Monday, October 16, 2017

The Best Baby Back Ribs

I LOVE good ribs.
This is easy, because it's all done in the oven.
Give it a try.


1 rack of pork baby back ribs.
Dry rub (you can use whatever spices you like, but definitely don't leave out the brown sugar)
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon or less of cayenne pepper (unless you
like it HOT)
1-2 tablespoons chili powder
mix it all up.


Prep the ribs:  On the back of the ribs will be a very thin but very tough membrane that you must remove. You can't really see it well, but trust me that it's there. I usually use a knife to pry up a corner of the membrane, then I just pull it down the entire length of the ribs. Sometimes it tears and you have to try a few times, but you definitely don't want to skip this step.  Once the membrane is removed, put the dry rub all over the ribs (both sides) and rub it in. The meat will take on some of the colors in the dry rub and look a little reddish.

Wrap the ribs in some heavy duty tin foil and let them hang out in the fridge til you're ready to cook them. Cook the ribs: At 250 degrees, place the ribs wrapped securely in tin foil onto a cookie sheet (sometimes juice/fat can escape the tin foil) and place them in the oven. cook for 2 hours. After 2 hours, pull them out and open the tin foil to take a look. At this point you can add a little apple juice on top of them, but that's not really necessary. Re-wrap them, and put them back in for another 1/2 hour. Pull them out again and open the tin foil completely.

At this point you can brush some BBQ sauce on them, or leave them the way they are. Crank up the heat to 350 and put the ribs back in the oven with the tin foil open. After half an hour, they're done! You can always do this last part on a BBQ, but watch the ribs and make sure they don't burn from the sugar.

Homemade Baked and Buttery Soft Pretzels

Do you love Auntie Anne's Pretzels? 

I have not tried this recipe yet, but I'm excited to try this!
Doesn't it look delicious?   ~Shelly

Braided and baked soft pretzels.


  • 3 cups of all purpose flour plus a little more for dusting 
  • 1/4 cup of sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1.25 cups of warm water
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar 
  • 4 teaspoons of active, dry, baker’s yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of melted butter or vegetable oil for the dough
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter for brushing after baking
  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • Pretzel, kosher, or coarse sea salt for salting the pretzels


  • Small bowl
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 1 or 2 baking sheets
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Rubber spatula
  • Cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon measurements
  • Pastry / basting brush
  • Large flat surface
  • Knife


  1. Combine the 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well using a fork. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-dry-ingredients
  2. In a small bowl, mix the 1.25 cups of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and the 4 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well until dissolved and let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes until it gets a little frothy. It may even smell a little bit like beer, which is good because yeast is one of the ingredients that gives beer a lot of its distinctive flavor and aroma. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-yeast
  3. After 10 minutes, melt a tablespoon of butter in the microwave (or use vegetable oil) and add it to the flour mixture along with the yeast liquid. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-flour-and-yeast
  4. Mix the ingredients well starting with a rubber spatula. When the dough starts to form into a uniform paste, you can use your hands to knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and you can shape the dough into a ball. Don’t overdo it with the kneading though. The idea is just to get everything well mixed. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-dough-ball
  5. Next, use a teaspoon of vegetable oil to grease the outside of the entire dough ball to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it rises.
  6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a towel and let it rise for 1 hour at room temperature (don’t refrigerate!). man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-covered-dough
  7. After an hour, the dough will have risen noticeably and be very soft to the touch. You’ll also start to smell that wonderful yeast and dough combination that is a precursor to baked breads. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-pretzels-recipe-risen-dough
  8. At this point, start to pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  9. Dust a flat, clean surface like a counter-top with some flour and carefully get the dough ball out of the bowl and onto the counter. Dust the top of the dough with a little more flour to help keep it from sticking. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-risen-dough
  10. Dust your hands with flour and cut the dough in half. Start stretching and forming half the dough into an elongated rectangle that you can then cut into 6 equal pieces. When you have a nice stretched rectangle, cut the dough into six pieces and repeat this process for the other half of the dough. You should end up with 12, evenly sized pieces of dough. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe-dividing-dough
  11. Now it’s time to create some fun shapes! Roll out a piece of dough into a long, thin cord. The length is really up to you depending on what kind of shapes you want to make. The typical bowed pretzel shape is always fun and you’ll need a decently long cord for that. I found that the usual pretzel shape is great, but I also really liked just rolling out a cord of dough and tying it in a single knot (like the first knot in a square or granny knot for anyone that knows their knots). I don’t recommend the long twisty style you might see in my pictures. Those looked fun, but didn’t give the best results. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-braiding-pretzels
  12. Repeat this process for all of the pieces of dough. Mix and match the shapes as you like! man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-braided-pretzels
  13. When done with the braiding, get 4 cups of hot water and 1/2 a cup of baking soda ready to use. If your hot tap water isn’t clean or isn’t hot enough just heat some cold water and let it cool slightly so that it is hot, but not boiling. Some light steam is ok. Then add in the baking soda and mix until well dissolved. This step is especially important because this alkaline mixture of baking soda and water is what will help to give the pretzels that deep brown color on the outside as well as that nice outer texture that is so characteristic of soft pretzels. It works because the alkaline mixture speeds up the browning process as the pretzels cook.  man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-baking-soda-and-water
  14. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (2 baking sheets if your pretzels won’t all fit on one sheet). Keep in mind that the pretzels will expand a bit as they bake. Also make sure to grease the foil very well using butter or vegetable oil. This will help to keep the pretzels from sticking when they bake.
  15. Using a slotted spatula or large slotted spoon, carefully scoop up a pretzel and place it into the hot baking soda mixture. Let it sit for 15 seconds or so as you splash some of the water over the top using the spatula or spoon. Then take it out of the water, let it drain a bit, and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all of the pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-blanched-dough-in-baking-soda
  16. Sprinkle the pretzels with pretzel salt, kosher salt, or coarse sea salt. Don’t go overboard with the salt, but just make sure to lightly cover the tops.
  17. Slide the baking sheet(s) into the oven and make the pretzels for 10 minutes or until they are a nice deep brown. Not all areas of the pretzel will get that deep brown, so just pull them out as soon as the outermost edges are that classic pretzel color. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe
  18. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave to brush butter onto the pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-soft-pretzels-recipe-melted-butter
  19. Brush each pretzel with a nice amount of butter to coat the entire top. Then throw them in the oven for another 1 to 2 minutes. You’ll end up with some rich, buttery, glistening pretzels. man-fuel-food-blog-buttereing-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe
  20. Serve them immediately or, better yet, let them cool. I discovered that the pretzel flavor actually depends as these pretzels cool. They taste great piping hot, but they taste even more like traditional pretzels when they cool down. man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-soft-pretzels-recipe
  21. Eat them with your favorite mustard for a savory treat or eat them like a dessert dipped in a sweet vanilla glaze! These pretzels work as a salty or sweet treat. They’re also just wonderful plain or buttered.
  22. If you have leftover pretzels, place them in a sealed plastic zipper bag and refrigerate. Use them the next morning to make pretzel breakfast sandwiches! man-fuel-food-blog-homemade-pretzels-recipe-pretzel-bun-breakfast-sandwich

Monday, October 9, 2017

Easy Crab Ragoon with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Crab Rangoon is an appetizer found in many Chinese restaurants in the United States. A classic American creation, crab rangoon is basically cream cheese wontons with tiny bits of crab meat, deep-fried to golden perfection.
This sounds much better than Chinese takeout.
Give it a try!

1 brick (8 oz) Kraft Philadelphia Regular Cream Cheese, at room temperature
2 oz crab meat or 2 sticks imitation crab meat (finely diced)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
20 wonton wrappers - at Harter House in the produce section
Oil, for deep frying


Mix all the cream cheese, crab meat, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir to blend well. Place about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Dab some water on the outer edges of the wonton wrapper and fold the two ends of the wrapper together. Fold the other two ends to make a tiny parcel pictured below.  Pinch to seal tight and make sure that there is no leakage.

Heat up a pot of oil for deep-frying and fry the crab rangoon until golden brown. Dish out with a strainer or slotted spoon, draining the excess oil by laying the crab rangoon on a dish lined with paper towels. Let the crab rangoon cools down a bit before serving them with sweet and sour sauce.

Use real crab meat if possible.Don’t serve the crab rangoon immediately after deep-frying as the filling will be too hot!
To make the sweet and sour sauce, please refer to my 

1 cup sugar
Mix with 2 T. cornstarch
½ Cup Cider Vinegar
½ Cup pineapple juice
½ Cup Ketchup
1 tsp Soy Sauce
2 T Water
1 cup pineapple chunks (or tidbits)

Combine and heat on the stove top till it reaches the desired thickness.

Japanese Fried Rice

This will be your new favorite rice recipe.

4 servings


4 C. cooked rice or 1 cup uncooked rice
1 C. peas
2 Tbs. carrots, finely diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. onion, diced
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. soy sauce


  1. Cook rice following instructions on package (Bring 2 cups water to a boil, add rice and a dash of salt, reduce heat and simmer in covered saucepan for 20 minutes).

  2. Pour rice into a large bowl to let it cool in the refrigerator.

  3. Scramble the eggs in a small pan over medium heat.
    Separate the scrambled chunks of egg into small pea-size bits while cooking.

  4. When rice has cooled to near room temperature, add peas, grated carrot, scrambled egg and diced onion to the bowl.

  5. Carefully toss all of the ingredients together.

  6. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium/high heat.

  7. When butter has completely melted, dump the bowl of rice and other ingredients into the pan and add soy sauce plus a dash of salt and pepper.

  8. Cook rice for 6-8 minutes over heat, stirring often.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Slow Cooker Ham and Beans


1 pound dried Great Northern beans, sorted and rinsed
4 cups water
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks (bulb only), cut in half lengthwise
1 pound cooked ham, cut into bite-size pieces
5 slices bacon
4 cups chicken stock
1 pinch sea salt to taste
1 pinch fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Place the beans into a large container and cover with several inches of cool water; let stand 8 hours to overnight. Drain and rinse before using.
  2. Combine the soaked beans, 4 cups of water, celery, onion, bay leaves, cumin, garlic powder, and parsley into a slow cooker.
  3. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir the leeks in the butter mixture until tender and the smaller pieces start to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the leeks to the slow cooker. In the same pan, cook and stir the ham until the edges start to brown; stir into the soup. Place the bacon into the hot skillet, and pan-fry until the bacon is crisp, about 10 minutes. Cut the bacon into bite-size pieces and stir into the soup. Pour the chicken stock into the hot skillet, and stir to dissolve any brown flavor bits from the skillet; pour the chicken stock into the soup. Season with sea salt and pepper.
  4. Set the cooker to Low cook the soup until the beans are very tender, 6 to 8 hours. Roughly mash about half the beans with a potato masher to thicken the soup.

Tailgate Chili

This week I will participate in a Chili Cook-off with other members of our Springfield's Best Locally Owned Companies.
This is the recipe that I've decided to use.  Wish Me Luck   ~Shelly
I will cook the chili the night before and then reheat the next day. This is a combination of many different tomato-based chili recipes.


2 pounds Harter House fresh Ground Chuck
1 pound bulk Harter House Homemade Sweet Italian sausage
1 (15 ounce) can Black beans, un-drained
2 (15 ounce) cans chili beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can chili beans in spicy sauce
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 green chile peppers, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon bacon bits
4 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 cup beer

1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh (or dried) oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco)
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon white sugar

1 (10.5 ounce) bag corn chips such as Fritos(R)
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Cheddar cheese
Green onions to garnish


  1. Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground chuck and sausage into the hot pan, and cook until evenly browned. Drain off excess grease.
  2. Pour in the chili beans, spicy chili beans, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the onion, celery, green and red bell peppers, chile peppers, bacon bits, bouillon, and beer. Season with chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, hot pepper sauce, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and sugar. Stir to blend, then cover and simmer over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 2 hours, taste, and adjust salt, pepper, and chili powder if necessary. The longer the chili simmers, the better it will taste. Remove from heat and serve, or refrigerate, and serve the next day.
  4. To serve, ladle into bowls, and top with corn chips and shredded Cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

21 Velveeta Recipes - Fast and Affordable

What's for dinner?
Here are 21 quick and easy, budget-friendly Velveeta Cheese recipes.

Mac and Cheesy Cheese

Some ideas are ways to quickly “jazz” up a pre-packaged product for a homemade taste that’s great.
Velveeta Cheese is a staple in most homes and has been since the early 1900’s when it was first made. Its velvety smooth texture and ability to melt well make it a great addition to many recipes and its long shelf like means no waste due to spoilage.

Try some of these delicious Velveeta Cheese recipes and quickly see how adding in some Velveeta Cheese can create rich and creamy yumminess! Ah … the comforts of comfort food.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Appetizers:

1. Beefy Queso Dip (of course) – Brown and drain 1 lb of lean ground beef. Add 1 can of well drained Rotel Tomatoes, 1 can of cream soup (cream of mushroom, cheddar or chicken). Stir well on medium heat until blended. Finally add 1 box of Velveeta Cheese cubed. Stir until melted and creamy. Turn to the lowest heat and keep on stove and serve in small dip bowls. Or, after browning ground beef everything can be placed in a crock pot. Heat on high until melted and then lower heat to low or warm setting. Serve with your favorite Tortilla Chips or Frito Scoops.

2. Sausage Dip – Brown a pack of Italian sausage, drain. Add 1 can well drained Rotel tomatoes and 1/2 package Velveeta Cheese. A great twist with a different flavor. This is thicker and great served with Scoops or Fritos.

3. Chili Cheese Dip – Add cubed Velveeta Cheese to a can of Chili and microwave until melted and hot. Stirring occasionally. Serve with Tortilla Chips or Frito Scoops.

4. Fruit & Cheese Poppers – Simply cube it up and incorporate it on a cheese tray with other cheese selections and fruit. Or a fun idea is to cube the cheese and place a grape on top and stick it with a toothpick to hold in place. Guests can grab and pop in their mouth. No need for serving utensils.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Main Meals:

5. Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti – 
Here is the recipe: 

Rotisserie Chicken (de-boned & chopped) or you can you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel Tomatoes & Green Chilies (do not completely drain). Or, if you do NOT like things with a little “kick” you can substitute regular diced tomatoes.
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Lb Box of Velveeta Cheese Cubed
⅓ cup of Milk
¾  Box of Spaghetti or Penne Pasta
¾ ~ Stick of Real Butter
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper Finely Chopped
1 Chopped Jalapeno (you can leave this out if you want a more mild dish, or substitute with red or green bell pepper).
1 Medium onion chopped

Cook spaghetti or penne pasta according to directions on box.
Melt butter, sauté bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and onion
Add Velveeta Cheese and Rotel Tomatoes, soup and milk, to sautéed bell pepper, japaleno (optional) and onion mixture. Mix thoroughly over medium heat.
Add pasta and mix together.
Last, add the chopped chicken and give it one last mix. The cheese does not need to completely melt as it will do so in the oven.
Pour Rotel chicken spaghetti into casserole dish and bake at 350 for 30 minutes

To add extra kick to your Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti, you can also a small dash of Zatarain’s Liquid Crab Boil. Be careful as it does add kick. I hope you enjoy this Velveeta Rotel Chicken Spaghetti recipe. It’s great served with some cornbread and a green salad. This is one of those absolutely yummy comfort food dishes. Bon Appetit.

6. Mac and Cheesy Cheese – Jazz up a boxed mac and cheese by adding a bit of Velveeta Cheese for an instant taste of home made. Through in some Parmesan cheese or other cheese you have on hand for an even more “gourmet” taste. Place it in a casserole dish, top with a little more Velveeta is you like and then bake at 350 degrees for a few minutes until the cheese is melted, a bit browned and bubbly.

7. Beefy Salsa Mac – Make a boxed mac and cheese as directed. Add some ground beef and add a cup or so of salsa or a drained can of Rotel Tomatoes.

8. Fiesta Scrambled Eggs – Mix 8 – 10 eggs with a large tablespoon of sour cream (instead of milk). Add 1 can well drained Rotel Tomatoes and approximately 1 to 1-1/2 cups Velveeta Cheese cubes. Vary amount based on number of eggs. I use 2 eggs per person. Cook scrambled eggs as usual and stir occasionally until cheese is melted. A delicious twist on scrambled eggs.

9. Cheesy Broccoli Potato – Add Velveeta Cheese and some steamed broccoli to a baked potato for a quick meal.

10. Cheesy Potato – Same as above but without the broccoli.

11. Grilled Cheese – Just butter up some bread and place a slice of Velveeta Cheese (from the boxed variety not the sliced singles) in between and grill it up.

12. Hot Dogs & Crescent Rolls – Take a pack of Crescent Rolls and roll them out and carefully break apart as indicated. Place 1 hotdog and a narrow slice of Velveeta Cheese in each and roll shut, pinching slightly to seal. Bake as directed on package.

13. Velveeta Cheese Fondue – Melt Velveeta Cheese in fondue pot. Can also added some fresh grated Parmesan cheese or other cheeses you may have on hand. Stir until melted. Season as desired. Serve with cubed up French Bread and slices of Granny Smith apples (tart goes great with the cheese).

14. Stuffed Peppers – Add Velveeta Cheese to your favorite stuffed pepper recipe. You can add a slice to the top or add a few cubes to the stuffing in each pepper.

15. Nachos – Top a plate of nacho chips with browned ground beef, salsa and top with Velveeta
Cheese. You can place in the oven for a quick melt or even microwave for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese.

16. Stuffed Cheese Burger – Top a grilled burger with a bit or stuff the burger with a cube or two. If stuffing, be sure to seal the edges really well so it stays inside the burger and doesn’t ooze out. You can also add a slice to any sandwich for some cheesy goodness.

17. Broccoli Cheese Soup – Cook 2 packages broccoli florets with 2 15 oz. cans of chicken broth until tender. Puree with a hand blender and then add 8-12 oz. Cubed Velveeta Cheese. Stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. OR, you can simply use a broccoli soup starter mix and cook as directed and added the cubed Velveeta at the end and stir on low until melted. Super easy.

18. Potato Cheese Soup – Can prepare like Broccoli Cheese Soup (above), replacing the broccoli with the potato.

Velveeta Cheese Recipes – Sides:

19. Cheesy Cornbread Muffins – Add some cubed Velveeta Cheese and a finely diced Jalapeno
Pepper to a box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and you will forever change the way you eat corn bread. These are great and can be served with any one of these meal ideas.

20. Broccoli Rice Casserole – Make a package of Uncle Ben’s or Lipton’s Broccoli Cheddar Rice as Directed. Add 2 cups steamed and chopped broccoli and 1 to 1-1/2 cups cubed Velveeta Cheese. Stir all together and place in a baking dish and heat at 350 degrees just till hot and bubbly approximately 20 minutes or so.  You can also add a sautéed onion if you’d like.

21. Broccoli with Cheese Sauce – Simply melt the Velveeta in the microwave and pour over or toss the prepared steamed broccoli.

Provided by;
Living (Frugal) Tips