Sunday, July 25, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

My Venture into Black Bean Burgers

I am still crazy busy at work so I'm having difficulty finding the time to cook for myself (let alone my blog). Not to mention, it's July and blazing HOT in Kansas so who wants to heat up their house with the stove?

When I was a vegetarian, I loved to make black bean burgers all of the time. They're healthy, fast and easy-to-make, and, best of all, can be frozen for use at a later date. Even though I'm no longer a vegetarian, I still cook these burgers from time-to-time because they are so darn good! I get a lot of requests for vegetarian dishes so I thought I would share this recipe. One day soon, I'll also share my veggie burger recipe. It's so good!

You can make these babies as spicy as you like. With just the jalapeno, they are not particularly spicy. Add the red pepper flakes and they definitely have a kick. Top them pepper jack cheese and spicy ranch dressing and WWOOOOOO WEEEEE they're spicy. The nice thing is that you can make them as spicy as you want – from mild to burn-a-hole-in-your-pants spicy.

You and your family are going to love these. I've never tried grilling them so I'm not sure how they would turn out. If you try grilling them, let me know. They hold together pretty well so they should maintain their shape even when grilled (but be careful when turning them so they do not break apart and fall through the grates). So blog buddies – relax a while, grab a lemonade, and make some of these tasty burgers. Enjoy – and happy summer cooking!

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Spicy Black Bean Burgers
(Printable Version)

2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and well drained
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c chopped red bell pepper
1 jalapeno (ribs and seeds removed), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c seasoned bread crumbs
2 TBSP salsa
1 egg
1/4 c fresh cilantro (no need to chop)
1/2 tsp table salt or to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano, rubbed between your fingers
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 c whole kernel corn
Hamburger buns and your favorite condiments

Rinse and drain the black beans well. Reserve 3 to 4 tablespoons of the whole black beans. Add the remaining beans to a food processor.

Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add the red bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Set aside and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

While the onion mixture is cooling, add the remaining ingredients to the food processor except for the reserved whole beans and whole kernel corn. Pulse several times – scraping down the bowl as needed. The bean mixture in the food processor should be thick and fairly smooth. Add the onion mixture to the food processor and pulse only 3 to 4 times – scraping down the bowl after each pulse. You still want to see some chunks of red pepper and jalapeno so do not puree the mixture too much.

Transfer to the bean mixture to a bowl and mix in the reserved whole black beans and corn. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours to allow the bread crumbs to absorb any excess liquid.

If freezing the burgers, cut some parchment or wax paper into squares a little larger than the patties you will form. You will use the parchment to separate the patties so they do not stick together when frozen. Lay the parchment squares in a sheet pan in an even layer. Form a patty with some of the bean mixture. You can make the burgers as thick or thin as you would like. I prefer mine about 1/2" thick. Place the burger on one of the parchment squares and continue with the remaining bean mixture. Keep everything in a single layer. Freeze the burgers for a couple of hours then stack them (keeping a piece of parchment between each burger) in a resealable bag.

Cooking Burgers That Are Not Frozen: To cook the burgers, heat a skillet (uncovered) over medium heat with some olive oil (a tablespoon or so). Cook the patties until they are nicely browned – about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve on a bun with your favorite condiments. I like to serve them topped pepper jack cheese, spicy ranch dressing, lettuce, tomato, and a little onion – but you can add whatever you want.

Cooking Burgers That Are Frozen: You do not need to defrost the burgers before cooking them. Heat a skillet (somewhere between medium-low and medium heat) with the olive oil. Add the burgers and cover them with a lid while cooking. Because they are frozen, you need to cook them at a slightly lower temperature, covered, for a little bit longer than if they were thawed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Corn Casserole

My Venture into Corn Casserole

Blog Buddies – As you have seen, I have not been posting as often as I would like. I am absolutely swamped at work right now so I've had to put cooking and new recipe development on the back burner (pun intended!) for now. With the long hours at work, cooking is definitely not something I look forward to when I get home. I do NOT know how working moms do this every day!!! For at least the next month, my postings will be sporadic. My apologies in advance!

Today's recipe is quick and easy to make and is especially good when corn is in season. Some American and Mexican corn casseroles/puddings are often VERY sweet. When I eat them, I feel like I'm eating dessert for dinner. With this recipe, I set out to make a flavorful and savory casserole with just a bit of sweetness.

Corn-based casseroles and puddings are not unique to North America. In Paraguay, they have a very popular side dish called "Chipa Guazu." I've eaten it here in the U.S. but I'm sure it's not as good as a Paraguayan grandmother could make. Chipa guazu is normally made with a fresh cheese called "Queso Paraguay", which is impossible to find where I live. From what I understand, it's similar to Monterrey Jack but, not having tried it myself, I cannot corroborate that. I've worked with a few Paraguayans throughout the years and they are the ones who introduced me to chipa guazu. I played around with one of their recipes to come up with the one I am posting today. I adapted their recipe to include easier-to-find ingredients that better suit my taste preferences.

I think it tastes pretty darn good. I'm not willing to officially call it chipa guazu since I've never been to Paraguay to taste the real thing but I think most Paraguayans would consider my attempt to be at least edible (even if it's not authentic). Give it a try with some homegrown sweet corn! Very yummy! Enjoy – and happy shucking!

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Corn Casserole
(Printable Version)

1/2 c butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 c heavy cream
1 14-3/4 oz can sweet-style creamed corn
1 12-oz package frozen sweet corn niblets (thawed in the fridge) or 2 c fresh corn
8 oz monterrey jack cheese, finely shredded
1 c flour
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Heat a skillet over medium heat with the butter. When melted (don't allow the skillet to get too hot), add the onions and gently sweat the onions until they are very soft but not browned (about 8 – 10 minutes). Let cool about 5 minutes.

While the onions are softening, beat the eggs and cream together in a medium bowl. Add the creamed corn, thawed corn, and cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder.

When the onions have cooled about 5 minutes, add them to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into a 9x13" glass dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the casserole is brown around the edges and the center has set.
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