Here a bean, there a bean, everywhere a bean…

Not too long ago I researched Navy beans for my Navy Bean & Ham soup. During that research I also found that navy beans, named that for the bean of choice of the U.S. Navy, are the main bean used in Boston Baked Beans. I have been making my BBQ Bean dinner for years using canned BUSH beans, but decided it was time to make true Boston Baked Beans my way. I found that most versions used salt pork, but I like the bacon too so I chose to use both. You could substitute if your prefer though. I also eliminated all mustard due to an allergy, but also because I prefer the sweeter version.Here is my version:

BOSTON BAKED BEAN DINNER

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 pound salt pork, cubed & browned

2 large Vidalia or Maui onion, chopped small

4 tablespoons liquid smoke

1 cup ketchup

1 cup molasses

3 cups packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cup vinegar

1 pound navy beans

  • Soak beans overnight.
  • Brown hamburger, drain and layer into the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Cube and brown the salt pork. Add to slow cooker.
  • Fry bacon until crisp. Crumble bacon into pieces. Add to slow cooker.
  • Chop onion into small pieces and scatter over the meat.
  • Add the beans to the slow cooker.
  • Scatter the brown sugar over top evenly.
  • Stir together the molasses, ketchup, vinegar, liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce. Pour evenly over everything in the slow cooker slow cooker.
  • Cook on low for 4-6 hours.
  • Serve with Beer Bread or Cheddar Cheese Biscuits.
  • Great dish for a church pot luck.

OLD FASHIONED BOSTON BAKED BEANS

1 pound Navy beans, washed and sorted

1/2 pound salt pork, diced small

1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped

1/4 cup ketchup

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/8 cup PURE maple syrup

1/4 cup molasses

  • Dice salt pork and layer on bottom of slow cooker.
  • Chop onion and scatter over salt pork pieces.
  • Wash and sort beans.
  • Place beans in slow cooker on top of salt pork.
  • Cover with 5 cups water.
  • Cook on low overnight for 12 hours.
  • Drain beans, reserving liquid.
  • Return beans to slow cooker.
  • Add vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, maple syrup and molasses and blend well. Add in 1/2 cup of bean water as desired for consistency.
  • Heat through.

FRESH INGREDIENTS

I grew up in a neighborhood where fresh ingredients and a local market were always just a stone’s throw away. Grams cooked by “feel” with all natural and fresh ingredients.  Eating dinner together every night was a mandatory ritual, was done around the kitchen table and even though we didn’t always get along real well, we ALWAYS came together over meals…. When I moved to a new area, food was all of a sudden associated with convenience; and markets were big mega-chains with the same staples you could find at any other market.  There was a HUGE gap between culture, community and food.

This is how I cook today – I’m always on the look out for a farmer’s market or mom and pop store that’s BIG on produce!

Tomato Soup with Chickpeas

It’s finally getting warm outside!  Yet, I can always enjoy a bowl of hot soup.  Seriously, it can be 90 degrees outside and I’d still love to eat this soup. 
I’ve made this a few times and it’s always so good. I always have the ingredients on hand and it’s a great soup to make in a pinch when you don’t know what else to cook!

Tomato Soup with Chickpeas Recipe
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (fresh would work too)
3-15 ounce cans of tomatoes (I used diced)
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper, to taste
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1. Warm the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, and add the garlic and rosemary. Cook for a minute or two, and then add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, a few grinds of pepper, roughly half of the chickpeas, and the stock. Bring to a boil over high heat; then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
2. Remove the soup from the heat to purée. If using an immersion blender, purée the soup directly in the pot. Otherwise, wait a few minutes, until the soup cools; then purée it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Add the remaining chickpeas, and warm the soup over medium heat.

STUFFED MEATBALLS & ROASTED VEGGIE SPAGHETTI SAUCE

STUFFED MEATBALLS
ROASTED VEGGIE SPAGHETTI SAUCE
  • I start with whatever vegetables I have in the vegetable bin. Today was Roma tomatoes, celery stalks, green onions and snap peas.
  • Then I drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper over it all and bake it for an hour at 400 degrees.
  • I started the sauce with a can of Contadina tomato paste, 1 teaspoon Better than Beef Bouillon paste, 2 cups orange juice and a V8. This truly was a clean out the fridge day.
  • When done roasting add the vegetables to the sauce and set to simmer all day. The vegetables will continue to cook down into a uniform consistency with the sauce. Salt & pepper taste.


For the meatballs:
1 pound hamburger
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
3 large slices sourdough bread, crumbled
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheeseAlign Center
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
1 bunch green onions, finely minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic, jar
mozzarella cheese, about 4 ounces, cut into 1 inch cubes

  • Crumble bread into a large bowl.
  • Toss in Parmesan cheese, parsley, green onions and garlic.
  • Add meat and with your hands mix extremely well until you have a uniform mixture.
  • Roll meatballs around a Parmesan cheese cube.
  • Chill Meatballs until sauce is done.
  • Just before the sauce is finished, brown meatballs.**
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and bring to a medium high simmer until meatballs are cooked though, about 20 minutes.
  • Prepare pasta and Parmesan Cheese Bread while meatballs are cooking.
  • Enjoy

**If you prefer you can add the meatballs directly to the sauce and SLOW simmer for a couple hours instead of browning.


Bean & Sausage Cassoulet

I’ve already made this twice.  It was that good. It’s on the higher side of calories per portion but it was super filling.  It was wonderful to have this is the refrigerator for lunches all week.

I don’t cook with sausage too often but I happened to have 2 packages of sausages.  Which is why I ended up making this twice.  I could probably drop the calories by adding chicken instead but the sausage was SOOOO good!  I also loved the slight tang from the red wine.  You could use beef broth but I encourage the red wine as it tasted wonderful!

Bean and Sausage Cassoulet Recipe

1 (15 oz) can of black beans
1 (15 oz) can of white beans
1 (15 oz) can of red kidney beans
1 lb. turkey sausage, diagonally sliced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 large onion, sliced into rings
1/2 cup dry red wine or beef broth
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 375. Mix all ingredients in an ungreased 3 qt. casserole dish. Cover and bake until carrots are tender, about 1 hour or until hot and bubbly. 

Total calories = 3320 calories
8 servings = 415 calories per serving

CRAB APPLE BOATS FOR THE BEACH PARTY

It’s beach party time at Seaside Simplicity. Time to grab your virtual beach towels and flip flops, and head on over to the beach!  You can follow me over.  This week I’m taking my CRAB APPLE BOATS.

CRAB APPLE BOATS
2 large cucumbers
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained really well
4 ounces flaked crab
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vinegar

  • Peel cucumbers.  Halve them and spoon out seeds.  Dry the insides.
  • In a bowl toss apple pieces with the well drained pineapple and then with the krab.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Fold into krab mixture.
  • Spoon into cucumbers and chill several hours before serving.

PARMESAN GLAZED TOMATOES

PARMESAN GLAZED TOMATOES
3 medium sized firm tomatoes
3+ tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
salt and pepper
flat leaf parsley, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spray pan with PURE.
  • Arrange tomatoes in a single layer.
  • In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  • Spread on tomatoes evenly.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake for 5 minutes.
  • Turn on broiler and brown tops.
  • Remove from oven and top with parsley.

CARROT CAKE PANCAKES & CREAM CHEESE SYRUP

I love carrot cake.  If you asked me what I wanted for my birthday cake I would say Carrot Cake!  So when we found this cute little diner, Babycakes Cafe, recently and they had carrot cake pancakes on the menu I had to give them a try.  And then I had to duplicate them.  YUMMY!!!!!!!!!

So I started with my basic pancake recipe and added lots of carrots and spices. Their cream cheese syrup at the restaurant was really more like a glaze, so I used maple syrup as my liquid ingredient to make an actual syrup and like it even better!

The carrot cake pancakes were easy to make and tasted great! And it is always nice to have dessert for breakfast!

CARROT CAKE PANCAKES & CREAM CHEESE SYRUP

1 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups buttermilk

2 JUMBO eggs

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup carrot (very finely grated)

4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)

4-6 tablespoons maple syrup (use enough for desired consistency)

powdered sugar to taste

crushed pecans or walnuts

  • Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg together in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together the milk, egg, sugar and carrot in another bowl.
  • Mix together the wet and dry ingredients making sure to not over mix them.
  • Heat a griddle and melt some butter on it to coat.
  • Pour 1/3-1/4 cup of the mixture onto the griddle for each pancake and heat until the surface starts to bubble and the bottom is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Flip the pancakes and cook the other side until the bottom is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Blend together the cream cheese and maple syrup and add  powdered sugar to get desired sweetness.
  • Pour the cream cheese onto the pancakes.
  • Sprinkle with crushed nuts.

MEXICAN LASAGNA~HEALTHY MEALS

This is a huge piece of lasagna. Enormous. I’m totally full. This recipes makes a LOT of food. It’s a great recipe to freeze individual portions for quick lunches or dinners. Packed with protein, this cheesy, tasty sauce is full of flavor but isn’t spicy at all. You do need a big baking pan for this, I think that I used an 11 x 17 in. pan. You probably could split it and use 1 – 9 x 13 pan and 1 – 8 x 8 pan and just freeze one. I might just do that next time.
MEXICAN LASAGNA
1 pound ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 red pepper, chopped
1 can of corn or frozen corn
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chil peppers
1 (8 ounce) jar taco sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can refried beans
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sour cream
12 – 8 inch, whole wheat tortillas, toasted
1 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the ground turkey for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the onion, peppers and garlic, and sauté for 5 more minutes. 
  • Drain any excess fat. 
  • Mix in the tomatoes, green chile peppers, tomatoes with green chile peppers, taco sauce, corn, black beans and refried beans. 
  • Stir mixture thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Spread a thin layer of the meat mixture in the bottom of a 11 x 17 pan. 
  • Cover with a layer of 3 tortillas followed by more meat mixture, then 1/2 of the sour cream. 
  • Repeat tortilla and meat layers, spreading sour cream on one more layer, until all the tortillas are used, topping off with a layer of meat mixture and cheese. I use 3 tortillas on each layer, 2 side by side and one cut in 1/2 spread over the open area. 
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is slightly brown and bubbly.

Total calories = 3789
8 huge servings = 473 calories per serving
12 servings = 316 calories per serving

QUINOA & BLACK BEAN COLD SALAD

I love the flavors of this salad. It’s no secret that I adore red wine vinegar. That paired with the lime, the cilantro, the onions, and finally the texture of the Quinoa, just gives this that “what is that flavor” feeling on your tongue. You can’t help but continuing to go back for more and more. It’s really that good.

It definitely has that south of the border appeal and would be great for a fiesta or any Mexican themed meal.  We ate this with some taco burgers and it was sensational!  This makes a lot but it stays in the refrigerator for a long time so you can enjoy the leftovers!

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Recipe
1 ¼ cup quinoa 
1 can (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 can of corn
1 red pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon splenda or sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water thoroughly. 
  • Put quinoa in a pot with 2 cups water. 
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. 
  • Fluff quinoa and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. 
  • In a small bowl, toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper. 
  • Add beans, corn, red pepper, green onions, garlic, cayenne and cilantro to the quinoa. Toss well. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, cumin, splenda and oil. 
  • Drizzle over salad and toss well with salt and pepper.
Total calories = 1770
12 – 1/2 cup servings = 148 calories per serving

Fire Day Friday: Vegetable Burritos

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, I made a recipe for vegetable burritos that came from a recipe pamphlet from RoTel. Okay, carbon dating and fossil records show it was actually just over 15 years ago.

We loved it back then and thought it was an impressive recipe. That was back when I was just learning to cook for Alexis and my new family. Tonight we dragged this one out of the archives and upgraded it to how we would have made it now compared to back then.

Fire Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Cilantro/Roasted Pepper Queso

Source: NibbleMeThis

1 cup long grain rice
2 ea vidalia spring onions (green onions if you can’t get them)
1 ea red bell pepper
1 ea poblano or cubanelle chile
1 ea cherry pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
1 ea serrano pepper, finely diced (skip if you want mild, double if you want hot)
1 cup refried beans
1 cup salsa
6 ea flour tortillas (mission sized burrito tortillas)
6 oz Mexican Dipping Cheese (We get El Viajero brand)
4 oz milk
1/4 cup cilantro

Start your grill to direct high heat at about 500f (skip if using your broiler and oven)

Cook your rice according to directions.

Grill the green onions just enough to get a slight browning on them (about 1 min a side). Fire roast or broil your peppers until blackened on all sides. The fire roasting brings out the best of the veggies.


Don’t be afraid that they are “too charred”. That makes them easier to peel and won’t affect the final flavor. This one wasn’t done enough yet, just to give you an idea.


Place the peppers in a plastic zip top bag, they’ll steam on their own for 5 minutes.

Cut the ends off each pepper and slice down the length of one side to open them up. Remove the seeds from the inside. Flip and lightly scrap the charred skin off with the sharp edge of a knife.

Dice the green onions.

As soon as the rice is finished, stir in the green onions, red bell pepper, and cubanelle/poblano pepper (reserve the cherry pepper for the cheese sauce). Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and the serrano pepper.

Taste the rice mixture for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Repeat for each tortilla:
Spread about 3 Tbsp of refried beans on the tortilla. Top with 1/2 cup of the rice mixture. Sprinkle more cheese and 3 Tbsp of salsa on top. Roll up burrito style and place seam side down in a casserole dish. (Click here for a photo tutorial of how I fold mine.) Top with a few sprinkles of more shredded cheese.

Place the dish in your oven preheated to 350f (or in our case, a grill set up at 350f for indirect heat) and cook for 25 minutes.

Cut the queso cheese into 1/2″ cubes and put into a small sauce pan. Add the milk, cilantro, and diced cherry pepper and warm until melted over medium/low heat.

Serve the burritos with the sauce poured over the top or on the side.

Don’t let the minimal amount in the picture fool you. As soon as the pictures were taken and my burrito was cut up, I ladled a good bit of that queso sauce all over my burrito!

In case you’re interested, here’s the original version. It’s a lot easier and still good.

Vegetable Burritos
Yields: 6

Ingredients
1 Pam non stick spray
1 can (12 oz) Rotel (Diced tomatoes/chilis)
1 cup instant rice
1/2 cup water
1 Green pepper
2 Green onions
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup refried beans
10 8″ tortillas
1 cup salsa
Black olives to taste

Instructions
preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x 12 x 2 baking dish w/ spray. In medium saucepan, combine Rotel, rice & water. Heat to boil, reduce heat, cover, & simer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in pepper, onions and 1 cup cheese. Spread 3 table spoons beans over each tortilla. Layer rice mixture over beens and sprinkle on more cheese & salsa. Roll up and place seam down in prepared baking dish. Cover w/ foil. Bake 25 minutes.

Indian Dal Masoor (Red lentils) for Cultural Connections


I believe this is the first Indian dish that I brought for Cultural Connections. Dals, daals, dahls or lentils, peas and beans are cooked practically daily in almost every Indian home, vegetarian or not. Each region has its own favorites and cooking methods. Indian dal is an easy comfort food for me. There are many good recipes, and it’s easy to find one that you will like. It is easy to find lentils in your grocery store in the ethnic section or where I get mine in our local natural foods store. Of course if you have an Indian store in your area, I’m sure you’ll find a large selection. I like to use masoor dal or red lentils because they cook quickly, you don’t have to soak them or use a pressure cooker. I like the texture when they are cooked as well.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups red lentils
6 cups water or broth or mix half/half (I used veg broth)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
4-cloves of garlic whole
1 Cinnamon stick whole
3 slices of ginger (peeled and sliced about 1/4″ thick)
1 bay leaf
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter, you can use butter or good olive oil)
1 pinch asafetida (I found this in an Asian market also called hing)
1/2 teaspoon cumin whole seeds
dash of Cayenne or I used several dried whole chili peppers to get the flavor without so much heat.(my family can’t take too much heat) I sprinkled a little whole celery seeds in there too and It added a nice touch, just a tad.

Rinse masoor dahl thoroughly, until water is clear. In pot saute the onions in small amount of butter until soft. Add seasonings and stir. Add the broth, dal and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer cook until thickens about 45min to 1 hour. Salt and pepper at the end before serving, some recipes heat whole mustard seed, cumin seed, and asafoetida in some ghee in small pan then drizzle on top before serving. Be sure you fish out the whole peppers, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic and pieces of ginger before you serve it or at least warn them. I brought this to work once and didn’t get all the chilies out and someone ate it. She didn’t let me hear the end of it. At least she knew me well.

Adjust the liquid the way you like it. I like mine a little more soupy. Some like it thicker. Top with fresh chopped cilantro and yogurt,(my daughter ate hers with sour cream) and serve with a nice bread. Here it is with my Olga’s Bread, and yes I see the chili pepper! You can serve it over rice too!
Perfect for these cold winter days! I wish I could sit by the fireplace to enjoy this!