Sunday, March 11, 2018

Easy Baked Beans with Bacon

As a veteran public-school teacher, baked beans, with-or-without hot dogs, was a cafeteria staple. I never tired of them tucked away in their safe, tiny, geometric plastic compartment on the lunch tray. Remember?

Even today, I confess, I often snatch cheap, one-dollar cans of "weenie beenies" from the supermarket shelf to store in my pantry for a quick snack or lunch. I just pop open the lid and eat them cold right out of the can along with a piece of buttered white bread.  We are talking a meal fit for a hobo king!

Baked beans are the quinntesstial cornerstone of American simple fare. Think picnics! Pot-luck dinners! Church socials! What is a holiday baked-ham dinner without baked beans?

One "can" of course, prepare baked beans from scratch. It's a lot of labor. And time.

But, when I saw this particular recipe, I was intrigued. It is from a website I very much enjoy, Its hostess is Phyllis Stokes who hails from South Carolina. I recommend you visit sometimes. Here is the video link for her baked beans:

I mostly stuck to the basic "structure" of her recipe. My changes were to add bacon, a jalapeno pepper, a can of cannellini beans for a bit more "bite." Instead of regular pork and beans, I used Bush's which has a thicker sauce. If you don't use the jalapeno, I do recommend a few dashes of hot sauce just for a bit of heat in the background, like Phyllis suggests.

These were excellent! Thanks, Phyllis!

  • 1, 28-ounce can Original Bush's Beans ... Seasoned with Bacon and Brown Sugar
  • 1, 14.5-ounce can Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 slices smoked bacon
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno (optional) seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2-3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1-2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Slice the bacon horizontally down the center, then cut/chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Fry the bacon over medium heat in a medium saucepan just until it begins to turn brown. You do not want it crisp. Remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towel. Leave the drippings in the pan.

To the drippings, add the chopped red onion, chopped bell pepper and, if using, the minced jalapeno. When softened, about ten minutes, add the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Pour in the beans, ketchup, yellow mustard, molasses and Worcestershire. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If too sweet, add a splash of apple-cider vinegar. Not enough heat? A few shakes of your favorite hot sauce ... I use Tobasco.

Pour mixture into an 11 x 7-inch oven-safe dish or equivalent. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes.

Great on its own ... OR ... split a hot biscuit in half ... ladle bean mixture on top with a side of hot dogs.

Friday, December 22, 2017


As old as I am ... My mantra is still the same as long as I have lived ... Make something out of nothing. NO THING!  Create! Say YES! Every student I have ever taught ... you are NO THING. Your are YES. You are SOMEONE! Amaze yourself ...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Kielbasa Soup with Potatoes, Cabbbage and Sauerkraut

Don't forget the spoonful of sour cream!

Not to be morbid, but, if I had the opportune chance to choose the month I would die, it would be my all-time favorite: November. It is what I call an "in-between" month, the transition from one season into another: autumn into winter. In the North, leaves have dropped. In the upper South, they are still sticking around, some with color. The common denominators are  the beautiful, low slant of the sun's rays with long, long shadows. And, on mostly-wonderful, gray, damp and sun-less days, no shadows at all. The latter are my favorite. With a bit of fog thrown in. On such days, Nature whispers. It nudges one with cello notes toward warmth: flannel and fleece ... the first fire stoked in the fireplace ... And long-simmered, earthy soups.

Enter this soup with savory sausage flavors and earthy root veggies. Smoky paprika. Caraway ... that patchouli of seedy spices. Honestly, I absolutely loved this soup. With it, I split artisan Kaiser rolls spread with a homemade, Amish butter. Need I say more?

In fact, yes, it is to die for! Enjoy.


First, some notes: 

Do not omit the sauerkraut, even if you think you dislike it. You will not be using a lot. Be sure to squeeze out the juice and, if strong-tasting, give it a slight rinse under cold water before the squeeze.  I really like Snow Floss fresh kraut in the plastic bag. Fresh kraut is usually found with sausages in the meat department.

Second: Use a good Kielbasa. I am fortunate enough to have access to a locally-made sausage that tastes like the real deal. Boar's Head also makes a great stand-by.

Use the smallest new potatoes you can find. Mine were less that 1.5 inches. If large, simply slice into chunks. 

Caraway seed and cabbage is a perfect marriage. Don't admit.

If not using fat back, you could use a bit of bacon, or neither; instead, just use a bit of olive oil to brown/sweat the onions/sausage mixture.

I use Campbell's chicken stock and beef broth. Of course, homemade is even better.

  • 1.5 - 2 lbs. smoked, artisan Kielbasa, sliced into rings and some into quarters
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced, and the rings cut into half-moons/quarters
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon spicy smoked paprika (do not omit)
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, slightly crushed (do not omit)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup sliced fresh carrots, preferably the kind with green tops attached
  • 3/4 - 1 cup teeny-tiny baby red/yellow new potatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 +  cup fresh sauerkraut, slightly squeezed to get rid of excess juice (do not omit)
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
  • 1, 10-3/4 ounce can chicken stock
  • 1, 10-3/4 ounce can beef broth
  • 3, 10-3/4 ounce cans of water
  • 3-4 slices fat-back, rinsed (optional)
  • Sour cream for garnish

In a 2-3 quart stock pot (mine has an 8-inch diameter) over medium heat, add the fatback/bacon and cook until it begins to render fat. You are not cooking it to the crispy stage. Add sausage and onion. Stir for several minutes just until the sausage begins to show some brown. Add sliced garlic, paprika, caraway.  Stir until fragrant. Add carrots and potatoes. Coat with seasoning mixture. Add chicken stock, beef broth and water. Bring to a simmer. Add cabbage and sauerkraut. Mix. Add salt and pepper. Taste and re-season if necessary. Cover. Bring to a slow boil then reduce heat to just a simmer and cook for about 1 hour or more until cabbage is tender. Serve with a dark rye bread and, if desired, garnish with sour cream.