Friday, February 3, 2012

A Little Bit of Everything

Ezra has been keeping me pretty busy lately.  If we're home, he's usually tearing up the kitchen & living room while I cook or clean.  This means that 10 minutes of chopping veggies, etc, turns into an extra 10 minutes of picking up his latest mess ;-)  With that in mind, we've been spending a LOT of time outside of the house.  Playgrounds, the zoo, stores, just walking's all better than trying to contain the little tornado that is my kid.  

Speaking of stores - Home Depot is a great place for him to run around...seriously.  As long as we stay away from the sharp objects and the screws, nuts, bolts, nails, etc aisle, we're golden.  Lots of wide aisles, big things for him to touch (too big to pick up & move!), people everywhere for him to wave to - it's perfect :)  Who knew?!

Here's a couple pictures I snapped of him at the playground yesterday. 

I thought I'd shared this picture of the boy, but it looks like I missed it.  It was pre-haircut.  And clearly, he'd just spilled something all over his shirt.  Look at that glorious head of hair :)

This one is from last week/end, too.  Warm, sunny days are perfect for airplaning through Southpark :)

 I just thought this one was cute - mid stride & arm swing, he looks like he's marching down our walkway...

It's bubble-time!

 Upside-down Ezra!

 After pushing over his basketball hoop, Ezra began his victory dance.


I've been making some really yummy crispy garbanzo beans lately & wanted to share the recipe.  They are crispy, crunchy, very flavorful & full of protein.  SO good.  

Crispy Garbanzo Beans

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed & dried
A couple tablespoons each of cumin, garlic pepper & kosher/sea salt.
A teaspoon or two of chili powder & cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you want them.

Heat oven to 425F, drizzle sheet pan with olive oil.  Put beans (make sure they're dry!) on pan & give 'em a shake to get them covered in the oil.   
Bake 12 minutes.
Give them a shake, sprinkle salt, cumin, garlic pepper.  
Bake for 15 minutes.
Give them another shake, add more seasoning if needed.
Bake 5 minutes.  
Another shake.  Sprinkle on cayenne & chili powder.  Back in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until they are all a darker brown color, but before they burn.  If some are still soft, put them back in for a couple minutes.

I've tried a lot of different black bean burger recipes.  Some have been good, one was wretched, and a few were just okay.  I've taken all the things I liked about the good ones and added some other stuff...and finally settled on my go-to recipe.  In case you want to slap some together, here's my recipe...

Black Bean Burgers

2 cans black beans (make sure they're either organic or simply don't contain anything other than black beans -- trust me, you'd be surprised)
2-3 tablespoons homemade french onion seasoning mix (see below)
1-2 teaspoons cumin
1-2 teaspoons garlic pepper 
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Toppings - extra sharp cheddar, pepper jack, ketchup or chili sauce, mustard, tomato, lettuce

Heat olive oil in a skillet/frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.
Dump everything together in a mixing bowl, reserving half of the breadcrumbs.  Smash the beans with a potato masher or fork, making sire to mix everything well.  Add remaining breadcrumbs as needed to get to a consistency that can be handled without being excessively wet & sticky.  
Divide into 4, form each into a patty slightly smaller than your buns.  They squish & spread out as you eat them, so they need to start off smaller :)
Cook on the first side until brown & crisped, ~8 minutes.  Flip.  Add cheese on top after ~3 minutes, cover to melt the cheese, ~4 minutes.
Toast buns in same pan, add condiments, topping & burgers.  Voila!  Super-tasty black bean burgers.  I like to serve them with quinoa/veggie pilaf and crash potatoes.  Lots of flavor, very filling & a good, clean protein.

Homemade french onion seasoning

1/2 cup dried, minced onion
2 tsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery powder
1 tsp dried parsley
3/4 tsp black pepper

I make my own because the store-bought kind contains MSG.  Ugh.  Seriously?  It's freakin 2012 and MSG is still being used in SO MANY THINGS.  In fact, check your spices.  If you've got pre-mixed spices, like season-all/salt, it's got a variation of MSG.  Most bouillon, too.  Just toss it out.  No amount of extra flavor boost is worth the excitotoxins.  A pinch of (non-iodized) salt will generally bring out the flavor of anything just as well.

I usually set aside a couple big spoonfuls of plain beans for Ez.  I'll add the same seasoning to them (in smaller amounts, obviously) except I omit the cayenne and put a little less cumin.  Smash it together & he loves it :)