Based on my blogging trends, you would believe that I eat sweets all the time. You’d be nearly right – I do love dessert. Lest you think I don’t make dinner, I present to you Country-Style Steak.
Alton Brown made cooking cubed steak so appealing in the episode I found this recipe in. With the cooler, fall-like temperatures we’ve had for the past few weekends, I looked forward to making something that cooked for a while in the oven. As a bonus, cubed steak is relatively inexpensive – and if you use simple round steak as Alton does, it’s generally even cheaper. Continue reading Country-Style Steak→
I decided upon the perfect thing to make for dinner while my husband was out of town one weekend. I would try the recipe for Beef with 100 Cloves of Garlic. Actually, I came across two competing recipes (second one here), both adaptations of the same original. I love garlic, and although my husband likes it, I didn’t want to force him to try a recipe with a flavor so intense.
The original of this recipe took beef, garlic, olives, and red wine. I don’t like olives, but somehow I like capers instead, and I decided that the briny capers would make them a decent substitute for the olives. I cooked this on the stove, then transferred it to the oven for slower cooking. I would have made a crockpot version of it, but I didn’t have time the evening before to prepare it for the slow cooker. I made this dish on a Friday, so that my leftovers wouldn’t scare my coworkers if they were too intense.
This recipe was indeed intense and flavorful – very rich. A little went a long way – think, tapas-style, where you’re satisfied with a few bites.
Focaccia is delicious. I’m sure you already know that. Today I baked focaccia to go with a soup I made for dinner (Italian sausage with crushed tomatoes, kale, lentils, and orzo, if you were curious), and it makes me swoon a little every time. I wonder why I don’t eat focaccia every day.
Time is part of it. Bread making is not necessarily hard, but it is time intensive. It’s something best saved for when you’ll be home for a few hours at a time to play with dough. Yeast has to ferment, bread has to rise, and it has to bake – this is why I could never just bake bread to have with dinner when I got home from work. This process becomes easier when you stash bread dough away in the refrigerator or freezer (or par-bake it, as I did with pizza crusts that I keep meaning to blog about).
The focaccia in question were adapted from the Focaccia recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. If you really want to get into bread-making (where it takes a while, sometimes two days, and you get your hands doughy), I recommend it because I’ve had luck from it.
His focaccia recipe makes one big loaf, but he had an adaptation that made 6 pizza-style focaccia – which I then adapted a little more. The recipe can be found online on this blog, and I’ll mention what I did differently. To sum – I split the recipe into four and froze two of the balls of dough, which I baked less than a month later.
In this food blog, I chronicle what I make, how I make it, and if I like it. I like sharing with anyone who reads this blog, but one major reason that I continue writing here is because it’s a great resource for me. If I want to make something, I almost always search for it on my blog. I can usually remember if I made something before, but I can’t always remember specifics.
Right now, I want to be sure to write down how I like to make ribs. I’ve made ribs a few times before, and overall, they’re pretty satisfying, but I’ve got a preferred way to make them.
1. I make them in the oven, from start to finish.
2. I make my own spice rub. BBQ sauce optional but tasty.
I know that die-hard bbq enthusiasts out there will say that ribs shouldn’t be made in the oven. I don’t care. It’s tough to grill when you don’t have a dedicated space for it. Also, there’s simply a lot of not-good barbecue out there at restaurants. How I make ribs is delicious, easy, and not that expensive.
The oven method I use for ribs came from Emeril’s Oven-BBQ Ribs recipe (blogged about here). However, it was a fuss to make his spice rub – first you make one spice blend, then mix part of it with other spices – and I really didn’t like it more than a spice rub I made last year. The original recipe for that rub is on cooking.com. I haven’t tried other spice rubs, but I’ve been pretty satisfied with this one.
BBQ Ribs Spice Rub
1.5 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika (if you’re oven-roasting your ribs, I bet a little smoked paprika would be nice too)
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dry mustard
This rub is a little peppery, which I like. I grind this together, but you don’t need to if your ingredients are already ground. This yields enough rub for about 4 pounds of pork back ribs. Another nice thing about this blend: it’s easy to make a half batch.
Cut ribs into pieces so they fit easily into a baking pan. Rub spice blend on all sides of ribs. Line baking pan with foil long enough that you can wrap the foil around the ribs. Wrap up the ribs and seal the ends of the foil together, folding the foil over as if you were rolling up a paper bag. Bake at 300F for 2.5 – 3 hours.
Next, roll back the foil to expose the ribs. Brush the meaty sides with a little barbecue sauce; or not, if you don’t want to! Barbecue sauce gives the ribs a nice sheen, and will caramelize when you put the ribs back in the oven, but the ribs will still be tasty without sauce. Either way, bake the ribs for another 20 minutes. [I suppose you wouldn’t have to, but I like the texture this exposed baking gives the ribs.]
One other thing I like about roasting ribs in the oven this way: very little prep. You prepare the spice rub, but you wouldn’t even have to do that if you had a rub on hand. Simply season the meat, wrap in foil, and let the oven do all the work. And although it cooks for 3 hours, there’s very little hands on time. That said, clean-up isn’t perfect; last time I made these, liquid seeped underneath the foil and made the foil stick to the pan. However, it’s nothing that a little dish soaking time won’t take care of.
Overall, this is an easy and tasty recipe for lazy, cool weekends. It’s something I’ve made several times, and foresee myself making often again this fall and winter.
All of a sudden, it’s warm, summery weather. So what do I feel a compulsion to make? Pie.
Actually, what I really want is a cool cream pie. But to make a from-scratch cream pie, I have to stand over the stove stirring a custard – not a pleasant task when it’s in the 80s and humid. [One exception I just thought of – key lime pie.] Heat issues aside, I didn’t feel like doing a lot of work in the kitchen. I remembered a recipe my coworker gave me – Impossible Pie. It still used the oven and heated my house, but it didn’t involve me doing a lot of work.
It’s called “impossible pie” because you simply mix all the ingredients together, pour it into a pie pan, put it in the oven, and it comes out as a pie, no separate crust necessary. The original recipe makes two pies, but I only wanted to make one. The ingredient list is simple: just butter, sugar, eggs, self-rising flour, coconut, and milk. For a single pie, I used a half stick melted butter, 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 eggs, 1/4 cup flour, 5/8 tsp baking powder, 1/8 teaspooon salt, 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, and a cup milk. I poured it in a greased glass 9-inch pan, and baked for 65 minutes at 350F, an extra 5 minutes because I wasn’t entirely sure it was done.
I don’t have any pictures of it, but there’s a nice one on the recipe if you click on the link. The top of the pie was golden, crisp toasted coconut since it floated to the top. The bottom of the pie was eggy and custardy – not quite like a flan, but definitely eggier than my picky taste likes. The softer custard and the crunchy coconut went well together. The pie was lightly coconuty and lightly sweet.
This is by no means my favorite pie – I don’t like eggy custard, and I do like my coconut pies to be intensely coconuty, which this wasn’t. However, this recipe gets an enormous about of credit for being very easy to make. The pie was mixed together and ready to go into the oven by the time it was preheated. I can’t think of an easier dessert to make, and it’s a decent pie that got some compliments at work. I have to recommend you try it once if you want a homemade dessert to take somewhere, but don’t want to put a lot of effort into it.
I was enchanted with the idea of Vanilla Roasted Pears the first time I saw the recipe. I like pears, and for some reason I find the thought of roasted pears very sophisticated. I always want to make poached pears (generally in white wine), but Alex isn’t too keen on them (mostly because of the white wine). I love vanilla, though, and so I was 95% certain that I was going to love this recipe, and didn’t care if Alex wasn’t interested in it.
The whole vanilla beans that I have are actually a milder, more fragrant kind of vanilla bean, so I wasn’t sure it would be strong enough for this application. I had some vanilla sugar that I’d already made, so I used the vanilla bean in conjunction with that. I had 1.5 pounds of Bosc pears for this, which ended up being about 6 halves (if my memory serves me right). I halved them and scooped out the seeds, but didn’t bother to peel them. I nestled them in a 7×11 inch glass pan, drizzled lemon juice over them, sprinkled them with vanilla sugar, and dotted them with butter. I included the vanilla bean in the pan on the pears. I poured water into the bottom of the pan and roasted them for 30 minutes. I turned them over and roasted them another 25 – they were already more-or-less done, but I wasn’t ready to eat them yet and decided it probably wouldn’t hurt them at all to sit in the oven longer. I brushed the pears periodically with the juices in the bottom of the pan.
These were really pretty good. I loved the flavor. They were sweet without being too sweet – sweet enough for a light dessert, but light enough for a snack -and they felt wholesome to eat. The juices in the pan didn’t caramelize, likely because I used a smaller baking dish than originally suggested since I had fewer actual pears. The juices were a delicious addition stirred into morning oatmeal. It was a few weeks ago that I made these and so I can’t adequately describe how good they were – I can only tell you that they were everything I’d thought they would be. I had leftovers as snacks at work during the week, and they held up wonderfully. These pears would be a great accompaniment to a (sweet) breakfast or brunch. I’ll make these again.
Before our first frost advisory, I picked all the green tomatoes on my tomato plant. I had 7 pounds of green tomatoes! I’ve been waiting for the majority of them to be ripe at the same time so that I could make Oven-Roasted Pasta Sauce.
Even so, I didn’t have 5 pounds of ripe tomatoes, so I made a 3/4 batch of this instead. That translated to 3.75 pounds of tomatoes, or 60 ounces. I sliced one large onion into wedges and halved the (small) tomatoes. I put them on a baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil, and liberally applied salt and pepper. About 5 or 10 minutes before I took them out of the oven, I put some amount of minced garlic on the tomatoes to roast a little, since I didn’t have whole cloves of garlic to roast from the start. I baked them for 2 hours, until I thought they looked pretty roasted [see picture on original recipe to see what they should look like]. I wanted to taste the roasted tomatoey goodness, so I added a couple of tablespoons of water rather than wine, and scraped away at the browned bits on the bottom of the baking sheet.
At this point it was late Sunday evening, so I put all of the tomato mixture into a container and put it in the fridge. The next day I reheated it, added some parsley, and pureed it in the blender. By heating it and then blending it, I was able to pour it directly on pasta.
This was fine. I actually didn’t enjoy this as much as I had thought I would. I love roasted tomatoes, but I think that when it comes to pasta sauce, I prefer what I make without a recipe [which usually involves ground beef, several herbs, and a little red wine]. This was kind of sweet from the natural sugar in the tomatoes, since the tomatoes from my tomato plant always seemed relatively sweet. I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t roasted it as long, as well, or if I’d added wine to it rather than water. I think I’d enjoy basil or oregano (or maybe even some other herbs) in it more the fresh parsley I put in it.
There was nothing wrong with this, and a lot of potential good. I think that I would have enjoyed the roasted taste more over chicken, or with something else that wasn’t simply plain pasta. It was fun to make, and much less complicated than cooking on the stove. I might try it in the future, varying the roasting time as well as the herbs and spices, if I have lots of tomatoes and want a hands-off recipe.
This recipe was very simple. You roast the Brussels sprouts in the oven for 20 minutes total, and then you coat them with the sun-dried tomato pesto. I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. I only bought a pound of Brussels sprouts but I didn’t reduce the amount of pesto I made. I omitted the cheese.
This was only okay. I’d hoped that the pesto would really stand up to the Brussels sprouts, but I didn’t even notice the pesto unless there was a lot of it. I thought that the extra pesto might hide the Brussels sprouts a little, but it didn’t. I wasn’t too impressed with the pesto, either. I think I preferred the earlier Thyme-Braised Brussels Sprouts that I made. This was okay, but I won’t make this recipe again.
For dinner one weekend, I made Latin Baked Chicken. This recipe was very simple to make, and was relatively fast as well. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs because I really don’t enjoy dark meat. The marinade was easy to make. I baked this for 20 minutes, basting the chicken twice.
This chicken was pretty spicy. It wasn’t too spicy for me, but beware if you’ve got a lower tolerance for spicy food! We had this with cucumbers to balance out the heat. (We also had dessert.) I really enjoyed this recipe, and would definitely make it again.
I had Alex get a whole chicken from the Meat Salesroom. I’d heard they were really good! I was very excited to cook it.
I decided that I wanted to use some of the fresh thyme that I still had. More specifically, I wanted thyme, lemon, and probably some garlic in the recipe. I didn’t want the flavors to overwhelm the chicken.
Ultimately I decided to make Perfect Roast Chicken, a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network. Prepping the chicken was pretty easy. It was easy to find and remove the neck and such from it, whereas I’ve had trouble in the past with regular, commercially processed poultry (primarily huge turkeys, I suppose). I put lemon, thyme, and minced garlic (no whole heads of garlic around for me) in the cavity, rubbed the skin with olive oil (I don’t like butter), and seasoned with salt and pepper.
I tried to remember how I thought a roast chicken should be cooked. I’ve got a meat thermometer and I like to use it, so I guessed that I should let the breast reach 160F and then let it rest to reach 165F. Most instructions that call for temperatures give the temperature for a thermometer inserted in the thigh, but while that would work on a big turkey, I couldn’t figure out exactly where a meaty part of the chicken thigh was. [I also didn’t think to look this up until I needed to get the chicken in the oven, so I didn’t have time to figure it out.] I put the chicken on a bed of onions, carrots, and potatoes with some thyme and olive oil, but I wish I had had fennel in the house to use instead.
I was pretty happy with the chicken. The skin crisped up very, very well. I did overcook the breast a little, though, but I’m not sure that the thigh was done. Alton Brown puts a breastplate on his turkeys to get them to cook evenly, and I may have to try that with chicken, too. The vegetables needed a little liquid with them, which the fennel would have provided, to get them to cook evenly and more thoroughly.
I liked this recipe. It was simple and not overwhelming. I’ve so many other recipes around, though, that I’m not sure if I would make it again. In any case, I’m going to have to figure out the best way to roast a chicken so that it’s cooked evenly and thoroughly.