Tag-Archive for ◊ bacon ◊

02 Aug 2013 Beans!

beans01

I am so excited about this recipe!  It’s a paradigm shift recipe!  It’s not a recipe in the true sense of the word, it’s more of a road map to a particular destination.   A road map allows for more flexibility than a recipe, a road map allows the cook to make adjustments based upon personal preferences, taste, time, and what’s in the pantry.  I think most people have a road map for a few good dishes.  I have a road map for spaghetti sauce, chicken soup, stir-fry and hamburgers.  You might have a road map for meatloaf, burritos and rice bowls.  Most people have road maps for sandwiches and salads. A road map means there are guidelines, easy ones, usually ones that can be memorized, and that can always be adapted as the situation requires.

So here it is, a guideline for a pot of beans, in the crockpot no less!  Crockpot cooking is great for summer, the kitchen doesn’t get heated up, and a pot of beans pairs well with almost everything that can be BBQ’d.  In the winter months, a bowl of beans with some cornbread or tortillas is almost the definition of comfort food. Another plus, crockpot cooking is fuss free, so toss everything in the pot and then go sit in the sun or shovel snow.

Many thanks to Mark Bittman of the New York Times for this road map. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

BTW…, for years I have been looking for a good baked beans recipe, so that’s what I make with this recipe:  meaty, slightly sweet Boston-style beans.  YUM! They go with everything and I have  a serious love for leftover beans on toast (I’m English).  My son mastered this recipe in one take and he makes killer spicy teriyaki beans with chicken.  I can see others going for more of a Mexican style bean. What sort of beans do you like? Make them!

The House Special Beans

  • 1 lb of dried beans, any kind, I like small white and pinquitos but black, pintos, garbanzos, kidney, or a combination of different kinds of beans can also be used.  Don’t have a full pound of beans?  Add in some split peas or lentils to make up the difference.  Remember these are dried beans (about $1.25 for a pound bag) we are not using canned beans here (and there is no need to soak the beans first).
  • 4 cups of liquid, any kind.  Find a mixture that appeals to you. I start with a bottle of beer, then I add in about 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and a squirt of mustard, using molasses instead of maple syrup and brown sugar would be good too. If my Dad were here I’d stir in 1/4 cup of bourbon. Then I add water, broth (any kind), or cold coffee to make the 4 cups (too much coffee will make the beans a bit bitter, so stick to less than 1 cup of cold coffee).  My son adds BBQ sauce, sriracha, honey, teriyaki or soy sauce along with beer and coffee.  Don’t like beer?  Use some leftover wine. Don’t drink at all, stick to broth and water.   Health nut?  Stir in carrot juice and some of that green liquid you’re so fond of !
  • Seasonings, any kind.  Start with a healthy amount of salt and pepper, then add in what appeals to you.  I add in 2 t. salt, 1 t. black pepper, 1 t. cumin, 2 t. chili powder, minced garlic, and 2 bay leaves.  Other options include oregano, basil, coriander, red pepper, curry powder, ginger, paprika, liquid smoke, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…
  • 1 lb meat, any kind, a bit more or a bit less is fine.  I like beef, and I buy something on sale, beef shanks, top sirloin, stew meat, steak, anything.  Throw in a pork chop or two, or some ground meat (brown it first and drain off the fat), chicken (with or without the bones, but boneless chicken does tend to get a bit overcooked), sausage, ham, cooked bacon…, or go for a combo.  Sausage and chicken? Beef and bacon? Or leave out the meat all together if  you’d rather.
  • 2 lbs finely minced or grated veggies, any kind.  I always add diced onion, grated carrots, and minced celery.  Then I might add some shredded zucchini, turnip, cabbage, spinach or kale, whatever I have on hand. Throw in some potatoes. Lots of folk like bell peppers, dice some up and throw them in.  Leeks are yummy. A few diced jalapenos would spice things up. Even canned pumpkin works. The only veggie I don’t add is tomatoes. I heard once that tomatoes interfere with the cooking process of dried beans, so I leave them out (I also don’t use tomato juice as a liquid, but I do stir in a bit of ketchup, and have had no problem with that).

Directions:

  1. Put the dried beans in the bottom of the crock-pot.
  2. Get out a 4-cup measure.  Combine your liquids.  When you have 4 cups, pour it over the beans in the bottom of the crock-pot.
  3. On top of the beans and liquid, add the meat.  I add the meat as is, then remove the fat and bones, and shred the meat after cooking.  You can do the same, or you can add cubes of boneless, skinless meat.
  4. Sprinkle desired seasonings on top of the meat.  (If you add bay leaves, count them so you know how many to remove before serving!)
  5. Finely mince, dice, or shred the veggies.  Add the veggies on top of the meat. (The liquid will not cover the veggies, yet).
  6. With a spatula or a spoon, press on the ingredients to lightly pack.
  7. Put the lid on the slow cooker, plug it in, turn on high, and go out and play! If you are around, check the beans after a few hours.  If the beans look dry add a bit more water, stock, beer, or wine (don’t stir, just pour it on top).
  8. Let beans cook for 6-8 hours.  Turn off.
  9. After the beans have cooled for a bit, taste them.  Needs more salt?  More maple syrup? More heat? Add it now.  If you added large hunks of meat with bones, remove bones and shred the meat. Remove the bay leaves, if you used them.
  10. If you want to add in extras, do it now.  You could stir in some diced tomatoes now, if you’d like, they won’t do any harm at this point (let cook for an additional 30 minutes or so).  Sometimes I stir cooked bacon at this point.  You could stir in frozen corn, if you’d like. Adding chopped parsley, cilantro, or green onion makes the beans look pretty and brightens them up a bit for a pretty presentation.
  11. Remember, beans seem to taste better the day after they are made, so don’t be afraid of letting them rest in the refrigerator for a bit.

Soooo, do you have the road map memorized?  1 lb beans, 1 lb meat, 2 lbs veggies, 1 qt (4 cups) liquid. Seasonings. Crock-pot. High. 6-8 hours, while you go out and play 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Go ahead now, make some beans! Let me know what you used and how they turn out 🙂 I can’t stop my son from making these beans! We’re drowning in beans…, but we’re not broke! Beans we can afford 🙂

16 Jan 2011 Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts ruined every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the first thirty years of my life.  It was a rule, in my house, that everyone had to eat one Brussels sprout at Thanksgiving dinner and another at Christmas dinner. I dreaded Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.  Brussels Sprouts were bitter, soggy and all around YUCKY.  I would choke. I would gag.  My stomach would lurch.  I’d grimace.  My family would laugh, but show no mercy. It had to be swallowed. It usually took two bites. Although Brussels Sprouts were number one on my most hated foods list, there were other foods on the list, too: lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup. But! Lima beans, pancakes, corn and maple syrup didn’t constitute a power struggle with my parents.  Brussels sprouts did.

I was thirty years old before I had the wherewithal to refuse to eat one more Brussels sprout.  When I put down my fork that Christmas, I didn’t pick it up again, for ANY Brussels sprout, for another twenty years.  Whatever possessed me to try Brussels sprouts again, I don’t know, but when I was fifty years old I found out Brussels sprouts could be rendered edible if they were fresh and roasted.  My parents used to serve frozen Brussels sprouts that had been boiled.  Please! Don’t do this!

Buy fresh Brussels sprouts, preferably on the stalk, and preferably after the first frost (Brussels sprouts that have been nipped by frost are sweeter).  Old green beans don’t taste good, neither do old carrots or old mushrooms.  Cook the Brussels sprouts soon after harvest, and roast them using the recipe below (which is based on a recipe I found at Epicurious.com in 2004).  They’re GOOD!

Of all my hated foods, the only one left on the list is lima beans. And I’m afraid that I raised my kids to hate them, too.  I told them they never, ever, ever have to eat a lima bean. Then wouldn’t you know, a very nice, very personable college boy takes a liking to one of my daughters.  After awhile, he invites her over to his parents farm to have lunch with his parents.  His parents are lima bean farmers, ROFL!!  She had lima beans for lunch!! Fortunately, the relationship hasn’t progressed to the point where I have been invited to meet the parents and have lima beans for lunch!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 oz. pancetta, minced (2 oz. thick, good quality bacon can be substituted)

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine (or chicken broth)

salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, toss together sprouts, pancetta, garlic, oil, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a shallow baking pan.  Make sure the Brussels sprouts are laying flat in a single layer.
  3. Roast Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Turn over, and roast for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Serve hot.  Makes four servings.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Go ahead!  Make this recipe! You won’t be disappointed 🙂

11 Nov 2010 Pumpkin-Maple-Pecan Sundaes

I saw a Maple-Pecan-Bacon Sundae in last month’s issue of Bon Appetite.  I’d heard about bacon brownies and bacon cookies and bacon cupcakes and I was ready to be on the cutting edge with Bacon Sundaes.  With a friend coming over for lunch,  I was ready for some taste testing. We were prepared for a drop-dead wonderful taste sensation.  I warmed the sauce, poured it over two flavors of ice cream (vanilla and coffee), and set the sundaes down. We tasted. I looked at her.  She looked at me.  We tasted again.  We shook our heads.  We tried it one more time. “Nooooooooo”, I said.  “Nooooooooo”, she said.

It just didn’t work. Bacon does not belong on ice cream.  Nope.  Not ever. The bacon was like a cold gummy bear, all texture, little flavor.  What salt kick did come, came after the chewing was over, and by that time the sauce and the ice cream had been swallowed.  The dessert just didn’t work.  But it had potential. We liked the sauce. We liked it over the coffee ice cream best, but still it wasn’t quite right.

I tinkered a bit more, and this is what I came up with… the warm Maple-Pecan Sauce (minus the bacon), drizzled over homemade Pumpkin ice-cream, and topped with a bit of bourbon whipped cream. Now here’s a nice dessert alternative for Thanksgiving, or an nice ending to any fall meal!

Just a note:  Pumpkin ice cream has a bit of a grainy texture (ALL pumpkin ice cream has this issue, unless it has been made with pumpkin flavoring rather than pumpkin puree), but with the sauce and the whipped cream, it’s not so noticeable and the pumpkin flavor goes fabulously well with the maple, the pecans, and the bourbon.  Mmmmmmmm 🙂  I taste tested pumpkin ice creams, too.  This one’s the best.

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Sundaes

with Bourbon Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream (35%)
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree

  1. Gently heat the cream, milk, sugar, spices and salt over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
  2. Stir warm cream into the pumpkin along with the vanilla.
  3. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.
  4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

I found this recipe at Christie’s Corner.

Maple-Pecan Sauce

¾ cup Grade B Maple Syrup
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger (I used Australian crystallized ginger, it’s very soft)
½ cup pecan halves

  1. Combine maple syrup and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce is thickened and reduced to ½ – 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove sauce from heat.  Discard cinnamon sticks.  Stir in lemon juice, chopped ginger and pecan halves.  Can be made 2 hours ahead.  Let sit at room temperature and then reheat slightly to serve.
  3. Spoon warm sauce over scoops of pumpkin ice cream. Serve immediately with a bit of Bourbon Whipped Cream, if desired.

I found the inspiration for these sundaes at Epicurious. The original recipe had diced maple glazed bacon in the sauce but just. say. “NO”!

Bourbon Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon

  1. Whip with electric mixer until creamy.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. Happy Fall!

22 Oct 2010 Breakfast Biscuits

These homemade breakfast biscuits are bigger, better, prettier and tastier than anything you’ll find at a fast food place or diner, and probably have a lot less fat. How can you resist these?  Don’t be scared.  They go together pretty quickly, and the payoff is enormous. Make customized versions, and you’ll fast become a legend in your own kitchen!

Start with this  recipe as a guide, then customize, customize, customize. Use whatever meat you have on hand, with bacon, sausage and ham being perennial breakfast favorites (and seem to make most people swoon).  The Breakfast Biscuit pictured above has no meat, only onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I’ve made the Breakfast Biscuits exactly like the ones below,as well as sausage and olive breakfast biscuits,  Honey Baked Ham breakfast biscuits, and the veggie biscuits above.  I want to incorporate asparagus and mushrooms in the next ones. Note, most veggies will need to be precooked (leftover from dinner?), but the tomatoes can be fresh picked.  Now, I am not endorsing this, but one of my friends told me she made these with refrigerated biscuit dough and they worked out very well…

This recipe makes 6 breakfast biscuits, and they are big. If you have a chance to get medium eggs, do so, I found the large eggs were just a tad too large, some of the whites spilled out of the biscuits, but no biggie.

Breakfast Biscuits

For the topping:

3 bell peppers, cut into thin strips (or substitute any cooked veggie, or none at all)
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons butter
1 cup finely diced cooked ham (or sausage, or bacon…salmon?)

For the biscuit dough:

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into bits (I grate frozen, or very cold, butter into the flour)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
2 cups grated Münster, Monterey Jack, or Cheddar/Jack mix or Mozzarella mix (or whatever you have on hand, use it all up!)
6 eggs (medium or small work best)

In a large skillet cook the bell peppers (or other veggie) and the onion in the butter over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables are softened, stir in the ham, and remove the skillet from the heat. (This can be made 1 day in ahead, if needed.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the biscuit dough:

In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking powder, and the salt, add the butter, and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and stir the mixture until it just forms a dough. Gather the dough into a ball, on a lightly floured surface knead it gently 6 times, and cut it into 6 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into an approx. 7-inch round, form a 1/2-inch-high rim on each round by turning in the edge of the dough and pinching it until the shell measures approx. 5 inches. This does not have to be perfect, but a high outer crust will help contain the egg. The rustic look is great! Transfer the rimmed rounds to 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Divide the cheese among the shells. Top with veggie/ham mixture. Now, make a well in the center by pushing the filling to the rim (this step is important!).

Original directions: Crack and drop an egg carefully into the well of each shell. Bake the bicuits in the middle of a preheated 425°F. oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the egg yolks are just set.

My directions: Following the original directions produced  hard-boiled eggs, which made the biscuits easy to eat (and pleasing to the kids because they were, most definitely, finger food–they turn out like small pizzas!) BUT, I like soft eggs, so I cook the biscuits without the eggs for ten minutes.  Then I carefully crack an egg into the center of the biscuit and continue cooking until the egg yolk is set, but still soft (usually 3-4 minutes more), and the white is completely cooked.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen this morning. I’d love to hear what you have to say!

14 Sep 2010 Baked Potato Soup

I found this recipe in the crock pot cookbook “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman.  So, I tried this recipe in the crock pot.  When I was in the midst of it, I was thinking “WHY”?  Why cook potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot, when they only take 20 minutes on stop of the stove?  It’s not like the crockpot did anything special to the potatoes, plus I still had to peel the potatoes, blend the soup, cook the bacon, chop the green onions and grate the cheese. Does cooking the potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot make more sense than boiling them for 20 minutes?  I don’t think so.  I liked the soup though.  LOVED the soup, so I revised it to make on top of the stove (didn’t take much revising…).

This soup starts with water! You don’t have to find 2 or 3 quarts of chicken stock to get started (which makes it economical, too).  Just boil five pounds of potatoes (one small $1.99 bag) in water until done.  Blend.  Then serve with baked potato toppings of butter, sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions, and crumbled bacon.  Soooo yummy. So easy!

Baked Potato Soup

5 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz. bacon, cooked crisply, and crumbled (OK, so I used a bit more than 1/2 lb.)
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2-3 cups grated cheddar and jack cheese blend (to taste)

Peel and dice the potatoes.  Cover with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil.  Boil until potatoes are falling apart (cooked more than you would for mashed potatoes).  Depending on the size of your potatoes, this could take 20-40 minutes.  Turn the heat to low.  Add in butter and half-and-half.  Simmer until butter is melted, about another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Stir in sour cream.  With an immersion blender (the blender-on-a-stick thing), blend soup until creamy. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender.  Be careful, and don’t fill up blender more than half full.  Hot liquids tend to splash out when the blender is turned on).  Return soup to stove and turn on heat to medium.  Gradually blend in the grated cheese (to taste).  Stir in the chopped bacon and sliced green onions. Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve hot. (I actually prefer this soup the second day.  I like to have the flavor of the green onions and bacon settle into the potatoes.)

Mmmm. Make this your first soup of the season. It was mine!  I’m happy!

 
10 Jul 2010 Bacon Cheeseburgers

Once again, I forgot to take a picture of this recipe…, so I lifted this image off the Internet. To make you hungry!

We’ve eaten a lot of burgers this week (I hope my iron count went up, and my cholesterol was unaffected…) Each one of the three recipes I have posted makes a very different tasting burger. They are all good! This is an easy way to make a bacon cheeseburger. I like bacon cheeseburgers!

Enough burgers now though. My kids have passed Hamburgers 101. They have the basics. They know what can be done. I hope they have fun creating their own signature burger one day. I wonder what they will come up with. I can’t wait until they invite me over for a backyard BBQ one day… Ah, the sweetness of a mom’s daydreams!

All-in-the-patty Bacon Cheeseburgers

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped finely
4 tsp. yellow mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Break beef into small pieces into a large bowl. Add cheese, bacon, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Using a fork, lightly mix ingredients together. Divide meat into 4 or 6 portions and flatten to 3/4 – 1 inch thick. Place on hot grill. Grill for 2-4 minutes on first side, and 3-4 minutes on second side.