January 31, 2012

Jamaican Jerk Lentil Burger

This past Saturday I dined at CafĂ© Manna for the first time, and was encouraged by my friend Lisa to try their Jamaican Jerk Lentil Burger.  It was a great menu choice!

I liked the burger so much, that I attempted to recreate it on Sunday.  My first attempt tasted great but the lentils weren't cooked properly, so I made a second attempt tonight and was very happy with the result.

I love recipes that taste great, are easy to make and have nutritious ingredients.  This recipe meets two of those criteria.  There are several steps, which means it is not the easiest recipe to make, but I promise the result is worth the effort.  I would imagine that you could cook the lentils and rice ahead of time, but I haven't tried that yet myself.

Jamaican Jerk Lentil Burger
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients (4 burgers)
    Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2/3 cup lentils
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 cup quick brown rice
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • ½ large shallot, minced
    • 1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    • 1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon Jamaican Jerk seasoning
    • ¼ carrot, shredded
    • ½ cup panko
    • ¼ cup chopped parsley
    • ½ tablespoon lime juice
    Spicy Aioli
    • ½ cup light mayonnaise
    • 1 1/3 tablespoons Jamaican Jerk seasoning
    • 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
    • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
    • In a small bowl, combine spices to make Jamaican Jerk seasoning. Set aside.
    • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, spread lentils out on a light colored plate to check for, and remove, small stones or debris. Then place lentils in a strainer, and rinse thoroughly under cool running water.
    • After the water comes to a boil, add the rinsed lentils. When water returns to a boil, cover with the lid tilted, and turn down the heat to gently simmer. Green lentils usually take about 25 minutes, while red ones require 15 minutes. When the lentil become slightly mush, remove from heat, drain any excess water and set aside.
    • When the lentils have approximately 15 minutes cook time remaining, place rice and 1 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover, and cook for 7 minutes on high. Let stand 5 minutes. Set aside.
    • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, ginger, and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in 1 tablespoon Jamaican Jerk seasoning salt and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in the cooked rice, cooked lentils, and carrot.
    • Pour mixture into a large bowl and add panko, parsley, and lime juice. Then mash together until mixture can be shaped into patties. This recipe makes four or five patties, depending on the size of the patties.
    • Heat a large skillet (same one as before) coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Saute patties for 3 minutes on each side. While patties are cooking, mix the mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce and remaining Jamaican Jerk seasoning to make the spicy aioli.
    • Spread the spicy aioli on the top and bottom of each toasted bun, then add a burger, and lettuce, onion and tomato, if desired.
    Recipes adapted from:
    Spark People -Jamaican Lentil Burger, All Recipes - Jerk Seasoning, Food Network - Spicy Aioli
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    January 30, 2012

    Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

    I've tried quite a few vegetarian chili recipes now, and have yet to find one that I really love.  I'll likely keep searching, but in the meantime, the recipe I made for dinner tonight was very good and I'd definitely make it again, so I'm sharing the recipe.

    However, if anyone has a recommended recipe you think I should try, please let me know!  I love the ease of making slow cooker chili and it's such a great winter meal, even though we are currently experiencing warm weather for January in Wisconsin. 

    Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 3 hours (high), 8 hours (low)

    Ingredients (serves 8)
    • 15oz tomato puree
    • 28oz diced tomatoes
    • 15oz black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 15oz garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
    • 30oz kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    • 16oz vegetarian baked beans
    • 4oz mild diced green chiles
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder (for mild chili)
    • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • In a 5- to 6-qt slow cooker, combine all ingredients, mixing well.
    • Cook for 3 hours on high or 7 hours on low.
    Recipe adapted from: All Recipes - Grandma's Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
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    January 29, 2012

    Pumpkin Scones

    When I made pumpkin coffee cake earlier today, I mistakenly opened two cans of pumpkin when I only needed one, so I also made pumpkin scones.

    I haven't had much luck making scones in the past but today they turned out wonderfully.  Not too dry, and very similar to a bakery scone.  I enjoyed one with a cup of tea this afternoon.

    I recently purchased a bench knife and it was quite helpful for dividing the dough and cutting the scones.  A step-by-step of the process can be found on the King Arthur blog, but these scones are pretty easy to make.

    Pumpkin Scones

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients (12 scones)
    • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/2 cup cold butter
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts
    • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
    • 2 large eggs
    • cinnamon sugar, for topping
    • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices.
    • With a pastry blender, cut in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's ok for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated. Stir in the walnuts.
    • In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs till smooth.
    • Add the pumpkin/egg to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together. Then knead several times in the bowl.
    • Line a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.
    • Place the dough onto the floured parchment, and divide it in half. Round each half into a 6" circle, about 3/4" thick.
    • Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Don't be shy, I wish I would have sprinkled more on mine.
    • Using a knife or bench knife that you've run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.
    • Carefully pull the wedges away, and space at least an inch apart on the pan.
    • For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, heat the oven to 425 degrees.
    • Bake the scones for 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown.
    • Remove the scones from the oven, and serve warm. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature. Reheat very briefly in the microwave, if desired.
    Recipe adapted from: King Arthur Flour

    January 28, 2012

    Pumpkin Coffee Cake

    This coffee cake is amazing.  It has a mild pumpkin flavor, with a tasty pecan crunch topping.  I know pumpkin is typically associated with fall, but this cake is too good to only eat during the autumn season.

    I followed a recipe from Food for My Family, and encountered a couple minor problems.  First, the original recipe calls for a parchment lined pan, which was not easy to work with.  It was hard to spread the thick batter on top of the parchment, and I had difficulty cutting and lifting each slice of cake.

    The other problem was knowing when the cake was done.  My toothpick came out clean at 40 minutes, but after cutting into the cake, I discovered it was still quite doughy inside, so I ended up baking it another 8 minutes.

    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 45 minutes

    Ingredients (9 servings)
      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
      • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
      • 1 stick butter, softened
      • 3/4 cup sugar
      • 2 large eggs
      • 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
      • 1/2 cup sour cream
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 3 tablespoons cold butter
      • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
      • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8″ square baking pan with cooking spray.
      • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
      • In a stand mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add in eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
      • Then mix in pumpkin puree, sour cream and vanilla until incorporated. Slowly add in flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, while mixing on a low speed.
      • Pour cake batter into prepared pan, spreading into an even layer.
      • In a medium bowl combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut butter into small 1/2″ pieces and add to sugar mixture, cutting in with a pastry cutter. Stir in pecans.
      • Spread topping mixture over cake batter. Bake for 45 minutes or until top starts to brown lightly and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
      • I recommend also cutting into the cake to determine if it is done because my toothpick came out clean, but the inside was still doughy.
      Recipe Source: Food for My Family
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      January 25, 2012

      Curried Broccoli Couscous

      Have you noticed that a lot of side dishes go well with meat?  Given my distaste for meat, I'm never quite sure what to pair with side dishes.  For example, tonight I made curried broccoli couscous which was really good, but it's not exactly a meal.

      When I try a new recipe, I always ask Chris what he thinks, so I know if I should make it again.  This time around, he told me it needs more flavor.  After looking at the online reviews on realsimple.com, it appears he's not the only one.  I love the suggestion of adding coconut milk and red curry paste, and will likely try that next time.

      Curried Broccoli Couscous

      Prep Time: 5 minutes
      Cook Time: 10 minutes

      Ingredients (serves 4)
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 bunch of broccoli, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
      • 15oz can of chickpeas
      • 1 cup vegetable stock
      • 2 teaspoons curry powder
      • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
      • 3/4 cup couscous
      • In a 12" skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
      • Cook broccoli until tender, about 2-3 minutes.
      • Add chickpeas, stock, curry powder and salt and bring to a boil.
      • Stir in couscous, cover, remove from heat and let steam for 5 minutes.
      Recipe adapted from: Real Simple - September 2011
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      January 18, 2012

      Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

      As you know, I hate chocolate, but I need a good chocolate chip cookie recipe in my arsenal because everyone else in the world loves them.  I received a request from my mom for dark chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, so I turned to my trusted friend allrecipes.com and then slightly modified the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe.

      My dad was visiting while I made these cookies, and he was sampling cookies that had the least number of chocolate chips, which is exactly what I would do.  So I made another batch, this time only half with chocolate chips, the remainder with just walnuts and they were fantastic!

      Pictured below are the chocolate chip cookies on top, and the walnut-only cookies on bottom.  This recipe is great because you can divide the dough in half and please both chocolate lovers and haters.

      Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

      Prep Time: 20 minutes
      Cook Time: 10 minutes (each batch)

      Ingredients (6 dozen)
      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 cup packed brown sugar
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 10oz chocolate chips
      • 1 cup chopped walnuts
      • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
      • In a stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Next, beat in the eggs, one at a time, then mix in the vanilla.
      • In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Then slowly add flour mixture to stand mixer bowl, with mixer on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
      • Finally, add chocolate chips and nuts, mixing just until combined. At this point the dough will be thick, and may come over the sides of your stand mixer bowl, in which case you'll need to finish stirring by hand.
      • Use a small Oxo scoop (2 teaspoons) to drop cookies onto ungreased baking sheets. Then bake for 10-11 minutes, or until the edges are browned. After removing from the oven, leave cookies on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to wire rack.
      Recipe adapted from: Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on allrecipes.com.
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      January 17, 2012

      Pumpkin Muffins

      I made these muffins this past weekend for guests, and they were a hit!  The season for pumpkin baked goods has technically come and gone, however I love baking with pumpkin and I haven't yet had a chance to use all the cans of pumpkin I purchased this past fall. 

      Since I didn't already have a favorite pumpkin bread recipe, I went to allrecipes.com and found a recipe reviewed by almost 5,000 people which is always a good sign.  I took note of several suggestions, subbing applesauce for half of the oil, reducing the amount of sugar, and adding vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and walnuts.

      This was my first time using "Reynolds StayBrite Baking Cups" and I highly recommend them.  As you can tell from the photo above, the muffin liner colors don't fade, and they removed very cleanly from the muffins.  There are 36 liners in a package which is perfect for this recipe.

      Pumpkin Muffins
      Prep Time: 10 minutes
      Cook Time: 25 minutes (each batch)

      Ingredients (3 dozen)
      • 15oz can pumpkin puree
      • 4 eggs
      • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
      • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)
      • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
      • 2/3 cup water
      • 2 cups sugar
      • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
      • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
      • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
      • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
      • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
      • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
      • 1 cup walnuts
      • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners, or grease and flour.
      • In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, water and sugar until well blended (I use a stand mixer).
      • In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture just until blended. Then mix in the walnuts.
      • Scoop batter into muffin pans (I used a large Oxo scoop), approximately 2/3 full.
      • Bake muffins for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
      Recipe adapted from: Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread on allrecipes.com.
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      January 09, 2012

      Curried Lentil Soup

      This is not a good looking soup, but the taste more than makes up for its appearance!  After taking recent stock of my pantry, I realized I had a lot of green lentils to use, so I was happy to come across an Epicurious recipe for lentil soup.

      I made a few modifications to the recipe based on the comments, including the addition of soy sauce and fresh ginger, and substituting a sweet potato for the russet potato.  I meant to add baby spinach near the end of the cooking time too, but completely forgot.

      Commenters also recommended pureeing half the soup for a creamier texture.  I used my immersion blender for approximately 15 seconds and was happy with the end result.

      Curried Lentil Soup

      Prep Time: 15 minutes
      Cook Time: 50 minutes

      Ingredients (serves 6 as a main dish)
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 large onion, chopped
      • 8 oz sweet potato, peeled & chopped
      • 2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
      • 2 tablespoons curry powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
      • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
      • 45 oz vegetable broth
      • 28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
      • 2 cups lentils, rinsed & drained
      • 4 cups baby spinach
      • In a stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
      • Add onion, potato and carrots, then sautĂ© until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
      • Mix in curry powder, cayenne, soy sauce and ginger and stir for 30 seconds.
      • Add broth, tomatoes with juices and lentils and bring to boil.
      • Cover pot, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until lentils are very tender, about 45 minutes. When there are 2 minutes of cooking time remaining, stir in spinach and cook until wilted.
      • Puree soup with an immersion blender to a chunky consistency, if desired.
      Recipe adapted from: Epicurious
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