Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers

Serve with potato salad & coleslaw.
Recently we were in New Bransfels, TX for several weeks— golfing, sight-seeing and just relaxing. It was an opportunity to meet  new people and develop friendships. Among other things, we discussed food (no surprise there). This is a Taste of Home recipe (created by KT Rehrig, Allentown, PA) that Sharon Wall, Canada, recommended. 
The recipe makes 8 grilled burgers; we made them into larger steak burgers (served without buns) and cooked them on the griddle. However, we will definitely do the bun version later.

Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers   Makes 8 burgers
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (18 oz.) jar salsa, divided
1 cup crushed baked tortilla chip scoops (I just used regular tortilla chips)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning (I used homemade taco seasoning)
If making burgers . . .
   8 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
   8 lettuce leaves
   8 slices tomatoes
   8 slices red onions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.
    Cooked quinoa
  2. In a large bowl, mash black beans.
  3. Add 1 cup salsa, tortilla chips, taco seasoning and cooked quinoa; mix well.

  4. Shape into eight 1/4-in.-thick patties.
  5. Grill, covered, over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until heated through. (Or, cook on a griddle on in a frying pan.)

  6. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and remaining salsa, or serve as a black bean steak" without the bun.

To bake patties: Preheat oven to 350°. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through, turning once.

Recipe without photos . . .
Black Bean Chip & Dip Burgers   Makes 8 burgers
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 (18 oz.) jar salsa, divided
1 cup crushed baked tortilla chip scoops (I just used regular tortilla chips)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning (I used homemade taco seasoning)
If making burgers . . .
   8 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
   8 lettuce leaves
   8 slices tomatoes
   8 slices red onions
  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork.
  2. In a large bowl, mash black beans.
  3. Add 1 cup salsa, tortilla chips, taco seasoning and cooked quinoa; mix well.
  4. Shape into eight 1/4-in.-thick patties.
  5. Grill, covered, over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until heated through. (Or, cook on a griddle on in a frying pan.)
  6. Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and remaining salsa, or serve as a black bean steak" without the bun.
To bake patties: Preheat oven to 350°. Place patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 25-30 minutes or until heated through, turning once.

Easter Peppernut Buns

Although these is not what I typically think of when thinking of peppernuts, recipes like this one were brought by German Mennonites who immigrated from Russia  to the U.S. in the 1870s. Having read several of Norma Jost Voth's books on Russian Mennonites cookery, I was also aware that peppernuts were not just confined to Christmas. Mrs. Voth relates stories of eating peppernuts and drinking fresh squeezed lemonade during the summer. And, then I discovered that with a little frosting and some sprinkles, you could turn the yeast peppernuts into Easter buns.
I used a recipe from Mrs. Voth (“Peppernuts, Plain and Fancy," 1978, pp. 67 & 69) and just added sprinkles.

Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.

2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.

3.  Beat in eggs.

4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.

5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl.

6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)

7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.

8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.

9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)

10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly.
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands.

12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.

13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).

14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.

15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,     
The buns are ready and the table is set.

Recipe without photos . . .
Easter Peppernut Buns    Makes about 60 buns
2 tablespoon dry active yeast
½ cup warm water (about 110-115° F.)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
2 cups warm milk (about 110-115° F.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¾ teaspoon white pepper
7 to 8 cups unbleached or bread flour

1.  In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and 2 tablespoons sugar; let proof until bubbly.
2.  Cream shortening ¾ cup sugar and molasses.
3.  Beat in eggs.
4.  Add warm milk, spices, proofed yeast and half the flour; beat 5 minutes with electric mixer.
5.  Gradually add enough of the remaining flour to create a smooth dough that leaves side of bowl. 
6.  Turn out onto floured board (or add dough hook to electric mixer) and knead until smooth and elastic (5 to 10 minutes), adding more flour if dough becomes sticky. (Avoid too much flour so you will not have dry dough!)
7.  Place in a greased bowl and turn dough to cover all surfaces.
8.  Cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour). Note: To test for double in size . . . press the tips of two fingers lightly and quickly ½” into the dough; if the dent stays, it is double.
9.  Punch dough down and let rise again. (The long rising time yields a fluffy bun.)
10. Turn onto floured board and knead lightly. 
11. Pinch or cut off 2” pieces of dough (1 ½ oz. each), making balls between palms of hands. 
12. Place close together on greased (or sprayed) baking sheet(s) so they rise high; spray tops of rolls lightly with pan spray.
13. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size (up to an hour).
14. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Another indication of doneness: remove a roll and tap the bottom — it should have a hollow sound.
15. Cool slightly on rack and then frost with  powdered sugar icing and decorate with sprinkles.

Powdered Sugar Icing: Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon milk, 1 tablespoon softened butter, ½  teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring of choice. Adjust amounts until desired consistency is achieved,   

Roasted Chickpea Gyros w/ Tzatzika

A low-fat, low-cholesterol sandwich alternative . . .

Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads
1 cup tzatzika (recipe follows)
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.

Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Recipes without photos . . .
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Roasted Chickpea Gyros
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 flatbreads (such as pita or naan)
1 cup tzatzika
1/4 of a red onion
2 lettuce leaves
1 tomato chopped or 5 oe 6 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. To roast the chickpeas: Pat day chickpeas with pair towel, removing any skins that may com off.
  2. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black and cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Spread seasoned chickpeas on a rimmed baking pan that has been sprayed with pan release. I lined mine with foil for easy clean up.
  4. Roast at 400° for about 20 minutes until lightly browned but not hard.
  5. To prepare gyro: Spread one side  flatbread liberally with tzatzika, add chickpeas and vegetables. Fold in half to eat.
Tzatziki 
2 cups plain Greek yogurt 
1 cup seeded cucumber, shredded 
2 tablespoon lemon juice 
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or coffee filter for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture. Or, skip this step if you're in a hurry.
  2. Sprinkle salt onto shredded cucumber, then lay out on paper towel to draw out moisture.
  3. Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spicy Party Pretzels

Made these for a pool party snack . . .

Spicy Party Pretzels
1 (9.5 oz.) pkg. Honey Wheat Braided Pretzels (or use pretzels of your choice)
Scant 1/2 cup of canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered Ranch Dressing Mix
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Scant pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Arrange pretzels in baking pan (I lined the pan with foil for easy clean up.)
  2. Mix oil and seasonings.
  3. Pour over pretzels.
  4. Bake in 200° oven for 2 hours until toasted and crispy.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack.
    Snacking on pretzels at the pool party! 
Recipe without photos . . .
Spicy Party Pretzels
1 (9.5 oz.) pkg. Honey Wheat Braided Pretzels (or use pretzels of your choice)
Scant 1/2 cup of canola oil
1 1/2 tablespoon powdered Ranch Dressing Mix
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Scant pinch of red pepper flakes
  1. Arrange pretzels in baking pan (I lined the pan with foil for easy clean up.)
  2. Mix oil and seasonings.
  3. Pour over pretzels.
  4. Bake in 200° oven for 2 hours until toasted and crispy.
  5. Transfer to a paper towel lined cooling rack.

Cream of Kale Soup - healthy, easy, YUMMY!

This is a variation of a recipe that will appear in Brian Emmett's new cookbook. He suggests serving this soup in shooter glasses as an appetizer . . . and he says to make extra as guests always want seconds.  But, forget the shooter, I want a whole bowl! It is that good, YUM! Plus, it's easy and healthy too. 
Brian used butter, baby kale and Yukon Gold potatoes. I used olive oil and just the regular kale and Russet potatoes I had on hand.  
Cream of Kale Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups loosely packed stemmed kale leaves, washed & finely chopped
3 to 4 cups of chicken broth
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add chopped onions and cook a couple of minutes, then add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are tender.
  2. Add kale leaves and cook a few minutes.
  3. Add 3 cups of broth + salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, add lid and simmer about 10 minutes or until kale is  tender.
  4. Add remaining broth and potatoes; cook about 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.
  5. Cool soup slightly and then add to a blender in batches; blend until smooth.

Recipe without photos . . .
Cream of Kale Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups loosely packed stemmed kale leaves, washed & finely chopped
3 to 4 cups of chicken broth
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 medium potatoes, peeled & cubed
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add chopped onions and cook a couple of minutes, then add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are tender.
  2. Add kale leaves and cook a few minutes.
  3. Add 3 cups of broth + salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, add lid and simmer about 10 minutes or until kale is  tender.
  4. Add remaining broth and potatoes; cook about 8 to 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Taste and add additional seasonings as desired.
  5. Cool soup slightly and then add to a blender in batches; blend until smooth.

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars

Quick to make dessert . . .

Chocolate Chip Oat Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or a combo)
1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line  a 9” x 13” pan with cooking spray with foil, allowing end edges to overhang; spray with pan coating.
  2. In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Mix in the salt, baking soda, baking powder, flour and rolled oats.

  6. Gently stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

  7. Spread and press mixture into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool, then lift bars out of pan by grabbing foil overhang.
  10. Cut into bars.
Recipe without photos . . .
Chocolate Chip Oatl Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats (old-fashioned or quick-cooking)
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet, milk chocolate, or a combo)
1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line  a 9” x 13” pan with cooking spray with foil, allowing end edges to overhang; spray with pan coating.
  2. In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla.
  5. Mix in the salt, baking soda, baking powder, flour and rolled oats.
  6. Gently stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  7. Spread and press mixture into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool, then lift bars out of pan by grabbing foil overhang.
  10. Cut into bars.

Basic Potato Salad that can be customized

Making potato salad always reminds me of my first experience that was inedible! My mom never used a recipe so I consulted a cookbook and followed it to the letter . . . which was a mistake. Making potato salad is about tasting as you go and adjusting seasonings and amounts to achieve what you consider the ideal flavor.  
Here’s my basic recipe with lots of explanations (included in the steps) of what I think needs to be done to make tasty potato salad. Not only are amounts variable, so are ingredients . . . use Dijon instead of yellow mustard, add other seasonings (dill is nice), or used chopped up sweet pickles instead of relish, etc.

Basic Potato Salad that can be customized for your taste preferences      Serves about 8
About 3 lb. Russet potatoes (8 to 9 medium) peeled and cut into ½
 cubes
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup finely chopped celery
¾ to 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 hard cooked eggs and chopped
Paprika for garnish
  1. Cover potatoes with salted water in 4-quart saucepot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer just until potatoes are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes; watch them carefully and test with a sharp knife or fork—remove from heat as soon as potatoes can be pierced with the knife or fork. The goal is to not cook them so long that they crumble when pierced! However, overcooked potatoes can still be used to make potato salad; my mom occasionally makes potato salad from mashed potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and cool slightly; put in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, celery, onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed – this is the KEY to good potato salad!
  4. Add about ¾ of the mayo-based sauce to the potatoes and gently mix, adding the rest if needed. If it is still not “saucy" enough add additional mayo and a little mustard, etc., until you achieve your ideal consistency.
  5. Add eggs and toss gently.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika if desired.
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Recipe without photos . . 
Basic Potato Salad that can be customized for your taste preferences      Serves about 8
About 3 lb. Russet potatoes (8 to 9 medium) peeled and cut into ½
 cubes
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 cup finely chopped celery
¾ to 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
3 to 4 hard cooked eggs and chopped
Paprika for garnish
  1. Cover potatoes with salted water in 4-quart saucepot; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer just until potatoes are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes; watch them carefully and test with a sharp knife or fork—remove from heat as soon as potatoes can be pierced with the knife or fork. The goal is to not cook them so long that they crumble when pierced! However, overcooked potatoes can still be used to make potato salad; my mom occasionally makes potato salad from mashed potatoes.
  2. Drain potatoes and cool slightly; put in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, celery, onion, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed – this is the KEY to good potato salad!
  4. Add about ¾ of the mayo-based sauce to the potatoes and gently mix, adding the rest if needed. If it is still not “saucy" enough add additional mayo and a little mustard, etc., until you achieve your ideal consistency.
  5. Add eggs and toss gently.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with paprika if desired.
  7. Serve chilled or at room temperature.