Crock-Pot Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce

ribs

Who doesn’t love a good, charred, meaty rib slathered in rich BBQ sauce? I know I do and these ribs are so delicious and absolutely perfect for your next summer BBQ! Unlike traditional rib recipes which can be time-consuming this recipe is as easy as 1-2-3 and produces a perfectly tender and super yummy piece of meat. The recipe comes from one of my most favorite cookbooks, The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook 10th Anniversary Edition: Every Recipe and Every Review From All Ten Seasons .

Aside from the recipe being foolproof, the BBQ sauce is divine! You’ll never go back to a bottled version again. You can make a batch of this BBQ sauce anytime and use it on chicken, burgers or any other grilled meat. Save yourself time when making the sauce (and the ribs!) by mixing together a batch of the spice rub ahead of time. Triple the recipe and store it in a small spice jar in your cabinet. Anytime that you need a flavorful spice rub or you want to make homemade BBQ sauce you’ll have the mixed spices already on hand.

This recipe calls for St.-Louis style ribs however, when I was in the store they were out so I went ahead and used bone-in country-style ribs instead. They were nice and meaty and worked really well in this recipe. As a bonus, since they come individually cut there was no need to trim the ribs beforehand or separate them after cooking.

Lastly, to finish the ribs the recipe has you using your boiler which is perfectly fine and simple however, I chose to finish them off on the grill. Follow the same steps as if you were broiling the ribs only instead of putting them under the broiler, put them on the grill for a few minutes until nice and charred. The ribs had the amazing smoky flavor of the grill as if they had been cooking on there for hours but with the simplicity of having being cooked in the slow cooker. This meal was a HUGE hit in my house. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the ribs

  • 2 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbs Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 3 lbs of St. Louis style ribs (each rack cut in half)  OR bone-in country-style ribs

For the BBQ sauce

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 6 tbs apple juice
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • 2 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Instructions

For the ribs – Combine the paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic in a bowl. Reserve 1 tbs of the spice rub for later use in the BBQ sauce. Pat the ribs dry with paper towels and coat all over with the spice rub.

Arrange the ribs vertically with the thick ends pointing down and the meaty side against the interior of the slow cooker. It is fine if the ribs overlap. Cover and cook until ribs are just tender. Low setting, 6-7 hours OR high setting, 5-6 hours.

For the BBQ sauce – In a medium saucepan, whisk together the ketchup, apple juice, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, liquid smoke and the reserved 1 tbs of spice rub. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced down to a cup, about 10 minutes.

To finish the ribs – Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack in the pan. Using tongs, transfer the ribs, meaty side up, to the rack. Let the ribs sit for about 10 minutes to allow the surface to dry out.

Adjust the oven rack 3″ from the broiler and heat. Liberally brush the ribs with about 1/2 cup of sauce and broil until bubbling and beginning to char, about 4 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven, brush with the remaining 1/2 cup of sauce, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes. Serve warm.

**Tip – The BBQ sauce can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.**

Toasted Marshmallow S’mores Cake

Toasted Marshmallow Cake

If you love S’mores than this is your cake! It’s a rich dark chocolate cake filled with crushed graham crackers and marshmallow meringue frosting and then covered in even more marshmallow meringue frosting and browned until nice and toasty. It was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I made this for my son’s 5th birthday the other day and it was a huge hit! My birthday boy and all of the guests loved it and the best part? It might look fancy but it is super easy to make.

I started with the recipe for my Dark Chocolate Cake which is both easy and foolproof.  The Marshmallow Meringue Frosting was taken from the cookbook,Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence: Irresistibly Sweet, Salty, Gooey, Sticky, Fluffy, Creamy, Crunchy Treats which you can pick up on Amazon if interested. The frosting is also super easy to make but make sure your cakes are cooled and ready to go as you should frost them right after making the frosting. The frosting will be glossy and fluffy like melted marshmallows and although it will be sticky, it will go on the cake nicely as long as you move quickly. After toasting, it will take on a nice, slightly dry outer coating which is simply delicious.

You can toast the marshmallow meringue frosting one of two ways, either in the oven or with a basic kitchen torch. I happen to have a kitchen torch however, as luck would have it I was out of butane the day I made this. So I did what any good cook does when faced with a challenge in the kitchen, I improvised! First I toasted the cake in the oven at 375ºF for about 4 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the cake as it can toast quickly and you don’t want it to burn. Then, using an Aim n’ Flame®, I toasted the outside edges. It took longer than using a kitchen torch and it didn’t toast quite as evenly but it still gave me the desired result and the frosting came out browned and toasty.

Finish off the cake by spreading a little extra marshmallow frosting on top and covering with crushed graham crackers and broken up Hershey® bar pieces. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 cup (8 oz) brewed coffee, cold
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

For the marshmallow meringue frosting

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs light corn syrup
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • large pinch of Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the assembled cake

  • 1 sleeve of graham cracker, crushed
  • 1 large Hershey® bar, broken into pieces

Instructions

For the cake – Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour two 9″ round baking pans. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan for even easier release.

Combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add all of the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth, batter will be very thin. Bake about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes then loosen the cake from the pan and turn out onto the wire rack. Cool completely.

For the marshmallow frosting – In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg whites, corn syrup, sugar and salt. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk the mixture as it heats and cook until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high-speed until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and mix until just incorporated. Frost cake immediately.

To assemble the cake – Cover the bottom layer of cake with a thick coating of the marshmallow meringue frosting. Cover with half of the crushed graham crackers. Place the second layer on top and completely frost the cake. To toast the frosting, either place the cake in a 375ºF oven for 4 minutes OR use a kitchen torch. Once the frosting is toasted and dry to the touch, add some more of the marshmallow meringue frosting on top and cover with the remaining crushed graham crackers and broken pieces of Hershey® bar.

Fresh Peaches and Cream Prosecco Cake

Prosecco Cake

What is better than a fresh juicy peach? A fresh juicy peach soaked in sugar and Prosecco and then layered between a delicate Prosecco soaked sponge cake. This is the perfect cake to bring to your next BBQ, it’s light and fresh and has all of the flavor of summer.

The recipe is originally from Better Homes, and Gardens and can be found right here . I followed the recipe as written making only two minor substitutions. Instead of vanilla extract I used vanilla paste simply because I love the flecks of vanilla throughout the whipped cream. If you don’t have vanilla paste on hand, extract is perfectly fine. Also, I substituted the sour cream called for in the whipped cream topping for vanilla yogurt. I don’t like the strong tang of sour cream, vanilla yogurt is a much more subtle flavor and it worked out beautifully in the final product. This is a fairly delicate cake so to ensure that it doesn’t fall apart as you remove it from the pan, I recommend coating your pans with cooking spray then lining the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Also, take care when assembling the cake, once the layers have been soaked in Prosecco they will be fragile.

This was an absolutely delicious cake with a very pronounced Prosecco flavor. The whipped cream and cake structure held up beautifully during transport and even the following day. This recipe is definitely a keeper, enjoy!

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • cup milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • cup Prosecco or sparkling rose

For the filling

  • medium ripe peaches, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Prosecco 
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar

For the topping

  • cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla paste

Instructions

For the cake – Allow the eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or place in warm water for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, grease three 8.5″ round baking pans.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on high for 5 minutes or until thickened and light. Beat on medium an additional 5 minutes while gradually adding sugar, 1/4 cup at a time. (Batter will be light and fluffy) Beat in flour mixture on medium low until just combined.

In a small saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter melts, stirring occasionally. Add to the batter, beating until combined. Add in almond extract and mix until combined. The batter should be smooth and shiny. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks set over a shallow pan or tray. Once cooled, poke the cakes all over. Slowly pour the Prosecco over the cakes, about 1/3 cup per cake. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and chill 2 to 24 hours.

For the fresh peach filling – In a large bowl combine peaches, Prosecco, and sugar, stir well. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the peaches into a coarse mixture. Set aside.

For the whipped cream – In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the heavy cream, vanilla yogurt, sugar, and vanilla paste on medium until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

To assemble – Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread with half the fresh peach filling. Top with second cake layer and spread with remaining peach filling. Top with third cake layer and spread the top and sides with whipped cream. To garnish, top with a sliced peach fanned out in a circle pattern. Store the finished cake in the fridge.

Prosecco Cake Slice

Fresh Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa

This mango salsa is deliciously light and refreshing and a cinch to make! I used it to top my pulled pork tacos but it’s also great with chips or as a topping for grilled chicken. I found the original recipe on the Cookie and Kate blog site, click here to check it out. I made just a few slight changes to the original recipe to suit my own tastes. I completely took out the cilantro as I do not like the flavor and instead I used a little bit of fresh parsley. Also, instead of using 3 mangoes I used just one but also added in a diced English cucumber for extra crunch. Feel free to follow the original recipe or be as creative as you wish with this salsa. Some other great additions are diced fresh pineapple, diced tomatoes, scallions, fresh corn, or different types of sweet and hot peppers. Play around and find a combination that you love.

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe mango, diced 
  • 1 English cucumber, diced with skin on
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 large lime, juiced (about ¼ cup lime juice)
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a serving bowl, combine the mango, bell pepper, onion, parsley and jalapeño. Drizzle with the juice of one lime and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For best flavor, let the salsa rest for 10 minutes or longer. Serve cold.

Pulled Pork Taco.jpg

Fresh Summer Corn Salad

corn salad

A few summers ago a friend of mine brought this amazing fresh corn salad to a BBQ and it was love at first bite! This dish is everything a summer salad should be, it’s light, fresh, and so flavorful. It’s a great side dish for burgers, sausages, steak, and other grilled meat. I really enjoy it because it’s a nice change of pace from the standard grilled corn on the cob and it’s also very easy to pull together.

This recipe for Fresh Corn Salad comes from Ina Garten and in all the times that I have made this dish I have followed it exactly except to also add in a small, finely diced, red pepper. I like the extra little crunch and flavor that the pepper brings to the salad. You can also try substituting in other flavored vinegar however, I think the sweetness that is added from the apple cider vinegar is perfect so I’ve stuck with that.

When making this salad, be sure to not overcook the corn, you’re just looking to cook out the starchiness but you want it to stay nice and crisp, not mushy and chewy. Three minutes in boiling water is all you need and then immediately place the cobs of corn in ice-cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. This dish can be served at room temperature but I think it’s better when it’s nice and cold so that the veggies keep their firm crisp texture.

Ingredients

  • 5 ears of corn
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 1 finely diced small red pepper
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

Instructions

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until all of the starchiness is gone. Drain and place the corn in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and set the color. Once the corn is completely cooled, cut all of the kernels off of the cob cutting as close to the cob as possible.

In a large bowl, toss the kernels with the red onion, red pepper, apple cider vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil and combine. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

homemade bbq sauce

There is nothing better in the summer than grilled meat dripping in thick, sticky BBQ sauce and while there are plenty of great tasting ones to choose from in the supermarket I’m not always thrilled about the ingredients that they contain. So instead of resorting to the bottle variety of BBQ sauce, I make my own! It’s so simple to make and there are literally countless recipes and variations to choose from.

I adapted this BBQ sauce recipe from one that I came across online by Jamie Deen, he used the sauce on his BBQ Baby Back Ribs . The sauce came out really great, it was a nice mix of sweet and spicy however, it did have a strong vinegar taste initially so I adjusted the seasonings to create a more balanced flavor. I added in 1/2 cup of brown sugar for a little extra sweetness plus a 1/2 tbs molasses. I also cut back on the amount of cayenne pepper that was called for, I added only 1/4 tsp and the resulting sauce was plenty spicy.

The recipe made more sauce than I actually needed so I just stored the rest in a Mason Jar and used it for my next BBQ meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 2 tbs finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbs dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (I used only 1/4 tsp)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For adjusted sauce recipe include:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs molasses

Instructions

Heat the oil over medium high heat and saute the onion until softened. Add all of the other ingredients and simmer on medium low heat until thickened, about 35 minutes. Use immediately or store in a Mason Jar in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

bbqribs

 

Quick and Easy Coleslaw

coleslaw.jpg

True story. I love coleslaw but I hate mayonnaise which is a bit of an issue when you buy a store made coleslaw. They are usually drenched, mushy, soaking in liquid and taste like mayo and pretty much nothing else. I find it wholly unappetizing which is why I’ve tried out countless homemade versions in an attempt to find one that is on the drier side, remains crunchy, and has a flavor profile that extends beyond just mayo. Enter my “Quick and Easy Coleslaw“.

I am not really sure how or where I came across the original recipe but I’ve tinkered with it so many times now using ideas from various other coleslaw recipes that at this point, I’m taking all of the credit for this one! This recipe is super easy, and I do mean SUPER EASY, to make. You can pull it all together in just a few minutes and instead of “who knows how old it is store bought coleslaw” you can serve this crunchy, fresh one at your next BBQ or get together.

Ingredients

  • One bag of coleslaw mix (you can find this with the bagged salad mixes in the produce dept)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
  • 1 tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp pepper

Instructions

Whisk together the mayo, sugar, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, salt and pepper until smooth and well combined. Toss with the bagged coleslaw mix until evenly coated. Let the coleslaw chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors can combine. Serve cold. This will keep about 2-3 days in the fridge.

**TIP** – The bagged coleslaw mixes are great but I have found that on occasion the pieces aren’t shredded enough and I don’t care for huge pieces of cabbage in my coleslaw. To fix this, I simply use my kitchen shears and snip the coleslaw while it’s in the bowl (before pouring the dressing on it) until I’m happy with the size and shred. 

 

“Fooled You” Strawberry Shortcake

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Not even going to lie. Sometimes, I don’t make everything homemade. Sometimes I just get a quick craving or family is stopping over unexpectedly and I need a dessert ASAP so I do the next best thing to homemade, I improvise and take a shortcut! And you know what??? I am totally okay with doing that! You should be too! Sure homemade is better but putting together a few store bought ingredients and plating them nicely goes a long way too!

I was craving some strawberry shortcake on this very warm (almost) summer day but I really didn’t have time to bake an angel food cake and whip up some homemade whipped cream. So it was Stop and Shop to the rescue!! I grabbed a bakery made angel food cake, a can of extra creamy Reddi-Whip, some fresh strawberries and I made this little jar of yumminess in no time. The only “work” that was needed was to wash, hull, slice, and macerate the strawberries which is just “fancy speak” for letting them soak in sugar (granulated or powdered) until their juices release. After about 20-30 minutes of soaking they will be nice and syrupy, perfect to pour over strawberry shortcake or even an ice cream sundae!

The key with using store bought items is to make them look a little cuter then they do sitting in their plastic containers or bags. If you plate them well before serving everyone will think you’re an awesome little chef and none will be the wiser. I have an insane collection of bowls, platters, plates, and Mason Jars because, well, Mason Jars are AMAZING! I’ve touted their awesomeness before but it bears repeating, Mason Jars are the BEST! Buy them. Buy A LOT of the. Use them for literally everything! For this quick dessert, they were the perfect vessel to layer my shortcake and it looked so much cuter then just dumping everything into a plain bowl.

I roughly tore up some angel food cake, placed it into the Mason Jar, and then smooshed it down with a spoon. Next I put a nice scoop of strawberries in, then whipped cream, and I repeated the layers (smooshing them down in between each addition) until I was at the top of the jar. The only thing left to do after that was to eat! It was really delicious, super easy to make, and satisfied my craving in no time.

So, the moral of the story is this: Don’t be afraid to take shortcuts. It’s okay. We’re all human, we’re all busy, and sometimes we just need fast and easy. Want to make homemade pizza but don’t have time to make the dough? Buy pre-made. Half homemade is better than nothing! Use the carton of store bought stock. Substitute in jar sauce if you really have to, your baked ziti will still be good. Go ahead and buy those store made brownies!………..a little frosting and sprinkles will go a long way to jazzing it up! In the end, it’s about getting good food on the table without a ton of hassle. While we all would love homemade eats all of the time, being creative and using a few shortcuts here and there will still result in a delicious meal or dessert! Trust me, I know this for sure because my shortcut strawberry shortcake was the bomb! LOL

 

Freshly Squeezed Lemonade

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There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than an ice cold, freshly squeezed lemonade. This recipe is top notch and has been my favorite for years. In fact, it’s so good that I literally cannot drink store bought lemonades anymore. Prepackaged lemonades are overly tart (almost bitter) and very syrupy which is not refreshing at all. This version is so light and crisp and has the perfect balance of lemons and sugar. It also makes a nice big batch so if you don’t have a good sized pitcher, feel free to halve the recipe.

To get the most juice from your lemons make sure they are ripe and give them a nice firm roll on the counter before cutting. To release even more juice, microwave the lemons for 10-20 seconds, let cool for a minute, and then cut. Be sure to remove any pits that fall into the lemon juice before mixing with the other lemonade ingredients.

Ingredients

For the simple syrup

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water

For the lemonade

  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 10-12 lemons depending on size)
  • 1 gallon cold water

Instructions

Make the simple syrup by bringing 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water to a boil, lower the heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. About 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Juice enough lemons to make 2 cups of fresh lemon juice. Pour the lemon juice into a large pitcher then add a gallon of cold water and the cooled simple syrup. Stir until combined. Serve over ice.