Tag Archives: dinner

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!


  • 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.

Country Ribs braised in White Wine

I really love country style ribs! No bone and they are very tender and will absorb flavors well. Most recipes you will find will take hours and hours to slow cook the ribs to perfection. We usually do them in a slow cooker with Dr. Pepper. Click here for that recipe.

But I was looking for a quicker way to cook them, and found a lot of recipes that braised them in wine, but that still took a few hours. So what better way to get a quick cook than in a cast iron pan! I used my cast iron to sear the ribs first and then covered and into the oven for a quick braise. I know that I posted this as a 30 minute recipe and it really is just a few minutes over 30! WOW! The sauce is wonderful and made from the left over braising liquid.

I was basically playing an episode of Chopped this evening. All I knew I had was wine, ribs and pierogies.  Luckily the broccoli and carrots were already in the fridge and we were able to whip up this awesome dinner.


  • 6 Country Style Ribs, rubbed with salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup White Wine
  • 2 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 2 tsp Onion Salt
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • For the sauce: 2 Tbsp flour, 1 chicken bullion cube and 1/2 cup Milk

Preheat oven to 325.

In your cast iron skillet heat up the oil, add the ribs that have been rubbed with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes on each side until browned. Set aside. Add the garlic to the pan, give it a stir and it will brown very quickly. Add the wine, there will probably be a lot of smoke so keep your fan on. Bring to a boil, add the rosemary, onion salt and bay leaves. Put the ribs back in the pan and cover with your cast iron lid.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Pork should be cooked to at least 165 degrees. Once it’s done place the pan back on the stove top. Remove the ribs to a covered plate to rest while you make the sauce. Whisk in the flour and bring to a simmer. Add the milk and continue to simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.

Dad’s French Onion Soup

One of my really good friends actually requested this recipe. Around the holidays my dad always makes the BEST French Onion soup. For quite a few years in my 20’s I would bring friends over for a holiday meal and everyone always loved the French Onion soup the most. Of course I couldn’t post a recipe without trying it first. I would have to say our first attempt was a raving success! Cheesy, salty, and rich……heaven in a bowl! Another great thing about this dish is that you can do the main prep days in advance and then finish it up 10-20 minutes before you are ready to serve it! We had a bowl tonight for dinner and then saved the rest for New Years Eve!

We went over to my parents house this afternoon to get the recipe and some tips. Dad said that he has tried out several recipes over the years and has taken a little knowledge from each. So we took home with us pictures of 4 different recipes, a 1/4 Cup of Brandy, 6 English muffins of assorted flavors and a few laughs.

So here is the culmination of our learning and a few improvisations. 

Serves 4


  • 4 medium Yellow onions, cut longways and sliced into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sugar (to assist in browning onions)
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Flour
  • 1 quart chicken/beef broth mix (4 beef bouillon cubes and 3 chicken bouillon cubes dissolved in 4 Cups water)
  • 1 Can Beef Consumme (10.5 oz)
  • 1/4 Cup Brandy
  •  1/2 Cup Dry Vermouth
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 2 Cups Swiss Cheese, grated
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • French Bread, thickly sliced and toasted

Noted substitutions: In some recipes you can use a white wine in place of vermouth and gruyere cheese in place of the swiss. Also, if you really want to kick up the flavor use homemade beef stock in place of the chicken/beef broth.

Browning the onions: Melt the butter on moderate heat  in a 6 quart pot and add the oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent. The onions should have reduced by about half the size at this point.  Add the sugar and salt and turn the heat up to moderately high. Cook for an additional 25 minutes until the onions are a medium golden brown. Stirring frequently and scraping off the cooked brown bit at the bottom of the pot and stirring them in with the onions.

Simmering the soup: Add the dried mustard, flour, and garlic and stir for 3 minutes. Next add 2 cups of the broth and stir vigorously. Bring to a simmer. Add the rest of the broth, consumme, brandy, vermouth, nutmeg and pepper. Stir together, loosely cover and simmer for 1- 2.5 hours. The longer you go the more flavor you will develop.  Add a little water if your broth reduces too much. Remove from heat.

Prepare ahead: If you are prepping then go ahead and cool the soup, and cover and leave in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Eat it now!: Bring your oven to Broil High. Ladle your soup into single serve ramekins, top with the toast and a giant mound of Swiss cheese and then sprinkle with Parmesan. Place on a baking sheet and broil for 5-8 minutes until your cheese is browned.

I would love to hear about your favorite holiday meal….feel free to comment below!


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.


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!


Brown Sugar Bacon Green Beans

These green beans are to die for! Seriously they are so delicious. When we had our early Thanksgiving cooking extravaganza we made these as a side. 


  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 2 strips bacon chopped 
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (yes…seriously)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions

This recipe is really simple to make. First you’ll want to boil the green beans until they are easily pierced with a fork, but don’t overdo it because they will be cooked more in a pan with the other ingredients. Once they are ready, drain them and rinse with cold water and set them aside. Next start cooking the chopped bacon in a pan on medium heat (6-8 setting), just cook until browned and not too crispy. Leave the grease and add the onions, garlic, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard and mix until a sauce is formed and is bubbling lightly. Now add the green beans and cook while mixing until evenly coated, this will take about 5 minutes. 

That’s it! It’s so simple but you won’t be disappointed! This will be a great side for your upcoming holiday feasts! 

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!

Crockpot Pork Chops with a Cream Sauce


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!



  • 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 🙂

One Pan Pasta with a Creamy Tomato Sauce

I have a slightly different version of this recipe that I posted a couple years ago. It has salsa instead of tomato sauce, looking back on that Levi and I are just like “what were we thinking?” It just sounds pretty weird. I really wanted to make another one pot meal that would help us cut down on our nightly kitchen cleaning routine.

This recipe is really simple to make and can be ready in about 20 minutes! It’s perfect for families on the go, or if you’re just not feeling super motivated to cook a big dinner. I just started a new running habit with the puppy this week. It’s been quite a few months since I did any type of consistent exercise, so I was pretty pooped after the first couple runs. But I still wanted a delicious dinner!

So this is what I came up with. It was really good for my lunch for the next couple days as well 🙂

Serves 4


  • 4 Italian Style Chicken Sausage, sliced ( I used Johnsonville)
  • 1 Medium Onion, diced
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Cup Green Peppers, diced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil, or cooking oil
  • 1 Tbsp Rosemary
  • 16 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 8 oz Cellantini Pasta
  • 1 Cup Mozzarella
  • Fresh or dried parsley to taste

In a large saucepan heat the oil and rosemary over medium heat. Add the sausage, onion, garlic and green peppers. Sauté until the onions are soft and just starting to brown. The sausage should also be slightly browned. This should take 3-5 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and basil and sauté for one minute, tossing to coat all the ingredients. Add the chicken broth and cream, bring to a boil. Add pasta and reduce heat to medium.

Cover and simmer for 11-15 minutes stirring occasionally. Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat and top with the cheese, cover and the cheese will melt as the sauce finishes setting. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve it up and enjoy!!!

Tortellini and Meatball Tomato Soup

What a great year 2015 was! We both had awesome career opportunities and challenges. Our little family was made complete with addition of our sweet, goofy, baby Sven. Our friendship survived the challenges of the first six months with a new puppy! It wasn’t always easy! We kicked off our careers as DIY champs by creating our chalkboard, refinishing an old bench and finally painting our countertops! We planted our first garden, which was so fun and I wish we had room for more. We took a fun little trip and got to ride on a train through the Rocky Mountains.

I had so much fun with this blog this year! Learning new cooking techniques and getting inspirations from the Food Network has all paid off with some of the best food I’ve ever made. And as a bonus I met my goal of creating 50 posts and getting 1000 views!!!! What an accomplishment! I also hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas this year! I had so much fun cooking with my dad this year and learned a lot from him.

I can’t wait to see what exciting adventures 2016 holds for us! So my first post of 2016 is our last meal of 2015. It was quite different than our 2014 feast of everything wrapped in bacon. I haven’t really started my journey into the wide world of soup making. But here we go! This soup was amazing and ended up being quite a hearty meal! It’s just a little spicy and has some great textures that really help make it feel like a meal. I hope you all enjoy! And look for my next post……. Straight out of Julia Child’s Master the Art of French Cooking we are making Beouf Bourguignon. Yum!

But first let’s make some soup!


  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Kale, chopped
  • 2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 tsp Rosemary
  • 2 oz Tomato Paste
  • 4 oz Tomato Sauce
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 package frozen Cheese Tortellini
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Roll the sausage and Parmesan into bite sized meatballs. In a medium saucepan heat the oil and cook the meatballs about 5-7 minutes until they are fully cooked through. Set aside on a paper towel.

In a large pot, over medium heat, add some more oil and the onions. Sauté the onions for about 3-5 minutes, until they become soft and opaque. Add the garlic and kale and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and Rosemary. Give it a few stirs and then add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, add the meatballs and tortellini. Cook for the amount of time specified on the tortellini. 

And voilà! There you have it 🙂

Happy New Year everyone!

Chicken Fried Rice

Want a super easy and super yummy dinner? Well this is probably the quickest dinner I’ve ever made that didn’t come out of a box! And it was really yummy and filling, Levi said that we should definitely make this all the time.

If you are super fancy and have a nice wok then definitely use it for the full fried rice making experience. If you are a use-what-you’ve-got kinda gal like me, then we can use a large skillet.

Update: I seriously love how easy this dinner is. I make it at least 2 or 3 times a month and I make a ton so that we can have the leftovers for lunch the next day or 2!

Servings: 3-4

Calories: Approx 400 per serving.


  • 2 cups Minute Rice, prepared (I’ve read that leftover rice is the best)
  • 2 chicken breasts, diced and browned in a skillet with 2 tbsp olive oil. I seasoned mine with salt, garlic powder and Montreal Chicken Seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame Oil, that stuff is expensive! I just used olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup Yellow Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup frozen Corn
  • 1 cup frozen Peas
  • 1-2 carrots diced or 1 cup frozen diced carrot
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/8 cup Soy Sauce

Prepare the rice and chicken. Set aside.

In your large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add your onions, carrots, corn, peas and garlic. Cook until the onions become soft and translucent. 

Add the eggs, scramble them into the veggies. Once the eggs are cooked then add the rice and chicken. Mix it in.

Pour in the soy sauce and mix until all your rice is a lovely golden brown! 

Remove from heat, serve and enjoy!!