Asian Marinated Baked Chicken

Asian Marinated Baked Chicken1

Hi , guys. I know, it’s  been a little over two weeks since my last post.

I’m still alive.

I’m still cooking.

I’m still a food blogger.

I wish I had this really exciting, interesting and engrossing story to share with all of you as to why I’ve been a little quiet lately.

But the truth is, I really don’t.

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I’ll be perfectly honest with you guys, I’ve felt sad lately. Nothing major; I have a pretty thick skin, most of the time I just brush it off and carry on with my life. This is just a noticeable sadness that’s still somewhat lingering.

A lot of the inspiration and enthusiasm I normally find in cooking and keeping up this blog has been depleted by the majority of news headlines that we’ve seen in the United States over the past few weeks and months. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to sit down and talk to you guys about food or try to tell a witty story, be my normally sarcastic/humorous self, and then talk to you guys about food when the news is playing in the background and I’m seeing and hearing about things that are happening in my country right now that I’m not okay with.

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Don’t flip out. This blog isn’t going to be my political soapbox. I know that’s not what you’re all here for.

However, issues of politics, equality and social justice are a huge part of how my identity has been shaped and it continues to affect me to this day. I see no reason to hide that. I’m an African American female; it’s a fact and I’m proud of it. My Black heritage was crucial in shaping my cooking identity. It guides the character of my food. And that’s a marvelous thing.  Unfortunately, there is a darker, unfortunate side to having a Black heritage in this country; a blessing and a burden, as the saying goes.

I’ll keep it short and brief: inequality still exists in America. Racism still exists in America. In fact, if you turn on the TV and watch a major news network, you should be able to see that it’s alive and well. And it’s pretty damn serious. People are dying; whether at the hands of corrupt police officers, self-appointed ‘neighborhood watches’, or white supremacist teenagers that shoot up a church prayer meeting, people are dying.

Sadly, this is nothing new, not so far as I’m concerned. It’s apart of the reality that I’ve long had to adapt myself to as a Black person in this country. Most of the time, in spite of the madness that I see or hear happening on the news, I can still cook, take photos and write up a blog post for all of you that’s completely ‘normal’ and funny and carry on. It’s what most of us do.

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But sometimes…I can’t. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. Depressing. Gut-wrenching.

So much so that there have been far too many times over the past few weeks when I literally couldn’t cook, have a photo shoot or write a post. My mind, heart and will just were not in it. As a result, we ate take-out around here for several days. Probably more than we should have.

Sometimes I just can’t pretend that things with my country are okay, because this is a “food blog” and I need to separate that from my daily reality. Things aren’t okay. They’re not.

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I’m not interested in getting into debates or even discussions about the whys and hows all of this chaos is happening. I’m just having an honest moment of raw honesty with you guys. If you were curious as to why I haven’t been around lately, there it is.

Okay, that’s it. I’m done. Hopefully my little spiel was cool with you. (And if it’s not, or you tend to disagree with any of what I just said, I reaaaaaally can’t say I’m too offended or bothered. It’s my blog. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. My feelings won’t be hurt. Promise.)

Fortunately, I’ve been working my way back into the kitchen and giving my blogging mojo more and more pushups every  day to get myself back into Blogging shape so to speak. I think this recipe is a good start.

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So about this chicken: it looks great, right? Guess what?

It’s probably one of the easiest dishes you could ever make. You literally just take some chicken breasts, throw them in an overnight marinade, then bake/broil them the next day. Steam some broccoli, make some brown Minute Rice.

BAM.

You have a delicious dinner.

Like most Asian-inspired dishes, my favorite part of this dish is the sauce on the chicken; the thick, syrupy, sticky sauce that I always drizzle extra spoonfuls of on top of my rice.

Badda bing, badda boom.

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Asian Marinated Baked Chicken

Recipe Courtesy of Chow.com

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peeled and finely minced ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast

Directions

Place everything except the chicken in a 13-by-9-inch broiler-proof baking dish and whisk to combine.

Lay the chicken in a single layer in the marinade and turn to coat. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours, turning the chicken at least once during the marinating time.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 475°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Bake until the chicken is starting to turn a dark brown color, about 40 minutes.

Set the oven to broil and broil until the chicken skin is crisped, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Roast Pork Loin with Apples

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So here on Cooking is My Sport, I throw a lot of meat recipes at you guys. However, I’m willing to share a little secret with you:

There was a period in my life where I was a vegetarian. I even went a step further and became a Vegan. (90% of the time, anyway. I would eat meat once a week for dinner.)

It didn’t last. In fact, it was a pretty miserable time.

You know why?

Because I friggin love my friggin meat.

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Love, love, LOVE it.

Chicken. Beef. Turkey. Pork. I don’t discriminate.

Except when it comes to fish. I’m very discriminatory with fish, but you get the idea.

Eggs and beans and starches like potatoes and beans are great, but no matter how many vegetarian main dishes I’ve cooked (and I’ve made quite a few), none of them have ever been able to give me the satisfaction that comes with plate of thick, juicy meat.
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Beyonce felt the need to make this ‘great big’ announcement this past week on Good Morning America that she had gone Vegan and that it made her feel better, lose weight and improved the quality of her sleep.

And that she was releasing a Vegan food line with her trainer that everyone should buy. Whoop dee doo for her. You do you, Boo. (eye roll)

Don’t get me wrong, guys. I understand that some people have given meat up for ethical or religious reasons. Others really do do it for their health. I get that.

I don’t judge. I won’t criticize. I won’t even mock. Different strokes for different folks.

Just don’t ask me to hop back on that bandwagon. Cause I won’t. I will be over here with my meat and a great big smile on my face.

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My family comes from the South. We are huge carnivores. I think loving meat is in our DNA. It has to be, because, well, Bacon.

We’re meat and potatoes people, with a HUGE emphasis on the meat part of that equation. I honestly think they’d laugh at me if I even suggested us all going vegetarian or vegan. Then they’d tell me to stop fooling around and ask what I was ACTUALLY making for dinner.

Whenever I’m not using chicken, that answer is usually some kind of a roast.

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If there was ever any reason to be a meat-lover, I think that a delicious roast would have to be right there at the top. It smells good. It tastes good. And it feels pretty good in your stomach after you’ve eaten it. That’s why they call it Comfort Food.

There’s really just nothing like a good roast when it’s done right. And I’ve reached a point in my cooking skills where I can do the “Roast Thing” rather well.

That was  me bragging, in case you couldn’t tell. I make very good roast….anything.

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Does that mean that sometimes I cut the corners and throw a cut of meat in my crockpot, set it and forget it? Sure. It comes out just as good.

But most times I will actually do  the extra work of searing the meat first then roasting it in my oven, then thickening the juices over the stove into a rich, hearty gravy.

Like a boss.

This pork loin recipe is pretty easy to follow and straight forward. And delicious, did I mention delicious? Meat lovers will gobble it up. Non-meat lovers will probably want to anyway. No matter what side you’re on, there’s no way you can look at this roast and feel absolutely NOTHING. I refuse to believe that’s possible.

I’ll be taking my pork roast, as well as my meat loving derriere to the Fiesta Friday #72 party hosted this week by  Quinn @Dad Whats 4 Dinner and Naina @Spice in the City. See you guys there!

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Roast Pork Loin with Apples

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Kitchens

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 (2-pound) boneless center cut pork loin, trimmed and tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thickly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thickly, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 apples, such as Cortland or Rome peeled, cored and cut into 8 slices
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large ovenproof skillet heat the vegetable oil over high heat. Season the pork loin all over generously with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until golden brown on all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Transfer the meat to a plate and set it aside.Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, herb sprigs, and 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet. Stir until the vegetables are browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sliced apples, then push the mixture to the sides and set the pork loin in the middle of the skillet along with any collected juices on the plate.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the loin until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers 140 to 150 degrees F, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Transfer the pork a cutting board and cover it loosely with foil while you make the sauce.
Arrange the apples and vegetables on a serving platter and set aside. Remove and discard the herb sprigs. Return the skillet to a high heat and add the vinegar scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen up any browned bits. Reduce by half then add the cider and reduce by about half again.
Pull the skillet from the heat and whisk in the mustard, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.Remove the strings from the roast and slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces and arrange over the apple mixture. Drizzle some sauce over meat and serve the rest on the side.

Curried Ginger Scones

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The coffee shop near my job is really kinda depressing to me for several reasons.

First, their coffee usually just isn’t that good. Believe me, I’ve tried giving them the benefit of the doubt several times. I’ve bought multiple items on their menu just in case it was a fluke recipe; lattes, cappuccino, hot chocolate. NONE are really worth writing home about- or the $3.00 + change they charge for them. They’re not disgusting just…blah. Bland. However, since they’re the closest thing available to me, and more importantly because I have to feed my coffee addiction (or else bad things happen) I do still get a drink from them on the regular.

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I had to mix things up, though. The barista there and I have a special understanding; she swaps out the regular vanilla syrups used in one of the lattes on their menu (it’s not good) with butterscotch syrup just for me, which really makes the drink taste a world of a lot better.

I kinda wish they would give me the credit for the new drink. Name it in my honor and put it on their menu or something. I feel like I did them a major favor. It actually tastes like it should cost $3.18 now.

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Second thing about the coffee shop that depresses me? There’s no hot barista guy working there that I can flirt with in the morning to shake me out of my boredom. Y’know, the guy who gives me the extra shot of espresso free of charge with a commercial-worthy wink “just because” and calls me by my first name and always asks me how my weekend was or what my weekend will be like.

This should be basic elementary coffee shop stuff 101, amIright?

But even more depressing than the just-below-average coffee and absence of a hot barista guy named Wes in the coffee shop are their “baked goods”. The quotation marks were intentional. I’m really not even sure if I should call them that- seems like an insult to be honest. There’s nothing “good” about them. It’s that bad, you guys. I almost don’t even know where to start. They over bake EVERYTHING. I mean, good Lord. Whoever they’re paying to be their baker/pastry chef needs to be fired. or at least they should let me sit down and talk to them about some basic fundamentals of baking.

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Cookies shouldn’t be completely flat and sunken in the middle when they set up. And they should not, should not, SHOULD NOT be dark brown across the top. That’s a burned cookie. It will crumble- and not crumble like Chips Ahoy, either. It’ll crumble like sawdust. Gross.

The scones are really what make me want to burst into tears though. Those poor, poor scones that never did anything to hurt anyone. Those poor scones that just wanted to be great. Those poor scones that have go through such cruel and unusual punishment. They’re over baked to the point where the inside of the scones looks like biscotti. They’re way too brown, I feel like if I squeezed it, it’d crumble into sawdusty crumbs. You’d never be able to tell that there was any butter layered in that overworked, over cooked dough. It’s a travesty.

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Scones are one of life’s greatest joys. They deserve better. They deserve to BE better.

They deserve to be these Curried Ginger scones. I so wish I could sit down with the baker at the coffee shop near my job and teach him or her how to make these. I feel like I could change their life.

Curry and ginger is a marvelous combination; there’s just enough bite, spiciness, and sweetness in both to balance off of one another. Pair this up with a cup of coffee, and you’re more than good to go. You’re ready to face the world.

I’m taking these scones to Fiesta Friday #70, co-hosted this week by newbies Dini @ Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. See you guys there :-)

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Curried Ginger Scones


Recipe Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the ginger, mixing to distribute, then the curry and sugar. Cut in the butter till the mixture is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream), stirring till the dough just holds together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat it into a 10-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.

Cut the dough into triangles, and transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the dough to firm up (this will also make the scones rise higher)

Bake the scones in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. Remove them from the oven and paint them with ginger syrup, if desired.

Big and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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When you think of a typical refreshments table at a social function, what ‘s the first thing that comes to your mind?

A spread of deli sandwiches.

The veggie platter of broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and carrots.

A cheese and crackers plate.

The water and coffee carafes.

Or, maybe you guys are like me and immediately think of the plate of assorted cookies.

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Most assorted cookie platters will have the usual suspects: chocolate chip, macadamia nut, and oatmeal raisin. Some have M and M’s and sugar cookies, but most just stick with the first three.

It could just be my personal observation, but to me the ranking of the cookie platter is pretty clear and cut dry and there’s usually a pretty standard pattern that’ll I’ll see happen no matter where I’m at or the crowd I’m in.

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Chocolate chip cookies always trump everything. They disappear off the cookie platter the quickest so if you’re not one of the first or middle people in line, chances are, you just won’t get one.

Macadamia nut cookies usually rank second. Most  people are  pretty fine with them, and there are even some people who like them best. Why do people like macadamia nut cookies? I’m sure I don’t know. Personally, I think they’re overrated. Also,I don’t like macadamia nuts. Moving on.

Then there’s the oatmeal raisin cookies. They’re usually the ones that get eaten last, or just get completely passed over and left behind. Most people I know HATE oatmeal raisin cookies. They’re like, the ugly step sisters of the cookie platter.

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This is a complete mystery to me. Personally, I love oatmeal raisin cookies. In fact, I’ll go a step further and admit that I learned to love oatmeal raisin cookies BEFORE I ‘learned’ to love chocolate chip cookies. Given the choice over the two, would always pick the oatmeal raisin first. It’s true.

I’m just weird like that.

I think that most people who don’t like oatmeal raisin cookies just haven’t had an oatmeal raisin cookie made for them correctly. The contrasting textures alone are enough to sell me; I love the coarseness of the oats set against the smoothness of the dough. The raisins almost seem to perfume the entire cookie so that even when you don’t bite into one specifically, you can still taste that sweetness that they leave behind. When eaten warm and soft, a perfect oatmeal raisin cookie alllllllmost even tastes like it’s healthy.

Y’know before remembering all the butter and sugar in it that are making it so perfectly soft and chewy in the first place.

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Out of the blue, Jas announced one day that she had a craving for a certain iced oatmeal cookie that used to be sold in the stores when we were little girls that we absolutely LOVED. Those cookies sadly aren’t available anymore, but I thought I’d try to make some that were close to the originals. I used a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, then adopted my die-hard habit of chilling my dough overnight. Once the cookies were done, I whipped together a quick powdered sugar icing that I drizzled over the top.

Not to brag or anything, but these oatmeal raisin cookies would definitely be the stars of any cookie platter at a social event- yes, even with chocolate chip and macadamia nut cookies already there.

Booyah.

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Big and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Recipe Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups rolled old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (optional)
  • A few tsp of plain milk (optional)

Directions

Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg together in a medium bowl; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butters and sugars together at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until combined.

Decrease the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the oats and raisins until just incorporated. Refrigerate dough overnight or at least one hour.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper middle and lower middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two sheets with parchment paper.

Divide dough into 18 portions, each a generous 2 tbsp. and roll them between your hands into balls about 2 inches in diameter. Place dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies turn golden brown around the edges, 22-25  minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool to room temp.

Combine powdered sugar and milk until it makes a firm icing. Using a small spoon or spatula, spread icing on top of cookies and allow to set and harden.

My Grandma’s Lemon Soda Pound Cake

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Nothing is certain but death and taxes, right?

False. At least, that’s my opinion.

There are some things in life that you just know, no matter what happens, that you will always, always ALWAYS be able to depend on.

Things besides death and taxes.

They may be good. They may be bad. But they’re a sure thing regardless.

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I’ll start out with a positive: my sisters. My sisters are as dependable and certain as death and taxes.

Except in a good way.

I know that no matter what happens, no matter where I am or what I’m doing or going through, I can always depend on those two. They’re my best friends in the entire world. There’s nothing I can’t talk about, share with, or ask them for. They’re always there for me. They’re not going anywhere

Theoretically could I cheat and avoid death and taxes? Sure.

But cheating/avoiding my sisters? That’s never gonna happen.

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I heard someone say on a tv show once that the only thing just as certain as death and taxes were mistakes.

Here, I have to agree.

No matter how hard you try to strive for perfection, sooner or later you will mess up somehow. It’s gonna happen. You will make a mistake. And that’s okay; accept it, move on and learn from it. It’ll make you a better person.

In fact, NOT thinking you’re going to ever make a mistake IS actually making a mistake so if you’re thinking that way, then you should really stop because you’re actually mistaken.

Heh. See what I did there?

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I bring up the whole death, taxes and certainty bit because it’s really the first thought that came to my mind when I sat down to write out this post.

If I had to pick out a handful of things that have just been permanent fixtures throughout my life, then this recipe would certainly be one of them. And with good reason. It’s probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. Hands down. No contest.

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My grandma’s desserts are the thing of legend in my family, and although she knows how to do bake just about anything, this pound cake is still the most treasured darling of them all (with the possible exception of her caramel cake, but you guys aren’t ready for that level of awesomeness yet).

When I was growing up, I just got used to almost always seeing this pound cake sitting on my grandparent’s dining room table underneath her fancy clear glass- domed serving plate as the ‘standard’ dessert for everyone to have after dinner throughout the week. Everyone loves it. Everyone.

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I’ve made quite a few pound cake recipes before and I still have to say, my grandma’s is THE moistest I’ve ever had- which is no easy task for pound cake sometimes. It practically melts in your mouth. I used the phrasing “lemon soda” in the recipe title on purpose: we typically either use Squirt or 7-up in our cake, but honestly ANY name-brand lemon lime soda will do. (Sprite, Squirt, Sierra Mist, 7-Up, Faygo, etc). Just make sure that the soda isn’t flat. For some reason having the carbonation really makes the difference in helping the flavor come through.

Normally, I’m not even a big fan of lemon desserts, but I just can’t get enough of the slight tartness from the citrus that offsets the sugar in the cake. I know it SEEMS like a lot of lemon flavoring with the extract, lemon juice AND lemon soda, but trust me: it all works beautifully together.

When Angie asked me to help co-host this week’s Fiesta Friday #67 with Caroline@CarolinesCooking, I didn’t hesitate. Not just because I love co-hosting, but also because it would give me the chance to share this recipe with all of you that is so close to my heart. I hope you all enjoy it.

For those that are new to the Fiesta, welcome! We’re happy to have you and invite you to join our link up and the festivities by clicking the link to the website.

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My Grandma's Lemon Soda Pound Cake


Recipe Courtesy of Jess@CookingisMySport

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. lemon extract
  • 3/4 cup lemon soda (like Squirt or 7-Up)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

 Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a fluted bundt pan (or 2 greased and floured loaf pans) and set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add flour.

Beat in lemon extract, lemon soda and lemon juice

Pour batter into Bundt or loaf pan(s). Tap the bottom of the pans onto a countertop a few times to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, or a direct read thermometer inserted into cake reads 190-195 degrees Fahrenheit. (Note: if you’re using 2 loaf pans,the cook time will obviously be shorter, so check it sooner rather than later.)

Allow cake to cool for at least 35-45 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding from pan.

Saucy Country Style Oven Ribs

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One thing that anyone who’s on pretty good terms with me will tell you, is that I’m usually a self-depreciating person.

I second guess myself a lot. Even if I try something new and it turns out, I’ll usually focus first on the things I did wrong before acknowledging the things I did right.

Especially when it comes to my cooking. I’m super anal about my cooking.

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If I’m making a meal for a crowd or my family, I’ll taste test the dish over and over again, making sure I’ve got my seasonings right.

I’m obsessed with the done-ness of my meats.I’m either afraid that I’m going to undercook them and feed somebody raw food, or overcook them and give someone a piece of leather. There is no in-between.

I use a thermometer to make sure my cakes bake at just the right temperature to be moist, but not too dry. 190 degrees fahrenheit. Yeah. I totally know it by heart.

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I hover over everyone asking questions about the food:

“How is everything?”

“Taste ok?”

“Is it tender/moist enough?”

“Too sweet? Too salty? Too spicy? Not sweet/salty/spicy enough?”

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Even if the dish turns out well, and everyone likes it, I usually still just let it roll off my back. I’m not huge on gloating or giving myself great huge thumbs up.

Most of the time.

But guess what? This time is different. Very, very different.

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This time, I’m gloating. Majorly gloating.

And I dare anyone to try and stop me.

Life in the kitchen is full of trial and error. Sometimes you’ll fail and mess something up. Sometimes you’ll do ok and put out something that’s passable.

And then sometimes, you’ll make something that totally and completely blows your mind.

That’s what happened to me with this dish, guys.

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Country-Style Ribs were something that before this dish, I’d never handled or attempted to cook with before. Red meat itself is just usually something I don’t get my hands on very much anymore because it’s gotten to be too friggin expensive. But my grocery store put them on sale for SUCH a good deal. And the meat looked so beautifully marbled and vibrant in the package that I just couldn’t help myself. I went ahead and bought two packages.

Because it was my first time making them, I decided to stick with something relatively simple and traditional. No frills, no fancy stuff. Barbecue ribs are the best type of ribs.

But me and the grill don’t get along, so I knew I would have to find another way of making them ‘barbecue style’. Cue this recipe I found on Epicurious.com

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What you’re looking at is hands down, one of the most delicious, outstanding, perfect things that I have ever made in my life.

I am NOT  kidding.

This is legit one of the best foods I’ve ever eaten. I almost couldn’t believe that I actually cooked it. It made me step back, take a look at myself and say, “Hey: maybe I’m actually pretty GOOD  at this whole cooking thing….”

I followed this recipe almost to the letter, the only thing I changed was to decrease the original amount of vinegar called for  in the barbecue sauce recipe. (I’m from the South, so I tend to prefer my sauce on the sweeter side.)

Guys, I can’t say enough about the tenderness of these ribs. I mean…Goll-LEEEEEE. Put that knife away: you will NOT be needing it. I’m not even 100% convinced that you’ll need a fork. That’s how tender and juicy and moist the meat comes out. You can literally pull it apart with your fingers.

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See that? That was me after I took one bite of these ribs.

I was Hot Stuff that day. And the day after that when I ate the leftovers.

Lord, just looking at these pictures is making me re-live the glorious feeling of sheer and complete culinary victory all over again. Somebody get me a trophy and a podium to make an acceptance speech, stat.

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I’m super duper late, but I’m still bringing these ribs to the Fiesta Friday#66 party. Because the world deserves to know about these ribs. It’s that serious.  Thanks to Angie and Anna @Anna International for hosting (all by herself too, that is NO easy task!)

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Saucy Country Style Oven Ribs


Recipe Adapted from Epicurious.com

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Ingredients

  • 4 lb boneless country-style pork ribs
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (12 oz)
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons drained bottled horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

 Directions

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Put ribs in a 6- to 8-quart pot and cover with water by two inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, skimming froth, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook onion and garlic in oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

Drain pork in a colander and pat dry, then arrange in 1 layer using tongs in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over pork to coat evenly, then cover dish tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour, then remove foil and carefully turn pork over with tongs and cook, uncovered, until very tender, about 30 minutes. Skim fat from sauce if desired.

Harvest Apple Challah

Apple Harvest Challah4

Sometimes life is just made up of everyday annoyances, irritations, unfortunate circumstances and overall ‘sucky-‘ things.

It snowed earlier this week in Michigan.

End of April. We got snow.

I’m sorry to say that round here,  that’s nothing new. My senior year of high school, we got a full blown snow storm on Easter Sunday. I still remember going out to shovel the sidewalk in blowing snow when we got home from church.

It sucked.

Apple Harvest Challah1

Oftentimes I can shrug off suck-y things as exactly that: suck-y things. For example:

Snow in April.

Random, unexpected and extremely inconvenient cooking fails (when I specifically planned on doing a photo shoot for the blog that day).

My paycheck doesn’t have a few extra zeros at the end.

Sucks.

Apple Harvest Challah5

I’ve never been to Europe.

Stephanie Meyer is a gazillionaire and a bestselling ‘author’, and I’m…not either of those things.

Chris Evans hasn’t figured out that we’re meant to be together and proposed to me.

I don’t have the thighs of a Victoria Secret Model.

Sucks.

Apple Harvest Challah2

But for every one of the daily, inconvenient ‘suck-y’ circumstances of every day life, I bet we all can think of just as many (if not more) convenient, not suck-y circumstances that make up for all that. I certainly can.

For one: challah. Challah is one of my all-time favorite things ever, period. It’s beautiful. It’s delicious. It’s the best.

Challah can make up for a lot of those daily suck-y things.

(Except maybe the one about Chris Evans. That still smarts pretty bad no matter what.)

Apple Harvest Challah3

Somehow, I always end up baking challah around this time of year. Last year, I went all out and made regular Challah and a Vanilla Bean Challah. This year, I still wanted to try and make a twist on the original so I decided to go with this recipe for Challah stuffed with apples.

Challah itself can be a labor of love if you’re keen on twisting the dough into elaborate shapes. Or if you’re like me, and still has to Google EVERY SINGLE TIME how to correctly braid the dough no matter how many times I’ve made this bread before. This apple challah is, I will admit, somewhat more  labor intensive.

However, it’s worth it. More than worth it.

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As you guys can see, this dough is as soft, fluffy and moist as a bread dough can get. The fat challah rolls pull apart at the slightest tug, letting the tender apple chunks fall out into your hands. Best of all, the filling leaks out ever so little so that the bottom of the dough has a thin layer of syrupy brown sugar goo. And of course, there’s the trademark challah golden brown crust on top that is ever so ‘thunk-able’ with your fingers so that you know for sure that you’ve done it right.

So.much.yum.

Definitely does not suck.

If I had to critique one thing about this recipe, it’s that I had way too much dough to try and stuff into a 9 inch cake pan. Mine wasn’t wide or tall enough by far, so I opted for one of deep, oval casserole pans instead. I think it gave me a much bigger rise for my dough anyway, so that was totally cool with me.

Cheers, guys!

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Harvest Apple Challah

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Dough

  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

For Apple Filling

  • 2 medium-to-large apples, NOT peeled; cored and diced in ¾” chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  ¼ cup granulated sugar

Glaze

  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • coarse white sugar, optional

 Directions

1) Pour water in a small bowl; add yeast and 1 tsp. white sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until proofed and foamy at the surface.

2) Pour yeast mixture into a stand mixer and add vegetable oil, honey, eggs and salt, stirring well to combine. Using dough hook add the flour, 1 cup at  a time until dough is smooth and elastic.

3) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

4) Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan that’s at least 2″ deep, or grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan.  Toss the apple chunks with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently deflate the dough, transfer it to a lightly greased work surface, and flatten it into a rough rectangle, about 8″ x 10″.

5) Spread half the apple chunks in the center of the dough. Fold a short edge of the dough over the apple to cover it, patting firmly to seal the apples and spread the dough a bit.  Spread the remaining apple atop the folded-over dough. Cover the apples with the other side of the dough, again patting firmly. Basically, you’ve folded the dough like a letter, enclosing the apples inside. Take a bench knife or a knife, or even a pair of scissors, and cut the apple-filled dough into 16 pieces. Cut in half, then each half in halves, etc.  Lay the dough chunks into the pan; crowd them so that they all fit in a single layer (barely). Lots of apple chunks will fall out during this process; just tuck them in among the dough pieces, or simply spread them on top. Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 1 hour, until it’s a generous 2″ high. It should just crest the rim of a 9″ round cake pan. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 325°F.

6) Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush the dough with the egg mixture, and sprinkle heavily with the coarse sugar, if desired. If you’re going to drizzle with honey before serving, omit the sugar. Place the bread in the lower third of the oven. Bake it for 55 minutes, or until the top is at least light brown all over, with no white spots. Remove the challah from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges and carefully transfer it to a rack.