Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

It’s no secret that I was one of the pickiest eaters ever as a child. I’ve said it many times before, but that’s only because it’s true.
Of all of the foods I didn’t like (or just refused to try), my relationship with baked beans became the joke in my family. I distinctly remember being at a babysitter’s house when I was about five years old and being served baked beans with my lunch. I wasn’t about to give those mushy, brown, smelly beans a taste. Instead, I pushed them around my plate to make it look as if I ate some. Guess what? She fell for it! I got off the hook that day. 

The same thing happened a few years later when my friend’s mom served mashed sweet potatoes for dinner. I had never seen sweet potatoes before then and didn’t know why my usually white potatoes were orange. Ew. Again, I pushed the mush around on my plate so it looked like I ate a few bites.
When I was a little older, my picky tendencies led to a Christmas “gift” that everyone seemed to get a laugh out of: a giant can of baked beans. I mean, GIANT. 
Ha. Ha. Very funny, Family. 

Little did I know, one day I would actually like baked beans. And not just baked beans, but all kinds of beans. I can’t get enough black beans actually. And those sweet potatoes I once stared at in skepticism have become one of my favorite foods. 
Who would’ve thought?!
I have been obsessed with both black beans and sweet potatoes recently. Besides Sweet Potato Quesadillas, I have been enjoying the two foods separately – different meals at different times. I knew what a great combination they make together, so I set out to create a modified version of my favorite Black Bean Burger recipe (which, by the way, has become a weekly staple in my household). 
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
(Inspired by How Sweet It Is
Makes 4-6 medium-sized burgers
1 medium sweet potato
1 cup black beans, cooked
1 egg
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
4-6 English muffins, buns, or rolls
1. Follow Jessica’s instructions to cook the sweet potato: “Pierce potato all over with a fork and place on a paper towel, setting in the microwave. Microwave for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove, slice in half and let cool until you can scoop out the flesh.”
2. In a medium bowl, add about half of the black beans. Mash well with a fork. Add remaining beans, sweet potato, garlic, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir vigorously to combine. 
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add breadcrumbs and whisk to combine. 
4. Pour egg and breadcrumb mixture into bean and sweet potato mixture. Stir all ingredients together until well combined. 
5. Divide into equal parts to make patties of whatever size you desire (Since I was using English muffins, I made the patties about the same size as the muffins). 
6. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Coat with non-stick spray. Once hot, add patties to skillet. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes, or until patties are browned. 
7. Place cooked patties on muffins. Top with cheese, sliced avocado or salsa as desired.

Black Bean Burgers – Morning Star Copycat

IT”S HERE! Friday never felt so good. Besides last Friday, and the Friday before that, and the Friday before that….ok so every Friday feels pretty good, huh?
You know what else feels pretty good? Eating something so healthy, nutritious and delicious. Like black bean burgers for example!

Morning Star’s Spicy Black Bean Burgers have become a staple in our freezer. They are not just for me either, Greg loves them too. For the longest time I ate them simply by themselves or over a bed of lettuce. Then I discovered how great black bean burgers taste on English muffins. 
And thennnn I took a swing at making the patties from scratch. 

The verdict? Ahhh mazing. These tasted just like Morning Star’s, but the patties were even thicker. AKA, better! If you possibly have any doubts or hesitations about black bean burgers, I just have one thing to say: Don’t knock it til you try it. 
This is one recipe I will make again and again. 

Black Bean Burgers
Makes 4 patties
1 1/2 cup cooked black beans
1/3 cup cooked corn kernels 
1 egg
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Preheat George Foreman Grill or skillet to medium heat.
2. In a medium bowl, add about half of the black beans. Mash well with a fork. Add remaining beans, corn, garlic and spices. Stir to combine. 
3. In a separate bowl, add egg and breadcrumbs. Whisk to combine. 
4. Add egg and breadcrumb mixture to bean mixture. Stir all ingredients together until well combined. 
5. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal parts. Use hands to form into patties. Place on grill or skillet and cook about 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve immediately on top of English muffins or hamburger buns. 
Serving suggestion: Top cooked patties with guacamole, salsa, and/or cheese. 

A Restaurant Review – TJ’s Beef and Brew

Sorry I’ve been MIA for most of the week. I really don’t know how it happened, but this week got away from me and all of a sudden it’s Friday! 
Since I didn’t do my usual grocery shopping last weekend, besides a few random things from Target, I ended up eating out much more than normal. Tuesday night, Greg walked in the door from work and immediately asked if I wanted to go to the new restaurant on Daniel Island: TJ’s Beef and Brew
This is the restaurant’s second location (the other is in Goose Creek by Greg’s office and he had gone last week with his boss). This DI location took the place of Dublin Down, an Irish pub that had been open for about a year. I was interested to see if the restaurant could actually give some competition to DIG, because nothing else has seemed to be able to do so.
A short bike ride to the restaurant only made me more hungry than I already was. I had a feeling I wouldn’t find too many vegetarian options on the menu, but I was ready to make a compromise for the Taco Salad. You have a choice of adding grilled chicken, beef or chili to the top of a taco shell with iceburg lettuce, jalapeños, olives, cheese, sour cream and salsa. I wouldn’t have added any of the meat, but then I felt like it was stupid to pay $8.99 for lettuce and other veggies. So chicken it was.
Andddd don’t forget my side of sweet potato fries. Greg said he was really hungry too and I didn’t want to have to steal the fries that came with his burger. 
Speaking of his burger, he had the Southern Burger (a very popular name for burgers around here, but each place does it differently). This one was $8.99 and came with pimento cheese, bacon and cole slaw. Greg went without the slaw on his though. 
The bun looked delicious to me. I love a good bun. But the only part of this I tried was a taste of the pimento cheese. Yum. My salad and fries were keeping me plenty distracted from the rest of the burger.
TJ’s was a hit with us. The menu is similar to DIG in that it offers a wide selection of burgers, and also has salads, wraps, and other entrees. There are plenty of differences too though and I think TJ’s makes a great addition to DI. The prices are very reasonable too. 

Weekend in Atlanta

Greg and I left right after work on Friday evening for a weekend adventure in Atlanta. Besides the airport and driving through on my way other places, this has actually been my very first time visiting the city. We were mostly coming for one of Greg’s client’s wedding, but it also gave us a good reason to visit other friends and explore.

I somehow managed to sleep in until after 9am yesterday, something I haven’t done in months. By the time we showered and made breakfast, we headed out for what was a beautiful day. First, we went to the Georgia Aquarium. By the time we left, lunch was calling our names. After a quick search on Urban Spoon, we found Googie Burger, a relatively cheap fast-casual burger spot in the middle of a park. 

Greg got a double Googie Burger with fries and I had the Veg Out Burger (black bean patty and veggies) with a vanilla milkshake.

Can you say, “Yum!”?? This lunch hit the spot. 
Googie Burger on Urbanspoon
After the food, we were refueled and ready for the next tourist attraction- CNN Headquarters. We took a behind the scenes tour of the building and got to see some pretty interesting things. If you are ever in Atlanta and haven’t done so already, I would suggest this tour! Very cool.
Next up it was time for the wedding. It was a quick but beautiful ceremony. I have a different perspective of weddings now that I have my own wedding to plan 🙂 
We grabbed a few light snacks during the casual reception, but were trying to save up for dinner with our friends. We didn’t quite save enough room though and decided to split a quesadilla for dinner from Cinco

We also sucked down some frozen strawberry margaritas. Combined with the chips, salsa and guacamole, this spread was perfect. 
Cinco Mexican Cantina on Urbanspoon
We finished off the night with frozen yogurt. It never gets old!
Today Greg and I face reality and have to deal with some car trouble. We are taking his car to a shop first thing (thankfully we found ONE car repair shop open on a Sunday) and trying to get on the road back to Charleston soon. Pray the flashing lights aren’t indicating anything too serious!
I hope you all are having a great weekend!

A Restaurant Review – Pawleys Front Porch

Pawleys Front Porch (there isn’t supposed to be an apostrophe, I triple checked) opened earlier this year in Mt. Pleasant. I can easily get stuck in a rut of eating the same things over and over and was considering places like Coleman Public House and Daniel Island Grille for dinner on Friday. Then I remembered this restaurant and Greg was all for trying a new place.
I would have loved to enjoy their outdoor seating since it was such a pretty night, but unfortunately everyone else had the same idea and there weren’t any open tables. We were seated right away once we got inside. The menu mostly revolves around their wide selection of beef burgers, which can also be substituted for grilled chicken. I knew that going into it, but was still hopeful I could find a good vegetarian option. They did offer a veggie burger, but I opted for a salad instead. 
This is the Mahi-Mahi Salad ($12.50)- “lightly seasoned grilled Mahi served over mixed greens, with black bean and corn salsa, shredded pepper jack cheese, and grilled pineapple with champagne vinaigrette dressing.”
I cut up the pineapple and mixed it into the salad. I was about four or five bites in before realizing the salad was missing something. At first I thought there was not enough dressing. Then I realized there was no dressing at all and the pineapple juice had just fooled me into thinking there was. Once I had the waitress bring me some, it made the salad much better (as you can imagine- dry, dressing-less salad=bleh). But it still did not completely satisfy me. I am not a huge “fish person” to begin with, but the mahi was very dry. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but there was a rather large portion of fish on top of that lettuce and I only ate about a third of it. The bean and corn salsa in the menu description is part of what made this salad so appealing to me in the first place and I made sure to pick out and eat every last bean and kernel or corn!

For once, Greg had as much of a difficult time choosing what to order as I did. Rightfully so, because all of the burgers sounded great. I finally helped him pick the Caw Caw Creek ($10.00)- “housemade jalapeno pimento cheese, bread & butter picked green tomato, jalapeno bacon and grilled onions.” He had the sweet potato fries as his choice of side. And I’m sooo glad he did. Because by the time he finished the enormous burger and ate some fries, he was too full to finish. So I got to enjoy a good portion of some of the best sweet potato fries I’ve had! They were sprinkled with sugar and could almost pass for dessert. They also made up for my less-than-stellar salad.
Greg was more than happy with his burger and like I said, the sweet potato fries were awesome. The service was decent, and overall we had a nice Friday night date. I wouldn’t get the Mahi-Mahi Salad again, especially for that price. But I am still curious to try the veggie burger one day.
After dinner, we headed out downtown to meet up with friends who are visiting this weekend for A Charleston Affair, College of Charleston’s alumni weekend reception/cocktail party kinda thing. The event itself was last night and I’ll be talking more about that later. Until then, have a great Sunday afternoon!
Pawleys Front Porch on Urbanspoon

A Restaurant Review – Sesame Burgers and Beer

Sesame Burgers and Beer opened their third location in Charleston a few weeks ago. This most recent addition in Mt. Pleasant made it much more convenient for me to finally try it out. Greg and I went for dinner last Friday night and I immediately knew we would be frequent customers.

That’s not to say the experience was flawless, but it was good enough to bring us back again last night with Greg’s family who is in town for the weekend.

Let’s start with last week’s visit first.

We arrived just before the end of Happy Hour and made sure to order a couple of beers for $1 off to get the party started. We ended up just staying at the bar instead of waiting 20 more minutes for a table. The place. was. packed.
Then we ordered the Pimento Cheese appetizer. Oh em gee. This stuff is to die for. The extra soft flatbread, kalamata olives, and bed of greens could not be more perfect to serve along side. I scoop a little bit of everything on each bite and just go to heaven.
Now here comes the first issue. We sat there for about 30-40 minutes until my burger was brought to me. Notice I said MY burger. Greg’s was nowhere to be seen. We were told it would “be right out,” but after about five minutes, Greg told them to forget it (keep in mind it had already been almost an hour since we originally ordered). Our waitress/bartender would hardly even look at us. She was obviously stressed out and I can understand the feeling, but at least acknowledge us, even if you aren’t going to smile. She hardly even seemed sorry or apologize when Greg told her to cancel his order either. 

We ended up splitting my burger- The Southwestern Burger made with a black bean patty, topped with guacamole and a chipotle sour cream. I love that ALL of their burgers at Sesame can be made with beef, black bean, chicken, or turkey patties. 

I loved this guy. 
Thankfully, the pimento cheese appetizer was quite a hefty serving, so between polishing that off and half of my burger each, Greg and I were at least satisfied even though he never actually got his own order.
Overall the first trip was worth the poor service, and last night I was hoping they would redeem themselves. Well, we definitely had a much friendly server. Our appetizer (Pimento Cheese…again) was out in no time, but we did wait a long time for the burgers again. To be honest, I wasn’t keeping track of time, but it was probably close to 25-30 minutes that we waited. Our server was great and kept checking on us, so I know it is most likely issues in the kitchen rather than the waitstaff that are causing the delays. The restaurant was packed again and clearly doing something right, even if it isn’t the speed of service.
Last night I ordered the Arizona burger- again with the black bean patty, topped with pepper jack cheese and grilled zucchini (no pic, sorry). I also added a side of sweet potato fries this time. It was decent, but I liked the Southwest Burger much more. And the sweet potato fries were not the best I have ever had, but still pretty good. It’s hard to go wrong with sweet potato fries in my book!
One other great thing I have to mention is their prices. Most of the burgers range from $5-6.50, the generous appetizers average about $5 each, and the Happy Hour specials are competitive to any other you will find. 
Sesame Burgers & Beer on Urbanspoon

Juicy Venison Bacon Burgers

I know I told you about my abundance of kitchen appliances already, so I won’t go on about it again. I had to bring it up though because one of these new appliances is a George Foreman Grill that Greg got me for my birthday. We put it to the test last night with venison, something else we happen to have an abundance of.

Even though we have had the most mild winter ever and grilling outside is not completely out of the question, I am so excited about being able to cook some delicious juicy burgers while staying inside.

The grill was so easy to use (and cleaned up easily too, which is always a plus). I loved the marks it left on the meat, like it was cooked on a real outdoor grill.

After a few quick minutes, our burgers were off the grill and ready to be topped! Cheese, onion and bacon for me. I could almost taste summertime.

The burgers were excelente! Deer meat is extra lean too, so there was no need to feel guilty for adding that cheese and bacon and savoring every last bite.

I am quite the happy camper around here with all of my fun new toys like this and this.

Oh, and finally, I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JULIA, Greg’s mom. I know you’re reading 🙂 and I hope you have a great day!!

Juicy Venison Bacon Burgers

Makes about 4 burgers

1 1/2 pounds ground venison

1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked
4 slices cheese (I used Muenster) 
Sliced onion, for topping
1. In a medium bowl, combine meat, onion, garlic, Worcestershire, and spices. Mix to combine.
2. Divide mixture into four even-sized sections and form round patties with each section. 
3. Cook to desired temperature. (Cooking time will vary. Approximately 5-6 minutes for medium on George Foreman Grill.) 
4. Remove from grill. Add to bun and top with cheese, then bacon, followed by other toppings as desired.