Black Bean Walnut Burgers

I looooove this recipe. We kind of made it on whim but I’m realizing that’s how the BEST recipes come to life. We like to call this the brain health better. Why? Because its got lots of fiber, omega-3s, polyphenols and vitamin E. When we whip these guys up, we never miss the “real” red meat version. Try this healthier twist to your classic burger – it won’t disappoint!


  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa [we used tricolor]
  • 2 slices whole-grain bread, toasted and torn into pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt [we used Himalayan]
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 2 can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 2 teaspoon hot sauce or to taste
  • 2 large egg, lightly beaten [we used vital farms. For vegan recipe, use flax egg]
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil

Favorite Toppings: Chipotle mayo, sweet and sour cabbage, red onion, bibb lettuce


  1. Place bread in a food processor; pulse 5 times. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Combine onion, garlic, juice, cumin, flax, salt, rind, and beans in processor; pulse 4 to 5 times. Add bean mixture, walnuts, hot sauce, quinoa and egg to crumbs; stir well.
  3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 3/4-inch-thick patty.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan; reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.
  5. Serve on bibb lettuce


– The Neilan Family –

Cozy + Comfy Cauliflower Soup

Tried this for the first time last week + Patrick and I are totally hooked. I wasn’t sure Patrick would be quite as much of a fan as I was – so I actually made him another dinner as well but he WANTED the soup [4 nights in a row until it was gone]!! That is what you call success my friends! Perfect for this change from fall to winter – curl up in a ball and enjoy this super simple soup!


  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 5 carrots [or more! we used the whole package], chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 diced jalapeno peppers
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon or 1 vegetable bouillon cube [we used low sodium]
  • 2 tablespoons butter [we used vital farms]
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat flour [or gluten free flour of your choice]
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese [we left this out]


  1. In a large pot, combine cauliflower, jalapeno carrot, celery, water and bouillon.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender [do not drain]
  4. In a large saucepan, melt butter.
  5. Stir in the flour and pepper until it is mixed well.
  6. Gradually add almond milk.
  7. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat. Stir in the cheese [if desired] until melted. Stir  into the cauliflower mixture.

Hope you enjoy

-The Neilan Family-

Plant Based Shepherd’s Pie


It’s fall!!! Well – let me rephrase, it’s fall [wherever you are]. Here in Florida, we are super happy when we hit 70. Nonetheless, I LOVE THIS DISH and this season. I was actually never too into the original shepherd’s pie but this puppy is AMAZING and a must for fall. It’s easy peasy and lasts through the week! Lots of fiber and delicious plant based protein!


  • 4 medium sweet potatoes [or potato of your choice]
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 2/4 cup diced carrots
  • 4 1/2 cups prepared lentils
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon basil + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk [we used almond]
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Butter [optional]


  1.  Preheat oven to 350
  2.  Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small chunks. Get them in a pot of water and let them boil for at least 15-20 minutes, depending on size.
  3. Chop the carrots, onion, and celery. Add this to a large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of water and allow them to soften.
  4. Once the veggies are softened, add the prepared lentils to the pan [you can use any kind of lentils you’d like. I used dried and cooked them myself on the stove first].
  5.  Allow to cook for several minutes
  6.  Add diced tomatoes
  7.  Add tablespoon of chopped (or dried) basil leaves, a handful of chopped spinach, and a splash of soy sauce. Let this filling simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  8. When the sweet potatoes are soft all the way through, remove them from the heat and drain the water. Mash with a little salt and a splash of non-dairy milk until the consistency is perfect. If you are not vegan, feel free to add 2 tablespoons of butter [this is not necessary].
  9. Add the lentil filling to a 9 x 13 pan and top with a layer of sweet potatoes. Or you can add to individual oven-safe bowls. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the topping becomes slightly browned. Allow to cool before serving.

recipe adapted from: One Ingredient Chef

We hope you enjoy!!

Romano Meat Sauce

Photo: NY Times

This is slightly tweaked from my mom’s recipe because we try to avoid red meat where we can. I used ground turkey but you can use whatever your heart desires. My mom throws in short ribs, spare ribs, sausage and regular beef meatballs! Love this sauce with everything from spaghetti squash to lasagna to Banza pasta! It. is. by. far. my favorite red sauce!


  • 1 Can Progresso tomato puree
  • 1 12 oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar [we used coconut sugar]
  • 1 large, yellow onion [sliced]
  • 1/2 Tsp of oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 lbs ground turkey


  1. In a large pot mix all ingredients except the onion and add enough water to fill puree can twice. Sauce should not be thick
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer
  3. In a large frying pan, brown any meat that you are going to add to the sauce [if necessary add a tbsp or two of olive oil to the frying pan- I did not add any]
  4. When you have finished browning meat, add meat to the red sauce BUT DO NOT THROW AWAY DRIPPINGS FROM MEAT
  5. Saute onion in the drippings from the meat until the onion is tender, scrape the onion and all drippings into the sauce pot
  6. Let sauce with meat simmer [covered] for about 45 minutes to 1 hour
  7. if sauce begins to get thick, add water to desired consistency while still cooking
  8. Oil and grease from the meat will rise to the top of the sauce when it is done. You can skim it off before you serve


Enjoy this Romano Delicacy!

-The Neilan Family-

Famous Romano Lasagna

Photo: Suzy Allman for NY Times

This is by far Patrick’s favorite thing that my mom has ever made for him. Which is of course, why he asked me to make it on his birthday this year [with meat sauce].  If you are ever looking for a recipe to please a crowd, this is definitely it!! The beauty is it lasts all week and is family friendly. If you’re vegan, skip the meat sauce and use vegan cheese to make it plant based!


  • 1 box of whole wheat lasagna
  • 1 lb of ricotta
  • 1 lb mozzarella [sliced thin or grated. i used freshed, sliced mozarella]
  • 1/2 C grated Locatelli cheese [it’s the only Parmesan we use. in the refrigerated section]
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Meat Sauce or Marinara


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Cook lasagna according to package direction [add oil to the water to prevent noodles from sticking together after draining]
  3. In a 13 x 9 inch roasting pan: layer bottom with sauce
  4. Add a layer of noodles
  5. Then, using a tablespoon, put dollops of ricotta a few inches apart on noodles and then spread across the noodles with your fingertips [or the back of a spoon]
  6. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella or place sliced layer on top of ricotta
  7. Lightly sprinkle with grated Locatelli cheese
  8. Finish off by spooning sauce over the entire layer
  9. Repeat until pan is full
  10. Top layer should be noodles covered with sauce and grated cheese only
  11. Cover pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes
  12. Let sit for 10 minutes, easier to cut!

Fun Fact: In Italy they actually wait until the next day to eat the Lasagna! It’s even tastier day two!

Hope you enjoy my mom’s recipe!

-The Neilan Family-

Patrick’s Birthday Carrot Cake with Cinnamon Cheesecake

If you all follow us on Instagram,  you know we recently celebrated Patrick’s birthday with his favorite dessert [aka carrot cake cheesecake]. This is now my 4th time trying out different recipes and this is by far my favorite. Just know, the cake is large and you will definitely have lots to share. If you’d like it to be smaller, we recommend cutting the recipe in half! This cake is a bit time consuming [about 2 hours] but well worth it for special occasions!

recipe adapted from: life, love and sugar


cinnamon cheesecake

  • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs

carrot cake

  • 20 oz peeled raw carrots
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 8 Medjool Dates, diced
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp all spice
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes

whipped cream cheese frosting

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped pecans and/or walnuts



1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line the entire inside of a 9 inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Press it into the pan to get it as flat as you can. Grease [we sprayed olive oil]. You’ll use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan when it’s baked and cooled.
2. In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour together until combined. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract and and cinnamon and mix on low speed until well combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the lined cake pan.
6. Place the cake pan inside another larger pan. I use a larger cake pan, but you can use a roasting pan or any other larger baking pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door or you’ll release the heat.
8. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
9. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours.

Carrot Cake:

10. Puree carrots in food processor.
11. Preheat the oven to 350°F.Line the bottom of two 9 inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
13. In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Don’t skimp on the creaming time.
14. Add the vanilla extract and vegetable oil and mix until combined.
15. Add the eggs one at a time
16. Add the egg white and mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is combined.
17. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
18. Add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix until combined.
19. Add the carrot puree to the batter and mix until combined.
20. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until well combined and smooth.
21. Stir in the coconut flakes and dates. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is well combined.
22. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with a few crumbs.
23. Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes, then remove from the pans to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Frosting + Assembly:

24. Add the cream cheese to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth, then set aside.
25. Add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to another bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
26. Add the cream cheese to the whipped cream and whip until stiff peaks form. It will happen fairly quickly. Set whipped frosting in the refrigerator.
27. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the two carrot cakes.
28. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake layer.
29. Use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the cake pan, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on top of the cake.
30. Spread another cup of frosting evenly on top of the cheesecake, then add the second layer of cake on top. If the sides of the cake don’t line up, use a serrated knife to trim off the excess cake or cheesecake.
31. Frost the outside of the cake
33. Sprinkle nuts on top of cake.

Happy Baking!

-The Neilan Family-

Chocolate Chip Jumbo Cookies [with optional pistachio + walnuts]

It’s been awhile since we posted a fantastic dessert recipe, so HERE. IT. IS. The best cookie of all time. There is only ONE way I love my cookies and that is super chewy/gooey. The key to this is making your cookies HUGE. Yes, that is the answer. I am still all about portion control sooo I typically cut our gigantic cookies in half or in fourths depending how I’m feeling/how hungry! Definitely give these guys a try and if you prefer crunch, just make them a bit smaller!

There are two ways to make this recipe depending on how decadent you want to get or what the occasion is! Try subbing half the butter for applesauce to decrease some of that saturated fat! Delicious both ways, if you are bringing to an event or if it is an occasion or if you just feel like the real thing, we recommend keeping the recipe as is. It definitely is a cookie that will impress!!!


  • 1 C Butter [cut into cubes for easier mixing] As mentioned above you can sub half of the butter for applesauce
  • 1 C Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 C Sugar [we used coconut sugar]
  • 2 Eggs [we used vital farms]
  • 2 1/2 C Flour [we used 100% whole wheat]
  • 1/2 C Coconut Flour [if you don’t have it, just add another 1/2 of reg flour or whatever you used for the above- we just love that little hint of coconut]
  • 1 Tsp Corn starch
  • 3/4 Tsp Baking soda
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 C Chocolate Chips
  • 1 C Walnuts Chopped
  • 1 Package of Pistachio Pudding Mix OR 1 C Pistachios [this step is optional]


  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar until creamy
  3. Add eggs one at a time
  4. Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Mix just until combined without over mixing
  5. Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts and/or pistachios
  6. Separate dough into LARGE balls and place on pre-greased cookie sheet.
  7. The dough should make 8 extra large cookies [they will look gigantic]
  8. Bake for 9-12 minutes. They will look like they are not thoroughly cooked but they are!
  9. Let them sit for 10 minutes
  10. Enjoy!

We hope you enjoy this sweet treat!

– The Neilan Family-

-T— jkfj