Baked Lentil Falafel

Quick. Easy. Healthy. Delicious. Those are all words I like to hear, especially when it comes to prepping meals for a busy week at work. These baked lentil falafel fit the bill perfectly. Now, I know, since they're baked, not fried, and made out of lentils, not chickpeas or fava beans, they really aren't falafel. But humor me here. It's the easiest way to describe these little patties. They have a little heat from a jalapeno, some spice with the cumin and coriander, and freshness from the herbs.  Throw it all in the food processor,  and process away! Shape, bake, eat, repeat. It's that easy! 

The original recipe for these little bites was just 5 or so ingredients long. A great base recipe from which you can improvise to your hearts content. I added a few extra flavorings because I couldn't help myself, but you can keep it simple if you like. I used my favorite seasonings of cumin and coriander, along with cilantro, parsley and mint. Probably my favorite combination of flavors, but try adding your own favorite spices and see what happens. I ate mine the first day on a chickpea flour wrap with garlicky kale and tahini. Yum! But I've also made sandwiches, topped salads, and dipped these little guys into yogurt for a quick snack. Go ahead, try something new!

 
 

 

Baked Lentil Falafel
Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Ingredients

  • 2 cups (320-340 grams) cooked lentils*
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (optional)
  • half a jalapeño, leave the ribs and seeds if you like it spicy
  • 1 green onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1-1½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1-2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pulse all ingredients except flour in a food processor until combined. Stir in the flour - just one tablespoon at a time, until it's just dry enough to handle. Form into 10 or so patties and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove sheet from the oven and carefully flip each patty over. Return to oven for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Use however you would like; in salads, sandwiches, wraps, bowls, etc. They also freeze great, so you can whip up a batch and keep on hand for  a quick meal any time. 

*I was using up the rest of the lentils I had in the pantry. The dry weight was 140 grams which ended up being 340 grams cooked. When I weighed out 2 cups it was 320 grams, but I only had an additional 20 grams of lentils so I just threw them in too! So it doesn't need to be exact. 

Black Bean Burgers

I still have one more post to put up with pictures from my trip to Europe, but first a little detour back into recipe-land. Since it is Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer I thought a burger recipe was fitting. While it's not a real burger, this still a great meal idea to keep in your back pocket for days when meat is not on the menu. I saw this recipe recently while watching an episode of America's Test Kitchen online and I knew I had to make it soon. 

I really like a good veggie/bean burger and so was very happy to see that this recipe was actually quite simple and used ingredients that I almost always have on hand.  So often it seems that veggie burgers have a million ingredients, several of which I don't usually keep at home so I was happy about this.  All I had to do was soak a pot of beans and make a quick stop to the store to pick up some cilantro and I was all set to whip up a batch of these delicious and versatile black bean burgers. If you're looking for a simple recipe to cure that (veggie) burger craving give this one a try. It's sure to be a winner, it certainly was in my house. 

These burgers have good flavor and a good texture. They did not turn out "mushy" like so many veggie burgers, but were nice and firm and held together well. I also made a little chipotle yogurt sauce using canned chipotles in adobo mixed with a little Greek yogurt. You can always use mayo instead of the yogurt, that is what they did on the show. I topped the burgers with this sauce and a few slices of avocado and it was delicious. I think a  nice slice of cheddar cheese would also be wonderful. 

These burgers are great to make ahead for a quick meal when you don't have a lot of time to cook. Full of spices and aromatics, the prep work is done so you don't need to spend time chopping and adding flavor on a busy night. Just grab a pre-made patty and you're set. Great as a burger, but also in a wrap, on a tortilla, broken into chunks and mixed with a little yogurt or sour cream as a black bean version of chicken salad, or used to top a pizza. These little guys are versatile and delicious, if you've never made a black bean burger before, this is the place to start. 

 
 

Black Bean Burgers
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, or 4 1/2 ounces dried black beans boiled until tender (about 1 1/2 cups total, cooked)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon coarse cornmeal
  • Cheese, avocado, sprouts for topping (optional)

Directions
Line a baking sheet with a couple of layers of paper towels. Drain and rinse black beans lay in an even layer on the paper towels. Set aside to dry for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg. Add the flour and whisk until no more lumps are visible.  Add the scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside. 

Place the bread crumbs, cornmeal, and beans in a food processor. Pulse 5-6 times until a coarse mixture forms. It should be fairly dry. Add the bean mixture to the bowl with the egg mixture. Stir to combine everything evenly. It will be fairly wet. 

Place bean mixture in the fridge for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours, to firm up. When ready to form patties, shape mixture into 4 uniform size round patties of even thickness. 

Heat a large frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Place the patties in the frying pan and cook on one side until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Flip patties with a spatula and cook on second side for another 6-8 minutes or until well browned. Remove from pan. Serve with your favorite toppings. 

Lemon Herb Baked Tofu

I love experimenting with new foods and trying out new things in the kitchen all the time. That's what keeps things interesting and fun. Up until recently, tofu was something I wanted to try (I think I'd had it once, or maybe twice, before), but since I'd hardly ever used it in the past, I just never got around to picking up a package. Finally, I forced myself to buy a pound of it at the store and find something to do with it. 

To start, I wanted to do something simple, and something with which I could really taste the tofu, and get an idea of what its texture was like. I started with some extra firm tofu because it sounded the most versatile to me. After browsing through pages of recipes I settled on baked tofu with a simple lemon herb marinade, I figured this would give me the freedom to use the tofu in many different applications. The verdict? I liked it. Very easy to make and many options once it's done cooking; as a snack, on top of pasta, in a stir fry, on a sandwich, you get the idea. We'll see where this goes in the future, but FYI, I just finished off another package yesterday...

I've always heard that tofu takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with, and that was certainly true in this case. The dominant flavors in this recipe were the lemon and the soy sauce. I could sense an underlying flavor from the tofu itself, but for the most part the marinade is what really came through.

There are some many different options for marinades floating around online, so if lemon herb isn't up your ally, there are many other combinations to try. But the bake instructions should be pretty much the same. All together a very easy recipe that leaves you with plenty of options in the end. It might be worth a try, if you've never picked up a package of tofu before, I highly recommend at least trying it once. You never know what you're missing until you try!

Lemon Herb Tofu
Adapted from The Gentlemanly Tomato
Ingredients

  • 1 cake firm tofu (about 16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • A couple sprigs each of thyme and rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced

Directions
Press tofu between a couple sheets of paper towel topped with a heavy pan for about 30 minutes. Discard paper towels and cut tofu into bite sized pieces. 

While tofu is being pressed, whisk together all marinade ingredients in a glass dish. Add the pressed tofu and gently mix to cover everything with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes. 

Line a baking sheet with foil. Transfer the tofu and any remaining marinade onto the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 60 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes. 

Simple Quinoa and Cheddar Polenta with Kale
From Delectably Mine
Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons (27 grams) cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1-2 handfuls kale, ripped or cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 ounce cheddar cheese, broken into pieces
  • Lemon herb tofu (recipe above)

Directions
Put the water and salt in a small skillet and heat until boiling. Once boiling, slowly pour in the cornmeal while continuously whisking. Turn the heat back on low and cook until starting to get thick, whisking frequently.

Once the cornmeal mixture starts to thicken up, add in the quinoa and torn up pieces of kale and whisk together. If the mixture becomes too thick, add some more water as needed. 

Once everything is mixed together, add in the butter and cheddar cheese, whisking until melted and completely incorporated into the mixture. 

Top polenta with lemon herb tofu and enjoy!

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce

It's been a cold and rainy weekend here so far - fall has definitely arrived. With the falling temperatures and the cloudy skies I have been craving warm and comforting foods. This recipe for red lentils in a masala sauce fits the bill perfectly. Tender red lentils in a thick and spicy tomato sauce finished off with spinach, cilantro and coconut milk. This may not be your traditional fall dish, but why not give something new a try. It's healthy and delicious, perfect for curling up on the couch with and listening to the rain falling. 

I had to adjust the original recipe to fit the ingredients I had on hand and it turned out deliciously. It's not a difficult dish at all. Once you mix up your spice mixture all you need to do is sauté some onions and garlic, add the spices followed by tomatoes and lentils and cook until the flavors have melded and the lentils are tender. Red lentils tend to turn to mush when cooked, but for this recipe you keep an eye on them and finish the dish before they completely disintegrate. Finished it off with a few handfuls of spinach and some creamy and delicious coconut milk. Spoon into a bowl over rice, or eat on it's own like a stew. It's filling and satisfying in whatever form you choose.

Red Lentils and Spinach in Masala Sauce
Adapted from Naturally Ella
Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam marsala
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1⁄3 cup packed cilantro leaves ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14 ounce can whole (or diced) tomatoes
  • 1/2 can full fat, unsweetened full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup (~190 grams) red lentils
  • 3-4 handfuls spinach 

Directions
In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne, paprika, garam marsala and salt. Set aside.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent and just beginning to brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the spice mixture and stir to coat the onions. Add the tomato paste and stir again to evenly mix. Cook for a few minutes to heat the spices and tomato paste, then add in the tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir together and bring to a boil. 

Add in lentils and cilantro leaves and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often (they tend to stick to the bottom of the pan), until lentils are tender, 20-­25 minutes. Fold in spinach and then remove the pan from heat.

Garnish with more cilantro, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. 

Spicy Quinoa and Hummus Patties with Roasted Red Pepper

Last week when I was thinking about what to make for dinner my mind kept drifting towards a burger. Unfortunately I didn't have any ground meat at home, and I didn't feel like going to the store. However, as I kept thinking I realized I had all the ingredients to make a nice meatless burger; I had cooked quinoa in the fridge, some leftover roasted red pepper, and homemade hummus. I decided to just go for it and make up my own recipe with what I had on hand. The results were fantastic! A soft and tender patty filled with veggies, and given a flavor boost with some fragrant spices. Healthy, hearty and delicious. Although a veggie patty will never be able to fully replace a true burger, this recipe holds it's own as a  delicious and healthy alternative dinner. 

I wasn't sure exactly what ratios I should use for my grain vs hummus vs quinoa, but in the end I really liked the results so I was very pleased. I don't eat tons of veggie burgers, so I don't know what most people are looking for in texture and flavor, but I do know I really loved these so I guess I don't care what other people like! These were soft yet not too delicate and held together as I ate my sandwich. I was worried they might just fall apart as I know veggie burgers sometimes can, but no problem with these. This is definitely a recipe that I will make again, adjusting the flavorings and add ins to fit whatever I have on hand. 

Spicy Quinoa and Hummus Patties with Roasted Red Pepper 

I

ngredients

  • 1/4 cup hummus (approximately 60 grams of my homemade hummus)
  • 40 grams (1/2 cup) oats
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 green onion
  • 1/4 of a roasted red pepper
  • Handful cilantro
  • 100 grams cooked quinoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

Place hummus, oats and garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined and has formed a thick paste. Add the green onion, red pepper, and cilantro and pulse a few times until combined but still somewhat chunky.

Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and add the quinoa, salt, cumin, cayenne and olive oil. Mix to combine.

Shape mixture into 2-4 patties, depending on your preference. Place in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up a bit.

Preheat grill or grill pan until nice and hot. When ready, transfer patties to grill and cook until nice and hot all the way through, flipping halfway through.

Serve on a bun with your favorite toppings, or top off a salad with this hearty patty in place of your chicken or steak.

S'mores Cupcakes

April 1 is a special day in my family. We get to celebrate not just one, but two birthdays! My cousin Bailey and my grandpa get to share their special day with each other. In honor of their birthday's, Bailey invited us all over for a "112th birthday party" this past Sunday. Since my favorite part about birthday celebrations is the cake, I offered to make some cupcakes to bring along. In my opinion you cannot have a birthday party without cake, it just isn't right. 

For this occasion I had a few more restraints than normal. Dairy products don't agree well with Bailey so the only cake options I had were dairy free ones. This can be a challenge for me; I am partial to good old butter cakes piled high with sweet and fluffy buttercream, neither of which were an option for this party. I toyed around with a couple of different ideas before having that aha moment. Early on I had decided that a chocolate cupcake made with cocoa powder would work really well for the base. Cocoa is dairy free, and although I know you can find dairy free chocolate out there, I just wasn't going to get around to buying any in time. 

What was really stumping me was the frosting. I am not a fan of using butter substitutes, I just don't think they taste good. Even the really nice brands without trans fats and all that other junk don't taste like butter. I like butter, and there really is no replacement in my book. I toyed with the idea of using coconut cream but I'm not a huge coconut fan and I'd never tried it before so didn't know how it would work. Then I came across a recipe for marshmallow frosting, basically just a meringue, and it all came together. Marshmallow frosting on a chocolate cake, only one thing is missing.... graham crackers! Who can resist a good old s'more, especially in cupcake form? The perfect dairy free cupcake to celebrate a couple of extra special people. 

This cupcake recipe is a cinch to make, all you need is one bowl and you are good to go. The recipe said it would make 1 dozen, but I always like to make a few mini cupcakes too as testers and it worked out great. I managed to get 1 dozen regular cupcakes and 6 minis.

As for the frosting; I'd never made marshmallow frosting before, but I have made marshmallows, and it was pretty much the same thing, just without the gelatin. Pretty easy to whip together, but incredibly sticky! I thought the combination of the dark chocolate cake with the sweet and light marshmallow frosting was a winner; the two complemented each other so well. I finished the whole thing off with some homemade graham crackers (dairy free of course) and some graham cracker crumbs. 

All I have left to say is: Happy Birthday Bailey and Grandpa! Have a wonderful day!

S'mores Cupcakes

Adapted from 

King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 1 cups (4 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/8 cup (1 1/8 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/8 cup (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) coffee

Frosting

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I actually didn't have any and it worked fine without, cream of tarter just helps stabilize the egg whites, but you can go without if you have to)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake or muffin pans with papers.

Prepare the cake batter. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, beating until smooth. Gradually add the coffee, beating until smooth. 

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake cups; you'll pour a scant 1/4 cup batter (about 58g) into each cup. Bake the cupcakes for about 20-22 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes in the middle of the pan comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the oven. In about 5 minutes, or as soon as you can handle them, remove them from the pan, and place them on a rack to cool.

When the cupcakes are cool, make the frosting. Place the 2 egg whites in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat until the egg whites are foamy and thick; they should mound in the bowl, without holding a peak. Set them aside while you prepare the sugar syrup.

Combine the sugar, cream of tartar, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently; the sugar should be dissolved. If the sugar hasn't dissolved, cook and stir a bit more, until it has. Once the sugar has dissolved, boil the syrup, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, or until the syrup registers 240°F on a candy thermometer or instant-read thermometer.

Begin to beat the egg whites, and immediately pour the boiling sugar syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream, beating all the while. As you beat, the mixture will thicken. Once all the syrup is added, stir in the vanilla, and continue to beat until the frosting is thick and will hold a peak.

Spoon the hot frosting atop the cooled cupcakes, swirling it decoratively.

Decorate while the frosting is still warm with graham crackers crumbs. You can also toast the edges of the frosting with a kitchen blow torch, or how I did it, using the flame on your gas stove. Just watch your fingers!

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes + 6 mini cupcakes

Clementine Brown Rice Salad with Edamame and Cranberries

In the winter I can sometimes find it difficult to come up with a good, fresh salad that incorporates seasonal ingredients. It's not like summer when all it takes are a few garden fresh tomatoes and a handful of basal to call it good. But, although it takes a little more thought in the winter, beautiful salads made with in season produce can be done. Take this salad for instance, it uses a lot of things that you may just have stored in your cupboard or freezer; dried cranberries, edamame, brown rice, and slivered almonds. Add to this some fresh, sweet and juicy clementines, a few thinly sliced green onions and some feta cheese and you have the perfect combination for a hearty winter salad, great as a flavorful side or a light main coarse, whichever you prefer. Either way you won't be disappointed.

The combination of all the different ingredients in this salad are just perfect. Sweetness from the clementines, tartness from the cranberries, crunch from the almonds and creaminess from the edamame. It is also a beautiful salad, full of all the different colors. The clementine juice and honey in the dressing give it just the right amount of sweetness mixed with the acidity from the lemon juice and vinegar. I really do love this salad. The perfect way to add freshness to those gloomy winter days. 

Clementine Brown Rice Salad with Edamame and Cranberries

Ingredients

For the Salad

  • 1 cup brown rice*
  • 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame beans
  • 4 clementines
  • 3 green onions
  • 1 cup of sliced or slivered almonds, toasted
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

For the Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed clementine juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Cook rice according to package directions*. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad. (Brown rice can also be prepared a day ahead and stored in the fridge until needed.) 

Fill a small pot with two inches of water. Bring to a boil, add edamame and cook for about 3 minutes or until tender. Drain and set aside. 

Peal clementines, tear into segments and place in a large bowl. Thinly slice the green onion and add to the bowl. Add in the brown rice, edamame, toasted almonds and cranberries. Mix all together. 

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Mix it until everything is well incorporated. Add in the feta cheese and give it another  mix.

*Check out 

this

 post for my all time favorite, super easy method for making brown rice that turns out perfectly every time!