Monday, January 25, 2010

Hats off to my brave guys !

I seem to have a very brave and adventurous family, who has come to trust my judgment and skill in the kitchen. My husband has always been that way ( and the things I have subjected his palate to over the years are the stuff of legend), but one of the biggest changes since we began our journey is that of my son. He has gone from only willing to eat 3 foods ( or having a neurological melt down, not a behavior issue) , to eating just about anything that is not nailed down. With this fact in mind, I was able to inflict two experiments on them, which were thankfully a success !

The first, a new variation on the black bean brownie recipe. I have tried making them from scratch instead of a mix, but they come out a little dry. Adding about 2 tablespoons of olive oil made them better, but then I got inspired. It seems that some people ( including an anonymous commenter on this blog) use avocado as a butter substitute on toast. Makes sense, as it is a healthy fat, creamy and can take on seasonings rather well. If this works, would it preform the same in baked goods ? Hence, the Black Bean Avocado Brownie was born !

Black bean avocado Brownies

1, 15 oz can black beans with liquid
1 avocado, pit and skin removed
3/4 cup splenda( for reasons of blood sugar)
½ cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup egg beaters
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t Cayenne pepper( chili and chocolate have an energetic affect)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, process beans and avocados till smooth.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients and stir well.
Place in 12 muffin pan ( 1/4 cup mixture per cup). Bake for 20 minutes, Cool for
about 1 hour on a rack at room temperature.

The results were a moist brownie with a smooth mouth feel, just chocolate enough to satisfy but not so sweet you feel like you gotta have more. The whole wheat makes it a little grainy tasting, but I suspect whole wheat pastry flour would preform better in this case. Whole wheat pastry flour is just as nutritious, but simply ground from red wheat grains.

Next we moved onto the main meal of the day- veggie lasagna. I got very excited because our local produce market started carrying a no boil whole wheat lasagna, and I had a surplus of cottage cheese to use. ( You can subsitute cottage cheese for ricotta cheese if you drain the liquid and run it in the food processor with your egg for the binding). So I bought eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, fennel, mozzarella and was ready to have a good ole time building a lasagna. A complex lasagna is like an arts and craft project done with colored sand and stones in a bottle- you just go with the look of the work as it is being created to know when it needs more or has enough. I sat down to work, and then disaster struck. I opened the cottage cheese to find it had passed into the great beyond. Green mold, pink liquid- a variable science project in a container. I pitched it and started wracking my brains for a substitute. Yes, just mozzarella would give it the cheese, but not the same creamy feel. I found another cottage cheese container, but this had a mere 1/2 cup remaining. I kept bumping into containers of hummus and then it struck me- if hummus and cheese work so well or a flat bread pizza, why not lasagna ?

And so the Hummus Lasagna was born. The recipe was actually more of a technique- first place a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a pan, a layer of noodles and then spread with a layer of hummus ( I used both red pepper hummus and avocado hummus), then veggies, then the small bit of cottage cheese, then mozzerella, then sauce and keep repeating till you run out of room or ingredients. Make the final layer sauce, cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hrs.
The verdict ? Hummus ROCKS in lasagna, but the no boil whole wheat lasagna noodles are "funky". Next time I will take the hit and use plain no boil noodles. We really enjoy whole wheat pasta here, so I was surprised that this variation did not fly. We tried using zuchini or eggplant for noodles, but the result was way too wet. However, hummus is a terrific addition to a lasagna !


.::. Jennifer .::. said...

Yeah, I would have never thought to add hummus to lasagna!

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

You are very creative in the kitchen! I can see where hummus would work in lasagna. I always use cottage cheese but don't drain it. I guess I didn't know I should! :)

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