Friday’s Flavors: Corned Pork Ribs

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Recently, Natalia over at Traveling Hummingbirds wrote a post about a plate of delicious ribs she had while in Amsterdam. Being from the south, and married to a rib connoisseur, AND having mastered the art of making fall off the bone, fork tender, melt in your mouth ribs myself (I shared the recipe here way back in 2013), I had to know more, and she told me they were corned and smoked. Corned? Ribs?

I’d heard of corned beef, but this was new, and when I tried to find a recipe online, there was very little info about it. Naturally, I was intrigued. And I couldn’t help but feel challenged. So, even though I was positive I was going to ruin a perfectly good rack of ribs winging a corned rib recipe, I gave it a try anyways – and was delighted to discover I was wrong!

I’m not going to lie – there were MANY moments during this process that I thought we’d be ordering takeout at the eleventh hour. I didn’t even take pictures to document the preparation. The ribs weren’t very pretty. And unlike when I usually cook ribs, the smell didn’t make my mouth water. But the meat was succulent and delicious, which is all that matters!

Because most of the information I could find about brining to make corned meat was for briskets, and ribs are much thinner, I only brined the ribs for 48 hours.

Ingredients:

1 rack of pork ribs

salt for brining (I used Morton’s coarse grain salt)

plastic Ziploc bags

water

Preparation:

Cut the slab of ribs into 2-4 pieces (I made 3). Place each piece in a separate plastic bag. (Tip: Flip the ends of the bag over to the outside to prevent spreading raw meat germs.)

Mix your brining solution. I used about 1/8 cup salt for every 2 cups of water.

Place enough brining solution in each bag to submerge the meat and seal tightly.

Put your Ziploc bags inside another plastic bag (like a grocery bag) to guard against disaster and refrigerate.

Allow the meat to soak for 48 hours.

Rinse ribs under cold water, then place in a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 hours.

And that’s it! We ate the entire rack that night, which we’ve never done before! If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next week for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Individual Beef Wellington With Blue Cheese

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’ve always wanted to try Beef Wellington. Fillet wrapped in pastry? Yes, please! So when a package of puff pastry caught my eye right around my birthday, I thought, why not? And when I was researching the process, cooking times, etc., and I came across a recipe that added gorgonzola into the mix, I remembered the blue cheese crumbles I had in the fridge, and again thought, why not? So I did.

I must say that since I wasn’t willing to let this meal be an all day thing, I skimped on a couple of steps. After you pan sear the steaks, most recipes suggest refrigerating them for an hour – I only did this for 40 minutes. Also, after you wrap everything in the puff pastry, it’s suggested that you put the wellington in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another hour. I found an explanation that this is done to help the puff pastry keep its shape during cooking – I didn’t care if it was pretty, just tasty, so I skipped this step entirely and put them right in the oven. To my surprise, it held its shape perfectly, and the taste? Well, I’ll definitely be making this again!

Ingredients:

2 fillet mignon steaks, 1″ thick, brought to room temperature

1 package of puff pastry

mushrooms (I used 4 good sized baby portabellos)

1 large shallot

garlic, 2-3 cloves

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg

1 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. high smoking point oil

parchment paper

Preparation:

Salt and pepper the meat. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet on high. Sear both sides and all ends of the steak, then turn the heat down to medium, removing the pan from the heat while it cools if the outside starts to crisp. Depending on the size of the steak, cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. When steaks are done, refrigerate for 40-60 minutes.

While the meat is cooling, finely chop mushrooms and shallots. You could also use a food processor if desired. Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in a pan and sauté mushrooms and onions until the shallots become translucent and the moisture is cooked out of the mushrooms. (Tip: dry clean your mushrooms so you don’t add extra liquid to them.) Add crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Stir until garlic is fragrant, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

If you don’t plan to refrigerate the assembled steaks for an hour, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat 1 egg to use as an egg wash.

Lay out your puff pastry dough. I rolled the dough I was working with a little thinner because it looked rather thick. Spoon blue cheese crumbles onto the dough in roughly the size and shape of your steaks. Add the cooled mushroom mixture over the blue cheese. Top with a steak. Fold opposite ends of the pastry over, sealing with a sparing amount of egg wash if it won’t stick on it’s own. Fold the other two ends, making sure all seams are well and tightly sealed. Remove any excess dough.

At this point, you can put the pastry wrapped steaks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or you can go ahead with the cooking process. When you’re ready to cook them, place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush with the egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

And that’s it! It was a touch more labor intensive than the average meal preparation, mainly because of the refrigerating time, but it was soooo worth it. The flavors melded together into savory steak perfection, and the puff pastry took it to a whole new level of delectableness!

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Air Fryer Potato Wedges

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Two words. Potato Wedges. For some reason they remind me of childhood. Chasing lightening bugs, sticky popsicle dripping down my chin, running through the sprinkler . . . or maybe that’s summer. But aren’t childhood and summertime kind of the same thing? Do summers ever last as long or mean as much as when we’re children . . . I digress. My point is, I’m no longer young enough to eat fried food and no longer adventurous enough to eat anything from a good ole southern gas station display case. So when I get a (in keeping with the southern theme) hankering for some potato wedges, I’ve got to make them myself. Thankfully, with the help of my trusty air fryer, I can easily make the crispy outside, tender inside yummy goodness that I crave!

Ingredients:

2 thin baking potatoes

olive oil

paprika

garlic powder

garlic salt

ice water

Preparation:

Wash and slice your potatoes. I choose thin potatoes and cut each one into 8 wedges by slicing the potato in half, and each half into quarters.

Place the potato wedges in a bowl of ice water for 10 minutes (removing the starch helps the wedges from becoming crumbly and helps the outside crisp).

Remove from ice water, set on paper towel, dry well. Allow to sit 5 minutes.

Rinse and dry bowl.

Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees. Preheating keeps your wedges from sticking. If your fryer doesn’t have a preheat setting, simply run it empty at 400 degrees for 2-3 minutes.

Return dried wedges to the bowl and, using the least amount of oil possible, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Add spice, toss to coat, and repeat.

Place wedges in the air fryer, and cook at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Flip, sprinkle with more seasoning if desired, then cook for an additional 8 minutes. That’s it! Flavorful, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and you can take a bite without the remainder crumbling into little potato bombs that burn your chin – these are the things dreams are made of (maybe not yours, but mine!).

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Air Fryer Lamb Chops

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

When most people think of air fryers, they think they’re frying the food they put in them. But if you look at the broad range of food you can cook – even bake – in them, you’ll see that they can also be used as a substitute oven. Not a huge deal considering that most people use them in their homes, but in Florida, where the heat an oven puts out can make the indoor temperature quite unpleasant, or even in an RV or travel trailer when camping, using your air fryer as an oven can be a great option.

When we have lamb chops, we often grill them, but when it’s pouring down rain, an air fryer comes in a close second. This recipe is quick and easy – who can argue with that?!?!

Ingredients:

lamb chops, 1″ thick

olive oil

garlic, crushed

salt

pepper

Preparation:

Make a paste by mixing olive oil, freshly crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Placing your lamb chops on a piece of wax paper, coat both sides thoroughly with your mixture and allow to rest while you bring them to room temperature, about an hour.

Spray the inside of your air fryer with oil. Preheat air fryer to 390 degrees for a few minutes. Place lamb chops inside the air fryer bed, spacing so they don’t overlap. Cook for 3 minutes. Flip. Cook for another 3 minutes. Let sit in air fryer for 5 minutes, then serve. This recipe will cook your lamb chops to the medium side of medium rare. For an overcrowded basket, thicker or thinner chops, or to cook to a different temperature, adjust time accordingly.

And that’s it! If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Jalapeno Stuffed Poppers

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Now, I am not a fan of anything spicy. Hot peppers and I are mortal enemies. But, if you look in my garden, you’ll see that I grow 7 different types of peppers, from Jalapenos all the way to Carolina Reapers. Sigh. The things we do for love.

As you might of guessed, my husband is a fan of the spicy. In a family of people who love the hot stuff, his nickname is Leather Tongue. I’ve yet to find something too spicy for him to eat, and even though I do most of the cooking, and I can’t handle the hot stuff, I still make a lot of it. So, for those of you who are like me, here’s a simple solution for poppers: stuff baby bell peppers. I’m not a huge fan of those, either, but my stuffing is too tasty to miss out on!

(I’m giving you the measurements necessary to make 36 poppers, but the amounts are easily reduced and if you have any stuffing left over, it’s great on bagels, sandwiches, celery, or just by the spoonful!)

Ingredients:

Jalapenos

Mini Bell Peppers

one 7.5 oz. container of Cream Cheese (whipped is easier to work with, I like the chive flavor for this recipe)

one and a half 8 oz. blocks of Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

lots of fresh crushed garlic

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Empty the cream cheese into a bowl. Crush plenty of garlic on top, and mix well. Grate your cheddar and mix into the cream cheese a little at a time, until you absolutely can’t get any more in.

Wash and dry the peppers. (I take my contacts out AND wear gloves anytime I’m handling peppers.) Remove tops and core. They make a nifty little tool for this, but if you don’t have one, carefully cut around the inside with a knife. If you can’t get the seeds and pith out, push them to the bottom.

Stuff the Peppers.

Spray a baking cheese and your popper holder with spray oil. Place poppers in holder or in a baking dish as you stuff them. Cook for 30 minutes. Keep in mind that the insides are going to be piping hot, so do your best to wait a few minutes before you enjoy them!

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Baked Coconut Shrimp (Keto And Paleo Friendly)

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Coconut Shrimp are one of those tropical treats that are hard to resist. But they’re breaded. And deep fried. And restaurants usually use sweetened coconut, so they’re sugary.

Then those dipping sauces! Orange Marmalade, Mango Sauce, Pina Colada Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce . . . you get the picture. All are delicious, but quickly turn a treat into a dietary disaster.

But I’m all about finding healthy ways to still have the foods I want, so I created this recipe for Baked Coconut Shrimp using unsweetened coconut flakes and almond flour instead of bread crumbs. I’ll be honest – it’s not as good as deep fried, sugar coated shrimp, but it is tasty, and best of all, it’s guilt free and kind to your body. So, here it is.

Ingredients:

1-2 pounds shrimp, shells removed (you can leave tails on if you want)

eggs (I’ve found you need 1 egg for every 10 shrimp)

almond flour

unsweetened coconut flakes (you’ll use most of an 8 ounce bag)

garlic powder

onion powder

Old Bay Seasoning

Preparation:

In order of use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray both sides of an oven safe rack and the cooking side of a baking sheet with oil.

I work in batches because when you use an egg wash, things tend to get clumpy fast, so I use one egg at a time and mix the seasoned flour twice. You can add more coconut as you go along.

In one bowl, beat an egg.

In a second bowl, mix your almond flour with the garlic powder, onion powder, and Old Bay to taste.

In a third, fill with coconut flakes.

Dip your shrimp in the almond flour mix, then the egg wash, letting excess drip off, then cover in coconut. Place on the rack on top of the baking sheet so the shrimp can bake from both sides.

When all your shrimp are coated, place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes for large shrimp (16-20 per pound), adjusting time accordingly for smaller or larger shrimp. If you want the shrimp equally crisp on both sides, you can flip them halfway through, but I’ve found you lose most of your coconut this way. They cook just fine (and it’s less work) if you don’t flip them.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. (I enjoy mine with a mustard based sauce.)

And there you have it! Coconut Shrimp with a fraction of the calories and fat, no fry oils, no sugar, no gluten, and no yeast.

If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Onion Crusted Grouper

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Onion Crusted Grouper (Pictured With Sautéed Spinach and Leeks)

My husband had Onion Crusted Grouper at a restaurant last year and thought ‘we’ could do better ‘ourselves’. I knew he wasn’t going to help, but challenge accepted. I did a little research, learned some new things – sour cream on seafood? Yeah. Turns out it’s a secret ingredient in plenty of seafood dips and dishes. Who knew? – and created this recipe which I was reluctant to taste at first but found surprisingly delicious. I’ve made it a half dozen times now and it’s quickly become a favorite!

A tasty meal for two in under 30 minutes!

Ingredients:

Baked, not fried, no MSG.

1 Grouper fillet, about 1 pound

1/3 cup cream cheese (I like chive flavored)

1 tbsp sour cream

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 package crispy onions

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with spray oil. Rinse and dry Grouper fillet.

In a measuring cup or bowl, mix cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, onion powder and garlic powder together until well blended.

Spread a thin coat of the mixture on one side of the fillet, flip, then spread the remaining mixture on the second side. You want a nice layer of the mixture, but if you apply it too thickly it will melt your onion crust off while baking.

Crush the crispy onions and coat the top side of the Grouper in a thick layer.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, adjusting time for a thicker/larger or smaller piece of fish.

And that’s it! If you try it, please let me know if you like it!

Check back next Friday for another Foodie Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy Air Fryer Chicken

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

I’ll admit it – when air fryers first broke onto the scene, I jumped on the bandwagon. I mean, frying food without actually frying it? Healthy ‘fried’ food?!?!

And while us air fryers quickly parted into two different camps – those who hated it and those who loved it – I found myself somewhere in the middle. No, it’s not an excellent imitation of deep fried food without all the oil, but yes, it does cook some things very well and I still use mine at least several times a month.

One of the great things about air fryers is being able to cook meals in a fraction of the time. Game hens in 25 minutes. Entire roaster chickens in 45-55 minutes. And if you do it right, the skin is crisp and the meat is tender and juicy. So here’s my secret for perfect (and EASY!) air fryer chicken.

Ingredients:

1 whole 3-4 pound chicken

butter, ghee or olive oil (I use about 2 tbsp of butter)

spices (I use large quantities of garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper and a bit of Old Bay, paprika and garlic salt)

Preparation:

Spray the air fryer basket lightly with a little cooking spray to make clean up easier.

I mix some of the spices I’m going to use in a small dish, as well as my butter or oil so I don’t spread raw chicken germs everywhere. Rinse and dry your chicken, including the inside, removing any neck, gizzards, etc..

Starting with the breast side up, work your fingers underneath the skin. Rub some of your butter or oil and your spice mixture under the skin, then on top of the skin. Flip and repeat. Do the same to the inside of the cavity.

Begin cooking breast side down.

After washing your hands, sprinkle more spices on the bottom of the chicken. Keep spices out for when you flip the bird.

Cook bottom side up at 350 for 25 minutes. Flip, sprinkle skin with more spices, then set timer for another 20 minutes. (If chicken is closer to 4 pounds than 3, 23 minutes.)

When time is up, check with a cooking thermometer, inserting into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees. If it’s within a few degrees, you can let it sit for a few minutes to continue cooking before slicing. If it needs more time, do so sparingly to keep the meat juicy.

And that’s it! Juicy chicken with crispy skin in half the time it takes in the oven! (If cooking game hens, simply cook for 20-25 minutes at 350 breast side up, no flipping necessary.)

If you make it, please let me know how you liked it!

Check back next Friday for another Friday Flavor!

Friday’s Flavors: Easy (But Tasty) Mussels

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

Mussels are one of the foods that I’ve found a lot of people like to eat, but tend to only do so when dining out – they want someone else to cook them. But it’s SO easy to do it yourself! This recipe works whether you want them plain or (if like me) you want to serve them over pasta!

Ingredients:

2 pounds mussels

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup white wine

1 large shallot, chopped

8 large cloves garlic, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, pressed

salt and pepper to taste

Optional:

2 large handfuls spinach

pasta

parmesan cheese

Preparation:

I think what turns a lot of people off about cooking mussels is the debearding, but it really isn’t that hard and doesn’t take that long. Rinse each mussel individually, making sure the shells are clean. As you do that, grab any whiskers that protrude from the seam of the shell and tug back and forth until they come free.

(Some people soak the mussels for 20 minutes in cold water to get them to release any sand they have in their shells – I’ve never done this and have never had any issues.)

Peel garlic. Chop shallots and some of the garlic. Add olive oil, butter and wine to a cooking container with a lid (braising pan, stock pot, large frying pan, etc.). Add shallots and chopped garlic. When shallots start becoming pale and translucent, add crushed garlic, salt and pepper.

Add mussels, stirring to coat with the mix, then cover. After a couple minutes, when the shells start opening, stir again and recover.

Mussels generally only take about 5 minutes to cook. If you decide you want to serve your mussels over pasta, I suggest adding some spinach for the last minute of cooking. And that’s it! Time to serve!

If you’re a cheese person, a little freshly grated parmesan compliments the flavor nicely.

(Mussels water down the mixture, making it more of a mild flavored broth than a sauce. I think it works nicely over pasta, but if you want something thicker and more flavorful, remove the mussels and spinach, add a little more wine, butter and garlic and reduce.)

If you try it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for more Foodie Flavors!

Friday’s Flavors: Delicious Stuffed Clams

Hey, Foodies! Happy Friday!

To me, Stuffed Clams are one of those comfort foods that I could eat all the time. The flavor, the consistency, there’s nothing about them that I don’t like – except for that long list of ingredients in the store bought ones. And since they include breadcrumbs, I can’t order them at restaurants because of the yeast.

Luckily, over the years I’ve managed to find a way to satisfy my food cravings working around dietary restrictions. Pillsbury biscuits are leavened with baking soda instead of yeast (thank you, Pillsbury!!!). I bake them according to the directions, break into chunks which I let get stale over a day or two, then put them in a food processor to get the fine texture of store bought bread crumbs.

Armed with the one ingredient that’s hard for me to find, this recipe has become a favorite at my house! It is labor intensive, so I usually make enough for 2 or three dinners, but they freeze wonderfully and taste just as good when defrosted overnight and reheated at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

The amount of your ingredients will depend on the size of your clams and how many you are making. I’m including amounts for up to 2 dozen large (4 inch) clams. I usually have to work in batches for both steaming and using the food processor, so I split the ingredients accordingly.

Ingredients:

1-2 dozen large clams (cherry, chowder, Quahog or top neck)

1-2 large shallots

1/2 to 1 bell pepper (orange or yellow)

3-6 green onions

1-3 celery ribs

4-10 cloves garlic

3-6 tbsp butter

1/2-1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

Old Bay seasoning

garlic salt

paprika

Preparation:

Scrub the clam shells to remove any dirt and debris, then steam until they are open. You may have to work in batches. I line a baking sheet with tinfoil and set the cooked clams on there to cool while I’m steaming the next batch.

Peel garlic. Chop shallots, bell pepper, green onions, and celery. In a large frying pan, cook vegetables in just enough butter to keep ingredients moist. Add crushed garlic. Set aside when done.

(If I’m making 2 dozen large clams, I have to split the ingredients into thirds to use my food processor. Using a spatula, I usually separate the cooked vegetables into three even portions in the pan. If the clams are smaller, two even portions.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove cooked clams from their shells, setting the shells aside for later use. I usually remove the muscle attachments, as these tend to be tough and chewy.

Separate the two halves of the shells. You won’t need both halves, so choose the shells that are best for stuffing. Rinse again to remove any remaining grit.

Put the clams in the food processor. Add vegetables.

(If I’m splitting into three batches, I put 1/3 of the clams and 1/3 of the vegetables into the food processor at a time. Likewise 2 batches means half the clams and half the vegetables.)

Now comes the tricky part. The trick is that you don’t want to use more breadcrumbs than you have to. There is no set amount because some clams are ‘juicier’ than others. I suggest you start sparingly – you can always add more. Using both the chop and grind option on the food processor, mix the ingredients together.

When the mixture is a nice moist – but not wet – consistency, thick enough to stick to a spoon but not so dry that it starts caking, add the Old Bay and garlic salt to taste. (If you add too many breadcrumbs, add a splash of chicken stock or melted butter.)

Next, stuff the clam shells with your mixture and place on a baking sheet. (I use the same tinfoil covered baking sheet I use to cool the steamed clams, just give it a wipe with a paper towel and it’s good to go.) You many need to use more than one baking sheet to accommodate all your clams.

Once clams are stuffed, melt some butter and spoon a little over each clam. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 20-30 minutes until tops start to brown. Serve with lemon, Dijon mustard, and/or cocktail suce.

If you make it, please let me know how you like it!

Check back next Friday for another flavorful recipe!

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