Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Main Dish

IMG 3508 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Main Dish

Yesterday we covered the appetizers and the history of Cinco de Mayo. Today we will discuss the main dish, homemade Black Bean Burgers, and the why behind Cinco de Mayo.

History.com describes Cinco de Mayo as a “relatively minor” holiday in Mexico that has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the U.S. Oh really? Because it seems to me it’s just an ordinary day celebrated with an obligatory Corona, Tecate or shot of tequila. I’m pretty sure the evil geniuses in the marketing departments of these companies are behind the popularity of Cinco de Mayo in the states. (Thank you?)

Cinco de Mayo first hit my radar screen back in college. Ohio State was still on a quarter (rather than semester) schedule when I was there, so Cinco de Mayo fell right around the mid-way point of the quarter. A party was a natural reprieve from the five weeks of school we had left until summer break.

IMG 3449 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Main Dish

Creating homemade dishes instead of relying on packaged meals has been on my mind a lot as of late. It’s so easy to grab a frozen veggie patty out of habit and perceived convenience, but what’s really in those things? And where does all of the food come from? Though I don’t always have the answer to the latter question when cooking or baking from scratch (i.e. I don’t know where the chicken farm that produces my egg is located), I really like knowing how things come together. And the sense of satisfaction I get from pulling scratch meals together is just the icing on the cake.

The recipe I used came from Whole Foods Market. For the most part, I followed the recipe as written (I used fresh herbs instead of dried herbs) to establish a baseline for future homemade black bean burgers. I was really impressed with the consistency of the burgers – they really were like a thick, juicy hamburger. Since I am trying to stay away from meat, the black bean burgers were a very satisfying substitution.

As for the flavor, the recipe calls for quite a few herbs and spices, and you may need to stray from the measurements below to suit your own tastes. I really regret not adding cumin to the black bean mixture, and I suspect chili powder would taste pretty good in them as well. I also thought about adding a few whole black beans to the patties, and I bet adding a different variety of beans like pinto, or even corn, would make for a nice modification.

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This is a great basic recipe that lends itself to experimenting with flavors and toppings. I enjoyed my burger with tomatoes and cilantro left over from the guacamole and salsa appetizers, and a I bet a nice slice of avocado or a dollop of sour cream would have tasted equally delicious. Try the recipe sometime, and you are sure to have a delicious homemade black bean burger ready in a matter of minutes.

If you would like to see more Mexican-themed foods before tomorrow’s post, check out my Cinco de Mayo board on Pinterest. Enjoy!

Day 1: The Appetizers
Day 2: The Main Dish
Day 3: The Side Dish
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
 
Homemade Black Bean Burgers
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 egg
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • olive or other vegetable oil for cooking
Instructions
  1. Place the rinsed and drained beans in a large bowl and use a fork to mash to the desired consistency.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix well to combine.
  3. Shape the mixture into patties.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Arrange patties in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve as desired.
 

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Appetizers

IMG 3508 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Appetizers

It’s Cinco de Mayo week! For the first five days of May, I plan to share a Mexican-food themed recipe to help you celebrate Cinco de Mayo, or perhaps just enjoy a nice snack, dinner or dessert.

According to History.com, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This battle occurred during the Franco-Mexican War, which came to fruition when France (along with Britain and Spain) sent ships to blockade Mexican ports after Mexican President Benito Juárez quit paying interest on his country’s foreign debts.

Long story short, France decided it wanted to conquer Mexico. Mexico did not want to be conquered, so it fought back. When the U.S. got involved after the Civil War, France decided it did not  want to take on two countries, so it simply quit sending reinforcements to its imperial government in Mexico. And Mexico got to remain Mexico.

IMG 3432 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Appetizers

Let’s start with some starters! First up is homemade guacamole. I consider making guacamole more of a process than a recipe, but nevertheless I have included a recipe below. I substituted a yellow onion and green chilis in place of a green onion and jalapeno pepper called for in the original recipe simply because I had them on hand. I also added tomatoes because I love them. It’s a process, not a hard and fast recipe, remember?

Homemade Guacamole

 Ingredients: 
1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 very small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons green chilies
juice from 1/2 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
tortilla chips, for serving
 
Instructions: 
Halve the avocado lengthwise and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl.
Use a fork to mash the avocado to a desired consistency. 
Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well incorporated.
Serve with tortilla chips or as a condiment to a main dish.
Author: adapted from Cooking from the Farmers’ Market as seen on What Megan’s Making

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Next up is salsa made with roasted green tomatoes and tart apples. I found this recipe in Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster’s Market. The cookbook contains many other unique salsas, like roasted red pepper salsa and grilled pineapple salsa, that I would also like to try. Since I really like tomatoes, I opted for a green tomato salsa this time around. (I found green tomatoes at my local farmer’s market).

The salsa tasted good…but different. I like fruity flavors, like Riesling wine and Lambic beer, so the sweet, fruity taste of this salsa worked for me. However, if you are a spicy, red tomato salsa traditionalist, this salsa will likely be better served as part of sampler rather than as a meal’s main salsa.

IMG 3443 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Appetizers

If you would like to see more Mexican-themed foods before tomorrow’s post, check out my Cinco de Mayo board on Pinterest. Enjoy!

Day 1: The Appetizers
Day 2: The Main Dish
Day 3: The Side Dish
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
 
Roasted Green Tomato & Apple Salsa
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 medium green tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons green chilies, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
Instructions
  1. Mix all of the ingredients except the cilantro and the lime in a bowl.
  2. Place the mixture on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree F oven for 30-35 minutes until the tomatoes are soft to touch.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. When cool, scrape all of the ingredients, including the juices, into a large bowl.
  5. Add in the cilantro, lime zest, and lime juice.
  6. Stir to incorporate, season with more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Notes
It's best to use a baking sheet with sides (I call this a jelly roll pan) to hold in all of the juices. The original recipe called for red onion and one jalapeno pepper in place of the yellow onion and green chilies seen here. I also used apple cider vinegar in place of white vinegar. The salsa should keep refrigerated in an air tight container for up to one week.
 

Happy Anniversary: Prince William’s Chocolate Crunch Cake

IMG 3460 Edited Happy Anniversary: Prince Williams Chocolate Crunch Cake

From time to time, I look through my email folders for recipes I squirreled away many months ago. I like reading recipes I had forgotten about because it tells me a lot about where my head was at during a certain time. While doing so Friday, I came across a recipe for Prince William’s Chocolate Crunch Cake.

How ironic, I thought, to come across the recipe when one year ago the world watched the wedding on another Friday – April 29 to be exact. I filed the Chocolate Crunch Cake recipe away before I had even an inkling about writing a blog, so I knew I must have saved it because I really wanted to try it (as opposed to try it for the sake of blog content). So try it I did.

IMG 3465 Edited Happy Anniversary: Prince Williams Chocolate Crunch Cake

The original recipe calls for raisins and nuts, and I used golden raisins and walnuts. The 1/4 cup portions called for in the original recipe looked meager when added to an entire box of crushed graham crackers, so I added an additional 1/4 cup of each. I suspect the 1/4 cup portions would be fine if you made the cake with only two sleeves of graham crackers (three sleeves are found in a standard size box).

I consider this dessert more of a bar cookie than a cake, but to each his own. I’m also not sure why this is allegedly Prince William’s favorite tea time treat, but I am sure you can experiment to make it your own favorite. For example, you could add mini-marshmallows in place of the raisins and nuts for a quick s’mores treat. I would like to try the crunch cake with white chocolate melted on top next time.

IMG 3473 Edited Happy Anniversary: Prince Williams Chocolate Crunch Cake

How does it taste? Like chocolate covered graham crackers with an occasional burst of sweet fruit in raisin form. I couldn’t taste the nuts at all in the chocolate-topped version, but both the  raisins and the nuts had a chance to shine when competing with less chocolate in the bars I did not top.

How does it keep? At the time of this writing, my chocolate crunch cake is 24 hours old and still retains enough crunch to be satisfying. The cake is at its crunchiest, of course, when first made, but it makes a good treat to enjoy as a leftover as well.

If you would like to watch a video of some lovely Brits showing you how the real Chocolate Crunch Cake is made, click here. If you are like me and fell in love not with a prince but with the hats, you can learn to make you own royal wedding headpiece here. Whether its dessert or fashion, enjoy!

IMG 3477 Edited Happy Anniversary: Prince Williams Chocolate Crunch Cake

Prince William's Chocolate Crunch Cake
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • For the cake
  • 1 box (14.4 ounces) graham crackers
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • For the topping
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. In a large metal bowl, crumble graham crackers into bite-size pieces.
  2. Add raisins and nuts.
  3. In a saucepan over low to medium heat, melt the chocolates, butter, and condensed milk. Stir frequently so the chocolate does not burn.
  4. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the crackers and stir until well coated.
  5. Line a 9 x 13 pan with waxed paper.
  6. Pour the graham cracker and chocolate mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
  7. Refrigerate for 2 hours until set, then apply the topping.
  8. For the topping, melt the chocolate and the butter in a saucepan over low to medium heat. Stir frequently so the chocolate does not burn.
  9. Spread the topping over the cake and return to the refrigerator to allow to set.
  10. Cut into squares to serve.