Monday, February 28, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs!

Last night I got out the crock pot, threw my ingredients in and put it in the fridge.  This morning, I took it out of the fridge, put it in the crock pot base, turned it on and headed off to work.  I love the easiness of the crock pot and preparing meals ahead.  This way after a long day at work, I come home to a hot, home cooked meal... It's like having a personal chef! LOL!

My sister in law gave me this recipe.  She made it and my brother and their kids LOVED it! Those kids can be verrrryyy picky eaters - so if they ate it - it had to be delicious!!

The recipe called for optional things and I omitted them.  I only made a few changes and boy oh boy, were these good!

Cook: 10 to 12 hours on low
5 to 6 hours on high
Makes: 4 to 6 servings

3 to 3 1/2 lbs of  pork ribs
2 cups of ketchup
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

(This is double the sauce the recipe originally called for. I found once I put the sauce on my ribs in the crockpot that it seemed like it would get dry in there.. It was just enough to coat the ribs.  This way there was extra sauce for me to thicken after I took the ribs out to slather on the ribs)

Place ribs a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker. Salt and pepper them lightly for flavor.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, onion, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, liquid smoke, garlic powder and hot sauce. Mix it so all the ingredients combine completely. 

Pour over ribs in cooker, turning to coat.

Cover and cook on low heat for 10 to 12 hours or 5 to 6 hours on high heat.

Transfer ribs to a platter; cover to keep warm. Skim fat from surface of sauce; pour sauce into a medium sauce pan. Bring sauce to a boil; reduce heat slightly. Boil gently, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened to desired consistency. Serve sauce with ribs as needed!

The ribs literally fell off the bone. They were so delicious. I would definitely make this dish again!!

I cheated with my side dishes. I used creamed spinach from Ruth's Chris steakhouse - my hubby brought them home from work. It's restaurant week in Atlantic City and his radio station gets food from different participating restaurants... Ahh the perks! LOL!



Saturday, February 26, 2011

Baked Apple Muffins! Mmm!

Today is a lazy Saturday in my household.  Sleeping in, coffee and cozying on the couch - not doing very much.  One thing I did today was run to the supermarket to get some ingredients for my meals for next week (wait until you see what I have up my sleeve!) and to bake some goodies tonight! 

I had some apples left from my last muffins and wanted to do something delicious with them... so I did!  I made Apple Pie Muffins.. It was a recipe given to me by my Mom and she swore I had to try it. I added an ingredient to the recipe she gave me just to give it a little more flavor.. it was worth it!

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups diced apples
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups.
In a large bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar until sugar has dissolved.

Pour into the flour mixture and sprinkle the diced apple into the bowl as well. Stir just until everything is blended.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin, filling the cups to the almost to the top.
In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons of melted butter while tossing with a fork until well blended.

Sprinkle this over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for  20-25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.   
 I messed up when making the topping, I'll admit it. I didn't mix it first before adding the butter so it wasn't as crumb like as it should have been once cooked - but it still tasted amazing. My husband actually ate the whole top and then the insides.
I would definetly make these again and make sure I do the topping better.  They were moist.  I loved the chunks of apple inside - especially when they will still warm!


Rosmarinus Officinalis

I have a slight obsession with herbs. Basil, Thyme, Cilantro and Rosemary are my favorites to cook with. I use these herbs fresh and dried. For dinner last night I made a family favorite, Balsamic Rosemary Chicken. I almost always have dried Rosemary in the house but when I checked my spice cabinet I realized I was out! I couldn't believe it! So I asked my wonderful husband if he could stop at the grocery store on his way home from work for Rosemary and he so nicely obliged. Instead of buying dried Rosemary he surprised me with fresh! I love, love, love the smell of fresh Rosemary! If you have never smelled it you will probably be quite surprised with how strong the scent is. The second you open the package (or however it may come) you are hit with a woodsy smell that just reeks of comfort for me. Rule of thumb is that dried herbs are stronger than fresh so even if the fresh Rosemary smells strong to you don't be afraid! It is a perfect combination with chicken!!!
These are my ingredients for this dish:
  • Boneless Chicken Tenderloins
  • Rosemary (dried or fresh or combined)
  • Balsamic Vinegar 
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 small Garlic Cloves or 1 large (not pictured, chopped

I place the chicken in a dish or resealable freezer bag to marinate it. I sprinkle it on both sides with salt, pepper and rosemary and then drizzle olive oil and about 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar over it. I put the chicken in the refrigerator to let the flavors marry. I have made this dish last minute and have not let the chicken marinate too long and it still tastes wonderful but if you can let it marinate for an hour or so. I also do not measure my ingredients so just remember that you can add flavor but you cannot take it away!!!

When I am ready to cook I pre-heat a pan on the stove top and add the chicken and marinade along with the garlic. I like to add more Balsamic as it cooks because it will cook down and we eat this with brown rice and like to have the extra sauce to put on top.

Cook the chicken for a few minutes on one side then flip over and finish baking on the other side. This tends to cook quick so keep an eye on it, you do not want to dry your chicken out! The Balsamic Vinegar may smell stringent at first but it cooks down into a sweet, syrupy sauce that is just to die for!!!! The garlic also soaks up the vinegar flavor and you will not believe just how sweet it also becomes! Some may be afraid to cook with garlic but not me! I may smell like garlic, who knows. I guess there are worse things to smell like!!! I stay at home though so maybe no one but my sons smell the garlic on me and since they most likely smell like garlic too the smells cancel each other out!

 Aside from brown rice, which I make right out of a box, my vegetable for this dinner was yellow squash and zucchini. I roasted them in the oven but you can also make them on the stove top or on the grill!

Here are my beautiful vegetables! I absolutely love fresh vegetables! I really should have a garden but I have yet to embrace my green thumb. I am actually not sure I have a green thumb! Every year I say I am going to start a garden and every year passes by! There are fresh farm stands and the farmer's market in my area so I can take advantage of what they have to offer plus my favorite grocery store, Harris Teeter,  keeps a supply of locally grown fruits and vegetables in their store.


I cut my veggies and placed them on a foil lined baking sheet, then sprinkled them with salt, pepper, chopped garlic (there it is again!), and olive oil. I baked them at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they were to my liking. I don't even set the timer most of the time, I just keep an eye on them and flip them once while they are baking. 


At last my dinner was done! This literally cooks in less than 15 minutes!!! It does take longer with the marinating but this is one dinner that is big on flavor and short on time!!!!!! I put the chicken on top of the rice and drizzle all that sauce on top of it! To me the smell and flavor just make me smile!!! It's as if I have been embraced by comfort!!!!! Yum! Yum!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dinner For 5!!

Hello everyone! I am the stay at home mom part of the blog and I have the task of cooking dinner for my family of 5: Me, my husband Chris, sons Kevin and Matthew (5) and Sean (3). I am very fortunate that my children seem to have very good appetites and are willing to try a lot of new things. I love garlic and cook with it often so they love food with lots of flavor!

For tonight's dinner I had 4 boneless pork chops sitting in the refrigerator ready to be made into something. I just had no idea what to do with them. I make pork often but it is not my husband's favorite and I get pretty bored with it. At the last second I looked in the pantry and saw that I had a packet of McCormick's Grill Mates Bourbon Brown Sugar marinade so I thought why not? I gathered my ingredients for the pork along with broccoli which I roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic and a box of scalloped potatoes. I chose the potatoes over the usual side dish we have with pork, brown rice.

I marinated the pork following the easy directions on the back of the Grill Mates packet and let that sit in the refrigerator until I prepped the other ingredients for my side dishes. I decided to chop up some red onion to go with the pork and I roasted it in the oven along with my broccoli to make it sweet before adding it to the pan at the end of the cooking. For the broccoli I used the following ingredients: 
          • 1 bag fresh broccoli
          • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
          • salt and pepper to taste
          • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
I toss all the ingredients together on a cookie sheet lined with foil and roast them in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until just a little soft with crunchy edges. The broccoli gets an almost nutty taste to it and adds a nice twist!                                        

Of course the potatoes were a no brainer, I just followed the microwave directions on the box. I do not really like the scalloped potatoes but my husband does so I decided since I was making broccoli for the 2nd time this week for me and my youngest son I could make something Chris would enjoy.

I heated olive oil in a pan on the stove and then added the marinated pork cooking a few minutes on each side until almost cooked through. The pan had all the left over marinade which became a sauce and all these crunchy bits that were sticking to it so I added a little balsamic vinegar to the pan, brought it to a bubble and scraped the bits off the bottom. I then took the onions out of the oven and added them to the pan to gather all the yummy flavor! The pork went back in until cooked through and dinner was ready!!!!
My family enjoyed this dinner!!! The pork was super moist and the onions added a sweet flavor and they became caramelized. Broccoli is my favorite vegetable so I make it often. I now know I can do something with pork that is quick and easy!

By the way, I have to add that I am in love with my onion holder!! I rarely use the whole onion so I use this handy dandy holder often. It keeps the onion fresh and also keeps it from stinking up the refrigerator!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup and Love Me Do Muffins!

Greetings and salutations fellow internet cooks!  My first post - and it's delicious!  Had a half day at work and was looking forward to coming home and igniting the fires in the kitchen!  I stopped at the local produce store to pick up some things I needed for my meals today!

I started by making a broth for homemade chicken noodle soup... Had a little fryer to do the job... and I screwed it up.. Note to those who try this - RINSE OUT THE POT COMPLETELY WHEN YOU WASH IT... An hour into my broth making, I lifted the lid to my pot and realized it smell horribly of chicken ala dawn apple wash.. Into the trash it all went...

Plan B? I had some containers of chicken stock stashed.. broke those out along with some chicken breasts I had frozen last night.. The recipe went as follows:

chicken broth - about 49 oz
 4 boneless chicken breasts cut in half - raw
Put into a stock pot and let simmer for about  45 min (until the chicken floats)
Remove the chicken.  Let the chicken cool, it will be easier to cut into bite size pieces.

To the pot add:
- about 6-7 carrots, cut about a 1/8-1/4in thick
- 3-4 celery stalks, cut 1/8in thick - leave the leaves for flavor!
- One medium onion, diced into small pieces
- salt, pepper and parsley to taste.(remember the veggies (especially the carrots) will soak up some of the salt.. so be sure to test the broth regularly to make sure there is enough for flavor!)

When the chicken is cooled, cut into pieces.. I like mine kind of small so I get a little bit of everything on my spoon ;-)

Once the veggies have simmered for a while and are tender, add the chicken.. Let it sit a while so all the amazing flavors can mix together...
Cook up some pasta - I always use bowtie with chicken noodle.. these were the tiny ones.. Do not add the pasta to the soup itself.  The noodles WILL GET SOGGY and no one likes soggy noodles... Keep them separate until you are ready to a handful of noodles into a bowl and ladle your soup on top. The soup is hot enough to warm the noodles.


For dessert, I took a recipe I found online and MAJORLY tweaked it.  And it was a win! Remember, baking is more of a science.  Things need to be exact otherwise there will be some sort of implosion, hard baked good or other catastrophe.

Love Me Do Muffins!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups peeled and grated apple (Granny Smith are great to cook with)
1/2 cup of crasins
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of plain rolled Oats
2 tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat your over to 375 degrees F (190 celscius).  Prepare your muffin pans - either coat with a nonstick spray or put liners in.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
In a second bowl, combine carrots, apples, and craisins. Stir in eggs, oil and vanilla.  (If you have lemon or an orange, squeeze into the bowl.  The acid of the citrus fruit will keep the apple from turning brown.  I used a clementine I had in the fridge)
Add this mixture to the dry ingredients; stir until smooth.

Spoon or scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Combine the oats and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture on top of the muffins.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 
If you decide to use the tiny muffin tins, as I sometimes love to do, always cut a few minutes off the baking time, otherwise you'll end up with tiny little bricks. 

Finished product...

Questions? Comments? Enjoy!!