Friday, October 24, 2014

Don't Play With Your Meat: A Braised Short Rib Recipe that You Can (almost) Forget About

You know what's great?  Actually being able to see the words you're typing on your screen.  

I've had glasses for the last 14 years of my life. Unfortunately, the last time I got new glasses was about 4 years ago.  Since then, my prescription had changed so I ditch my peepers and have been squinting at computer screens for the last 2 to 3 years.

A few days ago, I went to the eye doctor to pick up my glasses and now, as I type this on my computer screen, the words are crisper, the colors are brighter, and shit is generally less fuzzy.

God Bless America.

In the spirit of fall, as I type this wearing leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, cozed up on my couch with a glass of red wine and the dog snuggled up next to me, I'm going to continue on with comfort food.

Generally, when people think of ribs, they think of barbecues with friends, fireworks, or coolers full of beer.  In fact, if I'm having ribs for dinner, I think of rubbed, smoked and slathered pork or beef ribs served on a checker-cloth covered picnic table with corn on the cob, potato salad, and watermelon.

But when I think of short ribs, I think of braised, rich, deep fall-off-the-bone flavor.  And quite frankly, I don't know why it isn't served more.  I don't know why I don't make short ribs more.

Short ribs are a decadent and popular cut of meat that make me think of life's simple pleasures. They're cozy, delicious, mouth-watering, melt in your mouth, and so incredibly delicious, I'm drooling on myself just thinking about nibbling on the tender meat.

Is there something about short ribs that make people shrivel in fear?  Is it unknown to some cooks?  Do people think it takes hours of preparation? Sure braising meat can take time, but once you get some general prep out of the way, it's more of a "set it and forget it" which is something I think most cooks can appreciate.

It's easy.

Really.  If I haven't said it before, short ribs are amazingly easy and so ridiculously delicious.

I want to shout from the mountain how amazing this recipe is.

I - as a rule - don't post things that I wouldn't at least make again.  In fact, most of the time I cook, I don't repeat dishes.  And trust me when I say there have been some things I've made, documented, taken pictures of, and I've been dead set that it will make an entry.

But this.

I want to make this again as soon as possible.

I want to come home to the smell of the short ribs braising.

It's pure. Simple. Heaven.

I really like braised meat, but I don't really like having to worry about my apartment burning down while I'm at work.  So even though I'd normally sear the beef in a large pot and then add all ingredients to that pot to cook, I didn't want to leave an open flame while I was out of the house.

Enter my crock pot.  You might be getting sick of it since I think the last 3 or 4 recipes involved my slow cooker, but it's perfect for this recipe.   Enjoy!

Braised Short Ribs

2-3 pounds short ribs
1/2 c. yellow onion, minced
6 whole cloves garlic, peeled
1 c. dry red wine
1 c. beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 T. Olive Oil
salt and pepper

1. Bring your ribs to room temperature and season your short ribs with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a pan and your olive oil over high heat until the olive oil begins to lightly smoke.  Sear short ribs on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.

3. Remove short ribs from pan and place in the bottom of a crock pot.

4. Add garlic, onion bay leaves, red wine and beef stock.   Season liberally with salt and pepper (liberally, here people).

5. Cook on low for 8 hours. Or until the meat begins to fall off the bone (you'll know.  I came home to one of the bones mysteriously floating in the beef-y, wine-y goodness).

6. Plate up while hot.  I like to put my beef on mashed potatoes and then top it all with some of the liquid from the crock pot.  Yum!

Along with the braised short ribs, I also made some Balsamic and Honey Glazed Roasted Rosemary Carrots.

Say that three times fast.

Wait.  Does that title make me sound a little self-important?  It might.  If so, my basies.

I really like carrots.  It's an unhealthy obsession.  If we're eating out together and you get wings, I might eat all of your carrots.

I could peel a bag of carrots and eat them raw.  I'd be a happy little carrot-eating rabbit.

Glazed carrots are one of my favorite side dishes.   And while you could boil some carrots and then strain and toss in some butter and brown sugar and call it a day, this is a bit more adult-version of a kid-friendly way to eat your veggies

Balsamic and Honey Glazed Roasted Rosemary Carrots

2-3 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-2 inch pieces on a diagonal
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 T. honey
2 T. fresh rosemary, chopped

1. Preheat your oven to 400°.

2. Prepare your carrots and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle carrots with olive oil and toss to coat. Season coated carrots with salt and pepper. Toss again and roast in a preheated oven for 40 minutes.

3. After the first 20 minutes, pull your carrots out and sprinkle with half of the rosemary.  Turn your carrots and sprinkle the remaining rosemary.

4. Roast your carrots for the remaining 20 minutes.

5. During the final roasting, prepare your glaze by heating balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan over high heat until boiling.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir occasionally until thickened.

6. Once your carrots are finished, remove from roasting pan and place in a bowl.  Drizzle carrots with the glaze and toss lightly to coat.

I also made mashed potatoes to go with the short ribs.  Since it's mashed potatoes and nothing fancy, I decided not to photograph the process and figured it wouldn't be anything different than what I normally do.

Well fuck.

These were amazing.  They're really not anything fancy and you can do a million different variations of mashed potatoes.   BUT....I loved them.  So I'm going to give you a pictureless recipe.

Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes with Green Onions

2-3 pounds, Yukon gold potatoes, washed and medium-diced
Salt and Pepper
6 oz. cream cheese (I used whipped since that's what I had leftover from my Pinterest Fail-Penis)
1/3 c. milk or half and half (I used almond milk since that what I had in my fridge)
3 green onions, chopped

1. Fill a large pot with water and season with salt.  Add diced potatoes and heat over medium-high heat.  Allow to boil and reduce to a simmer.
2. Cook your potatoes for 25-minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
3. Drain potatoes and return to the pot.  Turn off your burner; however, place your pot back over the warm burner.
4. Begin to mash your potatoes using a potato-masher.  Add cream cheese and half of the milk or half-and-half in.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Mash away!
5. When your potatoes get to your desired consistency (people get so picky about their mashed potatoes!), taste and season or add more cream cheese and half-and-half as appropriate.
6. Once seasoned to perfection, stir in your chopped green onions and enjoy!

So I think I might be navigating my blog to Wordpress.  I'm not completely sure and will probably be messing around with it shortly, but I'm thinking that Wordpress might be a little bit more customizeable than Blogspot.  Additionally, I really want to get a recipe plugin.  And a camera.  Or better lighting in my kitchen.  Or learn how to take pictures that are a little bit um... better. I dunno. Probably I'll just hang out here on Blogspot and keep taking photos with my Android because that's what I know and that's comfortable

Friday, October 17, 2014

Campbells, Who? A Few Soup-er Good Recipes That Will Make You Glad It's Fall.

Yo, it's about that time

To bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme
I'm a get mine so get yours
I wanna see soup comin' out your pores



That's not how it goes.

So guess what kids and friends, it's fall.  It's time to drag your crockpot out, climb up on-top of your counter to bring down your extra-large stockpot from above your cabinets and embrace fall foods.

More importantly - soup.

I love soup.  I live for chillier weather so I can throw some stuff in a pot and come home from work with the smell of whatever is about to warm my soul, lightly bubbling away on my stove (actually it's more like in my crockpot since I don't want to leave an open flame while I'm at work).

I love it.

And I'm going to bring to you two very delicious and different soups that are super easy, full of flavor, and - for those of us only cooking for one or two - freeze beautifully!

16 Bean Soup
I make my bean soup with ham hocks.  If you don't eat meat or don't eat pork, or just don't have access to a ham hock (you can get them at any grocery store), feel free to omit this ingredient.  I like the smokey flavor that the ham hock gives the soup. It's divine.   Alternately, if you have some leftover ham but no ham hock, cube up the ham and toss that into your soup instead.

I use my crock pot for this soup, prepping the day before and tossing all of my ingredients except the water in the crock pot.  The night before, I leave my my crock pot in my fridge and let it hang out.  In the morning, right before I go to work, I pour all of my water in and set the crock pot on low to cook for 8 hours.  The great thing about this? The beans aren't mushy, you've got a great flavor, and when I walked in from work, I was greeted by the mouthwatering smell of the bean soup just cooking away.  Perfect!

20-ounce bag 16 Bag Soup Mix  (use whatever kind of beans you prefer - just toss the seasoning packet that comes with the bag)
2 medium carrots, medium dice
1 large stalk celery, medium dice
1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
1 packet Onion Soup Mix
1 ham hock
15 oz. can, Hunt's Basil, Garlic and Oregano Diced tomatoes (feel free to use fresh or any other brand you prefer)
1 tsp. baking soda
Water (you'll need water to boil the beans as well as for the soup)

1. Rinse your beans, removing any foreign objects.

2. Heat a large pot of water and tsp. baking soda on high until boiling.   Add your beans, bring to a boil and allow to boil rapidly for 2-3 minutes.  Shut the burner off, cover, and remove from heat.  Allow the beans to soak for 2-3 hours.

3. Once your beans have soaked, drain and rinse thoroughly.

4. Place diced carrots, celery, onion, canned tomatoes, ham hock and drained and rinsed beans in your pot or crock pot. Sprinkle the onion soup mix on top of your ingredients. Mix to combine.

5. Fill crock pot with water, about 1" from the top.  You'll want to gauge this based on the size of your crock pot and how many beans you have.  You want to add enough water so that the beans are swimming nicely.   After all, you want to have soup - not a bowl of beans.

6. If you're cooking your soup in a crock pot, set the crock pot on low and allow to cook for 8 hours.  If coking on top of the stove, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cook on medium-low for 2 hours or until the beans have softened.

7. Spoon into bowls and top with mozzarella (if you'd like) or green onions to brighten up the flavor.  Serve with fresh-baked bread and enjoy!

Admittedly, the Bean Soup above is a bit more healthy than what I'm about to post.  But then again, sometimes you want a thick, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs creamy soup that leaves you wishing that your bowl was a swimming pool and you could just float in potato-y, bacon-y, choweder-y heaven.

And before things get any weirder....

Potato and Corn Chowder with BACONNNNNNNNNNNNNN(%&;!#@^;#%;(*$@
Ok...real talk, blog-friends.  I brought leftovers of this soup for work and I'm literally counting down until it's socially acceptable to eat this soup for lunch.   It's that damn good.

And last night when I made the soup, I almost licked my bowl clean.  I used a little bit of french bread to sop up the rest of the liquid and greedily shove the dripping piece of baguette into my mouth.

I'm drooling right now.  I AM DROOLING.

A few things before I get into the recipe.... instead of using heavy cream or milk, I used Almond Milk.  Also, to make things a bit lighter, I used fat-free cheddar cheese.  The soup was good even though I lightened it up.   Granted, I piled on a mound of bacon ontop of the soup, but well....things have to be evened out somehow.

If you're looking to cut calories and fat further, you can substitute turkey bacon or Veggie strips for the bacon.

Also, because sharing is caring and I don't want to plagiarize (isn't that really what all recipes are anyway?), this was adapted from Life Made Simple.

1/2 medium yellow onion, small diced
1 leek whites and light green only, medium diced
1 cup fresh corn (if fresh isn't available, use frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. almond milk (you can use whole milk or heavy cream here!)
4 c. (32-ounces) chicken stock
3 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (you can use more or less depending on how spicy you like things)
2 c. mild to medium shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound bacon, diced and crisped up
1 bunch green onions, chopped

1. Cut your bacon into small pieces and fry.   (You can use less bacon but I figured that it would get eaten  Once the bacon has crisped to your liking, remove from heat and allow to drain on a paper towel.

2. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add butter. Once the butter has melted, add your onion and leek to the pot. Season with salt and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and leeks have become translucent.

3. Add garlic and corn to the pot, season with salt again, and allow to cook about 3 minutes more.

4. Sprinkle flour into your pot and whisk until combined.
Well this step looks identical to the step above it... neat.

5. Add chicken stock and milk (or cream) to the pot and stir until combined.

6. Add in potatoes, and increase the heat to medium-high.  Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

7. Once the potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened, turn off the heat and stir in cheese until melted and combined.

8. Serve immediately and top with green onions and bacon.  Enjoy!

Probably as the season moves along, I'll be posting scads more soup recipes.  So. Get excited for that.

And a joke before we leave each other...

Who is the Head of a Soup Factory?    


Don't worry. I won't quit my day job.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sometimes You Want Pasta but You Also Want Your Pants to Fit Over Your Ass

Since Summer is officially over and we're well into fall, I'm pretty excited for the couch/my ass reunion of 2014.

It's going to be amazing.

You never really fully appreciate your couch and a classy pair of sweatpants until you're forced (#firstworldproblems) into running around and being busy all the time.

When you can just wake up and sit on your couch with a cup of coffee and a good book, there isn't anything better.

Anywho, I've said it before, and I'll say it again but one of my favorite things to do is to take a dish and put a pin on it to fit dietetic needs.  I love the challenge of trying to make a traditional or classic dish and turn it into something that tastes almost identical to its classic counterpart.

So sometimes you're asked to make food without any dairy.

And sometimes you decide to take on an Italian dish that is so dairy-rich and delicious, that a normal person would call you crazy and cause Italian grandmothers to roll over in their graves.

Enter Pasta Carbonara.

Traditionally, Pasta Carbonara is made with a Jesus-arm full of butter, a bucket of cream, and a pile of cheese.

Not this recipe.

This shit is delicious.

Dairy-Free Pasta Carbonara
Sure it still has enough bacon to make any hearty American salute a flag, but it also has whole wheat pasta and peas.  So um... that means it is healthy, right?   *cough* Right, guys?

If you're looking to lighten the recipe a bit, you can nix the regular bacon and cook up Turkey Bacon or some Morning Star Veggie-Strips instead.  Also feel free to skip cooking your onion in the bacon grease. Cut some of the grease by using a bit of olive or grapeseed oil instead.

1 pound, thick cut bacon  (save that grease!  You'll need it)
1 small yellow onion, small dice
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup green peas
3 eggs
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1/3 c. Almond milk (feel free to skip the Almond Milk if you want to use regular)
12 oz. whole wheat linguine (if you're not a big fan of whole wheat noodles, that's ok - use whatever type you prefer.  Save that pasta water, too!)

1. Cook your pasta according to package directions in salted, boiling water.  While your pasta is cooking, start on the sauce!

2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.  Cut your bacon into small strips, about 1/3 - 1/2 inch wide. And cook, until crispy.   Remove from heat and drain on a paper towel.

3. Remove the grease from your skillet (Since I don't keep a grease jar in my kitchen, I line a small glass bowl with aluminum foil and pour the grease in there.  Once the grease has 'firmed up' and cooled off, I can toss the foil-grease-packet in the trash).

4. Reduce the heat on your skillet to medium and add back 1 to 2 T. of the reserved bacon grease into your pan (you want some grease.... not a swimming pool).   Add in your onion and garlic and saute until tender and translucent.

5. Once the garlic and onions are cooked, remove and place to drain on a paper towel.

6. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, salt and pepper, until smooth.

7. When pasta is done, drain and reserve 2 cups of the pasta water.

8. Add pasta to a large bowl.  While the pasta is still hot, slowly pour in half of your egg mixture, tossing to combine.

9. Add in cooked bacon, onions, garlic and peas.  Toss to combine and add remaining egg mixture. Toss again.

10.  If you notice that your pasta seems a bit "gloopy", add in a little bit of reserved pasta water and toss to combine until desired consistency.  It's not the prettiest meal in my repertiore; however, you can brighten it up with a chiffonade of basil, a bit of grated Parmesan cheese or whatever else makes you happy.

I'm going to make this a full-on noodle blog entry. Why not? Let's get crazy.

Chris and I have a back and forth where I ask him what he wants me to make for dinner or I ask if he has any requests and his answer is almost always "whatever you want to make is fine".

This is frustrating for two reasons: I'm probably one of the most indecisive people on the planet, and I really like the challenge of making something amazing from someone's request.  Especially if the requester has dietary restrictions (I think I'm just repeating myself right now. I need more coffee)

So a little while ago, completely out of the blue, Chris turns to me and says, "you know what I want? I want your take on Ramen."


Oh that's perfect!

So naturally I scoured the Google machine to find a few recipes and come up with my own meshed recipe.  And chances are, I'm going to commit some sacrilegious Ramen-crime that should get me locked up in food-jail forever.


First thing's first, shall we?  A little education.

Besides being the $.69 packets of noodles with higher than salt-lick sodium levels college students across America clamor to when on a budget, Ramen is acually - quite simply - a Japanese noodle soup dish consisting of Chinese-style wheat noodles (this differs depending on what region you are in or even which vendor you are eating noodles from) in a meat broth and flavored with soy or miso with toppings like pork, dried seaweed, green onions, pickled ginger, etc.

Chicken Ramen
Most of the time when people think of Ramen, they think of inexpensive bowl of soup, although since we're friends, I'm going to share with you a deep, dark secret.  I have been known to just eat dried packs of the noodles.  Or only cook them for a minute so they're still crunchy.  Gross?  Yeah. Well.   I'm a weirdo. We already established that.

I decided to make chicken ramen because that's what Chris asked for.  If you'd like, get crazy and use pork or beef.

This makes 4 good-sized bowls.  Delish!

2 - 3 pounds chicken thighs
2" knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. chili bean or thai chili paste
1 T. Sesame Oil (and more for garnish, if you'd like)
1 T. sake (optional)
8 cups (64 oz.) chicken broth
1. package, ramen noodles (I used Udon because I couldn't find any proper noodles at the grocery store)

Some Ideas for Garnish/toppings:
1 leek (whites and greens) rough chop
scallions, rough chopped
Bean Spouts
Carrots, thinly sliced
4 soft boiled eggs (halved and marinated in a soy-sauce mixture for at least 1 day.  Recipe here. They're amazing!)
Dried sea weed
Crimini Mushrooms

1. Mince the garlic, ginger and shallot.

2. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 T. Sesame Oil and saute ginger, garlic and shallot until tender.

3. Add chicken thighs and increase heat to medium-high, paying attention not to burn the aromatics.  Cook until a meat thermometer inserted in the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.  Remove chicken from the pan and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

4. Add chili paste, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sake (optional), chicken stock, sugar, salt and pepper to pot.  Stir to incorporate and let simmer. (Sorry for the horrible quality of the photo...I kinda forgot to take a photo for this step and rushed.  Oops.)

5. Before tossing your noodles in boiling water (They'll only take a couple of minutes), make sure your garnish/toppings are prepped.   To prepare the chicken, remove the chicken thighs from the bones and slice into small strips.

6.  Cook your noodles in boiling water.  You won't need to salt your noodles since they typically are already salty enough.

7. To assemble, place noodles in the bottom of a deep bowl. Spoon broth and top with whatever garnishes you'd like.

I've decided my blog needs a makeover.  Since I chopped my hair off and I now have a fancy new haircut, I figured a few other things need to be freshened up as well.  You may have noticed my blog has changed a bit.  I'm still messing around with what I want it to look like or even if I should keep going with the recipes.

Meh. I'll figure it out.