Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Best Black Bean Burger with Chipotle Mayo

I have tried many a recipe for Black Bean Burgers - all of them did not measure up.  Filled with ingredients like oats, quinoa, you name it, all of them were mushy or fell apart when cooking.  I think America's Test Kitchen really found the secret to a great Black Bean Burger.  The secret is tortilla chips in place of any other binder and to let the mixture rest for one hour.

I made half the recipe (just in case) to try it out.  I swapped one ingredient and left one out since I didn't have it, but it still came out to be the best Black Bean Burger!
You will need:
1 can of your favorite Black Beans (I used Bush's) drained and rinsed
1 egg
1/4 cup tortilla chips - I had Tostitos Fajita Scoops
1 Tbsp. flour
2 scallions, chopped
1-1/2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
Salt and Pepper
Process tortilla scoops until finely ground.  Measure out to 1/4 cup and set aside.  After rinsing the black beans, let them dry for about 15 minutes on a paper towel.
In a medium size bowl, beat egg.  Add flour and whisk until well combined.  Add scallions, cilantro, garlic, cumin and salt and pepper and mix to combine.
Add beans to food processor and pulse about 5 times.  There will be some beans that are not fully ground up, but you want some texture.  Add beans and ground tortillas to egg mixture and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
In a medium saute pan, heat 2 tsp. canola oil over medium heat.  Divide mixture into thirds and form into patties.  Fry burgers about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown, adding more oil if necessary when frying the second side.  This gives you a little bit of a crispy crust - like on a grilled burger.
Get some nice Brioche buns, some chipoltle mayo, a juicy tomato, sliced raw Vidalia onion, shredded lettuce and build your burger!
Makes 3 burgers.
Chipotle Mayo:
3 Tbsp. Mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
1 Tbsp. Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
Pinch of garlic powder and salt
Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Maple-Glazed Chicken Tenderloins with Sweet Potatoes

A super quick weeknight meal with the help from refrigerated mashed potatoes!  The spicy steak seasoning just adds a kick of spice!

1 lb. 8 oz. package mashed sweet potatoes
1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
2 tsp. steak grilling seasoning blend, such as Montreal
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup scallions, sliced


Prepare sweet potatoes in microwave oven according to package directions.
Lightly coat chicken with steak seasoning.  Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken.  Cook 5 to 6 minutes until no long pink, turning once halfway through cooking.  Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm.  Stir maple syrup into hot skillet; cook 2 minutes.  Stir in green onions.

Drizzle potatoes and chicken with maple syrup mixture.

Serves 4
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Spinach Salad with Warm Cranberry Dijon Vinaigrette

This fabulous Fall salad with a warm vinaigrette pairs perfectly with grilled chicken, roast pork or you could even put the salad on a roasted turkey sandwich (Panera Bread Style).  Next time you make turkey burgers, spread one side of the bun with the cranberry mostarda.

Cranberry Mostarda

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. cornstarch

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, thyme, and 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sugar, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Continue to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining water with the cornstarch, then add to the saucepan.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring until the mostarda thickens.

Transfer to a covered, food-safe container and refrigerate for up to one month.

Mix one bag (or clamshell) of fresh baby spinach with shredded carrots.  Top with warm vinaigrette and top with sliced, toasted almonds or walnuts.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Strawberry Basil Freezer Jam

If you have never tried your hand at making homemade jams or jellies, this is an easy, quick recipe to get you started.  Capture the flavor of fresh strawberries (with a hint of fresh basil) in a soft set jam that you can freeze and have all year long.  Nothing beats the taste of fresh strawberries in the middle of winter!

This jam makes a delicious, light summer breakfast on warm, buttered biscuits, whole grain toast, or you can even use it as a topping for ice cream.

3 cups crushed, fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar
1-3/4 oz. package of fruit pectin
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil

I pulsed the strawberries slightly in the food processor to help crushed the berries.  Leave it chunky!

In a large bowl, mix the 3 cups of crushed strawberries.  Mix well to moisten the sugar.

In a small saucepan, mix the fruit pectin with 3/4 cup of water.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for one minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir pectin and water mixture into the strawberry and sugar mixture.  Stir constantly for about 3-4 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Stir in freshly chopped basil.

After the jam sets, the chunks of strawberries float to the top.  Stir to combine and distribute the berries evenly to get a burst of fresh strawberry in every bite!

Pour mixture into freezer-safe containers with tight fitting lids.  If you are not freezing the jam, pour into jam jars.  Let mixture sit at room temperature for 4 hours before transferring into freezer or fridge.  If you freeze, allow to thaw in the refrigerator.  Jam should last 2-3 weeks in the fridge or up to one year in the freezer.

Get your labels for your jars HERE!

Photo submitted to #JerseyFreshLove

Monday, April 18, 2016

Vegetarian Chili with Steel-Cut Oats

Oats for Dinner?

Adding steel-cut oats to a smoky chili with chipotle peppers makes a quick, hearty and wholesome meal.  This chili is great for lunch time leftovers and is so quick to make!  


4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup steel-cut oats
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 Tbsp. chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or to taste)
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.4 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
Sliced scallions and sharp white or yellow cheddar for garnish


Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a medium soup pot.  Add oats and quinoa and lower to a simmer.  Cook, covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally  Uncover and continue cooking until oats are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, garlic, beans and tomatoes with their juice.  Cover and simmer over low heat to allow flavors to blend.  Salt to taste.

Top with sharp cheddar and scallions.  Serve with tortilla scoops or chips or crackers.

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 5
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 305.5
  • Total Fat: 2.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 340 mg.  14%  Depending on which products you use
  • Total Carbs: 41.g 14%
  • Dietary Fiber: 9g 36%
  • Protein: 13g 26%

Patti's Time-Saving Hack

Although whole grains can take a while to cook, you can cook them and freeze them for future use.
Try this:  Cook up a big pot of grains.  When they're fully cooled, scoop half-cup portions into a cupcake baking pan sprayed with nonstick baking spray.  Stick the pan in the freezer, and when grains are frozen, pop them out of the pan and into a big plastic bag, which you can store back in the freezer.  When you need a serving of grains, grab one from the bag, toss it in the microwave, and heat it up for a minute or two.  You'll have a serving of delicious whole grains in less time than it takes to make instant rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Eggplant Meatball Parmigiana

Everyone knows that when you get a craving for Eggplant Parm, you sort of dread the process of slicing, breading and frying the eggplant.  It's the only way - unless you make some meatballs!  Crunchy on the outside, tender and full of flavor on the inside.  You can make yourself a great sandwich or top these meatballs on your favorite pasta.

3 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 eggplant, about 12 ounces), peeled and diced
2 Tbsp. water
1-1/4 Italian Style Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian Parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup canola oil
Marinara Sauce
Shredded Mozzarella & Provolone Cheese

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet and slowly cook the garlic over medium heat until golden.  Add the eggplant and 1 Tbsp. water; cover and steam the eggplant over low heat until very soft, about 10-15 minutes.  Add the remaining water only if the eggplant begins to stick to the skillet.  Stir the eggplant occasionally while it cooks.  Set aside and let it cool.

Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, salt, pepper, oregano, eggs, and cheese in a large bowl.  Stir in the eggplant, mix well and let it stand for 20 minutes.  Scoop small amounts of the mixture into your hands and form meatballs.  There should be enough to make about 12.  Roll each meatball in Panko breadcrumbs.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Fry meatballs, turning them occasionally so they brown evenly. Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray and one cup of marinara sauce.  Top with mozzarella and provolone cheese.  Be sure to leave some of the meatballs exposed to keep them crispy.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese melted and browned.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Cherry-Dark Chocolate Pistachio Bars

This is a basic mixture to make those fruit and nut bars that cost an arm and a leg!
Use any mixture of nuts and fruit that your imagination can dream up.
The nuts are a bit costly, but there are no preservatives in these bars and once you buy the basics, you can make them for a lot less.

The brown crispy rice cereal and brown rice syrup are readily available in the organic section of your supermarket.
1 cup roasted & salted pistachios
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almond or raw cashews
1/2 cup cherry craisans
1/2 cup crispy brown rice cereal
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon whole golden flaxseeds
1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla
1 tsp. honey (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper.
Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the syrup, almond butter, salt and vanilla until combined.  Gently fold into nut mixture until completely incorporated.  This mixture is very sticky.  Spray your hands lightly with cooking spray to help manage the mixture.  Transfer mixture evenly into prepared baking dish.

Spray the bottom of a drinking glass with cooking spray.  Press down mixture and pack into the pan.  Be sure there are no air pockets.

Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow bars to cool completely in pan on a wire rack.  Refrigerate or freeze for faster cooling.

Lift cooled bars from pan with the parchment paper.  Cut into 12 rectangles with a serrated knife.  Remove bars from parchment and wrap individually in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cauliflower Bechamel with Tri-Color Penne

This is a great change of pace from a heavy cream sauce for pasta.  I have been seriously watching my cholesterol intake for the past few months, and today I found out that my LDL level is down 26 points!  You don't need to take medication if you eat well!  There are so many pasta options now - choose your weapon~!
4 cups chopped cauliflower (1 medium)
1-1/2 cups Skim Plus 100% Fat Free Milk
2 Tbsp. Smart Balance Buttery Spread
1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used Barilla Tri-color Penne)
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine, chicken or veggie broth
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste.


In a large saucepan combine cauliflower and milk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered 8-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender.  Add cauliflower mixture to blender, add Smart Balance and blend until smooth.  Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is cooking,  heat oil in a large saucepan.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly tender.  Stir in wine or stock.  Stir in cauliflower puree.

Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.  Add pasta to saucepan.  Add nutmeg, lemon zest, Parmesan, parsley and salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Add pasta cooking liquid if pasta seems too dry.  Serve warm with additional grated cheese.

~Adapted from ShopRite Culinary Kitchen 

Friday, February 12, 2016

CrockPot Chicken 'n' Dumplings

Warm up during this cold snap with a steamy bowl of old-fashioned Chicken "n" Dumplings.  It really doesn't get any easier to make this tasty comfort food.  


1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 can Pillsbury Crescent Roll Sheet
Chopped fresh parsley
Additional freshly ground black pepper


Spray 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.  In slow cooker, mix both soups, broth and onion and carrots.  Arrange chicken in slow cooker.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with butter.

Cover, cook on LOW setting for 5-1/2 hours.  Uncover, shred chicken using two forks and return chicken to slow cooker.

On work surface, unroll crescent roll dough.  Cut into 1" x 3" strips.  Place strips in stew, pressing gently with back of spoon to submerge into liquid.  Cover and cook on HIGH an additional 30 minutes or until dumpling are cooked through.  Sprinkle with addition pepper.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Barley-Lime Fiesta Salad

When the weather is cold, a big pot of soup simmering on the stove warms the heart.  Adding some whole grain barley to the pot will improve your health along with the flavor of any soup or stew you are cooking.

Barley is a good source of fiber, Vitamin B1, magnesium and niacin.  Barley also makes a great salad!  It's a great grain with a chewy pasta-like consistency that works well in this Mexican-style barley salad.  


1 cup pearl barley
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 green pepper, minced
1/2 red pepper, minced
1 small can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes and green chilis
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped fine
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp. lime zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. Cholula Hot Sauce (or to taste)
Salt and Pepper


Rinse barley in cold water.  Add to saucepan with 2 cups water and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until barley is tender, about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and chill.

In a large bowl combine cooked barley, black beans, green and red peppers, corn, celery, red onion, carrot, Ro-tel tomatoes (undrained), 1 Tbsp. canola oil, salt, pepper and cumin.  Mix to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the water, sugar, 2 Tbsp. canola oil, lime juice, hot sauce, cilantro, lime zest and red wine vinegar.  Pour dressing over barley mixture and toss to combine.  Refrigerate until chilled.
This salad just gets better the longer it sits.  Go perfect with any Mexican meal or great to bring to a party!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mediterranean Winter ChickPea Pasta Salad

Everyone enjoys a good pasta salad during the summer months when veggies are at their peak.  During the winter, tomatoes, especially, suffer from lack of taste, texture and flavor.  This is a delicious, warm pasta salad made with chickpea pasta!  If you love pasta (and who doesn't) but are trying to watch your carbs or just want to start eating healthy for the new year, this is a great recipe.  High in protein and fiber, this is a nice additional to your pantry on a night that you just need a pasta fix!  The folks at Banza sent in their "Banza Boys" to the local ShopRite to give everyone a sample of their pasta. 
Banza is a small team based in Detroit with a big goal:  To change food for the better!  By making pasta from chickpeas instead of wheat, they have discovered that pasta can be as healthy as it is delicious!

Mediterranean Winter Pasta Salad

1 8 oz. box Banza Shells
1 5 oz. clamshell Organic Baby Spinach
2/3 cup marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1 red roasted pepper, drained and chopped
6 sun-dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup marinated kalamata olives halved
1 plump clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup liquid from marinated artichoke hearts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
Salt and Pepper to taste


Bring 6 inches of water to a boil in a large pot.  Salt boiling water and add pasta.  Cook according to package directions or until desired tenderness.  While pasta is cooking, roughly chop baby spinach.  Add spinach into colander where you will drain your pasta.  When pasta is cooked, drain directly over spinach to wilt slightly.  Transfer warm spinach and pasta to a large bowl.  Add artichoke hearts, onion, roasted red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes and olives and mix to combine.

In a one cup measure, combine marinade liquid, olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.  Combine with pasta mixture.  Serve warm with feta cheese crumbles.

Visit Banza to learn about the benefits of chickpeas and for more creative Banza recipes!
You can find Banza on Facebook
Twitter and Instagram
 And yes - their pasta is available nationwide at Wegmans, ShopRite, Whole Foods & Fairway- among many other retailers.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

Making homemade sausage is easier than you think!  Mix your own sausage and it can be free of preservatives that are found in processed foods.  To cut the fat, these sweet and savory sausages can be made with ground chicken or turkey.

You can easily make these into patties - but if you get a bit more ambitious, you can have the traditional shaped sausage without using any casings.
Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Gala or Honeycrisp apple, grated
1/2 cup grated sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, ground
Dash of paprkia
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 lb. ground chicken


Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add apple and onion.  Cook about 2 minutes or until apple and onion begin to release their juices, about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.  Set aside to cool.

If you are grinding your own chicken, cut boneless, skinless pieces into one-inch cubes.  Place in food processor in batches.  Cover and pulse until the ground meat holds together.  Do not over process.

In a medium bowl, place chicken, cooled apple and onion mixture, parsley, poultry seasoning, thyme leaves, ground fennel, paprika and salt and pepper.  Mix well with your hands, just to combine.  Refrigerate one hour for flavors to blend.

To make sausage:

Place one piece of plastic wrap, approximately 12 x 16 on counter top.  Place 1/3 cup of sausage mixture in the center.  Fold over plastic wrap and mold into a cylinder.  Twist ends in the opposite direction and tie ends.  Cut off any excess plastic wrap.

Fill a medium saute pan about 2/3 cup filled water water.  Bring to a low simmer.  Lower sausages into barely simmering water.  Cover and poach until cooked, about 10 minutes.

Remove from simmering water and let cool enough to handle.  At this point you can refrigerate or freeze.

All the juices are trapped inside these little bundles.

Remove water from skillet.  Dry with a paper towel and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter and heat over medium heat.  Cut end of sausage casing with scissors and squeeze out sausage (along with the juices) into saute pan.  Saute until most of the liquid evaporates and sausage are nicely browned on all sides.

Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and a stack of pancakes or waffles.  This makes a great "breakfast for dinner" meal.


Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...