Pressure Cooker Baked Beans

I love baked beans but hate all of the preservatives and calories from the sugar that come with the store bought canned varieties.  This 4th of July I decided to try my hand at making my own.

I learned a few things by doing so:

  • Even though you can put the dried beans right into the pressure cooker and shorten the prep time, DON’T SKIP SOAKING THE BEANS.
  • Soaking the beans removes most of the indigestible sugars (which can cause gas) and re-hydrates the beans evenly so they are as plump and beautiful as they were when they were fresh.  Pre-soaking the beans also allows the skins to be receptive to absorbing the flavors of the other ingredients.
  • Use as many unprocessed ingredients as possible

Pressure Cooker Baked Beans

  • 1 pound dried Navy (White Northern) beans
  • 1/2 pound thick cut (from the butcher if you can) uncured smoked bacon (no nitrates or nitrites) – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped (or 1+1/2 tsp jarred chopped garlic)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tsp dried mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 TBLS Bourbon (I use Maker’s 46)
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2 TBLS corn starch
  • 2 TBLS cold water

Rinse dry beans in cold water in a colander, removing any debris.  Soak beans using either 1) the Overnight Soak Method (8-12 hours in a bowl or pot of cold water covered with a lid) or 2) following the Pressure Cooker Quick Soak Method:

  • Put the beans in the pressure cooker. For each cup of rinsed beans, add four cups of Degas-Cook-Soak-Beans-Coverwater
  • Add a teaspoon of olive oil (this keeps the foam down)
  • Bring the contents to a boil with the lid open using the BROWN setting
  • Quickly close and lock the pressure cooker lid and pressure cook for 15 minutes at high pressure
  • Open the pressure cooker using a Slow Normal release – open the valve very slowly
  • Drain and rinse the beans under cold running water

Prepare the sauce base:

  1. Using BROWN setting – cook onions until translucent (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add garlic and bacon and cook until bacon is almost crispy
  3. Stir in brown sugar, and then the bourbon, scraping up all the brown, crispy bits from the bottom
  4. Add the chicken broth, mustard, molasses, maple syrup, ketchup, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined
  5. Return beans to the pressure cooker and close lid
  6. Set to High pressure and cook for 90 minutes
  7. Once cooking is complete, allow 10 minutes for the pressure to return to normal naturally, then release the remaining pressure and open the lid
  8. Turn pressure cooker to Brown setting.
  9. In a small dish combine the water and cornstarch.
  10. Stir the mixture into the beans and cook until the sauce thickens to the desired consistency.
  11. Remove from the pressure cooker to a serving dish and enjoy!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

*** Vegetarian Option:  If you want to make these vegetarian, don’t add the bacon.

Very Early Holiday Gift Thoughts

christmas-too-early-310x192Retailers believe it’s never too early to get the holiday decorations out, with some even starting as early as August to start vomiting Christmas all over their stores!  I strongly disagree with the practice.  Each season and each holiday  celebration deserves its own time.  Please, please, please let me enjoy Halloween before I have to start thinking about office parties, family Christmas, Chanukah and other end of the year celebrations.

In 2012, I was ready to seek out and high five Chris Matyszczyk of C|Net when he shared that stores decorating for holiday sales and playing holiday music earlier and earlier, was sending people like me online to shop in droves!  He even quoted a SOASTA poll with numbers showing how many other people feel just like I do:

  • 75% dislike that stores put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving
  • 78% hate holiday music played in stores
  • 75% believe the focus should be on Cyber Monday and not Black Friday

The only way I will even think about the holidays more than a month before they are upon me, is if I am planning to do any homemade gifts.  Anything that may require time to prepare containers, labels, and to sit for flavors to blend and deepen, like Lemoncello or other infused alcohol, flavored oils or vinegars, and especialy if I am going to be shipping those gifts, I want to have plenty of time to complete.

hot-honey-940x560I hadn’t settled on anything of that nature for this year, but did come across an interesting idea, courtesy of an article from the August 2015 edition of Bon Appétit Magazine: Hot Honey.  What a great idea for all of my friends who love to entertain, love anything with some kick and would appreciate the personal touch!

Hot Honey

  • 2 -4 Chili Peppers (Any variety, as hot or mild as you’d like)
  • 1 Cup Honey
  • 8 oz Canning Jar
Bring 2 chiles and honey to a bare simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Reduce heat to low and let cook 1 hour to infuse. Taste honey and adjust heat with another chile or 2, remove from stove, and let sit 30 minutes. Transfer to a small jar, straining if desired. Cover and chill.
  • Do Ahead: Hot honey can be made 3 months ahead. Keep chilled

Bon Appétit readers shared some tips in case you’re using raw honey and don’t want to risk boiling out the health benefits: 

  1. If you mix the honey and chiles together and let them infuse at room temperature for a longer period of time before using you won’t have to boil the honey;
  2. Set the steeping container in the sun (like you would sun tea);
  3. Heat but keep temperature below 104°

Suggested Uses:

  • Add a kick to a cup of hot tea
  • Sweeten and spice up a spot of whiskey
  • Brushed on BBQ’d ribs or chicken
  • Added to sauce for stir fry
  • Brush on grilled shrimp
  • Baked apple or pear desserts
  • Pour over ricotta, goat, or cream cheese and serve with apple slices, vegetables or crackers
  • Glaze for baked ham or pork chops
  • Mix into butter for a spicy honey butter (for corn-on-the-cob, cornbread or biscuits)
  • Add to vinagrette for a spicy-sweet salad dressing

Here’s a bonus recipe that I can’t wait to make myself:

Honey Bourbon Hot Toddy

  • 1/2 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 TBLS Hot Honey
  • 3 TBLS Bourbon (I prefer Maker’s 46 or Marker’s Mark)
  • 1 – 3 1/2″ Strip of Lemon or Orange Peel (I like Orange)
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

honey-bourbon-toddy-940x560Stir honey and water in a 1-cup measuring cup until honey dissolves. Add bourbon. Pour into clear Toddy glass or coffee cup.  Twist a strip of lemon or orange peel over the drink, then add to glass. Stir with a cinnamon stick and serve.

Now I just need the nights to cool down enough (or I need to lower the air conditioner) so I can justify the warm evening drink 😉

If you are on Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to, recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a page on Facebook you can visit too:  https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

It’s Looking Like a Maker’s Kind of Day

I know that not everyone drinks alcohol.  Some for health reasons, some for religious reasons, some don’t like the taste, some are underage, some did drink but stopped, some don’t know when to say “when” and were forced to stop, and some are supporting recovering spouses or friends so they no longer imbibe.  The reasons are many and I totally respect all of them.

This post isn’t intended for any of those people, unless they happen to be bartenders, frequent party hosts, or are just people who like to know what to serve guests of theirs who do enjoy a drink.

makersneatRegular readers of my blogs here and at www.extremeblondemoments.com know I love my wine, the Grey Goose L’Orange Cosmopolitan is my longtime favorite, I’m a fan of “umbrella drinks” poolside or on the beach, I love a shot of Maker’s 46 neat, my “usual” is a Maker’s 46 Old Fashioned, and I’m a huge horse racing fan so you know I love my Mint Juleps!

Old-FashionedWhen my husband asks if I want my usual, he knows that will involve him putting in a little more effort than just pouring me a neat shot of 46.  He’ll have to muddle a dark red Bada Bing cherry, in a few drops of Hella Bitters (citrus) ,then drop a single block of ice into the glass, cover it with a splash or two of simple syrup and top it off with a generous pour of Maker’s 46.

I saw a tweet from Maker’s Mark a few minutes ago that gave me a new spin on drinking my favorite just in time for The Belmont Stakes!  Have you figured out yet that I’m a Maker’s girl? 😉

makerspomegranateThe Trifecta With a Twist combines Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Lemonade and Pomegranate Juice with ice in a rocks glass and garnishes with either a twist of orange or a twist of lemon and a maraschino cherry – you choose.  I have all of those ingredients on hand and can’t wait to give it a try!

summersmashupAnother drink I found on the Maker’s Mark Twitter Feed, that I am anxious to try poolside, is the Maker’s Mark Summer Smash Up.  This sweet and fruity concoction combines Maker’s Mark with Triple Sec, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, & Grenadine and is garnished with a wedge of pineapple and a maraschino cherry. Bonus!  All of the ingredients are in my refrigerator!  Looks like it’ll be a great weekend. 🙂

makerspeachteaIf you’re an Iced Tea fan, there’s a Maker’s Mark cocktail for you too!

The Maker’s Peach Tea combines Freshly Brewed Iced Tea with Dekuyper Peachtree Liqueur and Maker’s Mark with a garnish of a fresh (or frozen) peach slice.  I would muddle the peach at the bottom of the glass with the bourbon before adding the ice, and mixing in the freshly brewed tea and peach liqueur.

makersmintjulepA post about my favorite bourbon drinks wouldn’t be complete without the Mint Julep being properly represented!  I like to make my simple syrup a few days before I plan to enjoy my juleps.

My Simple Syrup recipe is simple:  Combine equal parts extra fine baker’s sugar (I use C&H) with water in a saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved then immediately remove from the heat.  My usual measurement is 2 ups sugar to 2 cups water.  Cool the syrup then pour into a Rubbermaid type sealable drink container where about 5 stems of bruised (put leaves into a bowl and press a spoon firmly on the leaves to open them and release the oils) mint leaves have been placed.  Put the syrup into the refrigerator to chill 😉 for at least 24 hours to infuse the mint. If your simple syrup is for anything other than a julep, don’t use the mint.

Maker’s Mint Julep

  • 1-1/2 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
  • Fresh mint
  • Mint Simple Syrup
  • Powdered sugar
  • Mint sprig for garnish
  • Club Soda

Instructions

  1. Place a few mint leaves in the bottom of your glass and muddle with a splash of my Mint Simple Syrup.
  2. Fill glass with crushed ice
  3. Pour Maker’s Mark, another splash of simple syrup, and a splash of club soda over the ice
  4. Sprinkle top of ice with powdered sugar.
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig.

As I always do, I remind you that if you are going to drink, please:

  • Know your limit / drink in moderation
  • Never Drink and Drive
  • Designate a sober driver, know the local taxi company’s phone number and USE IT, ask the bartender or your server to call you a cab, use UBER or LYFT, or have a friend or family member on standby for you to call if you need a ride home

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

An “Adults Only” Treat

boozeballsDespite what advertisers and children want us all to believe, Christmas isn’t just about making the kids happy… I believe that those who do all of the shopping, decorating, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and prepping deserve to enjoy the holidays too, so I prepare a little something just for adult indulgence 😉

My co-workers, hairdresser, friends and family all wait for me to bring out the “special” plate of treats they know is intended just for them.  Their fancy name is Dark Chocolate Whisky Truffles but, to all who have tasted, they are simply referred to as Booze Balls!

Lisa’s Booze Balls

Combine ½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and ½ Cup Powdered Sugar in a large Ziplock bag and set aside.

Melt 1 stick of Butter together with 1 bag (10 oz) Dark Chocolate Chips (I prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao) over low heat. When smooth remove from heat.

Crush enough Gingersnaps to make 1 Cup of crumbs and add to the melted chocolate and then add 3-4 Tablespoons of whatever Whisky you like – I have used Jack Daniels, Oban, Makers Mark, and Maker’s 46 (my personal favorite) and all were good.

Move the mixture to a bowl (preferably stainless steel), cover with foil and put in the refrigerator to cool for 45 minutes. If you are in a huge hurry – put in the freezer for about 25 minutes.

Line the biggest pan that will fit on a freezer shelf with waxed paper (I use a tart pan or 8 x 8 Pyrex)

Scoop out rounded spoonsful of the mixture and roughly ball then put in the lined pan

Freeze for an hour or so then roll the balls in your hands and drop the balls into the Ziplock bag of cocoa powder and powdered sugar mixture.

Shake off the excess and put the coated balls in a covered container and keep in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature for the best flavor. Will keep for weeks in the refrigerator if your guests don’t lick the plate clean 😉

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to:  recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood