Monday, August 25, 2014

Kahlua Baked Beans

Labor Day's coming.
Whatcha gonna make?
I'm sure someone is expecting you to waltz in with some sort of side dish for the end of Summer BBQ.  Here's an easy one to make ahead.

As you can see from my photo of the ingredients, I own an overly large bottle of Kahlua. 
Now, I like Kahlua as much as the next person, but frankly, I needed to find something else to make with it besides cocktails. 

This recipe from the Seattle Times site last year was the perfect one to try. Of course, I changed it up and frankly, simplified it a bit.

We served our beans with pulled pork sandwiches on pretzel slider rolls, spicy cole slaw and a fair amount of watermelon.  Enjoy yourselves.

 (Pyrex measuring cup shows coffee, but not pictured are the beans, onions and bacon...)

Makes 10-12 servings

1 pound dried beans (navy or pinto), rinsed and picked over
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut into pieces with scissors
     OR, use 1/2 lb bacon "ends and pieces" for more chunks
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 cup ketchup, or chili sauce
1/2 cup tomato-based barbecue sauce, preferably smoked
1/2 cup Kahlua liqueur
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup molasses
1-2 tsp Liquid Smoke
2 tablespoons Worcestershire
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Salt, as needed

Soak the beans overnight in lots of water to cover. Drain.
In a large pot, cover beans generously with fresh cold water. Set the pot over medium heat and bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring once or twice, for 1 hour or more, until the beans are very soft but still holding their shape. (The beans should not be salted at the initial cooking stage, as salt will toughen the beans.) Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the bean cooking liquid. 

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Combine the beans with 1/2 cup cooking liquid (keep the other cup for later, if needed), bacon, onions, ketchup, barbecue sauce, Kahlua, coffee, mustard, molasses, steak sauce, hot pepper sauce. Transfer to a heavy 4 1/2-5-quart nonreactive casserole or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid. Bake in a preheated 250-degree oven for about 4 hours, stirring every hour. If beans seem dry, add another 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid.

Remove the lid, stir the beans and continue baking, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir and continue baking another 30 minutes, until beans are very thick. Stir occasionally. 
(The beans can be cooled, covered and refrigerated; reheat the next day on a medium-low burner.)

Here's a photo after it cooked about 2 hours.

Here's my awesome new Lodge cast iron 5 qt. dutch oven!  Only $40 on Amazon!  The lid doubles as a fry pan, and it also fits my 10" cast iron fry pan.  Very cool.

Here's what I've been making:
One year ago: Almond Poppyseed Bread
Two years ago:  BLT Salad Sliders
Three years ago: Coconut Flan

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blackberry Lime Bars

I have a love/hate relationship with blackberries.
You too?
I believe it if you live in the Northwest.
They grow like weeds here.

Now's the season to go blackberry picking if you live around the Northwest of the US.
I have LOTS of good blackberry recipes....
Okay... maybe TWO.
Blackberry Raindrop Martini and this one. 

This recipe inspired by this one from the Improv Kitchen., originally from Sophistomom

Makes about 30-36 bars

9 Tbsp (1 stick + 1 T.) salted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups (heaping) fresh blackberries becomes 1 cup of pulp/juice
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup lime juice (about 4-5 juicy limes)
2 Tbsp lime zest (3-4 limes worth)
3 eggs
2/3 cup flour
Pinch of salt

powdered sugar for dusting on top

Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper so you can easily lift the bars out once they've cooled. You could do this in a round tart pan, or pie dish too and serve it in wedges for dessert.

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer, then add the vanilla. Add flour until just incorporated. Dump dough in baking pan and press with your hands until it evenly covers the bottom of the dish. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until slightly golden brown. 

Put fresh berries in a fine mesh sieve and press the berries through (this removes the seeds) into a large bowl.
NOTE-  If you're using frozen, thaw them, retaining all the juice, then smashing them through the sieve.

Here is the juice/pulp with lime

Add sugar, eggs, lime juice + zest, flour, and salt to the bowl and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust (don't worry, it's a very loose mixture, it will thicken) and bake for 25 - 30 minutes depending on your oven and the sized baking dish you use. 
Mine was firm and cooked through at 25 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature and then place in the refrigerator for 4 hours (or until they've cooled completely). You can place them in the freezer if you need them sooner but refrigerator is best. If you can wait overnight, that's even better! 

I chilled them overnight, then made vertical cuts, dissected with diagonal cuts to make nice diamond cut treats.

Here's what I've been making:
One year ago: Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti
Two years ago: Basil Sea Salt
Three years ago: Rocky Road Cheesecake Dessert Ball

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Easy & Delicious Marinara Sauce

I am sure you have tried a simple, sublime tasting red sauce in a restaurant and wondered how to make it so delicious at home.  

Remember the KISS principle?  
....Keep It Simple Stupid.
The funny part for me is that I have always over complicated my sauces by overdoing it.  Too many additions, too many spices, too much other stuff.  
My recommendation?  
Keep it simple.  

This sauce recipes makes quite a bit, but it is nice to have leftover yummy sauce for other things.  I stashed my extra sauce in the freezer for later, but, by all means, feel free to halve the recipe if you don't want extras.  I've even used it as a pizza sauce by cooking a small amount a bit more to reduce the liquid.

Originally posted with Stuffed Baked Shells with Easy Marinara Sauce

Sauce Ingredients

1/2 onion, minced or 2-3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp basil, fresh
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cans crushed tomatoes SIZE
Red pepper flakes, optional
Salt and Pepper, to taste

To make the sauce,  mince the onions, garlic and any fresh herbs you are using.  I find that a food processor makes short work of that!

Saute them over medium high heat in a couple tablespoons of olive oil for about 5-7 minutes, until they start to soften and turn translucent.  Add the cans of crushed tomatoes and the red pepper flakes (if using).  Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You may need to keep a lid on the sauce, and it tends to splatter as it is rather thick.  If wanted, you can add a little water to keep it at the consistency you want. 

Here's what I've been making:
One year ago: One Pan Pasta with Chicken & Hot Links
Two years ago: Singapore Fruits (a sort of travel post)
Three years ago: Pork Adobo

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Chocolate Scones

I made this scone recipe to go with my chocolate raspberry jam.
We're were off to the lake for a weekend with friends and I wanted to bring something to bake for breakfast.  I pre-assembled all the dry ingredients in a ziploc bag and mixed them in the morning with the cream, vanilla and butter.

Pretty rich and delicious, however next time I think I will make two small discs, cutting each into 8's, getting 16 petite scones.  These were a lot of sweetness in the morning.
Makes 8 wedge-shaped scones.
Chocolate Scones Recipe:

2/3 cup cream or milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips (that's my addition)

Chocolate Scones: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl whisk together the cream or milk, egg, and vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips (I used mini!). Add the cream mixture and stir just until the dough comes together (add more cream and/or flour as necessary).
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times. Shape the dough into a 7 inch (18 cm) round and cut into eight wedges. Brush excess flour from the bottom of the scones, and place on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with a little cream or milk.
Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until they are firm around the edges but a bit soft in the center. A toothpick inserted into the center of a scone will come out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Can serve with chocolate raspberry jam, clotted cream or softly whipped cream.

Chocolate Raspberry Jam

It's hard to categorize this stuff...
Is it Jam? (on Chocolate Scone)
Or is it Sauce?
Maybe it could be Cake Filling?
Maybe it's all THREE.

I saw this first on Pinterest. 
First thought?  Chocolate (???) Raspberry Jam?
How could that be?
I had to try it.
I even went and bought $20 worth of frozen raspberries so I could try it ASAP.
I made this before raspberry season was here, so I was happy to take the shortcut.
My advice?
Use what ya got.
You lucky enough to have fresh?  Use them.

Here's the original recipe, but I did change it. 
I used bittersweet chocolate that I had, instead of buying unsweetened chocolate, plus I used less sugar. My jam may be a bit softer, but it's very, very nice on ice cream, between a couple layers of chocolate cake before icing, or on Chocolate scones.

Makes about 8- 8 oz jars

8 cups frozen raspberries , crushed or 7 pints fresh raspberries
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, cut up
4 cups granulated sugar
1 pkg pectin

Crush berries thoroughly. If using frozen berries, use both liquid and solids; they were all part of the original fresh berry. 

Make sure your canning equipment is scrupulously clean, and place 7 pint or half-pint jars on a rack in a boiling water canner. Fill the canner with water, adding a shot of vinegar to prevent mineral buildup, and bring to a boil while you prepare the jam. Allow it to boil for 10 minutes to sterilize jars, then turn down the heat to keep the jars hot. Remember to keep a kettle of hot water handy, and a saucepan of boiling water for your lids and rings.

Measure 6 cups of crushed fruit into a 6-8 quart heavy nonreactive stockpot. Break the chocolate squares into smaller pieces and add them to the pan. Add sugar and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly because scorched chocolate tastes yucky. Stir in liquid pectin. Bring quickly to a full rolling boil. Boil for EXACTLY 1 MINUTE, stirring constantly.

Remove pan from heat. Skim off any foam and ladle the jam into hot sterilized pint or half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Remove the jars to a towel/newspaper lined surface, invert for 10 minutes, and allow to cool. Label the jars and store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

You will find that it may take 1-2 weeks to thicken up as mine did.  I was going to redo this as I thought it was too thin, but left it alone and was quite happy with the thickness, and of course, the taste!!! 

Jams, Jellies & Pickles
Chipotle Nectarine Jam
Chocolate raspberry jam
Drunken Fig Jam
Honey and Lemon Jelly 
Pepper, Peach & Rosemary Jam
Strawberry Jam (No Pectin)
Strawberry Habanero Jam
Tomato Jalapeno Jelly