Monthly Archives: July 2015

Black Bean Burgers

bbbWhen the carnivorous cats are away, the veggie loving mice will play! That’s what happened tonight for dinner. My meat worshippers are out so I decided it was a good night to try my hand at making some vegan black bean burgers. I’ve made sort of vegetarian ones before with egg or something. But today it was going to be vegan.

Black Bean Burgers
1 – 15 oz can black beans
1 can Rotel of your choice – I used the one with lime
1 cheater pack of pre-cooked rice – I used seasoned brown rice and quinoa from Wegmans.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 tsp cumin

1. Combine all the ingredients and gently process in a food processor or blend with an immersion blender until the consistency of course ground beef.
2. Drop by heaping tablespoon onto a baking sheet covered with either parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.
3. Bake at 400 for at least 30 minutes.

My BBB (Black Bean Burgers) were a little more processed than they needed to be (thanks, Faithful Assistant) so they were a little wet. No worries. I just added more baking time until they tightened up. I could have also scooped them all back into a bowl and added some more rice or some oats.

They were so delicious! The Rotel gave them some pizzazz but the carrots balanced them so they weren’t too spicy. No mouths on fire tonight. I had mine with guac. My Faithful Assistant opted for Chick-Fil-A sauce. We were both thrilled and will totally make these again. I am looking forward to having the more willing carnivore give them a try.

Another bonus was these were very fast to make, in spite of the extra baking time. I opened a few packages, chopped a couple veggies, sprinkled on some spices, flip a switch, and voila! Ready to get into the oven.

Did I mention that these are gluten free AND that black beans are a decent source of potassium? All true!


Potassium Smash Smoothie


This Pineapple, Banana Smoothie is an excellent source of potassium! Look! It’s ready to go to work!

It’s summer and it’s hot and I don’t like bananas so it’s not surprising that I have some pretty nasty leg cramps and sore joints. This is not good at all. Another distinct pleasure of getting a little older, I guess.

Fortunately, I am also a grown up so I know that it’s time for me to just suck it up and get some bananas and other potassium rich foods into my diet. I have a bunch of frozen bananas in the freezer so I was good for that part of my smoothie. But OH NO! No yogurt, very little milk, and not even any almond milk. I did have some heavy cream but that didn’t seem like a good idea.  Nothing obvious for my smoothie base!

Thankfully, I am an amazing scrounger and I discovered a can of coconut milk and some canned pineapple in my pantry. SCORE!!!! Bonus potassium in the coconut milk!

Potassium Smash Smoothie
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup of crushed pineapple – unsweetened or juice sweetened
1 frozen banana
5-7 ice cubes

1. Put the ingredients in a blender in the order listed.
2. Start blending at a low speed and slowly increase to high.
3. Drink up!

This was a thick smoothie and I’m pretty full right now. Not uncomfortably full, but I’m certain that lunch will be something small, like hummus and pita chips. Fine by me.

The thickness also made me wonder if I could freeze this smoothie and have a delicious vegan frozen dessert. I guess I’ll have to get more coconut milk and pineapple and try it out!

If you’re wondering what other foods are good sources of potassium, I found this article from Anne’s Healthy Kitchen. I have not validated the information but the article shows sources and they’re reputable.

I knocked out about 1/4 of my RDA of potassium in this smoothie. The plan for dinner is Black Beans and Rice. Black beans are another good source of potassium. That should get me to my RDA. Phew!


Slow Cooker Moo Shu Pork “Tacos”

msptThe poor slow cooker, work horse of fall and winter. This gentle, steadfast friend is completely neglected in my home in the summer. This is a tragedy. It requires so little effort. No heating of the house by the oven. No suffering at the grill. No excessive pizza or other carryout. Yesterday, I decided it was time to rekindle my relationship with this pal of mine and make some tasty Moo Shu Pork Tacos!

Moo Shu Pork Tacos
4-6 cups shredded cabbage
1-2 cups shredded carrots
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 can sliced water chestnuts
2 lbs pork tenderloin, chopped into the smallest possible pieces you can manage
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce

1. Combine the veggies and put them in your slow cooker (no smaller than 4 qt) that you have sprayed with cooking spray.
2. Add the chopped pork and the Hoisin sauce.
3. Cook on high for 3 hours.
4. Serve in whole wheat tortillas – I may be taking liberties with the term “tortilla” and for that I apologize. You can top with some extra Hoisin sauce and more shredded carrots.

Even though my kids are far from small, I still hesitate to serve brand new recipes. The feeling of rejection after I’ve worked on coming up with a creative alternative to the usual boring summer food still cuts to the core. And this Asian fusion type of food is not something we would normally eat in my house. We eat a good variety of food, just not combined together. I am happy to report it was a hit, in spite of the reaction to the smell of cabbage cooking.

This would be great with chicken or you can just forego the meat and make Moo Shu veggies.

We’re in for a healthy stretch of hot weather in Central Maryland. I’m happy to have my leftovers of this and I’m excited to find some more summer slow cooker recipes.


Wineberry Parfait

wbpMy Faithful Assistant and I hit a bounty of Wineberries this morning at church (after worship, of course). We came away with about a quart! It’s a little warm for baking right now and while the Wineberry Jam I made last year was fantastic,  I didn’t want to make jam so I looked through the fridge to see what I had that could be used for a fast Wineberry dessert. Heavy cream and Greek yogurt. Hmmm… That seemed promising.

No Wineberries, or are you just not sure that those berries in the woods ARE Wineberries? No worries! You can use any berries or fruit you like in this.

Wineberry Parfait
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.
2. Fold in the Greek yogurt.
3. Layer with berries in the dish of your choice. I recommend clear glass so you can see the layers. So pretty!

You should end up with about 4 cups of the whipped cream and yogurt mixture. Depending on the size of the parfaits you decide to make, you could have four huge ones or a bunch of tiny ones. Either way, your guests (or family) will be delighted with this simple and lovely dish. The Wineberries have a bit of iridescence so they practically shimmer in the cream.

Feel free to use any type of yogurt you like. You could also use Marscapone. I would whip it up a little bit to soften it.

Wineberry season is over. It’s a very short one and it’s very exciting. There’s not much more delightful to me than heading out in the early morning to the edge of the woods and finding a bounty of berries. We got a lot more this year than we did last year. We also heard from friends of other places to find even more!


Happy Anniversary, Open Doors!

tmmcOriginal post: July 12, 2014

Last November, I wrote a post about something I called “Let’s Be Thankful Soup”. I made soup for my family with canned goods like the ones I imagine someone would get from a food pantry. It turns out I was pretty spot on.

I was recently put in touch with a really lovely woman named Carol Hill. Carol and her friend Pam Gebhardtsbauer have been running a food pantry called the Open Doors Food Pantry out of their church, the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Highland, MD. This month, Open Doors celebrates one year of service to the community and I was asked to write about them.

Open Doors opened its doors in July 2013 after months and months of planning. Carol said she had visited a church in Carroll County with her mother in September of 2012. The church had a food pantry, and after helping there for a couple months, Carol realized it was something she could do in her own church. She remembers speaking to her pastor and saying, “I think I’m supposed to start a food pantry here.” Her pastor didn’t tell her he thought she was crazy, even though he did. Just a tiny bit. With lots of work, planning and determination, Carol and Pam opened their doors that first month to seven families.

Open Doors is open to its clients once a month and now serves about 30 families a month. Many families have just one parent. Some are shockingly like you and me. They have nice homes in a cozy suburb except at some point, something went terribly wrong leaving them to rely on help from the community until they can recover.

And recover they do! Carol told me that many of the clients do recover from the circumstances that have brought them to her.

While they are with her, Carol makes sure they are treated with the utmost dignity. As she says, she tells all her volunteers “Treat everyone like you would treat your mother, if you liked her.”

I asked Carol about what she needs. Summer, as you can imagine, is a time of great need for families. Many children who get meals at school are not getting those meals now. Their parents now have to stretch their limited funds to provide several more meals a week. Right now, Carol said she needs peanut butter and jelly, pasta sauce, paper goods, and individual servings of macaroni and cheese or Chef Boyardee pasta.

Carol has been very lucky to have some very consistent helpers with her mission. Last year, The Church of Latter Day Saints in Clarksville held an event called The Day to Serve. They collected food and funds that went to Open Doors and plan to do so again this fall.

She has a family that buys fresh vegetables every month for the food pantry and another that buys fresh fruit. She uses the loose change from the church collection plate to buy food from the Maryland Food Bank.

Carol said she can always use help. So if you know anyone looking for service hours, send them her way! But just know, Carol is going to make them work. More than one child has sat around goofing on a smart phone for two hours and left with an unsigned paper.

I asked Carol what people make with the food they get at Open Doors. She said she has searched for recipes online to give the families ideas to help them stretch their food into several meals. One of her favorites is Mac and Cheese with ground beef and stewed tomatoes. She said Mac and Cheese with tuna and bacon is also pretty tasty. Here is a recipe that combines Kraft Mac and Cheese, a staple for many low income families with a little ground beef, some tomatoes and bacon to make some pretty tasty Bacon Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese.  I chose to make a sort of Tuna Melt Mac and Cheese. I prepared the Mac and Cheese according to the directions, added a can of tuna, a little onion and tomato and a little extra cheese on top. It was delicious!

July 19th is the one year celebration of Open Doors. The food pantry will operate from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. Then, at 1:00 pm, there will be a picnic to celebrate. If you want to help at the food shelf, the fun starts at 7:30 am, getting ready for the day. If you can’t make it to the celebration, but are interested in helping, you can mail donations to Mt. Zion UMC Church at 12340 Scaggsville Rd, Highland, MD, 20777. Please write “food pantry” in the memo line.

I hope you aren’t ever in a position to go visit Carol or the many of people like her who dedicate their spare time to helping those in need. I am very thankful for her.

July 20th 2013 ODFP Opening Day