Meanwhile, in my daily life as mom, I continued to cook for my family and for many of my friends. And my friends continued to ask me for recipes. I love to cook and am passionate about food and feeding my family, and my friends know that. And so, they ask: how did you prepare that cauliflower? How did you manage to make risotto with two kids in the kitchen? What did you do with all that eggplant from the market? Where did you find that sausage? And I love to answer.
Suddenly, it was obvious what my blog should be about: what I feed my family, and why. Hopefully, it will give you some ideas about what to feed your family. And I hope you'll share your ideas with me, too!
Oh, and the blog's name, "Cooking With Gries?" That's my husband's contribution. He always wanted to have a cooking show with that title -- a play on our last name, Griesbach. Of course, my husband only cooks a few things, so it would be a short -- albeit delicious! -- show.
So, let the show begin! On this pilot episode of Cooking With Gries, let's talk about my new go-to, everyone-is-happy dinner: Spicy Beans with Sausage.
My kids are bean freaks. If dinner has beans in it, they will eat, without complaining. Obviously, this means I cook a lot of bean-based dinners: jambalaya, black bean burritos, red beans and rice, chili . . . the list goes on and on. This little casserole is our latest favorite. It's also been a great meal for taking to neighbors -- many of my friends have recently had babies, and this is a comforting, filling, nourishing, homey dinner to bring to new parents. The dinner equivalent of sitting on the couch, under a blanket, by a roaring fire and a Christmas tree.
I found the original recipe in Picnic, by DeeDee Stovel, and tweaked it so that it worked for me. It's a flexible, forgiving recipe. I've used lots of different combinations of beans, but I do recommend having at least one can of white beans. Also, I've used various types of smoked sausages and just use whatever I've got on hand. If you are serving a large crowd, go for the 2 lbs. of sausage. Otherwise -- or if you're also serving a hearty soup or side dish -- 1 lb. will do fine. I've tried adding small cubes of carrots and potaotes and enjoyed both. Finally, I think this would be divine with some buttered breadcrumbs sprinkled on top near the end of the cooking time, but haven't tried it yet. (Let me know if you do!)
PS This freezes beautifully, too!
SPICY BEANS WITH SAUSAGE
Source: Adapted from Picnic, DeeDee Stovel
Time: about 20 mins. of work and 90 mins. of unattended cooking
- 3 cans of beans -- white, kidney, pinto, etc.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 TBSP oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 x 10 oz pkg frozen corn
- 5 slices already-cooked bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
- 1 medium green bell pepper
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1-2 lbs. kielbasa, cut into chunks
- 1/2 c grated cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Put the beans, with their liquid, into a Dutch oven or other large, lidded casserole. Add the bay leaf and bake, covered tightly, for at least an hour -- but longer is fine, too, if you forget about them. Just check every now and again to make sure they aren't drying out -- and if they are, add a splash of water.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet and saute the onion and garlic until softened, about 2 mins. Set them aside and put the kielbasa chunks in the skillet until browned, about 15 mins.
- Remove the beans from the oven and add all other ingredients. Stir very gently, so as not to break up the beans too much. Return to the oven and bake, covered, another 30-40 mins., or until bubbly. Just before serving, sprinkle with some cheese.