• Tommy Centola

Recipes for upcoming Labor Day

Labor Day is upon us. It is the unofficial last day of summer.With the extra day off, many people take the time to throw one last outdoor get together of the year. Sometimes, Mother Nature has other plans. She does not always cooperate with beautiful weather. So, what do you do when she decides to rain on your plans.

Today, I have assembled some recipes that brings your cookout indoors. You can prepare these dishes rain or shine. Your rainy day cookout menu includes Indoor Baby Back Ribs, Fried Onion Rings and Chocolate Pecan Pie.

Many people think smoking ribs require a smoker. This recipe was developed for people who don't own a smoker. You still have the long cooking time that ribs require. The use of liquid smoke tricks you into thinking these ribs were smoked outside. The ribs are so tender, you can eat them with a fork and knife.

BBQ Rub

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup smoked paprika

2 tablespoons sea salt

1 tablespoon granulated onion

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon ground white pepper

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight shaker.

Indoor BBQ Ribs

2 racks baby back ribs, cleaned

BBQ Rub

1/4 cup liquid smoke

3/4 cup water

BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 250℉.

Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Place a wire rack in pan. Sprinkle BBQ rub liberally over the ribs. Place ribs on wire rack and pour liquid smoke and water in bottom of pan. Cover ribs tightly with aluminum foil. Put in oven and cook for 4 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and raise temperature to 425 degrees. Remove aluminum foil and top ribs with BBQ sauce. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, allowing sauce to set on ribs. Serve.

Most of the onion rings you find in restaurants these days are frozen and premade. With a little effort, you can make a much superior version of this addicting side dish. My recipe is my attempt to recreate the onion rings from Popeye’s. You can always adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Fried Onion Rings

3 pounds Spanish or Vidalia onions

2 cups flour, divided

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg, beaten well

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons Creole seasoning

Preheat deep fryer to 365 ℉.

Wash and peel onions and then cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Separate rounds into rings. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the flour, seasonings and baking powder. In a measuring cup, whisk together egg and milk. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, blending well. In another bowl, mix remaining flour with Creole seasoning. Dip onions in the flour, then the batter, and then the flour again, shaking off the excess each time. Fry onion rings until golden brown, turning to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve.

The first time I made this dessert was for a family Christmas gathering. Looking to put a twist on the traditional pecan pie, I thought chocolate would be a great addition. My wife’s family thought so also. It was one of the fastest disappearing pie I have ever made. I hope you agree.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

3 cups sugar

Pinch salt

7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup pecan halves

2 unbaked deep dish pie shells

Preheat oven to 350 ℉.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, salt and cocoa together. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and milk. Stir into the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter and stir until well blended. Sprinkle pecan halves in the pie shell, about 1/2 cup per shell. Pour the filling over the pecans. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

I am hoping for beautiful weather this Labor Day. It’s a great chance to entertain outside one last time. But if Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into your plans, now you have a go to recipe for an indoor BBQ.

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