KIM’S BAKED BEANS

Kim made these for last year’s Super Bowl party and brought them to the 4th of July party this year.  Scott joined us this year on the 4th and immediately said “that woman can cook!”  He requested that I blog her recipe, and I am finally getting around to it.  They are really scrumptious – thanks Kim for making them for us and then sharing the recipe.  She calls them "Land Your Man Baked Beans" so if you want to please a man, head to the store for the ingredients.   (BTW women like them too!)

1-1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1 pkg. Taco Bell taco seasoning
2 – 28 oz. cans Bush’s original baked beans
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1 lg. green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/3 c. catsup (try hot catsup for a kick)
2 TB yellow mustard
4 TB light brown sugar
3 TB Cholula Hot Sauce (or any hot sauce such as Tabasco)
6 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 16X10 casserole dish with Pam.

Brown the ground chuck with the taco seasoning.  Combine beans, onion, pepper, catsup, mustard, brown sugar and hot sauce in the casserole dish.  Add the seasoned beef and stir well.  Place bacon on top and cover the dish with aluminum foil, leaving a corner folded back for venting.  Bake for approximately 1 hour. 

Remove foil and continue baking about 30 minutes or until bacon is brown and excess liquid has been cooked out.   Serve warm or at room temperature.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

I am a little embarrassed to put this recipe on the blog, because it is barely homemade.  I have made it so often for sick friends, and it is always what friends request when I ask if I can bring them something.  Everyone thinks it is so yummy and comforting, and now you will all know how easy it is to make!  My mom always added the Cream of Chicken soup packets any time she made a chicken soup, and it really adds a nice yet subtle flavor.  They are sometimes hard to find so you can make it without them – I had to order some on the internet because I have had a hard time finding them in the stores here.  I had to order a case of it, so I am willing to share if anyone wants to make this and can’t find them!  Hot rolls or crackers are a must to dip in the broth – just sayin…

1 rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned, and diced
48 oz. carton of chicken broth (or homemade if you have it) + 32 oz. carton for later use*
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and diced
8 oz. pkg. noodles (best are HEB Kluski noodles because they are similar to the
    homemade German-style noodles -- or use your favorite narrow egg noodle)
2-3 packets of dry Lipton Cup-a-Soup Cream of Chicken Soup mix
Black pepper, if desired

Get the chicken ready and set aside.

Bring the chicken broth to boil in a Dutch oven.  Add the celery and carrots and bring to boil again.  Once it is boiling add the noodles and cook the length of time recommended on the package, stirring occasionally so they won’t stick. 

Meanwhile make a slurry of water and the dry soup mix packets in a jar with a lid by shaking until all the lumps are out of the mixture.  (Add just enough water to make it runny.)  Stir this mixture into the soup.  Cook over medium-low heat until it is bubbly, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the diced chicken.  Season with black pepper, if desired.  Serve hot.

*Once the leftover soup has been chilled in the fridge the noodles absorb almost all of the liquid. It does make those noodles extra yummy though.    I always have extra chicken broth to stir into each bowl before heating it up in the microwave.  If I am taking it to someone, I always take them a carton of the broth so they will have it.   Remember they are sick and can’t get out to get some for themselves!




CARBONNADE De BOEUF

Stanley Tucci made this dish on The Chew, and it looked so mouth-watering that I had to find an excuse to make it.  Canasta night of course!!  It reminds me of Julia Childs’ Boeuf Bourguinon, except it is made with Belgian dark beer instead of red wine.  He said he ate it in a restaurant in Belgium and loved it so much he convinced the chef to give him the recipe.  Thank you Stanley – it is fabulous!!  I served it over Creamy Polenta alongside Bryan’s Brussel Sprouts.  Stanley served his alongside cooked greens which would also be yummy.  It is the perfect comfort food on a cold winter’s night!

About ½ c. flour seasoned with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 lbs. stewing beef, cut into 2” cubes (I used rump roast as Julia recommended for stews.)
4-6 TB Olive oil to start
1-1/2 lbs. onions (2-3 sliced thinly)
4 cloves garlic, diced
1-1/4 pt (20 oz) dark Belgian dubbel beer (I used Adelbert’s Dancin’Monks.)
2 c. good beef stock
3 TB raw cane sugar
Dash white wine vinegar
3 Bay leaves
Few good sprigs fresh thyme
Small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 TB Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat the olive oil.  Dredge the meat in the seasoned flour and add the meat into the oil in batches, browning it on all sides, adding oil as you go if necessary.  Don’t crowd the meat so it will sear well.  Remove each batch of meat as you add the next.  Remove all the beef from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add half the beer, stirring to deglaze the plan while scraping all the bits off the bottom.  Return the meat to the pan and add the remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, mustard, and herbs (which you tie together in a bouquet garni).  Stir well and bring to a boil.  Cook for at least 5 minutes, then cover and transfer to the oven to bake about 3 hours, until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced.  Taste the sauce and add salt.  Remove the herbs and serve over creamy polenta, whipped potatoes or rice. 



CREAMY POLENTA

I served this as the base for the beef dish I made for canasta night.  I am so glad to have an alternative to rice or pasta!  I had never made polenta before so I researched and found this one that is made in the crock pot and stays creamy.   Most recipes require standing over it and stirring it constantly while it cooks, which is inconvenient when you are having company.  It turned out perfectly and was rich and creamy.  Several reviewers suggested doubling the recipe because it was too small an amount for a crockpot, so I did that and am listing the amounts below as I used them.  I think half a recipe wouldn’t really be enough anyway and leftovers could be eaten heated for breakfast with a fried egg over them – yum!

2 c. whole milk
2-2/3 c. half and half, divided
4 TB butter, divided
2/3 c. coarse polenta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 c. grated Parmesan

Spray the insert of a crock pot with cooking spray (for easier clean up) and preheat on high.

In a medium saucepan, add the milk, 2 c. half and half, 2 TB butter and polenta.  Season with salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to keep the mixture lump-free.  Boil for 2-3 minutes.  Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and turn the setting down to low.  Cook for 2 hours, stirring once or twice per hour.  Once you are ready to serve, whisk in the remaining 2 TB butter, remaining 2/3 c. half and half, and Parmesan.

BRYAN’S BRUSSEL SPROUTS

We have never been wild about brussel sprouts, but they seem to be in every restaurant these days.  Finally chefs have figured a way to make them not taste bitter, which was always our complaint of them.  This recipe is from Livy’s husband Bryan, and Eric made them on his grill for our Christmas dinner.  They were great!  The marinade ingredients are all approximate – I don’t really ever measure any of them.   I don’t currently have a grill basket so I have been roasting them in the oven, and we love them roasted as well.  Either way they are really good.

1 bag fresh brussel sprouts
Approximately ¼ c. olive oil
1 TB Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
Small squeeze of honey
Heavy shakes of paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Wash, trim and cut sprouts in half.  Put sprouts in a bowl with about an inch of water and microwave for 3 minutes to par-cook them.

In a large bowl, whisk the rest of the ingredients together.  Drain the water off the sprouts and let them sit in the colander a few minutes to be sure they are well drained.  Toss them in the vinaigrette.   Grill in a grill basket over medium heat, turning a few times, until the edges are crispy brown, about 12-15 minutes. 

If you choose to roast them, put them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are crispy brown.

LEMONY COCONUT MACAROONS

I was looking for a macaroon recipe to use as a dipper in the chocolate fondue I was making for canasta night, and this recipe by Paula Deen got the best overall reviews.  Justin doesn’t really like lemon-flavored desserts so I skipped the lemon zest.  Scott, Jeana, and I absolutely loved the addition of the lemon extract, and JT actually didn’t mind it either.  You could of course just use 1 t. vanilla extract if you prefer.  These were “moanable” by themselves but of course were scrumptious dipped in chocolate!

1 large egg white
1/8 t. salt
¾ c. sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
1 TB lemon zest, optional
½ t. lemon extract
½ t. vanilla extract
1 – 14 oz. bag shredded sweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the condensed milk, extracts, and zest if desired.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the coconut until well combined.  Using a small spring-loaded scoop and your hands, shape the mixture into 1-1/2” mounds.  Place the macaroon about 1” apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake until lightly brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely.

MEYER LEMON BOURBON SMASH

We made this aperitif for canasta night to have with our appetizers before dinner.  For us bourbon lovers it was perfect.  For Jeana’s drink we substituted vodka, and she was happy with it as well.

¼” thick slice of Meyer lemon
Ice
2-3 oz. bourbon (We used Jack Daniels.)
4 dashes orange bitters
Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup*
Club soda

In a rocks glass muddle the lemon slice.  Add ice, bourbon, and bitters along with 1-1/2 TB simple syrup.  Top the drink off with club soda and stir well.   If you prefer sweeter drinks you may choose to add more simple syrup.  I would suggest tasting it first before adding any.


*Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup:

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and scraped
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. water

In small saucepan combine vanilla bean, sugar and water.  Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; let stand at room temp until completely cool.  Remove vanilla bean and discard; strain syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate up to one month.

15 BEAN SOUP

In the dried bean/pea section of the supermarket there is a packet of 15 beans.  It makes a hearty and very tasty bean soup.  With ham and sausage added it becomes quite a yummy meal.  Make a pan of Electra’s Jalapeno Cornbread to go with it, and the men will be very happy – the ladies will smile as well.   It is perfect for a cold winter’s day--

Hurst’s HamBeens 15 Bean Soup 20 oz. pkg.
Hambone or hamhocks*
1 lg. onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
Seasoning packet from soup mix
1 TB chili powder
1 lg. ham steak, or 2 small, diced in ½” pieces*
1 lb. smoked sausage links, halved lengthwise then sliced in about 1/3” slices

Rinse the beans several times and then soak overnight in a dutch oven with about 2” of water above the beans. 

Rinse the beans and pot and put the beans back in the pot.  Cover them again with 2” of water.  Add the hambone, onion, celery, garlic, Rotel, seasoning packet and chili powder.  Bring to a simmer and simmer over low heat uncovered for a couple of hours, or until the beans and veggies are tender and the liquid has begun to thicken.  Stir it occasionally to be sure it doesn't stick.  You may need to add a little water occasionally.  Broth of some kind is always better than water because it adds flavor instead of thinning out your seasonings.  A bouillon cube thrown into some boiling water will work as well.

Add the ham and sausage and simmer about 15 minutes more.  Add salt and pepper if needed.

*Any time I have a bone-in ham I always save the last bit of ham on it and make this soup. (It can be frozen to use at a later date if you desire.)  If it is a spiral-cut ham it is perfect because as it cooks it falls off the bone and is already cut in bite-size pieces.  If I don’t have my own hambone I have saved then I use hamhocks and buy ham steak.


CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE PIE



I saw this pie made on The Chew by a lady who has a blog called Lovely Lady Cakes.  Three layers of different textures of chocolate!  I knew immediately that I had to make it.  Luckily Scott's birthday was the perfect excuse (as if I needed one!)  It was really yummy, and he requested that I add it to the blog, so here it is.  I just love cold desserts in the summer, and this one will certainly satisfy your chocolate fantasies!

CRUST:

3-1/2 c. oreo crumbs (ground in food processor)
5 TB melted butter

Press in pie plate and bake for 10 min at 300 degrees.  Cool

FLOURLESS CAKE LAYER:

6 oz. quality chocolate, chopped (dark is fine)
4 TB butter
¼ c. brewed coffee
1 TB vanilla
¼ t. salt
6 eggs, separated
1 c. sugar

In double boiler melt chocolate; stir in butter until melted and take off heat.  Stir in coffee, vanilla and salt.

In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks; add sugar and whisk until combined.  Add chocolate mixture and stir.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form then gently fold into the chocolate mixture.  Spoon into the crust and bake about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool.

MOUSSE LAYER:

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 oz. coffee
4 TB butter, melted
1 TB rum
1-1/2 c. whipping cream + ¼ c.
1 t. flavorless gelatin

Melt chocolate over double boiler; add coffee, butter, and stir til melted.  Stir in rum.

Chill the 1-1/2 c. whipping cream in mixing bowl for 5 minutes in freezer.  In a small bowl stir together the ¼ c. whipping cream and gelatin.  Take the cream out of the freezer and beat to medium peaks.  Lightly heat the cream/gelatin mixture, but don’t boil it, then stir it into chocolate mixture.   Gently fold in whipped cream.  Place mousse on top of pie and smooth.  Chill at least 1 hour.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

CARLA’S TOMATO PIE




If you know me well, you know how obsessed I am with homegrown tomatoes in the summer.  My brother-in-law, Wayne, actually calls me a tomato whore – this from a man who has 40 tomato plants in his garden when only he and his wife live at home!  He says he will feed the world, one tomato at a time.  Anyway he generously shares them with me, and I am happy to drive the 45 minutes over to Marble Falls to get a basketful – which I did this week.  I have been making tomato dishes all week, and I remembered Carla’s tomato pie so that’s what I made last night.  I threw some sausage on the grill and voila dinner for the champions.  Justin absolutely loved it – he is a tomato kook too!  It would also be great as an appetizer, or as a light lunch with a green salad.  Trust me, if you like summer tomatoes and cheese, you will love this pie.  Thanks for sharing, Carla!

1 pie shell
About 5-6 medium tomatoes – enough to fill a pie shell
2 cloves garlic, diced
Handful of fresh basil, diced
Black pepper
1+ c. Mozarella cheese, grated *
1+ c. Cheddar cheese, grated*
About ¼-1/3 c. mayo

Bake the pie shell and let it cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel, and cut the tomatoes into large chunks, a little more than an inch in size.  Put them in a colander to drain and with your hands mix in the garlic and basil.    Mix together the cheeses and just enough mayo for the cheeses to stick together.  Spread half of the cheese mixture over the bottom of the pie shell, so it makes a barrier between the tomato juice and the crust.  Spread the tomatoes across the cheese and season with black pepper.  Pull apart bits of the remaining cheese mixture and dot it across the tomatoes.  If desired, sprinkle a little extra grated cheese over the areas that don’t have cheese on them.

Bake about 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.  Let cool about 15 minutes or so in order for the juices to settle.  Slice and enjoy.

*I actually bought an Italian blend our HEB puts together of shredded mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, asiago, fontina and romano cheeses and combined it with some shredded gruyere because we love it so much, and it was yummy.  I will experiment with different cheeses every time I make this, just for the variety of the flavors.  As long as you use a cheese that melts well you are good to go!

Hmm, I’m now wondering about trying it with cilantro and Mexican cheeses – I think the combinations are endless with this basic recipe!