Thursday, June 11, 2009

Take the pressure and heat off Dad on Father's Day

It would be a nice surprise for the man in your family, if you prepare a delicious meal featuring ribs, ( one of his favorites), without even firing up the grill. I can help with that, and with a little advanced planning and minimal work, take you out there with him to have fun in the hammock, in the pool, on the deck, in a lounge chair or what ever strikes you and your honey's fancy. You won't even have to ask him to lift a finger (off the remote control?) to light the grill. Sounds too good to be true, I know, but you can do it! My recommendation is don't just save this recipe for Father's Day, or even for the heat of summer---use it as a year 'round treat or bribe. The ribs are fall off the bone tender and so flavorful and juicy you won't believe how easy they are to make. I usually buy the large package of pork spare ribs from Costco, cut them into single sized portions. When ready to serve, I freeze any surplus packets that won't be needed for the immediate meal. I love having these packet babies in the freezer and I know you will too! Happy Father's Day guys, you earned and deserve a break. Enjoy your day!

Helluva Good Ribs
adapted from Amuse Bouche

Per person: half of a rack strip. This will be approx 10 - 12 riblets per person if using baby backs, and you have cave men appetites, or smaller if preferred. I use spare ribs cut into 4-6 ribs per serving, depending on the size of the ribs and their meatiness
Dry rub (recipe below)
1/4 to 1/2 cup of light brown sugar
BBQ sauce of your choice

The night before:
Cut your racks into your preferred portion size . Add brown sugar to the spicy dry rub and mix thoroughly. It all depends on your heat to sweet level. Massage the dry rub vigorously over ALL of each rack. Using heavy duty large sheets of aluminium foil put each rack into an individual foil package and refrigerate.

Preheat Oven to 300 degrees F
Place foil packets on baking sheets and place in pre heated oven for 2-1/2 hours.

Optional finishing( for sauce and BBQ grill freaks, who want or need to to use the grill and or BBQ sauce, but totally unnecessary: Heat grill and remove packets from the oven after two hours.
Take rack out of the package and discard all of the fat that has accumulated. Brush each rack with sauce. Place bone side down on grill and heat just long enough to carmelize the sauce. Do not flip or turn over to the meat side as you risk it sticking to the grill. Remove and serve with extra warmed sauce on the side.

Dry Spice Rub
Adapted from Amuse Bouche, who adapted it from Emeril's 'Real and Rustic' Hint: make in big batches and keep sealed in a glass mason jar. You will find a lot of uses for this mix.

8 TBS paprika (I use half hot and half sweet, sometimes I replace one or twoTBS with Spanish smoked hot or sweet)
3 TBS cayenne ******less, if you are timid or weak on heat
5 TBS freshly ground black pepper (easiest way is to put fresh peppercorns into a spice grinder or old coffee grinder that you
have cleaned by whizzing up rice or bread)
6 TBS garlic powder
3 TBS onion powder
6 TBS salt (this measure is for Kosher, which is larger, if you use iodized, use less)
2 and 1/2 TBS dried Oregano
2 and 1/2 TBS dried Thyme
Mix well in a big bowl or place in mason jar and shake well.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going Bananas

I have previously blogged about my habit of over-buying bananas and looking for recipes to use "beyond their prime" bananas. I have another favorite recipe that I would like to share. But first, have you seen the e-mail that is circulating about banana facts? I enjoyed reading it and wonder just how much of it is true. One of the ideas is that if you peel a banana from the the opposite end from the stalk end, all of the strings will come off with the peel. Pretty neat, eh? I tried it and it worked. If you believe everything in the e-mail, bananas are the best thing going. In my book, they are good and readily available and reasonably priced. I like how they add moisture and flavor to recipes. I love peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Now I love these muffins from Elise at Simply Recipes. Irresistible: chocolate, bananas, walnuts and they freeze well. What's not to love? I love the notion that muffins are a nice way to keep your portion within a reasonable boundary and if they are in the freezer, you are less likely to justify eating them in multiples, like you have to before they go bad. I like them in the freezer to help qwell a sweet tooth. What is your favorite way of using up those bananas beyond the peel and eat stage? My friend Kathy is always asked to bring her signature banana recipe for Not Your Mama's Banana Pudding to every eating function that she attends. It is so good it is always gone first and often eaten before the main course. (Mama's not around to object!) I won't have a photo to share of Kathy's recipe, but I will post her recipe for you. Also, I have not tried this, but have it in my do-list--check out this post over at Yum-Sugar for bite- size frozen banana treats--great idea for poppers, don't you think? Don't forget to share your favorite too, and get going--bananas!

Banana Nut Muffins
adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tbsp espresso or strong coffee (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)
1/2 cup chocolate chips


No need for a mixer with this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the sugar, egg, espresso and vanilla.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.

Add the flour, mix until it is just incorporated. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour mixture into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. If it comes out clean, it's done. Cool on a rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
Recipe adapted by Kathy from Paula Deen

2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

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