Sweet Potato Pie

I grew up in the South.

I have lived in Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Louisiana.  Sometimes I just need good Southern cooking.  Right now, however, I live in Connecticut.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE CT.  I want to live here the rest of my life.  However, there are not many southern food restaurants.

New Englanders don't know what they're missing.

I acquired a couple of massive sweet potatoes.  Huge!  The two together weighed 43 ounces.  That's almost 3 pounds for just two sweet potatoes.

What to do with all that yammy goodness?

Sweet potato pie, that's what!

This is what I did.

Sweet Potato Pie

Pie crust (I used pillsbury - don't judge)
1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla (use the real stuff)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
/14 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

First thing, prepare the crust.  Put it in your pie pan, crimp the edges, do whatever you need to do, just don't bake it.

Cut the sweet potatoes in quarters.  cover them with water, then bring to a boil on the stovetop.  Boil for 20-30 minutes, or until they are super soft.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Drain the potatoes and run under cold water.  When you can handle them, slip off the skins and place the potato in a mixing bowl.

Using a mixer, beat the potatoes until they are smooth.  Trust me, you don't want lumps.

Add everything else to the potatoes and mix it up until it's smooth.  It is not going to be as thin as pumpkin pie.  It also won't puff up as much while cooking.

Spread the potato mixture into the prepared crust.

Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the center of the pie is only slightly jiggly.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out mostly clean.

Cool the pie for at least 1 hour before serving.

It's really good with whipped cream or cinnamon ice cream.  I also think it tastes better the next day.  This pie freezes well, too.

I have made it in ramekins without crust, which one of my kiddos really liked.


Matzoh Toffee

My dish says matzah, but I say matzoh.  Which is correct?

It is Passover.  Nope, not Jewish.  I wish I were that cool.

I try to show respect and to observe many holy days - that's where the word holiday comes from.

I love Passover - the ceremony, the stories, the prayers, the food.  All of it.  We (my family) have celebrated part of Passover for years.

Anyhow, this is one of our favorite Passover treats.  You can't eat just one!

Matzoh Toffee

4-6 matzohs - plain (garlic or onion would not be good here)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter - I like salted, but do what you want
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (12 ounce) bag of chocolate chips (get the good ones - life is short.  I like Guittard.  You could also chop up your own chocolate instead of chips. I also like dark chocolate, but get what you like as it's going in your mouth.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a half sheet pan (18x13) with aluminum foil, wrapping foil around to the outside.  Cover the bottom of the sheet with baking parchment - on top of the foil.  This is very important because this stuff is sticky!

Line the bottom of the cookie sheet with the matzohs, breaking extra pieces to fit any spaces.

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter and the brown sugar.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and pour over the matzoh, covering completely.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently to make sure the mixture is not burning.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with the chocolate chips.
Let stand for 5 minutes, then spread the melted chocolate over the matzoh.
Chill, still in the pan, in the freezer until set.
Break into pieces.


Banana Pudding

If you have read any of my blog posts, you will know that I was raised in the South.  Different places in the South, but still the South.  Having lived in the South during my formative years, I am very picky passionate about certain things.  I don't like dishes left in the sink at night - I lived in Texas and Louisiana where the cockroaches could carry off a 6 pound roast.  I love - but am very particular about - biscuits, soup beans, collard greens and banana pudding.

PoppaH and 2 of my kiddos don't like bananas.  I know.  It is wrong. So, so wrong.  But, what can I do?  Because of this, I have made this pudding without bananas.  It was still good.

I made the first batch in 1/2 pint mason jars, pretty cool if you want it pre-proportioned.  That batch was actually too sweet.  Of course, I had to try it again, adjusting the sugar.  The second batch was just right.

It was all for you.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Banana Pudding

1/4 cup cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated (you'll need to whites for the meringue)
4 cups milk, whole if you have it
1 Tablespoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons butter
1 box vanilla wafers (you probably won't use them all)
4-5 bananas

4 egg whites (reserved from above)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 Tablespoons (about 1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy sauce pan.
Lightly beat the egg yolks and combine with milk in a large bowl or measuring cup.
Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients in the saucepan.  Cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the ingredients are thickened and smooth.  
Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
Let cool slightly while you make the meringue.

Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer set at high spoof.
When the egg whites are foamy, add cream of tartar.
Keep whipping (whip - nae nae)
While whipping, gradually add sugar.
Keep whipping until stiff peaks have formed.  Whip in vanilla.

To assemble the pudding:
Place vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish.
Slice bananas and place on top of wafers.
Pour pudding over bananas.
Spread meringue over pudding, making peaks with your spreader.

Bake for about 15 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.

If you are using jars, start with the wafers and layer as above twice - you know, like a parfait.  
Top with meringue.  

Place jars in a baking dish and bake as above.


Vegetarian Enchiladas

Yes, vegetarian enchiladas.  Don't roll your eyes at me!  I made these last week and my family and a friend loved them.  They are not the typical all bean or all cheese variety.  They do have some beans, but I used butternut squash in them and - oh my - they were good.  I suppose they could even be vegan, I'm not sure they even needed the cheese and you could always use vegan cheese.
I used Trader Joe's half corn-half wheat tortillas.  You can use any kind you want, but, please, don't use those extra soft white things that are in the grocery store now.  What are they thinking?  They are nasty.  If you bake them, they will make your tortillas a gelatinous mess.

Trust me.

I don't know how they do it.

Use corn or half and half (corn/wheat).

But you don't want GMO corn.

You really don't.

Whole Foods or Trader Joe's is your best bet.

I'll get off my soap box now.

By the way, we got 4 new chicks.  I am weak.  They were at our local Agway just waiting for me to take them home.  They are 3 weeks old now.  They grow up so fast.  They are almost at the stage where they will be rolling their eyes and asking for the car keys.

They will have to wait in line.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon olive oil (again, not a typo)
1 4.5 ounce can of chopped chilies, don't drain
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric (I used fresh, it's lovely if you can find it)
2 cups rice, cooked
1 cup salsa
4 ounces (about 1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 cups enchilada sauce (I just used a large can)
16-24 small tortillas, corn or corn/wheat
More shredded cheese, if you want
sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the squash with the olive oil and seasoned salt.
Spread the squash mixture in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast 25 minutes, flipping the squash once, until it is firm/tender.  Set the squash aside and turn oven down to 350 degrees.

 Meanwhile, add the 1 teaspoon olive oil to a large frying pan or a large sauce pan.  Heat the oil and add the bell pepper, and garlic.  Sauté for a few minutes then add the beans, chili powder, cumin, turmeric and salsa.  Sauté for a few minutes, until the spices "bloom" and make your kitchen smell like all that is good in the world.

Add the rice, salsa, 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce and the squash.
Remove from heat.
Okay, I didn't have any black beans, so I used kidney.  It still worked.

In a large glass baking dish (I used a 9x13 and a 9x9), spread 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce.

Lay out tortillas, add 2 large spoonfuls of the squash mixture to the center of each tortilla.  Sprinkle with a layer of cheese, then roll up.  Place seam side down in the baking dish, lining them up like very tasty little soldiers.  

I made 16 because I ran out of tortillas.  However, I had a bunch of filling left.  It was lovely later in taco salad and nachos.

Spread the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and top with the remaining cheese.  Bake these tasty tubes of happiness for 25-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes.

Serve with sour cream, if you want.


Growing wheat grass

It is winter.

In Connecticut.

There is not much greenery for my chickens.  I do buy them the occasional bag of kale or spinach, which they love.  They also get all of the table scraps.  They will eat anything - except avocado and chocolate.  They don't especially like onion or citrus or (interestingly enough) strawberries - unless they are organic.  I don't know how they can tell, but they won't touch them.

When there is an abundance of growing things, their eggs are lovely - the yolks almost orange, the whites very clear.  Even with out growing things, their eggs are better than those in the store.

I thought I would try to supplement their food with wheat grass.  It's cheap and I can put it in my smoothies.  Win-win.

I got the wheat from Whole Foods.  Enough wheat for two pans cost around $2. That's it.

Start by soaking the wheat (about 1 1/2 cups for one disposable aluminum pan) in water overnight.  Drain the wheat.  You will see that some of the wheat has already begun to sprout!
Day one, after soaking all night

Take one aluminum pan and put something in it to keep the other pan above the water.  I used canning rings because I have plenty.

On the other aluminum pan, poke holes all over - large enough to drain the water but small enough so the wheat doesn't fall through.

Spread the soaked and drained wheat in the pan with the holes.  It should be about 1/2 inch thick.  It doesn't matter if it is less.

Set the pans in a sunny window.
Day 2 - you can see some green

Twice a day, pour water over the wheat.  You will need to drain the excess water once a day.

Day 3 - sprouting nicely
Watch it grow!
Day 4 - almost there

In five days, it should be 3-5 inches tall!  

Day 5 - ready to go
I just lift the whole thing out for the chickens, or use scissors to mow it for me.
You can then feed it to your chickens or snip off greens to add to your smoothies.  I start one a day, never having more than 5 going, so the chickens get a treat all winter.

Easy peasy!