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  • Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans


    So my friend Lizzy from That Skinny Chick Can Bake (if you haven’t read her blog or don’t follow her on Facebook, what are you waiting for, go on, do it!) and I were lamenting about our husbands and their love of baked beans. Sigh. Really? Baked beans?

    A grilled hot dog and a little scoop of baked beans and I am really done. Lizzy likes them even less.

    My idea of making baked beans is popping open a can of Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans and doctoring them up – a little ketchup, maple syrup, some crisp bacon, perhaps mustard. But from scratch? Do people really do that? And How?

    So the solution? Let’s pick a recipe and make it together, we can compare notes, miseries, etc., We would be giving our husband’s a favorite BBQ treat and being very virtuous by making them from scratch.  We just needed to find the recipe. 

    Off to the bookshelf I went. I grabbed the Thrill of the Grill and there was the solution – Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans.  The recipe had most of the ingredients I used to doctor my beans up, how bad or difficult can it be? And it’s a recipe from a Grandma, it has to be good. Right?

    • 1/2 lb bacon, diced
    • 1 yellow onion, diced small
    • 1 gallon water
    • 1/2 C molasses
    • 1/2 C brown sugar
    • 1/4 C maple syrup
    • 2 C ketchup
    • 2 T yellow mustard
    • 1 1/4 lbs navy beans (soaked in water to cover overnight)
    • S&P to taste

    NOTE: I did this through and through. Left beans soaking in a covered bowl over night. Would it have been simpler to open a can of beans? YES! If I were to do this again, would I do that? HELL YEAH!

    In a large pot, sauté the bacon over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the diced onions and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.

    Add the water, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, maple syrup, and mustard, and bring to a boil.

    NOTE: There are times I am very much like my mother and only read every other word in a recipe. I missed that bring to a boil step.

    Add the beans, bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer and cook 4 to 5 hours until the beans are soft, adding water from time to time if necessary and stirring often to prevent burning. Season with salt and pepper to taste. These beans will keep, covered and refrigerated, about 1 week.

    NOTE: To serve, I added a little crisp bacon to the top. I am of the belief that it is impossible to have too much bacon!

    Okay, now this is where this wonderful, loving gesture takes a turn for the worst nightmare.  I used my sturdy Lodge 5 Qt. pot. These beans were to be for another night. So while I was making these, I was outside cooking dinner. I came in and checked the beans, gave them a stir. I diligently had a timer with me.  Not quite sure what happened, perhaps one too many Coronas, but on one trip in the house I smelled something burning!

    Oh, no, OH NO, ohnoohnoohnoohno! Heavy sigh.

    Without moving everything around too much, I scooped up the top layer of beans. Fortunately they didn’t taste burnt. But below this was a thick layer of burnt, blackened, stuck on, goo. How was I going to get this MESS off the pot!

    I scraped out what I could – that’s the beauty of cast iron, with the exception of soap, there’s little you can do to destroy it!

    First, cover mess with water and boil, scrape while it’s boiling. Some came off, but there was still at least an inch of burned yuck there!

    Thank goodness for foodie friends. My friend Linda at How to Cook a Wolf saved me – of course after asking me repeatedly what was wrong with me making them from scratch when I could easily doctor …. yes, yes, yes, yes….

    She says … pour baking soda in the pot, add water, boil for a while, turn it off and let it sit.

    Linda, I am indebted to you. It was like a miracle elixir! One couple of small little spots didn’t come up, and I used my mother’s trick of a wet Bounce drier sheet, and I was finally able to scrape it all off. I did need to reseason the pot. And I will NEVER, EVER make baked beans from scratch again!

    Yes, they were delicious. But I can throw away a can, I can’t throw away my pot!

    Buffalo Chicken Chili

    I am not the biggest fan of Rachael Ray’s cooking. I’m not quite sure why.  I have tried a recipe or two and they always go pear shaped.

    That being said, one morning while home sick from work, I watched Rachael make this Buffalo Chicken Chili with a group of firemen. It was intriguing. There were firemen. It looked simple and – to quote Ms. Ray – Yumm-o.

    Aside from my least favorite kitchen chore – CHOPPING – this is really easy to put together. The end result is fabulous! This is perfect Super Bowl grub. Buffalo Wings without the fat and bones!

    • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 T butter
    • 2 pounds all-white meat ground chicken breast
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
    • 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce, depending on how hot you like it
    • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 7-ounce bag yellow corn chips
    • 1 7-ounce bag blue corn chips
    • 3/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled, recommended type Maytag Blue
    • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

    NOTE: I skipped the parsley. I just didn’t think it was necessary.

    Place a large pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the butter. Once the butter has melted and the pot is hot, add the ground chicken. While browning, using the back of a wooden spoon to break the chicken into small pieces, about 5-6 minutes.

    Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes, and bring to a bubble. Simmer for 8-10 minutes to let the flavors come together.

    While the chili is simmering, spread the yellow and blue corn chips out on a cookie sheet. Top with the crumbled blue cheese and transfer to the oven to melt the cheese, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

    NOTE: You can melt the cheese onto the chips in the broiler, but watch it, it goes from melting to scorched in a nanosecond! Yes, I had to do this twice.

    Tis is really an easy recipe. Good for a crowd, easy to double. Comes together quickly, but has a long cooking taste to it.

    Top each serving of buffalo chicken chili with a few blue cheese-topped corn chips.