Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Red Beans and Rice (and a note about Thanksgiving).

Hi everyone!  It's been a busy one over here...for the past few weeks anyway.  I've already done 99% of my Christmas shopping.  Yes...I know...please don't hate me.  We travel every year for Thanksgiving, and I like to deliver all the presents to David's side of the family while we're there.  Then I don't have to pay for shipping to anywhere except one nephew in Massachusetts. 

I would love to cook the 19 pound turkey that's in my deep freezer...and it's been there since (gasp) last Thanksgiving.  I know I need to cook it...and I will...as soon as it's cool enough here to thaw it...and then brine it outside in a cooler in the garage.  No way am I going to do that inside.  I can only imagine what 4 curious kids might do with a big, raw, turkey (turkey bowling anyone?). 

So...I don't cook for Thanksgiving, which I explained in this post.  And I'm okay with that.  Last year, I did whip up the mashed potatoes and made gravy while all the other women in the family worked on other dishes.  My sister-in-law roasts the turkey and makes the stuffing.  My father-in-law makes the cranberry sauce and cranberry relish (I like the sauce).  My other sister-in-law usually brings cookies for the kids, and my mother-in-law brings homemade rolls and a layered Jello salad.  Needless to say, there is plenty of food to feed 12+ adults and 15 kids. 

But the real reason for this post is a recipe for red beans and rice.  I first had them at Treebeards, a well-known establishment here in Houston.  David took me there when he used to work downtown, and after one bowl, I was hooked.  Later, I found a copycat recipe on the internet, and I've been stirring my pot of beans ever since. 

I have a friend who says she makes the best red beans and rice.  She's from Louisiana, so I'll bet they're pretty darn good.  But...if she ever follows through with her plan of hosting a little red beans and rice throwdown...well, you might find me there ;-). 

To make this dish properly, you need to cover the beans with water and let them soak overnight.  You can cheat by covering the beans with water, boiling for 5 minutes, and then let 'em sit 1 hour before continuing.  The beans will have a different texture if you do it this way. 

Also, I doubled this recipe, because we need more than one batch for our family.  I'd say one batch serves 4-6, if you go back for seconds, which I guarantee you will! 

Treebeards Red Beans and Rice

1 pound light red kidney beans
2 quarts water
1/2 of a medium green pepper, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 bay leaves
2  1/2 teaspoons salt
1  1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1  1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1  1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced 1/2 thick
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Chopped green onions (optional)

Sort your beans to make sure there are no tiny pebbles or bits of dirt.  Spreading them out on a clean towel or white paper towels makes it easier to see anything that shouldn't be there. 

In a large dutch oven or pot, combine the water and beans.  Let sit overnight. 

Drain, refill with 2 quarts of water, and add the green peppers, onions, and celery.  I chop up all the veggies the day before or in the morning to save time. 

I had some color peppers in the fridge that needed to be used up before we left town for the holiday weekend, so just threw 'em in.  Hope Treebeard doesn't mind...whoever he is ;-). 

Since I made a double batch, 1/2 went into my dutch oven, and 1/2 went into the crockpot.

Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and let it cook for 1 1/2 hours.  (If you use a crockpot, about 4 hours on "high" ought to do it.  Once you add the rest of the ingredients, cook for another hour on "high"). 

After 1 1/2 hours, the beans will be very soft, but should be mostly intact.  So don't stir too much during the process. 

Combine all the spices in a small bowl. 

Stir the spices gently into the pot...we're not making refried beans here...so easy does it.  We want the beans to remain as whole as possible.  Add the sausage, and give the pot one gentle stir to combine. 

Simmer for another half an hour or until the beans are completely soft, and the sausage is heated through.

During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, make some white, long-grain rice according to the package directions.  I never make the ready rice or rice-in-a-bag...it just tastes fake to me.  But...I know some people like it...so feel free to make whatever your family will eat. 

If your like green onions, chop up about 4.  These are from our garden.  (We have some gorgeous broccoli right now, along with peppers and lettuce...so much lettuce in fact, we should start breeding rabbits :-). 

To serve, place about 1/2 cup rice into a bowl.  Top with a serving of the red beans...adding some of the liquid as necessary...it goes great with the rice. 

Treebeards serves their red beans and rice with cheddar cheese and chopped green onions.  I don't know if that's authenic or not...but my kids will eat anything if there's cheese on top.  So bring on the cheese!

Oh, and a little Tabasco or hot sauce is great too :-). 

Aww...what could be better on a cold night than a bowl of this?  It's also a nice change from Thanksgiving leftovers if you've got family visiting for the holiday weekend.  And if you make this in a crockpot, you can throw it together around noon and have it ready it time for dinner with little effort.

I  hope everyone has a wonderful turkey day with plenty of good food, friends, and family!  I plan to eat well and have seconds...especially at dessert time ;-).

God bless your table tonight!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And the Winner is...

Well, I must say, I read everyone's comments.  They made me smile...and hungry!  I love hearing what other people like to cook.  In fact, I might have another giveaway in December, just so I can ask another quirky question.  You all won't mind, will you?  Of course not ;-). 

I guess you want to know who won, right?  

Hey, did I tell y'all about the time I made a really horrible salmon casserole when my hubby and I were first married?  He pretended to like it and ate it...but I'll never make such a horrid concoction again. 

Gracious, I'm getting off topic aren't I? 

Okay, OKAY !!!

The winner (by random drawing) is...


I would have to say Lasagna! I'm not a great cook at all but my lasagna gets rave reviews. Yay!

Hope I win, fingers crossed :)
Congratulations Laura!

I'll email you shortly and get your information so I can get your prize to you.  If you'd like your cookbook signed by The Pioneer Woman at her book signing on December 5, please let me know when you email me, and I'll hold on to it until then.

Thank you everyone for your comments.  I'm honored you would even visit my humble little blog here :-)

Friday, November 6, 2009

I've Had a Makeover!

I decided it was time for my cooking blog to get a makeover.  Thank you's galore to Shauna at  See My Designs by Shauna for the beautiful, custom design.  She is awesome, and created something I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. Thank you so much Shaua for all the hard work you did for me!

I feel like celebrating!  And what better way to celebrate than having my very first giveaway? 

I love Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman.  She just published her first cookbook, and when I saw it on Amazon, I squealed with excitement, and promptly asked (okay...I BEGGED) my hubby to order two copies, which he did because he adores me...thank you darlin'! 

This means there is one cookbook for me, and one lucky gal (or guy).  And let me tell ya, it's full of yummy recipes, guaranteed to make everyone at your dinner table happy.  I've made PW's Enchiladas, and oh my gracious...heaven on a plate people. 

Now, here's the best part...I can either send the winner the cookbook right away, OR you can wait until I go to the Pioneer Woman's book signing at Blue Willow Books here in Houston on Dec. 5th.  And...drum roll please...I'll get YOUR copy signed for you too!  How about that?!  Yes, you can squeal now :-)

So...if you want a chance to win the second copy, just leave me an answer in my comments section. 

Here's the question.  What's your favorite meal of all time you can actually cook? Only one entry per person please!

Deadline for your entry is Friday, November 13, at 3:00 PM Central Time, 'cause that's the zone I'm in folks.  The winner will be announced Saturday morning!

Have fun and good luck!