Monday, February 27, 2012


cheddar gratin potatoes
This is an easy side dish that goes well with any kind of roast, especially ham.  I’ve made these several times and they’re always good.   You can make them with nonfat milk, but they will be somewhat watery, though they’ll still taste great.  A nice aged cheddar will make the dish stand out.  Take it easy on the thyme, as it can leave an aftertaste if you use too much.

Wondering what to do with leftovers?  Fry them up with eggs.

Cheddar Gratin Potatoes
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

1 Tbsp. butter + 2 tsp. for pan
1/2 cup chopped shallot
2 garlic cloves, grated or minced
4 cups (1 quart) whole milk
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. Morton kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
2 cups coarsely grated 2-year aged cheddar
4-1/2 cups thinly sliced potatoes (about 4 medium-large)

Set out a 9x13 glass baking pan.  Grease it with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.  Heat oven to 375F.

In 3-quart heavy pot, heat butter over medium heat.  Add shallot and cook 2-3 minutes, or till soft.  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute, stirring with spatula.  Transfer to small dish.

Slowly pour in milk to same pot.  Add thyme, salt and pepper and cook till mixture is steaming hot and almost boiling.  Place half the potatoes in the prepared baking pan.  Top with half the shallot/garlic mixture and half the cheddar; repeat once.  Slowly pour hot milk over all.Cover pan with tinfoil.  Bake 30-45 minutes, or till bubbling.  Remove foil, bake additional 30 minutes, or till milk is almost absorbed and potatoes are tender.  Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.  Yield:  8-10 servings

Saturday, February 25, 2012


a better pea soup (4)
My hubby loves pea soup made with a ham bone and chunks of meat.  Neither of us likes thick pea soup, though, so I always thin the broth.  The recipe I worked from didn't include potatoes or ham, two ingredients that I usually include in split pea soup.  I left out the dried onion soup mix and leeks that the recipe called for, and added a ham bone and chunks of ham. Otherwise, I followed the recipe.

We both gave this one two thumbs up, way up.  The soup is light and has a little of "I don't know what it is" flavors from Dijon mustard, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  It’s definitely a keeper, but my fave is still Quick and Easy Frozen Pea Soup.

If you don't have a ham bone, not to worry, this recipe was originally made without it anyway.  You can add in ham chunks or bacon at the end, or leave those out too.

A Better Pea Soup
Adapted from Parade magazine, Judy Collins
Rating:  9.0 out of 10

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped peeled carrots
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, peeled, chopped
1 large clove garlic (about 2 tsp.), chopped
8 oz. split peas, rinsed, drained
1 ham bone, excess meat cut off, chopped and set aside
32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water (more if needed)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. Morton kosher salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper

In a Dutch oven, saute carrots, onion, celery and garlic in the oil over medium heat till soft, about 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, raise heat to high, and bring to a full boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook about 2 hours, stirring and skimming surface occasionally.  If you like your soup thicker, remove the ham bone and cook soup without cover over medium-high heat until reduced to desired thickness.  Remove from heat and let sit 1 hour at room temperature.  Puree.  Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.  Add reserved ham chunks to soup; reheat briefly before serving.  Yield:  About 6 servings

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


java cake with mocha frosting (3)
Those of you who are regular readers know that I don’t bake with cake mixes much – hardly at all.  But I can’t resist a good sale.  When a boxed mix is on sale and the store doubles coupons, I just have to buy.  Then I usually have buyer’s remorse at home.  This time, I was determined to turn the cake mix into something special.  It must have worked, because I had more rave comments over this cake than a homemade one.  The caramel-coffee flavors of this cake wowed everyone. 

Java Layer Cake with Mocha Frosting
Rating:  9 out of 10

1 Pillsbury Moist Supreme Premium Cake Mix Golden Butter Recipe
1/3 cup softened butter
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. plain nonfat Greek yogurt + enough brewed coffee to make 1 cup
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

Heat oven to 350 F.  Spray two 8” or 9” pans with cooking spray or use shortening and a flour dusting. 

On low speed of electric mixer, blend all cake ingredients in a large bowl until moistened.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Divide batter evenly between pans.   Bake 8-inch round 30 to 34 min. or 9-inch round - 25 to 29 min., or till toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.   Cool cake in pans 10 to 15 minutes , then transfer to wire racks lined with clean linen dish towels to cool completely.   The linen dish towels will catch loose crumbs and also keep your cake layers from sinking into the cake with mocha frosting (8)When cakes are completely cool, frost with Mocha Frosting.  Toasted chopped pecans or walnuts make a nice topping.
java cake with mocha frosting (2)


java cake with mocha frosting (3)
A very nice chocolate-coffee frosting that complements java cake, chocolate cake, or white or yellow cake.

Mocha Frosting
Rating:  9 out of 10

1 Tbsp. coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
1 Tbsp. instant coffee or espresso
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened natural or Dutch cocoa
Big pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder or pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream
4 oz. (4 squares) unsweetened chocolate, chopped, melted and cooled slightly*

In a small cup, combine coffee liqueur and coffee.  In a medium bowl, using medium speed of mixer, beat softened butter with 1 cup sugar till smooth.  Gradually add remaining sugar and beat again till smooth.  Sift cocoa over mixture and gradually beat till well mixed and not lumpy.  Beat in coffee liqueur mixture.  Add salt, vanilla and heavy cream, beating till well combined and smooth.  Add melted chocolate and beat again till smooth and fluffy.  (If additional liquid is needed, add up to 1 Tbsp. more cream.)

Note:  The mixing may take up to 10 minutes to get the frosting smooth.  Don’t give up.

*To melt chocolate, place it in a small microwaveable bowl and heat on high, stirring at 30 second intervals, till chocolate is almost melted.  Leave in microwave to finish melting while you start the frosting.  Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate in a bowl with a lip placed over hot – not boiling – water, being sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and that the lip of the bowl is tucked over the sides of the pot of water so that no steam escapes. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Apple and mustard flavors combine beautifully in this dish to create a succulent sauce for pan-seared chops.  It’s an easy entree that comes together quickly.  If you're looking for side dishes to accompany  these chops, how about Caramelized Onion Winter Squash Mash, or Garlicky Cauliflower and Snap Peas.

Apple-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops
Adapted from
Good Housekeeping, November 2011
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 boneless pork chops, 3/4” thick
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp. frozen apple juice concentrate
6 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup Apple Jack brandy (or water)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

In 12-inch heavy skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. oil on medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chops with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper.  Cook 3 minutes, turn, cook 3 more minutes, or till browned yet slightly pink in center.  Transfer chops to plate and keep warm.  To skillet, add remaining 1 tsp. oil and onion.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/8 tsp. salt.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring.  Add apple juice concentrate, water and brandy; cook 4-5 minutes or till reduced by half.  Stir in mustard and butter; cook till incorporated.  Spoon over pork.  Yield:  4 servings

Saturday, February 18, 2012


new cooktop
After 40+ years of cooking on radiant electric heat and loving it, I merely wondered out loud what it would cost to replace our 5-year old Jenn-Air Radiant Downdraft Cooktop.  The hub, who is the designated cleaner of the cooktop, took to the internet to see if it was even possible to find a replacement without having to call our granite guy back to cut a larger hole in the countertop.  Remember, I was merely conjecturing.  I really liked my electric cooktop.
new cooktop (2) The hub couldn’t wait to tell me that Jenn-Air makes a gas downdraft that would fit perfectly into the existing opening.  Better yet, the gas line runs right underneath the cooktop.  He was sold, but I deliberated for a week, trying to justify the expense of a new cooktop when the not-so-old one was still plenty good.  
Last week, our new cooktop arrived and was installed.  new cooktop (4) And I am learning to cook on gas.  My first attempt, some apples for a small pie, burned apple juice onto the sides of my small fry pan (see top photo).  My first soft-boiled egg turned out with one part of the yolk hard boiled.   My second soft-boiled egg turned out almost soft boiled.  I think my third attempt will nail it, but we’ll see.  The timing is different on gas, and I’m finding it doesn’t cook quite the same as electric.  Today, I made Gajar Halwa for my Indian doctor, and was surprised that I needed to stir it more than I did before, even though the cooking time was the same. 
The fan on this model is noisier than the old fan, and it affects the evenness of the cooking.  Yes, this will be an adjustment, but we will be enjoying the lower gas rates.  In the meantime, I’m looking for someone who might want to purchase a 5-year old cooktop with plenty of life left in it.

April, 2014 update:  A few months after this was posted, I sold the older cooktop to a charming engineer who lives in Atlanta.  He got a great buy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


orange cupcakes with or cr ch frosting (4)
I’m currently out of White Lily all-purpose flour and planning on not buying more anytime soon.  First of all, I really don’t want to eat bleached flour.  Regular unbleached all-purpose flour is bad enough.  But I wanted to know if I could still make light and fluffy cupcakes without White Lily, so I adapted my favorite cupcake recipe from Southern Living to find out.  Bottom line:  White Lily all-purpose (not self-rising) flour  makes the best cupcakes, but using a combo of unbleached all-purpose flour and cornstarch does produce a tender, though slightly more dense, cupcake.  For me, I’ll trade down to avoid bleached flour.  At least for now.
orange cupcakes with or cr ch frosting (5)

Orange Cupcakes with Orange-White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 
Cupcakes Adapted from Southern Living’s Classic Vanilla Cake Batter
Rating:  9.5 out of 10


1-1/2 cups minus 3 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
1-1/2 large eggs (1/2 large egg = 2 Tbsp.)
1/4 tsp. orange extract
1/8 tsp. lemon extract
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1-1/2 tsp. cider vinegar)
Orange-White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Heat oven to 350F.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper baking cups, and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Sift and whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a small bowl.  In mixing bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat softened butter, sugar and zest at medium speed 5 minutes, till light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated.  Beat in extracts.  On low speed, add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Beat only until blended after each addition.  Batter will be thick; Use immediately.  Fill 12 muffin cups with batter, dividing equally.  Bake 15-17 minutes, or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs.  Cool in pans 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to finish cooling.  Frost with Orange-White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.  Yield:  12 cupcakes
orange cupcakes with or cr ch frosting (3)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


orange cupcakes with or cr ch frosting (4)

This frosting goes so perfectly with orange cupcakes (above).  I've also used it on chocolate cupcakes.

Orange-White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting 
Rating:  9.5 out of 10
6 oz. Philadelphia brand Neufchatel cheese or cream cheese
4 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 oz. good-quality white chocolate (should contain cocoa butter, no hydrogenated oils)
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla powder, or vanilla extract
1 to 1-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Cut cream cheese into 8 pieces and place in medium bowl.  In 1-quart heavy pot, melt butter and chocolate over low heat.  Stir to combine.  Refrigerate 1/2 hour. 

Beat softened cream cheese at medium speed till smooth and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add flavorings and sugar and beat till again smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Gradually add chilled butter and chocolate and continue to beat till again smooth, about 5 – 6 minutes.  Spoon into piping bag with decorator tip and pipe onto cupcakes, or use spatula to frost cupcakes.  Yield:  enough for 24 cupcakes

Saturday, February 11, 2012


tenderloin beef tips marsala  (2)

Have you ever searched your supermarket for marked-down packages of meat?  Beef tenderloin is a tapered piece of meat, starting out fat and wide at one end and tapering down to a very narrow piece at the other end.  That narrow piece, cut away from the tenderloin, is many times offered for sale at a reduced price.  Here is a way to use it.   Served with a side salad, this is a filling and comforting meal. 

Beef Tips Marsala with Noodles and Peas 
Rating:  9.5 out of 10

8 oz. wide noodles (I used No Yolks)
1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided use
8 oz. beef tenderloin, tip end, cut into 3/4” – 1” chunks
1/4 tsp. Diamond kosher salt + 2 tsp. salt for noodles
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. finely chopped shallots
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup Florio Fine dry Marsala wine*
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. beef broth (may use chicken broth)
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. butter+ 1 Tbsp. butter for noodles
2 Tbsp. heavy cream or half and half
1/2 – 1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In large pot, heat water for pasta.  In 10” or 12” heavy skillet, heat 1 tsp. oil using medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper meat and add to hot pan.  (If necessary, cook the meat in batches so it’s not crowded.  If the meat is crowded, it will steam rather than brown.)  Brown meat 1-2 minutes each side. 
beef tips & mushrooms over parsley noodles (2)
Remove to plate and keep warm.  Add remaining 2 tsp. oil to pan with shallots.  Cook shallots about 1 minute, till starting to soften, then add mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes, or till tender. 

While mushrooms are cooking, add 2 tsp. salt to pasta water which should be boiling now.  Add noodles.  Set timer for noodles, following package directions.  (Remember to stir pasta often during cooking.)

Back to the veggies:  Pour the Marsala over the veggies, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 2 minutes.  Raise heat to medium high, whisk in the broth and mustard and bring to a boil.  Boil about 5 minutes, or till reduced by half.  Add meat and any juices and reheat gently for about 1-2 minutes.  Off heat.  Stir in 2 tsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. cream.  Cover and keep warm. 

Add frozen peas to noodles about 1 minute before they are done cooking.  Drain the pasta and peas and stir in remaining 1 Tbsp. butter and parsley.  Spoon pasta and peas onto plates and top with beef tips, spooning some of the sauce over.  Serve with a side salad and, if you’re a carb lover, some hot crusty rolls.  Me?  I go light on the noodles and skip the rolls.  But, then, I’m pre-diabetic and my carb-loving days are what got me here.

*Florio Fine Marsala wine is what I recommend, though you may substitute other Marsala of choice.  Florio is the original, and considered the best, Marsala .   Marsala wine is found in the fortified wine section, near the sherries and ports.  It will keep in your fridge for at least six months.  I’ve kept it successfully for a year.  You can use it to make Chicken Marsala, which can be made with either sweet or dry Marsala.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Chocolate Almond Cream Pie is dessert made in heaven.  A tender and flavorful almond graham cracker crust holds a rich and chocolatey filling with a mild almond undertone.  The whipped-cream topping is spiked with almond liqueur and sprinkled with chocolate shavings.  It has my highest rating and will make any celebration memorable.choc almond cream pie

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes are easy to make.  You don’t even need to get your mixer out, because these are mixed like muffins, with one quick mix by hand.  Full of chocolate flavor, very light and moist, this one is a definite winner! bananachocolatecupcakes4_thumb12

Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding  is silky smooth and creamy with a mild hazelnut flavor hiding under the chocolate. You can certainly dress this up with some lightly sweetened, whipped heavy cream that’s spiked with hazelnut liqueur.  You could even shave some dark chocolate or chopped toasted hazelnuts over the cream.  I chose to eat the pudding as is and savor every sweet, delicious mouthful.chocolate hazelnut pudding (8)_thumb[3]

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies are fudgy, tender and flavorful, and hold a wonderfully light peanut butter-mallow filling that really steals the show.  These cookies are sweet, rich-tasting  and utterly delicious.choc pb whoopies

Chocolate Guinness Cake is everything you ever wanted in a chocolate cake.  The ale bumps up the chocolate flavor and delivers moistness as well.  This is one cake you’ll remember for a long time.choc guiness cake

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins are moist, chocolatey, flavorful and even have fiber and some food value.   One muffin will definitely fix your chocolate craving, and you won't blow all your calories.  They have my highest rating and they don’t taste healthy!choc zucchini muffins

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing are sure to please almost everyone.  Moist, tender, velvety and not-too-sweet chocolate cupcakes are topped with fluffy peanut butter frosting.  Buttermilk and sour cream make the cupcakes tender and moist; coffee and brown sugar enhance the chocolate flavor; and the peanut butter icing is creamy, sweet and delicious. 001_thumb[7]

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip-Heath Bits Cookies are delicious cookies with a nice peanut-butter flavor.  The pecans and semisweet chocolate chips tone down the almost cloying sweetness of the Heath bits.  Just enough crunch, just enough sweetness.  With crispy edges and insides that are soft and almost chewy, these are sure to become a favorite. PBheathbarcookies2_thumb3

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting are light and moist.  And no one is the wiser…..unless you tell them.  You can make these even healthier by using a sugar substitute and nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream. choc cupcakes w wh choc cr ch frosting (2)_thumb[4]

Nutella Mascarpone Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust  is a rich, creamy, firm, New York-style cheesecake that delivers a subtle Nutella flavor from Nutella that is spread over the cooled crust before adding the cheesecake filling.  The filling, itself, has hazelnut liqueur added, and the cheesecake can be topped with shaved chocolate or more Nutella.  Either way, it’s absolutely delicious.nutella chcake
Lava Rocks are chocolatey, chewy delicious little morsels that are also low-fat.lava rocks

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all


The cacao tree has been around for a long time; but chocolate, derived from cacao beans, is another story.  The credit for finding chocolate goes to the Mayas, but their discovery was limited to a liquid -- the Old World’s “energy drink.” The Aztecs dubbed the thick, cold, unsweetened drink xocoatl (“bitter water”), and they flavored it with spices and hot chili peppers. It was a drink only for royalty, believed to impart wisdom and health.

About 1,000 years later, Columbus found the New World and discovered that cocoa beans were being used as currency and to make an exotic drink, but failed to see the potential that had fallen into his lap.  A later explorer, Hernando Cortez, was underwhelmed with the bitter, spicy beverage, but enthused about converting cocoa beans to golden doubloons.  On a return trip to Spain, Cortez established a cocoa plantation, thinking he would be cultivating money.  He also started mixing the brew, then called “chocolatl,” with sugar, vanilla, and spices, starting a new culinary trend in Spain for the nobility.

Eventually, chocolate swept through Europe, becoming the prize of European aristocracy for centuries, while cocoa beans continued to be used as currency till the 17th century.  It wasn’t until the 18th century, after the steam engine was invented, that chocolate became affordable for the masses.  But it was still used mostly as a drink, until the 19th century when the chocolate bar was created.
The Mayans would be amazed at how far the cocoa bean has come. Chocolate is a worldwide industry; one of the most affluent. And now we’ve come full circle, right back to the Mayan/Aztec belief that it’s healthful -- dark chocolate, that is.  But don’t get carried away yet; there are some downside risks.  While dark chocolate acts as an antioxidant, reduces blood pressure, increases circulation and energy and enhances mood, it also contains theobromine, an energy lifter that can overstimulate some people, especially diabetics and the chemically sensitive.  Ever eat a chocolate dessert only to stay awake all night?  Blame it on theobromine.  There’s also a question about how much lead is in chocolate, and how much of it can be absorbed into the human system.  So, no matter how good you think it is for you, exercise temperance.  And listen up:  if you have a family pet, please don’t share the love – chocolate is known to be toxic to many animals.

Find some of my older chocolate recipes in this 2010 post on Valentine's Day.  How will you be celebrating National Chocolate Day this year?

Sunday, February 5, 2012



My Sicilian mother-in-law introduced me to these wonderful potatoes, made with or without peas.  As the potatoes cook down, the broth and olive oil combine with potato starches into an aromatic sauce.  As the title implies, parsley is added, and it definitely adds another depth of flavor to this dish, but I was out of it.

I’m not really sure if the recipe originated in Sicily, but I decided to credit her homeland in her honor.  This is a simple side dish, but one that everyone will love.

Sicilian Parsley Potatoes
Rating:  10 out of 10

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Russet or Idaho, peeled, chopped in 1/2” cubes
1/2 tsp. Diamond  kosher salt, or table salt if preferred 
1/8 tsp. black pepper (1/4 tsp. if you can handle more black pepper)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In a 2-quart saucepan, saute the onion in oil 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat, till onions start to sizzle.  Add the potatoes, stir and cook 1-2 minutes, or till they are well coated and sizzling.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour broth over all and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes, or till potatoes are tender and liquid thickens slightly.  Add peas and parsley and cook another 4-5 minutes, or  till peas are tender.  If liquid is too thin, remove cover during last few minutes of cooking time to reduce liquids and thicken.  Yield:  3-4 servings

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Ann Burrell's rockin baked beans

One of my favorite chefs is Anne Burrell, who currently teaches at the Culinary Institute of America in addition to hosting several Food Network shows.  On a recent episode of “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef,” Chef Burrell made her “Rockin’ Baked Beans.”  I increased the sugar in the recipe slightly and thought they were just right, but my hubby wanted them sweeter.  If you’re like my hubby and want your beans on the sweet side, add an additional 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  The original recipe calls for canned beans, but I opted for dried beans that I cooked first.  If you want to shorten your cooking time, use canned beans. 
I liked the complex flavors of this hearty dish.  The vegetables and meats with the sweet-hot tones were tasty and satisfying enough to be used as a main dish.
Anne Burrell’s Rockin’ Baked Beans, adapted
Rating:  8.5 out of 10

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-large onion, cut into 1/2” dice
1/2 of a large green pepper, cut into a 1/4” dice
kosher salt, to taste
3 garlic cloves, grated on a microplane grater
2 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/3 cup tomato paste
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1-1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp. molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups cooked navy beans (1 lb. pkg.), or 3 15-oz. cans navy beans
2-1/2 cups bean liquid, or bean liquid and water to equal 2-1/2 cups, divided use
5 slices bacon

Coat an oven-safe pot with 2 Tbsp. olive oil and put over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers.   Season with salt, to taste, and cook until the onions and peppers are soft and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the sausage and use a spoon to help break it apart. When the sausage is brown, add the tomato paste and cumin and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the Dijon, apple cider vinegar, and molasses, then add in the beans and 1 1/2 cups of water.  Taste and season with salt, if needed. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the beans until they are nice and thick and taste really good, about 15 to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, add the remaining cup of water.
Top the beans with the bacon slices.  Bake until the beans are nice and thick and the bacon is crispy, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

Ann Burrell's rockin baked beans (2)

You might also want to try Company Baked Beans.  They're mild and flavorful and downright good.

Maple Baked Beans for a Crowd have a nice kick with a little sweetness.

Baked Beans with Ground Beef are a real man pleaser, with ground beef and bacon and a nice tang from a little brown sugar and some apple cider vinegar.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



This year, we planned on hosting a Super Bowl party until our friends offered to have it at their (much larger) house.   We’ll bring a meat and cheese tray, assorted rolls, lettuce, tomato, mustard and mayo.  They and other guests will provide potato salad, baked beans, chips, dips and drinks. 
So what will be on our meat and cheese tray?  Well, Saturday night, I’ll make a glazed spiral-cut ham. 
Sunday morning, I’ll cook Soy-Apple Brined Grilled Turkey
Before the party, I’ll slice the turkey and ham for the meat part of the tray.  American and provolone cheeses will make up the cheese part. 
If time is on my side, I may bring some sweet stuff, like yummy Peanut Butter Mousse Brownies.

Or there’s always New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans.

What  will you be doing for Super Bowl Sunday?