Tag Archives: white beans

Freezer Tips 1/Easy Boston Butt Meals

There’s a chill in the air! Autumn has arrived; my favorite time of year. Colorful leaves, Fall flowers, cool nights, clear days…at least, that is the perfect Autumn/Fall for me. Now heartier food comes into play. Soups and stews, roasts… and anything in the oven! In my current house, I have a wall oven. It warms a great deal of my ranch-style house when used, which makes it wonderful for this time of year. A bit cool in the evening? Let’s throw in a pizza! Chilly in the morning? We’ll put in a batch of biscuits. Conversely, once the air conditioner starts running in the Spring, I never use the oven all Summer. Why have the two fight it out, (heat and cold), when the electric company will be the only winner? So I warm up the house by supplementing the furnace-heat all winter and bake cookies, breads, cakes, and even a few entrees and freeze them for use in the good old Summertime….or anytime. You never know when you may need ‘company food’.

Right after we moved to Kentucky from the Denver area, a woman I knew called me while traveling around the country. She was in a city about 80 miles from me, (considerably closer than her home in the mountains of Colorado), and wanted to come by with her family on their way back to say ‘Hi”. I told her to come for dinner,

and then I scrambled, because she has nine children.

She and her husband are both half-Italian, as I am, so I knew I could pull out a large batch of frozen , homemade spaghetti sauce, cook a few pounds of pasta,(which I have on hand; I may have even had enough of one type. Right now, I must have seven or eight styles of pasta in my kitchen.).I knew I had several types of homemade cookies in my freezer and I lucked-out in two ways. One was that I had lettuce and a few other vegetables for a salad in my refrigerator and I actually had a garden that year that had a few more vegetables to add. I made pitchers of lemonade and iced tea .I did not know until then the father of the troop was allergic to corn in any fashion and fortunately, none were sweetened with corn sugars; the second bit of luck.

So my husband came home to, “Hi, Honey! Look, eleven people you hardly know dropped in for dinner!”, and I had a nice visit with lovely people whom I had missed, instead of just a ‘hi and a hug’.

 Successful freezing of foods is easy if you take the time for one crucial action; removing as much air from around the food as possible. This can be done in several ways. Clinging plastic food wraps are very helpful. They may cost a little more, but not by much and they truly help keep air from hitting the surface of foods. If you place your soups, stews, sauces, etc. in freezer containers, you need to remember two things; one, when food freezes, it expands, so if you fill a container to the top, the lid will come off or the container will break Number two, the surface needs to be protected from air. Place a layer of plastic wrap, freezer paper or aluminum foil over the surface. I like to then wrap the container in stretchy cling wrap, or place it in a zipper-close food bag with as much air a possible squeezed out for extra protection.

 Now that zipper-locking food bags are being made better and better, there is no reason not to use them, even for soups, stews, gravies and other non-solid or partially-solid foods.

With these, you should squeeze all the air before closing, and place them in a square container or lay them flat as they freeze solid. Then you can remove them and store them more easily in your freezer. If you put them in standing or bunched, they will, of course, freeze that way. Corners may tear, you may have trouble thawing them and most of all, storing them will be difficult.(If you put them on racks in a freezer while in a non-solid state, you may have trouble removing them from the freezer; they will sink and freeze around the wire racks…trust me on this one!).

 Next time, I will discuss freezing other foods.

 

Easy meals from this week: featuring Boston Butt Roasts

Boston Butt roasts are very flavorful by way of being very dark meat with a rather large bone in the middle. It is moist because it is in sections with layers of fat, which will cook off and can be skimmed if you look for the very leanest roast; one that has obviously sold sections of  fat-free meat.

 

Teriyaki Pork over Rice with Pod Peas and Baby Carrots

 

Take one lean Boston Butt roast, sear it in a pan of olive or peanut oil, (or other vegetable oil), by heating the oil, sprinkling it with salt and fennel seeds. Quickly brown the outsides of the roast. Transfer the roast to a roasting pan or slow cooker. Bake covered at 350F, or on high in the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan by putting a few Tablespoons full of boiling water in the pan and using a spatula or wooden spoon, loosen all of the cooked-on portions of the roast and fennel and pour over the roast. Cook, 2-3 hours in oven or 7-8 hours in slow cooker or until very tender.

Remove, allow to cool and using all the lean parts of the roast, (it may be in small sections, all the better; any hard-cooked parts on top are fine), shred and place in a deep stove-top deep frying pan or wok with some of the fennel. Add salt if needed, a little white pepper and   bottled teriyaki glaze. (Try the brands; I find the thin, soy sauce types to be overly wet and salty. I like the thicker ‘glaze and baste’ and I buy a store brand).

Add and cover the meat with the teriyaki glaze, cook until dry. Serve over prepared rice.

 

Pod Peas and Baby Carrots

Take fresh pod peas and baby carrots. Rinse and place in sieve, steamer or metal colander  over boiling salted  water, cover and steam until tender,(with a splash of Mrs. Dash, if you’d like).

 

Boston Butt Slices with Mashed Potatoes and Salsa-style White Beans

 Using the larger lean sections of the Boston Butt, slice portions. Place some of the lean drippings and some of the fennel in a frying pan, reduce, (cook down; evaporate most of the liquid).Place the pork slices in the pan, coating them on both sides with the reduced liquid. Serve over mashed potatoes.

 

Potatoes:

Peel 3 pounds of  russet or other potatoes, cut into fairly uniform cubes approximately  one –inch square;(make a few smaller for creaminess). Boil in salted water until just soft enough to insert a fork easily; do not overcook or you could end up with a very sticky, paste with very little flavor. (which has happened to me). You can mash by hand with a potato masher but the best way is to whip them with a hand mixer. Add a few Tablespoons of butter and one of cream or milk and beat until smooth.

Serve pork over the potatoes with the gravy.

 

Salsa-style White Beans*

Cook one-half pound of white beans, (methods in prior blog).

Seed and chop  and sauté’  two mild-medium  chili peppers,(banana or Anaheim),one tomato,(or 2/4 cup diced, canned tomatoes) and one-quarter cup diced onion with salt , ¼ teaspoon paprika, ½  teaspoon cilantro and ½  teaspoon  chili powder. Mix with prepared beans.

*Easy-way-out Salsa-style Beans 

Open one can of white beans, mix with the prepared vegetables or prepared salsa. Mix and warm together.

Pitfalls and Parties/Savory Bread Rolls

These easy bread rolls can be made with meat and cheese or as vegan- vegetable.They eaten warm or cold.

I know that the thought of hosting puts fear into many people. I may have jumped into telling you what to serve instead of how to serve guests.
When I had dinner parties, showers or receptions, I found that some people were downright intimidated by my offerings. You may have seen a buffet and thought, “I could never do that!” You probably can, but you don’t have to. Hosting can be fun, rewarding and make everyone think you are something, or it can stress you out, make you swear ‘Never again!” and make everyone think you are a witch, (and it wasn’t even a Halloween party.) You can make offerings short and simple, or pull out all the stops. We will approach all of these, and let you decide which is appropriate and when.  It may take me several postings, but I will try to give you tips and hopefully, some confidence.

 

Plan as far ahead as possible and do whatever you can as far ahead as possible. When you find the confidence, it will come easier each time. You will not only know the pitfalls and learn from your mistakes,( you will make mistakes), but you will have things in mind and on hand that you need, whether it be figuring out what to serve to where overnight guest will sleep. We’ll talk about it all upcoming in this blog.

 

You can over-do a good thing.

The first shower I threw was for an expectant mother. I made homemade cake with homemade filling and decorated it with blue and pink flowers. I molded flavored candy in bootie, rattle, baby bottle, (etc.), shapes in pink and blue. I made Madeline cookies dipped in pink and blue icing. I made finger sandwiches, nut cups and tea; I made coffee with all the amenities .I put up pink and blue streamers, made pink and blue sock dollies. I had several games, one of which was a basket filled with small baby items which I had the guests look at for 30 seconds and whoever remembered the most, got a prize; the mom got the items. It was something, I can tell you. But I did several things wrong:

#1. For whatever reason, when I have asked schools or churches to use their facilities, my group has been bumped at the last minute for someone else. Something about me and my plans seem to scream “Expendable”! Try to have your affairs in your home or pay for a site. In the occasion of the baby shower, I was supposed to have use of a school cafeteria. I was bumped for an Irish step-dancing class. As big as a book-lover as I am, I hated  but was desperate enough, to ask to use the school’s library. The library was on the third floor; the stairs leading directly to it were closed so the dancers’ bored-and-waiting siblings would not wander the school. So I had to all the food, decorations, gifts, etc, across the school, up one flight, across again, up another flight, then across the school again. I had to carry the hot coffee and tea from the cafeteria in the same pattern, very carefully and very slowly.

#2.I just plain over-did it.

I did not hear, “Oh, how lovely” or “How nice”. What I heard was, “I can’t believe how much you did”, to the point that a week later at another function I heard, “I kept telling Jim, (Julie, Bob), that I couldn’t believe how much you did”. It looked like I worked hard. Hosting should never look like you worked hard, and I want to see that you work as little as possible when pulling off your parties. I was not a close friend of the mom-to-be; I had taken it upon myself for the group from the school, but it may not have been my place, which may have added to the discomfort level of the others.

Don’t be too eager to please; only host when appropriate.

#3. I presumed on help.

Now, you should have everything under control, I mean, things happen. But if you accept help, make sure it is something that you can do without, or have a back-up plan. A friend of the mom’s volunteered a special punch. I planned on it; she changed the type without telling me.  What she made did not go with the food I had and the guests drank it because it was too warm for the coffee and tea. I felt stressed; it was a problem as the taste combinations were really being off.

AND I failed to be sure that some of those who attended, (whom I had always stayed to help), would/could stay there to help me. So I ended up doing the hallway-stair set-up marathon in reverse, by myself.

 

On the other hand, for years afterward I hosted a Christmas piano recital in my home for several years running, which were always a huge success.

Always be ready with extra food:

My sons were homeschooling at the time and they were studying with the same piano teacher as some of their homeschooled friends. The piano teacher had stopped having Christmas concerts but I decided that the kids needed to gain confidence and show off their skills, so every December we had our own little recital with their friends, the parents and a few adult guests.

I made my batches of Christmas cookies, candies and bread early, and froze either some of the dough or some of the finished goods for Christmas; (I did this up to a week in advance; the candy, maybe earlier.)

The day before the recital, (or the day of, if I held it on a weekday evening instead of a weekend afternoon),

I took the coffee table out, gathered every chair I could find and even a bench, (on which I put a folded quilt), and made several layers of seating in the living room behind the piano. We do not have a large living room; everyone understood when they sat knee-to knee at times.

While people gathered, I had Christmas music playing softly in the background on a CD. And I had small gifts for the performers.

Just before everyone arrived I made tea and coffee and spread them out on my dining table with the goodies for after the recitals. The children did whatever made them comfortable besides playing the piano; some sang, one played the guitar, one read a poem as well.

After one of the afternoon recitals a few of the guests lingered. I could see that the cheese ball and few other non-sweets were gone and the folk looked hungry. Fortunately, I was ready. I knew that I had savory bread roll-ups in my freezer. I pulled them out, warmed them in the microwave them and they were a hit, as expected. These are so handy and good. Make more than one type at a time. Slice, wrap well and freeze. These are great for snacks, late company, late-night movie watching, brunches and are our family’s traditional holiday morning breakfast. They are easy to get ready, are not messy, are a little special and will hold you over while you are waiting to eat a big mid-day meal. Guests will be impressed with the taste, the heartiness and the fact that you have them ready with next to no effort when you need them.

 

Savory Bread Roll-ups

 

If bread making is your thing, make basic dough. If you have a bread machine, pull it out. If not, use frozen bread dough, (thawed, of course).

Roll into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick on a floured surface. Brush with melted butter or margarine. Spread fillings (recipes to follow), to within two inches from all sides. Fold in the short sides; roll up from one long side to another, Pinch ends and press to close. Place on a cookie or baking sheet, which has been brushed with butter or margarine,(or lined with parchment paper); curve bread roll  if necessary. Slice or snip slits through top layer about 3-4 inches apart. Cover with clean kitchen towel , waxed paper or foil; let rise to double in size in a warm spot. Uncover and brush with melted butter or margarine. Bake at 325F for about 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until the bread is thoroughly browned.(Do not cook at a higher temperature; the middle will not bake).

Meat Filling Suggestions:

Chopped roast beef, or shredded roast beef lunch meat with shredded medium–to sharp cheddar cheese; (a little prepared horseradish sauce optional).

Shredded ham with mild cheddar cheese

Shredded turkey (or turkey lunch meat) with pepper jack cheese

Pepperoni or salami with mozzarella or provolone cheese

Cheese Filling Suggestions:

Any cheese, preferably with sautéed onions

Soft cheeses, (cream cheese, Neufchatel, mascarpone) with herbs and or dried vegetables:

[ Italian blend, or basil, parsley and marjoram;

Southwest blend or any favorite chili powder, (chipotle, mesquite, etc), cumin,for example]

Mixed with red or green salsa

Seeded,(poppy, pumpkin, caraway, sesame)

Mixed with red hot sauce

Mixed with sautéed vegetables; onions

Any favorite cheese spread, (pimento cheese, onion dip, avocado)

 

Vegetable Filling Suggestions:

Sautéed or caramelized onions

Hummus,( regular or vegetable, or mixed with seeds)

Sautéed vegetable combinations, (mix & match): onions, tomatoes, peppers, artichoke hearts, asparagus

Dehydrated vegetable flakes, (available often mixed in supermarkets or separate, (tomatoes, peppers), usually in specialty markets

Drained, mashed white beans (canned or homemade) with onions or garlic; chives, parsley, white pepper; dehydrated vegetables

Experiment and enjoy!

Note: Sometime after I posted this Fae, of “Fae’s Twist and Tango” posted a lovely alternative: use puff pastry instead of bread dough.Fae ‘s post with her version of fillings can be seen  here: Fae’s Savory Braided Puff Pastry.

If you have not visited Fae’s blog, please do!She not only has lovely recipes, but  photos and fascinating  stories from her many travels.

Thank you for letting me share this, Fae!

And please join me and fellow writers on a shared blog: “Four Foxes, One Hound” here, on WordPress.Four Foxes, One Hound