Category Archives: Dinner

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Pasta Shells

This one is a serious throwback! My sister made a version of these many many years ago, it was one of our very first Pintrest ventures. I thought they were delicious! I’ve been wanting to recreate them for years, but Levi has always been very skeptical. So this week I decided that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I mean how could he not like them….chicken-good, pasta- good, basil and garlic- good, cheese- good and I decided that I was going to add a little something extra, Alfredo sauce-gooooooood!

 

And guess what…..of he loved it! This is kind of like a zesty chicken alfredo. I mean who wouldn’t love it? The original recipe doesn’t call for any sauce so the shells end up a little dry. I poured some homemade alfredo into the bottom of the pan and the result was amazing!

Tip- I call for 25 pasta shells because I like to leave myself a little room for error.

Ingredients:

  • 25 Pasta Shells, cooked for a few minutes below package directions. You will want them very al dente. Drain and let cool.
  • 1 lb Ground Chicken
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup Basil Leaves
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (optional- 1/4 cup prepared pesto)
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream or Half n Half
  • 1/4 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 2 Cups Kraft Italian Blend Cheese

In a medium skillet heat up 2 tbsp cooking oil over a medium heat. Add onions and saute until they are soft. Add ground chicken, cook until slightly browned. Remove from heat, stir in cream cheese until fully melted.

In a small food processor add the basil, 2 cloves of garlic and 2 tbsp olive oil. Chop until very fine. Mix in with the chicken. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat melt the butter and add garlic. Cook until butter turns a dark yellow. Whisk in flour, cook for an additional minute. Add cream 1/2 cup at a time constantly whisking. Add parmesan.  Reduce heat to low, let simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

In an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish pour 3/4 of the alfredo sauce. Spoon the chicken mixture into the shells and place in the alfredo. Drizzle the rest of the sauce over the top and top with cheese.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. If you want the cheese to brown turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

Enjoy!

Adapted from Riches to Rags recipe click here for link. 

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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. 

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Stuffed Pork Loin


One of the best appetizers you can order is a skillet of warm, creamy spinach and artichoke dip. With a side of crusty bread or pita chips you just can’t go wrong! It’s creamy, cheesy and slightly tangy….an all around crowd pleaser!


Levi saw a picture of a stuffed pork Loin just randomly on something and made his signature “ooooooooh” noise that immediately adds that dish into my meal plan. We already had the Loin at home but we needed the string to truss (secure roasts or birds with string) the roast up. That ended up being quite the adventure that took us all over Walmart several times and ended up at Home Depot. We read that you want the string to be 100% natural because if there are any synthetics they might melt into your food. Yuck!

Once we got home we spent hours finishing up the editing our first how to video. You can now follow us on YouTube on our Squishy Cupcakes channel. After that long and slightly frustrating process I was a little worried that this meal would up in the same long and frustrating process. Luckily for me it ended up being super easy!!!! Prepping the roast and the dip only took about 10 minutes and then into the oven with the roast and onto the couch drinks in hand for us! 


Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Pork Loin
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup Spinach, chopped
  • 4 oz Artichoke Hearts, chopped
  • 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning

Preheat oven to 375.

On a large cutting board filet the pork Loin. Do this by taking a long sharp knife and make a cut downwards about 1/2 inch in from the side. Cut down until you have 1/2 inch left at the bottom. Flatten the flap you just cut and run your knife horizontally into the Loin and keep making cuts until you have a flat piece of pork. Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap and a hand towel. Use a meat mallet and pound the pork starting in the middle and working your way out until you have an even thickness.

In a medium bowl using a mixing spoon combine the cream cheese and Greek yogurt. Add the onions, garlic, cheeses, spinach and artichoke hearts. Stir until well combined.

Season the back side of the filleted Loin with the steak seasoning. Flip over and spread the dip evenly leaving about 1/2 inch on all sides. Roll up the loin along the long side for faster cooking. If a little filling comes out sides just wipe it off.

Using 100% white cotton twine truss up the Loin seam side up  by tieing it really tightly on each end and twice in the middle. Line the bottom of a roasting pan with tin foil and place the Loin on the rack. Bake for 50-60 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees.

Cheddar Chive Waffles


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 5 chives (1/8 cup) chopped

Directions:

Preheat your waffle iron, we put ours on 5. Our waffle iron is a rotating Belgian waffle type.

Preheat the oven to 200° F.

In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk to combine the egg yolks, milk, and butter. Make sure the let the melted butter cool enough to avoid curdling the milk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites to soft peaks.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until they are almost combined. Add the egg whites, cheese, and chives to the bowl, and gently fold them in until combined. If you are a fan of the Great British Baking Show and Mary Berry, you will know this as, “Around the outside and through the middle.” Make sure not to be too rough as this will defeat the purpose of the whipped egg whites which is to make the waffles light and fluffy.

I use the portion cup that came with the waffle iron which will make 3 large waffles. I cook for approximately 5 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate it just after putting in the batter and then once the steam stops, rotate it back and check until you have reached the desired golden brown color. If the waffle isn’t crisp at this stage, that is just fine as they will crisp in the oven.

Place a cooling rack on a cookie sheet and place the waffles on that in the oven to let the waffles crisp up.

Once all waffles have crisped, top with whatever you’d like and enjoy! We love to use these waffles with fried chicken and gravy for delicious chicken and waffles. You can also leave out the cheddar and chives for non savory waffles! Enjoy these delicious waffles!

Recipe adapted from FifteenSpatulas.

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!

Cheesy Beef and Potato Bake

Here is another simple weeknight dinner. 15 minute prep and then into the oven for 90 minutes while you work on those pesky chores! There is just always so much more to do in the summer. Between gardening and yard work and there always seems like there is more cleaning that needs to be done. That pesky spring cleaning seems like it will never be done!

This year I have definitely learned the value of putting down new mulch every year. The weeds have just taken over my whole life, I simply can’t catch up. I am mostly just trying to keep them from over running my veggies at this point. How is everyone’s garden doing this year? I am finally having some success with basil this year. I mean big success. I think we’re going to have to make some basil pesto this year. I garnished this dish with mt first basil cuttings. And they were delicious! This whole dish was a wonderful comfort food. Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 5 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced (the thicker the slice the longer to cook)
  • 1 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Cups Tillamook Thick Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
  • Garnish with fresh basil and parsley

Thin Gravy:

  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 4 Chicken Buillon cubes
  • 1 tsp Red pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 1/2 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium skillet add 1 tbsp cooking oil and add the onion. Saute over medium heat until the onions are soft. Add the beef and rosemary. Cook until the beef is nicely browned. Drain the fat. Return to heat and add garlic, saute for just another 1-2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

To make the gravy in a medium saucepan melt the butter with the buillion cubes, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes until it starts to brown a little. Slowly add the water 1/2 cup at a time, whisking it together until all the lumps are gone. Add the milk and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer for 5-7 minutes whisking occasionally until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Spray a 9×9 cooking dish with cooking spray. Lay down half the potato slices in a single layer slightly overlapping them. Cover with half the beef, sauce and cheese. Repeat a second layer of potatoes, beef, sauce and cheese. Cover with tin foil.

Bake for an hour, test the potatoes with a fork. There should be minimal resistance. Bake longer if needed.

Top with your favorite garnish…I always for go for basil and parsley.

Apple Cinnamon Dutch Baby

You can call them Dutch Baby or you can call them German Pancakes. Either way, they are completely delicious and fun to make! I can believe I’ve never made this before. It’s so easy to make and kinda feels like you’re having a fancy dinner in about 30 minutes!

I remember my parents made something similar to this when we were kids. And I just loved it! They are very light with a sweet buttery flavor. Which makes them the perfect blank slate for any added flavors you like! I decided to go with the ultimate comfort with Cinnamon and apples. Next time I’m thinking a summery mixed berry!

I used a 9 inch cast iron pan but you could also use a 9×11 baking dish.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar, split
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 5 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in the pan and put it in the oven until melted.

In a large bowl toss together the apple slices with 2 tbsp sugar, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Remove your dish with melted butter from the oven. Stir in the brown sugar, this gives you a start of a caramel. Add the apples to the dish and stir to coat them. Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes while you prepare the batter.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and 2 tbsp sugar. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk until there are no lumps left. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.

Remove the apples from the oven. Evenly pour the batter over the apples. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Once the pastry has puffed up and the edges are browned and the center doesn’t jiggle you will know that it’s done!!

Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve up with some patty sausages or crispy bacon….yum!

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.

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. 

Ingredients:

  • 10 Tomatillos, husks removed
  • 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 on low.