Knockoff Baked Beans

Spring is here and I’m starting to think about grilling and all the side dishes that go with it. One of Josh’s favorite restaurants is Famous Dave’s. He loves BBQ and especially BBQ ribs. When I was out of town about a year ago, somehow he got Brianna to eat and fall in love with BBQ, and now they both love Famous Dave’s. If I had to, I could order for Josh every time we go, because he always has the same thing: a slab of ribs with two sides of their beans. So last summer, I decided to try and recreate the Famous Dave’s beans. I went looking for a knockoff recipe, and after I found one, I did what I always do: adapted it to suit our tastes. One word of warning, this isn’t the quickest recipe ever but it is SO tasty.

Knockoff Baked Beans

Ingredients:
* 6-8 strips of thick cut bacon
* 1 beef strip steak or BBQ rib meat**
* 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (whichever brand you prefer)
* 8 oz Hillshire Farm smoked sausage
* 2 tablespoons bacon drippings
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 1 tablespoon diced jalapeno
* 2 (28 ounce) cans bush’s baked beans (whichever flavor you like)
* 1 (20 ounce) bottle your favorite brand/flavor barbecue sauce, I usually use a brown sugar bold sauce but anything goes

Directions

1.Fry bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the drippings.
2. Chop or crumble the bacon and set aside.
3. Sprinkle steak with seasoning, grill or saute over high heat until medium. Cut into 1/2 inch cubes (you can do this first if you’re sauteeing).
4. Grill or saute sausage until nicely done. Slice the sausage length wise into halves then slice into quarters then cut quarters into cubes. (again, you can do this first if sauteeing).
5.Saute onions and jalapeno in reserved bacon drippings in a skillet until tender.
6. Stir in bacon, steak, sausage, beans and bbq sauce.
7. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

The flavor is enhanced if stored covered in the refrigerator for 8 to 10 hours and reheated just before serving.

**I included the original recipe instructions, which makes this sound like a LOT of work for baked beans, with all the meat you have to cook. The trick here is to throw leftover meat (steak, BBQ ribs or pork chops) already cooked and cut up into a baggie in the freezer. Even small amounts. Just keep adding to the same gallon-sized bag. Then, when you want to make these beans you’re 1) using something you might have otherwise thrown away and 2) not having to worry about cooking up the meat. You’ll just defrost it and give it a quick saute to heat it up a little.

Weekly Menu: March 28th-April 3rd

Hello! April already? I’m not sure where March went, but okay. I think I should have gotten Sarah to do a weekly menu for this week, so we could see what she’s doing for Passover, because I’m afraid I have nothing to offer you for Easter weekend. Why? We’re going out of town for the weekend. We’re headed to Washington DC for some go-kart action and an MLS soccer game. Oh, and shopping. We are SO hitting the Annapolis mall. But anyway, I still have to get through the rest of the week and do some cooking, so here’s what I have planned:

Sunday: corned beef and cabbage. I know, this was on my menu last week, but I moved it to today because Josh doesn’t like it and he’s going to be gone, so it works out.

Monday: Chicken & Dumplings. I made this not to long ago but I’ve been craving it.

Tuesday: Salsa chicken and Spanish Rice.

Wednesday: Fried potatoes and sausage links.

Thursday: Homemade baked beans (I’ll be posting the recipe on Wednesday!) and something on the grill. Depends on what’s on sale at the grocery story later in the week.

Friday
: Leftovers!

Saturday
: Out. Of. Town. Yes!

So what’s on your menu? I’m especially interested to hear your Passover/Easter menus! Do you have any special dishes that you’ll be making? And someone mentioned deviled eggs in Sarah’s Passover post, if you have a great recipe please share it!

Ground Beef Curly Noodles: Kid Friendly

This is one of the first recipes I ever posted on my personal blog four years ago. At the time I posted it, it was one of Brianna’s favorite meals even at only 1 1/2. Four years later? It’s still one of her favorite meals, despite the fact that she won’t eat some of the ingredients when they appear in any other dish. And as an added bonus, it’s super quick (30 minutes tops from start to finish) and easy, so perfect for a weeknight. AND it’s not an expensive meal, and it’s easy to stretch and feed more people, by adding some of the cheaper ingredients (like another pack of ramen. I mean, nothing is cheaper than ramen!) Best of all? It actually tastes good!

As is often the case with me, this recipe first appeared on All Recipes, but I adapted it for my own use. Link is to original recipe.
Ground Beef Curly Noodles

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
Servings: 6 (this would feed four people)

INGREDIENTS:

* 1 pound ground beef
* 2 (3 ounce) packages Beef flavored ramen noodles
* 1 (14.5 ounce) can Del Monte petite diced tomatoes (Petite diced are much smaller than any other canned tomatoes and easier to get into your kids because of their small size)
* 1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble in the ground beef, and cook until no longer pink, stirring frequently. Drain off grease.
2. Stir in the flavor packet from the noodles, tomatoes, and corn (with their juices). Break up the noodles slightly, and add them to the skillet. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until noodles are tender. Stir occasionally to break up any clumps of noodles.

Notes:
**I specified Del Monte diced tomatoes because they have better flavor than Hunts (no really, they do). You could use any flavor of diced tomatoes but I do rec that you use petite.

**I used 2 packages of Ramen, Beef flavor (instead of one package of Ramen, Oriental). If you’re cooking for less people, just use one package. I liked the Beef flavor quite a bit.

**Josh put salsa on top of his and thought it really kicked up the taste, so you could try this too!

Both Josh and Brianna ate it and liked it. Our test of likeability is if Brianna says “mmmm” and Josh says he’d take it as leftovers for lunch.

This is an easy meal that costs well under $10, depending on how much you buy your beef for. Here’s a breakdown of what it cost me, since I coupon shop:

beef: 1.89/pound
corn: .35 a can (Green Giant corn)
tomatoes: .40 a can (Del Monte Garlic and Onion)
Ramen: .15/package

Total for dinner at my house, with enough leftovers for lunch for all three of us: approximately $2.94

Weekly Menu March 21-27

Hey, look at that! It’s Sunday. Someone tell me where the week went? And since I’m writing this at 8pm, where the night went? So right now I’m supposed to be getting my taxes in order for the accountant tomorrow and look…I remembered one more task I can use to procrastinate that! Yay me!

Last week’s menu fell apart a bit mid-week for some reason. I can’t even remember why now, but there was a good reason why I didn’t end up following much of my menu the second half of the week. Probably I was working and didn’t want to take the time to even prep a meal for the crockpot. So a few of my meals from last week are traveling over to this week.

Sunday: We cooked nothing (in fact, as of this writing, I haven’t had dinner). I actually marinated pork chops for grilling but we went to the beach, ate late and then had ice cream so none of us were really hungry for a full meal come dinner time.

Monday: But that means we get to have grilled marinated pork chops Monday night! I’m going to serve them with saffron rice and salad. Oh, and fresh bread because I got freshly churned butter at the local dairy farm today and that just demands fresh bread!

Tuesday: Pizza roll. This was on the menu for last week but has been moved to this week.

Wednesday: Corned beef, potatoes and cabbage in the crockpot. I know this is a week too late for St. Patrick’s day, but it was on sale last week so I got two, one to cook and one to freeze.

Thursday:
Crockpot country ribs, baked potatoes and…some veggie. Green beans for the family, something fresh and sauteed for me.

Friday: It’s Mom’s Night Out. I’m going for Mexican and margaritas and my family is on. Their. Own. Wheee!

Saturday: Grilling out. Some kind of fish because I’m really craving fish on the grill.

Whew, the planning wasn’t as hard this week as it was last week. I actually managed to do it in five minutes. Hot damn! So what’s on your menu this week?

Apricot-glazed Pork Loin

Last week I got a pork loin on sale at the grocery store, but had no idea how I was going to cook it. Since I hadn’t done any pre-planning, I really didn’t have time for marinating so I put out a desperate call to my Twitter followers: Do you have a good recipe for pork loin? I got an amazing number of responses, all of which looked delicious, and I ended up narrowing it down to a couple when one of my male Twitter followers emailed me a recipe for Apricot-glazed Pork Loin. Oddly enough, I had a jar of apricot preserves in my cupboard (I keep them for a ham appetizer I make that’s a big hit at parties) so I decided to go with that because it fit my requirements: it was easy and I had all of the ingredients. People, let me tell you, this pork loin was amazing and delicious and a hit with everyone in my family. Here’s the recipe, I adapted it just slightly by increasing the amount of crushed red pepper and cumin. You may wish to cut the crushed red pepper in half if you don’t want the warmth to have a bit of spice.

Apricot-Glazed Pork Loin

Ingredients

1 pork loin (the size depends on how many people you’re feeding. Mine was a 2 lb loin)

2-3 garlic cloves, sliced into thin pieces (original recipe called for one clove but I used more. I like garlic)

1/2 cup apricot preserves (with whole fruit is good, maybe even preferable)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (or 1/2 teaspoon curry)

juice of 1/2 medium lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea salt or Kosher salt

Ground pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut 6 (1-inch) slits evenly spaced across the top, insert the garlic pieces. Brush pork loin with EVOO and coat with salt and pepper. Let rest on top of oven for 20 minutes while oven is preheating.

2. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine apricot preserves, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, cumin with salt/pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Bake pork loin in oven. Baking time depends on the size of your pork loin. Bake for 20 minutes then remove from oven and spread evenly with apricot mixture. Return the pork to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (with pork, temperature is more important than roasting time).

4. Remove from oven and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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