Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Southwestern baked dip

Fall doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but let's kick off autumn a day early, shall we?

This is my favorite season of the year, for so many reasons.  I love how the temperature outside becomes cooler, I love the colors that I often take for granted as a lifelong resident of the Mid-Atlantic states, and I love the soups and casseroles and pot pies (and the baked goods) that this season has in abundance.

When I think of fall recipes, I almost always think of this warm southwestern baked dip.  It has been a favorite of ours since one of my husband's co-workers gave me the recipe in 1991. "For Melissa's Recipe Collection" the co-worker had written. It's a great warm dip to indulge in while watching football or getting together with friends.  I've served this as an appetizer for parties I've hosted and it always gets rave reviews.

The only downside? It's not exactly low-fat. I suppose you could tweak it to be such, just as you could alter the heat of it.

Southwestern Baked Dip

1/4 cup hot or mild salsa
1/2 cup sour cream
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 pkg. 8 oz. softened cream cheese

Mix salsa, sour cream, and cream cheese with beater and fold in cheddar cheese. Pour in casserole with top or foil and bake covered for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serve warm with white corn chips. Serves 4-6. (I've doubled and tripled this, with lovely results).

Enjoy ... and happy fall!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Barbequed baby back ribs

Admittedly, we've fallen behind here at (Never) Too Many Cooks. Summer, vacations, back-to-school—I know I speak for all of our contributors when I say that life seems to get in the way a lot these days. I, for one, have fallen back on a lot of family favorite recipes in recent weeks, many of which you can find in this blog's archives.

That said, we had an amazing dinner with friends Friday night. None of which I actually cooked. But because my friends are so cool and because they love this blog, because it really takes little more than a camera and a recipe to create a post... we have baby back ribs. Awesomely delicious and easy to prepare baby back ribs.

Here's what you need:

A rack of ribs (my friend regularly purchases hers at Costco, though it's likely any grocery store or butcher shop can fill your order)
Barbeque sauce (you can make your own, or use a store-bought brand)
Using a sharp meat knife, cut the rack into smaller sections of about 3-4 ribs each, season with salt and pepper, brush with a generous amount of barbeque sauce and wrap in tin foil. Repeat until all the ribs are seasoned and wrapped. Place the foil packets in a large roasting pan and cook at 250 degrees for 3 hours.
Remove the ribs from the oven, and unwrap the foil packets. Discard the drippings and any sauce left in the foil.
At this stage, the ribs are basically cooked, but it's important to finish the process on the grill. You need to give them just enough time to heat through and carmelize on the outside. Be sure to slather on more barbeque sauce (feel free to be generous here), then cook for 15 minutes over a hot fire, turning frequently.
I'm not kidding. It's really that easy. Not only were these ribs tender and flavorful, but because they were pre-cooked in the oven, all the grease and fat was left behind in the foil packets.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say these ribs are kid-friendly. We had three boys at the table under 10 years old and two of them were literally covered in sauce. My son, unfortunately, was the lone holdout. Though he was reluctant to try, he did, declaring after two bites that it wasn't for him.

Maybe next time. But really, who cares? More for the rest of us.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Farewell to summer dinner (with grilled veggie kebobs and garlic bread with fresh tomato and mozzarella)

My in-laws visited us this weekend and I wanted to make a "farewell to summer" dinner using some local produce.  So on Saturday, Betty and I took my mother-in-law to a nearby farm where I bought corn on the cob, zucchini, yellow squash, an onion, mushrooms, red potatoes, tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.  All would find their way into that evening's dinner.

I wanted to make veggie kebobs on the grill and submitting this recipe seems like cheating here because my friend and fellow cook Kristen already posted a similar dish back in May.  (See her post Grilled chicken shish kebob.)

Grilled Vegetable Kebobs

I didn't really measure anything with this one.  Basically, I used two zucchini and two yellow squash, approximately a pound of small red potatoes, half of an Empire sweet onion, and approximately a dozen (maybe less) white mushrooms. 

I boiled the potatoes for 10 minutes while cutting the onion, squash, zucchini and mushrooms into chunks and marinating it for about 20 minutes with Italian dressing.  (I threw the potatoes - some of which I kept whole, others which I halved or quartered - in during the last 10 minutes of marination.)

I didn't measure the amount of dressing either, but if I had to do this again, which is very possible, I would cut down the amount of dressing I used. (Nobody said anything, but I thought the kebobs were slighty too tangy.)

Then I threaded the vegetables onto metal skewers.  (Even when I soak the bamboo skewers, they tend to catch on fire.  I spent most of my summer looking for metal skewers and finally found them at a different farm, also nearby.)

The Husband grilled the kebobs for about 10 minutes, turning once.  This made 8 kebobs.

Along with this, we grilled hot dogs (for the kids and in-laws) and veggie burgers for us. I also boiled corn on the cob. Finally, I changed my mind from preparing a caprese salad and instead enhanced some store-bought garlic bread by adding slices of fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato.

I left one side of the garlic bread plain because several folks at our table aren't fans of tomatoes.  Cooked it in the oven for 7 minutes and then let it cool, cutting each of the sides into smaller pieces and arranging on a serving platter.  (No pictures of that ... they disappeared too quickly.)

Dessert was a selection of homemade ice creams from another nearby farm - vanilla, chocolate, peach, and coffee. 

All in all, a delicious ending to a wonderful summer.