Baked Beans, Southern Style

Truth be told, baked beans out of a can, such as Bush’s Baked Beans are really quite good. One of my favorite meals is a couple of hot dogs, cut up and heated in a skillet, and then a can of Bush’s baked beans thrown on top and mixed together. Comfort food at it’s finest.

But of course, there is always the element of personal satisfaction of making something from scratch, that rivals or beats your perceived gold standard. These beans are one of those dishes. Incredibly easy to make, and pretty much fool-proof. It takes some time, but after the initial couple of stages, all the time is the beans sitting, simmering in the oven. If you are on a gluten free diet, these beans are perfect for you.

This recipe is from Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. As with most of her recipes, it feeds a small circus troupe. If I am making this for just my family, I half the recipe and make it in a 8×8″ glass dish. If having company over, I leave it as is and use a 9×13″. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed!

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Southern Style Baked Beans

Serves up to 18

8 slices bacon, halved

1 medium onion, cut into small dice

1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice

3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans

3/4 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar

2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients). Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Just in case you don’t have enough diet busting meals to eat heading in to the holiday season, here is one more to add to the list. Fettuccine Alfredo has been a long time favorite of mine, but for some unknown reason only when eating out. I never attempted to make it from scratch (the sauce, not the fettuccine noodles), and the jarred stuff in the grocery store is pretty much inedible to me. Low and behold, this has to be one of the EASIEST meals to make, and so delicious! The taste does however come with a heavy price, in the realm of probably a weeks worth of recommended calories consumed in one meal! But hey, you only live once, right!

When I make this dish, I use half the quantities listed below. That works best for our house of two adults and two little people. If you are serving more folks, use what it listed. Also, if you have some left over chicken to use up, definitely throw it on top. This time I had a couple of cooked chicken breasts left over from the night before, so I sliced them up, and reheated them in a skillet with a little olive oil and threw the chicken on top.

The recipe is Ree Drummond’s, minus the nutmeg part. I noticed nutmeg used in a few other alfredo recipes I researched and decided to add it. Very happy I did!

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Fettuccine Alfredo

Ingredients

1 pound fettuccine noodles

8 tablespoons butter

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground pepper

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.

In a saucepan or skillet over low heat, warm the butter and cream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Place half of the parmesan cheese in a large serving bowl. Pour the warm butter/cream mixture over the top. Drain the pasta (reserving some water) and immediately pour it into the bowl. Toss a couple of times, and then sprinkle in the other half of the parmesan. Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary.