Garlic Chicken

Recipes that contain garlic almost always get a second look from me. There’s something about the flavor and taste of that member of the Allium family, which also includes onions, shallots and leeks, that especially appeals to me.

So, my curiosity was piqued recently when I got to the end of an article by nutritionist Lin Yan of the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center. Dr. Yan, who conducts research in the area of diet, physical exercise and cancer prevention at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s facility here, periodically contributes articles along with several other researchers at the “Nut Lab” for the Health and Wellness section of the Herald.

Dr. Yan was writing about the health benefits of garlic and concluded his submission with a recipe for Garlic Chicken. (His article will appear in the Herald on April 9.) It looks like a relatively easy entree to prepare and one that looks mighty tasty as well. Besides chicken and garlic, the recipe contains onion and yogurt. I can’t wait to try it.

Garlic Chicken
½ ounce butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed (or more, if your prefer)
2 chicken breasts
½ pint chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons natural yogurt
Trim the chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces.
Melt the butter in a pan and add the olive oil. Add the chopped onions and cook gently until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Add the chicken pieces to the onion and garlic mixture and brown on all sides.
Add the chicken stock, season with salt and pepper to taste and add the chopped parsley. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to minimum and let cook gently, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
Remove the chicken pieces and keep warm. Turn up the heat and reduce the liquid by about half. Remove from the heat and stir in the yogurt.
Serve the garlic chicken with mashed potato, your favorite vegetables and the garlicky sauce.
Yield: Serves 2.

Quesadilla Casserole

If you like Mexican food such as burritos and chili con queso, hotdishes that contain beans or Cheddar cheese, you’re going to love the following recipe for Quesadilla Casserole. I just finished eating a small portion of the dish (it’s really hard to keep it to one piece) for lunch today, and along with a small bowl of vegetable soup, it totally satisfied my appetite.

I made the casserole a couple of nights ago from recipe that came with a McCormick Recipe Inspirations kit. It’s the second time I’ve tried one of the recipes, and both times my taste buds have been piqued. (My first experience was with the Shrimp Primavera recipe.) The best things about the Recipe Inspirations are that they come complete with the spices you need for the entrees and a recipe card that will fit right in your own recipe box if you should decide to make it again.

This particular dish contains ground beef (I used bison), Cheddar cheese, black beans, whole-kernel corn, onion, tomato sauce and green chilies as well as flour tortillas and one of my favorites, garlic. The casserole is baked in a 9-by-13-inch oven-proof baking dish and can be ready in less than an hour after you start preparing it.

Quesadilla Casserole
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon oregano leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 pound ground beef or bison
½ cup onion, chopped
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 8¾-ounce can whole-kernel corn
1 4½-ounce can chopped green chilies
6 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
Brown meat and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chilies; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper to taste, if desired.
Spread ½ cup of the meat mixture on bottom of 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with ½ of the remaining beef mixture and ½ of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 8.

If you like Mexican food such as burritos and chili con queso, hotdishes that contain beans or Cheddar cheese, you’re going to love the following recipe for Quesadilla Casserole. I just finished eating a small portion of the dish (it’s really hard to keep it to one piece) for lunch today, and along with a small bowl of vegetable soup, it totally satisfied my appetite.

I made the casserole a couple of nights ago from recipe that came with a McCormick Recipe Inspirations kit. It’s the second time I’ve tried one of the recipes, and both times my taste buds have been piqued. (My first experience was with the Shrimp Primavera recipe.) The best things about the Recipe Inspirations are that they come complete with the spices you need for the entrees and a recipe card that will fit right in your own recipe box if you should decide to make it again.

This particular dish contains ground beef (I used bison), Cheddar cheese, black beans, whole-kernel corn, onion, tomato sauce and green chilies as well as flour tortillas and one of my favorites, garlic. The casserole is baked in a 9-by-13-inch oven-proof baking dish and can be ready in less than an hour after you start preparing it.

Quesadilla Casserole
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon oregano leaves
½ teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 pound ground beef or bison
½ cup onion, chopped
2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can black beanns
1 8 3/4-ounce can whole-kernel corn
1 4½-ounce can chopped green chilies
6 8-inch flour tortillas
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
Brown meat and onion in large skillet on medium-high heat; drain. Add tomato sauce, beans, corn and green chilies; mix well. Stir in all of the spices except red pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes. Add red pepper to taste, if desired.
Spread ½ cup of the meat mixture on bottom of 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish sprayed with no-stick cooking spray. Top with 3 of the tortillas, overlapping as needed. Layer with ½ of the remaining beef mixture and ½ of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beef mixture and cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Yield: Serves 8.

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Cherry Sauce

One of the nice things about being a food writer is the enormous number of recipes that cross my desk. One of my sources for recipes each month is the American Institute for Cancer Research. I can’t begin to count all of the recipes from the AICR that we have tried.

This month, a pork tenderloin recipe caught my eye. Pork, of course mixes well with many other ingredients. It goes well with a wide variety of vegetables and fruit among them.

In this particular recipe, pork is combined with cherries and pomegranate. I’m curious to see how it turns out since just recently we prepared some pheasant in a barbecue sauce that contained cherries. The result was rather tasty, so I’m assuming the cherries will do the same for the tenderloin.

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Cherry Sauce
½ cup dried tart cherries
¾ cup pomegranate juice, divided
1 pound pork tenderloin
4 teaspoons canola oil
½ cup fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon coarse seed mustard
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
Place cherries in small bowl. Add ½ cup pomegranate juice and let sit until cherries are plump, about 20 minutes. Drain, setting fruit aside and reserving liquid.
Cut tenderloin crosswise into 8 pieces. Using your palm, gently flatten each piece to an even thickness.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until it is browned on both sides, turning meat once, about 6 minutes in all. When instant read thermometer reads 150 degrees or meat resists slightly when pressed with your finger, remove it to plate, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
Pour broth into the pan. As it boils, use wooden spatula to scrape up all browned bits. When broth is reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes, add cherries, shallots, pomegranate juice and reserved juice from soaking, thyme and mustard. Simmer vigorously until liquid is reduced by one-third, 4 to 5 minutes. Return meat and any juices that have collected to pan and cook until meat is barely pink in the center or instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place 2 pieces of tenderloin on each of 4 dinner plates. If using, swirl butter into sauce until it melts. Spoon sauce over meat. Serve immediately.
Note: If the tenderloin has a silverskin membrane, remove it or at the meat counter, ask the butcher to do it for you.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 238 calories, 5 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 43 grams carbohydrates,
7 grams protein, 6 grams dietary fiber, 155 milligrams sodium.

Mediterranean Pizza

If there’s one thing that I would like to become adept at in the kitchen, it’s pizza-making. Pizza is one of my favorite foods. I probably could eat pizza every day, no matter if it’s hot or cold, but my better judgment usually gets the best of me.

Most of the time when I get the craving, we have pizza from Mama Maria’s or Rhombus Guys, two restaurants that have done quiet well in the Best Pizza in Grand Forks competition that’s held each summer.

But last night, we ordered from Mike’s. And since it was Friday and we’re in the midst of Lent, we skipped the meat. The toppings we had were mushrooms, onion and green pepper. I hadn’t had a pizza from Mike’s in a while but in the past always had been pretty pleased with their offerings. This one didn’t disappoint me, either.

I guess when it comes right down to it, a vegetarian-type pizza is my favorite. That’s why the following recipe that I came across recently intrigued me. It’s called a Mediterranean pizza. The person who shared the recipe described it as having a light crust, bright sauce and array of colorful topping. And that would be right up my alley, since I put a premium on thin crust and a tasty sauce.

Mediterranean Pizza

PIZZA DOUGH:
1¼ cups sparkling mineral water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Scant ½ teaspoon salt
3½ cups (15.5 ounces) bread flour, divided, plus more as needed for kneading
In a large bowl, whisk together the water, oil, sugar and yeast. Set aside the mixture for 15 minutes to hydrate the yeast.
Stir in the salt and two-thirds of the flour, 1 spoonful at a time, to achieve a very soft dough.
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured board and continue kneading in additional flour until a soft, sticky dough is achieved. The dough should be very moist; the more flour added, the heavier the dough and final crust.
Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside the dough until it doubles in volume, about 1 to 1½ hours. (While the dough is rising, make the tomato and pesto sauces, and assemble the toppings.)
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Halve the dough and roll each half into a ball. Place on the floured board and lightly flour the tops. Loosely cover each ball with plastic wrap and set aside until almost doubled again.
TOMATO SAUCE:
1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
¾ cup diced yellow onion
1½ cups (9 ounces, about 4 whole tomatoes with sauce) canned plum tomatoes
1½ teaspoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
In a medium saucepan heated over medium heat, add the oil, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, careful not to burn the garlic.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.
Pass the sauce through a food mill, or puree using a food processor or blender. This makes 1 scant cup tomato sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
BASIL PESTO:
2 small garlic cloves
1 teaspoon toasted pine nuts
Small pinch red chili flakes
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
Lemon juice, to taste
In a large mortar and pestle or using a food processor, grind together the garlic, pine nuts, chili flakes, Parmigiano and olive oil. Add the basil leaves, a few at a time, until they are incorporated and a coarse paste is formed.
Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with additional Parmigiano, lemon juice, pine nuts or olive oil. Thin as desired with a little olive oil.
Refrigerate the pesto in a nonreactive container with the surface covered with plastic wrap until needed; the pesto will keep for up to 1 day.
PIZZA AND ASSEMBLY:
Prepared pizza dough
Prepared tomato sauce
2 cups fresh grated mozzarella
½ cup crumbled feta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¾ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 cup drained marinated artichokes
Prepared basil pesto
Place a pizza stone on a rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Roll out each dough ball to a 12- to 14-inch round and place on a floured pizza peel. Divide the sauce between the two rounds, ladling evenly over each round and leaving a 1-inch border around each.
Sprinkle the mozzarella and feta evenly over the pizzas, and garnish the top of each pie with the tomatoes, olives and artichokes.
Gently slide the first pizza on the stone. Bake until the crust is puffed and golden-brown, about 8 to 10 minutes (timing will vary depending on the thickness of the pie and heat of the oven). Remove the pizza and slide the second into the oven. Cool the pizzas slightly, then spoon the pesto over and slice. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 415 calories, 16 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 31 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams sugar, 692 milligrams sodium

¼

Sloppy Joes: ‘Cues for a Crowd

Do you like cooking for a crowd?

I do. And that’s exactly what I’m about to get to work on in just a few minutes.

Each spring for about the past 15 years or so, we’ve been making a batch of homemade barbecues for a 100 or so people who belong to a group that Therese and I support. The recipe I use is tried and true. I call it Auntie Helen’s Barbecues, because it was given to me by my late aunt, Helen Tiedeman, who was the head cook at our Catholic school when I was growing up.

The barbecues were a hot lunch favorite of all the kids. Over the years, I’ve shared the recipe with friends, relatives and Herald readers. No one has been disappointed.

While Auntie Helen’s Barbecues are great, I realize there are a lot of other barbecue or “Sloppy Joe” recipes out there that are pretty good. I can think of a couple right off the top of my head. The Sloppy Joes that are served at The Kegs drive-in in Grand Forks have a lot of fans, and I’m one of them. Also, one of my friends has his mom’s recipe that contains chicken gumbo soup, which ranks right up there, too.

While I don’t have those two aforementioned recipes, here is my aunt’s along with another that was shared with me recently that looks pretty tasty.

Sloppy Joes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ red or green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
½ cup each: ketchup, water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
4 kaiser rolls, toasted
Heat oil in medium skillet.
Add onion and pepper; cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.
Add beef; cook, breaking up pieces, until browned and crumbled, 4 minutes.
Mix in ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste; simmer until flavors are blended, 15 minutes. Serve on rolls.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 415 calories, 31 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 69 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 1,087 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
1 25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
½ gallon of ketchup
½ stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
¼ cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
½ cup of brown sugar
Mix all of ingredients and cook for about 2 hours
Yield: Serves 50.

Hot Diggity Dog — It’s Twins Time

The Minnesota Twins are on television  tonight. They’re playing the Baltimore Orioles in an exhibition game. And I’m tuning in to watch them.

Nothing says baseball more than a hot dog, and  that’s why I’m contemplating having that all-American favorite while sitting down in front of the TV to catch my Mauer, Morneau and the boys for the first time this year.

I’m not sure if this is their first exhibition game to be televised this spring, but it is one in which all the players are healthy and are expected to play.

Hot dogs and baseball have a long history. I remember taking in my first Twins game in 1961 in old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn., and munching on a ballpark hot dog.

Of course, hot dogs were one of my favorites long before then. I remember going with my dad to Erickson’s Meat Market in Crookston and getting some of their homemade hot dogs. We often had them with sauerkraut, but just cooking them in some boiling water and slapping them on buns usually was standard operating procedure. And when I got older, the owners of the Rec, Crookston’s pool hall, all served them right off the grill on hamburger buns. I might have eaten few of them.

So, in anticipation of tonight’s game, here are a couple of hot dog recipes for those of you interested in partaking in this century-old ritual. Hot diggity!

Hot Dogs with Zesty Slaw
1 16-ounce bag  shredded coleslaw mix
¼ cup each: light mayonnaise, chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon each: red pepper flakes, salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hot dogs
4 hot dog buns
¼ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
Mustard, onions, relish
For slaw, combine the slaw mix, mayonnaise, cilantro, red pepper, salt and black pepper to taste in a large bowl; set aside. Combine ketchup, cumin and red pepper in small bowl; set aside.
Place hot dogs on a microwave safe plate; cook on high (100 percent) power until done, about 1 minute. Place in buns; garnish with desired accouterments. Serve slaw on top of dog or on the side. Play ball!
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 392 calories, 52 percent of calories from fat, 23 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 40 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams carbohydrates, 12 grams protein, 1,691 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Chicago-Style Hot Dog

1 all-beef hot dog
1 poppy seed hot dog bun
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
Celery salt (optional)
1 tablespoon each: green pickle relish, chopped onion
3 sport peppers
3 tomato wedges
1 wedge kosher dill pickle
Place hot dog on a steam rack over boiling water; steam, covered, until hot, about 4 minutes. Add bun, steam 1 minute.
Place hot dog in bun. Top with mustard, celery salt, pickle relish, onions, peppers, tomato and pickle.
Yield: Serves 1.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 365 calories, 49 percent calories from fat, 35 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 30 milligrams cholesterol, 13 grams protein, 1,360 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Storm Soup

What do you do when the weather turns nasty? I like to make a pot of soup. That’s what I did yesterday, when forecasters were predicting a winter storm for our area today and tomorrow.

As usual when I make a vegetable soup, there was no set recipe. I just started with a couple of containers of frozen broth, several sliced carrots, a bag of frozen beans, a half-cup of pearled barley, some diced onion and celery, salt and pepper to taste and a little imagination.

The imagination this time was a frozen container of corn water (remnants of blanching) and a canned quart of soup starter that was given to me by a neighbor, Gary Brundin. Gary gave me the starter a couple of weeks ago at the same time he passed on a bag of frozen chokecherries and one of apricots. I didn’t think twice about the starter at the time. My thoughts were all about making some jelly and jam out of the fruit.

The contents of the starter included (to the best of my observation) cabbage, tomatoes and rutabaga, a trio of vegetables that are among my favorites. The resulting soup was fantastic. I just finished two small bowls for lunch.

Because I can’t give the exact ingredients of the soup, here’s another that is a favorite of mine. It’s called Vegetable Beef. It was one that my dad made almost weekly during the winter when I was growing up.

Vegetable Beef Soup
1 2- to 3-pound chuck roast or soup meat
3 carrots, sliced thinly
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 quart canned tomatoes or 28-ounce can
1 quart tomato juice
1 small rutabaga, cut into small cubes
1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
½ gallon water
½ cup pearled barley
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook meat in a pot of water until tender. Remove from pot and let cool before cutting into small pieces. Place back in pot with the vegetables, juice and seasonings. Bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours.
Note: You can add homemade or store-bought noodles to soup during the last ½ hour of cooking.

Down-Home Barbecued Chicken

I’m always on the lookout for new barbecue sauces. I came across one today that caught my fancy while watching “Down Home with the Neelys,” a TV show on the Food Channel. The Neelys, Pat and Gina, are co-owners of Neely’s Bar-B-Que in Memphis, Tenn. On the show, they share the secrets behind their favorite dishes at their highly successful restaurant.

The recipe that drew my attention was for Cherry Barbecue Chicken. The recipe contains a lot of the ingredients I use in my own homemade barbecue sauce, but a few of the others were what made it interesting to me. Probably what intrigued me the most was the inclusion of a bag of frozen cherries. I’ve never thought about including them in a barbecue sauce.

While the recipe is for grilling, I’m going to give in a try in the oven with some pheasant breasts and legs. I bet the Neelys would find this twist interesting.

Cherry Barbecue Chicken
3 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 chicken drumsticks (about 3¼ pounds)
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ Vidalia onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 2 oranges
Juice of ½ lemon
1 cup ketchup
1 16-ounce bag frozen pitted cherries, thawed
½ cup water
Olive oil, for greasing grates
Fresh cherries, for serving
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons chili powder, smoked paprika, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Season the chicken drumsticks and carefully loosen the skin to season the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Meanwhile, add oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, and garlic, and saute until onion is soft and translucent. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder, and tomato paste and toast for 1 minute. Add orange juice, lemon juice, ketchup, cherries, water, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with a hand blender until smooth. Reserve 1 cup sauce for grilling and hold the rest for serving.
Preheat a grill to medium heat. Oil the grill grate with olive oil to keep the chicken from sticking.
Grill chicken, turning frequently, until cooked through and skin is crisp, about 25 minutes. Brush with reserved barbecue sauce and grill 5 minutes more.
Serve the chicken with fresh cherries and a side of sauce.

Guacamole — and Other Things Green

It wasn’t exactly Irish — it’s origins are probably Spanish — but it was green. I talking about the guacamole that a co-worker of mine brought to a St. Patrick’s Day potluck today.

The guacamole wasn’t the only thing green at the get-together that didn’t really have an Irish connection. I brought some homemade dill pickles. Of course, pickles are green. They’re made from cucumbers. We also had a Seafoam Salad that was made with canned pears (and their juice), cream cheese and a box of lime Jell-O (recipe follows).

Actually, a case could me made for an Irish connection for a couple of the other things we had at the potluck. Both contained sauerkraut. One was baked pork ribs, and the other was sausage in a slow cooker. Since sauerkraut comes from cabbage and cabbage is a St. Patrick’s Day standby — well, you get my drift. And to top it off, the sauerkraut that the sausage was cooked in was green.

But getting back to the guacamole, it was pretty good for something whose main ingredients (besides the avocado) came in a package. When I make guacamole, it’s from scratch. The recipe I like is in my “Fanny Farmer” cookbook. It’s very authentic. It calls for leaving some of the guacamole in chunks, just the way the originators intended.

Here’s the recipe. It’s great with tortilla chips. And for a little added kick, eat a little salsa with it.

Guacamole
2 large ripe avocados
4 canned, peeled green chili peppers, chopped fine (see note)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
Peel and seed the avocados. Mash one avocado in a bowl, and finely chop the other. Mix the two with the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Note: Canned jalapeno peppers also work.

Seafoam Salad
1 15-ounce cans pears and their juice
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 large box of lime Jell-O
Soften cream cheese at room temperature. Drain pears and save the juice in microwavable bowl. Add enough water to equal 2 cups. Microwave the liquid until it comes to a boil and then add the Jello-O. Stir until it is dissolved.
Put drained pears and cream cheese in the blender. Pour the hot Jello-O liquid over the top. Make sure the cover is tight on the blender and let it rip. Blend and pulse until mixture is smooth, which takes just a few seconds. Pour into a dish and chill until set.
Note: This looks pretty if you use a Jell-O mold or put it in a glass dish.

Barbecued Ribs and UND Football

I love a good barbecue, especially if pork ribs are on the menu. (See www.grandforksherald.com/event/tag/group/Life/tag/food/.) That’s why I was excited when Josh Kotelnicki called me this morning and asked for my help with UND football’s 1st Annual Spring Cook-Off on April 16.

Josh, who was a starting linebacker on UND’s 2001 Division II national championship team and returned to his alma mater in 2008 as the team’s special teams coordinator and inside linebackers coach, wanted to know if I would like to be one of the judges in the ribs and burgers competition that’s going to be held before UND’s annual spring football game at the Alerus Center. Of course, I was glad to oblige.

Besides the ribs and burger competition, at least a dozen area food vendors and restaurants will be providing food samples for a People’s Choice Competition for fans. The food events will be addition to a free kids athletic clinic. Also, while the Green and White are getting ready for the Spring Game and the cooking teams are prepping their delicious foods, fans will be able to enjoy live music, interactive games and bounce houses for kids throughout the tailgating area in the Alerus parking lot.

Registration forms and full event details for both the Cook-off Challenge and the People’s Choice Competition are available on-line at www.FightingSioux.com. Deadline to register is April 8.

It was just a coincidence that I found the following barbecued ribs recipe in “The Best of The Farmer’s Wife Cookbook” that came to me in the mail this morning. (The cookbook is one in a series that can be ordered at www.voyageurpress.com.)

Barbecued Ribs
4 pounds spareribs
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fat or butter
¼ cup vinegar
Dash cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon celery salt
½ tablespoon ground mustard
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
Trim spareribs free of excess fat. Put in roaster in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cover and bake while fixing sauce by cooking onion in butter until soft and then adding remaining ingredients. Before pouring sauce over ribs, drain off excess fat from ribs. Bake meat uncovered, basting with sauce frequently, for 1½ hours or until meat is very tender.