Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Old Country Green Beans

I can remember eating my Grandmother's green beans as a kid and wondering how in the world she was able to get them to taste so delicious.  I never found out her secret, other than it involved vinegar, and have wished a thousand times I could eat one more bowl.  When Kendra and I got married, which in a matter of days will be 14 years ago, I was given this cookbook which has become one of my favorite cookbooks--cherished if you will.  In this cookbook I read about a formula for making green beans.  While I have added one more ingredient as well as changing up the cooking process and time, it is basically the same recipe as posted in Thelma's cookbook.

These green beans are simply wonderful.  They will take you back to your childhood because they are old fashioned green beans, full of flavor, and as most old fashioned recipes are, full of love.  The ingredient list couldn't be more simple: bacon, green beans, pepper.  What makes these beans really stand out is the process or steps to cooking the green beans.  The length of time also has something to do with it as well.  I have never made these green beans and not received a ton of compliments.  Usually the conversation goes something like this: "These green beans are divine!" "Thanks, they are pretty good.  They remind me of my grandmother's green beans."  "I need the recipe."  "OK, are you ready?"  That's the gist of it.

There are just a few things to remember to get guaranteed results every time, we'll go over those in the notes section at the end of the recipe.  If you remember the formula/ratio, whatever you want to call it you will be just fine and you, too will get a ton of compliments.

Green Beans

5 (14 oz) cans Green beans
7 strips bacon, diced
1 tablespoon black pepper

Heat a 3 quart stock pot to medium high heat.  Add diced bacon and cook over medium high heat until the bacon is crisp and dark brown.  While the bacon is cooking in the pot, open the cans of green beans...DO NOT DRAIN THE JUICE.

When the bacon has reached the dark brown color, like the photo to the right, pour just the juice from the cans into the stock pot.  Be careful because the steam will scald you (lesson learned the hard way).  Stir the juice and bacon bits together until the wonderful brown bits are all removed form the bottom of the pot.  Reduce heat to medium and bring the juice to a rolling boil.  Add the drained green beans, black pepper, and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for one hour or until ready to serve.  Sit back and take the compliments.


  • You don't have to make 5 cans of green beans.  Again this is a ratio.  I usually add one strip of bacon to one can of green beans. If you like a lot of bacon you can do two strips, I find that it gets pretty greasy though.
  • Cooking the bacon to the point that it is almost burned is key.  You want the bacon to be a good crisp, dark brown.
  • When I'm in a hurry, I will leave the pot on medium high heat and let the beans boil rapidly until I'm ready to serve. 
  • The very top picture of this post is of our dinner last night.  I put the beans on first, then the potatoes, and while the mini-meat loaves were cooking (which is a SUPER fast way to cook meatloaf) I let those beans boil away.  It took about 25 minutes for the meatloaf to cook and that was a perfect amount of time for the beans to cook.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pecan Bars

My catering life has come back to haunt me this month with three events in one month!  Fortunately for me I enjoy all aspects of catering, with exception to the clean up, especially building the menu.  Tracking down recipes for menus is such fun, I really enjoy it.  Over the years I have come to learn what goes with what and what will keep, etc.  It just kind of comes to you after you do it for a while.  The evolution of this love for cooking has brought me to discover ways to make things simple and yet very tasty at the same time which was not always the case for me.  Kendra and I once made chocolate Truffles for valentines day and sold almost 1,000 of those suckers!  I still do not want to see a chocolate truffle and it's been almost 7 years!

Today I had the privilege of making desserts for the area minister's luncheon at church.  I was asked to bring cookies, different types of cookies.  I knew immediately that I was going to make these cookies.  I wasn't really keen on baking two other batches of cookies, so I decided on bar cookies instead.  Much easier and just as good.  I made Dolce Bars, which the recipe will be coming soon it's on my list--promise, for those who don't like chocolate or nuts, but do have a sweet tooth.  These bars are topped with a browned butter frosting that is just to die for.  I would eat cardboard if it had this frosting atop it.  I've always had in my head: something chocolate, something not, something nutty, something not as a rule of thumb for catering to groups.  The dolce bars helped mark two of those off the list.  So what about something nutty?  Pecans. Yes.  That's nutty and universally popular with every nut lover I know.  But that led to the problem.  I'm not very proficient at making pecan bars and believe me I've tried.  Today.  Today is the day that I can safely say I no longer have no pecan bar in my arsenal because I have these.

These pecan bars couldn't be any easier and  I would challenge anyone to find one that tasted better, as arrogant as that sounds. They hit all the nerves that a pecan bar should hit being buttery, gooey, nutty, somewhat salty, somewhat sweet, and delicious.  The ingredient list is short and the preparation is perfect for beginning cooks or children who are wanting to learn how to cook.  I hope you agree that these are great, too.

Pecan Bars


One box Yellow Cake mix
1 stick butter 
1 egg


3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
One can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
One bag toffee bits (readily available in most stores by they chocolate chips)
One egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 15x10 jellyroll pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray very generously, set aside.

In a medium bowl, add ingredients for crust mixture and stir to combine.  No need for a mixer a wooden spoon will do just fine.  When well combined dollop onto the jelly roll pan and press to cover the pan.  Buttering your fingers or dipping in water will help your fingers not stick to the dough.  

In another medium bowl (or rinse out the one you just used) combine all the ingredients for the filling making sure to combine them well.  Pour over the crust mixture and spread evenly.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool before slicing.  You can dust with powdered sugar if you want but I didn't.  

Note:  I think I'm going to try these in a somewhat smaller size pan, not that they are bad as they are, but to see how the crust/filling turns out thicker.  I also think these would be unbelievable made in a mini-muffin pan like you would make pecan tassies.