Slow Cooker Sweet Ribs

We’re coming out of a pretty great weekend.  Friday was Walt’s and my 10 year wedding anniversary.  We had always said we’d like to spend our 10 year anniversary in Italy but life had other plans for us and that’s OK, maybe we’ll be able to do it for our 15th.  It was a great day without Italy, Walt surprised me and took the day off so we could spend it together and go out for dinner.  Having him home was a nice surprise.

Saturday we went and picked up a few pumpkins and Sunday was dedicated to flag football, even in the rain.  This year Joshua’s on the “Lions” and they won 32 to 14, so far they are 3-0 for the season…Way to go Lions!!  Coming home from the game Sunday to Mississippi Pot Roast in the slow cooker and homemade Hershey Chocolate Pie made the end of our weekend perfect.

Now we’re back to Monday.  Today Nikki has orientation for new job, so proud of how she’s handled all of the changes her life has gone through over the last few months.  I get to take Eric to school today, be prepared Nikki, if he cries we’re outta there!!

On a good note, the count down to my next weekend begins; 4 days, 24-30 hours.  I know, I have it rough.  Today I’m going to leave you with a recipe for slow cooker sweet ribs.  They are not Walt’s smoked,  slow grilled baby back ribs but they are moist and tasty, perfect with a side of homemade cole slaw on fall or winter day.

Slow Cooker Sweet Ribs

SLOW COOKER SWEET RIBS 

What You’ll Need:

4 pounds country-style boneless ribs

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. vinegar

1 bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce

2 tbs. brown sugar

Directions:

  • Spray slow cooker with cooking spray
  • In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients except for the ribs themselves
  • Place ribs in slow cooker
  • Pour sauce over ribs, and turn to coat
  • Cover, and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender
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Coming Up This Week…October 6 – 12

Sunday

It’s Sunday!!  A rainy Sunday here in Michigan and time to take a look to see what kind of whacky and yummy days we have this week.

This week we celebrate noodle day (today) and moldy cheese, hoagies, subs and grinders, I think all my grandbabies will agree the best foodie day this week is sausage pizza day although the only kind they all eat is sausage pizza!  Sausage/pepperoni…..we can make it work.

This week is also fire prevention week, with Fire Prevention Day celebrated on Wednesday.  Make sure you check the batteries in your smoke detectors and review your fire escape routes and meeting places with family members, especially if you have children.  It’s a great family project to work on together.

My personal favorite day this week will of course be “Take Your Teddy Bear To Work Day.”  Not that I will, my co-workers will think I’m crazy for sure but I am a bear collector, lots of Boyd’s bear figurines and teddy bears, so finding one to take with me would be pretty easy.

As always there’s are some unique and interesting days this week, pick a few and have a little fun with them.

Sunday – October 6

  • National Noodle Day
  • Mad Hatter Day
  • Physician Assistant Day

Monday – October 7

  • National Frappe Day
  • Bald and Free Day
  • World Smile Day

Tuesday – October 8

  • National Fluffernutter Day
  • American Touch Tag Day

Wednesday – October 9

  • Submarine-Hoagy-Hero Grinder Day
  • Moldy Cheese Day
  • Curious Events Day
  • Emergency Nurses Day
  • Fire Prevention Day
  • Leif Erikson Day

Thursday – October 10

  • National Angel Food Cake Day

Friday – October 11

  • National Sausage Pizza Day
  • World Egg Day
  • It’s My Party Day
  • Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day

Saturday – October 12

  • National Gumbo Day
  • Cookbook Launch Day
  • Old Farmer’s Day
  • Moment of Frustration Day

Pumpkin Poke Cake

Ah, the month of October has arrived.  With the exception of fickle weather, one day warm, one day cold, another day sunny the next few rainy, October does have several good things to offer and look forward to.

Yes, October brings with it a burst of color in the trees; red, yellow, orange, purple and brown leaves which eventually end up falling to the ground.  Soon forts and hills made out of leaves will be fun places to hide in and under or maybe they’ll be just for jumping into.  And when you’re outside, especially at night, nothing thing smells more like fall than the burning of leaves.

Of course everyone looks forward to cider mills visits for apple cider and donuts.  We visit pumpkin patches for the perfect pumpkins, one for each of us so we can scatter them around the porch and lawn with scarecrows, hay bales and dried corn stalks.

All month-long we talk about Halloween decorations and costumes.  Joshua and Papa Walt will turn our front lawn into a graveyard with headstones, skeletons and a few body parts mixed in.  We will  anxiously await the arrival of Halloween Day; the school parades, trick or treating with family and friends and of course anticipating lots and lots of candy in our bags.

October is also the time to break out those pumpkin recipes which is exactly what we started doing and we made our very first Pumpkin Poke Cake.  We love pumpkin pie and pumpkin cream cheese rolls, some of us look forward to limited time offers of Pumpkin ice cream at Baskin Robins and the absolutely, to die for, Pumpkin Cheesecake from Olive Garden.

This recipe is so easy, the cake is very moist.  Even our pickiest eater, Joshua, who also happens to be the expert on the best pumpkins pies, loved this cake.  Just a few ingredients and you have a tasty recipe that everyone will love.  Give it a try!

Pumpkin Poke Cake

PUMPKIN POKE CAKE

What You’ll Need:

1 box yellow cake mix

14 oz pumpkin puree – 100% pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

8 oz. tub cool whip

1/2 bag Heath Bits (I used chopped nuts)

Caramel Sundae Sauce

Directions:

  • Mix together the cake mix, the pumpkin puree (DO NOT add the other ingredients on the cake mix box), and the pumpkin pie spice until a batter forms
  • Pour batter into a well-greased 9×13 baking dish
  • Bake at 350º for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Let cool completely after baking
  • Using the bottom of a wooden spoon, poke holes all over the top of the cake
  • Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake, aiming to fill the holes
  • Refrigerate for 60 minutes or until the sweetened condensed milk has soaked into the cake
  • Spread the cool whip over top of cake
  • Sprinkle on the heath bits (or nuts), and drizzle caramel over top (just to your liking)
  • Refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or overnight (best).

Baked Pork Chops

Walt loves fried pork chops…..wait, I need to elaborate, Walt LOVES my mom’s way of frying pork chops.  So a few weeks ago when he walked into the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and saw the pork chops frying on the stove top he got all excited, “Oh sweetie, fried pork chops I love fried pork chops.”

“Slow down Sparky” I chimed, I’m just browning them they are going in the oven.  A cloud, first the shade of confusion quickly darkened to disappointment.  I quickly explained they had to be browned before I baked them and he watched me transfer them to a baking dish and slide them in the oven.

An hour later just as I was getting ready to pour the sauce over them once again my dear husband came meandering into the kitchen (notice a pattern here).  “Whatcha doing?”  “I’m adding the sauce” I replied.  Frowning Walt continued “But I like them……”  “Crunchy, I know” I replied, and slid them back into the oven with the sauce.

Just about this time Joshua wandered up from the basement, “Watcha making grandma, it smells really good?”  “Baked pork chops” I replied, “want to try some with us?”  Now you would have to know Josh, unless it’s pizza or chicken strips he’s not having any of it.  “No thanks, but it smells good” Josh said and went on his way.  That little conversation was an indication that these chops were going to be amazing even though he had pizza on the grill.

I am happy to say that the final result was DELICIOUS!!  I hate to admit this in writing for all to see but I baked four (4) pork chops, served them with mashed potatoes……there were NO leftovers and only two of us ate them!!!

These pork chops were full of flavor and so moist!  Cut only with a fork, fall off the bone moist.  Try them they won’t disappoint and surely will become a family favorite.

As usual, I did make a few minor adjustments:

  • The recipe called for 6 pork chops I only made 4 good-sized chops
  • I used two cans of Golden Cream of Mushroom soup – they recommended regular Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • I used Crisco to pan fry not oil
BAKED PORK CHOPS
Baked Pork Chops
What You’ll Need:
4-6 bone-in pork chops about 1-1.5″ thick – DO NOT USE THICK CHOPS
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Lawry Seasoning Salt
2 eggs beaten
1/4 – 1/2 cup flour
2 cup Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 cans Golden Mushroom Soup (Original recipe 1 can – Mushroom Soup)
1 soup can of milk (Original 1/2 can to 1 can soup)
2/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup Crisco (more or less depends on pan size)
Directions:
  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Rinse pork chops, pat dry
  • Mix seasonings into flour
  • Dredge pork chops in flour, dip in egg, dredge in bread crumbs
  • Melt Crisco over medium high heat (drop a little bit of bread crumbs moistened with water into the Crisco to tell when it’s hot)
  • Add pork chops to pan and brown each chop for 5 minutes on each side.  Pork chops should be golden brown – place in 13×9 baking dish – cover with foil
  • Bake for 1 hour
  • In the meantime whisk together soup, milk and wine
  • After an hour take pork chops out of the oven and pour soup mixture over the top
  • Replace foil and bake for an additional 30 minutes

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Happy Monday everyone!  We’re coming out of a really great weekend, the new furnace and air conditioner were installed on Friday, Saturday Joshua and Kaylee hung out for a bit, we made a big batch of pasta, pizza and bread sticks!  Yesterday we went to Joshua’s first flag football game of the fall 2013 season and yes….we won!!  Busy, busy, busy!!

I know there are probably some who are wondering what’s so happy about a Monday, it’s the first day of the work/school week and usually the most dreaded day of week.  Well I look forward to my Mondays, I pick up Eric from school every Monday (Tuesday and Wednesday too) and we get some Eric and grandma time in before Eric heads off to spend some time with his daddy while his momma is working.  So, I no longer dread Monday’s.

Today I want to share with you my recipe for Ranch Mashed potatoes.  I hadn’t thought about using Ranch salad dressing in my mashed potatoes until one day my Wendy’s take out baked potato came back to the office without sour cream.  The office refrigerator didn’t have sour cream but it did have Ranch dressing packets so I used that instead and became addicted!!  To this day when I order a baked potato from Wendy’s I get a packet of ranch dressing instead of sour cream.

The chances that I will have Ranch dressing in my refrigerator far out weigh the chances that I will have milk.  We just don’t drink or use a lot of milk in fact when I buy milk I only buy a pint because I know we are not going to use it or drink it.

That’s exactly what happened one day long ago, I was making mashed potatoes and realized that I didn’t have enough milk but I did have Ranch dressing so I used the Ranch dressing instead and my potatoes became an instant favorite.

I love recipes that come from ingredients that I’m sure to always have in the house.  These potatoes are also great made ahead and reheated in the oven until warm.  Try them and ENJOY!!

RANCH MASHED POTATOES

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

What You’ll Need:

1.5 – 2.0 lbs. Idaho Potatoes – peeled

2-3 slices American Cheese (I use Kraft American Cheese)

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 Cup Ranch Dressing (I use Kraft Original Ranch – You can increase/decrease to preferrence)

Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Place peeled potatoes in a sauce pan – cover with water – bring to a boil – let boil 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork – Drain
  • Add cheese, butter and Ranch dressing to the potatoes – place cover on pot until cheese melts
  • Mash with hand masher, not mixer
  • Serve

Gifts From Our Garden

Our garden was very, very good to us this year.  The best part was that 5 of the 12 corn Joshua planted actually grew and gave him 6 ears of delicious, sweet, white and yellow corn.  Joshua and papa have been planting corn for several years and each year the birds and other little critters get to it before it has a chance to produce any ears of corn.

This year, Joshua and papa decided to trick the birds and critters, they built a frame around the corn and wrapped netting around it.  As the stalks grew the netting got higher and higher.  I realize that farmers probably lose a few stalks as well, but with acres and acres of corn I’m sure they don’t miss a few, all this little boy wanted was to say was that he grew and ate his own corn….MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!  That smile was worth all of the netting adjustments and screech-owl moving.

Joshua's Corn

Everything else we planted came in heavy as well; jalapeno’s, yellow, orange and green peppers, cucumbers and four varieties of tomatoes.  Our garden gave us many gifts, enjoyed not only by us but also family and friends.

Since our garden produced so many tomatoes and jalapeno’s this summer Walt and I wanted to try our hand at homemade fresh salsa.  After doing a little “salsa” research we came up with our own little concoction and were pleasantly surprised when it turned out delicious!!  Give it a try, let us know if you like it!

Rezich Salsa

Salsa

What You’ll Need:

3 Jalapeno’s (I seeded 1.5 and left the seeds in the other 1.5)

2 cloves of garlic chopped up fine (I might add a third next time)

1 medium onion chopped fine

5 (about 1 lb.) tomatoes chopped into small pieces (I seeded 3 and left the seeds in from the other 2)

2 tbls. Lime juice

1 tbls. Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 tsp. Pepper

1/4 cup fresh cilantro (you can add more to your preferrence)

Assemble:

  • In a medium bowl mix the chopped jalapeno’s, garlic, onion, tomatoes lime juice, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper together
  • Add the cilantro to the mixture
  • Refrigerate to chill

Enjoying Family Time And Good Food

The best part of “Staycation” is enjoying time with family and we’ve not had a shortage of family time since Saturday’s kickoff with Eric’s 5th birthday party AND meeting Josh and Kaylee’s new baby brother Gavin.  Of course family time wouldn’t be quite complete without a great bbq or two or three and when appropriate (no little ones around) a bottle or two of wine.

Monday night we invited Mom and Dad over for dinner so Walt decided he would  serve smoked BBQ Ranch Baby Back Ribs.  These ribs, as always, were fantastic!!  We served them with Ranch Bacon Potato Salad, baked beans and corn on the cob.  Tonight, I’m going to repost the recipe for the ribs, they are fantastic, so glad we had enough for leftovers today!!

Try them, they are so worth the time and effort!!

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RANCH HOUSE BBQ RIBS

Pit Master Amy Anderson

(Weber’s “Charcoal Grilling – The Art of Cooking With Live Fire.”)

  • Prep time:     30 Minutes
  • Grill time:     4-5 hours

Rub Ingredients

2 tbsp         Lawry’s seasoned salt

1 tbsp         Granulated sugar

1 tbsp         Pure chile powder

1 tbsp         Sweet paprika

1 tsp          Freshly grated black pepper

1 tsp          Garlic powder

1 tsp          Onion powder

1 tsp          Dry Italian seasoning

1/4 Cup    Yellow Mustard

Directions for Rub

  • After ribs have been prepared, membrane from the ribs removed, prepare your rub.
  • In a medium bowl mix the rub ingredients.
  • Lightly coat both sides of each rack with mustard, this will help the rub stick to the meat.
  • Sprinkle the rub evenly all over the racks.
  • Let the racks sit at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes before cooking.

Sauce Ingredients

1 cup          Ketchup

1/2 cup      Cider vinegar

4 tbsp        Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp        Light brown sugar

1 tbsp         Honey

1 tbsp         Molasses

1/2 tsp       Garlic powder

Directions for sauce:

  • While the racks are smoking, make the sauce
  • In a saucepan combine the sauce ingredients
  • Whisk until smooth
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat

Grilling

This recipe originally calls for a smoker which we don’t have.  Walt prepares these ribs on a Weber Charcoal grill.

What you’ll need:

  • Charcoal
  • 4 fist size dry chunks of apple/cherry/mesquite wood chips

The Grill

  • Prepare charcoal in a chimney – when gray put it in the grill
  • Add some of the wood chips to the charcoal
  • Place drip pan with water
  • You will keep adding charcoal and chips throughout the grilling process to maintain cooking temperature

Grilling:

  • Place ribs in grill
  • Grill ribs between 225 degree’s F and 250 degree F. for four to five hours.
  • Check temperature every 30 minutes – adding additional charcoal as needed to maintain cooking temperature
  • Add additional wood chips as needed
  • Grill 4 to 5 hours maintaining temperature as stated above

Adding the sauce:

  • When the meat begins to pull back from the bone in several places it’s time to add the sauce (usually about 3-4 hour into grilling)
  • Remove ribs from rack – lay on cutting board (make sure you maintain the heat in the grill while you do this)
  • Brush ribs with sauce – place back in racks – return to grill
  • Continue to grill until done (about 30 to 60 minutes)

Happy 5th Birtdhay Eric

Today Eric turns 5!!

We celebrated with family and friends yesterday with lots of food, iced cold pop and fruit juice.  There were treats and goodie bags and birthday cake too!!  And of course lots of fun outdoor things to do like a mini pool, a slip and slide and water guns too!  What an awesome day for everyone, especially the birthday boy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIC!!!

WE LOVE YOU!!

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Our Birthday Boy – Eric

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Cousins – Kaylee, Eric and Joshua

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Eric and Kaylee going for spin around the yard

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Joshua, can’t wait for the real deal!!

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How fun – TWO friends named Layla!!

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Grandpa King, Great Grandma Fern and Great Uncle Bob

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Dzia Dzia, Busia, and Great Uncle John

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Great Unlce Greg

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Great Aunt Monica, Katria (and coming soon cousin Tyler), Uncle John

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Papa and Joshua being silly

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The best part – opening presents

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These three are always plotting!!

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Joshua showing the little ones how to slip and slide

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Kaylee slipping on through

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Of course Momma (Nikki) could not resist the urge to play too!!

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The birthday boy Eric, loves his parties at home!

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Uncle John, a big kid at heart!

Grandma’s Next Top Model

I just could not resist giving Eric his own post when I saw these photo’s of my little Eric hamming it up for the camera.  Those high paid, underweight fashion models have nothing on my baby.  Yesterday he held his own little photo shoot, he’s such a little doll!!!

Eric 4 17 13      4 17 18 2

Eric 4 17 13 3    Eric 4 17 13 4

Isn’t he a little ham??  Eric absolutely has his own little personality and sense of humor.  He is going to sweep the girls off their feet and keep his momma on her toes as he gets older.

He makes me smile………..

Enough Already…..Come On Spring!!

We are ready for spring and we are ready for it to arrive NOW!  Our Joshie has been down for the count with pneumonia since last week, he just can’t seem to kick it.  Josh has spent most of the month of March with a cold, then upper respiratory infection and now pneumonia.  My little sweetie needs sunshine and warm weather to knock this out of him. and brighten his spirits.  I miss his smiling face, miss hearing his humming as he plays a video game, I missed making pizza and cheese sticks.

As I sit here writing, I look out the window at the grey, cold, snowy day.  I snap at Mother Nature and say ENOUGH….enough already!!  Bring on the sunshine so all three of my babies can go outside to play in the fresh air and the warmth of the sun.  Walt keeps telling me that nature, meaning the trees, flowers and shrubs get “confused” by the unseasonable warmth like we had last year.  I say pshhhhh, we’re all confused about something, Mother Nature will just have to get over it and adapt, we are ready for warm weather and sunshine!!!

This is going to be a crazy week, more than likely an untraditional one here.  For a few weeks now I have been sitting on a little secret, I got a job.  Yes, yes I did.  I held off saying anything or writing about it because I still have “irons in the fire” as they say and if something better came along (and even if it still does) I would have taken it.  I start work this Friday, Good Friday of all days, at the Home Depot as a Sales Associate in the garden dept.  It’s a part-time seasonal position, only 29 hours a week for 120 days and I took it hoping that it would be a stepping stone into an HR role which they always seem to post for but I never get calls for.  I always have a career angle……..even if it’s a job with Home Depot.

This Friday is orientation and training I’m not sure if I will be required to work this weekend so I am not, for the first time ever, I am not planning a huge Easter dinner.  If for some reason I don’t get scheduled for this weekend, Walt and I will more than likely just have a quiet dinner and then deliver our “bunny baskets” to Josh, Kaylee and Eric.

I am looking forward to this little adventure how could I not be, it’s in the garden department so I’ll be surrounded by flowers and everything outdoors just a few of my favorite things.  I’ll be in a place where all the creativity in my head will flourish into projects for Walt.  This could be fun!  The biggest plus is that I get to wear blue jeans to work, not just on Friday’s but everyday!

Today I’ll leave you with a tasty Au Gratin Potato recipe which I threw together the night I made the Parmesan Meatloaf.  I didn’t want mashed potatoes or rice and pasta didn’t sound appealing either so I decided to make au gratin potatoes.  I didn’t want anything made from a box and I wanted to make them from things I had on hand so I pulled this and that from several recipes to come up with this one and was really pleased with the final results.  Try it, it won’t disappoint.

AU GRATIN POTATOES

 

Easy Au Gratin Potatoes

 

What You’ll Need:

6 Medium potatoes – sliced thin

1 Small onion chopped up fine

1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese (you can use more)

1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 Cup of milk

Salt/Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place sliced potatoes in a greased or sprayed casserole dish
  • Add Chopped onion
  • Salt and pepper
  • Mix (or whisk) the cheese, cream of mushroom soup and milk together
  • Mix into sliced potatoes
  • Bake uncovered for 1 – 1.5 hours (until potatoes are tender)
  • Let set about 5 minutes
  • Serve