Friday, June 29, 2012

Miffy's Baked Beans

This large casserole dish was maybe two-thirds of the batch.
This particular batch didn't use beer, however, it tastes
even better with the beer.
When my mother-in-law told me that she had made baked beans from scratch, Meredith and I were excited to try it. We were equally disappointed to find that they were already gone.

Fortunately, it didn't take much pleading for her to make a batch for us. The beans arrived - slow cooker and all - and there was much more than expected. But we didn't complain - more for us. We're big fans. Sausage and beans, potatoes and beans, beans on toast, beans and Kraft Dinner. Not that we usually eat these meals consecutively.

I've never made baked beans from scratch myself. My slow cooker just isn't big enough, and the bowl doesn't remove for easy cleaning. Still, I was very reluctant to part with it because it was a gift from my (now deceased) grandparents.

A couple months later, I stumbled upon a large slow cooker for $10 at a garage sale and I I finally got the recipe from my mother-in-law (the beans pictured in the photo are hers).

The recipe is mostly based on a Chatelaine recipe. I read the reviews and they were mixed. I suspect that several readers cooked the beans on high and quickly dissolved most of the liquid in the cooker. Unfortunate for them, but great for me. The beans we feasted upon tasted great.

Miffy's Baked Beans

1 onion, finely chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red-chili flakes
2 cups dry navy beans, rinsed
3 1/3 cups water or 2 cups water + 1 bottle of beer

  1. Combine onion with bacon, molasses, ketchup, Dijon, salt and chili flakes in the slow cooker and stir gently until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Stir in beans, water (and beer) until combined.
  3. Cover and cook on low until beans are tender, about 10 hours.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Yogurt Cereal Bars

Meredith was looking for something relatively healthy to give Jeremy as a snack - preferably something not terribly messy. We're still working on it, but these yogurt bars still hit the spot.

Meredith first attempt used oats the first time and although they tasted great, it was more of a falling-apart crumble. And Jeremy found them a little dry. He stuck his tongue out until the bits fell back onto the plate. Whoops.

The second attempt, using corn flakes (more along the lines of the recipe our friend gave us), turned out much better. The cut nicely into bars and held together. Jeremy loved them - the most important part.

Yogurt Cereal Bars

2 cups corn flakes
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 cup butter
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tbsp flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. Combine corn flakes, flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Cut in butter until coarse crumbs form.
  4. Press half of the mixture firmly into the bottom of a greased 8-inch square pan.
  5. Mix yogurt, egg and 2 tbsp flour in another small bowl.
  6. Spread yogurt mixture over cereal mixture in pan and then sprinkle the remaining cereal mixture on top.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Let cool and cut into bars.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Soft Pretzels

It's Secret Recipe Club time again, and June's assignment is Karen Cooks. Karen blogs from Montana and has all sorts of great recipes that we'd love to try, including chicken marsala, grilled pineapple guacamole, venison stew, and a really tasty looking cheesecake.

After reviewing Karen's recipe index, I knew exactly what we were going to make right away. Soft pretzels. We'd conquered bagels in a previous month, and it was time for the next baking challenge.

We only changed a couple of things out of necessity: we ran out of white flour, so we substituted in 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, and, and instead of Kosher salt, we substituted some lime-infused sea salt were were given as a gift for such a special occasion.

Forming the pretzels was fun as well. Our eldest son used the pretzels as an opportunity to shape them into numbers.

These pretzels are best served immediately and don't fare well as next-day offerings. That wasn't a problem for us - they were gone by the end of the evening.

Soft Pretzels

2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
3/4 to 1 cup warm water

1 cup warm water
4 tbsp baking soda
sea salt
3 tbsp butter, melted
  1. Prepare the topping (soda wash): in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water and 4 tbsp baking soda and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve baking soda and let cool.
  2. Start the dough: place all ingredients for the dough in a stand-mixer bowl using a paddle attachment and mix on low. When a ball starts to form, switch to a dough hook and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is soft and smooth and no longer sticky.
  3. Put dough into a greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 500-degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick lining.
  5. Transfer dough to a pastry mat and divide into 8 pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Roll each piece of dough into a long rope and shape into a pretzel (or numbers as we did). Dip each pretzel into the soda wash and place onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, cover in plastic and let rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes, until the pretzels are a golden brown (note: keep a close eye on them - ours were slightly over-done).
  8. After baking, immediately brush with melted butter and serve.
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Friday, June 8, 2012

Cincinnati-style Buffalo Chicken Chili

Yes, another chili recipe. This one is mostly from scratch, tho. Inspired by a combination of different recipe concepts and what I happened to have available.

My original plan was to make buffalo chicken chili. However, we didn't have any bleu cheese. Not completely foiled, cheddar would still do. I also didn't have a proper wing sauce, so I used hot pepper sauce and compensated by frying the vegetables in butter instead of oil.

Then the issue of what to serve with it arose. We've had a lot of rice lately, so I suggested pasta. Of course, chili served on pasta and topped with cheese is really Cincinnati-style, so suddenly Cincinnati and Buffalo had to hash it out.

I thought the sauce turned out a little thin, however, I opted to not add any tomato paste. I also thought that the chili needed more spice. I added additional sauce when I served it. It could simply be because of the sauce I used. I'll leave it up to your own personal tastes.

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Cincinnati-style Buffalo Chicken Chili
Cincinnati chili is served on pasta and topped with lots of cheese. It's a great alternative to tortilla chips.
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 kilo ground chicken
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can mixed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (or more, to taste)
  • to taste salt and pepper
  • 4 servings spaghetti, prepared according to package directions
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (we were out of bleu cheese :-(
1. brown the ground chicken, garlic, paprika, oregano and cumin in 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat, using a potato masher to evenly break up the pieces.Set chicken aside.2. Heat on medium and add onions, celery and carrots. Let simmer until tender (10 minutes).3. Transfer the chicken back into the pan and add the tomatoes, beans, and hot sauce and bring to a boil.4. Reduce heat to medium-high and let simmer for 30 minutes to reduce the liquid.Serve on top of pasta, topped with cheese.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Muffin Tin Dinner Rolls

Clearly, Meredith was inspired by The Muffin Tin Cookbook, by Brette Sember. She decided to adapt a recipe for muffin tins on her own when we were going to a family dinner. Not wanting to bring another dessert, she tried a bread recipe instead.

Much of the recipe is based on the Better Homes and Gardens dinner rolls recipe, however, these rolls are much bigger. The original recipe quoted 24-36 rolls, while Meredith's recipe resulted in sixteen rolls.

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Muffin Tin Dinner Rolls
Much of the recipe is based on the Better Homes and Gardens dinner rolls recipe, however, these rolls are much bigger. The original recipe quoted 24-36 rolls, while Meredith's recipe resulted in sixteen rolls.
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
1. Combine yeast with 1/4 cup warm water and 1 tsp sugar, mix and let sit for 10 minutes.2. In a small saucepan on medium heat, stir together milk, sugar, shortening, and salt until warm (120-130 degrees Fahrenheit) and the butter is almost melted.3. Using a standing mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups flour and yeast and continue to mix. Using the low setting, slowly add the milk mixture and let combine for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl.4. Increase speed to medium and slowly add the remaining flour. Continue to beat for three minutes.5. Remove dough from mixer and shape into a ball. Rub dough with 1 tsp oil, place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise for one hour.6. After dough has risen, grease enough muffin tins for sixteen items.7. Divide dough in half. Divide each half again three more times until you have sixteen pieces. Roll each piece on a lightly floured surface and place into the greased muffin tins. Cover, and let rise for an additional 30 minutes.8. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375-degrees.9. Brush rolls with egg wash using a pastry brush and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from tins and let cool on wire racks.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 16 rolls

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