Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.


The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

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Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Cookies

pbcookieI love peanut butter cookies, something about them feels more special than a chocolate chip cookie.  Just like a sugar cookie tells me it’s Christmas, peanut butter cookies feel like a cold winter night with a warm cup of cocoa.  My mom wasn’t big on cooking dinner, but she did bake.  Cookies were easy, and peanut butter cookies were my dad’s favorite, so they were one that she made once in a while.

I’m not in bakeries often, but when I do get enticed by their heavenly smell and break down and buy them, I’m usually disappointed.  I’m impatient and can never wait to get home, I rarely even make it to the car, before I’m unfolding that waxed bakery bag and taking a big bite of salty peanut butter goodness.  More often than not, they are either too dry, too doughy or too greasy and leave me sorry that I bought them.

There have been very few exceptions, but among my favorite peanut butter cookies are: Mrs. Fields, French’s Bakery (Costa Mesa, Irvine, Mission Viejo, and Orange, CA), and Disneyland.

Lucky for all of us, Debbie Fields shared her recipe for her peanut butter cookies on her blog in 2012.  A bonus for the Gluten-Free crowd, there is no flour in it!

Mrs. Fields Peanut Butter Cookies

mfpbcookies1 cup peanut butter, creamy or chunky
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
coarse salt or sugar, your choice

Preheat oven to 350°.  In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and sugar. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, then add vanilla directly to it and stir. Add egg mixture to peanut butter mixture and stir until well combined. Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a prepared cookie sheet. Using the tines of a fork, create a crosshatch pattern, flattening the dough about half the thickness. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a pinch of coarse salt or sugar, depending on your tastes. Bake for 10 minutes, or until barely golden brown around the edges. Makes 30 cookies

HINT:  A good-quality, natural peanut butter adds even richer flavor, but  you may need to add more sugar. Taste dough to determine.

HINT:  Kick these cookies up another notch by dipping cooled cookies in melted semi-sweet chocolate. Allow to cool completely before serving.

I never realized that there was no flour in these, which makes them gluten-free, but also explains why they never taste dry or doughy to me.

Next I’ll see if I can hunt down recipes for my other favorites so I can do an unscientific side by side taste test with my family to see which ones they prefer.

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Chicken Under Pressure “Mamba Style”

I’m not feeling a lot of inspiration to create today, but have some chicken in the freezer, plenty of citrus on the trees, dry goods and spices in the cupboards, so dinner shouldn’t be a big ordeal.

I’m employing my handy dandy pressure cooker so I can make dinner ahead and not have to worry about it during all of the pre-final game Laker festivities honoring The Black Mamba,  Kobe Bryant that I’ll be glued to tonight, tissues close at hand.

Chicken Under Pressure “Mamba Style”

  • 6 Frozen Boneless-Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 2 TBLS Extra Virgin Oil
  • 1 Chicken Bullion Cube
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 2 tsp Dried Tarragon Leaves
  • Juice of 2 Small Ripe Lemons (About 1/4 Cup)
  • Zest of 2 Small Lemons
  • 1 Cup Water
  1. Turn the pressure cooker on to “Brown” setting
  2. Pour 1 TBLS of the Olive Oil into the bottom of pan
  3. Put frozen chicken into pan to begin defrosting
  4. Add the bullion cube then sprinkle 1/2 tsp of the garlic powder & onion powder, 1/4 tsp of the pepper and allspice, and 1 tsp of the tarragon over the top of the chicken
  5. After 3 minutes turn the chicken over
  6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tsp of the garlic powder & onion powder, 1/4 tsp of the pepper and allspice, and 1 tsp of the tarragon over the other side of the chicken
  7. Brown for another 3 minutes then turn chicken over one more time
  8. Grate the lemon zest into the pan (on top of the chicken)
  9. Squeeze the juice from the zested lemons into the pan
  10. Add the Water and close & lock the pressure cooker
  11. Set to medium – high setting and, when pressure cooker reaches temperature, set time to cook for 10 minutes
  12. When cooking is completed unplug the pressure cooker and allow to sit, without releasing pressure, for 10 minutes.
  13. After rest time, release the pressure and remove the chicken to a covered dish

 Lemon Artichoke Risotto

  1. Add enough water to the reserved liquid in the pressure cooker to equal 3 cups.
  2. Add 2 Cups Dry Arborio Rice
  3. Set pressure cooker to Rice setting
  4. When cooker reaches desired temperature/pressure, cook rice for 9 minutes
  5. When cycle is complete unplug and release most of the pressure but do not unlock or open machine
  6. After 10 minutes finish releasing pressure and unlock/open pressure cooker
  7. Add 1 jar quartered Artichoke Hearts in Water (drained)
  8. Grate the zest from one medium lemon into the rice
  9. Stir in 1/2 Stick Butter
  10. Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  11. If desired, add more heated chicken broth to make the rice creamier
  12. Keep covered until ready to serve with the chicken

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Carrot Pineapple Slaw

ribdinnerI needed to add some color to what was going to be an otherwise bland (but really delicious) looking plate tonight, but my husband asked that it not be the things I had ready to whip out: Asparagus and Green Salad.  Ug!

Having just put all of my creative brain power into making Zucana loaves and the spicy sweet sauce for BBQ ribs, I was just not feeling it.

I looked into the refrigerator and saw a lot of produce, dairy products, some leftovers and then inspiration struck when I found:

  • 2 Pound Bag of Carrots
  • Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt Cups
  • A Small Can of Crushed Pineapple

Aha!  In 10 minutes there would be color on my dinner plate!

Carrot Pineapple Slaw

In a large mixing bowl combine

  • 6 Cups Shredded Carrots (About 10 Large Carrots Peeled/Grated)
  • 1 Small Can Crushed Pineapple (Drain first)
  • 1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
  • 2 – 5.3 ounce Cups Vanilla Oikos Triple Zero Greek Yogurt

You can use any yogurt you want to.  I like the Oikos because it doesn’t add any fat, sugar or additional sweetness to the salad.  I use a rubber spatula to combine everything.

My husband didn’t even complain about it 😉  Bonus!

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Gluten Free Zucnana Bread

banzucminisI love a moist piece of banana bread slathered with soft cream cheese.  The only problem I have is, with the number of bananas I buy each week, using the overripe ones for plain banana bread every week or two is getting boring.

My grandma was one of those 1970’s women who broke out of her 1950’s homemaker role and became a more modern woman.  She was different from my friends’ grandmas to say the least:  She played tennis, loved fitness, drove a flashy sports car, loved vacationing and baking herself to a golden tan in the sunshine, had a job outside the home, and pretty much spoiled my brother, sister and I rotten.  My modern grandma made her own yogurt, dried her own fruit, and tried her hardest to get us to eat more vegetables. I’m pretty sure she is why I am so fearless and experimental in the kitchen – I’d eat anything new or different that she fed me.

My Grandma Skip used to make a wonderful, sweet, moist zucchini bread every summer.  It was one of my favorites, even if it did have walnuts in it!  I wonder how bananas would taste with zucchini.  And, as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge, I wonder if I can make it gluten free so I can share it with my friends who have issues with gluten.  Looks like another experiment!!  Off to the kitchen!

Gluten Free Zucnana Bread

  • Shred 2 medium zucchini in your food processor, Vitamix or using a hand grater.
  • Let sit in a colander in the sink so any moisture released can drain off.
  • Grease your 9×5 inch standard or 5.75 x 3 inch mini loaf pans with baking spray (I use coconut oil spray).
  • Preheat oven to 325° F

In medium mixing bowl combine:

  • 1 & 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • 1 & 1/8 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Cup Oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats)

In same bowl add:

  • 1/4 Cup Agave Syrup
  • 1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 Eggs (Room temperature is ideal)
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (Room temperature/melted)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 Medium Bananas Mashed (not overripe, but with browning skins)

Using a large wooden spoon, stir in each addition until well combined.  Batter will be thick.

  • Stir shredded zucchini in by hand (using a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon)
  • Pour into greased loaf pan (s)
  • Bake on center rack in oven for 55 – 65 minutes (9×5 inch pan), or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Like most ovens, my temperature is sometimes a few degrees off, so I start checking for doneness at about 55 minutes.

When finished baking remove pan (s) to a wire rack to cool about 30 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on the wire racks.  When cooled, wrap loaf (s) in foil then put into a zip bag and store in the refrigerator.  These loaves freeze well – wrap first in waxed paper (seal all edges), then foil and finally a securely zipped freezer bag.  Enjoy within 3 months.

I serve with whipped cream cheese, although you can make a simple glaze to drizzle over while the loaf (s) while still warm.

  • 1/4 Cup Cream Cheese
  • 2-3 Tsp Milk
  • 1/4 – 1/2 Cup Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar.  Add more or less milk as needed

TIP 1:  I normally use 1 Cup of Sugar in my Banana Bread.  When substituting Agave Syrup or Pure Maple Syrup (or a combination of both) for granulated sugar, make sure that you decrease the water (juice or other liquid component) by 3 TBLS (per 1 C equivalent/ sugar), add 1/8 tsp of baking soda (per 1/2 C equivalent sugar), and reduce your baking temperature by 25° F.  I have already made those adjustments above.  There is a really handy chart for sugar substitutions here.

Tip 2:  When using mini loaf pans instead of a standard 9 x 5 loaf pan, reduce the baking time by 25% (so in this case the baking time would be 43 – 53 Minutes – I start checking loaves for doneness at about 45 minutes).

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Simple Sweet Potatoes

whippedsweetpotatoesUsually when I make my mashed or whipped sweet potatoes, I go through the whole peel, chop, boil routine that takes a lot of time and effort.

Yesterday I got my Easter dinner stated a few hours later than I usually do and the pressure (no pun intended) was nowhere near what it would have been because I knew I had my time saving secret weapon in the bullpen!  Another reason to LOVE my new T-Fal electric pressure cooker!

Steaming, instead of dry pressure cooking on the rack, while I prepared our main dish saved me more than an hour in prep time.  That alone was worth it, but the resulting creaminess of the potatoes allowed me to remove some of the higher fat ingredients I normally would have used to whip them in to submission using my stand mixer.

Super Fast & Easy Whipped Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 Large Sweet Potatoes (or Yams)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1/4 Cup (1/2 Stick) Butter
  • 3 TBLS Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)
  1. Pour water into bottom of pressure cooker pan and place open steamer basket inside
  2. Wash your sweet potatoes and prick the skin a couple of times with a fork
  3. Place sweet potatoes into the steamer basket and close/lock the pressure cooker
  4. Set pressure cooker to high and, once it reaches temperature, cook for 30 minutes
  5. When timer sounds unplug the pressure cooker and set it aside to come back to normal pressure naturally while preparing the rest of your dinner.
  6. When you are 10 minutes from serving your dinner, open the pressure cooker and remove the potatoes to a medium sized bowl.
  7. The potatoes should be so soft that you can easily slide the peels off without need of any tool/utensils.
  8. Place the butter and peeled potatoes back in the bowl and, using a fork (you won’t need anything more – trust me!) whip the two together until the butter melts.
  9. Stir in the brown sugar and cover until you are ready to serve.
  10. If you want to kick them up a bit, add a pinch of nutmeg and/or cinnamon.

These are so creamy that they could easily be cooled and serve to a baby just starting table foods, but can be hearty enough to accompany turkey, ham, beef, pork or the salmon patties I rested on top.

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This Sauce Has Balls

saucehasballsMy husband, although his Mother was 100% Italian, doesn’t care for much sauce on his pasta.  I, on the other hand, love a thick meaty sauce, no matter what style noodle (even gluten free) we are eating.

I’m in the mood for spaghetti which means sauce that’s nice and meaty, with extra spicy balls for good measure.  Just the way I like it.  😉

Hearty Pasta Sauce with Balls

  • 1 lb  Fresh Ground Pork Sausage
  • 1 lb  Fresh Ground Sirloin (90/10 or 85/15)
  • 1 1/2 TBLS Salt-Free Garlic & Herb Blend Seasoning (Mrs Dash or McCormick Perfect Pinch)
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 TBLS Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Romano Cheese
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  1. In stand mixer, combine the pork and beef.
  2. Add the spices and cheese and mix until well combined.
  3. Pre-heat 1 TBLS Olive Oil in the pressure cooker pan. Set the machine to the Brown.
  4. Remove 1/2 of the meat mixture from the bowl and place in pressure cooker pan set to Brown.  Cook with the lid open, stirring to break the meat up, for 5-7 minutes then remove and drain off the fat.
  5. Replace pan on pressure cooker base and set to the Brown setting.
  6. Add the following to the pan, in order:
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 3 Stalks Celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  1. When pressure cooker returns to temperature, cook for 6-8 minutes until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.
  2. While vegetables are cooking, add 1 egg to the reserved half of the uncooked meat.  Form inch to inch and a half balls and set aside.
  3. Add 1 Can (6 oz) Tomato Paste to the vegetables, stirring until combined.
  4. Add 2 Cans (14.5 each) Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (with the juice) and stir well.
  5. Return the cooked meat to the pan.
  6. Add 1 Cup Good Red Wine (If you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it!)
  7. Stir and add the meatballs to the pan.
  8. Close the pressure cooker, set to high and cook the sauce for the full 10 minute cycle.
  9. Let the pressure return naturally then serve over cooked pasta with garlic bread.

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Quick Corned Beef & Cabbage


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  This is the day every year where I pull out the Crock Pot, load it with corned beef, red potatoes, chunks of carrot, onion, garlic & spices and let it spend 10 hours cooking dinner for me.  But, because I made a huge trip to the grocery store and forgot some key ingredients, it looks like the slow cooker is being swapped for the new pressure cooker.  I hope I don’t screw dinner up…

cb9I’ve searched the internet for help with timing, liquid and how to keep from overcooking the vegetables and into the deep I’m diving again.  Because I have added tips for keeping warm after preparing early, serving suggestions and a bonus leftover recipe, please read the recipe through before beginning your preparations.

Quick Corned Beef & Cabbage

  • 1 – 2 to 3 pound Corned Beef Brisket (vacuum sealed in brine with spice packet)
  • 10 to 15 Small Red Potatoes (unpeeled and whole)
  • 1 – Yellow Onion (cut into quarters)
  • 5 Large Carrots (peeled and cut into large chunks)
  • 6-8  Whole Cloves Garlic (peeled)
  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 4 Cups Beef Broth
  • 1 & 1/2 – 11.2 oz bottles Guinness Draught (Dark Beer)
  • 1 Head Green Cabbage (cut into quarters)
  • 2 TBLS Cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  1. Set the pressure cooker to brown setting and place the garlic cloves, onions, 1 TBLS olive oil and corned beef (fat side down) into the cooking pan.  With lid open, once cooking temperature is reached, let the fat render for 10 minutes. If your fat layer is thick you can run another 10 minute brown cycle if you like.  I did, but only to brown all sides of the brisket.
  2. With about 2 minutes left in the brown cycle, add the carrots,
  3. When browning is done, add the spice pack, 1 bottle of the beer and broth to the pan.  Close and lock the top and set to cook on high for 50 minutes.  My brisket was just under 3 1/2 lbs so I upped my cooking time to 55 minutes and it was incredibly tender when I transferred it to the frying pan.
  4. If your brisket has a thick fat layer, when timer sounds set a heavy frying pan (I use a cast-iron pan) with 1 TBLS olive oil in it on the stove over medium high heat.  Quick-release the pressure then unlock and open the lid of the pressure cooker.
  5. Remove the corned beef and transfer to preheated frying pan with fat side down. Lower heat to low and allow the fat to slowly burn off. If just browning, make sure you turn your brisket to keep it from charring.
  6. Add the potatoes to the pressure cooker set to cook for 15 minutes.
  7. When timer sounds, release the pressure, open the pressure cooker just long enough to add the cabbage then immediately close and lock the lid.
  8. Bring the cooker back up to pressure and then immediately release the pressure so that you can open the cooker to remove the onions, carrots and cooked cabbage (leave the garlic). Put in a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  9. Turn the pressure cooker to the brown setting.
  10. Remove the corned beef from the frying pan to a cutting board, cover with foil for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle and then slice/shred as desired. Cover meat to keep it warm while preparing gravy. **See Tip below if you aren’t ready to slice and serve, or have prepared the brisket more than a couple of hours before you plan to serve it.
  11. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 of a bottle of Guinness.  Pour the broth, spices and garlic from the pressure cooker into the drippings from the frying pan.  Bring juices to a boil, scraping up any brown bits and smashing the garlic, then add the cornstarch mixture.
  12. Whisking constantly, cook 2-3 minutes until broth/drippings thicken into the consistency of gravy.
  13. Put gravy into a small saucepan with a lid to keep it warm or make reheating later easier.




Serve slices of the corned beef on top of the cooked cabbage with potatoes, carrots and onions piled alongside.  Cover with gravy if desired.

Another way my family likes it is shredded with two forks so they can pile it on rye bread with spicy mustard, Swiss cheese, onions and cabbage with the gravy soaked potatoes and carrots on the side.  A buttered piece of rye bread is great for sopping up the leftover gravy!

Because my son won’t be home for St. Patty’s this year (Boo Jason!) I will slice up half of the brisket and shred the other half while it’s hot to get the most use of the leftovers.

TIP:  If you are preparing this ahead of time and want to keep it warm for an hour or two before dinner (without drying it out):

  • Reserve about a cup of the juices from the pressure cooker
  • Set your Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) to “Keep Warm”
  • Layer in this order: Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Cooked WHOLE Brisket, Cooked Cabbage, then pour in the reserved juices.
  • Cover and keep warm as long as you need to.
  • Remove brisket from slow cooker to cutting board, cover for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle, then slice as directed above.
  • Bring the gravy back to a boil. add the juices from the slow cooker, and whisk until well combined.  If gravy is too thin add another TBSP of cornstarch to a small amount of cold water and whisk in until gravy is as thick as you’d like.

If there is any leftovers that don’t become sandwiches, the corned beef makes a flavorful hash.  Combine the shredded/chopped corned beef in a cast iron skillet with melted butter, some chopped bell pepper, any leftover onion and potatoes and cooked to crispy brown perfection.  Add a couple of fried eggs and some sourdough toast and it’s a great Sunday brunch!

Instead of taking roughly 12 hours from start to finish using the slow cooker, this year’s St. Patty’s Day feast was ready in about an hour and a half!  The pressure cooker shaved 10 1/2 hours off of the cook time and, instead of not being hungry once the cooking was done (because I didn’t have to be tortured by smelling it cook all day), I was able to enjoy this annual favorite with everyone else at dinner!

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Bloody Angry Baby Back Ribs

ribssweetpotatoEnticing name, don’t you think?  I’m not English and spouting a profanity, nor am I intending to butcher and cook ribs while they’re still bloody, I’m too big a wuss for that! 😉

What I did do though, is combine the flavors of the blood oranges ripening on my tree with BBQ sauce & hard cider and put it all into the pressure cooker to see what would happen!

What happened was a tender, tasty rib that absorbed the sweetness of the orange slices, the ginger-apple crispness of the cider before finishing with the smoky-spicy BBQ sauce!  I don’t usually enjoy pork ribs, but these I ate with gusto.  So much so that I only grudgingly encouraged my husband to eat the last slab on the serving plate.  I wanted the ribs to be the star of the show, so I served them beside baked sweet potatoes.

About an hour and 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat dinner:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and prick the skins of 2 medium sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes then remove from the oven, place them in a bowl and tent with foil to keep them warm while you’re finishing the ribs.

Bloody Angry Baby Back Ribs

  • 2 Medium Ripe Blood Oranges
  • 1 – 12 oz Bottle Angry Orchard Apple Ginger Hard Cider
  • 2 Lbs Pork Loin Back Ribs
  • BBQ Sauce (whatever brand you prefer)
  1. Slice the oranges and place into the bottom of the pressure cooker pan.
  2. Cut your ribs apart into 3-4 pieces and stand them around the perimeter of the pan.
  3. Pour the bottle of Hard Cider into the middle of the ribs, over the top of the oranges.
  4. Immediately close and lock the lid and set the pressure cooker to Medium for 15 minutes and hit the start button.
  5. When the timer goes off, release the pressure and open the top.
  6. Remove the ribs from the pressure cooker pan and place them (bone side down) on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  7. Brush your favorite BBQ sauce on them as lightly or generously as you desire.
  8. Place the baking sheet back into the 400 degree oven you used for your sweet potatoes and cook the ribs another 15 – 20 minutes to bake the sauce in.

Serve with the baked sweet potatoes (with plenty of butter and brown sugar) and, if you’ve prepared some (or bought it) ahead of time, some crisp cold coleslaw.  If you don’t have a recipe for coleslaw, you might want to give my recipe from September 2015 a try: Lisa’s Kicked Up Memphis Coleslaw. Enjoy!

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at:

Poolside Valentine’s Day BBQ

Happy Valentine’s Day From Sunny Southern California

The threats and warnings of the “Fury” and strength of the approaching El Nino has, so far, failed to materialize in Southern California.  A week and a half ago we were seeing colder than normal temperatures in the mid-50’s followed by last weekend’s mid to high 70’s and then this week’s high 80’s to mid 90’s.  I had barely gotten the dust off of my boots & sweaters and had to dig my spring clothes back out to keep from sweating my ass off while visiting customers this week!

I am neither gloating or complaining, I would just really like the weather to make a decision.  I have a great fireplace in the living room (and another one out by the BBQ island), but it just hasn’t been cold enough to justify lighting them.  In fact, it’s been so warm and sunny that I turned the heater back on in the pool and invited a single girlfriend & her kids over to catch some rays and barbeque by the pool for Valentine’s Day.

Instead of making reservations for brunch we put together a menu that would need minimal prep, have no gluten and be able to be cooked & served in the backyard.

Backyard Bloody Marys:

  • Pour 1 1/2 to 2 ounces Tito’s or Smirnoff 21 Vodka (both are Gluten Free) into a glass (or in this case, red Solo cup) filled with ice
  • Fill the rest of the cup up with a homemade mix comprised of: Low Sodium V-8, a splash or two of juice from a jar of martini olives, a dash of your favorite hot sauce (we used Frank’s Red Hot), a dash or two of Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, a bit of fresh-full strength horseradish, an a dash of A-1 Steak Sauce.
  • Garnished with a slice of crisp bacon, a stalk of celery, a peeled mini carrot, a thick ring of red bell pepper, and a skewer with sweet peppers, onions, and pepperocini

The BBQ was kept busy with:

Two simple side dishes allowed us to spend a couple of hours absorbing some natural Vitamin D, courtesy of our friend The Sun!

  • A salad of sliced English cucumber, halved plum tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, 2 TBLS light sour cream, a dash or two red wine vinegar, freshly ground pepper and some garlic salt
  • Chunks of cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple, thinly sliced Kiwi, fresh blueberries and a few whole strawberries

All in all a great day!

Weather forecasters promise that we will still be seeing the long promised “Godzilla” rain storms of El Nino, the storms are just taking their sweet time.  Weather experts are “expecting a conveyor belt of squalls to enter stage left in late February and continue through March, possibly into April. This is a month or so later than original predictions for heavy rains.”  In the meantime I will enjoy a few more days with the top down on my car and the ability to tan myself back from the brink of pale-dom before I have to hunker down in sweaters and rain boots.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: