Monday, April 25, 2011

Jack's Two-Bean Soup

Yes, more soup.

Yes, more soup with beans.

The little man is expanding his food horizons every day -- chips and hot sauce, steak with A-1 sauce, peanut butter and Chicken in a Biskit cracker sandwiches -- but he still loves his old standbys, including this soup. Especially because the pasta fits perfectly on his fingers. Pasta rings are a toddler's best friend.

I happen to be a big fan of this soup, too. It's perfect for lunch, alongside a sandwich. Plus, you can toss pretty much anything in here. And the bacon is totally optional; if I have some on hand, I toss it in. But I don't really miss it when it's gone. (And I always miss bacon.)

Two-Bean Soup
Serves 6

2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)
1 tsp. vegetable or olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped (optional)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 c. chicken broth
1 can small white beans, drained
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 c. small pasta, such as mezzi tubetti
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Saute vegetables in oil over medium heat until they start to sweat, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in bay leaf and seasonings.

2. Stir in tomato paste, and add broth and beans. Bring soup to a boil and stir in pasta. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes, or until pasta and vegetables are tender.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Melissa d'Arabian's Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs

Because I'm constantly chasing after world's busiest little man, I don't get a lot of TV time anymore. If it weren't for the DVR, I probably wouldn't get any at all. I tend to watch little snippets of Food Network while folding clothes, and I fast-forward to get the gist of the recipe and what the finished product will look like.

This is the first recipe of Melissa d'Arabian's that I've tried, and I just couldn't resist because I love cooking with country-style pork ribs (although I prefer boneless). This is a hardy, tasty, and tangy recipe that gets a little bit of kick from crushed red pepper flakes and the vinegar.

Although I have to admit, it took me a lot longer to make these than it did on TV in fast-forward.

Braised Country-Style Pork Ribs
Serves 4

3 lbs. country-style pork ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 c. chicken broth

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Pat the ribs dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown the ribs on all sides, working in batches if needed. Remove the ribs and set aside.

3. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and reduce heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, celery, salt, and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute.

4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes.

5. Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, and then add the red pepper flakes and bay leaves.

6. Add the ribs back to the pan and add enough stock to reach halfway up the sides of the ribs. Bring the pan to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Braise until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. During the last half hour, uncover to allow the liquid to reduce and the pork to brown.

7. Serve the ribs with the sauce on top.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


And I'm back! Although still busy and stressed and scared to mess up my kitchen for fear no one will want to buy our house because it looks like people actually live here.

But back to food. As often happens with me, I was reading a book the other day that inspired a food craving. Nothing strange, just some characters in my book sitting around, eating chips and guacamole. And boy howdy, I had to get me some.

This recipe is a spin on the guacamole served at Bar Abilene in Minneapolis, which I visited with a few friends during a girls' weekend out far too many years ago. (Why haven't we done this again???) The guacamole is all mashed together right at the table, so it's fresh and chunky and yummy. And you have just enough time to perfect it before cinco de mayo!

Serves 4

Pico de gallo
5 tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ white onion, diced
1 serrano chile, minced (I removed the seeds)
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. kosher salt

3 ripe avocados, flesh removed
6 cloves roasted garlic (drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in foil, and roasted at 350 degrees for 30 minutes)

1/2 c. pico de gallo
1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
15 dashes green or chipotle Tabasco

1. Combine all pico de gallo ingredients in a bowl.

2. Mash the avocado and roasted garlic together in a bowl.

3. Mix in 1/2 c. pico de gallo and remaining guacamole ingredients. Serve with chips.