Tuesday, November 24, 2009

JeanneBean's Baked Beans

By now you must be in full Thanksgiving mode: mirepoix chopping, turkey thawing, brine simmering, bread staling (?). Yup it's Tuesday of Thanksgiving week and if you're gonna blow 'em away on Thursday, the work starts now.

I've got lots of work as well so I'm not going to give you a big story today. I am going to list my links on this sight that can help you get through the big day. After that I'll give you a recipe for a side dish/dinner that will keep the gang satisfied between now and Thursday or alter the monotony of leftovers. Here goes:

For a full list of links and additional recipes go to my Thanksgiving Post from last year. The links are a bit scattered in order, but there are some additional recipes that might help.

OK on to today's recipe. By Saturday you'll be sick of turkey. You're going to want something to add to the plate that tastes a little different. This is a recipe I got from JeanneBean; she's used these baked beans as everything from a side dish to a main course. Best of all, it's quick prep and easy cooking with none of the pesky overnight soaking normally required for baked beans. Using canned store bought beans saves hours of work and by Saturday you'll need the rest. Enjoy...

JeanneBean's Baked Beans
from JeanneBean
(feeds a small army as a main course)

1/2 pound thick cut bacon, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 onion diced

1 3-pound (industrial-sized) can of baked beans (I prefer Bush's or B&M)
1 14.5 ounce can, red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can, black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 ounce can, stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup brown sugar (either light or dark, or a mix of both)
2 TBSP molasses
3 TBSP dry mustard
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt (taste before adding to make sure you need it)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large heavy-duty pot, Dutch Oven or Le Creuset, combine the bacon, ground beef and onion and saute until well browned.

When finished sauteing, add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.

Cover the pot and place in the oven cooking for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the pot, stir the beans and return the pot to the oven, cooking UNCOVERED, for an additional hour.


OK, simple and to the point. Add some sausages and this batch will serve a small island nation. The good news is the the stuff reheats very well. When you reheat, add a cup of chicken or beef stock to the pot and cook in a 275 degree oven for an hour or until hot.

I'm outta here crablings, I'm sure I'm way behind on getting something ready for Thursday. Have a great holiday and remember, you can do it you can cook.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mustard-Cream Sauce

I am a polar bear stuck in a snow storm reading the newspaper classifieds watching "The Maltese Falcon" on TV.

It is gray here with occasionally more intense shades of black and white thrown in. It's as if someone pulled the plug on the color vat and now they're all empty. The sun has disappeared, and if past history is any indication, we won't be seeing much of it again until sometime in April 2010.

Gray upon grey upon gray. The entire state of Michigan is one big blob of gray. Clouds everywhere, no rain, no snow, just clouds. Throw in the auto industry, the housing market and the Michigan football teams and you have one massive ocean of indifference and ennui.

Michigan, Michgan State and the Lions all play this weekend and in all likelihood all three will be obliterated. Come Monday morning, sports radio and the newspapers will reach a tepid fever pitch calling for coaches' heads. But the outrage will pass, crushed by an endless blanket of clouds.

Sigh! is the new state fight song.

Well, I got one last grilling in before the Sun ran away and hid. But the truth is even today's sauce recipe is a bit bland and lifeless. Mustard Cream Sauce is a very simple, very fast sauce that was supposed to spice up grilled steak. Well not exactly. It would have been great on a sandwich instead of mayo or maybe on a piece of fish but it didn't have enough spine to stand up to beef. I kicked up the ratios quite a bit, so try and enjoy...

Mustard-Cream Sauce
inspired by Donna Hay Magazine but kicked up by Crabby

1/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/3 cup sour cream

Combine the stock, wine and mustard in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for two minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream.

Spoon over grilled or roasted meat.

Wow, even the recipe is boring. This recipe needs to be tweaked to your personal mustardy-hotness preferences. It has decent if forgettable flavor.

Sigh, until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork with Soba

I heard my first Christmas Carols on the radio the other day. I guess this one station in town starts playing them November 1st. Given a choice they'd probably start right after Labor Day but then they'd be accused of "disrespecting" Halloween. Yup, you don't want to go up against "Monster Mash".

I can't stand that we completely blow by Thanksgiving, but I have to admit I'm no better than the rest. It's a Saturday in mid-November, Michigan is blowing another football game and it's 60 degrees outside. Only one thing to do: Outdoor Christmas Lights!

Every year there's that one weekend when you can risk life and limb putting up your outdoor lights without freezing your finger tips. Today was the day. So,I started rooting around in the basement, finding lights, testing strings and cursing burned out bulbs. How can bulbs burn out while they're sitting in the basement unplugged?

I got everything up. I won't turn the lights on until the Friday after Thanksgiving, but at least there were no frozen finger tips or cracked patches of skin. I'm inspired to make something a bit lighter for dinner. Grill one more time in decent temperatures. Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork is light and quick. The marinating happens while your stringing lights or raking the last of the season's leaves. Enjoy...

Sesame & Soy-Ginger Pork with Soba
from Donna Hay magazine, Issue 46

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup mirin wine
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup water
12 ounces soba noodles, cooked
1 TBSP toasted sesame seeds
1 TBSP vegetable oil

Add the first 5 ingredients in a re-sealable bag and mix well to fully combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.

Preheat your grill over medium-high heat.

Remove the pork from the marinade, but KEEP THE MARINADE.

Grill the pork until done. Approximately 15 - 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so.

While the pork is grilling, prepare the soba noodles according to package directions. When done, rinse the noodles under cold running water.

While the pork and soba are cooking, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan. Add the water and gently simmer until the sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes.

Toss the soba noodles with oil and sesame seeds. Serve the noodles with slices of pork and drizzle with the sauce.

OK, quick,easy and painless on a warm autumn day. The original recipe called for green tea soba noodles. I don't know where you live, but here, green tea soba noodles are hard to come by.

Alrighty crablings, I'm sure the weather is going to turn soon. until then remember, you can do it, you can cook.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

Hot dogs and sauerkraut. Cold beer, hot pizza. Some matches are classics not to be tampered with.

Yet most people just can't leave well enough alone. Hot dogs have to be all-beef from free ranging cows who roamed the foothills of the Rockies nibbling on Edelweiss while listening to "The Sound of Music" soundtrack. Sauerkraut has to be made from Amish-grown organic shredded cabbage immersed in a brine of French sea salt dredged and dried from the tidal flats of Normandy.

Some recipes drive me nuts. The requests are so precise that it's virtually impossible to find all the right ingredients. Of course when it turns out lousy the natural reaction is to blame yourself for using all-purpose flour instead of tracking down that Peruvian stone ground lotus root flour recommended in the recipe. That's why I always loved Giada DeLaurentiis' recipes. She makes liberal use of easily findable ingredients. The resulting meals are always flavorful and amazingly easy to recreate.

Until today.

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes. Sounds like the perfect combo. Sounds like a winning dessert. Well all I know is that there was a lot of cursing coming out of the kitchen, primarily directed at the candied orange peel ingredient. SSSal went "store bought" and I can attest from eating the final product that this was a mistake. Gummy, flavorless. I spent more time tearing apart the cupcakes removing the orange rind than I spent eating the final product.

So this recipe is like a television movie, it's "Based on actual events". That's true if by "based of actual events" you mean that the title and some of the main ingredients are the same. After that, any resemblance to recipes living or dead is purely coincidental. Here's SSSal's highly adjusted and doctored recipe, enjoy...

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
by SSSal and inspired by Giada DeLaurentiis' recipe

1 box chocolate cake mix (preferably Duncan Hines Devil's Food)
Orange Juice (replacing the water in the cake mix)
1 cup chocolate chips (mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
1 teaspoon all purpose flour
1 cup diced candied orange peel (DON'T use the store bought stuff - leave it out otherwise)


1 teaspoon each of orange and vanilla extracts
1 pound (1 box) powdered sugar
8 TBSP butter, (1 stick), softened to room temperature
2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice OR 1 TBSP 1/2 and 1/2
2 teaspoons orange juice
Zest of 1 orange


Cupcake liners
2 muffin pans

For the Cupcakes:

Prepare the chocolate cake mix according to the package instructions, substituting the orange juice for the water.

Toss the chocolate chips with the flour.

Fold the chocolate chips and candied orange peel into the chocolate mixture (if you haven't made your own candied orange peel - and who hasn't - it is better to skip this ingredient rather than use the vile stuff you can buy at the supermarket).

Line the muffin pans with the cupcake liners. Fill each liner and bake the cupcakes according to the package instructions.

Allow the cupcakes to cool for at least 1 hour on a cooling rack prior to frosting.

For the Frosting:

Combine all the ingredients into a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Using the a small spatula, place about a tablespoon of frosting atop each cupcake.


OK. It's a baking recipe so I have no particular insights into why you do certain things a certain way. Next time I'll be back cooking things; until then, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Honey-Ginger Chicken

First "real" frost of the year this morning. Oh, we've had a few frosts already, but they've mostly been the cover your plants variety. Last night was a good old-fashioned 25 degree turn the lawn white and crunchy frost.

I know that this frost was a manly frost because of the Pooch. During the week I get up early to get the newspaper and walk him. Most days it's still quite dark and I carry a flashlight to find the paper, warn passing drivers and illuminate a spot for him to "do his business".

I suspect we make quite a sight. Me shabbily bundled against the cold with a spectral light weaving in time to my stride suddenly stopping on the shadowy image of a slightly embarrassed canine trying to get a little privacy. Most days we dawdle a bit. He sniffs for deer, I yawn listening for sleepy drivers speeding down our street. But not today.

Today it was downright cold. Pooch hit the grass and it looked like he wanted to raise all four paws at once. This made for a difficult time trying to "get things done", especially when it came to squatting. Every time the little guy got set, another blade of ice cold grass hit him in just the right spot. He'd jump up and shuffle to a new location only to spring up again. He looked like a chicken scratching at the ground looking for a little comfort.

Of course that reminded me of a chicken dinner from a few weeks back. Honey-Ginger Chicken Breasts is one of those meals that ends up looking complicated on the plate, but is actually very easy to prepare. The key as always is to try and maximize marinating time. The reserved marinade gets boiled to kill off any nasties and then you add a thickener to get it to set up nicely

Honey-Ginger Chicken
adapted from Cooking Light


1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
2 TBSP freshly grated ginger
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP cider vinegar
2 TBSP soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Combine all the ingredients into a re-sealable bag and shake well to distribute. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight, turning occasionally.

Additional Ingredients

1 TBSP cooking oil
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 TBSP water
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Chopped scallions, for garnish

Remove the chicken from the re-sealable bag and SAVE the marinade.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the cooking oil. Place the chicken breasts in a single layer in the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for an additional 7 minutes.

Transfer the chicken from the pan to a serving plate and lightly cover with aluminum foil.

While the chicken is resting, strain the marinade and discard any solids. Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and boil or 3 minutes. As the marinade boils combine the cornstarch and water into a thin slurry.

After boiling for three minutes add the slurry and cook for an additional minute. The sauce will thicken.

Slice the breasts, arranging pieces on individual plates. Spoon some sauce atop the chicken and then garnish with sesame seeds and scallions pieces.

OK crablings, this is actually a very easy recipe. Well, now that the sun's been up for a few hours, the Pooch is looking to go back out at a more leisurely pace. Until next time, remember you can do it, you can cook.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Asian Steamed Halibut

Today there's no story. It's more of a cautionary tale.

For the most part I only share the successes here on CrabbyC, but sometimes a recipe results in something so horrendously bad that I have to pass it along. Yesterday SSSal came home from the store with a piece of Halibut. She declared that it looked good and she felt some sort of light-steamed-Asian thing was in order. Being an obliging Crab, I set about trying to find an appropriate recipe.

One of the first things you learn when trolling the internet for recipes is that there is basically only a handful of each type of recipe and then everything else becomes a variation on those themes. Steaming fish was no different. You flavor some water or stock with a few aromatics, add some soy sauce and vegetables, bring it to a boil, add the fish and cover. How hard can it be? You're steaming a fish for goodness sake.

I should have known better when the recipe I chose was from a site called connectionsforwomen.com. No, I didn't get the recipe from epicurious or foodnetworktv.com. I should have realized there would be a problem when the article just below the fish recipe was entitled, "Marriage - Do women ask too much?". But I plowed on anyway, I mean we're just steaming fish right?

The result was perhaps the worse meal I have ever prepared. The fish was bland and tasteless (I know, you steamed it you twit, what did you expect?). The real killer was that the vegetables were bitter and sour, as though I'd added a gallon or two of vinegar. But here's the catch, I didn't use any vinegar. Two bites and I was up and looking for the leftover meatloaf. SSSal and the Boonsta didn't think it was that bad, but they weren't exactly setting off fireworks over it either. I don't know, maybe it's a chick thing or something.

So here's your opportunity. Look at the recipe. Prepare it at your own risk. But if you do make it, tell me what's wrong with it. On the surface of it, I can't figure out why this meal crashed and burned, but maybe you folks can. Even though it's impossible, try and enjoy...

Asian Steamed Halibut
from Connectionsforwomen.com

4 4 - 6 ounce halibut filets
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup mirin rice wine
1 TBSP soy sauce
3 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 inch square of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
5 scallions, chopped into 1 inch sections
2 baby bok choy, halved vertically
1 Portobello mushroom cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 ripe red bell pepper, cut into thin slices

Add the stock, mirin, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger to a large saute pan and bring to a boil.

When boiling, layer the bok choy, mushrooms, scallions and pepper in the broth. Place the fish filets atop the vegetables and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium high and simmer until the fish is done (fish should pull apart easily with a fork but still look moist). I suggest starting to check for doneness after 7 minutes.

Using a deep plate or bowl serve the fish atop the vegetables with a ladle of broth, sprinkling a few sesame seeds on top for presentation. Addtionally you can serve the meal over a scoop of rice.

OK. Now some of you didn't read the first part of the post and you're going to be complaining to me about how horrible this meal tastes, well that'll teach you not to skip ahead. Hopefully next time I'll share something edible, until then, remember, you can do it you can cook.