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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!

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!!

One Pot Beef Goulash


We are always looking for yummy, quick and easy meals! Especially since this week we are both sick 😦 and mostly just been living off of grilled cheese and soup. But I wanted to make something that would feed us for a few days with very little effort. And this is definitely it! As far as I can figure Goulash is just a fancy name for Beefaroni…..lol. But if you love spaghetti in a meat sauce this is definitely in your wheel house.

I have been busy busy busy like a really busy bee all week and haven’t had time for an actual sick day. Hopefully I will have some relaxing evenings ahead. Lots of shows to catch up on. 2 weeks into winter season and I haven’t watched any Grey’s Anatomy. I have been remiss! Or that new show Riverdale that is supposed to be a dark version of Archie comics. Man, I sure did love those growing up! I would save up allowance and keep an eye out for new books every time we went to the grocery store. I am hoping this new show lives up to the hype.

But first let’s eat!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Coarse Ground Beef
  • 1 large Onion, diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Cans(15 oz) Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Cans(15 oz) Diced Tomato
  • 2 Tbsp Worsteshire Sauce
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 16 oz Macaroni

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot brown the Beef, drain the fat. Add the onions, Rosemary and Oregano. Cook until the onions are soft. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Salt and pepper to taste.

Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, worsteshire sauce, water, bay leaves and macaroni. Mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 until the pasta is cooked.

Serve it up with a garnish and some crusty bread. Yum!

Country Chicken and Waffles

This dish has been around for quite some time, but is rapidly gaining popularity and enjoying its time in the spotlight. So of course we had to make it after seeing it on Worst Cooks in America. We were inspired by Rachel Rays savory Waffles.

We finally ended up deciding on a cheddar and chive waffle, buttermilk fried chicken, and country gravy topped with a fried egg.

YUMMM!!

This is a great dish for special occasions that your family will definitely be craving!! There are some many great flavors that work together perfectly! The waffles are savory and crispy, the chicken is soooo juicy with just a little heat from red pepper flakes, the country gravy is to die for with just a little bit of rosemary and the fried egg with that runny yolk make into pure perfection!

We’ve made this dish a few times now. The first time was just some random day, they turned out pretty well. The next time we tried it was on Christmas eve….we got a little better. This was the night that we decided on our new Christmas eve tradition. We will start with the candlelight church service with my parents, followed by hot chocolate and a drive around town to look at the Christmas lights, and finally a dinner of chicken and waffles and a viewing of the Muppet Christmas Carol.

The most recent times we have made it we started marinating the chicken in the buttermilk for a few hours and it has really made all the difference! We’ve made for out of town visitors and during a friendly family food competition (which we won….yay!)

So after all that practice I now feel comfortable enough to post my winning recipe! You are going to love it!

Levi is really the waffle master of the household…so click here for the Cheddar and Chive Waffle Recipe

Fried Chicken Recipe:

Marinade and rub: 2 Cups Buttermilk, 1 Tbsp Red Pepper Flakes, 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder, 1 Tbsp Onion Salt, 1 tsp Salt

  • 3 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 4 cups to 1/2 Gallon Vegetable Oil for frying depending on how big your pan is. You want at least 3 inches of oil.

Country Gravy:

  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cubes Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Rosemary, fresh and finely chopped is best
  • 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Green onions for garnish

Prep Chicken: Cut the chicken in half (horizontally will cook faster) and pound out the chicken with a meat tenderizer. Mix all dry ingredients together and rub into the chicken. Place in dish and cover with buttermilk. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

If you have 2 chefs in your kitchen prep the waffles and chicken at the same time. Otherwise I would do the waffles first.

Cook Chicken: Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place a cooling rack on a cookie and put in the oven.

Using a large cast iron pan heat oil to 360 degrees.

Set up 2 deep tupperware dishes and one plate. In the first tupperware mix together 1 1/2 cup flour, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.

In the second one beat together the buttermilk and egg. Add the baking soda and baking powder. Mix together until it starts to get foamy.

Put 1/2 cup of flour on the plate and reserve 1 cup flour right next to it.

Remove chicken from the fridge and remove from the container letting as much buttermilk drip off as possible. Pat with a papertowel to remove as much excess buttermilk as possible.

Coat the chicken thoroughly in the seasoned flour, then into the buttermilk then onto the plate for a final coating of flour. Replace flour on the plate as needed. Some people say you can let it sit in a dish till all the chicken is coated and then fry. I like to fry it right away.

Slowly place the chicken in the hot oil. Cook 5-7 minutes per side. Check the internal temperature to make sure it gets to 165. Once cooked through, place on the cooling rack in the oven until you’re ready to assemble the waffles.

To make the gravy:

In a medium sauce pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the bouillon cubes. Add the red pepper flakes, garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute until butter starts to darken. Whisk in the flour until you have a thick paste. Cook for 30 seconds whisking occasionally.  Add the milk 1/2 cup at a time and give it an aggressive whisking each time. Once you’ve added all the milk add the salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low simmer, do not let it boil. Once it thick enough to coat the back of a spoon remove from heat.

Assemble with waffles, chicken a fried egg and topped with gravy and green onions!

 

Orange Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies


As Thanksgiving rapidly approaches with the speed of a bullet train, I can’t help but wonder…….where did this year go?? I have a lot to be thankful for! My parents are amazing! My sister is one of my best friends and she is going have her first little bundle of joy any day now! (I am super excited to be an aunt)

And I have to save the best for last…..Levi and I have made it through another year of living together and it’s the longest I’ve ever lived with someone and our friendship has gotten even stronger! I am just so greatful for all the things he does for us and even when I do really stupid shit (like dump a cup full of nails into the dishwasher) he never says anything mean 💖 and he is so encouraging when I’m upset about work. I just cannot wait to see what adventures this upcoming year holds.

Ok…..enough with all the feels!

Warm cookies and a glass of milk are the perfect fall treat. I found a bag of dried orange infused cranberries at Trader Joe’s when I was in Albuquerque a few weeks ago and I had to use them for something super yummy. We actually made 2 different versions of this cookie so stay tuned for Levi’s version.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Instant Oats
  • 1 Cup White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 Cup Dried Cranberries
  • 1/2 Cup Walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp Orange Zest

In a large bowl or stand mixer beat the butter and both sugars until you have a grainy paste. Add the egg and vanilla, mix in completely. Next mix in the salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the flour and oats and mix well.

Using a mixing spoon gently mix in the white chocolate, cranberries and walnuts. Place the cookie dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Use a cookie scoop to place 1 inch balls of dough on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!!

Minty Monster Krispie Treats


Who doesn’t love a dessert with a cute monster face? This might be my favorite creepy treat I’ve made this year! Rice Krispie treats are such a classic treat for kids and adults alike! There are so many fun twists and I couldn’t help but come up with one of my own…..mint chocolate treats dipped in chocolate. They are scary good…..and would be a big hit at any Halloween party.

I just love Halloween so much. Ever since I was little I have enjoyed making my own costume or even putting it together, in fact there is only one year that I actually purchased a full on costume to be a pirate wench. This year Levi and I are going as Sheldon and Amy from Big Bang Theory. Should’ve been an easy one to put together right? Wrong!! Who knew that knee length skirts and striped cardigans would be so hard to find?!? After 4 hours of hopping from store to store I only had a button up and tights. I was about to just settle for some stuff in my closet that was close but not quite right, but I had this feeling that I should give Ross one more chance….and BOOM there it was the rest of my costume. YAY!! Let the Halloween shenanigans begin!

And let there be treats!

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 Tbsp Butter
  • 16 oz bag of Marshmellows
  • 3 Cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 3 Cups Cocoa Pebbles cereal
  • 1 cup Mini Chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Andes Mint Pieces

Decorations:

  • 2 Bags Green Candy Melts
  • Candy eyes
  • Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups
  • Black icing in a tube
  • Pink spray mist

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallow and stir till completely melted. Remove from heat. Add the cereal and stir until well combined. Mix in chocolate chips and Andes pieces.

Spray a 13 x 9 with cooking spray and press the mixture into the pan. If you want thinner ones you can also use a deep cookie sheet.

Place in the fridge and cool for 15 minutes then cut into desired size squares.

Melt candy melts in a small crockpot, pan on the stove or bowl in the microwave. Quickly dip the treats in the chocolate and lay on a sheet of wax paper sprayed with cooking spray. I used an icing spatula to make the top side as smooth as I could. Add the eyes and the Reese’s while the chocolate is still warm.

Spray on some rosy checks and pipe on a goofy grin with the icing and you are to go!

Have a Happy, Spooky and Safe Halloween everyone!

Easy Homemade Apple Cider


This recipe is extremely easy and something fun you can do as a family. We have a small apple tree in our front yard (we almost got rid of it when we moved in) and it is just about as tall as me, but man does it produce a lot of apples! 

Tools required:

  • Slow cooker
  • Wire Strainer
  • Apple slicer
  • Imulsion blender
  • 3 Mason jars or other containers
  • Ladle

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 apples – sliced (depending on size)
  • 10 cups of water
  • 5 cinnamon sticks (or more depending on personal preference)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice 

Simply put all ingredients in a slow cooker on low for 3 hours. Don’t worry about seeds or stems, you will strain those out later. 

After 3 hours take out the cinnamon sticks and set aside. Use an imulsion blender to break down the apples as much as possible. Put the cinnamon sticks back in and keep on low for 1-3 more hours. Once ready, you will need a strainer and a container to store the liquid. I used mason jars. I used a ladle to scoop the cider into the strainer since the apple mash needs to be separated. Occasionally I dumped out the mash into a bowl so the liquid would drain more easily. I also would occasionally press the mash into the strainer to get as much cider out as possible. I needed 3 mason jars. 

That’s it! It’s as simple as that. Enjoy hot or cold. It’s a great fall treat!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies


Some of my good Facebook buddies have requested my best recipes for chocolate chip cookies. So I am going to share a 3 part chocolate chip cookie series. We will have crunchy cookies and pudding cookies, but of course we will need to start with an all American classic chocolate chip cookie.

I mean how can you go wrong with a classic? These cookies have an awesome texture that is just slightly chewy. The other great thing is that you can totally switch this recipe up and create some awesome flavors. Mix in different candies, nuts, dried fruits or flavor emulsions and create your perfect cookie!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/2 cups All purpose Flour
  • 12 oz or 2 cups Chocolate Chips
  • Optional mix ins: walnuts, raisins, Heath bar pieces,

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a stand mixer combine both sugars. Add butter and mix until a grainy paste forms. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix until just barely smooth.

Add salt and baking soda. Slowly mix in flour.

Use a cookie scoop or spoon and place cookie dough balls on a non stick cookie sheet. Leave at least 1/2 inch in between cookies.

Cook for 22 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

You can follow below to get updated when a new recipe is posted 😀

Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes

So I have been on somewhat of a raspberry lemon baking bender lately! I tried a Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake, a 4 layer cake and these cupcakes! These cupcakes were hands down my favorite experiment! Also my most frustrating. Getting the raspberry curd filling just right was pretty stressful. So let me share the secret…….do not let it boil! If the butter separates, it’s basically over. I learned that one the hard way.

I also learned something new about the baking universe. So I use flavor extracts quite frequently to give my treats a little extra oomph. But the after taste of extracts has really started to bother me and I thought I was just going to have to deal with it. But I was in our specialty cooking store the other day picking up some semolina and I turned around and there was an entire wall of baking flavors and a variety of types of products. There was a little paper with some info about the different types of products. And I discovered emulsions. They are great because they are a water based formula which gives great flavor without the funky taste you get from regular extracts that are alcohol based solutions. Who knew?! So I got a lemon one and a raspberry one and tried these cupcakes again and the result was amazing!

Makes 28 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 Box Lemon Cake Mix
  • 1 Package Jello Instant Lemon Pudding
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp  Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Cup Milk

Frosting:

  • 1 Cup Butter, softened
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Extract or Emulsion
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • If you want to make swirled frosting then add 1/3 cup of Fresh Raspberries and 1/4 tsp Raspberry extract or emulsion to half the frosting

Raspberry Curd Filling:

  • 6-oz  Fresh Raspberries, or you can use frozen if necessary
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1/4 tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients for the cake together in a stand mixer, scraping down the sides to ensure its fully mixed. Pour batter into cupcake liners leaving about 1/4 inch empty at the top. Bake for 20-22 minutes until the cake starts to slightly brown on top. Place pans on a wire rack to cool for at least 10- 15 minutes before filling and frosting.

To make the Raspberry Curd filling

In a medium sauce pan add the raspberries, sugar, butter, lemon juice and salt. Over low-medium heat stir all the ingredients together. As the mixture heats up the berries will start to break down. Make sure you are stirring regularly. Don’t let it come to a boil, just a light simmer. Once the minute is all the same consistency remove from heat and let it cool about 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl whisk some eggs together. Very slowly start whisking in the cooled raspberries. Once the raspberries and eggs are completely combined then transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and over medium heat bring to a simmer whisking frequently for about 7-10 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to cost the back of a spoon.

If you are ambitious you can strain the curd to remove the seeds, but I tried this once and it gave me all the stress. So I live with seeds. Let this cool to room temperature and fill the cupcakes. You can either cut out a small pocket in the middle of the cakes and use a spoon or use a pastry bag with a filling attachment. The filling is amazing so don’t be shy! You can also save any leftover curd in a jar in the fridge and use it on toast or pancakes or topping for ice cream!

To make the Frosting:

In a medium bowl beat the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer until well combined. Beat in the extracts and lemon juice. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time mixing thoroughly.

If you are swirling your frosting, take half the frosting into another bowl and beat in the raspberries and extract. Using a pastry bag and your favorite decorating tip swirl frosting on top of the cupcakes.

You can garnish with some fresh raspberries is desired.

Ok……. I am off the Raspberry Lemonade bender. What should my next obsession be?

Crockpot Pork Chops with a Cream Sauce

IMG_2175

These pork chops are mouthwatering, tender fall apart, saucy perfection!  With just a little prep time you will have an incredibly satisfying meal that tastes like you were slaving away for hours!

When we sat down to enjoy these Levi said right away how tasty they were. He even said he loved the sauce, and he is not the biggest sauce person! That was high praise! I knew I had a keeper recipe here.

This meal was pretty quick to prep, which was perfect for me because I had tons of vacation prep to do on Sunday! It is time time for the annual family migration to Lake Vallecito, Co! I love this little getaway because I get to see my sister and her husband. We always have fun playing in the lake, playing board games and just hanging out with great food and good strong drinks. It’s nice to have a relaxing getaway!

While these chops were simmering away in the crockpot I took that time to get the chicken prepped for Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. And then I fire roasted some tomatillos and jalapeños and whipped up a quick salsa verde. I did save the Rasperry Lemonade Cheescakes for later though. I don’t think those would last the three days before we left without us eating them all!

IMG_2174

Ingredients:

  • 2 Thick Cut Boneless Pork Chops
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed oil, or your favorite cooking oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Ground Black Pepper to taste
  • Fresh or dried basil to garnish

In a medium skillet over medium heat add the oil and onions. Sautée for 2 minutes, add garlic and sautée for another minute. Rub in the salt, mustard and rosemary on both sides of the chops. In the skillet move the onions and garlic to the side. Add the pork chops. Sear on each side for about 2 minutes each side. They should be slightly browned on the outside.

Add the chops, onions and garlic to the crockpot. Cover with chicken stock. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6.

About 15 minutes before they are done take 1 cup liquid and as many onions as you can get out of the crockpot and add to a small saucepan. Over medium heat whisk in the cornstarch. Once that has dissolved slowly add the cream, whisking continuously. Bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add black pepper to your preference. The sauce should thicken up enough that it will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove the chops from the crockpot, smother in the sauce and garnish with basil.

I hope you love these as much as we did! Let me know what you think 🙂