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No Smoker, No Problem – Make These Oven-Smoked Spare Ribs

Not having a grill at your disposal to use in the summertime is a big disappointment, at least for me. Living condo life in New York prevents us from having a charcoal or gas grill to do any outdoor cooking on. I tried the electric grill for a number of years and it did a good job cooking, but it just isn’t the same as using charcoal or even gas. You get the grill marks but you don’t get the same sear and smell that you do from other ways of cooking. That is why I often try to make the best of the grill pans I have without setting off the smoke alarm or use the oven. It may not be the ideal way to do it in the summertime, but it’s the best I have available. One of the things I really miss is the ability to do racks of ribs on the grill. There is something about the great smoky flavor you can get when you cook ribs on the grill that make them spectacular. I have been looking around at different methods to do some smoking in the oven. I considered stovetop smokers and smoking guns, but they seem a little expensive to me for something I may only use a handful of times a year and since we are already tight for space in our small kitchen, it may not be the most practically thing to have. When I came across this recipe at New York Times Cooking from Mark Bittman for oven-smoked ribs, it seemed too easy and I was skeptical about just how well it might actually work out.

Oven- Smoked Spare Ribs

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 tablespoons paprika

1 rack spare ribs, 2 to 3 pounds

Your favorite homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce

 

Heat the oven to 225 degrees. While the oven heats, mix together the salt, brown sugar, pepper, cumin, chili powder and paprika in a small bowl until the ingredients are blended. Rub the spice mix all over the pork.

Layer the bottom of a roasting pan with hickory or oak chips (or any other wood chips you prefer) and add enough water to create a shallow pool coating the bottom of the pan and moistening the chips; do not drown them.

Put a rack over the chips and put the rubbed meat on the rack. Cover the entire roasting pan tightly with foil, making a tent at the top so the smoke-flavored steam can circulate around the meat. Bake the ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is cooked and tender.

Carefully remove the foil from the pan and, if desired, paint the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Run the ribs under the broiler, watching them carefully, until they are nicely crisp and browned, about 5 minutes.

It did seem almost too easy to me. I was naturally worried that there would be a lot of smoke in the oven and was prepared to race to the smoke alarm but I never had to once. The foil kept the smoke trapped in the roasting pan with the meat and did a wonderful job. I used some hickory chips I had purchased at the supermarket and they added some great flavor to the meat. I read on the website that some people had done the ribs this way in their slow cooker, which trapped the smoke in better because of the seal that the cover provides, so this certainly could be an option for you to try. Are they going to be ribs that are better than what you can do on a grill or in a smoker? No, they aren’t; but if you don’t have those as options and really want to get some smoke into the ribs, it is a pretty good alternative to try. You might also want to add a little bit of liquid smoke to the water in the roasting pan to help amp up some of the smoke flavor you get. The ribs come out with definite smoke flavor and smell. I found I had to cook mine for a little over 3 hours to get them as tender as we like them, but other than that the recipe worked out really well. Like any rib recipe, you can always go with corn on the cob, coleslaw, baked beans and potato salad to make a great meal.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on July 13, 2016 in Cooking, Dinner, Grilling, Pork

 

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Bacon 25 Ways – NYTimes.com

Bacon 25 Ways – NYTimes.com.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like bacon, and it can be a very versatile ingredient, fitting into every course of a meal and breakfast, lunch and dinner to boot. You can also cook it in a variety of ways – in the microwave, on the stovetop, on the grill or in the oven. In the New York Times, Mark Bittman has put together 25 easy and fantastic ways that you can use bacon in various dishes and ways. Check it out!

 

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A Quick Week Night Meal – Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

As I have written about before, I make a lot of stir fry dinners. They are a great way to do an easy weeknight meal in a flash and you can use just about any ingredients you happen to have on hand to make a good combination for a meal. All you need after that is some rice and you can have your dinner on the table in under 30 minutes if you time everything right. You can even make things easier for yourself if you want and keep a bag of frozen sir fry vegetables around just for such an occasion. For this recipe, which I got from Mark Bittman, I used a company of some fresh with some frozen even though his original recipe doesn’t really call for any vegetables at all. it is a quick beef stir fry with onions and ginger that you can make yourself and will taste better than any takeout that you can get that will cost you even more. I did alter his original recipe by marinating the beef for a bit first. I was using a London broil and wanted to break it down some and impart some flavor, so that is what I did. You can always just use the beef on its own if you prefer and ignore my marinating instructions.

Stir-Fried Beef with Onions and Ginger

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup red wine

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 to 2 1/2 pounds top round London broil or flank steak

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large or 3 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen vegetables, cut to bite size

1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce or soy sauce

To marinade the beef, mix together all of the ingredients except for the meat. Place the meat in a shallow dish and cover it with the marinade. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but no more than 24 hours.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before cooking.

Slice the beef as thinly as you can, across the grain. It’s easier if you freeze it for 15 to 30 minutes first. Cut the slices into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over high heat until it smokes, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the onions. Stir immediately, then stir every 30 seconds or so until the onions soften and begin to char slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with salt and pepper, then remove them; keep the heat high.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil to the pan and then add the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are heated through and crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan, then the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the ginger; stir and immediately add the beef. Stir immediately, then stir every 20 seconds or so until it loses its color, just a minute or two longer; stir in the onions and the vegetables. Add the stock, hoisin, and remaining teaspoon of ginger; let some of the liquid bubble away and serve immediately, over rice.

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make it all very quickly and it tastes fantastic. if you don’t want to use beef, you can just as easily use pork, chicken or shrimp or even just make all vegetables if that is what you prefer. You will still get great flavor from the sauce to help things along. I make about one stir fry a week because it is so easy and very often just use whatever leftover protein I have along with some leftover vegetables and put together a sauce of whatever I feel like having that night.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for some more recipes. If you are in the middle of this blizzard like we are, stay warm and safe. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, One Pot Meals

 

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The Key to a Truly Great Chicken Wing – NYTimes.com

The Key to a Truly Great Chicken Wing – NYTimes.com.

Who doesn’t love chicken wings? Especially on Super Bowl Sunday? If you are still  looking for a good recipe for wings for tonight, Mark Bittman wrothe this great article for the New York Times a few months ago about how grilling your wings provides you with the best option in making great wings and gives you some great recipes and sauces to use so you can make all kinds of chicken wings when you want them. You can always break out the grill pan and give them a try or just fry them and try the different sauce recipes he offers. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2014 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Grilling, Poultry, Sauce

 

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Let’s (Bacon) Wrap It Up

I wanted to make something easy today and just use what we already had in the house since I have a bit of a cold and didn’t feel like going out. I checked in the freezer and we had some tilapia, so that’s what I am going with today. I found a great recipe idea from Mark Bittman in this weeks New York Times Sunday Magazine that makes some great use of fish and everybody’s favorite, bacon. It’s quick, easy and destined to taste great. I mean, it has bacon in it, it has to be great, right?

Bacon Wrapped Tilapia

6 slices bacon

1 pound firm whitefish, like tilapia or cod, cut into 4 filets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Parsley, to garnish

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and warm until shimmering. Add in the red onion and saute until they are just starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Meanwhile, wrap the bacon slices tightly around the fish fillets and lightly season with salt and pepper. Add this fish to the pan and saute until the fish and bacon are done and the bacon is starting to crisp, turning halfway through cooking, about 8 minutes. Garnish with parsley ans serve.

That’s all there is to this one. You get the smoky flavor of the bacon added to the fish along with the bite of the red onion and you have a nice meal. I served this with plain white rice, but I also had some acorn squash on hand, so I decided to bake that and have it as our vegetable. I love the way acorn squash tastes when it has been baked or roasted, and it tastes even better when you add in a little brown sugar and maple syrup.

Baked Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash cavities and discard. In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup and salt and pepper, to taste. Rub the squash cavities and cut sides of the squash with the butter mixture and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Serve 1 half per person.

There you have it, a quick meal for a Sunday, or any day, for that matter. There’s not a lot of clean up involved for this one either, and I plan to use the leftover rice with some turkey chili that I also made today to have for dinner tomorrow and lunches this week.

That’s all I have for tonight. I do have a few recipes that I plan to try this week, including a shrimp dish that I picked up this week that looks pretty tasty. We’re also heading into the soups and stews time of year, so I plan to be making more things like that in the coming weeks, so we’ll have to check for some recipes for them as well. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

 

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Seafood, Vegetables

 

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Chicken, Beets and Magic Ice Cream

We had family over for dinner yesterday so we did our typical Sunday dinner with way too much food. We started off with appetizers of buffalo chicken pizza and some homemade guacamole and tomato salsa with some chips. Then for dinner, I tried to do everything in one roasting pan to help cut down on the clean up. We made a couple of roast chickens with roasted root vegetables that we had picked up at the farmer’s market on Saturday. This also included some fresh beets that I roasted and they turned out wonderful. The whole dinner was very easy to prepare, although it took about 2 hours in total to cook. I used recipes from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” for the meal yesterday.

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 whole chickens, 3 to 4 pounds each, trimmed of excess fat

2-3 russet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and chopped

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and chopped

1 sweet potato, scrubbed and chopped

1 onion, peeled and quartered

6 whole cloves of garlic

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix together the olive oil and thyme and some salt and pepper. Put the chickens, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Toss all the vegetables together in a large bowl with 3/4 of the herb and oil mixture and scatter in the bottom of the roasting pan beneath the chickens. Roast the chickens in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, spoon some of the herb mixture over the chicken and the vegetables. Shake the pan gently so the vegetables turn and cook evenly.

After roasting for another 10 minutes, the chicken breasts should begin to brown (if they don’t, wait a few more minutes until they are brown). Turn the heat in the oven down to 325 degrees, baste again with the remaining herb mixture, and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155-165 degrees.

Remove the chickens from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Continue roasting the vegetables while the chickens rest before carving, about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve the carved chickens with the vegetables scattered around them.

We served the chickens and vegetables with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and a little diced shallot. You could just as easily only make one of the vegetables for this meal instead of the mix, but the mix turned out quite nice and gave us a good variety. I also made some fresh beets that I roasted with this meal. Now, not everyone is a fan of beets in general. I think some people were scarred in childhood by being forced into eating them, but fresh roasted beets taste unbelievably delicious. They have a very sweet flavor from their natural sugars, and once you have roasted them they are great hot or cold. Roasting them really is the best method for cooking them.

Roasted Beets

4 large beets, scrubbed, greens cut off (leave a bit of the greens on the end to help stop them from bleeding all over while they cook)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the beets well. Wrap them individually in foil and put them on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan. Bake, undisturbed for 45 to 90 minutes, until the thin blade of knife pierces one with a little resistance. Remove the beets from the foil and carefully and gently rub the surface of the beet to remove the peel. Dress lightly with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

If you bake them in foil, you don’t really have to worry about them staining anything (unless of course you drop a piece on your shirt while you’re eating. Thankfully, none of us did). You could also take the roasted beets, cut them and saute them gently with some butter or olive oil after roasting for some added flavor, but I think they are great just this way. Everyone seemed to really enjoy them, and I had leftovers tonight with dinner.

I decided to try something completely different for dessert last night. I had seen a recipe from Cook’s Country for something called Magic Strawberry Ice Cream. The name intrigued me so I read up on it and it claimed to make ice cream with the need of an ice cream machine or maker. I figured why not, let’s give it a try.

Magic Strawberry Ice Cream

8 ounces strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 ounce white chocolate chips

1 tablespoon vodka

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1 1/4 cups heavy creamed, chilled

Process the strawberries in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds (puree should measure about 3/4 cup). Microwave the sweetened condensed milk, white chocolate chips and vodka in a large bowl until the chocolate melts, about 1 minute, whisking halfway through cooking. Whisk in the strawberry puree, vanilla and salt.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the heavy cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk one-third of the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream, 1 scoop at a time, until combined. Freeze in an airtight container until firm, 6 hours or up to 2 weeks. Serve.

I know you are probably asking, why is there vodka in this recipe? Well the berries have a lot of moisture all on their own and the ice cream would crystallize and ice over. The vodka prevents this from happening and lets the berries do their thing. I have to say, I was very skeptical this would work but I could tell before I even combined the puree with the whipped cream that this was going to taste good. The puree itself smelled exactly like a good strawberry ice cream. Once everything was combined and had set, it was perfect and tasted awesome. What made it even better for us was that Michelle’s grandmother had unknowingly made a strawberry shortcake to bring for dessert, so it was absolute perfect with a little ice cream on the side.

Of course, if I was smart I would have taken pictures of everything, but Sean reminded me about after most of the ice cream was gone, so I didn’t get a picture of it (he’s actually finishing the ice cream right now). Oh well, maybe next time. Now that we know how easy it is to make, I’ll certainly make it again.

That’s it for tonight. I have 2 chicken carcasses to make stock with tomorrow and I never did get to make chicken salad sandwiches the other night, but maybe I will do that tomorrow and post the recipe with some potato salad and cole slaw. We’ll have to see what else comes along this week. Work has kept me very busy lately, so I haven’t had time to blog, but I will try to fit some in this week. Until then, enjoy your evening and enjoy your meal!

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Cooking, Dessert, Poultry, Vegetables

 

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It’s Guys’ Night In, Next Week’s Meal Plan, and a Chicken

Michelle is away on a business for a couple of days, so that kind of puts the meal plan on hold for a few days until we get settled again. Sean and I are having guys’ night in tonight, which means ordering pizza, playing video games and starting a puzzle we bought. It should be a lot of fun to just hang out for the night and have a good time and not worry about cooking for the evening. It’s nice to do that once in a while. We did go over next week’s meal plan, so here it is:

Sunday – Fish Tacos, Pineapple Salsa, and Vegetable Slaw

Monday – Beef Stew (this will be our slow cooker meal for the week)

Tuesday – Bacon and Chicken Ranch Quesadillas, Rice and Guacamole

Wednesday – Lentils with Rice and Sautéed Onions (this is our meat-free meal of the week)

Thursday  – Sesame Chicken Stir Fry with Fried Rice

Friday – Fish – seeing as how it is Lent, we thought we would try to do fish on Fridays for the next several weeks. I won’t know what I am making until I go to the fish market to check out what looks good and is on sale.

Saturday – Roasted Chicken, Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

I try to make a roasted chicken every couple of weeks so we can both use the carcass to make stock and use the leftovers for lunches. It works out really well for as far as both go, although I also keep some chicken drumsticks in the freezer to use to make stock as well if I need to in a pinch. if you’d like the recipe for making the stock I make, I had posted it in an earlier blog, but you can get it right here.

Since I am not cooking anything tonight, I thought I would still post a recipe that might be good for everyone, and since I have been talking about chicken, I got this recipe in my email today from Mark Bittman, the author of “How to Cook Everything.” It’s a nice roasted chicken recipe, and to top off our week of one pot meals, it is a one pot meal, roasting vegetables and lentils with the chicken.

Chicken and Lentils

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped or grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup chopped tomato (canned is fine; include the juices)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large bunch fresh cilantro or parsley sprigs, tied together with kitchen string

Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks

1 cup dried brown or green lentils, washed and picked over

Put the oil in a deep skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the chicken, skin side down, and brown it well, rotating and turning the pieces as necessary; the process will take 10 to 15 minutes. (You can skip this step if you like; heat a tablespoon of oil and go directly to cooking the onions.)

When the chicken is nicely browned, remove it from the skillet and turn the heat down to medium. Pour or spoon off all but a tablespoon of the oil. Stir in the onions, garlic, ginger, tomato, coriander, and some salt and pepper. Add 4 cups water, along with the cilantro or parsley bundle, cinnamon sticks, and lentils. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender.

Discard the herb bundle and cinnamon sticks and return the return the chicken to the pan, skin side up. Cover and continue to let the mixture bubble gently until the chicken is cooked through, another 10 to 20 minutes; the chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 155-165°F. Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve. (At this point, you may let the dish sit for a few hours or cover and refrigerate for up to a day before re-heating and serving; you may have to add a little water to thin the sauce a bit.)

This dish goes nicely if you serve this with rice, warmed pitas, or any crusty loaf of bread. If you want to follow Mark Bittman on Facebook, you can check him out here, or try his website here to sign up to get recipes every week.

As a final note, the latest issue of Bon Appetit has some great recipes in it and some St. Patrick’s Day ideas as well (it’s never too early to start thinking ahead. You can check them out at the link to their page that I have listed on the right, or you can just click here to go and see what’s new or even subscribe to the magazine (it’s one of my favorites). That’s all I have for today. Time to get on with Guys Night. Sean has already starting playing one game, and the pizza guy is here, so I will be back tomorrow. I’m not cooking tomorrow either, but I will be back with some “guy” recipes that Sean and I like. Have a great night!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Meal Plan Menu, Poultry

 

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