Monday, May 30, 2016

Spicy Honey Chicken Salad
1-2 heads Romaine or Red Leaf Lettuce
2 ripe but firm mangoes, chilled
2-3 ripe but firm avocados
optional: thinly sliced red onions

This serves 4 large salads or 6 smaller sized ones.
While chicken is grilling, wash lettuce and divide among serving plates. Slice avocados, onions, and mangoes and place them on top of the lettuce. When chicken is finished, let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing to preserve the juices. Then slice it up and divide among the salads. Drench it all in the Honey-Citrus Vinaigrette and pretend you’re at a fancy restaurant!

Spicy Honey Chicken
 Recipe by Our Best Bites
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2lbs (Yes, Thighs!!)
everyone is always asking me if they can use breasts for this. Sure you can, but I’m tellin’
ya right now it’s better with thighs.
 2 t vegetable oil
2 t granulated garlic
2 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t coriander
1 t kosher salt
1 t cumin
1/2 t chipotle chili powder
1/2 C Honey
1T Cider Vinegar
Combine the rub spices in bowl and mix well.
Use kitchen shears (or a pair of clean scissors) to trim off any excess fat from the chicken pieces.Pat dry. Drizzle oil over chicken and rub in with your hands to lightly coat all the pieces. Then toss chicken with the spice rub to coat all sides well. Use your hands and get in there! Grill chicken for 3-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, warm honey in the microwave so it’s not so thick. Add the vinegar and combine well. Reserve 2T honey glaze for later. Take the rest and brush on chicken (both sides) in the final moments of grilling.
I’m gonna warn you that this can make a hot mess, literally. It’s sugar, and it’s gonna drip. But the smelly smoke is worth it for a minute or two. Just leave your grill on for a few minutes after the chicken is done to burn off any excess glaze. It’s totally worth it once you taste this stuff.
If you don’t have a bbq, try it on an indoor grill pan or use your broiler. Just be sure to open a window in case you burn your glaze!
Remember how I had you reserve that extra couple tablespoons of glaze? Ya, drizzle that on top now. Your taste buds will thank you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Chicken Shawarma: A Middle Eastern Meal

Photo courtesy of
So, I pride myself (just a little ;) on the fact that my family lived in Saudi Arabia for 4 years. It's cool, right? One night we had some new friends over for dinner, and I swear to you at one point she said, "When my family used to live in Saudi Arabia..."!!! Jeremy and I did a double take. Seriously? What are the chances??? Yep, my (awesome and now old--in military terms) friend Beth lived there with her family when she was young. Kindly, she returned the favor a couple months and had us over for chicken shawarma, a super yummy street food that's common in the Middle East--kind of like a burrito but waaaaay better.  The meal was incredible! I was immediately transported back to my younger days...

Needless to say, I got the recipe from Beth and we've made it so many times now I've got the recipe memorized. We made it for my in-laws who were here this month and my father-in-law went crazy over it. I promised him I'd put it up on the blog, so here it is with Beth's permission and for Tom's (and your) eating pleasure...

(I've included all the fixins for a complete meal, so read through everything to see all the ingredients you'll need, and then I'll tell you how to put it all together at the bottom. Buckle your seat belts, folks...)

Grilled Chicken Shawarma
1 TB ground coriander
1 TB ground cardamom (if grinding your own pods, use 1/2 tsp--it's strong stuff!)
1 TB ground cumin
1 TB chili powder
1 TB grill seasoning (i.e. Montreal brand)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove, minced

Mix all of the above in a small bowl until paste-like. Spread on boneless chicken breasts and let sit for at least one hour. Put on hot BBQ grill and cook until no longer pink and you get some good grill marks--a little charring is yummy, but don't dry them out! Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting lengthwise in strips.

Cucumber Salad
English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
Roma tomato, seeded and chopped
Red onion, sliced very thin (optional)
Feta cheese
Olive oil and vinegar
Salt and pepper
(or you can cheat and just use Ken's Olive Oil & Vinegar dressing, like I did)

I didn't include amounts in this recipe because it depends on how much you want to make. But it should be equal parts cucumber and tomato, with a little red onion thrown in if you like it, and tossed with a little dressing and feta cheese. Comment if you need more guidance than that ;)

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and grated (squeeze the water out)
1 TB mayonnaise
1-2 TB lemon juice, depending on how much zing you like
1-2 tsp dill, depending on how much you like dill
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let chill in fridge for at least an hour.

Putting it all together...
Take a pita or flatbread (click HERE for a yummy homemade flatbread recipe), and stuff it (or roll it up) with some chicken, cucumber salad and tzatziki sauce--proportions to your liking. You can also put some lettuce in it if you want some greens, and I always have some hummus on the side (click HERE for my favorite hummus recipe yet--and I've tried a LOT). FYI, they also put French fries in our shawarma on the streets in Saudi. Just sayin'...


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Best. Hummus. Ever.

This post is short and sweet... I have tried a few hummus recipes in my day, and this one's the best I've found yet. Thanks for sharing it, Patrice!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Best. Salad. Dressing. EVER!

Photo courtesy of
I got this recipe from my angel MIL, Ruth, when she came to save my life last year! Seriously, with a cancer diagnosis and an emergency C-section all in the same week, I could NOT have survived without her. Ever since she left (which was 8 months ago now), I shake this dressing up in a mason jar and keep it in the fridge. ALWAYS.

The only weird ingredient in this recipe is onion juice. Before May 2013 I had never heard of the stuff; how about you? But it's supposedly easy to find--look for it in the spice aisle at the grocery store. It comes in a box about the size of vanilla extract. Just FYI...

Onion Vinaigrette
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
2/3 C distilled white vinegar
3 TB apple cider vinegar
4 1/2 tsp onion juice
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
1 C vegetable oil

Combine sugar, dry mustard, salt, and vinegars. Stir (or shake) until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in onion juice and Worcestershire sauce. Add oil slowly, whisking continuously until blended.
Note: recipe makes enough for 4-6 times the amount of salad.

You can use any combination you like when you're making a salad to go with this, but here are some suggestions:

4 C mixed greens (Romaine, Spring mix, just something colorful!)
2 green onions, chopped
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (feta also works well)
1 tart/crisp apple, cored, seeded and slivered (pears or strawberries also work well)
1/4 C coarsely chopped pecans (almonds or walnuts also work well)
*1/2 C Craisins, optional

It's fun to mix things up with the nuts in a salad! You can either toast them in a toasted oven or in a pan on the stove really quick. But if you've got a couple extra minutes, try this: throw some sugar, cinnamon, and/or cayenne pepper in the pan with the nuts and stir them till the sugar caramelizes. Just watch it carefully, stir constantly, and take it off the heat as soon as the sugar turns to liquid so it doesn't burn. OR you can use Anne's recipe for Sweet & Spicy Pecans from her Baby Blue Salad. Click HERE for the link to that one... Enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Soft Gingersnaps

Nothing says Christmas (or Thanksgiving, Jenny) like these favorites. We love that they are soft and chewy!

2 C sugar
1 1/2 C veg oil
2 eggs
1/2 C molasses
4 C flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 T ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

In a mixing bowl combine sugar and oil. Mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each. Stir in molasses. Combine dry ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. SHape into 3/4 in balls and rolls in sugar. Place 2 in apart. Bake 350 for 10 min. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

A sweet friend here in Korea (thanks, AmyLyn!) passed this yummy recipe along to help us get through the long, cold winter... And it's been long and cold! We've had it twice now, and both times it's been a winner. I strayed from the original recipe on a few points, and I hope it's not too confusing. You get to choose your own adventure on this one: stovetop or crockpot, so try to follow along as I take you on a bit of a wild ride :)

As a side note, I suggest pairing this stew with either a crusty bread or... garlic na'an! It definitely has an Indian flair, so the garlic na'an was perfect IMO.

Photo courtesy of
Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
**optional: 1 lb. ground pork sausage**
2 all-purpose potatoes, diced (I used 4 Yukon)
1 T salt
1 T curry powder
1 T brown sugar
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated (abt 1 T)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 C chicken or vegetable broth
2 (16-oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes with their juices
1/4 tsp black pepper
10 oz. baby spinach
1 C coconut milk

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat (or heavy pot if you're going to make this entirely on the stovetop). Saute the onion with one teaspoon of salt until translucent, about 5 minutes. (I actually omitted the oil and salt; instead, I cooked a pound of ground pork sausage and then cooked the onion with it). Add the potatoes and another teaspoon of salt, and saute until just translucent around the edges.

Stir in the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and cayenne, and cook until fragrant--about 30 seconds. (This will smell heavenly :) Pour in 1/4 cup of broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze.

From this point you can follow directions for either the stovetop or crockpot:

Stovetop: Add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes and juice, black pepper, and the final teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. The liquid should come about halfway up the side of the pot. Set on medium-low temp and simmer for 30 minutes, or until cauliflower and potatoes are significantly softer. Stir in the spinach and coconut milk. Cover with lid and cook for one minute to allow spinach to wilt. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Crockpot: Pour the onion/potato combination into the bowl of your crockpot. Add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes and juice, black pepper, and the final teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine. The liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the crockpot--add more broth if necessary. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high. Stir in the spinach and coconut milk. Cover with lid and cook for one minute to allow spinach to wilt. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

**Serve on its own (as a stew with bread as mentioned above), or over couscous, Israeli couscous, or orzo pasta. Enjoy!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Everything here in Seoul is extremely expensive. We are lucky to have military privileges at the Commissary on post here (within walking distance from our house, no less!), and I am really grateful for that. But sometimes you just want to eat something that someone ELSE made, don't you??? There's a wonderful Indian restaurant that Jeremy introduced me to soon after we moved here, but unless you get their special lunch deal, it's hard to justify spending $35 on a small bowl of Chicken Tikka Masala--and that doesn't include rice. So I set out to figure out how to make my own :) The best one I've had yet comes from Ree over at the Pioneer Woman, bless her sweet heart. I could hug that gal... Anyway, here's the link to it. I can't say it (or photo-document it) any better than she can!

I wasn't a huge fan of the turmeric rice she (or Pastor Ryan) made. My suggestion would be to just make some steamed basmati rice, throw in the peas at the end, and serve it with some cauliflower on the side. I saute the florets in a little bit of oil, add some cumin seeds if you have them (and make sure the oil is hot enough so they pop and infuse the oil with their fragrance--amazing!). Then sprinkle a little turmeric on top to give the cauliflower that authentic (and yet SOOO fake-looking) Indian color, and put the top on for a few minutes to let them soften. If you need to add water, go ahead :) Enjoy!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beet and Bean Salad

So we are both suckers for beets... so are my three girls (2, 5, & 8). Maybe you love them too! We just discovered this salad and love it... Karen, pesto, bacon and beets, can you go wrong??

1 16 oz jar of beets
1 can (15oz) cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red onion
4 Cups romaince lettuce/spinach
1/2 C pesto
1/4 C cooked and crumbled bacon (we use turkey bacon, works great)
1/4 tsp black pepper

Drain beets, reserving half the juice. In large bowl, combine beans, celery and onion. Add salad blend and toss gently. Add beets. In a small saucepan, cook and strir beet liquid, pesto, bacon bit, and pepper over medium heat until hot, 1 to 2 min. Add to salad, toss gently. Serve immediately.
variation: I think throwing in some kind of pasta (bowtie, rotini, etc) would be wonderful too!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Okay sis... i think this has all your favorite ingredients... cilantro, shrimp, ginger, coconut milk. I think I found a winner. Let me know if you guys like it!! Adapted from

1 1/2 lbs large or extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Shrimp marinade:
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 T fresh lemon juice

Combine in a plastic bag and then add shrimp. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

For sauce:
1 T canola oil
1 med red or yellow onion
3/4 C small bits of cauliflower
3/4 C diced red pepper
1 tsp pepper
1 T minced fresh giner
1 T kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can coconut milk
1 C fresh cilantro

In a medium sized pot, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper, ginger, salt, garlic, coriander, turmeric, and curry powder. Continue cooking over medium heat , stirring often, until the mixture is very fragrant and teh onion is soft adn translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add diced toms, cauliflower, and red pepper, stir til combined scraping browned bits from teh bottom, for about a minute. Increase the heat to med-high and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Add the coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add shrimp plus the marinade. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook intil the shrimp are curled, lightly pink and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve over hot rice... this is sure to become a family favorite!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

I make this once a week... it makes two loaves and is adapted from my dear friend and best bread maker I know, Jenny B.

1/4 C warm water
1 T yeast

2 1/2 C hot water
1/3 C canola oil
1/3 C honey
1/2 T salt

1 1/2 C white flour
5+ C wheat flour

Put warm water in bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top, then swirl the water in the bowl to combime the yeast and water (this is my own method, people ask me specifically how i make this, so there you go). Give it 10+ minutes to get foamy on the top. Meanwhile, combine hot water, oil, honey, and salt and let it dissolve while yeast is proofing. Pour the hot water mixture into the yeast mixture and turn on hook to stir together. Add one cup of flour at a time until dough is all combined and sticking to the hook (like a cacoon, as Char would say). Knead for 2 minutes. Put in a greased bowl I( just spray with cooking spray) and cover with a light towl. Let rise for about an hour or until doubled... then split dough in half and place in a greased bread pan... let rise for a half hour and then cook at 350 for 35 minutes!

Root Veggie Saute

See if this makes to it the Thanksgiving feast!

2 T olive oil
3 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes
2 C beets, (4 C if you LOVE them, like me) cut any way you like :)
1/2 C diced yellow onion
2 tsp minced garlic
4 1/2 C chopped fresh kale
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 T craisins
4 T chopped pecans/walnuts
4 T crumbled goat cheese (I LOVE goat cheese)

In a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat. Add squash, beets, onion, garlic, and cook until squash is lightly browned and slightly tender, about 7 minutes. Add kale, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and cook until kale is wilted and squash is tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Add craisins and nuts, toss to combine, and sprinkle with heavenly goat cheese. YUM!

Israeli Couscous with Chickpeas, Brussels Sprouts, & Asparagus

So this has been an easy, go to meal for us lately... and it's meatless, which we try to do a few times a week!

3 C Brussels sprouts
2 T olive oil
2T balsamic vinegar
1 medium bunch asparagus
1 15 oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
2 C uncooked Israeli couscous
2.5 tbsp lemon juice
2 T minced garlic
1/2 C grated parmesam cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Cut brussels sprouts in half, toss with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook for 20-22 min, tossing at the half way point.
Meanwhile, cook couscous according to package directions and chop up asparagus and stem.
Once brussel sprouts, couscous, and asparagus are done, combine them all in a large bowl along with chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, parm cheese and salt and pepper. Stir everything together and eat up!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes

Wow, it's been a while! In my defense, we HAVE moved to the other side of the world, so I haven't just been sitting around doing nothing :) But my friend Chaoyi reminded me that at one point I DID post recipes on this blog, so I'm trying to do a little better! And what better excuse do I need than the fact that Thanksgiving is coming up?!?

A couple years ago, I wrote a post and listed (with links) our basic Thanksgiving menu. I thought I'd post the link again in case you are looking for some ideas this year:

The big difference this year is that Jeremy is smoking our Thanksgiving turkey! For graduation from residency, he got a Big Green Egg and I've been fighting for his attention on the weekends ever since ;) Just kidding... kind of. Last weekend he "practiced" for Thanksgiving with a 12-pound bird, and this is what we had for dinner:

It really was amazing. It only took 90 minutes to cook, and it tasted UN.BE.LIEVABLE. Usually I can go without the turkey on Thanksgiving--I look forward to the side dishes more... But no longer! And now I feel like this crown jewel needs something new to go along with it! Something less "traditional" on the menu than what we're used to... And something with a smoky flavor to complement the turkey. So I looked at for some fresh ideas. Of course they didn't disappoint.

And so I give you... Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes! It's a variation on a recipe from the Neelys at Food Network; click HERE for the link to the original recipe. But I modified it quite a bit, so I'll just write it out with my changes below. You're welcome in advance :)

Smoky Bacon Scalloped Potatoes
3 TB butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 C half-and-half
2-3 tsp smoked paprika (I used Penzey's Hungarian Smoked)
8 large russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 slices cooked bacon, chopped
2 C smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1/2 C Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 dish with 1 TB butter; melt the remaining 2 TB in a large saucepan (trust me, you want it to be big--you'll be putting all the potato slices in it). Once the butter foams, add the shallots and garlic and sauté till softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes (but watch it, you don't want it to burn). Season with salt and pepper; then add the half-and-half, smoked paprika, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes; again, watch this--I know from experience what an unbelievable pain it is to scrub the burnt stuff off the bottom of the pan...

Pour half of the potato mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Shake the pan to arrange the potatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle half of each of the cheeses and half the bacon on top of the bottom potato layer. Add the remaining potatoes, even the layer out again, and sprinkle on the rest of the cheeses and bacon. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes or until bubbly. Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes, until the cheese is golden and browned. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Baby Blue Salad

At last... my (Anne's) first contribution to the blog! :) Here's the delicious salad from the beach. It may seem like a lot of work, but really only the first time... plus it's worth it! We grill chicken and put it on the top as well. Enjoy!

Baby Blue Salad
3/4 lb mixed greens (I like 1/2 spinach and 1/2 frilly stuff)
Balsamic vinaigrette (see below)
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 pint strawberries (quartered) and/or other good berries (I like blackberries, but I grow them...)
Sweet and spicy pecans (see below)
Toss greens with Balsamic vinaigrette and crumbled blue cheese. Top with Sweet and Spicy Pecans.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans
1/4 c sugar
1 c pecan halves
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 c warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
Stir together 1/4 c sugar and 1 cup warm water until sugar dissolves. Add pecan halves; soak 10 minutes. Drain, discarding sugar mixture. Combine 2 Tbsp sugar, chili powder, bear meat, and red pepper. Add pecans, tossing to coat. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes, stirring once.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp honey
2 small shallots, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
3 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1 c olive oil
Whisk together everything but olive oil until blended, then gradually whisk in the oil.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crock pot BBQ Ribs

So, ever since Jeremy went to Houston for 4 months last year, he has been obsessed with barbeque. Not your typical "hamburger on the grill" type BBQ, oh no... He means the kind where you get up at an unearthly hour of the morning, go outside in the freezing cold, stick a huge blob of meat on a rack that's being warmed with applewood or hickory chips ONLY (he's a little snobby about this), and get it smokin'. Yes, we have had many jokes in the house lately about "smoking something"--I wish all of them were funny. Anyway, then one has to stay at home all day in order to babysit said piece of meat... Betcha can guess who stayed home, huh?

Honestly though, it's been kind of fun to see Jeremy take on this challenge. A good-quality smoker typically costs upwards of $600-700, hence there was no chance that we were going to buy one. So instead, he decided to make one on his own! His best friend in the whole wide world, Alton Brown, taught him how. I will not give you the link to this video, because then your husband will get addicted too... You're welcome for doing you a favor. It's taken a few trips to the local garden nursery for different size pots, new BBQ racks coming in the mail (surprise!), melted hot plates, a couple discoveries that the fridge/freezer weren't on because the smoker had shorted out the kitchen appliance circuit, and usually the meat ends up in the crock pot for a few hours, but I am happy to announce that it has all been worth it! The meat that comes off this baby is unbelievable, as a few of our Maryland friends can attest. We've only invited people over who we know will still be friends with us no matter how the food tastes, because we're still in the testing phase. But I don't think anyone's been disappointed yet :)

Now for those of you who know us well, you know that Jeremy and I each have our roles in the kitchen. I am the cook/chef/whatever you want to call it--I make the meals. I prefer salty to sweet, so I've never been much of a baker. Frankly, that was probably a good thing. And then I married Jeremy! I've never had a dessert he's made that I haven't loved. That one kind of tipped the scales a bit, but he's worth it :) However, since he started doing this smoking thing (see what I mean about the jokes?), I am feeling showed up!!! He's taking over my territory!!! So what do I do??? I stage a comeback.

And this is where the recipe comes in, my friends... But haven't you enjoyed my little story? Can you tell I'm in rare form today? It's called being stuck in the house with a sick child for over a week. I needed a creative outlet :) Anyway, I found a recipe for crock pot ribs a while back, which sounded like an easy cop-out effort to make Jeremy happy. "What's for dinner, honey?" Oh, I just made some.. RIBS!" What husband would not love to hear that when they walked through the door one night? Don't have to tell him that you made them in the crock pot! That always seems to put a damper on things... Anyway, I tried them, they were a cinch, and they were really good. I've been tweaking the recipe for a while now, and I finally think I've got it down perfect. Start looking for a good deal on a rack of ribs, ladies... I found some at the commissary up here for $5!!! That was right around Superbowl weekend. Oh whoops, guess I should have posted this earlier for y'all. That would have been timely. Sorry!

Anyway, I made my ribs alongside Jeremy's smoked pulled pork last weekend for a little get-together we had... Needless to say, I think the ribs were a hit. Jeremy was jealous :o) Mission accomplished!!! Just kidding--a win for me is a win for him, too :) Right? RIGHT??? Truly, though--we had a blast. I love that we both love to cook; it's something we didn't realize we both enjoyed before we got married. It's been a fun adventure together!

Crock pot BBQ Ribs
Adapted from
1 full rack of pork ribs, cut in half
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp paprika (Penzey's Smoked Hungarian is awesome!)
1 tsp chili powder (or less if you don't want a little kick)
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sugar

(I have a large crock pot, so I can actually double this recipe, cut the racks in half, and fit them on their sides in my crock pot. The more the merrier, IMO). Combine dry ingredients  until well incorporated; apply rub over entire area of ribs. Place ribs in crock pot meat-side up, and cook for 6-8 hours. I can usually get away with a little less time, but make sure you leave enough time just in case you need to cook it longer...

You can put BBQ sauce on these babies if you want to, but we found we didn't need it. YUM!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last days of summer... Watermelon Salad

Last summer when I was pregnant with Caroline, I would crave watermelon something fierce! I'd wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, and as soon as I got up in the morning, we'd head off to the grocery store for one. Usually it was gone by the end of that day :) Needless to say, I kind of got my fill of watermelon last summer... But this weekend I went to a back-to-school bash at a friend's house, and found watermelon "done" a new way that was surprisingly yummy! Give it a chance, and let me know what you think...

You can find the original recipe (and photo) HERE. While you're there, check out her other recipes--they're great!

Watermelon Salad with Mint and Feta
Seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
Feta cheese, add amount to your liking
Chopped fresh mint
A couple splashes of good olive oil
A couple squeezes of fresh lime juice
A pinch of kosher salt

Toss all ingredients together carefully; serve in a glass bowl (the colors are so pretty), or better yet, in martini glasses if you have them :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Asian Pork & Pasta Salad

This is one of the best recipes I've picked up from my local Penzeys Spices. It has such a delicious marinade and is so fresh, I always end up making it often during the summer!

Here's the quote from the card: "Light and bright, fresh from the garden and the grill. Leftover grilled pork works great if you have it, just chop and toss with the marinade and proceed from there." We've also just marinated pork chops before, grilled them up and served them alongside the pasta salad as well... Enjoy!

Asian Pork and Pasta Salad
1 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin
1 lb. pasta, your choice (we use farfalle)
1 lb. snap pea pods (we use edamame pods)
1 large leek
1 C sliced cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp sesame oil (for stir-frying)

1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C rice vinegar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp. aleppo (or white) pepper
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 C reserved marinade
2-3 Tbsp mayonnaise--enough to lightly thicken
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Whisk together marinade ingredients. Remove 1/2 cup, cover and refrigerate for dressing later. Cut pork into bite-sized pieces. Clean and chop the leek and the peas. Place pork in one bowl and the peas in another. Divide the leeks, half in each bowl. Pour all but 2 Tbsp of the marinade over the pork, toss well, cover and refrigerate. Toss the peas with the remaining marinade, cover and refrigerate both bowls for at least 15 minutes to develop flavor. Whisk mayo and sesame seeds with reserved marinade for dressing, and set aside. Clean and slice cherry tomatoes, set aside.

Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add pasta, cook according to directions on box, drain briefly, toss with fresh cilantro, cover and set aside. While pasta is cooking, heat sesame oil in a large skillet. When hot, add half of the pork. Cook until rich brown in color and cooked through. (The sugar in the marinade may cause the pork to blacken, so keep an eye on the pan and turn the heat down if necessary). Add the second half of the pork and cook. Discard the marinade that the pork was in. Once the pork is done, quickly stir-fry the peas, tossing in a bit of the marinade in the bowl. 2 minutes should do it...

Toss the peas and the pork with the pasta, add dressing and toss until coated. (You may not need all of the dressing). Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, a little more cilantro (if you love it like I do), and a sprinkle of extra toasted sesame seeds as desired.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Give me s'more(s bars)!

Happy Fourth of July! 

My friend Beth gave me an awesome recipe for s'mores bars last week so I could make it for Jeremy's family over the weekend, and they were a real hit. This is the perfect solution to your summer hankering for s'mores without having to go camping :) Or without having the mess in your microwave--have you ever blown up a marshmallow in your microwave trying to make homemade s'mores??? Not a pretty sight. Not that I would personally know...

So here are the goods, adapted from a recipe (and photo) you can find HERE. That recipe makes an 8x8, but I tweaked it for a 9x13 and the results are below. I just thought a 9x13 would be more handy for taking to a picnic or summer get-together... Let us know what you think!

Give Me S'mores Bars
1 cup butter, room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (abt 2 pkgs of crackers)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 king-size Hershey bars
2 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff (NOT melted marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at low speed until combined; it will have a similar consistency to that of cookie dough.

Divide the dough in half and press half into an even layer on the bottom of the 9x13 pan (I didn't even use half of the dough--I didn't want it to be too thick, so I only used enough to be about 1/4-inch thick.) Layer chocolate bars on top of pressed dough to cover completely; you might have to break it up to fit in just right, but don't double up on the layer--just trust me on this, it will be too much. Spread marshmallow fluff (my first time using the stuff) on top of the chocolate bars, spreading it evenly--again, don't be tempted by the idea that more is better, just use 2 1/2 cups :) And just FYI, you don't want to use regular marshmallows because they will harden up as they cool, and that defeats the purpose of this ooey-gooey deliciousness...

For the top layer of graham cracker crust, take the remaining dough and flatten it into pancakes; lay on top of the marshmallow fluff until covered. Again, keep these relatively thin or it will disrupt the delicate ratio of graham/chocolate/marshmallowey goodness :) I ended up with quite a bit of leftover dough, so don't be surprised if you do, too. I also left a few areas of marshmallow fluff uncovered by the dough, and as it cooked the marshmallow kind of rose through the dough and got toasted. OH SO GOOD!!! So my suggestion? Leave a few spots open... I think it looks prettier too when all is said and done.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until dough is lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting or it will be a gooey nightmare :)


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Penzey's Spices

Forgive me for not mentioning previously on this blog the funnest (yes, I said funnest) spice store you will ever go to in your life. We had a Penzeys Spices within walking distance of our house when we lived in Columbus, but I had not yet discovered the wonder of this place and therefore never went! Only when I moved to the DC area and had to venture 30 minutes closer to the city did I find out how cool it is... and it is cool.

Penzeys has every imaginable spice you could want and in different varieties, mind you. Did you know there are at least 4 different kinds of cinnamon? And if you like curry, you are in for a treat. Just walking around and smelling the different nuances between the curry powders is almost as good as cooking with them... In various spots around the store you will find recipe cards to help you use their products to their greatest potential., and the staff that work there are always friendly and have awesome ideas! Personally, my latest favorite thing at Penzeys is Vanilla Sugar (so so so good when you're caramelizing nuts for a salad), and I know Jeremy really appreciates that they carry many hard-to-find baking supplies like Dutch-processed cocoa and real quality vanilla.

I know it probably sounds like they paid me to do a commercial for them, but I promise they didn't... I just like supporting good quality, small business places that cater to crazy foodies like me, and I don't think many people know about this terrific place. A while ago they were handing out a free bumper sticker that totally sums up my feelings about food: "Love People. Cook them tasty food." Couldn't have said it better myself! Now if Jeremy would just let me put bumper stickers on my car...

HERE is the link to a list of Penzeys stores by state, and HERE is the link to get their free catalog. It lists all of their products, but also contains tons of great recipes and always has a coupon for a free spice on the front! Over the next few days, I will post some of my favorite recipes that I've gotten from Penzeys and you can try them for yourself... For now, here's one of my favorites below: Peanut Butter Bars :)


Penzeys Peanut Butter Bars

So fast and easy, yet always a crowd-pleaser... and literally straight out of the catalog!

Penzeys Peanut Butter Bars
1/3 box of graham crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (preferably CHINA Cinnamon from Penzeys :o)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups peanut butter, creamy or chunky
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 12-oz. bag chocolate chips

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (1/3 of a box is usually one cellophane-wrapped package). Mix in the cinnamon and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and peanut butter; mix well. Add the powdered sugar and graham crackers. Stir until well-combined; it will be a stiff dough. Pat the mixture into an ungreased 9x13 pan (I do a thin layer on a large cookie sheet with high sides). Melt the chocolate chips on very low heat in a heavy saucepan, or spread evenly in a glass pie plate and microwave 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each 30 seconds, until melted. Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting.