Friday, May 28, 2010

Pork ribs in the oven

These came out soooooooo good! There was next to no talking at the dinner table. Very easy too! Hope you like :)

2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs
Dry Rub:
3 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Braising Liquid:
1 cup madiera wine
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Turkey Basil Fritatta

A fritatta is a glorious thing for lazy "garbage" dinner days (where you reach into the fridge and pantry and take out everything you don't know what to do with). It's a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner and is really easy to throw together. I made this last night with some ingredients I had on hand, but you can truly dress it up with whatever you want. Got spinach? Broccoli? Peas? Carrots? Find a combination that sounds good. Spinach is great with goat cheese, onions, parmesan. Broccoli is great with cheddar and sausage. Whatever you think sounds good, it probably is good. If you are using a hardier veggie (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bell pepper, celery or carrot) you're going to want to saute that vegetable with the onions and garlic at the beginning to soften it up a bit. Potatoes should be boiled ahead of time. Veggies like spinach, arugala, basil, scallion, etc. do not need sauteeing because just the oven time with wilt and/or cook those. So change this recipe up as much as you want, just keep the first four ingredients the same and the oven temp/cook time and you should have a winner! Cheers :)

Ingredients (serves about four depending on accompanying dishes)

-12 eggs
-1 cup cream
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-3 potatoes, peeled, boiled and chopped
-3 scallions, chopped
-1 white onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-10 basil leaves, chiffonade
-7 mini turkey sausages, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large oven-safe skillet, begin sauteeing your onions in 2 tbs butter and let them turn translucent. In a seperate bowl, combine the eggs, cream, scallions, basil, and salt and pepper. To the skillet, add the turkey sausage, garlic, and the cooked potatoes. Let that cook for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry. Spread the ingredients around the pan to distribute evenly, then pour the egg mixture on top to cover the whole pan.

Place the skillet in the preheated oven and cook for 50 minutes. Cut like a pie and serve.

Tomato Feta Sandwiches

This is my sister's recipe that she came up with in collaboration with a good friend one day when they were hungry. I've never met anybody that tried one that didn't think it was amazing, and it is incredibly easy to make. I don't make them that often because it's cute when Zach gets so excited when he finds out we're having them as a treat. I think I can pretty much guarantee that you will love them.

Ingredients (serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are)

-1 loaf of french bread, sliced in half
-about 3 vine tomatoes
-1 package feta cheese
-3/4 cup mayo
-1/2 cup minced onion (I like the dried kind best but you can use fresh. Dry has much more flavor though)
-1/4 cup dry oregano

Preheat your broiler. In a bowl, mix the mayo, onion, and oregano. Spread it on the bread, place the bread on a baking sheet, and place under the broiler till the mayo is bubbly and the bread is slightly brown.

Remove the bread from the oven and generously crumble feta all over the bread. Layer the tomato slices tightly over all the feta, salt and pepper to taste, close, slice, and eat. The End.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Liv's Virginia Cheese Steak

So, anybody from Philadelphia will probably hate me for straying from the traditional cheese wizzy hoagie roll masterpiece that is the philly cheesesteak, but the idea of putting cheese wiz in my mouth truly makes me ill so I came up with a different steak "sammich." Zach and I both love a spicy cheesesteak, so I am using pickled tabasco peppers to spice it up because I love their flavor but they aren't overly hot. I am also making an Irish cheddar cheese sauce flavored with a little bit of coarse ground mustard (regular dijon is fine). These little variations are not necessary. I'm not a stickler for keeping to recipes so just replace whatever you want with whatever you like better. Use jalapenos, fresh or pickled, or even just plain bell peppers if you hate spice. Use any kind of onion you want, but just make sure it's sliced thin. Also, the best way to get a steak sliced really thin is to freeze it for about 30 minutes, then use a super-sharp knife to just shave it down little by little.

I do not know if people would consider this recipe "easy." Sauteeing and mixing up a sauce are pretty easy in my book, but if the sauce just sounds like a pain to you, just top your steak with a favorite cheese and serve it up that way. I do suggest giving the sauce a try though; it's delish. Oh! And I just made a salad with light dressing as the side dish; I've been pretty careful about the fattening ingredients but it's a very filling sandwich and I wouldn't add french fries or even chips to go with it.


-1 sirloin steak, sliced thin then tossed with two tbs olive oil and sprinkled with a SMALL amount of montreal steak seasoning or just S&P
-1 onion, cut in half then sliced in thin half moons
-1 clove garlic, minced
-5-8 pickled tabasco peppers, chopped
-about 1/4 cup water
-2 tbs butter
-2 tbs flour
-1/2 cup milk (1% is just fine, but don't use skim!)
-3/4 cup grated white cheddar
-1 tsp dijon mustard, coarse ground or regular
-salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and saute the onions for a few minutes till they crystalize, then add the garlic and cook a few minutes longer. Remove onions/garlic from pan and add in your steak slices and peppers. Saute them till they release their juices and the juices pretty much dissolve and the pieces begin to brown, then add the 1/4 cup water to deglaze the pan and steam the steak a tiny bit.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring to make a roux. Add the milk and bring to a boil to thicken. Once the beshamel is thickened, add the mustard, cheddar, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the steak onto a hoagie-sized cut of french bread, top with the onions and then the cheese sauce. If you like mayo on your bun, go ahead and do that. Zach likes his with sliced pickled jalapenos, and I just like it with the onion.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Semolina and Bacon

I'm sure most of you know what I mean when I say that certain meals more than others can take you back to your mom's kitchen and that ultimate feeling of comfort and safety. I remember waking up early morning and sitting sleepy at the breakfast table while my mom peeled off the tip of a soft boiled egg, stuck it into a cute little humpty dumpty egg holder, and let me dip little strips of buttery toast in. Delicious. The recipe I'm about to share is good for winter or summer, breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's so simple you can play around with it however you want; add herbs, various cheeses, even wine. It is total comfort food--a delicate fusion of traditional southern cooking with Italian elegance and simplicity. I hope you enjoy :)

Ingredients (serves 4)

-4 strips of bacon
-4 cups chicken broth (or water with chicken bouillon)
-more or less 3 cups of fine yellow corn meal
-parmesan cheese for topping
-4 eggs (optional)

Drizzle about a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil in a frying pan and begin frying up your strips of bacon. You want them nice and crispy but remember they will continue to cook a little bit after you remove them from the pan.

In a medium soup pot, bring your chicken broth to a boil. This is the part where you could add some special herbs like thyme and bay leaf if you want. If you want to add basil, I would wait till the corn meal has thickened so the flavor stays fresh. Sometimes my mom would also add in 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of white wine to the broth as well. Once the broth boils, slowly add the semolina in while whisking constantly. Just keep adding the corn meal until the mixture begins to thicken, then let it simmer for a few minutes till the corn meal has absorbed the broth. At this point you could add a favorite melting cheese like cheddar or havarti. Remove from the heat and cover.

After the bacon has fried, let the oil and drippings cool a little bit then add your eggs in and fry sunny-side-up. (You have to let the bacon grease cool unless you want "french lace" around your eggs; my dad loved this but I am not a fan). Spoon the semolina into shallow bowls. Gently serve an egg over each helping, then sprinkle with crushed bacon. Finally, sprinkle a generous handful of parmesan on top and serve. You could also sprinkle a little basil chiffonade on top too, which would be yummy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Key Lime Pie

Okay, I found this recipe on (here's the link: and it's so easy it's hard to believe it's so good. I thought making key lime pie would be a real pain (I had no basis for this assumption but it sounds hard), but as you can see, 4 ingredients and about 5 minutes of work and 15 of baking. You could totally make your own graham cracker crust if you have some magical recipe, but graham crackers are pretty much graham crackers to me whether you do it yourself or not, so I bought an 8 inch crust (I had seen some reviewers say that 9-inch was a little big). I made my own homemade vanilla whipped cream and then piped it in little dollops all over the pie after it cooled. Also, I couldn't find key limes to save my life so I used regular lime juice. Floridians would probably tell me I'm a sinner, but the main difference between key limes and regular limes is that keys are a little more tangy and definitely harder to juice. If you can find them, knock yourself out, but you might have to buy several to get the required 1/2 cup of juice for this pie. As it is, the regular limes provided some great flavor. Just DON'T use bottled juice of any kind!

5 egg yolks, beaten
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Combine the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Mix well. Pour into unbaked graham cracker shell.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Top with whipped topping and garnish with lime slices if desired.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Spice Blend Recipes

Speaking of spices, I hate the fact that you have to go out and buy spice blends so if you don'twhen you have perfectly good spices in your cupboard that just haven't been put together yet. I decided to do some research and post a bunch of spice blend recipes have the mix you can make some yourself.

Adobo Seasoning

3-6 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground oregano

Cajun Seasoning

2 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper

Caribbean/Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Creole Seasoning

2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt

Garam Masala (common Indian cuisine)

1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Greek Seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried minced garlic

Herbes de Provence (usually tied in a mesh cloth. If using fresh herbs, use one sprig each)

1 tsp crumbled bay leaf
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp lavender flowers
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme

Indian Curry (Basic)

5 Tablespoons ground coriander
7 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon Paprika
1 Tablespoon Turmeric
1 Tablespoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Italian Seasoning

3 tablespoons dried basil
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons dried parsley (I am disdainful of parsely as I think it has no flavor. If you don't have this I doubt it will make much difference)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Montreal Steak Seasoning

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons crushed black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon crushed coriander
1 tablespoon dill
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

"Wet" Spice Blends

Cajun Trinity (the prominent base in most cajun/creole dishes, such as jambalayas, gumbos, etouffees, sauces, chilis and stews). Onion, bell peppers, and celery are the only essential ingredients--the rest is fluff. Another example of a "Trinity" of essential ingredients in a cuisine would be tomato, garlic, and basil in Italian cooking.

1 large sweet onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
6-8 stalks celery
5 gloves garlic
2 handfuls of fresh parsley tops

Harissa (Northern Africa, common in Moroccan dishes)

1/4 cup dried chilies
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons dried mint leaves or 2 tablespoons of fresh
1/3 cup olive oil


2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
10 ajies dulces peppers, tops removed (can be subsituted with another red bell pepper)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
4 onions, cut into large chunks
3 medium heads garlic, peeled
25 cilantro leaves with stems
25 leaves recao, or culantro (aka "long coriander," can subsitute with more cilantro)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

Tapenade (usually used as dip)

1/2 pound pitted mixed olives
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
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