BBQ Ribs – Slow Cooker Version

Last week, my husband & I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. Most people would go out to a restaurant and spend hundreds of dollars for a special dinner, but we wanted a quiet night at home. This is a bittersweet time for our family because days after our wedding (and while we were away on our honeymoon cruise), my husband’s father unexpectedly passed away. While my husband mourns, he also knows that his last memory of his father is smiling and laughing during our wedding, and that’s good enough for him. Because of the bittersweet mood, it only felt appropriate to have a home cooked meal, comfort food theme, so I made my husband’s favorite foods: bbq ribs, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, and glazed green beans.

Have you ever wanted to make really delicious bbq ribs but you don’t have a grill (or even if you have one, you’re too lazy to clean it)? Well today I have the answer to your prayers and good God it is so stinkin’ easy to make!

There’s very minimal prep to it. It’s 8 hours in a slow cooker and 5 minutes in the oven on broil. I prepped the ribs in the morning right before I went to work and when I came back, it was ready! I almost feel guilty to say, “I made bbq ribs” because besides stirring dry ingredients together, I did absolutely no work.

Happy slow cooking!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 rack Certified Humane baby back pork ribs
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder works if you can’t find the chipotle version)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (light or dark, doesn’t matter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups of your favorite bbq sauce (I like to mix mine, 1 cup of each, and my favorite sauces are Sweet Baby Ray’s Original & Stubbs Smokey Mesquite)

EQUIPMENT

  • Slow cooker, at least a 6qt
  • Baking sheet

DIRECTIONS

  • Grease the slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  • Stir together the chipotle chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Rub the dry mixture all over the top side of the ribs.
  • If you are using 2 different bbq sauces, mix them together, then brush abourt 2/3 of the bbq sauce all over the ribs, top and bottom. Reserve the remaining bbq sauce.
  • Place the ribs in the slow cooker so that they are “standing up” on the bones and the meat is touching the sides and curl to fit around the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  • After you’ve gone about your day, taken 3 naps, took your dog out for 10 walks, and the ribs have cooked for 8 hours, preheat your oven to HIGH on broil.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and grease. Then use tongs to transfer the ribs onto the baking sheet so that the ribs are laying flat. Brush the reserved bbq sauce on the ribs. Put the ribs in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes or until charred to your liking. Remember, when you are broiling, make sure you do not peel your eyes off it!
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool just long enough so that the ribs can be handled and serve immediately.

You can definitely serve this as finger food at a get-together, or you can make it a main dish for dinner and serve with some carbs, starches, and veggies!

NOTES:

  • You can discard the liquids in the slow cooker once the ribs are cooked. I like to let it cool, dump it in a plastic bag, and then throw it away in the trash for easy clean up.

Grilled Corn Salad with Spicy Honey-Lime Dressing

You may ask, “Did the world freeze over? Is Donna really about to post a SALAD recipe?” The answer is yes, I am going to post a salad recipe.

If you know me, you know that I am anti-salad. Okay. Those are strong words. I like salad, but I really don’t like preparing salad at home. I end up with way too much greens that I cannot consume fast enough before they wilt and turn brown.

But this recipe is 98% GRILED corn, so I’m going to devour it all of it. The dressing is delicious, and it has THE most simple ingredients (no mayo, I promise!).

Don’t get turned off by “grilled”. You don’t need an actual grill to make this. As long as you have an oven, foil, and a baking sheet, you’ll be making this everyday.

Fun Fact: I’m actually allergic to corn amongst other weird food items. Fortunately, none of my allergies are life-threatening. If I eat too much of food I’m allergic to, I’ll start getting hives on my chest, but nothing uncontrollable. For the most part, it’s worth the itch.

Let’s start cooking:

INGREDIENTS

For the corn

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cobs of corn, peeled

For the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sriracha (reduce the amount if you don’t like spicy dressings)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the rest of the salad

  • 2 avocados, sliced about 3/4″ thick (see note)
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

EQUIPMENT

  • Baking sheet
  • A lot of foil
  • Hand held citrus juicer, optional

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • In a small bowl, cream together the butter, garlic, salt, and pepper. Slather the butter mixture all over the corn. This is my favorite thing to do.
  • Wrap each corn in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet lined with foil for easy clean up.
  • Roast for 40 minutes, turn HALFWAY.
  • While waiting for the corn to roast, prep the dressing. Whisk lime juice, honey, sriracha, garlic powder, and salt. Taste it to see if it’s to your liking, if not, adjust with adding more of what you think it needs. (Is it too spicy? Add more honey. Not spicy enough? Add more Sriracha).
  • When done roasting, take out the corn and open the foil on top to expose the corn. Turn the oven to broil (on high) and place the corn back in. Broil for 2-3 minutes. Pro Tip: When you are broiling anything to get a charred or grilled appearance, make sure you do not peel your eyes off your food (just like you would watch if it was Chris Hemsworth working out his upper body shirtless… just make sure you wipe your drool) because your food will go from charred to charcoal within seconds.
  • When done broiling, take out the corn and let it cool a bit, then cut the kernels from the cob and place in a large bowl.
  • Add avocados, Serrano peppers, cilantro leaves, and dressing to the corn. Toss to combine. Season with more salt & pepper, to taste.
  • Cover with a plastic wrap, making sure you press in direct contact with the salad to prevent avocados from turning brown. Chill at least 2 hours before eating.

NOTE

  • The citrus dressing is going to prevent the avocados from turning brown really quick, but if I’m going to eat the leftovers the next day, I only like to slice 1 avocado at a time to make sure it’s as fresh as possible.

Steak, Snap Peas, & Asparagus Stir Fry

I always appreciate a good stir fry recipe because they are usually quick & easy. Today, I’m going to share my ultimate favorite stir-fry recipe! It involves steak, snap peas, asparagus, and a reaaallly delicious sauce.

I recently started cooking with red meat more often than usual. In the past, I’ve stuck to chicken and seafood dishes, but lately, I’ve been enjoying trying new recipes with beef. When marinated with the right ingredients, I think it makes the most flavorful dishes. I know there’s a big debacle about red meat – how bad it is for you, the environment, etc. but hey, it couldn’t hurt once in a while, right?

If it’s any consolation, I do believe in only purchasing grass-fed beef. It’s a little more pricy than the regular stuff, but you can really tell the difference in both the smell and taste.

Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb grass-fed/grass-finished sirloin steak
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 oz sugar snap peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6 scallions
  • 2″ piece of ginger (see note below)
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • Kosher salt
  • Cooked white or brown rice, optional

EQUIPMENT

  • Large skillet
  • 2 medium bowls

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place 1 lb. sirloin steak on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible.
  • Transfer steak to a medium bowl and add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Use your hands to toss until meat is evenly coated.
  • Prep the rest of your ingredients: Trim ends of 8 oz. snap peas and remove any strings; transfer to another medium bowl. Snap woody ends off of 1 bunch asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus crosswise into 1″ pieces; transfer to bowl with snap peas. Trim both ends of 6 scallions and set aside 2 scallions for serving. Cut 4 remaining scallions crosswise into 1″ pieces and add to bowl with asparagus and snap peas. Scrub 2″ piece ginger under running water, then slice crosswise as thinly as possible (see note below); add to bowl with the other veg.
  • Combine 3 Tbsp. mirin, ¼ cup oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, and remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a glass measuring cup and stir with a spoon to incorporate.
  • Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably stainless steel, over medium-high. When oil shimmers across surface of skillet, add vegetable mixture. Cook, shaking skillet often, just until asparagus are tender but still retain a hint of crunch, about 3 minutes. Return vegetables to original bowl.
  • Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Add steak, arranging slices in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until juices start to pool on surface of meat and underside is browned, about 3 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, scrape bottom of skillet and loosen meat.
  • Immediately add cooked vegetables and sauce to skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thick and bubbling, 1–2 minutes more.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two. Season stir-fry lightly with salt (if you think it needs more saltiness).
  • Scatter thinly sliced scallions on top (the ones you reserved earlier) and serve over your choice of white or brown rice!

NOTES

  • If you don’t like ginger and you’re afraid to bite into it, substitute with 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder instead. Don’t mix it in the vegetables. Instead, mix it with the mirin-oyster sauce-rice vinegar sauce.

Clean Kitchen – Tips & Tricks

It’s Saturday! Call me crazy, but one of my most favorite things about the weekend is actually spending time at home, taking lots of naps, binge watching Supernatural on Netflix, and having plenty of time to experiment on a new recipe! However, no matter how much time I have, one of my least favorite things about cooking is how messy the whole business gets. Onion skins everywhere, my hands are smelly, my whole apartment smells even worse… ugh…

Today, I want to share some of my favorite tips & tricks about keeping a clean (and good-smelling) kitchen before, during, and after cooking! The following “hacks” are things that I’ve picked up along the way from personal experience, things I’ve Googled, and things I’ve been taught by people. They are tried & true, I promise! I really hope you find some of these useful!

REALLY FAST CLEANUP. This one might be silly for you, but I use this method every single time I cook for easy cleanup. Don’t get rid of those plastic produce bags you get from the grocery store! Instead, save them and use them to clean up kitchen scraps. Spread a bag on the counter next to your cutting board (or in the sink) and sweep scraps such as vegetable peelings onto it as you prep. When you’re done, just gather up the bag and throw it away BUT MAKE SURE YOU COMPOST YOUR FRUIT & VEGGIE SCRAPS!

HOW TO DISPOSE USED OIL. I don’t mean deep frying oil, I mean oil as in when you sautè something and end up with a bunch of oil afterwards or if you cook bacon and there’s a gallon of grease on your pan and you don’t know how to dispose of it correctly. Whatever you do, don’t throw it down your drain! Once your pan is off the heat, pour some flour onto it and stir. Once the oil has been absorbed by the flour, let it cool and discard.

GETTING RID OF KITCHEN STENCH AFTER COOKING. How is it that food smells sooo good while it’s on the stove/oven, but once you’re done cooking, it leaves the MOST unpleasant smell throughout the house? I’ve tried lighting candles, keeping the fan on my A/C, sometimes even cracking my front door open, but no matter what, the smell can stay for DAYS. Good thing those days are gone – here’s my favorite tip to freshen the air: Simmer 3-4 cinnamon sticks (or 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon) in 2 cups of water in low heat until the pleasant smell of cinnamon takes over. Warning: you might end up wanting to bake cinnamon rolls after this.

FRESH HANDS. Yes, it’s common knowledge that lemon & lime juice are often used to wash away lingering odors from hands after working with smelly ingredients such as garlic, onions, or eating crawfish (yummmm), etc. However, I find that citrus doesn’t completely get rid of the smell. For these tough cases, wash your hands with a little bit of mouthwash. Any inexpensive brand works.

NO DOUGH HANDS. Working with dough with your hands can get really sticky sometimes, and when you wash your hands, it takes FOREVER to wash off the dough. To shorten your scrubbing time after kneading sticky dough, “wash” your hands with a handful of flour or cornmeal instead of soap. Then, rinse your hands with COLD water. (Hot water causes the starches in the dough to gelatinize, which requires more scrubbing.)

KEEP WOODEN SPOONS CLEAN. I love using wooden spoons to cook, but I avoid using it because they retain yesterday’s tomato sauce and transfer into my tomorrow’s creamy chicken noodle soup. I’ve found that the best way to clean wooden spoons is to scrub it with baking soda and water.

CITRUS FOR GARBAGE DISPOSALS. Done squeezing lemon & limes or eating oranges & grapefruits? Take a couple of pieces of peel in your garbage disposal, a few ice cubes (if you have some), run some water down the drain, then turn on the disposal. The rough peels help to clean the blades and the citrus oils do a GREAT job of naturally freshening things up. This is something that I do pretty often since it requires almost no effort!