Thursday, March 26, 2009

Week 25: Bean Pie

Okay, my boyfriend has been bugging me to make a bean pie, how hillbilly is that!? So we decided to make one this week. It sure sounded strange and I never considered beans as a dessert item, but I know a lot of Asian foods use bean paste in desserts, so I figured it might be kinda similar. And, I was not too far off. As crazy as it sounds, this is a pretty good tasting pie. The beans are sweet, due to all the sugar, and the pie comes out a bit like a pecan pie but a little more custardy. My guess, this was an inexpensive way to make a pie since pecans are a bit pricey.

So I have a little confession to make. I am not really very good a reading recipes. I kinda look over them and usually read them, but not in super detail all the time. I once made these beautiful lemon poppy-seed muffins, I was so excited, they were gorgeous and when I bit into them...I had forgotten the sugar! They were like a biscuit, bland and just down right disappointing. I thought I was doing pretty well with this pie until it was in the oven and almost done, with a beautiful golden brown crust and I began to re-read the ingredients and realized, oops...forgot the butter. Well, it actually turned out fine. I am sure it would have been richer and maybe more fluffy, but the taste of the pie is great. So, the moral of the story is, do the best you can and slow down a little to stop and smell the roses and read the recipe all the way through at lease twice. Oh, and I didn’t even realize that the pie crust was supposed to be cooked & cooled before putting in the custardy mix until I was doing this write up. Oops, again! Oh well, still it turned out fine. Okay, I'm a hillbilly.

We have been using pre-made pie crusts, since I got them on sale for $0.25 for 2 pie crusts! I don’t think you can even make pie crust for that, well maybe, but still pretty cheap. This pie has a really wonderful taste with all the spices, so enjoy a great dessert that is definitely hillbilly! Enjoy!

Bean Pie

  • 2 cups Great Northern Beans (2, 15-oz cans), drained. (Dry is fine too, just soak them!)

  • 3 large eggs

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (forgot this!)

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/3 cup evaporated milk

  • 1 pie crust, 9-inch, baked, cooled (um, forgot to bake this too)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I guess if you read directions, you were suppose to bake the pie crust, not sure how long, but I just put my mix in a chilled pie crust and it all worked out fine.
Step 2: Mash drained beans. The recipe said to use an electric mixer, but I could not get that to work, so I took a potato masher and got them as mashed as possible.
Step 3: Now I used my electric mixer and added the following until blended: eggs, sugar, butter (enough already), vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Step 4: In a separate bowl, combine the baking power and evaporated milk.
Step 5: Add milk to the bean mixture and blend with mixer.
Step 6: Pour into pie shell and bake for 50 minutes or until set.

Serving size: 8
Calories: 383 per serving, 332 per serving (without butter)

Recipe credit to: Southern Food

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Week 24: Protein Bars

I am an afternoon snacker! By around 3:00 pm I need something to eat or I overeat at dinner time. I usually have a piece of fruit and string cheese, a protein shake or bar. We have been making a lot of muffins lately since the calories are pretty low and it takes the edge off. I have been making cranberry muffins like crazy lately since my boyfriend bought about 20 bags of fresh cranberries during the holidays and we are still going through them! Now that we have cleared up some freezer space...I decided maybe a change in afternoon snacks would be good. So, after watching an Alton Brown, Good Eats, episode on the Food Network, I thought an attempt at making my own homemade delicious protein bars would be a good alternative to cranberry muffins. The result, well, was pretty good and easy. I did need to go to the store and buy some dried fruit and tofu, which I did not have in the house, but the rest of the items were pretty standard in my kitchen. Test them out. I think they would be great snacks for kids and certainly adults too. Enjoy!

Protein Bars

  • 1 cup soy protein powder, vanilla

  • ½ cup oat bran

  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour

  • 1/4 cup wheat germ

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ cup raisins

  • ½ cup dried cherries

  • ½ cup blueberries (they were so expensive, I used white raisins instead)

  • ½ cup dried apricots

  • 1 package (14 oz) soft silken tofu

  • ½ cup unfiltered apple juice

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (less sugar)

  • Cooking spray

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Coat muffin pans with cooking spray. Recipe makes 24 standard/medium sized bars.

Step 3: In large mixing bowl, combine protein powder, oat bran, wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt. Set aside.

Step 4: Coarsely chop the raisins, dried cherries, blueberries if you are rich, and apricots. Place in a small bowl and set aside for later.

Step 5: In another mixing bowl, (just about used up all my bowls), whisk the tofu until smooth. (Not exactly sure how that would be done, but I just whisked the soft tofu until it was mostly broken down, it wasn’t really very smooth, but I think it worked fine)

Step 6: Add the following items one at a time and whisk after each. Add apple juice, brown sugar, eggs, and peanut butter.

Step 7: Add your liquid mixture to the protein powder bowl and stir until combined. Fold in the dried fruit.

Step 8: Put mix into muffin tins. Alton Brown has you put them in a baking pan, but I didn’t want to cut them after, so I think as long as you are good with "round" shaped protein bars, you will be good.

Step 9: Bake for 35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees. I just poked an oven thermometer in one of them and the timing was pretty close.

Step 10: Remove from oven and let cool completely before eating. Well, I couldn’t wait and ate one that was piping hot! Storage for up to a week in an airtight container. They should also freeze well.

This was actually a pretty easy recipe and the taste is really nice. Okay, they are nothing like the protein chocolatey bars that you get in the store, but they are a little sweet with all the dried fruit and have a nice light peanut butter flavor. These might have been easier than the Granola Bars I wrote about in Week 17, only need to bake once. So enjoy this healthy little snack, and do something hillbilly today!

Serving size: 24 muffin tins. Calories: 152 each.

Recipe credit to: Mr. Alton Brown, Food Network.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week 23: Homemade Pasta

Well, last week you were introduced to my Italian Grandmother’s pasta sauce, so I decided I would try and make some homemade pasta. When I looked it up, there are only 3 ingredients! What?! I am always amazed at what you can make with eggs and flour. Millions of baked goods I think. I got a few attachments to my Kitchen Aid mixer for Christmas a few years ago and have not really used them yet. So I decided to break out the pasta maker attachments and give it a go. I was a little afraid it would be a bit of clean up, but actually, it was really simple and surprisingly easy to clean up. Have fun with it! Make all kinds of shapes. I need to experiment a little more, but definitely worth just a little effort.

Homemade Egg Noodle Pasta

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 tablespoons water

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Special ingredients: Kitchen Aid Mixer and pasta maker attachment

Step 1: Break and beat eggs in a 2-cup measuring cup. Add water. Fill with extra water until the liquid amount is at 3/4 cup mark.

Step 2: Sift flour and add to Kitchen Aid bowl and attached flat beater.

Step 3: Turn to Speed 2 and gradually add egg/water mixture to the flour. Mix for 30 seconds.

Step 4: Stop mixer and switch to the dough hook and knead on Speed 2 for 2 minutes.

Step 5: Remove mixture from bowl. I needed to add a little more water since my flour is always dry. Hand knead for 30 seconds to 1 minute. I divided mine into two balls and just formed them so that they would stick together. Add a little water as needed. It should be a little sticky to the touch.

Step 6: Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Step 7: Roll into small, walnut size balls.

Step 8: Assemble your pasta maker attachment to your Kitchen Aid mixer. Select the type of pasta you would like to make. I tried the thick spaghetti.

Step 9: Turn mixer to Speed 10 and slowly feed the dough into the hopper. You will need to add a few before it starts to come out of the pasta holes. When the pasta is the length you want, stop the mixer and cut with a knife.

Step 10: Lay pasta out on the counter or I put a little flour on a cookie sheet and just let them dry out a little while I was feeding the mixer with little pasta dough balls. Fun!

Step 11: Cook the pasta in 6 quarts of boiling water with a tablespoon of salt. I cooked my fresh pasta for about 5 minutes, I was not really sure when it was done, but fresh pasta does not need to cook for long.

Step 12: Enjoy with your favorite pasta sauce, like Grandma Jam’s.

Okay, I know this seems like a lot of steps, but I found that this was pretty easy to make! It is pretty hard to beat just 3 ingredients. If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid mix you could just combine and then roll out the dough and cut your pasta. Homemade pasta is really wonderful, easy and fast to make and just a little Italian hillbilly! Enjoy.

Yield: 1 pound of dough. About 184 calories per serving.

Recipe credit to: Kitchen Aid

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Week 22: Grandma Jam’s Pasta Sauce

I have wanted to share my Italian Grandmother’s pasta sauce recipe for some time now, and I have been craving it lately so I think it’s time. Next week I plan to attempt some homemade pasta, which I have not really done before, so stay tuned, it should be interesting! Get ready for a little Italian cooking!

Well, a little history on my Grandma Jam. She was an Italian dynamo standing 4-foot, 11-inches tall! She always wore high heels, just to gain a few inches, wore beautiful jewelry to match every outfit, and had wonderful hip clothes. So cute! And she really loved to feed her family. Whenever we would visit her house, she always had steamed artichokes, roasted peppers, beets, and of course a big old pot of pasta sauce. There were always candy or treats hidden in the dinning room cabinet that we would always find and eat!. But, her pasta sauce is by far my favorite sauce I have ever had. I tend to like sweet flavors and Grandma’s sauce has a nice sweetness that makes pasta (rigatoni are my favorite) taste soooo good. This is certainly not a low-cal sauce with all the pepperoni, but boy is it tasty. Enjoy!

Grandma Jam’s Pasta Sauce

  • 1 large can tomato sauce (use a good Italian brand of sauce, makes a difference!)

  • 2 small cans tomato paste

  • 1 small/medium onion (whole or cut in half)

  • 1 garlic clove chopped

  • 1 pepperoni stick (cut in 2" pieces) or just a bunch of sliced pieces

  • 1 non-smoked ham hock (browned or meat with bone)

  • 1 tomato sauce can filled with tomato juice or water

  • 2 tomato paste cans filled with water

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 spring parsley fresh (dry = ½ tablespoon)

  • 1 spring oregano fresh (dry = 1 teaspoon)

  • 1 spring basil fresh (dry = 1 teaspoon)

Special ingredients: a big stock pot

Step 1: Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot or crock pot. I use the crock pot and just let it cook! For the stove top version, bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 2 hours until thickened. For the crock pot, mix and put on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add additional spices to taste.

Step 2: Throw away onion, fresh herbs, bay leaf and I also throw away the sliced pepperoni pieces (they are pretty cooked out and tasteless)

Step 3: Serve with your favorite pasta.

Uh...that’s it! Yes, Grandma can cook! She used to add meatballs or browned ground beef it you want a meat sauce. This freezes really well and the sauce actually tastes better after it has been frozen since the flavors become enhanced. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Thanks Gram for being a little hillbilly!

Recipe credit to: Grandma Jam