Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Okay...I admit it, I have a problem...

We all have problems and/or addictions. However it seems like these days that we are taught to hide them because people will judge us. I guess that is one of the things about having a blog like this is that you are suppose to be sharing things about yourself to make others go, "Hey...I'm glad to see I'm not the only one!" So here it goes...."Hi...My name is Brian and I have a problem...and its..."
I can't walk through a bookstore without buying a cookbook. There....I said it. Boy it feels good to get that off my chest, you have no idea how long I've been holding that in. And to be honest with you, I just recently confessed this addiction to my husband. He was shocked to find out how many cookbooks that I actually have! Another thing I tend to collect is picture frames, but those I hide in random spots around the house that I know he doesn't ever look! :) I mean come on, we have a big "Picture Wall" in our dining room, and one never knows when they'll need another frame, right? Thanks for agreeing with me!!

But back to the matter at hand, cookbooks. It's true, I can't help myself. Barnes & Noble is the worst place for me to go into. They have all those "Bargain Books" up front and I immediately gravitate towards them saying to myself, "There's no harm in just *looking.* It doesn't mean you are going to buy anything." Well I'm here to tell you that every time I've walked over to just "look" I end up leaving the store with a book under my arm. But in all honesty this addiction has a bonus side to it(one to which my husband will attest to!). GREAT MEALS ARE MADE!!! Well some are great, others are more of a "ummmm...I will NEVER make that again!"

A few months ago I picked up what has to be my best finds in ages! Now I've always loved the Food Network cook Nigella Lawson, but I've never really cooked any of her food. I love her British accent, and the way she never apologizes for simple or rustic food. Plus there is something endearing about a person who ends each of her shows with going to the fridge in the middle of the night to snack on leftovers! Come on, that's awesome! But I digress. So I picked up a copy of her cookbook "Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home." And I have to tell you, it was worth the $9.00 I paid for it, actually it was worth $30 or more that it was originally on sale for!

 Now in this picture I'm showing her other cookbook as well "Nigella Express," an equally good cookbook, and the one my dinner last night is from! But look closely at this picture and you'll see what I do with my cookbooks. I thumb through the entire book page by page and flag recipes I like with a small post-it. I flag them on the right side of the book. When it comes time to make a recipe, I'll move the post-it note to the top corner (as a flag of sorts), and after I've made the recipe I will move the post-it to the top edge of the book. It's my way of knowing which ones I've made and which I still need to try out! I have to say that EVERY recipe I've tried from her cookbooks have been 100% winners! Her recipes are simple and delicious...and most are fool proof! So let me walk you through what I made for dinner last night..."Maple Chicken 'N' Ribs, Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad, Warm Potato Salad." One word....DIVINE!

This recipe is actually one that is pretty simple and doesn't take much culinary skills, per se, but that doesn't mean that it's any less tasty! But realize that you need to start this about a day (at a minimum) ahead of time because the chicken and ribs need to marinate and soak up the yummy flavors!

The marinade consists of: Apple Juice(tart), Vegetable oil, Maple Syrup, Soy Sauce, Cinnamon Stick, Star Anise and Garlic. You will need a rack of pork spare ribs and some chicken thighs. Her recipe calls for 12 ribs and 12 chicken thighs, but in all honesty make the amount you want, I used only 9 chicken thighs and it was plenty!

The rack of spare ribs comes like this, you can either use a knife and cut the ribs apart yourself or you can have your butcher do it. I mean come on...it's kind of their job! They will also cut apart a whole chicken for you or do pretty much anything you need, so I suggest utilizing them if you aren't comfortable with cutting things apart.
I buy the big "Turkey Brining Bags" from Bed, Bath & Beyond and keep them in stock in my pantry for all sorts of things. They are in essence a HUGE zip-lock bag and are super handy! Throw the cut up ribs and chicken thighs into the bag, then mix all the marinade ingredients in a container and pour it over the meat. Add the garlic, cinnamon and star anise.

Seal the bag and then work the marinade all around the meat, making sure everything gets coated. Then throw it in the fridge for overnight or up to a couple of days! Make sure to take it out of the fridge a couple of times to move all the meat around so different pieces are now in the marinade.

**on a sidenote, my problem is evident right now because I just went onto Amazon and ordered Nigella's newest cookbook "Nigellisima!" I can't stop myself!** Click here to order this book!

Now to cook these, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spread these out on a couple of sheet trays (put chicken thighs skin side up) and pop them into the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes. Simple as that, no muss, no fuss. Let them cook and fill your kitchen and house with the yummy smells of maple, apple and cinnamon! But I do encourage you to take a peek at them every now and then, but be prepared before you open the oven, I stand as close as I can then open it and try to sniff up all the smells as they come out of the oven...I know...yet another problem I have!

These have been in the oven for about 15 minutes...

This about 50 minutes into cooking!
To go along side these I made two side dishes, also from her cookbook. The Sweet and Sour Cucumbers were a BREEZE to make. Slice up two cucumbers (use the English cucumbers so you don't have to peel them). Place them in a bowl, and then mix up the following ingredients:
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt (or 1 teaspoon of table salt)
Mix these in a measuring cup and pour over the cucumbers and toss them so they are coated lovingly in this mixture. Then chop up 1/4 cup of fresh dill and sprinkle over top then toss all together one more time. I like to do this in advance then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to get nice and cold! Toss a few times while its in the fridge and toss once more before serving! Yummy!

And the final thing I made was a Warm Potato Salad. I also liked this because you add bacon, and use the bacon drippings! :) But you just boil the baby potatoes, and fry the bacon in 1 tablespoon of garlic infused oil at the same time. Remove the bacon from the pan, add 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard and 1 to 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Stir this and keep warm while potatoes are finishing boiling. After they are cooked, drain and then put them into the same pan as the sauce, toss them in it making sure to coat each one! Sprinkle with scallions and before serving add the crumbled bacon! Easy as pie!
Boiling the potatoes and cooking the chopped bacon!
Potatoes tossed in the sauce, bacon standing by for service! :)
This meal was such a breeze to put together and was so delicious. Now I'm going to warn you about something. This is very serious, and a lot of people don't really take these sorts of things into consideration before cooking a meal like this. This next picture is a bit graphic, but it is an honest to goodness thing that happens during the cooking of this meal...

 No animals were harmed during the process of cooking this meal...they were just very sad because they weren't allowed to eat any of it! But come on, do you blame them? Look at this meal...

Anyways, I'm happy that I had a chance to admit my addiction, it feels so good to have it out in the open. Michael just reminded me about my obsession with aprons. LOL :) Yet another thing to add to the list! Well I encourage you to try this recipe, you'll LOVE IT!!! :) And here are the links to Nigella's recipes so you can have them. Notice that the temps are in Celsius so remember to convert! LOL. Also...go buy her books, I promise you won't regret it!

- Maple Chicken 'N' Ribs
- Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad *note they say 2 tablespoons of sugar, it's 2 TEASPOONS in
                                                                                                    Nigella's actual recipe*
- Warm Potato Salad (Recipe follows)
     - 4 1/2 pounds baby potatoes
     - 4 scallions thinly sliced
     - 1 tablespoon garlic infused oil
     - 8 slices of bacon, chopped before cooking (makes it easier)
     - 1 to 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
     - 1 tablespoon of whole grain mustard
 1) Bring pan of salted water to a boil and tip in the potatoes. Cook for 20 minutes or until tender, then drain and cut in half. (I cut them in half before boiling)
2) Put the potatoes into a large bowl and add the scallions.
3) Heat the oil in the warm potato pan and cook the bacon until really crispy, then remove to a plate.
4) Take off the heat, add vinegar and mustard. Give a little stir, then tip in the potatoes and scallions and toss everything together before transferring to a serving bowl. You can leave it like this for an hour or so.
5) When you are ready to serve it, crumble over most of the crisp bacon and toss again, then sprinkle with the remaining bits of bacon.
**note that above in my blog I put how I did the potato salad to streamline the cooking process. Do what works best for you!! :) **

All recipes on this page are courtesy of Miss Nigella Lawson!


  1. Sounds amazing and I think I may even have that cookbook in my cookbook hoard! I can't resist them!!! I have so many I ended up getting these cute cube bookcases from Ikea so I could finally display them all. There is even a cookbook club where you get like 5 for $1 when you join. Thegoodcook.com
    I am so going to make this meal- it sounds and looks heavenly!!!

    1. Oh, now you've gone and done it! I do believe my husband will be coming after you for giving me the information on that cookbook club! HA HA!

      thanks for reading my blog! How did you find my page?? Have a great day!!

  2. I found it from YouTube- I was trying to make pear butter and found your YouTube video. I LOVED it and my Pear Butter turned out great- thanks! I made a dozen jars this Fall and gave them away for Christmas gifts.