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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cooking Show...Soup!!!

We filmed an episode of the cooking show last week.

Given that total snowfall this February has totaled 64 inches here in Boston, it was easy to come up with a theme.


Is there anything better on a cold, snowy night?

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Rich, thick, creamy, cheesy.  Here's the printable recipe.

Italian Wedding Soup

The greens, the cheese, the little meatballs. Si sposano bene. They marry well!  Here's the printable recipe.

Southwestern Chicken Soup

This has become my go-to recipe for chicken soup.  Lime & cilantro add such bright flavor, and the topping combination of crunchy tortilla strips, melting Monterey Jack and smooth avocado is to die for.

This should be the next soup you make!  Here's the printable recipe.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs


I made a batch of baby back ribs in my crock pot that I think are blogworthy!!!

I won't go into how picky I am about slow cooker recipes.  About how I refuse to sacrifice taste for convenience;  to sacrifice texture for the supposed ease of throwing everything into one pot and hoping that it's edible.  

No, I won't go into how I have a love/hate relationship with my crock pot.

I'm just going to say that these ribs have earned a permanent spot in my dinner rotation.

Today's Playlist
  • "Never Let You Go"...Third Eye Blind
  • "Scar Tissue"...Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Lump"...The Presidents Of The United States Of America
  • "Icky Thump"...The White Stripes
  • "Rivers Of Babylon"...Sublime
  • "Last Nite"...The Strokes
  • "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"...The Beatles
  • "Sixteen Saltines"...Jack White

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs (2 to 4 servings, depending upon your appetite!)
Printable recipe
  • 1 full rack (about 3 lbs) pork baby back ribs
Dry Rub Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, use what you have)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Sauce Ingredients
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (usually found near the hot sauce in the condiment aisle)
  • 1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark, use what you have)
1 tablespoon cornstarch & 1 tablespoon cold water, for thickening the sauce

Gather your ingredients.

This is probably the most time-consuming part, but pulling everything out of the pantry before you get started saves lots of time in the long run.

Throw the dry rub ingredients into a small bowl.

Stir with a fork to combine.

Place the rack of ribs onto a board or your counter.  Turn it over.  There is a membrane underneath the ribs.  I like to score the membrane so that you can easily separate the ribs after they've cooked.

After you've scored the ribs, rub half the dry rub onto the bottom of the ribs, then flip it and rub the top with the remaining dry rub.

Arrange the rack in your slow cooker by curling it around the sides of the pot.

Next, prepare the sauce.  I like to prepare my sauce in a large measuring cup, because the handle on the cup makes it easier to pour the sauce after it's prepared.

Start by measuring the dry ingredients--the ground black pepper, ground ginger and onion powder.

Stir with a fork to combine.

Crush in the garlic.

Add the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, honey, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar.

Stir to combine.

Pour about 2/3 of the sauce (about 2 cups) over the ribs in the slow cooker.  I used a 2 1/2 quart slow cooker for this.  Flip the rack of ribs so that its completely saturated with the sauce.  Save the remaining sauce--you are going to use it to create a thickened sauce to brush on your ribs after they've cooked.

Cover the crock pot and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours.  The ribs will cook more evenly if you flip them about halfway through the cooking (very carefully!  they're hot!), but if you forget to flip them, don't worry--they're very forgiving and no one will ever know.

When the ribs have finished cooking, take the sauce that you've saved and put it into a (2-quart) saucepan.

Stir the cornstarch and the cold water together; after it's combined, stir it into your reserved sauce in the saucepan.

Heat the sauce over medium heat and bring it to a boil, whisking constantly, until it thickens.  When the sauce thickens, turn off the heat.

Remove the ribs from the crock pot and place onto a foil-lined baking sheet or a broiling pan.  (Discard the sauce that is in the crock pot.)

Pour about half of the thickened sauce from the saucepan onto the ribs.

Brush the sauce onto the ribs until they are well-coated.   You can serve the ribs now!

However, if you want to kick it up a notch, put them under your broiler for a couple of minutes, until the sauce starts sizzling and the edges start to get a bit crispy and charred.

Using a sharp knife, slice the ribs and serve them with the extra sauce for dipping.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cooking With Kids!

We filmed another episode of the cooking show last week.  With February vacation on the horizon, the producer of the show suggested "Cooking With Kids" as a theme.

My friend, Amy, has four young children and I was happy that she loaned me her two oldest sons to cook with me (Joey, 8, and Danny, who turned 7 last week).  I hope that Joey & Danny had as much fun cooking as I did!

Taking into consideration that school vacations are supposed to be fun, I tried to prepare a few dishes with them that would be fun for them to make as well as fun to eat.   I hope I succeeded.

Amy told me that her boys like fun drinks.  Creamy Hot Chocolate topped with whipped cream and marshmallows fits that bill!

I don't have step-by-step photos for you but click this link for the printable recipe .

Next, we made a chocolate dip which only requires three ingredients--semi-sweet chocolate chips, peanut butter and vanilla yogurt.  They enjoyed this snack with fruit, graham crackers and pretzels for dipping. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm going to guess that the banana slices were their favorite thing to dip in the chocolate, given that the bananas were gone by the time I took this picture!

Here's the link for the Printable Dip Recipe.

Next up was Kettle Corn.  This was totally devoured.  I secretly stashed this tiny little bag of it so that I would have something other than an empty bowl to take a picture of!

And then when I snapped the picture they divvied up the kettle corn pretty quickly.  As we were finishing the show, Danny declared that this was his favorite!  Here's the printable recipe .

One of my favorite moments happened when we were making the dressing.  As we were measuring the apple cider vinegar, the pungent smell prompted Joey to cover his nose and proclaim, "That really stinks!!"

Here's the printable recipe for the salad and the dressing.

 And finally, Cashew Chicken.   One of the funniest moments during the taping was when I crushed the garlic into the sauce for this chicken.  Danny exclaimed, "Garlic!  You didn't tell me there was garlic in this!  I don't like garlic!"

Joey saved the day, however, when he decided that the cashew chicken was his favorite out of all the dishes that we prepared.  Here's the printable recipe!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cashew Chicken

What do I do when there's almost 2 feet of snow on the ground ?

Other than spend my time in the kitchen cooking Cashew Chicken?

I watch my dogs play in the snow, of course.  Notice how I didn't say play together. 

Gus runs, Clyde tries to keep up until he gives up.

He then decides to lie down on the warm, cozy bed of snow. And occupy himself with the old standby, a stick to chew on.  

Until I chime in and say, "Clyde!  That's soooo not good for you!"

"Hmmph??  You wanna try and catch me so that you can take it away from me?"

"Didn't think so, hehe."

Today's recipe, Cashew Chicken, is really fast and easy to make.  Like, 15 minutes from start to finish fast.

Unless you're cooking it with kids, that is, which is what I did last night when we taped an episode of the cooking show.  In that case, it was fun and easy.  But I'll save that post for another day.

Today's Playlist
  • "Should I Stay Or Should I Go"...The Clash
  • "For Reasons Unknown"...The Killers
  • "Basket Case"...Green Day
  • "Stop Breaking Down"...The White Stripes
  • "Hate To Say I Told You So"...The Hives
  • "Highway To Hell"...AC/DC
  • "Two Princes"...Spin Doctors

Cashew Chicken (6 servings)
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenderloins, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cashews
add-ins (optional): diced celery, chopped pineapple, diced scallions

Gather your ingredients.  The celery and pineapple are missing from this picture because they were an afterthought.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat.  I used an electric skillet and set it to 300 degrees.

If you haven't already prepped your chicken, cut it into bite-sized chunks.  I probably cut each tenderloin into 6 or 7 pieces.

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a large ziploc bag.

Put the chicken into the bag.  Zip it closed, and shake to coat the chicken with the flour.

When the oil in the skillet is sizzling hot, arrange the chicken in a single layer.  Allow the chicken to brown without disruption.  This means no stirring or shaking!  Give it about 3 or 4 minutes.  You'll know when it's ready because the chicken will start to turn opaque around the edges.

While you're waiting for the chicken to cook, combine the sauce ingredients.  Place the soy sauce and ketchup into a small bowl.

Add the sesame oil.

Crush the garlic directly into the bowl.

Add the brown sugar.

And the ground ginger.

Whisk to combine.

Your chicken should be turning opaque around the edges now.  If so, it's time to brown the other side.

I've found that the easiest (and by that I mean least-time consuming!) way to flip all of these little pieces of chicken over is to stir them around with a spatula.  Most of them will end up face-up.  Or is it face-down?

At any rate, stir them and hope that a good amount of them flip over.  Then use tongs to flip the remaining ones.

Give them about 2 minutes to brown on the other side.

After they've browned on the other side, reduce the heat to medium/low and pour the sauce over them.  Now would be the time to add in the chopped celery/pineapple/scallions, if desired.

And the cashews, of course.

Simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.

 It's ready when the sauce has thickened and the chicken is completely cooked.

Serve it over rice.  White rice or brown rice, your choice!