Main Meats

Below are a collection of recipes that I would consider to be simple and healthy ways to prepare those main meats for the table. Meats can be cooked on the smoker, the grill, crock pot, oven or stove in this house. You may even see suggestions on what I like to serve alongside.

John’s Famous Ribs

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, divided
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup local honey, warmed
  • pork and poultry rub, to taste, whichever brand you prefer.

If your butcher hasn’t already done this, remove the silver skin membrane from the bone-side of the ribs. This can be done by working the tip of the butter knife underneath the membrane over a middle bone. Use paper towels to get a firm grip, then tear the membrane off.

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, 1/4 cup apple juice and the Worcestershire sauce. Spread the mixture thinly on both sides of the ribs, then season with pork and poultry rub.

Preheat smoker to 180 degrees, close lid for 15 minutes, to full preheat. Smoke the ribs, meat-side up for 3 hours. Transfer the ribs to a rimmed baking sheet, remove from smoker and increase the grill to 225 degrees. Place ribs on heavy duty aluminum foil, pull up the sides to keep the liquid enclosed while they finish cooking. Sprinkle half the brown sugar, then top with honey and the other half of the remaining apple juice. If you want more tender ribs, you can use more apple juice. Lay another foil piece on top, tightly crimp the edges together. Return the foiled ribs to the smoker, cook for 2 hours. Carefully remove from the grill, rub with preferred barbeque sauce. Arrange the ribs directly on the grill grate, continue to grill until sauce tightens, about 30-60 minutes. When all done, transfer ribs to baking sheet and let rest 15-20 minutes.

Smoked Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1/2 lemon sliced
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • fresh herbs diced (parsley, thyme, rosemary), minced garlic
  • 2 garlic cloves, half onion, fresh herbs (to stuff chicken)

Combine lemon juice, melted butter, EVOO and herbs in a bowl. Peel back skin on chicken, right above the breast. Rub herb mixture inside chicken skin, cover as much of the meat as you can. Stuff inside of chicken with lemon slices, fresh herbs, garlic cloves and sliced onion. Preheat smoker to 180 degrees, close lid for 15 minutes to heat. Cook chicken for 30 minutes, then turn up heat to 300 degrees, cook until internal temp is 164, about 1-2 hours.

Cilantro Lime Steak

Combine in bowl: juice of 1 large lime, minced garlic, EVOO, 1 ounce tequila and chopped cilantro (about 1/4 cup). Marinate overnight in fridge. When ready to cook, leave out for 1 hour to bring up to room temperature. Start by smoking for 30 minutes, temperature is 180 degrees. Turn up temperature to 250 degrees, cook about 45-1 hour. Let sit for 15 minutes after done.

Garlic Rosemary butter pork chops

Sauce: 1/2 stick salted butter (melted), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 1 tablespoon EVOO, 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (and more for serving), pinch of fresh thyme. Mix all ingredients and place in microwave for 30 seconds. Use sauce over the top of grilled pork chops before serving. Add fresh rosemary over top.

Healthier Salisbury Steak

  • 4 cubed angus beef steaks
  • 1 cup beef bone broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion

Drizzle a pan with EVOO, cook on medium high heat. Brown steaks on both sides, about 2 minutes each. In a baking dish, combine 1 cup bone broth with mushrooms and onion, top with browned cubed steaks. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cover with foil and cook about 30 minutes or until done. When done cooking, remove steaks from pan, whisk in butter and flour, until sauce thickens. Add the steaks back to pan and serve.

This is a great meal with rice, mashed potatoes and cauliflower rice.

Buttermilk ranch (baked) fried chicken

In Tupperware, combine 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup ranch salad dressing. Flatten out chicken breasts until even, place in marinade and leave in fridge overnight (8-12 hours). When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees, lay parchment paper on a baking pan and spray with canola oil. In a bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 1 cup corn meal and 2 tablespoons paprika. Remove each chicken breast, one at a time and cover with flour mixture. Lay on parchment paper. Bake until done, about 1 hour. Serve with some homemade coleslaw for a great spring/summer meal.

Stuffed meatloaf with Marsala tomato sauce

Another rolled meatloaf, this one was fantastic. It paired well with the mushrooms, peas and pancetta. I enjoyed this meal so much, I had it twice this week. It goes best with Marsala panchetta and peas. The meatloaf recipe

  • 1 pound 93/7 ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey dijon
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • salt, pepper, basil, parsley, grain garlic powder

Add all ingredients together, mix with hands. Lay out on a sprayed piece of foil, pat down until its a square, enough that you will be able to stuff and roll. Spread the Marsala tomato sauce (mix 1/2 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup Marsala wine, 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese), top with 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Roll and lay in sprayed pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Make more of the Marsala tomato sauce and drizzle some on top of the meatloaf when done.

Citrus honey mustard pork loin

I decided to try something a little different with my honey mustard sauce, I add orange juice. Since this was a crock pot meal, I thought the extra juice would be good for the pork. I combined 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard, 1/2 cup honey (or agave), 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup dry white wine. Cook on low (8-10 hours). When its done, remove meat, add 2 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp corn starch. Whisk until it thickens. Cut up the meat, serve with the sauce.

This would be great to serve with rice, we choose mashed potatoes and roasted carrots.

A healthier version of Chicken Parmesan

This is a simple and healthy version of chicken parmesan. No breading, no egg wash. You will start on the stove top and go into the oven, so pick your pan and lid wisely. First, pound your chicken breasts a little. You don’t want them flat, but more even, so it cooks evenly. Put the pan on the stove on medium heat, drizzle some EVOO in the pan and place your chicken breasts. Salt and pepper both sides. Saute about 2-3 minutes on each side, just to brown the chicken. Turn the stove off, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the chicken, pour in 1 cup wine (I prefer red), scrape the chicken pieces off the bottom of the pan. Pour 1 cup tomato sauce, add herbs (parsley, basil, oregano, thyme). Put chicken back in pan, cover with some sauce, place lid on pan and place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until done. Remove pan, turn chicken around in sauce a few times, cover with a handful of mozzarella cheese on each chicken breast, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

We served the chicken parmesan, garlic knots and roasted cauliflower. The sauce from the chicken was great for dipping the knots in.

Stuffed Meatloaf

This was pretty simple, the hard part was rolling. I think when you do this once, it becomes easier. For this meatloaf, I used ground turkey. The meatloaf part: 1 pound ground turkey, 2 eggs, 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire, 1 tablespoon honey dijon mustard, salt pepper, dried parsley and thyme. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Next part involves the stuffing. Lay out a piece of foil, pat down the meatloaf mixture into an even square shape.

Next follow these steps: evenly distribute ketchup, then diced cooked bacon (6 strips), then top with cheddar cheese.

Then roll, place in pan, bake for 30-40 minutes and done.

Beef Wellington

I wanted to make something with puff pastry, this was my first time making beef wellington and I am a little excited. I decided to make them individual, perfect for the family. I used a beef tenderloin, 2 pounds and cut it into 4 sections (about an inch sections).

  • chop 1 shallot and 1 garlic clove. Saute on low heat in a pan in some EVOO. After 1 minute, raise the heat to medium and sear the beef on each side. Set to the side.
  • unroll 2 puff pastry packs. Cut into quarters. Spread melted butter and fresh herbs on each piece of puff pastry. I used dried sage and parsley.
  • Place a piece of beef on a square, top with another square and fold all sides. Do this with all four. Slit 2 cuts on top of each beef wellington. Top with egg wash (1 egg scrambled with water).
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Individual Calzones

I used store brought pizza dough, just to make it easier for myself. I have made pizza dough before, but since the store brought deli pizza dough is a great price and tastes just as good, why not. Flour your surface and roll the dough out pretty thin (if you put your hand underneath, you can see through the dough). Cut into 4 sections. Follow below to make each individual calzone. Preheat oven to 350, bake for 20-30 minutes and until golden brown.

Open Faced Roast Beef sandwiches

This was an easy meal, the homemade bread was what helped create this meal. The bread recipe is below. For the roast beef, I used store brought thin sliced roast beef. The gravy: 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 cup beef broth, 1/2 cup diced mushrooms, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 beef bullion cubes and 1 teaspoon gran garlic and onion powder. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Lay in sliced roast beef heat in microwave for 1 minute and serve over bread.

Steak and Chicken Fajitas

  • 2 pounds steak, t-bone
  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • seasoning: 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoons each garlic and onion powder, cumin, oregano and paprika.
  • rub seasoning on chicken and steak, cover with drizzle of EVOO
  • grill and slice to serve.

Margarita Shrimp

  • 2 pounds shrimp, small, remove all shell
  • marinade: 1 shot tequila and triple sec, juice of 1 lime and lime zest, drizzle of EVOO and 1 teaspoon agave.
  • marinade for at least 30 minutes.
  • Place in medium low heated pan, remove shrimp from marinade and saute.
  • when shrimp is done, place sauce back in pan and serve

Apple Bourbon Pulled Pork with thyme garlic roasted red potatoes and honey glazed carrots.

Ranch hamburgers

This is a very simple meal that seems to be a hit with the kids. I even have them help me with the food prepping and putting together the topping bar. I have used ground turkey or beef, just whatever I may have around. This time I used ground beef, since they had the good stuff on sale (ground Angus beef).

Mix the ground meat and the ranch seasoning packet, then form 4 patties. Cook either on the grill, in the oven or on a griddle. I used a griddle today, since it was too cold to go outside for the grill. Let is cook for about 3-5 minutes on both side, based on your preference. Top with cheddar cheese, place on a bun and cover with toppings. I plan to go bun-less, so mine will be on a bed of lettuce and 1 sliced tomato, the burger, topped with sliced onion, pickles and another sliced tomato. The only downside is it needs to be eaten with a fork and knife.

For a great leftover recipe, if you have some extra burgers left. Turn them into Hamburger Quesadillas. Mince up the hamburger, add some shredded cheese, some chopped onions, peppers and/or tomatoes. Lay between 2 tortillas and pan fry until everything is all gooey and melted in the middle.

Chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes

This is a recipe that I can either make in a crock pot or over the stove. I will provide the recipe, as well as instructions for making it both ways. It just depends if I have time to hang in the kitchen or if I need to spend my time out of the kitchen.

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 can chicken stock
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • salted butter
  • Parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

I start by flattening the chicken breasts. This is a job that my kids usually volunteer for. I always love when I have some help in the kitchen. For the easiest (and less messiest way) is to get a large ziplock bag, a kitchen towel and a kitchen mallet. I place one chicken breast in the ziplock bag, wrap a kitchen towel around the bag and let my kids “lightly” tap it with the mallat. I repeat this until each breast is done.

Heat up a pan on medium, coat pan with 2 tablespoons of salted butter and brown each side of the chicken breasts. Now this is where the 2 forms of the recipe separate. If you choose crock pot, lay each chicken breast on the bottom of the pot (I try to maneuver them so they aren’t clumped on top of each other). Top with the ingredients in this order: 1 can cream of mushroom soup (spread evenly), 1 can stock and 1 cup Marsala wine. Cover with mushrooms, 2 garlic cloves and parsley (save some for garnish after). Cook on low.

Pan recipe: Once the chicken is browned on both sides, remove chicken and put to side. Place temperature to medium-low. Add chicken stock and Marsala wine, scrape bottom of pan (loosen chicken scrapings). Add mushrooms and garlic, cook for about 1 minute. Turn stove to low, add the cream of chicken soup, mix together. Add chicken breasts back to pan, maneuver evenly in pan, so chicken is not on top of one another. Cover and cook on low, for about 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is done.

Whichever way you plan to cook the chicken, while its cooking, you can prep the potatoes. I have made mashed potatoes with any type of potato, but my favorite with this dish has to be gold potatoes. This recipe could even be used for butternut squash (just add some touches like a dash of brown sugar, nutmeg or cinnamon) or mashed cauliflower (with some parsley). This recipe makes 8-10 servings. Mashed potatoes don’t go unused in my house and can easily be turned into other meals (potato pancakes, loaded baked potato casserole and even pierogies). If you prefer to make less, cut the recipe in half.

Bread-less meatballs

This is a simple way to add some protein to any dish and its only a few ingredients. This is a great recipe when you don’t want to add any more carbs to your meal, meatballs don’t always have to contain bread or breadcrumbs. I used ground turkey this time, but I have used ground beef, venison and pork before. I have also used a combination of ground meats as well.

In a bowl, combine the following ingredients: 16 oz ground meat, 2 eggs, drizzle of EVOO, 1 teaspoon each onion and garlic powder and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Today I added some fresh parsley and thyme. I have also made this recipe with other herb combinations: oregano and basil, rosemary and thyme, sage and thyme and parsley and basil. It depends on the flavors you want and what you plan to serve with the meatballs. Explore and have fun with the herb combinations. I want to use parsley and cilantro with ground pork one day to give it some Hispanic flare.

Beef Fajitas

We smoked the steak, to give it more flavor. The dry rub was a mix of: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, red pepper flakes and cilantro. We served this with some raw veggies: carrots, green peppers and tomato slices.

Cranberry BBQ Chicken drumsticks

This is an easy recipe and often times I use the crock pot. Today, since my hubby felt like smoking, I let him smoke the chicken. I made the sauce in the Tupperware, so when the chicken was done smoking, I put them in the Tupperware and let them sit in the sauce in the fridge until the night they were for dinner. The sauce is easy, 1 container of store brought BBQ sauce (I prefer something sweet) and 1 can cranberry sauce. Heat them in the microwave until the cranberry sauce is melted into the BBQ sauce.

I plan to serve this with some bacon, brown sugar baked beans and roasted brocolli.

Baked whole Chicken with rice pilaf and asparagus

First, the baked chicken. Take chicken out of fridge 1 hour before cooking, so it gets to room temperature. While it sits, go ahead and make to marinade: 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/4 cup white dry wine, juice of 1 mandarin orange, 1 teaspoon each dried thyme and sage,and a sprinkle of sea salt and ground pepper. Mix and set aside. Stuff inside of chicken with orange, 2 cloves garlic, onion and fresh thyme and sage.

While the chicken is cooking, you can make the rice pilaf. I brought regular brand rice pilaf. Put 2 tablespoons salted butter in pan, fry 2 cups of rice in pan for 2 minutes while stirring. Add 2 cups of chicken broth, cook for 10 minutes. Add 2 cups of riced cauliflower, cook another 10 minutes. Read your instructions for the rice pilaf, time it together. Riced cauliflower takes 10-15 minutes to cook on average.

Chicken Parmesan, sourdough bread with garlic Parmesan butter and oven roasted broccoli

First, flatten the chicken breasts so they are thin. After dipping them in egg wash and my breadcrumb mix, I lay them on the pan and put them in the fridge for 30 minutes. This will help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken and not the pan! Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Top with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella, bake for another 10 minutes (until cheese is melted).

The oven roasted broccoli was so simple today. I used frozen broccoli florets, I just took it out this morning to thaw. Just spread the broccoli on a baking pan, drizzle with EVOO and a pinch of salt. When I baked the chicken, I put in the broccoli for 20 minutes.