Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dinner with Friends revisited

So I have been teasing you with this menu for when we had some friends over on Tuesday night, right? Well, it was delicious. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of our beautifully set table and the delicious food! Instead, I had my husband take a picture of the leftovers. They were still delicious...

Here is why there is no awesome photo:
1. I got out of work later than expected thanks to some cranky people on the phones.
2. My husband's truck died and that was the night we could pick it up. However, since he was still coaching and I somehow beat him home, I had to throw the ribs in the oven so they would cook long enough and then throw on running clothes so that I could run there (it's about a mile and a half away) and make it over to the mechanic shop before they closed and then they wanted to explain what happened. While I normally LOVE that mechanics take the time to explain things to me even if I'm a woman (thank you Mechanic Scott!), I really didn't need them to reenact ripping the dome light out of the car.
3. Our guests showed up early. However, they showed up with rocky road cheesecake, so who cares?!

Coach S and Mrs. Coach S are adorable! We had a lovely dinner, great conversation, and made plans for another get-together. Hopefully, it's to watch a Packer game or play with their new puppy! I could totally see why Coach S and my husband are friends. While they may talk slowly, you can tell that their minds are moving 100 times faster. Unlike me, a motor-mouth, my husband carefully considers the words that come out of his mouth 98% of the time. If only I would learn to not plow people over with words! I'm sure that's exhausting.

OK, back to the food. Ribs and potatoes are going to be the focus here because, that's all I have a picture of to share with you.

My husband does the grocery shopping for us based on a careful and detailed list. He does a great job! He found wonderful baby back ribs on sale!

Here is the recipe (I made this one up based on a lot of recipes and mostly what my mom told me to do):
3 pounds of baby back ribs, thawed (approximate weight)
2-3 tablespoons of Galena Street rub from Penzey's Spices (alternatives are the Northwoods spice or Emeril's original)
Splash of vinegar
1 18 oz bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Original BBQ sauce - This is my husband's favorite. I also like the hickory or honey flavored variety. However, this went really well with the rub.

How to:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the ribs bone-side down in a baking dish. I used a 13 x 9 inch pan, but had to cut the ribs to fit. (I REALLY wish I had a picture of this for you). I drizzled a bit of vinegar over the tops of the ribs - just enough to get them wet. Sprinkle the rub spices over the ribs. You don't have to get carried away here, but make sure the spices are even. Then bake in the oven for 2 hours. With 30 minutes left to bake, you can either choose to baste them a bit with the pan juices or you can cover the ribs with sauce. I go for the sauce, but that's just me. If you don't want them so messy, you can leave the sauce off or just on the side. Bake for 30 more minutes.

The garlic oven roasted potatoes were modified from Kitchen Crush Ina Garten's recipe. This is a super easy recipe and it is always a hit! Here is the real recipe.

Here is what I did:
3 lbs of red potatoes, washed and cut in inch-sized chunks
1/4 cup of regular grapeseed oil (I'm a fan of the Wildtree products)
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tablespoon Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle (Italian seasoning)

Since you've got the oven hot, you don't need to preheat the oven, but you'll just bake them longer. However, if you're just making these alone, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the potatoes and chop them into quarters or inch-sized chunks. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes with the oil and garlic. Warning, if you crush your own garlic like I did, your hands will smell like garlic for a while. Then spread the potatoes on a baking sheet (I cover mine with aluminum foil for easy cleaning) and then sprinkle them with the Italian seasoning. Bake for about 1.5 hours if they're at 350 with the ribs or for about 45 minutes to an hour at 400. Turn them once or twice during the baking time so they get browned evenly.

Here is what everything looks like when it's done:

OH MY GOSH! Ok, so I'll have to give you the photo later if I can figure out how to get it off of my phone since he texted it to me instead of e-mailing it to me. Hmm... We will get this fixed. I hope! In the meantime, use your imagination!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini for the win!

Tonight we're having Mr. and Mrs. Coach S over for dinner. I have never met them before, so I'm just going with foods that I think most people love. They are bringing dessert, so I only have to worry about dinner... ha!

As I said in the last blog post, the menu includes garlic oven potatoes, BBQ ribs and a mystery veggie to round it out. I think we're going to go with zucchini. Not only do my in-laws have a bumper crop of them that they shared with everyone, but they taste great and they are good for you!

Zucchini is a versatile summer squash that can be baked, grilled, eaten raw, fried, and... made into tots! Thanks to my kitchen crush, blogger Gina Homolka over at, I found a great new way to eat zucchini. Zucchini tots are savory and great as a side dish or a snack.

I followed Gina's recipe pretty closely. The only thing that I changed was that I used a regular muffin tin instead of mini one. This was purely done on accident. However, it does change the serving size. Instead of 4 tots as a serving, you would probably only need 2 of the ones I made.

You can find the recipe for Zucchini Tots here. Definitely take a look at her pictures since I did not take a picture while squeezing the excess liquid out of the grated zucchini. Instead, I was making a slight mess in the sink...

Ingredients (again, go to Gina's website for more information and her amazing food photos):
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Here we go:
Once you've preheated the oven to 400 degrees, you need to grate your zucchini. I used a food processor instead for a couple of reasons:
1. We got it as a shower gift and I've been dying to use it.
2. I broke my old grater and no one gave us a new one for a wedding gift.
3. My mom, another kitchen crush, said that a food processor would totally work instead.
4. I could add the onion right away and not have to smell like onion for the rest of the night.

This is what the chopped zucchini looks like before I squeezed out all the extra juice.
Mix the zucchini and onion in with the other ingredients.

Here is what it looks like in a regular size muffin tin.
Make sure that you press them down firmly.

This is the delicious result!
For more amazing healthy recipes, visit because Gina is one amazing cook and food photographer!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Coming up: Dinner with Friends

My husband coaches high school football, which makes him Coach and I am Mrs. Coach. Next week we are having although I went to nearly every game through the time we were dating and engaged, there are still some of the other coaches that haven't met me yet. We're having Coach S and Mrs. Coach S over for dinner next week to hang out.

Now, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable in football considering I come from a long line of dedicated Green Bay Packer fans and I was a cheerleader. Cheerleading is not just all rah-rah, shake your pom-pons and do a bunch of high kicks. Cheerleaders are athletes who had to train and know specific details of both cheer routines and what was happening on the field. You wouldn't want to be cheering your team on for a first down when they were on defense. Duh.

Steps off soap box...

Anyway, what cheerleaders didn't have to know were the many, many types of coaches that each team has. You've got your head coach, offensive coach, defensive coach, line coach, special teams coach, QB coach, etc. However, there is one thing that I do know about coaches: They all love BBQ. I have yet to meet one that doesn't enjoy a tangy red BBQ sauce or anything off of the grill.

Next week: BBQ Ribs, garlic oven-roasted potatoes and (veggie yet to be determined).

Please share your favorite BBQ recipes in the comments and help me pick out a veggie to serve with the meal! Zucchini? Corn?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Who doesn't love guacamole?

I am a huge science nerd. I love finding out how things work, and how they work together. That is what makes recipes so interesting! You get to see how all these random ingredients can be thrown together in a bowl and create deliciousness. One of my husband’s favorite foods is avocado, and he likes to try and put it on EVERYTHING with mostly positive results.

All photos were taken by me in my
kitchen without assistance since
I can't seem to find my tripod.
Since we live in southeastern Wisconsin, we don’t get avocados year-round (or at least not on sale!), so we rely on California to send us their Hass avocados during summer. Wisconsin just doesn’t have an avocado-friendly climate. The trees don’t tolerate the cold well, and we do have the “frozen tundra” here.

Random fact: although avocados are green and they aren’t what I would consider a sweet food, they are actually the berries of an avocado tree.

OK, so back to science here. One of my kitchen crushes who also loves food science is Alton Brown who, if you’ve seen his show Good Eats or read his books with the same name, seems to know all things historical, scientific and pop-cultural about food. It’s awesome.

He has a great, simple recipe for guacamole and I have a party to go to tonight, so I made a variation of his recipe for guacamole which you can find here

His recipe calls for:
  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
I used:
  • 2 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil or olive oil
I’m not the biggest fan of cilantro so I left that out. Also, I have neither cumin nor cayenne pepper in the house, so you make do.Since dicing tomatoes and onions are pretty easy to do, I am skipping that in the pictorial part of this post and just show you a picture of all the ingredients prepped except for the avocado. That’s the tricky part.

So, how do prepare the avocado? First, cut the avocado lengthwise working around the rather large seed/pit. Then, in order to get the pit out, you really chop into it hard and then twist the knife so that it spins the pit out. The pit should be stuck to your knife. You can just toss that in the garbage unless someone knows of a way to reuse it. If you do, please post it in the comments!
Be careful when you take the pit from the knife to throw it away.

Once you’ve got the pit out, cut a grid pattern in the avocado. You should do this gently so that you don’t cut through the peel right into your hand. It should look like this:
Note how I did not slice my hand... this time.

Serving suggestion: eat with chips, spread on a burger or
on grilled chicken.
Scoop out the pieces with a spoon by following along the edge of the peel. Once you’ve got that all in the bowl, stir it so it is well coated with the lime juice and oil. This will help keep the avocado from turning brown. You can always pop this on a blender or food processor if you like your guacamole smoother, but I am a fan of the chunky version of this dip. Grab a bag of tortilla chips or make your own if your ambitious and then dig in!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Flipside part 2

Here are some photos to go with "The Flipside" post from last week. Please excuse the photo quality. I had to take the photos by myself with my phone since my husband wasn't home to be my photographer.

When you've got your pan hot and the butter is bubbling nicely, this is what it looks like:
Be sure and swish the butter around to coat the whole bottom of the pan. Although the pan is non-stick (Rachel Ray from Kohl's), it is nice to be sure that your eggs won't stick when you're trying to flip them.

Here is what the eggs should look like when you're getting ready to flip them. See how the edges are pretty well cooked and they don't wiggle when you shake the pan. It's OK if the top of the middle of the eggs are wobbly. Note the firm grip that's ready to flip!

 Now that you've flipped them by sliding them up the pan with a quick shove-away motion, this is what it looks like. Yes, that some egg residue from the flip on the edge, but that's OK. It was delicious!
See? All part of a healthy breakfast of yogurt, fruit, juice and an omelet filled with cheese and topped with homemade salsa.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Flipside

To every story, there is a back story. To every buttered side of the bread, there is a plain side that never is the end that lands on the floor. To every joke there is a punch line. To every side, there is a flipside.

In honor of my #1 celebrity kitchen crush, Julia Child, I’ll be making some omelets this weekend. She was the master of the easy-to-make rolled omelet, which you can make start-to-finish in about 5 minutes including prep time. However, she also had a pretty nice pan flip, too.

When I first saw her do a pan flip, I have to admit that it was in the movie “Julie and Julia” starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Then it was off to YouTube to see old episodes of “The French Chef” for more research. It seems it was all in how you gripped the pan and gave a little flick.

Side story: My sister is an amazing volleyball player and she can serve a wicked ace. It looks like she merely flicks her wrist and WHAM! You’ve just been served…

Now back to Julia and the flipped omelet, which is pretty cool to watch, which you can find here.  Note, this clip shows both Meryl Streep as Julia Child and the real Julia Child flipping eggs with finesse and a little humor. I love them both!

It only took me four tries and about a dozen eggs to get the flipped eggs to land back in the pan without splattering my stovetop with egg bits. It really is all in the grip and flick.

How to flip eggs in a pan:

What you’ll need:
2 eggs whipped in a bowl with a tablespoon of water or milk
8-inch frying pan with a sturdy handle
Butter or cooking spray

Get the frying pan hot and put in a half tablespoon of butter or coat the pan with cooking spray. Once the butter starts to bubble and just before it starts to brown up, put the eggs in the pan. This will cook them quickly, so feel free to give the pan a few good firm, but small shakes to keep the eggs moving and cooking evenly. If you are adding anything to your eggs, now would be the time to do that.

When the bottom looks firm (it’ll all move together instead of breaking apart when you shake the pan), lift the pan by the handle with one hand and raise it a few inches above the stove top. I am right-handed, so I used my right hand. You way want to use two hands if this is your first try.

Once you’ve got a good grip, you’re going to need quick movement with a good bit of confidence. You should make a jerking motion that shoves the pan up and away from your body. Don’t do it too fast or too far that your eggs have no chance of making it back in the pan. I like to flip the eggs up the side of the pan and then move the pan under them to catch it. It’s not always a full flip, but that’s OK. If you cover it with a little salsa and put cheese in the middle (serving suggestion), no one will know!

When the egg is cooked on both sides, I turn off the oven, bring my plate near and then slide one half of the egg out of the pan. I grab some shredded cheese and put in the middle along with a little onion or mushrooms. Then I slide the other half of the eggs out of the pan and fold it over the cheese. Top it with a little salsa and it is delicious! Eggs can be dressed up or left alone. Anyway you make them is delicious!

For breakfast or dinner, eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin D. “The protein in eggs is the highest-quality protein found in any food.” ( Plus, they are easy to make and easy to make it look like you’re a fancy chef!

Give it a try and let me know how many times it took you to flip an omelet in the comments section.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cook for Julia

The kitchen has always been my favorite room in the house. It is so versatile. You can grab a snack, learn something new, do your homework, have an argument, or spend time with your family. When I went to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, I found a kitchen where I could see myself creating delicious meals. It was Julia Child’s kitchen.

This might be your mother’s kitchen. This could look like your grandmother’s kitchen, but I don’t know. I’ve never met your mother or your grandma. Then again, I was never able to meet Julia either. She died before I moved into my own apartment with my very own kitchen. However, I think our shared love of butter and having our kitchen tools in just the right place would have made us kitchen friends.

In honor of her would-have-been 100th birthday, inspired by food bloggers and PBS, I am starting my own blog to share the love of food today. PBS has a wonderful section of their website dedicated to “Cook for Julia”. So many of my favorite food bloggers are participating and kitchen fever caught me!

Please come back and check out my blog as I try out the recipes of my kitchen crushes from the celebrity to local should-be celebrity chefs to my parents and friends. Every kitchen has a story to tell and every cook should have a crush. After all, the secret ingredient in every delicious dish is love.