Friday, September 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Sesame Pork Ribs

"No one ever believes how little effort it takes to make these tender, juicy ribs. The meat absorbs the tangy flavor of the sweet sauce as the ribs simmer in the slow cooker." - Sandy A., in the Feb/March 2011 Country Magazine, describing her recipe for pork ribs.

As soon as I read this quote and looked at the picture of the succulent ribs, I knew I would try it out. My husband loves to slow cook ribs on the grill, but rarely has time to do so...he loved these, and I was proud to be able to serve him yummy ribs much easier than spending a couple hours outside over the grill.

Slow Cooker Sesame Pork Ribs (Country Magazine)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
1 medium onion, sliced
5 lbs. bone-in country style pork ribs (I used one rack of baby back ribs, which worked great)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted (I didn't have these, so I omitted them)

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients. Add ribs and turn to coat. Place the sliced onion in crock pot (5 qt crock pot if you are using the full 5 lbs of pork ribs, a smaller crock pot will fit one rack of baby back ribs). Top with ribs and sauce.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Meat should be very tender. Place ribs on serving platter; sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Aussie Pavlova

What was my husband's one request for his birthday? A pavlova. Many Americans have no idea what this is, but it is a staple in Australia. And his aunt is a pav master, hers are legendary within family and friend circles. She's been making them for 40 years and I HAVE THE RECIPE! I'm so happy to be able to pass this one along to my girls.

The last time we visited his homeland, Aunt Helen gave me a one-on-one demonstration of how to make her delicious pavlova - which has a thick, crispy but airy meringue base, homemade whipped cream and strawberries on top.

Luke loved the pav. It was so yummy, and brought back all kinds of good memories of home for him.

  • Aunt Helen swears by baking this pav next to an open window. After reading reviews of other pavlova recipes, I've learned that humidity can make or break a pav. So if it's a beautiful day, open up that window!
  • Leave pavlova in the cooling oven when it's done baking. If you take it out when the timer goes off, your pav will crack!
Aunt Helen's Pavlova
8 egg whites - egg whites should be room temperature
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch (Big!) salt

  1. Grease your largest baking tray with butter and sprinkle an equal mixture of cornflour and powdered sugar over greased surface. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In standing mixer, beat egg whites and pinch of salt with whisk attachment. Allow to whip right up to fluffy peaks and gradually add while whipping, the sugar bit by bit. You'll notice the mixture go glossy.
  3. Once all the sugar dissolves, turn off the mixer. Then, with a rubber spatula, gently fold in vanilla, vinegar and cornflour, stirring for 30 seconds only.
  4. Load this meringue mixture on to tray with slightly built up walled sides (a well in the center). The meringue will rise!
  5. Place in oven for 1 1/2 hours on 300 degrees, then turn oven off and leave pavlova in oven for 1 hour. Halfway through that cooling hour, barely crack oven open. After at least 1 hour cooling in the oven, take out and allow to cool right down.
  6. Spoon a generous portion of whipped cream over pavlova and top with sliced strawberries. We love homemade whipped cream: Put whisk and bowl in freezer for 5 minutes. Whisk in standing mixer 2 cups heavy cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla. Other toppings for the pav include: kiwi, passionfruit, or Australian-style peppermint crisp (delicious!!). Serves 24 people.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade biscuits are really quite easy. Any time I need to bake some up, I pull out my 20-year old Betty Crocker cookbook. I'm sure there are fancier biscuits out there, but for adding honey, jam and cream, or using it for this slow cooker chicken pot pie, they definitely do a good job.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits (Betty Crocker)
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small squares (1 stick)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
3-4 tablespoons butter, for greasing pan

  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Cut butter into flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt with pastry blender until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in buttermilk until dough leaves side of bowl (dough will be soft and sticky).
  3. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead lightly 10 times. Roll or pat 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick. Cut with floured round cutter. 
  4. Add 3-4 tablespoons of butter to 9x13" glass dish. Place in oven and allow to melt. Once melted, take dish out and spread butter around dish. Roll each side of biscuit in butter, and place biscuits in dish.
  5. Bake until slightly golden, about 10-12 minutes. Cool for 1-2 minutes, then remove from dish and serve immediately.

My Go-To Chocolate Cake

Yum. Yum. Yum. That's all I have to say after making and eating this chocolate cake, courtesy of I was in search of a moist, dense chocolate cake for my daughter's birthday party. This one did the trick. It paired really nicely with ice cream, and honestly, it tasted better a day after I put it together. My recommendation is to make it one day ahead of time and cover it really well. That allows all the flavors to settle.

So if you are looking for a delicious chocolate cake recipe that won't fail you...look no further! This is definitely my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

Extreme Chocolate Cake (Allrecipes)
2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee (my change from boiling water - it doesn't give it a coffee flavor, but enriches the chocolate flavor)

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
5 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the hot coffee by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. (Batter will be runny, make sure to fill pan no higher than 3/4 of the pan to allow for rising).
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners' sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.