Today’s question is: Who knew you could make a fabulous cake with some unconventional ingredients?
Background: it’s been 4 years since we stopped eating wheat and I’ve grown as a cook and a baker since then. I have become quite adept at changing recipes to meet my needs. A few years ago a friend came for dinner and made a scrumptious flourless chocolate cake for us. I have to admit that I am not normally a lover of pure chocolate things, especially not cake. I find it all just a little too much for me, too much chocolate. Well, this cake was different, it was a light version of all the chocolate cakes I’ve ever had and much lighter than any flourless cake I’ve ever had. I asked her how she made it and she informed me that the main ingredient was chickpeas, as in garbanzo beans. Wow, I never would have guessed. I liked it so much I asked her for the recipe, which she sent me and I promptly lost. Such is life.
Well, thank goodness I am capable of finding recipes on line. It does require a considerable amount of patience wading through many recipes that simply won’t fit the bill but when you stumble on the right one, it’s like hitting the jack pot. I found a recipe with no flour and chickpeas as the main ingredient. The thing is, I had been growing increasingly unable to tolerate cooked (and ground?) chickpeas. I feel unwell for hours after eating them, this prompted me to change the recipe. I decided on black beans instead and it worked. The end result is a fabulous, light, and delightful cake. You would never guess that it has beans in it.
Black Bean Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from The San Diego Union-Tribune, Cook it Light, Jeanne Jones
1 can (14-15oz) Black beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly
2 teaspoons vanilla (nice quality)
1 cup grade b pure maple syrup (or 1 1/2 cup sugar)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
powdered sugar or maple sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of a 9-inch round cake pan with a nonfat cooking spray. Cut a parchment-paper circle large enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Place the circle in the pan and spray the paper with nonfat cooking spray. Set the pan aside.
Place the black beans, eggs and vanilla extract in the bowl of a food processor with a steel chopping blade (I simply use an immersion blender, but I realize this is probably not too common, it’s easy though). Process until completely blended and the beans are finely pureed. Add the maple syrup and blend, if using.
In a small bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined and the cocoa is well-mixed with the sugar, if using. Be sure that no lumps of cocoa or other ingredients remain. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and process for about a minute, or until completely blended.
Pour the cake batter into the sprayed and lined cake pan, and bake int he preheated oven for about 50-55 minutes (40 if convection) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few crumbs.
Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. Carefully remove the paper from the top of the cake and allow the cake to coo completely. Dust with the powdered sugar or maple sugar, if desired.
Enjoy every minute of this unusual, delectable and flourless cake.
June 16, 2011 @ 11:53 pm
Today’s question is: Why is adding a small surprise ingredient make such a difference in a standard dish?
Background: Years ago I swapped a recipe for cuban flan for an italian meatball recipe with an italian lawyer in Chicago. I just so happened to get lucky enough to be seated next to an italian lawyer at a black tie event, one thing led to another and I ended up swapping recipes with his secretary the next day. I’m surprisingly good at making connections when I need to. This connection, at this event, has proved to be a huge bonus for my family for quite some time now. Gramma Mary’s Meatballs are an all time favorite and probably the most requested recipe in my home.
Saturday night when I made them I added cooked, crisp bacon for a little change of pace and boy am I glad I did. The result was amazing. Give it a try…
Gramma Mary’s Meatballs (with a twist)
(can be multiplied with no changes, I always made a double batch)
1 lb ground beef (ground round 85%lean)
1/2 lb ground pork (not italian sausage)
3/4 Cup grated romano cheese (use pecorino romano imported it’s the best)
1 Cup saltine cracker crumbs (I used puffed rice or rice krispie cereal, gluten free)
3 eggs, slightly beaten (I never, ever beat them)
In a large dutch oven cook bacon until crisp, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. When cooled crumble. Place beef, pork and bacon in mixing bowl and mix them together. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs to the meat mixture. Fold the dry ingredients into the meat mixture. Add half the milk and mix. Add the rest of the milk. Form circles and bake in the oven about 15 minutes per side, 30 minutes total. Add to spaghetti sauce (homemade or whatever) and cook for a good hour to blend flavors.
use an ice cream scoop to assure uniform size (occasionally dipping scooper in water helps meatballs roll in hand easier and with less sticking.)
The more hand pressure used the more dense the meatballs.
Place meatballs in a shallow roasting pan which has been sprayed with non stick spray or lined with parchment paper.
Place meatballs in pan (ensure enough space between meatballs so they may brown, cook 15 minutes per side.
Meatballs will flatten out a little while cooking.
Meatballs should be placed in sauce for at least 3/4 of an hour to affect the flavor of the sauce.
Meatballs may be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to use at a later time.
Doubling or tripling the recipe and freezing the extras saves trouble for future.
April 3, 2011 @ 11:57 pm
Today’s question is: How is it that sometimes your kids completely surprise you and eat what you thought they wouldn’t?
We traveled to Arizona the other day for a family vacation (more on that later). The night before we left I needed to feed everyone dinner and decided to use up whatever I had in the refrigerator. I had 1. green and red peppers 2. cabbage 3. boursin cheese
and 4. pizza crusts (gluten free Udi’s brand
). So I decided to make sauteed cabbage and pepper pizza. I absolutely did not think my kids would like it. I mean it had cabbage in it, cabbage is kind of gross (well not really to me, but when I was a kid and my mom made stuffed cabbage it absolutely grossed me out). They loved it and I was shocked! So here’s the pizza to try on your family, I hope they like it.
Sauteed Cabbage and Pepper Pizza
1/2 cabbage, cut up
2 bell peppers, sliced (any color)
1-2 T olive oil
1 12 inch pizza crust
1 5.2 oz package Boursin garlic and herb
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Saute cabbage and peppers in olive oil until tender. Add jane’s crazy mixed up salt (or salt and pepper). Mix well. Oil the pizza crust with olive oil and add the sauteed veggies. Using about half of the boursin cheese, in clumps all over the pizza. Place in oven on parchment paper and cook approximately 15 minutes until the crust is brown and crispy. Serves 4.
March 27, 2011 @ 7:35 pm
Spinach, Potato and Tomato Egg Bake
Today is Meatless Monday, probably Paul’s favorite night of the week (ha, hardly, I’m joking, he’s a meat guy, which means he will heat himself up some meat to eat with our dinner!). I seriously strive to make great family food with as many whole ingredients as possible. I like it to be relative easy, so some days I just throw stuff together. This dish (as the family tells me, I was on day 6 of the master cleanse when I made it) was a real winner. I served it over a bed of noodles, but I think some seasoned quinoa would be equally satisfying.
1 large bunch fresh spinach
1/2 large onion chopped
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Janey’s crazy mixed up salt to taste (or salt and pepper)
4-5 potatoes chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
In a cast iron, or oven safe pan, saute the spinach and onion with the oil and salt and pepper. Saute until the spinach has wilted and onion is translucent. Add chopped potato and tomato and mix well with oil and spinach. Place in oven at 425 F degrees and roast 25 minutes. Crack eggs over potato, spinach, tomatoes and cook 10 minutes more, or until eggs are cooked thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.
March 14, 2011 @ 3:49 pm
Today’s question is: Why does combining loves always create something spectacular?
Background: I love sweet potatoes and quinoa. I love lasagna. There is nothing in my mind better than mixing things I love into a new dish. Here is something I made up especially for Meatless Monday. Enjoy.
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Lasagna
4-5 sweet potatoes sliced
1Tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Cup quinoa (rinsed and drained)
2 Cup water
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 Cup butter
1/4 Cup flour (I used gluten free flour)
3 1/2 Cups milk
1/2 Cup white wine
1/4 Cup Fontina cheese (or substitute parmesan)
salt and pepper to taste
4 Cups cottage cheese
3 T parsley
2 Cups parmesan cheese
10 Lasagna noodles (I do not pre-cook them and I use gluten free)
16 slices mozzarella cheese, or about 2.5 cups shredded
Pre heat oven to 425 F. Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise with a mandolin. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast them until tender. When finished lower oven temp to 350 F.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground cumin, ground coriander, and paprika; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups water, quinoa, and coarse salt; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 16 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy sauce pan over medium heat, add flour and blend well with a whisk. Gradually whisk in the milk and then the wine, stirring as you go. Bring to a low boil, turn down the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens. Add 1/4 cup of Fontina cheese, blend well. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
In a medium sized bowl combine the cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese and parsley, mix well.
Oil a 9×13 pan and layer the noodles first. Add half the cottage cheese mixture on top of the noodles. Next add half the roasted sweet potatoes. Top the sweet potatoes with half the quinoa. Now pour half the sauce over the quinoa and add half the mozzarella cheese. Repeat all layers.
Bake in oven (350F) for 1 hour. Let sit to cool slightly before serving. Serves 8.
February 7, 2011 @ 1:46 pm
Today’s question is: Would you believe me if I told you crackers are easy to make?
Background: In my younger years when I ate microwaved potatoes almost every night for dinner because 1. I had no money and 2. I had no idea how to cook, I thought the only way to get a cracker was to buy one in a box. Fast forward 20 years and now, I can make a cracker. A cracker that I can’t stop craving. A cracker that is so good, I keep planning new versions in my head. A cracker that I am fairly sure will be one of the first solid things I eat when I finally finish this master cleanse I am on (I’m almost finished with day 8).
Zucchini Walnut Crackers
2 cups walnuts (soaked in water for at least 2 hours)
4 small zucchini
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax meal
1 T (heaping) Janies Crazy Mixed Up salt or Sea Salt
1 T Caraway seed (optional)
Soak your walnuts for at least 2 hours. In a food processor, (I do not have a food processor so I just use a hand held blender) puree the walnuts and zucchini.
Next add the flax seed, sesame seed and salt, mix well. At this point, because I love caraway seed so much, I half the cracker mix and add about a tablespoon of caraway seed into half the mix and combine.
Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and add each half of the mixture (the one with caraway and the one without) onto the parchment. If you do not use caraway seed just half the mixture placing half on each cookie sheet. Spread the mixture out thinly into a rectangular shape with a spatula.
Once spread thinly, use a pizza cutter and cut the cracker mixture into squares.
Place crackers in a 225F oven and bake for approximately 1 hour or until the top of the crackers look dry and semi crisp. At this point take the crackers out of the oven and, using another piece of parchment paper, flip the entire batch of crackers over and slowly pull the parchment off the back being careful not too pull too hard, damaging the crackers. Once successfully flipped onto new parchment, place the crackers back in the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until crisp. Remove from oven, cool and store in an air tight container. Enjoy.
These crackers are light, crisp and addicting.
January 18, 2011 @ 12:36 am
Today’s question is: Why are new recipes oh so good?
Background: The other day I created a new risotto recipe. I still have kale in my garden, even though it’s now cold, and I want to use it up. The kids will eat it, so I must use it. I made this for dinner the other night and it was really good, so good my oldest girl had three helpings. Enjoy!
Zucchini and Kale Risotto
1 zucchini, sliced
10 leaves of Kale, chopped
1/2 of an Onion, chopped
1 stick Butter
2 Cups Risotto
6 Cups Vegetable broth
1 T basil
1 Cup Pecorino Romano
salt and pepper to taste
Begin by warming the broth in a pan on the stove top.
In a pot, melt half the butter, add the onion, zucchini and kale and cook until tender. Add the rice and the basil and stir until well coated with butter and heated through. Now begin adding the broth, a ladle at a time, stirring until each ladle has almost been absorbed by the rice. Do not let the rice dry out. Continue adding the broth and stirring until the rice is tender and creamy but the grain is still firm (center of rice). Taste and season with salt and pepper, add the remaining butter and cheese. Cover and let rest a few minutes to melt the cheese and let the risotto relax a little.
November 20, 2010 @ 10:53 am
Today’s question is: Why is the impromptu soup so good?
Background: Last night I made a roasted turkey breast. The house smelled so good. I had been craving turkey for weeks. One of the best things about cooking a turkey is the stock that can be made the next day and the leftover turkey possibilities.
This morning I started on my turkey stock by putting the carcass into some water with a bunch of vegetables and some spices. I let it simmer all afternoon. I decided I would make turkey noodle soup for dinner. I chopped up some onion, carrots and celery and began to saute it in some of the turkey stock with a bunch of spices. I have found that sauteing in stock brings out the flavors in the vegetables you are sauteing. It’s also a very healthy way to saute.
Sometime after I had chopped up the leftover turkey and added it to my vegetable saute I decided I just didn’t want to have turkey noodle soup. So I made some changes to the rest of my additions and came up with turkey bean soup. Here’s the recipe.
Turkey Bean Soup
1/2 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 carrots, slices on bias
1 tsp celery salt
1 Tbl oregano
1 tsp dill
1lb turkey (or about 2 cups leftover turkey) cut up
28 oz Can diced tomatoes (I used whole and broke them up)
4 cups turkey stock (or chicken)
1 can pinto beans
1 cup water
5 kale leaves sliced
salt and pepper to taste
Add onion, carrots and celery into pot and begin to saute in some of the turkey stock. Once the onion begins to soften add the celery salt, oregano, dill and a bit of salt and mix well while the carrot and celery tenderize. Add turkey and mix well. Add tomatoes, stock, water and pinto beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and add kale. Simmer 30 minutes to let flavors blend. Serves 8.
November 7, 2010 @ 10:00 pm
Today’s question is: why is split pea soup so comforting?
Background: Today is meatless Monday, which means I pick something meatless to make for dinner. I’d be lying if I said everyone was on board in my family with this idea, because my meat eating husband is so not (he heated himself up a plate of leftover beast to eat along with his split pea soup!).
Anyway, in all my years of eating split pea soup it had always been flavored with a ham hock and had some really buttery croutons. Because we no long eat wheat, the croutons were out and because it’s meatless Monday so was the ham. I wasn’t sure it would be as good. But let me tell you, it was. It hit the spot and it was simple to make.
Quick and Easy Meatless Split Pea Soup
1/2 of one onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter
2 Cups split peas
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon Worcheshire sauce
pepper to taste
Saute onion, garlic and carrots in butter until onion is translucent and carrot is tender. Add vegetable broth, water and peas and bring to a rolling boil then reduce heat to simmer. Add salt, worcheshire and pepper to taste. Simmer about an hour until peas are mushy and falling apart. Serves 4 as main course and 6-8 as a side.
October 18, 2010 @ 7:40 pm
Today’s question is: why is this sauteed vegetable pizza so good?
Background: Would you believe me if I told you my girls begged me to make them another sauteed vegetable pizza the day after I made one for my friend and I? My girls ended up eating half of our pizza because they love it so much and then they begged me the next day to make it again.
They really did. And to tell you the truth, this pizza is better than regular pizza, it really is. And it’s better for you. And it’s easy! Try it, you won’t believe it.
Just look at this picture…..
Sauteed Vegetable Pizza
2 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
3 cups zucchini, sliced
2 T butter
1 12 inch prepared pizza crust (I used Udi’s gluten free pizza crusts)
1 T olive oil
3 oz Boursin cheese
Begin by melting the butter in a skillet. Add the kale, onion and zucchini and saute until the onion is tender and the zucchini is translucent. Brush the olive oil onto the pizza crust and then add the sauteed vegetables. Crumble the boursin best you can and spread it out over the vegetables. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes until the crust is lightly brown and the boursin is melty. Serve warm. Serves 4.
Enjoy this, it really is better than regular pizza and it’s so much better for you. Kale, in my opinion is one of the best crops you can grow. I just keeps on giving and giving. Plant a few varieties too, variety is the spice of life!
October 6, 2010 @ 8:19 pm