Slow Cooked Baby Back Ribs

This past Friday, I received an email from one of the grocery stores I frequent, Harris Teeter. There was a weekend only special: buy 1 rack of baby back ribs, get 2 free. That is a deal that is just too good to pass up. As soon as I finished work on Friday, I made my way to the grocery store. There were only three left when I got there, so I really lucked out. I would have considered waiting until Saturday morning, but we were expecting some snow and ice, so I figured I’d play it safe. It’s a good thing, too. We didn’t get too much snow, but we got a lot of rain, which turned to ice very quickly. My car was iced over, so I would not have been able to go anywhere.

I don’t remember exactly when I got this BBQ Pit Crock Pot, but I am glad that I did. I don’t believe they make these any more, which is a shame. I Haven’t used it since I moved back to Maryland 4 1/2 years ago, so it was long overdue for some usage.

I decided that I would be doing a dry rub for the ribs. I started by putting a mixture of apple juice and orange juice on the bottom of the pot. I then used some of my dry rub mix on the ribs.

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon turmeric power

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 teaspoon citric acid

I’ve used this before and it’s worked out quite well. There’s no salt in there, so this makes a good low sodium meal.

The slabs were a bit too big for the pit, so I had to trim them in order to get them all in the crock pot. I woke up early, so I was able to get this started on low heat right around 5:30 AM.

Although it was probably ready sooner, I didn’t touch it until 2:30 PM. I confirmed the temperature of the meat was at least 170, and it was good to go.

It took a little maneuvering to get them out of the pit, but they looked great to me.

They were nice and tender and had some really good flavor to them. I had some rice and some sauces for dipping, although I also liked eating them as they were.

I’m not always a fan of ribs, but I usually enjoy baby back ribs. They tend to have meat that is easier to get to and easier to bite through. These slabs were “extra meaty”, and it was true. I ended up eating more than I should have, but still have plenty of leftovers that will get me through the week. Now that I’m working from a home office full time during the week, these will provide a quick and easy meal when I need to take a short lunch break.

I’m glad that I was able to use my BBQ Pit Crock Pot again. It’s been too long since I last used it. I will probably use it once or twice a year, but it’s definitely worth having for weekends like this. Clean-up may be a bit rough, but the flavor and ease of cooking makes it worth it. Having my food taste even better than expected sure made it easy to stay positive!


Rice, Veggies, and Chicken Dish

As you may have figured out by now, I truly enjoy food. I go to different places and try different foods. I also like cooking and preparing my own meals from time to time. Today was one of those days. I had an idea for what I wanted to make, but it was a matter of getting some special ingredients and having a good block of time to be creative.

Here are the Ingredients for today’s dish:

1 1/2 lbs malanga

1 lb sugar snap peas

8 ounce can – diced water chestnuts

1 pound ground chicken

1 1/2 cups rice

3/4 cup multi-grain

6 cups water

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp dried marjoram

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

3 Tablespoons Sesame oil

There was a nice flow to the preparation of this dish. Malanga is a root vegetable that is similar to taro. The cooked flavor is similar to a potato (I think it’s in between a potato and sweet potato). This is a very difficult vegetable to cut, so please use caution when cutting. I cooked the malanga with the rice, so I wanted to make sure it was cut up in bite-sized pieces to make sure it would cook properly in the rice cooker. Rinse before you start cutting, make sure the outer skin is removed, and then rinse again after the malanga has been cut into bite sized pieces.

The next bit of prep work was for the sugar snap peas. These took a bit longer than expected, so I’m glad I did them first. I rinsed the peas first. Next came the preparation. You need to take off the ends and slide them along to remove the membranous string. This is the part that takes the longest. Once the preparation is complete, rinse again.

Next is the cooking of the rice. I added the rice and the multi grain mix (the picture is the one I like to use). I then added the water and swirled it all around. I put in the cut up malanga and then swirled the water around again. I set the rice cooker to cook. This should take 20-25 minutes, depending on the rice cooker, which leaves you plenty of time to prepare the rest.

I started by putting the sugar snap peas in a wok with a little water. I cooked this for about 5 minutes. I didn’t want to overcook the peas, and I knew they would do some more cooking later on. I removed them and the water from the pan.

The next step was cooking the ground chicken. Once it was completely cooked through, I removed the fat.

I then added in the can of diced water chestnuts, including the liquid, and mixed these together. If you would prefer to remove the liquid, then that will work as well.

I added the sugar snap peas and mixed them in. I then reduced the heat to medium low and let it continue to cook while the rice was still cooking (about 10 minutes).

Once the rice cooker clicked off, I added allspice, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom, marjoram, and rosemary to the chicken and veggie mixture.

When the rice finished giving off steam, I opened the lid to make sure it was looking good. The malanga has a slightly purple color (I think taro is usually a bit of a darker purple).

Next is the combining of the meat and veggie mixture with the rice mixture. Once these have been combined well, drizzle in three tablespoons of Sesame oil and give it another stir.

The end result was delicious. You can definitely use different veggies and different seasonings to make it your own. Sometimes when I cook, I try to find lower sodium alternatives, so I don’t always add salt. But if that’s something that you enjoy doing, then you should do it. When I make this again, I’ll probably add some minced garlic and minced ginger. I added some specialty sauces to a couple of bites, but it was good without them as well. The ground chicken flavor wasn’t prominent throughout, which meant that it went according to plan. There are times when one portion of the dish will overpower everything else in terms of flavor. I prefer having an overall balance, where you can have individual bites to taste how each component stands out, but when eaten altogether it just provides a special greeting to the tastebuds.

I hope you try this dish and give it your own unique spin. If you do, I’d love to hear about how you made it and how it all worked out.

Stay Positive!

Cooked Grated Vegetables

I have a tendency to eat a lot of meat and to not always eat healthy. There are times, though, when I want to switch things up. I’ve made a variation of this dish in the past, but I was really happy with the results for tonight’s dinner. This is a vegetarian, low-sodium dish. I eyeballed some of the spices, but will put down my best guess estimates for the portions that I used.

Ingredients – Rough estimates

1 pound carrots

1/2 pound onion

2 pounds potatoes

1 5 ounce bag baby spinach

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

1/8 teaspoon of citric acid.

I used the grater attachment for my Cuisinart and grated 4 large carrots, 1 yellow onion, and 2 large potatoes.

I heated one tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a wok. Once the butter was completely melted, I added the grated vegetables.

I continuously stirred the vegetables for about 10 minutes. The carrots and potatoes were still a little firm, but they were definitely getting closer to the proper texture.

I then added 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds and 1/8 teaspoon of citric acid. I continued to stir for about 2 minutes, until there was a consistent release of steam.

I then added one bag of baby spinach (I rinsed the spinach first, and shook out all of the water) and continued stirring for another 3 minutes.

Once the spinach leaves lost their stiffness, I removed from the heat. The spinach would continue to cook, but would not get overcooked and mushy.

It was ready to plate and eat. You can add seasonings or sauce if you want, or just have it like this. I had this as my main dish (I ended up having a second portion as well). This would work as a side dish. I’ve made this with grated broccoli stalks instead of spinach in the past, but would caution you to use just a little broccoli stalk (and shave off the outside first). They can take longer to cook, but do provide additional fiber.

I used citric acid instead of salt, but that was just my preference to make this a lower sodium dish. I like to use ground turmeric from time to time. There are many health benefits, and it adds flavors that my taste buds enjoy. Ground coriander also brings some additional health benefits. Caraway seeds were something new for me to use. They are good for digestive health, and the seeds add a nice textural element to the dish. If you want to use fresh ginger, garlic and turmeric, I say go for it. I would just recommend adding them after the vegetables have cooked for about 10 minutes and not blending them in with the vegetables at the beginning, since you don’t want to overcook the ginger, garlic and/or turmeric, and possibly lose of the potency of the flavor or health benefits.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have fun with this healthy, flavorful, and colorful meal.