A Recipe | Black Bean Burger with Cilantro and Cumin on a Toasted Brioche Bun

Growing up, my family didn’t do much cooking. My mom mostly made recipes handed down from my grandmother; tried and true classics like homemade pizza, chicken pot pie, lasagna, and apple crunch (don’t get me wrong, there is something to be said about the hand-me-down foolproof recipes – but more on that later!). All of these dishes air on the less healthy side of the food spectrum. When my dad started cleaning up his act, running marathons and doing Iron Mans (which are just really long triathlons), well needless to say, he cleaned up his diet too. Though I don’t like to admit it, my affinity for healthy eating is due in large part to him.

For this reason, I’m very fortunate to be drawn to healthy grains and proteins, fruits, and seasonal vegetables. There’s so much I love about the Christmas season, but why did we make it a time to pig out on cookies and cakes?! I love me some sweets as much as the next person, but this girl needs a break. So if you need me, you’ll find me south of the border (The U.S. border for those of you reading from afar).

I don’t really know why, but I have been craving a black bean burger lately. Maybe it’s because of all the sugary, seasonal eats. Or maybe I’m wanting to escape to a warmer climate where I can sip cocktails on the beach. Either way, I’ll follow my taste buds. There’s a local restaurant that serves up a killer black bean burger! I get it almost every time we go in. It is drizzled with some kind of sauce and topped with melted cheese. Add to that a simple side salad and a nice IPA to finish it off! This is my own recreation of that dish, a nostalgia of warm, summer days, and all things south of the border!

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Black bean burgers are delicious, nutritious, and very easy to make. When I thought about how I wanted my burger to taste, I knew I wanted a classic black bean burger with a little bit of kick. I didn’t want it to overpower the burger, but to complement it in a pleasing way. Cumin is essential to a black bean burger. Just trust me on this one. Whatever else you throw in there, make sure cumin is in there too. Cumin has kind of an earthy taste that lends itself very well to the black beans. I think anything else would have been too spicy.

And then there’s the cilantro. Oh I love me some cilantro. Perfect in any Mexican dish like guacamole or a Mexican quinoa dish I make which I will share later! Too much cilantro and it’s overpowering but just right and it’s a wonderful kick to add to any dish. That’s the role cilantro plays in this black bean burger.

To complete this south of the border inspired burger, place on a toasted brioche bun (any type of bun will do but the brioche seemed like a heartier option) and melt some swiss cheese or cheese of your choice. I added a simple side salad with kale and thinly sliced radishes. Not pictured: Rockmill’s Witbier Ale brewed with spices. I don’t think it technically goes but it was a gift from a friend and anything from Rockmill is good any time of the year. Besides, we aren’t as picky as those winos ; ).

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Recipe |  Black Bean Burger with Cumin and Cilantro

Makes 2 burgers

Ingredients:

1 can black beans

1 egg

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mash up the black beans with a fork or potato masher. You want most of the beans to be mashed with a few whole beans throughout. Add in the bread crumbs, egg, cumin, cilantro, and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Form into a patty (note: these patties do not expand like a hamburger, so make it the size you want it) and place on a skillet – I used my cast iron skillet with a little cooking spray. Cook on medium heat until both sides are browned. Place your cheese on top and cover to melt; 1-2 minutes. If you want to toast your bread, rub some butter on both the top and bottom of your bread and place in the warm cast iron skillet (making sure it doesn’t burn) to get a toasty brown color.

Serve with a simple salad and a cold beer! Enjoy!

Made from Scratch | Make Your Own Holiday Wreath

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Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all prepared for today’s festivities! There’s nothing more warm or comforting than spending quality time with the people we love. Even though I love Thanksgiving, I’m really looking forward to Christmas! And if there’s one thing I despise most during the Christmas season, it’s tacky and fake decorations. There is so much beauty in the natural world and it is just waiting to be discovered. You could pay around $20 for a pre-made wreath that doesn’t look that great anyway, or a couple bucks for a wreath you can make yourself. All you need is a wire or wooden frame, some scissors, and twine. Most of all you need some greenery. Real pine is free and it’s beautiful. The only downside is the needles fall off like crazy after a while. So, if you want your wreath to last until next season, you can do fake pine. You’ll still save money by doing it yourself.

Other than saving money, why would anyone want to make their own wreath? Nobody has time for that. Just go to the store and buy one, right? Well, it’s all about being more connected to our surroundings and appreciating what goes into making a product. Convenience has become our alma mater in the United States, particularly. The truth is someone somewhere had to take the time to make that wreath. And we take their handiwork for granted as we snatch up that product before someone else has the chance to get it. Although I don’t make everything myself, I do try as much as possible to take the load off others.

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The beauty of wreath making is the possibilities of how you want it to look are truly endless! A few weeks ago, I made a simple foraged pine wreath with some dried flowers I stuck in for embellishment. But I knew I wanted to expand on that. This time I did an off-set wreath with blue spruce and holly berries. I also did a wreath with Italian Ruscus I had leftover from my gathering. The only greenery that cost me anything was the Italian Ruscus; everything else was foraged.

Something else kinda cool is hydrangea wreaths. The bunches of hydrangea create a lush and beautiful wreath. Since hydrangea can range from brown to green to pink in color, you may want to spray paint it to give it an even color. Or, you can let it keep its natural color. After that, you can decorate with pine cones or berries if you’d like.

And once you start doing wreaths, you’ll want to do other natural decor too like garlands and swags, and maybe a real Christmas tree instead of a fake one (trust me, that’s all on my list for this season).

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My main point out of all of this (other than to show you pretty wreaths) is to demonstrate that the Christmas season can be less hectic if you choose it to be. Foraging and making things from scratch forces you to slow down. You can’t do this stuff well in a hurry. I know as I was making these, I appreciated the nature God provides and the ability to work with my hands to create something beautiful.

It’s not about being like Martha Stewart as my dad so lovingly puts it (although she does have a lot of good ideas). It’s about getting back to our roots and living how we were meant to live; in touch with our surroundings and working with our hands. We’ve become so desensitized by our modern culture that we no longer appreciate where something came from, how it was made, etc. It’s time to turn the tides on that. You can make a difference just by choosing to make something from scratch instead of buying it from a store.

I hope I gave you some inspiration for your “made from scratch” Christmas! What are some of your favorite wreath designs?

Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone!

Cheers! – Adele