Make it Vegetarian: Cranberry Sauce Stuffed Vegetarian Bean Balls

Cranberry
I’ve made these vegetarian bean balls stuffed with cranberry sauce at least 10 times in the past three months. They take about 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook. Serve them with this delicious Brussels sprouts salad (I use feta instead of the blue cheese and slivered almonds instead of pecans) and oven roasted potatoes.

The bean balls were adapted from this recipe from Daily Burn for Cranberry Stuffed Chicken Meatballs.

Cranberry-Sauce Stuffed Vegetarian Bean Balls

1 can white beans, drained and smashed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Worchestershire
1 tablespoon ground sage
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
pinch of salt and pepper
Cranberry sauce (the whole berry kind or homemade)

1. Mix all ingredients except for cranberry sauce into a large mixing bowl.
2. Using clean hands, take out a tablespoon of the mixture (either eyeball it or measure with a measuring spoon) and put it in the palm of your hand. Using a teaspoon, scoop out the cranberry sauce and insert it into the center of the mixture in your hand.
3. Cover the cranberry sauce with another tablespoon of the bean mixture, and then work with it until it forms a ball.
4. Place the bean balls onto a greased baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425 for 15-20 minutes.

Energy Ball Recipes

EnergyBall Recipes (1)

I’ve wanted a food processor for years, but every time I decided to go get one, something told me no.  I would put the food processor back on the shelf and walk away. I have done this at least four or five times a year.

And yet, I’d see recipes for energy balls, nut butters, hummus, etc., and try them in my low-powered blender. The outcome was OK, but not great.

But about a week ago, I was blessed with a food processor from my boyfriend’s sister. I couldn’t believe it! I finally had one!

Yesterday, a chocolate craving hit me around 2 p.m. and I decided that after going to the store, I’d use my food processor to make the energy balls I’d been dying to make for years now and have them turn out correctly. (Most energy ball bases, I’ve noticed, are made with dates. Dates in a low-powered blender? Not good. Here’s a trick I heard but haven’t actually tried if you want to make them in a low-powered blender: soak the dates to soften them. I’ve read anywhere from 15-30 minutes will do.)

After seeing so many energy ball recipes, you can build your own easily. It goes a little like this:

Base. Something sticky. Ideas:

  • Dates
  • Agave Nectar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Nut Butter
  • Honey

Fillings. Any combination of the following (but the possibilities are endless!)

  • Nuts (Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, pistachios)
  • Seeds (Pumpkin, sunflower)
  • Nut butters (Almond, Peanut Butter)
  • Oats
  • Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries)
  • Chocolate (Cocoa powder, chocolate chips)
  • Canned Pumpkin
  • Coconut

Flavorings and Spices. This is where it gets really fun. Try

  • Crushed Peppermint Candies or Peppermint Extract (holidays)
  • Pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Coconut extract

Phew! Those are a ton of combinations, but again, the possibilities are endless. Play around with the ingredients. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

I made two versions yesterday:  A chocolate date ball adapted from one of my favorite recipes from Chocolate Covered Katie’s cookbook, and a No Bake Cookie inspired one.

And boy, did the energy balls turn out EXACTLY how I wanted them too! They were creaming, not too sweet, and stuck together perfectly.

Version 1: Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls

This recipe was adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe for “Anytime Fudge Balls” from the Chocolate Covered Katie Cookbook. (Please go buy it! It’s amazing and a wonderful healthy dessert cookbook. I look through it at least once a day.)

9 pitted dates

½ cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp agave nectar*

Pinch of salt

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until crumbly but stick together when you ball it in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, refrigerate.

Version 2: Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Oat Energy Balls

9 pitted dates

Heaping ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter

½ cup old fashioned oats

2 tbsp semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut

¼ tsp agave nectar

  1. Pulse in food processor until crumbly but sticks together when you ball the mixture in your hands by making a fist.
  2. Roll into balls, try not to eat them all, and refrigerate.

Throwback Thursday: Popovers

Back in December, my boyfriend and I decided to make one of our favorite soups: broccoli cheddar. We love this Food Network recipe for a “healthified” version.

We wanted bread to go with it, but we didn’t want anything too heavy. We also were bored with buying bread from the store. My boyfriend suggested we tried popovers.

It has changed our lives. We made them several times, and each time, we giggled with delight (or at least, I did.)

It’s the little things.

Popovers, if you haven’t had them, look like a dinner roll, but on the inside are basically hollow. They’re a similar batter to a crepe, but are baked in a muffin tin in the oven. And, you guessed it, they “pop over” when they bake. The result is a light and airy muffin that’s basically hollow on the inside, making it the perfect vessel to put soup in. We love Alton Brown’s recipe, but have also made Mark Bittman’s recipe for popovers too. Both are delicious, but we prefer Alton’s because we weren’t huge fans of the sugar in Bittman’s.

Or, as we discovered, plain yogurt and apricot jam.

Popovers are versatile, easy to make, and delicious. They’re just enough of a change from a dinner roll to make a dinner come to life. They’re great savory and also as a vessel for something sweeter.

Have you tried popovers?

2015 New Year’s Resolutions

Be consistent. I got this from Gabrielle Bernstein’s video. I had an “aha!” moment when I watched that video: You can make great change just as long as you’re consistent. Being consistent makes it hard to give up the moment you “fail.” Being consistent makes it easy to make change because you are understanding that you’re human. It’s a way to acknowledge that you are ready for change. Change takes commitment.

Love yourself and others. Jesus said to love others as yourself. Work on loving yourself and spreading that love to others. This could be a simple as not participating in body-shaming of yourself or something else (yes, celebrities count too!). Be love to yourself and others by making a healthy meal and inviting loved ones to partake. Be love to yourself and others by making a commitment to focus on posting positive things on social media, such as an encouraging quote, story, or song.

Those are mine.

What are yours?

More general goals for me? I’d like to read more. I’d like to write more consistently on my blog, practice yoga and meditation daily, and continue journaling and writing poetry.

Happy New Year! May you be blessed.

September Blogging Challenge: Link Love

As part of Girl Meets Life’s September Blogging Challenge, here’s my Link Love: a series of blogs, news, videos, music, etc. that I’ve been enjoying or have been intrigued by.

Dog Getting a Head Massage

My sister sent this to me a few weeks ago, and I can’t stop watching it because it’s too cute.

Berlotti Bean and Farro Soup

I love Fresh Princess’s cooking videos, and I’m adding this one to my list of dinner ideas for this week.

Blogilates “Cheap Clean Eats” Chicken Lettuce Cups

I love the Thai twist she adds to it.

Vegetarian Pad Thai

I made this twice last week, and I plan on making it again this week. Can’t get enough of it!

Vintage Lace Scarf knitting pattern from The Casting On Couch
An amazing knitting teacher with amazing knitting patterns. I just finished this vintage lace scarf last week, and I plan on making another.

Small Kitchen Cooking: Sometimes, Simpler is Better

It’s easy, when you discover that not only do you know how to cook but that you love cooking, to get caught up in the pretty food magazines and recipes you find on Pinterest. When I first started out with exploring the kitchen and finally cooking, I would have stacks of complicated or extensive recipes that would leave me standing in the kitchen when I finally got home from the grocery store wandering why in the world I had just bought a bunch of stuff for a one-off recipe.

Over the past four years that I’ve been cooking, I’ve learned something: sometimes, simpler is better. Instead of roasting my potatoes in a bunch of different spices, I’ve discovered tossing them in olive oil, salt, and pepper does the trick. Sure, I still love to make complicated, fun, and new recipes, but I’ve really enjoyed learning that I don’t need all the fancy things to make a really good meal.

Joey Lawrence’s character on Melissa and Joey summed it up recently in an episode I was watching, where he’s teaching the teenage boy, Ryder, how to cook:

“If the world had only olive oil, garlic, and onions, they would be able to rebuild in about a month.”

Sometimes, making a gourmet-tasting meal comes from few ingredients. It’s also fun to make something new and complicated.

Just don’t become overwhelmed. Know that when you’re discovering your kitchen and stretching out your cooking legs, go for the simple things. See how those turn out. See how they taste. Build upon them if you want. And don’t be afraid to try the complicated from time to time.

Happy cooking!

Monday Night Pasta Sauce

Last week I wanted a bright and very tomato-y pasta sauce. Mark Bittman, in his cookbook “How to Cook Everything,” has several variations on tomato pasta sauce. I combined the spiced, garlicky, and spicy versions together to make this very simple and delicious pasta sauce. It doesn’t take very long to prep or cook, making it a great and quick weeknight meal. Try it and let me know how you like it!

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes (or diced), in their liquid
1 small can of tomato sauce
8 leaves fresh basil, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, oregano, to taste
2 servings spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package instruction
shredded Parmesan or pecorino Romano, for garnish

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 2 minutes, or until the garlic starts to brown slightly. (I’ve learned that if you can smell the garlic, it’s ready.)
3. If you’re using whole tomatoes, chop them first before adding them. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, and season with the oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the minced basil.
4. Let everything simmer over medium heat for 10-20 minutes.
5. While the sauce is simmering, boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.
6. Strain the pasta and add into the sauce. Turn off the heat to the pasta sauce. Top each individual serving with the rest of the fresh basil and cheese.
7. Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Things I’m loving today:

This Twitter party today at 2:30 p.m. EST from Operation Beautiful.

This recipe for calzone hearts.

This card.

This song by Colbie Caillat.

Here’s something to remember for everyone:

Find something in every day that makes you smile, even just once. Capture that memory somehow. And remember it. No matter what day it is.

Today I’m thankful for all of the people in my life who love me, and I extend that love back to all of them.

And a little shout out to my boyfriend. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful day. I plan on eating plenty of chocolate.

So, here’s the question for the day:

Candy hearts: Love ’em or hate ’em? 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day!

~Ashley

Event Tomorrow: Beer and Fondue Class with Emily Ellyn

Hey everyone! Today I’m sharing with you a cool event taking place tomorrow in Florida, with my friend Emily Ellyn. This event is going to awesome I’m sure, and I’d would be there if I didn’t live a thousand miles away. I mean, fondue and beer? Sounds like a great class to me. (Speaking of beer, I recently tried a stout chocolate doughnut, and was absolutely amazing.)

Shipyard1

Here’s some general info for those of you in Florida who should go check it out:

CLASS 1 of a Series: Shipyard Beer and Fondue Tasting and Cooking Class

WHEN: January 9, 2013 6:30PM

Class Overview:

Cooking Demo of Beer Fondues
Cheese Fondue
Beer Broth Fondue
Dessert Fondue

Overview of cooking with beers
Overview of Pairing Beers
Beer Pairing (to be discussed)
Light beer – Class toast
Export – Paired with Cheese Fondue
Barrel Aged – Paired with Broth Fondue

Featured Beer – Dessert (Chocolate or Orange Fondue)

This will be the first time this beer is tasted and will then will be released and available to buy following class.

Sounds like a good time! If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to be more social and learn how to cook or make something you haven’t before, then check it out. If you can’t check it out and have friends who not only live in Florida but would enjoy this class, tell them about it. 🙂 For more info, head on over to Emily’s website, or click on the photo above.

Hope everyone is having a great Tuesday!

~Ashley

Recipe for the Season: Linzer Cookies

I have always wanted to make Linzer cookies. I see recipes for them each year, and every year I tell myself, “I’m going to make these.” And I never have.

Today I found the perfect cut-out with several attachments for the middle (heart, diamond, flower) and I cannot wait to bake a batch. I’m planning on using orange marmalade or I might buy raspberry jam.

Have you ever made these cookies? If so, what flavors have you tried? I’m thinking a chocolate one might be delicious, or even a pumpkin one?

Anyway, I hope you are enjoying your week so far, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving for those in the U.S. I cannot wait to make my pecan pie! I’ll share another family recipe here this week, and I’m sure you will love it.

Thanks for reading!

Ashley