Baked BBQ Sauce Ribs


I wasn’t sure what to call these ribs.  Normally I’d just say “BBQ ribs,” but after reading Michael Pollan’s Cooked, I realized that barbecue has a very particular definition (for a given region anyway) and abusing the term might give Southerners a nosebleed.  Hence the awkward but politically correct title of this recipe.  Credit goes to my mom and my godmother for a dish that is easy to make, extremely forgiving of variations, and incredibly tasty.


Baked BBQ Sauce Ribs

Yield: 1 rack of ribs

  • 1 rack pork back ribs
  • About 2 1/2 teaspoons Mrs. Dash spice mix (the exact amount and flavor don’t matter)
  • About 3/4 cup BBQ sauce of your choice (the exact amount doesn’t matter)
  • 3/4 cup water


  1. Line a baking pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil.  You want to use the heavy-duty kind because if any of the sauce leaks out while baking, it will be a pain to clean up afterwards.
  2. Rinse rack of ribs with water and place in pan.
  3. Rub Mrs. Dash seasoning into all exposed surfaces of the rack of ribs.  The exact amount of seasoning doesn’t matter.
  4. Cover pan with aluminum foil (now you can use the normal kind if you prefer).
  5. Marinate in the refrigerator for however much time you have.  (Thirty minutes is fine, as is several hours.)
  6. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  7. Peel back foil cover, pour 3/4 cup water into the pan, and cover loosely with foil again.  (If the foil touches the ribs, they will stick to it a little while baking.)
  8. Bake ribs for 1 hour.
  9. Remove pan from oven and use a brush to coat all exposed surfaces of the rack generously with BBQ sauce.  The exact amount doesn’t matter.  Be careful when flipping the ribs though, as the water in the pan is hot.  I like to end with the concave side of the rack facing down.
  10. Bake uncovered for another 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, cut into individual ribs, and serve.

Apple Almond Cranberry Pie


This is a delicious pie that melds together the tartness of apples and cranberries and the sweetness of almond paste.  The crumb topping with oats and cinnamon makes it perfect.


Apple Almond Cranberry Pie
From Betty Crocker and SimplyRecipes

Yield: 9″  pie

For the crust:

  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:

  • 4-5 cups baking apples, peeled and sliced (about 4-5 Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonagold, etc.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional)
  • 7-oz roll of almond paste (such as Odense)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries OR thawed frozen cranberries OR sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup white sugar if using fresh or frozen cranberries OR 1/4 cup if using sweetened dried cranberries

For the topping:

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup uncooked oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter


To make the crust:

  1. Mix flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut shortening into the mixture until pieces are the size of small peas.
  2. Sprinkle in water 1 tablespoon at a time while tossing with fork to moisten the flour.
  3. When the pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl, gather it into a ball.
  4. On a well-floured surface, flatten the ball, flour a rolling pin, and roll out the pastry until it is 2 inches larger than the inverted pie plate.
  5. Fold pastry into quarters and move into the plate.  Unfold it and press it firmly against the sides and bottom.
  6. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

To make the topping:

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together cinnamon, flour, oats, and brown sugar.
  2. Cut butter into the mixture to form crumbs.

To make the filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. On a sheet of wax paper, roll out almond paste into a circle 8-9″ in diameter.
  3. Press almond paste into the pie crust.
  4. In a large bowl, place apple slices.  (You can toss with apple cider vinegar to prevent them from browning, but you don’t need to if you slice the apples now and use them immediately.)
  5. Add cranberries, white sugar, and cinnamon.
  6. Toss to coat cranberries and apples with sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Pour into pie crust.
  8. Spoon topping over the filling.
  9. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes, or until pie is bubbly.  Cover the pie with aluminum foil after 40 minutes to prevent the topping from burning.

Pains au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)


Having mastered croissant dough, you might as well use it for as many types of pastries as possible!  In addition to plain croissants and savory ham and cheese croissants, you can also make chocolate croissants, or pains au chocolat, for dessert.

Baking Notes:

  • The dough is best if refrigerated overnight, so you should prepare it one day (about 2 hours) and shape and bake the croissants the next day (another 2 hours).
  • The croissants taste best within a few hours after baking.  If you plan to eat them after that, toast them briefly.
  • The dough is reasonably forgiving, so don’t fret too much as you make it.

Original recipe


Pains au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissants)
From King Arthur Flour

Yield: 9 croissants (plus 2 Danishes)

  • 1/2 recipe of croissant dough, made with a dough hook or by hand
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 18 pain au chocolat sticks OR about 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips OR dark chocolate bar(s) cut into 18 pieces about 3” long x 1/2” wide x 1/4” thick


  1. Dust a work surface and rolling pin with flour.
  2. Roll dough into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.  Pick it up and dust the work surface with flour underneath the dough as you’re doing this; the dough should move freely over your work surface as you roll.  (Don’t worry if you can’t get it to the perfect size; it will still be okay.)
  3. Trim the very outside edge of the dough with a knife, or if you’re being very particular, with a straight edge and pizza cutter. This takes off the sealed edges of the dough that could inhibit its “poof.”  (Save the scraps for later and tuck them under some plastic for now.)
  4. Cut the dough in thirds in both directions.
  5. Take a piece of dough and turn it sideways. Place a chocolate bar or 2 lines of chocolate chips about 1/3 from the right side, like this:
  6. Wet your finger in water and draw a line down the center of the rectangle.  Fold the right edge over onto the damp line and press gently.  Then lay down another chocolate bar or lines of chocolate chips next to the folded edge, like this:
  7. Wet the left edge of the rectangle, fold it over the chocolate, and press gently so it looks like this:
  8. Turn the pain au chocolat over and put on the baking sheet.  You want the seam to be on the bottom of the pastry so it doesn’t unroll as it bakes.
  9. Take the scraps from earlier and lay them out straight.  You can put some cinnamon sugar or lay down a line of chocolate chips on one strip, and put a second strip on top.  Twist them together into a spiral to make a Danish.  If you want, you can put a spoonful of preserves in the center.  You can make 2 Danishes from the scraps.
  10. Place the pastries on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. You can freeze the unbaked pastries at this point (such as in a rigid plastic container with a lid) for up to 2 weeks.  Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before egg-washing and baking.
  11. Beat together an egg and 1 tablespoon water to form an egg wash.
  12. Take pastries out of the refrigerator, and preheat the oven to 425°F.  Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven so the bottoms won’t burn.  While the oven is heating, brush the tops of the pastries with the egg wash.
  13. Let pastries sit on the counter for about 15 minutes.
  14. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven’s temperature to 350°F.  Bake pains au chocolat for 15 to 20 minutes.  (But remove the Danishes after 8-10 minutes so they don’t burn.)  The pastries should be a deep golden brown.
  15. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Cumin-Baked Pork Chops


I love these pork chops, which are flavored with cumin and Dijon mustard, but they are on the spicier side.  If you prefer less-spicy foods, you might want to halve the cumin-and-mustard mix.

Cooking note: If you have a cast-iron skillet, you can do the browning and baking in it.

Original recipe


Cumin-Baked Pork Chops
Adapted from New York Times

Yield: 4 pork chops

  • 4 (8-oz) pork chops, 1-1/2″  thick
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil


  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine Dijon mustard, ground cumin, and pepper.  Add a little water, until you have a spreadable paste.
  3. Heat oil in a pan over high heat.
  4. Place pork chops in the pan and brown for 2 minutes per side.
  5. Rub sauce all over pork chops.
  6. Transfer pork chops to baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 12-16 minutes.  Check after 12 minutes to make sure you don’t overcook them.