Tag Archives: dinner

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


  • 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!


Apple Rosemary Roasted Turkey

If you are into kitchen gadgets you would love a turkey cannon! No more waking up before dawn to get the turkey prepped and roasted for your big holiday meal. I always remember my mom and dad getting very stressed out about getting the turkey in the oven on time. And then making sure they check on it again and again. And then Levi used to host a big Friendsgiving, he was quite fond of the turkey in a bag method. It was convenient that’s for sure.

But if you want your turkey to cook quickly, be super moist, and jam packed full of flavor then you have to try a turkey cannon! I make my own flavored broth to put in the metal tube and then when you put the turkey in the oven the tube helps cook the turkey from the inside out as well as infusing the flavor of your broth into the meat. Yum!

We did this for Thanksgiving last year and I have no idea why I never posted it. I was probably too busy chomping down on all that yummy turkey! We made it again this weekend so we could have some of our own turkey leftovers.



  • 3 Cups chicken broth
  • 2-3 slices of Granny Smith Apple
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs  fresh Rosemary


  • 12 lb Turkey, completely thawed
  • 1 quarter of an Onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 Slices Granny Apple
  • 1 Shallot, quartered
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 handful fresh Italian Parsley
  • 4 Tbsp Butter, softened

First make the broth:

In a medium saucepan add all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turkey Time:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove from the packaging, and make sure you remove all the gizzards and icky stuff. Pat the outside of the turkey dry. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the apples, onions, shallot, parsley and rosemary.

Place your turkey cannon in a deep roasting pan. Pour your broth into the cannon until it’s up to the first hole. Place the turkey on the cannon. Secure the legs with cooking twine, in a pinch you can reuse the plastic the legs come secured with.

Mince the garlic and mix in with 2 tbsp softened butter. Cut 1 slit in the skin above each breast. Use your hand to spread the butter and garlic mixture in between the skin and breast. Spread the rest of the butter over the top of the skin all over the bird.

Bake the bird until it’s internal temperature in 165 degrees. It will take about 90 minutes depending on the oven. I highly suggest getting a wireless meat thermometer, it will change your life. Otherwise, check your temp after the first 60 minutes and then about 15-20 minute intervals until you’ve reached the desired temp.


Remove turkey from oven, cover in aluminum foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.


Please please please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I also want to make a video of this process. But that will have to wait until after the big move.

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!! I am so thankful for all of you who follow and support me in all my crazy cooking adventures….love you all!

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.


  • 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.


Adapted from Riches to Rags recipe click here for link. 

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. 


  • 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! 


  • 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.

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
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 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 or Gruyere 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 cook 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 sheet 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!