BHG Delish Dish

Stirring Up Ideas In The Kitchen

Posts by Amy Palanjian

baked black bean burgers for dinner

I’ve been trying to change up our Tuesday Taco night and these Black Bean Burgers are a new favorite addition to our rotation. They have veggies right in the mixture, come together easily in the food processor, and make for a very filling vegetarian dinner option. My whole family loved them!

I made a few changes to the original recipe to make it a bit easier and to customize it for my family. Here’s what I did:

  • I used red bell pepper instead of corn since we have been getting lots of peppers each week in our CSA box.
  • Instead of the canned chipotle peppers, I used shredded cheddar cheese.
  • I added 1 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder.
  • And rather than grilling them, I formed them into patties and simply baked them in the oven.

black bean burgers freshly baked
I also ground up all of the ingredients in the food processor to make a more uniformly textured patty, which I thought my preschooler would like more. I portioned out burgers using a 1/4-cup measuring cup onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet. I flattened each to about 1-inch thick and baked at 400 degrees F for about 18 minutes. They held together well and had a lovely flavor. We ate them with soft tortillas (further simplifying the recipe!) and veggies. And I topped a spinach salad with two leftover patties the following day for a pretty awesome desk lunch.

black bean burger family dinner spread

Making veggie burgers at home has often seemed daunting to me, but this recipe is so easy. It’s full of the Mexican flavors that my family loves and they are easy for little hands to pick up and eat. These will be making another appearance on our weekly meal plan very soon.

Check out the full recipe for Black Bean Burgers here.

Whole Grain maple apple cake

The nearby orchards are open for apple picking and we’re finally feeling the relief of cooler temperatures—which means that it’s time for fall baking! And for us, that means lots of sliced apples eaten fresh and as many apple baked goods as we can make. We particularly love this Apple Cake, with its simple ingredients and easy Maple Icing. Plus, the recipe doesn’t require any special equipment, so it is a perfect cake to bake with my preschooler.

freshly baked maple apple cakes

We made a few changes to the recipe when we made this cake recently:

  • We used 1 cup whole-wheat flour and 2/3 rolled oats, ground finely in the food processor, in for the all-purpose flour. This was an easy way to add in some whole grains to our treat.
  • Instead of 1 2/3 cups brown sugar, I used just 1 cup. I knew that the apple butter, dried apples, and fresh apples would provide plenty of natural sweetness in the mix.
  • Rather than baking one large cake, I divided the batter between two well greased 8-inch cake pans. The baking time is a bit shorter at 34-36 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly, and it made it easier for us to share the end results.

maple apple cake with rolled ats

And because we were dealing with nap times, baby feedings, and general family fun when we pulled this from the oven, we didn’t have a chance to spread the icing on while the cakes were warm. Instead, I let the cakes cool fully, then mixed up the icing and added it to a sandwich bag. Once I had a corner cut off, I let my 4 year old drizzle the icing all over one of the cakes. We let it set for a few minutes and then brought the cake to our neighbors to share. (We kept the other one for our afternoon snack!)

maple icing on apple cake

The cakes were moist and plenty sweet even with the reduction in sugar. And we loved all of the apple flavor and texture, which paired perfectly with cups of milk and coffee. Next time—and there will be a next time!—I might even try stacking the two cakes with cream cheese frosting for an apple layer cake. Get the full recipe for Apple Cake here.

Chocolate Fudge Pops

Fudge Pops are a summer classic and for good reason: They are rich, creamy, and filled with chocolatey flavor—and they are cool and refreshing on even the warmest summer days. We typically go for fruit flavors with our popsicles over on Yummy Toddler Food, but I recently thought that I’d change things up with a slightly less sweet take on this chocolate classic. I’m so glad that I did since everyone who tried these loved them!

Making Chocolate Fudge Pops

I reduced the sugar down to 1/4 cup to maintain the sweetness but to make the flavor focus more on the cocoa powder…and, um, the chocolate!. And I made them mini in an ice cube tray so that we could enjoy smaller portions. (I also admit that I just thought that they’d be super cute made teensy!) My daughter doesn’t always want a whole full-size popsicle, so this also ensured that we wasted less—which could be helpful if your little ones are on the younger side and you just want to serve up a few bites of a decadent treat.

Frozen Fudge Pops

The method for these Fudge Pops does involve the stove top, but cooking the milk-sugar mixture ensures the creamy consistency that you remember from the store-bought variety. And while it does take some time for the mixture to cool, the method is straightforward and simple, so as long as you plan ahead, these can still be a frequent event in the kitchen. The best part about the method is that it ensures popsicles that don’t freeze completely solid, but instead taste sort of like frozen chocolate pudding. Yes, really!

Homemade Fudge Pops

You could sprinkle some mini chocolate chips, shredded coconut, or chopped nuts into the bottom of your popsicle molds if you like to add some more dimension, flavor, and fun. Or, add some colorful sprinkles to the bottom of the molds like we did. We had some friends and their kids over for dinner recently and we did just that and everyone was delighted with their little fudge dessert. Of course, I doubt that anyone would complain if you left them plain and served up the classic treat all on their own!

Get the original recipe for Fudge Pops here.

Twiced Baked Potato Boats

With fresh potatoes in abundance at the farmer’s market, it’s the perfect time of year to make Twice-Baked Mashed Potatoes. You can add all sorts of flavors to the mashed potato filling, though my family’s favorites are pesto and pizza. My daughter likes to call these “pizza boats” but you can call them whatever you’d like!

This simple recipe starts with baking your potatoes. I used smaller ones to cut the baking time down, so adjust the timing if you do the same. (My little potatoes took about40 minutes to be softened up.) A small spoon is all you need to scoop out the potato flesh from the inside of each half—just be sure to leave a bit around the edges to ensure that the skins are sturdy enough to hold the filling.

Scooped Out Potatoes

I swapped in pizza sauce for the pesto in this original recipe and otherwise followed the directions, omitting the pine nuts simply since we didn’t have any on hand. The smell of the mixture was enough to get me excited for dinner and I loved knowing that my daughter would be thrilled to have these for dinner. I did cut the cooking time down again by sticking these under the broiler for about 5 minutes (or until the cheese melts) and they were perfectly warmed through and cheesy.

Stuffed Potatoes
You could serve these alongside a simple chicken recipe or even thawed frozen peas, like we did, for an easy weeknight dinner. These little potatoes also reheat quite well, so you can even make a whole batch of them ahead of time and warm them up for a quick dinner on a night when you are short on time. You might even want to set out other favorite pizza toppings—sliced olives, pepperoni, crumbled bacon, and more—to make the meal even more fun for your family!

Get the original recipe for Twice-Baked Mashed Potatoes here.

Dark Chocolate Banana Pops

As a kid, summer meant frozen bananas dipped in chocolate from our local ice cream shop. To me, it was the perfect dessert—it was filled with chocolate flavor and natural sweetness, and it was super cold and refreshing. And this homemade version of Dark Chocolate Banana Pops, which is ready in about 30 minutes, is even better than I remember! I made this easy recipe for a simple dessert one recent night and my whole family loved the end result.

Frozen Banana Pop Ingredients

I simplified the original recipe and just used dark chocolate and a super ripe banana. I also used popsicle sticks instead of lollipop sticks and sliced the banana into rounds to make smaller portions since I wasn’t sure how much my daughter would want to eat at once. The method in the recipe is really easy and this would be a fun recipe to make alongside your little ones.

I used a small spatula to spread the melted chocolate onto each banana slice and then set them into the freezer to harden. If you serve them right at the 30 minute mark, the chocolate will be set and the banana will be very chilled, but not too hard. If they hang out in the freezer longer, just let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes so that they soften slightly—especially for younger eaters.

Frozen Banana Pops

The little bites are the perfect bit of sweetness to enjoy after dinner, especially on warm nights when you want something indulgent and cold. These are also so simple to make that they would be a really fun dessert to share with friends at a dinner party. As long as you use a ripe banana and good quality dark chocolate, everybody wins!

Get the original recipe for Dark Chocolate Banana Pops here for the full method (and a version that incorporates nut butter and chopped nuts).

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Strawberry Water Ice

Fresh strawberries are one of our very favorite things. And when we find them in abundance at the market, we love to turn them into simple, yet flavorful desserts like this Strawberry Italian Ice. It’s incredibly quick to make, features only a handful of simple ingredients, and tastes so fresh—and refreshing—that it might just be a perfect summer dessert.


Growing up in South Jersey, I ate a lot of Italian ice (often called water ice). It’s a staple in that region (and in Philly, where I spent a lot of time with my grandparents), so even the idea of it brings back memories of scraping sweet icy treats with little wooden spoons. This homemade version tastes more like real fruit than the lemon and cherry flavors of my youth, but it’s no less enjoyable.

I started with the best tasting strawberries that you can find since they are the primary ingredient in this recipe and then simplified the original recipe—in an effort to rely less on sugar for the sweetness and to make it slightly less complicated. I simply used the berries and the lemon juice (which adds a nice note of tartness), and added about 2 tablespoons of honey. (You might need a bit more if your berries aren’t super sweet on their own.) I added these ingredients to a blender and continued with the recipe as directed.

Side note: If you think your kids would prefer this mixture as freezer pops, go ahead and do that! The mixture would be wonderful frozen that way.

Strawberry Italian Ice

We served up this summer dessert after dinner one night and all loved how vibrant the flavors were. I also love how the texture was so smooth and rich, despite not containing any dairy. I can’t wait to make this again (and again!) throughout the warm summer months to help us stay cool—and really happy.

Get the original recipe for Strawberry Italian Ice here.

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