Corn Dog Muffins

I'm not gonna lie... this is not my recipe! Thank you, RecipeGirl for such an easy weeknight gem!

Best thing is that you can sub your favorite mix and hot dogs into the recipe. Sub in egg beaters for a lower cholesterol version! So delicious and easy, not to mention a kiddo favorite!

9 Turkey Hot Dogs
2 boxes 8oz Jiffy corn muffin mix
2 Large Eggs
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Cup Shredded Cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray muffin pans with nonstick spray or line with paper cups.

In one bowl combine corn muffin mix and brown sugar. In a separate bowl mix eggs and milk with a whisk. Pour liquids into mix and blend well.

Chop hot dogs into quarters. Add cheese and hot dogs to mix. Use a ladle and fill muffin tin with mixture.

Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with chips and fruit. Make sure to offer ketchup, mustard, and any other favorite corn dog dipping sauces.

Refrigerate leftovers!

Enjoy this quick dinner that can be made - start to finish - in about 20 minutes. :)


Fun Fall Favorite

Dogs in a blanket and tater tots.

Dude. Do I even need to write more?

Go ahead, be a kid again!

Dogs in a Blanket
(Makes 4)
1 can refrigerator crescent rolls
4 hot dogs (your choice! Tofu, turkey, beef, pork, whatever)

Follow baking directions on can. For a perfect wrap and roll, look for the seam that opens the rolls out into a flat rectangle. There will also be one that separates the whole thing into two halves, top and bottom. Do not separate into triangles, rather, press seams together with fingers to then have 4 rectangles. Wrap each hot-dog burrito style in a crescent roll dough rectangle. Put seam side down in a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Fill other 3/4 of sheet with tater tots and bake all together. (Split the temperature difference if there is one between your roll and tots directions.) Cook the dogs in a blanket until golden brown. Tots might need to stay in the oven a bit longer.

Serve with a side of fresh fruit and some milk for a complete meal!

Don't forget ketchup and mustard to dip in. This is a great dinner for kids of all ages!

Ps - reheats well the next day!


Lucky Three: Banana Pudding Dessert "Lasagna"

But wait... there's more!
I can't post two delicious entree recipes without sharing our favorite dessert the last couple nights.  A fabulous, sweet "lasagna" dessert with all sweet ingredients.  Most items are kept on hand in my kitchen, and may be in yours as well, so this recipe truly is a quick and delicious way to round out savory meals. Feel free to substitute any ingredients with lower fat/calorie versions to reduce the overall calorie count.  Also - don't be fancy.  Unless you plan to eat this all right away (which is definitely easy to do) go ahead and make in a container that you can pop a lid on in your fridge once it has set.

Banana Pudding Dessert "Lasagna"

1 sleeve graham crackers, broken at perforations
2 medium bananas, sliced in discs
1 packet banana cream pudding mix
2 scant cups cold 2% milk

In a 1 quart dish, make 3 layers of graham crackers and bananas (similar to layering a lasagna).  In another bowl, whisk together 2 scant (not quite full) cups of cold 2% milk and the package of pudding mix.  Immediately pour liquidy pudding mixture over your lasagna layers, trying to distribute it evenly. Place uncovered in the fridge for about 1 hour.  Grahams should soften when it is ready.  Slice like a lasagna and serve with a quick spray of whipped cream on top.  Closest thing to a banana cream pie without all the work!


PS - Other pudding flavors could work! I'd favor vanilla, but I'm sure chocolate would be delicious as well.  If you don't have a peanut allergy, sprinkle with crushed peanuts when serving for a flavor reminiscent of a banana split!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

You get a twofer today! No blog posts for many moons, then suddenly... twice in one day! Why? Because my awesome, easy-to-prepare dinner has given me extra relaxation time in my evening!

So simply delicious and creamy; make this during a bit of cool weather for warmth inside and out. This takes literally 5 minutes of prep (if you already have meat cubed and onions diced), so plan ahead and simply throw all in the crock just before you walk out the door for the day.

Gleaned from www.skinnytaste.com with a few revisions to make it simpler and adaptable to crockpot cooking!

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

1/2 lb beef steak (round tip fine), trimmed and cubed
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp granulated garlic
Salt & Pepper
1/2 c. diced onion
8 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 C. water
1 bay leaf
1 cup light sour cream

In a small crockpot, combine meat, soup, seasonings, onion, bay leaf, and water.  Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Turn off crockpot. Add mushrooms and light sour cream. Serve immediately over cooked egg noodles :)

Delicious with a tall glass of sweet iced tea!

Ham n Beans

I haven't blogged in a while due to obtaining a fabulous new job that keeps me away from a computer. Even now I am using Blogger on my Android during a short break I have. Sorry! But I will be back now with some new fall recipes!

My fiance's grandparents gave us a few items from the grocery store to help out with our recent, particularly trying, financial gap (due to new job).  We received some spaghetti squash, a ham steak, and a few snack items. I never usually buy the first two items, but need to use them to feed my family in this important time of need. So, I got creative!

Here's my ham n beans quick recipe!

1 ham stake, cubed
1 large can pinto beans, drained
1 can mild rotel
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1 Tbsp minced garlic
Olive oil
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
Salt & pepper

Sautee onions, garlic, and peppers in bottom of a large pot until tender. Add remaining ingredients and cover. Cook on low until a nice gravy forms and beans are very soft. Serve over brown rice.

Has a bit of a kick, but buttered bread and fruit on the side make it more bearable.



The Really Really Big 150 Calorie Cocktail

If you've ever been on a diet, or if you're one of those perpetually healthy eating people, you will know that cocktails are a big calorie no-no.  The alcohol and mixers are just a big lump of empty calories and can easily throw you off your diet wagon.
But sometimes - just sometimes - you're a few hundred calories under your goal on a certain day, or you worked a little extra time on the eliptical and you think you deserve a treat...nothing that will leave you remorseful after consuming, but just a little something delicious.  Sure, you could have a beer, but 116 calories even for a light, nearly tasteless one?
How about an 8oz daiquiri instead?
Impossible, you say?
Well, don't go counting on this to keep you full, though it does help you stay away from snacks in addition to the drink - and don't replace a meal with it, for sure, but if you do find yourself with a few hundred treat calories by the end of the day... go to this delicious low-cal cocktail to quench your craving.  The prep work alone will keep you from making this summer-sweet treat too often LOL!
Watermelon Daiquiri
2 cups frozen watermelon puree
2 cups ice cubes
4 Tbsp powdered sugar
1.5 oz spiced rum
1.5 oz triple sec
2 Tbsp water (if needed)
To make the watermelon puree - slice half a watermelon into chunks (peeled), de-seed, and puree in food processor until smooth. Freeze at least 4 hours in an ice cube tray (makes about 1.5 trays). This is the part that takes the most work - you'll see, you gotta work for it!
Once watermelon is frozen, combine all your cubes with the ice, sugar, and alcohol in a blender.  Blend until very smooth. Add a little water if it's not liquid enough to move in the blender.
Garnish each glass with a thin sliver of sliced watermelon!
Makes 4 servings at a little under 150 calories a drink!

Have a happy Happy Hour!


Lasagna Cupcakes

This recipe has been modified to use every day pantry and fridge ingredients. I guess some people might plan far enough to have all of the original recipe's items and spices on hand...I usually say to myself "I have this, this and this...what is something healthy I can make that my beau, my toddler, and myself will all enjoy?"
That necessary combination usually leaves me high and dry on ideas. Lately I have been engrossed in searching the Skinny Taste (.com) and Hungry Girl blogs for recipes.
This was one of Hungry Girl's recipes, but I changed just a few things to fit my pantry and taste. These are so easy to make even my 3 year old pitched in to help. (We called them spaghetti cupcakes and he was super excited to get to eat what he helped make.)
Lasagna Cupcakes
24 wonton wrappers (near tofu in produce section)
1 1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 lb browned ground turkey
Low moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese shreds
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375.
Mix together the egg (beaten), cottage cheese, and Parmesan. In a separate bowl, mix together sauce and turkey. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Press one wonton wrapper into each cup. Spoon cottage cheese mixture, followed by meat mixture into the wonton. Sprinkle just a little cheese on top. Press a second wonton on the top of each then repeat layering, ending with mozzarella.
Bake in oven about 20 minutes or until exposed corners of the wontons are brown and crispy. Allow to cool until set. Loosen edges with a knife before removing from pan.
Enjoy one with a side salad at about 170 calories each! Talk about portion control!


Italian Meatball Soup

I was trying to think of something special to make for my fiance after his long night at work this past Saturday night.
I knew I had some ground turkey thawed, but the thought of more spaghetti and meatballs gagged me a little and I didn't have the fixins' for tacos.  I settled on my mad soup-making skills to make the most of what I had.  I used my traditional Italian style meatball recipe, but put it into "the elixer of life," as I like to think of chicken stock infused with spinach, and served a big, piping hot bowl alongside a single garlic breadstick.
This is one of those things you sorta throw in what you have, but the basic recipe stays about the same. The aroma is enticing enough that upon entering an air-conditioned kitchen from 90 degree weather, even the sweatiest man is excited at the prospect of soup.  All you'll hear is a gruff "let me go change, real quick" mumbled hurredly, and you'll walk into the dining room to a shining smile anticipating the steaming bowl in your hands.
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 c. bread crumbs
2 Tbsp ground Italian seasoning (separated)
1/2 c. Parmesan/Romano cheese
1 large can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 lb frozen soup veggies (tomato, okra, potato mix)
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken stock
2 c. water
1 c. frozen spinach (thawed in microwave)
3/4 c. dried tortellini (or any small pasta)
Ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
For the meatballs, use your hands to mash together ground turkey, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, cheese, salt & pepper.  Roll between your palms into 1 inch balls. Cook in a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot.  Just brown all sides - the middle will cook in the soup.
Once the meatballs are browned, add remaining igredients except pasta and spinach. Omit salt if using canned stock, but add a fair amount of black pepper.  Allow soup to come to a boil slowly. Add spinach and tortellini and cook until al dente.  Turn to a simmer as long as you can stand it.  The soup can be done anytime after the pasta and meatballs are cooked through, but the longer it has to simmer, the better it will be. 
Satisfying and delicious! (Even on a warm evening LOL)

Katy Rose


Heavenly Pork

The original recipe for this called for red wine. While I'd like to say I "casually strode down into my wine cellar for an early-new-millennia Napa Valley red" I actually glanced around my kitchen, grinned at myself, and reached for a substitute instead.  I served this delicious main entree with plain white rice and steamed asparagus topped with cheese sauce (velveeta + a lil milk).  It was a crowd pleaser and leftovers were deeeeelicious.
2 lb lean Pork Loin
1 packet french onion soup mix
1 can beef broth
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. white flour
In a crockpot, combine onion soup mix, beef broth, and soy sauce.  Stir well.  Gently lay pork loin into sauce, fat side up, and turn once to coat, leaving fat side on bottom now.  Spread minced garlic over the top of the pork loin; no need to mix into sauce.  Cook on low (trust me on this one!) for four hours.  Even if you doubt me, try it. This gives the perfect moist doneness without it losing shape.  Leave the lid on the entire time it is cooking (no stirring, no peeking!) When it is done, remove the pork to a cutting board and cut small round steaks about 1" - 1 1/2" thick.  Pour the sauce into a pan on the stove and bring to medium heat, a low boil.  Slowly slowly add flour a tsp at a time, whisking during the entire process.  No lumps!  Cook until a nice jelly gravy forms.  I plated mine by using a half cup measure as a rice mold, stacking two thinner steaks against it, and gently leaning the asparagus against the rice and plate.  I then covered the asparagus with cheese sauce and the steaks and rice with the gravy.
This dish makes you look like a fantastically expert chef!


The Importance of Noodles

For my son's third birthday I made a lot of food and served 16 people a full meal (including 4 happy kids!)
This doesn't really require a post as I just warmed pre-cooked Italian beef from Sam's, corn and green beans in crockpots to serve.  I forgot the three bags of salad sitting in my fridge (so we're having salad this week!), but I did make some fettucini alfredo in my biggest, 6 qt crockpot.  I literally boiled 2.5 lbs of dry egg noodles and threw them in with jarred alfredo sauce.  It was quite excellent, but I am left faced with a bit of a dilemma...
Because I wasn't sure how far a 5 lb bag of dry noodles would stretch, I purchased them blindly from Sam's along with the #10 cans of veggies and beef.  Needless to say, I only used HALF the bag for 16 people and there were a ton of leftovers.
Now I'm faced with a question - what do I do with 2.5 pounds of dry pasta for a household of only 2.5 people (myself, my fiance, and my son)?
My first idea came from my son - he was disappointed that the sauce wasn't marinara and that there were no meatballs involved with the noodles, so I think I'll make a baked meatball and noodle dish for one meal.
There are always the standard chicken soup recipes to throw them in (I prefer a Thai version with chopped leeks, fish sauce, and cabbage included.)
When I was a kid, we used to get a main meat, a vegetable, and a side of garlic salted, butter noodles. Still sounds delicious to me, but maybe a bit mature for my son.
So as I was racking my brain for noodly options, I decided to hit the 'net to see what billions of people had to say. I pushed aside the 101 versions of tuna casserole and was disappointed to mainly see the ideas I had already come up with; noodles as a side, noodles under saucy meatballs of various types, and noodles in soup.
There was one little thing I hadn't considered...
Noodles as a dessert. There is a Jewish dish called Kugel that combines leftover noodles with sweet ingredients to make a sort of noodly pudding.  As you'll see, the ingredients basically amount to a heavily dairy-based custard.  The version I list below can be found at http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kugel-2/detail.aspx, but I have made a few alterations to it based on the reviewers' suggestions. I also think that instead of serving it as a dessert, I'll see what people think of it for breakfast.
I'm going to give this recipe for a spin and see what comes of it! I'll let you know, fair bloggers!
1 (8 ounce) package large egg noodles
6 tablespoons butter, sliced
6 egg whites
1/2 cup white sugar
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 (16 ounce) package cottage cheese, creamed
1 pinch salt
1/2 C. raisins soaked in hot water, drained
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. (One reviewer suggest you cook this in a casserole dish for a thicker sliced end-result.)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and stir in 6 tablespoons sliced butter.
In a medium bowl beat egg yolks with sugar and cream cheese; stir into noodles and add sour cream, cottage cheese and salt. (These can be combined in the food processor for a smoother texture.) Beat egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture. Add drained raisins.  Transfer mixture to prepared dish.
In a small bowl combine melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and graham cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over noodle mixture.
Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
And finally, for those curious - here is the wiki for Kugel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kugel.


Crab Chowder

I promise to never promise that I'll be too busy to post again. Now that I clarified that, here I am posting sooner than I thought I would be!
My goal with this move is to have to pack as few perishables to carry to my new apartment as possible.  One way to do this, of course, is to pitch anything with a questionable expiration date or barely recognizable composition. (Threw away two bunches of celery - shameful! Expect a post in the future about 101 uses for celery. LOL)
Another way to keep the move minimal is to cook using only items in my fridge, freezer, and pantry.  Granted I've had to supplement with an item from the store here or there, but I consider this type of cooking a personal and pleasurable challenge!  There was a time, just after I had my son that I had to make some hard decisions with money - that was my first exposure to pantry cooking.  When my ex and I had two incomes, I did like many American families do and just bought things that looked good as I grocery shopped.  I wasn't too concerned with budget then. My pantry and freezer were pretty well stocked.. Things only got interesting as my budget shrank to less than a quarter of what I had before and I started to whittle away the standards like spaghetti with jarred sauce and stood looking at dried beans, rice, and dwindling meat supplies.  At that time, the experience was not a good one - I could only stow away the panicked feelings by ensuring I always had enough formula, baby food/cereal, and diapers for my little one.  Because we were on WIC at the time, I was getting help with milk, cheese, cereal, beans/peas, and a few other goods.  I had to learn to create with what I had, plus live on a budget of about $15 a week in groceries.  I've since considered creating a cookbook on using state aid items to cook well, but it felt a bit controversial.
I discovered some things about budget cooking.  Soups are incredibly budget friendly, as are casseroles.  I also learned that flexibility in ingredients is key and that a one-time small investment in a fair amount of spices will save you money over time because you can make satisfying meals with cheaper, raw ingredients as opposed to pre-seasoned convenience items.
*Zip* back to the present!  While my family grocery budget is still relatively small, I've become so frugal that I can afford to buy the things we like to eat on a regular basis without having to always dig deep into the pantry to save a few bucks.  Last night I came to a crossroads with my goal to not move much food from place to place.  The contents of my fridge are looking like something a bachelor would defend and my freezer has no convenience foods left save the obligatory chicken nuggets for my picky-to-the-starving-point three year old. We're down to eggs, bread, minimal meat, frozen veggies, beans, remnants of tortilla shells, american cheese slices (not even any shredded cheddar!), milk, water and a slew of condiments. The canned goods are literally down to one jar of lonely spaghetti sauce (no pasta!), a container of bread crumbs, a few cans of tuna, a can of beef and can of chicken broth, some Ramen, and a can of soup that I don't know why I bought because it looks totally unappetizing to me. Oh hey - I do have like 10 packets of instant mashed potatoes, though, for some reason!
My original meal plan last night was tuna burgers. As you can imagine, this consisted of flaked tuna, bread crumbs, an egg and some dill - pan fried and put on some thin buns we had leftover from burger night.  This felt like more work than I wanted to do with no promise of leftovers for lunch, so I went the soup route instead.
One pixie-sized can of condensed cream of potato soup stared at me from the back of the pantry shelf.  I pulled it out and rolled it around in my palm for a few minutes trying to think how I could give it a new life when I came up with the recipe below. (Now if I just would've realized that the expiration date for the imitation crab was May 27 and not June 27 I wouldn't have had to throw this delicious dish out after just a few test bites.  It was wonderful tasting despite the scary expiration and probably would've been fine, but I wasn't taking chances.)
Crab Chowder
1/2 lb imitation crab, broken up into bite sized pieces
2 C. milk
1 can condensed cream of potato soup
1 C. chicken stock
1 1/2 C. frozen corn
1/2 lb frozen diced potatoes (hash browns)
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring often. Immediately reduce heat and simmer until soup is thick like gravy.  Serve with crackers and pickles on the side for a nice contrast in flavor.
I hope you enjoy this quick, easy meal. Tonight we're having breakfast for dinner to use up some refrigerator biscuits and pre-cooked turkey sausages.  Paired with an egg and cheese omelet, we're in for another great evening!


Summer Fun!

The rest of my weekends in June are booked solid!
I say this with the biggest smile on my face because there is nothing I like more than a gathering of friends and family with plenty of food and ice cold drinks.  This weekend and the last weekend of the month I'll be going with my boyfriend to a couple of his family reunions; next weekend the rocking birthday party of a dear friend of mine.  She has requested dinner and dancing!
Then, there's the wonderful celebration of my baby boy turning three years old!  He achieves this milestone mid-month, but we're celebrating the last Sunday so more family can be present.  I'm sure that will produce a few new recipes for me to share.
As is par for the course, a couple of these gatherings are pot-luck style. I never mind contributing since my main reason for attending is the people.  Plus, I'm a much bigger fan of all the personality shown through food variety, than tepid buffet warmers full of catered food.  Don't get me wrong, I can put a serious hurt on some fried chicken and "muskacholi" as they call it here in the St. Louis area (it's mastacioli - penne noodles with meat sauce), but I'd rather fill my plate with the wonderful add-on dishes each family member or friend brings to beef up the buffet line.  And I can NEVER get enough fresh salad with house dressing on a hot summer day.
Since my blog has sort of become a narrated cookbook, I'm sure you have already guessed that I'm now going to pass on a fabulous recipe of some sort that would be pot-luck appropriate.  Ding ding ding!  You're right!
I'm not even going to TRY to claim this as my own recipe, but I no longer remember where I got it from.  There are many versions of it out on the interwebs. I could never have been so clever as to come up with something like this, but I have changed things just a bit to fit into a busy mom's schedule and budget.  This dish is fresh and delicious, bursting with flavor.  It is a bit high in sodium, but the shredded cabbage mixture cuts that a little and you only have to feel half guilty about seconds with this recipe.  (In fact, at particularly low-attendance barbeques in the past, this has been the main part of my meal next to a bun-less brat.)
I'm taking this on a two hour  trip, so even though I'll probably mix this up the night before, I'll wait to add the noodles just as I'm leaving the house so that they retain a bit of crispness to them, but still get infused with flavor.
And now for the most elegant pot-luck dish of the century...
Ramen Noodle Salad!
Hey...don't be fooled by the $.33 sold-in-a-brick-shape base for this salad. It is truly refreshing and a delight. The coleslaw mix can usually be found alongside the pre-bagged salad.  Still not convinced?  There's no cooking involved...feeling it now, aren't ya?
1 package Beef Ramen Noodles, broken into small pieces
1 bag pre-chopped coleslaw (no dressing!)
1/2 Cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 Cup sunflower seeds
3 green onions chopped
Dressing ingredients
1/2 Cup olive oil
Ramen noodle flavor packet
3 Tbsp vinegar (white, rice, or apple cider vinegar are all ok)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
Directions: Whisk together dressing in the bottom of your container/bowl (whatever you're going to serve out of).  If you're serving soon after making this, go ahead and put all the rest of the ingredients into the bowl also. If you are making this ahead to let the flavors meld, wait to add your Ramen until just a few hours before you serve. I like to just close the lid on my container and shake this up really well, maybe stir it a few times to be sure that the dressing coats everything. Or you can use salad tongs to mix this up. Stir again before serving. Serve chilled!
TIP: Make and bring to the party in an inexpensive plastic-ware dish and dollar-store serving spoon. You won't have to worry about clean up or carrying anything home!  Don't worry, someone will be happy to inherit it or it can be recycled.
So, for now, I wish you all a fun summer in the sun (apply sunscreen!) I'm currently relocating my residence so it may be a bit before I have the energy to post something creative again, but keep an eye out - I'm always trying new recipes and creating some of my own!


Grandma Ellen's Chili

I ~think~ I finally got this recipe down to a science.  My boyfriend's grandmother makes the best chili I have ever tasted.  This is such a personal preference that I can't tell you if this will be your favorite recipe or not; just like I can't tell you if the hundred other variants out there will be something you like.  Chili is something  you have to experience, tweak, enjoy and then perfect for a lifetime.  My goal as a thirty-something mom was to get this recipe down now for all future tailgating, bbqs, potlucks, etc. so that I could contribute something I was truly happy with. Plus, who doesn't want their son to be able to say "not as good as my mom's chili" someday?

The best way to describe this chili is smooth and flavorful, but not spicy.  I'm pretty sure the white vinegar is the key to making the flavors pop even though I'm not sure on the mechanics of the thing.

Also - apologies for posting such a large quantity recipe, but this freezes really well and can be used for nachos, chili dogs, as well as eaten on its own.  Grandma Ellen serves it with crackers, sliced cheese, and sweet and dill pickles. I suggest you do the same!

3 lbs lean (at least 85% lean) ground beef, browned and crumbled well
3 C. red kidney beans (about 2 cans)
1 large can tomato juice
scant 1/4 C. chili powder
1 tsp+ salt
1/4 tsp+ pepper
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 tsp white vinegar

Crockpot Preparation: Combine all ingredients except sugar and white vinegar in the crockpot. Simmer on low about 24 hours, stirring occasionally.  You will know when the chili is "done" when it achieves a gravy-like consistency.  At the end of the cook time, add in sugar and dissolve well. Add more salt/pepper to taste.  Just before serving or traveling with the dish, add the vinegar and stir in well.

Stove Top Preparation: Combine all ingredients except vinegar in the pot.  Simmer on low for several hours or until the chili is the consistency of gravy.  Add the vinegar just before serving.

I hope this adds a nice selection to your repertoire!

PS - For full disclosure, Grandma Ellen says she doesn't use sugar, but I'm also not sure what brand of tomato juice she's using.  I added sugar while using the Great Value (WalMart) brand of canned tomato juice to make it match the flavor of her chili, more than following her strict recipe (which she didn't have for me anyway lol).


Weekly Meal Plans

I'm going to sing the praises of the weekly meal plan.  I know what every last one of my readers is going to say - but it's so time consuming!
Is it?
I planned two weeks worth of meals in about 15 minutes.  What's the secret?  Repeated meals!
Once or twice a week I incorporate our favorite dishes.  A couple of my favorite dishes are Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs, burritos, nachos, and sandwiches.
For instance, Mondays are my tired days because it's the first day back to work in the week and frankly, it's exhausting!  I usually try to make a crockpot meal or a sandwich meal for that day.  And when I say sandwiches, it can range from normal turkey and cheese all the way to grilled chicken and dijon panini - depending on my budget.
We're fairly simple eaters so we find no problems having a nice grilled cheese with tomato soup once every few weeks.  And spaghetti and meatballs (or alternately spaghetti with chicken parmesan) can be made almost on a weekly basis and we are happy campers.
Usually on a Tuesday I'll make burritos because I've had Monday night's cooking session to throw some dried beans into my electric pressure cooker as my prep-work.  Our burritos are usually vegetarian because, well, they can be!
One thing I think a lot of homemakers forget (men & women!) is that there are going to be leftovers. There are also going to be nights when you just MUST order pizza or grab fast food because you're craving it.  I aim to plan four meals a week, leaving the other three days up to random leftovers or fast food cravings.  If you spend 45 minutes to make a giant fruit salad once a week, you have it as a side dish any day or night.
Any "real" food I plan, like dijon chicken, gets amped up with steamed frozen veggies and a packet of spiced rice.  We're talking 30 minutes from fridge door to table - this is the max time I want to spend cooking.  I clean as I go and then I'm done for the evening.
Here's my two week plan as it stands. (Note: I'm moving soon so I'm using up some freezer items to make the transition a bit easier.)
Week 1 Meal 1: Toasted Ravioli with Marinara and big Italian salads
Week 1 Meal 2: Chili cheese burritos (canned chili, shredded cheddar, crumbled tortilla chips inside a flour shell - microwaved)
Week 1 Meal 3: Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry (1 lb diced raw chicken, 1/2 lb frozen broccoli, white rice and some sort of impromptu sauce using soy sauce)
Week 1 Meal 4: Hamburgers & French Fries (Grandma Jean gave us some frozen patties from QVC which sound yummy, adding the thin buns, leftover salad & cheese, frozen remnants of french fries from freezer)
Week 2 Meal 1: Beef vegetable soup (crockpot: frozen mixed veggies, can tomatoes, can beef broth, 1/2 lb diced stew beef, spices)
Week 2 Meal 2: Spaghetti and Crockpot Meatballs (crockpot meatballs: 1 lb ground turkey, 1/2 c. bread crumbs, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, 2 tsp italian seasonings, salt & pepper rolled into little balls and put raw into one jar of spaghetti sauce in a crockpot on low all day)
Week 2 Meal 3: Qdoba Copycat Burritos (see previous blog post)
Hey! I only had to plan 3 meals for work nights next week because of the holiday - bonus :)  When I have time, I can put together any number of dishes on the weekends and days off.
Tell me what some of your favorite weekly meals are!


Half a Batch of Cookies

Sounds pointless, right?
Well, I had leftover Easter candy - the mini m&ms in the blue packets, and this made just over a dozen small cookies. Totally worth it. Not overly sweet - just right when you bite a mini m&m. Also: don't break out the kitchen-aid, this can be mixed by hand.
1/2 C. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 snack packets mini m&ms (about 1 cup)
Using a pastry cutter or a fork and a popeye-strong forearm, cream the softened butter with the sugars.  Mix in the egg and vanilla well. Plop (yeah I said it, it's fun) the flour into bowl, add baking soda on top of flour and whisk into it with your little measuring spoon (this prevents lumps of salty ickiness in overall mixture).  Mix wet and dry together really well. Fold in mini m&ms. Using a melon baller or mini ice cream scoop, put even amounts of dough onto a cookie sheet.  Bake 350 degrees for 7-9 mins. 
Warning: raw cookie dough contains raw eggs. (So just yanno... be aware in case you don't wanna get salmonella OR I guess you could just not.. eat.. it...who am I kidding? *licks spoon*)

Happy Friday-indulging :)
PS - this could be done with just about any leftover candy. If pieces are big, put in a gallon baggie, freeze for about 15 minutes, then smash into pieces using a rolling pin. Voila - cookie sized bits.

How to Dine-in Without Feeling Deprived!

In my family it has been a long standing tradition to eat out on a weekend night, usually Fridays. This works fine for some families and works great for us when my family offers generously to pay the bill. When it comes down to my own meager buck-stretching, this weekly tradition has to be sacrificed occasionally.
Who doesn't love to order from a variety of foods (each person getting their own selection of favorites), having someone else cook it, and then being waited on hand and foot?  A pretty nice break from the daily monotony of fixing meals after a 10 hour work day, I'd say.
Unfortunately, when one has to make the decision between diapers and dining out, there really is no question which category wins.  It's easy to sort of feel bad for yourself in this instance, but when you look around and see all the wonderful things you have in life - shelter, clothing, love, health, etc. - it seems a little silly to dwell on it.
SO! Here are some of my favorite ways to make dining-in on your usual "treat" night seem just a little less like the short end of the stick!
My boyfriend's family has a neat tradition of "appetizer" night.  Basically they scrounge the freezer and hit up the grocery store for a few cheap appetizers that add up to a meal.  This sometimes consisted of several types of oven-baked wings (prepped by Tyson so you don't have to!), a nice rotel cheese dip with chips, and maybe even some home-made wheat crusted pizzas. Look at the bottom of this article for some recipe ideas. (Keep in mind, even prepped freezer foods are cheaper than dining out. Maybe you can afford to half splurge.)
Put on a Movie
Put it on in EVERY room.  This one takes a little bit of first-time prep-work, but it makes the night infinitely more fun.  Wherever you have a tv, run a cable or use whatever device is wireless you might have hooked up to it (xbox, wii, Roku, etc) to broadcast your movie to all sets.  Not sure how to do that?  Google to the rescue! Still not sure? See if you can agree on a show on TV that you can get throughout the house.
Switch It Up
Do you eat every meal at the table? In the dining room? Or do you eat most meals hurredly in front of the tv?  Whatever you normally do, switch it up. If you never sit at that gorgeous claw-footed oak set in the dining room - put on some music and have everyone gather in there. Toys allowed at the table - maybe a game of cards - whatever, just switch it up and let go.  If you can dine outside comfortably, try this as an alternative also - a picnic blanket in the back yard is fun! Wear bug spray or burn some citronella to make it even nicer.
Clean Up? Ugh
Ok I'm normally the "greenest" blogger you know - make things from scratch, reusable dining wear, minimalize packaging and all the lot!  This advice grates on my nerves, but it can really feel good to just not have a sink full of dishes.  Use paper. Paper napkins, paper plates, paper cups.  Or recycleable plastic. Just nothing you have to wash.  Rinse it, scrape it, toss it/recycle.  And just make finger foods and forget about the demonizing plastic utensils.
So you have entertainment, switched up the locale, maybe even made a "everyone must wear PJs" rule!  Great! What to cook?  Here are a few of our favorites (health benefits in parenthesis for you worriers!)
Rotel Dip
Depending on desired spiciness, choose mild, original, or hot Rotel.
Combine 1/2 block/pound cubed Velveeta cheese + one can of Rotel in a microwave safe bowl.  Put in a few minutes at a time, stirring between cook times, until a smooth dip is made. This recipe can also be made with a can of chili/vegetarian chili instead of Rotel. Serve with tortilla chips. (Calcium + veggies + protein + whole grains in chips.)
French Onion Dip
Combine a pint of sour cream with one packet of dry Lipton's French Onion Soup.  The longer you let this sit, the better it tastes. Serve with ruffled/ridged potato chips. (Calcium + potassium in chips.)
Ranch & Veggies *buy baby carrots and cherry tomatoes to save time cutting. (Veggies)
Tyson has several varieties of boneless and bone-in wings.  Our favorites include buffalo strips, garlic parmesan wings, and tequila and lime cajun flavored wings.  Want to make them yourself? Maybe to save a few bucks? No prob!
Boneless "Wings"
Follow instructions on bag to cook a couple batches of all-natural chicken nuggets.  In separate bowls, toss dipping sauces like honey + bbq, garlic parmesan, or even Frank's pre-made buffalo sauce with batches of your nuggets.  Set aside some plain for the kiddos. The more variety, the less deprived you'll feel. (Protein!)
For the wheat-crusted pizzas I mentioned above, I'll have to check with my boyfriend's dad (he's the expert) and repost.  A quick fix is one I've used many times:  prick a flour or whole wheat tortilla shell all over with a fork, spread on spaghetti/pizza sauce, add light toppings and a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella. Bake on a stone or pizza pan til crisp.  Other prepared crusts include half-hoagie rolls, half hamburger/hot dog buns, english muffins, bagels, biscuits - use your imagination!
See my other Top 5 Quick Meal Ideas post for even more yummy additions to this night-in.
Do it. Pick something.  A gallon of vanilla ice cream can even be a treat if topped with chocolate syrup and bits of candies.  Hey - we don't always order dessert when we're out... maybe this night just got BETTER than dining out!
So, just enjoy your night in! Maybe make that dining out a monthly tradition instead of weekly - or quarterly even!  Your pocket book will thank you.
Any suggestions from readers?
PS - Still want to dine out?  Bonus post - best bang for your buck:  Cracker Barrel, family-owned Mexican restaurants, buffets if you want a real treat - you pay the same $10 price tag per person, but get a wider variety.  Just go somewhere you can control your costs! (And skip the alcohol - way too pricey.)


Top 5 Quick Dinner Ideas

Cooking just for yourself? Or just looking for a quick night's dinner with very little effort?
Here are my Top 5 Quick Dinner Ideas
5.  Sandwhiches
    Sick of those turkey n cheese lunchtime blahs? Try it open faced!  Warm a can or packet of gravy in a pan, throw in your turkey lunch meat and cook until warm.  Toast two pieces of bread, laying a slice of swiss or cheddar on the top of each slice of bread.  Add your gravied lunch meat, maybe some quick instant mashed potatoes and you've got a blue-light special.  Make sure to grind some fresh black pepper over the top for a freshly made taste.  Get real fancy and crack open a can of green beans to serve on the side.
4.  Soup
  Canned soup can be dressed up in a lot of ways. Add pre-cooked rice noodles to a favorite chicken n vegetable soup blend, serve with a side of vinegary hot sauce and some basil, and you have Vietnamese Pho Ga for dinner! Not for something ethnic?  Serve your favorite canned chili or soup with a wide array of crackers, sliced cheese, and pickles and you have a full meal.
3.  Baked Potatoes
  Microwave them. Seriously. They're delicious and come in at about 5 minutes each.  Here's how - scrub jackets well, then while still damp, press in kosher salt.  Stab really well all over with a fork.  Use your microwave's potato setting or do about 4 minutes at a time until it's soft enough to split all the way through with your stabbing fork.  Toppings?  Leftover breakfast meats (sausage, bacon, etc.), any veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), cheese (even american slices work), butter, salt & pepper, hot sauce - just check your fridge and get creative.
2.  Nachos
  Same simple theory as baked potatoes.  Who doesn't have a bag of tortilla chips sitting around? Even stale ones work, the microwave will crisp them up!  Spread out a single layer (be generous!) on a microwave safe plate, topped with canned chili, or canned beans, salsa, veggies, then sprinkle across some shredded cheese. Be creative! Think protein + fiber + veggie to fill you up.  Microwave for 1-2 minutes on high until cheese bubbles.  Allow to cool before serving! Delicious
And finally, my number one "wth am I gonna cook tonight?" meal - always a go-to in my household.
1. Breakfast for Dinner!
  Frozen waffles, bisquick pancakes, eggs & cheese, leftover bacon or turkey links, anything you can think of - throw it together and make it sound mighty special to the kids.
Let me know your favorite quick go-to meal in the comments!


Weight Watchers Friendly Snack

Popcorn, even the bag of microwaved movie-theatre-butter stuff, is a pretty low point 'Watchers snack.  In an attempt to shave off a few points without sacrificing my late-evening snack, I did some research online how to pop my own kernels in the microwave.  Many of us remember air-popped corn from that craze in the mid to late 80's (you remember that noisy white contraption with yellow see-through top that shot hellaciously hot unpopped kernels at you instead of the bowl?!)  In those simpler times, we just put the butter in that little dish that fit in the top of the machine and then dumped it on, with a happy helping of salt, and mixed with our bare hands to achieve deliciousness.  For those who thought they could save a few calories by not topping their blandly popped corn, this was a short-lived fad.
The days of tasteless popped kernels for dieters are long gone.
These days they make bowls that look like granite-ware but are actually a type of heat resistant plastic.  They usually come with a lid as well.  They will hold the kernels in the bottom of the bowl and, without the use of oil, pop them like any bag would.
Guilt-Free Popcorn
Plain microwave popped or air popped popcorn
I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Spray
For one cup of popped and generously sprayed popcorn it only = 1 WW Point!
So enjoy that evening movie or tv show with an unsweet tea or a diet soda and a nice big bowl of low-point popcorn!
(I recently found my bowl, mentioned above, on Amazon.com for about $8 with free prime shipping.)

Qdoba Style Dinner - Completely Homemade!

Well, money is always tight, but sometimes we get cravings that we simply must indulge!
As I was pondering dinner last night, I ended up craving one of those delicious Qdoba burritos.
I scoured my freezer and pantry for something quick to make, caught the eye of some cilantro in my crisper and thought, "I could totally copycat Qdoba."
Our "burritos" were put together using flour taco-sized tortillas, a yummy black bean mixture, cilantro citrus rice, and shredded cheddar. I also made a new batch of the salsa I posted on an earlier date and served with bottomless tortilla chips.  We were all happy campers!
Black Bean Mixture
2 cans black beans (3 1/2 C. cooked)
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 packet dry enchilada sauce mix
Place beans and tomatoes in pan, sprinkle dry sauce mix on top, and cook until warmed through and beans are soft enough to smash with a fork.
Cilantro Citrus Rice
3 cups water
3 cups instant rice
2 Tbsp Cilantro leaves (fresh)
1 Tbsp Lemon or Lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
Put the water and cilantro in a small saucepan.  Bring water to a boil. Add rice and allow to simmer until all water is absorbed.  Sprinkle with salt and lemon or lime juice.
To assemble "burritos" scoop rice into shell, scoop bean mixture on top, sprinkle with cheese.  These are filling and good for you.  8 WW Points for one large item (1 medium flour tortilla, 1/2 c rice, 2/3 c bean mixture and 2 Tbsp. shredded cheddar).


Easter Dinner Leftovers: Cobb Salad

Posting the day *before* Easter so you can bring home a few leftovers (or save some aside) to whip up an easy after-work meal tomorrow night!

Cobb Salads (per person)
1 slice ham, diced
1 slice cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
1 hard boiled egg, sliced/diced (those colored eggs work here!)
2 Tbsp Shredded Cheddar
1/2 C. shredded red cabbage
1/2 C. shredded carrots
3 C. shredded lettuce
1/4 C. whole black olives

Everything can be cut/shredded the night before except for lettuce (it will brown).  For a low-fat dressing, whisk together olive oil (1 part) and balsamic vinegar (2 parts) with some salt and pepper and toss onto salad just before serving. (10 WW points per person)


Chicken with Creamy Dijon Herb Sauce

This recipe came to me attached to a coupon for French's Dijon mustard ($1 off made it cost only $.48!) and I guess I was hungry at the time because I went ahead and saved it and planned it as tonight's meal.  I used diced chicken breast and made my broth from bullion in my cupboard.  I served this with boiled, buttered and salted tiny red potatoes and fruit salad.  For any Weight Watcher's participants, one serving of the chicken plus two small red potatoes is 10 pts.  That's pretty reasonable as it is filling and nutritious. (I just realized I left out the garlic! Was delicious without it!)

1/2 cup chicken broth
6 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1/3 Cup (1/3 of a 8 oz stick) Cream Cheese, softened
1 Tbsp Minced Herbs (used dried oregano)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
4 (6 oz) Chicken Breasts
1 tsp. minced garlic

Use a whisk to mix broth, mustard, cream cheese, and herbs until well blended; set aside.  Cook chicken in hot oil until browned on both sides.  Stir in ustard sauce and garlic and simmer over medium heat 3-5 minutes or until sauce slightly thickens and flavors are blended.



Last night we had an impromptu group meal to celebrate a great accomplishment for a couple of friends.  I had been planning for a few nights to make quesadillas with chips and salsa, so I had prepared the salsa the night before to allow the flavors to meld.  My two-year-old thought this was a bit spicy but all the adults just loved it.  Between four of us we finished about 1 quart of this stuff last night!
The original recipe was posted by another blogger, Pioneer Woman, but I'd say I changed it enough to call it my own at this point. She also had a super nice picture tutorial, but imho the directions are far simpler...
Warning - this makes a LOT of salsa (about 2 qts).
1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
1 can (10 Ounce) Rotel ORIGINAL (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
1 can (10 Ounce) Rotel MILD (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)
¼ cup Chopped Onion
1 clove Garlic, Minced
1 Tbsp Sugar
¼ teaspoons Salt
¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin
½ cups Cilantro
½ whole Lime Juice
Put all in blender, carefully put on lid (it's a full pitcher), and blend until the consistency you like.
Can it really be that simple? Yup - so much so that I bought a dedicated $1 pitcher with a red lid at WalMart specifically for our batches of salsa from this point forward!  I hope you enjoy.
Bonus Recipe: Quesadillas - Very similar to making grilled cheese. Spray Pam on one side of a taco-shell sized flour tortilla and place in a hot pan, spread a handful of shredded cheddar over the shell, spray one side of another tortilla and place on top (oiled side up).  Blister the one side and flip with a spatula.  Blister second side and flatten with spatula to make sure cheese is melted.  Remove from pan, allow to rest for a moment, quarter with a knife, and serve piping hot!  (Additional fillings to cheese include: cooked chicken or steak pieces or well-drained black beans.)


Electric Pressure Cooker

Things I love about my new electric pressure cooker:
1) Vegetarian Delight - Beans cook from dry (no soaking!) in 25 minutes or less without any tending.  At around $.60 a pound dried, they beat the pants off the $.60 for 14 oz cans and have no pre-added salt.
2) Forget about it! - Throw it all in the pot, dial in your cook time and pressure setting, press start (takes exponentially longer if you forget this step), and then go watch TV or enjoy playing with your kids. Listen for a beep, vent steam from cool and safe plastic valve, and serve. Seriously. That's it.
3) I want it fast, but I don't want it now...  hey, a delay timer!  - Self-explanatory. Who doesn't love walking in the house to a finished meal?
4) Go ahead and splurge on other things! - Raw ingredients = cheaper = healthier = happier.
5) The possibilities are endless. - You can cook almost anything to moist perfection with very little effort.  Not to mention that traditional pressure cooker cookbooks (which have been around for about half a century) easily adapt to this easier option. I even have two cookbooks on my Kindle currently. Nothing like hopping a quick bookmark to my favorite recipe!
If I sound like an infomercial, I wish. Maybe someone from Fagor could pay me for this shameless plug?
No? Well - info for the benefit of family and friends anyway.
This has been one of the best investments I have ever made. I love it!


Corn Bread

A gluten-free alternative to a traditional corn bread recipe, this was delicious and moist from the very start.
I got the recipe from someone on allrecipes.com, but definitely wanted to share it with you here with a few minor changes to make it my idea of tried-and-true.  I served it with Grandma Ellen's chili and it was a hit!
Also: Try my "one bowl" method below!  A lot of recipes require two bowls to mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining.  This is to save your tastebuds from a shock of salt or baking powder in a lump, but my one-bowl method solves that.
1 egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise (don't use low-fat!) 
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup yellow cornmeal
scant 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk egg with mayonnaise, buttermilk, and oil in a large bowl.  Without stirring, pour the following in order into the bowl one on top of the other: cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt.  It will look like a little mountain - flatten it with a fork to help it not fall down into the wet mixture as you add ingredients.  With the top of your ingredient mountain flat, mix the 3 top ingredients with a fork into the cornmeal.  Once the white items evenly distribute into the yellow cornmeal, THEN mix the wet items from the bottom into the entire combination.  The mixture should look airy and light.  Pour into a greased, round baking dish or cast iron skillet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown on the top.  Watch the time closely as it will burn easily!
PS - I'm going to attempt to put together a recipe for Grandma Ellen's chili. I have never run into a recipe with more "to taste" instructions than this one so I'm going to try to narrow the science down a bit and post it.  It is definitely NOT a vegetarian entree!


Creamy Tomato Soup!

Vegetarian! Delicious! Inexpensive: around $2 a pot.
I served this last night with grilled cheese sandwiches and butter round (Ritz off-brand) crackers and it was a crowd pleaser; even my 2 year old liked dipping his sandwich and crackers in the soup.  Feel free to sub fresh spices for dried if you don't mind having chewy bits. This recipe creates a smooth consistency similar to the leading canned brand.
2 Cans Tomato Sauce (unflavored)
1 Cup Water
1/2 Tbsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tbsp Granulated Garlic
Pinch of ground italian seasonings (just a pinch! this isn't marinara!)
1 tsp Salt (to taste)
Several dashes of pepper (to taste)
4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
Pour tomato sauce, water, and all seasonings in a pan. On low heat warm until very hot. Don't rush this with high heat or you'll be splattered by tomato bubbles.  Season to taste, add a little more salt or pepper, then add the cream cheese with a whire wisk.  Be patient and stir it until it's all melted smooth.  Serve hot!  Makes about five big bowls. This soup reheats really well.
PS - Trying "Grandma Ellen's" Chili recipe today!


Oh Orville, You Pop! I mean Rock!

Orville Redenbacher's Pop up Bowl - Popcorn Bowls are genius!

Also - can I offer that it is even more "green" to use these popcorn bowl/bags?

Instead of popping a bag of popcorn then transferring it to a bowl, which then has to use water and soap to wash, the bag itself opens conveniently up and then gets disposed of as you normally would with any bag.

Also - it's paper - so I'm pretty sure this would also be a recyclable item.  Sure, it's greener probably to purchase your own separate popcorn kernels and oil, but if you're a microwave popcorn junkie, then this is a "better" option.

Anyway - review? Fantastic invention, convenient, delicious, fun! Enjoy!



Black Bean Veggie Burgers

You may consider this recipe tried-and-true! We had these for dinner last night along with some tortilla chips and spicy cheese dip and the whole meal left me feeling satisfied, but not heavy. Lovely!
A warning on the texture - if you can get your mix dry enough (using bread crumbs) to resemble uncooked hamburger meat, without it falling apart when pressed into a patty, you'll have the best results.  I think the key is in the chunkiness of the beans. Worse case scenario, they have a nice burger-like outside layer and then may have a bit of pastiness inside. All in all it's still not unpleasant and the flavor is great.
During the process I said "THIS is how easy this is? Why haven't I done this before?" I hope you enjoy it too!
Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Makes about 4 patties.
2 cups cooked/canned black beans, drained well
1/3+ C. bread crumbs (approximate)
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup minced onion (about half an onion)
1 egg
Olive Oil
Seasoned Salt
In a food processer, mince onion and garlic together.  Add beans, egg, and bread crumbs and pulse until beans are roughly chopped and mixture is combined.  Dumb into a bowl, stir to make sure all ingredients are well mixed, and add more bread crumbs if necessary to make a packable, but dryer mixture.  You still want moist patties to form, so add a little at a time.  Warm olive oil in a pan and cook patties until one side is very browned and add a dash of seasoned salt before flipping.  Flatten the patties with the spatula when you flip for a more burger-like look. Sprinkle a little seasoned salt on cooked side of the patty.  Keep the oil replenished in the pan as you cook - these will not have any fat in them, so this is important for proper cooking.  I served the cooked burgers topped with melted cheese on flatbread, whole-grain buns with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Tip: Add a splash of worcestershire sauce to the mix if you want a "beefier" flavor.