Thursday, September 19, 2013

Almond Crisped Peaches

For the last sweet peaches found in various Farmer's Markets, this recipe is a must try as summer slips away! 

Almond Crisped Peaches |

Peach season was pretty good this year, not the best, but pretty good. I was able to make a few crumbles, cobblers and galettes! However, possibly one of my favorite peach recipe that I came across this summer was Smitten Kitchen's Almond-Crisped Peaches.

We all know my love affair with Smitten Kitchen after discovering the Red Wine Chocolate Cake. And her blog and cookbook continue to impress me. The best part about this recipe is that it is gluten-free! I love finding gluten free recipes that don't require a ton of expensive ingredients. The only thing here I had to buy was the peaches (and the ice cream of course)!

Almond Crisped Peaches |

As we say "Goodbye" to summer here in NC, we welcome Fall with open arms. But first, Costa Rica!! Ryan and I are off for a much needed vacation. Don't worry, we will be back with a full report and plethora of Fall recipes!! See you in October :)

Almond Crisped Peaches

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

4 ripe peaches
1/3 cup (55 grams) whole almonds
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup (20 grams) rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Halve peaches and remove pits. Place fruit cut side up in baking dish. 

In a food processor, grind almonds and sugar together until coarsely ground (with a few pebbles left). Add oats and other flavorings, if using, then butter, pulsing the machine until the ingredients are just blended. 

Spoon the almond mixture into the center of each peach, then press it flat, as if icing the tops of the peaches with it. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (baking time varies with peach size), until the top is brown and crisp and you can easily slice through the fruit with a fork or spoon.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with creme fraiche, lightly sweetened whipped cream or even plain yogurt, cold, for breakfast.

Without a food processor: Use an equivalent weight of almond meal or finely chopped almonds, stir in sugar and any other ingredients, then the same volume of butter, melted. It will be less clumpy, but the oven won’t know the difference.

Almond Crisped Peaches |

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kettler Baby Back Ribs

I want my babyback babyback babyback babyback ribs!!

Occasionally a recipe comes along that just has to be shared. Well, today is one of those days folks!! These are fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth, juicy, meaty ribs ya'll!

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

Ribs, a Southern tradition. A carnivorous art form. A slab of meat that takes time and attention for a successful outcome. The key is low and slow. Cook the meat on a low temperature and slowly. Then quickly finish them on the grill on medium-high heat to seal in the flavor and juices.

I came across the technique in Real Simple magazine several years ago and have tweaked to perfection. The article was about the different preparation techniques for various cuts of ribs. Since I always get baby back ribs (pork), I decided to rip out that page and go from there.

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

With Ryan's mad grilling skills and my fearless recipe testing, these ribs have become a family favorite! It was the perfect recipe to accompany the Hegele Fantasy Football kickoff this past weekend. There was major trash-talking and major finger-licking! My dad kept sneaking a bite even before they were slathered with sauce!

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

The Rub
I start with the rub. I use two different ones, depending on what flavor outcome we want - spicy or sweet.

The sweet rub is more like the one I found in that magazine all those years ago, and it pairs very nicely with the Dijon Balsamic Barbecue sauce recipe below. However, my mom prefers to use my Blackening Rub instead since she likes a little kick. The blackening rub is really good with a mesquite-type barbecue sauce.

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

However, we agreed that the best combination is my Blackening Rub and the Dijon Balsamic Barbecue sauce!

The Sauce 
Very important! But only added right at the end to finish on the grill. The sauce is what creates the crunchy outside of the rib meat, which seals in all the juices. There is always a big argument for what kind of sauce we should use because it is a very personal thing. It is like asking someone if they prefer chocolate or vanilla. Personally, I love the Dijon Balsamic Barbecue sauce below.

But, my hubs loves Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce, found in your local grocery store.

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

The Cooking Process
Also very important! Ryan wrote out specific instructions on the grilling process as this can make or break your ribs. Trust me, you don't want to spend over 2 hours slow cooking your ribs in the oven, just to ruin them on a grill!

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

The Hubs wrote detailed instructions for me to add in:
  1. Start with a single layer of charcoal that's greyed. (I don't recommend using a gas grill because the point is getting the charcoal flavor infused into the ribs). You can also throw wood chips of hickory, cherry, or your favorite wood that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes on the coals to create a smokey flavor as they smolder.
  2. Place the greased grill on and leave for 2-3 minutes to heat up. It shouldn't be too hot. You should be able to hold your hand directly above the grill for 3 seconds.
  3. If too hot, close the vents on the top and bottom of the grill half way to allow less air flow (fires need air so less oxygen = less fire fuel).
  4. Place the ribs on the grill (halve them to make handling easier), meat side down first, leaving some space between each rib for air to circulate, cover, grill for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Open grill and flip the ribs so they are bone side down. The ribs should have some slight grill marks on them, but shouldn't be burnt.
  6. Use a basting brush to add a generous portion of sauce to the meat side that's now slightly crispy from being on the grill.
  7. Cover and grill for another 2-3 minutes. This step allows the sugars in the sauce to caramelize and create that delicious glaze rib lovers crave!
  8. Open grill and pull ribs off. Be careful pulling the ribs off the grill because if they're tender like they should be, the bones will come right out! We don't want any rib casualties!
  9. Allow the ribs 3-5 minutes to sit under tin foil so any juices will reincorporate into the meat.
Make sure to give your epic grill master a big, sticky BBQ kiss to show how much you love 'em, or take a memorable selfie :)
Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

Kettler Baby Back Ribs

Yields: 2-3 racks of ribs (6 servings)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 1/2 hours + 10 minutes

4 pounds baby back pork ribs

Brown Sugar Spice Rub
8 tablespoons brown sugar
4 teaspoons dried oregano
4 teaspoons dried mustard
4 tablespoons smoked paprika
3 teaspoons pepper
3 teaspoons salt

Dijon Balsamic Barbecue sauce
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 275F.

Combine the rub ingredients together (brown sugar, oregano, mustard, paprika, pepper and salt) and set aside. Rinse and dry the ribs and layout on a large counter space or cutting board. Evenly spread the rub on the meat and massage in all over. Don't be shy with the rub, or the meat :)

Lay the ribs on large rimmed baking sheets and cover tightly with foil. Bake in the oven for 2 to 2 1/5 hours until the meat is very tender and starting to fall away from the bones.

While the meat is cooking, combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey in a small bowl. This will be used as a barbecue sauce. A ready-made sauce can easily be substituted. We love Sweet Baby Rays!

Prepare the grill, brush the sauce onto the cooked ribs and cook on the grill according to Ryan's instructions above.

You should be able to pick up a rib and have the bone fall right off the meat like below! Serve right away with plenty of napkins!

Kettler Baby Back Ribs |
I picked up a half-rack by a bone and this is what happened!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Flavor Infused Water

I can't believe September is here! The weather is amazing! You can feel it in the air...the humidity is gone and Fall is coming (GOT fans??). Yes, we still have warm days ahead, but those are the beautiful, delightful, can't-stand-to-be-inside type of days! This is when our porch gets the most use. We make drinks and snacks, Ryan pulls out his golf club and practice balls, I open a book or magazine and we just sit outside enjoying the comfortable weather. The perfect thing for porch-sitting-September evenings is fresh flavored waters.

Cool Infused Water |

Flavored water is the perfect beverage for those "Ahh, this feels nice" kind of days. If you are feeling a little spunky, add some vodka too!

Cool Infused Water |

For our relaxing porch day this week, I made a large pitcher of refreshing cucumber and lime water (with maybe a bit of vodka in it...we were feeling spunky). We are obsessed with infused is the best way to hydrate, especially if you aren't a fan of boring water. I found this handy infuser tool a few years ago that allows you to easily infuse your water without having to fish out all the scraps. Here are a few of our favorite flavor combinations:
  • Cucumber and lime
  • Citrus - orange, lemon, lime
  • Raspberry and mint
  • Strawberry and basil
  • Cucumber alone - feels like you are at the spa!
Infused water is my go-to healthy mixer for a vodka cocktail as well. You get fresh flavor with no calories or sugar. When Kendal (remember Trendy Kendie) and I were at the beach last year, we discovered a shared love for this type of cocktail and had a great time muddling fruit into our water to cool us off at the beach. I think we tried about 4 or 5 combinations in one got a bit wild :)

Cool Infused Water |

Porch sitting days remind me of family and I have to mention a special birthday today! Happy Birthday Desiree!!! You are possibly the best "Mother-in-Law" a girl could ever have. I think we have come to the point where we could just drop the "Mother-in-Law" tag though! Love you so much and hope you have a fantastic birthday....hopefully filled with porch-sitting drinks. :)

Infused Water
Yields: 1 pitcher / 4 glasses
Prep Time: 30 minutes

1 pitcher of filtered water
1 cup of fruit/citrus/vegetable of choice

Combine the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Football season is here! Check back early next week for the best baby back rib recipe you will ever come across. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Healing Power of Pho

Seriously! Who gets sick in the middle of summertime?! Oh wait, I do!

The Healing Power of Pho |

I have to rant for a minute here. I am a very healthy person. I eat well, exercise, take vitamins and minerals. I even eat fermented vegetables and drink water kefir every day! Unfortunately one of my medications for Crohn's suppresses my immune system just enough for me to catch every sickness known to man! I missed the first NCSU football game on Saturday because of this stupid sinus cold. I got so frustrated that I decided to stack on all my cold-remedies at once to nip this thing in the bud.

And those remedies include:

1. Hot water, lemon and honey (3-4 cups a day)
2. Neti pot (twice a day)
3. Cold humidifier (next to my bed at night)
4. DayQuil for the really severe days. I try everything before going to antibiotics.
5. And, the best of all, Pho

The Healing Power of Pho |

Pho, pronounced "fuh," is a traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup. I don't have a recipe to share because it is quite complicated (and I am American). Just find the best Vietnamese restaurant in your area and when I say "best," I mean most authentic. For us, the best is a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a strip mall - Pho Far East in Raleigh. My friend Nicole introduced us to this spot (she has been going for many years) and it didn't disappoint. I tried the traditional Pho the first time (which has beef and other meats), but my favorite is the chicken noodle Pho.

The Healing Power of Pho |

Hot broth, rice noodles, chicken and a lot of fresh herbs, bean sprouts, chili peppers, lime and onions. The first bite opens your sinuses right up! After several cups of hot water, honey and lemon and a run-in with the Neti pot, I was able to gather enough energy to pick up a bowl of Pho for dinner. I woke up feeling ten times better the next morning.

I am convinced, Pho is the best remedy around! Pho-real! Pho-sho!

The Healing Power of Pho |

If you are feeling brave: Pho Recipe from Steamy Kitchen
When you find that Vienamese hole-in-the-wall: How to Eat A Bowl of Pho Like You Know What You're Doing

(If you can't find a good Vietnamese restaurant, you can also make Healing Vegetable Soup).