Tag Archives: Veggie Burger

A Trip to Brussels: The Food, Part 1

When I found out about a month ago that I needed to take a trip to my company’s office in Brussels, Belgium to work on documenting a new product, all I could think about was the awesome food and drink I’d get to experience. They didn’t even have to finish the sentence or tell me much about the project in order to get me to say yes! So I took a trip “across the pond” last week, and am back (likely heavier) to talk about the deliciousness.

Whenever I’m planning a trip, I do as much research as I can, and really appreciate when people take the time to review things. I rely heavily on Yelp and FourSquare when it comes to food and drink, and I feel as though it’s only appropriate to pay it back by doing the same. So in addition to the reviews there, I wanted to blog about it too. I’m going to break it into two parts: first the food, then the drink. You can experience most of Brussels and the “sights” in a matter of three days (if you hit up the big attractions and are diligent with your time), but obviously staying longer means you’ll have more of an opportunity to try different restaurants and bars. I was in Brussels for six days; three days of work and three days of sight seeing and being a tourist.

Grand Place / Grote Markt

Grand Place / Grote Markt

I must admit I was a little nervous for my first dining experience in Brussels, as each country seems to have their own social and cultural norms when it comes to dining. I tried to do some research beforehand to see what was common, etc., but didn’t get much information. My timidness only stems from my first night in Berlin two years ago, when we walked into a restaurant and didn’t realize that they go by the “seat yourself” rule, and stood in the doorway for awhile until a surly man ushered us to a table. It seems as though in Brussels, you are acknowledged and directed by waitstaff when you walk in, but you’re able to pick your own seat. And when it comes to the check, they don’t rush you – so you either have to ask for it when they’re clearing your place, or flag them down to request it. Or, in some cases, just go up to the register and they’ll ring you up right there. It’s also worth noting that a lot of places are cash only – so make sure you have plenty of Euros with you! Now onto the food…

My ahead of time research led me to my first meal at Houtsiplou. There seem to be a lot of burger joints in Brussels, but this particular restaurant had the best reviews, and they their food is served up in a kitschy environment (all of their walls are painted with fun scenes and their food is delivered up from the kitchen via dumbwaiter). After perusing the menu for awhile, I ordered a beer (of course – review to come in a separate post) and their veggie burger, “Lola.” The burger had some grilled eggplant, tomato sauce, lettuce, and cheddar cheese served with frites in a cute little flower pot. I absolutely loved everything about the restaurant, and planned to take a trip back (which I did on my last night) before leaving. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good burger and delicious frites just outside of the central tourist area of Brussels.

Lola Burger & frites

Lola Burger & frites

Since my sense of time was out of whack (Left at 6pm EST and arrived at 8am CET, took a little nap before and after lunch), I wasn’t really hungry for dinner that first night. After a trip to Delirium Café (full review on that awesomeness to come in my beer post) for beer, I headed to one of many Friteries just two blocks from my hotel for fries (yes, this was after having them with my burger at lunch). This particular location, Friterie Tabora, offered two different sizes (small or large) and a plethora of sauce options. I decided on the curry sauce, and watched the guy behind the counter smother my piping hot cone of fries thinking to myself, “Um, how am I going to eat this?!” Thankfully they offer those cute little forks for frites consumption, so I had no problem strolling back to my hotel while devouring them.

Frites!

Frites!

On Sunday morning I woke up with two goals in mind: breakfast that included a giant cup of coffee, and a visit to a museum and Mannekin Pis (and more beer, of course). Despite Brussels being a bustling city, there weren’t a lot of coffee shops around. And I quickly learned while trying to find one nearby that a lot of stores, restaurants, and even coffee shops are closed on Sundays. Eventually I settled on The Coffee Company, and ordered myself a blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. It was nice to sit back, relax, and enjoy my breakfast in a familiar environment (well, except for the fact that everyone around me was speaking French). Eventually I made my way to the Magritte Museum to enjoy a little culture. The museum actually made me really tired (it was quiet and dark), so I knew I’d need to walk around outside a bit to wake up.

Brussels | FoodosaurusRex.com

After wandering around for a bit, I decided on my early dinner haphazardly. The hotel I was staying at offered wifi, so I was able to look up the location of things and read reviews, etc., anytime I was in my hotel, but I kept my phone in airplane mode the entire trip so I wouldn’t incur any international data charges. This worked out well, until I was out somewhere without internet and needed it. I had bookmarked one restaurant, Rachel, based on it’s reviews and location, and just as my stomach started to grumble, I walked past the restaurant. This is also a bit of a burger joint, but they offer more than just burgers (apparently their brunch is very good). Even though I had a burger for lunch the day before, I went with their Frankenstein burger (with a veggie patty substituted) which was served on a bagel. That’s right – a burger on a bagel. It was as amazing as it sounds! I also had my first tasted of Kriek, which I really enjoyed (and was shocked I did). The service was quick and friendly, and I didn’t feel out of place at all. After my second burger of the trip, I walked down to the famed Mannekin Pis for a picture. I must admit it’s pretty weird, but funny, and picture worthy.

NSFW?

NSFW?

Monday meant it was time for work, so I took a trip to the office, which was about 20 minutes outside of Brussels in an office park. I must admit I have no idea where we went for lunch which isn’t very helpful, but again, it was outside of Brussels so I’m assuming the average tourist wouldn’t be out that way anyway. By the time I got back to my hotel I couldn’t wait for dinner. And again, I decided to go a few blocks away from the touristy section of the city. I should note that anyone who wants to have a good, non-tourist centered meal should avoid any restaurant near Grand Place, especially Beenhouwersstraat / Rue des Bouchers streets. You have to walk down them to get to the Delirium Café, but you really shouldn’t go down them for any other reason; unless you like having people jump out at you from the restaurant trying to get you to come in and eat. I nearly punched someone in the face after telling him no and saying excuse me (in French) multiple times without him moving. More on that later, though!

Dinner on Monday night was at Publico – a small and intimate Mediterranean restaurant. I was thrown for a loop when I first opened the door, since you need to completely close it before being able to stand inside. When you do, it’s pitch black as there is a big heavy curtain separating the doorway from the actual restaurant (which I’m assuming is to help keep out the cold). Once you realize what’s going on and you open the curtain, you’re faced with a warm and inviting restaurant. I ordered the bruschetta to start followed by one of their specials (orecchiette) and it was phenomenal. They have an extensive wine list, and in addition to serving you bread (as all restaurants in Brussels do) they also had herbed olives that were delicious. My main dish was so big that I couldn’t finish it, and the server asked me if I didn’t like it and that’s why I didn’t finish it (and he seemed insulted). I had to assure him that I was just too full to finish, as they take finishing their food in Brussels seriously. I must admit that was the only meal I didn’t devour!

Wall art in Publico

Wall art in Publico

At the risk of getting too long and too wordy, I’m going to split this post into two parts – I still have three more days worth of food to talk about! And don’t worry, things like Belgian waffles, moules frites, Belgian chocolate, and speculoos are up next.

So in the meantime, tell me…
Have you ever traveled somewhere that had different dining customs? Did you know about them beforehand, or discover them once you were there? 

4 Comments

Filed under Food Review, Restaurant, Travel, Vegetarian/Vegan

Meatless Monday: White Bean Basil Burgers

One of the things I miss most about no longer eating meat is a good hamburger. I can easily turn down a steak, chicken (even wings!), and seafood. But I won’t try to pretend that I don’t miss a juicy hamburger (well, 99.9% of the time it’s a cheeseburger) from time to time. There was even an period when I was in middle school that my go-to order when out to eat was some type of burger and fries. It wasn’t because I was picky eater – it was simply because I loved them that much! So now that I’m a vegetarian, I think it’s natural that I find myself making some type of veggie burger frequently.

In the past my go-to base for a veggie burger has been black beans… partially because I love black beans, and partially because they seem to be the default for most restaurant and packaged veggie burgers. As I’ve delved more and more into a vegetarian diet and cooking in general, I’ve come to realize that you can really transform almost anything if you’re willing to take a little time and get creative.

These particular burgers came about due to a craving for both falafel and a veggie burger. I knew I had white beans at home (but no chickpeas), so my first instinct was to try and make a generic falafel based on white beans instead of chickpeas. While trying to remember what else I had laying around at home, I remembered the fresh basil from the previous week’s fresh box that was definitely on its last legs. That’s when I realized I could use the white beans and basil together, and satisfy my veggie burger craving; enter the White Bean Basil Burgers!

With the perfect combination of basil, red onion, and fresh sliced tomato and mozzarella, these burgers are a great end-0f-summer treat. I didn’t have mine on a bun simply because I didn’t have any, but they would be great on an Italian roll!

White Bean Basil Burger | FoodosaurusRex.com

White Bean Basil Burgers
– makes 4 burgers –

Ingredients:
1 15 oz. can white beans (cannellini beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 small red onion, diced
10 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (just chopped works too)
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oil for cooking
Optional: Sliced tomato & fresh mozzarella cheese to top the burgers

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mash the white bean burgers with a potato masher or a fork.
2. Once the white beans are mashed, add in the rest of the ingredients: bread crumbs, garlic, onion, basil, and rosemary, stirring to make sure everything is combined well. Form into 4 patties.
4. Heat 2 tsp of oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes, flipping once.
5. Serve with sliced tomato, mozzarella cheese, and additional fresh basil if desired.

4 Comments

Filed under Food Blogging, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

This Week in Yum

I’m still here, I promise! I’ve been slowly taking over my cooperating teacher’s schedule, so I’ve been getting more and more work (yay!). My time in the kitchen has mostly been spent recreating favorites and making quick meals. However, there have been a few noteworthy dishes I’ve devoured recently.

On Sunday, I sent my husband off to a Superbowl party with some Buffalo Chicken Dip, a true football party classic. He surprisingly brought some home, so on Tuesday I decided to use the leftovers to make grilled sandwiches. It was super easy, and really delicious – it tasted like it was a million calories, but I promise it wasn’t! All you need to do is make this buffalo chicken dip (second recipe listed), put about 3 tablespoons on your favorite bread, and grill away. Yum.

The next night, I made veggie burgers, but not just any veggie burger. A few weeks ago, Megan over at Running Foodie posted a recipe for eggplant burgers. As luck would have it, eggplants and burgers are two of my favorite things, and combining them was right up my alley. So, I bookmarked the recipe and finally made them. My husband isn’t a big eggplant fan, but he was pleasantly surprised when he found out the ingredients. The recipe makes 8 burgers, so I was able to enjoy some for lunch throughout the week. Double win. Unfortunately I was so excited to eat it all I didn’t snap a picture, but you should absolutely  make them.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge burrito fan, so I decided to add that to our menu for the week. This wasn’t just any burrito, though, it was  a grilled burrito, which is something I need to do more often. It was such an easy way to upgrade the burrito to a whole new level. If you can muster up waiting a few extra minutes before devouring your burrito, all you need to do is spray a pan with some non-stick cooking spray and heat it for about 2-3 minutes on each side. So good.

To round out my week of yum, I received some goodies I ordered from Pure Bliss Eats, and it’s been a struggle not to eat everything right away! I ordered the Chocolate Chip Dough Balls and some Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola. Almost all of the dough balls are gone already, and there is only a bit of the granola left, too. They are both SO good and since it’s healthy, I have no problem indulging frequently. If you’re in the market for some delicious healthy treats I would highly recommend checking out Pure Bliss Eats, especially because it’s a fellow foodie fitness blogger’s brainchild!

There’s plenty of yum on this week’s menu, and also lots of running. I signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October, so base training for that has begun! This round both the husband and I are planning to incorporate weight training into our plan as well, and we actually spent an extra hour at the gym today doing some leg work. I’m looking forward to making that a more regular occurrence, because I really believe cross training can help someone like me who’s so injury prone. Bring it on, running.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Running

Veggie Loaded Burgers and Fries

It’s no secret that I love veggie burgers. I know that for a lot of people that eat meat, they think they’re a sad comparisons to the real deal, and are less than flavorful. Since I very rarely eat meat these days, veggie burgers are a quick and easy addition to my weekday lunches, and sometimes dinner. But before I was conscious about my meat intake, I enjoyed veggie burgers. My favorites are Morningstar Farm’s Spicy Black Bean, and Dr. Praeger’s California. However, I’ve always been willing to try and make my own.

Over the summer I tried my hand at some, and they were more like sloppy joes, which was okay but somewhat frustrating. So, when I received the Taste of Home Cookbook from a coworker for Christmas, I was excited to see a few different veggie burger recipes inside. It’s a really easy recipe, that would probably be even easier if I had  a food processor to mash the beans. But even still, the process of mashing the beans and combining everything only took about 5 to 10 minutes. After trying to cook them according to the recipe, I resolved to just throwing them in the oven, which proved to be very successful.

I served the burgers alongside some parsnip fries. Confession: up until this meal, I had never, ever, eaten a parsnip. I was a little nervous when I decided to make them just because it was a new taste for both me, and my fiancé. But since we’re both always up for trying new things, and I’ve seen them on plenty of blogs that I consider to have good taste, I gave them a shot. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I’d prefer sweet potato fries over these, but they were a nice change of pace! I just peeled and sliced them, tossed them with some Adobo and roasted them at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Black Bean Cakes – adapted from The Taste of Home Cookbook
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cumin
4 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed (I used canned)
1/2 cup chunky salsa
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream (I used plain Chobani Greek yogurt)

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mash beans with a fork. Stir in the egg white, onions, 1/4 cup of cilantro, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Shape into eight 2 1/2 inch patties.
2. In a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook patties in batches in the oil for 2-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown*
3. In a small bowl, combine the corn, salsa, and remaining cilantro; spoon over cakes, and garnish with sour cream (or in my case, Greek yogurt).

*Like I said, I had trouble with this. So I threw them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes till they were heated throughout and had a firm crisp (but not to crispy) top.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan