Saturday, May 31, 2014

30/30 - #28 Kettler Baby Back Ribs

I am sensing a theme here on the Top 30 recipes....grilling! It's definitely grilling season, so I figured it would be a great way to start. The weather has been amazing the last few weeks, meaning any excuse to get out side is a good one. 

30/30 - #28 Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

These ribs are juicy, succulent, fall-of-the-bone kind of ribs. They are so good, that I haven't tried another recipe in the last 5 years. The cooking process and the rub are always the same, but I do change the sauce depending on what ingredients I have on hand, or if I have a special BBQ sauce in the pantry.

Lucky for you, I am throwing in an extra favorite today, my Blackening Rub. The first time I made these ribs, I used a brown sugar spice rub recipe that I included below. It was definitely delicious, but I found it was another step. Since I always have my Blackening Rub prepared in my pantry, I started using that and never turned back!

One final suggestion, make enough to share!

30/30 - #28 Kettler Baby Back Ribs |

Hint for tomorrow's favorite...a roastin' dip!

Kettler Baby Back Ribs

Yields: 6 servings (2-3 racks rib)
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 2.5 hours + 10 minutes


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

You can find the recipe for Kettler Baby Back Ribs here. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

30/30 - #29 Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Day 2 of the ultimate recipe countdown on Kettler Cuisine - Grilled Jalapeño Poppers, which was another easy one to pick out from the list of recipes in my repertoire. These little spicy bad boys are easy to make ahead to throw on the grill during a cookout. I even make "special" ones without the bacon for my vegetarian friends.

Here is a hint for tomorrow....I want my babyback babyback babyback babyback....

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

Yields: 12 poppers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10-15 minutes

You can find the recipe for Grilled Jalapeño Poppers here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

30/30 - #30 Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops

It's official! I am almost 30! To celebrate, I am doing a 30-day countdown to my 30th birthday, hence the "30/30" theme.

I thought it might be fun to celebrate with all of you since cooking and blogging are a BIG part of my life. Birthday celebrations in my family are more like birth-months, they tend to get extended a bit. We like to plan many events, meals, gifts and get-togethers to celebrate.

In the spirit of my "birth-month", Kettler Cuisine is going to countdown to my birthday by featuring my top 30 recipes. It is a random list, but one that is full of Kettler Cuisine recipes, family favorites, other bloggers, restaurants, and of course, cocktails.

To qualify as a favorite, it has to meet three criteria:
  • Made or had it more than once
  • Requested by friends and family often
  • NEVER gets old
Over the next 30 days I will share these favs and maybe sneak in a few new recipes.

30/30 - #30 Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops |

To kick off the big countdown, I am bringing it all the way back to the beginning of Kettler Cuisine with a knockout - Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops!!

This is by far the most requested recipe and most frequent dinner in our household. It was fun to look back through the blog and see how far I have progressed, mostly with photography. Not bad for a self-taught girl! Even though I would love to share the joy of my photography progression, I have updated most of the photos for the Top 30 list.

Check out the original post on Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops for the recipe and my first attempts at blogging!

Enjoy and check back tomorrow for a (hint, hint) spicy bite!

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus up to 24 hours for brine)
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Find the recipe here!

30/30 - #30 Buttermilk Brined Pork Chops |

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Orange Carrot Juice

The Hubby and I are totally in love with our juicer right now! Delicious fruit and veggies are everywhere in the markets, we are juicing everything. Our current favorite concoction is orange carrot, which we usually enjoy in the morning before coffee. 

Orange Carrot Juice

Orange carrot juice is probably one of the best things to start your mornings. It is a refreshing, sweet combination that makes you feel like you are getting off to the right start. Not to mention the loads of vitamin C, and even more vitamin A, making this one hell of a dose of daily nutrition.

I am into juicing right now for two reasons; I actually have time on the weekends to use and clean my juicer, AND it helps me sneak in the benefits of fruits and vegetables without upsetting my digestive system. When I experience flare ups, it is very hard for me to eat raw fruits and vegetables. To prevent malnutrition, I have found my tummy can tolerate juice of vegetables and fruits.

Orange Carrot Juice

My favorite combination is using Blood Oranges, but their season has pretty much come and gone (sad). So I just make due with the oranges that are available. If I am juicing for just myself, I always add in a little fresh ginger for an extra tummy-pleasing kick!

Orange Carrot Juice

Yields: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes (including time for cleaning juicer)

6 carrots, peeled
3 oranges, peeled
1/2 inch ginger, peeled (optional)

Put all the ingredients through a juicer, stir juice and enjoy. This can be stored in an air tight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for up to a day.

Another option is to blend the ingredients in a high-powered blender (such as a VitaMix) and strain the pulp through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. This probably won't produce as much juice though.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Strawberries with Lemon Honey Ricotta

If you live anywhere in the vicinity of North Carolina, then you know that Thursday was a complete rainy mess! Buckets and buckets of rain fell from the sky all day and all night. It was a disaster and a miracle that our house didn't float away. We survived and somehow, the sunshine found its way through the clouds this morning and the sky was a vibrant blue and everything was electric green. 

Strawberries with Lemon Honey Ricotta

Waking up to blue skies always makes me appreciate my surroundings and excites me to get outside (before the heat gets here)! I knew exactly what I was going to do waking up this morning - strawberry picking.

I absolutely adore strawberry season! There is no better tasting fruit at the peak of its growing season than a tasty, sweet strawberry.

Every year on the blog, I usually include a few strawberry recipes during April/May to highlight the ripe fruit. Last year, as I was adventuring in Gluten Free land, I made a Strawberry Almond Tart. The year before that I shared my all-time-favorite recipe, Grandma's Strawberry Pie (which I am planning to make tomorrow with all of my fresh-picked strawberries). This year, I decided to go a bit more simple since time is valuable and the strawberries are so delicious. I had some fresh ricotta from the market, which I sweetened with local honey and some lemon zest. The balance of the sweet strawberries and the creamy ricotta comes together for a very nice fresh, light late Spring dessert.  

Strawberries with Lemon Honey Ricotta

Strawberries with Lemon Honey Ricotta

Yields: 2 servings Prep Time: 5 minutes

Fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered1/2 cup Whole milk Ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2-3 teaspoons honey
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts, lightly toasted

In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the Pine Nuts. Watch them closely, as they will burn quick. Once they become slightly fragrant, remove from heat and the pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the Ricotta, honey and lemon zest together until well combined. Place a small amount of this in another small bowl, layer with strawberries, then more Ricotta. Add the Pine Nuts and bit more lemon zest on top. 

If your strawberries are not extremely sweet, you can drizzle a bit more honey on top as well.

Strawberries with Lemon Honey Ricotta

Strawberry Recipes to also try:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

I hope everyone had a very Happy Mother's Day. I got to spend it with both of my mothers, cooking all day. So yes! I'm back in the kitchen ladies and gentleman! After 5 straight weekends of traveling, I am so happy to be home for a while.

My return to the kitchen is timely, since there are many exciting things happening in my friends lives - babies! Lots and lots of babies everywhere. Since I haven't been through this myself, I try to help the new mothers or mothers-to-be as much as possible. I do this by cooking (like I do for everything else). I love bringing meals to new moms so they don't have to worry about cooking. I have two go-to meals - Mushroom & Spinach Lasagna or Spinach Salad with Homemade Balsamic Dressing - decadent and healthy.

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

Lasagna is the absolute perfect freezer meal! Since most Moms can't plan when they go into labor, freezer meals are perfect to have on hand for the first few days back to the house. A lasagna is hearty enough for a dinner and freezes for up to a month.

There is no doubt this lasagna is a labor of love! When I make this recipe, I usually double it and freeze the leftovers for another time (or another pregnant friend)! But it is TOTALLY worth it! I mean, come on, look at all those cheesey, rustic layers...

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

I found this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, who altered the original recipe (slightly) from Ina Garten. Even though the béchamel-y and Parmesan layers add a rich and delicious texture, I always like a bit of color in my food, so decided to add fresh spinach into the layers. In addition, the Hubby decided that we should increase the amount of mushrooms in the layers as well. We like a lot of "stuff" in our lasagna. Other than those two small additions, the recipe is delicious the way it is. 

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen and Ina Garten

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Olive oil
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used less, because this seemed like a lot)
2 pounds Cremini or Portobello mushrooms, stems removed and sliced 1/4-inch thick1 cup freshly grated Parmesan2 cups fresh spinach (can use more if desired)

To make the béchamel sauce, bring the milk and garlic to simmer in a saucepan. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large separate saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined (with a whisk). Once half the milk is added, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil to help the noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

To make the mushrooms, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in a large sauté pan. Cook the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. If you can't fit all the mushrooms, cook them in 2 batches.

Now it is time to assemble the lasagna! Spread some of the béchamel sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish*. (If you’d like to freeze or give this dish as a gift, remember to use a foil pan). Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), 1/3 of the mushrooms, layer of fresh spinach and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaining sauce and last 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. To freeze for future use, allow it to cool completely and wrap two to three times in plastic wrap before freezing.

Mushroom and Spinach White Lasagna

*Note - I make several small lasagna's in loaf pans and freeze them. These are great for an easy weeknight meal with the Hubby!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lite Chicken Salad

I am about to board a plane for Chicago (which is currently hosting 45 degree weather). I am bummed since we planned this trip hoping for wonderful Chicago Spring weather. Oh well, Jimmy Buffett songs ease all winter, rainy blues...

The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful!!

Even though I am heading for dreary skies, I am hopeful for a little bit of Spring weather, picnics and outdoor gatherings when I get back!

Lite Chicken Salad

Our friends do a lot of potluck parties, or as I like to call them "salad" parties. All types of salads usually show up - potato salad, macaroni salad, fruit salad, green salad and the ever-so-popular, chicken salad.

Chicken salad might be something easy to make, but not in our house! The Hubby and I have completely different ideas of what chicken salad should taste like and how it should be made (i.e. ingredients). I like the crunch of veggies, flavor of fresh herbs and only a little bit of creaminess from yogurt. He likes the crunch from toasted nuts, flavor from fruit and A LOT of creaminess from mayonnaise. Do you see what I am dealing with here?!?!

Lite Chicken Salad

Well, like all good wives (and chefs), I came to a compromise. I did a little research on chicken salad recipes and I decided to combine our taste cravings and make a new recipe. It is a bit different, but we both LOVE it! He asked me to make a larger batch next time so it would last longer.

I like to saute my chicken breasts (instead of boiling). It is a personal preference, but the chicken could easily be cooked in 

Chicken Salad

Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 pound cooked chicken breast, cubed (about 2 cups)
1/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use lite)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 cup red grapes, halved
2 tablespoon red onion, minced (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Cook the chicken as desired and cool.

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients except the chicken and parsley until well combined. Stir in the chicken and fresh parsley and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to build. This is best if made the day before.