Sunday, April 3, 2016

Homemade | Tasty Black Beans Burger

My hubby, Jayvee was a hamburger fan, big time. He tried burgers in every city/country we traveled. The bigger and thicker the burger was, the more he liked it. But that WAS before he dropped beef, pork and chicken meats from his diet. He turned pesco vegetarian when he became attached to our chicken pets after months of keeping chickens in our backyard. Now, the challenge is on me to come up with meatless dishes that are equally satisfying for this ex-meat lover - specially meatless burger.

About 2 months ago, we visited a newly opened a local Grill House where hubby ordered a black beans burger and it was delicious. So tasty that we were back in the same restaurant three times already. The burger was not cheap so I decided to make a homemade version. After a little over an hour of preparation and pan grilling, my homemade black beans burgers were a hit! 

To prevent burgers from being mushy {since I used canned beans in brine}, I partly dehydrated the beans by roasting it in the oven for 15 minutes.

To make a perfect patty shape out of the black beans and corn mixture, I used an egg and Panko breadcrumbs {just because that's what I have in the pantry}as binders. Since it is too cold to grill outside, I pan-grilled the patties and voila .... tasty meat-less black beans burger for someone who used to love all-beef burgers!

Tasty Black Beans Burgers


1 can {15 ounces} black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bell pepper, chopped in tiny squares
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 tbsp mayonnaise
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs {or any kind of breadcrumbs)
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro {or parsley}
1 tbsp hot pepper sauce
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1 egg
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp oil, divided


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread drained beans on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the over for 15 minutes or until beans split open. Let it cool.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and saute onion, garlic and pepper. Set aside.
Transfer cooled beans. corn kernels, sauteed onion, garlic and bell pepper in a food processor or electric food chopper and pulse for 6-7 times
Transfer mixture in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients except oil.
Mix well and shape into burger patties {about 4 to 5 patties}
On a frying pan heat remaining oil and cook burgers over low to medium fire {about 5 minutes on each side}
Serve on a soft bun with your favourite burger condiments and toppings}

Linking with :  * Sundays at Home  *  Amaze Me Monday  *  The Scoop  *

Thursday, March 17, 2016

DIY | Lemon Grass and Sugar Bodyscrub

As we usher spring, the hard but rewarding prep-work in our vegetable and flower gardens started last weekend. Also, hubby and I started preparing the coop and the chicken garden in anticipation of the arrival of 10 new pullets to add to our growing family.

After the hard work, there's nothing more relaxing than a hot shower punctuated by a body scrub using my homemade Lemon Grass Sugar Body Scrub .... ah pure bliss!

Since I discovered the wonders of natural pure essential oil and a little help from my kitchen supplies, I have been mixing my own body care pampering essentials like bath salts (find the post here), body scrub and lip exfoliant. True, you will be investing a little amount of money when you buy your pure essential oil but a small bottle goes along way. In the end, you will still save compared to buying expensive commercial body scrubs. You can also use the same essential oil to make bath salts, room/pillow spray, massage oil. etc.

Body scrub basically contains 3 components : body oil, raw exfoliant and essential oil. To be honest, essential oil in body scrub is optional {first 2 ingredients are a must} but, since I am making something to pamper myself, the scent of essential oil is bliss!

Body oil : the most commonly used oil in home made body scrubs are olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba wax, sweet almond oil, rose hip oil and avocado oil. These oils vary in prices, thickness and access. Personally, during winter, I prefer grapeseed oil because its great for repairing broken skin cells (particularly on my heels} and its great for rejuvenating the skin. Its light smell does not overpower my essential oil. Some find its consistency too thick. Again, its a matter of preference and budget too.

Raw Exfoliant : you have all of these in your pantry! Salt, sugar and coffee. Again, the choice is depending on a number of factors - roughness, time to dissolve in oil, and which part of the body you are going to use it. Sea salts tend to be rough for those who have sensitive skin but it is a great exfoliant specially for the knees elbows and feet. Sugar is best for those with sensitive skin. Although softer that sea salts, it still an excellent tool to remove dead skin. Remember, granulated sugar is softer that coarse sugar. So if you are using it for your face, avoid coarse sugar. I prefer Turbinado Sugar for my body scrub. Also, bear in mind that sugar tends to dissolve easily in oil, so don't make a big batch if you don't intend to use it often. I don't like to use coffee for the simple reason that it leaves a mess n my tub.

Pure Essential Oil : some of my favorites that I have in my stash are lavender, mandarin, vanilla, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary and lemon grass. I either use it as a single scent or combine two scents together. Buy in reputable stores.

Just want to share this tips I read regarding essential oils :
  • Do not apply directly to skin. They are highly concentrated and can irritate skin and cause rashes.
  • Buy essential oils that come in dark bottles. This will prevent oil from direct light/sunlight exposure. It guarantees longer shelf-life.
  • Use only a few drops. You just want its mild scent and not an irritant to your nostrils.
  • There are some oils that pregnant women should avoid. Consult your physicians before using any oil while pregnant.

For this particular body scrub, here's how I did it.

1 cup Turbinado Sugar
1  cup grape see oil
4 drops lemon grass essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well
Store in glass containers { essential oil will damage plastic and metal changes the the properties of the oil}

To Use
Take a small amount of the scrub with a spoon
Rub all over your body which special attention to areas like feet, knees and elbows
Let it stand for 3 minutes
Rinse off and pat dry with towel

Remember to pamper yourself once in a while! You deserve it!

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Joys of Spring | @ the Sugarbush

It was a very sweet, perfect whether Saturday for hubby and I as we continue our yearly tradition of visiting a maple tree farm as soon as the sap start dripping from the bark. This year we went to Bruce's Mill Conservation Area where Maple Syrup Festival is celebrated yearly.

Visitors have a choice to start their day at the farm by either a wagon ride to the forest or hike along the trails to learn more about the evolution of the liquid gold that we can't get enough of.

"The process of making maple syrup is an age-old tradition of the First Nations people, who used it both as a food and a medicine. They would make incisions into trees with stone and bone implements their tomahawks and use birch bark containers to collect the sap. The sap could be reduced into syrup by evaporating the excess water by plunging hot stones into the sap. They also increased the sugar content by removing the frozen water layer after the nightly freezing of the sap. When the early European settlers came to North America, they learned from the Nativesthe Aboriginal people that sap could be made into sugar." 

"The European settlers had access to metals and used their metal iron tools to tap the trees and then boiled the sap in the iron or copper kettles. Maple syrup was the preferred sweetener used by the early settlers since white refined sugar from the West Indies was highly taxed and very expensive. As white refined sugar became less expensive, it began to replace maple syrup and maple sugar as a relied-upon sweetener. Maple syrup production is now approximately one-fifth of what it was in the beginning of the 20th century." 

"Canada produces about 85 per cent of the world's maple syrup. It is the world leader in exports, selling about 30,000 tones valued at $147 million, to more than 40 countries in 2003. In Canada, the maple syrup industry is surpassed only by frozen French fries in single horticultural commodity exports. Consumption of maple products increased from 110 grams per person in 1991 to 160 grams per person in 2001. Marketing has evolved from selling to traditional markets to more value-added markets due to the ability of the maple syrup flavour to blend well with other food products (cereals, yogurt, etc.). This industry contributes to Canada's value-added exports, since more than 60 per cent of maple exports are now shipped in prepackaged containers."

Like I always say, the transformation from sap to maple syrup is amazing. It takes a lot of patience, perfect timing, tender care, and appreciation before one can truly enjoy its sweetness .... very much like marriage!

Linking with :   Sundays at Home  *  Amaze Me Monday *  

Friday, March 4, 2016

Leftovers Makeover : Tuna Quesadillas and Fresh Guacamole

The most challenging "to do" at home after a 4-day back to back business trips is to cook a decent dinner. Hubby won't mind if we go out instead or buy take out however I take it upon myself to make an effort .... after all I din't see my kitchen for days. The most challenging part is not the fact that I am tired to the bones {can somebody tell me what is it about airplane rides that makes you tired?} BUT the fact that there seems nothing in the fridge that translates into "dear, we are having a nice I-am-finally-home-dinner". 

When I opened our fridge last night, this is what greeted me .... a couple of  ripe avocados, half a slice of lime, half a block of Gouda cheese, veggies that have seen better days and leftover tuna flakes and mango chicken. Yeah, a fusion of Italian, Chinese and Mexican. 

It is time for leftover makeover so the wheels in my head started spinning until ....taaaadaaa ... I will make guacamole that will be the side dish for my tuna or mango chicken quesadillas!

My guacamole recipe is very simple but I can guarantee you that its a winner:

Mash {make sure to leave some lumps} 2 ripe avocados, toss in about two tablespoons of minced onion {red onion is preferred}, chopped half tomatoes {seeds and juiced removed}, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro/coriander {leaves and stems}. 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped {I have non of this today so I just used chili flakes}, 2 tbsp lime and salt and pepper to taste. Just mix all ingredients and serve.

Our pantry is always stocked with all sorts of canned beans and today I found re-friend beans which is perfect for my quesadillas.

It took me a little over 30 minutes to conjure this delicious dinner. True enough, after I cut the crispy quesadilla in halves, I heard hubby's car in the driveway. 

After bear hugs and sweet kisses, it did not take long for us to finish these leftovers makeover quesadillas with fresh guacamole. Simply Pure Bliss!

Leftover Tuna Quesadillas

Ingredients {makes 4}

4 pieces small tortilla
8 tablespoons re-fried beans {canned}
2 {85g} cans Clover Leaf gourmet flaked light tuna {I used sun-dried tomato and basil flavour}
1 small red onion {thinly sliced}
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup coriander/cilantro leaves , chopped


Spread 2 tbsp re-fried beans on tortilla {make sure you spread the beans only on the half potion of the tortilla, leave the other half empty for easy assembly}.
Add about 2 tbsp tuna on top of beans.
Add sliced onions.
Top with grated cheese.
Sprinkle with coriander/cilantro leaves.
Fold the other half of tortilla over toppings.
Spray cooking oil on a heated non stick pan.
Cook quesadilla over medium heat about 2 minutes per side or until crisp.
Cut quesadilla in half and serve with guacamole and/or salsa.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Comfort Food @ Home | Pork Bone Soup Medley

One thing I can't resist buying whenever I'm in an Asian Supermarket meat section is a slab of pork bone. It s inexpensive and the possibilities are endless ... sinigang {Filipino sour soup}. gamjatamg {Korean spicy soup}. puchero {Spanish stew/soup}, etc. Here at home, I would normally cook a huge batch of pork bones to make soup stock then I would take the meat from the bones {which is very tender after boiling for an hour or so}.

Since we were experiencing very cold temperature {-32C/-29F} these past few weeks, comfort food was in order. I took some pre-cooked pork bone meat and broth from the fridge and combined it with a cup of this colorful mix of barley, lentils, peas and long grain rice. Tossed in some tomato paste, crushed some dried herbs, sprinkled salt, pepper and sugar.......

..... after an hour of simmering the concoction over medium heat {while I browse social media }  ... voila!.... delicious, hearty pork bone soup medley and a kitchen that smells heavenly and comforting.

Pork Bone Soup Medley


2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup soup medley {lentils, dried peas, barley, long grain rice}
1 1/2 cups pre-boiled pork bone meat {see recipe below}
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
8 cups  pork bone broth {see recipe below}
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper


In a stock pot, saute 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic and onion over medium heat until onion is translucent
Add soup medley and coat with oil while stirring for a minute
Add pork bone meat, tomato paste and all the dried herbs. Cook for a minute while continue stirring
Pour in  pork bone broth. Mix well. Cover the pot and simmer for until grains and lentils are tender. Stir once in a while to prevent bottom from sticking.
Seasoned with sugar, salt and pepper.
Serve while hot.

To prepare pork bone soup stock, just combine 2 kilos of pork bone with a bit of meat on them, 15 cups of water {add more if you wish} 2 stalks of celery, 1 chopped onion and 1 carrot {cut in half}, salt and pepper in a huge stock pot. Boil over medium heat for an hour or until meat  is very tender. Strain to separate the stock which you can freeze, Take the meat from the bones which can also be frozen for future soup recipe. Discard bones and vegetables.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Around Here, Lately

Falling snow fascinates Muning {our cat who thinks she's an ancient Princess!} to no end. For me, its the serene beauty after a snowfall that stirs my soul .......

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