Monday, February 24, 2014

Beef Spare Ribs

This is what my beef looks like. Strange to some, sure, but I also buy it by the half cow! (It is so much cheaper that way! I get steaks, roasts, ground, ribs, etc. all for under $3/lb!) So anyways, I was asked how I make my ribs, I'm a simple girl when it comes to ribs, I love them with good old BBQ sauce...which of course I make myself! 

First things first, I braise my meat. Super simple, put a little bit of olive oil, or any kind of oil really into the pan over medium high heat and give it a good quick sear. It will get a little brown to add a really good flavor to the food! Delicious!  
This is me...searing my meat. I wouldn't go more than 4 in a pan or it gets crowded in the pan and doesn't get hot enough for the quick sear.

After the sear I place them into my crock pot. I know, lazy, but it works really well to provide really tender meat. Once you get all of your meat into the crockpot I pour my home made BBQ sauce over the top of the ribs to give them a small coating, not too much because it will mix with the juices from the meat and make a nice soak for the ribs. 
This is before I cooked it, I forgot to get an after picture...sorry!

I then put the lid on and cook it low and slow. I put the crockpot on low for about 8 hours and then it is perfectly tender!

Now, for the BBQ sauce. 
You are probably thinking to yourself, why on EARTH would I make my own sauce instead of just buying some Sweet Baby Ray's? (Which by the way, is really good BBQ sauce.)
 I will tell you why...because this one is BETTER!

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com (they have some great ones on there) and of course, me being me, I was incapable of just following the instructions, so I altered the recipe after the first time making it and LOVED the results. So, I now share with you an awesome BBQ sauce recipe!

1/2 Onion minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced 
3/4 cup Whisky
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 Tbsp Salt
2 cups Ketchup
1/4 cup Tomato Paste
1/3 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke Flavoring (can be found in the seasoning section at your local grocery store)
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/3 tsp Hot Sauce or to taste

Over medium heat in a large skillet combine the onion, garlic and whisky. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. If you do it the way the original recipe suggests, run it through a strainer to remove the big pieces. My way, I use an immersion blender and blend it all together to let those flavors really meld together. It is best if you let it sit in the fridge for a day or two so that the flavors can all really incorporate. (It is also safe for canning, but that is a whole other post!)  The flavors are amazing, it even had my Mom asking us to make her more of it for Christmas! *I got the Mom approval! Happy Dance!* 

As always, I hope you enjoy it and happy cooking!

By the way, if you don't know what an immersion blender is, this is similar to the one that I have and I LOVE it! This one has a few more gadgets than mine has, but hey, what am I going to do? I've been enjoying it for a couple years now, they always change things on me!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chicken Lasagna

It's a wonderful meal that just keeps on giving! This one recipe will feed my family of 5 and then have lots left over for lunches throughout the week. It also freezes well, *however* if you are going to freeze it, you should under-cook the noodles just a bit before freezing otherwise you will end up with really mushy noodles the second time around...I learned that one the hard way. Mushy lasagna is not, as Alton Brown would say "Good Eats". (Yes, I'm a total cooking nerd that I watch old episodes of Good Eats on Food Network and the Cooking channel most Friday Night's while my hubby does homework!) Ok, so here is the recipe and subsequent cooking instructions!

Ingredients

1 cup chopped Onions (I use sweet or vidalia onions because they don't burn my eyes like yellow onions)

2 crushed garlic cloves (again, I'm kind of lazy, so I buy a giant bottle of minced garlic from Costco and I use about a spoon full of minced garlic in its place)

1/2 cup oil (vegetable oil, coconut oil, whatever you want...I'd avoid canola oil personally...but that's just me)

1/4 pound chopped prosciutto (can be found at any grocery store, however the best price per lb I have found is at Costco...it also freezes really well for the next time you want to make lasagna. =) )

2 cups diced, cooked chicken (I roast a whole chicken and shred the chicken and use some of that)

32 ounces Tomato Sauce

12 ounces Tomato Paste

1 cup Chicken Broth

1 cup dry white wine (Personally I use a dry sherry, it tends to be cheaper.)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp each of Basil, Pepper and Oregano

1 lb. curly lasagna (DO NOT use the "oven ready" noodles, cook them yourself, they are WAY better)

2 cups grated parmesan cheese

1/2 lb. sliced mozarella and 1/2 lb shredded mozarella

Directions

-In a large saucepan add the oil and cook the Onions and Garlic until soft (about 5 minutes on medium heat).

-Add chicken, prosciutto, tomato sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth, wine, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and stir gently then cover and let simmer for 30 minutes. *Here is my important tip...are you listening? Add the wine FIRST and cook it down for at least 5 minutes before adding anything else to the mix. The smell will change from one of booze to one of different elements, wait for that change! If you don't do this it will taste like you are eating booze, and seeing as I don't drink, it was a very unpleasant learning curve!*

-While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the lasagna noodles. Once cooked, strain and rinse with COLD water. This will help prevent the noodles from sticking together too bad.

-Here comes the assembly instructions...yes, there are actually instructions for assembly...this was given to me by my husband's Italian Grandmother, as they say in Wreck it Ralph "You can't mess with the program".
                   *Cover large baking dish bottom with 1/4 of the sauce
                   *Place a layer of cooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce
                   *Sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan
                   *Sprinkle with the shredded mozarella
                   * Layer with 1/4 of the sauce
-Repeat this process until you are near the top of the baking dish making sure that sauce is on top and then arrange sliced mozarella over the top. Make sure you cover it completely. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and the cheese has melted and begun to brown (not burn, but brown).

*Another tip from me, let the lasagna rest for a minimum of 10 minutes before cutting into it! It will help keep your pieces from falling apart.*

This is a family favorite and is SO worth the effort. I hope you all enjoy it. Let me know what you think of it after you have made it! :)
So Delicious! Worth every penny and minute to make it! =)


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dinner Time!

This is what we are having for dinner for the next week. What about you?  What is on your menu?  If you want a recipe for anything listed please don't hesitate to ask!  Happy cooking everyone!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What's for dinner Mom?

I am constantly asked that question by my two older girls. Having a meal plan makes it so much less stressful for me. I went 3 weeks without one and I tell you what, dinner was considerably later due to my lack of planning! So I figured I would share what we are eating this week with you! I will also post next weeks for ideas to glean from! So, what is on YOUR menu for the next week or two? I would love to hear from you!