Soapsmith's Baked Beans

Hello friends,




This recipe is for, as my Mom used to say, “doctored up” baked beans.  I make these for all of our gatherings and picnics.  The recipe is easily adapted for your personal tastes.  I don’t measure so I am giving approximate measurements.  Like all of my homemade recipes, it is forgiving for any adjustments you want to make.  This can easily be reduced or increased to meet a small family gathering or a huge event. This is what I make for family but I make as much as a roaster full for our big holiday cookouts, wedding etc.




You can use any brands you prefer.  Here is what I use:


Soapsmith’s Bacon Baked Beans

Two tall cans (28 oz size) of Bush’s Baked Beans (any flavor)
Two cans black beans (15 oz size)
1 large onion
1 pound bacon 
About 1 cup prepared BBQ sauce – any brand you like
About ½ cup Ketchup
About a cup of brown sugar – more or less to your taste
Couple tablespoons each of Molasses, Balsamic Vinegar, and Soy Sauce
Generous amount of black pepper to taste


Fry the bacon crisp, drain and crumble.
(You can substitute a couple of handfuls of purchased bacon bits
just be sure it is real bacon rather than the imitation.)

Finely dice the onion and saute in the pan until light browned.
(If you used purchased bacon bits 
you can add a little oil to the pan to saute the onion)
Once the onion is soft and lightly browned
 add the rest of the ingredients except the beans
to the pan and bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or so.

Drain and rinse the black beans. Once I open the cans of the baked beans I drain off some of the sauce from the top of the can.  You can leave some but the sauce you made replaces the commercial sauce that come in the canned baked beans.

Add the beans to the sauce.  You can simmer on the stove top, grill, smoker or bake in the oven until the sauce is nicely reduced and caramelized – usually about 45 min to an hour.





You can serve warm or cold.  I prefer the beans cold, they taste quite different warm or cold – I like them right from the refrigerator as the sauce is very thick and concentrated in taste but others like it warm.  I love the beans which are spicy and sweet with my savory homemade macaroni or potato salad - a delicious contrast, yum!


Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,

Bonnie









Easter Butter Lamb

Hello friends,

Today I am making the traditional butter lamb for our Easter Dinner. 




 The butter lamb is an old world custom especially for those of Polish heritage.   One of the most beloved Polish traditions in my family is the blessing of the Easter foods called Swieconka. Swieconka is one of the most enduring Polish customs. On Saturday at noon, the people carry their decorated wicker baskets containing a sampling of traditional food to be blessed: hard-boiled eggs, ham, kielbasa, salt, horseradish, fruits, breads, candies and wine to the church to be blessed. Prominently displayed among these is the Easter lamb, usually molded from butter. I mold the butter and deliver butter lambs to members of my family to adorn their Easter table. Each person at the table should participate in the cutting of the butter lamb to recall that Christ, the paschal lamb, suffered for our sins and we are all a part of his suffering and sacred passion. The food blessed in the church remains untouched until Sunday morning.




 I make the lambs and often gift them to friends and family.  In some areas you can find them in grocery stores ready made but if not, they are really easy to make.  The easiest way is to simply use a mold.  You can find them on line,at Polish specialty shops and sometimes religious goods stores.  They come in inexpensive plastic or higher end wood molds. If you don't have a mold, you can form a simply lamb shape using a stick of butter as the base, hand form the head and use grated butter shreds to mimic the curly wool.    

The molds are reusable and last for many years.

You simply use room temperature butter.  Start with a small amount and be sure to press and force the butter into the fine details then fill the rest of the mold.  Clean up the edges so removal will be easy and put the two parts together pressing well.  Place in the refrigerator over night.  You can freeze it as well.  Once completed firm remove the lamb from the mold and decorate with a traditional red ribbon and a resurrection flag.











I hope you will add the butter lamb to your family's Easter celebration.

You can find detailed information about our Polish Easter feast on my blog post here:   Soapsmith's Polish Easter

Other Classic Polish Easter Dishes:

Keilbasa



Kielbasa is a spicy garlic pork sausage. The readily available commercial brands cannot do justice to a well made classic polish sausage. The meats are chunky, not overly ground, the spices of freshly ground coarse black pepper, lots of garlic, mustard seed complete the recipe that is lovingly smoked with fragrant and flavorful hardwoods. For those local to Central PA, try Holland Brothers in Newry. We have searched all over the country but always end up with Holland's. It isn't as good as our old Polish neighborhood grocer who made his own but it is pretty close. The best way to cook the kielbasa is to slow roast it in the bottom of the pan with your Easter ham. Baste with the drippings until the sausage is very glossy and beautifully browned.



Cwikla - Red Beets with Horseradish


3 cups cooked or canned beets, drained and grated
4 oz. finely grated fresh or prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all of the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for two days. You can alter this to your taste by adjusting the measurements.


Babka bread is rich and often shaped in a bundt pan, reminiscent of a woman's skirts, hence its name Babka, which is polish for grandmother. The bread is slightly sweet and generously sprinkled with dried fruits of raisin, candied orange peel, lemon zest and cherries. A cross is cut into the rising bread. It is often said that a housewife's reputation as a cook rests on the successful rising of her babka.


Easter Babka


1-1/4 cups lukewarm milk
2 packages active dry yeast
6 tablespoons sugar
6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 egg yolks
3/4 lb plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white seedless raisins, cherries, or apricots
2 tablespoons chopped candied orange peel
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and add 1/2 teaspoon of the sugar. Let the mixture stand for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir to dissolve the yeast completely.

Place the 6 cups of flour and the remaining sugar and the salt in a deep mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the center and the egg yolks, and with a large spoon, gradually stir in the flour into the liquid ingredients. Continue to stir until well mixed, and then beat in 3/4 lbs of butter a few tablespoonfuls at a time. The dough should be firm enough to be gathered into a medium soft ball. You can add up to 1/2 cup more of flour a little at a time if needed.

Knead by hand or with dough hook/mixer for 5 to 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly buttered bowl and dust the top with flour. Drape a towel over the bowl and set it aside in a draft free place for about 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.

Punch the dough down and then knead the raisins,fruit, and lemon peel. Shape into a round and cut a cross into the top of the dough and place on a buttered cookie sheet. Or spread the 2 tablespoons of softened butter over the bottom and the sides of a 12 inch tube pan or a bundt mold. Allow to rise until double.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake the cake in the middle of the oven for about 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Turn the bread out onto a cake rack and let it cool.



Sirecz (Easter Cheese)

Ingredients
• 12 eggs
• 1-quart whole milk
• 1 Teaspoon salt
• Peppercorns

Optional – some like a sweet version, eliminate the salt and pepper and add 1 cup sugar, teaspoon of vanilla and nutmeg

Directions
1. Beat the eggs until mixed well, stir in milk salt & pepper or the sugar etc, if you are making the sweet version.

2. Put in a double boiler. Cook over a medium heat for about 30 minutes. Constantly stir to prevent scorching.

3. When the mixture looks like cooked scrambled eggs, pour it carefully into a cheesecloth-lined colander. Carefully gather the ends of the cheesecloth and pull them together until the cheese forms into a ball. Tie the cheesecloth tightly at the top of the ball. Tie the cheesecloth ends over a faucet or to the handle of a kitchen cabinet place a bowl under to catch the whey and let hang for about 3 hours. You can use the whey for Babka bread or discard it.

4. Untie the cheesecloth and wrap the cheese ball in plastic wrap before refrigerating. The cheese will keep for about a week. Slice and serve.


Happy Easter!

Thanks for visiting,

Bonnie






Talc Free Body Powder


Hello friends,

As a cooling relief from the summer heat and humidity, experience my own formulated pure natural dusting powders.


These carefully chosen ingredients combine to offer a silky smooth comfort treat.
 

My body powders are made with only natural, talc free components. Modified cornstarch, arrowroot powder, aloe vera extract, and Vit E. are the ingredients for my fragrance free version. Pure essential oils of lavender and chamomile are added to the scented variety. I choose a blend of lavenders to provide a lightly scented herbal delight.

First, I combine the dry ingredients and add the aloe vera extract and vit E to a small amount. This assures proper distribution and minimizes any clumping.




The mixture is allowed to absorb overnight before combining with the master recipe. The material is sifted two times to fully disperse the additives.
          

The unscented dusting powder is ready to package. Another portion is set aside ready for the addition of the pure lavender and chamomile essential oils along with fresh organically grown lavender buds from my garden.






After another day of infusion, the fragranced powder is sifted and added to the remaining batch. Two more rounds through the strainer assures the luxuriously smooth finished product.


Allegheny Hearth pure natural body powders are available for purchase in my on line store at www.alleghenyhearth.com. I offer both the Lavender Chamomile Dusting Powder and the Unscented Powders in an assortment of classic depression glass reproduction shakers and dishes with powder puffs. Economical refills are always in stock.

















 Also available is my Peppermint Wow Anti-chafing performance powder. All natural ingredients of Arrowroot and Cornstarch along with absorbent clay and essential oils of menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus and orange.





         

All items available for purchase at AlleghenyHearth.com



Thanks for visiting,
Bonnie


Heart Shaped Soap



Hello Friends,

The mysteries of the heart, hidden and secretive provide the muse for this beautifully enigmatic soap. Soapsmith's Midnight Heart dark Gothic, Pretty Pink Swirl, Purple and white, Sterling and Cinnamon Scarlet heart shaped soap is hand cast with my own blend of fine quality clear glycerin soap.



You can find them for purchase here:


Cinnamon heart soap smells as yummy as it looks:





Sweetheart soap assortments remind me of the old fashioned conversation hearts:




Midnight Heart, one of my most popular soaps featuring deep aubergine colors,

Deep dark and mysterious, this stylized soap broods in shades of ebony, eggplant purples, dark sienna brown and burgundy. Scented with exotic amber fragrance oil blend of sandalwood, lavender, and ambergris the aroma compliments the theme of this bar. The art deco details are enhanced with a hand application of cosmetic mica. Each bar is unique and individually exquisite that is sure to please anyone on your gift list. 


Sweetheart pink or purple swirl soaps:





Sterling heart with my own blend of sea spray fragrance, elegant and classic:





Sweetheart Rose handmade cold process soap with soft tea rose scent:


While just about everything in my studio makes delightful Valentine's Day gifts for your loved one. My heart shaped soaps are just about perfect for this holiday! They are also popular as wedding and shower favors. I can customize them in any color and fragrance. Have a happy St. Valentine's Day!

Enjoy,

Bonnie

Peanutbutter Cookies 3 ways - Soapsmith's Christmas Cookies Post #5

Hello Friends,

Today I share my 5th post with recipes and information about my Christmas Cookies - Peanut Butter Cookies Three Ways.  Additional recipes can be found here:





This is my recipe for peanut butter cookies 3 ways.  This is a large batch recipe that I make and divide to make about 3 dozen each of traditional cross hatch peanut butter cookies, blossom with chocolate star or kisses, and tiny tims that include a Reese Peanut butter Cup.  This is a very simple basic recipe with the added bonus of quickly creating a nice variety for your cookie trays. They freeze and ship well, too.


Here is the recipe for full batch and half size batch:


Note, if you dough is too soft to easily handle you might want to chill it for 30 minutes or so before forming the cookies.  Allow to cookies to complete cool before packing them away - be sure the chocolate back to room temp/hard so the stars/kisses and cups maintain their shape.



Bake some cookies & enjoy!

Thanks for visiting,

Bonnie