Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goodbye Christmas, Hello New Year

Another super busy Christmas has come and gone... New Years awaits.
We are closing on our house in a little over a week and I, as I believe I have mentioned my teaching career before, I will be starting my student-teaching this semester...
We can't wait to have a house! A larger kitchen to cook in... my little cook's heart is thumping in my chest thinking of the entertaining possibilities and all. Right now our kitchen is about the size of a large bathroom... and while it's been great for our first year and our lessons in cooking, we are quickly outgrowing it, literally!
The one-step-from-fridge-to-sink-to-dishwasher-to-stove-to-serving-window was truly quaint at first, but the idea of this larger kitchen is just heavenly.
One last season in our little home though. Boxes sit in the hallway, and the spic'n'span freak inside me has definitely seen better days. This season we seemed busier than ever, but I still found time to bake.
I actually found time to try (everyone gasp) baking bread!!!
I know, how could I do it and not let you all know? I didn't take pictures as I was focusing very intently on getting the bread right. I made Stollen, a German-sort of fruitcake... much more bread than fruit, and usually with a filling of marzipan. Mmm, the relatives from Germany usually send one or we get one from Cost Plus World Market, but this year I wanted to make it. So I did. The recipe made three loaves! I didn't put the marzipan in it, and I also used a recipe which didn't include the traditional rum, so it wasn't as authentic as it could/should have been, but it was still good. Daniel took some to work for a potluck and it was a hit, we ate one loaf, which made a good mid-morning snack, and the third loaf was reserved for the family Christmas.
Making it was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I followed the recipe and kneaded it and let is rise as it said, but the second rising didn't do near as much as I thought it would. It still turned out, and now, I'm eager to try some more bread recipes... I've found countless recipes... and I'm reminded of an old blogging friend who does her own sourdough... maybe I'll even get brave enough to try that!

And of course I did cookies. I love cookies. I want to own a cookie shop where I can decorate cookies all day and charge ungodly amounts of money for my artistry. Okay, I'm not that good, but I just love doing them... a background in cake decorating helps... and I just love the finished product all piled up on a plate. It's like the cover of one of those magazines you see at the checkout stand during the holidays... Like... people really DO that!?!? And I love seeing people smile when they eat one (imagine the decapitation of a gingerbread man).
I've told you of Ethels Sugar Cookies from BC's famous Cooky Book... so of course I made those. I use a thicker, powdered-sugar based frosting for those, in layers so I can do details.
We didn't have have cookie cutters, so I used my paring knife again... I mostly only made one or two of each shape! Below are the best of the batch.

I also made Lofthouse cookies... those soft chewy ones you get in the bakery of most grocery stores, covered with fluffly frosting and almost like little cakes. Originally, I had down a cook named Mimi Hiller as the author of the recipe... but she no longer lists the cookies on her site... here's my page with a half-sized-recipe if you want them :)
I used a cup to cut out nice circles for those, along with the powdered sugar frosting to provide a deep blue background for piped-on cake-frosting snowflakes. Still no piping bag so I used the ziplock bag method I've mentioned before... it works just fine when all you need are lines and dots!

I'm going to try making bread again. We'll be super busy for a while getting started with the New year, but I'll be sure to let you know how it goes with pictures and all. Happy New Year everyone!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Off the Vine

In our last entry, we told you about San Pedro Brewing Company, and right after eating there we took a walk over to Off The Vine which was another establishment we learned about from www.cruisecritic.com (which, by the way, is really great site to learn everything about cruises, including what to do in the cruise ports!) It was a short walk away, and they were having a wine tasting that night of Australian wines.

Neither Corinne or I were very familiar with wines from down under, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to enlighten ourselves. We walked inside and we were the only customers so we got to talking to the owners Mike and Alison. They were great company and we talked and tasted Australian wines for close to two hours.

Some friends of ours joined us shortly and, declining the wine tasting, Mike found some beers for them to sample. The place filled up as the night went on and it was a fantastic evening of good wines and new friends! We ended up leaving with two bottles of Heartland wines. One was Heartland Stickleback Red and a bottle of Heartland Viognier Pinot Gris. Both were very reasonably priced (under $20 each) and we figured they would be perfect to bring on the ship with us the next day to have with dinner or in our cabin.

If you have the chance to visit San Pedro, be sure to stop by Off the Vine, we know Mike and Allison will take good care of you.

Off the Vine
S. Pacific Ave Suite 103
San Pedro, CA 90731
(Located across from the
Warner Grand Theatre,
entrance off 6th street)

(310) 831-1551
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

San Pedro Brewing Co.

Just prior to the cruise that Corinne and I took last month, we spent the night in San Pedro. Of course being in a new town we had to try out the local restaurants. We decided on San Pedro Brewing Company because of good recommendations on cruisecritic.com. The brewing company is a small bar/grill in the heart of San Pedro with no more than 25 tables.

The décor was mostly historical San Pedro, with old pictures and portraits of important figures in the cities history. We took a table in the corner and ordered a couple of microbrews. Corinne enjoyed a Harbor Hefeweissen while I had a Point Ferman Pale Ale and later a Long Shoreman Lager.

Corinne desribed the Hefe as having fruity flavors of citrus and banana with a bittersweet finish and very bubbly. The Pale Ale was full flavored, lots of hops with a sweet finish while the Lager was a little bit smokey, medium bodied (but they called it their lightest beer) and with hints of vanilla flavor.

Our waiter brought us samples of each of the microbrews though the only one I remember was the Chocolate Porter, I can’t describe that one but I remember I liked it! They all had great flavor but none compared to my favorite Warsteiner. We ordered the Fire Grilled Marinated Tri-Tip sandwich and it was just out of this world. The menu described it as Tri-Tip on grilled sourdough with caramelized onions, jack cheese, roasted chilies and Santa Fe sauce. Sounded good, but that didn’t come close to describing how good it really was! It was without a doubt the best sandwich I have ever eaten!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Italian with an Autumn Twist

Have I ever mentioned that Autumn is my favorite time of year? It is one of the main reasons Daniel and I wed at this time of year, plus, the leaves are changing, the weather is cooling. And the food? Warm, spicy, earthy. I think I love the food of Autumn best.

I have been wanting to make a Butternut Squash Lasagna for ages, but lasagna making is not in my repertoire, plus Daniel never seems too excited at the mention of it. Before we left on vacation, I had bought a nice butternut squash but hadn't found a time to eat it yet. It sat on the counter during our vacation (our food has a way of doing that :) and when we got back it sat for a week more. Finally I said to Daniel it had to be eaten, no matter what we were going to have it with. It was still fine, of course, but I abhor spoiled food, and I abhor even more food that isn't quite spoiled enough to eat, but enough to notice it is on it's way out when you eat it! We thought and thought. He wanted pasta. I figured I could find a way to make it work with pasta. He threw out the idea of Squash Parmesan. I scoffed, "Its Eggplant Parmigiana, dear..."
He laughed, "Oh, yea..." and we kept our brains turning for something else. Hey, what ABOUT Butternut Squash Parmesean? We could make it with a bechamel sauce! And so, the idea formulated into a recipe.
While Daniel was hard at work making money for us, I was at home, trying to figure out how I'd pull this off. I knew Parmesan was good on butternut squash, surprisingly, (probably because it is so salty and it contrasts very well with the sweet winter squash).

Daniel and I usually only eat a half of a butternut squash at one time, so I cut off the round bottom (the part with the seed cavity) and only used the top. I sliced it into 1/4 inch slices and cut off the rind. If you wanted to use the bottom as well, I would suggest cutting the top (skinny) part off and slicing it the way I have, then, slice the round bottom part the opposite direction, so that you have thin rings.
I beat an egg with a few teaspoons of milk in a bowl. I had my regular homemade breadcrumbs, plus a few leftover Panko crumbs I had stashed in the freezer (I so hate wasted food!), so I threw those in for crunch. And of course, I mixed in just a little grated Parmesan cheese, as well as salt, pepper, and my standard squash herbs - thyme and sage. I coated the squash slices with the egg solution then covered them in breadcrumbs. I repeated the process one more time, and placed them on a baking sheet. I placed the slices in the oven at 350 F for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cleaned up, then began the pasta, as well as a bechamel that would be turned into a mornay of sorts. I started with a roux of white flour and about 4 tablespoons of butter (yes butter!) over medium heat. Once the butter was melted and mixed in well with the flour, I added enough milk until I had the consistency I wanted. (Be careful here or you will scorch the milk!) I added some thyme and then whisked in some parmesan cheese, about 1/2 a cup. At this point it was too thick so I added some more milk to get it back to the consistency I wanted, all in all I'd say it was about 1-2 cups total.

After about 40 minutes in the oven, the squash was golden-brown and ready to take out. I arranged some pasta on a plate, topped with a few crunchy squash slices, then drizzled with the parmesan 'mornay.' Rewarding myself with a bite after photgraphing it really WAS a reward! (Sometimes our experiments don't turn out so great of course, but this one was wonderful) The salty parmesan cheese and crunchy coating on the squash contrasted wonderfully with the sweet flesh of the squash. The cream sauce also added a nice touch.

I'm submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Ruth this week. Thinking outside the box doesn't have to be hard, and this goes to show it can be delicious too!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Monday, November 24, 2008

We're Back!

We're back!
Lets face it. Cartoons make fun of them, comedians make cheap jokes about them. Cruises. A boat full of old people and all-you-can-eat-buffet-goers scarfing down platefuls of mass-produced "gourmet" food.
Sheesh. People are harsh! Daniel and I have just celebrated our First Year Anniversay. When we got married, we went on a cruise to the Mexican Riviera for our honeymoon. He loved it so much we booked another on that very cruise, for a year later, to celebrate our One Year mark.
I don't know why I can't find much on cruise food. I'm not a snob, but I certainly know good food when I see it (and taste it!) I guess the problem lies with the fact that there is this HUGE kitchen where chefs and cooks churn out mass-produced versions of otherwise gourmet dishes. The dishes are fresh, presented beautifully, and delicious! It is the best time to try new things.

Escargot? Otherwise rarely found (especially in this wasteland of chain-restaurants we call Phoenix), and also quite pricey... when Daniel (the reformed-picky-eater) saw escargot on the menu he thought "why not?" Carpaccio of beef? Other than making it ourselves I've never had the chance to actually eat carpaccio, I've only even been able to drool over it on food blogs and gourmet/travel shows. Lobster? While not uncommon, it is very pricey and very rare that we might actually go out to get some. I've been on three cruises and each of them have had a lobster night where the waiters wait around to shove another plate of tails in front of you shoudl you ask.
It is a virgin-foodies dream... ask any foodie from an area such as ourselves and we will tell you, since we don't have the chance to try such wonderful things as escargot in our own backyard, its great to be able to try them on the cruise, when, basically, you've already paid and if you don't like it, they will bring you something else ten more times until you find something you DO want.
We were very bad at getting pictures of everything. The lighting in the dining rooms is not the best for food pics, but below, dear readers, are some of the things we were fortunate to try, pick at, or devour!

Carpaccio of Beef with a citrus-cream sauce and capers. Mmm!

Daniels favorite - Escargot! We missed the night they served this (we were in Hacienda Alemana) so we asked the Maître d' about it and he had the kitchen make one especially for us!
The melted garlic butter drew me away from the fact that I was eating a garden critter... it was heavenly.

Ceviche complete with various shellfish, and a raw mussel. It was an interesting experience for Daniel (I'm proud of you babe!)

Onto the main courses!
Rack of Lamb (no mint jelly please!)

Roasted game-hen. I believe that little cake is sweet potatoes. Sage-mushroom stuffing seems familiar, but this was Daniel's dish not mine :)

Pasta with Pesto - There was also paper-thin sliced of potato that had soaked up the pesto flavors, as well as french-sliced green beans. A green-lovers dream (delicious as well)!

Veal - chops? Not sure exactly, but Daniel remembers its being delcious! (We'll get it right soon enough dear readers, maybe next time we will take pictures of the menus as well!)

Pheasant with Pan-gravy. Mmm, this was cooked perfectly, not dried out. It had the most delcious caramelized onions on top. Now I can cross Pheasant off the to-try list!

Now for dessert! This was a Coconut confection... we just loved the designs on the plate :)

Double Chocolate Mousse - white chocolate and dark chocolate pair together to make a heavenly finish to your meal! You can see the Princess Cruise sea witch logo on the chocolate... pretty presentation

Chantilly Swans, my favorite! This was offered the same night the escargot was, so the Maître d'had the kitchen make this esepcially for me as well :) I just love the presentation and I cannot beleive they make these little swans out of pastry dough!

Do you want to cruise now? I know I do... Keep a lookout for upcoming entries on the various restaurants we ate at while in port like Hacienda Alemana, Langosta Feliz, Victors on Stone Island, and a review of Off The Vine, a wonderful wine shop we visited in San Pedro before we left!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Going on Vacation

I can't believe so much time has gone by and we've got nothing to post!
We've had a German bierfest (nothing foodie-worthy there except lots of beer), made a few noteworthy dishes... taken some pretty pictures... but the truth of the matter is, we have been so busy we've often just done pasta or pizza or frozen meals! How dare us you say!? Well... it is all for good reason. We are looking into buying a house! It is also a busy time in school for me, and we are leaving for a week-long vacation in a few days... getting everything into order before we leave on this planned-one-year-in-advance vacation is tough stuff! It is Daniel and my One Year Anniversary... and I can't believe it's been a year already... This is just one incredible time for us right now. I guess we won't be able to call ourselves newlyweds anymore? We refuse to not act like it though - and don't you think for a minute that means we are settling into a boring routine of meals...
The good news is... at least for you, dear readers... that on this vacation we will be taking wonderful pictures of food. We are going to be visiting our favorite restaurant Hacienda Alemana, and immersing ourselves in gourmet, foodie heaven!
See ya when we get back!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Simple Side

Here is one thing you might not think of as a side dish often. Radishes. I remember my father sitting down with a bowlful of them, stems removed, salt-shaker in hand. He'd sprinkle just a bit of salt on them and bite into the crunchy, peppery bulbs.
The little ones were always to much for me, I preferred the larger, more mild ones. Then, I forgot about them, until I began eating out (as an adult) and noticing them as second-thought garnishes to pretty platefuls of glorious food.
Daniel likes them too, we buy them and he snacks on them similarly to my father, just eats them right out from under the tap (after washing them you know). Well, we got a little too excited when we found them on sale... Daniel thought allowed, "Hey I can snack on these at work before I eat lunch!" And I thought it sounded better than a bag of chips or a oil-laden quesadilla from the site-cafe, so we bought a bunch, well, three to be exact.
Now, the first day, Daniel came home complaining of a stomach-ache. They were just too spicy for the morning before he had any food in his stomach (he refuses to eat breakfast). He tried them again the next day and still a stomach-ache, so, he was a little burnt out on them. I asked myself if I could possibly stand to eat that many by myself.
I absolutely love them with butter and a little sea salt, but that almost defeats their "healthy" aspect, so I began thinking of other ways to use/eat them. Luckily, I had stumbled across [eatingclub] vancouver, a blog by two sisters originally from Manila. They had a entry with not just one, but three(!) ways to use radishes. I remembered stumbling on their entry Radishes, Three Ways from goodness knows where, but luckily I had saved the entry in my bookmarks (obviously should such the current situation come up)! I went back to their post and surveyed the recipes... One, quite simply with butter and sea salt (hey, I think I've heard of that from somewhere :) And radish tea sandwiches. I didn't think Daniel would be eating those any time soon so I zeroed in on the last recipe, Glazed Radishes.

Very intriguing to me. They reminded me of Vichy Carrots... And, they were pink after cooking... Almost translucent.
Stop by their blog for the recipe... You can just make it out from their picture of the cookbook (If you Google glazed radishes you can find it as well). I, like them, didn't have as many radishes as the recipe called for, so I eyeballed the ingredients and went by taste. In fact, I tasted it so often I burned my tongue in anticipation, waiting for the pink, soft, slightly sweet & sour babies to be done! (How often does that happen to me? too often I will tell you :)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Gourmet. Comfort. Food. (and some new plates)

Since we decided to go on this vacation to Mexico ("only 24 days!" Daniel reminds me), the idea that I've had to lose weight has loomed over me for many months... I love food. I'm not a thin or in-shape person. I'm active... but we love food and beer enough to outweigh that, no pun intended.
In the summer, it is far too hot to do any exercising outside, but now that it has cooled down, I've began walking in the mornings. Walking along one Saturday, I passed a sale with some funky dishes displayed. I picked up two and decided to take them home to Daniel to see what he thought. He thought they were funky... Maybe just funky enough to use for our food photography! I hope they are not too funky... You'll have to tell us what you think ;)
Thinking of that miniature wheel of Gouda from the previous entry that taunted me for weeks... I had to use it up once I cut into it. I browsed my pantry and freezer and found some frozen Aidell's organic Chicken & Apple sausages (which I've mentioned before). Perfect... fruit and Gouda goes great. I also had half a yellow sweet bell pepper, which I thought would compliment the flavors nicely. After roasting the pepper and making a delicious Gouda "mornay," I served it over pasta and it completely hit the spot. The peppers were perfectly sweet, the Gouda was fruity, almost nutty, the Chicken & Apple sausage added a hearty, salty-sweet element and the pasta was a wonderful canvas for it all. Original Recipes
I'm sending it to Presto Pasta Nights as I haven't participated in that for a while. (It is hosted by Judith of Think On It this week check out the roundup this Friday). I'm also sending it to Lore from Culinarty for her Original Recipes Event. Check her blog for the roundup!

This was pretty easy to put together once I put the peppers in to roast and grilled the sausages while I heated the water for boiling the pasta. Once each element was done I threw it together for some delicious comfort food.

Gouda-Cream Pasta with Chicken Apple Sausage
print recipe only

  • 1 four-pack Aidell's Chicken & Apple sausages
  • 8-10 strips roasted bell pepper (use jarred or roast your own)
  • 3-4 oz dry linguine/fettuccine pasta, cooked
  • olive oil to toss

  • butter
  • white all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2-4 oz gouda cheese, shredded
Roast peppers if not already roasted (this can take 30-45 minutes so start before starting anything else - use jarred red peppers for color and ease) Cook sausages using desired method. I like a grill-pan or the George Foreman grill for ease, but using the real grill gives a crispy carmelized element to the sausages). Cook your pasta and toss with olive oil.
Meanwhile, melt 2-3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour to make a roux. Cook 1-2 minutes, then whisk in milk. Bring to temperature, then add cheese. Stir/whisk to distribute.
Slice cooked sausages on a bias. Layer pasta, then peppers, and finally sausages in a bowl. Drizzle with sauce.

Doesn't that look good?! Gourmet comfort food.

Tell me, what do the plates remind you of? ...I'm ready for a laugh.Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Friday, October 10, 2008

A Pefect [Pear]

Strolling through the farmers' market I came upon some Asian pears that were quite inexpensive, they usually range from about a dollar to over a dollar per pound, so when I found them for for $0.69/lb I snatched some up quickly. If you've ever had an Asian pear, which I hadn't at the time, you'd have probably grabbed more than I did... I ended up with three and took them home very excited to try them. They are sometimes called apple-pears because they are firm like apples, but taste like pears. They are fragrantly sweet, just grainy enough to let you know they are in the pear family, and
I had a mini-wheel of gouda cheese that's been winking at me from the cheese drawer for weeks. Gouda is great out of hand or with fruit and wine. While I love eating slices for snacks, I've been avoiding it as I am trying to lose weight for an upcoming vacay to Mexico.
Well, these Asian babies proved too much for my will-power and I grabbed the gouda out of the drawer, sliced it thin and made myself little Asian pear and gouda sandwichs (no bread needed). The sweetness of the pear complimented the creamy, fruity, almost nutty cheese.
What else could I do with this wonderful combination, I asked myself? Well, I tried it with pecans on top, which was an excellent combination. I also speculated that melted gouda and grilled pears would be wonderful... But Daniel wasn't home and there was no way I was firing up the grill for just that... so I tried out some grilled gouda sandwiches... and added the slices of pear just after the cheese had melted, as I didn't want to cook them too much. The result? Another heavenly sandwich that just might take over the BLT's spot in my list of favorite things to place between two slices of bread.

Without further ado:

Grilled Gouda Sandwiches with Asian Pear

  • (enough for one sandwich) gouda cheese, thinly sliced or shredded
  • 2 slices whole/cracked wheat bread
  • 1 Asian pear, thinkly sliced, seeds/core removed
  • pinch white pepper
  • butter or olive oil
Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread, place butter-side down and lay slices of gouda over each piece of bread (this is where shredded works nicely as it tends to melt faster in that form). Turn heat down to medium. Once the cheese has melted, layer on the Asian pear slices over one piece of bread. Sprinkle a pinch of white pepper over the other and use a spatula to flip it onto the cheese/pear layered slice.
Cut sandwich across or diagonally and enjoy.

PS: Sorry, no pictures turned out, :( I'll have to post some when I try this recipe again.
PSS: Even if you don't make this sandwich, try the combination of gouda and pear, it really is delectable!Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Foodbuzz Love

Isn't this the coolest!? We got it in the mail this week... A green silicone spatula, and a totally awesome apron to protect the threads from our culinary concoctions! It even matches our totally cool tote-bag (for shopping green!) we got in the beginning of the summer!

Foodbuzz, we have three words for you.

We luuhhvve you.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Oktoberfest is Here

Seeing how it is time for Oktoberfest we decided to celebrate by making schnitzel again (and drinking tons of Warsteiner beer!) This time I chose to make a Zigeunerschnitzel. Zigeunerschnitzel, "gypsy schnitzel," also known as paprikaschnitzel, is a schnitzel served with a spicy sauce of bell peppers and onions. We used veal cutlets again, dipped in egg first and then liberally coated in bread crumbs and fried on a medium-high heat until they were golden brown. (print recipe here)

The sauce was made by dicing up some bell peppers, some onion and some tomato. I used a variety for good color:

1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/4 white onion, diced
1/2 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
beef broth
1/4 cup water
tomato paste to thicken
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pepper to taste

Put peppers, onions, and tomato into a sauté pan and let them brown just a little bit before adding a few ounces of beef broth (I added no more than 1/2 cup). Add water, and a heaping teaspoon of tomato paste. Simmer to thicken up a bit before adding paprika, chili powder, and white and black pepper to taste.

To serve, just pour the sauce/gravy over the schnitzel, grab a couple bottles of Warsteiner beer and enjoy!

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Farewell to Summer

Just because it is the end of summer does not mean it isn't hot anymore. In Arizona, it's always hot! But, I'm glad it will finally be cooling down, if even only by a few degrees. Our last summer barbecue included some delicious ribs. Now, we don't have a smoker, and our grill is gas (gasp!) so all you die-hard "real" barbecue fans should leave right now. But if you're open to new ideas, and don't have time to tend to smoked meat for 12-24 hours, this is a great recipe for tender, grilled barbecue ribs, just for you!

I believe I saw first saw Paula Deen from the Food Network make her ribs in the oven, but we love that caramelized crisp you get on your ribs when they are cooked over a flame, so we liked the idea of finishing them up on the grill.

Oven-Grilled Beef Ribs

  • 1 rack beef ribs (6-8 ribs per rack)

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/2 T pepper
  • 1/2 T cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup AZ chili-sweet barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 275 F. Combine first 7 ingredients thoroughly. Rub all over ribs, paying special attention to the thick meaty side. Line a roasting pan with foil. Place ribs in pan. Cover/tent with foil and place in oven for 60-75 minutes, when done, take out of oven and let rest 5-10 minutes.
Place on grill over medium-low heat for 30-45 minutes, during the last five minutes of cooking we slather on the sauce - which usually caramelizes in about 5 minutes.We cut the rack into one-two bone portions.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy Weekend BLT

Well, we are back after a long weekend away in the mountains. We've been to this spot before and we snagged a prime camping spot that fit all four parties/tents that attended. We've been meaning to do an entry on camping food, because we love some of the things we do, but unfortunately, we've never gotten good pictures of anything we make! We'll have to work on that the next time we go!
Below is a view from the edge of the Colorado Plateau, its called the Mogollon Rim. It's a great cliff that cuts across central Arizona and has spectacular views.

When we got home I had a ripe tomato that had sat on the counter all weekend - it was almost spoiled. We had plenty of bacon leftover (I know... but you can't go camping without bacon!)... and I, as always after a camping weekend, wasn't in the mood to cook so we made BLTs.
Mmm. What can be more perfect that a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich? Salty bacon, creamy mayonnaise, crispy lettuce and juicy, meaty tomato slices. Daniel's not big on the tomatoes, so he just had a BL :)
Before I begin making my sandwichs I'll pour a tall glass of milk and set it inside the freezer to wait. I toasted the bread, fried up the bacon, sliced the tomato and gathered lettuce. After I spread some mayo on my toast, I layer on the bacon, then the tomato slices, the lettuce, and finally the other slice of toasted bread. By now, my milk will just have a nice frosty feel to it. I sit down to my meal and take my first bite. Heaven between two slices of bread.

Look for more this week on our last BBQ of the summer (Happy Fall everyone!), with some Baby Back Ribs and our favorite BBQ sauce.Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Off to Camp

I hope you haven't missed us too much, we've been busy with the start of school but are both getting back into the groove of things. I miss you all! I've barely been able to make it around to all of my daily-reads, please don't forget about us!
This weekend, we are heading north to go camping... we've been cooking, just not as often, but we still have some yummy dishes we are ready to post so look for them next week.
Have a great weekend everyone!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 12, 2008

A Thank You to Three of You

Short post today... We are just AWFUL at this blog-business stuff... But over the past [few] month(s) we got the same award from three(!) people... So thank you to Haley of Appoggiatura, Ivy of Kopiaste, and Nancy of A Recipe A Day, thank you thank you!

I in turn pass this Brilliant Diamond to three others:

Lore of Culinarty
Michelle of My Italian Grandmother
and The Blonde Duck of A Duck in Her Pond

All of these gals are part of my routine reads and I consider them great blog-buddies! It is an honor to read and blog with all of you!Stumble Upon Toolbar

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Country Style Ribs V - Beef Skewers

Our fifth and final entry in Rib Week was inspired by my favorite thing to eat in Disneyland, beef skewers. If you are familiar with Disneyland, you can find them right across from the Indiana Jones ride at the Bengal BBQ. It’s a bit too far to drive and quite a bit too expensive to get into Disneyland whenever I want the skewers so I looked up the recipe online. I tried it a few times like the recipe states but I was unhappy with the outcome so I created my own recipe that is easier to work with (the sauce does not thicken up as quick) and cheaper (We use the pork or beef ribs instead of sirloin).

Before working with your meat take a handful of wooden skewers and submerge them in water so they don’t burn as easily when you place them on the grill. Take 4-5 country style beef ribs and slice them length wise about 3/8 inch thick. Use a meat mallet to pound the meat to roughly a 1/4 inch thickness. It’s very important to do this since the ribs are not as tender as a sirloin is. Thread the strips lengthwise on to the skewers. Now is a good time to start you grill so it has a chance to heat up and start working on the sauce.

  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 Tb ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 Tb garlic powder
  • 1 Tb cornstarch

Combine everything except for the water and cornstarch in s small sauce pan. Slowly add the cornstarch to the water to avoid clumping and when it is fully mixed in add the cornstarch/water mixture to the pan and bring to a low boil reduce heat and allow to simmer while you cook the skewers.
Place the skewers on the preheated grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes or to your desired temperature and remove from the grill. Use a basting brush (or spoon and pour it on) to fully coat the meat with the spicy sauce and serve.

Enjoy!Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Country Style Ribs IV - Skillet-Braised Apple-Mustard Ribs

So far we've done some of these delicious ribs on the grill, in the slow cooker, and as a stir fry. Today I'm going to tell you about cooking these ribs using another slow method - braising. In all technicality, slow-cooker cooking IS a form of braising, and many braising methods include transferring the cooking container to the oven to finish. We actually don't have ANY oven safe cookware (safe for stove-top and oven, that is), so we've learned to braise solely on the stove-top.
This recipe is as final as I have for now... it's delicious and a fine recipe to file in your repertoire, but I don't have very good timings for you. I know I usually start dinner about an hour before Daniel gets home, and its usually on the table within fifteen minutes of his arrival. Here I served it with herbed rice and some fresh summer squash sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.

Apple-Mustard Glazed Ribs

  • 1 1-2 lb packages boneless Country Style Ribs

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown mustard
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • 1 Tablespoon ground sage
  • white pepper
  • 1 onion, quartered

  • white pepper
  • olive oil
Preheat a few tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Season all sides of ribs with pepper and sage. Place ribs in pan to brown, turning to brown all sides.
While the ribs are browning, mix together the juice, mustard, garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Pour into pan after ribs are browned and turn heat to medium-low. Add onions.
Simmer until liquid is reduced by half and the juices in the ribs run clear (or use your handy meat thermometer to check for safe pork temp). Remove ribs from pan.
Add honey. Stir to distribute and return heat to high. Simmer sauce until it reaches desired gravy-like consistency. Drizzle gravy over ribs to serve.

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Country Style Ribs III - Pork Stir Fry with Noodles

As I've mentioned twice now, country style ribs are a great value. They can tend to be on the tough/gristle-y side, but the ones we get from our butcher are usually pretty good. Another thing that can be done to prevent toughness besides boiling or slow-cooking, is to cut across the grain, as you would a flank steak. When you cut across the grain, you have perfect little bits for fajitas or stir fry.
I looooove stir fry. If our diets and budgets allowed, I'd get Chinese takeout way more than I currently do. To tie up the gap between the times I actually allow myself takeout, we began experimenting with the wok we got when we got married.
I've mastered fried rice and a basic stir fry. You can really use any meat (or cut) you want. But, like I said, these ribs, when sliced across the grain, make perfect little stir-fry bits. I usually put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to slicing, so they can firm up, then slice them on a bias, across the grain, pretty thinly. If I see any gristle/fat lines I might get out the meat-hammer, but it isn't usually necessary. If I'm short on time, I'll let the meat marinate while I prepare the veggies and start the noodles/rice (depending on what we are in the mood for) If I have time, I'll marinate the meat before I slice it up, for a much longer period of time (since the marinade won't penetrate the meat as well as when it's sliced.)

From there I take various veggies, and chop them up stir-fry style. Bell peppers get a large dice, carrots sliced thin on the bias, onions become half-rings, zucchini becomes sliced-on-bias half-moons, mushrooms get chopped in half (or quartered if they are big), etc, etc, etc.
For a basic stir fry you need four things. Marinated meat, various veggies, soy sauce/stirfry sauce/leftover marinade, and oil. Olive oil will work, but the meat won't brown up as nicely as with a canola or vegetable oil. You'll only need a few tablespoons of oil to begin with, once its heated, throw in the meat and the marinade. Cook the meat until it is almost done, flip it around if needed (to cook on both sides), then throw in the vegetables. Now, you really only want to blanch the veggies, so after about a minute, its done! If you are using noodles, I like to throw those (cooked, of course) in after the veggies cook for a few moments. I toss the contents of the wok around to coat and serve it up in bowls with chop sticks. It is kind of like a one dish meal (got your meats, your veggies, your carbs, all in one bowl).

Below is my marinade, but there are some pretty awesome (and high-fructose-free) sauces on the shelf at the store. You can also stop by an Asian Grocer and find some really cool stuff to experiment with. (fish sauce, various brands of stir-fry sauce, etc)

Corinne's "Asian" Marinade (use for a 1-2 lb package of country style ribs)

  • 1 cup soy sauce (if you don't want to use this much soy sauce, water it down or use broth to make up a 1 cup amount of liquid)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed/roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter, melted
Combine first six ingredients in bowl. Whisk in melted peanut butter. Pour in zip-top bag with meat and place in refrigerator. Marinate 4-8 hours for whole ribs, or if sliced, up to an hour. If leaving whole ribs for longer period, turn occasionally to coat all meat with marinade.Stumble Upon Toolbar
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Country Style Ribs II - Slow Cooker Ribs

Slow cooking is the busy cook/mother/student/wife's dream. OK, so, maybe your memories of slow cooker meals include Momma's Pot Roast and Beef Stew, not exactly gourmet (but don't knock them!) New generations are waking up to the versatility of slow cooking. From soups and stews to casseroles to cakes, almost any recipe can be adapted for use in a slow cooker.

Country style ribs are an ideal slow-cooked meal. The fat and gristle content is best cooked slow and long at lower temperatures. The slowed down process renders the fat and allows the molecules that make up the tough stuff to unwind slowly and become soft as butter.

You can throw any sauce in you want. The ribs become fork tender and fall apart… some country style ribs contain bones, in this case the meat will fall right off. They can be eaten alone or on buns. We like ours on fluffy biscuits, topped with a little more barbecue sauce (our Chili-Sweet Sauce is our favorite)

Slow Cooker Country Style Ribs

  • 1 1-2 lb package Country Style Ribs
  • your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 onion, sliced

Place ribs in bottom of slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, enough to coat (I usually use at least a cup). Top with sliced onions. Cook according to manufacturer’s directions, usually on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4-6 hours.

At end of cooking time, ladle out the meat and pull apart with fork for sandwiches. Top with barbecue sauce. If eating alone, ladle out gravy and use to serve.

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