Month: March 2007

Refried Beans Recipe

Nutrition Facts Sample LabelWhen we cook our meals we try to avoid using salt or MSG in our recipes. When making side dishes from the packaged foods that come in boxes or cans, the seasonings are all mixed together and it’s almost impossible to cook without salt. By looking closely at the USDA Nutrition Facts label you’ll see these packaged foods are all laden with salt – many of which contain more than 25% of the recommended daily value of sodium in a single serving.

So this post starts a series of easy to make replacements for commonly purchased packaged foods.

Refried Beans

Refried Beans are one of those foods that many of us love to eat with our Mexican and Latin American meals yet many of us have no idea what is in the recipe. For years we’ve purchased our refried beans in a can at the grocer and simply reheated them in the microwave or on the stove top. After making our recipe for Refried Beans we found our recipe to be superior, has no fat, and no salt added.

Pinto Beans (uncooked)Refried Beans starts with Pinto Beans, a small red bean typical in Latin American cooking. We purchase ours at a Latin American Grocer, but if you can’t find a Latin American Grocer near you, buy the red beans in the Mexican or Latin American section at your grocer.

Refried Beans Recipe
Measure out 1 cup of Pinto Beans, pick over them and remove any foreign items like stones and odd plant material. Place the beans in a 2 quart sauce pan, and add about 1 1/2 quarts of water. Place on the stove, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 3 hours. Check every so often and add water if the pot is drying out.

Just before the beans are done, dice 1/2 onion very fine (1/8″ or so), and saute the onions in 1/2 tbsp of canola oil along with 1 tsp chopped garlic. Cook until tender but not browned.

Drain the beans using a strainer, and place the pinto beans in a 2 quart mixing bowl. Sprinkle the cooked onion & garlic over the top of the cooked beans, and add:
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dark chili powder

Mash the pinto beans and seasonings using an electric hand mixer until the beans are at a consistency that you like. We like our Refried Beans to be coarse and have a little crunchiness to them. Some may want their Refried Beans mashed like the beans that comes out of the canned Refried Beans. Either way, you’ll find this a delicious recipe and a much better and healthier recipe than the canned variety of Refried Beans.

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese with Hot Dogs

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese With Hot Dogs
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese With Hot Dogs

Ever since I was a child I’ve eaten Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for a quick lunch. I’ve tried the many different varieties of mac and cheese made by Kraft including the Velveeta, and instant squeeze cheese packets. But my favorite Kraft mac and cheese remains their original with elbows.

One way that I make the Kraft Mac & Cheese is by adding two or three hot dogs to the boiling water along with the dry macaroni pasta. Both will cook together, and then when I strain the pasta, I separate the hot dogs from the pasta, and cut the hot dogs into 1/2″ sections, mix back into the pasta, and mix up with sauce. I always use real milk, and real butter, although not the 3 tbsp that the package calls for. Instead I use 2 tbsp butter, and 1/4 cup of warmed milk. To warm the milk, I simply measure into a Pyrex cup, and set near the stove while the pasta cooks. The butter, I simply slice, place in the bottom of the pan, and pour the drained pasta over top. Let this sit about 30 seconds, then stir to mix the butter around, sprinkle the pasta with the powdered cheese sauce mix, and add the mix, stir, and add the hot dogs. Let site 2 minutes to let the cheese sauce thicken.

To serve, spoon the pasta into a salad bowl, and top with some fresh ground black pepper.

As for the hot dogs, I buy Sheldon’s Uncured Chicken or Turkey Hot Dogs that are low in fat, and have no Sodium Nitrate in them. Since they’re not cured, Sheldon’s Hot Dogs must be kept frozen, and added to the water frozen. They taste good, don’t have the nitrates, and are lower in fat the most hot dogs. I just looked at the package of Sheldons Chicken Franks I have, and each frank has 7g of fat, 2g of which are saturated, and those are both 10% of the USDA Daily Value. That’s far less then the 36 – 40% values of normal hot dogs. You can find Sheldon’s hot dogs at the healthy food stores like Whole Foods or if your in central Maryland, where I shop, which is the Common Market in Frederick, MD off of Route 85 in Evergreen Square with Central Tractor Farm & Family used to be.

Pastrami Pita Sandwich

Pastrami Pita Sandwich
Pastrami Pita Sandwich

A well made stuffed pita sandwich has a delightful blend of flavors and textures. We stumbled on this mix of tastes by accident – simply it’s what we had around to eat! The flavors of the pastrami, Thai Basil and green onions mix to create a wonderful taste experience.

Here’s what’s inside the pita pictured above:
1 large slice beef pastrami cut into 1 1/2″ squares
1/4 cup lettuce, ripped into 1 1/2″ pieces
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts*, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chopped spring onions
1 tbsp fresh Thai basil leaves, ripped into 3/8″ pieces.

*Alfalfa sprouts aren’t required but add an intriguing crunch to the sandwich.

Mixing Pita Filling
Mixing Pita Filling

The secret to making great pita sandwiches is to mix everything together first in a bowl and then stuff the mixture into the pita. If you try to make the pita by simply stuffing things into the pita pocket, you won’t be able to blend everything evenly.

To make this pita pocket sandwich, cut the top 3/8″ off of a whole wheat pita across the widest part. Mix the ingredients listed above in a salad bowl, and then stuff into the pita pocket.

Stove Top Barbecued Beef Brisket

Serving of Barbecued Beef Brisket

Some of the most flavorful cuts of beef are also the most tough. With this recipe for Barbecued Beef Brisket, we’re going to take one of the toughest cuts of beef, apply some tenderizer, braise it, boil it, cook it in barbecue sauce, all done without a grill, and end up with a very tender meal. Be aware that this is a recipe that takes time. From start to finish is about 6 1/2 hours of preparation and cooking. The results are worth the investment in time.

We use a couple of what might be hard to find ingredients in this recipe which are Onion Juice and Garlic Juice. We feel that for this brisket roast that the Onion and Garlic Juices instead of sliced onion and minced soak garlic let the flavors soak more deeply into the food and impart a lighter flavor since the flavor is more dispersed. You can find these onion and garlic juices in Safeway Stores and we’re trying to find a supplier for our e-store.

Recipe for Stovetop Barbecued Beef Brisket

Step 1

  • 5 pound beef brisket
  • 2 tsp Adolphs Meat Tenderizer
  • 1 tsp Onion Juice
  • 3 tsp Garlic Juice
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco Sauce
  • Ground Black Pepper
  1. Evenly sprinkle the Adolphs Tenderizer over both sides of the brisket. Season with black pepper, and then brown the brisket on all sides in a large dutch oven that has been coated with canola oil.
  2. Add water to the dutch oven to cover the brisket, and then add the onion juice, garlic juice, and Tabasco sauce.
  3. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Step 2

  • 1 16oz bottle any quality barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid smoke
  1. Preheat oven to 250° F.
  2. Remove the brisket from the dutch oven and discard the water.
  3. Wash the dutch oven, dry and lightly oil with canola oil.
  4. Place the brisket back into the dutch oven.
  5. Place the following in a non-stick 2 quart saucepan: barbecue sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and liquid smoke. Heat, and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved, then pour over the brisket.
  6. Cover the dutch oven, and place in oven
  7. Cook for 4 hours, checking every 45 minutes, turning, and making sure the sauce stays moist.

We served our roast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and used the barbecue sauce with cooked with over top of the sliced brisket.

Tip: When cutting the brisket, cut across the grain so that the tough fibers in the brisket are severed.