Blueberry French Toast Bake

blueberry french toast bake

I had never been fond of French toast.  There’s something about the soft, flimsy, egg-y texture that turned my pallet in a not-so-good way.  Until one day my darling Hubby made a version of Ellie Krieger’s  blueberry french toast bake and now I’m a French toast hating hypocrite.

This make-ahead breakfast is unbelievably delicious and will undoubtedly come in handy during hectic weekday mornings.  I was hooked at first bite.  But then again, what’s not to love? The bread isn’t soggy (thanks to a whole wheat baguette), there’s a bit of crunch from toasted almonds, a hint of sweet from real maple syrup, and plenty of plump blueberries. How could I be such a stooge?

A few months ago I was on quite the blueberry kick what with blueberry crisp, those yummy yogurt muffins and -one of my favorites – blueberry orange bread.  But, I shamefully scoffed at this blueberry french toast bake, jumping to wrongful conclusions before taking a bite.

Lesson tastefully learned.

Blueberry French Toast Bake
Serves: 4
  • ½ whole-wheat baquette cut into 1-inch cubes (about 9 inches long)
  • 1 cup low-fat milk (1%)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Cup fresh blueberries
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar
  1. Spray a 9" pie plate with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk together milk, eggs and egg whites, syrup, flavoring (vanilla or almond) and cinnamon.
  3. Arrange bread cubes in a single layer and pour mixture over the bread. Be sure that the bread is evenly saturated.
  4. Scatter the blueberries on top and sprinkle with toasted almonds and brown sugar.
  5. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  6. Uncover and bake at 350F preheated oven for 50-60 minutes.


Pear Sauce then and now

pear sauce

Cheesy alert! I’m posting such a warning in the far chance either of my Beauties ever stumble upon this post. (I’m sparing them an eye roll.)

But I’ll tell you that I had one of those nostalgic moments again. One of those moments when I’m doing something mundane, like cleaning a bowlful of pears from the backyard, and voila, you’d think I just chopped an onion. Not the full out bawl kind of onion. No, no, just the teary, misty eye kind of onion. Except replace the onion with a pear.

Our backyard pear trees have been fruiting profusely- a very welcome contrast to last year’s single lonely pear harvest.

pear tree

Pears should be picked when greenish yellow in color and allowed to fully ripen indoors, not on the tree. If they ripen on the tree, they’re likely to taste mealy and mushy and resemble pear sauce. Which is what I made yesterday and hadn’t made in years. Many, many years.

cooking pears for pear sauce

As in the last time I remember making pear sauce it was for my little girls. My girls who started their senior and junior years of high school today. Makes you want to eye roll, doesn’t it?

Now I’m not “that” kind of mother who wishes her kids would stay young forever. Heck no, not at all. I have thankfully relished every phase of their growing up and continue to relish their maturing, their new and exciting experiences, and the prospect of all those that lie ahead.  But there’s that itty bitty pang of realization that time continues to pass. A reminder to keep hugging and holding and cherishing those sweet moments of, “oh, I remember when you used to make this when we were little” sweet pear sauce memories.

~ ~

If you’ve never tasted pear sauce you don’t know what you’re missing. Sweet, cinnamon-y,  and satisfying, pear sauce is a bowl of comfy warmth both literally and figuratively.  Low in fat and calories, high in fiber and essential nutrients, pears are naturally sweet on their own so the sugar in my recipe is completely optional.  Enjoy!

Pear Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 6 Cups sliced pears, peeled, cored, and seeded
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (optional)
  1. Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer 10-15 minutes or until pears are tender and the mixture has cooked down.
  3. Blend to desired consistency.




Pumpkin Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin zucchini cake

Yesterday was our last “Summer Sunday Supper” – our weekly gatherings that I absolutely love. Being Labor Day weekend I thought the occasion called for a dessert that bridged the taste of summer (zucchini) with the autumnal flavor of fall (pumpkin). A dessert that marked the end of summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year. Hence, my brilliant creation: pumpkin zucchini cake with maple cream cheese frosting. Brilliant? Perhaps not. Moist and delicious? Definitely. Pumpkin zucchini cake with maple frosting is a perfect marriage of flavors if I do say so myself.

The weather was just as perfect for our last summer hurrah …right up until Hubby started the grill. The heavens opened and despite putting an end to our pool volleyball and a kibosh on our al fresco dining, the rain was a welcomed watering.  Thanks to an oversize golf umbrella and my Love’s grilling prowess, dinner wasn’t soggy and our indoor barbecue couldn’t have tasted any better had it been served outdoors. Good food with family and friends – rain can’t dampen that.

Hope you all had a great Labor Day!

Pumpkin Zucchini Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves: 16
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 ½ C all-purpose + ½ C wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¾ cup 1 % milk
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1¼ cups pure pumpkin (one 15oz can)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (increase to 1 cup for a sweeter cake)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans nuts (optional)
  • Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • ⅓ Cup butter
  • 2 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 Cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Combine milk and lemon juice in liquid measuring cup. Mixture will appear curdled.
  3. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.
  4. In mixer bowl, combine milk/lemon juice mixture with eggs, pumpkin, sugars and oil; stir in zucchini. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in nuts (optional).
  5. Pour into greased 13x9 pan and bake 40-45 min or until tests done.Cool completely.
  6. Prepare frosting by beating butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add maple syrup and powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat until smooth.
  7. Frost cake and enjoy!

{9/12/13 note:  This is a dense cake – don’t be alarmed when it sinks while cooling.  Also, for those folks with an ardent sweet tooth, I suggest increasing the white sugar from 3/4 cup to 1 cup. I have a divided household: Hubby and I enjoy more pumpkin flavor to come through in the cake and find the maple frosting to provide plenty of decadence, while my teenage daughters are, well, typical teenagers who prefer very sweet sweets.  Which ever way you make it, I hope you enjoy it!}

Garden Fresh Canning Salsa

garden fresh salsa

The start of Labor Day weekend has been a laborious one – and that’s actually a happy assertion, not a complaint.  Canning is a labor of love and when the tomatoes start coming, we start canning salsa.

My dad’s garden (which my mother agrees is entirely his) is bigger now than ever before. Never mind a whopper of a heart attack nearly eight years ago or the fact that only he and my mom are at home. Sheesh, surplus tomatoes? Take them to the Canning King (aka my Hunky Hubby).

Canning salsa made from garden fresh tomatoes and home grown peppers has become a family tradition. Hunky Hubby reigns over the steamy pot of deliciousness. I’m grunt labor and it’s all good. The taste of homemade salsa can’t compare to even the best selling commercial varieties, not to mention the sodium per serving is a fraction of that found on most grocery store shelves.

If you’ve been adverse to canning salsa, fear not! Follow this simple recipe for canning salsa and enjoy garden fresh taste all year round. It’s a party in your mouth. And it always feels good to share homegrown goodness with family and friends.

Canning Salsa Recipe
  • 10 Cups peeled, cored, chopped tomatoes
  • 6 Cups seeded, chopped peppers (mix varieties depending on desired level of spiciness)
  • 4 Cups chopped onion
  • 1 Cup white vinegar
  • 3-5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano
  • 1 head fresh garlic, minced or 2 teaspoons minced jarred garlic
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Chopped fresh basil to taste (20 leaves is a good amount)
  • 1-3 cans tomato paste, depending on desired thickness
  1. Combine ingredients in a large pot and heat to boil.
  2. Simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  3. Add tomato paste, stir well and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle hot ingredients into pint jars, leaving ½-inch head space.
  5. Adjust lids and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
  6. Yield 8-10 pints.



Vietnamese meatballs with hot chili slaw

vietnamese meatballs

Don’t let this photo fool you. These Vietnamese meatballs may look innocent, but they will test your will power I tell you.

Could I eat just one? Not a chance. Did I exercise portion control? With greater difficulty than I can put into words. These babies are an explosion of taste with a slight hint of sweetness, a subtle taste of sassy, and an overall depth of flavor like no other meatball that I have ever eaten.

I could have devoured the entire pan and would have Hunky Hubby to thank for it. After all, these little delights were brought to our family table thanks to and Hubby’s inquisitive mind. Yes, the source of his inspiration to try Vietnamese meatballs came from an unidentifiable sandwich in the game titled, “Sandwich Time!”  The photo was labeled Banh Mi and a few Google’s later the recipe and ethnic origin were discovered.  And our household learned something new.

The original recipe is titled Pork Meatball Banh Mi from the January 2010 edition of Bon Appetit, which, of course, I put my own spin on. Banh Mi refers to a Vietnamese sandwich and the original recipe was a sandwich presentation consisting of four meatballs arranged in a 10-inch-long baquette topped with hot chili mayo and pickled vegetables.  Pickled vegetables are sodium bombs and given the sodium content in fish sauce and sriracha there wasn’t a need to add any more. Being sodium conscious,  together with my hankering for a wrap and my love of slaw, lead to this creation.

vietnamese meatballs wrap

Hot chili sauce like sriracha packs quite a punch and a tablespoon in the slaw will definitely send your taste buds blazing. If you are adverse to spicy foods, omit the sriracha in the slaw or simply adjust the quantity to your liking.

Football season is around the corner and in true foodie fashion I’m going to modify the menu for our next party. These meatballs are so flavorful they can stand on their own served as an appetizer with the hot chili mayo as an optional dipping sauce. Meanwhile, it’s time to enjoy the last bit of summer.

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Vietnamese meatballs with hot chili slaw
Serves: 4
  • ⅓ Cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • ½ head finely grated cabbage
  • 1 finely grated carrot
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (roughly 3-4 cloves)
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon sriracha (hot chili sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¾ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  1. Stir all slaw ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.
  2. Gently mix all ingredients for the Vietnamese meatballs in a large bowl.
  3. Moisten hands and roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs using a scant tablespoon to measure.
  4. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. DO AHEAD: the meatballs can be made 1 day in advance. Cover and chill.
  5. Preheat oven to 300F.
  6. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meatballs in batches, half at a time. Turn the meatballs often to avoid browning too quickly. When browned on all sides, transfer meatballs to another baking sheet and place in oven.
  7. To serve, spoon a quarter of the slaw into a tortilla and top with 4 meatballs. Repeat with remaining tortillas and garnish with sriracha to taste.


Zucchini feta bread with caramelized onion

Oh, the places your taste buds will go after one bite of this zucchini feta bread. (Can you tell school is around the corner and I’m beginning to feel nostalgic?)

zucchini feta bread slice

Right about now kitchens counters across the country are piled with mountains of zucchini and summer squash. A blessed bumper crop that turns people into zucchini bread baking machines. Fill the freezer now and enjoy a taste of summer in the dead of winter.

Summer may be winding down but my zucchini and yellow squash plants have missed the memo. I guess they’re late bloomers this year (pardon the pun), but so is my sweet corn. I won’t even mention the jalapeno plants that little bunny foo foo’s feasted on when a particular hunky hubby left the garden gate open one night. But I digress.

The plethora of flowers still adorning my zucchini and squash plants are a sure sign that I’ll have plenty of opportunity to fill the freezer with sweet bread, so tonight I decided to skip the sweet and go for the savory. Score one for this mama! Being ever mindful of sodium, there’s a scant quarter-cup of feta cheese that can easily be adjusted to personal taste or omitted entirely. The caramelized onion, however, is a must have and well worth the effort.

zucchini bread with feta and caramelized onion

Zucchini feta bread is a delicious side dish, which is how my family enjoyed it this evening, but would also make a unique appetizer served in small wedges or slices if baked in a square pan. I bet it would be even better paired with a fruity red wine. Note to self.

As always, twist and turn this recipe and make it your own — and be sure to tell me how it turns out!

Zucchini feta bread with caramalized onion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
  • ½ Cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ Cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable shortening
  • 1 Cup thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash
  • ¼ Cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 whole eggs + 2 egg whites, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Sautee chopped onions in a tablespoon of melted butter or margarine over medium heat until golden brown.Cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flours and baking powder together and cut the vegetable shortening into the mix using a pastry knife or two knives.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir together by hand. Be careful not to over mix.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees in a greased 9 inch square pan or pie plate for 30 minutes.



Please press pause

How can it already be the last week of summer vacation? I am not ready for the start of the school year and would like to press the pause button. Or at least the “slow time down a bit” button. I haven’t even downloaded all of our photos from Family Vacation 2013 – a down home Smoky Mountain vacation by way of Midway, Kentucky and home by way of Nashville.  A nine day jaunt that included two days of travel that equated to seven days filled with many relished experiences to pass along.

Weisenberger Mill

wisenberger mill in Kentucky

Weisenberger Mill is less than 10 minutes off the Interstate and a worthy reason to pack light. How I wish we had had more trunk space. My mere 10 lbs of their whole wheat pastry is not going to last long.  I was hooked at first bite after baking a batch of these drop biscuits. The whole wheat pastry flour rendered the biscuits lighter, fluffier, and moister than regular course wheat flour and was just as delightful in zucchini bread.

Wallace Street Station

If you don’t recall the taste of pure, unadulterated beef then be sure to visit Wallace Street Station if you’re in the area. It’s a short scenic drive from the flour mill and every bite is worth the wait.

The Doughnut Friar in the Village Shops of Gatlinburg

If doughnuts are your weakness, your portion-control strength will be tested simply standing in the threshold of the Doughnut Friar. For just a second I fantasized saying,  “I’ll take one of each.”  Then I remembered my soon-to-be 45 year old metabolism. My will power held during our vacation but thank goodness there isn’t such a Friar within 50 miles in any direction of my little suburb. Those doughnuts are that good.

 Big Creek Expeditions

“Oh sweet Jesus! It smells like catfish bait!”

It’s not often a Wisconsinite hears such a lively exclamation and I might add, a very apt description of our school bus full of dry people wearing river-water soaked life jackets and helmets.  I just couldn’t put my nose on exactly what it was that we collectively smelled like, but there you have it. And that was on the ride to the drop-in point.

Being the careful and cautious traveler that I am – one who is 99.99% likely to never set butt on a jet ski in any ocean again after last year’s excursion – this trip was a welcome respite. The water flow is dependent on the flow of the dam and, of course, the amount of rainfall. Thankfully, it was a good year weather-wise and there were only three class 4 rapids with only one of the rapids bearing resemblance to my first class 4 experience.  The scenery was beautiful, our guide was fantastic, and the trip was worth the bus ride stench.  A highly recommended expedition for families that include first time rafters.

The Hungry Bear

These folks take their butts as seriously as they do their sausages. It’s pork heaven and an obvious hot-spot for local diners considering the steady flow of customers. And only four customers were water-soaked, slightly smelly mid-westerners, two of which openly ooh’d and ahh’d with every bite.

Hungry Bear Restaurant

Our family has road-trip vacationed for the past five years, but this trip was different. This family vacation was our ‘feel the love one more time’ road trip, because it very well may be our last family vacation for a while. My first baby is going to be a {gulp} senior in high school and there is a post-graduation foreign trip already  inked in for next summer. (The ink comes with the initial down payment.) Thus, the bracing reality of how time continues to whiz by at warp speed.

I  can still remember my own mother tearing up while chatting with me about the upcoming school year as she was preparing dinner. It was the summer of 1985 and my sister was beginning college and I was entering my last year at of high school. I knew it wasn’t the onions that were making her cry and I clearly recall sitting across the counter, completely bewildered by the tears and thinking what a freak.  Twenty seven years later, I’m the freak.  I’m doing my best to squelch my gulps and so far so good.  I’m saving them for next June. To date my firstborn baby has only informed me that I’m a little cheesy…but she still loves me. {Double gulp.}

Low fat shrimp salad that doubles as a dip

low fat shrimp salad sandwich

Low fat shrimp salad. An oxymoron, I know, but then again so are the contradictory qualities of shrimp.

Although a 4-ounce serving of shrimp contains about 220 mg of cholesterol, it’s also a powerhouse of nutrients on a plate.  That same 4-ouce serving is said to pack up to 4mg of astaxanthin (an anti-inflammatory nutrient), 350-375 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (and we all know how good those acids are for cardiovascular and nervous system health) and a stiff shot of selenium (an antioxidant mineral). After my father’s heart attack in 2007, he thought he’d never eat another shrimp again and banned foods for a foodie are a royal bummer. Thankfully, a long talk about “everything in moderation”  changed that.

My recipe for low fat shrimp salad is a riff on the recipe I found in the American Heart Association’s Low-Fat Low-Cholesterol cookbook. It has become a family favorite and my go-to recipe when I have a craving for seafood and little to no time for preparation. Or if it’s Friday and I’m lazy and ready for the weekend. You get the idea. A good dallop on a lightly toasted roll, a lettuce leaf or two and voila. Dinner!

This shrimp salad also pairs well with a nice glass of wine. A good scoop on whole grain crackers or crudité – it’s good living, trust me.

low fat shrimp salad dip

So what prompted this post on shrimp salad? The onset of Family Vacation 2013.  Which got me thinking about Family Vacation 2012 and how I ate my way through the South. Oh, the memories: fresher than fresh seafood prepared in a multitude of ways, key lime pie, peach cobbler and, of course, the best grits in the Union. (I’m going to be prideful now and tell you that I created a delicious, and equally decadent,  lower fat recipe  for creamy grits and including the link in case you missed it. )

Shrimp is among my favorite seafood indulgences and I’ve never met one I didn’t enjoy. Last summer, I think I ate shrimp in nearly every possible way.  And then I came home and screamed after stepping on the scale.  This vacation I am going to try with all my might to remember the “everything in moderation” mantra so the neighbors don’t hear me scream next week.

Wish me luck. 🙂

Low fat Shrimp Salad that doubles as a dip
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 16 oz shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined
  • ⅓ Cup finely chopped red bell pepper (roughly a fourth of a large pepper)
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped – increase or reduce to your liking
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • ¼ tsp dried crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tsp dried dill OR use fresh OR replace with fresh cilantro - adjust to your liking
  • ½ Cup reduced fat mayonnaise
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl
  2. Chill thoroughly before serving.


Blueberry Crisp – Healthy and Guilt-Free

I had no idea that July is National Blueberry Month. I also had no idea that these bitty blue berries contain the highest level of antioxidants of all fresh fruit.  Goes to show one can learn something new every day, just as one can also make a blueberry crisp healthy without tons of fat while venturing into new fruit dessert territory at the same time.

I love fruit crisps, crumbs, cobblers, bettys and bops – pretty much anything that gives fruit a crunchy layer of goodness. But, surprisingly, in all my 44 years I do not recall ever having a blueberry version of any of the aforementioned treats.  I must have been in an apple/peach/blackberry/pear slump (oh, that’s another yummy fruit dessert) and paid no mind to the powerhouse of all fruits.  I’m not sure what moved me the other night, but by golly I had a taste for blueberries and decided to be daring.  Make a blueberry crisp and healthy at that? Yep, that’s living on the edge.

blueberry crisp healthy and delicious

A guilt-free dessert is my kind of treat and this blueberry crisp was long on flavor and short on fat.  Thank you to the nice people at Cooking Light whose website is chock full of healthy blueberry crisp recipes –one that served as the basis for my recipe.

Oatmeal is a traditional crisp topping but cornmeal? Oh yes, cornmeal. Try it. You’ll like it.

After freezing over ten pints of blueberries within last few weeks, I used what I had on hand  Next time – maybe next week – I’ll try this crisp with fresh blueberries to compare textures. Two blueberry crisps in one month – over the top.  Maybe the week after that I’ll make a blueberry betty.  If anyone has a recipe for a blueberry bop, be sure to pass it along.

Blueberry Crisp - Healthy and Guilt-Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Brown sugar, oatmeal and cornmeal provide a sweet crunch topping to plump blueberries and almond flavoring lends a special touch to this healthy blueberry crisp.
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • ¼ cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cornstarch evenly around the dish.
  4. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, almond, and blueberries in a large bowl. Toss well and spoon into prepared baking dish.
  5. Combine flour, remaining brown sugar, oats and cornmeal in a medium size bowl and cut butter into mixture using two knives or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Spoon topping evenly over blueberries.
  6. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes if using frozen berries, 30 minutes if using fresh blueberries.


Crock pot beans – semi-homemade & tangy-sweet

crock pot beans

Hosting a July 4th pool party/barbecue is as much of a tradition for my family as is having baked beans on the menu. In years past, I often prepared a longtime favorite recipe called “Calico Beans” that I’m sure is available in multiple versions in a million places all over the web. This year was going to be different. It was supposed to be anyway. Besides not being in a drought (thank you, Lord)  – and, therefore, not having a burn ban on fireworks – this year I was going to make entirely homemade crock pot beans from scratch. My intended crock pot beans would not contain anything from a can and would have a tangy-sweet sauce that would give the beans a little somethin’ somethin’ to set them apart from traditional sweet barbecue beans.  This year’s crock pot beans would begin with good old fashioned beans that require soaking just the way Grandma made them.

Yes, well, if you have a tendency to look to save time like someone else I know and have a smidgen of Type A in you I’d  give the “entirely from scratch crock pot beans” idea some more thought.  Although I followed the quick soak instructions to the letter, my beans would not soften to save their little bean lives.  After cooking overnight they were still little nuggets of rough roughage. Despite my valiant effort of transferring what looked like deeply flavorful barbecue beans to a large kettle, adding water, and cooking some more (boiling is more like it), my beans were a bomb. Not to be confused with “the” bomb.

My nostrils and taste buds must have been skewed because it was Hubby who regrettably informed me that my beans tasted burned, were still hard, and there was seemingly no amount of cooking that was going to soften them or salvage them at this point. With less than two hours to go I had to create a semi-homemade version of my intended tangy-sweet crock pot beans. And since you’re reading about it here you know they were “the” bomb and I now have a new speedy go-to recipe for baked beans.

Step 1: Add sauce ingredients to the crock pot and give it a good stir (ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire, smoked Spanish paprika).

sauce ingredients for crock pot beans

Step 2: Being mindful of sodium, I sauteed 4 strips of low-sodium bacon and retained less than a tablespoon of drippings to which I added one very large chopped onion.

Notice there’s more onion than bacon. I am my father’s daughter. 🙂

sauteed bacon and onion

Step 3 End of homemade begin semi-homemade: Open six 15 oz. cans of any combination of your favorite reduced sodium beans, rinse well and toss into the crock.

Step 4: Give it all a good stir, cover, and cook on low 4 hours or on high for 2 hours. I used a mixture of pinto and northern beans, although lima and kidney beans would have been a nice colorful addition.

Crock pot beans - semi-homemade & tangy-sweet
Serves: 12-14
These barbecue beans have more tang than sweet and are a nice, tasty change from regular beans. Crock pot preparation makes them a quick and easy go to recipe with no fuss.
  • ⅓ C ketchup
  • ⅓ C molasses
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 4 strips of bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 - 15oz cans reduced sodium pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 - 15oz cans Northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 - 15oz cans kidney beans (or use any combination of beans that you wish)
  1. Add the first six ingredients to the crock pot and stir.
  2. Saute bacon until fat begins to render and bacon begins to brown. Drain well, reserving 1 Tbsp fat.
  3. Add diced onion and brown a bit.
  4. Transfer bacon and onion to crock pot and add you favorite combination of beans.
  5. Mix well and cook on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours.

My sister was the first to comment that this year’s beans were different in a tastier way and my anti-sweet-bean brother-in-law went back for seconds. In the end, my crock pot beans weren’t entirely from scratch, but they were semi-homemade and full of love.

But know that I am still determined to make these crock pot beans with dry beans someday soon and when I achieve success I’ll pass it on. Patiently following the instructions for overnight soaking is what I should have done, right? Right. 🙂