Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

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I've been trying different homemade veggie burger recipes, and so far my family likes this one from Vegetarian Times as the best.  I tweaked it a bit, adding panko crumbs for more body/firmness.

You can make patties ahead of time and freeze to have on hand as needed, or bake them, then freeze to reheat quickly if needed.

We're not vegetarians, but sometimes a guest or two are, and these burgers are handy to have on hand for them.  We also like them when dieting to cut calories and replace beef with a good protein that is satisfying.

Serve with your regular burger condiments and garnishes like lettuce, onions, cheese, tomatoes etc.

I keep bags of dried black beans on hand and prepare them in my pressure cooker, then freeze for use in recipes, (salads, Taco soup etc.) or they can be cooked on the stove. Dried beans are more cost effective than purchasing cans and when cooked in a pressure cooker are ready within a 1/2 hour.

Quinoa, a protein, can be cooked ahead of time, too, then stored in the refrigerator for use in these burgers, used as a rice substitute in recipes, or used for salads or other side dishes.

 photo 33E4F7D8-EC2C-4EBE-965D-C1C2BD3206C2_zpssxmu3yk9.jpgBlack Bean Quinoa Burgers
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup diced onions
1/4 cup of drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans, or 1, 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 tsps. minced garlic
1 Tab. steak seasoning rub or herb/spice mixture of choice
8 hamburger buns

Boil and simmer the quinoa according package directions until all liquid is absorbed. Cool and set aside. (Usually a 1/2 cup dried to 1 -1/2 cups of water)

 photo 085CC492-4221-43B3-9F81-7CCA02021611_zpsvsgjydxe.jpgCook onion and sun-dried tomatoes on medium high heat, until onion has softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, steak seasoning, half of the black beans, and 1/4 cup of water. Simmer 5 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

 photo CFF1DC3E-E764-4DA7-A2DB-9E62B329BECB_zps7cafaldq.jpgTransfer bean-onion mixture to a food processor, add half of the cooked quinoa, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in remaining quinoa, panko crumbs, egg and remaining black beans. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine well.

 photo 1F188002-32FE-48B4-B8C1-32D1C698EA10_zpswv4yxcil.jpgPreheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a baking sheet. Shape mixture into 8 patties and place on baking sheet. Freeze for later use or cook what you need and freeze the rest.

Bake 20 minutes, or until patties are crisp on top. Flip patties and bake 10 minutes more, or until both sides are crisp and browned.

Or oil a fry pan and cook 5 minutes each side until crispy. Serve on buns with favorite fixings. Serves 8.

Estimated cost without buns: $3.20 or less; .40 cents a burger.

Sweet Tea

Sweet Tea
Thanks to Dana Clover's blog Craving Comfort  I finally learned how to make Sweet Tea, a beverage I've heard Southerners talk so much about.  She says the secret ingredient is baking soda!  I learned it reduces the acidity of the tea.

I  keep different types of tea bags on hand, including decaffeinated and/or flavored, and make a half gallon kept cool in the refrigerator to enjoy anytime or with meals. 

Sweet Tea is healthier (depending on the amount of sugar used) and less expensive to drink than soda. And to save calories, artificial sweeteners work well in it.  I use Splenda.

I also discovered a product called True Lemon, which is a box of individual lemon crystals packets that can added to hot or cold beverages.  Each packet is equal to one lemon wedge. 

They're very handy and can be carried in your purse to use at work or in restaurant water.  The product comes in several flavors which I haven't tried yet, but I like the taste of lemon in iced tea.

Sweet Tea
6  regular tea bags of choice 
2 cups boiling water
6 cups cool water
3/4 -1 cup sugar or Splenda 
1/4 teaspoon - baking soda 

|Sprinkle baking soda into a half gallon container
.  Add tea bags and pour 2 cups of boiling water over tea bags. Cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes.  Remove and toss out tea bags. 

Add sugar stirring until completely dissolved. 
Add 6 cups of cool water. Refrigerate until cold and ready to drink.

Estimated cost:  Under a $1.00 for a half gallon.

Roasted, Crunchy Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

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We've been low-carb eating in recent years, saving the breads, pasta, and potatoes for a weekend treat;  and using sugar substitutes like honey and Splenda.  Just watching our intake of the above mentioned items does wonders for changing eating habits.

I recently tried a new way to use Garbanzo beans (also called (chickpeas) besides sprinkling on a salad, using in Taco Soup or making Hummus -- I dry roasted them!

Beans (legumes) of all kinds are a good protein source, and if cutting out carbs you need protein for energy.

You can buy dry Garbanzo beans and cook until softened or buy a can in the vegetable aisle, drain and dry.  After roasting, they're an addictive crunchy snack.  They remind me of eating corn nuts, but without the carbs.

Experiment with flavoring of choice.

Roasted, Crunchy Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
1 can (15 oz) of Garbanzo Beans drained
1-2 Tabs. Olive Oil
1 or 2 tsps. of seasoning of choice: chili powder, Old Bay, Paprika, Curry etc.
1 tsp. sea salt

Preheat oven to 400.
 photo B0A26761-5975-4C2A-9BDC-A974239B0BAB_zpsnu4lyjgj.jpgLine a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silicone baking sheet.

Once drained and dried off with paper or a cloth towel, place chickpeas into a large bowl and stir in olive oil, and spice mix of choice: such as curry powder, or chili powder. Mix together to coat the peas.

Spread them in a single layer on baking sheet, then bake for 40 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Remove from oven and season with sea salt. Cool and save in a container or serve immediately. Serves 2 or 3.  Recipe can easily be tripled or doubled.

Estimated Cost $1.50 or less.

Panko Sesame Fried Oysters

 photo null_zps204d43bc.jpgI discovered this homemade coating for fried oysters a few years ago from a local chef, then tried it on fried shrimp, and now also use it for fried chicken and fish fillets.

If you've never tried Panko crumbs, they're coarse, crunchy bread crumbs from Japan, made from wheat bread; they also stay crispy longer in recipes whether used as coating for frying or topping in casseroles.  Asian markets carry them as do most grocery stores.

I make a large batch of coating mixture, keeping it frozen in a plastic bag to take out for use whenever deciding to fry lightly, or deep fry food.  It's more convenient than making a new batch of coating every time it's needed, and there's always enough depending on how many servings I'm making or what I'm frying.

I buy pint of medium-size, which has a dozen oysters. For the two of us, I serve 3 each and freeze the rest in their juices.  Defrost in the refrigerator a day ahead of time. 

Fresh Oysters photo null_zps1c0a4e97.jpgPanko Sesame Fry Mix
Equal amounts of: Sesame seeds, flour, Panko crumbs. I use 1 cup of each, then add salt and pepper to taste and for extra "kick" Old Bay type seasoning approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup. Store in freezer.
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Fried Oysters
Drain oysters and toss with flour in a bowl to coat lightly, dip in beaten egg combined a little water, then coat with dry Panko mixture by putting the amount of coating needed in a bag (plastic or paper) and toss in oysters, a few at a time, shaking the bag until coated - take them out and let rest 5 or more minutes for coating to set before frying.  

In a hot skillet, fry at 350 degrees for a minute or two on each side until golden brown. Fry a few at a time, don't crowd them, drain on a paper towel, then keep warm in the oven. Allow 3 or 4 oysters per serving.

Serve with lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, horseradish, tarter sauce, or a homemade sauce of ketchup mixed with horseradish to taste.

Estimated cost: A dozen fresh medium size oysters here costs about $7.50; about $1.88 per serving.