Category Archives: Cooking 101

Melt in your mouth Pancakes

Is there anything more comforting than a big stack of fluffy pancakes? Pancakes are definitely my favorite breakfast food! Add a couple pieces of bacon and some fried eggs and you’ve got a perfect meal 🙂

I posted a pancake recipe a few years ago and we’ve been using that one ever since, but when we went to make pancakes for dinner this week we had a horrible realization. We were 100% out of milk! OH NO! How can we make fluffy yummy pancakes without milk?!?! Well use the next closest thing of course……..coffee creamer. This week we are indulging in International Delights Caramel Macchiato coffee creamer. What the hell….might as well give it a shot right? And oh boy…..were we in for a treat. We came out with super light and fluffy pancakes with just a slight sweetness that completely melt in the mouth. Bellissimo!

My other trick to getting a little crispiness around the edge is to pour your oil (or bacon drippings) in the pan a little bigger than a quarter and then pour your batter right in the middle of it.

Makes 4 large pancakes:

  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup International Delights Coffee Creamer- pick your favorite flavor!
  • 1 Egg

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Whisk in the creamer, egg and oil.

Set your oven on warm and place a cookie sheet in there. This keeps the pancakes warm until you are ready to serve.

Heat your pan or griddle to a medium heat- about 325-350. Use vegetable oil or bacon drippings and add a drop a little bigger than a quarter. Using a 1/2 cup pour batter into the center of the oil. Cook the first side until the top side has lost it’s glossy look and the bottom side is perfectly golden brown (about 5 minutes depending on your griddle). Flip pancake over and cook the other side to a nice golden brown and so when you lightly press on the top side the cake bounces back immediately.

Serve them up and enjoy!!

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Quick and Easy Orange Chicken

On our first trip to the grocery store in months we stumbled upon this little bottle of heaven sauce! This whole moving process has been intense. We basically haven’t cooked for ourselves since October! I can’t even tell you how sick and tired to death I am of fast food. How do my pants even fit at this point?!? Between packing, cleaning, madness, passive aggressive tension, moving, living room camp outs,painting, new carpets and finally moving furniture into rooms I just haven’t even been able to think about cooking! The last few weeks I’ve been looking for inspiration for a new post, and I finally found it!

This yummy dinner is done in under 30 minutes and tastes amazing! The chicken is lightly crisped and the rice has been seasoned. The Panda Express sauce is tangy and bright and just plain delicious.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp Onion Powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 1/2 Cup Minute Rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp each Garlic and onion powder and 1 tsp Parsley flakes.
  • Panda Express Orange Sauce, we used about 1/3 of the bottle but I am not going to tell you how to live your life.

In a bowl scramble the egg with a fork. Add the chicken pieces and stir them around to coat them in the egg.

In a large ziploc bag or Tupperware add the flour and spices and chicken. Seal it and shake for a minute until your Chicken is fully coated.

In a large skillet add about 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 360 degrees. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer (we had to do 3 batches) and fry on each side for about 3-5 minutes until golden brown. Longer if your pieces are bigger.

Add chicken and sauce in a bowl and toss to coat.

Serve on top of seasoned rice.

Happy eating!

Bacon Pesto Apple Brie Hors D’œuvre

This simple dish is a sure fire crowd pleaser! You get a nice herby flavor from the pesto, the awesome bacon flavor, a bright kick of apple and the creamy Brie cheese! I wish I had bought a whole wheel instead of just a wedge. That way you can get even more melty cheesy goodness.

We made a different version of this before and we learned that if you are melting Brie slices it’s better to remove the rind.

I think this would make an excellent dish for a New Years get together! I made them for a starter to Christmas dinner and they sure did disappear fast! We paired them with champagne and it was most excellent!

Want a great idea for dinner? Try some French Onion Soup!

Feeds 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 Baguette, sliced on the bias (on a slight angle)
  • 1 wedge to 1 wheel Triple Cream Brie- remove the rind
  • 4 slices Bacon, fried and chopped into small pieces
  • 3/4 Cup Garlic and Basil Pesto
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple

Preheat oven to 375.

Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Lay out your baguette slices. In a small bowl mix the pesto and chopped bacon together and spoon over the bread. Add 1-2 slices of Brie on top.

Bake for 5 minutes until your cheese is nice and melted.

While they are baking slice your apple with a mandolin on a middle or thick setting. Place the apple slices on top of the baked bread slices. Serve on a cheese board or platter with a side of grapes. Happy New Years everyone!!!

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. 

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!!