Beans & Greens Mushroom Burger

I spend most Sundays in the kitchen. I prep food for the week, plan meals, create recipes, and clean out the fridge. The last part is usually what yields the most interesting creations!

Last week, during my clean-out-the-fridge sweep, I found some mushrooms that didn’t get turned into soup and a half bag of kale pieces that didn’t join their other half in kale chip heaven.  I tossed around the idea of adding the kale to my traditional mushroom soup, but I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, so I came up with something else. Having recently run out of 4 Ingredient Bean Burgers, I decided to turn my fridge finds into burgers for the week. After rummaging through the pantry and the vegetable draw, this is what I came up with.

Beans & Greens Mushroom Burger

Beans & Greens Mushroom Burger

14 oz mushroom caps, diced (about 2 cups)

1 med onion, diced (about 1 cup)

3-4 clove garlic, minced (about 2 TBSP, heaping)

2-3 c chopped kale

2 cans beans, rinsed (about 3 cups)

1/2 c nutritional yeast

Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc.

Saute onions and garlic in a splash of water or veggie broth until begin to soften (about 5 minutes). Add mushroom pieces. Continue to saute until mushrooms have cooked down and become soft. Add kale pieces and cover pan to steam/wilt greens. After greens are sufficiently wilted, remove mixture from pan. Set aside. Note: You may have to use a strainer because the veggies tend to give off quite a bit of water.

In a large bowl, add rinsed and drained beans. Puree with a stick blender (or in a food processor or high-powered blender) until mostly smooth. (I like to leave a few pieces for texture and presentation.) Alternately, you can hand mash the beans the with a potato masher. Once beans are mashed, add nutritional yeast, seasonings and cooked veggie mixture. Stir to combine. (If mix is too wet, add additional nutritional yeast or a binder such as quinoa flakes or oats.)

Form 6 large balls from mixture and place on foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. (Spray foil with cooking spray.) Slightly flatten each ball to desired patty thickness. Bake burgers at 375F for about 45 minutes, or until hold shape when moved and are no longer wet or gooey in the middle.

I used one can each red and white kidney beans.

I used one can each red and white kidney beans.

Mashed beans. Pretty pink!

Mushrooms, Onions, and Garlic in Pan

The mushrooms may seem like a lot before they cook down, but don’t worry; in a few minutes, they’ll shrink to half (or less!) their size.

4 Ingredient Bean Burgers

I don’t know who said it, but it’s true: necessity is the mother of invention. Or, in my case, hunger was the mother of invention!

I had two days last week of absolute hunger. I have no idea why, but I just couldn’t get enough to eat. I’d eat, be full, then an hour or so later, starving again. True, physiological hunger. Not psychological hunger. So weird! The only think I can come up with is my new weight training work out. I’ve read in numerous places that lifting heavier weights makes people hungry. But, it usually happens on the days they lift. My hungry apparently comes on the days I don’t lift. Go figure.

Regardless of the reason, this is what I came up with for dinner….

4 Ingredient Bean Burgers

1 can beans (about 1.5 c)

1/4 c thick liquid (I used salsa, but ketchup would work, tomato sauce, etc)

1/4 c nutritional yeast

1/2 c quinoa flakes or rolled oats

Optional: fresh herbs and/or seasonings

Rinse beans if using canned. Mash beans with a fork or potato masher. (Or, if you’re lazy like me, use a mini-chopper or a Magic Bullet to do the hard work.) Add liquid, nutritional yeast, and quinoa or oats. This is also the time to add chopped, fresh herbs and/or seasonings if you’re using any. Mix everything and form into 4 even balls. Place on a foil lined pan sprayed with cooking spray. Slightly flatten balls into patties and bake at 375F for about 20 minutes (or until firm to the touch). Cool on pan for an additional 5 minutes or so.

Enjoy your 4 Ingredient Bean Burgers with a heaping side of gluten-free Baked Onion Rings. (Check tomorrow’s post for the recipe!)

4 Ingredient Black Bean Burger

I made my bean burgers with black beans, salsa, and quinoa flakes. I also threw in some chopped cilantro because I had some hanging out in the fridge that needed used pronto. I didn’t use any additional seasonings because my salsa was spicy enough. (I am in love with TJ’s Roasted Garlic Salsa!) But, I think these would be great with kidney beans and ketchup or tomato sauce, or garbanzo beans and hummus, or white beans and a ketchup/mustard mix. The combos are endless – and so easy!

Your Freezer is Your Friend

With winter here and bad weather coming and going, chances are pretty good you I won’t be able to get to the store some day when the craving/need for veggies hits (This actually happens pretty often, but it’s usually from laziness – ha ha!) That’s when it’s a blessing to have a well-stocked freezer.

I almost always have a couple (or more!) bags of frozen veggies in the freezer.

What is your favorite style of frozen veggies?

I actually keep quite a few things in the freezer: left-over dinners, muffins, frozen fruit (frozen bananas are overtaking the entire left side of the freezer right now), nuts and seeds, Daiya (Who knew you could freeze it?!), misc. meat substitutes (usually a bag or two of Gardein and TJ’s meatless balls), and whatever Mr. M has managed to squeeze in there.

Ignore that turkey pot pie and the dairy ice cream; those, of course, belong to Mr. M. Ah...the joys of a mixed marriage (vegan/SAD).

We use the freezer so much, we’ve seriously been discussing purchasing a small deep freeze. We’ve talked about it before, but we’ve never actually looked at and priced them, nor have we chosen a definitive place to put it in the basement. (It’s going in the make-shift pantry.) I’m excited! I hope we’re able to get one sooner than later.

Anyway, back to why the freezer is your friend. Besides the obvious benefits of being to preserve food for a length of time, the freezer can be home to some great, quick, and easy meals. This is one I came up with last week.

Veggies, Beans & Greens Saute

2 bags frozen veggies (your fav)

1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1 can diced tomatoes (about 1.5 c)

1 can black olives (about 1 c)

1 can white beans (about 1.5 c)

Seasonings to taste (I like Italian flavors: oregano, basil, dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, etc)

Thaw and squeeze the excess water from your spinach. (I heat mine for 3 minutes in the microwave then squeeze handfuls until dry.) Add to large, deep sided skillet along with frozen veggies, died tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans and black olives. (I left mine whole, but sliced/diced may be easier to spear with your fork.) Heat everything through until vegetables are thawed and beans are hot.

I eat my veggies on their own, but you may want to add them to a bed of grain, such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, or even some pasta.

Frozen Veggies, Beans & Greens Saute

Grain-Free Veggie Lasagna

I came across this lasagna recipe by Mama Pea a few weeks ago and knew I had to make it – or something like it. It had been forever since I’d made a lasagna; as a rule, I try to avoid pasta, and I made zucchini noodles this summer with great success, so I knew they’d work in a lasagna. Actually, I may have already tried something like this, but this time, I had a much  better game plan.

Grain-Free Veggie Lasagna

4 small zucchini/summer squash

1 bunch kale

16 oz mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 med onion, diced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 box silken tofu (firm or extra firm), boiled to remove bean flavor

1 can (about 1.5 c) white beans

1 c nutritional yeast, divided

Splash lemon juice (about 1 tsp)

1 can (about 1 c) diced tomatoes

1 can (about 1.5 c) tomato sauce

Seasonings to taste

Slice zucchini lengthwise. Roast until tender (at 425F for 30-45 mins)

Meanwhile, saute garlic, onions, mushrooms and kale until veggies are tender and greens are wilted. (Use a little veggie broth or water to saute – no need for oil.)

Blend beans and tofu in food processor until smooth. Add 1/2 c nutritional yeast, a splash of lemon juice, and a little salt. Stir to combine.

To make sauce, combine diced tomatoes and tomato sauce in a bowl. Add Italian seasonings to taste (dried parsley, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, etc).

To assemble lasagna, spray a large, rectangular or oblong glass dish with no-stick cooking spray. Then spoon in a thin layer or tomato sauce. Top it with enough slices of roasted zucchini to cover the dish. Add a layer of satueed veggie and top with dollops of bean/tofu mix. Top that layer with more zucchini slices, and top them with tomato sauce. Add remaining sauteed veggies, bean/tofu mix and tomato sauce. Top lasagna with remaining 1/2 c of nutritional yeast.

Bake at 350F for about an hour, or until sauce is bubbly and nutritional yeast has browned.

Makes 6 large servings.

Grain-Free Vegetable Lasagna

Check out those layers!

Carob Peanut Butter Banana Butter/Fudge

I have a problem. A serious problem. My body is rejecting a vital nutrient. Something I need. Something I can’t live without! Oh, the horror! I can’t….I can’t…I can’t eat chocolate anymore!!!!! (insert sobs and wails of anguish)

I’ve shared before that I have gallstones. They bother me off and on, but I’m usually able to keep things under control by watching my diet. The first thing to go was dairy, which had been making me sick for months – years really since I’ve been lactose intolerant since birth – so in a way, my pesky gallbladder helped me go vegan. Nice. But now it’s bothering me and more and forcing me to cross foods and drinks off my OK list rather quickly. Not nice. (If my gallbladder was on Santa’s list, it would get a lump of coal for Christmas!)

I’m sure you’re wondering why I don’t just have the stupid thing taken out and be on my merry way, chocolate bar in hand (with a decaf latte in the other, followed by a popcorn chaser *sigh*). At first, I couldn’t get a surgeon to agree my symptoms warranted removal, then I finally got a GI doctor to refer me to a surgeon, but my symptoms went away,so I was advised to wait. Flash forward to today and me calling the GI doctor with a message that it’s time to get that referral! I’m nervous, but if I focus on the chocolate, I think, hope, know I’ll be OK!

My pain is your gain!

I couldn’t completely give up on the chocolate experience, so I payed a visit to my old friend, carob. Years and years ago, I gave up chocolate due to a caffeine sensitivity. (I still have it and shouldn’t eat chocolate even when my body isn’t rejecting it, but it’s just so darn good! My symptoms have lessened over the years, and I don’t eat much at any one time – mostly because of the calories.) During that time, I experimented with carob and had pretty good results.

As soon as I opened the canister of carob powder, my nose remembered the unforgettable scent. And then, after I tasted my new creation, my tongue remember the unmistakable tangy bitterness of the lovely carob fruit. (Did you know carob was a fruit?!) 

A little carob powder, a super ripe banana, some bottom of the jar peanut butter, and a secret ingredient later (psst…it’s beans!), this tasty, not too sweet/rich/tangy spread/fudge emerged.

Carob Peanut Butter Banana Butter/Fudge

1/2 c white beans

1/2 c peanut butter
1 very ripe banana

2 TBSP carob powder

4 pks stevia

pinch table salt

Puree beans. Puree banana. Heat peanut butter for easy spreading (30 seconds in microwave). Combine all three. Add carob powder, stevia, and a pinch of salt (if using natural PNB with no salt or sugar).

Store in refrigerator.

Click here for nutrition information.

I used chunky peanut butter; you can see the peanut pieces in this photo.

I planned about 4 servings of about 2 TBSP each. If you want to spread the mix into a dish and chill until a little more solid, I’m sure you could cut it into about 8 little squares.  I used my mix as a butter/spread on toast, on fruit, and on a spoon.

Bean & Lentil Veggie Burgers

When I made my Bean & Lentil Chili, I made enough lentils to make some veggie burgers. I’d been tossing around the idea of for a while, so when I finally got around to making them, I was pretty psyched – even though I hadn’t written down any of my ideas, so I had to wing it. Oooops!

This is what I came up with…

Bean & Lentil Veggie Burgers

3 c cooked beans (2 cans)
2 c cooked lentils (French, green or brown)
4 T soy sauce
1/4 c banana peppers
1/2 c tahini
1/2 c ea diced carrot, onion, celery, green pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven 350F

Saute carrots, celery, green pepper, onion, and garlic in a little bit of broth.

Puree beans in food processor. Add lentils, veggies, soy sauce, tahini, and banana peppers. Stir to combine. Mixture will be very wet.

Drop giant spoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Form into patty shapes.

Bake 60+ minutes or until dry to the touch.

Makes 6 very large burgers. Freezes well.

Click here for nutrition information.

Bean & Lentil Veggie Burger (topped with banana peppers)

These burgers are a little dry. I think next time I make them I’d add a couple tablespoonfuls of nutritional yeast to help take away some of the pre-baking moisture. Of course, you could always use oats or quinoa flakes to help bind the ingredients.

 
While these were in the oven, I kept thinking about turning the mix into a “meat” loaf or even mini loaves.
 

Bean & Lentil Burgers Freeze Well!

Bean & Lentil Chili

Sundays are typically my cooking and baking days. I spend hours in the kitchen testing recipes and creating new ones – and washing an endless pile of dishes. But, after I’m done, I have enough food to get me through the week, except for breakfasts (smoothie, anyone?) and the occasional dinner or lunch I squeeze in on Monday or Tuesday, respectively.

Last Sunday, I had already prepped a bunch of veggies, made dip for the veggies (or salad dressing with a little thinning), two muffin batches, and some brownies, so I was on the fence about more cooking. I knew I had veggie burgers and a few different kinds of soup in the freeze (I love freezing left overs!), and coupled with the fresh veggies and some fruit, I knew work meals could easily be taken care of. But then we got company. We never  get company.

I can literally count on one hand the number of times we’ve had company in the year and a half I’ve lived here with Mr. M. And only one of those times, except for last Sunday, included my making food.

Anyway, back to our company. My mother-in-law stopped by on her way through the area while driving home from a traveling nursing gig she’d been doing in Montana for the past few months. (Before that, she’d been in Maine doing the same thing. Crazy!) We were happy to see her, of course; it had been over a year since either of us had seen her. She was a little surprised to see me – minus 60+ pounds. Apparently, I look a little different – ha ha.

To entice her to spend the night with us instead of staying in a hotel (like our company alone wasn’t enough – ha!), I went ahead and cooked dinner. So much for freezer meals all week ;-)

I’d been tossing around an idea for bean and lentil veggie burgers, which I’ll share in another post, but I’d also been craving chili. That’s unusual. I never used to like chili. I used to pick out the beans and chunky tomatoes and leave everything else when we’d have it at home, and in later years, but before I became vegetarian, obviously, I used to occasionally like Wendy’s chili. I wanted a really thick chili with a lot of flavor but not a lot of heat (I don’t do heat, in case you haven’t noticed), so I thought about adding lentils to the beans and other goodies. And why not? I could make a big batch and use them twice. Score!

Bean & Lentil Chili

2 cans dark red kidney beans (about 3 cups), rinsed

2 cans mixed beans* (about 3 cups), rinsed

2 c cooked lentils (any variety except red will do – I used French or green)

1 giant jar mild or medium picante sauce or salsa (or 2 smaller jars)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes (about 1 cup)

1 c veggie broth

1 c diced onion

1 c diced carrot

1 c diced celery

1 c diced green bell pepper

4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 TBSP)

Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder/granulated garlic, Mrs. Dash chipotle lime (my new fav!), etc.

In a large soup pot, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, celery in a little bit of veggie broth until tender. (I put the lid on the pot to help the softening.) You may want to add some seasonings here so the flavors have time to develop. Add beans, lentils, tomatoes, salsa and veggie broth. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for thinner chili or leave uncovered for thicker chili. (You can also add broth to thin out your chili and make it more soup-like.) Season as you go until it’s just right. Serve once everything is heated through.

Makes 6 large servings (about two cups each)

Click here for nutrition information

* I used Kroger’s Private Select Organic Tri Bean mix, but you could use any bean or bean mix you like.

Bean & Lentil Chili

And, in case you’re wondering, this chili freezes (and thaws) really well!

Frozen Chili

Back to School Dinners

Ok, so this post is a little late. But at least now everyone that’s going back to school is back to school. And back to their crazy schedules. And back to having no idea what to cook. And no time to cook whatever ideas they do have. “They” includes me. If it doesn’t include you, that’s cool, your schedule is crazy enough without have classes, homework, prepping, grading, students, teachers..yyyaaahhh…to worry about. Regardless of what your days and nights consist of, we can all use a few quick and easy go-to dinners (and hopefully left-overs for lunch!) for busy nights. Enter, the Wilt-In.

What is a Wilt-In? Why, it’s a dish that has greens wilted in, of course.

It’s difficult for me to get my greens in. There, I said it. I have yet to become accustomed to green smoothies (Ok. I’ve only tried one – once – and it was terrible.) I know green, leafy vegetables are good for me. I know I can’t eat enough Cheezy Kale Chips to meet my daily requirement (Trust me. I’ve tried.) So, out of desperation, I began wilting leafy greens into various dishes, and eventually, I found a green I am in love with (Yea chard!), and a way to eat it that isn’t boring; I’ve yet to get tired of, and it’s super quick. O, and it’s a one-pot meal. Did I mention that? That’s right people, give the dishwasher the night off because this quick and easy meal is ready in less than 30 minutes from chopping to eating, and it won’t make a mess of your kitchen. Hello, healthy dinner!

Rainbow Chard Wilt-In

1 med onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 TBSP vegetable broth

1 bunch rainbow or Swiss chard

8 oz sliced mushrooms

Grain (quinoa works great) or Protein (beans are awesome) – optional

Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley flakes, etc)

In a large, deep skillet, saute onion and garlic in 1-2 TBSP veggie broth (no need for oil). Cook until onions are translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook until tender – about 10 minutes.  I also like to add the seasonings here. Typically, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, dried parsley.

If using grain, add now. Uncooked quinoa will cook up nicely in a small amount of added veggie broth and the broth created by the mushrooms. (Add up to 1 cup dry quinoa and about 1/2 c veggie broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, cook 10-12 minutes or until quinoa gives off little spirals.) You may also add beans now, if you’re using. However, if you’re using grains and beans, wait until the grain has cooked to add the beans.

Finally, wilt-in your greens. If you added grains, you may need to add a little more veggie broth to create steam to wilt your greens. If not, add greens in batches, stiring them into the mix. You may want to cover the pan to aid in the wilting process. Continue to add and stir until all greens are wilted.

You can, of course, add additional vegetables to the mix. Make it your own. Try different greens. Kale, collards, spinach – whatever looks good or needs to be eaten.

Stiring in cooked grains at the end works too. Or spooning over a mound of cooked grains or beans. Whatever is left over.

Rainbow Chard Wilt-In with Quinoa

I also love BBQ tofu  and whatever roasted veggies are taking up space in the fridge. Just add about 1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce to a sauce pan, warm for a few minutes, then add 1 package of extra firm tofu, with the excess water squeezed or pressed. I wrap the tofu block in a double layer of paper towel, then wrap that in a dish towel and press the block with my hands against the counter. The tofu won’t retain its block form (it gets kind of squished), but it works great as chunks in the BBQ sauce.

I make my own, quick BBQ sauce.

Veggie V’s Quick & Easy BBQ Sauce

1 15 oz can tomato sauce

2-3 TBSP tomato paste (more or less to taste)

1 med onion, thinly sliced

1-2 clove garlic, minced

1 – 2 TBSP soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)

1 – 2 TBSP mustard

1 tsp maple syrup – optional

Seasonings: chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley flakes

Saute onions and garlic in sauce pan with 1 TBSP veggie broth or 1 tsp oil until translucent – about 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, including seasonings. Simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld. Add tofu chunks and warm through.

Total time from chopping to eating – way less than 30 minutes.

Shaved brussels sprouts from Appetite for Reduction are my favorite side to make this meal complete.

BBQ Tofu & Shaved Brussle Sprouts

I love this cookbook, and I especially love this brussels sprout recipe. It’s crazy easy.  Thinly slice brussels sprouts (a food processor works great here). Add to a pan of sauted onions and garlic (Oil is a must here. 1 -2 tsp is plenty.) Salt and pepper sprouts. Stir to combine flavors. The let it sit on medium heat. The mix forms a little crust from the oil and the caramelized onions. Yum! Try to flip the mix after a few minutes (5 or so) so the rest of the sprouts have their chance in the pan. Cook another 5 minutes or so, and you’re all set!

With a little planning, quick and easy week night/school night dinners can be healthy and filling. There’s no need for take-out in my house ;-)

Bean Lovin’

If loving beans is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

I’m having a serious bean affair these days (ssshhh…don’t tell the sushi or my treadmill!). I’ve always been a big bean eater (Does that sound funny to anyone else?), but ever since I went on my dessert making spree and had such great success making bean based sweet treats, I’ve been incorporating them into everything. First, I made Creamy Tomato Sauce, and now – Cheeze Sauce!

After looking all over the web and finding tons of great fake-out cheeze sauces (and trying a few, which were all delicious, by the way), I just couldn’t shake the fat and calorie guilt most of them left with me. Sure, nut based cheeze sauces are amazingly rich and creamy, but they aren’t helping my thighs be less rich and creamy. (Ew – that sounded kind of icky.) So….beans to the rescue!

I’ve made this sauce a couple of times this week, and each time I’ve tweaked it a little. I think it might still need a little tweaking here and there (less garlic, maybe no lemon or sub acv instead, and dare I suggested it, less nutritional yeast?!), but it’s still amazingly tasty – and crazy low-fat and super good on calories. (It’s super good on just about everything, but you know what I mean.) 

 Beans to the Rescue Cheeze Sauce

1 15oz can white beans of your choice, rinsed (or about 2 c)

2 small scallions (or 1 sm shallot or 2 TBSP onion)

1 small clove garlic (or 1/2 lg clove)

1/2 c nutritional yeast (or less – to taste)

1/2 c vegetable broth or water

1 – 2 TBSP vegetable broth powder*

2 tsp  mustard (yellow or Dijon)

1 TBSP lemon juice or apple cidar vinegar (optional)

pepper

Add scallions and garlic to food processor. Pulse to chop. Add beans, nutritional yeast, 1/4 c vegetable broth/water, vegetable broth powder, mustard (may also sub 1 tsp dried mustard or turmeric), lemon juice or acv if using, and pepper. Give everything a whirl for about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Taste mixture for seasoning. Add remaining 1/4 c vegetable broth/water to thin. Process until completely smooth – about 1-2 minutes.

Serves 4 for less than 170 calories, just over 1 gram of fat, and a whopping 10.4 grams of fiber and 16.5 grams of protein in each serving! O beans, you magical fruit legume.

Cheeze Sauce in All Its Magical Glory

I’ve put this cheeze sauce all kinds of things this week, including my new favorite food – zucchini noodles. Yum! But today I outdid myself and tried it as a spread on some lettuce wraps.

Cheeze Sauce? Yes, please.

So good! But even better with some veggies and, of course, more beans.

Lettuce Wrap - All Dressed Up and Ready for My Mouth

If you’re not a big bean eater and are worried about the melodious side effects often associated with beans, don’t worry. The serving size is relatively small (about 4 TBPS) – which goes a surprisingly long way – and your body will quickly adjust to your new, fibrous friends.  And if not, just go for a jog – by yourself ;-)

I’m sharing this post on Diet, Dessert, and Dogs’ Wellness Weekends and Cybele Pascal’s Allergy Friendly Friday again. I love the extra outlets for sharing my recipes :-) Thanks for highlighting my Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Cybele!

Dessert O’Rama

I went a little crazy on Friday. Dessert crazy, that is. I made 8 different dessert items. But the last one was my hands-down, all-time favorite. And I can’t believe it’s my own recipe! Well, with a little inspiration ;-)

I started my day by trying to make my own coconut butter. I’ve never had coconut butter, or even seen it, so I’m not sure what it was supposed to look like, but I don’t think it was supposed to look like mine! I’d show you a picture, but I didn’t take one. I didn’t take one of the two different types of freezer fudge I tried to make from the failed (I think) coconut butter either. I’m new at photographing my food for future blog use. Sorry for my lack of blogginess – ha.

I used CCK’s recipe for the Coconut Butter, and I tried to make her Naughty Girl Fudge and Good Girl Fudge. I added raspberries to the NGF and lots of cinnamon to the GGF, but they just didn’t taste right. I ended up giving them away (no waste!), and my friend loved the chocolate and raspberry flavor! It’s her favorite flavor combo. Who knew? (Not me. I’m a great friend, apparently.)

After I almost blew up my food processor making my failed CNB (and Magic Bullet, and immersion blender, and…), I made HH’s Black Bean Brownies. As I’ve posted before, I don’t care for the flavor of banana in things, so these weren’t my favorite taste wise. They were deliciously fudgey, though. Mmmm!

Black Bean Brownies

While they were in the oven,  I made DDD’s Chocolate Bean Spread. This, my friends, was todiefor! I did have to use a little extra sugar (I don’t have any stevia – yet!), and I think the next time I make it (because there will definitely be a next time!), I’m going to try it with black beans. I found the white beans a bit strong in flavor. Strange, hu? You’d think the black beans would have a stronger flavor. Maybe it’s just me. That could definitely be the case.

I used most of the Chocolate Bean Spread to top the Black Bean Brownies. What a double bean delight!

Black Bean Brownies with Chocolate Bean Spread

I saved the tiny bit I had left over for a tasty toast topper the next morning. (OK, I ate it with my fingers before the toast was ready, but I intended to eat it on my toast.)

Chocolate Bean Spread

After the brownies came out of the oven, I slid my next treat in there – CCK’s Blondies – peanut butter flavor. These also used beans as their fudgey, gooey base.

Naked Peanut Butter Blondies

I used Better’n Butter for the peanut butter flavoring. It’s not my favorite, but I’ve had an open jar in the fridge for a while, and I’m trying to use it up.

The blondies were very, very good. Especially after I topped them with the next thing I made – chocolate g’nosh.

Blondies All Dressed Up & Ready to Go!

Chocolate G’Nosh

8 oz Baker’s Semi Sweet Chocolate (or other vegan chocolate)

1 TBSP coconut oil

Add both ingredients to a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between cycles, until melty. Mine took three rounds, or 90 seconds.

This amount makes a double batch (or one, big batch for a chocolate indulgence dessert).

I used about half of the g’nosh to pour over the peanut butter blondies, and I used the other half to make the most incredible dessert I’ve ever made – and the first time I’ve tried imitating a candy flavor from my not-so-distant past. Here it comes…wait for it…wait for it…I made vegan pecan candies! Or, more commonly known as turtle-style candies. O, the memories. Turtles were my grandpa’s favorite treat. And, since he was my best childhood buddy, they were mine too! Every time I eat a Turtle or even see them in the store (the old-school big pack with the gold and orange stripes), I think about my grandpa.

My candies were inspired by Averie’s Raw Vegan Caramel. I’ve really, really missed caramel (insert drooling Veggie V face here).

Vegan Carmel Pecan Candies

1/2 c dates, soaked

1/2 c pecans, chopped

1 tsp vanilla (or more!)

dash salt

Using a food processor or a high-powered blender (I used my Magic Bullet), blend the dates until they start to get creamy. Add the chopped pecans. (I chopped my pecans in the food processor, then added my blended dates.) Pulse to combine, then blend to combine further. A ball of “dough” may begin to form. Stop blending if it does. If it doesn’t, process for a minute or so, then check the mixture. If it is significantly blended together and easily forms a ball in your fingers, it’s ready to go. If not, pulse for a few more seconds, checking texture often. (Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture tends to fly up the sides and onto the top.)

Spread mixture onto parchment paper. Freeze for at least 20-30 minutes, or until firm instead of gooey.

When the mixture is firm, roll pieces (about 2 inches by 2 inches) into balls. Mine made 12 three-bite-sized balls.

Naked Vegan Caramel Balls

Roll balls in left over g’nosh, coating evenly. Return balls to parchment paper and return to freezer. Freeze until chocolate has set – about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Covered Vegan Caramel Pecan Ball

I swear to you, if you close your eyes, your taste buds will think you’re eating a turtle style candy. Even my omni taste testers thought so!

This batch of vegan caramel pecan bars had about 170 calories per ball, which I thought was a little high for a three bite treat, but they’re WAY more nutritious than the original version – and vegan, too. And who doesn’t need a little indulgence once in a while?

Speaking of indulging, I’m submitting this recipe to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free. Check out some of the other delicious recipes while you’re there. (Side note – Some of the submissions aren’t vegan, which isn’t one of the submission requirements.)

Indulge!

P.S.

I’m so excited about my crazy desserts that I had to keep sharing them with the world! Check out Tuesdays at the Table and It’s a Blog Party for more dessert o’rama vibes. (Neither site is vegan).