Sweet Potato – Pecan Cheesecake! — Diabetic Friendly!

Try this on for size — this may be the best sugar-free, high fiber, gluten free, high protein, reasonably carb’d recipe I’ve ever made. And it is sooooo yummy…. Holy crap. There will be variations on this theme but here’s the basic recipe:
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2 tsp(s), cinnamon, ground
0.50 tsp(s), Salt
2 tsp, Vanilla Extract
0.75 cup, Chopped pecans

80 grams, “Just Like Sugar for Baking” sugar substitute
1.25 cup, Farmers Market Sweet Potato Puree
2 containers (8 oz ea.), Cream Cheese (Light)
2 Eggs

Let the cream cheese and eggs come to room temp so they will mix well. combine eggs, sweet potato puree (or pumpkin), vanilla, Just Like Sugar, salt, cinnamon and mix until smooth. Gradually add cream cheese and mix until smooth and well blended.

Grease a pyrex baking pan (about 7″x9″) and spread pecans on the bottom of the pan.

Pour cream cheese mixture into the greased pan (or muffin cups) over the pecans, and bake in a hot oven/ with a water-bath at 400 for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 and continue to bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm. (time will depend on the size of the dish — a smaller pan will take longer.)

Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate (or scoop out into single serving dishes to chill.)
IMG_2957.
8 x 1/2c portions: 235 calories each
17g fat
328mg sodium
20g total carbs
11g fiber carbs
7g sugar carbs
7g protein
(and half a day’s Vitamin A because of the sweet potato)

Loaded BLT Dip & Baked Potato Topping

Oh my, potato pie!  Let me count the ways…

To use this dip.special-k-sour-cream-and-onion-cracker-chips-detail-prod-dyp300x247

  1. Dip for veggies, chips, french fries, crackers, taquitos, flautas, garlic bread, mozerella sticks…
  2. Topping for your baked potato
  3. Mixed with hard-boiled egg yolks to devil your eggs
  4. Mix with potatoes, chopped hard boiled eggs, onions, and celery for potato salad
  5. Mix 2T with 1/2c tuna for tuna salad
  6. Spread on hearty sandwich bread for a killer mayo substitute
  7. As a dollop added to a bowl of fresh split pea soup (or chili… or tomato soup… or potato soup… or tortilla soup….)
  8. toss a little with fresh pasta and parm
  9. fold into a rice pilaf
  10. serve on your chicken enchiladas, or for Taco Night!
  11. probably more I haven’t thought of yet
  12. or just lick it off your fingers to get the last bit out of the bowl

178090139_XSIt’s not nearly as fat-dense as just sour cream, because of all the other goodness folded in — and no added salt or sugar removes two of the other major tripwires.

You can substitute low-fat (not fat free — significant flavor will be lost) sour cream for some portion of the regular sour cream, and knock out more the fat and calories.  Experiment to get a balance that suits you and yours.

If you like extra heat, use hot rather than mild Rotel (diced tomatoes & green chilis).

If you’re a garlic hound, add more Sriracha.

If you like things cheesy, add 1/2 c shredded parm, or 1 c shredded sharp cheddar… or whatever cheese you’re into.

Love avocado? Trying to cut some of the saturated fat? Try substituting 1/2 c mashed avocado for 1/2 c of the sour cream. (that’s about 1 small avocado)441390

Think bacon is the pot of gold at the end of the pig?  Double (or triple) the bacon!

Basically — add, subtract, multiply and alter to suit your own buds!

This recipe makes 4 cups of dip.
(16 x 1/4 c servings)
[1/4 cup is just about right to dress a med baked potato or to make 4 deviled eggs]

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilis, drained
  • 6 slices thick high-quality bacon — cooked, drained on paper towels, & crumbled
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 T Sriracha sauce
  • 2 T dehydrated minced onion
  • 2 T dried, or 1/2 c  fresh chopped basil
  • 1 T dried, or 1/4 c fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 T dried, or 1/4 c fresh chopped parsley or cilantro (I like parsley better)
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/2 t mustard powder
  • 3 T Chia seeds (like Bob’s Red Mill)

Mix ingredients together and chill for at least 1/2-hr before serving.

(I like to divide it up into 4-oz cups with lids so people can have their own little dip cup, and so leftovers are already portioned into smaller servings.)

Roughly, if you make this dip as written out here with regular sour cream, you get these

nutrients in 1/4 c:

  • 100 calories
  • 7g fat (4 Sat)
  • 4 carbs
  • of which 1.5g are fiber
  • and of which 1.5g are sugar
  • 3g protein

 

Autumn into Winter – A Vegetable Cassarole

I live the first 55 years of my life in Texas — more generally, in the Southern/Southwestern US.  As a result, I can make a pot of chili that will make both your mouth — and your eyes — water.

Now I find myself in the Pacific Northwest.  I spent yesterday morning, and today, wandering around the city of Portland, discovering just a few of the dozens of foodie passion pits and tiny shoplings that make this small city into the current Emerald City of the Kingdom of OZ.

Yesterday, I discovered “The Meadow” — a 16′ x 16′ storefront that sells dozens of varietal salts from all over the world; a wall and bar full of microbrewed bitters; a vaulted display wall of chocolate bars laden with everthing from persimmon and habanero, to ramen noodles and pineola nuts.  Today, I went to what I thought would be familiar turf — the Whole Foods Market.  (There are 5 here to pick from….)  I shopped Whole Foods in Dallas, Houston, Austin, and Santa Fe for over 20 years — so I thought I knew what to expect.  But in Oregon — Whole Foods has a completely different character.  In Portland — Whole Foods is where fruit and vegetables go to prepare for the afterlife.   This is heaven’s waiting room.

Nearly half the store was fresh produce — and with only 3 exceptions that I found — it was all organic.   Let me repeat that.  IT WAS ALL ORGANIC.  In 2012, when corporate farming and mass-over-produced food is everywhere, in Portland, the vegetables and fruits were ALL organic.  Beautiful, richly colored, often local, and all perfect — organic.  15 varieties of organic apples and pears.  A wall full of red, purple, green orange, yellow, and nearly black veggies — full of anthrocyanines, caretenoids, and all the other pigments that turn a basket of vegetables into a pharmacy.  An island of STILL GROWING mushrooms in a dozen varieties….  organic onions, shallots, garlic, sweet potatoes, yams, red potatoes and russets — 7 kinds of kale and 5 times that many other leafy greens.  And all of it wet, cold, clean, and aromatic.  It was bloody amazing.

Another quarter of the store is devoted to their bakery and deli, and the rest is split between organic wines, a meat market I will pay more attention to once I’ve got my kitchen up and running — and the normal dairy, freezer, and shelf-pantry sections.

This recipe may be the first thing I make — well, maybe second.  I’ll be putting on a loaf of bread and a pot of soup as soon as the appropriate instruments are unpacked.  But aside from soup and bread — this will be the first house-warming dinner!  Veggies, fruit, autumn and winter…. and the leftovers should reheat nicely.

In a lot of ways, this is a veggie/fruit savory bread pudding.  The techniques are very similar — but with slightly less custardly texture — and some really wonderful savory harvest and winter flavors….

3 T EVOO
3 T salted butter
3/4 lb carrots, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1/2 lb parsnips, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1/4 lb celery, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/2 lb butternut squash, cut to 3/4″ cubes
1/2 lb sweet potato, cut to 3/4″ cubes
1 lb leeks, washed, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and sliced thin (weigh after trimming)
1 lb granny smith (or other tart) apples, cored and cubed (with peel)
2 t Kosher flake salt
1 t fresh ground black pepper
3 T rubbed sage
2 T fresh minced parsley
1/4 oz fresh thyme (or 1/2 t dry)
3 T fresh lemon zest (about 1 lg lemon’s zest)

1 lb  loaf of day old sour dough bread — sliced and cubed

15 oz can of organic pumpkin puree  **(not pie filling)
7 eggs
1 c heavy cream
1 t Kosher flake salt

1 c dried cranberries
2/3 c unsweetened cranberry juice
1  T fresh lemon juice
2 c organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 c bread crumbs (fresh/unseasoned)

This is one of those recipes that happens in stages.

  1. prepare all ingredients in advance.  Chop veggies, soak cranberries in juices, let everything come to room temperature in advance.  Cube bread and spread it out on a tray so it can dry out.  Preheat oven to 370.  Butter the interior of a lasagne sized baking dish.
  2. heat EVOO and butter in the bottom of a large pan and add the cubed veggies, leeks, apples, and herbs/seasonings in the first group.  Saute, sweat, caramelize these veggies until the leeks are almost dissolved/invisible.
  3. mix eggs with cream, pureed pumpkin, and a little salt, and toss with bread cubes.  Allow the bread to soak up as much of this liquid as possible.  Toss the soaked cranberries with the bread mixture.
  4. Combine the pan of hot veggies/apples with the bread and cranberry mixture.  Mix (toss?) well and spread evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  5. pour the chicken stock over the veg mixture evenly, and lightly salt the top of the mixture.  dot with butter, and cover tightly with buttered foil.
  6. Bake, covered for 45 minutes at 375.
  7. Uncover, and bake for 45 minutes at 350.  Until well browned.
  8. remove from oven and top with crumbled feta and bread crumbs distributed evenly.  Return to oven, set to broil, and brown under the broiler until bread crumbs are toasty brown.
  9. Remove from oven, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Corn-Off-The-Cob Soup

Makes about 8 servings of 1.25 to 1.5c

If you have ever cut fresh corn off the cob, you know how different it is from the canned or frozen stuff out there.  This recipe calls for some freshly cut kernels, and also for some fresh cream-style corn off the cob.  There is a utensil that does the “creaming” for you — it’s not actually a matter of adding cream (though a little is sometimes welcome…. 😀

This is the best cutter I've found for getting fresh corn off cob along with all that yummy milky corn juice. Try a couple of ears prepared with just a dash of sugar, a dash or salt -- and heat to cook until tender (about 10 minutes over med. heat) -- add a dab of real butter once the corn is done, and the result is amazing cream-style corn.

2 c fresh corn kernels cut off the cob with a sharp knife
3 c fresh “cream-style” corn cut off the cob
2/3 c sweet onion (Vidalia) -minced fine
1 t fresh rubbed sage
1/2 c poblano pepper, seeded and minced
1 small carrot (about 2 oz) grated
1/2 c butter
2 T olive oil
2 T sugar
1 c chicken stock
1 c whole milk
2 c water
salt and pepper to taste

  • cut your corn kernels and creamed corn off the cob and set aside.
  • melt butter and add olive oil.  When hot, sauté onions slowly (this should take about 20-30 minutes) until caramelized
  • add carrots, sage, and poblano pepper and continue to sauté 3-5 minutes until tender.  once all veggies are tender, add stock and water to deglaze the pan.
  • add remaining ingredients except milk, and bring the pot to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a low boil/simmer, and cover for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • add milk to the pot and adjust seasoning to taste; return to a near boil.
  • drop a lump of cold butter (about 1/2 t) onto the top of each bowl as it is served.

And that’s about it.  This recipe cooks up fast, tastes great, and will satisfy as a late summer or early fall supper. (Try it with fresh cornbread….)

–For a slightly spicier “southwest” version of the soup, use minced (seeded) jalapenos, or Hatch green chilis instead of poblanos.  For an even spicier version, mince chipotle chilis as well (about 1/4 c.), or add canned chilis in adobo sauce.

–Another slight change of taste can be had by roasting your ears for whole corn kernels (in the shuck and wrapped in foil) on the grill before removing the whole kernels from the cob.  This usually takes about 15 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is.  Then, just shuck the corn and remove the grilled kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.  This will give your soup a slightly smokey taste to go with southwest flavors.

Fresh Summer Tomato Soup

Makes 12 x 2-cup Servings

This makes a really satisfying bowl of creamy tomato soup.  If you feel faint at the “butter” called for in this recipe, remember that except for the butter and the 1 1/3oz of Ricotta in each serving, this soup is pure veggie-goodness.  There are no heavy meats or starchy carbs in this pot.  The butter and the ricotta are the only protein and fats to be found!
And did I mention that it’s yummy?

6 lbs ripe Roma or beefy garden tomatoes, quartered
1 lg Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion, about 10oz), chopped into 1″ pieces
1 lg poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped into 1″ pieces
2 qts chicken stock
1 qt veggie stock
16 oz low sodium V-8 Vegetable juice
1/2 to 1 c butter (more is better….)
3 t Penzey’s “Mural of Flavor” seasoning blend
1 t dried, powdered thyme
1 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
1 t sweet paprika
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb low-moisture, part skim ricotta cheese
2 T organic apple cider vinegar
salt to taste

  • In an 8-10qt soup pot, bring all ingredients except ricotta, salt, and vinegar to a boil, then cover and simmer at a hot, but not rolling boil for 2 hours.
  • Uncover, turn up the heat slightly, and simmer for 30 minutes to reduce, then turn off heat and use a stick-blender to puree. Add the vinegar.
  • Add the ricotta and blend again until smooth, then keep hot on a very slow simmer until ready to serve.
  • Serve with a hot crusty cheese bread, a toasted ham sandwich, or a heap of rice in the bottom of your bowl.  Garnish with a little Parmesan cheese.

I Love Cooking Tricks….

You know — tricks.  Short cuts, kitchen-y secrets, stuff grandma taught me….  Tricks.

Like — Covering chicken parts (in a container) with salt water brine for an hour (in the fridge) before cooking them will make them both butter tender and yummy.

Or — salting veggies after they are cut (and laid out on paper towels) will make them give up much of their natural water, so they can be coated in seasoned flour and fried — without as much “popping” or splattering, AND they won’t turn out mushy.  😉

Or — Adding 1/4 c of buttermilk to a pan of ground beef to make it melt-in-your-mouth tender in whatever recipe you are browning the meat for.

Or — browning that same ground beef on a low setting for 1 1/2 hours or more — until it is actually brown and not gray — to make it as tender as the brisket you would cook on low in the oven over-night at 240.

So here’s the latest –>  I make cake/muffin mixes in my bread machine (for several reasons: I can’t mix cake batter by hand any more because of my torn-up thumbs; and because my oven is broken….) Until these last few months when my hands have gotten so much more &%$*@!, I also made scones regularly — which are slightly harder to mix by hand, and so were the first of my baking projects to drop away.  But I have some kick-ass recipes and some other favorite scone mixes (mostly from King Arthur) that I really miss.  — But I found a conversion recipe to take some of those yummy King Arthur Scone mixes and transform them into QUICK BREAD!

Here’s the conversion:

Instead of following the package instructions, combine these ingredients:

1 pkg King Arthur scone mix — any flavor
1/2 t salt
1/2 c canola oil or butter
1 1/2 c milk
1 lg egg

Put all but the mix in the bread machine pan, then dump the scone mix in and set the bread machine to mix for 7 minutes, and then bake for 62 minutes.

Most of the time when I make a conversion like this, I also add an extra 1/2 t (or slightly more) of baking powder — just to be sure and boost the batter to the muffin fluffyness/volume.

Hahahahaha!  I love it.

AND

I also found me a cooking pot.

So what? you say.  Pots and pans are no big deal….  Well

THIS ONE IS !

And here’s why –> Until this year, I used cast iron for almost everything I cooked.  My soup pots, casseroles, frying pans, pizza pans, water kettles — you name it.  Either Lodge cast iron, or Le Creuset enameled cast iron.

Obviously — my hands won’t pick up cast iron very easily any more.  I’ve given most of it away, and what’s left are very small pieces, or things my husband picks up and moves for me.

I can’t grasp frying pan handles.  I can’t pick up a pot of boiling spaghetti and pour it through a colander to drain the pasta.  I can’t move a pan from the burner if it’s about to boil.  Frustrating frustrating frustrating.

This pan —>

is made by the Demeyere Company, and called the  Resto MASLIN PAN is substantial stainless steel, with a thick, even heating bottom plate.  It holds 10.6 quarts — perfect for chili, soup, chicken and dumplings, pasta sauce for a crowd — and even big enough to cook a pot roast or chicken.  It has a bail handle — that I can pick up with just my four fingers — and a handle to steady it, or to TIP it to pour the contents (as in draining pasta) and NO THUMBS REQUIRED!!!!

It’s light weight.  I can make it half full.  Or fill it to the brim.  Or I can just put some oil in it and fry up some chicken.

And my husband / son don’t have to get it out of the cabinet for me, or move it to the sink for me when all the cooking’s done.  No handles.  No cast iron weight.  The lid fit’s perfectly.

Technically, a maslin pan is for making jam.  It’s a jam pot.  That’s why it’s wider at the top — so the jam can “cook down” (reduce) and will be thicker and jammy-er.

Ask me if I care what it was designed for.

hahahahaha!   I love finding solutions.

😀