Sunday, July 27, 2014

Peach and Blueberry Crisp


Cobblers, grunts, slumps, buckles, brown bettys, crumbles, pandowdies, pies, and crisps all have one thing in common. Their ability to transform fruit into bites of sinful, crazy good, satisfying, wonderful deliciousness. Out of all of these, the crisp has always been my most favorite 'fruit' comfort food dessert (pies are running a very close second). Served warm with some vanilla ice cream, a crisp instantly makes me feel warm, cozy, weight of the world lifted off my shoulders content.

For the most part I generally lean toward making one fruit only crisps. As I looked at all of the cartons of fruits so perfectly displayed at the farmer's market, it was as if the universe seemed to saying to me 'it's time to expand your crisp making repertoire'. Who am I not to listen to the voice of the universe? But which combination of fruits would take me outside of my 'crisp' comfort zone and still be able to put me in a Zen-like, not a care in the world state? Peaches and blueberries. Not because orange and blue are the colors of my alma mater (although that isn't such a bad reason), but because I just happen to love both of these fruits.

In making the peach and blueberry crisp I wanted and knew I needed to do more than just add peaches to my blueberry crisp recipe. With a determination bordering on zealousness, I wanted there to be a discernible difference between the two crisps. I thought using oat flour instead of all-purpose would give the crisp topping a nuttier flavor as well as make the crisp gluten-free. Mixing demerara sugar into the fruit instead of brown or granulated sugar would add a hint of toffee flavor to the filling. Because peaches release more liquid that blueberries, using (more) cornstarch than flour would ensure the filling wasn't a baked soupy mess. The cornstarch would also have the added benefit of keeping the crisp gluten-free. And using sea salt instead of Kosher salt would further enhance the flavors of fruit.

Back to gluten free for a second. I have (incorrectly) perceived that anything and everything gluten free must not taste nearly as good as if it contained gluten. This Peach and Blueberry Crisp defies that rather narrowly held perception.


Some crisp recipes using peaches call for blanching and removing their skins before slicing. Not this one. The peach skins add flavor, color and texture. Besides crisps are supposed to be simple to make.


Think seasonally when making any fruit dessert. Fruits are always best for eating and cooking when they are at peak season, however, this should never ever dissuade you from making fruit desserts year round. More than the sometimes hard to justify price, some fruits available during off seasons in the grocery stores just don't seem to taste as good (another bias). Fortunately frozen fruit will have a very similar texture to fresh when baked.

When making any fruit dessert, all of the fruit needs to be at the same temperature as the baking times for fresh and frozen fruits vary. Frozen fruit lowers the temperature of filling resulting in longer baking times. So if combining fresh and frozen in the same recipe, one of the fruits may end up being undercooked and the other one being overcooked. Additionally, frozen fruit requires a slight increase in the amount of thickener (i.e., cornstarch or flour) so if fresh and frozen are mixed in a recipe calling only for fresh fruit, the result could be a soupy filling.


This Peach and Blueberry crisp is baked for approximately 50 minutes in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. The crisp is done when the topping is a deep golden brown and the filling is bubbling at the sides or in the center. As hard as it may be to resist, allow it to rest at least 15 minutes before serving. Covered with towels, the crisp can be kept warm for almost an hour.


In anticipation of getting a serious craving for Peach and Blueberry Crisp this winter, I had better stock up on some more blueberries and learn how to freeze peaches. Nothing sounds and feels better than to be momentarily transported back to the warm, sunny days of summer in the middle of a cold, snowy winter.
Recipe
Peach and Blueberry Crisp 

Ingredients
Topping
2/3 cup oat flour (or can use all-purpose flour)
1 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Fruit Mixture
3-4 yellow, ripe peaches, halved, seeded and cut into slices (skin remains on) (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
3 cups fresh blueberries (or 3 cups frozen blueberries defrosted)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup demerara sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

Optional: Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a deep oval or 8x10 baking dish.
2. In a medium sized bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Mix until combined. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine all fruit ingredients.
4. Pour fruit mixture into prepared pan.
5. Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.
6. Bake for 50 minutes or until top is a deep golden brown and filling is bubbling at the edges.
7. Serve warm with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


If breaking away from routines gives us a chance to experience something new, why is it so hard to make these shifts? Maybe it's because some changes are viewed as being paramount to causing an end of the world apocalypse. And I get that. Just the thought of increasing my mileage on the treadmill somedays is enough to make me feel as if I will be putting my life at risk (such head games I can play with myself). Not being able to have turkey on Thanksgiving makes my heart race uncontrollably fast. Eating pancakes without butter (I gave up syrup years ago) is enough to cause me to consider having a meltdown. Okay, maybe I am guilty of slightly exaggerating (except for the Thanksgiving Day one).

As I look back to when I was working full-time there were many days when I said I could not leave my desk to go out to lunch or I could not take a day off or I could not leave early or I didn't make time to spend time with friends (only now are some of my family and friends beginning to tell me how inaccessible I was). The world would not have ended if I had done or not done any of those things (as much as I had myself believe at the time). I would have figured out how to get the work done. Maybe the universe was telling me to find a better work-life balance and maybe I wasn't listening (or didn't want to). Who knew the universe could be so wise? Well, the Peach and Blueberry Crisp answered that question.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw


For some reason making the Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw caused me to take a (very long) walk down memory lane back to my summer job college days. And I should warn you, it may not be what you first think. It's probably not what you might think at all. After working full-time either on the day or night shift, my weekends were filled laboring in a restaurant serving everything from breakfast to carrying heavy banquet trays. Yet, the most memorable of all of these 'thankfully lasting only twelve weeks' jobs was working the second shift 'on the line' in the Cracker Jack factory. Whether it was stuffing the toys in the boxes (dizzying work) or packaging up marshmallows (physically challenging work), at the end of each day or night I counted my blessings at having the privilege of being able to go to college. Way back when Cracker Jack was made in Chicago the wind often carried the aroma of the caramel corn for miles from the factory. As a kid this smell was intoxicating, inhaling it five days (nights) a week, eight hours a day was a completely different story.

For the most part, the 'college summer help' were treated well by those who made their living working there day in and day out. I would have never survived a week, let alone an entire summer, on the 'stuffing toys in the boxes' line if it were not for the Polish women who took me under their wing. They continuously saved me while I figured out how to keep my balance on a stool while simultaneously using ALL of my fingers and thumbs trying to get the toys into the slots of a conveyer contraption that moved at what seemed like warp speed. Once I got over the nausea from the motion sickness and stopped causing 'the line' to be shut down because I jammed the conveyer, I could hold my own as a team member amongst the women who took great pride in accomplishing the nightly quota goals.

First layering a piece of beer battered tilapia on warmed corn tortillas, topping with some of the slaw, drizzling with the creamy, smoky lime-chipotle sauce, and garnishing with additional cilantro microgreens creates the most beautiful Fish Tacos. Doing the dizzying work of putting together a platter of these tacos while the fish was still hot and crispy was what had me remembering my 'assembly line' Cracker Jack days. What I would have done to have some 'summer help' in the kitchen.

These tacos would be what I would call one of those 'at least a two person' (assembly line) recipes. Better yet, it is a perfect dish when having friends over for dinner who like getting involved (and when you like them getting involved) in the meal.


My relative reluctance at making any recipe where deep frying is involved has probably caused me to miss out on making some really good, memorable meals. My love of fish tacos is responsible for getting me to finally take a deep breath and just dive into the deep frying world. One bite of these fish tacos was enough keep me from ever being so dismissive over food preparation techniques again. Oh, the things we miss out on when we have preconceived notions or don't move outside of our comfort zones.


The slaw topping the fish is made with green cabbage, red cabbage, white onion, radishes, cilantro, mayonnaise, and salt. You can choose to make it with only green cabbage, however, the added flavor and color dimension of the red cabbage to the slaw is pass up. Choose the smallest cabbages you can find because you not need full heads for this recipe.


The cabbages and white onion are thinly sliced while the radishes are cut into matchsticks. This would be one of those times when it helps to have a good, sharp knife.

At the farmer's market I found some cilantro microgreens. Ever so slightly milder in flavor than full grown cilantro, I thought they would be perfect in the slaw and as a garnish on the tacos. Had I not found these microgreens, I would have used freshly chopped cilantro. Honestly, I have never been a big fan of cilantro. Actually that would be a slight understatement. I have generally avoided it all costs. In addition to overcoming my avoidance over deep frying, I am finally coming to appreciate and like the flavors of this herb.


To assemble the slaw you must first make the sauce. Mayonnaise, freshly squeezed lime juice, chopped chipotle peppers and salt are mixed together. The longer you allow the sauce marinate the more heat and smokiness to the sauce (learned this when tasting the sauce the next day). At a minimum  let the sauce chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before you begin making the tacos which is enough time for the flavors to begin to develop. A generous quarter cup of the sauce lightly dresses the slaw and the remaining sauce is used to drizzle over the fish tacos.


Fish tacos can be made with red snapper, cod, tilapia or any other light to medium fish. For this recipe I used the light, flaky, and mild in flavor tilapia. The fish fillets are cut into 1 inch by 5 inch strips, sprinkled with salt before they are floured, dipped into the beer batter and deep fried.


The batter for the fish is made with flour, salt and beer. The obvious and best choice of beer is a Mexican lager (think Dos Equis XX). Once all mixed together the batter rests for fifteen minutes.

The fillets are first dredged in flour then coated in the batter before being gently placed in vegetable oil heated to a temperature of 375 degrees. Within 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, the fish should be fully cooked. To maintain the temperature of the oil fry only 4 to 5 pieces of the fish at a time. Once cooked, the fish is placed on paper towels to drain.

Yellow or white corn (soft) six inch tortillas are heated on a flat skillet and kept warm wrapped in a towel while you deep fry the fish.


Every layer of these tacos was mouthwatering scrumptious. They are relatively easy to make (as long as you have some help). Served with some icy cold beer (Mexican of course) or margaritas (made with your favorite tequila) they just might be one of the best meals you will make all summer. So don't let either the thought of deep frying or all of the parts to this recipe keep you from making them.

Whether you choose to bring a platter of assembled Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw to the table or serve all of the taco components buffet style, they taste best while the fish is still hot and crispy.

The next time I make these fish tacos I just might put out some bowls of caramel corn. Just for the fun of it, as a reminder to all of the things I learned way back when.
Recipe
Fish Tacos with Chipotle Slaw (slight adaptation to Fine Cooking's Baja Fried Fish Taco recipe)

Ingredients
Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise (recommend Duke's or Hellman's)
3 Tablespoons minced canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Cabbage slaw
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced white onion
4 radishes, cut into thin matchsticks
2 - 3 Tablespoons of cilantro microgreens (or 2 Tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro)
Generous 1/4 cup of the Sauce

Batter
1 1/2 cups Mexican lager, such as Dos Equis XX
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Fish 
1 1/2 pounds tilapia fillets, cut into 5"x1" strips (other fish options include cod or red snapper)
3/4 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

48 ounces vegetable oil
Additional cilantro microgreens or minced cilantro for serving

12-16 6 inch soft corn tortillas (yellow corn or white corn) - heated on griddle until hot then stacked n a cloth lined basket to keep warm
Lime wedges for serving

Directions
Sauce
1. Whisk together 1 cup mayonnaise, 3 Tablespoons minced chipotle peppers, 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt. Cover and refrigerate up to two hours.

Slaw
1. Mix together cabbages, radishes, onion, and cilantro in a medium-large bowl. Stir in a 1/4 cup of the sauce to lightly dress the vegetables (add more if 1/4 cup is not enough). Note: If making ahead, place vegetables in the refrigerator and mix in sauce just before serving.

Batter
1. Stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt and 1 1/2 cups Mexican lager beer in a medium bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Fish
1. Heat vegetable oil over medium heat to 375 degrees in a 4 quart pot.
2. Toss the sliced fish with 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt.
3. Put 1/2 cup all-purpose flour in a shallow bowl.
4. Working with several pieces of fish at a time, dredge in flour (shaking off excess), coat with batter and place in the oil.
5. Fry fish until golden and just cooked through (3 to 4 minutes).
6. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. 

Assembly
Place a piece of fish on each warm tortilla, top with some of slaw, drizzle with additional sauce, and top with additional cilantro microgreens or minced cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cherry Clafoutis


Bastille Day was last week. Cherries have been in season for a couple of weeks now. Recipes for Cherry Clafoutis have recently been posted by more than a handful of other talented food bloggers out there. And I bought a new cherry pitter months ago. What all this means is that I am somewhat late to the game of making this rustic French dessert. But better late than never or so the pragmatists in the world might say. However, those of us who are slightly more idealistic might lament over lost time, lost opportunities, thinking instead that "our biggest regrets are not for the things we have done but for the things we haven't done." So in my, at times, idealistic world to have lived such a long life without having Cherry Clafoutis as a part of it is to have lived a life with a little bit of regret. 

Originating in the Limousin region of France sometime during the 19th century, a clafloutis has traditionally been made with black cherries. However, they have also been made with apricots, apples, blackberries, pears, plums, and even cranberries. Skewing more to the traditional side, choosing the fruit for the clafoutis wasn't really a choice at all. It could only be cherries. At the farmer's markets and grocery stores this year, I have never seen more beautiful, nor tasted sweeter cherries. 

Sometimes described as a cross between a custard and a pancake, a clafoutis can be served as a dessert or as an indulgent breakfast. While best served warm, the clafoutis can also be served at room temperature. If I could recapture some of 'my life without Cherry Clafoutis', I would go back and eat it for breakfast on my birthday, for breakfast on Christmas, for breakfast on the day of the summer solstice, for dessert on the Fourth of July, for dessert after a dinner party having a French inspired meal, and on any other day I had a craving for it or wanted to make someone else's day memorable. 


Cherry clafoutis, where have you been all my life?


If you live long enough, the things you acquire 'new' become things considered 'vintage'. As I was searching for the brand new cherry pitter I had bought some months back, I could only find the one that exemplified vintage. Had I not ultimately found the newer, improved cherry pitter my enthusiasm for making the Cherry Clafoutis may have been a tad curbed. However, I suppose the tool itself does not matter as much as one's desire for either a hurried or unhurried life. 

As I was (laboring over) pitting the cherries, I understood why the French did not pit their cherries during the 19th century. The early clafoutis actually contained the pits of the cherries as they contained one of the same active chemicals found in almond extract. Baking the pits released this flavor into the clafoutis. Rather than risk anyone from swallowing or choking on a cherry pit, I thought there was a better way to infuse some almond flavor in the 21st century. The choices were adding almond extract or using almond meal flour. Looking for a more subtle taste of almond, I altered the recipe I had found and used equal amounts of all-purpose and almond meal flour instead of using all all-purpose flour. 


Some recipes for clafoutis call for mixing all of the ingredients by hand. This one called for using both a mixer and a whisk. For ease and convenience I used a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, but the base batter could be assembled using a hand mixer. A whisk worked perfectly to whip the egg whites just until they became light and foamy.

The pitted cherries are mixed with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest.



After the baking dish is buttered and sugared it is placed in the preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Upon removing from the oven, the cherry mixture is immediately spread evenly in a single layer. Once the batter is poured, the baking dish is returned to the oven. The clafoutis bakes for 30 to 35 minutes or until the edges are browned and it is set in the center.


The finishing touch to the warm clafoutis is dusting it with confectionary sugar.


The clafoutis is an example of both rustic simplicity and decadence. How can something simultaneously be at both ends of a spectrum you might wonder? You will have the answer to that question after you first take the cherry clafoutis in with your eyes and then take your first bite. If you were wondering what to do with the abundance of cherries you have, a cherry clafoutis couldn't be any easier to make (pitting the cherries isn't all that bad), and will wow your family and friends. 
Recipe
Cherry Clafoutis (inspired by a Williams-Sonoma recipe)

Ingredients
4 large eggs, room temperature and separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 Tablespoons all-purpose
3 Tablespoons almond meal flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted (or 1 1/4 pounds frozen cherries, thawed and drained)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Confectionary sugar for dusting

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and sugar a 10 inch round or 9 x 12 inch baking dish and set aside.
2. In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment combine egg yolks and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Beat on medium-high until ribbons form (about 4-6 minutes).
3. Add flours, vanilla and cream. Reduce speed to low and beat until completely blended (stopping mixer to occasionally scrape down sides of the bowl).
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and salt for about 30 seconds or until light and foamy.
5. Add egg whites to batter and beat with mixer on low until fully incorporated (1-2 minutes).
6. In a medium sized bowl, stil together cherries, remaining 1/3 cup sugar and lemon zest.
7. Place prepared baking dish in oven for 4-5 minutes.
8. Remove baking dish from oven, pour in cherries and then top with batter. Return to oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until clafoutis browned at the edges and is set in the middle. Note: Size of baking dish will influence baking time.
9. Sift confectionary sugar over top of clafoutis and serve.
Optional: Serve with vanilla or pistachio ice cream.


Two things happened this past week causing me to reflect on the importance and power of gratitude. The first was receiving an unexpected, incredibly thoughtful gift from a friend. The second was an email from another friend containing unexpected words of appreciation. Both brought me great joy and both offered me opportunities to show my appreciation for their kindnesses, for their friendship.

Gratitude has been defined as the quality of being thankful, the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Robert Emmons, a noted expert on gratitude, sees it as a relationship-strengthening emotion as it requires us to recognize how the roles support and affirmation impacts the feelings of closeness and commitment we have for friends and/or partners. In support of this belief, author Ellen Goodman once said 'We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness." Beyond strengthening relationships gratitude can bring happiness; foster creativity; enhance feelings of optimism, joy, hope and enthusiasm; increase resiliency; and, promote forgiveness.

Have you watched as a child or friend receives little back from those they show love, thoughtfulness and generosity? Have you ever noticed how you show gratitude to those you want to keep close in your life differs significantly from those you want to maintain distance? Sometimes it is easier to see this in others than it is in ourselves. 

In this age of social media and hurried lives, we can sometimes lose sight of the importance the ways in which our actions and words we choose to show gratitude can have. Even if there is an element of gratitude present, sincerity and snarkiness sound and feel very different. Our reactions to the receipt of card; a homemade or store bought confection; an unexpected or celebratory gift; a favor; or even just a short note expressing support, have the power to affect the quality of not just our relationships with others, but our own lives. Our words and actions reveal much of what resides in our hearts. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Four Bean Baked Beans


We are a creature of habit culture particularly when food is involved. Food traditions aren't only reserved for the holidays, summer barbecues also have their own usual suspect dishes. Beyond all things grilled, there is the potato salad, the cheesy potato casseroles, the grilled corn on the cob, the cole slaw, and last but not least, THE baked beans. Whether they are the doctored-up versions using cans of Campbell's beans or ones made from various types of beans soaked overnight, everyone seems to have their favorite go-to baked bean recipe. In some families changing or replacing the 'traditional' baked beans would be akin to committing a heinous crime, however, mine isn't one of them. Mostly because the baked beans I have made in the past have been good, but I wouldn't exactly say they were great to the point of being so sacred a gathering would be ruined if they weren't served.


So when one of my very best friends mentioned a friend of hers had a baked bean recipe guaranteed to get rave reviews, I not only wanted it, I wanted to believe this rather audacious claim. Could baked beans made with four different kinds of beans (no soaking required), a simple sauce of vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar, sautéed onions and bacon possibly be one worthy of being labeled as great, as one everyone goes gaga over?  When my friend shares that such and such a movie or such and such a book was either amazing or just okay, my opinion rarely, if ever, has differed from hers. So I went into making these baked beans having the faith they would live up to the claim of guaranteed' 'rave review' accolades. The expectation bar for these beans was set really high.


While making these beans I texted her to say if they tasted just half as good as they looked, they undoubtedly would be beyond amazing. They were winning the baked bean beauty contest, but would they would win taste contest? And, did they? This question deserves more than the simple 'yes or no' answer. Let's just say that no matter how attached you might be to your treasured baked bean recipe (the one, without exception, you always serve to your family and friends), these baked beans will be the reason why you will consciously uncouple from it and not look back with any regrets. Without exception, the next time you invite friends over for a barbecue or are asked to bring a side dish to a gathering, you will get the evil eye if these baked beans aren't the ones you make or bring.

Isn't almost everything better with bacon (although I have yet to jump on bacon in ice cream bandwagon)? A pound of thickly sliced hickory or applewood smoked bacon cooked to perfection adds an incredible depth of flavor to these baked beans. If there was ever a baked bean recipe worthy of falling under the Twitter hashtag #baconlove, this would be the one.


Chopped onions sautéed in the drippings from the bacon add just the right amount of sweetness to the beans. Choose the largest Vidalia or yellow onion you can find.

When looking at the four kinds of canned beans in the list of ingredients, I thought 'hmmm, garbanzo beans, really?'. Well, whoever put this combination of beans together knew what they were doing. The texture created by the baked beans, northern beans, black beans and yes, the garbanzo beans is unlike any I had ever tasted before.

With the exception of the can of baked beans, the northern beans, black beans and garbanzo beans are all drained and rinsed.



The beans, bacon and onion are all mixed together in a medium to large sized Dutch oven or baking pot (one having a tight fitting lid). If you ever needed a reason to splurge (and I mean really splurge) consider buying a copper pot for no other reason than to make these baked beans in them.


The sauce or dressing for the beans is made with apple cider vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. The recipe didn't specify light or dark brown sugar so I made the decision to use dark brown sugar as it has a slightly more complex, higher molasses flavor than light brown sugar. Initially it seemed this would not be enough sauce for all of these beans, but there could not be a more perfect balance of sauce to beans ratio in this recipe.


The beans are baked in preheated 350 degree oven in a covered pan for an hour. Once removed from the oven the beans need to rest for approximately ten minutes before serving. This resting period gives the sauce in the beans enough time to thicken just a little more.


After I tasted these baked beans, I texted my friend again and simply said 'I am in bean heaven'. The smokiness of the bacon, the crunch and creamy texture of the beans, the hint of molasses from the dark brown sugar, the tartness form the the apple cider vinegar and ketchup, and the sweetness of the sautéed onions had me swooning. Seriously, these may be most flavorful baked beans you will ever eat.

Try as best as you can to humbly accept all of the rave reviews you will be getting when you serve these baked beans. There is plenty of summer left, more than enough time for these baked beans to become one of the expected side dishes at your summer barbecues or gatherings. Once you serve them, you really will guilty of committing the most heinous of all crimes if they fail to make a regular appearance on your table.

In addition to books and movies (and oh yes, martinis and margaritas), my very best friend and I now have baked beans added to the list of the things we share the same opinion on. As thankful as I am to her for passing this recipe on to me, I am even more thankful to her friend.

Recipe
Four Bean Baked Beans (inspired by Sandi Claeson's wicked baked bean recipe)

Ingredients
1 pound of thick sliced bacon (applewood or hickory smoked) - drippings reserved
1 large vidalia or yellow onion, chopped
1 large (28 ounces) can of baked beans (do not drain) (suggest Bush's Original baked beans)
1 can (15 ounces) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (16 ounces) can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15.8 ounces) can of northern white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup ketchup (suggest Heinz)
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar (or can use light brown sugar)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Brown bacon (but not too crisp). Drain on paper towels. When cool, cut or break into small bite sized pieces.
3. Sauté onions in the bacon grease until softened (about 2-3 minutes). Drain and set aside.
4. Mix together baked beans, black beans, garbanzo beans and northern white beans. Stir in chopped bacon and sautéed onions.
5. Mix together apple cider vinegar, ketchup and brown sugar. Stir into bean mixture.
6. Transfer baked bean mixture into a Dutch Oven or baking pan (one with a lid)
7. Bake covered for one hour.
8. Remove from oven, allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving (wait time allows for additional thickening).
9. Serve and savor.