Making a BBQ dinner for friends is a great way to entertain, especially if the weather cooperates. I enjoy having guests for dinner and I usually plan my menu with dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. That way I am able to spend time with friends rather than doing a lot of food preparations while they are visiting.
You may have noticed that more and more of your friends are following different diets. Some are only eating low carb foods, others are on a Paleo diet, some are diabetic, others vegetarian and some vegan. It is a good idea to check with your friends to see what they can eat. I am always open to planning variations of what I am making to accommodate their diets. In this case a few friends are following a vegan diet, so instead of 8 beef burgers, four are beef and four are made from oats and beans. These vegan burgers are great on the grill, hold up perfectly and do not fall apart. Just be sure your grill is well oiled. The rest of the menu works for everyone.
For 4 servings
20 oz (1 ¼ lbs grass-fed organic ground steak for burgers
Steak seasoning (I like Penzey’s Chicago seasoning)
1 large sweet onion, cut into 4 ½ inch thick slices
Olive oil cooking spray
4 wheat burger buns
Shape the meat into four equal patties, about 5 oz each.
Sprinkle the steak seasoning on both sides of the patties and spray each with olive oil cooking spray.
Coat the onion slices on both sides with cooking spray
Heat an outdoor grill on high. Oil the grill grates. Place the burgers on the grill, cover, cook turning once, for a total of 8 minutes.
Place the onion slices on the grill and cook until grill marks form on the bottom, turn them over with a wide spatula and cook the second side for a total of about 4 minutes.
Toast the rolls at the same time. Place the burgers on the bottom half of the rolls and top with a grilled onion slice.
Serve with ketchup and your favorite burger condiments.
Vegan Bean and Oat Burgers
For 4 servings
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup dry pinto beans
1/4 cup dry red or black beans
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 medium carrot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for grilling
Grilled Onion slices
4 wheat burger buns
Ketchup or other condiments
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover and cook the next day for 30 minutes. Drain and cool.
Place the oats in the bowl of the processor and process until finely ground.
Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Remove the mixture from the processor and shape into four patties. Cover with plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight before grilling.
Brush the patties with olive oil and place on an oiled grill.
Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Place on toasted buns and add a grilled onion slice. Serve with ketchup or other condiments.
Whole-Wheat Burger Buns
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the flours, yeast, salt, wheat gluten and baking soda.
Add the warm water, honey and oil. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together around the paddle.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on low until the dough is smooth but slightly sticky.
Place in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat all over with oil, cover with a kitchen towel, and set aside for 2 hours until the dough has risen.
Punch down the dough and divide into 6 smooth balls
Place the buns on a lightly greased and floured baking sheet, a few inches apart or in a greased burger baking pan.
Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers, and let the buns rise for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the buns in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
Remove to a rack and allow the buns to cool.
Zucchini Fennel Salad
1 large zucchini, sliced very thin
Half red onion, sliced very thin
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced
12 Italian green olives, pitted and chopped
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
In a large serving bowl, combine the zucchini, onion, olives and fennel.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the dressing ingredients; shake well.
Pour over the zucchini mixture and toss to coat. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled before serving.
4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced (about 8 medium peaches)
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar, depending on the sweetness of the peaches
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/4 – 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a large bowl, combine the fruit and the agave nectar. Spread the mixture evenly in an 8×8-inch baking pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, oats, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Stir the oil into the topping mix with a fork until you get a crumbly mixture forms.
Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the fruit in the baking pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top is golden.
Most people think of summer as the time for the best produce, but autumn is the season that gives us great fruit for baking. First of all, fall is apple picking season, and that means lots of muffins, pies, cakes and tarts all filled with sweet and tart apples. Then Bartlett pears arrive, followed by Bosc and Comice pears and Anjou pears in winter. Other fall fruits would be figs and cranberries, which are healthy and delicious.
This time of year the whole world seems to go pumpkin-crazy. Pumpkin ends up in almost every recipe, whether it’s drinks, breakfast, pasta or pastries. Besides pumpkin, other winter squash such as butternut and acorn are available for sweet as well as savory recipes.
There are some spices that are associated with fall recipes. Those spices are warm, nutty, slightly spicy and slightly sweet. They include cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, chai, allspice, mace, star anise, cardamom, coriander, fennel and peppercorns.
Make your own Spice Blends
To make pumpkin pie spice blend, combine 1/4 cup ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground allspice and 1 teaspoon ground cloves. Mix thoroughly. Keep the mixture in a tightly sealed jar in your pantry.
To make apple pie spice blend, combine 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ground allspice, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves. Mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container.
All these delicious, healthy fruits are in season now.
- Dried Fruit
Apple and Cranberry Crisp
- 8 cups thinly sliced, peeled baking apples (8 medium)
- 1 ½ cups cranberries
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice or ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice or ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a 2-quart rectangular baking dish combine apples, cranberries and apple juice.
In a small bowl stir together granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon apple pie spice. Sprinkle over fruit mixture; toss gently to coat.
For the topping:
In a medium bowl stir together oats, brown sugar, flour and 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle topping over fruit mixture.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Serve warm.
Use this recipe for the fig rolls.
- 1 ½ cups warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups bread flour
- 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
In a 2-quart mixing bowl stir together the warm water and yeast until yeast is dissolved. Stir in flours, sugar, oil, and salt until combined. Cover with lid or plastic wrap; let stand in a warm place for 1 hour. Stir down. Cover and chill overnight. Before baking, let dough stand, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Italian Fig Rolls
- 1/3 cup finely chopped dried figs
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 pound bread dough, recipe above and made the day before
- 2 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- Small fresh sage leaves
Line a 9x9x2-inch baking pan with foil. Grease foil; set aside.
For the filling:
In a small bowl combine figs, snipped sage and honey; set aside.
Cut dough into 12 equal portions. Shape dough portions into balls.
Working with one dough ball at a time, flatten it to a 3-inch circle. Top with a rounded teaspoon of the filling and a few pieces of the cheese. Fold dough over filling; pinch edges to seal.
Place rolls, seam side down, in the prepared baking pan. Cover and let rise until double in size (1 to 1-1/4 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl whisk together egg white and the water; brush lightly over rolls. Gently press small sage leaves onto the tops of the rolls; brush again with the egg white mixture.
Bake about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Mini Cheesecakes with Pear Topping
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 4 cups sliced fresh pears (4 medium)
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup broken walnuts,toasted
- Crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Line eight 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with foil or paper baking cups or lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
For the crust:
In a small bowl stir together oats, 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 3 tablespoons melted butter. Spoon about 2 rounded tablespoons of oat mixture into each prepared muffin cup. Using the bottom of a narrow glass, press down lightly. Bake about 8 minutes or until light brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack.
Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add egg; beat just until combined. Stir in the 1/2 cup blue cheese and the sour cream.
Spoon 1 well-rounded tablespoon of filling into each muffin cup. Bake about 20 minutes or until slightly puffed and set. Cool about 30 minutes.
Remove from muffin cups. Place on a tray, cover, and chill for 2 to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
For the pear topping:
In a large skillet melt the 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and the cream. Cook and stir until bubbly; add pears. Cook about 5 minutes or until pears are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Cool slightly.
Remove foil or paper liners from cheesecakes. Place cheesecakes in eight deep dessert dishes. Spoon pear mixture around cheesecakes. Sprinkle with the 1/4 cup toasted walnuts and additional blue cheese, if desired.
Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
- 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, optional
- 2 tablespoons REAL maple syrup, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans (see photo). If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won’t be doughnuts.
Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt and baking powder until smooth.
Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.
Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well.
If you’re making muffins, fill each cup about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15, so you’ll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans).
Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges and transfer them to a rack to cool.
While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them in a bag with the cinnamon-sugar.
If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle their tops with the cinnamon-sugar.
Optional: combine the powdered sugar with the maple syrup and drizzle the cinnamon coated donuts with the glaze.
Cool completely, and store (not wrapped tight) at room temperature for several days.
Apple French Toast Bake
Make ahead breakfast.
- 1 day old Italian bread, about 18″ to 20″ long (12 ounces)
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 to 6 apples (1 3/4 to 2 pounds fresh apples), peeled and thinly sliced; such as Macoun, Empire, Cortland or Granny Smith
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- Maple syrup
Lightly butter a 9″ x 13″ baking pan or similar-sized casserole dish.
Slice the bread into 1 inch slices; you’ll need about 20 slices to fill the pan. Place the slices of bread into the pan. Be sure the entire bottom of the dish is covered with bread. You may have to cut some slices to fit.
In a medium-sized bowl beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.
Pour this mixture over the bread and let it soak in while you prepare the topping.
Peel and slice the apples thinly. Mix them with the remaining topping ingredients and spread them over the bread in the pan.
To bake immediately, preheat the oven to 375°F.
To bake up to 48 hours later, cover the pan, and refrigerate.
Bake the French toast in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are soft and the eggs set.
If it’s been refrigerated, remove the cover, and bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or drizzle with maple syrup.
Makes about 10 servings.
- Tips for Baking the Best Fall Treats – No Gluten Required (onegreenplanet.org)
- Everyday Pumpkin Muffins (ourfreshkitchen.com)