Easy Cowboy Beans

I was grilling up some St. Louis style ribs and needed a side dish. I first considered baked beans but no joy in my pantry. I then thought of another style of beans I could make instead – Cowboy Beans.

I didn’t have any dried pinto beans in the house, so I modified my recipe for Frijoles Charros (AKA Cowboy Beans) to use what I had in the pantry – canned pinto beans and tomatoes, dried herbs and some leftover ham. This is a terrific change to the usual baked beans – a little spicy with the onion, tomato and ham giving the broth depth. They go really well with ribs or carne asada.

Easy Cowboy Beans

2 slices of ham, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chipotle powder, depending on preferred heat level
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (don’t throw out the can)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, fry up the ham. Once cooked, add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the saucepan and sauté the onions for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened and golden. Stir in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant about 3 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and cook until they start to break down, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on the seasonings and stir until combined and fragrant. Add in the beans and fill the bean can with water and stir that in, too.

Transfer to an oven safe casserole. Cook uncovered in a 350 degree F oven for an hour or until some of the liquid has been absorbed. I like mine to be a bit soupy but, if you want less liquid, stir and cook 15 minutes more.

Taste for seasonings and serve.

I take any leftovers and put them in the blender to make a bean puree that I then use as a replacement for refried beans with quesadillas or fajitas (or sometimes just eat with tortillas or chips as a dip).

 

Yummy!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

I spent the afternoon at the Fairgrounds Race Course New Orleans, where my quasi cousin, Nancy, had a horse racing. Here is a picture of He’s Dann Good (number 6) going full out but too far back to be in the money.

Unfortunately, none of my horses won, placed or showed. As it was a bit windy, I went home needing to warm up with some comfort food. For me, that means lots of melty cheese. I made a stovetop version of mac & cheese that is very creamy and delicious.

I recommend going to the deli section of your grocery store to get a block of white American cheese. It gives the perfect texture to the dish. For the rest of the cheese, I went with Gouda to bring it up to a pound of cheese but cheddar is equally delicious.

For me, this is a main course that serves three to four. If you’re using this as a side dish, you can serve at least six.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

2 large eggs
1 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/2 lb elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
10 ounce block American cheese, grated
6 ounces Gouda or sharp cheddar, grated

Whisk together in a small bowl the eggs, 1 cup milk, hot sauce, salt, black pepper and mustard mix. Set side.

In a large pot, place 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add in the elbow macaroni and a generous pinch of salt and cook until tender but still firm, about 9 minutes. Drain and return to the pot.

Toss the butter in the pot with the macaroni and melt over low heat. Add the egg mixture and stir constantly for 3 minutes or until it has thickened slightly.

By the handfuls, add 3/4’s of the cheese and stir until melted, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining milk and cheese and cook, stirring constantly for 5 to 10 minutes. Mac and Cheese should be smooth and creamy.

Serve immediately.

Reheat over the gentle heat of a double boiler.

Update – I made this with half American and half Provolone cheese and it was awesome! 12/28/2018

Creamed Corn without the cream

As much as it might surprise regular readers of my food blog, I don’t always have cream in the house. I do have whole milk, though, so I was able to do a cheat on one of my corn recipes.

Using corn that Michelle cut off the cob and frozen in pint bags, I made some delicious creamed corn. It was thick and rich and no one missed the cream.

Creamed Corn

2 cups corn off the cob (2 cans)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a medium skillet, combine corn, butter and 1/2 cup milk. Place over medium heat. Add the flour to the remaining 1/2 milk and whisk to combine. Pour flour mixture into the corn and stir well. Add in the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, making sure to scrape the bottom so the milk doesn’t burn.

After about 10 minutes, the mixture will have thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve.

Wilted Spinach Salad Dressing

I know, I know! I’m doing a salad post. Trust me, when you see what is in it, you’ll enjoy it, too. And, if it helps, I served this with a medium rare ribeye steak.

This recipe covers enough spinach for 4 salad eaters, so I would double it if serving more.

Wilted Spinach Salad Dressing

1 teaspoons bacon grease
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Heat together in a small saucepan and pour over salad right before tossing and serving.

For the salad itself – baby spinach leaves, 2 slices of bacon (chopped), 2 green onions (sliced), 1 hard boiled egg (chopped), 1 cup mushrooms (sliced) and 1/4 cup pecans (chopped).

Sweet Corn Latkes AKA Corn Fritters

We had a shrimp boil last night and, since corn goes well with shrimp, we decided to make corn fritters to go with the sea’s bounty. What resulted was closer to corn latkes or savory corn pancakes but they were super corny and delicious.

If you don’t have fresh corn, use frozen kernels.

Corn Fritters AKA Corn Latkes

4 ears fresh corn (about 2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch cayenne pepper

½ cup vegetable oil, or more as needed.

Using a sharp knife, cut ears of corn lengthwise through the kernels to remove them from the cob. Using the back of a knife, scrape any pulp and corn milk from cobs into the bowl.

Divide corn in half and run one of the halves through the blender to puree.  Mix all the corn back together in a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal, egg, flour, milk, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop 6 tablespoons of batter into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fritters to a plate lined with paper towels. If necessary, add more oil to skillet and heat until shimmering then fry remaining batter. Serve fritters immediately.

Mushroom Risotto in an Electric Pressure Cooker

Michelle took advantage of Amazon’s Prime Day and bought a Crock Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker. We took it for a spin last night and made risotto in less than 30 minutes, with only a few minutes of stirring time!

Lucious and creamy, this risotto went perfectly with roast chicken and zucchini.

Mushroom Risotto in an Electric Pressure Cooker

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons dry white wine
4 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
1 whole sprig of rosemary and one sprig with leaves removed and chopped fine

In a 6-quart pressure cooker, melt 2 butter in sauté mode. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add rice and toast, stirring, to fully coat the rice grains in fat. Add wine and cook until just evaporated. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth; season with salt and pepper and the whole sprig of rosemary.

Secure lid. Set to risotto/rice setting or bring to high pressure. Maintain pressure and cook until rice is tender, 9 to 12 minutes.

While the rice cooks, sauté the mushrooms with a little butter to let them release their juices. Set aside.

Turn off pressure cooker, vent pressure and then remove lid. Stir in mushrooms with remaining 1 cup broth. Turn to sauté function and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until remaining liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese. Stir in the chopped rosemary and serve immediately.

Truffled Fries

There is something deeply satisfying about elevating a common dish with a couple of uncommon ingredients. Potatoes are an awesome palate to work from, especially when you’ve got a bottle of truffle oil and some parmesan cheese just waiting to be used.

The fries come out crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a flavor profile reminiscent of a top quality bistro or steakhouse.

Truffled Fries


2 russet potatoes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon truffle oil
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Scrub and then slice potatoes into wedges. Place in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the spices. Coat the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with spice mix. Toss again to coat completely.

Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fries over. Return to oven and cook 15 minutes more or until cooked through.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Toss with the truffle oil and parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Creamy Red Potato Salad

Red skinned potatoes, when boiled come out creamy. That makes them ideal for potato salad. I like to mash the egg yolks with a fork before stirring into the sauce ingredients to push up the creaminess up even further. Make sure to salt the potato water and add the seasoned sauce to the still warm potatoes to ensure the deepest flavor.

Creamy Red Potato Salad

2 1/2 lbs red potatoes
3 eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine or cane vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
5 strips bacon, cooked and chopped into pieces
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish (or one dill pickle, chopped fine)
2 green onions, chopped (or 1/4 sautéed finely chopped onion)

Wash potatoes and cut into equal sized chunks. Place them in a pot of lightly salted cold water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until fork tender. While potatoes boil, cook the eggs by placing in a saucepan of water and bringing to a boil. Let the eggs boil for 9 minutes. Put them in cold water to cool quickly.

When potatoes are done, drain and return to pot to dry a little in the residual heat. Peel eggs and pop out yolk. Chop egg whites and add to pot with the potatoes.

Mash the yolks with a fork in a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, mayo, mustard, vinegar and seasonings and stir to combine. Pour over the still warm potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle the chopped celery, bacon and dill pickle over the potatoes and stir gently to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Broccoli and Corn Casserole

I like broccoli casseroles. I like corn casseroles. So, why has it taken me so long to come up with a broccoli and corn casserole? This is a cheesy casserole that is a perfect way to eat your veggies.

Feel free to use other cheeses besides cheddar – I tossed in some Monterey Pepper Jack (upping it to nearly two cups cheese) as the grilled chicken we ate with the first version of the casserole because it had an adobo rub on it. The second (when I added the sour cream), just had cheddar as we ate ribs with it.

Thanks to my taste testers – Zach, Michelle, Charlotte, Thomas and Kathy.

Broccoli and Corn Casserole

1 stick butter, melted
1 box corn bread/muffin mix (I used Jiff)
1 cup sour cream
2 cups corn cut off the cob (or 2 cans whole kernel corn)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 cups frozen broccoli, thawed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together 1 cup of the corn muffin mix with the melted butter and sour cream.

In a large bowl, mix together the corn, the egg, the seasonings and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Stir in broccoli. Stir in the buttered and and sour creamed corn muffin mix until well combined.

Pour into a buttered 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle top with remaining dry corn muffin mix and the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.

 

Rosemary Sweet Potato Medalions

When I was growing up, the only time I had sweet potatoes was under a cover of marshmallows at Thanksgiving. What a long way I’ve come!

Readers of my blog know I’m a fan of rosemary, so when I thought to take a sweet potato fries recipe up a notch, that is where I started. This is fairly simple recipe with just rosemary, garlic, salt and a bit of olive oil. The peel does get a little chewy, so I do recommend you peel them first.

Rosemary Sweet Potato Medalions

2 sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Wash the sweet potatoes, peel them and then cut into 1/4 inch rounds. Toss them with olive oil to coat. Combine rosemary, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle over potatoes and stir until all pieces are covered.

Spread onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Flip the potatoes over and continue to bake until potatoes are cooked through, about ten minutes more.