Sunday, June 26, 2022

Joey's Applesauce Baked Beans


 I was recently gifted several pounds of dry beans. Now, if you've read my blog in the past, you know I love a good batch of baked beans, so I figured I'd take all of these beans, soak them overnight, then put up pints of pork and beans using my pressure canner. Perfect! They'll be a welcome addition to my "wall of jars", which proudly displays all of my canning and preserving endeavors.
  My goal was to come up with 20 pints of beans because that's how many jars I can fit in my pressure canner. Great. I soaked them, boiled them, made a fabulous sauce, got all of my canning supplies ready, and then filled up all the jars. They turned out perfectly!!! The only problem was, after I filled my 20 jars, I still had an entire bowl of beans leftover. Well? I guess I'm coming up with another recipe for scratch made baked beans!!
 Usually, when I make my famous baked beans, I just use canned baked beans and then zhuzh them up with bacon and onions and other flavorings. But this time, since I already had the beans all soaked and boiled and ready, I figured why not try something different?
  Then I remembered a BBQ sauce recipe that uses applesauce and molasses as a base, in addition to some of the more usual baked beans ingredients. I thought "how can this not be good?" So I went with it. 
It turned out SO good, I think this is now my go-to recipe when it comes to baked beans from scratch!!
 It's sweet, it's savory, it's tangy, it's rich, it's deep, it's complex, and it all works perfectly well together!!! Btw, the applesauce really does come through and it gives it a light fresh flavor. It was exactly what I wanted!
 So, if you have the time to do your baked beans from scratch, give this recipe a try. I promise you'll love it!!! You're guests will too! Just be careful... if you bring it to a friend's BBQ event, they might ask you to bring it every year!!
1 pound dried navy beans
8 ounces thick cut bacon , diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup plain applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs prepared mustard
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

In a large pot, cover your beans with cold water. Soak the beans over night, up to 24 hours. Drain.
Cover with fresh water and boil for 30 minutes or until beans are tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, in a large pan, saute the bacon and onions. Drain excess bacon fat, if needed.
Add remaining sauce ingredients. Stir well. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings, if needed. 
Add drained beans. Gently toss to coat beans in sauce. Do this in a large mixing bowl if you need to.
Place all in a large casserole dish or cast iron pan. Top with more bacon, if desired.
Bake uncovered at 350ºF for 45 minutes.

If you prefer a different kind of bean, go for it! Pinto beans, Great Northern beans, any kind will work. Just know that different beans absorb differently. Some beans are VERY thirsty and will drink up everything from your soaking liquid to your boiling liquid to your final sauce. Be sure your beans are good and saucey when you put them into the oven to bake. No one likes dry baked beans!
Btw, when I  made the sauce, I didn't really measure anything. The amounts are really just a guess, all added to taste. If you'd like it sweeter, add more brown sugar. If you'd like it to be a little more tangy, add more cider vinegar. If it's too sweet, add a little more Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Adjust it to how YOU like it!
And one last tip... If you're cooking for a BBQ, you can make them in advance, and then just reheat them for your event. A good way to do this is in your slow cooker. Another big tip is to make enough sauce to reserve a little extra on the side, just in case the beans get too dry.. you can add a little more sauce and they'll be perfect!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Fresh Cod with Tomatoes and Thyme

   Now that the weather is warmer, I tend to crave lighter fresher meals. You know, maybe something with fresh herbs (that I now having growing in pots on my patio) or maybe seafood or fresh produce. So I decided to do some browsing, and I found this recipe on a site called BBC Good Food. It looked so light and easy, I thought "ok, this one looks like it has potential", so I went with it. 
Well, lemme just tell you.. as my Dad used to say "Holy jump up and sit back down!" This is absolutely one of the most delicious recipes I've made in quite a long time. I loved it so much that the day after I made it, I went back to the store to buy more fish so I could make it again. I'm not even kidding when I tell you I couldn't stop eating it. And it was right then and there that I decided to feature this recipe in my menu for my next dinner party. 
 Not only is it absolutely delish, but it's also a snap to throw together. It's literally the perfect summer meal because it's ready in less than 30 minutes, and you don't even need to turn on the oven. Side note, I think this might also be the perfect meal to make for someone who's a little unsure when it comes to eating a fillet of fish. Buy it fresh the day you'll be serving it, and there's nothing "fishy" about it!
  And if you think buying fresh fish fillets is too expensive, just remember it's still cheaper than ordering a large pizza! I really REALLY hope you'll give this one a try!!!
1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
15oz can crushed tomatoes
1 heaped tbs brown sugar
A few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
1 tbs soy sauce
4 cod fillets, or another white flaky fish, such as pollock
Heat oil in a large frying pan, add onion, then saute for 5-8 mins until lightly browned. Stir in tomatoes, brown sugar,  soy sauce, and the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer.  Simmer for 5 mins, then nestle the cod fillets down into the sauce. Cover and gently cook for 8-10 mins until the cod flakes easily. Serve with baked or steamed potatoes, or your favorite rice.
Ok, full disclosure, I've made this recipe easily a half dozen times, and I never ever measure anything. I'm sure the amounts are close, but seriously, they're just guidelines. I just add a splash of this and a big pinch of that. It always works. Also, I never bother to strip the leaves from the sprigs of thyme. I just throw the entire sprigs in. And then when it's done, I just take them out. Simple!
And speaking of adding a splash, Try this little addition........before you add the fillets into the sauce, add a splash of white wine to the sauce and give it a good stir. It's FABULOUS. Just a few glugs is all you need. I like to add a few glugs of wine when I cook rice too. It just elevates the flavor! Of course, it's not needed, but I love it. 
I keep saying I'm gonna try this recipe with chicken, but it never seems to happen. One of these days! 
Btw, I did make it for my next dinner party, and there was literally nothing left! Swoosh! Gone. I guess everyone liked it!!