Spring is here (with summer quickly following!), and that means it’s time to open up the grill. We asked MCL Contributing Writer Anna Claire O’Cain’s mother, Stephanie Housley, to share a few of her favorite recipes for springtime get-togethers, including barbecue ribs and two perfect side dishes. 


BBQ Ribs


  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 racks baby-back pork ribs, 4 pounds total
  • Barbecue sauce


     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

     Mix together all seasonings in a small bowl. Be sure to break up any lumps with your fingers. 

     Remove the silver skin from underside of ribs by sliding your fingers under the thin membrane and pulling it off. Repeat with second rack. Rub ribs with the seasoning mixture on both sides. Place ribs in a single layer in a large roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. Bake until ribs are tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

     Preheat the grill to medium.

     Grill ribs 15 minutes on each side, watching and flipping when necessary, for 30 minutes total. Baste with barbecue sauce the last 10 minutes. (Sauce goes on at the end because it is sugar-based, and you don’t want to burn your ribs.)

     Let racks rest 5 minutes before slicing into individual ribs. Serve with extra sauce.



Ranch Potato Salad


  • 2 pounds red potatoes
  • 1 (1-ounce package) ranch dressing mix, dry
  • 2 cups sour cream (regular or low fat)
  • 14-16 slices bacon
  • 1½ cups freshly grated sharp 
  • cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • Freshly cracked pepper, to taste


     Leave the peel on the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Put cubes in a large pot and cover with about 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil over high heat and add salt. I add 1 teaspoon per every 4 cups of water. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low (at a bare simmer) and cook uncovered 8 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender (easily pierced with a fork). Check often to avoid overcooking the potatoes, which will cause a mushy salad.

     Drain potatoes and run under cold water. Let stand to dry completely before adding to salad. Meanwhile, mix the dressing packet with sour cream. Whisk until smooth.

     Cook the bacon, drain the fat, and coarsely chop.

     Place the completely cooled potatoes in a large bowl. Add chopped bacon, shredded cheese, and sliced green onions. Pour dressing mixture over everything and gently toss to combine. Add pepper to taste.

     Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (preferably 1 hour) before serving.

     If you’d like the bacon to stay crispy (instead of a softer/chewier texture), save it to top individual servings.



Southern Baked Beans


  • ½ pound bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 (16-ounce) can Bush’s baked beans
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons ketchup


     Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

     In a skillet, fry bacon until crispy, then crumble. In same pan, using bacon drippings, sauté onion until brown. Mix bacon, onion and drippings with remaining ingredients. Pour into a baking dish and bake covered for 45 to 60 minutes. 

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