Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dr. Pepper Ribs

Happy "BELATED" Memorial Day to you!  I meant to send this out yesterday, but annoying computer issues kept me from blogging.  Boo!  I actually wrote most of this yesterday, so please keep in mind that it actually was Memorial Day when I wrote it!  :-)

Yesterday was a day where we were to remember those who fought for our country.  It's quite possible you know someone who is currently serving our country, or has served for our freedom in the past.  I think it's our civic duty to honor and say thank you to those that serve us so selflessly. 

But, the holiday is also known as a day to gather with friends and family - to none other than barbeque!  I have this cookbook from David Zinczenko - the author of the Eat This, Not That series.  The cookbook I have is "Cook This, Not That" and everything I've made so far has been great.  I've been dying to try this bbq rib recipe - I love ribs, but I so do not love the calories that come with it.  This recipe addresses that issue.  It only has 400 calories per serving, compared to a potential 3,000 calories at your run of the mill restaurant.  Crazy, huh?!!

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe, based on a pre taste-test of the sauce.  It just tasted too vinegary for me and the hubs.  So, I added sugar and honey to it to cut through the acidity.  So, going forward, I would recommend either adding honey and/or sugar to the recipe, or simply cut the apple cider vinegar.  You choose.  :-)  The recipe is posted in its original form. 

Also, I increased the recipe by 1.5 times, as the original recipe indicates it will feed only 4 people.  We were feeding our family, plus a few teenage boys - which in my eyes, feels like an army!

Dr. Pepper Ribs
Original Recipe by David Zinczenko, Cook This, Not That!, pg. 192

2 racks baby back ribs (I used regular pork loin ribs)
1 bottle (2 liter) Dr. Pepper
Salt and black pepper
1 T chili powder
1 C water
1/2 T canola or vegetable oil
1/2 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 C ketchup
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. Place the ribs in a baking dish large enough to hold them comfortably.  Pour in enough soda to cover, saving at least 1/2 C for the barbecue sauce.  Add 1/4 C salt and soak for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refridgerator.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Remove the ribs from the liquid and pat dry; discard the liquid.  Sprinkle rib with the chili powder and return to the baking dish.  Add the water and cover tightly with foil.  Bake for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and nearly falling off the bone.

3. While the ribs are in the oven, make the BBQ sauce.  Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant, then add the ketchup, Worcherstershire, vinegar, cayenne, and the reserved 1/2 C soda.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.

4. Heat a grill until hot.  Brush the ribs with BBQ suace and grill for 10-15 minutes, rib side down, on a cooler part of the grates.  Flip over and cook on the other side until lightly charred and smoky.  R emove from the grill, brush with more sauce, and serve.

If you think these pictures look good, how do you think they taste?  Is your mouth watering yet?? 

Notice the cornbread next to it?  That was also so good - recipe to come later this week!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Friday, May 27, 2011

Very Pink Lemonade Cupcakes!!

Yesterday, my little Miss Sunshine and I went to see the children's theatre production of "Pinkalicious".  And, as you can imagine, my pink loving, anything glittery loving, little 5 year old girl LOVED every minute of it - the anticipation leading up to the show was almost unbearable for her.  Then, during the show, she couldn't contain her excitement, and she literally oozed her joy during the entire show!  Thankfully, it IS a children's production, and she was accompanied by many little boys and girls who oozed that same joy. :-) 

To celebrate our day, we made Pink Cupcakes (for those of you not familiar with Miss Pinkalicious: she eats a pink cupcake and therefore, turns pink herself!). 

Very Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
Original recipe by Kitchen Groovy
makes 12-18 cupcakes

3/4 C cake flour
3/4 C all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
2 T pink lemonade powder
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 C whole milk
4 large egg whites
Pink food coloring, if desired for extra pink cupcakes
Pink Lemonade Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.  Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, pink lemonade powder and 1 C of sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl, as needed.  Beat in vanilla.  With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts - alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, until just combined.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium low speed until just foamy.  With mixer running, add remaining 1/4 C of sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes.  Do not overbeat.  Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined.  Gently fold in the remaining whites.  At some point in this process, incorporate 3-5 drops of pink food coloring, depending on how pink you like your cupcakes :-)

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each with a heaping 1/4 C batter.  Bake until cupcakes are a golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean - about 20-22 minutes.  Remove and place on wire rack to cool.

Pink Lemonade Fluffy Frosting

1 C confectioners sugar + 1 T extra
4 T unsalted butter, softened but still cool
4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cut into 4 pieces
2 T frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
Pink food coloring, 2-3 drops

With electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, aout 2 minutes.  Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, beating thoroughly after each piece.  Add pink lemonade concentrate and beat until combined.  The frosting may be runny at this point, add in extra confectioners' sugar, 1/2 T at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Not the best picture - but they sure are cute together :-)

Super delicious pink, pink, pink cupcakes!!!

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Salad

With graduation parties and end of the year parties upon us, I thought I'd share a dish with you that I recently made for the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at my daughter's preschool.  This recipe was given to me by my lovely friend and neighbor, Mrs. Silly (this is what my daughter calls her) - and I have no idea where she got it - just one of those awesome crowd pleasers that have been passed on from kitchen to kitchen.

I don't have a picture of the "final" product on a plate, since we never ate it - but I guarantee when you make it, everyone will want to know how to make it!  Even better, it literally took me less than 10 minutes to throw together!

Tortellini Spinach Salad

1 pkg. coleslaw (all cabbage, no carrots)
1 small onion, chopped
10 oz. baby spinach
1 pkg. 3 cheese tortellini, cooked
4 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
1 lb. bacon, chopped
1 pkg. grape tomatoes, halved
10 oz. light Ranch dressing

In a large bowl, layer ingredients in order, starting with coleslaw on the bottom.  Pour 10 oz. dressing over all.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Mix right before serving.

This is what it looked like before I poured the dressing on it - it's very colorful! 

Click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

I have mentioned before that we are a family of 5.  Not only are we a family of 5, but 4 of them eat like adults - and out of those 4, they all eat very large portions.  It's crazy the amount of food teenagers go through.  Oi vey. 

So, I shop at Costco for almost everything!!  I'm a big fan of the big box stores, I know - sorry local businesses, but I come to you for other reasons.  :-) 

One thing I purchase from Costco are porkchops - then like all the other meats I buy there, I divide them out and freeze them.  One thing about the porkchops - they are super thick.  Roughly 2" thick.  That's huge, even for my family.  And, they take a lot longer to cook, and I usually end up drying them out because I'm in such a hurry to get dinner on the table. 

Last night, after coming home from track and softball games for the kids, I thought I'd butterfly the chops in hopes of cooking them a little faster.  Not sure if my method of thinking makes sense, but it was worth a try in my own mind.  Remember - I'm not a real chef, just a mom trying to get dinner on the table!

I found this recipe on the Epicurious website, and I just modified it to make it fit with what I had in my fridge.  The original recipe called for Smoked Gouda cheese and jackpot - I had that in my fridge.  I would recommend you don't stray from using this type of cheese - it was SO good and a fantastic pairing with chops.  I told my husband that every now and then, it actually reminded me of a ham and cheese sandwich.  Delicious.

Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops
Original Recipe by Epicurious.com
Adapted Recipe by Kitchen Groovy

4 pork chops, butterflied
1/4 C Smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
Olive oil
Kosher Salt

Pack cheese into pockets of pork chops.  Salt and pepper both sides.  Heat olive oil in large pan over medium high heat.  Place chops in pan, and cook on one side for about 4 minutes.  Turn over - then cover pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Serve with a side of your favorite vegetables, like Roasted Parmesan Asparagus, or do what I did to make it REALLY easy - serve it with Costco's Asian Coleslaw!!

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Key Lime Tart

It's spring!!!  Yippee!!  While it's raining today, we have FINALLY had some spring like weather - even had a good old fashioned nasty thunderstorm pass on through the other day.  Warm weather: it's nice to see you old friend. 

To pair with our spring like temperatures, I really wanted to make this Key Lime Tart.  Even though I blog and LOVE to cook, there is still SO much for me to try and discover - I have never had key limes before!!! 

This is strictly my own opinion, but this is not for the faint of heart.  Know ahead of time that you will spend quite a bit of time juicing these tiny little limes.  It was worth it in the end, the tart was D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.  If you have kids, they might have more fun squeezing the juice out of these little suckers.  Also - the recipe calls for roughly 12 key limes, but I found that I used roughly 18-22.  (I used the whole bag)

It also called for a homemade graham cracker crust.  I searched and searched for graham flour, with no luck.  Frustrating.  But after doing some research, I found that graham flour is actually just a coarser version of whole wheat flour.  So, I used that instead and I feel like we still got the same result.  The crust was really good :-)

I also made candied lime slices - don't feel like you need to make these - it's just a garnish.  But, I thought it would be fun PLUS - I kept the liquid mixture (it's just a simple syrup) and I will use it for smoothies.  As I type this up, I am in the process of making cupcakes and will infuse this lime simple syrup into my cupcakes - we'll see how it turns out! 

Key Lime Tart
original recipe by Martha Stewart
adapted recipe by Kitchen Groovy

All Purpose Flour, for dusting
Graham Cracker Dough (recipe follows)
4 large egg yolks
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. grated Key Lime zest
1/2 C freshly squeezed Key Lime juice
Pinch of salt
Candied Key Lime Slices (recipe follows)

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a 12" round.  With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9" round tart pan with removable bottom, pressing into edges.  Using a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the rim.  Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork.  Chill the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line tart shell with parchment, fill with pie weights.  Bake until crust is just beginning to turn golden, 12-15 minutes.  Remove parchment and weights.  Return to oven; continue baking until crust is golden brown, 12-15 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat yolks on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Add condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and salt, and beat to combine, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of hte bowl as needed.

Pour filling into cooled crust; bake until set, about 10 minutes.  Transfer tart to awire rack to cool.  Once completely cool, loosely cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.  Garnish tart with Candied Key Lime Slices.

Candied Key Lime Slices
1 C Sugar
1 C Water
3 Key Limes, very thinly sliced into rounds

In a 10" saute pan, bring sugar & water to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Add lime slices in a single layer, arranging them so they do not overlap.  Cook until white pith is translucent, 30-40 minutes, turning slices over 2 or 3 times during cooking.  Using a slotted spatula, carefully transfer slices to a wire rack to cool completely before using. 

Chef Note: Save Lime Simple Syrup for another use i.e. smoothies, iced tea.  I am going to try putting it in a white butter cream frosting!

Whole Wheat Crust

1 1/4 C all purpose flour
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
2 T honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture; beat until just combined.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Braised Carnitas

Last week, I came across a deliciously looking recipe from Just One Cookbook.  Nami, the author, made braised carnitas - and I thought to myself, wow, I've never made carnitas before and now that someone else has been successful at it, then I can probably pull it off, too!!  So, I made it last night and it was gooooodddd.  I didn't use the same recipe that Nami used, but incorporated some of the same techniques - she definitely inspired me!!  Nami also used beer as a base, which I did not - but I think it's a great idea and I will try that next time.

So, here is my own recipe:

Braised Carnitas
Original Recipe by Kitchen Groovy

3-3.5 lb. boneless pork shoulder
6 cloves garlic, halved
1 large white onion, roughly chopped into large pieces
Zest of 1 orange, cut into thin strips
1 C orange juice
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Canola Oil
Corn or Flour Tortillas
Condiments - i.e. salsa, sour cream, black beans, rice, etc.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Trim pork shoulder of any fat and discard.  Cut meat into roughly 5 or 6 large pieces or strips - about 2" thick.  Rub salt and pepper on pieces of meat.  Heat oil in a large Dutch Oven on medium high to high heat.  Once the oil is hot, lay meat in the oil, careful not to crowd the meat.  Sear the meat on each side, roughly 2-4 minutes on each side. 

Once meat is seared, remove meat to a plate.  Add onion, garlic, orange zest, orange juice and 2 tsp. salt.  Stir so all is mixed, then add meat back on top of ingredients.  Add water (or beer) to barely cover the meat.

Cover and place in oven for 3 hours. 

Afterwards, remove meat and shred.  Transfer to a warm serving bowl and serve at once.  Accompany with warm tortillas and other favorite condiments.

Fold in half and enjoy!

Or, enjoy it like a burrito bowl, which is how I like to eat it :-) 

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Basic Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Helllllooooooo!!!!!  You may have (or more likely, may NOT have - ha!) been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing!??  Honestly, I've been home - but have not been cooking like I had hoped I would be.  My poor kids and hubby.  They have been subjected to frozen food and eating out for the last week.  Okay, it's not really as torturous as it sounds :-) 

But, it's been a banner week for me as I juggle having kids and just every day life.  Tell me you have had weeks like that where you are thankful for conveniences like Costco frozen pizzas, Chipotle and boxed Mac n Cheese (gasp!).

Well, I think I'm getting back on track!  Woo hoo!  And speaking of mac and cheese, I actually made another homemade macaroni and cheese.  I love homemade mac and cheese, and love making different variations.  Here is a very basic mac and cheese, and is basic to make as well - a bonus for those busy, busy days!

When I made this, I had a "sending off" party that I was attending, so I threw this in the oven, and left the rest to my 16 year old daughter.  I asked her to take pictures, and here is what she came up with :-)

Basic Baked Macaroni & Cheese
original recipe by The Williams Sonoma Cookbook, pg. 125
adapted recipe by Kitchen Groovy

1 lb. favorite small pasta
3 C skim milk
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 C all purpose flour
1 lb. extra sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
3/4 C fresh bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9x13 baking dish.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Generously salt the boiling water, add the pasta, stir well, and cook for about 6 minutes.  The pasta will still be quite al dente, it will cook further in the oven.  Do not overcook.  Drain thoroughly.

While the pasta is draining, in a saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.  In another saucepan over medium heat, melt 4 T of the butter.  Whisk in the flour and reduce the heat to low.   Let the flour mixture bubble, whisking occasionally and without browning, for 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the hot milk, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat, add the cheeses, and stir until the  cheeses are melted.  Return the pasta to the pot and stir well.  Season to taste with salt.  

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 2 T butter over medium heat.  Spread the pasta evenly in the baking dish, sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and bacon, and drizzle the melted butter evenly over the crumbs.  Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the top is browned, about 40 minutes.  Serve hot, directly from the baking dish.

Chef Note: the original recipe calls for 1/2 lb. cheddar, 1/2 lb. monterey jack cheese.  That sounds delish, but it's also really good with straight cheddar. 

Variations: You could add shredded chicken and omit the bacon for a healthier twist.

This is what happens when I leave her in charge with a camera :-)

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!