Bringing up Beans from the Basement

Black-eyed peas eaten on New Year's Day brings good luck. These 30 year old beans are gonna need it. Or maybe it's those who eat the beans that will need it. Happy New Year's Eve.

New Year's Eve Menu
T-dawgs Hot Dog Stand

Hot dogs and buns
T-Dawgs sauce (my imitation J Dawgs sauce)
Banana peppers
Yellow mustard
Brown mustard
Celery salt

Veggie chips

Cowboy caviar

Soda floats with homemade ice cream

Brownies and chocolate chip cookies (maybe)

Cowboy Caviar AKA Poor Man's Caviar
Adapted from
Any combination of beans work.

1 (14 ounce) can black or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can black-eyed peas or navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can white corn, drained
1 cup finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley or 1/3 c. dried parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil or 1/2 to 1 t. dried basil
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or amount to taste (optional)

Stir the black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, white corn, onion, garlic, parsley, and basil together in a bowl.
To make the dressing, mix the olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, dry mustard, and hot sauce together in a small bowl until well blended. Pour over the bean mixture and toss to mix evenly. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

Calories: about 160 in 1/2 cup

"Is that part of the recipe?"

I am asked. "It's part of MY recipe," I answered as I grind old hard Tang and lemonade in the food processor." I live with nosy ingrates who obviously don't appreciate my economical efforts. I don't know why they are so concerned about what I am feeding them.

Wassail Mix

1 cup Tang powder
1 1/2 cups of lemonade powder (Country Time)
2 to 3 cups sugar, according to taste
2 tsp cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp cloves, according to taste

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Place 2 T. in a cup. Add one cut hot water.


Here is another one.
Wassail Mix
3 c. sugar
1 c. Tang
1 1/2 c. lemonade (Country Time)
1 c. Instant Apple Drink
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. ground cloves
1 t. ginger

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Place 2 T. in a cup. Add one cut hot water.

This recipe made my crusty instant apple cider much better and I can use butter that is starting to sour.
Hot Buttered Apple Cider Mix

1 pound dark brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in spices. Place one heaping tablespoon in cup. Add hot apple cider. Can top with whipped cream. Of course in my case I had to make the apple cider from the packet first then add the butter mix.

If your apple cider is already spiced reduce or eliminate the spices if desired. ( and just add butter and sugar-yum! Come to think of it, let's live dangerously and add butter and more sugar to all the drinks).

The Brown Spotted Pear

The young brown spotted pear is an elusive creature as it quickly becomes mature and develops into the brown pear. It can be found the world over but is most likely to be seen in areas of procrastination and general goofing. It is, however, quite tasty. It it recommended to remove the most soft parts. The mature adult, the brown pear, can be eaten as well but only in select dishes.

Grilled Ham and Cheese with Pear

8 slices country style white bread, sliced 1/2 inch think
Ham, thinly sliced. I used about 1 3/4 to 2 oz of baked ham per sandwich
12 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded or sliced
2 pears, peeled and thinly sliced
Butter, softened

Pre-heat skillet on medium-low heat.

Assemble sandwich: Place cheese, ham, pear, more cheese on bread. Top with remaining bread and press to hold sandwich together. Spread top generously with butter. Place buttered-side down into skillet. Slightly press again. Generously butter the remaining side. Cook until cheese is slightly melted and bread is browned, slightly pressing on sandwich with spatula as it cooks. Flip and cook, slightly pressing, until cheese is thoroughly melted and sandwich is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Vary the ingredient amounts to your taste.
Use apple instead.
Spread Dijon mustard on the inside of the sandwich.

History Repeats Itself

Buy bread. Turns hard. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Who even does that? This time I used my hard French bread as bread crumbs.

Cauliflower Gratin
From Taste of Home

1 c. chicken broth
1 large head cauliflower, washed and separated into florets
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1/4 c. seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add cauliflower. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook for 15-18 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt butter. Add bread crumbs; cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until toasted and browned. Remove from the heat; stir in Parmesan cheese. Drain cauliflower; top with crumb mixture.

I obviously just used plain bread crumbs. Sometimes plain fat works. Also, I used grated Parmesan in the green jar.

Nutritional Analysis: 1 cup equals 150 calories, 10 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 25 mg cholesterol, 459 mg sodium, 11 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 6 g protein.

Clump O'Marshmallows

I had 2 left over sweet potatoes (or are they yams?) sitting on the counter and no one was eating them. I baked them and still no takers. Then I remembered the clump of marshmallows in the pantry. When marshmallows are stuck together in a ball it's hard to measure the right amount.

Candied Sweet Potatoes 

4 pounds sweet potatoes, quarters
1 1/4 c. butter
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
3 c. miniature marshmallows, divided
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and boil until slightly underdone, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and peel.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, 2 cups marshmallows, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook, stirring occasionally, until marshmallows are melted.
Stir potatoes into marshmallow sauce. While stirring mash about half of the potatoes, and break the others into bite-sized chunks. Transfer to prepared dish.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover top evenly with remaining marshmallows. Top with more if desired. Return to oven and bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

    Merry Christmas to All

    Christmas Day Brunch
    (Yep, left-overs)

    Crab bisque
    Standing rib roast
    Baked ham
    Potato Pie
    Roasted asparagus
    Orange butterflake rolls
    Big soft ginger cookies with lemon frosting
    Hungarian love letters
    French silk pie
    Red mixed drink

    But to this I added the following:

    Quiche Lorraine
    Belgian waffles
    Baked French toast
    Cheese fondue with sourdough or French bread
    Cranberry vanilla cheese ball with assorted crackers
    Winter pear salad
    Fruit salad
    Texas grapefruit
    Fresh orange juice
    Apple cider
    Chocolate milk

    Hot apple cider with buttered spices
    Hot wassail
    Hot chocolate

    Happy Christmas Eve

    Christmas Eve Menu

    Crab bisque
    Standing rib roast
    Baked ham
    Potato Pie
    Roasted asparagus
    Sweet potato casserole
    Orange butterflake rolls
    Big soft ginger cookies with lemon frosting
    Hungarian love letters

    French silk pie
    Red mixed drink

    So Proud of Myself

    Only 2 little mold spots on the cooked spaghetti squash developed and I was all over it like...uh mold all over that unrecognizable food stuff I just threw out.

    Spaghetti Squash Gratin
    From Laura Rebecca's Kitchen
    Also found at

    1 spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs), halved lengthwise (stem to blossom end) and seeded
    2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (optional)
    2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp coarsely ground pepper
    8 oz Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
    1 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of both

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place squash, skin side up (one half at a time), on microwave-safe dish; cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 10-12 min, until tender.

    Carefully run the tines of a fork lengthwise over cut surface of squash to loosen spaghetti-like strands; scoop out strands. Drain excess liquid, if necessary, and set aside.

    Combine garlic, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, creme fraiche/sour cream, and 2/3 cup cheese in small bowl. Fold into squash; place in shallow ovenproof 2 qt. casserole dish or glass pie plate. Top with remaining cheese.

    Bake 20 min or until lightly browned. (For a little extra browning, finish under the broiler.)

    The Current State of Affairs

    My Fresh Friday post. Hey, it counts. The tree is fresh. I think this pretty much sums up how things are going around here.

    Carcass Soup

    You know that roasted chicken you bought because
    1. You had no idea what to have for dinner.
    2. You didn't feel like cooking.
    3. If you had to cook another dinner you were going to scream.
    4. Cookies are not considered a well-balanced meal.
    5. Truth be told you don't even know how to cook.
    6. Nobody likes what you make anyway.
    7. There is nothing in the house to make.
    8. You are on a diet and making dinner would ruin it. (my fav)
    9. They smelled really good.
    10. Your kitchen is like a restaurant that is open 24 hours a day and everyone eats at different times and likes different things and you once served 6 meals in a 2 hour period and maybe that is the reason you are getting so fat!!!!! (apparently this one is my fav)

    Whoa. Easy there, girl.

    Anyway, don't throw out the carcass. Make soup out of it. You can do the same with a turkey carcass only increase the ingredients. After all you're not sick of turkey yet are you? That will be another post, you lucky dogs.

    Chicken Soup

    Chicken carcass
    12 c. water
    8 chicken bullion cubes
    1 T. dried minced onion or one medium onion chopped
    1 t. dried dill
    4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 to 1 inch slices
    2 c. frozen green beans
    4 oz thick home-style egg noodles (the kind that take 20 mins. to cook)

    Place chicken carcass in a large stock pot. Add water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 mins. Remove carcass leaving the water. Turn off the heat. Set aside chicken to cool. When it is cool enough to handle, remove any chicken meat from the carcass (translation: dig and pick) and put back into pot. Add rest of ingredients and stir. Return to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 mins. until vegetables are tender and the noodles are cooked.

    If your noodles take less time to cook, add the vegetables and cook for 10 mins. Then add the noodles and cook 5 mins. more.

    The vegetables can be varied. Replace 4 parsnips for the green beans or 2 parsnips for 2 carrots. Or 2 parsnips for 1 c. green beans. If only using carrots, use 8. Some high level math going on here.

    Now what if your partakers can see through your economical skills and use words like "foisting heinous leftovers?" Or at least think them? Entice them with dumplings.

    Homemade Bisquick Mix

    4 c. flour
    2 T. baking powder
    1 1/2 t. salt
    1 c. shortening

    Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add shortening and mix until blended. Use and electric mixer or your hands to do this. Can halve this recipe for use below with no left over.

    Bisquick Dumplings

    2 c. Bisquick Mix (half the above recipe)
    2/3 c. milk

    Mix both ingredients just until soft dough form. Do not over mix. Drop by spoonfuls onto boiling soup or stew. Cook uncovered on low heat for 10 mins. Cover and cook 10 mins. longer.

    Adjust cooking times of soup or stew when adding dumplings. For example, in the carcass chicken soup, when all the ingredients are in the pot, bring to a simmer and add the dumplings. Cook on low for 10 mins. uncovered. Cover and cook another 10 mins. The dumplings, vegetables, and noodles will all be done at the same time.

    The Never Ending Quest

    Who? Me, and a few other people.
    What? Ate the most delicious roasted squash soup ever drizzled with hazelnut oil and topped with pumpkin praline.
    Where? Tiburon, Naples, FL
    When? November 25, 2004
    Why? Because it was Thanksgiving.
    How? With a spoon

    Now I will spent the rest of my life in a quest to duplicate that soup. And I probably don't even remember what it actually tastes like. This year I made 4 different recipes. Here and here. Too savory. Then I made this one. Good but a little too sweet. This one was voted the best this year. This one looks like a candidate for next year. Call me crazy but I think I better limit it to 2 per year.

    Squash Soup
    Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
    Serves: 4 servings

    6 cups (about 2 large squash) seeded 2-inch wide chunks butternut squash
    Melted butter, for brushing
    1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
    1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
    3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
    4 tablespoons honey
    1 teaspoon minced ginger
    4 ounces heavy cream
    8 ounces cream cheese (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
    Brush the flesh of the squash with a little butter and season with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper. On a sheet pan lay the squash flesh side up. Roast for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is nice and soft.

    Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add the stock, honey, and ginger. Bring to a simmer and puree using a stick blender or blend in blender. Careful hot! Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

    Last year a made a paltry total of 2 squash soups. Below is the preferred one last year. I added one package of cream cheese to try and duplicate the velvety smoothness I remember.

    Butternut Squash Soup
    From Diana Rattray
    Makes about 8 cups

    Garnish this flavorful soup with spiced pumpkin seeds or toasted pecans.

    1 large butternut squash, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
    1 1/2 cups apple cider
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks, cut in half crosswise
    2 tablespoons melted butter
    1 cup diced onion
    2 tablespoons butter
    4 cups chicken broth
    dash ground ginger
    dash ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    salt, to taste
    butter-toasted pumpkin seeds, optional, see below

    Using a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Cut into chunks, removing seeds and soft fibers with a spoon. Put in a bowl; add apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick pieces then drizzle all over with the melted butter. Pour the mixture into a 9x13-inch baking pan; cover tightly with foil and cook at 450° for 1 hour, or until very tender.

    Meanwhile, cook diced onion in a large saucepan in the 2 tablespoons butter. When onion is very tender, add chicken broth; bring to a boil; remove from heat and set aside. When squash is very tender, remove from oven. Remove cinnamon from the squash. With a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to the chicken broth and onion mixture. Add about 1/4 cup of the roasting pan juices to the saucepan. If desired, add 8 oz cream cheese. Bring to a simmer. Working in about 4 batches, puree the squash mixture in a blender; return to the saucepan. Stir in the ginger and nutmeg and the heavy cream, along with salt, to taste. Heat through. Serve with butter-toasted pumpkin seeds (below), if desired, or sprinkle with a little cinnamon, toasted pecans, or chopped peanuts.

    Butter-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
    In a small skillet, heat 2 teaspoons butter; add a few tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and cook over medium-low heat until lightly browned. Transfer to a paper towel to drain; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

    Bye to Buttermilk

    I finished my container of hard buttermilk powder.
    I celebrated by having a piece of cake.

    Red Velvet Cake

    1 oz. red food coloring
    1 oz. water
    2-3 T. cocoa or Nestle's Quick cocoa mix
    1/2 c. shortening
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    2 eggs
    1 c. buttermilk
    scant 1 t. salt
    2 1/4 c. cake flour
    1 t. vanilla
    1T. vinegar
    1 t. soda

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans or just spray with Pam.

    In a small bowl mix the food coloring, water and cocoa. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Beat eggs into colored cocoa mix and then add to shortening and sugar. Beat until mixed well. Add buttermilk, flour, salt and vanilla. Mix. Stir in vinegar and soda. Pour into prepared pans. Bake for 30 mins. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 mins. remove from pans. Let cool completely.

    Velvety Frosting

    1/2 c. flour
    1 1/2 c. milk
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    1.1/2 c. butter, softened
    1 T. vanilla

    Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off. In medium saucepan, combine flour and milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture is very thick, stirring constantly. Cover surface with plastic wrap; cool completely. In large bowl, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture by tablespoonfuls, beating at high speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Fill and frost cake, using 1 c. frosting between layers.

    Velveeta Gets an Upgrade

    I have some Velveeta in the basement that is old. Does it really ever get old? I think not. But it does look weird..."it looks like it has been melted." Here is a recipe using Velveeta that ensures your cheese fondue will not ball up, or become stringy or separate. Not that I have ever had that happen to a few pounds of cheese before.

    Easy and Fool Proof Cheese Fondue
    Serves many!

    1 c. water
    2/3 c. water mixed with 1/3 c. white vinegar and 1 T. sugar ( my substitution for 1 c. white wine)
    3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 T. butter
    1/4 t. white pepper
    1/4 t. ground nutmeg
    2 pounds processed American cheese, cubed or sliced
    2 pounds Gruyere cheese. shredded. cubed or sliced

    These directions use a crock-pot for ease.
    Preheat crock-pot on low.
    Place water, wine substitution, butter, garlic, pepper, and nutmeg in a saucepan and bring to boil. Pour into crock-pot. Add cheese. Gently stir. Allow cheese to melt on low stirring occasionally. Stir just to mix. Add more cheese or more water to bring to desired consistency. Keep crock-pot on low or keep warm or place in a chafing dish with the flame low.

    Dip rye bread, French bread or sourdough bread. These can be cut into bite-sized pieces. Apples that have been peeled and sliced are wonderful for dipping as well.

    Don't bring cheese temperature past its melting point or it will ball up. Don't stir too much. Stirring increases the chance of it becoming stringy.

    If you don't use a crock-pot, bring all ingredients except cheese to a boil in a double boiler. Add cheese a little at a time stirring until cheese is melted. Pour into a chafing dish with the flame kept low.