Grilled Chicken and Potatoes Lunch

It snowed yesterday and there was no soup to reheat. I decided if I needed to cook, I’d pull the new cast-iron griddle out and experiment with it for lunch.

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Gadget Post – Field Cast Iron Skillet

I’ve been seeing alot of reviews of these lightweight skillets and finally decided to try one out.  This one is their #8 pan, measuring about 10 inches at the top with a 9 inch cooking area.  It weighs 4.5 lbs.  “Lightweight” is a relative term, of course.
It comes with some seasoning but they will definitely improve over time. I’ve just started the process – I caramelized the onions for last night’s mac and cheese in it.

Future Desserts

I just bought a set of four of these to make individual cookie desserts for a dinner party. If they turn out, of course there will be photos and a recipe. I’m sure I will find may other uses for them. Stay tuned….

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Cast Iron and Baked Beans

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JeffreyW posted his photo of cast iron baked beans a while back and all I could think was, “great idea, why haven’t I tried that?” I debated between posting about cast iron recipes or baked beans. With Memorial Day coming up fast, it seemed like a good time to bring back a bunch of baked bean recipes.

There was no real cooking in my kitchen this week, I’m uninspired while I house hunt. Luckily, I keep a lot of frozen meals, marinated meats and sauces in my freezer. I double batch much of what I cook and freeze for later. Boil up some fresh pasta or rice and I’ve got a quick meal. But I did get to a Bixby update for the pet lovers, he’s relaxin’ and chillin’ for your amusement here.

On to the recipes:

I like linking to JeffreyW’s recipes (rather than embedding them in the post) because he writes a narrative of the process instead of simply listing the recipe and often includes a batch of photos to illustrate. His Cast Iron Baked Beans recipe (click here) is no exception. It would silly to abridge it here.

I had these baked beans at a cookout and absolutely needed the recipe. Turns out it is just a few ingredients that spices up a simple can of baked beans and adds a touch of sweet, too.  Nita’s Baked Beans, recipe here.

If baked beans aren’t your thing, how about Butter Beans and Greens (recipe here), since in many backyard gardens, the collards, mustard greens and spinach should be ready for spring harvest.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Do you have a dish that everyone asks for the recipe when you take it to gatherings? And do you give it out? Have any dishes you had to have the recipe after tasting it at a cookout or potluck?

The featured recipe tonight is savory, sweet. smoky and oven baked. Who knew molasses could be so good?

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Baked Beans Photo by JeffreyW

And if you want a true New England experience, add some Brown Bread, recipe here. Brown bread was a childhood treat that I didn’t realized until later was unique to New England (at least at that time). My mom would fry it up in a skillet, served with lots of butter, maple syrup and baked beans.

Boston Baked Beans

This serves 8, but you can easily double it for large gatherings. The slow cooking, white beans and molasses are what give these baked beans their signature flavor.

  • 1 pound (2 cups) dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (or 2 tbsp tomato paste)
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
  • 4 cups water, or more if necessary
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more may be needed, but start here)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

large dutch oven, bean pot or heavy duty oven proof pot

Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. (Here at high altitude, soaking doesn’t do much, so I pressure cook them for 20 minutes instead, then let them soak for an hour)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans in a large, ovenproof pot.. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

Add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: To reheat leftovers, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot.

Missing the full dinner menus and shopping lists? If you click here, it will take you to all the ones I have posted. That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend. – TaMara

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Skillet Cornbread

I decided to take Kirk’s advice and baked a batch of cornbread (to go with this week’s Chicken Chili) in my cast iron skillet.  Came out great.  Don’t think I’ll bake it any other way.

On a related note, I purchased an 8″ skillet to go with my 10-1/4″ one.  It’s the right size for many things, including a couple of eggs in the morning and saute up some mushrooms and onions.  It’s getting seasoned as I write.

I may be in love….

I’ve cooked a couple of things in the new skillet, but this afternoon was the best as I cooked some hash browns and they were perfect.  Perfectly crisp, evenly browned. Clean-up a breeze.  I have to tell you, this skillet, this simple, old-fashioned cast iron wonder, is on its way to becoming my most-est favorite cooking item in the cupboard.

I had been using Scanpans, which were a gift, and which I’ve come to loathe over the 15 years I’ve had them.  They pit, chip and peel – and they were not cheap.  I started replacing them, since they came with a life-time guarantee, but gave up after the 3rd frying pan.  They don’t  heat evenly and are terrible to clean, even the saucepans.

By comparison, my $13 cast iron skillet is a marvel.  This might be love.