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Sunday, July 26, 2015

M&Ms Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

omg.  i may never make another dessert again.


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar (or dark brown)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup M&M’S® Baking Bits


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease your oven-safe skillet.  (I used a 10" cast iron skillet.)
  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. Beat in eggs and vanilla on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick. Add the chocolate chips and M&M’S®, then mix on low for about 5-10 seconds until everything is evenly disbursed.
  4. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, spread the cookie dough evenly into prepared skillet.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until puffed, browned on the sides, and lightly browned on top. If you want your skillet cookie a little more cooked through, bake for 40 minutes. Allow the cookie to slightly cool in the pan set on a wire rack before digging in. You can scoop/slice and serve or serve with a whole bunch of spoons so everyone can dig in together.  Topped with ice cream is delicious too!  Cover leftovers and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  6. Make ahead tip: Prepare cookie dough through step 3. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 3 months in the freezer. If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator before continuing to the next step.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Chili Pasta Bake


  • ½ Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (I used one tablespoon.)
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • (I also grated one carrot for an extra boost of veggies.)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used half ground beef, half ground turkey.)
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • ½ pounds pasta (Small shells are best.)
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (I just used a regular can of petite diced tomatoes.)
  • 15-ounce can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 3 dashes cayenne powder, optional 
  • ¼ cups water
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cups sour cream, for topping
  • 4 Tablespoons sliced green onions, for topping


1. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Drizzle the oil into a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the onions (and carrots if you'd like!) and sauté for about 3 minutes.

3. Add the ground meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink.

4. While the meat is cooking, cook your pasta in a separate stock pot according to package instructions for firm al dente. Once cooked, drain off the water and set pasta aside.

5. After meat is cooked, add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with green chilies, beans, chili powder, cumin, cayenne (if desired) and water. Give it a stir and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.

6. Transfer the cooked pasta into the pot. Stir to combine.

7. Pour the chili pasta mixture into a 9×13 pan. Flatten it out with a spatula and sprinkle with cheese. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the cheese has fully melted.

8. Spoon into serving dishes and top with sour cream and green onions.

(This is the perfect meal to make early in the day for an easy dinner.  If you go that route, wait to add the shredded cheese until ready to bake.)


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken for BBQ Chicken Pizza

This is a two part post; I made the pulled chicken to make little pizzas but I made some adaptations to the recipe to significantly simplify your dinner!  If you don't want to make the pizzas, the chicken is delicious as is, so feel free to stop there and make sandwiches instead!



  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (or more or less) cayenne pepper (Use 1/4 teaspoon if you are nervous about heat.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Whisk together remaining ingredients in a large bowl then reserve 3/4 cup and pour the rest over the chicken. Lift each chicken breast to make sure some of the sauce has gotten underneath then place a lid on top and cook on low for 4 hours or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. Shred chicken then return to the crock pot and cook on low for 30 minutes. Transfer shredded chicken to a separate container then mix with reserved BBQ sauce.


  • One package of traditional Naan bread (At Whole Foods, it comes in a 4-pack.
  • BBQ pulled chicken
  • BBQ sauce (Use the same one you used to cook your pork or if you need more, use your favorite store-bought kind.)
  • 1 part shredded cheddar (Grate your own!)
  • 2 parts shredded Mozzarella cheese (Grate your own!  Fresh slices are delicious too.)
  • thinly sliced red onion (I cooked mine, but it's not necessary.)
  • freshly diced pineapple (Lots of grocery stores have this pre-sliced for you.  The short cut is worth it.)
  • chopped parsley or cilantro, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place slices of Naan directly onto the oven rack for a few minutes just to heat it.  Remove Naan, then place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  

2. Coat the bottom of the Naan with BBQ sauce, then top with pulled chicken, onions, diced pineapple, shredded cheese, and cilantro/parsley.   If desired, drizzle top of pizzas with BBQ sauce and spread out evenly.  

3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheeses look melted.  These make great leftovers too!!

*Inspired by Our Best Bites' Grilled BBQ Pulled Pork Pizzas

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Barbacoa Tacos (in the crock pot!)

  • 3 lbs. chuck roast, fat trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • ½ medium white onion, coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (add 1 Tablespoon of adobo sauce if you like it spicy) (For a kid-friendly version, I only used one chipotle chile and also seeded it.)
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Toppings: cilantro, cheese, chopped tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, limes
  • Your favorite soft flour tortillas

1. Place the chunks of roast in a 6-8 quart slow cooker.

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients (onion through beef broth) to a blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Pour over meat and top with the bay leaves. Cook for 6-8 hours on low or until meat starts to fall apart.

4. Remove bay leaves and shred meat with two forks and then return to the juices in the slow cooker. Serve with a slotted spoon onto tortillas. Top with favorite fixins'; cilantro, cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, avocado, and a squeeze of lime.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chili-Lime Chicken

The original recipe called for boneless, skin-on thighs, but I used chicken tenders.  

2 – 2.5 lbs. chicken tenders or breasts
Marinade Ingredients: 
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 teaspoons fresh lime zest
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped finely
2 jalapeño, chopped finely (Remove the ribs and seeds for less spice.)
4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder or to taste
(I put handful of cilantro, ribbed/seeded chunks of jalapeño, and whole garlic cloves in food processor for easier prep!)
1. Place the chicken in a Ziploc bag.  In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together using a whisk.  Make sure it is well combined.
2. Add marinade to the Ziploc bag and make sure to stir and coat the chicken evenly. Marinate for 2 hours.  (I marinated for 4.)
4. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  For tenders, grill for 3-4 minutes per side, or until chicken is fully cooked.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Maple Mustard Chicken Thighs

  1. Ingredients:
  2. 1/3 cup spicy brown mustard
  3. 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  4. 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  5. 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  6. 1 tablespoon grated onion
  7. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  8. 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  9. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  10. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  11. 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  12. kosher salt

  1. Place the chicken thighs in a large Ziploc bag.
  2. Combine brown mustard, brown sugar, maple syrup, yellow mustard, grated onion, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and black pepper in a small mixing bowl. (It makes about one cup.)  Pour half of the mixture (I used 3/4 cup) over the chicken thighs and refrigerate for 2-4 hours. 
  3. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium heat (about 400 degrees). Remove the thighs from the bag and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Cook the thighs 3-5 minutes per side. Brush both sides of the thighs with reserved sauce before serving.


Cheesy Garlic Parmesan Spinach Orzo

  • 1½ cups uncooked orzo pasta (I used DeLallo whole wheat.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2½ teaspoons minced garlic (I used 2 large cloves.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%.)
  • ⅔ cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped (I didn't want big chunks of spinach, so I put two large handfuls into a mini food processor and finely chopped.) 
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping) (Add in increments...I don't think it needs that much.)

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. (I used a 12" skillet.)  Add garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add flour to garlic and oil and whisk for one minute. Add about ¼ cup of the milk to the pot and whisk to work out any lumps. When lumps are gone, add the remaining milk and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  4. Add chopped spinach to sauce. Cook an additional 2 minutes or so until spinach is soft and dark. Remove sauce from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. When cheese has melted, add orzo and stir to combine. If desired, serve with extra Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Enjoy!
  5. (Over time, the cheese really soaks up the milk, so if you feel that it is not creamy enough, use a little bit more milk.  Next time, I'll probably use 1 1/4 cup.)