the phony patty: spicy black bean burgers

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

i got this recipe from one of my favorite foodie blogs, good things catered. i love veggie burgers because they are a great substitute to the real thing and still leave you feeling satisfied. the flavor combination in these babies was spot-on. the spicy chili garlic sauce is a must - i think i might add more next time though. try this recipe next time you're feeling the need to veg out.

2 (14oz) cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/2 large green pepper, seeds discarded
2 large garlic cloves
1 medium carrot
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon spicy chili garlic sauce (add more if you like it hot)
1 egg
1/4 c. herbed bread crumbs

preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment. in bowl of food processor, add onion, green pepper, carrot and garlic. pulse to combine well and mince ingredients. remove from food processor bowl and place in fine mesh strainer to strain off excess liquid. in medium to large bowl, place rinsed and dried black beans and smash into paste with fork. add remaining ingredients and stir to combine well. using hands, shape mixture into place bun-sized patties and place onto baking sheet. bake for 25-30 minutes, or until edges have crisped up and burgers are cooked through. we topped the burgers with tomato, avocado and lettuce, but feel free to add anything you like - brother added cheddar cheese and sour cream because he thought they smelled like tacos (from the cumin).  i also served roasted garlic potatoes on the side. eat up!

(photo credit -


hearty for the party: creamy pesto gnocchi with green beans and ricotta

>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010

earlier this week, big ken wanted to have brother and me over for dinner. naturally, i offered to whip something up. but let me tell you - feeding these boys is no easy task. they are both famously picky and usually won't go near anything that resembles a vegetable or is green. the dinner turned out to be a success with both men going back for seconds. the recipe couldn't be simpler and is a perfect one to keep in your repertoire for those busy nights. if you are thinking about leaving out the ricotta - don't do it.  it really helped to break down the richness of the creamy pesto and added a new layer of flavor. you can also switch up the green beans for any vegetable you like - spinach, peas, zucchini.

source: real simple
1 pound fresh gnocchi
2 cups pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
8-ounce container store-bought pesto
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 cup part-skim ricotta

cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. drain and return them to the pot. meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. add the green beans and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain. add the pesto and cream to the gnocchi and cook over medium heat, stirring, just until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. divide among bowls and top with the green beans, ricotta, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. serve with a light caesar salad to finish the meal off.

side note: the battery in my camera died this week and, of course, the charger is no where to be found.  this week, i'll have to post the original images of the recipes, not my own re-creations. i apologize for anyone who has fallen hard for my photography skills. ha.

(photo credit -


this week in the kitchen

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

this week's recipes might seem a little over indulgent, but i actually plan to use lighter ingredients to make these dishes healthier.  so don't worry about about feeling guilty for eating them!  i'll also be serving lots of veggies alongside to even things out!

creamy pesto gnocchi with green beans and ricotta
spicy black bean burgers
bacon, ranch, and chicken mac and cheese

stay tuned to see how it turns out, foodies.

(photo credit -


love me tender: braised beef short ribs with white cheddar polenta

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

as we all know, it was the day of loooove last weekend and i couldn't think of a better way to celebrate then to cook an elegant meal for my favorites and my bests. i went out of my comfort zone with this recipe, but it definitely paid off.  the polenta was extremely creamy but also had a nice bite to it from the white cheddar cheese.  the ribs literally feel off the bone and had a wonderful earthly flavor. and oh were they tender.

source: william sonoma dinner parties cookbook
2 lb. bone-in beef short ribs
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, quartered
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 cups water
1 cup beef stock
3/4 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup instant polenta
4 oz white cheddar cheese 
1 punch asparagus

put ribs in a large bowl. mix together 1 teaspoon each of s&p and 1/2 tablespoon thyme leaves and the paprika. rub the seasoning all over the ribs. cover and let stand for 2 to 4 hours.

preheat oven to 325 degrees. in a large dutch oven over medium high heat warm the evoo. working in batches add the ribs in a single layer and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides - about 5 minutes for each batch. transfer to bowl and set aside.

pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pot and return to medium high heat. stir in the onion and carrots, cooking for 2 minutes. stir in the garlic and then sprinkle the vegetables with flour. cook for two more minutes, stirring constantly. pour in the wine, scraping up any browned bits clinging to the bottom of the pot, continue to stir, adding the water, beef stock, tomato paste, vinegar, bay leaf, thyme springs and more s&p. return the ribs and any collected juices to the pot and spoon the liquid over the ribs.

cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour. uncover stir the meat, recover, and continue to cook for about 2 more hours, until meat has nearly fallen off the bone. remove from oven and skim off and discard the fat from the surface.

meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring 3 1/4 cups water and the cream to a boil and whisk in the polenta. lower the heat to medium low and cook, whisking, until tender, about 3 minutes. stir in the cheese and season with s&p.

when ribs come out the oven, turn heat up to 400 degrees. season asparagus with evoo and s&p.  roast for about 5 to 7 minutes.  you might need a longer cooking time if you have thick asparagus - ours were the really thin ones.

as an appetizer, i served a beet, goat cheese and avocado salad. simply mix together those ingredients with any balsamic vinegar and you've got yourself an elegant and easy starter.


warm me up before you go-go: sausage & tortellini soup with garlic and thyme focaccia

>> Thursday, February 11, 2010

i've been going stir crazy with all this snow lately. the one bonus of being stuck inside is that i have more time to cook delicious things. after our second round of snowfall yesterday, the whole family was in the mood for something warm and comforting. i whipped up a pot of sausage and tortellini soup with fresh garlic thyme focaccia to serve alongside. we make this soup a lot at cotton top because it has a little bit of something for everyone.  the boys love the heartiness of the sausage and pasta while the gals love the healthiness of the added spinach and cannellini beans.  the recipe for the bread does take some work.  but if you can handle it foodies, i'm telling you, it's definitely worth it.

adapted from bon appetit 
14 oz. kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1.5 tablespoons fresh thyme
10 cups low sodium chicken stock
15 oz. cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
9 oz. package fresh cheese tortellini
parmesan cheese to garnish

heat evoo in large pot over medium high heat.  add sausage, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme. cook until onion becomes translucent and kielbasa has browned - about 12 minutes. add broth and bring to a boil.  reduce heat and stir in beans and spinach.  cook for about 5 minutes. add tortellini to soup and cook for another 5 minutes.  ladle into individual bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese before eating.

**please note - this soup isn't ideal for leftovers. as the soup sits overnight, the tortellini absorbs the broth and swell up. eventually, you'll end up with no broth and plump, soggy tortellini. if you anticipate having leftovers, only cook the amount you plan to eat.**


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