Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Be a pepper. Drink Dr. Pepper ~ or marinade with it

Dr. Pepper Ribs was the first recipe we tried using our smoker. Just like good BBQ, Dr. Pepper combines peppery with sweet. It's a great marinade, use 3 cups in this recipe and drink the rest of the liter over ice. It also makes a great sauce that is good on grilled chicken too!

Country-style ribs are a good economical cut. If you don't want to pay for traditional ribs, you can find country-style ribs for as little as $1 per pound. They usually have plenty of meat and very little bone. Costco also has delicious boneless ones.

This recipe is from Where There's Smoke There's Flavor. I've changed a few things, for example, the recipe causes for parboiling the ribs. This is unneccesary step. Also, if I double the recipe, I double the amount of Dr. Pepper I use to marinade the ribs. It's not necessary to double the sauce. It already makes plenty for 2 batches of ribs and you can still use leftovers for chicken later in the week.

Dr. Pepper Ribs

3 to 4 lbs country-style pork ribs
3 cups Dr Pepper, divided
3 cups catsup
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 tbsps. chili powder
4 tbsps. ground black pepper
2 tbsps. dry mustard
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Marinate ribs in Dr. Pepper overnight.

About 61/2 hours before dinner, start the smoker and take the ribs out of the refrigerator. Once the coals are ready, add well-soaked hickory to the coals. Set a pan filled with hot water in the smoker (below the grate). Smoke the ribs at about 220 degrees F. for 3 hours. Add coals and wood every 30 minutes or so to keep the temperature constant.

Note: We start with a chimney lighter full of coal and depending on weather add 8-10 coals and 1 -2 pieces of wood every half hour or so.

While the ribs are smoking, prepare the sauce. Pour remaining ingredients into blender or food processor. Mix until smooth and well-blended. You do not need to cook it until after ribs are basted with it. After the last basting of ribs, simmer in sauce pan over low heat until thickened.

After 3 hours, turn the ribs, slather them with sauce and continue cooking for another 3 hours. Turn ribs every 30 minutes and slather them with sauce. Before removing ribs, make sure they have reached the internal temperature of 160 to 170 degrees F.

Serve the ribs with the Dr. Pepper sauce for dipping.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Southwestern Slaw

Sunday we had some of our favorite relatives over for BBQ and watching the Coca-Cola 600. Since, I wanted to spend time with the newest member of the family, 2-month old Michael, I kept to easy recipes. One recipe I tried for the first time was from Ellie Krieger of Healthy Appetite on the Food Channel. She has very simple, uncomplicated recipes. Plus, she's great at taking a traditional recipe and making it healthier. Click here to see her recipe. The nice thing about it is it's not too mayonnaisie for me or vinegary forCraig. Here's my quick version of her southwestern slaw recipe:

1 - 10 oz bag of coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage)
1 - jicama sliced into thin matchsticks
1 - thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup yogurt (can substitute mayonnaise)
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl toss together vegetables. In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk, yogurt, lime, cumin, salt and pepper. Add mix to large bowl and mix well. Can be used immediately or refrigerated for future.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sideways note: This was the first time I used jicama. At the grocery store I had to ask for help finding it. Apparently it doesn't come in thin white slices :-). I did get a little embarrassed when I realized I was standing right in front of it! So, others can be spared embarrassment, here's a picture:

Great description of jicama can be found at All I did was peel it then cut it. I've eaten jicama before and love the crispness and sweetness of it. Now that I know where it is in the produce section, I'll be sure to buy it more often.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Easy Baked Beans with Crispy Bacon

Put away the catsup, mustard, brown sugar, assorted cans of baked beans. Here's a recipe that takes alot less time but gets just as many raves as the crockpot version with 10 different ingredients that cooks all day.

Rachael Ray's Baked Beans with Crispy Bacon

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup plain bread crumbs
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Coarse black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans prepared barbecued baked beans, about 4 cups

In a medium skillet over medium high heat, brown bacon but do not fully crisp the pieces. Remove the skillet from heat and toss bread crumbs in the pan with the bacon and drippings. Add scallions to the bread crumbs and bacon and season the mixture with cracked black pepper, to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Add 2 cans of barbecued beans or extra spicy beans to a shallow casserole dish. Top with bacon and bread crumb mixture and place in oven. Bake 15 minutes or until top is crispy and beans are bubbly.

Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy

Memorial Day = BBQ

Time to get out the grills and the smokers, Memorial Day is one of the biggest BBQ days of the year. We have our menu already planned:

* Dr. Pepper BBQ Ribs
* Grilled Corn on the Cob
* Rachael Ray's Baked Beans
* Sweet Potato Salad

Stay posted for pictures!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Toogood Winery

For the kielbasa recipe below, I opened up a bottle of Toogood Winery 2003 Zinfandel. The best part of using wine in a recipe is you get to drink the rest of the bottle!!

Toogood Winery is a great boutique winery nestled in the Sierra Foothills. The wines are very drinkable and the winery itself provides a fresh, innovative, fun approach to wine drinking.

The 2003 is drinkable now. Very fruity.

Kielbasa and Cabbage Recipe

Occasionally I go shopping with recipes in mind. More often, I go armed with a list of items that are at "rock-bottom prices" per the grocery game. Then when I get home I have a kitchen full of food with not a clear idea of what to do with it. This week Fresh Express coleslaw mix was on sale wfor $1 a bag and kielbasa was buy one, get one free. After searching the internet, I cobbled together a couple of recipes and came up with this:

Not Quite Coleslaw & Sausage
Serves 2-3 people
Prep. Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 10 min.

1 med. onion
1 lb. kielbasa sausage (sliced in 1-inch pieces)
1 tbsp. butter
1 cup chicken stock
10 oz. coleslaw mix (in produce section, shredded red & green cabbage and carrots)
splash of red wine
dash of red pepper flakes (1 packet from Round Table Pizza works :-))
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion in butter until just tender. Brown sausage with onion. Add chicken stock and coleslaw mix. Cover and cook on med. heat for about 10 minutes. Add a splash of red wine, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

The Internet is cooking!

Today's Taste section of the Sacramento Bee featured food blogging. There are over 48,000 food bloggers in the United States. It's fun to be part of a community 4x larger than my hometown! The article also features writers of 3 of my favorite Sacramento blogsites, Cakegrrl, Vanilla Garlic and Everything Rachel Ray. All three sites are warm, funny and friendly. The adorable picture on the left is of Kristy, also known as Cakegrrl.

What a great community to be part of!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chili with Smoked Brisket

A 4-lb brisket for 2 people can last quite awhile. After 2 meals and 2 lunches, it was time for something new. Craig discovered this great recipe for chili beans on the BBQ Institute website. We love chili. We have had good chili, we have had great chili, we have had outstanding chili, but none compare to the incredible flavor of this chili. The smokiness and spice from the brisket add a wonderful depth of flavor.

Of course, the best part, was it was a great team effort on both Craig's and my part :-). Next time, we plan on saving a little more brisket to add to the chili.

Craig & Malinda's Chili

2 cups dry pinto beans
2 large onions
6 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock (Canned works fine)
1 to 2 cups water depending on how soupy you like your chili
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/4 cup dark chili powder
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Chipotle powder (smoke and heat) or cayenne (just heat)
1/2 Tablespoon paprika
1 small can green chiles (drained and diced)
2-15oz can tomato sauce
1 to 2 pounds seasoned left over BBQ smoked beef brisket
Adjust salt and seasoning to taste with Kosher Salt

Step 1. In an 8 quart oven-safe pot (with lid) add 2 cups of pinto beans to 8 cups of hot water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Let stand for 4 hours covered, adding water as needed to keep beans covered in water. Drain off water. (Or soak overnight for less work)

Step 2. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Sauté 2 large minced onions and 4 to 8 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the onion is translucent. Add one 15oz can of tomato sauce to deglaze the pan and pour on top of drained beans. Add rest of ingredients (except for brisket), stir, cover, and bake for 2 hours.

Step 3. Add brisket and cook for half hour or more at lowest heat, stirring occasionally. Test for seasoning, adjust and enjoy. Garnish with grated cheese, diced onions, and sour cream. Serve with your favorite cornbread.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fish Tacos Quick

What do you do if you have a lb. of white fish that needs to be used that night and less than 30 minutes to prepare it, cook it and eat? Knowing that I also had some corn tortillas in the fridge, I googled "fish taco recipe" and one of the first sites listed was a great local Sacramento blog, Simply Recipes. Elise has written up a simple and easily adaptable recipe for fish tacos.

Using her recipe as a guide, I threw together my own version in less than 10 minutes. Ate quickly and was only 5 minutes late for setting up a book fair at my daughter's school. THANK YOU ELISE and Simply Recipes!!!!

This is what I did:

You will need:

1 lb. tilipia (or any white fish)
olive oil
corn tortillas
garlic salt (optional)

Soak the fish in cold water for about a minute. Heat up 2 pans, one for the tortillas and one for the fish. Add about 1 tbsp. to each pan.

Remove fish from water and pat dry. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Cook in pan until almost translucent (less than 1 minutes for thin slices, more for thicker). Turn and cook for about another minute.

Heat up tortillas in other pan. About 15-20 seconds per side. Oil is option but does add good flavor to store bought tortillas (I learned that from Simply Recipes :-)) and since my tortillas were getting a bit old, the oil helped greatly.

Assemble at table with any salsa. I just used a jar of Pace I had in my stockpile.

Next time I'll add coleslaw.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And Finally . . . BBQ!

On Sunday, we finally were able to enjoy our bbq dinner. The brisket was fork-tender. Notice the great smoke ring. The Boarding House Macaroni Salad and the beans complemented the brisket perfectly.

The macaroni salad is perfect for a large crowd (we had lots of leftovers). It's simple to make, flavorful and inexpensive. I made it directly from Smoke & Spice cookbook. However, I did omit the pimientos.

Boarding House Macaroni Salad
Source: Smoke & Spice; by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, (c) 1994.
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound Macaroni *
6 ounces To 8 oz mild or medium -
Cheddar cheese -- cubed small
1 1/2 cups Baby peas -- fresh or frozen
1 medium Green bell pepper -- chopped
1 medium Onion -- chopped
2/3 cup Sweet pickle relish
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Plain yogurt
1/4 cup Chopped pimientos
White pepper to taste

* Preferably small elbows or shells, cooked and drained.

In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour to develop the flavors. The salad keeps well for several days.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


In honor of BBQ month, we decided to bbq our first brisket of the season. We dug out our well-used 10-year old copy of Smoke and Spice and decided to make the tried and true Braggin-Rights Brisket recipe with the recommended side dishes of Boarding House Macaroni Salad and Cowpoke Beans. We went to the store the day before and picked out the perfect piece of meat. Friday night I made the rub and vigorously massaged the meat with it. Saturday morning, around 11:00, we placed this wonderful meat on the bbq.

At a little over 4 lbs, smoking for 1 - 1/2 hours a pound, we figured dinner would be around 6:00. Around 12:00, the internal temperature was around 150 degrees. We only needed it to get to 190. Dinner might be early. Soon the meat was at 160 degrees, and there it pretty much stayed.

6:30 p.m. came and went with our brisket at around 160 degrees. Around 7:30, we ordered pizza and at 10:00 p.m. We finally took this off the grill:


We wrapped it up in tin foil, put it in the cooler and went to bed.

So, my next post will be about my wonderful Mother's Day BBQ Dinner.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Diet 7UP Taste Test

Thanks to cakegrrl, I just found out about a great deal from 7 UP. Go here now and receive a Taste Test kit. It is limited, so go soon. The nice thing is if you are too late for the kit, they will still send you a coupon for 2 free liters of 7UP.

Friday, May 4, 2007

I Love Loompya!

If you are looking for homestyle filipino food, Loompya's in Roseville is the place to go! Nothing fancy, even if you are eating there, you are served in takeout containers. It would be perfect takeout for a picnic lunch or an at home movie night. Go hungry. Both my husband and I ordered the BBQ combo. It came with choice of rice, noodles, 2 chicken thighs, 2 hefty-size pork skewers and loompya. All this for only $5.95 each! In fact, it was so cheap, we "splurged" at the end of the meal and got 10 loompyas for $1.99 to give to the friends babysitting for us.

The best part, it was NOT a chain!! Roseville has an over-abundance of chain restaurants. We are blessed (or cursed) with every type of restaurant chain you can imagine. Mom and pop places are few and far between. Sure there are a few exceptions like Amigos on Woodcreek Oaks and Mangia's on Douglas, but for the most part, there's alot of chains and franchises. So it was with relief that we stumbled on Loompya's.

P.S. Advertising in the back of a church bulletin works. At least it did for Loompya's :-)