Blog Archives

Mom’s Chuck Wagon Beans

Chuckwagon BeansThe Chuck Wagon Beans recipes I have encountered are full of green and lima beans, not baked beans. I really do not like green beans and I hate lima beans and wax beans. Thankfully, my Mom never made those recipes! 

This is the recipe I was going to prepare when I ended up making Baked Chili. My mom made this frequently when I was growing up. I am one of 6 kids. When she made this, it would never last. The recipe below is half of what my Mom would make. Double it and take Chuck Wagon Beans to a potluck.  It is only slightly changed from Mom’s original.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.  Brown 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef, adding about 3/4 cup of diced onion when the beef is nearly completely browned.  Drain.  In a greased 9×9 pan, pour in the beef and onion, adding the following:  1 28 ounce can of baked beans, 1/3 cup beef broth, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons dried ground mustard, 1 garlic clove, minced  and 1/4 ounce fresh grated ginger (or 1 to 2 teaspoons ground).  Mix well. 

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

Cover with foil and place in oven.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  While the beans are  baking, fry 6 slices of bacon until crisp.  Crumble.

Bacon-nothing more to be said!

Bacon-nothing more to be said!

After 45 minutes of baking, remove the foil and sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the beans.  Put back in the oven for another 5 minutes, uncovered.  Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving.  This recipe is a good candidate for the dutch oven (read more at the preceding link).  Cast iron cooking with a bit of natural smoke flavoring added!  Enjoy!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!


Black Bean and Rice Salad

This is a recipe I have to share. I love black beans in salads and black beans and rice in particular. I make this salad just about every time we have Tex-Mex or Mexican. This recipe makes enough for leftovers. I wrap it up in a tortilla with a bit of shredded cheese. Yummy! And even though I don’t know all of the nutrition facts, a quick scan of the ingredients tells me it isn’t bad for you. All of the food groups are represented! Leave out the bacon and you take out the one thing that is less than healthy. But why would you take out the bacon?!  : )

Salad Ingredients:
2 cups water or chicken broth or stock
1 cup raw, long grain rice or brown rice
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced (greens too! Save some greens for garnish)
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed sliced olives
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
4 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled

Bring liquid to a boil over high heat in a 2 quart pot. Add the rice and cover. Reduce the heat to low; cook about 20 minutes or until tender and dry. I use a pot with a glass lid to keep a better eye on the rice.  I overcooked a pot of rice once; not a pleasant aroma or easy clean up!  When the rice is cooked, spread it in a shallow pan to cool to room temperature.  While the rice is cooling, prepare the dressing.                                                                  

Mustard Dressing:  

2/3 cups oil (half olive, half safflower)

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves 

2 tsps Dijon Mustard  

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Using a blender or food processor (fitted with steel blade), blend the dressing ingredients.  The goal is to not just combine the ingredients, but to emulsify the oil and vinegar.  Otherwise, you end up with oil that solidifies in the fridge (yuck!) and not a delicious looking salad!  Now, take all ingredients, salad and dressing, and mix well.  I use a clear glass bowl to show off the variety of colors present in this salad.  Makes for a nice presentation on your table!

A few recommendations:  I don’t like green olives, so I use sliced black olives.  Whatever rice you have will work just fine.  The last time I was in Charleston, S.C., I picked up a bag of Charleston Gold Aromatic Rice from Lavington Farms.  Uncooked, it smells like popcorn.  It was very good in this salad!  I don’t suggest using just olive oil.  It is a bit strong for this salad.  It really needs to be balanced with a lighter oil.  I have never tried a different vinegar-I like red wine vinegar and I like red wine!  And finally, I never add salt to anything except baked goods and occasionally meat rubs. 

Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!

This recipe is out of “The Everyday Fiesta Cookbook”, written by Susan Slack and published in 1993.

Heaven and Earth/Himmel und Erde

I have been searching the web regarding this recipe.  There are many different versions of this out there, but this recipe comes from the recipe collection for the Foxfire House in Camp Furnace Hills (near Denver, PA).  Foxfire House was built-in  the very late 1700’s or early 1800’s.  The Girl Scouts now own the house (which is on the National Register of Historic Places).  Girl Scout troops may stay a day, a weekend, or, during the summer, girls from all over the nation and world can spend a week living in the house.  One of the experiences for the girls is to prepare and eat period recipes.  Both times my daughters’ troop have stayed at Foxfire House, we ate this version of Heaven and Earth.

It is German in origin.  Heaven is apples, Earth is potatoes.  It is typically a side dish rather than a one-pot meal.  The story I have been told is that the Hessian soldiers in the area made this recipe.  It’s  a great meal for fall.   The version made at Foxfire House uses butternut squash rather than potatoes.  I’ve never had it with potatoes, but I imagine potatoes would not be as interesting in this recipe. 

I made this over an open fire in my “backyard” (this can easily be cooked indoors as well-it would take around 45 minutes to cook on the stove).  We are blessed to have woods behind our house.  One of the first projects I took on was to find a space for a fire circle-our own little “campground.”  I found the perfect spot and forged a trail from the yard to the spot.  We have already had several perfect evenings to spend around the fire roasting hot dogs and marshmallows.  Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon preparing and cooking Heaven and Earth for dinner.  An excellent excuse to spend the afternoon outdoors, “relaxing” by the fire. 

A few years ago, I asked for and received my favorite cast-iron cooking vessel-a Dutch Oven with a flanged lid.  It is a versatile pot to have in one’s supply.  It is an oven, a stew pot, a skillet and a griddle.  It is easy to care for and clean.  I have used it over an open fire and in my grill and oven.  With the lid on, heat can be applied not only from below, but also from above.

I also have a tripod for the Dutch Oven.  The chain has plenty of links, allowing me to adjust the height of the oven as  needed.  I don’t have to worry about the heat of the fire since I can raise or lower the oven depending on how much heat I need.  The tripod comes in handy for hanging a lantern, too!

For this recipe, you need:

1 pound pork sausage links

1 pound bacon

One medium butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 large onions, cut into wedges

3 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp parsley,

1 to 2 tsp each, sweet marjoram, ground sage and thyme

5 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced

If you are going to cook over an open fire, start the fire a good half hour or so before you are ready to begin cooking.  That should be a sufficient amount of time for the wood to burn down into nice, hot coals.  You don’t need a blazing fire in order to properly cook over one.  In this case, a few small pieces of wood added now and then will do just fine.


Once the fire is ready and the oven is over the fire and preheated, start frying the bacon and the sausage.  I fry the meat one at a time.  The sausage and the bacon will be sliced into small, bite-size pieces.  Set the sliced meats aside to be added to the dish towards the end.

While the bacon and the sausage are cooking, peel and dice the squash.  The inside of butternut squash is similar to a neck pumpkin if you have ever cooked one of those (diced and sautéed with butter and brown sugar.  Mmm!). 




Cut the onion. 


Once the meat is off the fire (do not drain the grease), dump in the squash and onions.  If you want a lower fat version, go ahead and drain the grease-I recommend a lightly flavored vegetable oil. 



Cook, stirring often to prevent sticking and to allow for even cooking.  I used the lid for part of the cooking time to speed things up.  It will take close to 25 or 30 minutes to cook down.




Prepare the apples right before you are ready to add them.  Otherwise, treat them with FruitFresh to prevent browning. 



Add the apples and seasonings and mix well. 




Add the sausage and bacon and heat until hot and bubbly. 

We had only enough leftovers for a couple of family members to enjoy again the next day.  This is really a yummy meal!  Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!