One Pan Bacon and Bowtie Pasta

I’ve been on somewhat of a meal prep kick lately. In an effort to try and save some money we’ve been taking lunch to work for quite some time now. We started out just taking leftovers from dinner the night before. The problem with this is that I have to plan a dinner every night that is going to have enough for 2 meals. This proved to be a challenge week in and week out. Thus enter the idea of meal prep.

I’ve done different crockpot meals and those work out really well! I like the idea of making a lot of food with very little effort. So a one pot meal is right up my alley. This dish was quick to put together while I was cleaning the kitchen and starting my gardening chores. This turned out really yummy and you can really just throw in whatever veggies you feel like! This is just a nice comfort food, but the fresh veggies won’t make you feel guilty about it!

Ingredients

  • 8 pieces Thick cut Bacon, chopped into 1 inch squares
  • 6 Johnsonville Sausages…pick your favorite flavor (I like Italian), sliced
  • 1 Green Pepper, finely diced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 24 oz Jar pasta sauce
  • 24 oz Water
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 16 oz Bowtie Pasta
  • 1 Bag Kraft Italian Blend Cheese

In a large skillet brown the bacon over medium heat. Once it starts to get crispy add the sausage. Cook until lightly browned. Add the green peppers, onions and tomatoes, saute for about 5 minutes until veggies are tender. Add garlic, rosemary and oregano, saute for another minute.

Add the pasta sauce and water. Bring to a low boil. Add the pasta and cover. Simmer for 12 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. If you’re eating it now then go ahead and add the cheese and cover for another minute until the cheese it nice and melted.

If you are prepping lunches then let it cool for 20 minutes. Place in tupperware and top with cheese. Store in the fridge. It will take about 2.5 minutes to heat up in a microwave.

S’mores Cupcakes


It is certainly s’mores season! I love all the outdoor mountain summer activities. Camping, hiking, hanging out by the lake, campfires, tinfoil dinners and of course S’MORES!! I am not usually one for marshmallow, but when you toast it up and it gets all gooey and the perfect golden brown color. And then you add melty chocolate and crispy graham crackers and you have the perfect summer treat!

My first foray into s’mores baked goods were a few pans of s’mores brownies. This hit 2 birds with one stone. I have never made homemade brownies before so I wanted to give it a shot. And of course I had to elevate it and add some s’more elements. And as I was attempting to lightly toast them in the oven under the broiler they caught on FIRE……god I have never been so scared! Thankfully they were incredibly easy to extinguish.

Needless to say when I decided to make a cupcake version I went with a meringue frosting and lightly torched them with a handheld kitchen torch. I’ve had this torch for several years and I have only just barely mastered using it!


Once again I am back at it with my all time favorite cupcake recipe! If you haven’t tried this one yet you are missing out. They are both light and fluffy and incredibly moist! The filling for the cupcakes is the perfect Hershey Chocolate filling you would need to have a genuine s’more experience. I decided to go with a graham cracker crust instead of just crumbling some on top. Make sure that you don’t add too much butter otherwise you will end up with a greasy mess.

Well here we go!

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 Box Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
  • 1 Package Hersheys Instant Chocolate Pudding
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 6 oz Mini Chocolate Chips

Crust:

  • 1 sleeve Graham Crackers (8 full crackers), crushed into fine crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, softened

Filling:

  • 3 oz Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
  • 8 Tbsp Salted Butter

Frosting:

  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 Cup Granulate Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Make the filling first. In a small sauce pan melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat. As soon as all the chocolate has melted remove from heat. Mix well and let chill in the fridge while you prepare the cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together until you have well incorporated the butter and the crumbs slightly stick together when pressed.

Line your cupcake pan with paper liners. Press the graham crackers in the bottom of the liners. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool while mixing the cupcake batter.

To make the cupcakes add the cake mix and pudding into a stand mixer and mix on low. Add oil and milk. Mix well. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix well for 2 minutes scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the chocolate chips. It’s very important to make sure that the sides of the bowl are scraped down because if the batter isn’t evenly mixed your cupcakes will have inconsistent texture and bake.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool completely before filling and frosting.

Remove the filling from the fridge and scrape it out into a medium mixing bowl. Use an electric hand mixer to beat it for about 2 minutes until it has become light and creamy. Use a piping bag and filling tip to fill the cupcakes with the chocolate mixture.

To make the frosting.

In a double boiler or place your metal stand mixer bowl over a medium pot with a few inches of water. Add eggs, sugar, salt and cream of tartar into the bowl. Over a medium heat whisk together the ingredients. It will start to turn syrupy. Once your mixture reaches between 120 and 140 degrees remove from heat. Using a hand mixer or your stand mixer beat the frosting for 7-10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Make sure that your peaks don’t move at all. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla and beat for an extra 30 seconds.

Pick your favorite piping tip and move frosting into a piping bag. Pipe onto the cupcakes. Lightly toast with a kitchen torch.

Angelic Lemon Meringue Cupcakes


What is your favorite pie? I’ve been on a kick lately that I want to make my favorite pies or cakes into cupcakes so that I can easily share them. Lemon Meringue is absolutely my favorite pie. I mean basically any dessert with lemon in it and I am sold!

During the summer my favorite dessert is a slice of Angel Food cake topped with fresh raspberries, strawberries and blackberries and whipped cream. Yum! So naturally I decided to combine these two and make a super delicious cupcake to share with all my friends at work!


When you try this recipe get ready to whip some eggs! Whipped egg whites will give you that light, fluffy, airy and fun dessert! One of my favorite things about this recipe was that I could make parts of it and then assemble it all on a different day.  The lemon curd can be made and stored days in advance. I usually like to use Meyer lemons when I bake, but this time I had to use regular lemons because they were big and beautiful and the Meyer lemons were looking kinda sad.

Makes 30 cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Lemon Curd

  • 4 Large Meyer Lemons, juiced (should be about 1/2 cup) and zested
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 5 Egg Yolks
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, cubed

Angel Food Cupcake:

  • 12 Egg Whites, room temperature (they will whip faster)
  • 1 1/2 Cup Sugar, split
  • 1 Cup Cake Flour, sifted. This will help you really get that light and fluffy perfect angel food texture.
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Lemon Emulsion or 1/2 tsp extract

Meringue Topping:

  • 5 Egg Whites
  • 1 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

To make the curd:

In a small dish stir together the sugar and lemon zest. Let it macerate for about 5 minutes, this will help release some of those fragrant oils from the zest. In a small saucepan add the sugar, zest, butter, juice and yolks. Over medium heat cook for 12-15 minutes gently stirring constantly. The butter will melt and the  sauce will start to thicken. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. If you are looking for a very smooth jelly consistency then push the curd through a mesh sieve.

Transfer to a glass jar. Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the top of the curd. Let it come to room temperature.

Store in the fridge.

To make the cupcake:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a stand mixer whip your egg whites on a medium speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add 3/4 cup sugar. Continue whipping until stiff peaks form. When you can remove the whisk and the peaks will stay in place you know that you are there. Beat in the cream of tartar, salt and the vanilla and lemon. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup sugar.

Using a spatula gently fold in the dry mix. I saw a technique that shows in a cingular motion running the spatula all around the edge of the bowl and then directly through the center. This helps keep the eggs light and airy and full incorporate the dry ingredients.

Fill  cupcake liners with the batter until they are almost full. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the cake bounces back when you lightly press on it. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

To make the meringue:

In a double boiler or place your metal stand mixer bowl over a pan with a few inches of water. Add all ingredients into the bowl. Over a medium heat whisk together the ingredients. It will start to turn syrupy. Once your mixture reaches between 120 and 140 degrees remove from heat. Using a hand mixer or your stand mixer beat the frosting for 7-10 minutes until stiff peaks form. Make sure that your peaks don’t move at all. Occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pick your favorite piping tip and move frosting into a piping bag.

To assemble cupcakes:

Using a filling tip add the lemon curd into a piping bag. Gently fill each cupcake with the lemon curd. Generously pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Using a kitchen torch gently brown the meringue. It is so fun to watch it slightly puff up and get that perfect golden brown!

I hope you give these a try….they are amazing and your friends and family will definitely appreciate it!

Crockpot Chile Verde


When we go my favorite Mexican restaurant I look over and over the menu and always go back to my favorite Chile Verde Burrito. And I seriously can’t get enough of their salsa verde! So I decided it was time to try making it for myself.

I have no idea why I never tried this before. I’ve been making my own salsa verde for over a year now. All you have to do is add the salsa and some pork into your crockpot and boom! Deliciousness! It’s incredibly tender and full of flavor! As soon as Levi had his bite he just said “Wow! That is so good!” When I accomplish that statement it’s one of my favorite parts of life! He is still a relatively picky eater and so it’s so gratifying when he really enjoys trying something totally new!

There is just a little prep work. You can make the salsa ahead of time and store in your fridge until ready to use.

You can use the Chile Verde for a smothered burrito, enchilada topping or just eat it with some sides of rice and beans.

This version is a little more meaty than what I usually see. And it’s enough to feed 2 people for at least 3 meals. So it’s also a great idea for lunchtime meal prep. 

  • 10 Tomatillos
  • 1 Large Onion, quartered
  • 3 Jalepenos
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Lime, juiced
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro
  • Salt
  • 5 lb Smithfield Pork Shoulder Seasoned Carnitas
  • Butter and oil
  • 7 oz Roasted and chopped Green Chiles

Preheat oven to 450.

On a large baking sheet spray with cooking spray. Place the Tomatillos, jalapeños, onions, and garlic cloves. Bake for 10 minutes, turn over and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes. Chop the tops off the jalapeños and add everything to a food processor. Add the lime juice, salt and cilantro. Blend completely.

Chop the pork into 1 inch cubes. Heat a pan to medium high. Add 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil. Quickly sear all sides of the meat, add more butter and oil as needed. I had to do this in about 5 batches.

Add meat, salsa verde and green chilis into your Crockpot. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8-10 hours in low.

Untraditional Long Island Iced Tea

This is not your traditional Long Island Iced Tea, but it’s close! As you know, there is no actual tea in this, but it looks like Tea and some say it tastes like tea as well. It has a lot of alcohol so it’s not a beginners drink by any means. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz gold tequila
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz gold rum
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • 2 drops angostura bitters
  • 1 splash simple syrup
  • 3 oz limeade
  • 1-2 oz cola
  • Lemon wedge

Prepare a highball glasses with ice. Next mix your ingredients except the cola in a shaker and shake on ice for about 30 seconds. Strain into your prepared glass and add the cola to top it off. Garnish with a lemon wedge and enjoy! 

Spring Marbled Cake Balls


I wanted to make something bright and fun for spring. What is better than spring colored cake balls?!? The first few times I made cake balls were with my sister. I had never really heard of them before, but we made some pumpkin cake rolls several years ago and I was hooked! I’ve tried several different kinds of truffles and dipped balls. This is my very first solo cake ball though. I am still working on my ball rolling technique.

I wanted to make plenty for all my peeps at work so I baked 4 cakes! Yowza! I also know that these are pretty large, but they aren’t very rich so you can definitely eat a full one. I made my favorite White Chocolate Buttercream and added some Meyer lemon zest and juice. So it ends up being perfectly light and fresh! 


You can definitely adjust this recipe based on how many you want to make. You can divide 1 box white cake mix into 2-4 different colors. You can get 12-24 cake balls out of one cake based on how big you want them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes White Cake Mix
  • 1 box Blue Velvet Cake
  • 1 box Pink Velvet Cake
  • To make them you will need Butter, vegetable oil and water.
  • Yellow And Green food coloring. I prefer Wilton Icing Colors

Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Salted Butter, softened
  • 2 Meyer Lemons, zest and juiced
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup White Chocolate, melted
  • 3-4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp Lemon Emulsion

Coating:  2 packages Almond bark

Decorations: Sprinkles, colored candy melts, or whatever tickles your fancy!

Bake cakes according to package directions. I recommend using clear glass pans to reduce the amount of browned edges. Let cool until room temperature.

In seperate bowls break up the different colored cakes into fine crumbs. I used my hands by taking a large piece of cake and moving my hands in circles getting closer and closer. (Maybe it’s time to upgrade to a video blog). Anyways, you’re smart people. You can figure out how to take a whole cake into little crumbs. Remove any browned pieces that won’t crumble and dispose of them into your mastication receptacle. (Maybe I have had too much wine)

To make the frosting. Beat the butter until it’s smooth. Add lemon zest, juice, salt and 1 Cup powdered sugar. Beat until well mixed. Once the melted white chocolate is cooled so that it is just warm to the touch slowly drizzle it into the frosting while beating it consistently. Add the rest of the powdered sugar one cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Beat for 3-5 minutes to get your frosting nice and fluffy.

In your cake crumb bowls add 1/2 Cup frosting at a time. Use your hands to mix it in. You will know that you have enough frosting in there if you make a small ball and press your thumb down in the middle and it stays together and doesn’t break apart at the edges.

To assemble:

Take equal parts of each color cake and roll into a ball. I used about 1 Tbsp of each color. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place the rolled balls on the cookie sheet. Place in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes.

In a small crockpot or a large bowl melt the almond bark. Use a fork to dunk the chilled cake balls in the almond bark, gently toss around until fully coated. Place back on the wax paper. Add sprinkles or desired decorations immediately. I dunked 3 balls and then decorated them. And so on and so forth. After a few minutes they should be hard enough to be able to be moved onto your serving tray or storage container.


Bacon Wrapped Gouda Stuffed Chicken


In our line of new fun experiments we decided to wrap some super yummy ingredients into some chicken and bacon! We spent about 10 minutes looking at the specialty cheese case at Smith’s. I wanted something different, and that would melt really nicely. We decided on some  Kerrygold Blarney Stone cheese. It says it’s a soft white gouda style cheese. This dinner was so yummy.


Lately I feel like I’ve just been looking around the spice rack and throwing a few things together and I’ve been pretty happy with the results! If you don’t randomly have a spice rack with Herbs De Provence it usually includes savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken Breasts
  • 4 Strips Bacon
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Herbs de Provence
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Onion Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Spinach
  • 6 Asparagus Stalks
  • 4 oz Gouda, thinly sliced- We used Kerrygold Blarney Stone cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Butterfly each chicken breast and pound thin with a mallet. Season the inside with the garlic, herbs, salt, and onion salt. Lay down the spinach leaves in a single layer, lay the cheese on top. Trim the end of the asparagus so that it’s just barely longer than the chicken.

Lay the asparagus at the end of the chicken and carefully roll the chicken up around the asparagus. Wrap the bacon around the chicken, skewer in place with toothpicks if necessary.

Spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray. Place chicken on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Make sure your chicken is 165 degrees. If your bacon is still pink turn on the broiler for 5 minutes and you will have some nicely cooked bacon.

We had some of our new favorite garlic cheesy smashed potatoes. 

Amazing Tilapia! 


I seriously sat here for about 10 minutes trying to figure out what to call this recipe. There are tons of Parmesan crusted or Lemon and herb tilapia recipes. Levi got us these gorgeous filets from Smiths today and I just kept thinking of delicious things to put on top! So here is a lemon herb Parmesan crusted tilapia. It is simply amazing! It was so flaky and tender, and flavor has so many different notes that it keeps it interesting with each bite.

If you’ve been following the blog lately you know that I’ve been trying to get rid of these tubs of Parmesan and Romano cheese that we got a few weeks ago. And they are almost gone…….hooray! But I am really loving some of the recipes they have inspired.


A year or so ago Levi and I tried to be a little healthy. So we ate fish this one time. Lol. Now we are on a health kick again and we have literally doubled that effort! Last week we had a nice little Halibut. It was pretty good, but after I tasted this tilapia today I knew I HAD to share the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 2 Tilpia filets
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan and Romano Cheese blend
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Parsley
  • 1 Tbsp Basil
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400.

Spray your cookie with cookie spray. Drizzle the oil and lemon juice over the filets. In a small bowl mix together all the other ingredients. Sprinkle each side of the filets with the mix and gently press in.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

We’ve been enjoying some wild rice and asparagus with our fish.


Happy weekend everyone!

Cheesy Garlic Smashed Potatoes


Smashed potatoes seem to be all the rage now! And I can see why! They are like light and fluffy baked potatoes with the crispiness of fries. And you can top them however you like! We are obsessed with garlic. I use it in basically everything I make. And this year we planted about 20 of our own garlic plants. They are coming in quite nicely so far! I can’t wait for garden fresh garlics and not have to sneakily steal them from my parents garden bounty.

We’ve been trying to find ways to get rid of these tubs of Romano and parmesean cheese we got for whatever reason. So those cheeses are going on top of everything! Rice, veggies, baked meats, and now these potatoes……yum!!

Let me know what you like to top yours off with!

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, or reserved bacon grease if you have it
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesean cheese, grated

In a medium pot bring salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 35 minutes until they are tender when a fork is inserted.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spray with cooking spray.  Use a potatoe masher or the back of a large spoon and gently press on the top ofeach potato until it’s about halfway smashed down, careful not to totally mash the potato and try to keep as much peel in tact as possible. 

In a small dish melt your butter. Stir in the garlic and parsley. Evenly spoon out over your smashed potatoes. Bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle the cheeses on top and bake for another 3 minutes. 

Salt and pepper to taste and then…..Dig in!!

Irish Beer Corned Beef and Cabbage Crockpot Dinner

If you have never tried corned beef before….go to the store right now and buy one!! They are so tender and incredibly flavored. Corned beef is a cut of beef with a large grain and it’s usually brined and then cooked. At the store you will most likely find one sealed in some brine with a little spice packet.


I have always loved corned beef. Either in a classic corned beef and cabbage stew or the enigma of corned beef hash. Yum yum yum!!!

We aren’t really beer drinkers here, but I have a few brands I enjoy. Killians is definitely one of my faves. So I saw a chance to buy some and I jumped on it!


My mom and dad have always loved cooking special dishes for different holidays and I’m glad they kept up with this tradition. I am not sure how they make their corned beef and cabbage, but it’s really good! My mom also always bakes Irish Soda bread which is super yummy. I’ll have to get her recipe next year!

I bought a 3 pound roast it would feed about 5 people.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb Corned Beef Roast- pre-brined with a spice packet
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, quartered
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 24 oz Killians Irish Red Beer (or use 50/50 chicken and beef stock)
  • 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, cut into 6 or 8 pieces
  • 3 Large Carrots, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 1/2 Cabbage, cut into 4 or 5 wedges

Condiments: Horseradish sauce or Dijon Mustard

In a slow cooker add the onions first and corned beef roast fat side up, top the roast with the spice packet, rosemary and thyme. Add the beer and the bay leaves. Set the slow cooker on high for 6 hours. After 3 hours add the potatoes and carrots. When you have one hour left add the cabbage wedges.

Once it’s done remove the roast, let it rest for 5 minutes and slice it against the grain. The meat is so tender and juicy that you don’t really need a gravy, so just a little bit of horseradish sauce or mustard will really kick up the flavor a notch! Salt and pepper the veggies to taste.