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Monthly Archives: July 2009

For two years I have been trying to find a recipe for veggie burgers that doesn’t fall apart. I had tried tofu, beans, sprouts, you name it, and every time the burger would crumble to pieces in the frying pan. The moment I put these burgers together I knew they would not only hold up to the frying pan, but would hold up to the grill. Hayley at Buff Chickpea knew what she was talking about when she said this was the only veggie burger a cook would need. While I didn’t follow the recipe to a T, it is basically the same recipe.

Beans are so cheap – at less than $1 a bag, these burgers cost pennies to make.

These were so good that not only did Jason have two for lunch (working out is making him eat like he is back in college doing two-a-days for football) but asked about making more for his lunches in the coming weeks. When I made the recipe I made enough for 10 veggie burgers. These could be cooked first and then frozen for an easy reheat or frozen first, thawed out and then cooked for a fresh burger. It is really up to what you’d like to do – save time now and cook them later or cook them now and save time later. I made them at 8pm on a Sunday night before having to get up at 4:15 to the run the next morning, so I opted for the later.

Ingredients
– 1 pound bag of chickpeas soaked, boiled, and drained (make sure they are cooled completely before using if you do this all in the same day)
– 1 pound bag of great northern beans, soaked, boiled, and drained
– 1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
– 1 bunch of green onions
– 1 TBSP diced garlic
– 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil
– 4 large eggs
– 1 1/2 cup ground flax seed
– 3/4 cup ground whole wheat bread crumbs
– salt and pepper as desired
*I am terrible at following recipes, so I recommend using your judgement with these. I believe I recall how much of each item I used, but I could be wrong. If the burgers are too wet, at more grains. If they are too dry, add some olive oil or an extra egg.

Directions
1. Place half the beans in a blender for food processor. Add half of the red peppers, onions, garlic, and basil. Add 2 eggs and blend on medium until a semi-smooth consistency.
2. Remove from blender and set into a big bowl. Add half the flax seed and bread crumbs. Mix well and let sit.
3. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
4. Once blended, add to the bowl and add the remaining flax seeds and bread crumbs. Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.
5. Spray wax paper with cooking spray. Form burgers with your hands and place onto the wax paper. Repeat until all of the mixture is used up.
6. If freezing, set in the freezer like this and let harden over night. In the morning, remove from wax paper and place in a freezer bag. When you decide to cook them, let them thaw out first to prevent from over cooking the outside.
7. If cooking immediately, heat oil in a skillet or heat a grill. If grilling, spray the grill grate with cooking spray for grilling to prevent sticking (we forgot to do this and lost some on the grate). Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the center is 165F (this has eggs in it, so make sure it is cooked all the way).

They may be a little dry if you freeze them and then cook them, but I just added some Olive Oil Mayo and a slice of Sharp Cheddar made with 2% milk. Eat them with a delicious homemade hamburger bun and you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of this sooner.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Beans, Vegetarian

 

Buns in the Oven

While Jason and I have been making our own bread for over a year, we have yet to make our own buns. We’ve made flat bread, biscuits, corn bread, and crackers, but never buns. On Saturday I decided this was going to change. I found a recipe online (I apologize for not having a source – I didn’t think to save it!) that used the bread maker, so I figured, why not? I am always up for something new.

I don’t think these buns could have been any easier and they tasted great. From now on we are definitely going to have real buns with our meals.

Ingredients
-1 cup warm water (105-115F)
-1 TBSP brown sugar
-1 TBSP oil
-3/4 tsp salt
-2 1/2 cups bread flour
-1 TBSP fast-acting bread machine yeast

Directions
1. Add the liquid ingredients, sugar, and salt to the bread pan. Then add the flour into the pan, making it into a mound. Scoop a little hole in the flour (make sure it does NOT go all the way into the water – you don’t want the yeast and water to touch yet) and pour the yeast in.
2. Set on dough cycle and push start 🙂
3. When done sprinkle some flour on the counter coat your hands with flour. Remove the dough from the pan and bread it into 6-8 balls (the buns pictures were broken into 6 balls).
4. Place balls onto a sprayed baking sheet. Lightly spray the balls with cooking spray and cover with a towel. Place in a draft-free spot (the oven works well, if it is off, of course). Let rise until doubled in size (I think it was about 45 minutes).
5. Bake at 425F for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

**I haven’t tried it yet, but I think you could do half whole wheat flour, half bread flour. You would need to let them rise longer and maybe add another 1/2 TBSP sugar and 1/2 tsp yeast. If you try it, let me know. I’ll update the post if I give it a try.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Bread

 

Berry Jell-O Cheesecake

Neufchatel cheese is JUST like cream cheese but with 1/3 less fat (and ultimately 1/3 less calories). I prefer this over low-fat/fat-free cream cheese because there are fewer ingredients. All of the modified-food-whatevers freak me out a bit and I’d rather go with something that has 5 ingredients instead of 22. I bought some neufchatel cheese a while back to make an herb spread (will post that recipe in the near future). It was on sale so I bought two thinking I’d use it up in no time.

Then life happened and the next thing I knew the cheese’s best-by date was just around the corner. I was torn about what to make with it – while cheesecake would be good, I didn’t want to go through the hassle of making a pie crust. I searched online and found a recipe that used jell-o and neufchatel cheese – it was settled. I found a quick and easy sugar-cookie recipe for the crust and then topped with the creamy, jell-o goodness. I turned out to be quite tasty and I would make it again. However, the jell-o part is not as creamy as cheesecake, so if you are looking for something heavy this is not the recipe for you. This dessert is light and sweet – pefect for a summer BBQ.

Berry-Jello Cheesecake
Dish: square baking dish – 9 to 12 servings

Cookie Crust
-1/3 cup and 2 TBSP all purpose flour
-1/8 tsp baking soda
-1/8 tsp baking powder
-3 TBSP butter, room temp
-2 TBSP sugar
-1/8 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Add dry ingredients into a small bowl
3. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat well.
5. Press into a square baking dish (you may need a little more flour to do this).
6. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

Jell-O Cheesecake Filling
– 2 0.3 oz packets of sugar-free, flavored jell-o
– 2 cups of hot water
– 16 oz. container of neufchatel cheese
– splash of vanilla
– fruit (if you’d like) – we used frozen berries

Directions:
1. Mix the jell-o with the hot water until well dissolved.
2. Carefully beat in the neufchatel cheese (this can get messy, so be careful!)
3. Add in a splash of vanilla and finish beating.
4. Mix in any fruit you’d like
5. Pour over cooled cookie crust.
6. Refrigerate for a few hours, or until set.
7. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2009 in Desserts

 

Frugal Food

I cannot believe how long it has been since I have consistently posted on this site. It feels like just yesterday I was trying to figure out what direction I wanted to go with with this blog and now it makes me a little sad to think that four months could go by that quickly. Regardless, I hope to be back to being consistent within the next few weeks. My internship will be over in two weeks and after that I am going to feel like I have all the time in the world! The drive alone was about 13 hours per week – together that is 53 hours of (unpaid) time I cannot be cooking or blogging. However, such is life and it needed to be done so that I can become a registered dietitian…this is the last I will mention it 🙂

Over the past two months I have spent little time cooking. The internship provides lunch, which is a help with the budget, and we have been spending a lot of time away from the apartment on the weekends. This allowed me to get by with only making about two real meals a week. I have been looking for ways to save money since right now we only have one part-time income coming in and we could use any extra quarter we can get. In trying to research ways to cut back I looking up blogs that talk about being frugal or financially savvy and realized we already do most of the things they were talking about.

I decided to post on what we do to save money. At first I thought this didn’t fit with the blog but then I realized it is all part of the name…nutrition information (i.e. recipes, random facts), health (from the nutrition information) and life (all things related, included saving money). Right now we are doing a cash challenge for the month where we will pay for everything with cash (except gas – that uses the debt card because it is just easier than going inside) and are recording every item we buy – not just $54.26 from Aldis, but every item and its price. We are hoping to get a better idea of what we are actually spending and where.

When we first were married and started grocery shopping I was amazed at how much we spent. I didn’t know what a good price was for lunch meat or ground turkey because I never bought that food on my own (I could tell you what a good price for lettuce or carrots was, however). To aid in the process I made a Grocery Costs excel sheet. It has each item and what its ounce price is. After a month I was pretty familiar with the prices and could go to one of three grocery stores and tell you if I was going to wait to buy it until I went to Jewel or if it was okay to buy at Walmart. I also started pricing out meals to see if some things we were eating were costing us too much, but I lost interest and didn’t pursue that any further.

Together, these two tasks have really helped us see how to find the best deal on groceries and have allowed us to determine where our money is really going. Here are some other things that I find useful for saving money:

1. Always look at the ounce price. The bigger or bulk item is not always cheaper. For instance, the large size of natural peanut butter at Walmart is actually more expensive per ounce than the small size. Instead of buying one large jar I just buy two small jars now.

2. Make a list before you go and organize it by area/type. This will make the trip faster and more efficient. Before I really knew my grocery stores I would make one trip down the store and realize I missed ten things before and would have to snake back through.

3. Be flexible with fruits and vegetables. For these I usually denote on my list how many fruits and vegetables I want to buy but not the exact kinds. This goes a little against number two, but it allows me to decide there when I see what is on sale. In season is usually cheaper, but now always (apples will always be cheaper than blackberries).

4. Buy frozen and canned foods when you can. I despise canned vegetables, but don’t mind frozen vegetables, so we often stock up on frozen veggies once a month. For fruit, we usually buy some frozen and some canned. If you are buying canned fruit choose the kind packed in its own juice or in light syrup. Pineapple, for instance, tastes just fine out of the can and is extremely cheaper than buying a whole pineapple. If we live in Hawaii I would just buy it fresh, but “fresh” in IL is not quite the same 😉

5. Plan out meals and snacks. Every week I make a menu for the week. This allows me to see how much I really need and of what. I usually look at what we have first to try to use that up first. For snacks, I just started a rotating snack menu. I wrote out four weeks with four snacks each(i.e veggies and dip, nuts, crackers, pudding) and will reuse this list each month. Before I would just buy the same thing every week and sometimes food wouldn’t get eaten as quickly as I would have liked, or we would get sick of the same snack. I think this new way will help us eat a variety of foods, save money, and not get bored. I should add that when I say snacks, I don’t mean store bought chips and cookies. I try to always make the snacks if I can, so if cookies are the snack they will be homemade not Chips Ahoy. Not only does homemade taste better but it is better for your and saves money.

I could probably go one for hours about this, so I think I will call it quits for now. I’ll be back soon!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2009 in Uncategorized