Ribs in the Smoker or Instant Pot

After nearly a year without a blog post, I started getting that itch again.  That itch to be creative and share with the world.  So here I am…sitting quietly on a Saturday morning, coffee in hand, contemplating what my newest blog post should be…if I were to start back up again.

No one get your hopes up.  It could be like last year when I posted a handful of new things and then went dark again.

The problem is you never know how busy you’re going to be or how much energy you’ll have.  One of the biggest tips every blogger or youtuber will tell you is consistency is key. That’s why I had originally decided to post on Tuesdays and Fridays.  But, honestly, it was so much better when I FIRST started my blog.  I posted when I felt like it.  And it seemed more authentic.  I wasn’t posting things just to stay on a schedule.  I posted things I actually wanted to share with the world.

I mean, you don’t schedule Facebook or IG posts, right?  You post things in the moment when you have something you want to share with people!  So maybe that’s the key?  Who knows.  All I know is that I have something I want to share today and I don’t care about consistency and schedules anymore.

So this may be the only blog post for 2018 or it may be the start of something great.  I guess only time will tell!  So…on to the ribs!

Whenever I meal plan for the week, I typically ask the boys if they want anything special for dinner.  Normally I don’t get an answer, but last week Jeff asked for ribs!  Perfect timing as one of the days I was planning for was Super Bowl Sunday!  I had originally planned to cook them in the Instant Pot (turns out amazing btw), but when he said he wanted to smoke them, I obliged.  And guys…they were out of this world!!

Smoked Ribs

Smoked Spare Ribs
1 rack of spare ribs, trimmed*
Steak seasoning (I prefer the one from DLM, but any mesquite or steak seasoning will do)
Foil pans that fit in your smoker
1 bottle bbq sauce

Trim the ribs of most of the excess fat and remove the membrane if you desire.  The membrane is that silvery thin skin looking piece that’s on the bone side of the ribs.  I have difficulty doing this sometimes and the membrane doesn’t really bother me, so I don’t always remove it.  Season ribs liberally with steak seasoning.  Let ribs come to room temperature for about 30 minutes while your smoker reaches the internal temp of 225*.

Place seasoned ribs in the foil pans.  I used two 8″ square pans and had to cut my ribs in half to fit.  You can also put the ribs directly on the racks in the smoker, but I’m lazy and don’t like to clean, so I left them in the pans.

Smoke ribs for at least 6 hours or until the internal temperature of your ribs reach 190* so they fall apart.  We ran out of time and the ribs were about 170*.  They were still amazing, just a little bit chewy at this temperature.  You definitely want to reach 145* so they are completely cooked through.

Add wood chips to your smoker every 1-2 hours.  The more wood chips you add, the smokier your food will taste.

Some people suggest covering the ribs in foil after 2 hours so your ribs don’t take on that much smoke, but we left them uncovered and liked how smokey they were.  I guess it’s a matter of preference.

Once your ribs are cooked through, remove them from the smoker and cover them with bbq sauce.  I like to broil my ribs after I’ve sauced them, but it’s not necessary.  If you want to do this step, broil your ribs in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the sauce gets a little caramelized.

This night I served them with Flo Lum’s smashed potato skins, which were equally as amazing and so easy!!!

*It was just Jeff and I eating the ribs, but obviously you can use as many racks as your smoker can hold.  Also, we got our ribs at Aldi for $8!  That’s the cheapest I’ve seen ribs and, guys, they were tasty!


If you want a great recipe for Instant Pot ribs, check out this guy!  His recipe works wonderfully!


Speaking of Instant Pot recipes, would you be interested in seeing videos of the different recipes I’ve made in the IP?  I’ve thought about filming some of them.  Have a great weekend!


Instant Pot Korean Beef | Cooking Through Construction

IMG_9418editedIf you ask my boys, they’ll tell you we rarely have the same thing twice.  I have a handful of favorite recipes that I make over and over again, but usually I’m scouring the internet and my cookbooks looking for new and different things to try.  Sigh…I miss my cookbooks, packed away until the kitchen is completed.  The boys often have to request a meal they miss if they want me to make it again.  Jake has meatball subs in the request pile right now actually.

One of my go to meats to cook with is ground beef because it’s a meat Jake doesn’t usually have an issue with.  Some of his favorite meals include meatballs (see above), meatloaf, and sloppy joe.  Oh and the spaghetti with meat sauce from Wednesday.  You’ll notice all of them have ground beef as the base.  So when I was making my weekly meal plan last weekend and wasn’t inspired by anything on Pinterest, I googled “low carb ground beef recipes” to see what I could come up with.

IMG_9421editedYou see, not only am I cooking without a kitchen, I’m trying to lose a couple pounds before my best friend’s wedding in early April.  I’ve done a decent job so far, but to be honest I’m starting to lose track a bit!  With a night of burger eating in my future, it’s not looking too good…  Yikes!

Anyhow, I searched for the recipes and came across Korean Beef Bowls, which sounded interesting.  I love Asian flavors so anything that has Chinese, Japanese, or Korean in the name is probably up my alley.  Furthermore if they include garlic and ginger, I’m in.

I read through the recipe and decided it was a go!  The best part was I could make everything in my Instant Pot or on my stove, whenever I get that back.  And, unbeknownst to me, the boys were going to love it!  Quick, easy, and a crowd pleaser.  I think that fits the bill in my house.

IMG_9417editedKorean Beef Bowls
(adapted from this recipe)

1 tbsp sesame oil
1½  pounds lean ground beef
3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 heaping tbsp garlic paste)
½ tsp Stevia drops (or ½ cup sugar)
½ tsp molasses
¼ cup soy sauce
½ tsp fresh ginger (or use the Gourmet Gardens paste…seriously I love this stuff)
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like it spicy)
1 tbsp honey (if desired)
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Sriracha (if desired)

Turn your Instant Pot on saute and heat your oil.  Brown your ground beef, breaking it up as you go.  Drain beef if needed.  Add your garlic, Stevia, molasses, soy, ginger, and crushed red pepper flake.  Cook for 5 minutes until flavors have combined.

This is where I deviated a bit from the original recipe.  I tasted the recipe and decided I wanted it a bit sweeter, plus I have an issue with fake sugar sometimes.  It leaves a taste in my mouth I don’t always love, so I added a drizzle (or two) of honey.  I believe it ended up being about a tablespoon.  Then I stirred it up again and tasted it.  Yum!

I served the beef over Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice (a HUGE timesaver in my house) with a drizzle of Sriracha and a sprinkle of scallions.  Both boys raved about it and Jake finished an entire plate!  And it wasn’t small either!

If you are truly trying to do low carb (like I should have been), you can serve this over cauliflower rice instead.  I’m not a big fan of cauliflower so, while I try to get on board with this trend, it can be hard for me sometimes.  Regardless, this beef is worth a try.  Jeff commented that it would be good in tortillas too.  Asian tacos…future blog post maybe?

Instant Pot Pasta with Meat Sauce | Cooking Through Construction

IMG_9398editedHave you ever come home from work and thought, I’m way to tired to stand over the stove making dinner.  Girl, me too.  It happens all. the. time.  But I just can’t make myself order takeout night after night.  Not only am I trying to lose weight, but we are trying to save money since we’re basically redoing our entire main living area.

I asked Jake what he wanted for dinner on Saturday and he said pasta.  Now, you may be thinking “how are you going to cook pasta if you don’t have a stove, Bethany?”  I’m glad you asked.  By now, you all realize I love my Instant Pot.  And hopefully by now, you’ve taken the plunge and bought yourself one!

You can just throw a bunch of stuff in your instant pot, press cook, and go.  Set it and forget it, right?  Pasta, it turns out, is no exception!  Guys, I may never cook pasta in boiling water again!  It’s seriously that easy and super quick.  Plus the tomato sauce soaks into the pasta so the flavors are incredible!

IMG_9400editedInstant Pot Pasta with Meat Sauce
(adapted from this recipe)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1.5 pounds ground beef
Salt and pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box penne pasta, dry
1 jar pasta sauce
Water (fill up the pasta sauce jar ½ way, then shake to get every last bit of sauce)
1 squirt basil (optional)

Turn your IP on to Saute.  Add your olive oil and onion.  au-new-branding-basilLet onion cook for a few minutes before adding your beef.  Cook beef until brown, using a spoon to break up the meat along the way.  Once meat is browned, drain if necessary.  Add beef back to IP.

In with the beef, add salt and pepper to taste, garlic, dry penne pasta, pasta sauce, and water.  If you so choose, add in a squirt of basic paste.  What is basil paste?  It’s amazing stuff.  There’s this company called Gourmet Garden that is just awesome!  They make lots of herbs prepped and ready to go, eliminating the prep work.  I hate peeling ginger and GG has it already in a tube!  They also have cilantro, garlic, lemongrass, and Thai seasoning just to name a few.  I get them right in the regular grocery store next to the herbs in the plastic containers.  I’ve never seen the Thai seasoning though…I’m still on the lookout.  “True” cooks will probably sneer at the mention of these types of items but you know what I say to that?  I’m a mom to a relentless, question-asking 5-year-old, who works 50 hours weeks on her feet outside the home.  I’ll take whatever shortcuts I can.

After you get all your ingredients in the pot, mix to combine, then put on your lid, making sure to turn your knob to sealing.  Set the IP to manual for 5 minutes.

Once the IP beeps, release the pressure.  When you take the lid off, you’ll notice it looks like there is a lot of water on the top and you’ll probably think the pasta didn’t cook enough.  Take a deep breath and stir the contents one more time.  Then taste the most delicious, perfectly cooked pasta you’ve ever had!  The water that’s on top mixes in to the rest of the dish and creates a perfectly creamy, saucy dish.  Think of it as the standard cup of “starchy cooking water” Rachael Ray tells you to remove every time you cook pasta.

I’m not kidding…I may literally never boil water for pasta again for the rest of my life.  I can have amazing, delicious, perfectly cooked pasta within 20 minutes of coming home from work AND only dirty one easy to clean pan.  Uhhh…yes please.

While the pasta was cooking, I made salad and toasted some bread.  Because it’s not pasta night without mama making a sandwich!  Have I convinced you to get an Instant Pot yet?  Don’t worry…I have more tricks up my sleeve.  (And, no, I’m not affiliated with IP.  I just sincerely love their product.)