Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

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Lemon grass and green tea bridal shower soap

Rain, rain, go away! That’s the song we’ve been singing in northeast Ohio. I was disappointed that The Flea at the Evaporator Works in Hudson was cancelled due to the monsoon we had on Saturday but that meant I was able to make it to a family member’s bridal shower, so the weekend wasn’t a total washout. I made 52 blue and white swirled soaps scented with lemon grass and green tea as favors for the guests. This was my biggest and most complicated project to date and I was thrilled with the results!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Independence Day is right around corner and that means outdoor fun and barbecue. Want to indulge without raising your cholesterol level? Try a vegan beet burger or a black bean burger. You couldn’t ask for a more flavorful experience!

Butternut squash burgers (Vegan, Gluten-free)

Eating healthy... Butternut squash burgers...Delicious, vegan and gluten-free

I have a confession: I love butternut squash–but I hate prepping it–and sometimes I pick the less budget friendly option of buying it prepped for me. I’m not ashamed and it probably is actually more budget friendly, since it likely saves me the cost of a visit to the emergency room (my knife skills could use some work).

However, if you want to make this tasty burger and buy a whole butternut squash and prep it yourself, check out these tips for peeling and cutting a butternut squash (I’ve also found zapping it in the microwave for a couple of minutes before starting helps with the cutting process).

This burger recipe also features spinach and quinoa, making it a vitamin A and C powerhouse to keep your immune system humming and protein and fiber to keep your tummy satisfied, helping you stick to your resolution to eat healthier, if you’re into that sort of thing. If you pair these burgers with a small salad and some seasoned, roasted potatoes, you’ll have the perfect winter meal.

So, get your food processor out (unless you have a sharp knife and really strong biceps, it’s essential for this recipe) and make a batch of these today. They freeze well, so you can also have some on hand for a quick lunch.

Butternut Squash Burgers

Makes six, medium-sized patties

2 c. shredded butternut squash

2 c. baby spinach, loosely packed

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 c. great northern or navy beans

2 c. cooked quinoa

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. dried rosemary

1/2 t. dried thyme

In your food processor, combine squash, beans, onion and spices and blend until smooth. Add spinach and pulse until spinach is finely chopped and blended into the mixture. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and blend in quinoa. Cover bowl, put in the refrigerator and allow mixture to chill for at least an hour.

After mixture has chilled, heat oven to 375 degrees. Form mixture into six patties, placing each on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake patties for about 40 minutes, turning over once about halfway through the cooking time.

(Cooking note: These patties are very moist; if the burger will not easily release when it’s time to turn, it’s not ready to be turned over. If you force it, you will have a crumbly mess. Not that this ever happened to me during my cooking process…)

 

Vegan black bean burgers

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I like burgers. They’re quick, easy and filling. But, the meaty kind aren’t on the menu for someone trying to stick to a healthy diet. My initial transition to vegan burgers started with the kind you can find in your grocer’s freezer section. They were quick, easy and relatively tasty, but a bit expensive. I thought with my skills in the kitchen I could find a recipe that was more cost-effective, lower in sodium and tastier.

I found this recipe in the book The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn (Rip happens to be the son of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, whose book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease helped persuade former President Bill Clinton to follow a vegan diet) and thought with a few modifications, I could turn it into a burger I would love. The recipe is pretty easy, but even more so if you own a food processor. Purchasing one is, so far, the best investment I’ve made in my culinary adventures.

I put the all the ingredients except the oats in the food processor and blended them well. (Full disclosure: I forgot the carrots for this batch! They were missed, because they add moistness to the burgers.)

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Then I added two cups of oats and gave the mixture another blend. This is an important step in the process; it helps thicken up the mix and makes forming the patties easier. And isn’t easy the point of making burgers? When I was done, I transferred the mixture into a large mixing bowl.

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I know this isn’t much to look at but, trust me, it’s going to taste good!

The final step before patty formation is to add one more cup of oats to the mix. Keep these in their original state; it add a nice texture to your burgers. (I think the fancy, foodie word for this is “mouthfeel.”)

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Now the fun begins! Form your burger patties. When you’re done you should have eight patties and some sticky fingers. Here’s how mine looked before I popped them in the oven:

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After a quick 15-minute bake in the oven, your burgers are ready to eat! There is a mild spiciness to these patties because of the chiles, but they pair very well with almost any topping you’d care to put on them. (Because I have the palette of a 5-year-old when it comes to burgers, I only like to put ketchup on mine.) A nice accompaniment to these burgers on a cold, winter’s night is salty baked potato.

The full recipe is below. If you try it, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments!

Vegan Black Bean Burgers

Makes 8 patties; inspired by The Engine 2 Diet

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can tomatoes with chiles

1 garlic clove, minced

1 t. onion powder

1 c. shredded carrots

3 cups old-fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix all ingredients except oats in food processor or blender. Add two cups of oats and mix until blended. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining oats. Form into patties and place on nonstick cookie sheet. Bake for seven minutes. Turn patties and bake for seven minutes more. Serve on hamburger buns (or not) with condiments of choice.