Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Slow Cooker BBQ RibsRibs are one of Jamison’s favorite meals…Throw in a few potato skins and he’s in heaven! A few years ago I read something about slow cooker ribs and thought it was an interesting idea, but never got back to actually trying the theory. Yesterday when Alexis and I went to the grocery store they had some pork ribs on sale, so I decided to give them a try! The result was tender, fall off of the bone goodness! Plus the whole thing is easy and fool proof. Throw them on before you go to work and come home to a mouth watering dinner. If you like ribs you’ll love these!

What You’ll Need:
1 rack of ribs
Seasoning salt
1 batch of Dianne’s Barbecue Sauce or 1 bottle of store bought

Cut slab of ribs into 3 or 4 sections to fit into your slow cooker depending on what size machine you have. (I have the large one so I cut the slab into 3 pieces.) Season generously with seasoning salt. Place rib sections into your slow cooker and pour all of the Barbecue Sauce minus 1 cup into the crock to cover the ribs and cook on high for 4 hours. Lower heat to low and cook for an additional 2-3 hours or until meat is tender and falling from the bone. Prior to serving heat the reserved barbeque sauce through and serve as a dipping sauce. (Note: If you are serving more than 1 or 2 people then you can add more ketchup and brown sugar to the existing Barbecue Sauce to make it go further. Simply use a 1 cup ketchup to 2-3 tablespoon brown sugar ratio.)

Notes: You could also do this with chicken or a boneless pork shoulder. If you don’t want to remember to change the temeperature you could cook them on high for a total of 5-6 hours and it would work just as well. Just remember when the bones comes out easily it’s done! The cooking time depends on the volume of ribs present. While the ribs were cooking I kept moving them around in the slow cooker so that each piece had a chance to be on the bottom, but you can just walk away and ignore them until they are done too. Either method will work fine.

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie is another one of those ultimate comfort foods. There are many ways to make the dish, but it’s hard to find a version much better than this one! It’s warm, hearty and oh so delicious!

What You’ll Need For The Crust:
4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of cold butter
1 1/2- 2 1/2 cups of ice water

In a food processor pulse together flour and salt to mix. Cut cold butter into pats and add to the food processor. Pulse the butter with the flour until mixture becomes crumbly and roughly the size of peas. Slowly add water until a dough ball forms. (Note: You might not need all of the water. When the ball forms stop adding water. It’s also possible that you might need a bit more water. It all depends on the humidity in the air and such. You can’t judge beforehand unfortunately so pay attention and when the ball forms stop adding water!!) Divide the dough into two balls and wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container and put in the fridge to chill for at least an hour.

Let the dough soften at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before rolling out so it will be easy to use.

What You’ll Need For The Filling:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked chopped into large chunks
1 stick of butter
1 onion, chopped
6-8 large button mushroom, sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup of parsley, chopped
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup of frozen peas
1 egg, beaten

Cook chicken. Add a little sea salt and black pepper and cook until chicken is done through. Cut chicken into chunks and set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Melt 1 stick of butter and saute onions and mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until tender. Add flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add parsley and stir to mix. Add chicken broth or water and let the mixture thicken (about 2-3 minutes). Add veggies and chicken and stir to mix. Remove from heat and set aside.

What To Do To Assemble the Pot Pie:

Roll out dough and press into a pie dish. Add filling to the pie shell. (Note: The filling will be slightly higher than the top of the dish. Push the bulk of the filling to the center of the pie shell.) Roll out the other dough ball and cover the pie, crimp the edges and cut steam holes. Brush the top of the crust with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt:

Chicken Pot Pie Baking

Bake for 35-35 minutes until crust is golden browned.

Chicken Pot Pie Baked

Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Pot Pie

Notes: You could easily leave the chicken out of this and make it a Vegetable Pot Pie. You could substitute vegetable broth for the chicken water in this scenario to make it completely vegetarian. Leeks would also be a good addition, as would cubed potatoes. You can also make the filling and chill it before using for a day or two in the fridge or freeze in the freezer for months.

In Honor of Harry Potter…Pumpkin Ice Cream!

In Honor of Harry Potter...Pumpkin Ice Cream

OK…I’ll admit it…I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan! Before Alexis arrived I would go stand in line at the store at midnight to get my book! Now I do overnight delivery, but I still devour them the first day! I’ve already read it in fact and I won’t ruin it for those of you who haven’t finished yet, but I will say for the most part I was pleased.

So in honor of Harry I thought I’d make something pumpkin themed, even though it’s not really pumpkin season! I thought about a pumpkin smoothie or pumpkin muffins, but decided since it was the middle of summer and has been hot as Hades lately (though today and the next few days are looking heavenly!), I decided creamy ice cream was the way to go! It tastes a lot like pumpkin pie and Alexis and I both loved it!

So grab a spoon, have some Pumpkin Ice Cream while you’re reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and here’s to you Harry!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 15 ounce can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1 pint of half and half
1 pint of heavy cream
1 – 12 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

In the bowl of a mixer cream pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. With the mixer on low add half and half, heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk until well mixed. Cover mixer with a towel to prevent splattering and mix on medium for 5-8 minutes until airy. Pour mixture into a large bowl, cover and place in the freezer. Remove every 45 minutes to an hour and stir with a whisk until ice cream is set.

Notes: You could also do this in an ice cream maker and just pour the mix right in. I however wanted to try this non-ice-cream maker/whisk method I had read about and I was very pleased with the outcome.

Summer Pie

Summer Pie

With all the fresh veggies and herbs coming out of the garden and the Farmer’s Market, why not utilize them and make a great dinner pie? It’s hearty and filling! If you like pasta, veggies and ricotta you can’t go wrong with this dish!

What You’ll Need:
1 – 1 pound package of fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of fat-free ricotta
2 eggs
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of parsley, chopped
1 large zucchini, sliced into rounds
2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into rounds
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Summer Pie

Cook fettuccine according to package directions, drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Saute onion and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender and set aside.

In a large bowl mix ricotta, eggs, a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until completely mixed. Stir in parsley, cooked onions and garlic and stir until incorporated. Add noodles and stir to mix/coat.

Spray an 8 inch spring form pan with non-stick spray and pour noodles mixture into the pan and press down. Next add a layer of zucchini to cover the noodles completely. Then add a layer of tomatoes on top of zucchini and cover completely. Sprinkle the top of the pie with Parmesan and bake for 30-40 minutes until top is browned. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes, cut and serve.

Summer Pie

Notes: You could add in more/different veggies if you like. Mushrooms would be good. Yellow squash would make a nice addition as well. It’s completely up to you and what you like. If you would like, you can substitute chopped spinach for the parsley.

Dad’s Cucumbers

Dad's Cucumbers

Every time I make these I can’t help but think of my grandfather and smile. We always called him “Dad” even though he was our grandfather. This was one of his summer favorites that he made when we spent summers out at the lake. I’m not a fan of sweet pickles at all, but these are really delicious! It’s a cool, sweet, yet tangy treat. If you like cucumber and/or pickles try them and see!

What You’ll Need:
Cucumbers, sliced
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 to 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar (Or vinegar of your choice…If you like the twang go with more, if not go with less.)
About 2 cups of water

Fill a Mason jar with sliced cucumbers to the top of the jar. Mix sugar and vinegar and stir until sugar dissolves. Pour sugar/vinegar mixture into the Mason jar. Slowly add water (about 2 cups) until the jar is full. Tightly place the lid on the jar and shake to mix. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Notes: These will keep in the fridge for about a week. They are by no means long terms pickles. In fact I only like them the first or second day they are made. After that to me they become too rubbery, but a friend of mine likes them after about 4 days. It’s completely a matter of your taste. You can also add in sweet onions or bell peppers to the mix for a bit of a change.

Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie

Let’s talk cherries! What’s better than a fresh cherry pie? One thing is for certain though, the next time I make this little gem I’m going to have one of these! (Hint, hint again birthday fairy! Or perhaps in my case since he’s male the Birthday Elf! ;o)) Stained fingers aside, you can’t beat this pie. If you like fresh cherries, try it…You’ll fall in love!

What You’ll Need:
3 1/2 to 4 pounds of fresh cherries, pitted
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons of corn starch
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 double pie crust (boxed or recipe)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large stock pot mix cherries, sugar and salt and cook until a sauce forms. (About 5-10 minutes. The cherries don’t have to be completely cooked, because they will finish cooking in the oven.) Stir in corn starch and cook for about 2 minutes to thicken. Remove from heat.

While cherries are cooking press a pie shell into a pie dish and trim the edges. When cherries are done pour them into the pie dish lined with the pie shell:

Cherry Pie Filled

Top the pie with another shell and cut vents or shape(s) to let out steam:

Cherry Pie Ready to Bake

Brush the top of the pie shell with beaten egg and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Pitted Cherries Ready To Be Made Into Pie Filling

Cocktail Time: Frozen Fruity Rum Punch

Frozen Fruity Rum Punch

I still have some frozen Banana Punch concentrate in the freezer from Alexis’ birthday party and I decided it would be fun to thaw some out and have a little fun with it…Add in a little rum and you’ve got a wonderful summer treat for the adults!

What You’ll Need:
4 cups of Banana Punch concentrate, thawed until slushy
2 cups of ice
1 cup of dark rum
1 cup of ginger ale

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Not Your Mama’s Chicken and Stars Soup

Not Your Mama's Chicken and Stars SoupAs a kid I loved Chicken and Stars soup. As I’ve grown older though canned soup just doesn’t cut it anymore. All the preservatives and salt just make it not appealing! I wanted to introduce Alexis to a childhood favorite without resorting to canned soup and I started thinking about making my own. This version has a few more vegetables than the canned variety and of course less salt! Overall I was very impressed and Alexis loved it, so what more can you ask for?

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 cups of chicken, chopped (You can use white or dark meat or even a little of both. Add more or less, it’s up to you.)
2 boxes of chicken stock (Or the equivalent of homemade stock, which I actually used)
1/2-1 cup of star pasta

In a large stock pot saute veggies until tender with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Stir in chicken and chicken broth and bring to a quick boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add star pasta and cook until pasta is tender, roughly 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Notes: I thought about adding peas in after the fact. I think they would have made a nice addition, especially since I have some fresh peas in the fridge. Alexis thought it would be fun to add tomatoes into the soup and I think we might try that next time. She’s all about tomatoes and tomato based soups. It would take this soup to a whole different level!

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread is one of those things that immediately sounds delicious if you’re in to such things. There are many variations of this bread, but my recipe is an adaptation of my mom’s Banana Bread. I’ve even seen recipes that called for chocolate chips! The possibilities are endless, but anyway you slice it (yeah I went there again! ;op) it’s delicious!

What You’ll Need:
2 large zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup of safflower oil or unsweetened apple sauce
2 eggs
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat together oil (or apple sauce) and sugar. Stir in eggs and zucchini. Add remaining ingredients and place batter into one prepared loaf pan. Bake for 35-30 minutes or until golden brown and sticks done.

Zucchini Bread

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Jamison loves yellow cake with chocolate frosting and as today is his birthday Alexis and I made him a cake for a surprise when he got home from work last night . This is the ultimate comfort food. Cake, chocolate…What’s not to like?

What You’ll Need For The Cake:
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup of sour cream
1 1/2 cups organic sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 heaping teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt butter in the microwave in a large bowl. Dump the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and mix well, but not too much or the cake will be tough. Pour into a 13 X 9 inch baking dish or two round or square cake pans for a layer cake that have been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the cake sticks clean when poked with a toothpick. Let cool completely and then cover with frosting.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting

What You’ll Need For The Frosting:
4 sticks butter, softened
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add cream, salt and vanilla to the creamed butter until mixed well. Add cocoa to butter mixture and mix on low speed until completely mixed. Slowly add sugar until completely incorporated and frosting forms. Spread over cooled cake.

Notes: You could always add in mini chocolate chips into the frosting for an extra treat. Or if you wanted to do a German Chocolate type deal you could add chopped pecans and coconut into the frosting and top a chocolate cake.