Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slow-Roasted Ribs!!


I'm so over this winter weather. Cold and snow are fine during football season and the holidays, but then after that, it's time to start warming up. Here in the Northeast, it's been a non-stop onslaught of wintery insanity. It's been so brutally cold that my apartment can't even completely warm up. So what does a food blogger do to keep warm? Cook, of course. That way my kitchen stays nice and warm. There's no better way to keep the kitchen warm than to cook something in the oven low and slow. And so with that in mind, I present to you:  Slow-Roasted Ribs!

These oven-baked ribs are prepared with a dry rub, wrapped in foil, placed in a 300-degree oven and roasted for 3 hours. After the 3 hours, you have tender, succulent, falling-off-the bone ribs. The dry rub is my own mixture of salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cocoa powder, instant coffee, garlic powder, onion powder and a little cayenne for a kick.

Ribs are perfect finger food when watching the games. You can roast them up, put them on a platter and let the crew dig in. Tender meat on a stick - how can you go wrong?

Get ready to dig in!
Slow-Roasted Ribs
(serves 4-6)

1 rack of pork or beef ribs (trim off any access fat, but leave a little for roasting)
1 tbs salt
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp cayenne powder


Pre-heat oven to 300-degrees.

If the rack of ribs is too long for your sheet pan, cut it in half. Mix the dry ingredients and rub on both sides of the ribs. Make sure the dry rub adheres. Tightly wrap in foil. Place on a sheet pan and roast for 3 hours. After the 3 hours, remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and slice into ribs. (Note:  if you want to serve it with bbq sauce on the side that's fine.)

So there you have it. You can't go wrong with these, especially since they're so simple to make. Your guests will be very happy when these show up at your next gameday gathering.  Hope you try them!

See you next week and keep on homegating!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas!!


What do you get when you turn braised pork belly, Havarti cheese and pickled onions into a quesadlla? Mouth-watering ridiculousness, that's what you get.

I love the butcher case at Whole Foods for many reasons, but mostly because it always gives me lots of ideas - especially decadent ones. Sure enough, I was trolling their butcher case the other day and saw some beautiful pork belly. What to do with pork belly, you ask? Well, I came up with the psychotic idea to braise it and turn it into: Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas. Settle down now...

This recipe calls for braised pork belly, Havarti cheese and pickled onions all folded into a burrito-sized tortilla. Braising the pork is going to take 8 hours, so you can do that the day before you plan on making the quesadillas.  Refrigerate it once it's done, but save some of the braising liquid with it so that you can reheat it in the liquid the next day. However, if you want to make it the same day, you can set it up really early in the morning so that it will be ready later in the day when you're ready to assemble the quesadillas. Pickling the onions is real quick and can be done while the pork is cooking.

Let me tell you, the combination of pork, Havarti and pickled onions is sheer nirvana. The cider adds a little sweetness to the pork, while the mildness of the Havarti compliments the unctuousness of the meat. Then finally, the pickled onions brighten up the entire experience. It's going to make you weep with happiness. Trust me, I wept.

Cider-Braised Pork Belly Quesadillas
(serves 4-6)
Are you kidding me?

1 1/2 lbs pork belly
2 tsp canola oil
16-20 oz apple cider                                                                               1 bay leaf
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1.5 oz veal demi-glace (optional)
1 medium red onion, sliced thin
1 cup white vinegar
5 whole black peppercorns
1/2 lb Havarti cheese, sliced
2 burrito-sized tortillas


Braised Pork Belly:
       Cut the pork belly in half. Heat the 2 tsp of canola oil in a medium-sized sauté pan on medium heat. Add the pork and brown on all sides. Place in a 3-quart crock pot.  Pour enough cider to come up to 1/8” from the top of the pork. Don’t completely submerge the meat. Add the demi-glace (optional), garlic and bay leaf. Set on low and braise for 8 hours, turning every couple of hours. Remove from the braise and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the top layer of fat and discard. Shred with a fork.

Pickled Onions:
        Slice the onion. Place in a small sauce pan along with the peppercorns and cover with white vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool in the vinegar.

Place 4 slices of the Havarti cheese on one half of each tortilla. You'll need to overlap the cheese to fit the one side of the tortilla. Top with the pickled onions (make sure to cover most of the cheese in a single layer). Divide the shredded pork between both tortillas. Fold the tortilla over to create a half moon.
Heat a cast iron pan or griddle and place the tortilla on the griddle on medium heat. Weigh the tortilla down with another pan. Let the tortilla crisp up (this should only take a little over a minute). Flip over and toast the other side. Remove from the pan and slice into 3 triangles each.
Place on a serving platter and enjoy!

And there you have it gang. This takes a little while to prepare, but trust me, you will be making this more than once. It's an entertaining keeper.

Until next week, I hope your teams are making you happy and keep on homegating!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lime-Sriracha Popcorn!!!


The other night, a couple of pals stopped by to hang out and catch our favorite hockey team's game. The game started at 8:00. By that time we had all finished dinner and weren't into wanting any big appys, but we wanted a little somethin'-somethin' to go with our beers. One of my favorite snacks for that particular situation is popcorn. But in this case, I ramped it up a bit and made:  Lime-Sriracha Popcorn. Settle down now....

This tangy, spicy popcorn literally takes minutes to prepare and will disappear in no time. I air popped a 1/2 cup of popcorn, then melted a 1/2 stick of butter with 1 1/2 tablespoons of Sriracha and 2 teaspoons of lime zest. Pour the butter mixture over the popcorn, toss well and get ready to chow down. This is a perfect compliment to an ice-cold, chilly beer. Make sure to have lots of napkins around.

Lime-Sriracha Popcorn  
Kickin' kernels!

1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbs Sriracha
2 tsp lime zest
salt (optional*)


1.  Pop the popcorn in a hot air popper and put aside.

2.  Melt the butter, then add the sriracha and lime zest. Stir until butter in competely melted and the sriracha & lime zest are incorporated.

3.  Pour over popcorn and toss well to make sure all/most of the popcorn is coated.

*The sriracha sauce is salty, so taste the popcorn first before adding more salt.

And there you have it. This is one of the easiest snacks to make and is perfect for a quick evening gathering. This ain't your grandma's buttered popcorn  -  and that's a good thing!

Let me know how you like it!

See you next week!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Burrito Bowl!!

Game on, Homegaters!

Although I'm still mourning the end of the football season, I don't have much time to wallow in my sorrow because a couple of pals are coming over this weekend to watch hockey. Ah yes, there are more sports out there to enjoy! Turns out our local hockey team is pretty good this season (as opposed to how dreadful our football teams were), so we have something to cheer about. While I could serve them leftovers from last week's Super Bowl party (which I froze), I really don't want to do that because a couple of the same people are coming over. I can't rehash the same menu 2 weeks in a row because that's just not cool. I'm sure those folks are a little finger-fooded out from Sunday anyway, so I went with a Burrito Bowl.

A Burrito Bowl is a bowl of meaty, cheesey, ricey goodness. You can make it with pretty much the kitchen sink if you want, but I went simple with ground beef, onions, red jalapenos, red beans, chili powder, garlic powder, tomato paste, Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce, dried cilantro (I keep that on hand if I can't find fresh - which I couldn't right off of Super Bowl weekend), brown rice and cheddar cheese. You can add sweet peppers, corn, avocado, sour cream guac,...anything you can think of. It's up to you. Once you make the rice (which you can do ahead of time), preparing this dish is relatively easy and will take you under an hour to whip together and serve.

Burrito Bowl
(serves 4)
Doesn't this rock?

1 lb lean ground beef
1 medium onion, minced
2 tbs canola oil      
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tbs chili powder
1 medium red (or green) jalapeno, minced
1 tbs dried cilantro (or 2 tbs of fresh, minced)
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce
1 cup canned beans (red or black), drained
1 1/2 cups pre-cooked rice (white or brown)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese - plus more for topping
salt & pepper


1.  Pre-heat your oven to 350-degrees. In a large skillet or cast iron frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Add the ground beef and brown. Break up the meat until it becomes granular. Salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Add the garlic powder, chili powder, jalapeno, cilantro, tomato paste and Tabasco Chipotle Pepper Sauce. Mix thoroughly and heat through.

3.  Add the beans and rice. Continue to heat through.

4.  Sprinkle the cheese into the mixture and heat until the cheese is completely melted.

5.  Place mixture into 6 individual ramekins* and top each with the remaining shredded cheese. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5 minutes, or untl the cheese is melted.

*(Alternately, if you're using an oven-proof skillet or cast iron frying pan, sprinkle the additional cheese over the top of the whole mixture and place in the oven until the cheese is melted. You can serve it family style that way.)

There you have it! This recipe is quick to make. It's delicious and satisfying! Hope you try it!

See you next week!!