North Carolina Ribs

These ribs are awesome and the sauce is amazing.  And...I can use the oven!  I'm sure you could do it on a BBQ and it would probably even taste better, but that's not a challenge I've taken on yet.

1 rack baby back pork ribs, (rinse, pat dry, remove sinew from back)
Dry Rub:
¼ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 Tbl. paprika
½ Tbl. regular table salt
½ Tbl. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
¾ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. cajun seasoning such as Slap Ya Mama!
Mustard Barbecue Sauce:
1½ Tbl. butter
½ cup regular yellow mustard
½ cup spicy brown mustard
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ tsp. regular table salt
1 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. cajun seasoning such as Slap Ya Mama!
1 tsp. sriracha sauce, Louisiana Hot Sauce would also work well for this

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For Ribs:
Rinse ribs with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and remove sinew from back.
In medium-small bowl, mix together well the Dry Rub ingredients. Place a large sheet of foil, several inches longer than the ribs at each end, onto working surface dull side-up. Spray center with non stick spray. Place ribs, meat side-up, onto foil. Coat, pressing on, a little over half of the dry rub coating well. Turn ribs over, making sure they are in the center, and coat bone side with rest of rub. Bring long-edged sides of foil up to meet and carefully roll down to meet the top of the ribs. Fold ends of foil inward like an envelope and roll up. It should be a nice closed package touching the meat. Just be careful not to tear the foil. You want it sealed closed.
Place rib package onto foil-lined baking sheet folded side-up (meat side-down). Let rest and preheat oven, or place into fridge to marinate up to two days.
For Sauce:
In small saucepan, add all ingredients. Whisk to combine. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and deeply rich.
Remove from heat and let col down for 5 minutes. Stirring once or twice.
Pour into a pint jar, and cool completely. Place on lid, and refrigerate until needed or overnight.
To Cook Ribs:
Pop into preheated 300º F oven for 2½ hours. (If cooking after chilling, let sit out at least 30 minutes before baking).
When ribs are done, remove from oven, and turn oven up to 350º F. Carefully open foil package, and transfer ribs to clean, foil-lined backing sheet bone side-up.
Coat well with almost half of the sauce.
When oven has reached new temp, pop into oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove, turn ribs over, and baste with rest of sauce. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes longer.
Slice into serving-sized pieces and serve hot with any extra sauce if desired.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Simply amazing!  These are awesome warm in the mornings.  It makes about 18 donuts.

8 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups apple cider (reduced to 3/4 cup)*
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
pinch salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup granulated sugar

*Replace cider with 2 cups apple juice, 2 dashes of cinnamon, pinch of cloves, drizzle of honey, and splash of vanilla.  It works just fine.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Before you begin, you will need to reduce the apple cider. Pour apple cider in a small saucepan a simmer on low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the cider reduces down to 3/4 cup. Once it is reduced, set it aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the melted butter and sugars together until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla and stir until completely combined. Pour in the buttermilk and apple cider and mix until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix or donuts will be tough.

Pour the batter into a ziploc bag and snip off one corner. This makes it much easier to pour into the donut wells. Pour batter into prepared pan about 3/4 to the top of each well. Bake for 14-15 minutes or until the tops are firm and spring back slightly when you touch them. Do not over bake or you will have dry donuts.

When done, remove donuts from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  While they are cooling, get your butter + cinnamon sugar topping ready.

In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar. Set aside.

Once donuts are cool enough to be handled, dip the tops into the melted butter and then quickly into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat for the entire batch of donuts

Baked Ham Sandwiches

These are super yummy and a hit.

1 package Kings Hawaiian Rolls
1 package Ham deli meat
1 package sliced provolone

2 T brown sugar
1/2 T mustard
1/2 T worcestershire sauce
1/2 T poppy seeds
1/4 t onion powder

Spray a 9x13 pan.  Mix sugar, mustard, worcestershire, and onion powder in a bowl.  Slice rolls in half.  Place bottom halves into the pan and paint up to half of the sauce onto them.  Layer the ham, then the cheese on top, then add the tops of the rolls.  Add seeds to the sauce, then pour evenly over all the rolls.  Bake, covered, at 350 for 30 minutes, removing the foil covering for the last 5-10 mins.

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

I made this up as a mix between spinach artichoke dip and a pasta dish.  Yummy!

1 lb chicken (optional)
8 oz rigatoni
1/2 c chicken broth
1 c cream
2 c mozarella cheese
1/4 c parmeasean cheese
1 oz cream cheese
2 T cornstarch
2-3 c spinach
14 oz quartered artichoke hearts
salt & pepper
6 oz bacon

Cook chicken, then dice or shred as desired.  Cook bacon, pat, and chop.  Cook rigatoni per directions.  In a saucepan, add broth, cream, cornstarch, cream cheese, spinach, artichokes, salt & pepper, and half of both cheeses.  Cook slowly, stirring very very often.  Let boil and cook down.  Remove some of the liquid, add cornstarch and return to pot.  Keep cooking.  Add remaining cheese just before serving.  Once melted, pour sauce in a bowl over noodles and chicken.  Mix well and serve.  Add bacon on top on mix lightly.

Seafood Po Boys

Super yummy and works well with a couple different kinds of seafood.

1/4 lb seafood - diced shrimp, real or imitation lobster, real or imitation lump crab
1-2 t mayo
1-3 t spicy mayo
1/2 celery stock (optional)
1 chive
dash dry mustard

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, adjusting mayo and spicy mayo to your preference.  Serve on a toasted bun.

Peppered Roast Sandwiches

Mark loves this, and it is so super easy.  Not exact measurements, so make it to gusto.  Freezes well for packable lunches, too.

2-3 lbs Chuch roast (or other beef cut - London broil, thick steaks, etc)
1 package dry Italian Seasoning
1 medium bottle sliced banana peppers, juice included

Place roast in a crockpot.  Pour seasoning on top, and dump in the entire bottle of peppers and juice.  Cover and cook low for 5-6 hrs, or until tender.  Shred and let it stay warm for another 1/2-1 hour.  Serve on buns with Provolone cheese.

Smothered Chicken Chimichangas

This one is super yummy and fairly easy to make.  While perhaps not exactly "healthy" it is a healthier version since it's baked and has a lighter sauce than traditionally.

Chicken Filling

2 lbs chicken
1/2 cup salsa
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 4 oz. can mild green chilies
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 T chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t garlic salt
1 t onion powder
1/2 t paprika
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1 t liquid smoke

The Rest

8 tortillas
cheddar cheese, to taste
oil, or Pam spray


2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2-1 4 oz. can mild chopped green chilies, to taste
1/2-1 cup cheddar cheese, to taste

Combine all ingredients for chicken filling in a crock pot.  Cook on high for 3-4 hrs, or low for 5-6 hrs.  Remove chicken, shred, then return to the pot for another hour or so.  Remove filling and drain well (you don't want soggy tortillas!).  At this point, you could refrigerate it and use it within a day or two, or freeze it to use at a later date.

Fill tortillas with 1/8 of chicken filling and as much cheese and you'd prefer.  Fold up, folding in sides, then top and bottom.  Place on a wire rack over a jelly roll pan.  Repeat until all 8 have been made.  You could probably use a broiler pan as well.  Or just roll them and put them in a baking dish (but they won't get as crispy that way).

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Then switch on the broiler until lightly browned and crispy, turn over and crisp on the other side (just a couple minutes total).

While they are baking, in a sauce pan add oil, butter and flour.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat and add in broth slowly, then the seasonings.  Simmer for another 3-5 minutes, until thickened.  Turn off heat and add chilies and cheese.  Stir until cheese has melted.  Remove from heat and let cool for 1 minute.  Stir in sour cream.  Serve warm over the chimichangas.

Chick-Fil-A Nuggets (copycat)

Found a couple recipes online and mixed them together.  They are awesome!  I'm sure you could use a 1/2 breast pounded thin to make the sandwich, too, but the nuggets are easier and super yummy.

2 chicken breasts
1 c dill pickle juice
1/4 c milk

1/2 c milk
1 egg

1 c flour
1 1/2 t pepper
3 T powdered sugar
1/2 t paprika
2 t salt

oil for deep fryer

Dice chicken breasts into about 1 inch cubes.  In a ziploc bag, mix pickle juice, 1/4 c milk, and chicken.  Throw in the fridge for about 2 hours to brine, turning over once or twice if you can.

In a bowl, mix egg and remaining milk well.  Drain liquid from chicken.  Replace with egg mixture.

In another ziploc bag, mix all dry ingredients.  Add a handful of chicken pieces at a time into the dry ingredient bag.  Shake like shake-n-bake.  Heat oil to about 350/365.  Deep fry in small batches for about 2-4 mintues, until golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.

Enjoy with whatever you can come up with for chick-fil-a sauce, or ketchup, etc.

Oatmeal Bread Rolls

Yummy and a great way to use up some oatmeal.

2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats, traditional
½ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup butter
2½ teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
5½ cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the water, oats, brown sugar, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to about 120-130 degrees.

Add the yeast and let proof a few minutes, then add flour, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead until the dough is smooth and satiny.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.

Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 12 rolls.  Cover again and let rise.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, removing when golden brown.

Crab Stuffed Salmon

Super yummy!!

5 salmon filets (1.25 lbs)
dash garlic salt
dash Italian seasoning
dash salt

1 6 oz can crabmeat
1/4-1/3 c mayo
1 1/2 T breadcrumbs
4 T Parmesan cheese
1/3 c shredded cheese (colby jack is good)
salt & pepper

2 T butter, melted

Spray a large baking pan and set aside.  Put salmon into the pan and cut them down the middle half-way through the filet.  Sprinkle garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and salt over the filets.  In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients except for butter.  Spoon and press the crab mixture into the cuts in the salmon, piling it on top as well.  Cover dish with foil.  Bake at 365 for 15 mintues while covered.  Remove cover and cook another 10-15 minutes (don't overcook the salmon).  Then broil for a few minutes to get a nice light browning of the crabmeat.  Remove from the oven and pour melted butter over the top.  Serve.