Cooking from recent sale items

I’ve had some interesting challenges the past week or two, I have issues with seasonal allergies that sometimes turn into sinus problems, colds, and general misery. All hit at once the last two weeks, and I really didn’t do much shopping or cooking. I had entirely lost my sense of taste and smell for several days, so all I did was heat stuff up out of cans, because I couldn’t trust my ability to taste and adjust seasoning, plus if I was sick, it would be better to not touch anything anyway!

The night before I was wiped out I had set the crockpot with a batch of barbeque baked beans. Usually I let it simmer overnight, then taste it in the morning, adjust as needed, add meat (sausage, hot dogs, bacon, whatever I’m using) and cook during the day to be ready for dinner. But the night I fixed it was the night before things got bad, and I woke up the next morning with a terrible sinus headache and no appetite, and no sense of taste. So, the beans went (mostly unseasoned and with no meat) into quart containers in the fridge and freezer to be used in later recipes.

I started to feel better about Sunday, but today was really the first day I was on my feet and more back to normal. Still have a sore throat and sinus headache, but it’s manageable.

From reading several recipes, what i can tell is the difference between Cowboy Beans and BBQ Baked Beans is that Cowboy Beans have a beef product and Baked Beans have a pork product. I happened to have both due to recent sales, so I made Cowboy Baked Beans.

Cowboy Baked Beans
1/2 pound chopped beef (you can use leftover steak, hamburger, even ground turkey)
1 quart baked beans
1 smoked sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely minced
4 cloves garlic
hot sauce
liquid smoke
2 cans diced tomatoes (can use stewed or soup also)

Chop the beef, put in large skillet with a lid with the onions, garlic and jalapeno. If it is very lean beef, you may need to add a tablespoon of oil (I used bacon fat). Cook until jalapenos are nearly invisible and onions are transparent. Add both cans of tomatoes (mine was one can of diced and one of stewed), liquid smoke, and some hot sauce if desired. Cook until tomatoes have broken down and can be easily smashed with the spoon, and the liquid is thick. Add the baked beans and stir, may need to add a little more water if beans thicken it too much. Stir and cook at low heat, simmering at least 40 minutes until all flavors are integrated. Taste and if necessary, adjust the garlic, hot sauce, or liquid smoke to get desired combination.

It made enough for dinner tonight plus more for tomorrow, which I am going to bake potatoes and serve the remaining amount over potatoes with melted cheese on top.

Next idea was a florentine dish with the other smoked sausage, a package of spinach, a box of macaroni and cheese, and some salvage items from inside the fridge that had to go. You can add or not use some of these things depending on what you have available.

Sausage and Cheese Florentine
1 smoked sausage
1 package fresh spinach (9 ounces)
1 box Kraft macaroni and cheese
1 cup milk
1/2 bottle Ragu alfredo sauce (optional, I added it for creaminess)
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)
1/2 package cream cheese (optional, it was available)
2 tablespoons butter (or substitute)
1/2 package artichokes (was available, optional)

The actual recipe is to make the macaroni and cheese according to package directions, with butter and milk. Then chop the spinach and add it, chop the smoked sausage and add it. The other ingredients and the extra milk I added because it’s what I had available. The bacon added a bit of smokiness, the extra cheese sauce really made it smooth and creamy, and the artichokes added some extra fresh bite to it.

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