Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fiesta Veggie Burgers

We all know that when the craving for a cheeseburger hits, there is no squelching it.  This is why, after a few hours of enduring a growling stomach at work, I decided to concoct a veggie burger recipe once I got home.
I went on a camping trip over the summer where I had black bean veggie burgers for the first time, and I've been craving them ever since!  They were so substantial that I honestly didn't miss the meat.

I love spicy food, so I decided to take this recipe the Mexican route.  To be honest though,  I feel like veggie burgers are usually everything-but-the-kitchen-sink recipes, so you can add whatever you want. Hmmm...maybe Greek fusion next time?  The only rule to keep in mind is to try to avoid adding any additional moisture to the mix, as it will make the patties crumbly.

You will need:

2 cans black beans (15oz)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 diced yellow squash, sauteed
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup diced mushrooms, sauteed
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup oats
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, and sriracha to taste

First, pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets lightly with olive oil.
In a large mixing bowl, mash rinsed and dried black beans with a fork (I used an old potato masher) until they are the consistency of a paste.  Try to avoid introducing excess moisture by patting the mushrooms and squash dry after they have been sauteed, and then add them to the bean mixture.  Bell pepper, onion, garlic, and oats can be added at this point as well.
In a separate, small bowl beat one large egg and the spices, cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes  (you could probably also use store-bought taco seasoning).  Add the egg mixture to the large bowl, and moosh all ingredients together with your hands.  Add salt, pepper, and sriracha as needed.
Coat hands in olive oil, shape bean mixture into patties, and place on greased cookie sheet.  The veggie burgers will be in the oven for a total of 20 minutes, but flip them over after ten minutes so they cook thoroughly.

These burgers are good enough to eat on their own with some ketchup and avocado, but you can also add cheese, or eat them with a toasted wheat bun.  The options really are limitless..What would you think about a pineapple teriyaki veggie burger?

This recipe provided enough mixture to make nine veggie burger patties, which was plenty considering the fact that I was full after eating one.
I'm sure leftovers would be great with eggs for breakfast, or in a corn tortilla with avocado for lunch.  In Cabo San Lucas. With a margarita.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Melanie Favreau

This weekend I received my first ever Etsy purchase: two pair of adorable silver post earrings.

I am extremely 'no fuss' when it comes to jewelry, and prefer to wear no earrings over wearing a pair of chandeliers or hoops.  I also have really sensitive ears, so I always need to double check that the earrings I do wear are pure silver, and not just silver coated.

This being said, I was pumped when I received my shipment from Melanie Favreau's online jewelry shop.  Here she is:

 Melanie sells her earrings individually, so I guess I actually ordered four separate items, rather than two.  She creates an assortment of earrings with varying shapes and sizes, which makes it fun to mix and match.

I ordered one pair of trapezoid shaped studs, and one pair of the chevrons.  I tried on the trapezoids first and have not taken them out once since I put them in my ears!  I love these shapes because they remind me of a game I used to play when I was younger...

Did any of you play with these blocks as kids?  The red ones were always my favorites...Look familiar?

They are small enough to be able to wear them with anything, yet they make a statement when they are noticed.  I love them, and have already begun to add more of Melanie's items into my virtual shopping cart.

Etsy, I have discovered, is an online goldmine.  So many creative minds and gifted hands at work in this world of ours!

Order yourself a pair of these beauties.  I promise you will love them!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Osteria Monte Grappa

Buongiorno! Last night I traveled to Italy.  Well, not really.  At least not physically. Gastronomically, however, I was sitting on the balcony of my hostel in Assisi watching a glorious Italian sunset and indulging in all of the beautiful things Italian cuisine has to offer.  

This nostalgia tends to kick in whenever I eat at one of my favorite restaurants: Osteria Monte Grappa.

One of my girlfriends and I decided that it had been too long since we had traveled, a feeling which we chose to remedy with large amounts of mozzarella, basil, and wine. 

 Speaking of wine, we accidentally ordered an entire bottle of this red blend: 

It's called Red4, a blend of Syrah, Petit Sirah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.  Reasonably priced...and extremely drinkable.

Both of us prefer to order dishes tapas style, rather than one heavier dish, so that's what we did.  

First, we started off with these bad boys: Bruschetta Al Pomodoro Fresco. 

I have tried making my own versions of bruschetta so many times, and they never come close to these.  I am obsessed.

Next, we went for the Burrata E Fragole, which is essentially all of my favorite foods on one plate; the perfect blend of mozzarella, strawberries, avocado, and balsamic vinegar. 

Worst salad I have ever ordered...

Finally, we ordered the Antipasto Cima Grappa, a smorgasbord of olives, beets, Italian meats, and cheeses. 

 I had the most intense Déjà vu when I was eating this dish.  
As I ate the salami and cheese from the platter, I was taken back to my European travels when I was in high school.  
Anyone who's ever stayed in a youth hostel in Europe knows that the food options are limited, and consist predominantly of white rolls, salami, cheese, and nutella.  
This dish was essentially all of those items combined into a more refined presentation.  
Funny tricks your senses can play on you, huh?

I love this restaurant.  Not only because they use local and organic produce in their cooking and make delicious food, but also because I used to work in this same shop years ago.  
Before it was an Italian restaurant, the space was occupied by a British tea shop, which also doubled as my high school job. Unfortunately, the tea shop eventually went out of business.  But on the bright side, Monte Grappa is a great alternative! 

A mural of Humpty Dumpty and Little Bo Peep's lost sheep still decorates the walls in a very "tea-shopy" way.  See?

So, I guess the moral of the story here is: you must eat at Osteria Monte Grappa.  The service is always exceptional, the food never disappoints, and the ambiance is exactly what you need put up your feet(probably shouldn't try this) and relax after a long day.  

Osteria Monte Grappa
242 E. Ojai Ave
Ojai, CA. 93023
*Seating for lunch and dinner