#SundaySupper wants to take the labor out of Labor Day, so we have a menu of over thirty recipes for snacks and sides, dinners and desserts, plus more that require little effort on your part. Are you squeezing in one last picnic or party this holiday weekend? I’ve taken all the work out of this classic barbecue side dish, but kept the hearty homemade taste with my Semi-Homemade Baked Beans.
Semi-Homemade Baked Beans
When I was about thirteen, we moved out of the house that we had lived in since I was born. We moved in December to a neighborhood that had all of about five houses, and the day we moved was the first snow storm of a winter filled with ice and snow storms. My mom, sister, and I spent many days stuck in the house feeling quite alone. Gradually the ground thawed and more and more houses went up and families moved in, and we came to love that neighborhood, or “The Village”, as my sister called it when she was little.
There were only two streets that made a circle, so pretty much everyone knew everyone. It was the typical mom, dad, two point five kids, the occasional dog or cat, manicured landscaping, swing sets in the backyards type of neighborhood. It was one of those neighborhoods where the kids would roam from house to house finding where and with whom they wonted to play, the parents would gather on someone’s from porch or back deck to have a glass of wine or a beer and chit chat, and it took at least a half hour to walk around the very small block because you undoubtedly stopped several times to catch up with someone. There were community picnics and yard sales, kickball tournaments and donut fights, and yes, even some shenanigans involving reindeer Christmas decorations in compromising positions and a light-up Santa in someone’s car.
I was literally the only teenager, and basically every house had at lease one kid under eight, so to say that my high school years were quite lucrative is an understatement. Well, the going rate for babysitting was way less back then compared to now, but I did okay. The best part was that my sister, who is ten years younger than me, was friends with all of the kids in the neighborhood. So she accompanied me pretty much every time I had a babysitting job and played with the kids while I watched TV or did my homework (yes, this was ways before the days of smartphones), and I just made sure that nobody got injured. Can you say “easy money”?!
And actually, even though I had made dinner for my family a fair amount since I was in junior high, my real interest in experimenting with recipes and trying to make new things came from our monthly neighborhood dinner parties that I started attending with my parents when I moved back home after college. Every month the hosts chose a theme, and I began making recipes to fit the French and Irish and Mexican and Italian menus, and so much more.
It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns though. There was gossip and a few mini-feuds, and even some more serious things like affairs, divorces, and yes, even a couple of tragedies where we lost members of the “tribe”. But at the end of the day, it was the closest community I have ever been a part of. I loved living there, and even though I only planned to live at home for a short time after I graduated college, the only thing that could drag me away was getting married. And the only reason I didn’t go back on a regular basis was because my parents moved out of state while I was on my honeymoon. Heck, The Hubby and I actually toyed around with the idea of buying a house there. I’m not sure that where we live now is quite like that, but I hope that many someday my kids will experience that type of neighborhood and sense of community.
One of the other amazing things I got out of living in that neighborhood? These beans…
My Semi-Homemade Baked Beans were originally “Laura’s Beans”. In fact, that’s how they are labeled in my mom’s recipe book. But honestly, I can’t remember the last time I referred to the recipe. I used to just add in a little of this, some of that, left out the bacon or used liquid smoke if there were vegetarians, that sort of thing. As I made this recipe more and more, they gradually became known as Brianne’s Beans, and they are often requested and rapidly devoured by friends and family alike. Everyone always wants to know my secret. So I’m going to tell you. Shhhh… you start with a can of baked beans so that you get all the flavor that’s already there and don’t have to deal with the time and labor of cooking dry beans. Then you dump out all the liquid and replace it with something way yummier and thicker and richer. Also, while you could just throw them on the oven or grill until they are hot, my favorite thing is to put them in a low oven for as long as possible to really let the flavors intensify.
Over time I’ve tweaked quite a bit. In fact, the original recipe called for less mustard and I used to add a pretty fair amount of brown sugar, but The Hubby prefers his beans less sweet and more mustardy. Since I love him, he wins, and I’m ok with cutting the sugar a bit. These beans are still super flavorful, and the thick, gooey texture is just so much better than that liquidy stuff in the can. And it’s barely any more work than dumping a can of beans in a pot, but totally worth it.
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- One 28 oz. can baked beans (I use Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans)
- About ¾ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup spicy brown mustard
- 2 Tablespoons molasses
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- one small or half a large onion, minced
- 2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
- If you have several hours to bake your beans, preheat the oven to 250°F. If you only have thirty minutes to an hour, set it to 350°F. Additionally, you can also cook the beans on the grill.
- Drain all of the liquid from the can of baked beans into a measuring cup. Make note of the amount of liquid and discard. This is the amount of ketchup you will use.
- Place the beans in the large bowl and add ketchup (an equal amount to the quantity of baked beans liquid you discarded, about ¾ cup), mustard, molasses, salt, dry mustard, pepper, onion, and bacon, and stir to combine.
- Transfer to a ceramic casserole dish (or disposable aluminum pan of cooking on the grill or bringing to a barbecue where you may not get your dish back), and bake for at least 1-2 hours at 250°F, or at least 30 minutes-1 hour at 350°F or on the grill, until heather through and thick and bubbly. The lower and longer you bake them, the better.
Finish off your barbecue menu with these easy recipes…
And here are all of the labor-free Labor Day recipes from #SundaySupper…
Savory Snacks and Sides:
- Acorn Squash, Black Bean and Spinach Quesadillas by Our Good Life
- Copy Cat: Momma’s Nachos by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Cream Cheese and Peach Chutney Pastry Cups by Soni’s Food
- Easy Peasy Cole Slaw by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Fruit & Cheese Platter by The Freshman Cook
- Olive Tapenade by Whole Food | Real Families
- Semi-Homemade Baked Beans by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Smoked Salmon Spread with Sourdough Baguette by A Gouda Life
Labor Free Main Dishes:
- Ace of Clubs by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Easy and Tasty Filet Mignon on the Grill by Family Foodie
- Easy Baked Spaghetti for a Crowd by Lifestyle Food Artistry
- Greek Salad Endive Boats by Casa de Crews
- Grilled Butternut Squash, Zucchini and Steak with Chimichurri Sauce by Caroline’s Cooking
- Pesto Chicken with Fennel & Tomato Couscous by Books n’ Cooks
- Simple Cheese Enchiladas by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
- Simple Grilled Rosemary Shrimp by Nosh My Way
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork with Mustard Barbecue Sauce by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Slow Cooker Turkey Sloppy Joes by Food Done Light
- Spicy Thai Noodles by Momma’s Meals
Sweet Treats and Drinks:
- Apple Spice Dump Cake by Palatable Pastime
- Blender Chocolate Mousse by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles by What Smells So Good?
- Coconut Martini by Desserts Required
- Creamy Coconut Popsicles by Food Lust People Love
- Eiskaffee by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Healthy Grab’n’Go Breakfast Muffins by Happy Baking Days
- Mango Salad with Crystallized Ginger by MealDiva
- Mini Pavlovas by Curious Cuisiniere
- One Step Vanilla Sauce by Magnolia Days
- White Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffle Bars by Pies and Plots
Labor Free Labor Day:
- 10 Store-Bought Cooking Shortcuts by Sunday Supper Movement