The Dinner That Had No Flavor

So I was seriously excited about dinner tonight.

I have been gathering recipes and ingredients all week long – Bon Appétit, Joy of Kosher,, even PAUL DEEN. I marinated the racks of baby beef ribs overnight, I steamed the cauliflower, I soaked the beans…


Okay okay…I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So listen to this lineup:

Kalbi-marinated Baby Beef Ribs (not baby back ribs, not full-sized beef ribs. These are little things. Cute almost)

Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Beans

Bon Appétit’s Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

JoyofKosher’s Leek and Onion Kugel

and a Cantaloupe!

That sounds delicious, right? The ribs were marinated in this soy sauce/sugar/garlic/onion/sesame oil/sesame seeds mixture, then oven baked for hours, then finished on the BBQ.

The beans were soaked overnight, then piled into the slow cooker with some leftover taco meat (it is NOT a substitution! I swear! Mrs. Deen suggests using browned meat, adding in salt and seasonings, I simply/deftly swapped leftovers for new) and an onion. Five hours of cooking later, and we had some beans on the table.

The Cauliflower was a pain in the ass. You have to break down a head of cauliflower, then spend the next 10 minutes trying to find all the little stupid pieces that fell on the floor and rolled under the counter and yelling when you step on the THIRD one in a row. You have to cook some barley, make a dressing (who on EARTH thinks whisking lemon juice into mayo, dijon mustard and oil until it’s an emulsion is EASY?!?!), fry the cauliflower and THEN steam it. Then you toss all the components together, throw on some from-frou parsley and serve.

The kugel (pronounced Kuh-gell) probably had the most flavor – and even that needed more fried onions. You sauté some leeks and onions in a buttload of oil, toss it with some cooked pasta (remind me to tell you the story of the time I made an entire kugel before realizing you’re supposed to COOK the noodles first…smh), some beaten eggs, honey, non-dairy milk (I used almond), salt and pepper and then whack the whole thing into a hot oven for an hour or so.

So, I was seriously stoked about making this meal. I felt like I was totally flexing some creative meal-making muscles here. Marinating? Soaking? Sautéing? Frying? aaaaaand Baking?!?!

Oh, and I’ll have you know, I FOLLOWED all of the recipes. All of them. Measured, weighed, everything. No substitutions. I know, right? ME? No substitutions?? Nope. Not this time.

And still no flavor. The meat had a lovely crust and it fell deliciously off the bones…but nothing of the marinade penetrated. The beans were…blah. The Cauliflower was just a bit too crunchy and the barley didn’t add the nice nutty flavor that I’d hoped it would. ‘What did it add?’, I hear you asking. What did this 30-minute process of cooking and draining and cooling the barley add to this salad? Chew – it added chew. Oh, and the sauce was…blah-dee-blah-blah-blah. The sauce wasn’t really lemony, wasn’t mustardy at all, was just kinda…white and wet.

So the end result?

C looked at me and said, ‘Not even the cantaloupe has any flavor.’

Kalbi Marinated Beef Ribs

Kalbi (Marinated Beef Short Ribs)

Adapted from LYZZARD on

Printable Recipe HERE


3/4 Cup White Sugar

3/4 Cup Soy sauce **I used this brand of Black Soy Sauce because I like it. TaaDaa.

1/4 Cup Sesame oil

4 cloves Garlic, minced **I used the frozen Dorot garlic cubes. That stuff ROCKS!

3 Green Onions, chopped **Ok, okay, I used a shallot. That does NOT count as a substitution.

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

5lbs Beef short ribs

How To:

1- Stir the sugar into the soy sauce in a bowl until the sugar dissolves completely. Whisk the sesame oil, garlic, green onions, and sesame seeds into the soy sauce. Place the short ribs in a large, sealable bag and pour the marinade over the meat. Marinate in refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

2- Remove the ribs from the bag. Double line 2 baking sheets with foil. Lay the ribs on the foil, drizzle on the excess marinade **NEXT TIME I WILL RESERVE SOME MARINADE TO BASTE THE MEAT. Cover with foil and bake at 300F for 2.5 hours. Remove from the oven and open the foil to cool. **I made these in the morning and let them rest until dinnertime.

3- Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate.

4- Cook the short ribs on the preheated grill until they are very firm, hot, and grey in the center, about 15 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). **I think C cooked these for about 15minutes total.

Crockpot Beans
Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Beans
Adapted from Paula Deen

Printable Recipe HERE


1lb dry Pinto beans **I used a bag of Cholent Beans.

1 teaspoon Chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried Oregano

1/2lb. Ham hocks, or 1/4lb. Streak o’ lean **I used about a cup, cup and a half of leftover taco meat. This in NO WAY counts as a substitution!

4 Cups water

1 Onion, chopped **By chopped, I assumed that meant sliced in half. That is what it means, right??

How To:

1- Wash the beans and soak overnight in cold water. Drain the beans and dump into slow cooker. Stir in chili powder and oregano. **I omitted because these were already mixed into the taco meat.

2- If using ham hock: Pre-soak ham in a separate pot, for at least 2, or refrigerated up to 24 hours, depending on how salty you want your stock to be. Add ham hock to slow cooker with beans and pour in ham soaking liquid. Add more water until ham hock is completely covered.

If using streak o’ lean: Cut into cubes, brown in a skillet, and place the meat and any rendered fat in the slow cooker with beans. Pour 4 cups water into pot.

**IF USING LEFTOVER TACO MEAT: Simply dump the container and extra sauce into the slow cooker and then add in the 4 cups of water.

3- Add onion to slow cooker with beans and meat. Stir well. Season, to taste, cover the pot, and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 5 hours.

Warm Cauliflower & Barley Salad

Warm Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

Adapted from Chris Morocco for Bon Appétit

Printable Recipe HERE


1/2 Cup pearled Barley

Kosher salt

1 Tablespoon finely grated Lemon zest

3 Tablespoons fresh Lemon juice

1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

6 Tablespoons Olive oil, divided

Freshly ground Black pepper

1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets

1 15-ounce can Gigante, corona, or butter Beans, rinsed **I used Chicpeas. So sue me. I made one substitution.

1/2 Cup flat-leaf Parsley leaves, divided

2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, divided **OMITTED.

How To:

1- Place barley in a large saucepan; add water to cover by 2 inches. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25-30 minutes. Drain; run under cold water. Set aside.

2- Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and 5 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper; set aside. ** THEY MAKE IT SOUND SO SO EASY!!!

3- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower; cook, turning occasionally, until browned in spots, 10-12 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water, cover, and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

4- Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl; add beans, 1/4 cup parsley, 1 tablespoon tarragon, reserved barley, and half of reserved dressing. Toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. **I omitted the tarragon.

5- Divide salad among bowls; drizzle remaining dressing over. Garnish with lemon zest, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1 tablespoon tarragon. **AGAIN with the tarragon?? What? It was on sale??

Leek and Onion Kugel

Leek and Onion Kugel

Adapted from Sina Mizrahi for

Printable Recipe HERE


Cooking spray

1 12oz bag of Manischewitz Whole Grain Egg Noodles
 **I used the bag I had on hand. Wide Egg Noodles.

5 Tablespoons Olive oil

2 Onions, thinly sliced

2 Leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced in half moons

4 cloves Garlic, minced
 **Yay Dorot again!

1 Tablespoon Honey

1/2 Cup non-dairy Milk **I used Almond milk as I was making this for a meat meal Feel free to use dairy or non-dairy, as you see fit.

4 Eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon Sea salt

1/4 teaspoon Pepper

Chopped Parsley, for garnish

How To:

1- Preheat oven to 425F and generously spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

2- Prepare the noodles according to package direction, boiling for about 5 minutes.

3- In a wide skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add the onions and leeks.   Stir to coat the onions in oil and let cook until nicely caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.   Stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so.

4- In a medium bowl, combine the noodles, onions, garlic, honey, non-dairy milk, eggs, salt and pepper. With your hands, mix everything really well.  

Spoon the mixture into a half cup measuring cup, pressing down to pack as many noodles as you can and pour into each muffin pan cavity.

  Bake in the middle rack for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before releasing each noodle cup from the pan. Serve hot topped with some fresh parsley.


On a positive note, the twins loved dinner.

Well, ‘loved’ just might be stretching the truth a bit… R had seconds of both the ribs and kugel. J devoured two helpings of the beans. At first he wanted to eat his meat on the bone, then he cried and cried until I cut it off the bone, then he cried and cried because he did, indeed, want to eat his meat ON the bone. The joy of an over-tired 3year old.


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