Brown Sugar Pork Rub Recipe

recipe for pork rub with brown sugar paprika and chili powder

Have you discovered rubs yet? Although I’ve been marinating meat for years, rubs are something I really discovered last year.  I started buying my pork and my beef directly from local farmers, and as a result I have been exposed to many new-to-me cuts of meat.  Some of those cuts require a slow cook at low temperatures and rubs are more effective than marinades for that.

A rub is a way to infuse a lot of flavour into your meat. By coating your meat in the rub and letting it sit in the refrigerator for several hours (anywhere from 2 to 24 hours), the flavour is able to penetrate beyond just the surface.

Ribs coated with brown sugar pork rub

One key ingredient in any rub is salt. The salt helps to draw the flavours into the meat.  I use coarse salt.  If you use table salt, reduce to about ¾ teaspoon.  The grains are smaller, so volume isn’t the same between different types of salt.

When using a rub, make sure that you coat every surface of your cut of meat, including any ends. I usually start with the bottom side of the meat, then any ends, and finally spread the rub on the top.  The moisture of the meat will help the rub stick to it and melt in a little as the meat sits in the fridge.

pork rub coating all sides of the slab of ribs

When I developed this pork rub recipe, I was looking for bold flavour, without too much heat, as my family doesn’t like very spicy food. This rub has some brown sugar to provide a bit of sweetness.  It also includes some chili powder, for just a bit of heat, but not very much.  It’s really a very family friendly pork rub recipe.

This brown sugar pork rub is very flavourful and is great on various cuts of pork, from ribs to chops to roasts. It’s been a big hit with my family.  They rave about it every time I make it.

I have ribs in the oven right now, coated in this rub to give them great flavour. Today I am sharing the recipe for the brown sugar pork rub.  Later this week I’ll share the technique for making these tender, oh so flavourful ribs.

Braised ribs brown sugar pork rub plus barbecue sauce


Recipe: Brown Sugar Pork Rub

This makes enough for about 2 pounds (1 kg) of ribs or chops, or a 3 pound (1.4 kg) roast.

recipe for brown sugar rub for pork


  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoon paprika
  • ¾ tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Add all ingredients to small bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Place pork on a plate. Coat all sides of the pork with the rub, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.
  3. Cook pork according to your recipe.

Fettuccine in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Kale and Bacon

I love pasta.  Pasta dinners have been a staple in my house most of my life.  Lately, I’ve found myself in a pasta rut.  I always find myself making one of two tomato based pasta sauces.  I love both sauces, but sometimes I want to change things up.

I wanted to find a way to include more vegetables in my pasta dishes.  But I didn’t want to abandon tomatoes altogether, as I regularly have access to fresh, vine-ripened, locally grown tomatoes.  The solution was simple, really.  Creamy tomato sauce.

Creamy tomato sauce is actually quite easy to make.  You start by building a regular tomato sauce, and then add cream and Parmesan cheese at the end.  These two ingredients totally transform a simple tomato sauce into something smooth and creamy, but not too rich.

Kale is still abundant at the grocery stores and at the farmer’s markets which have just opened up again for the new season.  It seemed like the obvious vegetable to use.  And if I was going to use kale, then of course I needed to also include kale’s favorite buddy, bacon.  Bacon and kale are fantastic partners.  They should be used together as often as possible.

Pasta in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Kale and Bacon

I used half and half cream, which is 10% cream.  You can use a heavier cream if that’s what you have.  It will make your sauce a bit richer than mine.

The brown sugar mellows out the acidity of the tomatoes.  It gives the sauce a smoother finish.  If you like the acidic bite of tomatoes, or are trying to avoid added sugar, you can omit it.

This fettuccine in creamy tomato sauce was a big hit at my house.  Plus, it’s easy to make.  Creamy tomato sauce has been added to my pasta rotation and will grace our dinner table often.

Kale and Bacon Fettuccine in Creamy Tomato Sauce


Recipe:  Fettuccine in Creamy Tomato Sauce with Kale and Bacon

Recipe adapted from Julia’s Album

Makes 4 servings

Easy Pasta Dinner Fettuccine in creamy tomato sauce with kale and bacon


  • 10oz (280g) fettuccine noodles
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium size fresh red tomatoes, small dice
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bunch kale (about 10oz or 280g), washed, stems removed and sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 cup (250 mL) half and half (10% cream)
  • ½ cup (125 mL) grated Parmesan cheese


  1. In large pot, bring water to a boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.
  2. In large pan, on medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp. Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to cook bacon in two batches.  Keep bacon drippings in pan, but transfer cooked bacon to a plate, break into large pieces and reserve for later.
  3. In pan with bacon drippings, on medium heat, add onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until onion start to soften. Add garlic to pan and cook one minute more, until garlic fragrant.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes to pan. The liquid from the tomatoes will deglaze the pan. Scrape up the browned bits into the tomato mixture as they will add flavour to the sauce.  Add salt, Italian seasoning, paprika and brown sugar.  Stir well.
  5. Add kale to pan. Stir until kale wilts, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cover pan and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes and kale cooked.
  6. Add half and half cream to pan and bring to a boil. Add Parmesan cheese.  Reduce to a simmer and stir, about 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese melted.  Remove from heat.  Add ¾ of bacon pieces to sauce.
  7. Add cooked fettuccine noodles to sauce and toss until well coated.
  8. Serve pasta on individual plates, and garnish with reserved bacon and extra Parmesan cheese if desired.


Orange Sesame Beef Recipe

Orange Sesame Beef stir fry recipe

Stir fry is one of my go-to choices for weekday diners. It’s easy to make, relatively quick, and super flexible.  No matter what vegetables I have in the fridge, I can usually whip up a stir fry. As for meat, beef, chicken and pork have all found their way into my wok at one time or another.  Even leftover meat gets a second life in my wok.  Leftover steak, roast beef or pork tenderloin have all been transformed into stir fry in my kitchen.

Although I have my ‘usual’ stir fry, lately I’ve been branching out and trying out different flavours. I have some toasted sesame seeds in the pantry that have been catching my eye a lot lately.  So a stir fry featuring the flavour of sesame seeds seemed appropriate.  And what better to pair with sesame than orange?  The result is this orange sesame beef stir fry.

This orange sesame beef is a bit sweet, has lots of sauce, and big bites of crisp vegetables. I like to use medium width rice noodles as the base layer for this stir fry as the noodles are the perfect vehicle to pick up all the saucy goodness.

Beef Stir Fry Recipe Orange Sesame

I used round steak for this recipe, which has lots of nice beefy flavour, but many cuts of beef would work, including sirloin steak, skirt steak or flank steak.

My family doesn’t like crunchy broccoli, so I cheat a bit when making stir fry. I microwave the broccoli for two minutes on medium high heat (with a bit of water in the bowl) before adding it to the wok.  It gives the broccoli a head start, making it a bit more tender, but still keeping its shape and a nice bright green colour.

You will note that in this recipe, the sesame oil doesn’t get added until the end, and the wok gets removed from the heat right after that. Sesame oil has a high smoke point, so it is safe to stir fry in it, but it also has a very intense flavour.  Using it as the oil to fry in would bring too much sesame flavour to the dish.  A little sesame oil goes a long way to adding that rich sesame flavour to food.


Recipe: Orange Sesame Beef

Serves 4

(recipe adapted from Orange Sesame Chicken from Clean Eating Magazine Nov/Dec 2013 issue)

beef and vegetable stir fry orange sesame


  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 lb round steak (or other steak suitable to stir frying), sliced into ¼” strips
  • Brown rice vermicelli noodles, medium
  • 1 small onion, large dice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into 1 ½” pieces
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets*
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • Toasted sesame seeds


  1. In medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce and flour. Set aside.
  2. In large wok, heat canola oil on medium-high. Stir fry beef until almost cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. If wok too crowded, cook beef in batches. When cooked, transfer beef to a plate and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare rice noodles according to package directions.
  4. In wok used for beef, still on medium-high heat, add onion and stir fry for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add red pepper and broccoli and stir fry another 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender but still crisp.
  5. Add ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.
  6. Add cooked beef to wok. Pour in juice mixture and cook until sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add sesame oil and stir entire mixture. Remove from heat.
  7. Drain rice noodles, and divide among bowls. Top each bowl with beef and vegetable mixture and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

*If you prefer your broccoli a bit more tender, place in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of water, and microwave on medium high heat for 2 minutes before adding to the wok.

Super Easy Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin


Pork Tenderloin Teriyaki

I first made this teriyaki pork tenderloin recipe for my step-daughters when they were about 8 and 10. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t like it because of the fresh ginger.  I knew that ginger was not something they had been exposed to yet at that point, and I didn’t know how they would react to it.  Fortunately, my worry was unnecessary, as they both loved it, ginger and all.  It’s now ten years later, and the youngest still states that this is her favorite meat dish every time she eats it.

Pork Tenderloin Teriyaki

I love this teriyaki pork tenderloin recipe for several reasons.  One: it tastes great.  The fresh garlic and ginger give great flavour to the pork without overpowering it.  Two: the meat ends up incredibly tender. Although pork tenderloin is a tender cut of meat, marinating it makes it even more tender.  The longer it marinates the more tender it will be.  Three:  it is very easy to make.  Even Greg, who is intimidated by recipes and has a lot of difficulty following them, can make this dish.  Four: it makes great leftovers that can be used as the starting point for other great meals over the week.

I usually put the pork in a large freezer bag and pour the marinade in the bag with the pork.  Sometimes I double the marinade recipe and use two tenderloins.  I might cook both and use the extra as the start to other pork dishes during the week, or I might cook one and freeze the second one (this is when the freezer bag comes in extra handy), which means I have one in the freezer, already marinated and ready to go for a day when I am pressed for time.

The original recipe that my sister shared with me calls for sherry, not balsamic vinegar.  The last time I finished the bottle of cooking sherry I had, I didn’t bother replacing it.  I decided to use balsamic vinegar instead, and the flavour was just as good as the original.  It just wasn’t practical for me to have a bottle of sherry in the cupboard for just one recipe.  Balsamic vinegar on the other hand, is a pantry staple in my house as I use it all the time.  So I have been using balsamic vinegar since then.  Balsamic vinegar or cooking sherry, the choice is yours.  Use whatever works best for you.

Pork Tenderloin Teriyaki

Pork Tendeloin Teriyakii


  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger root
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large clove fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)


  1. Mix the first six ingredients together in a bowl to make the marinade.
  2. Pour marinade over pork, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Place pork in shallow dish and bake 30-35 minutes at 350 F, until internal temperature reaches 155 F (68 C).

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My Family’s Favorite Pasta Sauce – Aarti’s Spiced Beef Ragu

I love pasta.  It has been a staple in my diet for as long as I can remember.  Tomato-based pasta sauce has always been something that I love.

Recipe Spiced Beef Ragu dinner supper

A couple of years ago, I was watching a television show where a chef was making a pasta sauce.  This particular recipe caught my eye because it was not the traditional Italian flavours.  The chef was Aarti Sequeira, and the flavours were Indian.  Although not a lover of Indian food, this recipe seemed appealing, in large part I think because of the way she described garam masala as being a “warm spice blend”, made with spices like cinnamon, cloves, black pepper and cardamom.  Cinnamon and cloves in a pasta sauce?  That sounded intriguing, and good.  As chef Aarti demonstrated the recipe, it also seemed to be easy to make, which is always a good thing in my view. 

It took a few months, but eventually I went to the website and obtained the recipe.  I tried it out for my family, and it was an instant hit.  They really loved it, even more than a traditional Italian style pasta sauce.  As a result, this recipe has become my family’s go-to pasta recipe.  I never go wrong with this one.  The reaction I get when I tell them I will be making this for dinner, as I did today, is always: “Oh yay, I love that pasta sauce!”

The website from which I got this recipe no longer exists, so I am sharing the recipe here with you.  I’ve made some minor modifications to it, but not any that alter the flavour of the original recipe.   

If you’ve never thought about trying pasta sauce with something other than Italian flavours before, you are missing out.  Although these are Indian flavours, this sauce is not hot and spicy; it is simply a wonderful blend of warm flavours, with ginger, cumin, and garam masala creating a surprising sense of comfort food, even though I did not grow up with any of these flavours in my food. 

family favorite tomato pasta sauce Indian flavours

Aarti Sequeira’s Spiced Beef Ragu


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 cup chopped white onion (about half of a big one)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can (796 mL or 28 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • Small Pasta, like fusilli or shells


1. In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over moderate heat until it’s shimmering. Add cumin seeds, and sauté for 30 seconds to a minute, until they’re fragrant and darken in color. Add onions with a good pinch of salt; sauté a few minutes, until softened and translucent.  Add garlic and ginger and sauté a minute longer.

2. Add the garam masala and paprika, and cook, stirring often for 30 seconds. This is called blooming: cooking spices in warm oil to wake them up and cook out their “rawness”.

3. Now add the beef with another pinch of salt, and cook, breaking up lumps until no longer pink. Then stir in tomato paste, and cook another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes. Stir, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer, and cook, partially covered for 15 minutes. 

4. While that’s cooking, boil water for pasta and cook pasta.

5. Finish ragu with sugar and heavy cream. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve over pasta. 


Tips:  One can of tomato paste provides much more than two tablespoons.  In order not to waste the extra tomato paste, place one tablespoon-sized dollops of tomato paste onto a wax paper lined metal tray and place in freezer.  Once the tomato paste dollops are frozen, take them off the wax paper and put them in a labeled freezer bag.  Now you have pre-measured tomato paste, ready to use the next time a recipe calls for it.

Easy Grilled Pork Souvlaki

Easy Grilled Pork Souvlaki

My family likes pork souvlaki.  It makes for a great meal, as it is so flavourful.  Until about a year ago, I bought the already prepared souvlaki in packages at the grocery store.  Last year I realized I could probably make it myself and so I searched for recipes.

Making my own marinade for souvlaki is really easy.  In general, marinades are easy.  I like making my own, because that way I know what goes in it.  I find the quality of what I make myself is better than what I can buy already prepared.  And the cost is less to make my own too.

As I have spent more time cooking in the past few years, I have learnt that it isn’t necessary to follow recipes exactly, and that I can improvise, based on our likes/dislikes and on what I happen to have on hand.  Yesterday was an improvising day.

I prefer to use fresh herbs whenever I can, because I find they have so much more flavour.  And just the act of chopping fresh herbs makes the house smell great.

Yesterday I decided to grill some pork souvlaki for dinner.

Easy Grilled Pork Souvlaki


When you think of souvlaki, you probably think of oregano and garlic.  Garlic, no problem, as you can tell from yesterday’s post about garlic.  But the fresh herbs available to me at the moment are what I have growing in the garden: rosemary, sage, thyme, dill and chives.  No oregano.  However, I tend to think that the “Mediterranean herbs” as I call them (oregano, rosemary, thyme and sage) are pretty interchangeable.  The flavours of those herbs all work well together, and are found in many Greek and Italian dishes.  So I decided to work with what I had on hand, and to use just a bit of dried oregano too.

souvlaki marinade recipe

You can see all the fresh herbs, and the fresh garlic, in the marinade

The souvlaki was delicious.  The fresh herbs and fresh garlic really made the meat flavourful.  It was grilled just to doneness, not letting it overcook and get dry.  I served the pork with fresh local corn on the cob and a green salad that had pumpkin seeds and orange segments in it (I had used the zest of the orange to make some Orange Blueberry muffins and wanted to put the orange to good use).  The meal was a definite success.  The meat was tender and flavourful.  The corn tender and sweet and the orange added a nice slightly sweet and juicy touch to the salad.

So here is today’s pork souvlaki recipe, as I made it, with what was on hand.  I tasted the marinade as I was making it, which I think is always the trick to getting it right.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  I used centre loin pork chops, because that is what I had on hand, but in future, I would use pork tenderloin, which would make it even more tender and juicy.

Easy Grilled Pork Souvlaki


Grilled Pork Souvlaki Recipe (makes 5 to 6 skewers)

  • 2 pounds pork centre loin chops 9or pork tenderloin), trimmed of fat and cut into 1 ½” cubes


  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 ½  tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons (about 2 extra large cloves) fresh garlic, minced
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fig flavoured balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar works too)
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) olive oil


Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl.  Add pork pieces and make sure they are coated in the marinade.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Turn the pork pieces over at least once while marinating.

Take pork out of fridge about 30 minutes before cooking time, to let meat get to room temperature before grilling.

Thread pork cubes onto skewers, 4 or 5 pieces per skewer.  I use metal skewers for the bbq, that way I never have to worry about remembering to soak wooden skewers in water ahead of time.

Spread the herb and garlic pieces that are still in the marinade bowl onto the meat, coating it.

Oil the grill with olive oil or a cooking spray before starting grill.  Pre-heat grill.

Grill meat on low heat, 8 to 9 minutes, turning skewers after about 3 minutes.  Let meat rest about 2 to 3 minutes after removing from grill.


Adventures in Food – Cumin Chile Pork Kebabs

On Sunday we had a bit of a culinary adventure for dinner, thanks to the June issue of Food Network Magazine.  For dinner, I made their Cumin Chile Pork Kebab recipe.  This recipe caught my eye about a week ago, and on Saturday I picked up some pork tenderloin and a couple of other ingredients needed to prepare it. 

I started getting nervous when I was blending the paste, because it is only at that moment that I realized that these are Indian flavours.  Why I didn’t clue in to that earlier, seeing how much cumin seeds and ginger the recipe called for I am not sure, but once I smelled the paste, I knew that Indian it was.  I was nervous because I have spent years not liking Indian food.  I first tasted Indian food when I was around 13, and my palate just was not ready for those bold, sophisticated flavours.  I grew up on French-Canadian food that did not use many spices or much seasoning other than salt.  I also don’t like heat in my food. 

I was pretty committed to the meal at that point and realized it would be an adventure for the entire family.  They like spicy food even less than I do, and I really wasn’t sure how they would react to the new and different flavours.  But I kept going and finished preparing the meal, vowing not to tell my family what was in it until after they tried it.     

The outcome?  The family loved it!

grilling recipe pork kebabs

I will toot my own horn here and say that I grilled the meat just perfectly.  It was incredibly tender, so tender it didn’t really require chewing!  And the flavour of the meat was really wonderful.  It was bold, but not overwhelming, with the right amount of heat for us.  These cumin chile pork kebabs are definitely not a run of the mill meal for us.  It was an exotic meal, allowing us to discover new flavours.  I have only discovered cumin in the past two years, and have only used it in small quantities in a couple of recipes.  This recipe is big on the cumin.  So if you like that spice, it would be a great recipe to try.

I did make some modifications to the recipe for us, using a small piece of cubanelle pepper instead of a jalapeño to reduce the heat.  Also, as I did not have any rice vinegar, I used apple cider vinegar for the sauce.  That substitution worked out fine.   

This recipe is a keeper.  It was a bit more involved than I had first realized from reading the recipe, but the effort was worth it.  One thing I didn’t like about the recipe was that it called for a 2 inch piece of ginger.  How much is two inches?  Some ginger is skinny while other pieces of ginger are quite fat.  I would have liked the recipe to also indicate approximately how many tablespoons of ginger two inches equaled.   

I learnt three things by making this recipe: 

  • I do like Indian flavours, provided they are not too hot. 
  • Indian flavours are far more than just hot curry. 
  • And I will always use pork tenderloin when making pork kebabs or souvlaki.  In the past, I have used centre loin chops and they end up being a lot drier and less tender than the tenderloin.  So tenderloin it is for us.

What was your family’s most recent adventure with food?