What you serve with the main deal or star of the meal. Vary them, be creative and find what complements your table and/or mood that day.

Southern Baked Beans II

Nothing is finite.  And that includes my favorite recipe for Southern Baked Beans.  While I love to make everything from scratch when using dried beans they just don’t seem to come as tender no matter how long you cook them.  Not to mention the time involved for one side dish.

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It’s not often that I take short cuts but this one has paid off.

Ingredients

2, 15 oz cans organic Navy bean
3 slices nitrate/nitrite free pastured bacon
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped (Vidalia is the best if in season)
2 small cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 organic ketchup (no added crap)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard
Topping
2 slices bacon
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

Preparation

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Pan fry 3 slices of the bacon until crisp; drain on paper towels, crumble and set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease and saute the onions until slightly tender, add the garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes longer.

Drain the beans and place into a casserole dish.  Add the onions and garlic to the beans.  Stir in the Worcestershire, ketchup, molasses, 2 tablespoons of the dark brown sugar and the mustard until well combined. Add the crumbled bacon.

Top with the remaining 2 slices of bacon, cut in half and sprinkle with the teaspoon of brown sugar.  Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.  Increase the temperature to 425 for 10 minutes to crisp up the bacon.  Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves:  5

Nutritional information per serving:  335 calories; 7 g fat, 14 g protein, 55 g carbs

Mac n’ Cheese

Creamy, cheesy homemade macaroni and cheese brings back fond memories for most of us born in the baby boomer era.  Box style mac n’ cheese was around but traditional family roles allowed more time to cook.  As more and more females headed into the workplace taking on second jobs convenience foods started playing a bigger role in family dinners.  Thus began the decline in the kitchens and culinary habits across America.

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Well folks, here’s the story –most us juggle multiple balls nowadays but it’s not that hard or time consuming to make. Although I would suggest saving it for a weekend treat when you do have just a bit more time.  My long time favorite recipe comes from the back of a Mueller’s elbow macaroni box circa 1980 ish.

Despite the wonder of Google I can’t seem to locate the original Mueller’s recipe. I’ve watched it change over the years and fortunately I had clipped one and found it in an old yellowed scrapbook of my favorite recipes.  The only things I’ve changed are using real butter instead of margarine, substituting gluten free flour and pasta and I eliminated the bread crumbs.

Recipe & Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup King Arthur gluten free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 1/2 cups raw milk
8 oz Bionaturae gluten free elbows (or other gluten free brand)
8 oz grated cheddar cheese (preferably raw and grass fed)

Preparation

Boil elbows only until slightly al dente – Bionaturae brand took approximately 11 minutes. Drain well and place in a buttered casserole dish.

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat, stir in flour, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir to combine with whisk. Take off heat and slowly stir in milk. Return to heat and cook until slightly bubbly and thickened stirring constantly.

Remove from heat, add all but 1/2 cup of the cheese and stir until melted. Add to macaroni and stir well. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 375 for 25 minutes or until slightly golden and bubbly.

Serves 6

Nutritional Info per serving:  404 calories, 16 g protein, 38 g carbs, 20 g fat

Fried Green Tomatoes

A 1991 comedy-drama flick set at the Whistle stop cafe in Depression era Alabama may have brought this dish to the forefront but my memories of fried green tomatoes go way back to my grandmother’s kitchen and were a seasonal favorite that I really looked forward to.

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She’d go out to the garden, pick a few, slice up and drench with buttermilk then coat with a breading of flour and cornmeal and fry them up till golden brown. The slight tang from the buttermilk and the green tomato has a flavor that is completely unique.  I nearly squealed in delight when our local farmer Dave from Urban Oasis offered to go pick me some right out of the garden if I was frying them up green.

I was not disappointed — these were so delicious, my “best batch ever” said the Jag.  As always use the best, freshest local ingredients you can find

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Cut the unpeeled tomatoes into 1/3″ slices. Divide the flour by placing 1/4 cup in a small shallow bowl. Combine 1 slightly beaten egg with the buttermilk in a small deep bowl.  Mix the remaining 1/4 cup of the flour with the cornmeal, sea salt and pepper.  I like to put the flour cornmeal mixture in a bag so I can shake them up to coat well.

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Now we have a little assembly line going:  coat the tomato slices with flour, dip in the egg buttermilk mixture and then the flour cornmeal mixture.  I like to prep them all and place on a plate so I am not distracted while frying.

In a large cast iron skillet heat the fat over medium – medium high heat or approximately 375 degrees.  Carefully place the tomato slices in the hot fat and cook for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels to drain.  Serve immediately.*
*although they are good cold.  I used to have them for breakfast the next morning.

Recipe & Ingredients

4 medium size green tomatoes
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (raw is best if you can find)
1/2 cup King Arthur gluten free flour
1 cup Anson Mills organic cornmeal
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
healthy fat for frying such as lard, tallow or bacon grease

Twice Baked Taters

I don’t know about you but when the cold weather sets in I’m definitely a meat and potatoes kind of girl.

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A juicy bone in ribeye fresh off the grill pairs up beautifully with these twice baked potatoes.

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What’s a twice baked potato?  Well, it’s a baked potato from which the insides are scooped out, mashed with butter and other delights, shells refilled and baked a second time.  Never had one?  Yum, they are delicious and can be made ahead for company and baked for a short time right before eating — guaranteed to wow.

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After baking carefully scoop out the flesh using a melon ball scooper

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Place the potato balls in a large mixing bowl.

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Mash the butter, sour cream, sea salt and pepper; moisten with just enough milk and then stir in the grated cheese

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Refill the shells and top with extra butter and cheese.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until heated through and finish up under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until slightly golden and bubbly

Recipe & Ingredients

6 medium size russet potatoes
6-8 tablespoons raw grass fed butter
1/3 -1/2 cup organic sour cream
1/3 -1/2 cup raw cheddar cheese, grated
enough raw milk to moisten
sea salt & freshly ground black peppe to taste
a little extra butter and cheese for topping

Preparation

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place the potatoes in a pyrex pan and bake for 1 hour 15 min to 1 hour and a half or until tender.  Allow to cool until you can handle.

After about 20-30 minutes I use a clean dishtowel or cloth to hold while I prepare.  Cut the top off one side of the potato carefully with a sharp knife taking care not to rip the peel.  Using a melon ball scooper carefully remove as much potato as possible leaving the shell completely intact.

Place the potato balls into a large mixing bowl.  Add the butter, sour cream, sea salt and pepper and mix until well blended with a potato masher.  Add enough milk to get to a slightly firmer consistency than mashed potatoes.  Stir in the grated cheese and refill the shells.

With the blunt edge of a butter knife or spoon handle make a little slit in the top of each potato and fill with about 1/2 teaspoon of butter.  Place a little grated cheese on the top of each potato.  You can store these in the refrigerator at this point for up to 24 hours.

Preheat or reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake potatoes for approximately 20 minutes or until heated through. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until just slightly browned and bubbly, watching carefully.

Red Slaw w/ green apples

When I think of brisket I think of Texas — they are famed for their brisket and that red meat state inspires me even tho I hail from Florida.  My favorite fall recipe for brisket ain’t broken and I am hard pressed to come up with a new one especially as the weather cools.

What is new this fall is my Red Slaw, the tang of the green apples and the slightly crisper red cabbage was a surprisingly delightful combination.  I’m sure my friends in Texas would approve.

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Start with fresh ingredients, local and organic if possible.  The rainbow carrots looked especially pretty at the market that day so that’s what we went with.  I used the white and orange to make it colorful.

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Slice n’ dice all veggies along with the apple and place in a large bowl.  In a smaller bowl combine mayo, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine well.

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Then add to the veggies and stir gently until well coated. Add a little more mayo and/or sour cream if you need more dressing and then taste and adjust for seasonings.

Recipe & Ingredients

1 head red/purple cabbage coarsely cut
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 green apple, cut into small slivers (somewhat julianned)
1/2 – 3/4 cup homemade mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons cane sugar
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

This went wonderful with the brisket and fresh corn on the cob!  Enjoy!

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Plantains Fried Right

I first tasted plantains back in 1982 when I moved to Key West and got introduced to Cuban food.  Love at first bite from the marinated and slowly roasted pork, the garlic and olive oil laden yucca to the deliciously sweet buttery plantains which tasted like #dessert.

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It wasn’t until about 10 years later that I actually learned to cook them at home.  It took several tries since I initially bought them slightly green.  And while they can be eaten that way I soon learned from my Cuban friends it is a different way of cooking and a completely different taste.  If you’re looking for the soft sweet taste you need to start with very ripe plantains. . .

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You won’t always find them this way in the market so I generally buy them yellow with a few black spots.  Then you can wait it out until they turn darker or hasten the process by storing them in a brown paper bag.  Either way you want them to be almost completely black in color.

Next you’re going to peel them and let me tell you the ripe ones are much easier to peel than the green ones.  I cut off the ends and then with a sharp knife slice thorough the peel about halfway down.  That’s enough to get it started and it will usually peel like a regular banana from there.

Next I will slice them at a slight diagonal.  Meanwhile I melt the fat I am using in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  I’ve used grass fed butter, lard, coconut oil and sometimes a combo of lard and butter.  Each will give a slightly different taste/flavor.  They are all good; I will often choose the ‘flavor’ that will best complement what I am serving them with.  My personal favorite is butter.

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Place the plantains in the hot melted fat in the skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.  Turn gently using a pair of tongs and cook that side for 3-4 minutes.  Remove and drain on a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.

These go exceptionally well with slow roasted pork, mojo chicken and many other dishes or as a dessert!

Recipe & Ingredients

3 ripe plantains
2-3 tablespoons of raw gf butter, lard or coconut oil
sea salt optional