Monday, July 25, 2011

Love/Hate relationship with apples.

I know, of all things to love and hate, apples? Really? Yep. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to eat apples. I would eat a nice, juicy Fugi apple every day of my life if I could. The hate comes in when I read a recipe that says - 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and diced. UGH! I put off a recipe for TWO days because of that blasted line. Ugh, I don't know why I hate doing it, but I do and that's that.

HOWEVER - I do learn some things from TV, after all... it isn't just mindless energy. I was watching "The Next Food Network Star" this morning and one of the contestants was making a slaw with apple in it. Now, you may already know this trick and after I thought about it I was like... DUH! He peeled the apple and took it to a grater and shredded that bad boy right up... uhm, hello. Thank you, Food Network, for finally allowing me to make the Chicken-Apple Sausage I've been wanting to make for days. Thank you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Egg Salad

I know, egg salad... boring, right? I made some for a work lunch today and I've had a few requests for "what's in that??" -- so here we go!

12 hard boiled eggs

Wait... I realize, this is going to be really difficult... I didn't measure a thing. Nothing. It's really about feel, texture, and taste. Okay, let's start again.

12 hard boiled eggs
mayo (not miracle whip)
Golden Harvest 3 Pepper Mustard (just a smidge)(by the way, this is SUPER yummie)
sweet relish
celery, small dice
onion, small dice
smoked paprika
chili powder
sea salt
fresh ground pepper
bacon (yes, I said bacon) =]

Once you get the eggs all hard boiled, peeled and cleaned up - this is what needs to happen, it's mucho importante... Put all the yolks in a large mixing bowl and put the whites aside. Now mash those yolks with a fork until it's really fine. It's not cute, at least not to me, to have huge pieces of yolk starin' back atcha! Next, dice the whites up fairly small... You want sizes to be consistent... so egg, onion, and celery should be fairly similar in size.

Mix in the whites with the yolks and add mayo--this is your first texture test. You want it to be creamy, but NOT runny. Then, add the sweet relish, onion, celery, and spices. At this point, you can choose to use or not use the 3 pepper mustard. I love it's zingy taste, but it can be overpowering for some people, so it really depends on what you like. I would taste it without it first and if you think it needs a little something, just add a teenie bit at a time.

Cover and put in the fridge for AT least an hour, or overnight if possible. I forgot the bacon, right?? Nooo... I would never forget that... You want to cook and crumble (small crumbles, remember what I said up there about consistent pieces?) about 6 slices of bacon and let it cool. You can also cheat and use Real Bacon bits, but it has to be REAL bacon... Add that just before you serve and viola! You have egg salad!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Oven BBQ Ribs!

Okay - so I've only ever done one kind of rib and I've only ever cooked them one way. Boneless country style ribs in the crockpot. Boring, I know.

Today - I was inspired by something, I don't know what, to try my hands at ribs. Real pork ribs. Ribs that make you want to suck the bones because they're so good. And I wanted mac and cheese. Strange. These are not foods I crave. Maybe I felt that since it was a holiday and I didn't have any plans, I should be doing something awesome. haha. I did it! Meat fell off the bones and I was suckin 'em tryin to get more!

Here's what I did:

Oven BBQ Ribs
3 1/2 lbs pork back ribs
1/2 c brown sugar
1 T smoked paprika
1 T garlic powder
some cayenne pepper
some sea salt
Hickory brown sugar BBQ sauce (Sweet Baby Rays)

Preheat your oven to 300. Mix the sugar and spices to make a rub. Lay a sheet of heavy duty foil on a cookie sheet. Cut the back membrane off the ribs because that's just gross. If you don't know how to do this, you can just start on one end and then peel it back with your fingers. It's gross, but necessary.

Cover the ribs completely with the rub, then lay meat side down on the foil. Lay another sheet of foil on top and fold all the edges to seal in the meat. Pop it in the oven for about 2 1/2 - 3 hrs. Take them from the oven (turn the oven onto broil once you take them out), remove the foil and lay the ribs directly on the cookie sheet and slather the BBQ sauce on the bony side and put them back in the oven, under the broiler for about 3 minutes--keep an eye on them, you want them to look "crispy" but you don't want them to burn. Take them out, turn them over, slather more BBQ sauce and give them another 3 minutes under the broiler.

Cut them into serving sizes--I did two rib bones per serving--and enjoy!

Mac and Cheese
2 boxes Kraft Deluxe mac and cheese
1 small can evaporated milk
1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz shredded smoked gouda cheese
6 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 oz shredded jalapeno cheese
Seasoned salt and pepper

The first thing I have to say is this... now, please, pay attention - this is VERY important. =] SHRED YOUR OWN CHEESE. DO NOT BUY THE CHEESE THAT IS ALREADY SHREDDED. Okay, now that I got that out... let's move on.

Preheat oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add noodles from the mac and cheese and set cheese packet aside. While they cook, SHRED that cheese. =] Cook noodles until they're al dente. You want NO mush on these noodles. You want them to remain firm. Drain.

In the same pot you cooked the noodles in add stick of butter, two cheese packets, and can of milk. Heat this over medium-low heat until it's all melty. Add a little of the shredded cheeses just for fun. Oh, by the way, you can use more cheese if you like, I make it according to my audience -- todays require less "cheesy" -- I'm not sure what's wrong with them.

Okay, once it's all melty, add the noodles back to the pan. Add the spices you like - I use seasoned salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour half of the cheesy noodles into a prepared (that means sprayed with non-stick stuff) baking dish. Add a layer of all cheeses, about half of the cheese you shredded. Then top with the remaining noodles. Top with remaining cheese and put it in the oven for about 25 minutes. You want it to be all melty, scrumptious, and just starting to brown on top.


Fourth of July!

It's the Fourth of July and I have no plans. I'm not sure how or why that is, but such is life. I did help a friend host a party over the weekend, which had a HUGE slip n slide for adults (that was great!!), so I guess I had some plans for this important celebration. We also had some yummy food! I will share one of the recipes, but it isn't mine... I borrowed or found it and was in such a rush that I didn't even have time to make it my own. (I feel like Simon Cowell or Randy Jackson every time I say that!)

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
  • 3/4 large bag of fresh spinach (You can adjust this according to how many mouths you're feeding)
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced (again, adjust your servings as needed)
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar (the recipe called for 1/2 c, but I thought that was too much)
  • some paprika
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 1 T poppy seeds
I would suggest to NOT put this salad together ahead of time. I wanted until right before the meal to toss it all. The last thing I wanted was gross, mushy spinach!

In a large bowl, toss spinach and strawberries.

In a separate bowl, or in your Pampered Chef dressing mixer, mix the remaining ingredients and pour over salad. If you don't have a dressing mixer, get one. Really. I love it. =]

The other dish I made was simple grilled veggies in a foil packet. I know we've ALL done this before so it's nothing new and/or exciting. I used onions, tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, mushrooms, and red peppers. To season them, I used olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Oh, and I used some minced garlic. Put some oil and rosemary on the foil, add the veggies, top with a little more oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Fold up the foil and cook until tender. Easy enough, right?

Happy Fourth of July!!