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Monday

Slow Cooker Raspberry-Chipotle Baby Back Ribs




Raspberries are one of my favorite summer treats. My bushes are full! Combine raspberries with baby back ribs and you've got yourself a killer summer meal. A homemade raspberry-chipotle sauce is brushed on meaty, tender baby back ribs. It's all cooked up in the slow cooker so it couldn't be easier. I've written about the secret to crockpot ribs before, and include my secret in this recipe. Seriously, these ribs will fall off the stinkin bone which will allow you to shove them in your glutenous face even faster. You're welcome. It's time to enjoy yourself a little before all this summer goodness goes away!





Prep Time: 15 minutes
Slow Cooker Time: 8 hours, low
Yield: Serves about 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 racks pork loin baby back ribs

Instructions

1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Add in sweet onion and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for another 60 seconds. Stir in raspberries, basil, chipotle chiles, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, ground mustard, and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. 

2. Transfer sauce to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Divide sauce in half and set aside one half in the refrigerator to be used at serving time.

3. Cut rib racks in half. Layer ribs in a crockpot, pouring a little of the remaining sauce over each layer. 

4. Cover and cook on low 8 hours. 

5. Before serving, lay the racks on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Brush generously with reserved sauce. Broil under a broiler until sauce begins to bubble and caramelize. Serve hot.



Slow Cooker Raspberry-Chipotle Baby Back Ribs

Thursday

Mexican-Spiced Chicken Thighs




Chicken thighs are one of my favorite chicken parts to cook with. They are always tender and moist, and as a bonus they are always cheap. Chicken thighs are one of my go-to dinners for nights where I just don't know what else to do. The first time I made this particular version was several years ago. It was a beautiful 70 degree Sunday afternoon. I decided we should have a little picnic in the backyard. I threw together these chicken thighs and made some fresh tortillas (admittedly I use the cook and serve variety when I'm feeling lazy). I kicked back in my lounge chair with an IBC cream soda and a plate of this chicken and a couple tortillas. After that is all a blur of gluttony. The meat was moist and flavorful, the skin...oh the skin!....it was crisp and packed a punch of flavor. How could 5 minutes of prep work lead to such heavenly food? I found myself using that tortilla to soak up any last ounce of flavor. I've made these many, many time since and every time I'm met with glutenous joy. If you've ever been afraid to cook with bone-in skin-on chicken, now is the time to get over it and enjoy that moist meat and crispy skin. Please, join me in my Sunday backyard picnic heaven.







Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4


Ingredients

8 chicken thighs
2 limes, to juice
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons butter


Instructions

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Lay out the chicken thighs in the prepared pan, skin-side up. Squeeze the lime juice all over the meat. 

3. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over the meat. 

4. Divide the butter up into 8  little clumps. Place 1 clump on top of each chicken thigh.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes.





Chicken thighs might seem like an intimidating cut to work with because they have both bones and skin. No worries! They have a good amount of meat on them, and a good crispy chicken skin is to die for. The trick to getting a crispy skin is that it can't sit in any moisture and it needs a heat source to crisp it up. With a chicken thigh, the dark meat will stay juicy while the skin crisps up, so it would take a lot for your meat to dry out. The bone-in helps bring out the chicken flavors while keeping it moist. Don't be scared of bones and skin, it's where all the flavor is! And as for my kids....I just pull it off the bone for them and they gobble it right up. 


Mexican-Spiced Chicken Thighs from The Stay At Home Chef

Tuesday

Crispy Roasted Pork Belly




If you haven't had a good crispy roasted pork belly, boy oh boy, be prepared for the treat of a lifetime. If you love bacon, be prepared to fall head over heals for pork belly. Bacon is made from pork belly so when you get pork belly you are getting the basis for something that makes everything better. They started making it into bacon as a way of preserving it because they didn't have good refrigeration or freezing capabilities. You know the momma of bacon is the kind of mother that will turn heads. If I haven't convinced you yet that you need pork belly in your life I don't know what else to say. Obviously I sing the accolades of pork belly!



I may have squealed outloud when I saw that my local Costco was selling huge slabs of pork belly. I immediately texted my husband and skipped through the store to the checkout, forgetting several items on my list along the way. The promise of some good pork belly can consume the mind that way. If you don't have any at your local Costco, go to customer service and demand some come your way! You can also find it at higher end grocers like Whole Foods and such, but they tend to be a little more pricey. You can also ask your butcher if you can special order it. My Costco-sized pork belly was 8 pounds of goodness. I divided it up into two pound slabs and froze what I wasn't going to use right away. 

In this recipe I've seasoned the pork belly skin with ancho chili powder and paprika for more of a Mexican-inspired taste. Ancho chili powder has a mild, sweet taste that I absolutely love and I knew it would go well with the pork belly. You could experiment with your own flavor combinations. The important elements to include are the sugar (to caramelize) and the salt (because, hello, cooking pork without salt is a sin!). In fact, you could just use the salt and sugar and let the pork belly shine on its own. Basically, you can't go wrong! 




Prep Time: 5 minutes + 1 to 4 hours
Roast Time:  2 hours, 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 (2 lb) slab pork belly
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
12 oz. braising liquid*

Instructions

1. Lay the pork belly out on a cutting board fat side up. Score the fat by running a knife across the slab in parallel motions, about 1 inch apart. Do the same thing in the opposite direction, creating a diamond pattern over the meat.

2. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, ancho chili powder, and paprika. Rub the mixture over the fatty part of the pork belly, getting it in the score marks as well. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pork belly on the rack of a roasting pan. Roast in the center of the oven for 90 minutes.

4. Pour the braising liquid* in the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue roasting for another 60 minutes.

5. Increase the heat to 500 degrees and roast approximately 15 minutes until skin crisps up and browns. Watch it carefully as actual time may vary based on your oven.

6. Let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing, or shredding.

*Braising Liquid = I used rootbeer, but you could use beer or any other soda really.



How to Make Crispy Roasted Pork Belly from The Stay At Home Chef

Sunday

Caprese Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocados




Stuffed avocados are easily one of my favorite lunches. I make several variations. They are so easy to make, usually pretty healthy, and oh so delicious. You can easily substitute canned or shredded chicken in this recipe, but I'm quite partial to a good quality tuna for the added healthy benefits. This recipe is quite simple with all of the elements of a traditional caprese salad with the addition of a protein and avocado. You know that's going to be good! Give this a go for a quick and healthy lunch. Make sure you drizzle the balsamic vinegar just before serving to avoid discoloration. This is an easy one to enjoy!







Time to Make It: <10 minutes
Yield: Serves 2 to 4

Ingredients

2 avocados, halved and pitted
2 (4.5 oz) cans tuna, drained
5 oz sliced fresh mozzarella, diced
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
salt and pepper, to taste
drizzle balsamic vinegar

Ingredients

1. Scoop out some of the avocado from the pitted area to widen the "bowl" area. Place the scooped avocado into a medium-size mixing bowl. Mash it with a fork.

2. Add the tuna, mozzarella, tomato, and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir it all together until everything is well mixed.

3. Scoop the tuna into the avocado bowls. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.




Caprese Stuffed Avocado from The Stay At Home Chef

Wednesday

Lemon-Basil Butter Grilled Corn on the Cob

This post is sponsored by Plugra Butter.




It's that time of year....corn on the cob! My kids beg for it every time we see it in the store. Not only do they love eat it, they love all the shucking and preparing of it. I love getting the kids involved in the cooking. There's just a special magic that happens when meal preparation turns into a family event. Corn on the cob is perfect for this because everyone can be involved. 

In this recipe corn is smothered in ultra decadent Plugra butter and then cooked in the husk for moist, buttery summer grill-time treat. I love corn cooked on the grill. It gets a little char on it and that hint of smokiness. Cooking it in the butter makes for easy and flavorful serving as it's ready to eat as soon as it comes off the grill. You're going to love this one!




Prep Time: 30 minutes
Grill Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients

6 cobs of corn
1/2 cup Plugra butter, softened
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

1. Place whole cobs in a large pot of water. Soak 15 minutes.

2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together softened butter, lemon zest and juice, basil, salt, and pepper. 

3. Remove cobs from water. Carefully peel back the husk to reveal the silk and kernel, keeping husk connected to the cob. Remove the silk. Brush the kernels heavily with butter mixture. Fold the husk back over the kernels and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Repeat with remaining cobs.

4. Preheat an outdoor gas grill to a medium heat. Put foil wrapped cobs on the grill and grill for 20 minutes, rotating the cobs halfway through grilling.

5. Remove from grill and aluminum foil and serve hot. 



Lemon-Basil Butter Grilled Corn on the Cob

Monday

Cilantro-Lime Orzo Pasta Salad


 

Summertime is always seems full of delicious pasta salads. I'm a big fan. They are a great thing to take to picnics, barbecues, and potlucks (unless they are mayo based, food safety nightmare!). I love making pasta salads out of orzo. It's different than your traditional shells or elbows and it makes it seem fancy and upscale. I developed this pasta salad with summer in mind. I love all those delicious little tomatoes that are in season now. Hopefully you have a garden with some cherry tomatoes because we all know garden fresh is the best when it comes to tomatoes. If any of them make it inside without being eaten then this will be the perfect way to enjoy them. A cilantro-lime dressing is easy to whisk up and will make for a light and tasty side. Oh, and it's totally food safe to bring to an outdoor event. That's always important in the summa' time!



Time to Make It: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves about 6

Ingredients

8 oz. orzo pasta
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Make the dressing in a small bowl by whisking together lime juice, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir in cilantro and pour over cooked orzo. 

3. Toss pasta with green onions, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until chilled and/or ready to serve. 




 
Cilantro-Lime Orzo Pasta Salad

Wednesday

Peach Pie Donuts


I have a passionate love affair with peaches this summer. I've been eating them on an almost daily basis and loving ever minute of it. When I stumbled upon a peach pie donut at a popular donut shop I absolutely had to have a taste. I was disappointed by the actual donut (hardly any filling!) but knew I'd be making my own at home. After all, I have an ongoing love affair with donuts. In fact, when I moved earlier this summer I waited to pack my donut making equipment until the last few days. I just couldn't guarantee I wouldn't make donuts! 

For this recipe I've used the soft, fried donuts I have come to know and love and carry with me on my hips for the rest of my life. They are the perfect soft, yeasts donut. I've glazed them and filled them with a homemade peach pie filling. Of course, you could always use some store bought filling from a can, but there's nothing quite like that homemade fresh peach filling. These donuts taste just like a peach pie except, you know, in donut form. Oh, it's absolutely heavenly! This is a donut everyone will love. 



Peach Pie Doughnuts

Time to Make It: 3 hours
Hands on Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 1 Dozen Donuts


Ingredients
2 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (approximately 100 degrees)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 TB butter, melted 
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 to 4 tsp. water
2 cups peach pie filling (recipe below)


Instructions

1. Combine the yeast, water, sugar, milk, salt, shortening, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in 2 cups of the flour and knead on a medium-low speed with a dough hook until well combined. Slowly add in the remaining flour until a nice dough ball forms. Dough should be wet, but should not stick to your fingers or the sides of the bowl. 

2. Spray a large mixing bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean dish towel, and let rise 1 1/2 hours.

3. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Use a drinking glass or round cookie cutter to punch out 12 donuts, re-rolling the dough as necessary to get a dozen donuts and use almost all of the dough. Let rise another 30 minutes. 

4. Meanwhile, heat the shortening in a large pot to about 350 degrees. While the shortening is coming to temperature, make the glaze in a medium-size mixing bowl by whisking together melted butter, powdered sugar, pinch salt, 2 tsp milk, and 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract. Add in water 1 tsp at a time until it is just thin enough to dip something in easily. It shouldn't be runny, but it shouldn't be thick either. 

5. Fry the donuts a few at a time until golden brown, flipping half-way through. It is helpful to do a test donut to ensure that the donut gets cooked through. Transfer the donuts to a wire rack covered with a layer of papertowels. Let cool for 1 to 2 minutes then dip the top of the donut into the glaze and place it back on the wire rack. 

6. Once all of the donuts have been fried, fill a piping bag with the peach pie filling, like you would with frosting. Using a wide-mouth tip, insert the tip into the top of the doughnuts one at a time, squeezing to fill with 1 to 2 tablespoons of peach pie filling per donut. 




Peach Pie Filling

Time to Make It: About 15 minutes hands on, 1 hour 15 minutes total
Yield:  about 2 cups


Ingredients

4 large peaches, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch salt



Instructions

1. In a medium sized saucepan, toss peaches with sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Let sit 1 hour.

2. After 1 hour, heat the mixture over medium-high heat until thickened. 

3. Transfer to a blender and blend until mostly smooth. Some small chunks remaining are okay as long as they can fit through the large tip of a piping bag. 





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