Saturday, July 4, 2009

Recipes for Doctored Baked Beans and Mashed Potatoes

My mom used to cook up "doctored" baked beans when I was a kid. She would buy the baked beans in a can (usually Van De Kamp's) and add brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard then heat them on the stove. When my grandmother made baked beans she would do the same thing only she put everything into a casserole dish, added strips of bacon to the top, then cooked them in the oven for an hour on 350. I made baked beans to go with our shish kabobs today only I switched brands; I used a large can of Bush's Fat Free Vegetarian Baked Beans. They have some brown sugar already in them but I added a heaping tablespoon or so more, a tablespoon or so of ketchup, and a couple of teaspoons of mustard. I mixed that all up then layered bacon on top and cooked them in the oven for an hour on 350, just like my grandmother. DH said he liked them better than he has in the past; I think it's the switch in brands. Bush's makes consistently good canned beans, I've found. We were all using the "juice" like ketchup and dipping our meat into it. I've also used baked beans and the cooking liquid like ketchup in the past, even on burgers; yummy.

Mashed potatoes are another dish we don't make very often, but The Eldest is especially fond of them. The kids wanted them with dinner tonight so I said OK as long as they did the peeling and chopping. Once chopped up into roughly uniform cubes (when I cut them I make them into disk shapes; whatever, as long as they are all about the same size) put them in cold water with a generous bit of salt. The water should cover them by almost an inch, I'd say. Put them on the stove on high heat and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You have to watch and test the potatoes towards the end of cooking time; depending on the size it could take more or less time. Test by pulling out one of the larger chunks (because try as you might they will not really be uniform in size), cool it off under running water, and bite into it. If it falls apart easily and it's all soft then it's done, if not, let them cook a little longer. Drain in a colander and do not rinse. Transfer into a bowl and add the fixins' to taste, salt, pepper, butter, and milk, and the secret ingredient my grandmother used to add for creaminess, a little bit of mayo. You can also use evaporated skim milk; it's optional. I've also mistakenly used condensed milk instead of the evaporated skim and that was pretty good, too, funny enough. Mash it with a potato masher until everything is mixed together and the consistency you are looking for. You just about can't mess up mashed potatoes, in my opinion. If you don't particularly care for lumps then smoosh them up with a blender. I personally like lumps; lets you know they are REAL potatoes instead of store bought glop.

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