Monday, February 20, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Beans

Remember our Christmas cookie contest?  Winner Kathy Kaminski sent me these wonderful pictures of the day she spent baking cookies with her mom.   

Those of you with an eagle eye will spot a bottle of champagne on the table where Kathy's mom is working.  Hah!  I have to try that.  I never knew champagne went with cookie dough so well.

Kathy is using the dusting sugars and cookie cutters she won.

And this next picture might just be my favorite --


-- the luckiest man on the planet.  The official taster and beneficiary of the cookies!

Kathy, thank you so much for sending these photos.  I feel like I was there having a good time with you!

The winning recipe, Raspberry Rollups, would actually be a great cookie any time of year!

As many of you have undoubtedly realized, I do a lot of experimenting in the kitchen.  Sometimes things work out, sometimes not so much.

Typical reaction --
everybody's a critic.

Will this blueberry cupcake recipe make the cut and be in my next book?

Oops.  I'm not sure why this marinated steak on barley didn't pass our taste test.

So I wavered about whether to post this recipe, but it has grown on me so much that I might even make it again sometime.  It all started in the grocery store, where I saw a can of Cajun Red Beans.   Naturally, I wanted to know what made them Cajun.  Turned out it was pretty simple stuff, mostly the Creole triumvirate of celery, onion and green pepper. 

So I tried my own version and while it started out great, I thought it was headed for disaster -- until I added the two very unlikely ingredients of honey and balsamic vinegar. 

The great news about this is that it's packed with flavor and loaded with fiber and veggies.  The entire dish comes to 1,272 calories.  I'm guessing it makes 4 to 6 servings depending on whether you eat it as a vegetarian main course or a side course over rice.  I'm even imagining that it might qualify as vegan.  I'm never quite sure what vegans can eat.  I trust one of you will tell me.

Warning, it doesn't take a pretty picture!  I think Forward has just the right amount of heat, but if it's not enough for you, add a little Tabasco Sauce!

Sweet & Spicy Beans

1 bag frozen blackeye peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced in large chunks
1 cup sliced celery
4-6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 teaspoons Forward (blend from Penseys)
1 15-ounce can red beans, drained
salt (I used 3 teaspoons)
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey

Cook blackeye peas according to bag.

Heat the oil and add the onions.  After 2-3 minutes add the pepper, onion, celery, garlic, and Forward.  Cook, stirring occasionally.  When the onions are translucent, add 1-2 tablespoons water if needed to prevent scorching, turn the heat down and cover.  Simmer five minutes.

Add blackeye peas and red beans, balsamic vinegar, honey, and salt to taste.  Stir to combine, adding 2 more tablespoons of water if needed. Cover and simmer another 5 minutes.



  1. Krista, we should have made a rule that winner sends out cookie goodie bags to all of us! love those pix...

    I made something last night that photographed beautifully but tasted really odd...I'll save the details for later. the bean dish sounds delish--I love beans. From my Tennessee days in the seventies, I learned to make "soup beans" and cornbread and greens. Can't convince my hub that that's much of a meal very often...

  2. Ooo, Lucy! What a great idea. Bags of cookies for us to try. : ) I have to say that I loved the raspberry rollups. The dough is soft and delicate, like a little pastry.

    It's funny that some things look great and taste a little weird, while others taste great but look terrible. I'm looking forward to hearing about your dish!

    ~ Krista

  3. Krista, we all know that some things don't take a pretty picture. Goulash, I mean, c'mon, really? This is pretty. It has the right colors. Love the picture of the critic!!!!


    1. Good point, Avery. I love goulash and there's just nothing pretty about it.

      ~ Krista

  4. Kathy & her mom decorating sugar cookies --- wonderful memories. I bet they have done that for years. It's an activity that is ageless and timeless. If the champagne was there during the whole process, I wonder what batch #4 looked like compared to batch #1. :)

    Thumbs up on the blueberry muffin. It looks like you need a fork to eat it. A-OK by me.

    Sweet & Spicy beans sound very good. I love barley, so that sounded good, too.

    1. Christi, I felt the same way when I saw the pictures -- nostalgic. I bet they had a wonderful time!

      I'll work on the barley recipes. I make it all the time. Should work on dressing it up a bit.

      ~ Krista

  5. I'm glad everyone enjoyed the pictures. We did have a fun day! Growing up, my mom and I did make cookies (in that same kitchen). We made the Kris Kringles (a cut out cookie recipe) and Mom would make the dough and roll it out while I decorated the cookies! Just as we did now, only I used the great cookie cutters I won instead of Christmas ones! I don't remember the "champagne while baking" part though-definitely a great grown up way to bake. And our 4th batch was just as nice as our first. LOL. I had to drive all the way back to my house, so I couldn't overindulge.

    1. Kathy, thank you so much for sharing the pictures. They reminded me of baking with my mom, and I bet they brought back fond memories for a lot of our readers. And I'm definitely pouring champagne the next time I bake cookies!

      ~ Krista

  6. Krista and Kathy - Belated comment: I just wanted to let you both know that I LOVED these photos!!! Kathy's mom is adorable!

    P.S. Krista - The bean recipe looks like a winner, too. I have the Penzeys Forward spice on hand, so I'm excited about trying it out this week. (Which means Marc thanks you, too!)