Roasted green beans

Um, hello? *ahem*

Hi, I’m writing a blog post. It’s been forever and I may not really remember how, so bear with me.

I’ve not been blogging. I have been gardening, toting two kids back and forth to two different schools, going to the beach, learning ASL with Peanut (thanks, Signing Time!), and visiting with family.

And, you know, drinking lots of coffee. Normal.

But now! Let’s talk about green beans. It’s one of the few things I can grow in my back yard that doesn’t fall prey to the squirrels, birds, and bunnies. My tomato plants require a moment of silence and deep breaths before I can even look at them.

The beans, however, are everywhere. I pick them every few days, and get about what’s in that picture up there. There are… a lot. And I am thrilled with this.

So here is my new favorite method:

Spicy roasted green beans

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and checked for strings
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or melted bacon fat
  • 1 jalapeño pepper or a few shakes of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F
  2. Toss beans and oil or bacon fat in a bowl till beans are coated, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss again
  3. Finely dice the pepper and stir it in, or stir in pepper flakes (or both — you could live on the edge)
  4. Scoop onto a cookie sheet or into a cast iron pan, and roast till they’re starting to brown a little; this will probably take at least half an hour or so, but check at 20 minutes and give them a good stir

Options

  • Eat them hot, as is, for a side dish or snack
  • Dip in a little spicy ranch
  • Eat them hot, sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and feta cheese
  • Chill them well, then toss in with a green salad

Would really love to hear what y’all like to do with yours! If the crop keeps going I’ll need more suggestions. :)

Baguettes

One of my favorite books is Will Clower’s The Fat Fallacy. It is smart, and makes sense, and has some really incredible (and incredible easy) recipes. One of my favorites is this super simple recipe for baguettes, which I make a few times a week. Kiddo cannot get enough of them! He likes them plain in his school lunches. I like them hot out of the oven with butter. The Yankee likes them with whatever we’re having for supper.

Peanut likes to throw them like lawn darts. Three out of four ain’t bad.

One of my favorite bread tips also came from this book: if the bread is stale or not as soft as you like (Kiddo likes it SUPER soft), just run your hands under water and then over the bread, or spritz the bread with a water-filled spray bottle, then reheat in the oven or toaster oven. Magically you have soft, warm bread, even if it’s days old.

If it’s really past it’s prime? Cut into squares and bake into croûtons, or use for French toast. But really, the chances of it hanging around to get past its prime are slim. It’s really, really good.

I make these often enough that I bought this perforated pan but you certainly don’t have to; a regular cookie sheet is fine.

Baguettes

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon instant (bread machine) yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Mix together all ingredients until a slightly sticky dough forms (I don’t proof my yeast, but you can if you want, or if you’re using non-instant yeast)
  2. Knead the dough for about ten minutes by hand, about 1-2 minutes in a food processor or mixer, or throw it all in a bread machine and let it work its magic — you’re looking for smooth dough by the time you’re done kneading
  3. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl until it’s doubled in volume (about an hour), then deflate and form into loaves. Dr. Clower gets two long, skinny loaves out of this; I make shorter ones that are easier to pack for lunch
  4. Cover the loaves and let them rise another hour or so, while the oven preheats to 400F
  5. When you’re ready to bake, spritz or sprinkle the loaves with water — better yet, do that AND put an oven-safe pan full of hot water in the oven to steam the bread as it bakes, and make some slashes across the top so the bread can expand as it bakes
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread is as brown as you like. Cool at least ten minutes, then dig in!

Strawberry vinaigrette, and Ball giveaway

It is no secret to any of you that I adore kitchen classics; cast iron pans and Mason jars are at the top of the list. When Ball contacted me to see if I wanted to do a giveaway with them for the inaugural International Can-It-Forward Day I was ALL OVER THAT. This is stuff I use in my kitchen every single day, and have for years before I even started a blog.

The info on Can-It-Forward day:

On Saturday August 16, Jarden Home Brands will host the first annual International Can-It-Forward Day with special guest renowned chef and Bravo’s Top Chef judge, Hugh Acheson!  A day to celebrate home canning, International Can-It-Forward Day allows food enthusiasts to connect via a variety of online and in-person activities. New and experienced canners can participate in a live webcast on http://www.frespreserving.com, taking place on ground in Brooklyn Borough Hall Farmers Market, filled with canning demos where viewer questions will be answered in real-time by Chef Acheson and other experts while they learn the most popular (and delicious) home canning recipes. Twenty five farmers markets across the country will also be hosting Can-It-Forward Day celebrations!

In addition to the canning demos, there will also be segments on crafting, herb gardening and the brand’s new drinkware line! We will also be attempting a Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Mason Jar Mosaic!

Here is the ridiculously awesome prize pack for the giveaway:

You can see my documented love for Mason jars here, and here’s another favorite food-in-a-jar, a recipe that’s sort of an amalgam of a few recipes I found online:

Strawberry vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 10 strawberries, hulled
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Process the strawberries in a food processor until they’re pureed, then add lemon juice, sugar, and salt; process again until completely blended
  2. With the processor still running, add in the vinegar then oil in a steady stream until completely combined and thickened

I’m required at this point to tell you that Ball provided me with all these goodies to review at no charge, but for heaven’s sake y’all already know I love the stuff. Opinions are mine, and I’m not paid to say how much I adore them. I just do.

Giveaway closed! Thanks, y’all, and CONGRATS LEAH!

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Want some???

Let’s make this easy: just leave a comment below telling me which item in the prize pack you’re most excited about, and what you’d use it for (or for what you would use it, in case my Aunt Jane is reading).

Want an extra entry? Pin this post and come back and leave an additional comment telling me you did.

I’ll use random.org to pick a winner after midnight on August 15, central time.

And go!

Peanut butter muffins

Kiddo started public school in January so this year I had a whole new adventure: packing lunch. Being seven, he’s terribly busy at lunch doing important things like gut laughing at fart jokes discussing global economic issues, so I need to send food that packs a nutritional punch and tastes good. I thought peanut butter muffins might be a good way to get some protein in him while being a little bit of a departure from a plain ol’ peanut butter sandwich.

When I went looking for a new recipe to try, I literally looked for the recipe with the most amount of peanut butter. Let’s not fool around here! Kiddo and I (and Peanut, actually) LOVE peanut butter, and we want to taste it! This recipe started with “no such thing as too much peanut butter.” I knew we had a winner! The original recipe was filled with mini Reese’s cups and had a sweet topping. While that sounds freaking amazing, I was going for a lunch food here. :)

 

Peanut butter muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (that’s 169.6 grams*)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line or grease a 12-muffin pan
  2. Beat butter, peanut butter, and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until very well combined.
  3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, then milk
  4. Stir together dry ingredients, then mix into wet ingredients until JUST combined — some little lumps are okay, you just don’t want any dry flour
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out dry

Notes

*measuring peanut butter is for the birds — much easier to set the mixing bowl on a scale and scoop out what you need!

Second grade isn’t far off! Would love to hear more suggestions for easy-to-pack lunches! What do y’all make?

Alabama white sauce

I am really, really lucky.

And by really, really lucky I mean I live about a mile away from Martin’s BBQ Joint. This is nationally acclaimed BBQ practically in my back yard!

One of my favorite things there (which is a pretty major decision; it’s all amazing) is the Alabama white sauce. It’s incredible on Martin’s smoked wings, but it’s also incredible on turkey sandwiches, meatballs, you name it. Fortunately Pat Martin shared the recipe with Garden & Gun a while back, so I get to make it at home now, too. I scale it way down to 1/4 of his recipe (see below); you can see Pat’s original proportions here.

Alabama white sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke’s)
  • 5 ounces cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt (heaping)
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper (heaping)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Stir it all together (I use a whisk), then store in a squeeze bottle or Mason jar
  2. Add to everything you can think of.

Pineapple bacon sandwich rolls

The Yankee went through a period where he was making bacon pretty regularly, which meant I had a fantastic supply of bacon grease to use up. I thought I’d try something new with them, and these turned out great. The bacon grease makes them very hearty, with a hint of sweetness from the pineapple juice — really great for turkey sandwiches!

These are a riff on my earlier blogged yeast rolls. Please to enjoy!

Pineapple bacon sandwich rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm pineapple juice (heating it for a few seconds in the microwave is fine)
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons room temperature bacon grease
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients and knead together in a stand mixer for about six or seven minutes on the second speed; the dough should clean the sides of the bowl
  2. Let it rise till doubled, about an hour
  3. Separate dough into 16 pieces, roll into balls and place in two greased pie or cake pans
  4. Let rise again until rolls are touching and very puffy
  5. Bake at 350F for about 20 or 25 minutes until golden brown; cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool

I’m thinking I need to try these for pimento cheese sandwiches, too. What else?