Sunday, June 28, 2009

Southern Style Dry Rubbed Ribs

This was my first time making ribs. I've had plenty of "homemade" ribs, but I was never involved with the purchasing, prepping or cooking. I’ve only been there for the most important step, the eating. When I went to the store to buy ribs, I didn't realize the 10 lb pack had two slabs of ribs in it, so I bought two packs. Oh boy. Once the package was open, I was completely surprised that the slabs were double stacked. We ended up BBQ’ing one full pack for the 6 of us with leftovers. We left the other pack raw and broke it down into smaller bags for the freezer.

We did not use any BBQ sauce on these ribs, just the dry rub, and it tasted great. I didn’t want them to be too spicy so I only used 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper, next time I might bump it up to 1.5 tbsp because they weren’t spicy at all, just flavorful.

A word of advice before you start to mix up the dry rub: make sure you have enough spices. I didn’t even think to check, but luckily I had just enough chili powder, paprika and garlic powder to make a full recipe. We had about 1/2 cup of unused dry rub that we put in the freezer for future grilling.

Southern Style Dry Rub (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
FYI her recipe includes a detailed guide to buying, prepping and cooking ribs, check out the comment section of that post for additional info.

Makes about 2 cups of dry rub

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup paprika (sweet or hot)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons ground cumin
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns

Prepping the Pork Spare Ribs:
Open Package
Rinse off meat juices
Blot off excess water
Cut slab in half for easier handling
Place ribs on baking sheet
Massage the rub on every surface and inside every crevice
Cover with foil or plastic wrap and let it marinate overnight.

Cooking the Ribs:
Disclaimer: We have an infrared grill so cooking time will be different for more traditional grills. Cooking tips for other types of grills can be found at Smitten Kitchen’s post here.

Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before adding to the preheated grill. We have an infrared grill so we just threw the chips into the bottom of the "U". Our grill’s manual said that the ribs would cook quicker than when using traditional gas or charcoal grills.

We kept a close eye when flipping and moving the ribs around the grill until the meat started to twist around the bone. We didn’t really keep track of how long it took, but I think the whole process (cooking and resting) took about 2-2.5 hours. We let them rest under some foil for awhile (probably 20-30 min) before serving which also gave us time to roast the veggies and cook the cous cous, but more on that later.

The ribs were still nice and hot when we finally ate them, they turned out really well. They a nice crust from the rub on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. The leftovers were delicious too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Broccoli Salad

I love this Broccoli Salad!! I actually make it multiple times a year, and that's saying a lot considering I don't repeat many recipes. Coleslaw is one of those foods that goes really well with BBQ, and this Broccoli Salad is the same idea. This is the recipe my mom uses, I'm not sure where it came from originally as it's been copied from index card to index card. When I made it this time around I thought sunflower seeds would be a nice addition, and I was right. Yum!

Seriously, if you've never tried anything like this, you really need to! It's one of my favorites.

Broccoli Salad

1 cup Miracle Whip or mayo
2 Tbsp vinegar (I use white wine vinegar, but white or cider would work also)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
1 small onion, diced (I use 1/2 of a red onion)
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
3-4 heads of broccoli, florets cut into bite size pieces
Sunflower seeds, optional

Combine everything through the bacon. Pour onto the broccoli, mix, then chill. This salad is best when made a day ahead. Just before serving, add the sunflower seeds .


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sweet Corn Bread

A few Christmases back, I wanted to give food to a few of the men on my list. I looked for different options and decided to go with two “jar recipes”: Tortilla Soup and Corn Bread. Before I made up multiples to give away, I tested the recipes to make sure they tasted good. That was my first time making either of those foods, both came out well and I’ve made them a few times since then.

I don’t make corn bread very often, but this is the recipe I keep coming back to after trying a few others. For the BBQ, I would have preferred to make these into muffins because they seem to crumble a bit less, but I didn’t want to deal with all the muffin pans right before guests were arriving. This corn bread is sweet and buttery, slightly moist, but still crumbly the way corn bread is.

RECIPE NOTES: I haven’t used baking mix in over a year so I use this recipe scaled down to 2 servings to make my own little portion for one batch of corn bread. If you want to make the jar version, I would use a shelf stable baking mix like Bisquick. Obviously, skip the jar if you're just making corn bread.

Sweet Corn Bread in a Jar (Adapted from Recipe Goldmine)

2 cups biscuit baking mix
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup sugar

Use a 1 quart, wide-mouth canning jar. Pack each layer: combine the biscuit baking mix with the baking powder and pour into the jar, add the cornmeal, then the sugar. The layers look nice, but this mix will not fill the jar all the way, so mix everything together if you want. Seal and decorate the jar, and attach the following recipe tag.

Sweet Corn Bread:
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Pour the contents of the jar into a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk and butter, and mix well.

8” x 8” Pan:
Pour the batter into a greased 8" pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly golden and toothpick comes out clean.

Muffin Tins:
Pour the batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden and toothpick comes out clean. Yield: 24 muffins

Monday, June 22, 2009

Birthday/Father's Day BBQ

Before we bought our grill, we did lots of research and ended up going with a Consumer Reports Best Buy. We got a Char-Broil Infrared Grill, and we have been really pleased with our selection! Everything we've grilled has been juicy and delicious.

With the "infrared technology" there is no open flame, the heat is distributed through the U-shaped bottom. You can throw wood chips into the "U" and it's supposed to add some smokiness to your food. Once we heard about that, we were itching to make some ribs. Kevin's birthday and Father's Day were only a day apart this year, and my parents hadn't visited since February. All of those seemed like the perfect excuse for ribs (but honestly, who needs an excuse for ribs?) so we invited both our parents over and we BBQ'd.

I forgot to take pics of the appetizers, I was too busy playing cornhole and finishing up dinner.

Our Menu:

Edamame (get the kind still in the pod, boil in salt water, drain, add additional salt right before serving, and keep a bowl out for the empty pods)
Peach Chutney over Cream Cheese with Crackers (Pour chutney over softened cream cheese)
Bean Salsa Dip with Tortilla Scoops (my mom made this and I don't have the recipe)

Sweet Corn Bread
Broccoli Salad
Israeli Couscous with Grilled Veggies
Dry Rubbed Ribs

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I finally did it! I joined the masses and started my own blog. Actually, I tried to start two blogs last fall, one succeeded for a couple of months and finally fizzled, and this one never took off at all. I have some photos and recipes from back then that I’ll probably end up posting because, why not?

I love food! I enjoy cooking, baking, trying new recipes, and checking out restaurants, now I have a place to keep track of everything. Having the blog will actually be very helpful so we can go back to the good stuff.

I came up with the name Cooker Girl because that’s what Kevin (my husband) calls me when I’m in the kitchen or online checking out food blogs.

Come back again for some delicious recipes!       
In the mean time, happy cooking!