Whiskey Ketchup and Black & Purple Sweet Potato Burgers

Whiskey Ketchup and Black & Purple Sweet Potato Burgers

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Control. It’s all about control. In a world where so much is out of our control what we put on our plates is a decision over which we have control. I am not talking about being an overbearing control monger, but rather changing the perception of how we perceive food decisions that we regularly make shift from that of a dreaded chore to a radical act of self-care. Supporting one’s health is important whether you are healthy or sick. How we choose to eat directly affects how clearly we think, how quickly we recover from illness or how resilient we feel when undergoing medical treatments. Food nourishes us, comforts us, conjures up memories, gives us great joy, creates moments to share, defines us as a culture, celebrates special moments and keeps us alive.

My preferences on food have drastically changed over the past few years. Evolving our household from “Meatless Mondays” to now only indulging in meats, poultry or fish only a few times a week. I also like the concept of Gluten- Light. I can’t quit all gluten because I have a tremendous sweet tooth, but I have drastically reduced my pasta and bread intake and, I confess, I do feel better without it.

This recipe is a hearty vegetarian patty that is all about healthy eating, the privilege of enjoy the food we choose to eat and being lucky enough to do so.

This slightly sweet burger is balanced out by the tang of the ketchup.

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Whiskey Ketchup

Ketchup Ingredients

15 oz tomato sauce

5 oz tomato paste

2 TBS whiskey

3 TBS apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup brown sugar

½ TBS Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp liquid smoke

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Ketchup Directions

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve room temperature.

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Black & Purple Sweet Potato Burgers

Sweet Potato Ingredients

2 cups cubed purple sweet potatoes (approximately 2 large sweet potatoes)

14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1/8 cup olive oil, plus more for frying

1 tsp cayenne

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

½ cup green onion, rough chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cooked brown rice or 1-1/2 cups rinsed and cooked quinoa

½ cup nut meal or finely chopped– walnuts or pecans

1 TBS Sriracha

1 egg, well beaten

hamburger buns and toppings

Sweet Potato Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss diced sweet potatoes with olive oil, cayenne, garlic powder and paprika. Spread on cookie sheet in a single layer and bake approximately 30 minutes or until soft – not crispy.

Prepare rice or quinoa according to package directions.

In a food processor, combine green onion, garlic and siracha and process until they finely minced. Set aside.

Place black beans and sweet potatoes in a medium bowl and smash with a potato masher until no big chunks remain and the mixture is well combined.

Add in rice/quinoa, garlic mixture, nut meal, and combine. Taste mixture to adjust seasoning. When satisfied with flavors add in egg and combine well. Place mixture in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. To form patties, fill a plastic lined 1/4 measuring cup with mixture. Lift out patty and form into a thick burger. Recipe yields approximately 10 patties.

Note: to make balsamic glazed red onions, thinly slice onions and add to a pan with a dash of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Cook until softened and slightly caramelized.

To cook, heat olive oil to medium high heat and cook burgers until they are firm and start to darken; approximately 5 minutes on each side.

Alternatively, patties can be baked at 375 degrees for 35 minutes on a lightly greased baking sheet. Flip patties after 20 minutes to ensure even browning and cooking. Serve on a lightly toasted bun with accompaniments of choice; lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, grilled onions, avocado, cheese, etc.

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Guinness Extra Stout Stew

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St Patrick’s Day brings with it all lore of little green magical men, visions of rainbows adorned by pots of gold and robust beer parties that go on well past any recommended time frame!

While I love the good ‘ole American-Irish tradition of making corned beef and cabbage I wanted to prepare something a bit more traditional. I realize that to any American reading this, I might sound as if I’ve gone a bit crazy. The fact is that the meal that most American’s grew up believing was a traditional Irish meal is really ANYTHING BUT traditional beyond the boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots. It’s true. I was shocked to learn this myself years ago.

Many years ago my Aunt had a young woman looking after her who was from Ireland. We were very excited to share an Irish meal with her in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. In an attempt to learn her traditional preparations for the meal, we asked her how she would prepare the corned beef at home and she replied, “Beef? We just boil our meat.” So you can imagine how surprised we all were when she took her first bite of corned beef, which my grandmother had lovingly boiled for hours, and she appeared stunned. She had never had ‘corned beef’ and found it completely amusing that we considered it a traditional Irish meal!

So in honor of this young woman, who’s name now escapes me, I’ve conjured up a Guinness Extra Stout Stew in an attempt to be more authentically Irish. While the beer flavor is hardly noticeable, it does give this dish a lovely earthy flavor.

Guinness Extra Stout Stew


2 TBS olive oil

3 lbs high quality stew meat, cubed

2 cups pearl onions

12 oz bottle Guinness Extra Stout beer for stew, plus more to drink with meal

64 oz beef broth

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 cups fingerling potatoes, mixed colors preferably, cleaned

2 bay leaves

2 large sprigs fresh thyme

2 large sprigs fresh rosemary

2 large carrots, cut into coins

3 cups mushrooms, sliced

½ cup brown rice (optional)

1 cup milk (optional)

mashed potatoes (optional)


Prepare pearl onions, place in a small pot of boiling water and boil for 1-2 minutes. Drain in a colander and then plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Cut off the root-end of each onion and squeeze out the onion from the tail end.

In a large heavy bottomed pan add olive oil and stir fry the beef, over medium high heat, browning on all sides. Add in beer, broth, bay leaves, garlic and potatoes. To get the flavors of the other herbs without all of the dried woody pieces, place herbs in a cheesecloth bag (or even an old clean cut off nylon stocking) and submerge in stew. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat. Stir after 30 minutes and continue to cook for 90 minutes.

If serving stew over mashed potatoes, prepare now.

Note: While the stew can certainly be eaten without thickening it- I tend to like it with less liquid. It is possible to thicken the stew a number of ways — with dissolved corn starch, adding a small amount of mashed potatoes or cubing a potato that cooks and breaks down in the broth. One of my favorite healthy ways to thicken the stew, is to combine 2 cups water and rice in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil and overcook it! Cover, reduce heat, and simmer approximately 25 minutes. Remove from heat; allow to stand 5 minutes. Place rice mixture and 1 cup milk in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a paper towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Set aside.

Remove lid on stew and allow liquid to evaporate while adding in the carrots. Cook carrots for 15 minutes and then add in the mushrooms. Cook another 15 minutes or until desired tenderness. Add thickening option at this time. Serve in small cups or bowls with a crusty bread… AND A GUINNESS OR TWO!

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Overnight Fruity Oatmeal Parfait

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There is something about Shasta that just clicks with me. I struggle to put my finger on the exact feeling, but as my father says, “It’s in me.” My history with Shasta pre-dates me – my grandfather and my great-uncle started coming here with my father back in 1953. Their quest was mostly to fish and to drink the sulfur water. Continue reading ‘Overnight Fruity Oatmeal Parfait’

Raw Apple ‘Cookies’

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There are those times when it is necessary to change the way you look at things. Change the lens and refocus even on something as simple as an apple. Step out of your comfort zone and Continue reading ‘Raw Apple ‘Cookies’’

Valentine’s Day Pickled Eggs and Beets

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Eggs are one of those sustenance foods that are riddled with meaning and used frequently for analogies. For example, trust is often compared to a delicate egg. Once broken, it cannot be easily repaired. Eggs can also symbolize Continue reading ‘Valentine’s Day Pickled Eggs and Beets’

Smokey Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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Admittedly Super Bowl can be a major snooze-fest for the non-football fanatics of the world. But for many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most exciting events of the year! Along with game day typically comes lots of Continue reading ‘Smokey Buffalo Cauliflower Bites’

Almond Orange Chocolate Sticks & Chocolate Dipped Raspberry Lime Macaroons (Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Treats)

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Valentine’s Day screams at the top of its lungs – GIVE ME CHOCOLATE! Despite the fact that I am sugar, gluten and dairy free for 30 days as I try to shed my holiday layer, I L-O-V-E my chocolate. I want to be romanced by all of its subtle complex flavors.

Aromas and flavors are certainly seductive. Tantalized by taste, we are drawn to certain foods and flavor combinations that please our senses. The sensual pleasure that we draw from the aroma and taste of food can have an aphrodisiac quality to it; not so different from pheromones.

There are five foods that are claimed to fall into the seductive category. These five foods Continue reading ‘Almond Orange Chocolate Sticks & Chocolate Dipped Raspberry Lime Macaroons (Gluten Free Valentine’s Day Treats)’

Peanut Butter Coconut Balls (Gluten Free)

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The holiday vortex. It is only when I’ve woken up in January from my sugar filled dreams that I realize I’ve been caught in culinary bliss; blissfully drifting from bite to bite through the month of December. My body screams- it’s time to wake up – time to thin down – time to ‘try’ to leave the sugar and excess poundage behind. Every year around this time I do a gentle cleanse. Now don’t panic, it is not just a juice cleanse, which I doubt I could ever do, but it does strip out a few edible options. The cleanse is gluten, dairy, and sugar free. There are a few foods I can’t eat temporarily, but that makes them all the better when I am done resetting my appetite.

As you may have noticed I took a bit of a blogging break. I wanted to have some much needed time to lavish my family in more attention then they could handle! I considered it part of my reset. Writing is something I truly enjoy, but I felt like I needed a few weeks away to really miss it.

I thought a lot about what I would write. Cooking for me in December is a slightly different beast. It is about making all of those treasured family secret recipes that equate to it becoming one of the best meals of the year. The silly thing about this time of year is that despite how much I cook for the holidays, I seldom have time to indulge in my exploratory cooking. I also realized that with so much prep going into these traditional dishes, my weeknight dinners suffered. It’s a bit of a joke as I could cook all day and then for dinner we get take out!

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While on my holiday sabbatical, I read a lot of magazines, most of them pontificating about resolutions. You guessed it. If you thought I was your dream resolutions girl – you’ve got me all wrong. I am the anti-resolution gal. I just hate the idea of making a promise to do something I obviously never wanted to do in the first place to which I then have to feel that I failed.

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So my resolutions go like this: My resolution will be to NOT make a resolution about cleaning out my garage! (to which I am already a blazing success!) ;)

It’s not that I don’t find value in the exercise; I do. I just try to limit my promises and make them realistic. So in the spirit of it all, here are a few I am considering:

- Reflection. Choosing a word or short phrase for the year. Then posting this word/phrase in a prominent place so it remains prevalent in my mind. (Peaceful. Kindness. Giving. Generous. Listening. Patient. Living in the moment. Gratitude. Making Dreams Come True.)

- The Giving Tree. Selecting a charity. Instead of saving all of my spare change for parking meters, I will put half the loose change saved in a jar towards a new charity each time the jar is filled. The other half of the money will remain as is — to be set-aside for the parking gods.

- Me Time. Carving out 10-30 minutes a day to do something for myself.

- Brighten It Up. Get 15 minutes of sunshine a day.

- Embracing The Fat. Coconut oil, avocados, peanuts and meat from grass- fed animals all contain healthy natural fats, which our brain and body need to function optimally. To make sure this is resolution is crossed off my list ASAP, I created this recipe to share with you today. Peanut Butter Coconut Balls. This should really count as THREE resolutions (Me Time) as it is so quick and easy to make, I might even be able to grab 1 full hour of spare time to myself while absorbing some much needed vitamin D in my sunny focused resolution (Brighten It Up); all while embracing the good fat (Embrace the Fat).

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Peanut Butter Coconut Balls


1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup gluten free oat flour

1/2 cup coconut

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder


In a medium size bowl mix peanut butter, honey, vanilla and oat flour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

In a food processor finely grate coconut.

Divide the coconut into two bowls. In one bowl add in cocoa, and mix well to combine.

Remove peanut butter from refrigerator and begin rolling into 1/2-inch size balls. Once a ball is formed, roll into either mixture and place on cookie sheet. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Waffle-Oh (the potato waffle revealed)

For the record, let me say that I am a tried and true fan of potatoes in any format. I haven’t met a potato dish I didn’t like, but I keep on trying to find one. In the meantime I am enjoying every bite along the way. Continue reading ‘Waffle-Oh (the potato waffle revealed)’

St. Lucia Saffron Buns

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‘The holidays are all about giving’ – (right?!) There is a constant anti-consumerism thread that this time of year has become too commercialized. As a gift giver, what I’ve grown to realize is that the holidays are really about giving the gift time. The time it takes to select the perfect gift is no small task. So much thought goes into what to select Continue reading ‘St. Lucia Saffron Buns’

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