Spiced Black Bean Burgers (a.k.a. the Instant Classic)

In all my years as a vegetarian, I have never made a veggie burger this good. It held its shape when cooking, tasted amazing, it’s high in protein and nutrients, and it stands its ground in the burger game. From now on I’m going to use this as my base for burgers and go from there—if you can’t tell I’m seriously happy with the results.

I need you to understand how hungry I was when I was taking these photos. I get pretty excited over a good veggie burger, especially when they’re homemade and don’t fall apart on the grill or pan. I took a bite half way through shooting and sloppily took the remaining shots while trying not to get burger crumbs all over my camera lens (unsuccessfully, may I add).

I wrote up this post, saved it as a draft and it all got deleted (gah)! So in a fit of tired half-assed rage I re-typed it (never as good as the original rantings, of course) and that’s what you’re looking at now. I based my recipe off of this one from The Pioneer Woman, but instead of cooking mine all up at once I froze or refrigerated most of mine; I separated them with parchment paper to make sure they didn’t all stick. I found that after a day in the fridge the patties really firmed up and the flavours developed even more.

Sidenote: My friend and I started up a little photography business in Toronto called Social Imagery, give us a look!

Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 2 (19 oz.) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • 1 1/3 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp. grated white onion
  • 3 tbsp. green onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh jalapeno, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 drops liquid smoke
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp. hot sauce of choice (optional)
  • 6 burger buns (optional)
  • Toppings of choice for garnish (e.g. avocado, spinach, jalapeno)

Method

Place black beans in a large bowl and use a potato masher to mash them. Work them until they’re mostly broken up, but still have some whole beans visible (imagine “smashed” not “mashed”). Add panko, both onion types, jalapeno, egg, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke, chili powder, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Stir until everything is combined, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil with an equal amount of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat (if using cast iron, heat the pan before adding oil or butter to avoid sticking). Form the bean mixture into patties slightly larger than the buns you’re using; the patties will not shrink when they cook (this is a great tip from The Pioneer Woman).

This was taken with my phone in the making--not the best quality but it gives you an idea of what the patties should look like!

This was taken with my phone in the making–not the best quality but it gives you an idea of what the patties should look like!

Place the patties in the skillet and cook them about 5 minutes on the first side, covered with a lid. Flip them to the other side and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the burgers are heated through and browned on the outside.

If using, grill the buns until golden. Spread the buns with your favourite toppings (I used avocado and hot sauce), then place the patties on the buns. Finish up your toppings and you’re all set!

Black bean burgers

Low-Sodium Potato Waffles

If you’re anything like me, your stomach can’t handle a sugar-overload kind of breakfast. I love pancake, waffles and french toast just as much as the next person, but I actually prefer them later in the day or I’ll probably feel like I should just crawl back into bed. These waffles give you something fun to eat for breakfast while still keeping you feeling good.

As some of you may have seen, April is going to feature all low-sodium recipes on The Vegetarian Ginger. I see it as an initiative to stop leaning on salt as a flavour crutch and to expand out to try different cooking techniques, seasonings and ingredients.

Admittedly the photos for these didn’t turn out great—it was the morning and I wanted to eat. The most important part is that the recipe works well and you can throw them together in half an hour (or use leftovers for super quick ones). The only issue I had while cooking these was that the outer edges weren’t getting crispy; if I waited for them to crisp up, the middle burnt. I cooked mine on a lower heat and pressed down on the waffle maker which helped a bit as well. It’s still safe to eat the outer edges if they’re a bit softer though. I adapted this recipe from here.

Sidenote: I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions lately about cookware—specifically on what pots and pan are best for certain dishes, and how to safely clean and store everything. I big question that people seem to have is how to cook on a cast iron pan without lots of sticking. The easy answer to that one is heat the pan before adding any oil or butter, but if you’re looking for a more in-depth lesson you can check it out here.

Potato Waffles

Ingredients

Makes 6 waffles

  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (6 potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Minced jalapeno for garnish
  • Shredded cheese for garnish

Method

Melt butter over medium heat in a small pan. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until aromas rise from the pan. Add garlic, stir for one minute, then add in pepper and dill. Allow to cook for 5 minutes on low heat until softened.

Preheat a waffle iron to medium-low heat and coat to prevent sticking.

Combine onion mixture, mashed potatoes, flour, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Scoop 1/2 cup batter into the centre of your waffle iron, close the lid tightly and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately with sour cream, jalapenos and cheese.

Potato Waffles

Peppered Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

I will be one of many to admit that I’m in denial of winter still clinging to its last few weeks. Toronto has been a cluster of warm, sunny days mixed with snow-covered cars and winds. This has resulted in some very entertaining people watching since there are some who are still in full-blown winter mode (hat, mitts, scarf, down jacket, etc.) and some who are wearing shorts (yes, shorts in March in Canada, I know). I’m not quite in that deep in denial, but I am to the point that I’m planning cottage trips and making desserts that will at some point require fresh summer peaches.

Unfortunately, in the time being, I had to use frozen peaches instead of fresh because it’s just what I had on hand. Obviously this makes a big difference in flavour and texture but either way they still tasted amazing.

I also only had about a handful of peaches left in the bag because I didn’t plan ahead very well, so I just sliced up some apple and used that instead of peach on some of them. Still tasted great. I’m sure you could do this with mango, orange slices, berries, etc. whatever you have on hand that you want to use up.

If you’ve never worked with puff pastry before, know that it is tricky and may look a little ugly if you make mistakes but it will almost always taste good and look impressive after baking. You need to thaw it out (don’t try to use it half-thawed, it won’t work and you’ll be annoyed) and it can dry out or be sticky if you wait too long. I basically kept mine in the fridge right up until I had to cut it into pieces and that worked well for me. I found this recipe on Some The Wiser.

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

Ingredients

Makes 6 tarts

  • 1 large sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 5oz. goat cheese, softened
  • 1 cup peach slices, fresh or frozen*
  • Black pepper to garnish
  • 4-5 tbsp. honey, for drizzling

*If you’re using frozen, thaw out your peaches in the fridge overnight.

Method

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut sheet of puff pastry into 6 rough squares (I used a pizza cutter); they don’t have to be perfect. Slather on some goat cheese onto each one, leaving a small border around the edges. If your cheese is being uncooperative and crumbly, microwave it for 20 seconds so it spreads easily. Lay your peaches (or other fruit of choice) on top of the cheese, then grind a small amount of black pepper onto the tops of the fruit.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until puffy and golden brown on the edges. Drizzle a bit of honey on the top of each tart and they’re ready to serve!

Pepper Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey


 

COMING IN APRIL

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April on The Vegetarian Ginger is going to feature all low-sodium or salt-free recipes. Share your tips and join in!

Quick Cowboy Cookies

What’s a cowboy cookie? It’s essentially like an oatmeal cookie went on Pimp My Ride (oh hey, 2004 MTV reference) and became extra-awesome.

This cookie mix was actually given to me in a jar as a gift by my boyfriend at Christmas with the instructions attached. Just like these brownies I made a few months back, I had to tweak the instructions to make sure it made sense to people who are making it from scratch.

Sidenote: I bought a crêpe pan, so any awesome recipes you have for those please send my way. Also, I am going to be visiting New York at the end of March and I really want to see as many amazing foodie places as I can. Any suggestions?

Cowboy Cookies

Ingredients

Makes 24 cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add in both sugars and loosely mix. Fold in pecan pieces and chocolate chips, then add the dry mix into the wet mix, stirring well with a fork or your hands, if you don’t mind the mess.*

Line two baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper. Form dough into roughly 24 walnut-sized balls, then bake in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months. If you want them extra gooey, throw them in the microwave for 15 seconds before eating.

Cowboy Cookie

Paleo Blueberry Pumpkin Breakfast Bars

Breakfast is a fickle time. Some people don’t have time or desire to throw anything together in the morning. Others love it, but sometimes it can get repetitive—a variation of eggs, toast, maybe some vegetables or ham for you meat eaters out there. Muffins are good sometimes but end up being filled with more sugar than dessert and lack actual nutrition. These bars take elements from all breakfast eaters’ habits and combine them: easy to make, grab-and-go, and healthy.

These were made gluten-free with coconut flour but you could easily make them with all-purpose flour as well. You can also get flexible with the toppings—I almost tripled how much crumble to put on top because I like a good crunch. I also added in a bunch of assorted nuts and seeds, and used sweetened coconut. Like I said, get creative and make your own. This is just a guideline. I adapted this recipe from PaleOMG.

The one major thing I would change is the amount of flour used in the batter. It ended up being really moist, which is fine if that’s your thing, but I wanted mine to be a little bit firmer. I ended up waiting for mine to cool, cutting them up into bars, then baking them on my cooling racks in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 20 extra minutes.

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

Makes 8 bars

For the crust:

  • ⅓ cup pumpkin purée
  • ⅓ cup real maple syrup (none of that Aunt Jemima stuff)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves, ⅛ teaspoon powdered ginger)
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

For the blueberry layer:

  • 2 cups of frozen blueberries work, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2 tbsp. coconut cream concentrate
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Zest of ½ a lemon
  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour

For the crumble:

  • ½ cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used pecans and blanched almonds)
  • 3 tbsp. sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp. pepitas, chopped
  • ½ tsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 tbsp. raw hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together pumpkin purée, maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together coconut flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, powdered ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.

Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish, then cut a piece of parchment paper down so it can fit into the baking dish, leaving two sides out of the baking dish. This way you can pick the bars out of the dish without breaking them apart.

Pour the batter into the lined baking sheet and spread out evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cooked completely through.

While the crust bakes, place a small saucepan over medium heat and add blueberries. Add honey, coconut cream concentrate, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well. Once the blueberries begin to burst, remove from heat, pour out half the liquid, and add coconut flour. Mix until completely combined. Let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken up. When the crust is done cooking, pour the blueberry mixture on top.

In a bowl, add nuts and seeds, coconut, honey, cinnamon and salt and mix together and mix. Add clumps of the nuts to the top of the blueberry mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, then place on a cool rack to cool for 5 more minutes before cutting into 6-8 squares. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Paleo Breakfast Bars

Pumpkin Tequila Chili

I love chili. While it’s easy enough to make at home with the basics—tomatoes, onion, beans, broth—I often find I can’t reduce it down to the level of thickness I really want. That’s why when I saw this recipe, I got excited right away. It’s described as a “hearty spoon-stands-up-on-its-own” chili. Hungry yet?

My favourite go-to canned veggie chili is Stag. I have tried to replicate it a few times but have yet to succeed, although this recipe matches the consistency perfectly. Using pumpkin thickens up the broth and adds a ton of vitamins and flavour that you wouldn’t be getting otherwise.

This recipe is from Thug Kitchen’s cookbook, which if you haven’t had the pleasure of looking through I suggest you wander over to your nearest bookstore and flip through it. It’s fantastic. The writing is hilarious and the photos are killer. The tequila was my addition to the recipe. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, booze makes all recipes better.

Pumpkin Tequlia Chili

Ingredients

Serves 4-6 people

  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bell pepper of your choice, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, minced*
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2½ tbsp. mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 cap fulls of tequila
  • 1 (14.5oz) can low-salt diced tomatoes
  • 1½ cups pumpkin purée**
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups cooked beans of your choice
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

*If you want a little less spice, de-seed the jalapeño. Be careful to wash your hands afterwards though—that could be unpleasant.

** I thought this was common sense but in the original recipe, they note not to use pumpkin pie filling because it will turn out disgusting.

Method

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and pepper and sauté them until a strong aroma comes off and they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, soy sauce and spices, stirring together and allowing it all to cook for about 1 minute. Add the tequila and allow to burn down, then add the tomatoes, pumpkin, broth and beans; stir well to mix.

Turn down the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done, remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and top with cilantro. Get creative with extra garnish by adding sliced avocado, tortilla strips and sliced jalapeño.

Pumpkin Tequlia Chili

Lentil “Meatballs” in Lemon Pesto Sauce

Ever since I was a kid, I was pretty picky with the meats I would eat. Ground beef was always “meh” in my books at best (leading a strict diet of burger buns and soda at summer barbecues). Meatballs were good because they were loaded up with sauce and surrounded by pasta, but I probably wouldn’t have favoured them on their own. Making vegetarian meatballs is, in my mind anyway, way more tasty (and healthy, if you’re into that kind of thing).

One thing I love about this recipe (among the many reasons there are to love it) is that it doesn’t use soy. I’m not against soy in any sense, but I know that eating it all the time isn’t supposed to be great for you and it can get boring. Any long term vegetarian will know the feel of going to a restaurant and having a bland tofu substitute while their friends eat amazing looking seafood and steak. This is a recipe I’d like to think of as less of a substitution, and more as a first choice.

This recipe is from Sprouted Kitchen, a blog that one of my friends recently showed me and I am in awe every time I look at the photographs. The same friend made these meatballs for a Christmas party and they were devoured and actively sought after. Since then I’ve been meaning to make them, but I’m just getting around to it now and I wanted to give them a go to see how I can make them my own.

Not only do these pack protein and iron like crazy, they also have tons of flavour and hold their shape well in pasta dishes, sandwiches, or just as an appetizer. If you’re looking to make these gluten-free, you can sub in some rolled oats and gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Vegetarian Lentil Meatballs

Ingredients

Makes 18 small meatballs

For the mealballs:

  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. sea salt and black pepper
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used panko)

For the lemon pesto sauce:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup pinenuts
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan, grated
  • 2 tbsp. water, to thin

Method

In the bowl of a food processor, pulverize the lentils into mush. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add in the beaten eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let the mix sit for 20 minutes. This will allow the mixture to set and the flavours to develop. Rinse out the food processor as you will need it for the sauce.

Lentil meatball mix

For the lemon pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor and run until smooth. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until it has a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add in small amounts of water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1-inch round ball between your palms—if it holds together, it’s ready. If it seems pretty wet, sticks to your hands and falls apart, stir in another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs until the ball stays together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into small balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don’t need lots of space between, they won’t spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil.

Lentil meatball mix

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly before serving. Serve hot with lemon pesto sauce thickly drizzled overtop. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days and stick them into sandwiches, pastas, soups and salads.

Lentil Meatball

A Guide to French Macarons

French macarons are known to be one of the trickiest cookies to master at home. They are often described as finicky, delicate, and down-right rage-inducing.

First and foremost, I watched this video from Entertaining with Beth on how to get a flawless batch of macarons. I used her recipe for the cookie element and used a basic buttercream recipe for the filling. This was my first attempt at them and I couldn’t be happier. My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t get “feet” on my cookies. The signature feet on macarons are the part that anchors the base of the cookie and the tops; it should appear ruffled and airy.

There are so many great tips in her video that I need to share. I would have been completely stranded otherwise. Sifting the almond meal and sugar to rid of lumps and allowing the batter to sit before baking are two very important and essential steps (more detail below in the instructions).

A couple of things I would change—I used a small tip to pipe the batter which was a small mistake (the recipe is still very doable) it just took much longer. Using an inch tip will help move things along much quicker. There is a part of the process where you need to bang the cookie sheet on the counter to release air bubbles; if piping takes too long, you may struggle to get air bubbles out because the tops of the cookies thicken. If this does happen and you see air bubbles under the surface that aren’t rising up, simply get a toothpick and lightly tap wherever you see bubbles.

Once your cookies come out of the oven they should have the consistency of eggshells on the top, and be slightly chewy in the centre. I botched one or two while piping them out which ended up being my taste testers.

French Macarons

Ingredients

Makes 24-30 macarons

For the cookies:

  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Food colouring of your choice (I used red gel colouring)

For the buttercream filling:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2-3 drops red food colouring

French Macarons

Method

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Separate the egg whites from the eggs; discard yolks. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and mix until frothy. Add in salt, cream of tartar and granulated sugar, then mix on high for 8-10 minutes until still peaks form (really, they shouldn’t be runny at all).

Add the desired amount of food colouring. I used red gel dye, but you can use drops or any other colour you want. In my experience pale colours are more flattering to the cookie.

Sift almond meal and confectioners’ sugar. If you’re like me and don’t own a sifter, you can use a fine sieve and run the mixture through that to get rid of any chunks. This makes a huge difference in the final product so do not skip this step.

Fold the almond meal/sugar mixture into your egg white mixture by hand. Take note: mixing will make or break your macarons. Under mix and they will mound and crack—over mix and they will be too flat and lack feet (in case you missed what “feet” are, read above). I mixed mine with exactly 75 turns of a rubber spatula, making sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl often; the consistency felt and looked similar to melted marshmallow. Fit a piping bag with a 1-inch tip and fill with batter.

Pipe out 1-inch rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (not greased, not wax paper). Once you finish piping out one pan, grab either side of the cookie sheet and bang it hard on the counter 4-5 times to release air bubbles. If you can see air bubbles but they do not pop on their own, use a toothpick. Repeat until all the batter has been piped.

Again, this is a key step in gaining your feet. Allow the cookies to rest, unbaked, for 20 minutes on the counter before putting them into the oven. When the time finally comes to bake them, only do one sheet at a time so ensure they bake evenly. Once they have rested, bake each pan for exactly 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow them to cool before trying to transfer them.

Meanwhile mix the buttercream. In a small bowl, mix together butter, sugar, vanilla and desired food colouring. It may not look like a large amount, but a little bit goes a long way in this recipe. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch tip or use a small flat spatula to ice the cookies.

Gently reverse cookie shells on their backs, and pipe a small mound of filling on one of them. Top with the other shell, and repeat until all cookies have been used to sandwich some buttercream filling. Your French macarons are ready to be gawked at and devoured.

French Macarons

French Macarons

Seven(ish) Layer Taco Dip

Taco night will never be the same.

Picture the perfect taco. In my mind, it’s got guacamole (obviously), cheese, sour cream, beans, tomatoes and something to give it a kick. This dip blends all the best toppings for vegetarian tacos and makes it easier than ever to O.D. on Mexican food.

This is great to serve at a party with all kinds of dippable foods: crackers, tortillas, veggie sticks, etc. On less dignified days, I could probably eat it with a spoon. It’s super customizable and can be altered depending on how much spice you like, what dietary restrictions you have, and whether or not you want to go into a food coma.

Seven Layer Taco Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 (454g) can of vegetarian refried beans
  • 5 small avocados, pitted and mashed
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (28g) packet of taco seasoning or 4 tbsp. of a homemade spice blend
  • 2 cups cheese of your choice (I used a habanero heat pre-shredded mix, plus some shredded mild cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 2-3 canned jalapenos, sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Method

Get a large baking dish, or a dish with deep enough sides to hold a couple inches worth of dip.

Spread the entire can of beans out on the bottom of the dish. This is your first layer. Next, mash together the avocados, lime juice, salt and pepper. I wouldn’t go too heavy-handed on the seasoning because the canned beans and taco seasoning will add plenty of flavour (*ahem* sodium). Spread this out on top of the bean layer.

In a food processor, blend together the cream cheese and sour cream with the taco seasoning. Spread this on top of the avocado layer. Sprinkle the cheese of your choice on top. Then comes the tomatoes, corn, jalapenos and scallions. Serve at room temperature or chilled. This dish will stay good for several days as long as it is stored in the fridge (covered).

Seven Layer Taco Dip

Deep Dish Whisky Cream Cheese Brownies

I know, the title is a bit of a mouthful. But when you have whisky, cream cheese and rich walnut brownies all swirled into one enormous mess, you want to make sure people know what they’re in for.

My boyfriend gave me a “brownie in a mason jar” kit for Christmas, which is basically all of the dry ingredients you need to make a batch of brownies layered and pre-mixed so you can just add butter and eggs and get to it. I decided to modify it a bit by throwing in the cream cheese and whisky because really, who doesn’t want that.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to cook with more booze. Every time I add beer to stew, wine to risotto or whisky to baked goods, it always gives it an extra kick that’s hard to find elsewhere; you can also take a sip or two (*cough* or more than two) while you’re at it.
Deep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream Cheese

Ingredients

For the brownies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  •  3 tbsp. whisky

For the cream cheese filling:

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg*

*I didn’t have an egg for this part since I forgot I needed 5 and I only had 4. I ended up using about a tablespoon of mayonnaise (stop grimacing) and it worked perfectly.

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Stir all dry ingredients together in one bowl (from flour to walnuts in the ingredient list) until well combined. Thoroughly mix in melted butter, eggs and whisky. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is flexible. Beat in flour, sugar and egg and mix for 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared baking pan. Spread all of the cream cheese mixture evenly over top of the first layer of brownie batter. Pour remaining brownie batter over top, and swirl with a fork or spatula the mix with the cream cheese.**

Bake for roughly 40-45 minutes until a toothpick can be cleanly inserted into the centre. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then careful transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled. Serve warm with ice cream and syrup or eat as is.

**Mine wasn’t that pretty since it was my first attempt and I semi messed up. Make your own patterns and show me up.

Deep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream CheeseDeep Dish Brownies with Whisky and Cream Cheese