Black Bean Burgers

Black Bean Burgers

If you’re familiar with A Lighter Journey, you already know that I cook/eat a lot of beans at my place.  And sometimes I cook too many. So with an abundance of cooked black beans and mushrooms I decided to try to make some vegetarian-style burgers as a little something different. And they were actually pretty good! Now mind you, I still enjoy the real deal when it comes to hamburgers, but this used up my beans and it was  yummy too {as well as healthy!}


  • 2 cups cooked black beans (I used the crockpot method, but canned beans would work, just rinse and drain first!)
  • 2 cups baby Portobello mushrooms (or other variety of mushrooms)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 to 1  1/2 cups dry old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t salt (optional…take into consideration that with canned beans they may already be salted!)
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • dash cayenne pepper



Chop mushrooms and onion very finely (a food processor would be great, but don’t try a blender! It purees instead of chops! I know this from experience!;))


Rinse beans and drain really well!  It might even help to dry them a little by dabbing them with a paper towel.  My beans were pretty wet.  I worked with it, but it would’ve been easier if there was less liquid!

Mash beans with a potato masher. 


Stir in chopped onions and mushrooms and egg and spices.  Stir in the oats.  My mixture was really wet so I let it all sit for 1/2 hr and the oats really soaked up the extra moisture.  (So adjust the amount of oats according to your mix! You might not need as much if your beans were really dry!)

To freeze line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.  Form patties (they’re pretty fragile and sticky…that’s okay!)  and set them on the cookie sheet in the freezer overnight.   Store frozen patties in a freezer bag or container. 

This recipe makes 6 bean burgers!

Or form patties and cook right away!  Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan on medium high heat and cook about 4-5 minutes each side.  I cooked the frozen ones the same way without thawing first, just cooking them a little longer.  Both ways worked great! I don’t know about grilling these since that’s more my hubby’s department, but other recipes I saw suggested grilling these on foil coated with olive oil.

Enjoy with your favorite burger toppings!

So if you’re looking for a meatless meal, or a way to use up a surplus of cooked black beans I hope you’ll give this recipe a try!  It was surprisingly good, even for a carnivore like me! 😉

Other posts you may enjoy:

Citrus Mint Quinoa Salad

Southwestern Black Bean Quinoa Salad

 Savory Beans ‘n’ Rice

{MORE} Frugal Summer Fun

{MORE} Frugal Summer Fun

We’ve been trying to come up with fun ideas to keep our kids happy, busy and outside this summer.  Time is going TOO fast, as it always does in the summer…

Here is our latest activity!  Pretend fishing!  Yep…my boys love fishing, but daddy’s not home much during the week and this (pregnant) mama is NOT taking these little people fishing alone…my boys found a way to make it happen anyway.

We took their little poles, took the hooks off, and attached a little washer to the string.

We have a little sunken area in our backyard  that the boys fill with a little water…this is their “pool” this year since setting up their real pool is too scary with a overly cuious one year old.

They use a slide from a little playset as their “dock”…and fish for hours.  As a warning, we usually end up with some serious tangles the lines, but we leave those for daddy to fix!

Other posts you might like:

Fugal Summer Fun (ONE)

Being Prepared Emergency Car Kits for Kids

Thoughts on Anger and Dicsipline

Savory Beans and Rice {Crockpot}

Savory Beans and Rice {Crockpot}


Being in the dog days of summer {might’ve actually hit 100 degrees yesterday!} I like to use my crockpot rather than the stove top or oven whenever I can! I also like to create frugal healthy meals…meaning I use a lot of beans around here! Here’s the newest recipe from my kitchen: Savory Beans and Rice.  It reminded me of Zatarain’s or Vigo’s Red Beans and Rice.  But this version is much healthier with brown rice and NO preservatives.  And also important: it was a hit with my kids! We covered it with grated cheddar cheese and they gobbled it down and asked for more!


  • 1 1/2 cups dry brown rice
  • 1 cup dry pinto beans
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t cumin
  • 1/2 a medium onion chopped
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • olive oil

Pour beans and rice into the crockpot.  Mix spices and salt together and add to the crock.  While water is heating up to boiling saute onions in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 2-3 minutes…until barely translucent.  Add onions to the crock and pour boiling water over everything.  Set crockpot on high and serve 3-4 hours later! 

I think this dish would dry out too much if you over cook it so I would keep a close eye on it!  Ours was done in 3 1/2 hours and thickened up a little after serving. 


  • It’s done!



  • For a little heat add cayenne or crushed red pepper
  • Add smoked sausage for a main course dish
  • Add chopped peppers of choice
  • Serve topped with sour cream or shredded cheese
  • Use left overs for burritos or enchilada filling
  • Add a can of crushed/diced tomatoes, chopped green pepper, and shrimp for a Jambalaya-type dish


***Random announcement:   maybe you noticed we haven’t been posting much this week. The summer is short in Minnesota and we try to take full advantage of the season by playing outside as much as possible. My computer is inside. Courtney is also busy with her little ones and preparing for the arrival of her baby this fall.  So this summer postings may be a little sporadic…just to warn you! Thanks for understanding!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Crockpot Beans

Easy Potato Salad

Freezer Cooking: Meatballs


shared on:

Frugal Summer FUN!

Frugal Summer FUN!

I saw an idea similar to this on Pintrest and thought I would give it a try…I knew my boys would love it!

I filled a big bowl with water,and added various toys.  Some that sank, and some that floated.  Then I added some blue food coloring…because that’s what the lady on Pintrest did, and it looked like fun.  Let’s just say…my kids look like smurfs.  Seriously.  Next time, no food coloring.

I froze the bowl for about 18 hours, until all appeared to be solid.

We tipped the bowl over…(see…WAY too much blue!)


I had the boys put on OLD swimsuits and T-shirts…gave them some of daddy’s small chisels and other tools I don’t really know the names of and let them at it!

The baby girl even joined in…

They chiseled and banged and scraped away until all of their toys were free! 

Now I have two very blue, but very happy little boys! *Maybe* they’ll nap today!?

Other posts you might like…

DIY Magnet Letters


Cloth Diapering





Thursday’s Fruity Thoughts

Thursday’s Fruity Thoughts

Lately I’ve been struggling.  I know there’s a lot of areas in my life that need work.  And it seems like I  gain ground in one area at the cost of falling short in the other areas I want to improve in.  So then I switch to one of the other areas and gain ground there…and digress in the previous area and more.  It’s so overwhelming!!!!

What am I trying to work on? Oh just a few things like…

  • healthier cooking/eating
  • more exercise
  • more organized and tidy home
  • keeping up with dishes
  • keeping up with laundry
  • controling my temper
  •  being patient & gentle…especially with kiddos
  • being consistent in training/disciplining kiddos
  • managing my time better
  • keeping to our budget
  • etc., etc., etc.

Can you see how this is a little overwhelming?!?! AND I really need to floss more too. 

 I know some people do great with a detailed plan, not me.  I can make a plan…I just lose steam after starting and forget the plan.  But now I have a new plan!

I’m going back to the basics. If I boil all those things above down to the principle a lot of them are the fruits of the Spirit (love, self-control, gentleness, kindness, etc.) You name a fruit of the Spirit and I know I could use more of it in me!  But we don’t get more fruit by focusing on the fruit (or lack there of)!  Fruit is a natural outcome of being rooted in Christ, nurtured in truth, filled with His love and grace.  If I keep Christ my priority I think the other things will come much easier.  See, I’ve been using Him more as an afterthought or last resort.  That doesn’t work so well for me!

So  now I’m focusing on making sure I take time everyday to soak in the Holy Spirit, reading the Bible (focusing on Proverbs now), and not over thinking things (like my above list) too much.  I’ve been getting up just 30 minutes earlier than the kids and trying to focus on God as I begin the day.  I don’t do dishes, or start folding clothes, I just sit on the couch and spend some time in prayer and reading the Bible…sometimes only one verse. I’m  rooting myself in Him, the True Vine.

Wow! Let me tell ya, it’s only been a few days, but these days have gone much smoother! I still fall short, but I’ve also been able to get more accomplished in every area above.  I’ve still got a ways to go, but I don’t feel so overwhelmed by it.  I still mess up, but I’m much more at peace knowing I’m headed in the right direction. It’s nice! You should try it! 😉 We could all use a little more fruit!

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Grilled Glazed Pineapple

Last week a local store had whole fresh pineapples on sale for a dollar each!  I was super excited because, well, I LOVE fresh pineapple.  We bought a whole bunch and have been enjoying them all week-long.

We had tried a grilled glazed pineapple at a restraunt we love (Tucano’s anyone?) and decided to try on our own!  This was mostly my husbands idea and concoction, and he’s the family grill master, so I left it up to him.  It was fantastic!!!

What you’ll need:

  • A whole fresh pineapple
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2 T. lemon juice

Cut your pineapple like this…

Cut the top off…

Slice the skin off lengthwise, from the top down.

Mix together the brown sugar, (melted)butter and lemon juice…rub the glaze onto the pineapple.

Set it on the grill, with low heat, for 5-10 minutes, rotating it to grill all sides.

Slice pieces from the top down and ENJOY!  An amazing and healthy summer treat!


4th of July Ideas!

4th of July Ideas!

With my husband just getting back from Alaska yesterday in the early morning hours we’ve been a little preoccupied! Not to mention the camera was with him, so for your Tuesday Tutorial today on A Lighter Journey I’ve linked up some cute 4th of July ideas from Pinterest.  Break out the red, white, and blue!


Pinned ImagePinned Image

Look at this yummy dessert (above)! Link here!

4th of July party ideas including these yummy red, white, and blue strawberries you see below!

Pinned Image


Here’s a cute patriotic wreath tutorial!

Pinned Image

Why I {heart} Line Drying!

Why I {heart} Line Drying!

10 Reasons I Love to Hang Our Laundry Out to Dry

  1. It makes my whites whiter…the sun is a natural bleach for my clothes!
  2. I love the crisp air in the early morning, when I hang our first load out to dry…
  3. No ironing…wet clothes and a hot sun are like an iron and starch for clothes…perfect for all the little girl dresses I wash!
  4. It’s a must for cloth diapering!
  5. I love the compact clothes-line my hubby built me…
  6. The dryer isn’t heating my house up on already unbearably hot days!
  7. Our summer power bill (already inflated for AC) is a little lower
  8. The sun is also a natural sanitizer.
  9. I’m “going green,”(you’re welcome Al Gore)
  10. It makes me happy to see clothes on the line when I am at my kitchen sink…like I have gone back in time.

Super Easy and Fast Salsa Verde Enchilda Sauce

Super Easy and Fast Salsa Verde Enchilda Sauce

I wanted to make enchiladas last week.  I had the shredded chicken ready and all my tortilla shells and then I realized that I forgot to buy salsa verde enchilada sauce!  I dug through my cupboards and found a can! Oh joy!  But my joy was short-lived.   It’s been a really long time since I made enchiladas and I’ve made some changes to our diet since then.  So as I read the ingredients listed on the can of green salsa verde that had been in my cupboard since this fall,  I decided I wasn’t gonna use it. The biggest offender in the can was MSG.  That and there were a few other ingredients I’m not familiar with.  So I decided to make my own!

And, yes,  I am using a canned item, but I have yet to find a substitute for canned green chilis.  I’ve tried using fresh ones, and it’s not the same flavor.   At least there’s no MSG!


  • 2 small (or 1 large) can of green chilis
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 T cornstarch

Yup.  That’s it!  If my enchiladas weren’t half-assembled and I had the extra time I might’ve sautéed onions and added tomatillios {if I had them}…but I was in a hurry, this is what I had on hand,  and this worked!

1.  Mix cornstarch into cold or room temperature chicken broth.  Add chilis and heat to boil. Olé!

You can tweak the amount of cornstarch depending on how thick you want the sauce.  And if you’re in the market for canned salsa verde that doesn’t include MSG, I like the Herdez brand Mexican sauces and salsas.  They don’t use preservatives and weird stuff I can’t pronounce! And if you want to get the most out of your chicken, save the bones and scraps and make your own broth!  Instructions are at the end of this post.  You can even do it in your sleep!  😉

Other posts you might like:

Guacamole Recipe

Mexican Rice Tutorial

Refried Beans Tutorial

Cloth Diapering: Part Two…Homemade Baby Wipes

Cloth Diapering: Part Two…Homemade Baby Wipes

As I mentioned in my first cloth diapering post, we love cloth dipaering!  I didn’t cloth diaper my first two, but wish I would have!  One thing I did do with my boys, was make homemade baby wipes.  They are SO easy!

Home-Made Baby Wipes

  • 2 big squirts of baby shampoo
  • 2 big squirts of baby oil
  • 1 TB. rubbing alcohol
  • 4 cups of water
  • Paper-towels, cut in half, baby wash rags or pieces of thin flannel cut to size

When I made wipes with my boys, I used paper  towels…but now I use thin flannel blankets cut into small pieces…and throw them in with my dipaers to wash.  Pour your liquid concoction over your wipes…that’s it!  I also love that they smell like baby shampoo…as far as I am concerned, baby shampoo is one of the best smells ever! 

 I keep mine in an air-tight container on the changing table.  I *used to* lay them all out flat before I put them in…then I realized there were better things to do with that time…so now I throw them in, and they work just as well! 

Next time I will give you my tips and tricks for successful cloth diapering!

Other posts you might like…

DIY Laundry Soap and Softner

DIY Face Wash

Choosing to Live on One Income