Friday, October 23, 2009

Braised Beef Short Ribs

This is one of my family's all time favorite comfort meals. What I love the most about it (besides the wonderful flavor) is that it's a "fix it and forget it" dinner. It can be cooked in a low slow oven, or on the counter top in a slow cooker. Either way, the results are FANTASTIC and your home will smell like heaven while it cooks!

I've made this 'recipe' many times over the past few years and every time I do, I add or subtract ingredients depending on what's available in the fridge or pantry. There are a few items that I consider critical in this dish. They are: bay leaves, horseradish, beef stock and ketsup. After those ingredients are in, the rest is just play time. This is what I used the other evening:

Costco is my favorite spot to buy beef short ribs. I always add them to my cart when I am there. I use an entire package 3-4 lbs. and cut each rib into thirds. Seriously, is this not the prettiest meat you've even seen? (I just had to take a picture to show.) Preheat oven to 300 degrees
Season the ribs with salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste. In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the ribs in batches in olive oil, removing them to a plate when all are browned and caramelized. Now you're starting to drool, right? Turn heat down on Dutch oven to low and add 1 quart beef stock and scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the browned beef back into the pan along with the following ingredients: 3/4 C. ketsup, 1 medium onion cut into 1/4's, 3 stalks celery, 3 T. horseradish, 3 T. yellow mustard, 1 T. Worcestershire sauce, 3 bay leaves, 1/4 C. apple cider vinegar, 1 t. brown sugar.
Cover your pot and place it in your preheated oven for 5-6 hours. You won't be able to resist checking on it about 3 hours in, when the aroma grabs you by the nose and drags you into the kitchen to have a peek. Take a quick peek but then put it back in for the additional cooking time. You will absolutely not believe how tender and flavorful this meat will be if you can just hold off a couple more hours.
Now, put your knives away. You certainly won't need them for this meal. Talk about fork tender and melt in your mouth delicious!! Should you happen to have any left-overs (that was a lot of meat, you should) do not hesitate to shred it and have it on sandwiches during the week. It won't get much better than that! WINNER, WINNER, SHORT RIB DINNER!!

Please come back often to check what's for dinner here at the house. I would love your comments and suggestions on the blog and the recipes. I'm relatively new to blogging and am anxious to improve with your help.

Let's eat!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pork Chops With Red Cabbage And Apples

This is a true "Cooking By The Seat Of My Pantry" meal. I had the basic ingredients on hand, but from there I wasn't sure what I would do with them. This is what I came up with and how it was made. I am happy to report, it was a HUGE hit with my family and received the "thumbs up" approval from all!!!

My basic ingredients were:

4 bone-in pork chops
1 medium head red cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple

From there it was any ones guess as to what I would feel like adding. This is ultimately what I came up with:
*Please note: all measurements are an approximation because I rarely measure, I just add ;)

1/2 lb. bacon
1 package onion soup mix
2 C. chicken stock
3 T. apple cider vinegar
3 C. water
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. butter
salt (to taste)
black pepper (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. fresh nutmeg

Cut the bacon into 1" pieces. In a large skillet, over medium high heat, cook the cut up bacon until medium crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet leaving most of the bacon fat behind in the pan.

Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt, pepper, garlic powder and allspice. Brown the pork chops on both sides, in the bacon fat remaining in the skillet (I never claimed this was a figure friendly meal). When browned, remove the chops from pan and set aside.

Core and shred the red cabbage. Peel, core and slice the apple. Once again in the same skillet, add the butter and red cabbage. Sauté the cabbage over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes. Add the apple slices, onion soup mix, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar, cooked bacon, brown sugar and 1/2 the water, making sure to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Continue to cook and combine all the ingredients until heated through and then add the nutmeg. Remove from heat.

Place the browned chops in the bottom of a large slow cooker and top with the red cabbage mixture. At this point, you may need to add more water if you feel there is not enough liquid. Your call. I did add more water. OR you might even want to use apple cider or apple juice if you have it on hand (I unfortunately, did not otherwise I certainly would have used that too). Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours.

The chops will be fall off the bone tender and the flavor is absolutely wonderful! This makes a perfect cool weather dinner. I will definitely be making this again and I'm already thinking of what different ingredients I can use. Maybe a little dry mustard would be nice? Next time perhaps :)

I hope you enjoy this recipe and will give it a try. Don't be shy about leaving your comments, I'd love to know what you think.
Well, until next time ~ Let's eat!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Greg's FAVORITE Potatoes

This side dish is near and dear to my heart, so I'll start with it as my first post.
I came up with this method (I hesitate to call it a recipe) a few years ago when I was just plain bored with making the standard baked potato as a dinner side dish. My son Greg was the baked potato lover of the family so I used to make them frequently. Then, one night, inspiration hit. Now I can proudly proclaim that these are, in fact - Greg's Favorite Potatoes. These are so simple, they're foolproof and every time I make them, people ask me how I did it.

Here's how I do it:

Preheat your oven to 425*
I like to line a baking sheet with foil to keep clean up a breeze. After washing potatoes, slice lengthwise and place on the baking sheet.
Brush cut sides of potatoes liberally with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
Turn the potatoes cut side down and follow the same steps: brushing liberally with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sometimes, depending on what I'm serving them with, I will also sprinkle both sides with cumin, grill seasoning, minced onion or Parmesan cheese. The possibilities are endless so use your imagination. Greg is a purist, so for him it's the basic seasonings.

Place potatoes into preheated oven (cut side down) and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the cut sides are a deep golden brown. Most times I like mine a bit darker than the picture shown, but hey, we were hungry and ready to eat! This method works well for any variety of potato. As you can see I also used some sweet potatoes last night. I don't know, do you think I made enough for 3 people? That's OK, the leftovers are great to use for baked potato soup, fried potatoes for breakfast or even a frittata.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this alternative method for baking potatoes and you will try making them this way soon. I'd love to hear your comments and how much you and your family enjoyed them.
Now, I've got to run... it's dinner time!!!

A dash of Introduction and a pinch of Inspiration

I am so excited to be starting this new cooking blog! My plan is to feature the many different recipe concoctions I have come up with over the years. I love, love, love to cook and have plenty of cookbooks (more than I can find places to keep them) to prove it. The problem is, I really don't follow any of the recipes in them. I basically just use them as guidelines and suggestions. A "jumping off point", if you will. Partly it's because I'm stubborn and don't like to read directions, and partly it's because I really, really like to be creative in the kitchen! I hope this blog can and will inspire you to become a creative cooker too. After all it's just food, how scary can it be?

Most of the recipes you'll find here are my own. However, from time to time I will also post wonderful recipes that I can not take credit for. I will always let you know which is which as I will not take credit for something that isn't my original creation.

With that as background, let us begin the food festivities...I can almost hear the dinner bell ringing.