Rosemary Ranch Chicken

Rosemary Ranch Chicken is a kabob recipe, but I’ve never done it that way. I was introduced to this recipe at a barbecue, and I enjoyed it so much that I asked the host for the recipe. The marinade makes chicken breast tender and flavorful. I appreciate the fact that it calls for an amount of minced fresh rosemary, rather than a number of sprigs. How long is a sprig when your rosemary bush is four feet tall? I use homemade ranch dressing, but there’s no reason not to use bottled if that’s what you have. To re-imagine leftovers, slice the leftover chicken thinly. Spread the cut side of a hamburger bun, perhaps a Beautiful Burger Bun, with olive oil and toast under your broiler. When the bun is just starting to brown, put a slice of white cheese on the top half and continue to toast until the bun is well browned and the cheese is melted. If your chicken is cold, zap it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so. Then put the chicken on the bun and eat. Crunchy and gooey and flavorful!


Peanut Energy Bars

Peanut Energy Bars are an economical way to provide your family with granola bars. This recipe is versatile as well. You have to keep the ratio of “dry” to “wet” consistent, but beyond that you can use any cereal that you have on hand. Based on others’ reviews, I use rolled oats (not instant) and corn syrup (not honey). I don’t think you can leave out the oats because they absorb moisture and help the bars stick together. I do reduce the amount of raisins a bit, just based on my family’s personal preference. You can experiment with different nuts and seeds as well. For just myself, I like to add a bit of ground flax seed, but nobody else in my family cares for that. Raw pumpkin seeds are nice, too. After some experimentation, I also figured out how to add chocolate chips. Before you start, put a healthy 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the freezer on a cookie sheet. When everything else is done, take the chocolate chips out of the freezer and gently stir to combine. When the bars are finished and sliced, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap. You wouldn’t think so, but they freeze incredibly well. I leave out on the counter what we can eat in a week, and the rest go into the freezer in a gallon-size freezer bag.

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back?

Who Loves Ya Baby-Back? isn’t just a tasty way to prepare meaty, juicy baby back ribs, but it’s also a versatile rub recipe that you can use on virtually any protein. We have used the rub from this recipe on chicken, shrimp, various cuts of pork and beef. Fish might be the only thing we haven’t tried it on, but then again, I think it would be great on salmon. It’s a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and a tiny bit spicy. It’s also an incredibly forgiving recipe. We don’t have the jalapeno seasoning that this calls for, so we add some extra cayenne and throw in a bit of paprika as well. We make big batches of the rub and keep it in the pantry sealed in a container. I find that “times four” is a nice, round number. For crock-pot pulled pork, rub your pork butt with the rub 24 hours before you want to cook it, and add 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke in your crock-pot. Cook on low for 8 hours.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Sauce

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Maple Chipotle Sauce is one of two recipes for which I keep canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on hand at all times. I blend an entire can in the blender — peppers, adobo sauce and all — and then freeze in ice cube trays. For this recipe, we use about 1/2 a cube. We have purchased and used the grade B maple syrup before, but in the end, decided it was easier just to use the regular syrup we keep around for pancakes. It is real maple syrup, but not a special grade. Mixed into the sauce, it’s not really that different. This recipe is also fantastic done with a pork loin. Mashed potatoes make a nice side because you can pour the sauce on the potatoes as well.

Poor Man’s Gumbo

Poor Man’s Gumbo is one of the reasons I keep halved, seeded jalapenos in my freezer in a freezer bag. Since I also have those baggies of bacon, four slices apiece, in my freezer, this becomes a pantry dish that we can make anytime we aren’t sure what to make for dinner. The bacon is sprinkled on top, so the amount can easily be cut down, as well. Either way, the only real change I make to this recipe is I add salt, a couple of times. Once with the sauteed celery and onion, again once everything is in the pan, and possibly a third time at the end to adjust for seasoning. A bit of pepper doesn’t hurt it, either. Leftovers make a great lunch for the next day.

Wilted Kale with Bacon and Vinegar

Wilted Kale with Bacon and Vinegar is one of the reasons we started buying bacon several pounds at a time and freezing some 4-slice portions in individual baggies. You can really use any kind of kale – we grow several kinds in our winter garden. My kids will still only eat a bite of this when forced, but I love it.