Baby’s got back… and ribs

I’m still stressed. This means I’m still cooking. Except this time I’m testing out a recipe for a bbq we are hosting this weekend (Ironically I’m not stressed about this at all, although I should be since we have ordered, cleaned, bought nothing for it). Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a life long vegetarian it’s that bbqs mean meat. Usually even the veggie burger is cooked in a nice layer of beef fat left over on the grill. So this time – instead of a vegan veggie friendly recipe… I’m working on ribs. Baby back ribs.

Nothing reduces stress like smelling pork for 4 hours… I read that on a pillow.

I followed about 4 different recipes that I mashed up.

Basically you take a rack of baby back ribs… make sure your babies have some fat to them. This isn’t a time for lean mean pork ribs.

A dry rub needs to go on overnight (or two). You can mix any of the following: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, a packaged mix – like I did. BUT the key is this… add a cup of brown sugar to whatever mix you end up with. I also added a dash of cayenne to shake shit up.

Once marinated – bring to room temperature. Fully. I’m talking 2 hours outside on the counter hanging out. Do it.

Preheat your oven to 250 and add a cup of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of any vinegar you have to the pan. I used white wine vinegar. These two things help the cooking/tenderizing process – according to Alton Brown circa 1997. Here’s the rub I used if you’re curious.

Cover tightly and leave it alone in your heated oven for 2.27 hours (I only tested this with one rack of ribs so 3 hours was too long and 2 seemed too short. 2.27 seemed right).

This is what it will look like. Mine came apart when I tried to lift it. A good sign.

Don’t get rid of the juices on the bottom. Strain and add to your favorite bbq sauce. My family loves this one. I haven’t found anything veggie to put bbq sauce on so I have no idea if it’s really good or if my family just has simple tastes – both could also be true.

Smother on the sauce and grill on high. Shouldn’t take long.

Baste, grill, repeat.

Cut them up like porky, sticky lollipops and you’re done!

Stress gone. Meat delivered.

Greek dump dip

  1. It doesn’t need refrigeration
  2. You can make the topping the night before or 5 min before
  3. It’s 100% store bought ingredients because I love you
  4. It’s vegetarian for all those people in your life pretending to not eat bacon this year
  5. You could remove the cheese and the joy and make it vegan
  6. Someone’s already bringing the chicken buffalo dip so you might as well make this

It’s as easy as:

  • One large tub of hummus, I used Sabra – or make your own (show-off)
  • One large English cucumber
  • One bunch mint
  • One bunch regular old parsley
  • Olive, feta mix from grocery store salad bar (or just buy black, green olives and feta)
  • Salt
  • Good olive oil (like Martha Stewart good, not Guy Fieri good)

Chop everything but the hummus into a small dice. I like to remove the middle of the cucumbers, because even the English ones have some seeds in it.

Grab a platter you’ll leave at the bbq and pick up months later, put a thick layer of hummus on and dump the topping on top.

Drizzle with olive oil

Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen both have versions of this recipe (incase you are overly impressed at my creativity).

Enjoy and happy weekend!

You had me at cilantro

It’s hot here. It feels like a 100 degrees in the shade.

Yesterday we were invited to a BBQ in our neighborhood by this adorable couple (second relationship for both. They met while she was on vacation with her daughter in Italy. He came over to be with her. An amazing love story).

I met her through a book club that I joined (although I haven’t actually made it to any of  the meetings, ahem.)

Anyway. We were invited. We went. We had enough sangria to fill a pool. Good times were had by all.

Here’s a perfect salad to bring to a BBQ – especially on a hot, sunny day. No mayo. No diary. And it only gets better as it sits on the buffet (and you drink the sangria).

Here’s all you need  – black beans, whole kernel corn, cilantro, jalapeno, 2 peppers the color of your choice, an English cucumber, lemons, limes and some kosher salt.


It’s all about the prep and dice. Drain the beans and rinse. Add the corn.


Dice the peppers about the same size as the corn and beans. The jalapeno should be seeded and diced even smaller. I thought I would need 2 but these were lethal so I only used 1.


Next, seed the cucumber with a spoon. Dice and add to your other stuff. I know English cucumbers are “seedless” but there are still some watery seeds that I like to get out. You can skip this part if you think I’m nuts. Which I am.



Now comes the good stuff. My world could be made of cilantro and I’d be a happy camper. If you don’t like cilantro, made another salad. This one’s not for you. And neither am I. Just kidding. Not really.


Add lemon and lime and some salt and you are done baby! If you are organized and have your shit together, make this the night before and let it sit. If you are like me, make this frantically right before you have to take it/serve it and smell like cilantro and corn for the party.



A smaller quantity of this with red onions added can also be a spectacular salsa. Add diced avocado and top a taco or fill a burrito.

Happy hot Sunday.

Caprese Cookout

Yesterday we had my sister, her man and my cousins over for a bbq.  We had the usual fare for the carnivore – steak, chicken, brats.  That took care of everyone but me and my sister.  Originally I was going to make grilled pizzas – but the amount of carnivore fare on the grill had me rethink those plans.  I decided on a panzanella salad – which is basically a caprese salad with chunks of homemade croutons.

It could not be easier. I forgot to take pictures of the baguette and tomatoes prior to cutting them up – sorry – I used replacement tomatoes. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief and go along with it.

Cut up tomatoes and basil – add the vinegar and let sit, room temperature for 2 or 3 hours.  In the meantime, cut up a baguette, I used a French sourdough, and toast in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes – until the bread is lightly toasted with crispy corners.  Then you need some bocconcini – those baby balls of mozzarella marinated in olive oil and herbs. I simply cut them up, combine with the tomato/basil mixture, add the bread to combine. Couldn’t be easier. I usually add about 1/2 the oil from the cheese to the mixture and there you have it. Just when you thought another cheese/bread combo wasn’t possible.

Ofcourse just one caprese salad would not make a successful cookout – enter my sister’s man who brought the beauty below. Look at the size of those glorious tomatoes. Now it’s a party!

Here’s what else was served (I forgot to take photos of the steak – and the brats had been lying around for a bit so the bread looks a bit withered).


My sister – thank goodness – brought a pie! Raspberry Peach.  It was ridiculously good. Maybe I’ll talk her into doing a step by step baking post one day.

How a Vegetarian Does Steak

My cousin came to visit today and I busted out my grilled steak.   hmmm.  You’re shocked I cook steak?  Me too. It took me a long time.  Many years of wearing ziploc bags as gloves to handle meat, fish and fowl have gone into what you see before you.  How does it taste?  I dunno.  Either I’ve become a really adept vegetarian who cooks non-veg….or my family will eat anything anyone will give them.  It could go either way.

Here’s how I did it – (note that when I was taking a picture of the ingredients for grilled steak, I forgot the steak.  So later I dug the wrapper out of the garbage and took a picture – I’m sure Martha Stewart went through the same stuff)

You’ll need 3 steaks for this – here’s what I used (my son and I had PB&J fyi)


Get cheap steak, expensive steak, flank, rib eye, sirloin, whatever.  This marinate will turn any little cut into a dreamy thing (your dreams, not my dreams)

Put the steaks in a deep dish to marinate with:

1/2 cup of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons of honey

2 tablespoons of kosher salt (is there any other kind)

4 heaping tablespoons of Montreal Steak mix (thank you Canada)

2 teaspoons of garlic powder (if you have fresh garlic, use it and stop judging me please)

Combine the honey and Worcestershire sauce and set aside.

No matter how grossed out you are – rub the steaks with the salt, steak mix and garlic powder.  All the good cooks of the world  say to “massage” the meat.  I don’t do all that.  My technique is more sprinkling on and cringing while quickly spreading the stuff around.  Imagine a face after sucking on a tart lemon – that’s me.  Semi-disgusted and puckered up (with love ofcourse).

Now dump the ‘shire and honey mixture on top and let sit – for however long you have.  Overnight is ideal, a few hours will work, even 1/2 an hour before cooking does the trick.

It should look like this….

Heat your grill on high – here’s our grill.  Ignore the beer. The original title of this post was supposed to be – Beer really helps a vegetarian cook steak. 

4 minutes on each side for medium rare – sometimes I get nervous and pull it early.  I hear you go to jail for overcooked steak.

There you go!  Simple but effective.  Now go buy all the sides and serve up dinner.