdain, as one by one we jumped in and splashed on their make-out parade. Our heads popping out of the water, screaming and laughing.
Covered in goosebumps, we’d jump straight from the cold pool into the steaming hot tub, ignoring the make-out couple’s grumbles as they climbed out and headed for some privacy on the lake shore. We’d stay in the hot tub until beads of sweat mingled with the chlorine water droplets on our face.
Then back into the cold water. This time, the cold shock was a welcome refreshment. And we’d swim around until our lips quivered and turned blue. Back and forth we’d go, until our parents hollered for us to come in, dry off, and get to bed.
These jalapeno margaritas are like an adult version of that childhood thrill. The first sip cools you off, then a punch of heat hits the back of your throat and you start to sweat just a little, but the lime zest sugar from the rim of the glass quickly counters the spice with a tangy sweet sensation. And back you go for another cooling sip, again and again…until your mom tells you you’ve had enough fun for the night.
Rachel’s Jalapeno Margarita’s
Makes 4 Margaritas
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 jalapenos (cut in half length wise, remove seeds if desired, but we like the thrill of the heat)
4 oz silver Tequila
juice of 6 limes
3 T. sugar, lime zest, slices of lime & jalapeno
In a sauce pan, make infused simple syrup: combine sugar & water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add jalapenos. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the jalapenos and seeds (if used). Let cool in the refrigerator.
In a pitcher, combine lime juice, tequila, and simple syrup and stir. Garnish the glasses and either pour the jalapeno margarita over ice or shake it in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into the glass.
Combine 3 T. sugar with the zest of a lime on a small plate. Run a slice of lime along the edge of the glass and dip the glass upside down into the lime sugar. Stick a slice of lime and a slice of seeded jalapeno on the edge of the glass.
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Jalapeno Margaritas
The URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/22/jalapeno-margaritas/
Nobody loves the first sip of morning coffee like I do! In fact, I used to use this moment as an inspirational speech illustration on how to capture “Eden moments” in our lives.
Obviously we aren’t living in Eden anymore, but that does not mean we don’t get glimpses of Eden. “The way we catch ‘Eden moments’,” I would say, “is the same way we acknowledge that first sip of good coffee in the morning. Many of us audibly say, ‘Ahh, that’s good.’ The same way God paused and said, ‘It is good’ after every phase of creation. We live more meaningful lives by noticing small blessings and pausing, even a second, to say, ‘Ah, that’s good.’ String enough of these small moments of gratitude together and you will find yourself happier.”
I still believe this is true. But this week, I had my favorite illustration taken from me! Due to a spike in blood pressure, I’m cutting out foods that may raise BP, and adding in foods that may lower it. One of the toughest things to give up was that sacred, holy, blessed… Cup o’ Morning Joe.
Since I, like most people, am more motivated by pleasure than I want to admit, I had to find a substitute morning beverage that would be worth getting out of bed for. I’ve experimented with several alternatives. There was a canned non-caffeinated health/energy drink. It tastes like chilled, diluted cough syrup. No go.
I tried various mugs of green and white teas, hot, with honey. They were nice, but hardly exciting enough to compel me to crawl from under the sheets.
Not a fan of de-caf coffee.
Then it hit me. Our cute local tea shop offers “tea slushies” during the summer months. I love them but they are a bit too sweet, full of sugar. I also need to add more berries and fruit in my diet, so I wondered about making a white tea berry slushy. A little of this, and a pinch of that went into the blender and in no time, out came The Winner. (Insert angel voices singing here.) Meet my new morning beverage of choice. So perfect for back porch sitting and sipping, that I often enjoy an afternoon tea slushy, too.
You’ll find me under the shade tree with my new icey-brew tomorrow, savoring a first sip and saying, ”Ahh.. that is good.”
P.S. I like both green and white teas, but have found white tea has a milder flavor and even more nutritional benefits. White tea has been shown to fight cancer, help with weight loss, improve and protect the skin and the heart in a myriad of ways among many other benefits. I often mix it with decaf black tea and sip on this all day. Here’s an informative link: White Tea Information.
Becky’s White Tea Fruit Slushy
Serves 2 large glasses, or 4 “wine” glasses
2 cups brewed white or green tea, cooled (made from 2 to 4 tea bags, depending on how strong you like it)
10 ounces (or a little over 1 cup) frozen berries, any kind
1/4 cup agave nectar or a tad of stevia or other sweetener of your choice
1/2 cup ice
Optional: citrus slices for garnish/flavor
Put all ingredients into a blender and whirl until slushy. Serve immediately, garnishing with a slice of lime, lemon or orange if desired.
Variations: Try other teas. (A visit to a nice tea shop is like a visit to a cool wine bar these days!) Substitute other frozen fruits such as peaches, cherries, mangos or kiwis. Even veggies like celery and cucumber would be refreshing.