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La Petite Maison Verte

La Petite Maison Verte: April 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What could this possibly be?

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's In My Fridge?

I saw this post on Serious Eats come up on my RSS feed the other day and will admit to being intrigued.  There's just something about getting a candid look into a usually-unseen part of somebody's life that is so fascinating, so naturally I couldn't resist.  I think it's human nature to be curious, right?

I thought it would be fun to share a peek into my own fridge and freezer.  When I opened up my fridge, there were quite a few things I wanted to toss (or at least hide) but I didn't, otherwise this wouldn't be an honest look!

In the fridge:  THREE different nut butters (Trader Joe's Valencia Peanut Butter, Artisana Raw Pecan Butter and Trader Joe's Almond Butter), 2% Plain Fage Greek Yogurt and 2% Cottage Cheese, leftover Peanut Butter Cup Truffle dessert from Bern's Steakhouse (has since been eaten!) and Cannoli Filling my mom and dad shipped to us from Mike's Pastry in Boston!

You'll also notice we keep a TON of veggies on hand in the fridge because I eat salads every day for lunch, then another salad along with dinner and always a cooked vegetable at dinner time too.  One trick to eating lots of vegetables is BUYING lots of vegetables!  Then, prepare a bunch of them for easy grabbing for snacks:  wash and cut up, then store in plastic containers.  You will be much more likely to grab a veggie for a snack if you have them already prepared!

The bag of BBQ Rib Bones is for Hudson to chew on as an occasional treat :-)

In the door you'll find the usual:  open condiments, soda (Bad, Bad Jules - but truthfully, it was purchased for Rum & Cokes so it's all good!), decaf coffees that we hardly ever use (hence why they're chillin' in the fridge)...oh and LOTS of BOOZE - par-tay at my house!

The Freezer is full of frozen fish (we stock up on frozen sustainable and wild-caught fish at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, when on sale), Trader Joe's goodies, a random frozen pizza that was free and waffles.  Love us some WAFFLES for breakfast!  (The Kashi and Van's brands frozen waffles are low in sugar, high in fiber and protein and are made with 100% whole grains :-)

We also have lots of frozen fruit for smoothies or for adding into plain yogurt or cottage cheese.  And yet more booze.  Clearly somebody in this house must have a drinking problem...but hey, at least it's good booze, right?!

So, that's the fridge and freezer at our house.  Perhaps a little "boring" by some standards, but a fairly typical representation of what you'd find if you came over any old day of the week and took a peek inside our fridge.  We probably wouldn't be the most popular choice for house-sitting but hey, I think our healthy choices (cannoli filling and liquor aside) are serving us pretty well!

What's in YOUR fridge?  Care to share?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dijon Herb Salmon with Braised Lentils

This dinner was one of our recent favorites and it came together in less than 45 minutes, definitely worth sharing for that fact alone, plus it is super healthy and really delicious.  Plus, if you're anything like me, you will probably have all of the ingredients on hand too.  Win!

I stocked up on MSC-Certified Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon when it was on sale at Whole Foods a few months ago and we've stored the vacuum-sealed filets in the freezer ever since then (they came vacuum-packed).  When salmon is on the meal plan, I thaw the whole package in the refrigerator overnight and it's completely thawed by the following evening when it's time to cook dinner.  At that point, it just gets a quick rinse and pat dry, and then I go over it with my fingers to make sure there aren't any bones.  If there are, they get pulled out with tweezers and it's ready to go.  Simple.

I served the salmon on a bed of my favorite Herb Braised Lentils (I've posted the recipe before, see it here).  They went together perfectly and the meal was both filling and completely delicious, while still feeling healthy (and it was!).  The original recipe says you can grill the fish, or use a grill pan, but I just broiled it since I'm not much of a griller (I leave that to my hubs) and I don't own a grill pan.  It turned out fine, although a touch on the well-done side - oops!  Mine was an especially thin salmon filet, so just keep an eye on it if you go that route, and plus it was Wild Sockeye, which tends to be leaner and can therefore get a bit dry if over-cooked.

Dijon Herb Salmon
serves 4
adapted from Skinny Taste

4 garlic cloves
1 heaping teaspoon dried Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
non-stick cooking spray
1 1/4 lb Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon filet (mine was about 3/4'' thick), rinsed and patted dry
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
lemon wedges and sprigs of fresh thyme, for serving

Preheat broiler to High and set an oven rack 4-6'' from the heat source.

Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic cloves with the herbs, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the mustard until it becomes a paste (make sure to break up the garlic cloves very well).  Alternatively, you could use a mini food-processor/chopper for this step.  Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with a piece of aluminum foil and spray with the non-stick cooking spray.  Place the fish on the sheet, skin side down, and brush the flesh with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Broil the fish 4-5 minutes, spreading the Dijon-Herb sauce onto the fish for the last minute of cooking time - the actual amount of cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of your filet.  A thicker salmon filet will require up to 7 or 8 minutes of broiling.

Top the fish with the sprigs of thyme and serve with lemon wedges, on top of a bed of the prepared Herb Braised Lentils.


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Blogosphere Roundup

I was catching up on posts from some of my favorite blogs and came across a few really good ones.  Make sure to click the links to go to the full posts!

From A Cup of Jo...

Her illustrated guide to all things Table Manners and Etiquette at the Dinner Table

Some really helpful hints and tips.  I never knew the "cat in your lap, mouse behind you" tip!
Image via A Cup of Joe

And along similar lines...  Wine Etiquette, also from A Cup of Jo.

Joy the Baker always posts the most lovely, delicious things.  Honestly, I am drooling over her Lunch Waffles with Apples and Prosciutto

Image via Joy the Baker
(By the way, are you listening to the Joy the Baker Podcasts?  If not, you are seriously missing out.  They are such fun!  I love listening while I chop veggies for dinner or bust out a half-hour workout on the elliptical.)  

Clever and Cute Sunday Brunch idea....

Image via ValSoCal

What blogs do you follow and what is inspiring you these days?!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Three-Ingredient Strawberry Jam

I think I need to confess something.

I am a jam-snob.

Let me explain how this came to be, join me as I recount how it all happened (Hint:  it involves homemade strawberry jam...and yes, there is a recipe at the end of the story).

So, I was standing in the jam aisle at the grocery store, completely mesmerized by the dazzling assortment:  dozens of different flavors, some labeled sugar-free, some with added fiber, some with no added sugar (different than the sugar-free!).  There were organic varieties and some packaged in squeeze bottles, varieties containing whole fruit pieces and some seedless, all in a bright array of rainbow colors.

(BTW what is the difference between jam, jelly, preserves, compote, marmalade and fruit butter?!?)

For as different as the varied jams and jellies seemed at first glance, they all had a few things in common - starting with the ingredient list.  They all looked a little like this:

[Fruit], High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Fruit Pectin, Citric Acid

Wow - that's a lot of sugar (HFCS, Corn Syrup and Sugar are ALL sources of added dietary sugars).

So, then I looked at the Sugar-Free and No-Added Sugar varieties.  Their ingredient lists were longer and full of things I couldn't pronounce, and the first ingredient was water (WTF?!):

Water (!!!), [Fruit], Polydextrose, Maltodextrin, Fruit Pectin, Locust Bean Gum, Natural Flavor (?), Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sucralose (Splenda), Calcium Chloride, Red 40

Even the varieties billing themselves as all-natural and simple 100% fruit contained some surprising ingredients:

Fruit Syrup, [Fruit], Lemon Juice Concentrate, Fruit Pectin, Red Grape Juice Concentrate added for color, Natural Flavors

It seemed to me like something so simple, so pure and lovely like preserved fruit ought to really be easy to make.  Right?!  

Well actually, YES!  And let me assure you - SO. WORTH. MAKING.  The ability to control the ingredients and the amount of sugar makes it worth it to me, the fresh and delicious taste is the icing on the cake.

Especially if you can pick your own ripe berries for $.50/quart (yes, that's what it cost us when we went picking about a month ago).  Granted, it requires a large amount of berries to yield a modest amount of preserves, so it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to make this when you have to spend $5 per pint for imported berries from South America.  BUT, it just so happens to be strawberry season on the East Coast now so go find a local U-Pick Farm (scroll down to search by state) and get picking!  Make sure to pick more berries than you think you are going to need because if you're anything like us you won't be able to stop eating them fresh, right out of your fridge.  

But do save a couple of pints for this jam.  It will fill up one pint-sized mason jar plus you will have some overflow.  Or use two smaller (re-cycled) clean glass jam jars.  You could even just use a clean plastic container.  It makes a really nice hostess gift or even perhaps a Mother's Day gift?!  My mother loved it....

Feel free to use official canning practices and store the jam in the cupboard for enjoying later.  Or it could probably be frozen too.  It will last at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator, that is, if you don't eat it all first.

I have made this jam three times already this year, it's that good.  I'll never buy grocery-store jam again.  There, I said it.  Never again.  Jam Snob.  

It is amazing on top of waffles with plain greek yogurt, sliced fresh strawberries and Artisana Cashew Butter.  

Or on toast with it's BF, peanut butter. 

Or layered in a jar with greek yogurt, fresh fruit and granola for a quick breakfast on the go.

Or stirred into a bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter for PB&J Oats (a personal fave).

The best part about this jam is, you control the amount of sugar you add.  Add as little or as much as you wish, depending on your taste.  I didn't need much because I was using really sweet berries, but you can adjust the sugar as you wish.

Three-Ingredient Strawberry Jam
adapted from Apples for Jam
makes about 2 1/2 cups of jam

2 pints fresh ripe strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered (this is about 5 cups of chopped berries)
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (or more or less, depending on your taste preference and how sweet your berries are)
juice from 1/2 lemon (I used a very juicy lemon.  If yours is kinda dry, use the juice from the whole lemon)
optional 4th ingredient:  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Toss the chopped strawberries with the lemon juice and the sugar in a large non-reactive bowl (not aluminum).  I would recommend you start with 1/4 cup of sugar, you can always add more later if necessary.  Let the berries, juice and sugar sit 1-2 hours, or as long as overnight in the refrigerator, covered, stirring a couple of times to let the berries release their juices.

After resting, pour about 2/3 of the berries and all of the liquid into a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until thickened.

Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, mash the cooked berries very well until there are no large chunks.  (As an alternative, you could use an immersion blender to puree until smooth).  Then, add the reserved berries (and any more accumulated juice) to the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cook an additional 10-15 minutes until the jam is thickened, tasting after about 5 minutes and adding additional sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired sweetness.  Stir in the vanilla extract, if using.  Cook until thick.  You will know the jam is thickened enough when you drip a small spoonful onto a plate, tilt the plate down and the jam does not run off but clings and slides down slowly.

Pour the jam into clean glass jars and store in the refrigerator.  It keeps at least 2 weeks in the refrigerator.  Conversely, you could follow proper canning procedures and store in the cupboard until ready to use.  

Here are a couple resources for small-batch home-canning.  (Full-disclosure - I have never used these guides.) 

Oh, and another tip.  If you do happen to come home from the U-Pick Farm with 12 Pounds of Strawberries, you can freeze a big giant bag of them and make this jam at a later date.  Like in January when strawberries cost $5 per pint and have to be shipped all the way from Mexico.  You will be so happy you picked 12 pounds and froze half of them.  You'll probably want to thank me - FYI, I happily accept homemade jam as a Thank You gift :-)


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100 Foods To Eat Before You Die

Have you seen this app going around Facebook?  I hate Facebook apps (I won't give my personal information out to just anyone!) so I Googled the list and was pretty impressed that I have already tried the majority of them (71!)  - even if it was just one bite, I'm checking it off the list!  Some of these things, I never wish to try again!

Here's the List (I found it here)

100 Foods to Try Before You Die
  1. Abalone
  2. Absinthe
  3. Alligator <<--one bite counts!
  4. Baba Ghanoush
  5. Bagel and Lox
  6. Baklava
  7. Barbecue ribs
  8. Bellini
  9. Bird’s Nest Soup
  10. Biscuits and gravy
  11. Black Pudding
  12. Black Truffle
  13. Borscht 
  14. Calamari
  15. Carp
  16. Caviar
  17. Cheese fondue
  18. Chicken and waffles  <<---- can't say I have ever had them together...hoping to try this at Soul Food Sunday soon!
  19. Chicken Tikka Masala
  20. Chile Relleno
  21. Chitterlings/Chitlins
  22. Churros
  23. Clam Chowder
  24. Cognac  <<---- I'm sure I've had it in a sauce or reduction at a restaurant, but can't remember trying it by itself
  25. Crabcake  <<--- Um YEAH!  That's what MARYLAND does!
  26. Cricket
  27. Currywurst
  28. Dandelion wine
  29. Dulce de leche
  30. Durian 
  31. Eel
  32. Eggs benedict
  33. Fish Tacos
  34. Foie Gras
  35. Fresh Spring Rolls
  36. Fried Catfish
  37. Fried Green Tomatoes
  38. Fried Plaintain
  39. Frito Pie
  40. Frog’s Legs   <<--- one bite counts!
  41. Fugu
  42. Funnel Cake
  43. Gazpacho
  44. Goat
  45. Goat’s milk
  46. Goulash
  47. Gumbo
  48. Haggis
  49. Head Cheese  <<--just had this one back in January at The Refinery!
  50. Heirloom Tomatoes
  51. Honeycomb
  52. Hostess Fruit Pie  <--- really?!
  53. Huevos Rancheros
  54. Jerk Chicken
  55. Kangaroo  <<--- Never have, hopefully never will!
  56. Key Lime Pie
  57. Kobe Beef
  58. Lassi 
  59. Lobster
  60. Mimosa
  61. MoonPie
  62. Morel Mushrooms
  63. Nettle Tea
  64. Octopus
  65. Oxtail Soup
  66. Paella
  67. Paneer 
  68. Pastrami on Rye
  69. Pavlova  <<--- I've made this one!
  70. Phaal
  71. Philly Cheesesteak
  72. Pho
  73. Pineapple and cottage cheese  <<--- a snack I eat all the time!
  74. Pistachio Ice Cream
  75. Po’ boy
  76. Pocky
  77. Polenta
  78. Prickly Pear
  79. Rabbit Stew  <<--- one bite!
  80. Raw Oysters  <<---Only One, it was peer pressure!  I was NOT a fan.
  81. Root Beer Float
  82. S’mores
  83. Sauerkraut
  84. Sea Urchin
  85. Shark
  86. Snail
  87. Snake
  88. Soft Shell Crab
  89. Som Tam 
  90. Spaetzle 
  91. Spam 
  92. Squirrel  <<--- Um, WHY?!
  93. Steak Tartare
  94. Sweet Potato Fries
  95. Sweetbreads
  96. Tom Yum  <<--- Never had this but it sounds good!
  97. Umeboshi
  98. Venison
  99. Wasabi Peas
  100. Zucchini Flowers

I am not sure who came up with this list or where it originated but some of the foods are so ridiculous!  Hostess Fruit Pie?  MoonPie?  Spam?!!  Why should we be trying these foods before we die?!

How many have you tried?  What are your favorites?  Which ones will you NEVER try or don't ever want to taste again?


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Secret Ingredient Birthday Dinner

A few weeks ago it was Brian's birthday - the big 27 for him!

As is usual for birthdays around here, we like to celebrate Iron Chef-style.  Do you remember my fabulous birthday dinner back in December?

Instead of going out to eat, we think it's more special to prepare a custom menu in honor of the birthday boy (or girl), based around a secret ingredient.  About a week or two before the birthday, the birthday celebrant chooses their secret ingredient for the meal.  Then, the other person comes up with a dinner menu and dessert and executes the whole thing on the birthday, keeping the exact particulars of the meal a secret until the big reveal.

Brian's secret ingredient he chose for dinner was red wine, no varietal in particular, just red wine.  For dessert he chose rum (again, no specific type).

I loved Brian's choices because they left things wide open for my creativity to run wild.  I decided to make a four course meal including an appetizer, salad and entree that featured the red wine, followed by dessert which would highlight the rum.

Here was the menu I came up with:

And some pictures of the dishes...

Make sure to check back for the recipes! 


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Chipotle Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans

I have another delicious quinoa recipe to share with you (!).  I don't know about you but I can never have too many quinoa salad recipes.  They are delicious hot, cold, or at room temperature. They are healthy, filling and make fantastic leftovers on top of a big green salad.

Prepared quinoa salads are a perfect side dish to take on a picnic or bring to a barbecue because they can be prepared ahead of time, and I actually think they taste better after sitting in the fridge for a day or so.  And they are a healthy alternative to the usual fare found at most barbecues and potlucks, like heavy mayo-laden potato and pasta salads, potato chips and creamy, cheesy dips.  I'm not saying you shouldn't try those other tasty foods, but just fill up on the quinoa salad first, so you're not so tempted to go back for seconds on the mac and cheese.

At this point, you may be asking yourself:  is this turning into a vegetarian food blog?  The majority of my recipes I've posted the last few months have been vegetable or grain-based dishes and meat has been making fewer appearances on our dinner table too, lately (although we are still eating plenty of sustainable fish).  Well, the answer is:  no, we're not vegetarians and I'm not making this a vegetarian blog.  It's just that we have adopted a more plant-centric diet and so naturally, that comes through on this blog, since it's a record of our successful home-made meals.

There are many reasons for eating fewer processed foods and less meat, especially the conventionally-raised sort.  I have been meaning to talk specifically about my food philosophies and how they came to be on the blog for some time now, but I haven't had the chance to really compose my thoughts into a concise manifesto just yet.  I will, I promise I will, because I think it's so important - in fact, it is coming to be one of the defining themes of my life.  But for now, I will leave it with just this:  in my opinion, the American obesity epidemic (and prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and heart disease) and much of the pollution of our environment can be traced to the same root cause:  the large amount of animal products and processed foods in American diets.

This recipe comes from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook, which I absolutely love.  It's full of simple and flavorful dishes that emphasize the use of a wide variety of vegetables and whole grains and uses animal products in smaller quantities.  I really agree with Bittman's food philosophy that he describes in the book:  eat more plants and fewer processed foods and animal products, for this will not only shrink our waistlines but improve our health and that of our environment.

This Mark Bittman recipe for quinoa that I'm sharing today used one of my favorite flavor combinations:  chipotles and black beans.  (If it looks familiar it's because I've combined these flavors in patties, tacos and soup!)  Chipotles are smoked jalapenos, so they're spicy.  They come packed in adobo sauce, in a small can that can be found in the Hispanic foods aisle of the grocery store.  Since most recipes only call for 1-2 chiles, I save the rest of the can, the chiles and the sauce, in a freezer-safe ziploc bag in the freezer, then break and thaw pieces as needed.

We ate the Chipotle Quinoa as a side dish with a filet of MSC-Certified Sockeye Salmon and salad but in a larger portion, it would be a hearty entree as well, and tastes delicious on top of a bed of mixed greens too.

This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.  For gluten-free, make sure to use certified gluten-free vegetable stock, a gluten-free beer (there are a few out there!), or water.   Also, make sure to check the label on your chipotles in adobo for hidden gluten (La Costena brand is gluten-free).

Chipotle Quinoa with Corn and Black Beans
serves 4-6
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1-2 canned chipotle chiles, minced, with some of their adobo sauce (I used less than 1 chile because I'm a wimp - these are spicy!  Just go by your palate, depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup quinoa, well-rinsed and drained
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or use 1 can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup corn (I used frozen)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (or beer or water)
lime wedges and 1-2 thinly sliced green onions, for serving

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Once hot, add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.  Then, add the minced garlic and cook, stirring another 2 minutes.  Add the chipotles and adobo sauce (start with a little, and add more if you're braver than me), oregano and continue stirring for one more minute.

Increase the heat to medium-high, add the quinoa and continue to cook, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes.  Add the beans, corn, stock and some salt and pepper (start with about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each, you can add more just before serving it, if necessary) and bring to a boil.  Stir, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Uncover the pot after 15 minutes and test the quinoa for doneness (if the quinoa is still crunchy, make sure there is enough liquid to keep the bottom of the pot moist, cover and cook an additional 5 minutes or so).  Once cooked, taste and adjust the salt and pepper, as necessary.

Serve warm, room temperature or chilled, topped with the green onion and lime wedges on the side.


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Monday, April 9, 2012

Indian Spiced Black Bean Burgers

I like making at least 2-3 vegetarian dinners every week and one of our favorite meals is homemade veggie burgers.  I've made many different variations of these burgers but they all have one thing in common:  they are filling, satisfying and super flavorful.

While these "burgers" are really delicious and can be eaten on a roll with the usual burger toppings, one claim I won't make is that they taste like real hamburgers.  They don't.  They're not meat, and I don't like to think of them as a meat-substitute!  If you go into it thinking you're going to eat something that tastes like beef, you will probably be disappointed, despite the fact that they are their own wonderful kind of food.

Brian and I loved the smokey cumin and the savory curry flavor.  We topped two of the burgers with Monterrey Jack cheese which was really tasty, but I think some crumbled Feta would be even better.  We didn't have burger rolls so we decided to eat them on top of a salad but these would also be great served up "Protein-Style".  We ate some coleslaw on the side but it would also be a nice twist to serve the coleslaw on top of the burger.  Options, lots of options.

They are also really delicious the second day as leftovers.  I just microwaved it for a minute and then topped it with a dollop of Sabra Spinach & Artichoke Hummus.  Another great topping for these burgers is plain Greek yogurt or homemade Tzatziki sauce.

The burgers themselves are vegetarian and vegan as well as gluten-free if you make sure to use certified gluten-free oats and gluten-free breadcrumbs.

Indian Spiced Black Bean Burgers
makes 4 burgers
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

1/2 large sweet yellow onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 large cloves of garlic
2 cups cooked black beans (or you can use 1 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats (make sure to use certified gluten-free if intolerant)
1/2 cup frozen corn (or about 1 ear corn, stripped from the husk)
1 green onion, sliced
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (or substitute gluten-free bread crumbs)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (or a little more) extra virgin olive oil

For serving (optional):  cheese, cole slaw, whole wheat burger rolls, greek yogurt, Tzatziki sauce, hummus, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup, BBQ sauce, onion, etc.

Place onion, jalapeno and garlic in a food processor and pulse 6-8 times, until finely chopped.  Add beans, oats, corn, green onion, cumin, curry and cayenne.  Season with a scant 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or more or less, to taste) and pulse 8 times.  Scrape down the sides and pulse again 5-8 times, depending on desired texture.

Place bean mixture into a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Remove chilled mixture and stir in breadcrumbs, adjust seasoning.  Form mixture into 4 equal size patties.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet (there should be enough to thinly coat the pan, you may need a little more than 1 tablespoon depending on the size of your pan).  Cook the burgers for 5-7 minutes per side, turning once, until crusty and golden on both sides.  Add the cheese, if using, after you've flipped the burgers to cook on the second side, and cook for the last 3-4 minutes in order to melt.

To serve, top as desired and serve on the burger buns or in between two pieces of lettuce.

Note:  These burgers can also be frozen.  Just combine all ingredients as above (including the breadcrumbs).  Form the mixture into 4 equal patties and wrap each individually in plastic wrap.  Place the wrapped patties into a freezer-safe ziploc bag and store in the freezer.  When you're ready to cook them, thaw in the refrigerator over night or on the counter for an hour or two until thawed.  If they're still a little frozen in the middle, just cook them for an additional few minutes per side, covered with the pan lid.