Spruced-Up Baked Beans

Whether it be black, pinto, kidney, garbanzo, or baked, sometimes I need a little help in the “homemade” department and I find that in a can. A friend who used to teach with us and his family (wife and 2 toddlers) stayed with us last weekend. To celebrate their visit, we decided to have a cookout at our house. I knew that with company in town all weekend and two little ones running around our un-child-proofed house that I wouldn’t have tons of time to cook. So, I decided to spruce-up some canned baked beans in my trusty CrockPot for the party!

4 strips of bacon, cut into lardons
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 cans of baked beans (I used Aldi brand)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 cup ketchup
1 squirt sriracha sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fry up the bacon lardons in a skillet on medium high heat. As they just begin to brown, throw in the onion. Cook the onion is the bacon fat for about 5 minutes or until they begin to brown/become translucent. Pour the fat, bacon lardons, and onion into the CrockPot. Combine the remaining ingredients, stir, and turn the CP to high. Let it cook on high for a couple hours, stirring every 30 min or so. Turn down to warm and serve.

I was having so much fun at the party and playing with the kiddos that I didn’t even take a pic of the beans!

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Carrie’s Marinated Cucumbers

When I married Morgan last year, I was welcomed into a ginormous family…seriously large! He is one of 6…His mother is one of 15…and he’s got 64 first cousins on that side alone. But, I digress. One of the most special parts about being a Strobel is gaining five new sisters! Carrie, Morgan’s brother Daniel’s wife, brought these refreshing cucs to last year’s Memorial Day BBQ. Thankfully she shared the recipe with me and I seriously make them all.the.time!

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All the siblings and spouses, except Amelia and Bob, on NYE 2013

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Sometimes I even switch up the herbs. I have used ginger instead of dill and green onions instead of red. Every time they have been tasty!

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Now, I can’t wait to make them with cucumbers grown in our garden. I picked the first one the other day.

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Olive Oil Herb Dipping Sauce from My Baking Addiction

Mangia! Mangia! One of the best parts about going out to a decadent Italian meal is the bread and olive oil dipping sauce that comes before any of the courses. Forget an app! I have been known to eat so much that I have had to get a doggie bag for my actual entree. When Morgan hosted a study group last month, I decided to make My Baking Addiction’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herb Dip. I did omit the rosemary (since I was out) and used garlic powder instead of fresh (because I was lazy). Even with those changes, it was heaven and tasted just like a restaurant’s! Grab some chewy Italian bread and serve this before your next family spaghetti supper!

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Arugula and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds, Onions, Basil, Prosciutto, and Summer Fruit

I love a good salad and experimenting with ingredients. So when my husband brought home a dozen peaches and four pints of blackberries, I knew I want to incorporate them into my savory, salad concoctions.

1/2 a bag of baby spinach
1/2 a tub of baby arugula
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 of a red onion or one shallot, finely sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2-4 Tbsp chiffonade basil
3 thin slices of prosciutto, torn into small pieces
2 peaches, sliced or 1/2 pint of blackberries

Layer the salad as the ingredients are listed.

No salad is complete without a tangy vinaigrette!

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 red wine vinegar
1/4 olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together. I like an acidic vinaigrette…feel free to adjust the oil. Pour on and toss with the salad.

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You could even make it a meal by serving with a protein.

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Scottie-inspired French Toast

I made this breakfast for my sister, Jenny, on her birthday week way back at the beginning of June. It instantly brought back memories of growing up and our dad, Scott. Whenever our mom was out of town when we were little (which wasn’t that often), our dad would make us French toast for breakfast. We would shop for Barbies and even watch “American Gladiators” at International Market while we ate Thai food for dinner. These were very special treats. I am deeply grateful for these vivid memories that fill me with warmth like this yummy breakfast!

6 eggs
1/4 cup milk
Splash vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
8-10 pieces of white bread
Butter for cooking
Powdered sugar and/or syrup to finish

In a Pyrex pan, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cin sug. Turn the stove on medium heat. Put a pad of butter in a frying pan and let the pan warm up. Soak a piece of bread on the mixture. Pick up the bread, gently drip, and place in the frying pan. Cook the bread for about two minutes on each side or until light to medium brown. I put the toast on a plate in the microwave (not turned on) to keep it warm. You could also put them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven. You will want to add a pad of butter periodically as you cook. Finish Scottie’s French toast with a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of syrup, or both!!!

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