Archive for the ‘beef’ Category

The Best BBQ Spare Ribs


 A couple years ago, after my husband and I bought our barbecue, we decided to break it in with spare ribs.  Of course, we didn’t know anything about barbecuing spare ribs, like how long it takes until they are so perfectly done that the meat falls right off the bone (apparently it takes hours and hours). So our first attempt was a miserable failure.  A few weeks ago we were watching an episode of Sam the Cooking Guy, a show local to the San Diego area, and he made these ribs that looked to die for.  About a week or so later we were grocery shopping and passed the rib section of the meat counter.  And our memories harkened back to that episode of Sam the Cooking Guy.  All we had to do was wordlessly lock eyes, and my husband grabbed the best looking rack of the bunch.  The ingredient list is my own creation. But I followed Sam’s vinegar-baked methodology, which takes considerably less time to cook than the regular way. 



brown sugar
chili powder
ground mustard
red pepper flakes
white vinegar (the cheap kind)
barbecue sauce (plain, unflavored)
honey or apricot jam



1)  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Rub into both sides of ribs.  Allow to marinade in the frig 3-5 hours.

2)  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place ribs, in a single layer, in a jellyroll pan or casserole dish. Pour vinegar into dish until filled about 1 to 1½ inches up the side. Cover tightly with foil. Cook at 400° for an hour and a half. About one hour through, check the level of the vinegar to make sure it hasn’t all evaporated. If it has, add more vinegar.

3)  Right before ribs are done, combine barbecue sauce and honey or jam in a bowl. Heat your barbecue grill to medium heat. Place ribs on grill, then baste the face-up side with barbecue sauce. Grill for about 3 minutes, then flip ribs over. Baste more sauce on the face-up side. Grill for 3 minutes. Flip one more time and cook another minute longer.  Remove from grill and serve immediately.


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everyone who knows me knows how proud i am to be irish. granted, i am a typical american mutt (or melting pot, if you will), but still i like to point out the fact that my great grandfather immigrated over from ireland, and while his irish blood has been watered down with every other ethnicity by the time it’s reached me, i still like to claim, “i have irish from all my grandparents, so that makes me at least half,  right?” RIGHT???  thank you for the validation. 🙂 

maybe it’s the freckles on my face that, as a child no matter how hard i tried to rub off or cover up with makeup these “imperfections” they never disappeared, cause me to identify more closely with my irish heritage. or maybe it’s the natural strawberry red highlights in my brown hair, an exact color that is hard to find here, but in ireland i saw every where i turned. or perhaps even it’s my desire to belong to a group of people that have been (no matter how long ago in history) outcast by society, a desire to belong to the minority in order to give a deeper purpose behind my passion for helping those society has a prejudice against.  but as small of a trace as that blood may be in my body, there is something irish there that causes my soul to leap in dance when i hear an irish jig, to ache when it hears an old irish ballad, and to laugh and sing and shout along with irish drinking songs. and it even (much to my best friend’s amusement) caused me to exclaim under my breath the second i stepped off the airplane in dublin, “oh. these are my people!” (i know, BIG dork.) but i will proudly claim my irish heritage ’til the day i die.

besides, they have great beer and damn good whiskey.

with that said, ANY recipe that has beer in it, in my book, cannot go wrong. so when a co-worker (also irish) brought for lunch one day this soup she had made, i knew i had to have the recipe. it comes from a cookbook called The Irish Pub Cookbook, by Margaret M. Johnson. I’ve only made two of the recipes so far (the second recipe, brown soda bread, i will post tomorrow, so that you can make it to accompany the guinness stew), but the rest of the recipes in it look to die for. i made some adjustments to this, so it’s an “adapted from” recipe — among other changes, i HAD to throw some whiskey in there…for good measure…and to make my ancestors proud of me. 🙂



1 lb. beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes (i am completely clueless when it comes to red meat, so don’t feel restricted to sirloin. this last time i made it, i bought a rump looking thing, and in my opinion, the meat was more tender than i remember the sirloin being.)

salt and pepper to taste

flour for dredging

4 T. butter

½ c. olive oil

1 c. chopped onions

2 c. beef stock (the last time i made this, i actually used chicken broth, and it tasted just fine)

2 c. Guinness (or any stout or porter will do. a chocolate/double chocolate stout would be delicious!)

½ c. irish whiskey*

5 carrots, diced

4-5 medium sized potatoes (you can even mix this up with a sweet potato or two. the original recipe called for 4 parsnips and 1 turnip)

3-5 springs fresh thyme, depending on what your tastebuds tell you



1)  season meat with salt and pepper.  dredge in flour.  in a stockpot, melt butter with oil over medium heat.  cook meat 5-7 minutes, or until browned.  add onions; cook for another 3-5 minutes.

2)  add broth, guinness/beer, and whiskey (and go ahead and take a shot of whiskey to warm you up on this cold winter night). bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.  simmer 30 minutes. (if you are making the brown soda bread recipe, make it now during this 30-minute down time.)  add remaining ingredients.  simmer for 45 minutes, or until veggies and meat are tender. feel free to add more salt if you feel like it needs it.


get creative with your veggies and herbs. try adding celery, or parnips and turnips like the original recipe calls for, or even leeks. experiment with other green herbs, like tarragon or marjoram. maybe even a bay leaf or two. i’ve even seen other recipes use lamb instead of beef, if you feel like forkin’ over the dough to buy lamb.

serve and devour heartily.


*trivia of the day:  did you know there is a difference between WHISKY and WHISKEY?  the word spelled “whisky” (with no “e”) is reserved only for that made in scotland — scotch.  whiskEy, on the other hand, is the rest of the stuff:  whether irish, canadian, or american (like jack daniels).  now, here in america you may not see labels abide by this rule (in fact, many american distillers scoff at this scottish snobbery and will use whisky–no “e”–on their labels just to spite the scotch distillers), but in the UK (and especially among scotch distillers who want to distinguish between scotch whiskey and “the other stuff”) that is the general rule to follow. so i will trust them — i mean, for pete’s sake, they invented the darned stuff anyways so they would know! so if you go into a bar and order whiskey, they’ll pour ya a whiskEy; but if you want whisky (no E), you have to ask for scotch. tricky stuff, this alcohol. and then there’s bourbon, which is also whiskey but a specific kind of whiskey — think back to your geometry class days:  by definition, a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t a square. it’s like that:  bourbon is a whiskEy, but not all whiskEy is bourbon…and most certainly whisky (scotch) is not bourbon at all! now that i have you all thoroughly confused, go ahead and take a shot of whatever whiskey/whisky/bourbon you have on hand…then it will all make sense in about 5 minutes.

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now, don’t let the title scare you away. i’d thought about naming it “w/ mystery pink sauce” but i figured that would harken back to grammer school days of eating mystery meat from the cafeteria, which isn’t necessary any better than beets. so i just decided to keep it real.

i got this recipe idea from my sister-in-law (who has the same name as me) and her husband. since the four of us share a csa box, they, like us, had beets stored up that they didn’t quite know what to do with. last sunday when we met them at the farmers market to split up the box, there were even more beets that came in it. “have you used your beets yet?” she asked. definitely no. “you should make this yummy pasta we made the other night!”

when i got home, i couldn’t remember how she had said they made it, except that they put sausage in it. so i attempted to make my own. and it was DELISH! i couldn’t taste the beets in even the slightest bit (and neither could hubby, whew!) – -thanks to the spiciness. who would have thought — pasta, beef, and beets???? weird! the best part about this:  i used only 1 pot to make it all. i love when that happens! (so does hubby, since he’s the official dish washer.)

i didn’t have sausage, so i spiced up some ground beef with ingredients i thought would be sausage-esque. and, like my other recipes, i threw in random veggies from my csa box that i needed to get rid of in a sneaky way. feel free to omit those if you don’t have them on hand, or to substitute them with other veggies to your liking.



whole wheat spaghetti noodles (i believe i used ¼ – 1/3 box)

approx. 1/3 lb. ground beef **

1 medium onion, chopped

1 jalepeno, diced** (with or without the seeds, your choice — remember, the seeds make it hotter!)

chili powder**

cayenne powder**

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

3 small radishes, scrubbed clean and shredded

3 small fresh beets, peeled and shredded

a few leaves of swiss chard, chopped (my sister-in-law used the green tops from the beets)

shredded parmesan, for topping


**substitute these ingredients for sausage



1)  cook spaghetti according to directions on package. drain, reserving about 1 cup pasta water; set aside both water and pasta.

2)  in the same pot you used to cook the pasta in, set to med-high heat, add ground beef and onions. cook until beef is browned. add next 7 ingredients (jalepeno through chard) and reserved pasta water. cook about 10 minutes.

3)  return spaghetti to pot. stir to combine.

4)  serve garnished with shredded parmesan on top.

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and what i mean by this is ingredient-wise. i know that some of you may absolutely LOVE your grandmother’s meatloaf. others may absolutely, positively refuse to touch it…ever — first cardinal rule of going over to grandma’s house. either way, mine’s different. in fact, i used to not even eat meatloaf because i thought it was gross. then one day i woke up and thought, “you know, i think it’s high time i start to like meatloaf.” so i searched and experimented and finally came up with this recipe. it doesn’t have all the added “sneaky” ingredients: carrots, celery, onions. none. mine is more like a bunless hamburger loaf — or as i like to say, just plain goodness.


ingredients for meatloaf:
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
3 T. ketchup (if i wanted to be truly “pure” i would make my own, but not while i work full-time)
2 T. mustard (i use the spicy dijon mustard)
2 T. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. ground mustard
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 lb. ground beef
1 ½ c. dry plain bread crumbs
1/8 c. grated parmesan cheese

ingredients for glaze:
¼ c. ketchup
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground mustard
1 T. apple cider vinegar


1)  in a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients up to cheese. whisk together.

parden mr. parmesan and ms. breadcrumbs. they were feeling left out and snuck right on in the picture.


2)  now, parmigiano reggiano, it’s your turn. oh yes, forgive me; and yours too, breadcrumbs. add remaining ingredients.

now, you may be thinking, “i thought you said this is like a hamburger loaf. I don’t put breadcrumbs in my hamburgers.” and you would be right. but the breadcrumbs actually serve a purpose other than weirdness:  they add a mushiness to the meat that helps hold it together into a loaf; the same goes for meatballs. besides, you can’t even taste the breadcrumbs; i know this because my husband has the best palette ever, and he has no problem telling me when something tastes weird. so embrace the breadcrumbs…and go ahead and embrace the meatloaf while you’re at it (i like killing two birds with one stone).

now comes the dirty part. using your hands, combine the mixture. make sure you squish it all together really well, making sure every last morsel of meat is saturated in the sauce.


3)  once well combined, placed in a baking dish (i usually use a 2-qt casserole dish) that has been sprayed with oil/cooking spray. shape into a loaf. (don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards; i wouldn’t want to be blamed for an outbreak of e. coli!)

place in a preheated 375° oven for about an hour, or until internal temp reads 155°.


4)  towards last 5 minutes of bake time, combine glaze ingredients in a bowl.

mix well. when meat is finished, pull out of oven; bump oven up to the broil setting. drizzle glaze on top of meatloaf and stick back into the oven.

broil for about 5 minutes, or until final internal temp read 165° in the middle.

what you are left with is a caramelized tangy glaze over a tender meatloaf with bits of cheese oozing from it.

sound tempting yet?

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this would otherwise be known as albondigas soup, BUT it is in no way authentic or traditional, only inspired by. so rather than have to deal with random people stumbling upon my blog and spouting out a rash of criticism, i decided to name it something different.  🙂


ingredients, for soup:

olive oil

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 medium onion, diced

3 serrano peppers, chopped (if you don’t like heat, cut back to 1 pepper)

2 medium-large tomatoes

6 c. water

1 c. corn kernels, fresh or frozen

3 cups pre-cooked beans (black, pink, or kidney)

1 T. chili powder

2 tsp. paprika

2 tsp. cumin

salt & pepper, to taste

2 T. sugar (white or brown, your choice)

ingredients, for meatballs:

1/4 lb. ground beef

1 egg, beaten

1/2 c. plain bread crumbs

1 tsp. each of cumin, chili powder, and paprika

1 jalepeno, chopped (optional)




1) in dutch oven pot over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, onions, and pepper. cook until tender. 

2) add tomatoes, water, corn, and beans to pot. bring to a boil.

3) add chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and sugar. return to boil; turn down to a simmer.

4) in medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for meatballs. using your hands, mix completely by squishing it all between your fingers, kinda of like when you used to play with play-doh as a kid (only this will taste much better, i promise…just don’t eat it raw!).

5) make little meatballs out of the mixture, about 1-inch in diameter. drop each meatball into the simmering soup. once all meatballs are in pot, return to boil. Again, turn down to simmer; cover. simmer for about 45 minutes.


i also like to add a dollop of sour cream (do-dollop-a-daisy) and avocado slices.

mmm-mmm good!

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