365 Recipes: Black Bean Burgers

 

The Ingredients:

 

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg
1 jalapeño pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons taco seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen/defrosted)
4 large slices Cheddar cheese
Vegetable oil, for frying
Avocado, lettuce, mayo, and Sriracha or other hot sauce for topping
4 sturdy hamburger buns

The Method: 

  1. Seed and roughly chop jalapeño. Add jalapeño and garlic cloves to a food processor and mince finely.
  2. Add one can of beans to the jalapeno/garlic mixture and pulse to combine. Add seasonings, and pulse until mixture resembles chunky black bean dip.
  3. Transfer the bean mixture to a large bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, tomato sauce, egg, and corn. Stir well to combine and add remaining black beans.
  4. Heat a olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Form black bean mixture into patties and fry for about 4 minutes per side, until golden and crusty brown, adding Cheddar cheese to melt after the first side is done.
  5. Serve burgers with avocado slices, Sriracha, lettuce, and other burger toppings to taste.

The Verdict:

I’m always happy to find a vegetarian recipe where you don’t miss the meat. This one will, I think, receive a few tweaks over time, but it’s a good one.

365 Recipes: Beef Parmesan Linguine

The Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, puréed
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 8-ounce can of tomato paste
¾ package linguine
1 whole head of garlic, chopped
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 handful basil leaves, roughly chopped

The Method:

  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook beef, onion, salt, pepper, and turmeric in a large frying pan over high heat.
  2. Drain ground beef, if necessary, and add tomato paste to frying pan. Sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer.
  3. Remove beef mixture from heat, add pasta and Parmesan, and toss to combine. Serve garnished with basil and additional Parmesan.

The Verdict:

A keeper. The Partner in Crime mostly likes tomato-based pasta dishes, while I like a wider variety, and this is nice because it has that tomato base, but it’s more subtle and unique, a little off that beaten path. The best of both worlds!

365 Recipes: Panko-Crusted Salmon

The Ingredients:

2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 salmon fillets, skin on
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

The Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
  2. Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12″ cast iron skillet or other ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes without turning to brown the skin.
  4. Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon with lemon wedges.

The Verdict:

The kids still don’t love fish, but they’re slowly warming up to it. The Partner in Crime and I both enjoyed this.

365 Recipes: Fried Chicken Tenders

The Recipe:

One of the Christmas presents we received (well, technically, the Partner in Crime received it, but the two shall become one flesh and all…) was an adorably miniature deep fryer. It’s taken us a while, but we’re slowly venturing into the exciting world of deep frying things. Donuts are at the top of my list to try next, but for now, here’s my first attempt at fried chicken, inspired by the recipe from this amazing Cook’s Illustrated cookbook (seriously, buy it; you won’t regret it) and this Chowhound thread.

The Ingredients:

Chicken Marinade
10-12 chicken tenders
1/2-1 cup buttermilk
Salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne, to taste

Breading
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk

Peanut oil or vegetable shortening, for frying

The Recipe:

  1. Earlier in the day, combine all marinade ingredients in a plastic storage container or bag, toss to coat, and refrigerate.
  2. About 2 hours before you plan to eat, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off excess, and spread on a wire rack set on top of a baking sheet. Refrigerate an additional hour.
  3. Remove chicken from refrigerator and prepare two pie plates; one with the flour, and one with the baking powder, baking soda, egg, and buttermilk whisked together. Preheat the oven to 200F, and place another wire rack and baking sheet on the middle shelf. Place a paper-towel lined plate beside deep fryer. Pour oil into deep fryer to a depth of about 2 inches and heat to 350F.
  4. Working in batches of four, dip tenders into flour, turning to coat. Shake off excess, then dip into the egg mixture and turn to coat, allowing the excess to drip off. Coat in flour once more, shake off excess, and place in fryer basket.
  5. Fry pieces for about 4-5 minutes, until crust is golden brown and inside of chicken is no longer pink (you should only have to check one piece and use it as a guide as they will all be the same size.)
  6. Remove chicken to paper towel to drain for 1 minute, then place in warm oven and continue frying the remainder of the batch. Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. (I used buttermilk biscuits and coleslaw with buttermilk dressing as my sides for a pleasing round of buttermilk-based dishes.)

The Verdict:
It’s a good starting point. I was happy with the moisture of the chicken and the crispiness of the breading, and although the breading didn’t adhere to the chicken as well as it would’ve if I used skin-on pieces, the ease of prep and the uniform cooking time were good trade-offs. My big beef with this as a recipe was just that the breading was pretty bland. However, using the Chowhound thread linked above, I think I can work out a blend of spices to add to the breading to bring its flavour up to the level of the texture.

Also, fair warning: this is not one of those easy weeknight meals I love so much. These are the words that came out of my mouth as I served up: “Enjoy this, because I probably won’t be making it again until the baby is over 1 year…”

Homeschooling: Music: Classics for Kids

IMG_0169I’m very excited about this recent discovery I made via a homeschooling forum: Classics for Kids from Cincinnati Public Radio. I haven’t explored it very in-depth yet, but basically it’s a short podcast for kids on classical music appreciation and history. There is a composer of the month, with once-weekly audio ‘lesson’, and an activity sheet to go with it. We jumped in pretty much blind today, and I wasn’t sure if it would be at Scout Kid’s level, but we both really enjoyed just chilling out on the bed and listening to it.

This week’s broadcast was about Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Luckily, Scout Kid’s longstanding love of Peter and the Wolf meant he was tracking right along with the descriptions of the various woodwinds (“Oboe! That’s the duck,” etc.) and strings. We pulled out our visual dictionary at the same time, so he could see images of each instrument as it was introduced.

When it was over, Scout Kid instantly asked to listen to Peter and the Wolf, so I put that on (Leonard Bernstein’s excellent version), gave him his Peter and the Wolf picture book, left the visual dictionary open to the orchestra page, and enjoyed a quiet time to myself. All in all, a successful activity, and I think we’re both looking forward to next week’s broadcast!

Science: Tree Identification

On Friday we took a basket and scissors and a field guide to North American trees and tried to identify the trees on our yard. Here’s what we did:
-Used the vocabulary for different parts of trees (needles, cones, leaves, bark, etc) as we went around the yard collecting bits of each different kind of tree. This was as much a lesson in ‘tree literacy’ as in identification.
-Took photos of the bark of each tree so that could help us ID them.
-Sat down with our book to attempt to identify the trees. This purpose was not accomplished as Scout Kid mainly just enthusiastically flipped through exclaiming, “Hey, dat looks right!” But he really did enjoy looking through all the pictures and we talked more about different parts of a tree as we came upon them in the book.
-Gathered some fallen maple leaves and put them in a book to press. When they’re done we’ll glue them in Scout Kid’s Nature Journal.
Sorry for the radio silence, by the way; I’ve been sick and haven’t had the energy for anything more educational than Disney movies.