I recently discovered black soybeans. What are they, you ask?
Black soybeans are very similar to regular yellow soybeans—free of fat and a good source of protein. They are low in net carbohydrates (the number of carbohydrates per serving minus the grams of fiber) and high in protein, fiber, vitamin K, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and riboflavin. Half a cup of cooked black soybeans has 1 gram net carb plus 7 grams of fiber (8 grams of total carbohydrate), 11 grams of protein, and 120 calories.
The black variety is higher in some phytonutrients, including antioxidants. The only distinction between white and black soybeans is the color of the hull so any nutritional difference will be found in the black outer shell. Similar to blueberries and raspberries, the dark exterior of the black soybean contains the antioxidants.
You can buy them canned in most supermarkets but I prefer the taste of home cooked.
Black soybeans are great substitutes for higher-carb beans, such as black, navy, and pinto beans. They don’t taste soybean-like as the yellow ones do, but rather more like regular black beans. You can substitute them in dishes that call for black beans, such as baked beans, refried beans, bean soup, chili, and 4-Bean Salad.
I learned the secret of how to cook these beans successfully from the Very Well Fit Dieticians’ blog.
Because of their delicate skin and silken texture, black soybeans need to be cooked a bit differently than regular beans. To avoid their getting mushy, it is best to soak the dried black soybeans overnight in salted water. You will use the same water measurements called for in recipes using regular beans, but be sure to add the salt. For one cup of dry black soybeans, soak in 4 cups of water with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt added.
When it’s time to cook the beans, use the same measurements you would normally, except salt the water. So if, for instance, you are using 1 cup of beans (which have been soaked overnight in salt water), add them to a pot with 3 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the beans to a boil uncovered, reduce the heat to a simmer and skim off the whitish-gray foam on top. Add a clove of garlic and half a small onion, cover and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until tender, adding more water if necessary.
Use these cooked beans in a variety of dishes. I tried them in my baked bean recipe and it turned out quite delicious.
3 slices bacon
1 large sweet (Vidalia) onion, diced
4 cups cooked black soybeans
1 cup low sugar barbecue sauce, see recipe below for homemade
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, diced plus 1 teaspoon sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
In a Dutch oven or oven-ready, flame-proof casserole dish cook the bacon over medium heat until it just begins to crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-lined plate.
Turn the heat to low and add the onion and garlic to the pot. Continue cooking until the onion softens.
Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Cut each piece of cooked bacon in half and place on top of the beans.
With a lid on, place the bean mixture in the oven. Cook for about 3-4 hours or the until beans are completely tender and the sauce has thickened.
Adjust the seasoning to your taste. They can be served immediately but are better if left to sit for the next day.
Makes 8-10 servings.
26 oz container strained or crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground yellow mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook, uncovered, until thick about 1 ½ hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Look for compact heads of cabbage that are heavy for their size. Whether red or green, the leaves should be crisp and deeply colored. Check the stem to make sure it has no cracks around its base. Avoid discolored heads with wilted outer leaves.
Italian Sausage Stuffed Cabbage
1 lb cooked Italian hot (rope) sausage
8 savoy cabbage leaves
2 cups Marinara Sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Oil an 8×12 baking dish.
Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water or, as I do, freeze the leaves and then defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. Remove the bottom part of the stem on each leaf. Place the leaves on a kitchen towel.
Cut the sausage into 8 equal pieces. Place one piece of sausage on each cabbage leaf. Roll up the leave into little packages. Spread some Marinara Sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and arrange the cabbage rolls in the dish. Cover the rolls with Marinara Sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake the cabbage rolls for 1 ½ hours.
Garlic and Herb Rice
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, chives, cilantro, mint, or tarragon, or a combination of many
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Bring broth to a simmer in medium saucepan.
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; sauté until tender, about 1 minute. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add hot broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low; cover. Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat; let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Add herbs to the rice; fluff with a fork and serve with the cabbage rolls.
Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Adjust oven rack to uppermost position and heat broiler.
Mix the asparagus with the 1 tablespoon of oil and salt and pepper to taste, then lay the spears in a single layer on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Broil about 4 inches from the heat, shaking pan halfway through to turn spears, until the asparagus are tender and lightly browned 8 to 10 minutes.
Cool the asparagus for 5 minutes and arrange them on a serving dish.
Whisk the shallot, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, mustard, and 2 ½ tablespoons of olive oil in small bowl; season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the asparagus and serve.
We really like veggie pizza. Fresh vegetables shine here. Many people consider pizza fast food and lump it together with all the burger and fries places. However, pizza has quite a few advantages over other fast foods and is one of the healthier choices you can make. And, if you make it at home, it is even healthier and more delicious. Veggie Pizza undoubtedly contains more nutrient-packed vegetables that can help contribute to your daily requirements. Add vegetables that are in season for even a better taste and you won’t miss the meat. Don’t forget the salad to go with your pizza.
1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely diced bell pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced very thin, about 1 cup
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Dried oregano, salt, and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a large pizza pan.
Stretch the pizza dough until it covers the bottom of the pan. Distribute the mozzarella slices evenly over the dough. Spread the Marinara sauce over the cheese and arrange the vegetables on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Place the pan on a middle shelf in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.
Arugula Salad with Asiago Cheese
Arugula is also in season now and makes a delicious salad. Look for: arugula that is fresh, vibrant and green. Avoid leaves that are wilted, yellowing or slimy. When buying pre-packaged arugula, check the bag for excess water, as moisture can cause arugula go bad quickly. Storing the arugula in a plastic bag with a dry paper towel can help the greens stay dry. Kept dry and cool arugula can last up to two weeks.
3 cups washed and dried arugula leaves
1/2 cup shaved Asiago cheese
Freshly coarse cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the dressing
Pour all the ingredients into a jar with a screw top and shake until combined. Place the arugula in a salad bowl and shave the cheese over the salad.
Pour a little of the dressing over the salad and mix well. Add cracked black pepper and serve.
My market had a sale on Florida mini peppers. I like stuffing large peppers, so I thought I would try something similar with all these mini peppers. After thinking about what ingredients I would use – I came up with Nachos. I replaced the chips with mini peppers and this recipe turned out to be so delicious. Give it a try. Coleslaw is a good side for this entre and here is the kink to my recipe.
Mini Pepper Nachos
15 mini peppers
1 lb lean ground beef
2 tablespoons taco seasoning, see recipe below
½ cup water
1 cup salsa
Half an onion, diced
Sliced pickled jalapenos to taste
15 Mini peppers
1 cup Velveeta light cheese, cubed
½ cup shredded Mexican blend or Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Oil a13x9 inch baking dish.
Cut the mini peppers in half and remove the seeds. Place the halves in the baking dish.
Brown the meat in a medium skill. Add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer until the liquid evaporates. Spoon the beef into each pepper half. Place a spoonful of salsa on each pepper. Sprinkle the diced onion on top. Add slices of jalapeno to taste. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Make the cheese sauce: Place the cheeses and milk in a microwave-safe dish or measuring cup. Hear for two minutes. Stir. Return the mixture to the microwave for 30 seconds if the cheese is not melted or set aside for a few minutes and the cheese will finish melting. Stir well.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the cheese sauce over the peppers and place the dish under the broiler. Broil for a few minutes, just until the top begins to brown. Watch carefully.
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Stir all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container.
Add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning and 1/2 cup water per pound of browned meat.
Manicotti in many regions of Italy are actually called Crespelles. They are a perfect light start as a “primo” (first) course for a special Italian meal.
In America, manicotti are often made with pasta tubes. But for true manicotti made the Italian way, the shells should be light crepes, not made from boiled pasta. Cheese or meat stuffings enclosed in pasta are called Cannelloni in Italy.
The best recipe for Italian crepes comes from Marcella Hazan. In her book, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, she includes a variety of recipes for stuffing crepes. I use her crepe recipe for Manicotti, but the Marinara Sauce and Ricotta Filling are my long time standard recipes.
To make this dish, you will need:
8 Crepes for a main dish or 4 Crepes for a first course
Swiss Chard or Spinach Ricotta Filling
Makes at least 8 crepes
1 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free flour also works)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Butter for crepe pan
To make the crepes:
Add the flour gradually to the milk with a whisk in a medium bowl with a cover. Strain the mixture through a sieve to avoid any lumps. Return the mixture to the bowl..
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Add the salt.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Heat the crepe pan and butter the pan.
Pour a scant ¼ cup of batter into the hot pan. Tilt the pan around with a circular motion so that the batter thins out and forms a round crêpe about the size of the pan. Cook until the edges of the crêpe become whitish and the inner portion yellow and partially solid.
Using a spatula, turn the crepe over and cook briefly (about 30 seconds).
Remove to a plate to cool. Repeat with the remaining batter, buttering the pan for each crepe. Place a sheet of wax paper between the layers to keep them from sticking together.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28-ounce) cartons Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
4 fresh basil leaves, minced
Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a cover. Add the garlic and onion. Sauce for 2-3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer the sauce with the cover ajar for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened.
Swiss Chard and Ricotta Filling
2 cups cooked (with garlic and olive oil) Swiss Chard or spinach, squeezed dry
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus extra for baking
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for baking
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine the filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the manicotti.
To assemble the Manicotti:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and lightly brush 4 individual baking dishes with olive oil.
Spread about 4 tablespoons of the filling down the center of a crepe. Roll it up and place it, seam-side-down, in one of the baking dishes. Repeat with the remaining crepes and filling, placing one or two filled crepes in each baking dish. Top lightly with marinara sauce spreading it evenly over the manicotti, sprinkle with Parmesan and shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake the manicotti for 30 minutes.
Mu (or Moo) Shu is a dish of northern Chinese origin and it is believed to have first appeared on the menus of Chinese restaurants in the United States in the 1960s.
In its traditional Chinese version, moo shu pork (木须肉 / mùxūròu) consists of sliced pork tenderloin, cucumber, and scrambled eggs, stir-fried in sesame or peanut oil together with thinly sliced wood ear mushrooms (black fungus) and enokitake mushrooms. One of the first restaurants in Manhattan to serve the dish was Pearl’s, one of the best known New York City Chinese restaurants at the time. A 1967 article in The New York Times states that another of the first restaurateurs to serve the dish in Manhattan was Emily Kwoh, the owner of the Mandarin House, Mandarin East, and Great Shanghai restaurants.
At the time of its introduction, the dish was prepared in a traditional manner, but, as wood ears and daylily buds were scarce, a modified recipe was developed. In this modified recipe, which gradually came to be the norm in North America, green cabbage is an ingredient, along with scrambled eggs, carrots, scallions, and bean sprouts, along with lesser amounts of daylily buds and wood ear mushrooms. The American version is more like the filling for Chinese Spring Rolls. Shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, snow pea pods, bell peppers, onions, and celery are sometimes also used, and dry sherry is often substituted for the huangjiu.
Although most commonly made with pork, the same basic dish can be prepared by substituting another meat or seafood. Many Chinese families use chicken but shrimp and beef are less common in home cooking. The dish is served with rice or noodles and soft tofu in China. In America, the dish is served with hoisin sauce and several warm, steamed, thin, white tortilla-like wrappers made of flour, called “Mandarin pancakes”; these are similar to those served with Peking Duck.
Now, here is my version:
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice powder
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch strips
2 medium stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves grated garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced into ½-inch strips
1 cup sliced green onions (scallions)
4 cups sliced cabbage (½-inch strips)
8 oz can Bamboo shoots, drained
1 cup bean sprouts (mung beans for stir-frying)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
Chinese Pancakes, recipe below
Mix together the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl, add the chicken, and mix to coat. Prepare the vegetables, and grate the ginger and the garlic so everything will be ready when it is time to cook.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, and stir-fry until just cooked through, probably 3 to 4 minutes depending on how thick you cut the chicken. Remove the chicken from pan to a bowl.
Add the celery, ginger, and garlic to the skillet. Saute for one minute.
Add the rest of the vegetables in the following order: mushrooms, green onions, cabbage, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, stir-frying for 1 to 2 minutes after each addition:
Add the soy sauce and the chicken. Toss to combine. Serve with warm Chinese pancakes and hoisin sauce.
Options for the Pancakes:
Use regular, low carb or gluten-free tortillas
Make Crepes – regular, low carb or gluten-free
Or make authentic Chinese Mandarin Pancakes
Mandarin Pancake Ingredients
1½ cups flour
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon oil
Mix the flour and salt in a heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water into the flour mixture and use chopsticks or a spatula to mix until a dough ball forms. Once it is cool enough to handle, knead the dough for 8 minutes until smooth, adding flour if the dough is too sticky. Cover with plastic and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Roll the dough into a cylinder and cut into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a dough ball, then flatten them out into a small disc about 2 inches in diameter. Lightly brush all areas of 6 of the discs with oil. Layer the remaining 6 discs over the 6 oiled discs so you have 6 pieces, each composed of 2 discs.
Use a rolling pin to roll the discs into 7-inch circles, turning the pancakes frequently so both of the dough discs are rolled into the same size.
Heat a wok or frying pan over medium-low heat, and place one pancake in the pan. After 30 to 45 seconds, you should see air pockets begin to form between the two pancakes. Flip the pancake; it should be white with just a couple of faint brown patches. Any more than that, and they are overcooked. After another 30 seconds, the air pockets should be large enough to separate the two pancakes. Remove the pancake to a plate, and let it cool for another 30 seconds. Now carefully pull apart the two pancakes at the seams. Place finished pancakes onto a plate and cover with a warm kitchen towel. Repeat until all the pancakes are done.
Italian Hazelnut Ricotta Cheesecake
Ricotta cheesecake is tops in our family and I have shared several versions with you over the years. This version is especially suited for a holiday or for when you have guests. It makes a beautiful presentation. It can also be adjusted for special diets.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
32 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar or equivalent sugar substitute for baking
3 tablespoons all-purpose or low carb or gluten-free flour
1 tablespoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Strawberry Sauce, recipe below
For the crust:
Heat the oven to 350°F. Line the outside of an 8-inch springform pan with a double layer of aluminum foil. Coat the inside of the springform pan with cooking spray.
Process the hazelnuts until finely ground in a food processor. Combine the hazelnut flour, butter, and cinnamon in the processor until the mixture is crumbly.
Pat the mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake the crust until golden, 10-12 minutes; cool on a wire rack.
For the cheesecake:
In the food processor fitted with a metal blade, process ricotta until very smooth. Add cream cheese; process until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, processing until incorporated. Add sugar or sugar substitute, flour, and hazelnut syrup. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Pour filling into cooled crust; smooth top.
Place the pan in a larger pan and add water to reach halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the water bath for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake finish baking in the turned off oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil and cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate. When well chilled, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan, cut into wedges and serve with the Strawberry Sauce.
Quick Strawberry Sauce
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon hazelnut flavored syrup
Combine the ingredients in a microwave-safe dish. Heat in the microwave for one minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir well. Cover and refrigerate. Serve a little of the sauce over slices of the ricotta cheesecake.
Polish Easter Nut Bread
My mother-in-law made this bread every year for the holidays. I remember what it tasted like and that it took her several days to make this traditional bread. She also made about 8 loaves to share with the family. The recipe was in her head and never written down. I looked at a number of Polish recipes for Easter Nut Bread but none of them seemed to be like hers. Her version was round, not long like most photos I saw on the internet. So I created a version of this bread that tastes like hers but with a lot less work.
This dough is very tender and delicious, not at all heavy or dense.
3 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 large egg
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a few turns to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the butter cut into cubes and the egg, water, and cream. Mix until combined and the dough begins to stick together. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for about 7 minutes. It should be smooth and soft.
Put the dough in a large buttered bowl and cover it with a towel. Let it rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.
While the dough is rising, prepare the walnut filling:
10 ounces walnuts
4 ounces (1 stick unsalted butter)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
To make the walnut filling:
Put the walnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
By hand or in a mixer, cream the butter and the brown sugar until smooth. Stir in one egg, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Add the ground walnuts and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
To make the pastry:
Place the risen dough on a lightly floured board and roll it into a 20- by 15-inch rectangle.
Spread the walnut filling evenly over the dough. From the long end, roll up the dough, pinching the ends to the sides to seal it. Pull the dough to a length of 25 inches and twist the roll into a circle. Place it on a large parchment-lined baking sheet.
Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours until doubled.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it on the dough. Bake the walnut roll for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is a dark golden brown color and registers 200 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Let the walnut roll cool for 15 minutes and then slice it yo serve it warm. The pastry can also be reheated in a 350 degree F oven.