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SPICY BAKED BEANS
These are just too good not to make sometime. They are labor intensive, as is any food prepared in individual servings, but really pretty simple - and so delicious! Kids go nuts for them - cute little nuggets of meaty/cheesy goodness they can carry around and eat without a fork. They are good at room temperature, so they could be packed in a box dinner for after the game.
1 package refrigerated pie dough in large sheets
1 pound ground beef
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 can sliced ripe olives
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
All-purpose flour for dusting
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Brown ground beef in a large skillet or medium high heat. Drain well, patting with paper towels to remove as much grease as possible. Return to the skillet and combine with salsa and olives. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Check seasoning. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
- Roll dough out on a flour dusted surface. With a 3 inch round cutter, cut out 18 circles, re-rolling scraps as needed. Place about 1 tablespoon of the beef mixture in the center of each circle. Moisten edges with water. Fold circles in half and pinch to seal. Pierce tops with fork.
- Place empanadas on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Serve hot.
Makes 1½ dozen
- Canned olives are easy, but fresh deli olives add so much more flavor. Look for a pitted variety - ripe or green, both are good.
- I like to add the cheese separately from the meat filling - just a sprinkle on top of the filling before you close up the empanada.
- Naturally, you can experiment with fillings. Try chopped cooked chicken mixed with some cream cheese, green chilis and pepper jack cheese.
- Plain old breakfast sausage browned and combined with cheddar cheese would be a winner, too! I'm of the opinion that anything encased in pie dough is going to taste pretty darn good.
- Go Italian and use Italian sausage and mozzarella or provolone cheese. You could even put a scant teaspoon of prepared spaghetti sauce in each empanada before folding up and sealing. Maybe a sprinkle of Parmesan?
Hall of Fame Recipe
SPICY BAKED BEANS
This is a fabulous recipe, made unusual by the addition of pineapple and sausage. It serves 12 easily, and can be halved for a smaller crowd. My family eats this until we fall unconscious.
4-5 (16-oz) cans of Pork and Beans
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 pound good pork sausage, browned and drained (I like the hot variety)
1 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 cup Hunt's Spicy Honey barbeque sauce
Dash of ketchup
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
2-4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 medium can crushed pineapple, undrained
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a large casserole with non-stick spray.
- Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl; mix well. Pour into prepared casserole.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- To make this vegetarian, just eliminate the pork sausage and use meat-free canned beans.
- Try substituting some barbeque pork or beef for the sausage.
- You could also use bacon instead of sausage: lay uncooked chopped bacon strips across the top of the casserole, covering it completely, and bake.
- This makes a fairly juicy dish. I like to dry mine out a bit by giving it a finishing bake at 400 for about 15 minutes. It makes all that sweet spicy stuff nice and gooey.
- If you don't have a can of crushed pineapple, just toss a can of pineapple chunks in the processor, pulse a few times, and drain off about half the juice before adding to the dish.
- This makes a sweet dish - you could half the sugar if you like beans with more bite.
This salad is refreshing and quite a hit with the older crowd. Younger kids won't be thrilled with the whole notion of cabbage, so there isn't much point in trying to kid-friendly this one up. It is a good make-ahead dish since it needs to sit at least 8 hours. It gets better after 24 hours. It is especially good with roasted meats and barbeque, since it is similar to a slaw. Instead of mayonnaise, it has the tang of olives, feta and a vinaigrette.
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small cabbage, shredded
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
½ cup sliced ripe olives
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
- Half each onion slice and separate.
- Combine the onion, cabbage, tomatoes, pepper, olives and cheese in a large bowl that can be covered tightly; set aside.
- Combine the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in a jar. Shake well until the ingredients are well-blended.
- Pour dressing over the salad; mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Toss before serving.
- Use feta that is packed in liquid rather than the pre-crumbled cheese. The flavor will be better. Feel free to experiment with flavored fetas, too.
- If you want to avoid garlic nightmares, make the dressing a day ahead. Cut the cloves of garlic in half and leave them in the vinaigrette and let the ingredients steep with the garlic. When ready to assemble, toss the garlic and pour the dressing.