Tag Archives: hot sauce

Doctoring Store-Bought Food: Tailgating Recipes Edition

Gentle Readers, sometimes one has all the time in the world to create a culinary masterpiece, and sometimes one must PUNT! In the spirit of football season and tailgating parties, here are two recipes devised to save time and save face.

Speaking of saving face, looks like the crowd approves the side dishes. Or you took selfies with my phone.

Speaking of saving face, looks like the crowd approves the side dishes. Or you took selfies with my phone.

If you have to feed a crowd in a hurry, what better choices than baked beans and potato salad? But on a busy weekend during the school year, however much I may like to start from scratch, I will compromise and doctor store-bought. I even signed my name to one of them.

Mildly doctored blondies: wasn't blown away by this mix, better from scratch. But they are pretty.

Mildly doctored blondies: wasn’t blown away by this mix, better from scratch. But they are pretty.

Doctored Potato Salad Recipe

I bought this beauty from SuperTarget, selected for quantity, price, and not being overly mayo-filled or celery seed laced. I have evolved in my acceptance of celery over the years, but I am unyielding on those celery seeds. They are not delicious to me. I digress.

Specially doctored by The Practical Cook: SuperTarget Potato Salad!

Specially doctored by The Practical Cook: SuperTarget Potato Salad!

1 container of potato salad that meets your personal needs (size and flavor profile)
yellow mustard
sweet or dill relish, or  a combination
chopped parsley (optional)
dash of hot sauce
sliced cherry tomatoes

Now you have a decision to make–is the container large enough to stir in your add-ins, or do you need to mix in a separate bowl? I’ll wait while you sort this out. Now you also must decide whether you own the doctoring or go full out and pass it as your own in a nice bowl.

Regardless, stir in the yellow mustard (a healthy dose if you want to offset mayo), relish, parsley (will make it taste fresh, don’t overdo it), and a dash of hot sauce (like Tabasco, and I mean just a dash) until fully blended. Top with sliced cherry tomatoes. Serve with a smile on your face.

Beer and Bacon Baked Beans Recipe

I adapted this recipe from Beer-Can Chicken, an amazing little cookbook that I worked on promoting many years ago. It calls for ribs and a grill, but bacon and an over work just fine, too.

Beer and Bacon Baked Beans before the oven!

Beer and Bacon Baked Beans before the oven!

1 large can of pork-n-beans (yes, the ones with the fatback and tomato sauce that are crazy cheap and taste bad by themselves)
1 can each: black beans, pinto beans, dark red kidney beans–rinsed thoroughly
smoky meat: can be leftover ribs, a bit of ham, or my favorite, cooked bacon
1 small onion, diced
1/2 – 3/4 cup diced mixed peppers (the sweet kind, I use the frozen mixed ones)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/3 cup barbecue sauce (doesn’t have to be fancy, I use Kraft because it’s cheap)
2 healthy teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 of a beer, the rest is for the cook
Ground black pepper to taste
a shot of your favorite hot sauce, to taste

Mix it all up in a 9 by 13 glass dish (or aluminum one if you’re wanting to toss it later), heat in a grill or in a 375-400 degree oven until bubbling and reduced. Thank me later, but feel free to invite me to your tailgate party now.

Beer and Bacon Baked Beans Completed!

Beer and Bacon Baked Beans Completed!

What are your favorite things to buy and make better? Post a comment here or Tweet my way! Special thanks to #vGingerBeard and family for the invitation and the unsolicited thumbs up.

Send your good ideas, lucrative offers, and free chocolate samples to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Sunday: Weekly Menus!

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Hoppin’ John Recipe, Simplified

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook is a big fan of the one-pot recipe. And though my drive to serve greens would force me to serve this with a side of collards, Hoppin’ John is one of those classic recipes that fits this bill. One of my favorite versions is Bill Smith’s dish at Crook’s Corner. I got close this time, with the help of some sausage.

Simplified Hoppin' John

Simplified Hoppin' John

Honestly, I kept craving this dish, and the leftovers kept getting better. Very easy, very satisfying, and makes a good amount.

Easy Hoppin’ John Recipe

1 lb sausage, flavor of your choice (I had local bratwurst from Brinkley Farms at hand, so I used that; chorizo would also be lovely, as would any Cajun-type sausage), crumbled or cut into chunks
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
dash of salt
dash of ground black pepper
dash of thyme
1/2 can diced tomatoes, no-salt added type
1 can of black-eyed peas, rinsed (sue me, but I didn’t have any more scratch-cooked ones on hand, and these worked beautifully)
shredded cheese, I would say optional, but it really isn’t
3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced, also not optional
hot sauce, preferable

1 batch of white rice, cooked (your choice on the top, but I used standard grocery store rice here)

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

Not so fluffy white rice, but it will do.

1. In a medium skillet, brown the sausage, breaking into bite-sized chunks as necessary. When cooked, set aside on paper towels to drain, reserving just enough grease to cover the bottom of the pan.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

Saute the onions and garlic with the spices.

2. Saute the onion and garlic in the sausage grease over medium heat until softened, about 2 or 3 minutes. Season with a bit of salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir for a few seconds. Add tomatoes and black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

Stir in the tomatoes and the black-eyed peas.

3. Add the reserved sausage back to the skillet, stir, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat and let the flavors meld, amount of time is up to you, but I would recommend at least 10 minutes. Cover as needed to prevent drying out.

4. When serving, and this is important, don’t pour the black-eyed pea mixture over the rice until the very last minute. Once you top it, add the cheese and scallions. Do not omit them, I don’t know why, but it changes the dish a lot if you do. Serve warm.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens on the side. Leftover lunch heaven.

I like mine with a smidge of Frank’s Hot Sauce (apologies to my hometown Texas Pete, but that’s a blog for a different day.)

Are you a fan of Hoppin’ John? The one-pot meal? Post your comments below, don’t hold back.

Send your black-eyed peas, rice, and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Biscuits, Reviewed: Neal’s Deli in Carrboro.

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