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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cranberry Pie




Have you ever thought of how much we tend to associate certain foods with specific seasons or holidays, often serving them only during a limited time period?

Cranberries are like that. Make some cranberry relish to go with the Thanksgiving feast, maybe make a cranberry dessert during the Thanksgiving to Christmas festive season, but then, except for the dried ones substituting for raisins, cranberries pretty much drop out of sight the rest of the year. 

Because of this seasonality, however, I learned long ago that fresh cranberries are often on sale at really low prices after Thanksgiving and, sometimes, after Christmas as well.

This year was no exception. I found the standard 12 ounce bags of cranberries at one store for only 35 cents each. Grabbing up several bags, I brought them home, froze some, and put the rest in the produce drawer of my refrigerator. (If purchased in good condition, the berries will last for more than a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.)

One of the reasons I like to stock up on cranberries has to do with another seasonal food: cherry pie is often featured around Presidents' Day, in honor of the George Washington cherry tree myth, and sometimes Valentines Day,  just because of the all-things-red kinds of menus.





The recipe that follows is one that will substitute very well for cherry pie, at a much lower price. Don't skimp on the almond flavoring, and do try my daughter-in-law's innovation of a graham cracker crust instead of the standard pie crust. In order to enhance the almond flavor that enhances the cherry-like flavor, I have subbed in some ground almonds for part of the graham crackers.  Of course, if you want the pie to really look like a classic cherry pie, you can spend lots of time making a lattice crust, but why bother when you can so much more quickly make this one that will taste just as good--or even better.

Cranberry Pie

12 oz bag cranberries--about 3 cups
1 3/4 c sugar
2 T cornstarch
3/4 c water
1 t. almond extract
graham cracker crust for 9" pie

1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and water in a large saucepan and stir until all the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.

2.  Meanwhile, wash the cranberries, sorting out any that may have spots. Drain and add to the boiling sugar mixture. Continue cooking until all the berries have popped, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir often.

3.  Remove from heat and add the almond extract. Pour into the prepared crust and place the pan on to a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

4.  Put the pie and the pan beneath it, in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbly all around the edges. If the edges of the crust begin to darken, place a ring of aluminum foil loosely over the edges.

Graham Cracker Crust

 1/3 c butter, melted
1 c graham cracker crumbs (about half a 12 oz package)
1/2 c ground almonds (approximately 2 to 2/12 oz)
3 to 4 T sugar
1/2 t cinnamon

1.  Prepare the crumbs by whirling in a blender or food processor. You may also place the crackers in a heavy plastic bag and roll over the bag with a rolling pin. Try to get the crumbs as even as possible.

2.  Melt the butter and pour into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. If using a glass pan, you can just melt the butter right in the pan in the microwave.

3.  Stir in the remaining ingredients and, using a fork or your fingers, toss the ingredients together until they are well blended. Press the crumbs firmly against the bottom and up the sides of the pan.


 (If desired, you can reserve a few crumbs for the top of the pie. However, I don't do that because, as soon as the pie is cut, I always manage to have some of the crumbs "migrate" to the top of each slice anyway, as seen in the photo below.)
















Potato Soup, and Variations



Winter weather has finally arrived, the richness of holiday meals is mostly past, and the time has come for simpler, more nutritious, frugal, and warming comfort foods. Here in Minnesota, we have the promise of weather perfect for being outside, enjoying the snow, even as our friends in the east are facing the "other side" of winter, with heavy snow to shovel, roads unsafe for traveling, and generally treacherous walks underfoot.

What better time for all of us to stay home and make some soup!

Potato soup is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. What I also like about it is the opportunity to make a giant batch and then toss things throughout the week to turn it into something else again. Cream of broccoli soup, New England clam chowder, corn chowder--all are soups that can start out with a basic potato soup.

Best of all, there are few "exotic" ingredients needed to bring bowls of steaming potato soup to the table, and, if you choose to go "rustic," i.e., without peeling the potatoes, the time to make a big batch will take relatively little time to prepare.

So let's get cooking. Here is the link to my post from last winter.

http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2015/02/basic-potato-soup-with-lots-of.html

(And, if you don't want to bother to go to the link, here is the recipe. For the variations, however, you will just have to give in and go to the earlier post.)


Creamy Potato Soup

(For the various vegetables, I have included several different measures to help you have a guide to amounts. However, feel free to adjust as you like.)

1/4 to 1/3 c canola oil
1 large or 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped (13 oz. or about 2 1/2 c)
4 stalks celery, diced (8 oz or about 1 1/4 c)
3 lb potatoes, cut into about 1 inch cubes (approximately 8 c)--I had a mixture of white, red, and russet potatoes for this batch
1/4 c chicken or vegetable bouillon powder OR 4 to 5 bouillon cubes
approximately 2 1/2 quarts water
12 to 16 oz pureed butternut squash (about 1 1/2 to 2 c)--if frozen, no need to thaw
3 oz chopped fresh spinach (app 2 c after chopping)
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced (I used bottled minced garlic today)
1 t dried basil
1 t dried oregano
1 t black pepper
1 12 oz can evaporated milk, either fat free or "regular"
1 to 1 1/2 c nonfat dried milk powder
4 oz processed cheese (like Velveeta in the rectangular yellow box)



1.  Pour enough canola oil into a large pot to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions and celery and saute over medium high heat until the onions just start browning and the celery is slightly tender.



2.  Meanwhile, scrub the potatoes, cut out any spots and eyes, but do not peel. Dice into approximately one to two inch cubes. Add to the onions along with about 2 quarts of water and bouillon powder. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft.
3.  If desired, use a potato masher to break up most of the chunks of potato. (An immersion blender can also be used for this.) Be sure to do this before adding the spinach, to avoid ending up with a kind of murky green colored soup!
4.  Stir in the squash, spinach, and garlic, along with the basil, oregano, and pepper. Continue to simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes (or until the squash is completely thawed if it is put in frozen).

5.  Mix the dry milk powder with a cup or so of water and add it, along with the evaporated milk, to the soup. Stir well. Cut the cheese into a couple of pieces and add. Stir until the cheese is melted and the entire mixture has returned to a slow simmer.
6.  Taste for seasoning and then serve or allow to simmer together for another 10 to 15 minutes. This is also very good the second day as well.

Ah. But no potatoes.

But...I have been asked, what if you don't have any potatoes in the house? While what my mom always said was "the Irish in me" leads me to always having potatoes--just as I always have onions and celery--I suppose this could happen in the event of an unexpected (or expected) blizzard. So, what to do without potatoes?

This basic recipe can easily be turned into a Cream of [insert your favorite vegetable here] Soup just by omitting the potatoes and replacing them with another hearty vegetable. Carrots, squash, even corn will work well. Parsnips or turnips? Hmmmm. I still haven't cooked with them so can't make any promises--would love to hear how these might turn out.

When omitting the potatoes, the soup will lose some of its creaminess. To replace this, stir about 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour (or corn starch) into a half cup of cold water or milk and then add this slowly to the rest of the soup ingredients about 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

OR...just look up a good recipe for a non-potato soup, like one of these:

http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2012/05/creamy-mexican-corn-soup.html

http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2011/01/italian-lentil-soup.html

http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2011/11/spaghetti-and-meatball-soup.html

Whatever you choose, enjoy a house full of the wonderful aroma of homemade soup, the best way to celebrate a snow day!





























Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cranberry Applesauce Mini Muffins/Cakes






In this time of holiday gatherings, office potlucks, and a desire to share home-baked gifts, finding recipes that are fast, relatively inexpensive, and even just a little healthy (or at least less unhealthy) can be a challenge.


Enter mini-muffins.

These bite-sized morsels are especially good for times when we want to try all the foods on offer at the buffet and can easily over-indulge as a result. Using unsweetened applesauce and reducing the amount of fat in the original recipe ups the nutrition, as does the inclusion of lots of cranberries and walnuts. The added step of dipping each one in melted butter and sugar and cinnamon does add some calories but lifts these little bites into the dessert category.

They also stretch the budget at a time when spending on gifts and trappings of the season take priority. I found cranberries marked down the week after Thanksgiving--a common occurrence most years--so that helped reduce the overall cost of the recipe. The original recipe was for a single loaf of a basic cranberry bread that would have yielded no more than 16 or so slices. Making mini-muffins results in almost 5 dozen of these little nuggets, yet another way to stretch the budget. 

Best of all, these are easy to make yet make a lovely addition to any tray of mixed cookies and candies. The blend of tart fruit and sugary topping is a good counter point to the many super sweet choices that can become overwhelming.

A processor is the best tool for chopping the cranberries, though a blender could also work. After they are chopped, the batter comes together very quickly. Even the final step of dipping each little muffin in the butter and sugar and cinnamon is a pretty easy task. Best of all: you should have some of both the butter and sugar and cinnamon left after dipping--just right for making some cinnamon toast for breakfast tomorrow morning!



Applesauce Cranberry Muffins

3/4 c sugar
1/3 c canola oil
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
 2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t  cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
2 c fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Topping

1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
2 to 3 t cinnamon, to taste

1.  Put the cranberries in a blender or food processor and process until well chopped. Set aside.

2.  Combine the sugar, oil, egg, vanilla, and applesauce and beat well.

3.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir into the applesauce mixture. Stir just until completely blended.

4.  Fold in the cranberries and walnuts.

5.  Prepare mini-muffin pans by oiling well or spraying with a product like Pam. (Even non-stick pans will benefit from this step.)










6.  Spoon the batter into the pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 13 to 15 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans about 5 minutes before turning on to a cooling rack.


7.  While the muffins are baking, prepare the topping. Place the melted butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and cinnamon in another. 

8.  Place each mini-cake top down into the butter and then into the sugar cinnamon mix.  

 







 This recipe makes about 5 dozen mini-muffins/mini-cakes.




Saturday, December 5, 2015

Upside Down Apple Pumpkin Cake









Over the years, I watched the Pillsbury Bake-off reward bigger and bigger prizes, often for what seemed like easier and easier dishes to make.

It would be fun, I thought, to have a recipe that would just get me to the final bake-off, a room full of cooks and mocked up kitchens, chaotic and fragrant and, well, just plain fun.

As the contest's emphasis on mixes grew, I decided to try a recipe that would be a "can't fail" entry. From the first time I baked my "million dollar cake" recipe, it was a hit with everyone who tasted it. I even got serious enough about this that I laughingly said I wouldn't share the recipe until I was sure it was/wasn't going to make it.

The testing was done, the recipe had been tried over and over, and I was ready for that year's bake-off. Not having seen any paper entry forms as in years past, I checked the Pillsbury site and discovered they were now running the contest only every two years, so I would have to wait. I continued to make the cake for various gatherings and meals and continued to hear compliments and, yes, of course you need to submit this!

So I waited. Finally, it was time to get my entry in. Imagine, then,  my chagrin when I discovered that Pillsbury cake mixes were no longer eligible products for the contest!

What?

A little research and here is what I learned (as summarized on everyone's favorite research site, Wikepedia):
"Pillsbury is a brand name used by Minneapolis-based General Mills and Orrville, Ohio-based J.M. Smucker Company. Historically, the Pillsbury Company, also based in Minneapolis, was a rival company to General Mills and was one of the world's largest producers of grain and other foodstuffs until it was bought out by General Mills in 2001. Antitrust law required General Mills to sell off some of the products. General Mills kept the rights to refrigerated and frozen Pillsbury products, while dry baking products and frosting are now sold by Smucker under license."
So, Pillsbury cake mixes are not really "Pillsbury" products at all. Or rather, the "Pillsbury bake-off" is really the General Mills (ie, Betty Crocker!) bake-off. Really!?!

Whatever the corporate decisions, what this meant was that my wonderful million dollar cake would never make the grade as an entrant in this high power contest. 

I wasn't exactly crushed, but it did take the fun out of making the cake for awhile. Then, when I was stirring it up for an event this week, I realized that I had not even included the recipe here on my blog. What a strange omission, since the cake really does fit into the frugal, fast, and fun criteria:
  • Frugal? This is the season to get the best buys on apples and canned pumpkin (or for making your own pumpkin puree from the last of the Halloween pumpkin decorations). 
  • Fast? If you don't spend too much time agonizing over the arrangement of the apple slices, the cake goes together pretty quickly, and there is no need for making frosting. 
  • Fun? It really is fun to make this relatively easy dessert that turns out so beautifully. In fact, this could be a great cake to make with children--and they may have a lot more patience in getting the apples arranged just so. 
So here it is, just in time for the last of the "harvest" kinds of desserts before we fully move into Christmas cookies and breads, is the recipe. A couple of hints:
  • Though you start out with a cake mix made for just a 9 X 13 pan, you will want to use the larger pan size(s) to emphasize the apple part of the cake. Using round pans gives an especially elegant way to arrange the apples.
  • I prefer to use glass pans, just because I can see, in step 6, when the apples have completely dropped off the pan and onto the tray.


Million Dollar Upside Down Cake

1/2 c butter
3/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon
approximately 1/2 to 1 c broken walnuts
4 to 5 medium apples, cored and sliced (about 12 slices from each apple)

1 yellow or white cake mix
2 eggs
2 c pumpkin puree (15 oz can)
1/3 c water
2 t cinnamon
1/2 to 1 t ginger, depending on how much you like ginger
1/2 t nutmeg


 
1.  Melt butter and stir in the brown sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of a 12 X 15 cake pan (or two 7 X 11 pans or two 9" round cake pans).

2.  Arrange the apple slices in rows (or in a circular pattern for the round cake pans) over the butter/sugar mixture so they cover the pan with as few spaces as possible. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over the top and set aside.


3.  Combine the cake mix and all remaining ingredients together, stirring with a mixer just to combine. Then beat for the length of time noted in the cake mix package directions. The batter will be quite thick.


4.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the apples. Then use a spatula or knife to spread the batter evenly.
It is important to do this gently, to avoid moving the apples around and undoing all that careful work you put into arranging them so beautifully!

5.  Bake at 350 degrees (325 for a glass pan) for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


6.  Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Have a tray or serving plate ready.





Place this over the top of the pan and then quickly invert the pan and tray. The cake should easily drop on to the tray; leave the pan on top for a few minutes, perhaps even shaking slightly if a few of the apples continue to cling to the pan.






Hint:  As soon as the cake has dropped on to the tray and you remove the pan from on top, use a spatula to scrape off any of the caramel-y layer from the pan and spread it over the cake--this is way too good to leave in the pan!


 Serve the cake warm or cold.








Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Golden Clam Chowder









I love clam chowder, the white and creamy New England style, so the beginning of winter weather this weekend was a great time to make up a batch.

Now it happens that I also have lots of butternut squash and am always looking for ways to add this sweet, high vitamin and fiber ingredient to old standard recipes. Why not make that creamy chowder just a little richer, a little more colorful, and even a bit healthier?

Voila. Golden clam chowder.

I had found some bargains on seafood stock and canned clams so had the makings of a reasonably priced chowder. Add in the specials on evaporated milk, celery, potatoes, and onions in preparation for Thanksgiving feasts, and this became a pretty frugal and nutritious main dish.

With the over-eating many of us may be anticipating on Thanksgiving, an evening meal of chowder, applesauce, and crackers (oyster crackers, of course!) could be a good choice. Note the variations if you have pescatarians (vegetarian plus seafood diets) in the house or if you don't regularly have seafood stock on hand.



Golden Clam Chowder

  • 3 slices lean bacon, diced
  • 1 T canola oil  
  • 1 large onion, chopped--about 1 1/2 to 2 cups, depending on your taste
  • 3 large ribs of celery, sliced
  • 10 to 12 oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 lb diced potatoes--do not peel
  • 1 quart seafood stock
  • water
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1 12 oz can fat free or regular evaporated milk
  • 12 oz canned clams, including liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste--start with about 1 t salt and 1/2 t freshly ground black or white pepper

1. Place the bacon in a large pot along with the oil. Add the onion, celery and squash and saute over low heat until the onions are golden and the squash is just starting to soften.

2.  Stir in the potatoes and about a cup or so of water along with half the stock. Cover and allow to simmer for at least 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are quite soft.

3.  Blend the flour and 1/2 c water (or milk) until smooth. Gradually stir into the chowder and continue stirring until the mixture begins to thicken.

4.  OPTIONAL STEP: If you prefer a very smooth, creamy chowder, put about half of the mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth. You may also use an old-fashioned potato masher. Return the processed mixture to the pot.

5.  Add the remaining stock, clams, and clam liquid and simmer for another 10 minutes or so.

6.  Reduce the heat and stir in the evaporated milk, along with water as needed to reach the desired thickness. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.



This is very good reheated. Note that, as with many creamy soups of this type, a thin film or "skin" may form on the surface. You can usually just beat this in without any problem. The quicker you cover and refrigerate any leftover soup, the less likely this is to occur.

Variations:

Omit the bacon and use 3 to 4 tablespoons of canola oil.

If you don't have access to seafood stock, you can substitute vegetable or chicken stock (purchased or homemade) and use an additional 6 to 12 ounces of clams.

Add about 1/3 to 2/3 cup dry milk powder to the water you add in step 4 and mix well before stirring into the chowder.

12 to 16 oz of frozen corn may be added with the evaporated milk. If you really want to be non-traditional, you could also stir in 8 to 10 oz frozen chopped spinach or kale at this point as well.

For a gluten free chowder, omit the flour and increase the amount of potato by another 4 to 8 ounces, mashing the potatoes as in step 4, to achieve a chowder-y thickness.

If you really, really, really don't want to see those pieces of potato peeling in the chowder, you can peel the potatoes...but before you pick up that peeler, think of all the extra work and reduced nutrition!








Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Spinach Artichoke Dip--Frugal?


Over the years there have been recipes I have not even tried because they contained ingredients that didn't fit my tight budget. That wonderful spinach artichoke dip, as delicious as it can be, was full of  too expensive things like artichokes, sour cream, and "real" Parmesan cheese, so I just enjoyed it when it was part of a potluck.

Recently, I was able to get some artichoke hearts marinated in oil on a really good sale, so I decided it was time to see if I could find a way to make a "frugal" dip from them. The following recipe cut costs and, as a nice side effect, resulted in a healthier dish,  lower in calories and fat and higher in protein. Some of the changes:
  • No mayonnaise or sour cream; instead I used plain, low fat yogurt and low fat cream cheese (while some recipes include Greek yogurt, I used "regular" yogurt, simply pouring off the whey that separates out).
  • Parmesan from a jar--it was a store-brand and about a quarter (or less) of the cost of the deli counter Parmesan and worked out just as well.
  • Reduced somewhat the proportion of artichoke hearts from most of the recipes I looked at.
  • The chiles had been purchased on sale; if you can't get these at a "reasonable" price, you could substitute hot sauce OR finely chopped fresh jalapenos (usually the least expensive of fresh peppers available here).

This is great served with homemade pita or flat bread wedges.

Want to make your own pita bread? Check this out:
 http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2012/12/pita-bread-homemade-and-wonderful.html


And then, here's a great recipe for an herbed flat bread that works well for making your own "pita chips": http://frugalfastfun.blogspot.com/2015/11/bean-flat-bread.html


Spinach Artichoke Yogurt Dip

8 oz Neufchatel (low fat) cream cheese
2 c lowfat, plain yogurt
1 T oil from the artichokes (optional)
1 1/2 c Parmesan cheese
1 c artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (about 9 oz)
1/4 c chopped green chiles--about half a small can
12 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/4 c finely chopped onion
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1.  Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, oil (if used), and Parmesan cheese in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth and beginning to bubble around the edges.

2.  Press the spinach through a strainer (or just squeeze it out with your hands) to make it as dry as possible.

3.  Stir the artichokes, chiles, onion, garlic, and drained spinach into the bubbling cheese mixture. Continue to cook until heated through.

You can serve the dip at this point, though it will be relatively liquid. My preference is to continue on to step 4 for richer flavor overall. Sometimes, though, you just won't be able to wait any longer before trying it out.

4.  (The preferred method) Pour the dip into an oiled casserole and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and just starting to brown.





Monday, November 16, 2015

Bean Flat Bread
















Our local Aldi started carrying dried kidney beans, at a very attractive price, so I bought a few pounds and then cooked up two pounds of them for a weekend of chili making--two large crowd events with three batches of chili would call for a lot of beans.

Not, however, quite as many as I had thought. Do you know how many cups (quarts!) of cooked beans you get from two pounds of dry beans?

A lot.

So, even after all that chili, there were still beans left. I was definitely done with chili as an option. I made one batch of the Depression era salad I occasionally enjoy nostalgically, but there were still a couple of cups of cooked beans in the refrigerator.

Yes, I could have frozen them, but I was looking for something new and different to try. Dessert? Bread? I started some internet searches and found lots of bean recipes, but the distinctive color and generally firmer texture of kidney beans didn't include them in most of these unique uses. I did, however, find some breads made with cooked beans that were intriguing.

Thinking that the kidney beans would leave telltale dark flecks in whatever bread I would make, I started to think of ways to disguise this, and herbs were an easy solution. Then, looking forward to an event when I would be making some kind of dip and dippers, I considered making this into a flat bread that could be made into something like pita chips.





The result? A wonderful new recipe that provides a great sandwich bread (part of the recipe was shaped into a typical loaf) as well as flat breads that can be used whole or toasted into chips for dipping, the original plan.

And one more side benefit, besides using up those extra beans:  this is a vegan bread that has boosted protein from the beans.

 Kidney Bean Flat Bread
2 c drained kidney beans, prepared without salt (see NOTE if canned beans are used)
2 c water and drained bean liquid
1 t garlic powder
1 t Italian seasoning
1 t black pepper
1 pkg dry yeast (2 1/2 t)
2 1/2 t salt
1/4 c sugar (or less--see NOTE for canned beans)
3 T olive oil)
approximately 4 1/2 to 5 1/2c bread flour


1.  Drain the bean liquid into a 2 cup measure and fill the measure to the top with water. Heat this mixture in the microwave until very warm.

2.  Put the kidney beans and one cup of the water/bean liquid in a processor, using the metal blade. Blend until the beans are very smooth.

3. Add the oil, herbs, salt, sugar, and yeast along with the rest of the water and about 2 cups of flour. Process until smooth.

4.  Continue adding flour, one half cup at a time, processing each time until blended. If you have a large (about 14 cup) processor, you can probably add all the flour, processing until the dough makes a smooth dough. However, with a more standard size processor (mine is an 11 cup processor), you will need to stop after about 3 cups or so have been added. DON'T overtax your processor's motor!

5.  Turn the dough into a floured bowl, adding more flour as necessary to develop a "kneadable" dough. If you were not able to finish the kneading in the processor, knead the dough now, until it is pliant and slightly resistant to pressure.

6.  Oil the top of the dough ball lightly and allow to rise until doubled.

7.  Shape the dough into flat rounds about 1/4 to 1/3" thick. Place on an oiled sheet and allow to double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.


8.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes, until nicely browned.

9.  Remove from oven and brush with olive oil or butter for a glossy surface.

NOTE:

You can substitute a 15 1/2 oz can of kidney beans. Be aware that almost all kidney beans are prepared with both sugar and salt--even the organic varieties! If you are using a can of these beans, reduce the sugar to 3 tablespoons and the salt to 2 teaspoons.

Variation:

Instead of shaping the dough into flat rounds, shape it into 2 to 3 loaves. Place the loaves on pans that have been oiled and sprinkled with corn meal (I use masa harina). Cut slits in the tops of the loaves and allow to raise until double. Bake at 350 degrees. 

Other beans can probably be substituted for the kidney beans, but I have only tested this with kidney and black beans. For the latter, do NOT use the liquid, as it will give the dough a not so attractive gray color overall.



You may use your own favorite herbs in place of or in addition to the Italian seasoning.



Flat Bread Chips for Dipping



1.  Cut the flat bread in half horizontally, as you might for a sandwich. Then cut each into triangles.

2.  Spread the triangle chips across a tray that has been lightly oiled. Spray the chips with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt--coarse salt is good, but seasoning salt, garlic salt, etc., may also be used.

3.  Bake the chips at 280 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. Turn and continue baking another 12 to 15 minutes until they begin to turn golden and are crisp. Allow to cool before serving.