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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Easy! Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs

I halved this recipe.  Original feeds 6.


  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • 5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, optional
  • 2-3 regular-sized carrots {or a heaping handful of babies}, (see notes)


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, beef broth, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes, if using.
  2. Place short ribs into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in soy sauce mixture until well combined.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Stir in mixture into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and sesame seeds, if desired.

*To test for doneness, meat should fall freely off bone.

I didn't think the flavor was very "Asian," so I served my short ribs with mashed red potatoes and carrots.  The last hour of cooking, I chopped the carrots (I used a large handful of baby carrots that I had on hand) and threw them right in the crock with the meat.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

No Mixer Needed! Easiest Banana Bread EVER.


  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled (I used 3.)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, 1 cup if more sweet) (I used a scant 3/4 cup.)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.  (I made mine into muffins.  Makes 12.)

In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.

Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan (or lined muffin pan....about 1/4 cup batter in each cup). Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (My muffins took 23 minutes.)

Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack. Remove the banana bread (or muffins) from the pan.  (A bread knife helps to make slices that aren't crumbly.)

(Notes: You can add 1 cup of chocolate chips or nuts too!  Add those after the flour and gently stir.) 


Monday, May 2, 2016

Hands Down, THE BEST Sloppy Joe Recipe. Ever.

Sloppy Joes = so ugly, and frankly, I think they are disgusting; whenever I hear the name, I immediately think of the lunch lady on Billy Madison.  This recipe instantly changed my mind about them.  I made a few modifications for a healthier, sneak-veggies-in version, so refer to my notes for my adapted version.  Yum.

  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper (I used half of a red pepper and added one large chopped carrot.)
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (we use 80% lean) (Try turkey for a healthier version.)
  • 2½ Tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • (one heaping handful of spinach, chopped)
  • buns for serving

  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, quickly add the onion and stir occasionally until translucent. Add the peppers, (carrots), and garlic and stir occasionally for 1 minute then add the ground beef (or turkey) and break it up with a wooden spoon, stirring it all together. Allow to cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, Liquid Smoke, chili powder, and paprika. Stir for 30 seconds and then add the ketchup and vinegar. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, season to taste, and serve or cook up to 1 hour on low and then serve. The longer it cooks the better the flavor. (With about two minutes left on the clock, I added my chopped spinach, giving it just enough time to wilt.)
  3. Scoop onto buns that have been brushed with butter. (I didn't brush buns.)

(This recipe serves 4-6.)


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Easy Skillet Lasagna

I'm never making traditional lasagna again.


1 {28 ounce} can crushed tomatoes
1 {8 ounce} can tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 pound ground chuck
1/4 pound Italian sausage (I used mild.)
8 whole lasagna noodles, broken into thirds
1/2 heaping cup of Ricotta cheese
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella, sliced thin and torn
fresh basil leaves, torn
shaved Parmesan, for sprinkling


(Here's a photographic step-by-step if you're nervous about the how-to.  It's super easy!)

In a large bowl or liquid measuring cup, add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water.
In a large 12 inch skillet (I used cast iron), heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. 
Once hot, add in the diced onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add in the minced garlic and cook for one minute. Measure in the kosher salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Add in 3/4 pound of ground chuck, 1/4 pound of Italian sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and fully cooked.
Evenly layer the broken lasagna noodles on top of the ground beef/sausage mixture and pour the tomato sauces over top. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium-low. 
Let the sauce bubble to cook the noodles.  As they soften,  push the noodles into the sauce so the sauce can work its way down into the pan.
Once the noodles are al dente (takes about 15 minutes), give it a good stir and then drop spoonfuls of ricotta cheese onto the lasagna. Give it a stir to break up the ricotta but not lose it completely.
Scatter torn pieces of the fresh mozzarella over top, cover with a lid, and let the steam melt the cheese. About 5 minutes.  (You can also put under the broiler for a few minutes.)
Serve piping hot with freshly torn basil and shaved Parmesan.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Super Easy! Oven Baked Tacos

I made a few modifications/suggestions, but I kept original recipe for alternate options.  (See my notes/links.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound cooked chicken, shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken.)
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet Old El Paso Hot & Spicy Taco Seasoning (Use mild if you're serving kids, or make your own!  This recipe makes a large batch so you can store for later use too!  So FYI, use about THREE tablespoons per ONE pound of meat.  In this oven baked taco recipe, you would use 1.5 tablespoons.)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomato, DRAINED
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can mild Old El Paso Chopped Green Chiles
  • 10 Old El Paso Stand and Stuff Taco Shells
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) can Old El Paso Refried Beans (I am not a fan of the canned refried beans.  For an easy homemade black bean recipe, see notes at bottom of recipe.)
  • 2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese, shredded (Buy a block and grate your own!)
  • Toppings such as sliced jalapeƱos, sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro, guac or avocado, shredded lettuce, or any of your favorite taco toppings!
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  LIGHTLY spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.
  3. Add onion to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and fragrant.
  4. Stir in the chicken, taco seasoning, drained tomatoes, and green chiles. Stir to combine fully. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Spoon about 1 tablespoon (a thin layer) of beans into the bottom of each taco shell. Top with the chicken mixture, almost to the top of each shell.   Place the taco shells in the baking dish, standing up. I was able to fit 10 taco shells.
  6. Sprinkle each shell generously with shredded cheese.
  7. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and the edges of the shells are browned.
  8. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite items such as jalapeƱos, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and salsa.  Serve with Mexican rice!
  9. Enjoy!
  10. ***TIPS: Be sure to drain the tomatoes completely, this will help the taco shells to not get soggy while baking!

Easy Homemade Refried Black Beans
2 cans black beans, drained
about 1/2 cup veggie or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. coriander 
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 a lime, juiced (optional)

In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients.  Boil for 7-10 minutes or until beans are soft and broth has reduced.  Toss mixture into blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  If too thick, gradually add more broth/water.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Jalapeno-Lime Chicken Drumsticks


  • 1 jar (10 ounces) red jalapeno pepper jelly
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 12 chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, heat jelly and lime juice over medium heat until melted.   Remove from heat (it will thicken up once cooled) and set aside 1/2 cup for serving.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Moisten a paper towel with cooking oil; using long-handled tongs, rub on grill rack to coat lightly. Grill chicken, covered, over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until a thermometer reads 170°-175°, turning occasionally and basting with remaining jelly mixture during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve with reserved jelly mixture. Yield: 6 servings.

*Taste of Home Magazine, April/May 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Garlic-Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 large or 2 medium or small pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped rosemary leaves (strip them from the woody stem first)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. coarse mustard
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

    • 1
      Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
    • 2
      Rinse pork tenderloin in cool water and trim any excess fat or the silvery membrane on the meat.  (If your butcher is your friend, and you ask him/her to do it for you, there's a good chance you can get out of doing this task yourself!)  Pat dry and place on the prepared baking sheet.
    • 3
      In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary leaves, mustard, garlic, Kosher salt, and black pepper.  (OR!  If you have that amazing mini food processor that I constantly praise, put ALL of the ingredients {except for the pork} into the food processor and pulse until herbs and garlic is chopped and ingredients are combined.)  Carefully rub all over pork roast, particularly on top. Place in heated oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer reaches 155 degrees. When the meat is done, remove from oven and allow to stand 5-10 minutes before slicing.
    • 4
      Roast the tenderloin for about 25-30 minutes.  (Mine was done at 25, so check temperature at the 25 minute mark.)  For a smaller piece of meat, start around 20 minutes and go from there. Of course, large and small is all relative and a good meat thermometer is definitely an asset in your kitchen.