home cooking recipes                                            home cooking recipes

Patio-perfect suppers

Story and photos by Angie Sutton


I was busy running errands and drove past the meat market on the corner several times before the list of special sale items caught my eye. Chicken quarters, ribs, pork chops…oh my! My carnivorous side took over when I pulled in quickly. I love my meat market on the corner. Mostly because I walk in and ask Tim if he can package me up 4 pounds of beef short ribs and a few minutes later they are cut perfectly, wrapped and ready to go. He usually has a few tips on how best to prepare a certain cut of meat and has suggestions on which are best for the slow cooker.

So to the van I head loaded down with a week’s supply of the aforementioned meat. I email hubby Jeff and ask for suggestions on what he thinks sounds good. A few of the meat cuts he reserves for grilling. I get to work on the side dishes. The garden is now producing like crazy and tomatoes, sweet corn and green beans find their way to our table daily. My neighbor Norma gave me a salad recipe to use up the spinach we have growing, and I tested a few other side dishes from a local recipe contest.

When the weather permits and is cool enough, we love to eat on our back patio. We love these slow evenings in the cherished final weeks of summer. Ball is over and camps are wrapped up. Soon enough we’ll be school clothes shopping and filling backpacks. But for now, we’ll just sit, relax and enjoy family time. Check out more new recipes every week on my blog.

Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

Source: Norma Mason

4 c. fresh baby spinach
4 c. torn iceberg lettuce
1 1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 lb. bacon strips, cooked and crumbled


1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground mustard
1 1/3 tsp. poppy seeds
1/4 c. chopped red onion
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. canola oil

In a large bowl, combine spinach, lettuce, mushrooms and bacon. In a blender, dump vinegar, onion, sugar, salt and mustard. Pulse and gradually add oil in a steady stream while continuing to blend. Transfer to a jar and stir in poppy seeds. Divide salad among six plates or arrange on a large platter. Drizzle with dressing.

Note: add sunflower seeds, croutons or other toppings.

Apple Salad

Source: Betty Fincham

This recipes makes 16 servings so it is perfect for a large gathering or potluck. I cut the recipe in half for one meal.

1 to 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 1/2 c. toasted pecans
8 c. chopped, tart red apples, unpeeled<
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained, reserve juice
2 c. seedless green grapes


Reserved pineapple juice
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
1 c. mayonnaise

Make dressing first by combining the reserved pineapple juice, butter, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling, combine cornstarch and water to make a smooth paste. Add to the hot mixture. Cook until thick and smooth. Chill completely before stirring in mayonnaise. Combine apples, pineapple chunks, grapes and poppy seed. Add dressing. Stir in pecans right before serving for maximum crunchiness.

Pork Loin Chops with Summer Veggies

The garden is producing a lot of summer squash and zucchini right now so they are easy to throw on the grill. The salsa is the kicker in this recipe!

4 pork loin chops, cut 3/4-inch thick
4 small zucchini and yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 orange, peeled and chopped
1/2 c. bottled chipotle salsa

Brush chops and squash lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place chops and squash, cut sides down, on the grill rack directly over medium coals. Grill squash for 6 to 8 minutes, or until tender, and chop 13 minutes turning once (internal temperature of 160 F). Meanwhile, stir together orange and salsa. Slice squash into bite-sized pieces. Spoon salsa mixture on top of chops.

Texas-Style Cowboy Ribs

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

We finished the ribs on our smoker grill without the mesquite chips.

4 pounds beef chuck short ribs
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 tsp.salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp.onion powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 c. mesquite chips
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. hot strong coffee
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt

Trim fat from ribs. Place ribs in a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl combine chili powder, the 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the 1 teaspoon salt, the garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Generously sprinkle rub mixture over both sides of ribs; rub in with your fingers. Cover pan with foil. Bake ribs in a 350 F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender. Drain off fat. At least 1 hour before grilling, soak wood chips in enough water to cover. Drain wood chips. In a medium saucepan, cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, coffee, vinegar, the 2 tablespoons brown sugar, the chipotle pepper, dry mustard and the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle wood chips over medium coals in a charcoal grill. Place ribs on the grill rack directly over the coals. Grill, covered, for 15 minutes or until ribs are browned, turning once. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Add wood chips according to manufacturer directions. Place ribs on grill rack. Grill as directed above.) Serve ribs with sauce.

Alice’s Buttermilk-Brined Chicken

Source: Alice Alexander, my grandma

I cut my chicken breasts in half so all of the pieces are roughly the same size. Wearing an apron is a must to prepare this!

3 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sugar<
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks)
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 bottle vegetable oil

In a resealable plastic bag, combine the 3 cups buttermilk, the coarse salt, and sugar. Add chicken to the bag and seal. Turn bag to completely coat chicken with mixture. Refrigerate for 4 hours, remove chicken from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Discard brine. In a large bowl combine flour, the 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Divide flour mixture in half between two shallow dishes. Place the 3/4 cup buttermilk in another shallow dish. Dip chicken into flour mixture in the first shallow dish, turning to completely coat. Dip flour-coated chicken in the buttermilk, turning to coat. Coat again with flour mixture in the second shallow dish. Meanwhile, in a deep, heavy Dutch oven heat 1 1/2 inches oil to 350 F. Using tongs carefully add a few pieces of chicken to Dutch oven. (Oil temperature will drop; maintain temperature at 325 F.) Fry chicken for 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink (170 degrees F for breasts; 180 degrees F for thighs and drumsticks), and coating is golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Keep fried chicken warm in a 300 F oven while frying remaining chicken pieces.

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