Sunday, July 25, 2010

Whole Chicken with Spice Rub

Another great crock pot recipe!  I couldn't believe how flavorful the chicken was for a recipe that was so simple and didn't even include chicken broth.  Believe it or not, I had never bought a whole chicken before.  Maybe I have lived a sheltered life, but cooking a large chunk of meat has always intimidated me.  Thanks to one of my favorite kitchen appliances, not anymore! 

Source:  The Cooking Husband


1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs.
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 onion, chopped


In a small bowl, combine the above minus the onion.

Rub spice rub onto the chicken. Put chopped onion in bottom of the crock pot. Add chicken to the crock pot and add no liquid at all!

The chicken will make it’s own juices. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook for 8 hours on LOW.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Time to bring out the crock pot!  The crock pot gives me confidence in my cooking knowledge that I never knew I had.  A year ago, I never would have attempted making BBQ ribs.  I wouldn't have even known where to look in the grocery store for pork ribs.  However, since I have had so many successes with my crock pot these last 8 months, I decided to go for it.  These ribs were AMAZING!! They were cooked perfectly and the meat was falling off the bone as I tried to plate it for serving.  My husband said that recipe was definitely a keeper.  I used a homemade BBQ sauce for this recipe, but you can use your favorite bottle instead and it will turn out just as fabulous.

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures


2-3 pounds country pork ribs
2 cups BBQ sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Place the pork, BBQ sauce, garlic and oregano into a crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Wow! Who knew homemade BBQ was easy to make and as delicious as some of the bottles you buy in the stores?  This recipe was extremely cost effective because I always have the necessary ingredients on hand in my kitchen at all times. I'll admit though at first I didn't know if the sauce would work out, because it had such a strong odor as it was cooking.  However, the final product was delicious with a wonderful balance of tangy sweetness.  I definitely recommend trying this recipe before you go out and buy an expensive bottle of sauce.

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures, adapted from The Neelys


2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells

This was a really fun dish to make.  One of the reasons that it was so fun was because my good friend Stacy and I made it together for a dinner with our husbands.  We both wanted to try something new and this recipe seemed perfect for us.  The recipe was so large that we had to use two dishes:  one 9x13" and one 8x8". This actually worked really well because we tried a little experiment.  We followed the recipe below for the bigger dish and then used pasta sauce and mozzarella in the smaller dish.  Both dishes turned out really well, except that if you decide to take the pasta sauce/mozzarella route, bake the dish at 350 degrees.  The sauce burned a little bit at the edges on 375.

Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from Simply Recipes


1 12-oz. package jumbo pasta shells
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
6-7 oz. fresh spinach, chopped OR 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 28-oz. can chopped tomatoes with herbs, including the liquid


Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is completely cooked through and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, ricotta, spinach, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, basil, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Stir together to combine. Add the cooked sausage mixture to the bowl and stir until evenly mixed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spread a thin layer of the chopped tomatoes in the baking dishes (either three 8×8″ pans, or one 9×13″ and one 8×8″). Stuff each shell with some of the sausage and cheese mixture, and arrange in the baking dishes, open side up. Spread the remaining tomatoes over the top of the pasta shells.

Cover the pans with foil and bake for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbling. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 10 more minutes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

What is better than warm brownies fresh out of the oven?  It has been a long time since I made brownies so I never had a saved reciped.  It was my husband's birthday and he requested a warm brownie with ice cream as his birthday cake.  I found this fabulous recipe that incorporated a lot of different types of chocolate.  The brownies came out perfectly moist and chewy.  A wonderful treat to make again soon!

Source:  Annie's Eats, adapted from Baking Illustrated


5 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into quarters
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1¼ cups (8¾ oz.) sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (5 oz.) all-purpose flour


Place an oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt; whisk until combined, about 15 seconds. Whisk in the warm chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. (It took me a while to get the flour evenly incorporated and I was worried it would affect the texture of the brownies, but they turned out fabulously – no need to worry.) Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

Remove the brownies from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares as desired. Store in an air-tight container.