Better Baked Beans

With back to back weekly snowstorms you can cook or clean. The former is more fun. Plus the latest 8-10 inches gave me a chance (an excuse?) to go through my recipe file.

The root beer in the recipe caught my eye first, THEN I remembered its author, and my friend, Rick Rodgers gave it to me personally. I'm sure it was intended for a summer shindig. But frankly, a hot bean dish in summer? I don't get it. (Click here for the recipe)

This is neither vegan nor vegetarian, but the snow went to my head and I made it on meat free Monday. Primarily pantry ingredients and a quick cook time make it a winner.

I halved the ingredients and added a pinch of cayenne. I wouldn't hesitate to big batch it for a party, or the freezer, although that will break down the beans further.

Eat – B

 

Getting Closer Carrots

A couple of years ago, my radio producer and I ate the best roasted carrots ever from The Little Owl – cooked with olive oil, almost black in color, we couldn't stop talking about them.

Since then (actually before), I've been working on my glazed carrot technique (don't laugh). And while this recipe can't compare, it was damn good. As an added bonus – my non-carrot eating youngest, claims these were the carrots he likes. **Note: Not knowing his newfound affinity to carrots, I made a small batch. Feel free to double down. I may for après thanksgiving.

Ingredients

1/2 pound carrots, peeled & chunked (or whittled carrots)

Nub of unsalted butter (tablespoon-ish)

Tablespoon-ish of light brown sugar

A few sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 pinches dried

Salt & pepper if desired

Use pan wide enough for carrots to spread across the bottom. Add enough water to just below covering carrots. Add butter & thyme. Cover, bring to a boil, then lower heat to small bubble away. Crack the lid after a few minutes to evaporate the water.

The goal is to get water to evaporate while cooking carrots through – play with heat and lid, you can always add more water (slim carrots cooked through in about 10 minutes). Add sugar and let dissolve over medium or lower heat – let most moisture disappear and allow carrots to caramelize. Sugar can bubble a little. Toss about to prevent burning sugar. Serve when desired color is reached. Remove any thyme stems.

Eat – B

 

Mixed Grill

Yes it was meat free Monday. No, I did not feel like going to the store. So we're going to consider this something like an Arnold Palmer, 1/2 lemonade and half iced tea. Except in this case it's a half vegan mixed grill (the other half is chicken).

Skinless boneless chicken can take on flavor in 30 minutes on the counter. I like to pound it thinner, which reduces cooking time and raises the chances of juicy chicken. I'm still working over charcoal. My best advice is don't rush the coals. Drink some wine if you must, in fact drink regardless.

The grilled veggies just have olive oil, but a big boost of flavor as well from a quick basil dressing.

Chicken marinade

1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken, your choice

Juice from a lemon

Whatever fresh herbs you have in whatever amount you want, chopped (thyme and oregano are great choices)

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil (or less)

2 big pinches of salt

Some grates of pepper

Marinate 1/2 hour countertop, or several hours in the fridge. If refrigerated, let come to room temp 15-20 minutes. Cook over coals or medium heat on the gas grill, flipped when edges turn opaque. Squeeze extra lemon.

Basil dressing

Large handful washed basil, no stems. Several pinches of salt and several grates of pepper. One garlic clove. Enough olive oil to make pourable dressing (about 1/3 of a cup). Blend in food processor. Add grated Italian cheese if you want.

Great on grilled veggies, bread, fish or chicken.

 

A Mostly Meat Free Monday

Let’s preface this by saying, I really did not feel like cooking tonight. I didn’t want to make the planned stir fry. I didn’t want to celebrate meatless Monday. I didn’t want to leave the sofa or the bodice ripper that got delivered to the office among the cookbooks.

That said, I got up and did it anyway. I skipped the prep and chop of stir fry, going Mexican instead. Lighter chicken enchiladas are a fam fave. I borrowed the sauce from Martha Stewart, but made veggie stuffed corn tortillas all on my own. This sauce uses chicken stock. Meat free sticklers feel free to use vegetable stock.
Don’t tell anyone south of the border, but I used last night’s leftover rice pilaf as a base. I sliced and sautéed another giant onion, a bell pepper, and let a few handfuls of spinach steam with the whole kit and caboodle. Salt & pepper to taste. Use a little sauce to bind the filling. Wrap 8 corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and zap in the microwave for 30-ish seconds. Stuff the tortillas, lay in an 8 inch casserole with more sauce top and bottom, and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven until bubbly.

Dig in, B