Links delicious

Oy. My reader is full of pages opened to recipes to try or to compile here or to inspire.  While I’ve made a few, the rest stare back at me from the screen, the digital version of a really tall stack of recipes on my kitchen counter.

The fam over at DALS always issues great compilations.  I’m eyeing #5, 7, 9 and 10 in particular.

We need a little something to perk up breakfast on school mornings.  These egg cups might be just the thing.

It’s no secret, I’m smitten with smitten kitchen’s recipes.  I especially love the ones that celebrate seasonal flavors by means of minimal fuss and still manage to produce blow-your-mind flavors.  This naked tomato sauce sounds like one of those.

Though I’ve done it before, I’m a little iffy about using ground pork for burgers.  Something about the texture can make me cringe.  However, when combined with Asian flavors, I think it might just be a winner.  IGE’s Pot Sticker Burgers with Spicy Asian Slaw are on next week’s menu.

And speaking of IGE, this take-out fake-out Mongolian Beef recipe has been sitting on my virtual counter for an embarassingly long time…

And lastly, several of 1 Cup Awesome’s school lunch series had me thinking about some throwback dinners — kind of a fun concept!  Haven’t made any just yet, but the Spicy Turkey Burgers and Cowboy Salad hooked me right away.  Made it last night, with a few tweaks for what I had on hand, and I loved it!  The mayo totally elevated the grilled turkey burgers, and the fresh sweet corn and garden tomatoes were the salad stars.

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Links delicious

Could go for some Pineapple Limeade Cooler right about now…

Scones…love them.  I find that recipes {and the results} for scones can vary widely, so when I find a good one, I stick with it.  Thinking I should add this one to the rotation.

Oh, she had me at “breadcrumb-like crouton rubble coating each cut side of tomato.” And then slayed me with “crouton fairy dust.”  I now must make this tomato salad with crushed croutons.

{As an aside, in that very same post, Deb mentions a tomato and corn omlette and links to this picture.  Sheesh, now I want to make that, too.}

Pina Colada Cupcakes — yes, please!  {are we picking up on a pineapple theme here?…}

Links delicious

Crisp Flatbreads with Honey, Thyme and Sea Salt from Smitten Kitchen

Elvis Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream from 1 Cup Awesome

This genius salad idea from DALS.  I feel lucky that my kids will generally eat salad.  I prefer to serve assembled, dressed salads, probably only because it cuts down on the wrangling of the 16 bottles of salad dressing to the table and back to the fridge again.  But as certain diners’ taste preferences change, it seems the dress-your-own variety increases the likelihood of consumption at our table.
(Completely unrelated sidenote:  I can no longer think, type, or read the word “consumption” without conjuring images of the plague in 16th century England, thanks to my complete fascination of late with The Tudors.  Speaking of delicious, Irish actors…check out the cast.)

Ever made a veggie burger?  I’m thinking of trying this one.  Please tell me I’m not the only one that gets totally grossed out by those little grisly bits in ground beef…Though I suspect my husband gets equally grossed out by watching me pick those bits out of burgers sometimes. 😉

Kudos to my bro and the crew at Bella Vita for this great review!

8-3-1-1

Ed. Note: Well, if it weren’t already entirely obvious, I’ve lost my muse.  Hence, my months-long absence.  Here’s to finding inspiration at the farmer’s market…or some such seasonal haven.  Also, I have no idea why the fonts in this post are wacky, but if I don’t post it right now it just won’t happen.  Please forgive/ignore. 🙂  Thanks much!

 

My husband could eat barbequed anything every day and never tire of it, so his Father’s Day dinner was a no-brainer: Ribs.  Now just to figure out WTH to do with them. 

I’ve tried, not too hard but tried nonetheless, for years to find the secret to making a rack of ribs actually taste good.  Like, really good.  As in, worth the effort it takes to eat them.  And good enough that makes the prep actually worth it considering the minimal amount of meat you actually get at the end of the whole deal.

I’ll spare you the tried-and-failed methods (except to say that one involved a bottle of Italian dressing…wha??!  I know.).  Behold the only method I will use from this point forward:  8-3-1-1.  Memorize that formula. 

8 T. brown sugar

3 T. kosher salt

1 tsp. your favorite seasoning

1 tsp. your other favorite seasoning  [I used thyme, some smoked paprika from Allspice, and probably some black pepper]

 

The genius and oh-so-generous butcher at Fareway let me in on this secret and I will be forever grateful. 

Here’s what you do:

Mix the 8-3-1-1 formula, pat gently over the rack of ribs.  Wrap the rack and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, unwrap the rack and place it on a sheet pan, cover with foil, and bake at 250 for about 4 hours.  [During that last hour and a half, your house will smell amazing and you’ll not be able to set foot in the kitchen without salivating.  Be warned.]  Remove from oven and let set. 

About 30 minutes before dinner, fire up the grill.  Slather the ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce—store-bought or homemade, whatever you fancy—and grill for a few minutes each side, turning often, just enough to caramelize that sauce and get it all sticky-delicious. 

 

These were outstanding.  Totally worth the effort and absolutely worth the time—all eight minutes of hands-on prep. J  Turning the ribs on the grill was a bit tricky, but only because they were so tender they were ready to fall apart.  I found it worked better to halve the rack and deal with just a section at a time.

Given that dinner was his Father’s Day gift, I’m more than thrilled that this formula and method turned out so well.  Might even make ‘em again this holiday weekend!

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Wish these were do-able for a weeknight: no-knead dinner rolls

Maple Butter Spiced popcorn:  sounds like a delish alternative to kettle corn

There are so many fabulous applications for pancake muffins:  Saturday mornings, Easter, Christmas brunch, Sunday mornings, etc.

Making these cheesecake bars for a teacher who’s leaving the center this Friday.  For cancer treatment.  *Sigh* wishing her healing and light.

I’m all about trying squash recipes this fall, and this one is high on my list.  Really, who could say “no” to butternut squash/parmesan pasta sauce.  Well, if I change the name, perhaps my family will eat it.

Also, ftr, I tried this roasted acorn squash this week and thought it was fabulous.  She’s my go-to for squash ideas after knocking this one out of the park.  Seriously amazing; I never would have expected such fabulousness from this vegetable.

Best damn tomato sauce

A couple weekends ago, I bought a box of “uglies” from a tomato stand at the farmers market.  The tomatoes were mostly beautiful, just a few soft spots, but nothing I couldn’t work around. 

The best part: for $3 I got 10 plump, red, ripe tomatoes. 

The downside: I couldn’t use all 10 (plus the handful I’d picked up at a different vendor’s table earlier that morning) in two days, i.e., before time turned those tiny soft spots turned into a big, leaky, stinky mess.

I used the best of the bunch in a huge garden salad (the pictures of which are languishing on my camera…sorry!).  To use the rest, I cut out the bruises and tossed all of the pieces into a large saucepan along with a couple of smashed cloves of garlic, half of a small garden onion, some olive oil, a generous sprinkle of salt and mini pinch of sugar.

I had no grand designs for this simmering tomato…thing.  I really had very little idea what I was doing, but what I did know was that if I didn’t do something with those salvageable pieces they’d be beyond any recovery by the next day. 

In the back of my mind was this recipe that was all over the Internet this past winter.  I tried it (several months ago) and was underwhelmed, but I was inspired by the simple ingredients.  So with that as my springboard, I threw together this handful of ingredients and let the pot simmer on low for about two hours.  The result?

BEST DAMN SAUCE I’ve ever made.  It was simple and straightforward with (if I may say so) a perfect complement of flavors.  I had intended to toss in herbs at some point but, in the end, was really glad I didn’t.  This basic sauce was so versatile.  I poured the cooled sauce–basically softened tomatoes and garlic in lots of rich juice–into a big bowl and used it throughout the week.

I used a few tablespoons of it for pizza sauce for a quick weekend lunch.  With a little fresh mozzarella on a piece of baguette, it was outstanding.

A few days later, I pureed about a cup of the soft tomatoes and sauce along with a little red onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt for a tasty salsa to accompany our grilled tacos.

Last night I used a little more for the sauce on my carmelized onion and green tomato pizza (idea from here.  A word to the wise: do not wait — try this ASAP!!  Un.be.lievable.)

And tonight we used the last of it for spaghetti and meatballs and eggplant parmesan:

An aside:  The kids made their own meatballs!

My New Favorite Tomato Sauce

Tomatoes — whatever you’ve got, they don’t have to be pretty

A few smashed cloves of garlic — adjust to your tastes

Onion, quartered (if desired)

Generous sprinkle of salt

Little pinch of sugar

Quarter the tomatoes.  (I didn’t bother to peel or seed them, figuring I’d probably puree the whole thing in the end.)  Toss everything in a heavy stockpot and simmer over medium low heat for as long as you can manage.  I let one small batch go about 40 minutes, another for upwards of 2 hours.  Can be kept covered in the fridge for a week or so.

p.s.  Thought this was interesting and wanted to include it here so I don’t forget it. 🙂

Bacon, a summer redoux

Next time I pretend to be a health nut, fight the urge to bring up my family’s affection for The Bacon, will you?

It’s all my brother’s fault.  I blame it on him.  (After all, I would never have come up with the idea of pureeing bacon on my own.  Nah, I’m not that kind of innovator.)

So, dinner last week.  I started with a basic idea:  burgers, mushrooms, garden green beans, salad. 

And went from there:

Beans – Easy peasy; by default, I almost always resort to the steam-saute.  The thing I love about that technique is that it is so versatile–I could add garlic, onion, shallots; I could use oil, butter, or…rendered bacon fat.  (Which, now that I type it, sounds ew…. But when you just think about it, it sounds yum…)

Mushrooms – Sautéed mushrooms are divine.  Sautéed mushrooms with bacon? Yes, please.

Burgers – Bacon-topped burgers are delicious, yes, but a little too straightforward for what I wanted out of the meal.  So I threw chopped, raw bacon, along with onion, garden-fresh herbs, and the usual round of seasonings, minus a little of the salt, into the burger mix.

Care to guess the theme based on my Captain Obvious description??

Uh huh, The Bacon.

I browned a couple of slices of chopped bacon in a skillet, and tossed about 2 T. chopped raw bacon into the burger mix.  It gave a great, subtle, smoky flavor to the burgers.

The mushrooms, sautéed in a little rendered bacon fat (again, ew…) and olive oil, were fantastic.  Of course.

And the green beans?  Topped with the chopped browned bacon and a nudge of garlic, they were total winners.

And voila!  An inspired dinner. 

Maybe next time the inspiration will be some beautiful fresh seasonal produce or something. 🙂