Posted by Noelle on April 30th, 2012
Categories: Entrees, Sandwiches
Tags: ,,,

I really lucked out at the local vegetable market. Not only did they have sweet corn, but they had tons of beautiful dark green poblano peppers. I didn't have plans for these beauties but I knew they were coming home with me. So on the drive home I obsessed over poblanos. That night I had weird poblano dreams, and by the next morning it all came together. Burgers. Not the usual variation of a black bean burger. No, something different. Pinto beans. Pinto beans would be the base for this burger. Why? If you have ever made them from dried beans you can appreciate how lovely these protein packed powerhouses truly are. They actually have this amazing and artsy pattern on their skins... they're pretty. I said it. I called a bean pretty. You don't get that dramatic beauty when you open a can of pinto beans, the art is all gone, but the convenience takes it's place. As much as I enjoy putting the love into a pot of dried beans... I work, I like my house to be somewhat clean, I like to spend time with my family, you know what I mean. Sometimes I have time, but most days I don't. So this one uses canned beans, but you can close your eyes and imagine them in all their pretty dried glory for a moment before you unleash all the days frustrations out while mashing them. So this is not only a burger, this is also a stress reliever. You're welcome 🙂 I pair this burger with a chipotle aioli, mostly because I love chipotles and well it sounds gourmet when you say aioli. But these are seriously good on their own or with whatever condiment you have on hand. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Pinto Burgers:

  • 15oz can of pinto beans, liquid reserved, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup poblano pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh corn, or thawed frozen corn
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 TBS tomato paste
  • 2 tsp reserved pinto bean liquid
  • 1/8 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp cilantro, minced
  • canola oil for sauteing

Chipotle Aioli:

  • 1 cup Vegenaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce, add less for a less spicy aioli
  • 3/4 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 4 burger buns or sandwich rolls of your choice
  • thinly sliced onion, optional
  • thinly sliced tomato, optional
  • thinly sliced avocado, optional
  • lettuce pieces, optional

Directions:

For the the pinto burgers... in a large bowl, mash the beans with a large spoon or fork until about 70% are smashed. Next heat the the 2 TBS oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, poblanos, and corn. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender and starting to to turn golden. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, salt, chili flakes, and oregano to the pan, heat another 1-2 minutes stirring constantly. Remove this mixture from the pan and add to the bowl of smashed pinto beans. Add cornmeal, tomato paste, green onions, and cilantro. Use a large metal spoon to both stir and mash all the ingredients until they start to come together. Spray a large plate with cooking spray, next spray or oil your hands. Form into four equal sized burger patties and place on prepared plate. Add more oil or spray to your hands if the burger starts to stick to them.

Next make the chipotle aioli. Add all the aioli ingredients into a small bowl and gently fold the mixture until everything is combined. Be sure to do this gently as the Vegenaise will break down and get runny if you stir too intensely. Cover with wrap and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat a very thin layer of oil over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Spread the inside of each roll with the chipotle aioli, top with a burger and whatever veggies your heart desires. Enjoy while still warm. Makes 4 burgers.

Posted by Noelle on April 22nd, 2012
Categories: Breakfasts, Desserts
Tags: ,,,

As many of you know, I try not to eat much sugar. I admit that sometimes I miss those clueless younger days when I would eat a donut for breakfast, or coffee cake, or some crazy sugar filled monster muffin. *Sigh* Back then I couldn't even recognize the sugar rush for what it was, because I was constantly loaded up on the stuff. Now I know better. Now, I actually can't stand super sweet things, to the point that I will spit something out if it's too sweet (great visual, I know). Maybe it's because I am older and my body does not take the rush as well, maybe it's because most of the time I can't actually taste the food when it's loaded with sugar. Really, what's the point of eating a donut if all it tastes like is sugar? Maybe that is the point... I'd rather just eat the sugar. But, I am human. Thus my constant quest to create scrumptious breakfast and dessert items that look every bit as amazing as those headache inducing sweets of the past, but taste sophisticated, complex, and most importantly indulgent. This recipe is a composition of beautiful textures and a symphony of flavors wrapped in a pretty package. Food is my music and my art, meant to be savored and shared. This will make you and anyone you serve it to feel special. And shouldn't we all feel that way? Yes we should. Tell someone you love them, tell yourself for that matter. This recipe is actually really, really easy. The trick is day old bread. What is day old bread? I have seriously asked myself that question many times. It's stale. It's not moldy, just stale. You could do some serious damage with that french loaf if someone tried to rob your pantry, or you could teach your kids how to play ball with your baguette... you get the idea right? For this recipe I used 2 sub rolls that were packaged in a brown paper bag. The best breads for this are baguettes, sub rolls, or a french loaf. The kind of bread that you get in the grocer that comes in a breathable plastic or paper bag. The kind of bread that has a short list of ingredients (minus the 20 weird preservatives so it looks fresh long into next week), the ones made everyday in their bakery for quick sale. Just neglect it on the counter an extra day or two until it's hard. Ideally you have some leftover bread, like me. Use a good serrated knife and get your arm ready for a work out. A pep talk may be needed 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups day old or stale bread, cut into 3/4" to 1" cubes
  • 2 cups coconut milk or other non-dairy milk, divided, I used SoDelicious unsweetened
  • 3 TBS cornstarch
  • 1 TBS maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 pinches turmeric
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/8 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened, divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp canola oil, optional
  • maple syrup for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 of the wells in a muffin tin with cooking spray. Put cubed bread in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with 1/3 cup of the milk until the cornstarch dissolves and there are no lumps. Then add remaining milk, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and turmeric whisking until everything is completely incorporated. Pour the milk mixture on top of the bread, add the chocolate chips and all but 1 tsp of coconut (this tsp will be sprinkled on the top before baking). Toss gently with a wooden spoon or spoonula until all the bread gets coated with milk. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice until most of the milk is absorbed by the bread.

Use a large spoon to scoop the bread and milk mixture up and distribute evenly among the 9 muffin wells. While scooping, please make sure to grab the chocolate chips which generally hang out at the bottom of the bread bowl. You want everyone to have equal amounts of chocolate so there is no fighting 🙂 I make sure the muffin cups are filled about 2/3 full with liquid and generally not more since these do expand a bit while baking. You may have some leftover liquid, that's fine, it just depends on how much moisture your bread absorbed. I drizzle 1/4 tsp of canola oil over the top of each, but this is optional if you are watching your fat intake. Sprinkle the top of these with the reserved tsp of coconut. In the remaining 3 wells of the muffin tin, carefully pour water into them and fill at least halfway full. This helps everything bake evenly in the oven. Bake these 35-40 minutes until the tops are lightly golden and crispy. Remove from oven and let sit on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes. Carefully use a spoon or small spatula to remove each pudding to plate. Drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy! This makes 9 mini puddings, and is perfect for 4 people.

Posted by Noelle on March 8th, 2012
Categories: Desserts
Tags: ,,,

Lately, when life has been "challenging" I find myself thinking of lemons. That old saying, when like gives you lemons, is one I repeat in my head over and over again until I can figure out how to make lemonade. Alas there are times when there can't be lemonade. Sometimes life just plain sucks and I'm stuck with bushels of lemons piling up all around me. But don't despair, that is life after all. Life isn't a walk in the park...unless you step in dog poop, trip over a root, and sprain your ankle, etc. Life is uncomfortable. Life is hard. Life is work....and that's ok. That's the way it should be. How else can we appreciate the good days, appreciate the amazing people that help us through those lemon filled days, and appreciate our very own strength? I am strong, you are strong, and together there is nothing we can't accomplish. Lately, the lemons have been piling up... So my head has been filled with creative ideas on what to make with all of them. I am making the conscious decision that from now on, whenever life starts tossing lemons my way, I am going to chop, bake, and cook my way to a better tomorrow. At the very least I can share my lemony creations with those I love, or even those who are battling their own lemons. Something about that yellow hue and bright, tangy flavor always manages to perk up even the toughest of days. Let's harness our lemons and turn them not only into lemonade, but into scrumptious share-able bites of happiness for all. **Hugs**

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1-1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 7 dates
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Lemon Cream:

  • 2 cups coconut milk, I used SoDelicious unsweetened
  • 2 TBS agar agar flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 3 TBS + 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 pinches of turmeric (for color)
  • 1 pinch of salt, I used pink Himalayan
  • 1 - 6oz container of non-dairy plain yogurt, I used SoDelicious coconut plain

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 8 x 8 non-stick square cake pan with cooking spray.

Place the oats, shredded coconut, dates, and salt into a food processor and process for a minute or two until everything is flour-like consistency. Add almond meal and pulse 4 to 5 times to combine. Next add the coconut oil and pulse until it just starts to come together as a dough. Sprinkle this mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Then use your fingers to gently press the crust down, leveling as needed. Make sure it is pressed in pretty well and then transfer to the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the edges are golden. Set pan on a wire rack to cool to room temperature.

When crust has cooled, place the 2 cups coconut milk into a medium saucepan and sprinkle the agar flakes on top. Let sit for a few minutes then add the lemon juice, zest, agave, vanilla, turmeric, and salt. Whisk to combine. Bring mixture to a slow boil. I used medium heat to achieve this. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, set a timer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat a bit (medium-low), and let the mix boil for 10 minutes, whisking frequently to keep agar from sticking to the pan. After 10 minutes remove from heat and whisk in the yogurt. Pour this mixture carefully over the top of the cooled crust and place pan in the fridge to set. I let mine set for about an hour. Then remove it to serve or cover with plastic wrap and place back in the fridge to enjoy later. These are best kept chilled, but can also be served at room temperature. Cut bars into 2" squares, this makes 16 evenly sized lemon bars.