Nutshroom Neatballs (GF,DF): Endless Possibilities

I’ve shared with you my serious leaning toward the burger as a warm, satisfying handheld meal.  My experiments in veggie burgering are many and I’ve enjoyed every one; however, there are only so many warm satisfying handheld meals one can consume in a single week (this is what I’ve inferred from my crew, mind you, not my own opinion).  Far be it from me, however, to simply leave the flavors of my beloved veggie burgers behind.  What better way to get the flavor I’m looking for and make it LOOK like I was inventing a whole new meal just for my little one’s picky little palate than to make veggie burger neatballs?  How awesome am I? And neatballs? Small, yummy, cute, warm.  What picky pantser could possibly resist?

IMG_0223This meal has some of my favorite qualities. Delicious, easy to make, easy to double or triple for freezing, perfect leftovers, and super flexible. Being a competent and happy cook often has more to do with re-imaging something you already know how to do than with learning how to make something new every night – who has time for that? So, we make do. And sometimes that making do, that little twist, that sneaky trick, turns out to be quite delightful, like Nutshroom Neatballs. Continue reading

A Better (Veggie) Burger

You may have noticed that I have a thing for veggie burgers.  It’s okay, I can admit it.  I have a thing for veggie burgers.  I like the whole hot sandwich approach to a meal and the customization that comes with years of condiment practice.  I like that burgers can be made in different ways (and in different sizes that appeal to the “cute food” eater in our crew) and that they present this opportunity to jam a bunch of stuff in there that might not otherwise make it into a body.  I know, I’m weird.  I’ve tried a number of different kinds of burgers and patties, and finally, I have created one all my very own that is indeed, burger-y.  As usual, my inspiration was largely driven by what was in my refrigerator, but this doesn’t preclude you from actually PLANNING to make these babies.  I’m sure there’s something to be gained there. 😉

The flavor secret for these burgers, is mushrooms.  You say: “But wait, we don’t all like mushrooms; I’m not even sure I like mushrooms.”  I say THIS is the way to test that idea.  The mushrooms here are so small that they don’t play the textural havoc that can interfere with some folks’ appreciation.  What they do is add that elusive umami.  They lend a great kind of, well meat-y savory flavor to the burgers.  We enjoyed them immensely.

Nutshroom Burgers (Gluten Free, by the way)

  • 1/2 c onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 c cooked leftover grain (I used quinoa)
  • 1/2 c black beans ( I imagine other soft beans would work)
  • 1/4 c peanut butter
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 1 c rough cut mushroom
  • 2 T Bragg’s or soy sauce
  • 1/2 t dried rosemary (yes, really)
  • 1 c finely chopped mushroom (I used portobello, but to each his own mushroom)
  • 1 c rolled oats
  • 1/2 c flaxmeal

Browning like good little meatless burgers…

Throw the first 9 ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth-ish and well incorporated.  I chose to add my walnuts late to retain a little texture.  Your call.  Spoon batter into a large bowl and add the remaining three ingredients.  Stir to incorporate.  Fashion into patties of whatever shape and size floats your burger boat.  I happened to reach this point relatively early in my day, so refrigerated the patties at this point for about 45 minutes with no ill effect.  When you are 20 minutes from dinner, heat a small amount of oil (I used olive oil) in a pan.  Cook burgers for a total of 15 minutes or so, flipping as needed to provent burning.  This recipe made dinner for four and two leftover lunches for two enthusiastic grownups. Delish!

For more ideas on what to make with leftover grains, how about quinoa for breakfast, or using leftover grain as a base for healthy lunch boxes. Maybe you want another gluten free burger option, or you’re looking for the cheapest meatless burger ever.  Next time you’re cooking rice or quinoa, make a lot and save yourself some time later in the week.

This recipe was featured on:
Fridays Unfolded

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Choppity, Chop, Chop… Look at Mommy Go!

I’m not usually a product endorsement kind of gal.  I am, in fact, a marketing scoffer – okay it’s more like marketing scorner.  I, rather hostilely, resist attempts to convince me that I NEED something and that a particular version of that something is the ONE that I have to have.  Generally I find that my position on purchases has worked out in my favor, finding items that are good enough, that serve well enough without requiring me to shell out more than I care to or more than I can.  I should, however, admit to an error in judgment when it comes to my kitchen equipment.

For the most part in the kitchen I believe that a couple of decent knives, a cutting board that won’t screw the knives up and a couple of cast iron pans and a pot are the basis for most delicious dishes.  My desire to keep extra crap off the counter led me to deny my poor husband a toaster for many years (can’t we make toast some other way, do you really eat so much toast that we need a machine devoted to it).  It was in this same vein that I long refused to consider a food processor.  I do have knives, and after all this is really just a special knife, right?  Right.  It is.  When Big Sis purchased a Vita Mix a million years ago and then moved and decided she didn’t wish to pack both the Vita Mix and the food processor, she gave me hers.  Accepting a small appliance for free is, for me anyway, decidedly different than buying one.

The machine was nothing fancy and over time I lost some of the bits and bobs that might have allowed it to be more useful to me, but it served its occasional purpose, and as I became more interested in plant based eating, and a regular devotee of hummus, my modest food processor and I began a bit of love affair.  Hummus, brownie bites, awesome oaty bites, pesto… we had a ball.  And then the bottom rim that locked it on began to separate from the bowl.  No problem – no internal damage, super glue to the rescue.  Kept going.  More food and a couple of months later… a tiny screw falls out of the lid.  I couldn’t see what the thing did, but found out the next time I used it that the screw was in some part responsible for keeping the food IN the processor.  Another little adjustment.  More food and a couple of months later.  The screw fell out, the pst it screwed into broke off, a piece broke away from the lid, the bottom rim separated from the bowl again….  OK, OK, OK.  I give.  Perfectly good motor, but replacement bowls are no longer available.  I freecycled the parts that were still working and began to explore my options.

I meticulously read all the reviews and heard it over and over “Cuisinart, Cuisinart, Cuisinart.”  It was like a whisper “dark chocolate, dark chocolate with a little caramel and a touch of salt and maybe some nuts… you really NEED this.”  And after checking with a few fab bloggers who also make a lot of hummus and nut-based yum, I took the leap that a big sale made MUCH less painful and ordered this little beauty.  It came and as I removed each heavy, sturdy, sharp bit from the box it was clear to me that this was not just ANY food processor.  And so I embarked on my first cooking adventure with my new toy.  And while I will not concede the point that I NEED this device, I will say that I really LOVE having my new super-powered and suprsingly quiet awesome Cuisinart DLC-8S Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor.  And so I made beet burgers with it.  Because what else would you do with a brand spanking new food processor but cover it with beet juice as an initiation.

I started with this recipe on Post Punk Kitchen (a good place to start for most things plant-based, BTW.  As per usual, I made some changes based on what I had available, and in order to better accommodate my children, and well, because I can’t seem to help myself.  Instead of brown rice, I used leftover quinoa. Instead of lentils, black beans as I actually had a couple of cans and was starting late.  I mournfully eliminated the fennel as I suspected it would cause kid problems and I replaced the almond butter with peanut butter because it’s cheaper (there, I said it).  Had some breadcrumbs left from another dish – wouldn’t say they were fine, but it didn’t seem to be an issue.  As for procedure, I followed the directions to a tee (aren’t you proud of me),

I shredded my beets in my fabulous new knife and then used it to chop the onions and garlic because I was so happy with how the beets came out.  Onions out, quinoa, beans, and beets into miracle machine, pulsed many times until beet shreds were less shreddy and beans were less beany – whole thing looked, much to my mixed feelings, like purple meat.  Put that in bowl with remaining ingredients.  Chilled for 20 minutes (she says half an hour, I’m a bad planner).  Made patties, cooked in fabulously versatile and cheap cast iron pan which had been preheated with some oil.  Flipped after about five minutes when crust developed (watch yours, I get interrupted often in the kitchen at this point, so my timing is approximate at best).  Served as I would my favorite burger.  For me this means bread,  ketchup, lettuce, and kimchi.  Delish, and easy, and relatively quiet for such a powerful spinning knife.