Category Archives: Cooking 101

Green Chile & Beef Tamale Pie


One of Levi’s favorite dishes when we go to Mexican restaurants is a tamale. I’ve never actually had one myself, but I wanted to try making something similar for him. I certainly do not have the skills or the know how to make an actual tamale wrapped in corn husk. I ran across a few different recipes online that seemed pretty standard so I figured I could make some personal adjustments and it would work out. And boy was I right!! This pie was a little spicy and a little sweet, very cheesy with a nice crumbly texture. 


Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • 1/3 Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn
  • 7 oz Green Chiles, chopped and your desired level of heat
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 tsp Chile Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Cup Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheese, I used Tillamook 2 Cheese Mexican Blend
  • Toppings: Sliced Green Onion, Cliantro, Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 400.

In a large bowl whisk together the corn bread mix, milk, egg, green chile’s and corn. In a large cast iron pan or 9×13 baking dish, spray with cooking spray and fill with the corn bread mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

While the cornbread is cooking, in a medium skillet cook the beef with the chili powder and cumin. Once the meat has browned, drain any excess fat.

Remove the cornbread from the oven and poke all over with a fork, pour green chile enchilada sauce evenly over the top. Add the beef and top with cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and return to oven for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil, turn on the broiler and broiler for about 2 minutes to brown the cheese.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Add desired toppings and enjoy!!

Adapted from 2 Teaspoons recipe here. 

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White Walker Cake

How ’bout that finale?!?! In case you haven’t noticed yet we are HUGE Game of Thrones fans! I am coming up on 10 recipes dedicated to this series. So far I have made cupcakes, cookies and this cake. Anything else you want me to try? Only one more season left for these fun experiments……how depressing is that?!?! I sure hope we don’t really have to wait until 2019 for the final season.

I must say….I was very satisfied by the way this season ended. Especially Sansa and Arya banding together and executing the character whom most people have wanted dead since the very beginning. That moment brought so much joy to my heart because I was seriously questioning whether or not they would end up killing each other. I felt like I had been losing the Arya that I have been rooting for for 6 years, and now I know that she is still the same fiercely loyal and determined girl I have grown to love. Sansa is finally taking control of her destiny and I love it! Maybe she will become the Queen of Winterfell if Jon Snow realizes that marrying his aunt is icky. Who knows…..isn’t that the whole point of this show,  some predictions come true but in the end…..you just never know.

I’ve been wanting to try a poke cake for awhile, they are quite the trend. I can tell why! The moist cake and light fluffy frosting make for an amazing combination! Most recipes call for Cool Whip Topping, but I am not all about that noise. Whipped cream frosting is definitely the way to go! The next question was….what flavor should a blue cake actually be? Blueberry is the natural answer, but that would turn out more purple than blue. Since it is the end of summer I wanted to go for a final tropical hurrah before heading into the holiday baking season. I went with a cream of coconut and lime drizzle. Perfect flavor and  easy to get a nice shade of blue. I generally prefer gel color, but you would probably be better off with a liquid dye for the coconut. Still use gel for the coconut flakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix (and ingredients to prepare-eggs and oil)
  • 15 oz Cream of Coconut- usually found in the drink aisle
  • 3 Limes- Juiced
  • 8 oz Coconut Flakes
  • Food Dye- black and light blue
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Prepare the cake according to box instructions.

In a small bowl combine the cream of coconut and a few drops of blue food dye until you get your desired hue. Use a fork to poke holes evenly across the top of the warm cake. Evenly and slowly pour the cream of coconut across the top of the cake. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.

In a stand mixer using the whisk attachment whip the whipping cream for 5 minutes until soft peaks form. In a medium bowl use a hand mixer to beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla. With the mixer on low add the cream cheese to the whipped cream 1/4th at a time,scraping down the bowl each time.  Mix for 1-2 minutes until it’s fully incorporated and thick stiff peaks form.

Take your cake out of the fridge and use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top. In a small bowl dye 1/3 of the coconut flakes black, and then dye 1/3 of the flakes blue. Layer the coconut over the frosting.

Store in a covered dish in the fridge.

Adapted from The Country Cooks Coconut Cream Poke Cake

Southwestern Mac and Cheese with Sausage

When you’re a busy adult with many important things to do it can be hard to make sure you have a homemade meal and not too much fast food for lunch every day. I used to try and meal plan so that there would be enough from every meal for leftovers……and that plan ended with way too many casseroles. I do enjoy a good casserole every now and then, but almost every day is just way too much.

So I started this whole meal prep thing. I’ve discovered some really good Crockpot and one pot recipes  and of course just a few casseroles. That way I can just spend a little time every Sunday making enough lunch to last the whole week. And then that free’s up dinner time for something simple on busy days like steamed veggies and rice or chicken salads.

What is your favorite thing to make for lunch?

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Macaroni Elbows, cooked according to package directions
  • 6 Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage, cut into bite size pieces and fully cooked
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 30 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 12 oz can Seasoned Black Beans, rinsed
  • 7 oz Chopped Green Chiles, hot or mild depending on your preference
  • 2 Cup Colby Jack Shredded Cheese

Boil the pasta according to package directions. Once it’s cooked to your liking drain the pasta and toss with 1 tbsp butter. In a medium skillet over medium high heat add 1 Tbsp cooking oil to a medium skillet and add the sausage and cook about 3-5 minutes until well done.

In a 6 quart pot over medium heat melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the flour, you should have a thick paste texture. Add the milk 1/2 cup at a time whisking thoroughly. Whisk in the tomato sauce and green chiles, bring to a low boil. Lower heat and simmer until your sauce starts to thicken, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes.

Once the sauce will coat the back of a spoon add the cheese and black beans. Stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add the macaroni and sausage.

Dragon’s Breath Pulled Pork

Who watched the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 last night? I was enthralled from start to finish. I mean that first scene almost had me in tears. You go, Arya Stark! I especially loved the scene of Daenerys Targaryen finally coming home to Dragonstone. The silent joy and resolve of that moment was one of the most moving parts of this entire series.

I just can’t wait to see what happens for the rest of this season! Will Jon Snow and Daenerys meet? Will he find out the truth about his past? Will little Arya get her chance at revenge on Cersei, or will Jamie beat her to it? Will we see more of Ed Sheeran? (seriously, what was that all about?) All these burning questions and only 6 more episodes!

I like to make a special dinner for GoT night. This week it was one of our old favorites re-imagined. Pulled pork with an extra spicy bite and just a hint of sweetness seems more than fitting. Definitely give this one a shot the next time you sit down with friends or family to another thrilling episode!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs Pork Loin Roast
  • Pork Rub- I created my own with 1/2 cup brown sugar and  1 Tbsp each: garlic salt, paprika, red pepper flakes and black pepper.
  • 1-2 liter of Dr. Pepper
  • 3 Serrano peppers- the smaller the pepper the more heat you get
  • 2 Jalepenos, plus more if you want some for a raw topping
  • 1 Green Pepper
  • 1-2 Cup of Jack Daniels Spicy BBQ sauce.

These ingredients will give you a nice little mild to medium spicy bite. If you really want to kick it up a notch you can get 2 of the following: cayenne pepper, tobasco pepper or habanero peppers.

Rub the pork rub onto your roast and let it sit for 5 minutes. In your slow cooker add the roast fat side down. Slice the peppers at least in half and add to the slow cooker. Pour in the Dr. Pepper in so that the roast is at least 3/4 submerged. Pour 1/2 Cup of BBQ sauce onto the roast.

Cook for 6-8 hours on low.

Once your meat is tender carefully move the roast into a large bowl. The meat should easily pull apart with a fork. Shred the roast and add 1/2 cup BBQ sauce.

Toast your buns and add your favorite toppings such as Colby Jack Cheese, Jalapenos, Onions, or Cole Slaw. Don’t forget to top it with even more BBQ sauce to your taste!

Check out an awesome dessert with the Cookies of Fire and Ice here!

Freedom Fire Blondies

Where does everyone like to go to watch the fireworks? We will either watch them from the lawn in front of Convergys or we’ll go to the stadium. This year I work till 9 and meeting my parents at the stadium. Hopefully it all works out!

I’m not sure where this started but watching the fireworks has always meant a great deal to me. I love the patriotic music and when those fireworks get popping I just get really emotional. I thinks fireworks are really romantic, and unfortunately it’s always been a terrible day for me relationship wise. But I am so happy to be able to spend it with my friends and family now!

And of course when you are sitting on a lawn or in a stadium for hours you need to bring treats! Chips or pretzels for the salty crew……but what to bring for the sweet teeth? Blondies of course! And I had to make them holiday appropriate……all you need is a little food dye!

These Blondies are a great treat with white chocolate chips and pecans for a little crunch. These are incredibly easy to make and a quick treat to whip up and delight your  friends and family this holiday!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Sticks Butter, softened
  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 Cup Pecans, finely chopped
  • Red and Blue food dye
  • Your favorite patriotic sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and brown sugar until you have a grainy paste. Add the egg, vanilla, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Beat in the flour until you have a thick batter. Gently stir in the white chocolate and pecans.

Split the batter evenly into 3 different bowls. In one bowl slowly add blue dye until you get your desired color. Repeat with the red dye in a separate bowl.

Spray an 8×11 pan with cooking spray. Using a cookie scoop. scoop the batter into the pan in alternating colors. Run a knife under hot water for about a minute and then drag it through the batter to create a swirl. (Careful not to over do it otherwise your colors will start to bleed.)

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove from oven and add sprinkles. Let it cool for at least an hour before serving.

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.

 

Chicken and Bacon Risotto


Does anyone else ever come home work, no idea what you’re going to make for dinner and somehow you end up throwing together a delicious Risotto? Anyone? Just me?

Hahaha. This was so random! All I had in the fridge was chicken and bacon and I was thinking about doing some sort of casserole and after I threw away 2 bags of rock hard marshmallows I found a ton of arborio rice. And there you go. Random Risotto. Oh yeah….and throw some peas and Parmesan in there just for the hell of it.

Risotto is usually a side dish but you can easily make it a meal with some extra protein. This dish has about 4 servings. Takes about 40 total minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 8 slices Bacon, cut into 1 inch squares
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, sliced and seasoned
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1 Cup White Wine
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan 

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry up the bacon pieces until they are just barely crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside, leave the grease in the pan. Cook the chicken and set aside with the bacon. Add the onion to the pan. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, cook until the onion is soft and clear and the rice is lightly browned. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.

Slowly add the wine, stir until it’s mostly absorbed into the rice. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir until mostly absorbed. Repeat with the remaining cups of chicken stock. When you are adding the last cup add the peas as well. Cook until fully absorbed. Remove from heat. Top with Parmesan and serve it up and enjoy!!

Rotini and Meatball Casserole

If you are looking for another super easy weeknight dinner this one is sure to satisfy! Add some french bread and a small salad on the side and it will taste like you spent an hour instead of just 5 minutes on prep!

I found this Barilla Rotini pasta that in enriched with extra protein and fiber…yummy and extra goodness to make your body happy! I used my own tomato sauce that I had frozen this summer so it was 100% veggies…..you can get the Garden Veggie Tomato Sauce recipe here! So this dish was cram jam full of goodness! I found out that I only have 1 package of tomato sauce left 😦  I don’t want to wait until August to make more!! My dad just started planting his seeds so I asked for 3 tomato plants this year. I can’t wait for my late summer afternoons in the kitchen whipping up huge batches of my new favorite spaghetti sauce.

I have a few upcoming Saturday’s off and I am so excited to finally get to Home Depot and get some upgrades for my photo staging! I haven’t 100% decided what I want to do but I look forward to even just walking around and daydreaming about all my options!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Barilla Protein Plus Rotini
  • 15 Frozen Meatballs, thawed- You can also make your own with 1 lb italian sausage, 1/4 cup parmesean cheese and 1 tbsp basil and oregano. Roll into balls and cook thouroughly.
  • 1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce,should be around 20 oz
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, Shredded
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large baking dish add the rotini, meatballs, water and sauce. Stir together. Cover tightly with tin foil. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Test the pasta, it should be just a little too firm still. Top with the mozzarella and then parmesan. Bake an additional 7-10 minutes until the cheese is nice and browned.

Serve it up with your favorite sides and enjoy!!

Meyer Lemon Curd

When I was a kid I remember that the church always had a big yard sale every year. And a woman always sold her homemade preserves there. This is the first time I had lemon curd, and every year I looked forward to buying a fresh jar.

I don’t know what exactly attracts me to lemon sweets, but especially in the dead of winter it brings happiness and brightness into my day. If I were to pick one favorite type of dessert I would have to say anything with lemon.


Lemon curd is so versatile you can put it on anything! Ice cream, toast, cake, english muffins, pancakes, waffles, or even just have a little spoonful now and then. I really like using Meyer Lemons because you get all the wonderful citrus flavor without battling the tartness of a regular lemon.

My first batch of curd first went on some citrus English muffins. So so so yummy. The rest of it went into a lemon cupcake! I wonder if I could mix it with whipped cream and pipe it into eclairs or use it as a layer in a trifle. So many possibilities, I can’t wait to make this again and again!


Ingredients:

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

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.

What will you use your lemon curd for?

 

Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Peas

Looking for an easy weeknight dinner? I love mac and cheese, but once you reach a certain age and don’t have kids it just doesn’t seem right to make it out of a box (especially when you are trying to run your own food blog 🤗.) I have another mac and cheese recipe that is pretty good and it is made with some pesto. This one is similar. I had to have a recipe with peas in it though.

When I was growing up I absolutely love mac and cheese. And my mom always wanted to try and add something healthy when her kids were eating junk. I absolutely loved it! I always wanted peas in my mac and cheese. When I told Levi about this tonight he looked at me like I was crazy. But trust me. It’s delicious! I love how it adds a little bit of crunch and just a little bit of sweetness.

Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Macaroni elbows, prepared according to package instructions
  • 6 slices Bacon, fully cooked, cooled and chopped or crumbled.
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • Pinch of salt and Ground pepper
  • 3 Cups Milk
  • 1 cup Medium Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Peas, cooked

In a medium saucepan add the garlic and butter over low heat. Slowly melt the butter then whisk in the flour. Increase heat to medium and whisk for about 2 minutes until it starts to thicken and bubble. Add the salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in milk. Keep whisking until it also starts to thicken and simmer. This could take 5-10 minutes.

Add both cheeses. Whisk until melted. Remove from heat. Your sauce should be thick enough to coat the spoon, but still easily stirs. If you need to make it a little thinner then add a little milk. Pour the cheese sauce over the noodles. Add the bacon and peas and mix until combined.

I hope you enjoy this cheesy masterpiece!

What do you like to add to your mac and cheese? Comment below!

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Have a Happy New Year friends!