Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Perfect St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs

It's grilling season! We love grilling practically year round, which is saying something for Minnesota, but now that summer is officially here (Memorial Day is the official start in our neck of the woods)we can really put that grill to use. My family LOVES ribs. And while I've always made the boneless country-style ribs in the crock pot, there are members of my clan who love their baby back ribs. I've tried a few ways to make these, and this is my favorite. Ribs are cooked for many hours at a low heat in the oven, and then finished on the grill for that nice crunchy texture.

They practically fall off the bone. Delicious. The secret for both texture and flavor is that the ribs sit on a "shelf" of onions - water below helps steam the meat but the meat doesn't sit in the liquid. The only hard part about this recipe is enduring the tantalizing aroma from the oven and knowing you have to wait several hours to eat!

If it's pouring rain, or you want ribs in the middle of a snow storm, don't worry. You can also finish these in the oven. Either way, they are absolutely scrumptious.

Perfect St. Louis or Baby Back Ribs

2 racks baby back ribs (or St. Louis style ribs)
Garlic powder
Barbecue sauce
3-4 onions, peeled
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/2 cup beer or water

Season both sides of ribs liberally with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika; set aside.

Slice onions into 1/2" rings and place them in the bottom of a large roasting pan (or two smaller ones – use whatever you need so that the ribs can cook in a single layer). This is to create a layer that will keep the ribs elevated so that they’re never sitting in liquid.

Pour just enough beer or water into the pan to cover the bottom. Add liquid smoke to the beer.

Arrange rib racks in a single layer on top of onion slices. Cover pan tightly with two layers of aluminum foil. Bake at 300 degrees for 4 hours. Remove ribs from oven and uncover.

Brush ribs with barbecue sauce and place on a heated grill. Grill over indirect heat for 15-20 minutes until meat shreds from the bones easily and the outside texture is crispy to your liking. (Alternatively, return the ribs to the oven for 15-20 minutes after covering with sauce.)

Recipe Source: Methods adapted from South Your Mouth and Jenny Can Cook

Monday, May 23, 2016

Macaroni and Cheese {Instant Pot Recipe!}

Here's another great recipe for the Instant Pot or other version of electric pressure cooker. I love that this recipe is EASIER and FASTER than making mac and cheese from a box, and it contains only REAL FOOD. You will be amazed at how quickly you can get this on the table. You'll barely have time to make side dishes. I also recently made a batch to take in to a friend who needed a meal and the pasta cooked while I was in the shower. It's just that fast. (And needless to say, I didn't have to worry about the pasta boiling over on the stove top!)

We love to have a mac and cheese "bar" at our house and have toppings like bacon, kielbasa, broccoli and peas. However you decide to serve this, as a side or as a main, or as a quick lunch, it will be quickly devoured by everyone!

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's cooking, Wow me, Wow us.

Macaroni and Cheese {Instant Pot Recipe!}

1 pound elbow macaroni, small shells or other small pasta shape
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. yellow mustard or 1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
2 tsp. salt
4 cups water
1 - 12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Stir the macaroni, butter, mustard, hot pepper sauce, salt, and water in the pressure cooker pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. (For the Instant Pot, use Manual mode, 4 minutes.) When the cooking time is done, quick release the pressure and remove the lid.

Turn the electric pressure cooker to keep warm mode (with the Instant Pot, after the pressure release it will stay on warm automatically), and stir in the evaporated milk. Stir in the cheese one cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the cheese to melt before adding the next cup. Serve immediately as a side or top with meats and vegetables. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Dad Cooks Dinner

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Rhubarb Dream Bars

I'm not lucky enough to have my own rhubarb plants (I should do something about that) but I am lucky that friends and family share their bounty. I usually dice up the rhubarb and keep it in the freezer in 2 cup batches, which is perfect for when I come across a recipe like this! I made this for dessert for Mother's Day and it was a huge hit. Of course, most desserts that start with a shortbread crust are a huge hit. And this one is doubly good because of the rhubarb sitting on top of the aforementioned crust.

This dessert comes together quickly, which is another bonus. Served with vanilla ice cream, it's sure to be a hit at your house on any day!

Find more great stuff at Create, Link, Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Rhubarb Dream Bars

1 cup flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups diced rhubarb

To make the crust: Pulse the flour, powdered sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl, then cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.)

Line a 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, ensuring the paper comes up on the sides so you can lift the bars out later.

Press the crust mixture into the paper-lined pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The crust will still remain very pale in color.

While crust is baking mix together eggs, sugar, flour and salt and whisk well. Stir in rhubarb. Pour onto the hot crust and continue to bake for 40-45minutes. Let the bars cool completely. Lift them out of the pan with the parchment paper edges and then cut into squares. Refrigerate the bars if you're not serving them right away, and refrigerate leftovers.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Noshing with the Nolands

Monday, May 16, 2016

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Brussels and Mushrooms

Here are a few of my favorite things: brussels sprouts, mushrooms, easy dinners, yummy food, Italian sausage, parmesan cheese sauces, eating supper on the deck, leftovers that are better than the original dish for lunch the next day. Wow! This recipe has all of the above!

Lauren has a great blog,
Sew You Think You Can Cook
, with lots of recipes to choose from. I was happy to be assigned to it for Secret Recipe Club as I had made the Candy Cane Bundt Cake for our Christmas reveal last November. I loved perusing her blog then, and it was even more fun this time cause I could choose from ANY recipe, not just the Christmas-themed ones!

So, as I said above, I love all the ingredients in this recipe! And I love that it comes together quickly for a weeknight dinner. And I love that it tastes great. And that the leftovers the next day are excellent as well. I also think that you could "trick" your kids (if you need to!) by using all shaved brussels in this recipe - I put mine through the food processor to slice them... of course, the mushrooms might prove to be trickier to disguise (what is it with kids and mushrooms by the way???).

In any case, make this pasta dish!

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up.

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Brussels and Mushrooms

18 oz cheese tortellini or ravioli
2 links Italian sausage, casings removed
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2 cups sliced Brussels sprouts
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. rosemary leaves, crushed
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 C milk
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Strain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up. When fully cooked remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add olive oil and butter to the skillet. Saute mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, and rosemary until tender, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook another 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add the chicken broth, and scrape up any stuck bits in the pan, and cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

In a measuring cup whisk together the milk and flour. Slowly add the milk to the pot, stirring to prevent lumps. Bring to a gentle boil and melt in the cheese. Add in the cooked ravioli and sausage. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water. Serves 6.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Blackberry Muffins

Blackberries have been so plentiful, and so reasonable, this year! I love eating them on granola, in oatmeal, in salads, and just plain. I like baking with them too. Muffins are a real staple at our house so I'm always looking for a new muffin recipe. I was happy to find one to use my beloved blackberries and make it easy for the kids (and adults!) to get out the door in the morning, and on time...

These muffins are simple to put together. They are bursting with berries and a great start to the morning. The key to any delicious, tender muffins is not to overmix the batter, and the same is true here. Sour cream or yogurt will add to the tender crumb so don't worry if there are a few lumps. Put away your perfectionist tendencies and the outcome will be wonderful!

Find more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share.

Blackberry Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1 tsp. milk
1 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen (cut in half if large)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In a large batter bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, milk, sugar, butter and vanilla. (I like to melt the butter in the batter bowl and then add the other ingredients - one less dish to wash!)

Add dry ingredients to the wet ones, then fold in the blackberries.

Divide the batter evenly among greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 400°F for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 2 to 3 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes

Monday, May 2, 2016

Strawberry Magic Bars

I think strawberries just scream spring. So when I needed a dessert for a recent party at work, I thought this would be perfect. And it was. There are several layers and steps, but they create a delicious dessert - and maybe that's why they are called Magic!

There's a graham cracker crust, with a sugar cookie layer, then TWO strawberry layers, white chocolate and sweetened condensed milk... Oh my. Sweetness.

These bars need to chill overnight in the fridge so plan accordingly. But do plan to make them. They will make your Spring tasty!

Get more great stuff at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Full Plate, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Strawberry Magic Bars

9 graham cracker sheets (one sleeve), crushed
4 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup quartered fresh strawberries, pureed
4 oz cream cheese, softened (low fat is ok)
3/4 cup thinly sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

In a large bowl, mix together the graham crackers, 4 Tbsp. of butter (melted) and the 2 Tbsp. of sugar. (Alternatively you can crush the graham crackers in a food processor and then add the melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined.) Press into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan.

In a different bowl, mix together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp baking powder, set aside.

Beat together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup butter until creamy, about two minutes. Add in the egg and then the vanilla until just combined. Slowly add in the flour mixture until it is fully combined.

Very carefully layer the cookie dough mixture on top of the graham cracker crust by picking up small amounts of dough, flattening it in your hands, and setting it on the crust. You may not be able to entirely cover the graham cracker crust, but it will spread slightly when baking.

Beat together the cream cheese and the pureed strawberries. Spread evenly over the cookie dough.

Evenly spread the sliced strawberries over the cream cheese layer. Top with the white chocolate chips and then cover with the sweetened condensed milk.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Refrigerate overnight before slicing. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Wine and Glue

Monday, April 25, 2016

Honey Sesame Chicken {Instant Pot Recipe!}

I got an Instant Pot for my birthday! If you are not yet on the Instant Pot bandwagon, it is an electric pressure cooker. My knowledge of pressure cookers was pretty limited. I only knew of the stove top version and the propensity to "blow up." I didn't want to be part of that. But when I started reading about this new-fangled pressure cooker that was electric and could do multiple types of cooking (rice!, yogurt!, steam!, saute!, stew!) and could make meals in mere minutes, I knew I wanted to learn more.

I've now become a believer. Not only is the pressure cooker fast, it makes delicious food! (Of course, it matters what you put in it, but we'll get to that.) So far, I've tried beef ribs, chuck roast, steel cut oats (3 minutes, people!) and this delicious chicken dish.

Unlike a crock pot, you can do multiple-step dishes in the Instant Pot. For this recipe, you saute the chicken briefly with the aromatics, before bringing the pot to pressure and fully cooking the meat. Then at the end, you return to the saute setting to thicken the sauce. And you wash one pot!

A note of caution: although this chicken only "cooks" for 4 minutes in the pressure cooker, it does take a bit of time for the pot to come to pressure before the 4 minute count down begins. So plan your rice and side vegetables accordingly! (This is the one thing I still need to get used to - the "advertised" time doesn't include the warm up time, which can be significant, especially if there's a lot of liquid in the pot.)

In any case, this is an absolutely delicious meal, devoured by everyone in my family and making enough for leftovers for lunch the next day. I served it on rice with a side of sauteed green beans and snap peas, and it was a wonderful combination. Here's to more pressure cooking in the future!

Find more great recipes at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Tasty Tuesday, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Us, Wow Me.

Honey Sesame Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sesame oil
2/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 Tbsp. water
2 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Set the pressure cooker to saute and let it heat up. Add oil, onion, garlic, and chicken to the pot and saute stirring occasionally until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.

Add soy sauce, ketchup, and red pepper flakes to the pressure cooking pot and stir to combine. Set the cooker to manual (high pressure) for 4 minutes. At the end of four minutes, turn pressure cooker off and do a quick pressure release.

Add sesame oil and honey to the pot and stir to combine. Turn pressure cooker to saute mode, then dissolve cornstarch in water and add to pot. Simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over rice sprinkled with sesame seeds and green onions. Serves 6-8.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Pressure Cooking Today
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