WND – Seasonal Ennui

March 27, 2008

I am experiencing seasonal ennui. It’s reached that time of year where I just want it to be Spring already. On the one hand, I am greatly in favor the earlier roll back of Daylight Savings Time. I’m not convinced I’m saving money on electricity, which I think was the point, but I am enjoying walking home in the sunshine, however thin and cold it might be. On the other hand, I keep expecting it to be much warmer outside than it is. Technically it’s Spring right now, although you couldn’t prove it by the weather outside which is stubbornly resisting my desire to leave my heavy winter coat at home.

They’re predicting snow for later this week (it won’t stick, but still) and sadly I can’t fly south for the rest of the winter. To console myself I made Southern food for dinner because it reminds me of summer, and if I can’t actually be in a warmer climate I can at least eat like I am.

Barbeque Baked Beans
Chicken with Root Beer Barbeque Sauce
Corn Muffins
Ambrosia Salad

Barbeque Baked Beans
(serves 6-8)

1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
8 strips of bacon

Mix together with:
6 (15oz) cans of baked beans
3 cups peach pie filling*
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I use some of the sauce from the bbq chicken)
2 Tbsp barbeque rub **

Cut the bacon into a rough dice and then fry until crispy. Remove from the pan and allow to drain. Add the onion and red pepper to the pan and cook in the bacon drippings until softened. Mix together with all of the other ingredients.


Bake at 375 until hot & bubbly (about 1 hour).

* Peach Pie Filling
I’ve never actually found peach pie filling, and I’m not sure I’d use it even if I could find it. I make my filling by cooking the ingredients for my favorite peach pie recipe for a couple of minutes until the cornstarch thickens.

10 oz frozen peaches, thawed & slices cut in half.
½ cup sugar (I mix brown and white sugar, but you can use either or both)
1 1/3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp all spice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Toss to combine and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Cook over a medium heat until the cornstarch starts to thicken and the mixture resembles the inside of a baked peach pie.


** Barbeque Rub
I have a recipe for pulled pork that has a spice rub I like and tend to use in this recipe. This makes 3 Tbsp of spice rub, I am shamelessly wasteful and just throw away the extra because doing the math to cut this down to 2 Tbsp is just not worth the time. If you don’t feel like making your own bbq spice rub, any bbq spice rub that you like will work.

1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp kosher salt

Root Beer Barbeque Sauce
(serves 4-6)

1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon mild-flavored (light) molasses
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, whisk to combine and bring to a low simmer – be careful the sugar and the fizz in the root beer will make it more prone to boiling over than you might expect. Cook until reduced to about 1.5 cups (about 20 minutes). Allow to cool and then refrigerate. Can be kept for several weeks.

Coat the chicken with the sauce and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 180, basting once or twice. Serve the extra sauce at the table. Also, line your baking tray. You’ll still end up having to wash it because goo always seeps through, but it’ll be much easier to clean up than if it has baked on bbq sauce.

I doubled the sauce recipe and made about 6lb of chicken (9 drumsticks and 8 boneless skinless thighs).

Ambrosia Salad*
(serves 6-8)

Ambrosia Salad would not have been a staple of my childhood except that I spent every summer at my grandmother’s in Virginia and more often than not we would be there in time for the church picnic. If there’s anything you can be assured of, it’s that at any given church picnic in the South Ambrosia Salad will make an appearance. Ambrosia Salad is possibly one of those things you have to have been introduced to at a young age to fully appreciate, or perhaps it’s just a matter of being willing to suspend your disbelief and call a dish of whipped cream and canned fruit a salad.

I am not quite Southern enough to consider Ambrosia Salad a vegetable. Nor am I Southern enough to commit to the fruit cocktail that is traditionally used in Ambrosia Salad, or to the Cool Whip that many people use as the binder (it’s non-dairy whipped topping and there’s nothing about that description that I don’t find creepy). I am, however, Southern enough to be horrified by most of the recipes on Epicurious and FoodTV for Ambrosia Salad. They seem to be laboring under the misapprehension that Ambrosia Salad should involve such ingredients as orange zest, and crème fraiche, and sherry. It doesn’t. A general rule of thumb is that if it seems like it might be good for you, it probably doesn’t belong in Ambrosia Salad.


½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp sugar
½ cup sour cream
2 (generous) cups mini marshmallows
1 (15oz) cans mandarin oranges, drained
1 (15oz) cans pineapple, drained & chopped small
1 cup shredded coconut
4-6 oz frozen peaches (defrosted), chopped small (or 1 (15oz) can fruit cocktail, drained)
Handful of grapes, cut in half
Maraschino cherries, cut in half for garnish

Whip the heavy cream with the sugar until stiff peaks are formed. Whisk in the sour cream. Drain the fruit thoroughly. Fold the fruit, marshmallows and coconut into the cream. Garnish with maraschino cherries (not required, but they do add a nice lurid touch to the finished dish). Chill for an hour before serving.

If you like you can add a little cinnamon and nutmeg to the cream for flavor. You can also add nuts, but not if you’re serving people with nut allergies.

It may not be good for you, but oh my is it good.


Corn Muffins
I don’t have enough space in my oven to bake chicken, baked beans and corn muffins all at the same time. I made the corn muffins as soon as I came home and then just kept them covered until dinner was ready. They weren’t piping hot, but they were still warm and fresh.



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