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Birthday Beans

Andy loves baked beans. I’m talking a level of love that most people reserve for chocolate. Or coffee on Monday mornings. In fact, he once bought a 10-pound can of baked beans for himself because “they were the best deal per ounce” and “who wouldn’t want that many beans!?”

So, when Andy saw Bridget and Julia making these beans, he was interested right away. I wasn’t opposed to the dish (I mean, there’s brats and bacon in it), but I didn’t catch all of the ingredients and steps during the TV episode. I didn’t write it down, so I moved on to other recipes.

Luckily for Andy, our PBS channel airs a lot of reruns, and we happened to catch the same episode again. This time, I took notes, and waited for the right time to make a batch of beans large enough to feed an army. Late January rolled around, and when I asked Andy what he wanted for his birthday, these beans were at the top of his list. I’m a big proponent of eating what you want for your birthday (even it’s boring vanilla ice cream), so I was all in for birthday beans.

Andy, of course, loved them. So did Arron and Karen. I enjoyed them too, and the four of us did our best to put a dent in 116 ounces of beans. In fact, we liked them so much that I made them a few weeks later to share with Janelle and Josiah (and all of the kids) too. They were a hit again, and even after feeding six adults and 12 children, we still had a decent amount left over. (To be fair, we also ate pork roast, mac and cheese, salad and bread that night, but still…) 

So, this makes a ton of beans, obviously. OK, not a literal ton, and maybe I should have realized that by the ingredient list, but still. It filled every inch of my 9″ x 13″ pan. It’s a good thing that I took Bridget’s advice and put the pan on a cookie sheet before it went in the oven, otherwise I’d been cleaning baked bean sauce off of the bottom of my oven.

It’s very obvious that this recipe comes from the Cook’s Country side of America’s Test Kitchen, instead of the Cook’s Illustrated side. First of all, it calls for canned beans. And not just cans of plain beans. You use two cans of prepared baked beans and a can of Ro-tel. Then there’s the sauce. It’s part ketchup and part prepared barbecue sauce, plus some spices and other items. Finally, it’s super easy to put together, which, as most people know, is not always the case with recipes from CI.

Easy beans with lots of brats and bacon? That’s a birthday win for sure.

BBQBeans

Backyard Barbecue Beans 

1 1/4 pounds of bratwurst, casing removed
2 onions, chopped
2 28 ounce cans of baked beans (CC used Bush’s; I’ve used both Bush’s and Aldi’s baked beans with good results.)
2 15 ounce cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 15 ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 ounce can of Ro-Tel tomatoes
6 slices thick-cut bacon

For the sauce: 
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup prepared barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Brown the brats in a 12″ skillet (you guessed it; I used my Lodge again), breaking up the pieces with a wooden spoon. When the meat is almost completely browned, add the onions to the pan and cook until both the onions and the brats are nice and brown.

While the brats and onion are browning, cut the bacon into 1″ pieces and set them aside. Preheat your oven to 350°.

Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the brats and onions to the bowl, and stir to combine. Add the Ro-Tel and the beans to the bowl, and gently stir to combine all of the ingredients.

Pour the bean mixture into a straight-sided 9″ x 13″ metal baking pan. (Trust me on this one. Your glass 9″ x 13″ Pyrex dish will not have enough room for all of the beans, meat, and sauce.) Lay the bacon pieces over the top of the beans in an even, single layer. (It always looks like there won’t be enough bacon to cover the entire pan, but it’s worked out perfectly both times I’ve made this. Trust the source.) 

Place the baking pan on a rimmed baking sheet, and baked for 90 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

From Cook’s Country

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in Side Dishes

 

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Go-To Pizza Dough

Pizza night is a fairly regular thing  for us. Whether it’s take-out from Glass Nickel (we like the Boaris Karloff and the Sacre Bleu) or a homemade favorite, pizza gets five stars in our kitchen. And ever since Fester came into our lives, homemade pizza has gotten an upgrade.

In my never-ending search for ways to use sourdough discard, I stumbled on a recipe for sourdough pizza crust from King Arthur Flour. Not only does it keep me from pouring my sourdough discard down the drain, but it mixes up easily, AND it freezes well. Plus, KAF includes the weights for the ingredients, so I can use my kitchen scale and not million measuring cups and spoons. It’s a win-win-win all the way around.

The sourdough gives the crust a flavor boost that takes homemade pizza to the next level. It’s a great crust for traditional pizza toppings (pepperoni, pineapple, onions, and banana peppers, please), and it’s just as good with less traditional fare.

I’ll mix up a batch when I feed Fester, and then freeze it until our next pizza night. And with crust like this, pizza night happens a lot more often. 😉

SourdoughPizzaDough

Sourdough Pizza Crust

8 ounces (1 cup) unfed sourdough starter (discard)
4 ounces (1/2 cup) hot tap water
10 1/2 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast (KAF calls for instant, but I have the active dry yeast in my fridge, so that’s what I use.) 

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Turn the mixer on low to combine all of the ingredients. Then knead the dough on medium speed until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky.

If you’re making pizza that day, place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in bulk. This usually takes a few hours, but it could be shorter or longer. (A lot will depend on how warm your house is and how active your sourdough starter is.) You can also put the dough in the refrigerator to slow down the rise. When the dough has risen, gently shape the dough into a pizza crust. (This usually makes enough dough for one regular (not deep dish or thin crust) pizza for me.)

Preheat your oven to 450°. If your crust is on the thicker side, you can par-bake it for about 7-8 minutes to give it a head-start, then remove the crust from the oven. Top the par-baked crust with your desired sauce and toppings, and then return the pizza to the oven and bake until it’s done.

If you’d like to freeze the dough, wrap it well in plastic wrap and place it in a ziploc bag in the freezer. To use the dough, simply let it thaw and then bring the dough to room temperature. Shape the dough as desired, and then proceed with your pizza recipe.

Note: KAF suggests letting the dough rise in the pan after you’ve shaped it. I generally don’t do that, but I do par-bake the dough before topping the pizza. Check out the KAF page for additional pizza tips. 

From King Arthur Flour

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Posted by on March 6, 2018 in Main Dishes

 

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Squash with Stuffing!

I don’t remember eating a lot of squash when I was a kid. I remember my mom sauteing zucchini sometimes in the summer, but that’s about it. Fall and winter squashes weren’t really on the menu as far as I can recall. Especially acorn squash. Apparently my mom had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad experience with acorn squash when she was a kid, so she never served it to us. (Ironically, I suffered a similar experience with meatloaf, and now I never serve that…) So, when we started receiving all kinds of squash in our CSA, I didn’t know what to do with it.

I started with the least intimidating ones: butternut and spaghetti squash. They’re easy to prepare, and butternut squash has quickly become one of my favorite fall foods. Of course, with a CSA, you don’t always get butternut squash. Sometimes, you get a new-to-you vegetable, and you have to find a way to fall in love with it. Thank you, internet. (Seriously. What did we do before Google? I would have had to use my cookbooks.) 

In my experience, there are a few sure-fire ways to fall in love with a new vegetable.

  1. Roast it.
  2. Add meat (ideally bacon or sausage).
  3. Add cheese.

This recipe uses all three methods. You halve the squash and roast it with garlic, sage, and butter. Once the squash is tender, you fill each squash with a sausage-apple-onion-parm-bread crumb mixture. In other words, you fill the vegetable with my all-time favorite Thanksgiving side – the stuffing. What’s not to love?

The original recipe calls for acorn squash, but when our CSA didn’t deliver acorn squash, I decided to see how it worked with other squashes.  (I’m a risk taker, I know.) Turns out, it works just as well with delicata squash as it does with acorn squash. Now, we’re not limited to one type of squash, which means we can have this more often. Win-win!

StuffedSquash

Not my best photography, but it’s one of our favorite meals. 

Apple and Sausage Stuffed Squash

2 large acorn squash, cut in half, with the seeds removed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground sage, divided
12 oz. bulk Italian sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup) 
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon sage. Brush the insides of each squash with the butter mixture. Place the squash on a cookie sheet, cut side up, and bake until fork tender, about an hour.

While the squash bakes, prepare the filling. Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium heat. (I use either my 10″ or 12″ cast iron skillet.) Once the sausage is brown, take it out of the pan and drain it on a paper towel-lined plate. Put the onion and celery in the now-empty skillet, and cook it until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add the apples to the pan and cook for a couple minutes more.

Put the drained sausage back into the skillet, and then take the pan off the heat. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon sage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in the panko and Parmesan cheese, and then add the beaten egg. Stir until the mixture is completely combined.

Evenly divide the stuffing mixture among the four squash halves. Return the squash to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Originally seen on Peace, Love and French Fries, which has since gone under. However, PL&FF adapted the recipe from Prevention RD,  who adapted it from Food.com.

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in Main Dishes

 

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Cabbage and Noodles 2.0

Once upon a time, in the very early days of this blog, I wrote about our favorite way to prepare cabbage. The post has a terrible picture and is more of a “guideline” than an actual recipe, but it’s one of my most popular posts. People like cabbage, apparently. (Or, maybe they’re just here for the bacon.) 

While cabbage and noodles is still a popular option in our house, sometimes you need something a little different. I’ve been flipping through old issues of Everyday Food lately, and I stumbled on this recipe. I’d obviously made it before, since I’d put four stars on the top of the page. I had a head of Savoy cabbage from one of our last CSA shares, so I thought I’d put it on the menu again.

It’s a fast, easy meal, which is just what we needed this week. The Savoy cabbage seems to cook up faster than regular green cabbage, and I used angel hair pasta instead of spaghetti, which shaved off a few minutes of prep time. We really liked the flavor that the sausage added to the dish too.

So there you have it, cabbage and noodles 2.0. And both Andy and I agree with our original four-star rating. This one’s a keeper. Just like him. 🙂

CabbageSausageNoodles

Spaghetti with Sweet Sausage and Cabbage

1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 head Savoy or green cabbage, halved, cored and thinly sliced
8 ounces angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil, optional (I didn’t use this – I felt like my sausage released enough grease on its own.) 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to the pan, if using. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon. When the sausage is browned and cooked through, remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. Drain the cooked sausage on a plate lined with paper towels.

Add the two tablespoons of water to the hot skillet, scraping any of the browned fond off the bottom of the pan, and then add the onions. Place as much cabbage into the skillet as you can fit and season it with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook until the cabbage is tender, tossing it occasionally. Add any remaining cabbage to the pot as the cabbage cooks down and makes more room.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it’s al dente, then drain the pasta, reserving about one cup of pasta water.

Return the sausage to the pot with the cooked cabbage and stir in the pasta. Add enough pasta water to the pot to create a thin sauce. (I used about half a cup.) Add the vinegar to the pan. Stir to combine, then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately .

From Everyday Food, November 2009

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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in Main Dishes

 

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I’m Back… with Burritos!

Editor’s Note: This might be the longest drought in my blog-writing history. Between vacation and giant projects at work, I barely know what happened to August, September and most of October. Which meant, of course, that things here took a backseat to everything else in life, unfortunately. I did keep taking pictures, so hopefully I’ll get through them and share things with the world sooner rather than later. Until then… enjoy some burritos! 

I had the privilege of borrowing The Best Mexican Recipes for a few weeks earlier this summer, and it was fun. I didn’t love everything I tried, but there were definitely some home runs (and I had to return it to the library before I tried everything that I wanted).

This is one of those hits. We liked it so much that I made it twice in three weeks, which is saying something, especially when I had the book for a limited time. (We really liked the Swiss chard and pinto bean burritos from the book as well, in case you’re looking for a meatless Monday burrito option.)  

I was a little worried that these would be too spicy for Andy, since they use chipotle chili powder instead of regular chili powder, but, Andy, in true Goldilocks fashion, declared that they were just right. He thinks they’d be better without the sour cream, but I completely disagree.

This recipe also introduced me to my new, go-to Mexican rice. Unless it’s a risotto, I struggle with rice. It always seems kind of blah to me. America’s Test Kitchen called for chicken broth in the rice, instead of water, and that makes a world of difference! It was good enough where I caught myself snacking on the rice while I finished making the rest of the burrito components, and that never happens in my kitchen.

I did discover that these are MUCH easier to roll / fill when you buy 10″ tortillas. The first time I made these, I just grabbed the next size up of the tortillas that I normally buy. They had a large “10” on the package, so I figured they were what I was looking for. (This is what you get when you shop in a hurry after work.) Turns out the “10” was the quantity, not the size. Whoops.

Beef&BeanBurrito

Burritos aren’t the easiest thing to photograph, especially when you just want to eat them. Trust me, they taste so much better than they look.

Beef and Bean Burritos

1 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
3/4 cup long grain white rice, rinsed
6 garlic cloves, minced, divided
salt
1/4 cup minced cilantro, plus extra for garnish if desired
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
12 ounces 90% lean ground beef
1 15-ounce can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
6 10″ flour tortillas
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 1/2 cups), divided
6 tablespoons sour cream

First, make the rice. Combine 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth, rice, three minced garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a small-medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until all of the broth has absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for about 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and adding the chopped cilantro. Set rice aside, keeping it covered to stay warm.

While the rice is cooking, prepare the rest of the filling. Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. (ATK recommends a non-stick skillet; I used my 12″ Lodge.) Add the onion to the pan and cook until it softens, about five minutes. Stir the tomato paste, the rest of the garlic, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground beef to the skillet, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes.

Place half of the pinto beans in a small bowl with the remaining broth. Use a potato masher to coarsely mash them into a chunky paste. Stir the mashed beans into the skillet with the cooked beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until the liquid evaporates from the skillet. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining beans, lime juice and 3/4 teaspoon salt.

Place oven rack 6″ below the broiler and heat broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Microwave tortillas until warm and pliable, about 30 seconds to one minute. Lay tortillas out on the counter. Divide rice evenly among the six tortillas, placing it toward the bottom edge of the tortillas. Divide the beef and bean mixture evenly among the tortillas, then divide 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese between the six tortillas, topping each one with about 1/4 cup of cheese. Put a tablespoon of sour cream on the top of the filling in each tortilla.

Next, roll up each tortilla. Fold the sides over the filling, and then fold the bottom up over the filling. Pull the edge tight, then tightly roll the tortilla into a burrito. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Place the burritos seam side down on the prepared cookie sheet and top with the remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown, about three to five minutes. Serve warm.

From The Best Mexican Recipes

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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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Quick & Easy Shrimp Dinner!

Things have been pretty quiet around here (again). Whoops. Let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about fast, easy dinners instead.

Thanks to Zaycon, I have a stockpile of shrimp in the freezer. And since shrimp thaws and cooks quickly, it’s perfect for nights when I really don’t have much of a game plan for dinner. (Which, if I’m being honest, are happening more often than I’d like to admit lately. I need to get back on the meal-planning wagon.)  Anyway…

I found this recipe in an old issue of Everyday Food, and it met all of my criteria for the evening:

  1. Cooks in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Dirties minimal dishes.
  3. Uses everyday pantry items.

Win-win-win. Oh, and it tasted good! That should go without saying though. I’m not going to share something that doesn’t taste good. 😉

Potatoes are one of my favorite things, but I would have never thought to pair them with shrimp (or curry powder) before. The potatoes get extra crispy, which is my favorite part, and the curry adds the right amount of spice and flavor. Since I don’t own a nonstick skillet, I used my cast iron skillet with no problems, which shouldn’t surprise anyone by now.

CrispyPotato&Shrimp

Shrimp with Scallions and Crispy Potatoes

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 baking potatoes, approximately 1 pound, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons curry powder
coarse salt and pepper

In a large skillet (nonstick or cast iron), heat two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crispy, which should take about 12-15 minutes. Add the scallion whites to the pan and cook for one minute more. Scoop the scallion-potato mixture out of the pan and onto a plate. Set aside.

Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan, and then add the shrimp and curry powder to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about two or three minutes. Slide the potato-scallion mixture back into the skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and then top with the scallion greens. Serve immediately.

From Everyday Food, November 2008

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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Main Dishes, Seafood

 

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Upgraded Hamburger Helper

I did not grow up eating Hamburger Helper, or Tuna Helper, or any of those “add a pound of meat and enjoy” type meals. It just wasn’t something my mom bought. My dad did make his own version though, adding ground beef, onions and peas to mac and cheese. While I haven’t had that in a really long time, it was always a hit in our house growing up, and it’s easy to see why: cheese, pasta and meat, all in one pan.

Now that I’m responsible for making dinner every night, I can totally appreciate the convenience of a one-pot meal. Especially one that’s full of pasta and cheese. If I’m really on the ball with things, I can have all of the prep dishes (which are just a couple measuring cups / spoons, a cutting board, cheese grater and a knife) washed before dinner’s ready.

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it had a lot of potential. I mean, we love pasta, beef, cheese and Tex-Mex flavors. The sour cream and cream cheese worried Andy at first, but he was hooked after one bite, and now it’s one of our favorite comfort food dinners. Sometimes I take a page from my dad’s playbook and throw in frozen peas for a true, one-dish dinner. It’s also great with a side salad if peas in your Tex-Mex sounds weird to you. 😉

creamytacomac
Creamy Taco Mac

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green (or red or yellow) pepper, diced
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (I always make my own.)
8 ounces small / short pasta
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Brown the ground beef in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the meat is close to being browned, add the onion and chopped pepper. Cook until the onion had turned translucent. Drain any extra fat off of the pan, if necessary.

Add the diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and beef broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).

Add the cream cheese to the pot and stir until it has melted into the broth. Add the peas, if using. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until the sour cream is well-incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Barely adapted from Elly Says Opa, who adapted it from Delish

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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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