Category Archives: Cooking 101

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.


  • 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.


  • 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… 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


  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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!

Mint Chocolate Fudge

We have been watching Great British Show Masterclass all week! I just love Paul and Mary’s banter. Paul’s impressions of Mary are everything! Hahaha. But seriously I love listening to them describe food. I especially love when Mary says a treat looks scrummy! It’s just adorable. Some day I will be ambitious enough to attempt some of those treats! I would love to make Mary’s Lemon and Raspberry eclairs, or try laminating my own puff pastry dough. The first recipe I think we need to master are French Macarons. The ones we made this time sure taste yummy but the feet were all out of control.

On the other end of the baking spectrum we have fudge. So so so easy to make! There are so many different flavors to play with, I am definitely going to be playing around with them more this year! This is the quickest and easiest addition to our cookie gift boxes this year.

Make sure that when you are buying white chocolate that you are baking chocolate or if you are buying chips I would suggest Ghirardelli chips. I have found that most “white chocolate” chips do not melt well and are more sweet.

This recipe will give you about 50 pieces of fudge. You can definitely just make half a batch if you aren’t sharing with an entire village!


  • 3 Cups Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 3 Cups Ghirardelli White Chocolate Chips
  • 35 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk (this is about 2.5 cans)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mint Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Green Food Coloring

On the oven have 2 saucepans. In one sauce pan add 14 oz of sweetened condensed milk (1 can). In the other add 21 oz sweetened condensed milk (about 1.5 cans), mint and vanilla extract and food coloring. Heat these over medium heat stirring frequently until they just start to bubble. Remove from heat and add milk chocolate chips into the plain saucepan and white chocolate into the flavored and green saucepan. The heat from the milk and the pans should start to melt the chocolate. Stir each pot until you have a creamy smooth chocolate. You may need to add a little more sweetened condensed milk to get the smooth consistency.

Line an 8×11 cake pan with cling wrap or tin foil. Alternately spoon in the milk and mint chocolate. Gently drag a butter knife through the chocolate to create swirls. Place in the fridge to chill for 3-4 hours.

When you’re ready to serve you can remove from the dish and peel off the cling wrap or tin foil. Cut into even pieces and enjoy! The fudge does not need to be stored in the fridge.


One Pan Garden Rotini with a Tomato Parmesan Sauce

This super easy dish has a sister that is by far our most popular dish! The One Pan Garden Rotini Alfredo is hands down our most viewed recipe with over 400 views! Wow! It truly is a super yummy and easy dish. I wanted to make something similar tonight, but wanted to use some of my gorgeous Garden Tomato Sauce because it is chock full of veggies! 

I’m coming off some downtime from a back injury and we haven’t really been eating all that healthy through the last few weeks so some veggie goodness was in store to keep us healthy and fight off all the icky winter sicknesses!

This dish is actually lower in fat as well since we used Chicken Sausage instead of beef or pork. Does it get much better than this? Can’t wait for these leftovers tomorrow!

Serves 4


  • 4 Johnsonville Chicken Sausage, Italian style, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Cups Spaghetti sauce
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 8 oz Garden Rotini pasta
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Optional- diced green pepper and sliced mushroom

In a 9 inch skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the Sausage and sauté until slightly browned. Add the onion and garlic and any other veggies. Sauté until slightly soft.

Add the water, tomato sauce, and pasta. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally until the pasta is al dente. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

When the weather outside is frightful sounds like a great time for soup!! One our favorite things to do during winter is watch a wonderful Christmas movie, snuggle with the dogs, and enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.

There are just 2 movies that I watch every single year for Christmas. Whenever I wrap Christmas presents I always watch The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I have been obsessed with this movie ever since I was a kid and I love the remake as well! My other Christmas obsession is Muppet Christmas Carol! I mean come on……does it get any more warm and fuzzy than Muppets telling a feel good tale?!?! I freaking love Muppets.

With feel good movies you need to have a feel good meal! Voila!

This soup is really flavorful and warms you right down to your toes! I especially love it with homemade noodles. Makes for a very hearty meal any soup lover will gobble down! 


  • 3 large Chicken Breasts
  • 1 large Onion, finely diced
  • 3 Carrots, diced
  • 4 stalks of Celery, sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed oil
  • 10 Cups Water
  • 7 Chicken Buillion Cubes
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 Cup Parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • If you don’t want to make noodles you can buy egg noodles or a fun shaped pasta

In a large pot over medium heat add the Grapeseed oil and onion, carrots, garlic and celery. Season with salt and pepper and saute for about 5 minutes until the veggies are slightly softened. Add the water, buillion cubes, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, parsley, and whole  chicken breasts.

Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes.

If you are making the homemade noodles you can use your counter top or a large mixing bowl. Combine all the ingredients and knead for 3-5 minutes until the dough becomes firm. You may need to add flour or water to get the right consistency. Not too sticky and not too dry and crumbly. Divide dough into 4 sections. You can either use a pasta rolling machine or a rolling pin on a floured surface. Roll the dough somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 inch. Use a pizza cutter to cut noodles into your desired length.

Remove chicken and let cool a bit. Chop up the chicken into small bite size pieces. Return to pot. Add noodles. Cook for another 5 minutes until noodles are fully cooked. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve up with crackers, crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwhich!!


Brown Sugar Glazed Potatoes

These potatoes are a simple yet delicious side dish! We had quite a few red potatoes from our garden and I wanted to peruse Pinterest for a cool recipe and this is what I found! 

Original Recipe here at Lil Luna blog! 

  • 4-6 red potatoes (cubed)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ TB butter
  • 1½ TB brown sugar
  • Parsley (or your favorite spice)
  • Garlic Salt & Pepper to taste


Bring red potatoes, water, butter and brown sugar to a boil in a pan over medium-high heat.

Turn to low and simmer for approximately 6 minutes.

Turn back to high and cook until all the water is evaporated and potatoes s are tender. It took me another 10-15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Salt and Pepper, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!

Garden Veggie Tomato sauce

I love pasta! It is one my all time favorite foods! We used to have homemade pasta and pasta sauce all the time growing up. I remember my parents kitchen was just complete chaos when sauce making weekend was upon us. Steaming and peeling and crushing and simmering and canning. It was intense, but the James Beard recipe my Dad would use for the meaty sauce was my absolute favorite.

This year we planted our own tomato plants and some onions. I just love my adventures in gardening. My parents had tons of extra tomatoes this year so I got some of those too and some fresh garlic. We did a bunch of research for different recipes and tried a few separate batches before settling on this scrumptious recipe.

  • 20 big round tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium white onion,finely diced
  • 2 green peppers, finely diced
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • 3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 3/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary, removed from stem and chopped about 1 1/2 Tbsp
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

In a large sauce pan add the tomatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic, bullion a cubes and sugar. Over a medium heat start to cook down the tomatoes.

Once you have a watery sauce bring it to a simmer. Add the parsley, basil, oregano,  bay leaves, Rosemary,salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer for one hour stirring occasionally. 

Remove from heat, remove the bay leaves and then using a handheld immersion blender blend the sauce until it’s completely smooth. If you have have a handheld you can use a regular blender, I would cool down the sauce a little bit first so you don’t burn yourself.

Return sauce to medium low heat, add balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce and simmer for another hour stirring occasionally. The sauce should start to thicken up. Salt and pepper to taste and once you have reached your desired consistency remove from heat.

Use some immediately or save it all for later! I used a few mason jars for the fridge and some food saver bags to store the rest.

Whenever I am making a big plate of pasta I brown up some ground Italian sausage, add the sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes, toss in the cooked pasta, add some fresh parsley and grated Parmesean cheese. Voila! Bon appetit!