Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crock Pot Ribs - YUM!

We had family over this past weekend to watch the Daytona 500.  I was looking for something easy to make in the crock pot and we haven't had ribs in awhile.  I found this recipe, made some tweaks to make it work for me (WLS friendly) and it turned out really well.  Our family all seemed to like it.  We originally served the ribs with mashed potatoes, green beans and rolls.  For leftovers this week, Ryan and I shredded the rest of the pork and had BBQ Pork sandwiches.  Yum!  A little hard to see in this pic, but finger lickin' good :)

Not pictured: 1 extra bottle of BBQ sauce.  Owls are salt and pepper :) Chopped onions are in the back.
(This is for a double batch - easily feeds 4-6 adults with leftovers. Can be cut in half. For double batch, make in 5 or 6 qt. crock pot)
  • 5-6 lbs. boneless pork country-style ribs
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced or chopped (again I used the store bought chopped ones, 8oz. - so much easier)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used prepared garlic and used x4, 1/2 teaspoons of it)
  • 2/3 cup splenda brown sugar
  • salt and pepper - just a sprinkling of each on each side of the meat.
  • 12 oz apple juice (I used Gerber little 4oz bottles, it's what I had on hand ;)
  • 2 jars or bottles of barbecue sauce (each of my bottles were 19oz - only 1 pictured)
  • Additional items you'll need: A strainer and Reynolds crock-pot liner bags (they make clean-up a breeze!)
Place onions in the bottom of the crock-pot.  Add boneless ribs to the crock-pot. Sprinkle 1/2 of the minced garlic, brown sugar, salt and pepper over the ribs. Flip the ribs and sprinkle the remaining half of the minced garlic, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the apple juice over the ribs (it's ok if it washes some of the seasoning off - it all cooks together).  Cook on low for 8-9 hours or cook on high for 3-4 hours (whatever fits your schedule).

After cooking, remove the pork from the crock pot and set aside on a plate or dish. Some of the onions might still stay stuck to the pork - that's fine. They're good :) If you sliced your onions (instead of using the pre-bought ones), you might want to save them.  To do this, dump the "juices" and fat from the bottom of the crock-pot into a strainer. Once the liquid has drained, add the onions back to the pork sitting on the side plate or bowl.  Pour 1 bottle (yes, the whole bottle) of BBQ sauce in the bottom of the crock pot (make sure your life saving crock pot liner is there to save you a nightmare during cleanup!).  Return the pork and any onions that are left back to the crock pot.  Pour the second bottle of BBQ sauce on top of the pork and onions.  Turn the crock-pot on high and let cook for an additional 45min-1 hour.  Serve with sides or make into sandwiches.  Whatever floats your rib lovin' boat :) 

And finally, little man has a double ear infection... AGAIN!  So I'm thinking some more crock-pot recipes will be in our future.  Easy and prepared ahead of time is what you do when you have a sick and fussy toddler, right?  Actually, what we plan to do tonight is take a Mommy/Daddy sick day from dinner (from being up all night with little man) and order chinese.  Maybe this weekend we'll get back to cookin - stay tuned ;)

Update - chinese place in town closed :(  We had another night of leftovers.  Only positive - we've officially cleaned out the fridge :)  Looks like I'll be cooking tomorrow night!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creamy Sausage 'n Pasta

Finished dish - yum!
Seriously, last night was one of the best meals I've made in a long time.  Ryan and Aiden both loved it (seconds and the mmm, mmm, mmm's indicated that) and the leftovers this afternoon were great too!  2 people asked me if we went out for dinner last night - now that's a compliment!

To anyone that is WLS - this did give me a little pouch pain at the end of dinner last night.  A few things might have done that as I was feeling off all day yesterday - but I wanted to put that out there.  Today when I had it for lunch, I had no problem at all - so it might have just been a combination of things last night.  Anyway, edit or make changes as necessary (for example - the whipping cream might be too much, you might want to use whole wheat pasta (I've found that it makes me sick) or maybe you use turkey sausage instead of pork).  Another little tip, Zantac 150 in the sugar free version works wonders for any pouch pain I've ever had.  It treats it so much quicker than anything else I've used - and you can't beat the sugar free!

1 lb. of ground Italian sausage (we got the kind that comes in the log looking thing) :)
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1 T of extra virgin olive oil
1 T of splenda brown sugar (not pictured)
1 t of prepared minced garlic (found in the produce section)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I buy mine pre-chopped in the produce section)
15 oz. can diced Italian style tomatoes
8 oz can, tomato sauce
4 oz can of black olives (you can omit this if you'd like, my crew doesn't really like them so I just did a handful for me)
1 cup of whipping cream
pinch of salt (not pictured)
1.5 T dried parsley leaves (not pictured)
12oz box of bow tie pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese
Browning the sausage, onion, garlic and brown sugar in 1 Tablespoon of oil.
Boil water to cook the pasta - cook according to package directions.  Once that is going - start the other pot/skillet: Brown sausage, pepper flakes, oil, garlic and splenda brown sugar in oil.  Cook until onion is tender and sausage is browned.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, olives, cream, salt and parsley.  Simmer until mixture thickens slightly.  Drain pasta.  Toss cooked bow tie pasta with tomato/sausage mixture.  Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. 
The tomato and sausage mixture simmering/thickening
If you've ever had a vodka sauce - this tasted very similar to that!  Can't tell you enough how much the boys loved it.  A picture for proof below of Aiden on his third of 4th helping :)
Blurry, but cute - right? ;)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

White Chicken Chili

Final recipe for the weekend - white chicken chili.  Not as adventuresome as the first 2, but still good.  We ended up adding in shredded cheddar cheese and crushed tortilla chips.  Once we did that, it was great.  Before that, it was only so-so.  But as recipes go, they are not all great.  Maybe you can make it better? If you do - let me know!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - baked ahead of time and shredded into large chunks (bake @350 for 45-50 minutes or until cooked)
1 cup of chopped onion (I buy mine pre-cut, walmart carries it in the produce section)
1 tsp of prepared minced garlic (also sold in the produce section) or 2 cloves of fresh garlic
2 T of extra virgin olive oil
1 can of Northern White Beans, 15oz
1 can of green chilies, 4oz
1 pinch of caraway seeds
1/8 tsp of ground clove
3/4 tsp of oregano
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
15 oz can of fat free, low sodium chicken broth
In a large soup pot, saute onions and garlic in oil until tender.  Add green chilies, cayenne, caraway seeds, oregano, and ground cloves.  Add cooked chicken, broth and beans.  Simmer for 2 hours.  Serve with tortilla chips and shredded cheese to take it up a notch ;)  Oh, and some yummy corn bread!  I've been making mine in these adorable individual Wilton square cupcake cups and they turn out great each time.  I'll never make cornbread any other way after using these.  Picture of those is below :-)

Stuffed Green Peppers

I've never made stuffed peppers before, but I've always wanted to.  For some reason, the recipe or the end product intimidated me - like I would for sure screw it up.  Well, after this recipe success, I am no longer afraid!  Very easy and good - and best of all - the last step was in the microwave!  Pretty sure that puts it at the top of my list for a great recipe.  You could easily prep this the night before and then "make them" in the microwave coming home from work.  I know I have about a 15 minute window each night from the time Aiden gets in the door to full blown melt-down if dinner is not on the table.  15 minutes and this one is done (if you do the prep ahead of time).

4 medium-large green bell peppers
1 lb of extra lean (we use 96/4) ground beef
1.5 cups of spaghetti sauce (I used prego tomato, garlic and onion and it worked out great)
1 cup of garlic seasoned croutons, crushed
1 t dried onion flakes
1/4 t black pepper
1 large egg, beaten
Parmesan cheese
Wax paper, Pam spray, and a qt. size ziploc bag

Crush the croutons in a ziploc bag.  Cut off tops of peppers; remove seeds and membranes.  In a skillet, brown ground beef and drain (with the lean meat that we use, I don't drain).  Combine beef, 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce, crushed croutons, onion flakes, black pepper and beaten egg.  Stir until well mixed and egg has been absorbed by the mixture.  Stuff each pepper with equal amounts of the beef mixture. Place peppers in 8x8 or 9x9 glass dish (the tighter squeeze the better so they stay standing) sprayed with Pam.  Cover peppers loosely with wax paper.  Microwave on high for 14 minutes (turn dish halfway through if your microwave does not rotate).  Remove from microwave (careful - can be hot).  Spoon 2 tbsp. of spaghetti sauce on top of each pepper.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Microwave on high for 1 more minute.  Serve warm. 

We had ours on top of rice and with a side of no sugar added pears.  I think if I had to do it over again, I'd skip the rice and serve it with a slice of garlic bread instead.  It tasted like pizza - it was GREAT!

Chicken Lovin' Ranch

The whole crew here has been under the weather for over a week now!  I can't wait for this crud to leave our house and get back to normal.  The boys (Aiden and Ryan) got it first - so the beginning of the week was spent taking care of them and I followed up by Wednesday being hit with it myself and still being sluggish this weekend.  Strangely enough, with a house full of sickies - things on the to-do list have piled up, but I've been more motivated than ever to get in the kitchen and try some new home-cooked recipes.  I guess it's the idea of comfort food, even though we don't really eat true "comfort food" anymore.  So this weekend I tackled 3 new recipes.  3rd one is simmering on the stove now (white chicken chili for the super bowl).  But to start the trio of new recipes off, I tried this new chicken ranch recipe.  It reminded me of homemade chicken noodle soup, minus the noodles and broth.  Aiden LOVED it and had 3 helpings of the chicken in the last 2 days.  It's one that will go down in our family's rotation for sure.
1.5lbs boneless chicken breasts
2 lbs potatoes, peeled & cubed
1 lb bag of mini carrots (smaller than baby carrots)
2 pkts of dry ranch dressing
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
Foil to cover and medium - large steamer bag (these things are awesome - Ziploc makes them, I use them constantly!)

Steam carrots and cubed/peeled potatoes in a steamer bag for 5-7 minutes until slightly tender.  Cut raw chicken into small cubes.  In 9x13 baking dish, combine chicken, potatoes and carrots.  Blend together dressing mix, oil and wine.  Pour over chicken and vegetables.  Cover with aluminum foil. Bake @350 for 1 hour.
We served ours up with a garlic knot (store bought) and sugar free whip cream mixed with no sugar added canned fruit cocktail.  Great dinner with a ton of flavor and made wonderful leftovers that the little man ate each and every time! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Baked Cinnamon Crumble Apples

 WOW!  Where have the last 4 months gone?  Well, let's see.  We moved back to Iowa. Now have a 1 year old that keeps us exhausted and crazy busy. We both started new jobs (yep, still working full-time). We bought a house. Just finished moving into that house on New Year's weekend.  AND... I celebrated my 3 year surgeriversary (I had my RNY Weight Loss Surgery on Jan. 5, 2010).  It's my goal that the first week of February, I take 3 year pictures. With moving we didn't get them taken, and if I do it the first week of February, it will be 1 year after these pictures were taken at my 2 year mark

I feel like with all the change in our lives in the last 4 months, I've lost a bit of me to the chaos of it all.  Tonight was the first night that I found the time to make a new recipe.  I hadn't been planning to do this, but I've been trying to think outside of the box for feeding Aiden things that are healthy, meet his little nutritional/calorie needs and things we still like (and that I can have as a WLS person).  Also, trying to stay on budget by using what we have in the house and avoiding eating out as much as possible.  (I didn't take the time to do the nutrition breakdown because this one is pretty darn healthy, but I did do the $ breakdown of tonight's recipe ;) - priorities!)

Here we go - I looked online for ideas, but kind of made this one up as I went.  REALLY REALLY good.  Also, a great thing to have as a dinner "dessert" on a night when the windchill is supposed to get down to -30.  Yes, I typed NEGATIVE 30.  Not a typo : (

Baked Cinnamon Crumble Apples:
2 Fuji apples (or whichever kind you prefer, this is what we had on hand. 50 cents each from the store.)
2 tablespoons of splenda brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of stick margarine, melted
1 packet of Better Than Oats Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (bought ours at Fareway, $1 for 5 packets per box)
Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut apples in half and core out the centers with a small knife or spoon.  Lay on baking sheet (I cover mine with foil for easy easy cleanup!).
-In a small bowl, combine melted margarine, splenda brown sugar, flour and 1 packet of apple cinnamon oatmeal.  It will be a chunky, batter like consistency. 
-Fill centers of cored out apples with oatmeal mixture, spread out on tops of apple halves too.  Divide mixture evenly between 4 halves.
-Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. 
-When first removed from the oven, sprinkle with cinnamon.  Let cool for just a few minutes and then serve.

I haven't had apple crisp in over 3 years because of my surgery.  This is the first time since surgery I felt like I was eating something just as good, if not better than what I have had before.  LOVE this recipe (both the boys liked it too - Aiden grabbed for the apples first on his plate with dinner tonight.  I just cut the skin off of his apple before cutting it up for him to eat :)

$2 total to make this (we have the splenda brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and stick margarine on hand all the time).  4 servings total, 50 cent dessert!  Recap: WLS friendly, kid friendly, nutritionally healthy, budget friendly!