$15 dinner for four

Meal One

Is it possible to have a hot meal for four for under $10. I say YES!

In this series of posts, I am going to show you just how to do that! One meal at a time.

First up – Sweet Molasses Baked Beans with Franks!

The key to this dish is to plan ahead so you can soak your beans overnight. Trust me, this step is the make or break part of the plan. If you do not soak the beans overnight, you will have to cook them, and cook them, and cook them! The beans may very well take on a burned flavor and, just like that, the dish goes from amazing comfort food to the kind of dish we call put-it-in-plastic-container-in-the-back-of-the-fridge.

All you need is a bag of white navy beans, a package of hot dogs, and a few assorted condiments and on hand items such as mustard, molasses, tomato paste and the like.

The best part of this recipe – the way the aroma fills the kitchen and gets everyone to the table!

Sweet Molasses Baked Beans & Franks

You will need:

  • 1 16 oz. bag of dried beans (I prefer white navy beans)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Molasses Sauce mixture (below)
  • 1 package of hot dogs

Soak one 16 oz. bag of white navy beans overnight – most bags of beans have directions on the back but, if not, all you need to do is rinse the beans in a colander (check for any grit and throw out any odd pieces), pour the beans into a large pot, cover the beans with about 2 quarts of water, and add about 2 T. of salt (I like to use coarse Kosher salt). Then, simply put the top on the pot and just leave it on the counter for the night or about 8 hours (no more than 12 hours).

For the sauce, mix together

  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 can (6 oz. can) tomato paste
  • 1 cup molasses (if you don’t have molasses, try substituting maple syrup)
  • 1 t. prepared yellow mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

If you have liquid smoke on hand, feel free to put a teaspoon into the mix to give the beans a nice, smoky flavor. This is not necessary, but I tend to like that smoky undertone mixed in with the sweet molasses.

  • Drain beans and, using the same large pot, combine the beans and 2 quarts of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat so the beans are at a slow simmer. Simmer the beans until tender – about 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Drain the beans again. Set aside as much of the liquid as you can as you will use this as you bake the beans.
  • Spray a 3-5 qt. Dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In large bowl, combine minced garlic, tomato paste, molasses, mustard, and salt & pepper. Mix well. Add the beans and mix to coat the beans with the mixture. Add in 2 C. of reserved water and stir just to blend.
  • Pour the mixture into a 3-5 qt. Dutch oven that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 275°F. for 4 hours. Check the beans every hour or so and add reserved liquid as needed, about 1 C. at a time, to keep the beans moist.
  • Remove from oven. Slice franks on the diagonal and arrange the slices over the beans.
  • Return to oven; bake, uncovered, an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until franks are thoroughly heated.

This dish is a great one for a rainy day – it is just like comfort food should be – down-to-earth, flavorful, warm, and reminiscent of family! I like to serve it with fresh from the oven corn bread.

Krusteaz Muffin Mix, Honey Cornbread

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