Friday, September 30, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

If you've never had a black bean burger, you never knew how cheap a homemade burger could really be.

A can of black beans is less than $1, and all other ingredients included add up to less than $10 and make at least 8 servings. Yes, please!

What you need:
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 large onion
5 green onions (bottom bulb removed)
4 cloves garlic
2 15oz cans black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup oatmeal
1 egg
1 1/2 tbsp chili paste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper

What you do:
Place first 4 ingredients in food processor and blend until all ingredients are very fine.

Add 1 can of black beans to the food processor and pulse 10-15 times, until beans are broken up.
In a large bowl, combine other can of black beans, processed mixture, and remaining ingredients.

At this point, the mixture will be very sticky. It will almost feel too mushy to become a black bean burger. But trust me, just keep going and it will turn into a yummy little burger. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Coat liberally with cooking spray and place two dollops on the pan. Pat down until formed into a round, thin patty. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side, until top and bottom are firm. (Tip: do not make the patties larger than your spatula and do not flip until you've formed a crust along the bottom!)

Once browned, wrap each patty in a piece of foil and place on a cookie sheet. Heat oven to 300 and cook 8 minutes on each side. You should end up with anywhere from 8 to 10 patties.

Dress like you would a normal hamburger. It tastes very similar (I think they taste better) but they're incredibly healthy-- 2g fat per serving, vs. nearly 13g fat in a regular hamburger. If it tells you anything, Ross loves any kind of red meat, and he said they were delicious.

Go veggie (if at least for a day)!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Love Affair

Hi! My name is Katie and I’m addicted to queso.

I think the word “weekend” is interchangeable with the word “queso”. Some people have a drug problem, some people have a drinking problem. But me… I have a much more rare disease. If I don’t have queso at least once a weekend, I feel like I need a redo.

My condition has worsened: “at least once a weekend” is not enough anymore. I need more. Sometimes I enjoy queso so much that it feels like I’m cheating on Chris. I look forward to it. I wait for it day in and day out. What confines my rendezvous with queso to the weekend? I think my love affair has gotten out of control because of this. Pairing the concept of weekend and the indulgence of queso makes for a cranky Monday. Love and freedom are nowhere in sight, 5 days away to be exact. That’s why I’ve decided to make queso tonight. Is my problem worsening because my queso addiction is now oozing into my Monday? Or am I on the road to recovery as the veil of denial lifts with this post? Either way: Please send queso.

This typographic poster was created by Simon Walker. And I need a copy. Not only is it very well done, but it is so relate-able. Queso is the cure for the common everything. Check out the rest of Simon Walker’s work, he makes beautiful type.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Curry Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a food that I've never really liked.
It's like broccoli... but worse.

A few years ago my mother was on a health food kick which fell over the Thanksgiving holiday. She decided to make cornish game hens and mashed cauliflower instead of turkey and mashed potatoes. Not the typical Thanksgiving meal. As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with the kiddos. Needless to say, we stick to traditional holiday fare now. No more experimenting on the holy grail of days to eat your body weight in food.

Anyway, cauliflower is back in season and so is broccoli. So, why not give one or the other a spin?

Ross and I get so excited when we receive our Garden & Gun subscription every other month. The magazine always features really great southern recipes.

This month they featured a really interesting indian cauliflower recipe. I've been really into indian spices lately, so this was the perfect intro to the world of less popular vegetables.

The recipe for Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds & Grapes can be found in the latest issue of Garden & Gun, or at

This mag is a great read and always features beautiful & charming southern towns.
Even if you don't have southern roots, the articles will make you yearn for the south and all that comes with it.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

End-of-Summer Pretty Pasta

Do you ever think to yourself: 'I make good food, but it isn't necessarily pretty'?

Somehow, restaurant bolognese looks remarkably put together, when the home-made version looks like a pile a sludge over noodles (delicious though, don't get me wrong!) Casseroles typically follow suit. Although I've never met a casserole I didn't like, this dish is usually served up as a heaping pile of similarly colored ingredients. Not so photogenic.

Whenever I think of pretty food, I often think of simple italian fare. Bright colors, few ingredients, and lots of flavor.

End-of-Summer Pretty Pasta

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 handful of basil, torn into pieces or chiffonade
1/2 lb pasta
3-4 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
lots of s & p
a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

What to do:
Cook pasta according to package directions (don't forget to salt the water, be generous).

Once the pasta is has made it into the boiling pot of water, it's time for the next step. In a non-stick skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil and add in garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two. Throw in grapes and season with cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt. Let the tomatoes simmer in the olive oil for a few minutes until the pasta is ready. Squeeze lemon juice over tomatoes.

When pasta is al dente, pour oil and tomatoes over the pasta and top with basil. Toss to combine.


Monday, September 19, 2011

What to do, what to do...

I'm typically off work on Sundays & Mondays.

I have Sundays figured out. Sleep in, have a big breakfast, maybe go to Barton Springs for a few hours, go to the grocery store, etc. Just a normal Sunday.

Then Monday rolls around and I don't quite know what to do with myself. Monday is technically my Sunday, but I did my Sunday stuff on Sunday. (???)

So, when I'm having a Monday that's influenced by "a case of the Mondays", I'll spend a few hours browsing my interests online to battle my bouts of boredom.

There are a few sites I frequent on Mondays that I'd like to share. They are not newly created or on the cutting edge of technology, but these sites are quite interesting & creative. They also help to get my creative juices flowing and inspire new projects. is a virtual pinboard that lets you share pretty & creative images found on the web with your friends. You can organize and divide up your pinboards based off of your interests, but also follow other users pinboards to discover new images. is something along the lines of an aggregator of all of your interests. Take the time to create a profile and select your interests. Trust me, there are thousands of websites out there catered to your interests that you don't even know exist-- and stumbleupon will take you to them. Created by Zooey Deschanel and company, this site features lady-friendly posts and material about everything you could possibly imagine. The best part? All content is positive, funny, & written by women.

Hopefully this will help if you're having a case of the Mondays.

Friday, September 16, 2011


I'm very much in harmony with Starbucks when it comes to pumpkin flavored delights and the holidays.

September 1st? Pumpkin Spice Latte.
October 1st? Salted Caramel Mocha.
November 1st? Gingerbread Latte.
December is filled with Chai Tea and a mixture of all of the above.
January is a drag (obviously, because the holidays are over).

Pumpkins are wonderful for many reasons:
#1 Pumpkin flavored dishes produce the most heavenly aroma
#2 Pumpkins are quite versatile
#3 Pumpkins are just now coming in season (and you know how we love seasonal ingredients)

Pumpkin seeds can be toasted for a salty, healthy snack.

Image courtesy of Nourished Kitchen.

Pumpkins are a gourd, so many dishes which call for different types of squash can be substituted with pumpkin.

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home.

Pumpkin pie spice tastes lovely sprinkled on just about anything. Add a pinch to coffee grounds before brewing, sprinkle over a bowl of oatmeal, or mix in with a batch of cookies.

Thank you, Starbucks.

I'm almost positive that my love for pumpkin came along my freshman year of college. I would drink Pumpkin Spice Latte's in The Grove before a football game, crave my mother's pumpkin pie as the holidays approached, and swoon over the pumpkin patch at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Oxford, Mississippi.

Borrowed from Lostaire.
It's almost Fall, y'all.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Miss Jane

My good friend, Jane Marie from See Jane Create, posted a very inventive recipe yesterday that I want to share. I’ve been trying to squeeze veggies in my diet whenever I can and this is a great way to do so! Jump on over to her blog to see her recipe for Cauliflower Rice, better known as "skinny bitch rice". I’m in awe of this idea and will definitely be trying it this weekend. If Jane says it’s good, I’m in. This woman can cook better than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s got some of the best down-home recipes I’ve ever tasted and she’s quick to share them! Trouble is, they are always better when she’s the cook. She’s got magic hands in the kitchen, and I sure miss having her around.

Cooking ain't the only thing that Jane is good at. Check out her Cork People. Jane creates these wine stoppers in her pottery studio in Greenville, MS. Comment on this post if you are interested in one of these gems and I'll give you her contact information. I just put in an order for a Cork People gnome, can't wait until it arrives!

miss you Miss Jane,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

David Letterman vs Julia Child

Who do I love more?

It really is hard to say. My main squeeze on week nights before hopping in bed, or the woman responsible for introducing the American public to French cuisine?


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Eater's Guide to Austin City Limits

ACL is right around the corner and you're probably wondering what it's bringing to the table. Austin is loved for it's live music, but it's local food eateries bring just as much flavor! Here are a few of the vendors this weekend:

P.Terry's - Don't get me started on this joint. After my first visit to Austin, I changed my relationship status on Facebook to “in a relationship with P.Terry”. That’s how good it is. Don’t forget to order Special Sauce to dip those handcut french fries in. Heaven. Their veggie burger is pretty good too. Some people claim it’s the best in Austin. Also, if you’re gluten-free, they will put your burger in a lettuce wrap, which I have to say is pretty freakin good.

Mighty Cone – a trailer that lives in the heart of South Austin 0n Congress (SOCO). These guys wrap everything in a tortilla and put it in a cone. If you’re a veggie, try the fried avocado, it’s amazing. They also offer fried chicken and shrimp. You really can’t go wrong.

Torchy's Tacos – get the Green Chili Pork! If you’re gluten-free, get this bad boy on a corn tortilla. If you’re veggie, they make a mean fried avocado as well.

Daily Juice – As one of my favorite spots in Austin, Daily Juice may deserve a full post one day. This place is dripping with nutrients. They pack their smoothies full of things you’ve never heard of and somehow make them taste delicious. Your body will thank you! They juice fresh veggies and fruits too, so you can stay hydrated and healthy under that blazing Texas sun!

Tiff's Treats – tell me if this isn’t the most genius business model you’ve ever heard of… warm cookies, delivered. Seriously?! Yes please.

Sweet Leaf –
another Austin-born company that uses simple, organic ingredients to brew their famous teas. I recommend the Mint and Honey Green Tea. Their teas can be on the sweet side, so if you prefer less sugar or just can’t handle down-home sweet tea, add some water to lighten it up!

The Salt Lick – Known for its mouth-watering barbeque in Driftwood, this place makes a stealth brisket taco. This taco isn’t featured on their regular menu, but you can find it at the festival and in the Austin airport. You’ve gotta try this thing!

Olivia –I haven’t made it over to this place yet but supposedly they have the best fried chicken in town. The chef’s secret ingredient: soy sauce! This place is usually pretty pricey so enjoy their small portions and small prices this weekend!

Enjoy the food, Enjoy the music!


Monday, September 12, 2011

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

For his birthday, the only request Ross made was for a cookie cake. Now, I made a cookie cake last year and somehow managed to make it look completely decent. Fast forward to this year, it was a mess.

Have you ever followed a recipe to a "T", only for it to produce an embarrassing and unattractive finished product? See exhibit A:

So this was Ross's cookie cake as of 4:30pm on Friday, birthday party kicking off at 7:30pm. I had it stuck in my head that a cookie cake was literally a large cookie, courtesy of The Great American Cookie Co. (located at a mall near you).

As you know, I've become quite the food blogger...and that cake was just not going to cut it. So I searched fast and furiously until I found a recipe that required only ingredients found in my pantry (I still had to shower, clean, and cook dinner, after all).

Thanks to That's So Yummy and this enticing image:

I realized there was hope after all. Just one hour later my cookie CAKE was out of the oven. Leaving a few hours for it to cool.

The cookie cake spent the first half of the party cooling (incognito) at Katie's house. I ran over to dress this pretty little cake in 5 minutes flat with cream cheese icing (cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and lime zest), blueberries, and strawberries.

Clearly it was delicious. My only complaint is that it was a little too chocolately. Okay, maybe a lot chocolately. Here's assuming it was completely my fault because I used bitter-sweet chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet, as the recipe called for.

Either way, it was devoured quickly and Ross was one happy camper.

Happy Birthday Ross!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rainbow Chard

I try to incorporate leafy greens into my diet as much as possible, but it's not always easy. Spinach and kale are my go-to greens, but when I'm in the mood for something different, I turn to rainbow chard. Rainbow chard is super-healthy and versatile, and can be a great addition to hearty soups and casseroles. However, one of the simplest (and most delicious) ways to enjoy this nutrient-rich vegetable is to saute it with a few basic ingredients.

Sauteed Rainbow Chard with Pine Nuts and Feta:

1 bunch rainbow chard

1 tablepoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium sized onion, chopped

3 tablespoons vegetable broth

splash of Ume Plum Vinegar

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup crumbled feta

Wash and dry rainbow chard and chop into bite size pieces, stems and all. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute onion until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Toss chopped chard in with the onion and add vegetable broth.

Cover the pan and cook about 3-4 minutes, until chard is a little wilted and still brightly colored. Add a splash of Ume Plum Vinegar and toss in pine nuts and feta.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forks over knives

Last night, I watched Forks Over Knives, a documentary about the Standard American Diet and it's faults. This is a subject I have been interested in for several years. Food has incredibly healing powers, and nutrition is a symphony. The western diet often takes nutrition apart, calling specific nutrients out on their own, such as "protein". However, it's not that simple. The way protein acts with the other nutrients in the particular food is where true nutrition comes into play. This documentary advocates a plant-based, whole foods diet and claims that doing so can prevent and even reverse health problems.

"Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food" - Hippocrates

Here is a short synopsis on a few characters that are featured in the film.

Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, grew up on a dairy farm. His young life was consumed by proving that animal protein is essential in human nutrition. However, his research proved him wrong and he changed his life. I have read most of his book and it is truly eye opening. It is a heavily scientific book, so if this isn't your bag just watch Forks Over Knives instead.

Caldwell Esselstyn is a heart surgeon turned nutrition researcher and author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He was conducting many heart surgeries per year when it dawned on him, "Yes, I am helping these people survive, but what am I doing to prevent this from happening to them again". Heart surgeries are extreme and cost up to $100,000 per patient. He is now an advocate for veganism. Now, his patients very rarely have to go under the knife due his mandatory food regimen.

Both of these men are well into their seventies and are more active and healthier than me! Caldwell's son, Rip Esselstyn, is a triathlete and a firefighter in our neighborhood. He is the author of the Engine 2 Diet and his station is located just blocks away from our home here in Austin. The book is a testament to his plant-based lifestyle. Being the son of a remarkable researcher and heart surgeon, he presumably grew up knowing that food could act as medicine. However, he tested it on a fellow meat-prone firefighter and he reversed his risk of heart disease and brought his cholesterol down 100 points in just 4 weeks.

If you are relying on the US government for food education, you may be looking in the wrong places. Colin Campbell has been shunned from his alma mater even after he donated thousands to their research centers. Coincidentally, top professors and board members of the school are affiliated with corporate dairy farms. Campbell claims that if the US government would allow these topics into the debate, we could cut health care expenses by 60-80%.

Read up on these subjects, know who is funding the research, and make educated decisions.

Most importantly, read ingredients on food labels.

There are many documentaries on the subject of food, and even more books. I have read a lot of them, but changing isn't easy. Processed foods and refined sugars are truly addictive. I know what I should and shouldn't be eating, but applying that knowledge is one of the biggest challenges for me. Growing up in the South doesn't help either. I equate food with family, tradition, and happiness. If I turn down fried chicken, I feel like I'm disowning my roots. And so the struggle continues...

Eat to live, don't live to eat.

Sermon dismissed,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


“Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” – Robert Fulghum

Easier said than done.

51% of every meal should be raw.

It takes a quick thinker to balance out protein, vegetables, and carbs while standing in line to order lunch. Sometimes we have completely lopsided days, where we intake 100% of our carbs for the day and little to no protein. We also have days when our protein and fat intake is more than necessary, with no fresh fruit whatsoever.

It's okay to get a little lopsided.
Just make up for it tomorrow.
That's our version of balanced anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Thai Tofu

The strange thing about Thai food is that it tastes like it has completely foreign, unique ingredients. Therefore, we assume we can't make such deliciousness in the comfort of our own homes. When really, the ingredients are very common, just not commonly used together.

Recently, I purchased chili paste on a whim. I did not know what I was going to do with it, nor did I know what most do with it. But it sounded fun (and it was on sale), so to my pantry it went. After much deliberation and research, I decided to use my newly purchased chili paste to make a thai sauce for my tofu. It required ingredients that I always have on hand (I always knew peanut butter and soy sauce would meet some day). And this was the product:

  • Tofu:
  • 1 package of tofu
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Jamaican allspice (any allspice will do)

  • Prepare in the same manner as last week (Tofu Tacos) by removing moisture from the tofu and slicing into 8 equal sized pieces. Season with cayenne pepper and allspice just like you would a piece of meat.


  • Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover pan with non-stick spray, and cook tofu about 5 minutes per side. The key is to brown the pieces and give them a bit of a crunch on the outside (this gives it more of a meaty texture).

    Thai Sauce:

  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp chili paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, adding in ginger and chili paste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. Add in remaining ingredients over low heat, stirring occasionally to combine.

  • Mix in:
  • Kale (remove stems and rough chop)
  • green onion (chopped)
  • mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • In the same pan used to cook the tofu, mix all ingredients and cook until kale is wilted.

  • Tying it all together:
  • Slice tofu into bite sized pieces. Pour Thai sauce over vegetables and add tofu back into the mixture. Gently mix ingredients together (careful not to break apart bites of tofu).

  • Serve over rice, quinoa, or rice noodles.

  • Sarah
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