Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Monday, May 5, 2014

Easy Tips to Prepare a Great Meal & My BBQ Sauce Recipe

Over the years, I've learned a few tricks that make it almost effortless to put a complete Southern home-cooked meal on the table in no time flat!   The secret is in the prep work that is done ahead, when you do have a minute to work.  It makes getting the meal on the table so much less stressful when it's thought out and planned ahead.... 

  1. On the weekend, I try to cook more meat than we will need for the meal.  For dinner tonight, we had oven roasted pork tenderloin with BBQ sauce.  On Sunday, it was nice thick large sliced pork loin with garlic smashed potatoes (with shredded cheese and sour cream mixed in); I very thinly sliced the leftover meat and put it into the freezer.  This afternoon, I just pulled it out and mixed up my BBQ sauce.  So, I didn't have to cook the meat today, which cut out a huge chunk of dinner prep time.  
  2. I always mix my own BBQ sauce, and I made a large container of it so that it will last a couple of weeks in the fridge, enough for several meals.  That will cut time out of the next BBQ meal that I make, which will probably be something on the grill outside.  *BBQ sauce recipe at the end of this post
  3. This morning while I was drinking coffee, I pulled out a bag of carrots and washed, peeled and cut them so that we have healthy snacks right inside the fridge.  It took maybe five minutes.   If we don't eat them by tomorrow evening, I can just boil some water and throw the already prepared carrots in and put a little sauce over them and there's another dish- Fast, because the prep work was done. 
  4. Early in the day, wash and prep some red potatoes for boiled, or smashed potatoes for dinner.  Just put them in a pot, cover with water and put in the fridge until time to cook. Make extra for potato salad later.  We had potato salad tonight from the extra potatoes that I cooked Sunday.  Before I "smashed" them, I took some out for later and put them into the fridge.
  5. Buy fresh or frozen veggies- I buy just the plain vegetables without fancy sauces if I buy frozen...that way, you can use it for multiple different preparations.  Example:  I bought a bag of frozen okra, just plain cut up okra.  Tonight I fried it by just pouring out half the bag into a bowl to thaw, then adding just enough flour to brown when it's pan fried in my black iron skillet.  To make it a healthier Southern fried dish, I used light olive oil.  You really can't taste the difference and it's actually good for you!  In a few days, I will use the remaining half bag of okra in seafood gumbo.  If I had bought the already breaded okra, I would not be able to use it in both ways.  And I would have had to buy the plain for my gumbo.  See what I mean?  Takes up less room in the freezer this way, and I'm more likely to use it all.
  6. I always keep fresh fruit on hand- whatever is in season.  We have strawberries now, so (with that cup of coffee) this morning, I washed and prepped the strawberries and put them in the fridge.  When it was about time to actually prepare dinner, I just stirred a little sugar and balsamic vinegar into the berries and let it macerate for an hour or so.  It's very simple and delicious!
  7. Winter time easy fruit dishes-Pour a little side dish of applesauce, and to make it special, sprinkle cinnamon sugar over and put a cherry on top.  Another easy fruit dish during the winter when it's hard to get fresh fruit is a pear salad.  I keep a large can of pears in the fridge for just those times when I need something fast.  Open the pears, add a dollop of mayo, shredded cheese and top it with a cherry.  I also keep plain Greek yogurt in the refrigerator.  Pour some into a bowl, add a little honey and vanilla flavoring and pour over some Mandarin oranges, bananas (or other fruit) in a little serving dish.
If you try to just think a step ahead, it's really not that hard to put a really impressive healthy meal on the table on the weeknights.  This was the little work that I had to do to get the meal on the table tonight, because most of the prep work was already done.

Frying okra in light olive oil, and store brand is okay for this.


Drizzle BBQ sauce over the pork, stick it in the microwave for a minute or two and the meat is ready.

Before I heated the meat, and while the okra was cooking, I dished up the potato salad and strawberries into individual serving dishes and sliced a tomato.  I also added to each plate a little cup of extra BBQ sauce.  This is a pretty typical example of a dinner meal that you would find us enjoying together, as a family, at our table during the week...and it was so easy to do with a little planning ahead.

*Judy's BBQ Sauce Recipe

2 cups ketchup
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. McCormick's Grillmates mesquite seasoning
1 T. dried minced white onion (or you could use fresh if you prefer)
1/2 t. Texas Pete's hot sauce (or to taste)

Thanks for stopping by today!  Hope you have a great week.


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