Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Best Baked Beans

219. Summer and Baked Beans seem to always go together. Whether they are accompanied by grilled meats or on the picnic table next to hot dogs and potato salad. Baked Beans seem to complete the flavor profile for summer. Unless, you try "bad" baked beans. You know, as you are walking along the buffet or picnic table. You try a scoop of salad, hamburger dressed or hotdog slathered with toppings, and then you take a large dollop of hot baked beans. You sit down, drape your napkin across your lap and dive into this plethora of pleasure. You thrust your fork into the beans, lift them to your mouth and wait for that delicious flavor. Instead of satisfaction, you want to spit them out and fast. Flavorless, bland, bitter beans. Beans poured out of a can and just heated up. Not pleasant in the least.
I think baked beans have gotten a bad rap because of those mistakes. But not this recipe! It is one you will pass on to friends.

Best Baked Beans

1 can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 can borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon mustard, yellow or brown
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
kosher salt & pepper
pinch of baking soda (removes the snappers ;o)
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon ketchup

In a small pan melt butter and add onion. Saute' for approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mustard, sugar, syrup, salt and pepper, vinegar and ketchup. Blend together. Place drained and rinsed beans into an oiled baking crock, dish or casserole with high sides.
Pour seasoned mixture into beans and stir to cover all. Taste to adjust seasoning.
Cover with lid or tinfoil. Bake 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Serve hot but make a double batch, these beans will disappear fast!

Check out this recipe by Kevin and Amanda for their "Ultimate Baked Beans".

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!"
~ Shel Silverstein

Saturday, June 18, 2011

San Antonio Cocoa Cake


218. As a child, my siblings and I had favorite desserts and treats that we would request our grandmother to bake. The San Antonio Cocoa Cake was one of those treats.
Always baked in a 9x13 pan with white frosting and maraschino cherries dotting the top, Grandma would make this cake often. It always was our favorite treat. Now the origin of the cake...was it actually from San Antonio? Or, was this cake from an old Good Housekeeping Magazine back in the day? I will have to do more searching.
San Antonio Cocoa Cake

1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup shortening (only)
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine first three ingredients: cocoa, sugar and sour milk; Set aside. Cream shortening; Add sugar gradually till light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing after each addition. In separate bowl mix cake flour, soda and salt. Sift 3 times. Add flour mixture alternately with 1 cup sour milk to sugar and egg bowl; Beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and cocoa mixture. Blend well but do not over mix.
Pour into a greased and floured prepared 9x13" baking dish/pan, or two 8" round or square pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cake test for doneness. Cool and frost.

I frosted the cake with a chocolate frosting and topped it with shredded sweetened coconut.
Grandma would have been proud.

"Let's face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people: it does it for me."
~Audry Hepburn

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pesto Sauce

217. Summer time is here and my garden is growing happily, due to all the rain these past two weeks. During the night the rain falls and then the sun warms everything during the day. My plants in my garden and in my herb boxes are just singing!!

The basil is growing so rapidly so we needed to make Pesto. I love when you are forced to use your garden veggies and herbs because there is so much.

This recipe for Pesto is my honey's. He's been making this recipe for years and it always turns out perfect.

Pesto Sauce

2 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and tightly packed
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated Romano or Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/2 cup chopped pine nuts or walnuts
1 teaspoon sea salt
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil, or to desired texture
In a food processor or blender, chop garlic and nuts.
Add basil and process till a pasty consistency is reached.
Add cheese, salt and pepper.

While processor (blender) is running, add the olive oil by pouring in a slow stream until completely combined.
It is up to you if you would like your pesto very thick or runny. Adjust with your amount of olive oil.
Sauce will be a beautiful color green and a smooth, consistency. Do not over mix.
This recipe is enough for 1 pound of cooked pasta.
Just boil your pasta, drain and place in a serving bowl. Mix pesto into hot pasta and toss to coat evenly.
This is the main event! A hot bowl of Pesto Pasta and Italian bread! Dinner on the patio. That's what I like about summer!
This recipe is very short on time but very rewarding for your family and guests. You'll get never ending compliments.
Storing Pesto:
If you have any pesto unused you can store it in a small jar and cover with a little olive oil and refrigerate. Then, the next day, make a pizza and spread with pesto then cheese. It is great as a meal or appetizer!
Pesto will keep in a jar, covered with olive oil in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Do Not Freeze. Basil will turn black and the flavor changes as well.

"Pesto is the quiche of the '80s"
~N. Ephron

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Starbucks Cake Pops

216. The Starbucks "Cake Pops". Have you tried one yet? I did recently and must say it was an expensive disappointment.
I went into the coffee shop for my favorite Grande/black/bold roast coffee and on occasion will enjoy a red velvet cupcake, lemon or pumpkin pound cake or a scone. But in place of these sweet delights...there were cake pops. So I figured, I'll try one and bring it home for a tasting test with my daughter.
The cake pop was the Tiramisu flavored pop with a coffee bean on top. The sign stated these babies are "Perfectly sized bites of delight for under 200 calories."
So, we broke it open...we inspected the texture of the coating. It was white chocolate-like but it seemed to have some type of additive such as Crisco, to help the chocolate not to be hard.
My daughter took the first piece and chewed it...I waited...and said, "What do you think?"
She just said it was "weird".
So, I took a piece. Chewed it. The texture was wet, grainy and odd. It was weird...I tasted the white coating first and then a slight coffee flavor, but the texture was just...well...weird! It was like nothing I've ever tasted before. It didn't taste like cake or tiramisu!
We both agreed, the cake pop looked better than it tasted. The best part was the coffee bean on top. Which in fact was not a real coffee bean but a coffee flavored candy shaped to look like a coffee bean.

I'm sorry Starbucks...but we want you to bring back the red velvet cupcakes, maple scones, cranberry bars and other cupcakes. These miniature treats are small, expensive and lacking in flavor. And the red velvet whoopie pies are just blah!!!

Save your $$ and go to your local bakery for goodies instead. I give the "Starbucks Tiramisu Cake Pop" a Zero out of 10 being the best. It was an epic fail.

"Coffee will always be the core of what we do. So many companies have made mistakes by
not sticking to their knitting and they start believing their own press.
That's not going to be us." (I hope so! )
~Howard Shultz

Stuffed Peppers

215. When I think of home and comfort food as a child, I always remember my mom's Stuffed Peppers. The house would smell so good and you couldn't wait till dinner time.
My honey brought home these colossal green peppers and they were perfect for stuffing.
I separate the "caps" and trim the seeds away from the cap and the inside. Then mix up my sauce. Olive oil, chopped onion and 3 cloves garlic. I saute' till the onions turn translucent, then add a can of chopped or crushed tomatoes. Salt and pepper the sauce and add fresh parsley and basil chopped fine. I allow the sauce to come to a boil and then I turn it down to simmer.
My next step is to make the meat filling.
2 pounds of chopped meat, 1 small onion chopped, 2 cloves garlic crushed, salt, pepper, 2 cups rice, parsley, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon garlic salt.
I mix this and then fill each pepper with the meat mixture.
I top each pepper off with their matching cap and then stand them in the simmering sauce.
Any extra meat is made into meatballs and placed directly into the sauce around the peppers.
This will simmer covered for at least one hour. A little longer time will be needed if you have more peppers.
They turned out scrumptious! And this is such a simple dinner to make with a salad and bread.

Delicious!!! Enjoy!!!

"Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power,
has that ability to comfort."
~Norman Kolpas

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

JAG - Portugese Rice

214. This recipe is a variation of a classic Portuguese Rice dish called "JAG". It is so basic and comes together in about one hour. I first had this dish during our first year of marriage when we stayed with friends. Wanda made this dish for dinner and It was so delicious I asked for the recipe. We grabbed a blank envelope, tore it open and I jotted down the recipe as Wanda shared it with me. I still use the original hand scrawled recipe each time I make it.
"JAG" Portugese Rice

1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 Tablespoons bacon grease (opt.)
1 to 2 pounds Linguica, Keilbasa or Chourico, sliced or crumbled
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup long grain rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon Gravy Master
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon tumeric powder
pinch of Cayenne pepper
16 oz kidney beans, peas, pigeon peas or lima beans, cooked and set aside

Saute' onions, and garlic in bacon grease with sausage, about 5 minutes.
Add water, rice and remaining ingredients except beans. Boil slowly 20 minutes. Add beans, turn burner off and cover.
Steam for another 10 minutes. Serves 6.

I made a recipe of Corn Bread to go along side and a crisp salad.


"Lies have short legs."
~Portuguese Proverb

"It's roses, my Lord."
~Elizabeth of Aragon, Queen of Portugal, to King Denis of Portugal when he was about to discover she was feeding the poor with the palace's food.

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