Winter oven meals can warm up the home inside and out

When cold weather hits, we just want to stay close to home where it is warm. To keep the kitchen warm, cooking meals in the oven makes sense. Maximize the oven’s heat by cooking several dishes at once. The fragrant aromas and warmth may help us forget how cold it is outside.

Barbecued ribs are a summer favourite, but they are just as tasty oven roasted on a cold winter day. Fresh herbs trimmed from window sill herb pots can increase the summer time flavour.

Lemon Greek herb pork back ribs

  • 4-6 lbs. pork back ribs 2-3 kg

For each rack of ribs:

  • 1/2 c. lemon juice 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano or sprigs of fresh herbs 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil or sprigs of fresh herbs 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 5 mL
  • fresh oregano and basil

Rinse ribs under running water. Place on a large cookie sheet, use a sharp knife to loosen the thin membrane on the inside of the ribs. Sterilize a small pair of needle nose pliers, use these to pull the membrane away from the ribs.

Cut a piece of tinfoil large enough to easily wrap one rack of ribs. Place ribs on the shiny side of the foil on a large cookie sheet. Fold ends of foil up, preventing lemon juice from running off. Pour lemon juice over ribs and sprinkle with herbs and salt.

Fold the length of foil over ribs and fold edges together two to three times to seal. Repeat at each end to seal packet. Repeat for each rack of ribs.

Place foil packages on a cookie sheet, then in a preheated 400 F (200 C). Cook ribs one hour.

Open centre of packages, leaving ends sealed to allow liquid to cook off.

Cook another 1/2 to one hour to reduce liquid and until the ribs are “fall off the bone tender.”

If ribs are not brown enough, fold the foil back completely from the ribs and place under the broiler to brown, turning as needed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook, as ribs will dry out. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.

To barbecue:

Place foil packages on a cookie sheet, then on a preheated 400F (200C) barbecue.

Cover barbecue and cook ribs one hour.

Open centre of packages, leaving ends sealed to allow liquid to cook off. Once liquid has reduced and the ribs are “fall off the bone tender,” remove ribs from foil and brown on a reduced heat, 325 F (180 C), barbecue, turning as needed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t overcook, as ribs will dry out.

Difference between side and back ribs

Back ribs come from the back of the animal, adjacent to the loin, and are attached to the backbone. These ribs have the highest proportion of meat to bone, and some consider them more tasty and tender than side ribs. They may be more expensive.

Side, sweet and sour, and spare ribs are all the same, except sweet and sour ribs are cut into shorter lengths. These ribs lie against the belly, where bacon comes from, and are attach to the breastbone.

Baked wild rice

Wild rice isn’t really a rice but rather a long grain marsh grass native to the lakes of Canada and the northern United States.

Its nutty flavour and chewy texture make a delicious comforting hot dish for cold days.

This recipe is a family favourite that is even better the second day. Serves four.

  • 1 c. wild rice 125 mL
  • 2 1/4 c. chicken broth, heated 560 mL
  • 1/3 c. almonds, sliced 75 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 1 c. leek, white and green parts thinly sliced 250 mL
  • or
  • 1/2 c. onion, finely chopped 125 mL
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 2 mL
  • 1 c. mushrooms, sliced 250 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1 c. broccoli, cut into one-inch size pieces 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. crumbled feta (optional) 60 mL

For added vegetables cook with the broccoli and add just before serving:

  • 1/2 c. celery, sliced 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. carrot, grated 125 mL

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).

Place rice in a bowl and add cool water, rub with fingers and drain in a sieve. Repeat several times until water is clear, drain well.

Place broth in a pan and heat to just boiling.

Place almonds in a baking dish and toast in oven until golden, about five minutes.

In a skillet, heat butter, add sliced leeks or chopped onion, minced garlic and mushrooms, stir to begin cooking.

Add rice and continue to stir and cook five to six minutes, until fragrant.

Add vegetable rice mixture to almonds in baking dish, and toss to mix.

Stir in broth and salt, cover dish.

Bake rice in lower third of oven 1 1/2 hours, or until rice is tender.

If all of broth has not been absorbed, bake rice, uncovered, five minutes more.

Microwave broccoli for one minute or until just tender. Toss into cooked rice. Garnish rice with crumbled feta cheese if desired.

Vegetarian stuffed peppers

Ruth Wiens from Domain, Man., shared her family favourite recipe for stuffed peppers made without meat. They make a nice hot meal for a cold day.

  • 6 bell peppers
  • spray oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • coriander
  • 1 onion, diced
  • oil
  • 1 tsp. cloves, minced (about 2 cloves) 5 mL
  • 1 c. bulgar 250 mL
  • 19 oz. can crushed tomatoes 540 mL
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • salt (if needed taste sauce first)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper 1 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander 7 mL
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste 30 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. water 310 mL
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • small bunch parsley, chopped
  • small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2/3 c. pine nuts 150 mL
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 30 mL
  • oil
  • 1/2 c. water 125 mL

Cut off caps of peppers and remove seeds. Spray with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and coriander.

Broil in oven in an open pan until slightly browned.

Dice onion, sauté in oil, add garlic, bulgar, crushed tomatoes, vegetable cube, salt, pepper, coriander, tomato paste and water. Simmer 10 minutes.

Add and stir in red pepper flakes, parsley, cilantro, pine nuts and balsamic vinegar.

Fill peppers with bulgar mixture, replace caps and wedge together tightly with aluminum foil in a cake pan, drizzle with oil and add water to bottom of pan. Bake at 350F (180 C) for one hour. Cover with foil if getting too dark.

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact:

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