Thursday 31 May 2012

Lima Beans You'll Actually Like

Lima beans don't get a lot of love these days.  They've been pushed aside by their fancy pants cousins, fava beans and edamame.  It's near impossible to find them fresh in the market, and difficult even to find them frozen.

I can hear the "so what's" from here.  Who wants to eat lima beans anyway? 



I grew up eating lima beans and enjoy them still.  Besides, they're good for you! 

Lima beans are very high in fiber.  A single cup of cooked lima beans will provide you with 52.6% of your daily requirement of fibre.  That fiber contributes to cholesterol reduction and helps to regulate blood glucose metabolism. 

A cup of lima beans contains 24.5% of your daily requirement of iron and 48.5% of your daily requirement of manganese (the key oxidative enzyme superoxide dismutase, which disarms free radicals produced within the mitochondria - the energy production factories within our cells.)  It also contains a whopping 86.5% of your day's requirement of molybdenum, which is very useful in reducing your body's sensitivity to sulphites (food additives found in many commercially packaged foods). 

That same cup of lima beans contains 14.7 grams of protein (that's 29.3% of the required daily value) and, when combined with a whole grain, provides protein comparable to that provided by meat or dairy products, but without the fat. They are an excellent protein source for those considering incorporating more vegetarian dishes into their diet. 

Still, what does it matter if they're good for you if you can't stand to eat them? 

Many people actively dislike lima beans, especially the frozen ones. 

I can fix that though. 


I can show you how to cook frozen lima beans so that you'll actually like them. 

You can thank me later.  ;)

Start by chopping a small to medium sized onion and sauteeing it in a little butter or oil until it's translucent.  Add in 300 grams of frozen lima beans (the amount contained in the smallest Green Giant package) and 4 cups of good stock.  Homemade vegetable or chicken stock work best, but you can use packaged stock too.  Just be sure, if using packaged stock, that you use one that is low in sodium.  Otherwise your beans will end up being 'way too salty. 

If you want to, you can add in 1/2 teaspoon of cumin.

Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium.  Continue cooking the beans until the stock has reduced to make a sauce for the beans, thickened by the soluable fiber from the beans themselves. There should be almost no liquid left in the pot.

That's it.  The beans are ready to eat.  You'll find that they have a soft, buttery texture and wonderful flavour.  You can serve them just as they are, mix in a little crispy bacon, or combine them with corn to make succotash.  Enjoy!
nutrition information:

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Rhubarb Custard Ice Cream

Why make ice cream at home?   When it's on sale, you can buy a big bucket of it very inexpensively. 


If you make ice cream at home, you’ll know exactly what goes into it.  None of the ingredient names will be six syllables long.  You’ll be able to pronounce all of them. 

Besides, it just tastes better.

If you make ice cream at home, you can choose the flavours yourself.  You can enjoy seasonal ingredients rarely available, even from the expensive gourmet brands. 

Like rhubarb. 

One of my co-workers kindly shared some of her rhubarb crop with me last week.  Its pretty pink colour and tart taste beguiled me into fetching my ice cream maker from its hiding place in the back corner of the cupboard.

You know you’re not going to find rhubarb ice cream in the freezer aisle at the megamart, and you know you want to try some.  It just sounds good; like spring-time in a cone.

To make rhubarb ice cream you first have to make some stewed rhubarb.  Begin by cleaning the rhubarb stalks and cutting them into pieces about an inch long. 

Put about a quarter inch of water into the bottom of a pot large enough to hold the sliced rhubarb and then add the rhubarb in.  Bring the pot up to a boil, then lower the heat so that the rhubarb continues to cook at a low boil until it’s soft enough to break apart when you stir it. 

Sweeten the rhubarb to taste.  I won’t recommend an amount because people’s tastes regarding this tart vegetable are quite individual and sweetness varies from plant to plant.  I will recommend, though, that you sweeten it a little more than you ordinarily might.  Freezing will make the rhubarb taste less sweet than it does when it’s warm.

Set the stewed rhubarb aside to cool.  When it reaches room temperature, cover it and store it in the fridge for at least a couple of hours before making your ice cream.

Next, make a custard.  To make the custard, you’ll need:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups 18% (coffee) cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • red food colouring (This is optional.  My ice cream looked a little too beige to me so I added a few drops.)
In a double boiler, over simmering – not boiling – water, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is light yellow and forms ribbons when you lift the mixer from the bowl.  (I use a hand-held rotary mixer for this.)

Remove the yolk mixture from the heat.

Mix together the cream, vanilla and salt, then slowly stream them into the yolk mixture, stirring constantly as you add them in.

Return the custard to the double boiler and continue cooking it, stirring constantly, for about 10 to 12 minutes.  Don’t let the water in the pot boil.  When the custard is ready, it will have thickened enough to coat the back of your spoon.  A finger drawn through it should leave a clean line, without the custard running back into the void space.

Remove the custard from the heat and pour it through a sieve to remove any bits of cooked yolk that may have formed.  Place some plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard, so it doesn’t form a skin.  Let the custard cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it at least a couple of hours before making the ice cream.

When you’re ready to make the ice cream, stir 1-1/2 cups of stewed rhubarb into the custard.  Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze it according to the manufacturer’s directions until it sets up to a consistency resembling commercially made soft ice cream. 

You can either serve your ice cream soft, straight from the machine, or you can transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the deep freeze until it sets up enough to scoop. 
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites, hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Strut Your Stuff Saturday hosted by Six Sisters' Stuff, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Think Pink Sunday hosted by Flamingo Toes, to Sunday Round Up with Heather and Kayla, to Monday Link Party hosted by Craft-o-Maniac, to Delicious Dish Tuesday hosted by Coping With Frugality, Mama Chocolate, and Full Time Mama, to Topsy Turvy Tuesday hosted by I'm Topsy Turvy, to Tuesday To Do Party hosted by The Blackberry Vine, to My Sweet Party hosted by Me and My Sweets, to Cast Party Wednesday hosted by Lady Behind the Curtain, to Whatcha Whipped Up Wednesday hosted by DJ's Sugar Shack, to Sugar and Spice at Seven Thirty Three Blog, to Look What I Made hosted by Creations by Kara, to Wonderful Wednesday hosted by Printabelle,    Wow Me Wednesday hosted by Polka Dots on Parade, to Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, to Show Me Extraordinary at The 36th Avenue, to Thursday's Treasures hosted by Recipes for my Boys and to Trendy Tuesday hosted by Sweet Little Gals.

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Monday 28 May 2012

What We Ate, May 21 - 27

Another week, another menu.  Meal planning can seem like a chore sometimes but I'm still glad that we're taking care to use up what we have at home rather than eating in restaurants. We get more nutritious meals when we eat at home, and we certainly spend less money on food.

I think we did pretty well last week.  We're getting much better at planning meals that will work around my office hours.  My husband is pitching in with meal prep (and housework too!) and I'm doing better with the planning part.  No last minute runs to the grocery store at all last week.  That alone spells progress to me.  :)

Here's what we ate last week:

Monday, May 21:
Tuesday, May 22:
  • Breakfast - Apple pie and cheddar cheese
  • Supper - Spinach, onion, and kalamata olive pizza, apples
Wednesday, May 23:
Thursday, May 24:
  • Breakfast - Granola, oranges
  • Supper - Homemade McMuffins (baked eggs, cheddar, homemade mayo and homemade hamburger relish on crispy English muffins), grilled tomatoes, canned peaches, Greek style yogurt
Friday, May 25:
  • Breakfast - Cheddar corn muffins, apples
  • Supper - Rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, carrot, apple, and raisin salad, ice cream cones from the Dairy Queen for dessert
Saturday, May 26:
  • Breakfast - Eggs, toast, prunes
  • Supper - Chicken nachos, canned peaches
Sunday, May 27:
  • Oatmeal and stewed rhubarb
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot and celery sticks, sliced cucumbers, apples

Friday 25 May 2012

Cheddar Corn Muffins

We have a soup night almost every week.  I try to keep things interesting by changing up the recipes for both the soup and its accompaniments as often as possible.  Still, some favourites do reappear on our table with a certain regularity.  

One of those reappearing regulars is a corn muffin, especially if it contains cheddar cheese.  Corn muffins are not too sweet, and their slightly granular texture makes an excellent counterpoint to a smooth soup.  Served hot, with some butter melting into them and topped with a little pepper jam, they are near perfect.  When used for dipping in a bowl of flavourful soup, they’re heaven on a plate.

To make Cheddar Corn Muffins, you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar

Combine the cornmeal, milk, sugar, and oil in a large bowl.  Beat the egg and mix it in too.  Let the mixture rest for about 10 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add in the cheddar and toss the mixture gently with our fingers until the cheese is distributed throughout and lightly coated with flour.

Give the wet mixture a good stir.  Add in the flour/cheddar mixture and stir the batter just until combined.  The mixture should still be lumpy.

Oil a muffin pan and spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top.  (I never have enough batter to make a full dozen muffins.  If you have empty muffin cups, pour a little water into them.  It will help to distribute the heat more evenly.)

Place the muffin pan on the middle rack of the oven and reduce the heat to 350ºF. 

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re lightly browned around the edges and spring back when lightly touched in the center.

Corn muffins are best served warm.  The leftovers can be stored for a few days in an airtight container or frozen, but should be reheated before service.

Recipe Notes

If you want to vary the flavour of these muffins, any of the following will work well in combination with the recipe ingredients:
  • chili powder
  • finely minced jalapeno or other fresh peppers
  • finely minced chilis in adobo
  • coarsely grated black pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • crumbled bacon or finely diced ham
  • green onions
  • finely chopped sundried tomatoes
This post is linked to Bake with Bizzy hosted by Bizzy Bakes.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Curried Chicken Pies

We had a slow cooker fail at our house last week.

My husband decided to use the slow cooker to make dinner on Thursday.  He put some potatoes, carrots and onions in the cooker, then placed some frozen chicken thighs on top and covered the whole thing with a couple of tins worth of mushroom soup. 

Should've worked, right?

And it would've, had he started earlier in the day. 

Unfortunately, the veggies were still half cooked and the chicken still pink inside by the time supper rolled around.

We scooped enough to serve the two of us from the slow cooker, put it in a casserole dish and finished it in the microwave.  It was tasty, but we were left with six chicken thighs, a pile of half cooked vegetables, and the sauce from the cooker to use up.

My fella cooked dinner again on Friday, and used some of the vegetables in a hash.  Here's what I did with the rest of the leftovers:

I chopped up the remaining vegetables, mixed in some leftover green beans and some frozen peas, shredded the chicken, and used these ingredients together with some of the leftover sauce to make individual meat pies.  I ended up with about 3 cups of mixed vegetables and 3 cups of shredded chicken. 

I made enough pastry for three pie crusts, using the recipe found here.  (I tripled the quantities given.)

Next, I combined the vegetables and chicken in a big mixing bowl and added in just enough sauce to moisten them.  (There was 'way more sauce than I needed.  I put the rest in the freezer to use another day.)

The mixture looked kind of bland so I added in some Patak's mild curry paste.  I used about 1/3 of the jar.

I lined 18 muffin cups with pastry, spooned some of the filling into each pastry lined cup, then cut out a pastry topper for each small pie.

I brushed the pastry tops with milk, then sprinkled them with a little seasoned salt, mostly for the colour it would provide. 

The pies baked at 350ºF for 40 minutes, and came out of the oven looking like this:

We each had two pies for supper.  Once they had cooled to room temperature, I wrapped the pies individually, then placed them on a baking sheet and froze them.  Once they were frozen, I packed them in ziplock bags.

The frozen pies can be reheated direct from the freezer, without thawing.  They'll provide us with a number of convenient lunches or dinners in the weeks to come.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

What We Ate, May 14 - 20

I'm late with this post.  The long weekend has managed to confuse me completely!  I do apologize for the delay in sharing this.

We stayed pretty close to home last week and made some progress with the planning ahead and making ahead adaptations required of a work week kitchen.  My husband pitched in to help with the prep and even cooked a couple of the meals entirely by himself, which was a great help to me.

I'm not managing my schedule well enough to get to the grocery store much, which may be a blessing in disguise.  It's certainly good incentive to make the best possible use of what we do have on hand! 

Among my purchases when I did get to the grocery store was a large bag of broccoli from the manager's special cart.  It needed to be cooked right away to prevent it from spoiling so I steamed it and it found it's way into several of our meals.

Here's what we ate last week:

Monday, May 14:

Tuesday, May 15:
  • Breakfast - (Slept in!)  Bran muffins from MacDonalds, oranges
  • Supper - Stir fry of spot prawns, carrots, bell peppers (from the freezer), onions, and broccoli in an orange ginger sauce, brown rice, canned peaches

Wednesday, May 16:
  • Breakfast - Peanut butter, marmalade, and raisin sandwiches on whole wheat bread
  • Supper - Broccoli, parmesan and black pepper frittata, steamed green beans (from the freezer), coffee mochas for dessert.

Thursday, May 17:
  • Breakfast - Apple slices, brie, English muffins
  • Supper - Potatoes, carrots, onions, and chicken thighs cooked in the slow cooker with mushroom soup, pound cake from the freezer.

Friday, May 18:
  • Breakfast - Boiled eggs, English muffins, apples
  • Supper - Veggie and corned beef hash, oranges

Saturday, May 19:
  • Breakfast - Leftover hash, eggs
  • Supper - Spaghettini with nettle pesto, shredded carrot and radish salad with red wine vinaigrette, canned pears

Sunday, May, 20:
  • Breakfast - Yogurt, oatmeal with apples, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Supper - Curried chicken pies, red cabbage and carrot coleslaw with cider vinegar dressing, chocolate pudding.

Soup, Glorious Soup!

It's chilly here today.  We have grey skies, and wind blowing, and rain sprinkling.  The weatherman tells me that the temperature is 13C (55F), and that it's not likely to get much toastier by the end of the day.

This cool weather has me thinking of soup.  It's my favourite way to warm up with on a damp, chilly day.

If you're in a soup-making frame of mind too, you may want to check out some of these recipes: