Archive for ‘Summer’

September 5, 2011

Easy 5-step Baby Back Ribs

RIB FAIRY DUST (Just for those guys out there…)
3T. Kosher Salt
3T black pepper
2T brown sugar
1T paprika
2T garlic powder
1T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Easy Baby Back Ribs

While these ribs do take a couple hours to cook, they are simple and do not require much attention or preparation.

1.  Pull off the membrane from underneath each rack of ribs and cut each rack in half.

2.   Coat the ribs evenly with the spice rub, making sure to get both sides.

(At this point you can place the ribs in a glass baking dish cover the ribs and allow them to sit overnight. Or you can move on to the next step.)

3.  Wrap each rack in foil.

(place one piece of foil on the bottom and one on top. Crunch the sides together, leaving room for any steam to move around in the packet.)

4.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours @ 325 degrees.

(Place the ribs in a glass baking dish or on a baking sheet so any drips are not caught by the bottom of your oven)

5.  Once your ribs are done, remove them from the foil.  Finish directly on the grill until both sides are crisp and the rub starts to sizzle.

(If you like barbecue sauce on your ribs, add the sauce during this step. With the grill on med-low, add sauce to the top side of your ribs, close the lid and cook for a 2-3 minutes. Turn and coat the bottom half of your ribs, close the lid and cook a few minutes more. Repeat this step until you have a good layer of caramelized barbecue sauce on your ribs. (2 or 3 times).)

Some people par boil their ribs, but here my opinion why to avoid this method…boiling meat pulls the flavor out of the meat and into the water. Boiling  meat is for making rich Stocks, not to barbecue meat – would you boil a great Ribeye? Remember, tender meat comes from meat that is cooked low and slow over indirect heat, not from the boiling process. Have you ever cooked anything too long in the crock pot and found it was dried out although liquid was in the pot? Yep liquid can dry out meat. It also pulls the flavor from your meat, that is why most roasts call for wine, tomato sauce, or stock to add flavor to the meat while cooking low and slow.

However, If you insist on the boil method, I can attest that ribs do come out tasty, but think how much tastier they could be cooked in their own juices? 



April 21, 2011

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips


This recipe came from Cooking Light May 2011 Issue. I don’t know about you but I think Cooking Light always has the prettiest food! Full of color  and rustic backgrounds. I am really starting to like that magazine. Especially after this recipe. (Since I’m not as “healthy” as Cooking Light I added a little more oil (originally 2 teaspoons) and bumped the cinnamon sugar mixture (originally 2 teaspoons of sugar – I don’t know how you are supposed to cover 6 tortillas with that!) At the same time, I did not go overboard and lightly sugared and oiled the tortillas.

1 Tablespoon Canola oil
6 whole wheat tortillas
Cinnamon and sugar (I always keep this mixture on hand for cinnamon toast or cookies so if you don’t use it all you can save it for something else!)
2 ripe finely chopped and peeled avocados
1 cup finely diced strawberries (all the same size)
2 Tablespoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon finely diced, seeded jalapenos
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
3/8 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • To prepare chips, brush oil evenly over one side of each tortilla. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle a little evenly over the oil-coated sides of the tortillas.
  • Cut each tortilla into 12 wedges (I used a fluted pastry cutter to make the chips more fancy); arrange wedges in a single layer on two baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  • Combine avocado and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine.

Serve with chips. Enjoy~

September 9, 2010

Guacamole and Mediterranean Salsa

My first “official” gig in which I wasn’t making food for an event I was planning myself. I was asked to make a few dips for a party of about 40 people.

I was a little scared at first, not knowing how much food to estimate or how much time I would need to make that amount of food. How to keep the guacamole from turning color. Things that I did not ever put too much worry into. I guess when you are making food for someone else’s event it is just more stressful. Probably questions everyone asks when they first start making large quantities of food for OTHER people! It was not as bad as I anticipated! Whew!

It was a fun and exciting new challenge and hope I get the opportunity to do this more often! I love to feed people’s bellies so this was a privilege for me!

Here is what I made:

Guacamole – this recipe is on my site already, but I’ve updated it with a photo


Next was Mediterranean Salsa which in a previous blog I promised quite some time ago…sorry for the delay! This recipe doesn’t make enough for 40 it makes enough for probably a crowd of 15 or so.


Mediterranean Salsa

1 lb. tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 English (seedless) cucumber, diced

1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

2 sprigs of mint, finely chopped

3 green onions, thinly sliced in rounds

juice of  1/2 lemon

1 clove of garlic

3T olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 c. feta cheese

Toss the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice, minced garlic, olive oil and salt. Pour over tomato and cucumber mixture and toss.

Serve with Pita chips or toasted Lavash Chips.

August 5, 2010

Meatloaf Burger

By request I have made a burger version of my meatloaf, just for my Shawnee.  It’s really yum!


2lbs ground beef (ground chuck is good because it has some fat, which is good for tender juicy burgers)

1/2c. bread crumbs

1/2 packet of onion soup mix

1T Worchestershire sauce

1T ketchup

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 egg

salt and pepper

sauteed red onion

avocado (optional)

Toss first 7 ingredients together, don’t mash it all together just toss it so everything is incorporated throughout. Once it’s incorporated, beat the egg in a bowl then incorporate into the meat. Work the meat just a little. The more you handle the meat the tougher it will be so handle it minimally.

Form into patties and generously sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the patties.  Grill on medium-high heat until cooked to your liking.

Sauteed Red Onions

Thinly slice a red onion. On medium-low heat, melt butter in a saucepan, add onions and cook stirring occasionally until the onions caramelize. salt and pepper at the end.

Serve burger on a toasted ciabatta roll with mayonnaise, ketchup, and sauteed onions. MMMMMMM….good! It’s like a cozy winter meal, fit for a hot summer weekenight!

July 11, 2010

3-Pepper Tri Tip


This rub recipe is nice and spicy with a hint of brown sugar for sweetness and it helps form a nice crust on the tri tip on the grill. This recipe is my go-to recipe when I have friends and family over. A signature summer dish in my opinion.

I serve the tri tip with corn and black bean salad and some good garlic or bread toasted on the grill.

3-Pepper Rub:

2T. black pepper
1/2T. cayenne
1/2 T. white pepper
1 1/2 T. kosher salt
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. oregano

Mix all ingredients in a jar that can be sealed in a pantry. Rub a tri tip roast on both sides with the rub. Allow the tri tip to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking on the grill.

Insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the steak. Cook until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 145 (medium-rare) or 160 (medium).

Allow the roast to sit for about 20-30 minutes before slicing.


July 11, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Salad

My friend Kim made this for me once I think it was from a Rachael Ray cookbook, but I couldn’t remember what all was it in so I made up my own recipe with as much as I could remember was in it (maybe she’ll correct me if I missed anything!). This salad is so simple and one of my favorite side dishes. Very flavorful and addicting…enjoy!

2T. butter
1t garlic powder
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1- 11 oz package frozen corn
1 – 15oz can of black beans, rinsed
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 lime, juiced
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1t cumin
S & P
Heat sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Sauté onion and jalapeno in butter, until onion is translucent. Bump the heat up to medium –high heat and add frozen corn and cook 4 minutes, until corn is thawed. Add black beans and sauté for 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth and garlic powder, reduce heat and allow to simmer until the broth is all absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice, cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper.

June 16, 2010

Fairy Flower Salad

If you have kids, you know the novelty of the food they eat is probably more important to kids than what they are eating! Thanks to a co-worker (thanks Tarah) I came up with this salad for my daughter and neice…I’m sure eating flowers would be fun for boys too, for those of you with boys let me know if you come up with a name to appeal to the boys.

Most of these ingredients I got at the Farmer’s Market. Including the edible flowers. The strawberries and cucumbers were from the Market as well. I could have purchased greens from the Market, but I was too late and it was all sold out. So the lettuce is organic mixed baby greens from TJs and goat cheese was from TJs too.

Fairy Flower Salad

You could grow your own edible flowers and as long as you are careful not to get chemicals on them.

To make enough for 4 people:
1/2 bag of mixed baby greens (or 3 cups or so of your favorite lettuce)
1/2 cup of edible flowers (I got mine at the Farmer’s Market last weekend)
1/2 cup of diced cucumber
5 or 6 strawberries thinly sliced
1/4 cup feta cheese
Strawberry Vinaigrette

Cut large pieces of lettuce in bite-sized pieces. Wash lettuce and flowers individually and then lay on a paper towel to dry off. Dice cucumbers and slice the strawberries. Place lettuce in a bowl toss with the vinaigrette dressing. Top with flowers and spread the cucumbers and strawberries over the salad. Top with feta cheese (or goat cheese is a good contrast to the sweet dressing).

Isn’t it the prettiest salad ever! What girl wouldn’t eat that!!!

Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
5 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
1/4c olive oil (Grapeseed oil is nice and clean tasting and would work really well)
1T Honey
1/4c balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Place the strawberries in a blender and coarsely chop. Add honey, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pulse the blender until mixed. Then with the blender running add the oil until the dressing is emulsified. Toss the dressing with the greens then top with the rest of your ingredients. (This dressing was really good with a salad with apples and goat cheese too!)


June 5, 2010

Berries and Ice Cream

Now you surely don’t need a recipe for this, but sometimes we all just need a “reminder” of those simple ideas…

Berries and Ice Cream

1 tub of your favorite vanilla ice cream (or any other flavor)
sliced strawberries
blackberries, halved
whole blueberries

A take on the classic berries and cream, ice cream takes the place of the cream to provide a cool summer treat.  We used blackberries and strawberries which are both really good at this time of year, and you can find them no problem at the Farmers Market. There is something about vanilla ice cream and berries that is SO good and satisfying this time of year, maybe the contrast of sweet, tart, and creamy flavors and textures. The bonus it is a no-cook, no-bake dessert with lots of health benefits from fresh raw berries, so you can feel good feeding yourself and your kids this summer treat.

I am a strong believer in involving kids in cooking and connecting them with what they eat. Kids are more likely to broaden what they eat and try new things if they are involved in the decisions and helping to make food. Berries and ice cream is a really easy way to get your children involved. You can make homemade ice cream with your kids and have them help pick out and prepare the berries.  My daughter and I go to the Farmers Market together each weekend.  We talk about what looks good, taste everything we can, and decide what we want to eat during the upcoming week.  On the day you make this dessert have the kids help wash and cut up the berries (use a butter knife for the little ones). Then make a “station” for toppings so everyone can make their own bowl. Serve some chocolate sauce and whipped cream too! Guaranteed happiness on their faces and in their bellies!

Assemble and eat!

June 5, 2010

Grill It!

I love that we have hit the grilling season! No oven or stove necessary! Keeping the heat outside and the house cool along with a meal with little fuss and so MUCH flavor!

THE BASICS: A cut of meat (chicken, pork, fish, beef, lamb) grilled with a grilled veggie or salad and some fresh fruit. While you have the grill going, add a little more for easy no extra effort lunch or dinner the next day.

Grilled Sausage and Veggies

Here is an example of a simple meal I made last night… Sausage with Grilled Veggies

1pkg of your favorite Sausage
1 bunch of asparagus
1 bunch of green onion
2 medium zucchini
1/2 lemon, for juicing
1T olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Clean your veggies and then prepare. For the asparagus I just snap the bottoms off and the green onion I cut off the root end. For the zucchini cut the top stem part off, then slice down the middle. Then slice the sides in half again, making wedges.

Toss the veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper.

I like to put a piece of foil down on the grill to protect veggies from the direct flame, they will brown the same…

Heat your grill to about medium for the veggies and low for the sausages (you want the inside to cook and the outside to NOT burn, although I like some good browning on sausages).

I like to cook the sausage for about 6 minutes before adding veggies – so everything is done about the same time. Cook the sausage turning often to prevent burning the outside about 6 minutes. Now add your veggies. Turn your veggies about every 3 minutes or so, cook everything for another 3-6 minutes. I check the sausage with a meat thermometer and make sure it’s about 180° internal temp.

Remove everything from the grill and squeeze half the lemon over the veggies and finish off with some nice coarse sea salt.

Grilled Sausage and Veggies

This is only one idea, but using the “Basic” idea you can come up with your own simple ideas with your favorite ingredients! Enjoy!

Now for dessert!!!! Berries and Ice Cream

June 4, 2010

Smoked Ribs

The more I do this the better I’m getting…or should I say the better my Ribs are getting! These were the best by far…check out the smoke ring!

I used my Rib Rub recipe – coat baby back ribs with the rub and allow to sit one hour.

Rib Fairy Dust (Just for those guys out there… 🙂
3T. Kosher Salt
3T brown sugar
3T black pepper
2T paprika
2T garlic powder
2T onion powder
2t. mustard powder
dash of cayenne (or more if you like the heat)

Heat your smoker – I use an electric smoker (there are people out there that will give you crap for using electric, but don’t let them get you down…charcoal is NOT the only way…just keep on smokin’!) I use hickory wood because it’s what I like best. Use whatever wood fits your flavor.

Once the smoker is heated lay your ribs on the racks make sure you put a thermometer in the smoker as close to the midde as you can, if you don’t have one build in on your smoker. Keep your smoker at 225 or as close to that as possible throughout the smoking process.

Add wood chips or chunks about every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours and then once an hour thereafter. It takes about 4 hours for two racks of baby back ribs to cook. (May take less on warmer days) These ribs came out with that right amount of pull from the bone, and not falling off the bone (which is overdone for me).

Serve dry or glaze with barbeque sauce during last hour of smoking.

See another method I used if you don’t have a smoker – thank you Meathead at Amazing Ribs