My adorable nephew came over recently to hang out with auntie and his cousins. I sure miss the days when my kids where that young, snuggly and innocent. Now my not-so-innocent angels are traveling to different states with the grandparents and going off to overnight camps and slowly becoming young ladies learning to navigate their pre-teens. Even my little fella will be in grade school this fall and has seemingly overnight turned into a bonafide big kid and riding his bike sans training wheels. Sigh. My kids may be changing but some things never do. Like the ability of maple baked beans to elicit childhood memories and serve as comfort picnic food.
Growing up, we used to pop open a can of tomato sauced baked beans and then add our own sauce to it or if we were feeling really un-creative, we’d get the Bush’s baked beans which were already fully seasoned. These were staples of easy end-of-day eating that went with nearly every cut of grilled meat we served but these beans were still processed and from a can. I’ve been determined to recreate our “home cooked” familiar flavor of baked beans and haven’t found a way to recreate it quite perfectly just yet without a lot of refined brown sugar. Instead, in my attempts to recreate our family fav I did manage to create an awesome adaptation of maple bourbon baked beans which are made without any refined sugars. Baked beans do take time to prepare from dry beans but the results are worth it. These slightly sweet and oh so scrumptious maple bourbon baked beans are a scratch made side perfect for picnic party heaven.
- 1 pound dry navy beans
- 1 vidalia onion, diced and caramelized if desired
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup spicy brown mustard
- ⅔ cup organic all natural ketchup
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (use tamari or coconut aminos for vegan option)1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan or smoked salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 shot of bourbon
- Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer beans in the same water 1-2 hours until tender. Drain and reserve liquid.
- While beans are simmering, caramelize the onion in a sauté pan with the garlic and a tablespoon or so of olive oil on LOW heat until it is tender, translucent and turning a nice caramel color. Be patient, true caramelization takes 30-45 minutes. If you don’t wish to caramelize the onion, simply sauté on medium heat until it starts to become translucent.
- In a bowl, combine mustard, ketchup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, worcestershire, molasses, salt, pepper, and bourbon. Stir until smooth.
- Add cooked beans to a crockpot or dutch oven and gently stir in onion and the sauce. Add reserved cooking liquid from the beans to cover about one inch above the beans. If you don’t have reserved liquid, just add water.
- Slow cook on low 6 hours or bake at 325 degrees about 4 hours until beans are plump and the sauce has thickened.
- Check beans and gently stir halfway through cooking. If sauce becomes too dry, add more liquid and continue cooking until done.
Nothing says weekend to me more than a delicious cocktail. Hello, Friday… Is it happy hour yet? Being it’s going to be a marvelous 3 day weekend, I plan on starting the weekend-ing a bit early with these awesome honey lime margaritas. This tart and tasty trio of ingredients will have you wishing you were on Mexico time… or maybe just leave you lingering a wee bit longer with good friends and great conversation to enjoy the weekend wonder.
Honey lime margaritas are actually easier to make than a traditional margarita. They start with a honey simple syrup which is one part honey, to one part water. This is easier to make than a simple sugar syrup as you don’t have to worry about getting all the little crystals dissolved. Simply mix honey with warm water until well combined and there you have it! The PERFECT base for adding fresh lime juice and a touch of tequila. I found some incredible honey from a local farmer last year at the farmer’s market who makes a few varieties of honey – the clover and wild flower are my current favorites. It’s so fantastic to be able to support local farmers in their craft and to support the local economy. Plus, I know that it’s very fresh and I know how his bees are treated as I can go to his farm, observe and share great conversation. All good things in my book. I’m looking forward to visiting his stand again soon when the market opens again in a few weeks. Maybe I should bring him one of these delicious honey lime margaritas…
- ½ cup honey simple syrup (1/4 cup honey dissolved in ¼ cup warm water)
- ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 cup tequila (blanco preferred in this application)
- splash of triple sec (optional)
- salt for the rim (optional)
- fresh lime for garnish
- Rim a glass in salt if desired.
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake.
- Pour over a small amount of ice and serve with slices of lime.
Gimme a huge scoop of this black bean and corn salsa and I’m instantly transported into a beach chair with my feet in the ocean fronting the Riviera Maya. So colorful, and SO extremely delicious, this black bean and corn salsa is the perfect compliment to tacos, fajitas, soups and anything else you might be cooking up for this Friday’s Cinco de Mayo festivities. This sassy salsa is tossed together in a mere ten minutes or less making it an easy appetizer. For the most part, it’s a pico de gallo but with corn and black beans added in for color and variety. With the addition of the black beans and corn, this salsa has a lot of healthy fiber and is filling enough that you could use this all by itself as a taco filling for a vegetarian taco.
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups corn kernels or use 1 can, drained and rinsed
- 3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- juice of 1 small lime (about 2 tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste (I used pink himalayan)
- Combine all ingredients in a dish and stir well.
- Serve over tacos, fajitas, chili or with tortilla chips!