Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tomato Pinto Bean Gratin

Before it went in the oven
There was a large can of tomato puree sitting in my fridge for a couple of weeks after I opened it to use in a recipe and then decided against using it and I wanted to use it up before I was forced to toss it. As luck would have it I happened to be reading Feministe, a feminist blog, and the main author, Jill, posted an article about healthy eating with a link to NYT's "Recipes for Health." I decided to check it out and see if there were any recipes using tomatoes that I could follow to use up the puree in the fridge and I found this recipe for Provencal Tomato and Bean Gratin; it sounded good and called for ingredients that I mostly had on hand so I decided to try it. I am glad that I did, because it was very tasty and different from anything I have ever made using pinto beans.

I made a few alterations to the original recipe including using dried spices instead of fresh, because that was what I had available, and I also upped the spiciness of the dish. One of the best things about this meal is that the ingredients are so cheap and it is also a filling one dish meal that doesn't use meat. It is a little time consuming to put together (30-45 minutes) because there is some stove-top time and then time in the oven but none of the steps are difficult and the beans can be made in advance to speed the process along.

Below is the recipe, Enjoy!

Tomato Pinto Bean Gratin
1 lb. dried Pinto Beans
2 teaspoons Parsley
2 teaspoons Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 Parmesan Cheese Rind
1 28 oz can Tomato Puree (or sauce)
1 15 oz can diced Tomatoes
2 Onions chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons minced Garlic
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Sugar
Salt to taste
Butter or oil for frying
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
Cover pinto beans with water in a large pot and let soak overnight (this allows the beans to absorb moisture and cuts down on cook time). The next day drain the beans and refill the pot with fresh water until the bean are a little more than covered with water. Bundle parsley, oregano, thyme, and parmesan rind together in piece of cheese cloth and put the cheese cloth in with the beans along with some salt. Begin cooking over medium heat and cook until beans are tender (about 2 hours).

Pretty much all the juice cooked off my pot of beans
Most of the bean broth should have cooked down but if not discard most of it leaving just a little broth.

Meanwhile in a large skillet over medium heat saute chopped onions in oil or butter for about 4 minutes then add in the minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes then pull off of heat and transfer to a large Pot.

Add the tomatoes, puree, cayenne, paprika, and sugar to the pot with the onions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes then add in the beans and a little of the bean broth and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

Pour bean and tomato mixture into a 13x9 inch greased baking pan and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese has started to brown and the gratin is bubbling.

Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Makes about 6-8 servings.

Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach

This is my first go at a sweet potato curry. I am having a dinner party this weekend and decided that a sweet potato curry sounded good, but never having made one or had one I thought a trial run was in order. The time was right tonight and I was very pleased with the results. I do think I will be tweaking this recipe a little but the basics will stay the same.

This curry was very savory and also sweet (due to the sweet potatoes) and not at all spicy. The cinnamon and cardamoms came through powerfully; providing a unique balance of flavors with the curry mix I used.


Sweet Potato Curry with Spinach
3 Sweet Potatoes cubed
1 Onion finely chopped
1 package Fresh Spinach
2/3 cup Coconut Milk
Broth (approx 1 cup)
2 teaspoons Madras Curry Powder
2 Brown Cardamoms
1 stick Cinnamon
4 Cloves
2 teaspoons Garlic
1 teaspoon grated Ginger
Salt to taste
1-2 tablespoons Butter
In a large skillet over medium heat melt butter and then add in the cardamoms, cinnamon stick, and cloves.

this is what they look like while frying
Fry for about two minutes to release the flavors of the spices (the fat in the butter helps to fully release the spices) and then add in the onions and saute for about four minutes before adding in the garlic and ginger.

Once the garlic and ginger are in the pan saute for another two minutes then transfer to a larger pot and sprinkle with the curry powder and salt. Put sweet potatoes in the large pot with just enough broth to cover the bottom of the pan and about half the coconut milk as well; cook, covered, over medium low heat for about 15 minutes then check and add in more broth if needed and the rest of the coconut milk. Continue to cook for about 10 more minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft and some have started breaking down, making a sort of soupy puree with the broth and coconut milk.

Add in the fresh spinach once the potatoes are fully cooked and stir for about one minute, then pull off of heat (the spinach just needs to wilt slightly).

Let cool for a few minutes then serve over rice, with naan bread or by itself.

Serves about 3-4 people

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheesy Creamed Cabbage

This simple dish makes great use of cabbage, an under-appreciated vegetable by all accounts. It is a great side dish that goes well with many meats but would also be fine for a simple stand-alone supper. I tend to eat stuff like this for lunch when I am in a hurry and want something that is simple to scarf down.

This recipe is easy to assemble and it also bakes up quickly.


Cheesy Creamed Cabbage
1 medium sized Cabbage chopped
1 Onion chopped
1 can Cream of Celery Soup (or other creamed soup)
3 oz. Cream Cheese
4-6 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I used reduced fat cheese)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Put chopped cabbage in a large pot and cover with water; cook on high until it starts to boil then reduce heat so that cabbage boils gently. Cook until cabbage is tender (about 20 minutes total) and drain. Meanwhile, in a frying pan saute onions on medium-high for about 6 minutes or until translucent and browning then add in the creamed soup, cream cheese, and cheddar cheese and mix together till it is all melted. Put cabbage and cheese mixture into a 2 quart baking dish and mix together then back for 20 minutes at 350. Let cool briefly then serve.

Corn Cakes

I made these to go with slow cooked pork roast and they turned out great; they are a hybrid of a few different recipes. I used yogurt instead of just buttermilk because I had some greek yogurt left over than needed using up but you could probably use all buttermilk if you wanted or even sour cream. Also, cheese would probably taste really good in these too.

These cakes are addictive and I kept nibbling on them as they were frying!

Corn Cakes
1/2 cup Yogurt
1/2 cup Buttermilk
1/3 cup Oil
2 Eggs
1 cup Cornmeal
1/3 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Sugar
2-3 Chili Peppers chopped
1/2 Onion chopped
1 cup frozen Corn
Butter for frying
In a large sized bowl mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar and then add in the buttermilk, yogurt, oil and eggs. Mix just until everything is moistened then put in the corn, onions, and peppers.

Everything in the bowl
Heat a large skillet to about medium high heat and put a little butter in the pan (I just take a stick of butter and rub it around on the skillet until there is a light coating of butter).

Mixed up batter
Using a large serving spoon scoop out a spoonful of the batter and put it in the pan. (my pan fits two scoops) fry for a little over a minute and then flip over and fry for about 45 seconds.

Both sides of the corn cakes should be light brown. Continue until all of the batter is used up. Makes about 12.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yogurt Barbecued Turkey Breast

Giant turkey breast
I've always made and used tomato based barbeque sauces but I've read about ones that have different bases and seen chefs make different types on cooking shows. Probably on the food network but I have no idea whose show because I don't have cable and just watch it whenever I am visiting someone who does. Anyway, I thought a yogurt base would be good, tangy, and also tenderizing. This turkey breast came out amazing but the spices weren't super strong, so after I had deboned and shredded the breast I added in some more seasoning.

spices mixed together
Feel free to make your own modifications. I threw this together on a whim after reading about paprika in a cookbook while I was browsing Barns & Noble.

The finished product!

Yogurt Barbecued Turkey Breast
3 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
2 1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
1/3 cup Greek Yogurt (I wouldn't recommend using regular yogurt for this unless you strain it because it will be too watery)
6 lb Turkey Breast
Mix together spices with yogurt and rub all over the turkey breast. Make sure to separate the skin on the turkey breast and rub the spices under it otherwise you will just be flavoring the skin which doesn't do much good. Bake in a large pot or roasting pan, covered, for about 3 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the turkey breast reads about 170 degrees. Let the turkey cool down (don't wait until it is is really cold though because that makes it harder to debone) and then debone and shred the meat and mix it back in this it's own juices. Use it for whatever recipes you want. I made a casserole, and a pasta salad with mine. The turkey also freezes well so you can save some for future use.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Went to a birthday party on Saturday and needed something tasty to bring and I remembered these cookies. I've had the recipe out for a while now because my sister wanted a copy and thought this would be an excellent excuse to put them the blog. I've had this recipe since I was a teen, it is from an old copy of Taste of Home Magazine; they are super rich and awesome in every way. The cookie tastes kind of like cocoa puffs and the filling in the center compliments the chocolate perfectly as peanut butter tends to do.

These are a little time-consuming to make but totally worth the effort.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
1 1/8 cup Butter
1 cup Baking Cocoa
1/2 cup Chocolate Syrup
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
3 Eggs
2 1/2 cups Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 cup Butter softened
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/2 cup Milk
1 teaspoons Vanilla
5 1/2 cups Confectioners' Sugar
In a medium bowl melt butter in the microwave or on the stove. Once melted mix in the baking cocoa, chocolate syrup, and peanut butter and set aside to cool. Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl beat eggs and sugar together for a about 2 minutes then stir in the butter/chocolate mixture and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda; then add gradually to the creamed mixture.

Cookie batter
Drop by large spoonfuls onto a big cookie sheet (15x10 inch is what I used) and flatten slightly.

Bake at 350 for about 11 minutes. (Cookies will look a little soft but they firm up after they have cooled.)

Unbaked cookies
While cookies are cooling mix together the filling. Cream the butter and peanut butter together; then gradually mix in the confectioner's sugar, milk and vanilla. (You may not need all of the milk. Just use until you get the consistency you want).

Spread the filling onto half the cookies then top with the other half.

Makes about 16 sandwich cookies.