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February 2008

Vegetarian Chickpea Burgers

In light of the recent massive beef recall, many people are seriously considering becoming a Vegetarian. I'm one of them. In fact, I was a Vegetarian for several years. It wasn't until I met my husband that I converted back to a meat and potatoes kind of girl. But, the more I hear and learn about tainted meat, the less I desire to eat it.

As you may recall, several years ago I worked as a chef for a health food store. One of our most popular dishes was known as a Nut Burger. Made from a variety of nuts and shaped into patties, these burgers are packed with protein, essential fatty acids and they taste amazingly delicious.

My favorite way to serve them is on a lightly toasted whole wheat sesame seed bun with Dijon mustard and pickle slices. Just as with a regular hamburger, you can top Nut Burgers with your favorite condiments including mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pickles and even cheese.

While I no longer have the recipe for the Original Nut Burgers, I have created one that is similar and tastes nearly identical to the ones we sold at the health food store. These are made using chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo beans. For best results, these burgers should be cooked on the grill or under a broiler. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

CHICKPEA BURGERS

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Serves 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10-14 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 small Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon Sunflower or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 medium Green Onions (or Scallions), white and green parts cut into 1-inch strips
1 15-ounce can Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Ketchup
1/4 cup Sunflower seeds, toasted and ground into a coarse powder in spice grinder or blender
1-1/2 cups plain Bread Crumbs
Sea Salt (to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add 3 to 4 inches of water to a large saucepan. Add potatoes to a steamer basket, cover and bring water to a boil. Cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
  2. Drain potatoes and transfer to a small bowl. Mash with a fork.
  3. Transfer 1-1/2 cups mashed potatoes to the workbowl of a food processor.
  4. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and cook until limp, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add scallions, chickpeas, ketchup, and ground sunflower seeds to food processor. Pulse on and off several times until ingredients are well blended.
  6. Transfer mixture from food processor to large bowl. Add bread crumbs. Mix by hand using a large spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  7. Season with salt to taste. Mixture will be moist, but should hold together well.
  8. Divide and shape mixture into eight patties approximately 3-inches across and 1/2-inch thick. Add extra bread crumbs if patties don't hold their shape.
  9. Prepare grill or preheat broiler.
  10. If using a grill, place patties on vegetable grid to avoid sticking. If using the broiler, place patties on a broiler pan or large cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil.
  11. Grill over medium-hot coals or broil 3 to 6 inches from heat until lightly browned, approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  12. Check often to prevent burning. Remove from heat. Transfer to serving platter and serve with favorite toppings and condiments.

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Largest Beef Recall in US History - Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company

The USDA made an announcement to recall 143 million pounds of beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company located in Chino, California. According to the report, an undercover video was what led to the recall.

Videos posted at Yahoo! News show cows with chains wrapped around their necks being dragged to the slaughterhouse and lifted up on forklifts because they were too sick to walk. Cows are either falling out of the truck or already dead by the time they arrive at the meat processing plant. 

This makes for the largest food recall in U.S. history and includes beef products dating back to February 1, 2006. Most of the beef products are sold in bulk to warehouse stores, fast food restaurants and schools. Yes, folks, this is the beef we are feeding our children for lunch. Yum!

My daughter wrote her senior paper on the practices of slaughterhouses. She has been a vegetarian since the day she was born. I still remember the day she spit pureed baby food meat, sealed her lips tightly and refused to eat another bite. She has never eaten meat since.

The report she wrote several months ago outlined the same practices that prompted the massive recall. PETA and the Humane Society have been providing this information to government officials for several years, but no one has been paying attention. Finally, someone has taken notice.

Reports state the meat processed at Hallmark / Westland Meat Packing Company "is unfit for human consumption". USDA Actions, including all news releases and statements can be found at the United States Department of Agriculture website.

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OliveNation.com ~ For Italian Food Lovers

Are you passionate about authentic Italian cooking? Then I have a resource for YOU! Olive Nation offers an abundance of authentic Italian Olive Oils, aged Balsamic Vinegars, Pastas, Sea Salts, cookbooks and gifts.

Several years ago, I worked at a 5-star Country Club, famous for their amazing desserts. We served a dainty dessert on Mother's Day that consisted of raspberries filled with balsamic vinegar and dusted with powdered sugar. Shortbread cookies, spread with fresh lemon curd were arranged along the edge of a china plate with the raspberries positioned in the middle. The flavor was out of this world and I practically begged the Chef for the recipe. He never would relinquish it.

While visiting Olive Nation, I discovered the recipe and nearly fell out of my chair with excitement! Olive Nation uses San Giacomo, a Balsamic vinegar that has been aged in barrels for 5 to 7 years. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the bottle and realized this is the exact brand we used at the Country Club.

Olive Nation offers a wide range of Balsamic Vinegars. This thick, sweet smelling vinegar is made from the unfermented juice of grapes and slowly aged in wooden barrels. True gourmet Balsamic vinegars are aged from 6 months to several years, whereas the ones sold in grocery stores are aged in stainless steel tanks for only a few months. Once you taste the authentic Balsamic Vinegars offered at Olive Nation, you'll never settle for less!

As you may already know, I am a huge fan of Olive Oil and use it in nearly all my cooking endeavors. Olive oil is made from olives. First they are milled to turn them into a paste. Next, they are put under pressure to extract their oil. Olive oils are graded based on their acidity level. Extra virgin olive oil contains an acid level of less than 1-percent and presents a rich and intense flavor. Virgin olive oil typically registers an acidic level of 1- to 3-percent.

Olive Nation offers a variety of olive oil from various regions within Italy. From the southeast region of Apulia to northwest region of Tuscany, you'll find mild, bold and fruity olive oils for every occasion.

Looking for authentic Italian pasta? You'll fall in love with the selection available at Olive Nation. From organic spaghetti, penne, eliche (corkscrew) and egg tagliatelle to corn ditalini and a corn pasta sampler, you'll be certain to find something to get your creative Italian juices flowing.

Sea salt is a necessary part of Italian cooking and Olive Nation offers a wonderful selection for all your cooking needs. Olive Nation sea salts are harvested by hand and dried under the Italian summer sun. No preservatives or chemicals are added to this gift from Nature. Once you try the real thing, you'll be hooked for life. The difference in taste is absolutely astounding!

Olive Nation has an entire section dedicated to Italian recipes. Here you'll discover authentic pasta dishes including Spaghetti with Lemon Cream and Peppers, Summer Pasta Salad and Penne Pasta with Zucchini and Pecorino Cheese. Other recipes selections include Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries, Roasted Shrimp with Garlic Oil, Coffee Macaroons and my all-time favorite Italian dessert, Tiramisu.

Currently, Olive Nation is offering FREE shipping on orders placed before February 11th. It's their Valentine's Day gift to you. Each product is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Gift certificates are available in amounts for $10 to $250.

Learn more about Olive Nation, shop in the online store and discover amazing authentic Italian recipes at www.OliveNation.com.


White Bean Soup with Rosemary and Parmesan Recipe

I enjoy all types of cooking; however my two favorite styles are baking and making soups. Maybe it's because my mom was such an amazing baker and maker of soups? I wonder if there is a specific gene that makes one good at cooking??

Last week, I helped my husband clean out our garage. My motivational factor was that I knew I had some old cookbooks and recipes cards stored out there. Imagine my surprise when I discovered two 3-inch notebooks filled with recipes I created (or helped create) at the health food store I worked for back in the early 90s.

That was by far my favorite food service job. My boss was Mother Earth. A total hippie with a love for health food. She had the ability to take any high-fat, calorie-rich recipe and turn it into something good for you. She could make a meatloaf out of tofu and no one could tell the difference. She made an amazing flour-less chocolate torte out of carob. Her healthy revisions always tasted as good as, if not better than, the original dish.

Growing up, my mom made the best Ham and Bean Soup and served it with cornbread. She slathered the top of the cornbread with a half stick of butter, then dipped pieces of it in the soup. Talk about heaven! She used the ham bone to season the soup and included generous chunks of ham. I vividly remember her saying, "It's not ham and bean soup without plenty of HAM!"

One day, Leslie (my boss) and I were talking about mom's bean soup. At the time I was practicing Vegetarianism, but had been craving ham and bean soup. It was a slow day, so we decided to do a little experimenting and develop a healthier version.

The following is the concoction we came up with. Cornbread is the perfect accompaniment with this soup; however, I highly recommend eliminating that half stick of butter. A teaspoon will do just fine or if you're adventurous try using organic coconut oil. It adds a wonderful sweet, coconut-y flavor. A crispy, French baguette or whole wheat dinner roll is another option.

WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH ROSEMARY AND PARMESAN

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Serves: 6
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1/2 to 2 hours

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Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups dried small White (Navy) Beans
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Onion (yellow or white), finely chopped
1 medium Carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh Rosemary, minced
7 cups Chicken or Vegetable stock (substitute with water, if desired)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 Tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Pick over and discard any damaged beans or stones. Place beans in colander and throughly rinse.
  2. Place beans in a large bowl, add enough water to cover and soak for about 3 hours.
  3. Drain beans and set aside. In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and saute until the vegetables are soft; about 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
  4. Add garlic and rosemary and continue to saute for an additional 3 minutes.
  5. Add drained beans and the chicken or vegetable stock, or water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 1 to 1-1/2 hours. When beans are fork-tender, soup is done.
  6. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Place one-third of the bean mixture in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade.
  8. Puree until smooth. Pour the pureed soup back into soup pot and reheat gently.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Transfer soup to individual bowls. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Serve immediately.

 

NOTE: You can use canned white beans, if desired. Doing so will reduce the cooking time to around 20-30 minutes. Feel free to substitute different types of beans such as cannellini (white kidney beans), Great Northern or Lima beans.


Bone Building Strawberry Sorbet

Strawberries are an excellent source of Boron; a micronutrient that protects bone density. By using frozen strawberries, this sorbet is ready to eat without freezing. It's at its peak flavor when it comes directly out of the food processor.

Bone Building Strawberry Sorbet
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Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes

Strawberry_sorbet


Ingredients:

1 pound frozen unsweetened Strawberries
19 ounces Silken Tofu
1/2 cup all-fruit Strawberry Jam
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Lemon extract
12 fresh Mint leaves, optional

Directions:

Place all ingredients in workbowl of food processor or blender.
Process until thick and creamy.
Taste and add more vanilla or lemon extract, if desired.
Transfer to serving bowls, top with 3-4 fresh mint leaves.
Serve immediately.


Writing Awards and New Recipes

As you may already know, I am a Content Producer for Yahoo Contributor Network. My current portfolio contains over 300 articles on a wide variety of topics, but until recently I had never posted any recipes. Last week I received an email from another AC writer, congratulating me on my reward. Funny thing is, I didn't know I had won an award.

I logged in to my account and lo and behold, what do I see but a shiny star with "Top 1000" printed on it. Rumor has it that YCN has around 100,000 content producers. If this is fact, that places me in the top one percent. Not bad for a girl who barely graduated from high school, eh?

YCN recently brought back one of my favorite features, known as Call for Content (C4). The staff requests articles on specific topics, which makes it much easier to know what type of material they want. This past week they had several requests for various types of recipes. You can bet I was all over that!

I submitted three of my favorite recipes:

Napa Valley Chicken Salad ~ A tender chicken salad perfect for people who don't like mayonnaise. Moistened with a poppyseed dressing, this chicken salad includes sweet red grapes and crunchy pecans for a sweet and savory flavor combination. It's excellent wrapped in lettuce leaves, stuffed inside a tomato or as a topper for crackers or gourmet breads. Once you try this recipe, you'll never want regular chicken salad again!

Vegetarian Boca Burger Salisbury Steak ~ This tastes so much like "real" meat that even the meat lovers in your family will have a hard time telling the difference. Boca Burgers are a soy based product and have the texture of hamburger. The flavors of the gravy, onions and pepper infuse into the Boca Burger, giving them an authentic salisbury steak flavor. This dish screams for mashed potatoes, green beans and dinner rolls.

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Patties ~ My grandmother made these no-bake cookies for me when I was a young girl. She never baked and rarely cooked, so this was a big treat for me. I recently updated the recipe by using dark chocolate instead of unsweetened cocoa. You can whip up a batch of these cookies in less than 15 minutes. They are super rich and will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth.

Yahoo Contributor Network provides you with the option to email these recipes to yourself or a friend. You can also print them directly from the screen.  If you'd like to be notified when I post new articles, click on the Subscribe button under my photo.

Bon Appetit!


Check out my published content!