Make Ahead Meals: Part 4 — Low and Slow (but quick and easy!!)

Back to Basics

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Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

OK — so cold soups aren’t your cup of tea?  Let’s get back to basic, old-school family dinners.  Let’s get back to Old Trusty – The Crock Pot.

I thought this recipe for BBQ Ribs would be just what my family craves as a break from the more unconventional meals we have had lately.  After all, I already know my family loves pulled pork. But I’ve never made ribs in my crock pot and wasn’t quite sure how it would work.

I usually post what ingredients I use and how I made the dish — but for this post, I followed the recipe step-by-step. Following directions is not easy for me (just ask any of my teachers over the years!) but I really felt like I had something to learn here.  So I’m linking to the recipe again to make sure my lovely co-blogger can get some well-deserved credit for her recipe.

It could not have been easier.  It, literally, took me 3 minutes to put this all into the crock pot and turn it on.  And the ribs were DELICIOUS!!!  No joke — everyone asked for 2nd helpings!  The ribs were moist and succulent and fell off the bone.

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The key was standing them on their end in the crock pot — like they’re a picket fence — and cooking them for 8 hours on low. Brushing them with some additional BBQ sauce before serving really added a little somthin’-somethin’.

Now, my main dish was all set. But I had NO idea what to make for a side.

So I hit the pantry — and here’s where I got a little more creative with some help from my friends on the internet.  A quick google search for “Rice + Spinach + Salad” came up with some nice options. So I took a couple of those recipes (including this one) and combined them and tweaked them to come up with this:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice:

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

Spinach Salad with Brown Rice

For the salad….

  • Boil-in-a-Bag Brown Rice
  • about 1/2 of a bag of fresh Spinach (chopped)
  • sprinkling of feta cheese
  • Handful of slivered almonds
  • Red Onion (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
  • Cilantro (handful)

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • fresh-ground pepper

To prepare:  Boil the rice according to the package directions.  While the rice is boiling, make your dressing in a jar or cruet so it emulsifies.  Then put the salad ingredients into a bowl.  When the rice is done cooking, run it under cold water. (I squeezed the bag of rice to remove any excess liquid.)  Toss the rice into the salad bowl and drizzle with the dressing (I only used about 1/3 of what I made.)

The results:  my entire family loved this recipe.  I was surprised that the Hubs liked it, because he notoriously dislikes brown rice.  But, he loved it!

Score!

This pairing of ribs and rice salad will definitely go into our rotation!

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs & Spinach Salad with Rice

Guess what — I’m beat.  This has been a lot of cooking (and blogging!)  So I’m taking tomorrow night off to have dinner with friends!  The Hubs and kids can fend for themselves.  I’d say there are leftovers… but there aren’t!

Chicken Nuggets it is!  (yes… that happens in our house.  A. LOT.)

Happy Eatings!

Sharon

Conflicting Ingredients: When Likes and Dislikes Collide

To say my kids love olives may be the understatement of the year. So much so, that if we told our kids they’d need to leave their friends so we could start an olive farm in Italy, they might go ahead and pack my kitchen for me.

Do you know what else my kids love? Blue cheese! I know it’s a weird thing for three little kids to like, but my husband and I put blue cheese on our steaks and our kids want to be just like us. So they tried it, and — guess what? They like blue cheese!

They also love tomatoes, especially tomatoes that have been chopped and are tossed with olive oil. Or on bagels with lox. Or salsa. Or Gazpacho. (Yep. Gazpacho.)

But, spinach?  Nope. They don’t like spinach. At. All.

So check out this salad I threw together tonight, and sing along with me:  which one of these ingredients doesn’t belong????

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Spinach Salad

  • 1/2 package fresh spinach, torn
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 3 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green olives, halved
  • handful of croutons
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Toss the ingredients together. Serve.  ((Does it get easier than that? I don’t think so.))

But — if you’re thinking what I was thinking as I made this salad — the kids don’t like spinach!!  I’m in for a battle!

WRONG!!!  So. Wrong. WOO-HOO!

The kids LOVED this salad! Even my recently-more-persnickity-6yo had a large second helping.

Why? I have no idea. Kids are an enigma, after all. But, if they like 5/6th of the ingredients, shouldn’t they like the salad as a whole?

Apparently so. Not a clean plate in our house.

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Oh… and so you know… I served this with grilled chicken thighs that marinated for 35 minutes in a mixture of 1c. Greek yogurt, juice of 1/2 lime, juice of 1/2 lemon, a sprinkle of garlic salt and a sprinkle of oregano. They turned out just right. Very tender, tasty and not-too-salty. (the Hubs’ words, not mine.)

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Marinating chicken in Greek yogurt and then grilling it may be a new favorite here. Glad I tried it!

Let me know what’s going on in your kitchen. I could use some good ideas on ways to push the taste bud limits!

Happy eatings!

Sharon