Sunday, September 2, 2012

Barbecue Day 2

Okay, I still hate barbecue.  And I still am exhausted.  But after two days of kitchen marathons, I feel satisfied with my creations!

Today was the day that Tuck and Linny came to visit, like I said yesterday.  I had decided to really take one for the team and make a meat dish today.  And I am not sure what I was thinking, but of all the meats, somehow I thought I could handle making baby back ribs. 

Now, the good news is that the end result of these ribs was great.  In fact, everyone raved about them.  Tuck said they were cooked perfectly, and Maggie's quote was "these are the best ribs I've ever had... and I eat a lot of meat."  Kenzie claimed to '"love them" and I will even admit to eating one bite of one (Tuck nicely cut it off the bone for me since bones totally freak me out) and it was very tasty and tender.  The barbecue sauce was pretty great too; Nick refused to let me throw out the extra and kept it in a jar.  One note about the sauce: I did not add any vinegar, mainly due to the bean mishap yesterday.  But today I have a new scapegoat: the ketchup.  Before I had added a drop of vinegar today, I tasted it, and it was already vinegar-y.  So I blame the ketchup for making my beans sour yesterday.  Damn you, vinegary Stop & Shop brand ketchup!  Luckily they were better today, and the sauce was still great (but I am glad I didn't add any extra vinegar!).

Don't mind my pajamas.  Just notice the membranes.
But what I had to go through to get to the final end product of these ribs was just not worth it.  Did you know that when you make ribs, there is something called a membrane that has to be cut off the back?!?!   Because there is.  And it was horrendous.  There was blood, and slime, and fat, and membranes, all the way up to my elbows (despite the fact that I was wearing gloves!  There was spattering!!!).  I was literally tearing up and shaking, which perhaps seems like an over-exaggeration, but you can ask Kenzie and Rachael who were watching (and laughing, and apparently snapping pictures as well!): it was bad.  And it is a good thing that I read Food Network Magazine to even know that there is a membrane than needs removing; the recipe I had didn't even mention it.  And I can promise you that this was not something you would want to eat.  It was stretchy and bloody and.... just 100% the worst thing ever.  But anyway, the good news is that everyone was in love with the ribs, and we don't even have any left.  Just don't expect them again any time soon... I may be scarred for life.  Thanks to the Hard Rock Cafe for their great recipe, but no thanks to membranes.

I also made a cake this morning.  I have been meaning to make this cake for a while because I think it sounds great: strawberry cream cheese coffee cake.  It has layers, which I like: buttery, scone-like cake, sweet cream cheese, a quick homemade strabwerry jam, and a crumbly crumb layer.  Lots of layers did mean lots of time, which was probably not the greatest choice on a morning when I had to make ribs, barbecue sauce, andd salad dressing, not to mention clean the kitchen and shower before our guests arrived at 1:00!  But the cake was worth it.  It was really good.  Maggie said it was the best thing I have made.  I have to say that the cream cheese and strawberry parts are my favorite layers, and I wasn't sure that was going to happen this morning.  The strawberry "jam" was not thickening and I was worried, but it thickened up in the oven.  The only thing I can say negatively is that the "crumb" layer wasn't so crumbly.  It kind of sunk down into the strawberries and is a moist top layer.  This isn't necessary a bad thing, but it doesn't really look like the pictures from the recipe either.  Nevertheless, more than half of the cake is gone, and I think it is pretty tasty.

In addition, I made a salad dressing I have been dying to try.  I adore the dressing at hibachi restaurants, so when I saw the recipe on the Skinny Taste blog, I was pumped.  Delicious and healthy!?  Perfect!  It was pretty quick to throw together since you just toss all the ingredients in the food processor.  I love this dressing.  You really taste the carrot, ginger, and soy sauce.  I doubled it and I am glad there is some left over for the rest of the week.  As someone who isn't wild about salad, this dressing can really make them bearable!

Lastly for dinner, I made the cheesey cauliflower mash that Mark and I had loved a few weeks ago.  I thought it would be perfect for Tuck since he can't have carbs.  But... something happened today.  I don't know what.  Partly I think it was my crappy ancient food processor, because the texture was not as smooth as last time.  But it also didn't taste as good.  It just tasted like cauliflower.  I was disappointed in it today.  Boo.

After a very successful dinner, I felt satisfied.  The ribs and barbecue sauce were huge hits.  The beans had improved.  The mac and cheese all went - and Linny even saved the last few noodles for later.  The mash... well, let's not talk about that.  And the dressing even made Nick eat his vegetables.  The cookies and cake were more than enough for dessert... or so I thought.  Somehow at 8:00, I was in the kitchen again making another batch of my healthy zucchini brownies.  I am not even sure how this came about!  But somehow it was decided that they needed to be made.  Tuck was a wonderful sous chef, grating all my zucchini, and it was great to have someone tall reach the things I always have to bring a chair over to baking cabinet for!  Just like last time, the brownies are absolutely delicious and definitely do not taste like they are healthy or filled with vegetables :)  Sooo chocolatey and moist and rich!  And pretty easy to make, too.

And now, after two ridiculous but wonderful days, I would say it is definitely time to relax.  Tomorrow might be a day for takeout :)


Asian ginger carrot salad dressing
strawberry cream cheese coffee cake

Hard Rock Cafe BBQ Ribs
from America's Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes from Your Family's Favorite Restaurants

2 cups water
2 cups liquid smoke
one 3  1/2-pound slab St. Louis-style ribs

for the sauce:
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups ketchup
1 teaspoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2  1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1  3/4 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1  1/4 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1  1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons orange juice

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the water and liquid smoke.  Marinate the ribs in the mixture for 15 minutes.  Note:  I skipped this step.  My mom has a bizarre hatred for liquid smoke, so I left it out of both the sauce and the marinade.  The ribs were still great, so if you hate liquid smoke taste, skip away!

3.  Place the ribs in a roasting pan and cover with foil.  Discard marinade.  Bake for 3 hours or until fully cooked and just tender.  Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for no more than 30 minutes.

4.  To make the barbecue sauce, place the chicken broth, ketchup, maple syrup, garlic powder, pepper, vegetable oil, liquid smoke (or leave that out!), yellow mustard, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaf in a stockpot and bring to a boil (watch your wrists on this one, folks.  That bubbling thick sauce is dangerous!!)

5.  Add the white vinegar (I didn't!) and orange juice.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Do not overboil, because the orange juice and vineger will make the sauce bitter.  Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. 
Thanks to Nick for the grilling!
6.  Preheat the grill to 225 degrees. 

7.  Place the cooked ribs on the grill, bone side down.  Brush with the sauce, then turn them over to grill the meat.  Brush, bone side up, with the barbecue sauce.  Grill 8-10 minutes per side or until the surface of the ribs starts to char.  Brush with addition sauce before serving (and serve the extra sauce on the table!)

Healthy Zucchini Brownies
from BalticMaid blog

2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour (regular works fine too)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
2 cups grated zucchini
1  1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°.

2.  In a bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, salt, and the applesauce.

3.  Sieve the flour and the cocoa powder into another bowl. Add the baking soda, the cinnamon and the cardamom. Mix well.

4.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine until the dry ingredients are mixed in well.
Add the grated zucchini and the chocolate chips. Mix once more.

5.  Pour the brownie batter into a greased 8 x 8” baking tin or something with similar dimensions.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out somewhat clean.  Allow to cool completely in the pan.

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