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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.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Grilled (and Stuffed) Buffalo Chicken

  • 1 lbs. boneless chicken breast (2 breasts)
  • black pepper
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp. butter 
  • ¼ cup Franks Hot Sauce
  • ¼ tsp. celery salt
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (400 degrees).
  2. Horizontally slice a three-inch pocket in the middle of breast. Do not cut all the way through! Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with pepper.  Stuff the chicken with cheese then fold chicken back over to close it. 
  3. In a microwave safe bowl melt the butter for 8-10 seconds. Stir in hot sauce and celery salt.
  4. Brush one side of the chicken with hot sauce mixture and place the chicken (sauce-side down) on the grill. Brush more (but not all) hot sauce over top of chicken. Cook for about 7 minutes. Flip the chicken, brush remaining hot sauce on top and cook until no longer pink; about 6-7 minutes more.
  5. Serve with a side salad, celery, carrots and ranch dressing if desired.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Pepperoncini Beef Sandwiches

  1. 1/2+ tsp. kosher salt
  2. 1/2+ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  3. 2 tablespoons of olive or cooking oil
  4. 3 lb. beef roast, trimmed of excess fat (I used a top-round roast.)
  5. 4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  6. 1 16-oz. jar sliced pepperoncinis, undrained
  7. optional: 1 small packet dry Italian dressing
  8. Crusty sandwich rolls (for sandwiches)
  9. Sliced provolone cheese (for sandwiches)

  1. Heat oil in a pot or high-sided skillet over high heat. While the oil is heating, combine the salt and pepper and rub it into the meat. Add more if necessary. When the oil is hot, sear the roast on all sides so the outsides of it is browned and a little crispy.
  2. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker and add the minced garlic and the entire jar of pepperoncinis (and dressing mix if using). If possible, cook on high until the liquid comes to a boil and then turn it to low and cook until the roast shreds easily with a fork, for a total cooking time of about 6-8 hours. If not possible, cook on low for 8-10 hours or until the beef is fork tender.
  3. For sandwiches, slice the rolls and spread lightly with mayonnaise and then top with the shredded beef. Add a slice of provolone cheese and then place under the broiler for 1-3 minutes or until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted. Serve immediately. Makes 12 large sandwiches.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Easy (and real good) Quinoa Pizza Bowls

(This recipe supposedly serves 6, however, I only have 5 ramekins and it was a PERFECT amount for the 5 and the modifications I made.  See my notes throughout recipe.)


  • 1 cup (dry) quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used veggie.)
  • 2 (14-ounce) jars pizza sauce (**I bought 15 oz. cans of pizza sauce and had just enough for 5 servings.  If you are making 6, I would buy 3 cans.)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 cups of your favorite pizza toppings (I used 4 oz. diced pepperoni, diced green peppers, and VERY thinly-sliced, then chopped red onions, but see other ideas below.)
  • optional toppings: grated Parmesan cheese, crushed red peppers


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Cook quinoa in the chicken or vegetable stock according to package instructions. (I cooked mine for 20 minutes, turned off heat, fluffed, then put a paper towel between sauce pan and lid and covered for an additional 5 minutes.)  (Or you can use this tutorial for how to cook quinoa.)
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, fluff the quinoa with a fork.  Then stir about 1/2 cup pizza sauce into the quinoa until evenly combined.  Set aside.  (I DID NOT stir any pizza sauce into the quinoa, and I'm glad that I didn't.  It would have been wayyyy to much pizza sauce for me, so totally your call.)
  4. Lightly spray 6 large (10-ounce) oven-safe ramekins with cooking spray.  Place the ramekins on a large baking tray. (I made 5.)
  5. Spread about 2 Tablespoons of pizza sauce evenly over the bottom of each ramekin.
  6. Layer each with about 1/4 cup of quinoa, and spread with a spoon to flatten.
  7. Layer each evenly with a pinch of shredded Mozzarella.
  8. Layer each with a single layer of desired pizza toppings.
  9. Repeat by layering each with another layer of sauce, quinoa, Mozzarella, pizza toppings, followed by a final layer of Mozzarella.  The ramekins should be full but not overflowing.
  10. Transfer the baking sheet full of ramekins to the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the ingredients are heated through.  At this point, you can either remove the pizza bowls from the oven, OR, if you'd like to get the cheese extra golden on top, you can turn the oven to "broil".  Then -- keeping a close eye on the cheese so that it does not burn -- broil the pizza bowls until the cheese is golden on top.
  11. Remove and sprinkle each pizza bowl with a pinch of Parmesan cheese and crushed red peppers, if desired.  Serve immediately.
*Feel free to swap in your favorite pizza toppings here.  As goes with traditional pizza, just be sure that they are chopped or cooked (if needed, such as for sausage, etc.) if needed before adding them to the pizza bowls.
*I prepped everything ahead of time (chopped pizza toppings, grated cheese, cooked quinoa, sprayed ramekins) before making this recipe, (just refrigerate until ready!) and it was super easy and quick to assemble come dinnertime!