Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

A few weekends ago, I went up to my dad's for lunch with the kids and he had these frozen black bean and corn burgers that were absolutely delicious. I loved them so much that I read the ingredients on the package and decided to try and do my own thing. I read quite a few different recipes online as well as reviews and everything I read said that people had issues with the burgers falling apart. After reading a few tips and tricks (most of them requiring frying the burger in oil (which kind of defeats the purpose of it being healthier than a hamburger), I decided to go my own way and try something different. I used jalapenos from our garden and they were super spicy. I happen to enjoy very spicy food, but if you don't, I recommend using half of a jalapeno instead of a whole one. We topped ours with a little bit of chili sauce and fresh avocado slices.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

3 Cups Black Beans, Cooked and Drained
1 Cup Corn Niblets
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
1 Cup Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Chili Powder
2 tbsp parsley, minced (optional)


In a large bowl, mash black beans (it's ok to have a few whole ones but try to get them mostly mashed). Set aside.

In a skillet, saute onions and peppers over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until no longer crunchy. Add sauteed veggies and corn to the beans, and add breadcrumbs, cumin, salt, chili powder, and parsley to the mix as well.

Form into patties and place on cookie sheet(s) lined with waxed paper. I got nine good sized burgers from my mix but it will all depend on how big you make them.

Place cookie sheets in freezer for 30-60 minutes or until patties are frozen. Transfer to a gallon sized freezer bag.

Grill Option: Place burgers on a piece of foil on a hot grill and cook 5-10 minutes per side or until crunchy on the outside but still soft on the inside. The foil will prevent your burger from falling through the grill if it gets too soft. My husband learned this the hard way unfortunately!

Stovetop option: Heat 2Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle burger with cornmeal on both sides and place in pan. Cook for 5-8 minutes per side. I cooked mine this way and loved how the cornmeal gave it a crispy coating on the outside.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes

As a child, one of my favorite things to eat was strawberry banana yogurt. It was my favorite flavor combination for the longest time. This weekend, my husband really wanted pancakes and I had no problem making them, but I just had to try something different than my usual pancake. We had tons of fruit in the house and he suggested strawberries. I love strawberry pancakes, but I decided to try and kick them up a notch by adding banana as well. These were a hit (except for the first few pancakes which I accidentally messed up by trying to flip too early (happens to me every time I make pancakes and yet I still haven't learned my lesson). I hope you enjoy these as much as our family did!

Also, this my first ever Tuesday Tag-Along post and I'd like to welcome anyone who finds me today, I hope you enjoy your stay!

Tuesday Tag-Along

This post is also linked to Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays!

Blessed with Grace

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/8 Cup Honey
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%, but you could use any type, buttermilk would be good here too)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces


In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Set dry ingredients aside. In a medium bowl, combine mashed banana, egg, milk, oil, and honey, whisk until well blended. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix thoroughly (batter may be a little bit lumpy). Do not add strawberries.

Heat a griddle pan or skillet on medium-medium/high heat, spray with PAM or grease pan with butter. Drop batter onto pan by 1/4 cup increments. sprinkle with strawberries. Once bubbles begin to form (about 4-5 minutes), flip pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with fresh maple syrup and/or butter. I had mine with just syrup and they were delicious. Hubby had his with both butter and syrup, and both of my kids ate them plain with nothing on them and everyone enjoyed them!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 7/26/10

After a few super busy weeks, I finally had a chance to actually plan a menu and I'm really hoping we can stick to it! My husband has decided to join me on my weight loss journey, so you will be seeing a lot of new (and healthy) recipes this week!

Whole Wheat Strawberry Banana Pancakes
Crockpot Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Bagel Thins with Fat Free Cream Cheese
Egg Beater Omlettes (with assorted ingredients)
Cold Cereal
Fruit and Yogurt

BBQ Chicken Salad
One-Point Chili
Baked Potato w/ Chili
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Apple Cranberry Pork Loin
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Pasta w/ Homemade Sauce
Whole Wheat Pizza
BBQ Chicken Breast
Tequila Lime Chicken

For more delicious menus, visit

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Calling All Bloggers (and my first EVER giveaway)

Dear fellow bloggers (and readers),

I have a story I'd like to share with you today - I know I'm not usually one to talk about much besides food and blogging, but today I need your help with one of my current missions in life and I just know that you'll be willing to help me out!

You see, almost four years ago I gave birth to my daughter. She was born 9 weeks early weighing only 3 pounds and fitting from my finger tip to just past my wrist. She had a grade IV hemorrhage in her brain, a hole in her heart, and also a congenital heart defect called patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). She was fighting for her life in the NICU as I stood by completely helpless, going home each night and leaving her behind, an hour from home, not knowing what might happen while I was gone. After 26 days she was finally healthy enough to come home. She received state of the art care in a Level III NICU. Care that without extensive research, might not have been available to her. The March of Dimes helped save my daughter's life by providing the research needed to help her overcome her obstacles.

Two years later, I had another preemie, my son was born only 5 weeks early but was much more sick than his sister despite "baking" a bit longer. He was on a ventilator and was unable to breathe on his own without tiring and causing his heart rate to drop. He also had episodes where he would just "forget" to breathe and would turn blue and need assistance to begin breathing again. Again, we were saved by research funded by the March of Dimes - our son received several rounds of surfactant therapy to help his lungs handle breathing without assistance.

We've been walking in the March for Babies for three years now, and we've been able to raise well over $2,000 in those three years combined for the March of Dimes. This year, we have a goal as a team to raise $2,000 by the time of our walk in April 2011. I've come up with a master plan for fund-raising - We're going to create our very own cookbook to publish and sell - all profits will go to the March of Dimes.

This, my fellow bloggers is where you come in. I'm looking for people to submit recipes to include in our cookbook. We are needing a total of 200-300 recipes in the following categories:

Appetizers & Beverages
Soups & Salads
Vegetables & Side Dishes
Main Dishes
Breads & Rolls
Cookies & Candy
Miscellaneous (This & That)

Recipes should be submitted via email at foodiefairytale (at) gmail (dot) com.

For each recipe you submit you will be entered into a drawing for my very FIRST giveaway!

I'm sure you are all dying to know what the prize is, right??

The prize will be a basket full of some of my favorite cooking supplies, including some of my wonderful home-canned mango chutney, homemade vanilla extract, and more! Hurry and submit your recipes - giveaway ends on July 31st at 8:00pm EST. Please make sure to leave an email address in your comment so I know how to reach you if you win!

For each recipe you submit please leave me a comment to let me know the recipe has been emailed to me.

Don't want to submit a recipe, or want some extra chances to win? Here are some other ways that you can win! Please be sure to leave a comment to let me know you've done these as well.
  • Follow my blog publicly
  • Follow me on Facebook
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave a comment with your twitter name)
  • Blog about my giveaway (leave a link to your post)
I hope you all have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Conveniently Homemade - Smoothies

Today I'll be sharing my next post in my "Conveniently Homemade" series. While trying to lose weight, one of my favorite breakfast options is smoothies. They are easy to make and very portable. In fact, I like to drink mine in the car on the way to work.

The problem you can sometimes run into with smoothies is that if you are using fresh fruit, it tends to go bad quickly and sometimes way before you have a chance to use it all. I came up with a great way to still get my healthy, delicious smoothies and I'd love to share it with you.

This can be adapted for use with any fruit. I have a few specific ones that I make so I'll list them for you here. I make mine in bulk, so I've listed them this way. You can of course cut the recipes down to make just a few servings if you wish.

Fruit Smoothies
  • 6lbs Fresh or Frozen Fruit
  • 1 32oz Container of Fat Free Yogurt (your choice of flavor - I use plain or vanilla mostly)
  • 1 Pint of Frozen Fruit Juice Concentrate (I use orange, but you could use any flavor)
  • 8 - 1 Quart Ziploc Freezer Bags
Flavor Ideas:
  • Strawberry-Banana
  • Mixed Berry (Strawberry, Blueberry, Raspberry)
  • Tropical (Mango, Pineapple, Orange)
  • Orange-Banana
  • Strawberry-Peach
  • Mixed Fruit (Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Strawberry, Banana, Pineapple)

Divide Fruit evenly among the 8 freezer bags. Add 1/2 Cup of Yogurt and 1/4 Cup frozen juice concentrate to each freezer bag. Remove air from bag, seal tightly, and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw bag in the fridge until just soft enough to come out of the bag and into the blender. Add 1 Cup of Water and blend until smooth. Each bag makes enough for 2-3 Large smoothies.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog Awards!

First, I'd like to apologize for my lack of posting lately. I've been VERY busy at work and also have decided to start training for my very first 5K run! I've been spending very little time in the kitchen lately. We've been doing a lot of eating from the freezer the past few weeks. However our freezer meals have finally been depleted so we'll be cooking again starting this week!

I've been nominated for two blog awards and I'm very excited. Here they are:

I was honored by Holly at Living in a (Mostly) Happy SAHM World with the Sweet Blog Award. Please check out her blog for some yummy menu plans and recipes. I personally can't wait to try canning some of her roasted red peppers! Thank you SO much Holly for the lovely award!

Here are the Sweet Blog Award rules:
- Give this award to 10 sweet bloggers.
- Make a post about the award including the picture and mention the person who gave it to you.
- Put the award on your blog.
- Let your nominated 10 know you’ve awarded them by leaving a comment.

I've also been nominated for the Sunshine Blog Award by April at Angel Food Kitchens. Her Oreos and Cream cake had me drooling on my keyboard! “The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.” The rules once this award is received are as follows:

1. Post the logo on blog.
2. Pass the award on to 12 fellow bloggers.
3. Link the nominees
4. Let nominees know they have won this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person you received this award from.

I had a hard time coming up with so many people to nominate (22 total...eek!). So, I'd like to nominate the people below for both of these awards. I apologize that I didn't meet the minimum number of nominees. I'll try to add some more soon!

These are bloggers who inspire me to do what I do, share fun ideas, and even every day tips and tricks!

Susie B. Homemaker
- She is currently doing a giveaway for the "I Hate to Cook" cookbook, check it out! Hurry, it ends on 7/18!

Michelle at All Home Cooking - She is on the same mission as me and I find her to be very inspiring. I highly suggest trying her S'mores Brownies, they are delicious!

Heather at Out of the Box Into the Kitchen - Heather and I were roommates in college and we have a lot in common. She always has something new and interesting to post. Check out her new recipe for Creamy Sausage Rigatoni!

Angie at Angie's Healthy Living - I can't wait to try her meatless meatballs!

Jenn at Jenn's Food Journey - I'm dying to try her strawberry cheesecake ice cream.

Mama Bird at Mama Bird's Nest - You all know I've been doing some canning around here, and these pickles look delicious!

Holly at Living in a (Mostly) Happy SAHM World - Check out her Pineapple Zucchini Bread.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

S'mores Cookie Bars

We had quite a bit of leftover graham crackers, marshmallows, and candy bars from our camping trip. So, here is yet another delicious recipe featuring my favorite flavor combination!

S'mores Cookie Bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 milk chocolate candy bars
  • 1-2 cups mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Combine the flour, cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Set aside 1/2 cup for topping.

Press remaining mixture into a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Place candy bars on top of crust.

Crumble remaining graham cracker mixture over top.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My First Adventure in Canning

I've been wanting to try canning for a while now but I just finally got the courage to give it a try. I spent $18 on a boiling water canner w/ a canning rack and I think it will definitely pay off in the long run.

Last month when I did my freezer cooking day, one of the ingredients I needed was Mango Chutney. I paid $8 for two 8oz jars of mango chutney at the store. I couldn't believe how expensive it was but I needed it so I just paid and walked away. After buying my canning supplies yesterday, I decided the first thing I would make was mango chutney. I bought the ingredients and got to work, and my first canning adventure was a total success. I can't wait to use my homemade mango chutney to whip up some mango-cranberry chicken!

Mango Chutney

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cups mangoes (4 to 5), peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, whole
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6 quart pot; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until syrupy and slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally during cooking.

Pour into clean, hot jars leaving 1/2-inch headspace; close jars. Process in a water bath 15 minutes. Remove from water bath and cool on a towel for 12 hours, being sure to keep the jars upright. After cooling, check to make sure the jars were properly sealed (if you press the middle of the lid and it doesn't make a popping sound the jar is sealed properly).

This recipe makes six 1/2 pint jars

*Note you could also freeze this instead of canning if you prefer, or it will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week

Back from Vacation and a new Blog Series!

I'm back from our little camping vacation and we had a great time. We ate every meal at the campground except for one lunch which we ate out at a restaurant while we were out doing some outlet shopping. We brought a lot of food from our last freezer cooking day and it really worked out well for us. We placed everything in the cooler still frozen and by the time we were ready to eat it had thawed out and was ready for the grill! Oh, and did I mention that our children enjoyed their very first s'mores by the camp fire?

I remember going camping as a child and other than s'mores and maybe a few hot dogs, we never cooked at the campground. We ate out at a restaurant for almost every meal. I'm guessing it was just more convenient to go out than to go through all of the "hassle" of trying to cook over a fire. That got me thinking about my goal of eliminating processed foods from my family's diet. The thing that everyone loves about processed foods is that they are more convenient, right? So, I decided to take this opportunity to teach you all some easy ways to make home cooking from scratch more convenient. Not only is it healthier because you know what is going into your body, but it will also save you some money in the long run!

I've decided to start a weekly blog series on homemade substitutes for pre-packaged foods. It will be called "Conveniently Homemade".

Today, we're going to discuss Cake Mix.

Everyone loves the ease of making a cake from a boxed mix. Here is a way to create your own prepackaged cake mix using ingredients from your cupboard. Not only is it delicious, it costs less than $1 per bag (mine cost about 68 cents) to make it yourself vs. anywhere from $1 to $3 for a store bought mix!

Yellow Cake Mix

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Shortening

Mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut shortening into the mixture until it becomes crumbly. Store mixture at room temperature in a labeled plastic bag or other airtight container.

When you are ready to prepare your cake, you will need the following ingredients:
  • 3/4 Cup of Milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
To prepare a cake using your homemade cake mix, follow these directions:

Pour one package of cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add milk and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Add eggs and beat until well mixed. Pour batter into greased pan (note this will make two 8 inch round cakes or one 9x13 rectangle cake). Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

For other cake variations, see below:

White Cake
  • Follow the same directions as for Yellow Cake replacing the 2 eggs with 3 unbeaten egg whites. Use an electric mixer for beating.
Spice Cake
  • Add to the package of Yellow Cake Mix: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of ground allspice. Follow Yellow Cake directions.

Orange Cake
  • Pour 1 package of Yellow Cake Mix into a bowl; add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel (1 teaspoon dried). Squeeze the juice from 1 large orange and add to it enough water to measure 1 cup. Add this orange juice to the mix, beat for 2 minutes as directed previously; add 2 eggs; beat and bake as directed.


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