Sunday, August 24, 2014

Barbecued Baked Beans

I used to think that there was a season for baked beans, at least, I guess I did, as I never seemed to make them except in the spring.  How silly is that?  If there is a dish that you really like, then it should be enjoyed year round!  Don't you agree?  That is how Barbecued Baked Beans moved from spring to summer...and I can see them creeping into the fall.

I had seen a recipe from Cathy at Wives with Knives.  She is a great cook and has a wonderful blog. I know that you must have visited her her now and then to see what is cooking....and it is always good!  I know that we certainly enjoyed her Barbecued Baked Beans.

Barbecued Baked Beans
adapted from Wives with Knives

1 pound small white beans
6-8 slices thick cut smoked bacon, about 1 cup diced
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 large cloves)
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups tomato sauce, homemade or canned
1/3 cup brown sugar, or more to taste
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard or 1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste
3 1/2 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 tsp cracked pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dry thyme)

Pick through the beans to remove any debris. Rinse the beans and place in a large pot. Cover the beans with cold water and allow the beans to soak overnight or for several hours.  Drain the soaked beans and transfer them to a cooking pot.   

In a skillet, saute the onions, celery and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for about four minutes or until the onion is translucent.  Add the mixture to the cooking pot along with 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, the bay leaves, salt, pepper and thyme.  (The beans should be covered with at least an inch or more of liquid, so you may need to add additional water or stock.)  

Raise the heat to medium high and bring to a high boil. Keep the beans at a high boil for 5 minutes, then reduce them to a gentle simmer and cover.  Simmer the beans until they are soft.  The best test is to bite into one or mash one or two between your fingers.

Saute the bacon pieces until crisp and drain on paper towels.  

Preheat the oven to 300° F.

Once the beans are cooked through, add the tomato sauce to the pot, stir.  Add the bacon pieces, stir. Next, mix in the brown sugar, molasses, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasonings by adding more brown sugar, mustard, Tabasco, salt or pepper.

Bake the beans in the oven for 4-5 hours or in a crock pot on high for 4-5 hours.  Sir the beans now and then.  Should the beans get too thick, add a little more water or chicken stock.  The beans should thicken some as they cool.  Save any extra liquid to thin the beans after they have cooled, if necessary.


We loved this recipe as the beans were not too sweet nor were they too hot.  BBQ Baked Beans are the perfect side dish for a barbecue.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Lechon Asado - Cuban Grilled Pork

I promised that my next post would be the Lechon Asado or Cuban Grilled Pork that Mr. T grilled to be used as one of the layers in Cubano Sliders...a miniature version of the Traditional Cuban Sandwich...that were so tasty.  We promptly left on vacation after that post and I have not had internet for two weeks!  I am amazed at how dependent I have become on the internet....what did I do before wifi?  "smile"

Anyway, as I mentioned we left for vacation so the photo is severely lacking...while I was running the last of the errands, Mr. T shredded the pork and sealed it pictures except for a large piece of pork and the pieces on the sandwich..  Oh well.

The key to the grilled Cuban pork focuses on one main ingredient:  Seville orange juice.  This juice is more tart or sour than sweet.  Finding it can be a challenge....but, one can easily substitute a mixture of regular orange juice and lime juice to get the same tart flavor.

Lechon Asado
Cuban Grilled Pork
adapted from Epicurious

Citrus Garlic Marinade
1 1/3 cups fresh squeezed lime juice
2/3 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 heads garlic, roughly chopped
4 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 onion, slice and rings separated

3 to 4 pounds pork shoulder (preferably boneless), trimmed

Prepare the marinade by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Using a along thin knife to make deep gashes all over the flesh.  Generously season the outside of the pork with salt.  Place the pork in a large bowl and pour the marinade over the pork, spreading the onion rings over the top.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. (We prepared the pork and marinated overnight.)

Basting Sauce
Remove the pork from the marinade and place it on a baking sheet, set aside.  Transfer the marinade to a saucepan, add the onions and bring to a boil for about two minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Place the the cooled marinade and onions into a blender and puree until smooth. The puree is used as a basting sauce during grilling.

When the pork has reached room temperature, you are ready to grill.

Heat the grill to 550° F. and close the lid.  Wait at least 15 minutes before lowering the temperature to 300° F.  Oil the grill grates with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.  (Use tongs to hold the paper towel so you do not get burned.)

If your cut of pork has skin still attached, begin grilling with the skin side up, away from the direct heat.

Grill the pork about 2 1/2 hours total.  Turn the meat over one quarter of the way through the cooking time and again at halfway, continue turning until the  cooking time has lapsed.  The pork is ready when the internal temperature reaches 150° F. on the grill.  It will continue to cook when it is off the heat, raising the temperature to 160° F.

Using two forks, shred the pork or if prefered, cut into thin slices.


Mr. T and I thought the pork had a great flavor and intend to make it again....only not just before leaving on vacation!   I can think of a few ways to use the leftovers and want to give them a try....I did made a few wraps for the road....delicious!!

We are still on vacation but have found our way to Seattle to visit family....and reconnect on the internet!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Traditional Cubano Sandwich....Becomes A Cubano Slider!

How does one prepare for this month's Secret Recipe Club?  Easy.  Go to the local Cuban Restaurant and sample their Traditional Cubano Sandwich!  This was one BIG sandwich....Delicious.

This tasty sandwich originates in, yes, Cuba around the 1500's.  Who would have thought that this sandwich evolved over 400 years ago....?  As sandwiches go, it is pretty basic:  ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, butter and yellow mustard on Cuban bread which has a "tender interior", not chewy....  The key to a great Cubano is said to be in the press.  The idea is to toast and press the sandwich so that the juices from the ingredients are sealed together by the melted cheese. It is grilled in a plancha or sandwich press.  The sandwich, when served, is very thin and has a crusty exterior....sounds good to me.

There are a lot of "twists" on the sandwich as folks add a mojo, a few onions, or a mention a few, but, it is not traditional and I am all about tradition!

The idea of making the Traditional Cubano into sliders was excellent!  Sarah at Sarah's Kitchen says that she had to try it when she saw it in cyberspace.  Well, I had to try it too.  I had been thinking that making sliders would be fun so when I saw Sarah's recent post for Cuban Sliders, my decision was fondue, no Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes....Sliders!

I must admit that I did toy with Sarah's recipe.  I wanted to add the roasted pork that is traditionally one of the layers in the I did....and the Lechon Asado is in the next post.  Also, so as not to stray too far from Sarah's creation, I made a couple sliders similar to hers, too.  (We aren't really big onion fans so, sans the onions....)

Sarah baked her sliders but I did is way too hot here to use the oven.  To create the crispy golden brown bread, I needed a plancha....I do not have a sandwich press so it was the next best thing...the George Foreman Grill.  "smile"

The Traditional Cubano Slider!

1 loaf Cuban bread (if available) or sour dough dinner rolls or 1 package Hawaiian Sweet Rolls
1/2 pound Black Forest Ham, sliced thin (Any sliced ham would be fine.)
1/2 pound shredded roasted pork (Lechon Asado)
Swiss cheese slices
Dill pickles (I used sandwich slices.)
Yellow mustard

Slice the bread or rolls in half.  Butter the outsides of the top and bottom half.  Set on a paper plate. On the bottom half layer the sliced ham, shredded pork, Swiss cheese and pickle slice. Squeeze mustard onto the inside of the top half of the roll.  Place the slider on the grill and close the lid, pressing to flatten the slider.  When the slider is heated through and the cheese melted, remove from the grill and serve.

Ice cold beer is a great accompaniment for the sliders!

These little guys are great for a light dinner or for one of those evenings when appetizers are dinner!  We enjoyed making them as well as devouring them!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread

Everybody has a "go to" appetizer that they can count on and this is mine... I call it my "go to" appetizer because I seem to make it when I am in a pinch or want something to take to a friend's and I have been making it for at least twenty years.

I always seem to have the ingredients on hand and it is super easy.  You wouldn't think that this would amount to much just reading the recipe....the proof is in the taste.  To be good, things do not have to be complicated.

Served in your favorite dish, bubbling hot and steaming, with the pungent aroma of Parmesan cheese, this dip will quickly become your favorite!  This also fits perfectly into a 4-inch soufflé dish.

Hot Artichoke Soufflé Spread
adapted from West Coast Cuisine

Yield:  2 cups
Time: 30 minutes

1 8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (I use shredded.)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3-4 shots Tabasco sauce
1 jar (6 oz) marinated artichoke hearts, drained, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Thoroughly blend the cheeses, mayonnaise and Tabasco.  Fold in the chopped artichoke hearts. Pour into a small soufflé or other dish.  Dust the top with additional Parmesan.  Bake 20 minutes until the top is brown.

Serve hot and bubbly with an assortment of crackers.


My daughter recently had some friends over for the evening....and of course, I took my "go-to" appetizer...there wasn't a smidge let in the leftovers for me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Orzo Chicken Salad

Thumbs up to Sam at My Carolina Kitchen!  As Mr. T. says, "She knocked it out of the park with this one!"  I agree.  This was an exceptionally tasty salad and one that will definitely feed a crowd and one that I will be making often.  It is also one of those salads that begs you to toss in a few extras along the way...and, that is what I did.

I had a jar of artichoke hearts that was begging to be part of this salad as well as a few kalamata olives left in the jar.  It seemed like a good match so I tossed them in.  And, I had a package of chicken breast pieces....Costco sells the chicken breast pieces from their rotisserie chicken.  (It comes in a two-pound package so I will be using chicken over the next few days, but that is okay by me.)  Rather than grill chicken breasts, I took the easy way out this time.

Orzo Chicken Salad
adapted from My Carolina Kitchen

Yield:  8-10 servings as a main course

16 ounces orzo pasta
Kosher salt, to taste
1 cup frozen Petite Peas
1 red onion, cut into slices 1/2-inch thick
1 each red, orange and yellow bell pepper
1 cup of fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade, or minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, or a combination of both
1/2 pint orange grape tomatoes, cut in half, or 12 small heirlooms, cored and quartered, or whatever tomatoes are available
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained, cut in half
10-12 kalamata olives, cut in half, lengthwise
2 cups chicken breast pieces cut bite-size

Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Fill a large pot three-fourths full water.  Salt and bring to a boil over high heat.  While the water is boiling, prepare an ice water bath in a large bowl.  Add the orzo to the boiling water, stirring to prevent sticking.  Return the water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add the peas. Drain in a large strainer or colander.  Place the strainer with the orzo and peas into the water bath to cool, or place the pasta and peas directly in the water bath.  Drain again.  Transfer the orzo and peas to a large bowl.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate until cool.

Make the vinaigrette, recipe below.  Whisk the vinegar and mustard in a non-aluminum bowl.  Add the grapeseed oil and whisk until mixed.  Add the olive oil, whisking until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Prepare the grill by brushing both the grill and the vegetables with olive oil.  (The vegetables may be grilled directly on the grate or a vegetable-grilling basket may be used.)  Arrange the onions in the basket or on the grate, directly over high heat.  Grill, turning once, until the onions are nicely charred on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.

Grill the bell peppers directly over high heat, turning occasionally, until nicely charred on all sides. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes.  When the peppers are cool enough to handle, using your fingers or a paring knife, peel the skin from the peppers and discard.  Core, seed and dice the peppers.

Remove the orzo and peas from the refrigerator.  Add the vinaigrette, peppers, onions, chicken, artichokes, olives, basil or parsley to the bowl and toss to coat.  Add the tomatoes, then taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt and/or pepper.

The salad can be served cold or at room temperature.


1/8 to 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil  (I only used 1/8 cup of the olive oil.)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or other neutral tasting oil
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more if needed
1 Tablespoon good Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


We loved the flavor of the grilled onion and pepper!  To us that really made this salad special!!

Mr. T. and I love to visit Sam's blog.  She consistently shares outstanding recipes!  I have made quite a few that she has recommended....we are never disappointed.  Do take time to pay her a visit, you are certain to find a recipe or two that must go "on the rotation"!