I returned from immersing myself in nature camping on the bluffs of the Mississippi river this past week rejuvenated and ready to eat roots. Not tree roots or anything THAT crazy… just beet roots. Which, if you know me, is sorta along the lines of […]
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.
So many delicious things come in small little bowls. Olives are one of my favorite snacks and I put them in sauces and dishes quite often since they have healthy fats and taste so darn good! I use olives and their brine as a salt replacement in soups on occasion for a unique flavor or I top them with a spoonful of olive tapenade as a garnish. Olive tapenade is a marvelous multipurpose medley of salty, lemony goodness.
For this kalamata green olive tapenade, I mixed a variety of green olives with kalamata as they each have a unique flavor. Blended together, they are simply heaven! Combined with a touch of lemon, capers and parsley, a mixed olive tapenade is an easy go-to dip for veggies or a spread on crackers or sandwiches.
I recently found a super fun recipe book called Not Your Mama’s Canning Book which has me all inspired to venture out beyond the typical jams and tomato sauces. I’m totally going to try canning this olive tapenade for easy gift giving and ready-to-go, no prep appetizers!! Wish me luck 😉
- 1 cup mixed olives (kalamata, nicoise, picholine, etc)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (or try a combo of parsley, basil and oregano)
- sprinkle of black pepper
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until desired consistency.
- Use tapenade as a dip or spread for appetizers. Also delicious as a soup garnish or on meats, pizza, sandwiches and burgers!
After this past weekend’s indulgences, I’m in need of a little detox. This white bean stracciatella soup is the perfect remedy. Stracciatella is a simple vegetarian soup that begins with a broth. With the addition of white beans and kale, this soup is nutritiously hearty and […]
With the temps dipping back into the single digits after three days of snow, a soft sumptuous soup like creamy broccoli soup is just what I need. There’s something uniquely wonderful about a soup that’s creamy, hearty and totally good for you. I can indulge and still keep my new year’s healthy eating resolutions. There’s so much great nutrition starting in the base of this soup thanks to the traditional mirepoix trifecta of celery, carrot, and onion plus a little garlic for good measure. This vegetable base creates a subtle variety of flavors without being heavy.
This creamy soup isn’t cream based or made with any dairy, however. Instead, I’ve added potatoes and then pureed the soup base so it gets a smooth creamy texture. You can also substitute white beans in place of the potatoes (pictured below). Using vegetable broth as the liquid makes it suitable for vegans as well. Another thing that I love about this dairy-free creamy broccoli soup is that it also uses the stem of the broccoli for a no-waste, budget friendly meal. The stems also add a more complex well-rounded wonderful flavor that even had my five-year old asking for seconds. If you do enjoy a bit of dairy, this soup is lovely topped with a bit of shredded cheddar too!
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2-3 celery stalks, diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced (or use 2 cans of white beans)
- 2 small heads of broccoli, stems finely diced, florets roughly chopped and set aside
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon marjoram
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste (this will depend on how salty your broth it and your taste preference)
- In a large stockpot, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, broccoli stems and garlic in the olive oil until the onion begins to become translucent. About 10 minutes.
- Add potatoes, broth, water and spices to the pot and boil until broccoli stems are tender. About 20-30 minutes. Note: if using beans instead of potatoes, do not add them yet.
- Puree the soup base with an immersion blender or pour into a blender (carefully) to puree and then transfer back to the stockpot. Note: if using beans, puree 1 can of the beans and then add the other can whole.
- Add broccoli florets and simmer with the lid on (this gets thick and bubbly) for about 8-10 minutes until florets are tender.
- Serve hot, with cheese if desired.