Black Bean Burgers

a tasty American take on falafel and a super replacement for vegetarians, these burgers are sure to please.

2 15-oz cans black beans (rinsed and drained well, divided)
2 Tbsp mayo
1/3+ cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp salsa (drain as much juice out as possible)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2-4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
4-5 hamburger buns (or sandwich thins), toasted

1. Combine 1 can of beans, mayo, bread crumbs, baking powder, spices and salsa in a food processor or blender and pulse into a coarse puree (if using a blender, stir ingredients with a spoon before blending). Transfer to a bowl, stir in cilantro and remaining can of beans. Stir in up to 2 Tbsp more bread crumbs and 2-4 Tbsp flour to make a mixture that is no longer sticky and very easy to handle.
2. Form into 4 or so patties and place on a cookie sheet. Refrigerate for 45+ minutes (very important or patties with fall apart while cooking).
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. cook burgers until outsides are crisp and browned, 5-7 minutes total. Serve on toasted buns with fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, mustard, ketchup, etc.

this recipe is from Jen (Schofield Johnson) and i've tweaked it just a bit to be a little closer to falafel. it can also be made with pinto beans.


Devil's Food Cake

a simple, velvety chocolate cake... the perfect dessert (pictured here with peppermint frosting).

4 oz unsweetened baker's chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup baker's cocoa (Dutch-processed if possible)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plain cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened but still cool
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla

1. preheat oven to 350° with rack in the middle position. meanwhile, grease two 9-inch round cake cans and line the bottom of each pan with waxed or parchment paper.
2. whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside. combine the chocolate and cocoa in a medium-small bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth, set aside.
3. beat butter in a medium bowl at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. add the brown sugar and beat at hight speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. add eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each one. add sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the chocolate mixture. then another third of the flour, the other half of the chocolate a finally the last third of the flour just until combined each time. do not over beat. scrape sides and bottom of bowl again and stir gently to thoroughly combine.
5. divide batter evenly into pans and bake for 20-23 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. cool cakes in pans for 15 minutes. run a knife around the edge of each pan and invert cake onto a plate. peel off the paper and re-invert onto a wire rack. cool completely. frost with chocolate, vanilla, peppermint, or Nutella* frosting.

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch salt
2 Tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla or 1/2 tsp peppermint extract

beat butter in a small bowl until light a fluffy. add 1 cup powdered sugar, salt, vanilla and 1 Tbsp milk. mix slowly as the sugar incorporates then faster as is becomes smooth. add remaining sugar and milk and repeat mixing. beat until smooth and creamy. add more sugar or more milk to achieve desired consistency (but no more than 1/4 sugar or 1 tsp milk).

* to make Nutella frosting, follow standard frosting recipe adding 1/4 cup Nutella after first addition, and mixing of sugar and milk. continue with the rest of the sugar and milk.

Savory German Pancake

a variation on the standard breakfast pancake, this savory version can be served for any meal.

3 Tbsp butter
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp garlic salt
black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp onion, finely diced
3 Tbsp spinach, finely chopped
3 Tbsp shredded cheese (from cheddar to asiago)
1 Tbsp green chiles or salsa (optional)
2 Tbsp ham, chopped into small pieces (optional)

1. preheat to 400°. place butter in a 9" x 13" (glass is best but not necessary) pan. place in the oven until melted, 3-5 minutes (do not burn).
2. in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs until combined. add flour, milk, salt and pepper. beat mixture until smooth. stir in onion, spinach, cheese, etc. with a rubber spatula until combined. immediately pour batter into pan.
3. bake 22-25 minutes until puffed and well browned. serve with fresh salsa or ketchup.

Al Pastor Chicken Tacos

2-4 chicken breasts
1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
1-2 Tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp hot sauce (like Valentina or Cholula)
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
16-14 oz pineapple rings (or fresh pineapple - even better)
1 large onion, cut into 12 wedges (in half, then each half into sixths)
juice of one lime
small corn tortillas
sliced avocado, tomato, onion and cilantro (pico de gallo), and limes

1. combine chicken breasts, olive oil, garlic, spices, hot sauce, vinegar and pineapple juice in a crock pot and toss a few times. add water to almost cover chicken. cook 4 hours on high, six on low.
2. after three hours of cooking, shred chicken in the pot using two forks. add pineapple rings and onion wedges and stir together. cook for remaining time, stirring a couple more times. squeeze and stir in lime juice just before serving.
3. serve on warm corn tortillas (wrap stack of tortillas in foil and heat in 350 oven for ten or so minutes) with avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, limes, etc.

Red Soup

a family recipe passed down from G'ma Lillis Remington Brooks. tangy and spicy - perfect for a blustery, stormy day.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, copped
2 carrots, chopped
1 large (46 oz) can vegetable juice
2 cups broth
2 medium potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
2-3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce (or more to taste)
black pepper to taste (but at least 1 tsp)
browned and seasoned - with garlic salt - ground beef (optional)

1. sauté garlic, onion and carrots in oil on medium heat for 7-10 minutes until onions are tender.
2. add vegetable juice, broth, potatoes, peas, corn, any other veggies you like, optional ground beef and stir. add Worcestershire Sauce, black pepper and stir to combine.
3. simmer for at least 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. serve with warm crusty bread.

(Marvelous) Steamed Broccoli

1 large bunch broccoli
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste*
1-2 cloves garlic, minced*
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

*to simplify, you can replace the salt and garlic with garlic salt.

1. cut broccoli flowers and small stems into bite-size pieces. place in a pot with 1/4 cup cold water (no basket steamer needed). add olive oil, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
2. bring to a boil, cover tightly, reduce heat to medium and steam until the broccoli is bright green, approximately 5-7 minutes (but no more) depending on how crunchy or tender you prefer. remove with a slotted spoon and serve at once. if desired, squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime juice over the broccoli just before serving.


Easy French Onion Soup

This quick and will not disappoint.

2 cups thinly sliced yellow onion (2 large)
2 T. butter
4 C. beef broth
2 T. dry sherry or dry white wine (optional)
(I added a bit of apple cider vinegar instead)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Dash black pepper
6 slices French Bread, toasted
1 cut shredded Swiss, Gruyere, or Jarlsberg cheese (4 oz).
(I prefer sliced, not grated)

In a large saucepan cook onion, covered, in hot butter over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, dry sherry (if desired), Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange toasted bread slices on a baking sheet. Evenly divide cheese among slices. Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is light brown and bubbly. Top each serving with a bread slice.

tips for this recipe: close doors to all bedrooms and other rooms and open windows if possible while onions are cooking to avoid lingering onion smell.

Recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book


Teriyaki Marinade

I've used this marinade a number of times. Very good.

1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sugar (white or brown)
3 tbsp. wine vinegar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or ground)
1 tbsp. diced garlic (or 1 tsp. ground)

Whisk ingredients together and allow meat (3-4 chicken breasts or 1.5 lb steak) to marinate for at least an hour. When cooking, place some of marinade in with the chicken. Serve over rice.