Archive for June, 2012

June 29th, 2012

Baked Beans


True confession, baked beans are a finger food at our house.  No, we don’t actually eat them we our fingers; but my family thinks of them more as a dip to eat with chips . . . any kind of chip will do, but the favorite here is BBQ chips with ridges, of course, because they are stronger and hold more beans.  So if you come to my house, you don’t really need a fork for baked beans . . .

Can you celebrate the 4th of July without baked beans?  I’m sure you could, but for most of us baked beans is a tradition.  Problem for us is, that our family has never had a written recipe for baked beans.  It’s just one of those recipes where you just add a little of this, some of that, and a little more brown sugar.  So finally I decided we needed to write it down {although I can tell you I will still never measure . . . }.

I know a lot of you love bacon in your baked beans, but I don’t add it.  I don’t like the texture of the bacon in the beans . . . but you can still get that same great flavor by adding liquid smoke – an amazing ingredient that gives food that same smokey flavor without all the calories!  You can find liquid smoke near the worcestershire sauce and other condiments in your grocery store.

My second true confession is that if I am making beans for company or to take to an outing I will follow the recipe below.  But then you remember I live in Texas and hate to turn my oven on for 2 hours in the summer!  So if I’m making them to eat at home I’ll make a smaller batch that fits in the microwave and can have them ready in 20-30 minutes without heating up my house.  Just drain off the liquid in the beans first since they don’t have as long to reduce and let them sit 10 minutes before serving . . . same great taste without the 2 hour wait!

Baked Beans

3 large cans (28 ounces) pork and beans (I use Van Camps)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke

Combine all and pour into a 13×9 pan (sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake at 325 for 2 hours.  Let stand 10-15 minutes to reduce a little more before serving.  Now grab a bag of chips and dig in!






Posted under Side Dishes | 2 Comments
June 28th, 2012

Balsamic Poppy Seed Vinaigrette


They say a salad is only as good as the dressing you put on it . . .  now you are sure to have some great-tasting salads.  This balsamic poppy seed vinaigrette is easy to make and perfect for summer salads and spinach salads.  We love it with the Summer Fruit Salad with Marinated Chicken we featured yesterday.  Mix it up and keep in the frig to use all week long.


Balsamic Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (I like to use raspberry or Fig Balsamic)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon dried onions

Mix sugar and balsamic vinegar well.  Slowly stir in olive oil.  Add poppy seeds and onions.  Stir well until combined.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

 Try these other Homemade Dressings:

Orange Vinaigrette
Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette
Peppercorn Ranch Dressing
Creamy Parmesan Ranch


June 27th, 2012

Summer Fruit Salad with Marinated Chicken

We’ve officially passed the 100 degree mark in Dallas – time to let the oven rest . . . most likely until September {hopefully it cools back down by then}.  Here’s a cool and refreshing dinner that anyone will love.

I went to lunch with friends at Panera and had their strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing – yum.  I thought to myself, I could eat this every night – then I realized why not?   So I grilled chicken marinated in a blend of raspberry vinegar, honey and lemon juice, then pared it with strawberries, blueberries, mandarins and pineapple topped off with pecans.  I also threw in some spinach and parmesan cheese to make even more tasty.  Finish it off with a balsamic poppy seed dressing and some grill bread and you’ve got one of my favorite dinners.  I know . . . some of  you are thinking  your husband doesn’t  love salad for dinner – but I promise mine  loves this one!  {If you really have to, serve the chicken alongside the salad and then they don’t realize it’s salad for dinner!}


Summer Fruit Salad with Marinated Chicken

Grilled marinated chicken (recipe here), sliced thin
Mix of spinach and Romaine Lettuce
Mandarin Oranges
Fresh Pineapple
Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Blueberries
Parmesan Cheese

Mix the above and serve with Balsamic Poppy Seed Vinaigrette.

You might also like:

Pear and Pistachio Salad with Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette

Baby Greens with Grapes, Hot-Sweet Pecans & Gorgonzola Vinaigrette


June 26th, 2012

Rice Pilaf

This rice is a staple in our house. We eat it so often and it wasn’t until the other day that I realized it needed to be shared. It is simple yet full of flavor. I always keep these ingredients on hand to easily add Rice Pilaf to any dinner.  Don’t forget the lemon juice.  It really brighten ups the rice.  It can easily be double if needed.

Rice Pilaf pairs well with:

Grilled Chicken
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken Bundles

Rice Pilaf


2 tbsp. butter
2 Tbls onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups chicken broth
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Squeeze of lemon juice


In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and rice to the pan and cook until translucent and tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, the salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer about 20 minutes.  Stir the lemon juice and stir.  Serve!

Posted under Rice | 2 Comments
June 25th, 2012

Individual Fruit Pizza

I came up with this idea for a recent baby shower hosted at my house. I wanted something simple and I really wanted to have fruit. Fruit Pizza is nothing new; it is not an original idea. But a large platter of individual sized cookies topped with fresh fruit was a big hit!! Who knew? I honestly thought I was just making a filler for the table, but instead every single one of these were gone.  

Experiment with your fruit.  Use whatever you have or like.  Any berry would be delicious or mandarin oranges.  I think bananas would be good if they were going to be eaten very quickly before they could brown.  Honestly, I think any fruit combination would work and taste delicious.

Individual Fruit Pizza


Refrigerated sugar cookie dough (or your favorite sugar cookie recipe)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Fruit for topping


Preheat oven to 350.  Roll out cookie dough to about 1/4 inch thick and cut circles with a small circle cookie cutter.  Bake cookies according to package directions.  Cool cookies completely on wire rack.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Spread on each cookie and top with fruit.  Serve immediately.

Posted under Cookies, Desserts, Fruit | 5 Comments


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Caramel Potatoes

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