baked beans & a southern style feast

The September issue of Food & Wine is dedicated to the food and restaurants from our beloved Southern states. I quickly decided that a Southern feast was in order: pulled pork, baked beans (home-made) and coleslaw. The taster much prefers these simple meat and (you fill in the blank) meals over sweets, tofu, vegetables essentially anything. Needless to say, he was very happy with dinner.

The pork was simple. A trip to the farmers market for organic fed pork, a crock pot and a bottle of Creamy Dark was all it took. Topped with a traditional South Carolina BBQ Sauce, a mustard-based sauce, and I swear we were transported straight to the South.

The baked beans though, oh those baked beans. I’ve never made baked beans before, but I won’t be going back to canned ones now. I can’t. Sweet red onion, smoky bacon, creamy beans and tangy BBQ flavor. Dare I say they are the best beans I’ve had to date? They certainly were the star of the meal in my opinion.

Baked Beans - 4 servings

  • 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beans (I used a mix of kidney and navy beans)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Prepare sauce: combine BBQ sauce, vinegar, sugar and mustard. Stir until mixture is smooth.

Cook bacon until crispy and set aside.

Add chopped onion and minced garlic to pan and heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Add beans and sauce, stir and remove from heat.

Pour bean mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp water into dish. Crumble bacon pieces over top and bake for about 15 minutes.

Make them as a decadent yet nutritious side dish to some BBQ meat, or BBQ tofu, depending on your household preferences. :)

guacamole bar

Guacamole Bar | A Nutritionist Eats

I’ve been wanting to try out a guac bar since I saw it in Eating Well last year and I knew just the event to make it for, the annual Fiesta Party. Lucky for me, my friend Anna (who happens to be a guacamole goddess) let me bring the guacamole this year!

Maybe it was the idea of adding bacon to guacamole that really sold me or mabye it is the idea of a “toppings bar” – I just love that everyone can create their own personal guacamole according to their tastes. While I’ve never been to a Rick Bayless restaurant, I know he knows his stuff and this guacamole proves just that.

The guacamole is a basic one – roasted garlic, lime and cilantro. The toppings are all up to you!

Toppings:

  • crisp bacon bits
  • queso fresco crumbles
  • pickled jalapenos
  • diced tomatoes

the wedge

Poor iceberg lettuce. I mean, it has a terrible reputation, but I can think of many worse things than iceberg lettuce. Nutritional all-star? Hardly. But sometimes a crisp wedge with creamy blue cheese and fresh cracked pepper is just what I want. And just forget the notion that blue cheese dressing is “bad for you”, it happens to be wonderful on iceberg.

The wedge salad was very popular in the 50’s and 60’s when lettuce options were limited and long before there was a wall of greens in the grocery store like we now see.

 Today, some 60 years later, it is starting to show up again on menu’s – coming back as the “retro” wedge. So put on your heels, pearls and apron and get to that wedge!

I can’t say that iceberg makes it into my refrigerator on a regular basis, but when it does? I’ve got my blue cheese and french dressing waiting.

Wedge Salad - 4 servings

  • 1 head Organic Iceberg Lettuce
  • red onion slices
  • tomato slices
  • blue cheese dressing
  • french dressing
  • fresh ground pepper
  • additional add-ons: bacon crumbles, nuts, cheese

Wash head of lettuce and cut into 4 pieces. Add tomatoes and onions as desired and top with dressings. Don’t forget to serve with a knife, you’ll need it!


clam linguine

Cooking with clams was new to me, but they are so simple, I’m not sure why I was so hesitant! All I needed was the motivation of a recipe and a free night to spend a little time in the kitchen.

The pasta was delicious with a bit of spice from the chiles, smoky flavor from the bacon and briny flavor from the sea. All of the flavors that I so often desire, over some chewy, whole-grain pasta.

Linguine with Clams – 2 servings

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  •  3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chile (medium heat), sliced
  • 1 lb little-neck clams
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 6 oz whole grain linguine (I used fresh)

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, crumble and set aside.

Add olive oil,  garlic, chile, clams and wine to pan used for bacon and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until clams have opened and released juices. Remove clams and set aside.

Meanwhile cook pasta as directed, saving cooking liquid.

Add pasta, 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, bacon, 2 Tbsp parsley and toss until sauce has thickened. Divide pasta onto plates and top with clams and additional parsley.

Healthy Hint: Pasta is something that the taster and I can both overeat without even realizing it. An easy solution? Only making the number of servings we need! No leftovers mean no extra or bites or servings!