Baked Beans--A Meal On Its Own!

8:55:00 PM

My early experiences with baked beans include a can or two of pork and beans spiced up with some ketchup and mustard--or maybe some barbecue sauce--with some bacon laid on top. It was a side dish, folks, nothing more.

But then I was introduced by my friend Kate's mom to the idea of making a much heftier version of baked beans--with bell peppers, onions, and ground beef. I loved it. I took her recipe and made it my own (we added bacon and even more veggies). Then I started dating my now husband. He loves this recipe. He requests it all the time. The problem is, it's not really a weeknight meal.It takes cooking the meat, and then baking the beans all together. However, he does get it for special occasions and the occasional potluck. This evening, we were cooking out with my sister and her family, and since I don't work on Friday afternoons, I decided that this would be a perfect start to the weekend.

Baked Beans

1/2 lb ground beef or turkey
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1/2 summer squash, minced fine (optional)
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
3 16 oz. cans pork and beans, pork pieces removed
2 tbsp mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
2/3 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325.Cook ground beef until no longer pink. Drain, and put into a casserole dish.

Cook the bacon. You can used the same pan  as the beef if you like--I wasn't together enough to do that today. Take the bacon out of the pan and once it is cool enough, crumble and put into the casserole dish. Drain the majority of the bacon grease out of the pan, but leave a little.

While the meat is cooking, mince the squash very fine. My immersion blender has a small food processor attachment, so I used that. You could also grate it. Dice the pepper and onion.

In the reserved bacon grease, saute the squash, peppers and onions until soft. Add into the casserole dish.

Add to the casserole dish the beans, brown sugar,ketchup and mustard. Bake at 325 for 1 hour, until bubbling at the edges.

Prepare yourself for some seriously sweet baked beans that have enough heft to be a meal unto themselves.

So, if you have a summer cookout and you're looking for a heftier side, or maybe if you looking for an all-in-on meal from the oven that you can prepare ahead of time and just pop in the oven--this dish is for you. This is definitely a healthier version of the baked beans I grew up with--more veggies, and if you go with ground turkey and turkey bacon, you can greatly reduce the fat. It is dairy free and if you check the label on your beans, most likely gluten free as well.


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  1. I make something similar that my husband and inlaws love. I love the addition of the squash. I might have to try it! thanks!