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Homemade Black Bean Burgers and other Happenings

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a bad blogger.  I suppose that can happen when your busy living life.  I’ve got a great recipe to share, but first a couple photos of what’s been going on around my world.

I spent some time in Florida with my family and the 2 most fabulous kids alive.



I went to Montreal to hang with some more family.  We strolled the city and ate an amazing Ethiopian dinner.



I ran.


A lot.



And, I’ve been getting ready for the end of the school year.  My classroom now has 10 balloons, each with a message to the class about something we’ll do.  We will pop one balloon during each of the last 10 days of school.  (This was not my idea.  I’d cite my source, but I read it online at the end of last year and I don’t remember where.)


And now, getting to the point of this post.  I’ve been making some version of these burgers on a weekly basis for a little while now.  They are fast, easy, and delicious.  As you may know, I don’t always measure so the spices are approximate. I’ve also played around with the flours in these burgers.  They are not gluten free as is, but the next time I make them I’m going to try it with oat flour.  Today I subbed 1/2 cup of teff flour for 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs.

Black Bean Burgers


  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup corn (I use frozen, but canned would work too)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (or any other variety of flour you’d like)
  • 1 egg, scrambled
  • 1 tsp corriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • panko (for pressing burgers in before cooking)

Mash beans so they are mostly mashed, but some are still left whole.  Add breadcrumbs, egg, spices, corn, and onions.  Use hands to combine.  Once well combined, form into 4 patties.  Press each patty into panko on both sides.  Heat a little olive oil in a pan.  Cook until golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes per side).  Tonight, I ate this in a brown rice tortilla with some romaine and sriracha, but I’ve also thrown them atop salads and they are quite delicious that way as well.


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Ethiopian Spiced Lentils

Sometimes, when I get an idea in my head about something I want to cook, it will stay there until it comes out of my kitchen.

Lentils in Berbere Sauce. Lentils in Berbere Sauce.  Lentils in Berbere Sauce.

This thought entered my head last weekend.

You see, I’ve been spending a bit of time in Montreal these days.  Montreal, if you’ve never been, is a pretty wonderful city. Old Montreal is charming, and the French influence abundant around the city makes me feel like I’m far from home, which I’m not.  It is the largest French speaking city in North America!

Last Saturday night, huge culinary doors opened in my world.  I had never eaten Ethiopian and after a simply lovely afternoon strolling through the chilly city streets, sipping hot coffee, and just before turning my feet into popcicles checking out the Snow Village, I went to Nil Bleu for dinner.  I had never eaten Ethiopian food before.  I didn’t really know what to expect, and frankly, I could have been happy that evening eating a bowl of cereal because I was in great company. This meal, however, blew me away.  I was pretty hungry when we arrived and we shared the vegetarian platter which was pretty much a feast of pure amazingness.  There were so many flavors, and combinations that I was sure I had never before put together.  Every single thing I put in my mouth was delicious, but the lentils in berbere sauce stole a spot in my heart.  Love at first bite.  This food was so good, I ate a few bites past full.  You know, the few bites that make you want to unbutton your pants at the dinner table.  I didn’t, but I know you know what I’m talking about.

The following morning, I awoke, as usual, with the sun.  Into my head crept: Lentils in Berbere and I started searching and reading food blogs written by people who have attempted this dish in their very own kitchen.  And, I kept reading and thinking and reading and thinking…until today.  What I did today is based on Sister Vegetarian and The Taste Space‘s recipes.

*Note: If you try this, your life will be forever changed.


Lentils in Berbere Sauce

  • 1.5 cups green lentils
  • 4.5 cups water
  • salt
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Berbere (see recipe below)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup water (reserved from the lentils when they are finished cooking)
  • Ghee or Olive Oil (I used ghee.  I didn’t measure.  The original recipe from Sister Vegetarian called for 1/4 cup which felt like a lot to me so I used less than that)

Add lentils and water to a pot with a little salt.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 25 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of water before you drain lentils.  While lentils are cooking, melt ghee (or heat olive oil), then add cumin, cloves, fenugreek, and ginger.  Chop red onion and mince garlic cloves, add that to the oil and saute 5-10 minutes until onion is transparent.  Add berbere, tomatoes, tomato paste, and reserved liquid.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Add cooked lentils.  Add salt to taste. I’m going to eat this over brown rice, but one of these days I will try making Injera, the traditional bread that it is served with.

Berbere Spice Blend

  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried chiles

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Corn and Buttenut Squash Chowder

If any of you reading this know me personally, you might know that for the month of December, I’ve given up added sugar.  For me, not having to navigate through all of the cookies, cupcakes, candy canes, and various other treats that are around on a daily basis through this holiday season felt like the easiest way for me to make it to the other side and feel good about my choices.  It gives me the opportunity to put blinders on rather than negotiate with myself and figure out when I’m going to indulge and when I’m not. 

This all leads me to today.  I woke up with corn on my mind.  For some, corn makes a regular appearance on their plates or in their bowls.  For me, often I could take it or leave it, so I usually leave it because there are other veggies that I just like a lot more.  Not today though.  I imagine this intense craving has something to do with corn’s natural sweetness.  As I first put this pot on to boil, I knew it was going to be a special creation, and that it is…. I’m cooking up new stuff all the time, okay…well some of the time, but this one deserved a blog post.

Corn and Butternut Squash Chowder (I’m calling it a chowder because it’s a thicker, chunkier soup, but bears little resemblance to traditional chowder).



  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 cups corn
  • 20 oz. cubed butternut squash (I buy the pre cut squash because I’m lazy like that)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 can white beans (If you don’t like beans, you can certainly leave these out, I just try to sneak protein into my pots whenever I can)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Chop and saute onions and garlic in olive oil until soft (about 8 or so minutes).  While sauteing cut about 1/3 of the squash into small pieces and set aside. Add 6 cups of water, the remaining squash, 2 cups of corn (I used frozen), salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.  Bring to a boil and simmer covered for about 25 minutes, until squash is soft.  Puree either with an immersion blender or in batches in the regular blender.  Once pureed, add remaining squash, and final cup of corn.  Simmer again for about 15-20 minutes, until squash is soft.  Add the beans and cook for a few minutes until beans are warm throughout.

Today, I was wanting to keep things pretty basic, but the possibilities are endless with this base.  I’m thinking sauteed mushrooms, spinach, or bits of kale would be great add ins. 


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Holiday Photos

I did these photos for some friends yesterday.  Beth and Kyle are always fun to photograph and Beth makes it pretty easy because she knows just what she wants 🙂  It was great to see you both!

These are my favorites.

IMG_0450 IMG_0453 IMG_0457

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Back from a lengthy blogging break…

which is not to say that another one won’t be happening again soon.  Blogging became time consuming and I’ve been busy, ya know….living life.  This soup is kind of delicious….or rather….fantastically delicious and you should make it at home.

ImageSmokey Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz mushrooms (I used baby bellas and white buttons), chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 can pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cans black beans
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • Cumin and paprika….I’d say about 1-2 Tablespoons cumin and 1 teaspoon paprika (as you know I don’t measure)
  • A bunch of twists of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke grinder (HOLY DELICIOUS! BUY THIS IF YOU CAN and if you can’t it will still be great with out it)
  • Salt to taste
  • A little olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro

Sautee onions, garlic, and jalapeno until onions are translucent (about 5-8 minutes).  Add mushrooms and sautee for another 5-8 minutes.  Add seasonings and let cook for a minute or two.  Add all other ingredients with the exception of cilantro (put that in at the very end).  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes.  This is one of the easiest things I’ve ever made.  Well, that’s not exactly true…I don’t get too complicated in the kitchen.  Seriously though, it’s easy, packed full of goodness for your body, and quite delicious.  Do try this at home.

Oh, and then this happened.


This is my take on Gesine’s Golden Eggs.  I added ginger and cloves instead of nutmeg (because I didn’t have any).  There is nothing redeeming (if we’re thinking health wise) about these little bits of heaven, but they are tasty.  I’m bringing them to work tomorrow.  Oh, and I followed the recipe and got well more than the 12 cupcake size.  I got 12 cupcakes and 48 mini cupcakes.

Happy Fall!  The weather here in Vermont has been absolutely amazing.

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Napa Cabbage Salad


Yesterday, while I was grocery shopping, I had the urge to buy a Napa cabbage.  It was just so pretty (weird, I know) that I needed it in my cart.  Cabbage, while I like it, doesn’t often make an appearance in my kitchen.  I got home, unpacked the groceries with no particular plan in mind.  So, the question was….what exactly was I going to do with this cabbage?


This is what happened.

  • I shredded the cabbage and threw it in a bowl
  • I cut up 1 stalk of celery and half a cucumber into matchstick sized pieces and threw that in as well.
  • I added some mixed shoots to the bowl
  • And then about half a bunch of cilantro

Then I made the dressing.  I didn’t measure so these measurements are approximate.

  • Juice from 1 lime (that’s exact 🙂
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (maybe a little less)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mongolian fire oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

I mixed that all up and drizzled a little on that big bowl of cabbage.  Then, I marinated 2 pieces of mahi mahi in the rest and cooked that in a pan on the stove.  I topped off a plate of this wonderful cabbage salad with some mahi.  And now, I’ve got 3 lunches for the week already. 

*It would be really easy to keep this vegetarian….just top it with your favorite protein.

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2011 in Images

Some of my favorite images from 2011.  I intended to choose 11 favorites for 2011, but that just wasn’t possible…..Enjoy!


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