I’ve previously claimed to not really like cauliflower but, you guys, I am SOLD!!! My fabulous mother in law brought a cauliflower gratin over for our Thanksgiving feast that I thought was really tasty. So I thought, why not kick it up a notch? I […]
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.
Oh boy. My girls are officially on summer vacation and I’m happy they’re around. Not so happy about all the “I’m bored!” statements that are happening already. Lucky for them, I have all sorts of fun tasks to solve their boredom (insert maniacal laugh here). I’m […]
I’m currently sitting at my desk with a chicken on my shoulder watching an exciting lightning storm outside while sipping a small glass of wine. I’m good at multitasking. The dear hubby is gone on a business trip this week so I’ve been gladly bombarding him with text photos of the kids and chickens. It makes me happy… and really, I’m pretty sure pics like that would bring a smile to anyone’s face. Meanwhile, when he’s outta town, it’s a comfort food all the way kind of day. So I made cheesy ranch potatoes. Yes, like the kind from my childhood with that totally unassuming name of cheesy potatoes but in true fashion I re-did the recipe to make them healthier and added herbs that lend a ranch flavor to them. You know, because I used to dump in a packet of hidden valley ranch seasoning to the mix. That seemed totally wrong and too processed so now I have cheesy ranch potatoes made from scratch with hidden veggies. And they. are. GOOD. My daughters even proclaimed that I should DEFINIETLY make these again!
I know, cheesy potatoes have a calling in potluck situations in the Midwest (or for Easter and mother’s day brunch) to serve as that totally cheesy, over the top creamy deliciousness that is smothered all over the shredded (or diced) potatoes. It’s always one of my absolute favorite dishes but I decided it was time to give it a little makeover in the nutrition department. I haven’t bought a can of condensed soup in over two years. There’s just no need when you can put more nutritious combinations together or make your own version of the same thing in nearly the same amount of time. Anyway, in place of the traditional cream of chicken soup that’s normally used in “cheesy potatoes” I subbed chicken broth and pureed squash (or pumpkin would work too). Then, instead of the sour cream, I used plain Greek yogurt. You could totally use a mix of yogurt and sour cream but I really liked the yogurt with the ranch herb mix as it gave it just enough of that buttermilk tang that fresh ranch dip has without the processed ingredient list. Gotta love that!
This little riff on cheesy potatoes still has a crunchy topping but it’s accomplished with a sprinkle of corn meal rather than over buttered crushed cornflakes. Honestly, it’ll be great either way. I just decided to make it a bit lighter with the cornmeal sprinkle and a toss of chopped chives on top to accent the ranch flavor. Seriously, this is my new favorite comfort food!!
- 1 pound diced potatoes (or ½ of a 2lb bag frozen diced potatoes)
- 1 head of cauliflower, diced a similar size to the potatoes
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt (or use a combination of sour cream and yogurt)
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup squash or pumpkin puree
- 2 cups sharp cheddar
- 2 tsp parsley
- 1 teaspoon dill weed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chopped chives
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine yogurt, broth and squash puree in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Add all remaining ingredients except cornmeal in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour into a greased 9x13 pan or in a bunch of ramekins and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Bake 60-75 minutes until veggies are tender.
- Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with chopped green onion or chives if desired.
Grilled Corn…simple and summery, buttery with a slight smoky flavor, crisp and oh-so-sweet. This side dish comes with a generous shout out to summer… as in, summer, let’s get this warm weather rockin’ so we can be outside all the time! I guess I’ll have […]
Who can resist the cuteness of a little Brussels sprout?? They look and taste sort of like a mini cabbage but my kids need a little convincing of their virtuous qualities. Call it a baby cabbage and they’re at least partially sold… call it baby anything and they suddenly […]
My dad always enjoyed the weird (read: not kid friendly) vegetables like parsnips, asparagus and eggplant. They might be the only veggies I actually saw him eat that weren’t potatoes now that I’m thinking about it. Now that I’m older I realize those veggies aren’t all that weird but I still hadn’t been a fan of parsnips and their slight licorice flavor… until now. Combining parsnips into a pear and parsnip sauté was just the ticket to make them drool worthy.
Pear and parsnip sauté begins with chopping the ‘snips and pears into cute little cubes. This helps the parsnip brown up and soften faster so it can pair with its monochromatic pear and some parmesan. Add a little balsamic and honey and you’ve got a dessert-like quality to this pretty little side dish that would look (and taste) great on your holiday table!
- 10-12 parsnips, peeled and diced into small cubes
- 1 or more tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
- 2 pears (I used bosc pears), peeled, cored and diced into small cubes
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- pinch of ginger
- 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (you can use regular but it will be a little darker in color)
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan or manchego cheese
- pinch of salt or to taste
- In a medium saute pan, cook diced parsnips in butter until they begin to brown and are mostly soft.
- Stir in remaining ingredients and stir-cook until pears are warmed through and cheese is melted.
- Serve warm.