Savory Baked Beans on a Rainy Day

It was a dreary day in Seattle recently and I decided to make a batch of savory beans, slowly baked in the oven with herbs and garlic. And then I looked at my assembled-in-5-min-and-ready-to-go-into-the-oven beans and was inspired to write about it. Perhaps you are wondering where the heck I have been. That’s part of the inspiration too….to let the kind souls who have asked about me know that I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth or succumbed to some weird illness. I’ve been flying almost every other week for work.(Exciting you say? Not really. Though the flight into and subsequent drive from Missoula to Kalispell, Montana was quite beautiful. And wee Grangeville, ID is cuter than I expected it to be…). Plus getting myself slightly over committed with a few work and volunteer projects, and being a hockey mom and then there’s the fact that my year of food blogging put 10 lbs on me from all the thinking, tasting, re-envisioning and re-making (and re-tasting) of food! So I lost inspiration for a while. And seriously…of all the foods to lead to the first post in 4 months, it was the lowly bean? Not so glamorous. But VERY much in the comfort food camp. AND it’s healthy, low fat, high fiber, low glycemic and DELICIOUS! Ok, I’ll stop shouting now. Go make this.

Mixed beans with lots of herbs

Mixed beans with lots of herbs. Though next time I’d use about 1/2 the amount of rosemary pictured here.

Savoury Slow Baked Beans
From my mom, who might have read something somewhere about this method but then just made up her own recipe. She really should have her own blog.

Here’s the general method:
Combine dried beans in a large pot, fill with cold water and soak overnight. Then, drain and place in (several) baking dish(es), add a glug of olive oil and broth/stock of your choice to just cover the beans. Nestle in lots of halved garlic cloves and whichever fresh herbs you want, stems and all, celery stalks, chopped onion. NO SALT. Cover and bake at 350 – 375ºF for 2-3 hours. Check half way, you might need to add more liquid. Beans should be soft when finished. Take out the herb stems and celery stalks, smash in the garlic, onion and season to taste with salt. What you do next is up to you:
-eat in a bowl with a dash of hot sauce
-make some toast and scoop some beans on top
-serve a scoop over rice or quinoa
-puree to make a bean spread/dip
-puree along with cooked vegetables,additional stock or cream for a creamy soup
-use as a starter for a brothy vegetable bean soup

Tips:
Don’t include black beans with others unless you want it to look super dark.
Use rosemary sparingly. It will overpower the other flavors
Don’t salt until beans are soft

Halloween Fun Food

So Evan wants to live in a haunted house. For real. Every year it’s the same conversation about how the inside of the house needs to be really dark and scary. Thankfully he’s satisfied with some outdoor giant webs and spiders and he’s pretty psyched about the new black cauldron that we’ll fill with dry ice this year.

Having a pumpkin ale and a few laughs…modelling the latest reaper wear from J. Creep.

Pumpkin coffee tables from Crypt and Brimstone

You couldn’t pay me to take a photo like this of a real spider.

Our basement window well has turned into a crypt

Styrofoam balls (cut with serrated knife), painted black and joined with toothpicks, plus some black pipe cleaners.

He’s also psyched about Halloween food, like hot dog mummies, spider dip, witches’ hats and, of course, the puking pumpkin. I took the photos below a couple of years ago, before it had even occurred to me to start writing a blog. I was just one of those weird people who takes pictures of her food. Okay, I’m still am.

Mummy Dogs

Chocolate digestive biscuits (or any round chocolate cookie), Hershey’s Kisses and decorator icing tubes (don’t get the gel kind, it doesn’t dry hard).

Layer refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, grated cheese, black olives and salsa in whatever order you want, ending with salsa on top. Pipe sour cream into a web pattern. You can cut a small hole in the corner of a Ziploc bag and use that to pipe the sour cream.

Lightweight…

All Green Guacamole
There’s no real recipe here, keep tasting as you go.

2-3 ripe avocados, finely chopped green onion, tons of chopped fresh cilantro, juice of 1 lime.

Mummy Dogs
If Pillsbury Crescent Rolls are a guilty pleasure, here’s your excuse to buy them.

Cut hot dogs into 2-3″ pieces
Roll out Crescent Roll dough and use a sharp knife to cut into narrow strips. Wrap the dough around the hotdogs, but not too tight. Don’t forget to leave space for eyes. Bake according to package directions until golden. Dot with mustard for eyes after they’ve cooled down a bit.

Mediterranean Baked Feta

Oh. You guys. You HAVE to make this. It’s simple and fantastic. We came home from camping and I saw Smitten Kitchen‘s post with all these ingredients I love…feta, kalmata olives, cherry tomatoes. This are the kinds of ingredients I use all the time. BUT I’d never had the idea to serve the feta warm. It takes it to a whole new level. After a week of hot dogs, s’mores, cold cereal, etc this was just what we needed. You need this too.

Slice cherry tomatoes in half, chop olives, toss with thiny sliced onion, minced garlic, oregano and a good grind of pepper.

Place tomato mixture around and on top of a block of feta and bake. Serve immediately. Preferably outside on a deck somewhere.

Mediterranean Baked Feta

You can serve this on crackers, flatbread, pita chips, soft pita etc. Or if you’re watching your bread carbs/gluten try it on cucumber rounds (patted dry), in a lettuce wrap, endive leaves, grape leaves….or just eat it with a spoon!

1/3 – 1/2 lb block feta
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup kalmata olives, diced (measure with whole olives, then dice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1-2 thumb-sized cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried or 1 tbsp fresh, chopped oregano
pepper

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place block of feta in an oven-proof dish and set aside. In a separate bowl, gently toss tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano together. Then place around and on top of feta. Add a good grind of pepper on top and bake for about 15 min.

Serve immediately. Feta will not melt, but will be spreadable. As it cools it will firm up but can be popped in the oven again. I think it won’t last long enough to really cool down! You could also make a balsamic reduction and drizzle it over when you take the feta out of the oven. (To make a reduction, pour some good balsamic in a sauce pan and heat over med-high until it becomes thick and syrupy).

Fast Personal Pizza

Maybe it’s because I’m gearing up for a lot more work travel over the next few months and summer is just around the corner and we haven’t figured out which summer camps Evan will be doing…regardless of the reason, it seems we’re in fast forward! Fast forward often requires fast food….but only in the figurative sense. We don’t eat a lot of Fast Food in our family…(though it seems like road trips and McDonald’s go hand in hand and I have no problem with that!)

But make-your-own pizza…that can be really fast and still great. We often get ready-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s but that still requires rolling it out etc. The BEST super fast mini-pizza vehicle I’ve found, thanks to my mom who tuned me onto it, is Greek style pita. There is no pocket, it’s designed for wrapping around souvlaki or tearing up and dipping in hummus or tzatziki (hmmm…I sense a future post).

However, it also makes terrific pizza crust. Spread your favourite jarred sauce and favourite toppings on the bumpy side. Put it straight on the oven rack flat side down and it gets nice and crisp. About 8-12 minutes on 375° depending on your oven and when you consider your pizza ‘done’. Then, if you’re me, try to get it on the table without a “Mommy, can you finish taking pictures so I can eat it now?”

Hmmm....seems this lunch was particularly orange!

Appies for Dinner

I’m truly shocked that I actually cooked, got dinner on the table while still hot (in spite of the photos along the way and after), uploaded said photos, and wrote a post all in one evening! Although, this is actually an exercise in positive thinking because I haven’t finished anything yet…this is only my first paragraph. We’ll see how it goes. Come to think of it, you won’t know either way because if I don’t finish it, I can always edit. Mwaa ha ha ha (evil laugh). (Is it lame that I told you that was an evil laugh?)

I suppose I’m on a roll because this dinner required quite a bit of rushing around to get it all done at the same time (the perils of making different versions of the same dinner) so I guess I’m on an energy high at the moment. Which is why I’m ignoring my child enjoying my hobby right now rather than Harry Potter-ing myself into a post-reading stupor after which I can barely mutter good night to him before flopping sideways on the couch and reaching for the remote. It’s good to still be vertical.

So. Back to dinner. Evan’s been asking for ‘hot wings’ lately because of something he saw on Phineas and Ferb. He didn’t really know what ‘hot wings’ were, but he wanted to eat them nonetheless. Who am I to argue with that? It’s a new version of chicken for him (which totally counts as a new food if you’re in our picky-eater world). So we talked about it and I suggested that I make some ‘not-hot wings’, that were sweet, tangy and sticky! He was all for it…as long as they looked like little drumsticks. (I guess cartoon chicken wings only come in one shape).

Well wings are great for the omnivores in the family but our resident pescatarian would need something else for his protein. Tofu! I could certainly fry it until firm and crispy and then glaze with the same sauce as the wings. Brilliant. But what about veggies….well two desperate looking yams became oven-baked fries and a little of the wing/tofu glaze sauce mixed in with some (eggless)* mayo became the most amazing dip. Seriously. This post really should be all about the dip. Oh. My. God.

I probably should have put together a salad to add some green, but it was more than I could handle putting together when also trying to get photos. (Which sort of suck by the way….but I didn’t have time to take a gazillion pics, or stage the food with lovely napkins or rustic props. I’m also back to using my iPhone again because my brother had to go on a trip and needed his camera back. Once you fly business you can’t go back to coach…you just can’t. 😉  Well, it was fun! Guess I’ll have to bite the bullet and shell out for my own one of these days!).

HONEY GINGER GLAZED EVERYTHING:

Honey Ginger Marinade and Glaze

3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
3/4 cup honey
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1″ x 1/2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated

In a 2 cup measure, whisk soy sauce, honey and hoisin sauce together. Mince garlic and grate ginger into sauce and combine. I use a rasp to grate ginger and it makes it very fine, almost like a paste so it’s a bit hard to give you an exact measurement of the amount. But a piece of ginger about an inch long and 1/2 inch diameter should do it. Makes about 1 cup of marinade. Scale up as needed.

Honey Ginger Chicken Wings

6-10 chicken wings, separated at joints, wing tips discarded.

Preheat oven to 375°
Prepare the wings and place in a ziploc bag or bowl. Pour about 1/3 of the above marinade over them so they’re well coated. The longer they marinate the better, but even if it’s just 20 minutes, that’s fine. It’s the weekend, so I prepped the chicken in the morning and they marinated all day.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (tip: sprinkle water on the baking sheet before you lay the parchment so it doesn’t slide around)
Arrange chicken wing pieces on the parchment.
Bake for about 20-25 min per side, pausing to brush more marinade on as they bake.

Yam Fries
Slice yams into thin wedges with skin on.
Spread on parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush or spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake at 375° for about 40-50 min

Honey Ginger Mayo
2/3 cup mayonaise
2 tbsp honey ginger marinade
Serve as a dip for roasted veggies, oven fries etc.

Honey Ginger Tofu Sticks
1/2 block of tofu, sliced into sticks
1/3 cup honey ginger marinade

On med-high heat, brown tofu in a bit of oil, turning on each side. When fully browned, but still in the pan, pour the marinade over the tofu (it should sizzle) and then turn off the heat. Fully coat tofu and serve.
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So how did it rate…? “Mommy this is the best chicken EVER!”
*Oh and a note about eggless mayonaise. We buy Vegenaise, manufactured by Earth Island. You can find out more here. It’s fabulous.