Friday, May 26, 2017

Slow Cooked Baked Beans

As soon as summer gets here, I start thinking about cookouts. Backyard barbecues and family gatherings that instantly make me think of hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and chops.  And especially those sides like coleslaw and pasta and potato salads. And what's a barbecue without baked beans? I like to make mine in a slow cooker so I don’t have to worry about heating up the oven for hours.  I don't use canned beans ...I usually start from scratch.  

Slow Cooked Baked Beans

1 lb. dried navy beans, rinsed and picked through for debris 
1 tablespoon salt 
3 cups water 
6 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces 
1 ham shank 
1 cup onion, finely diced 
1 cup. ketchup 
1/2 cup dark brown sugar 
4 tablespoons molasses 
4 tablespoons honey 
1 tablespoon yellow mustard 
2 teaspoons garlic powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoons pepper 
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 

Soak the beans overnight in 4 quarts of water and the tablespoon of salt. 

The next day drain the beans and pour them into your slow cooker. Add 
3 cups of water and the ham shank and cook on high for about 6 hours or
until  beans are tender.  Stir one or two times during cooking. If needed, 
add a little water during the last 2-3 hours of cooking. The bean mixture 
should be loose, but not watery. 

Remove shank and allow to cool. When the ham shank is cool enough to handle, remove meat from bone and chop into small pieces. Add to beans. In a large bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, mustard and honey. Add mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper and the apple cider vinegar. Pour mixture into slow cooker with beans and stir well.  Cook on high for another 45-60 minutes until heated throughout.

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      Sweet Corn on The Cob

      I'm a Maryland girl and you can't have grilled steaks without fresh sweet corn on the cob.  I add sugar to my boiling water to make it even sweeter. Maryland is known for Silver Queen corn in the summer time and there's nothing like it.  But I found some Super Sweet Corn up from Florida at a road side produce stand and it was incredible!  A little salt and pepper and a lot of butter and you've got the perfect side dish.

      Sweet Corn On The Cob 

      6 ears of Corn 
      2 tablespoons sugar 

      Prepare corn for boiling. Drop the corn into a large pot of boiling water that has been seasoned with sugar. Boil three minutes and remove corn right away. Spread melted butter all over corn and salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning for a real treat! But that's coming from a Maryland girl! LOL! 

      For even more sweet and tender corn, try Milk Corn 

      Fill a large saucepan with equal parts water and whole milk. Use enough liquid to fully cover the corn, but make sure the pot isn't more than halfway full, as the milk expands rapidly after it hits a boil; this allows you time to pull it off the heat.

      Put the saucepan on a burner over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Do not add salt to corn or it makes the kernels tough.  Add the corn to the milk and water as soon as it hits a boil. Cover the pot and wait for the liquid to hit a boil again. This should take about 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove your pot from the heat as soon as it starts to boil. Cover and leave it on the stove but off the burner for about 3 minutes. Your corn is ready to butter up and add salt and pepper.  So tender and sweet!

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      Monday, May 22, 2017

      The Perfect Eye Round Roast Beef Sandwich

      Sometimes I love putting on a small roast in the morning so I can enjoy a fantastic roast beef sandwich at lunch.  Especially when it’s this easy! 

      The Perfect Eye Round Roast Beef Sandwich  

      3 pound eye round roast
      1 teaspoon kosher salt
      1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
      1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
      6 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
      Mix together your seasonings and set them aside.
      Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

      Remove your roast from the refrigerator and pat it dry with paper towels.  Allow it to sit on the counter at room temperature for at least 40 minutes. Roll the roast around in the seasonings, patting them down so it is covered and let it sit out on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. This allows the roast to reach room temperature, plus it lets the seasonings settle onto the roast. 

      Place the roast in a roasting pan (I use my Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven) and put your roast in the hot oven.  Roast for 25 minutes.  Then turn the oven off and do not open the door for the next 2 hours. Don't open the door or the heat will escape.  After the two hours, take the internal temperature with a thermometer. 

      For rare the temperature should register at 125 degrees. 
      For medium rare- 140 degrees.
      For medium- 150 degrees.

      Once you reach the temperature you want, transfer the roast to a plate and cover with foil.  Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes before carving.   Slice this as thin as you can and make your roast beef sandwich with whatever you like! 

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      Butter Cream Cookies With Chocolate Fudge Icing

      I love these cookies!  Not only because they are so wonderfully decadent, but because they are a show stopper.  They turn heads whenever I walk across the room with a tray filled with these beautiful little morsels!  They are simple to make and yet they look like you took hours to make them.

      Butter Cream Cookies With Chocolate Fudge Icing

      2 cups all-purpose flour 
      ½ teaspoon baking powder 
      ¼ teaspoon salt 
      1½ sticks (3/4 cup) butter, softened 
      1 cup sugar 
      1 large egg 
      1 teaspoon vanilla 

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to a medium bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside. 

      Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg until well-combined. Slowly spoon in flour mixture mixing on medium speed until well-combined, then add vanilla and mix just until combined. 

      Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon and roll with your hands before dropping them on to a large baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between each cookie. Press down on cookie dough ball lightly with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a glass until about ½-inch thick. Bake 10-13 minutes until lightly browned. Cool completely before icing. 

      Butter Cream Frosting

      1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened 
      1 cup unsweetened cocoa 
      5 cups confectioner’s sugar 
      ½ cup milk 
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
      ½ teaspoon espresso powder 
      Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer.  Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

      Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If you need to add more powdered sugar you can add a little at a time to get the right consistency.  Using a piping bag and tip, ice the cookies and allow to set. Makes two dozen.

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      Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

      A beautiful super moist cake with a strawberry filling that is just perfect. The perfect bundt cake! 

      Strawberry Swirl Bundt Cake 

      1½ cups butter, at room temperature
      8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
      3 cups sugar
      6 eggs
      3 cups flour, sifted
      2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
      ¼ teaspoon salt

      Strawberry Filling

      1 cup finely diced fresh strawberries
      1/2 cup sugar
      1/2 cup water
      1  1/2 tablespoons cornstarch 

      Combine the strawberries, sugar, water and cornstarch in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature before using. If needed add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken. 

      Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is completely incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the flour until it has all been combined. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.

      Spoon about  of the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Top evenly with all but 1/4 cup of the strawberry filling, leaving a one inch border around the edge of the pan. Use a thin skewer or knife to gently swirl the strawberry filling with the cake batter just a few times.  Spoon the remainder of the cake batter on top of the filling and gently spread to the edges of the pan, covering the filling.  Then drop a few  teaspoons of filling on top of cake batter.   

      Bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. 

      NOTE:  In a hurry?  I sometimes use Smucker's 100% Fruit preserves and it turns out delicious!  Just sweet enough!  The preserves are sugar free!
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