My mom adventures in Fort Collins

Kitchen success: Cheater baked beans

I have been MIA for a bit, and it’s only because I can’t get focused. I have two or three drafts started of something or another… It works the same way on my nightstand: I have two books that I’m in the middle of, and about 4 others that I ambitiously think I’ll have time to read before they are called back to the library.

While I may not have had much success lately in keeping up my writing, I have been keeping up a fun and active social life by having folks over for simple food and conversation. The kids all play together in the backyard, we pull out the kids’ folding table and have a “kids’ table” and an “adults table.” I’ve hosted three BBQs in the past two weekends. And each time, I’ve made my cheater beans. They are simple, taste great, and they provide an easy side for a bbq or pot-luck. Best of all, they are made in the slow cooker and can be made ahead of time (Think more conversation, less time in the kitchen!)

The kids’ table: complete with at least one fairy and one Cinderella

Here’s what you need for the cheater baked beans:

Equipment: Cutting board, knife, fry pan, slotted spoon,tongs (optional), slow cooker

Ingredients: 2 Large cans (28 oz) vegetarian baked beans, 6 slices bacon (cut into 1-inch pieces), one onion (chopped), molasses, ketchup, yellow mustard, agave nectar (optional)

First, chop your  onion and bacon. Using your fry pan, fry up the bacon pieces.Flip as necessary with your tongs, or just stir that business around. Wait until the little buggers are a bit crispy and plenty of the fat has rendered. Transfer by slotted spoon to your slow cooker (leaving behind a lot of the bacon fat).

Mmm… bacon

Next, fry up your onion in that delicious, decadent bacon fat. Stir that goodness occasionally. While that is happening, empty your two cans of beans into the slow cooker. Add to that approximately 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1-2 Tablespoons of yellow mustard, 2-3 Tablespoons of molasses, and 1-2 Tablespoons of agave.

My slow cooker (next to another slow cooker)… I’m not really sure why I didn’t take a photo of what was actually IN the slow cooker.

Last, once your onions are all fried up, transfer the onions by slotted spoon (leaving behind some of the bacon fat) to your slow cooker. Stir up your beans and additional ingredients, and set your slow cooker to low for 4-6 hours (or if you’re a complete cheater like me, do high for 1-2 hours, then turn it down to low, but they’ll be ready in less than 3 hours). You’ll know that these are ready when the molasses have turned the beans into a nice dark color, and they are bubbling just a bit. Turn your slow cooker to warm or just turn it off for serving purposes.

Notes: I like to use vegetarian beans simply because there is less “junk” in them. I’m not a huge health nut, but I am kind of a meat snob. If you’re inclined to use pork-n-beans, you may want to adjust the seasonings. I like Bush’s brand because there is no high-fructose corn syrup. During the summer, you can often catch these on sale–like $1.75 for one can. Not only a super easy side, but also a pretty inexpensive addition to your meal.


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