Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

Monday, October 9, 2017

My household eats alot of chicken. I wouldn't say that they are picky eaters, but they do have their favorites. And chicken is high on that list. I sometimes have trouble coming up with different  ways to prepare it, so that they don't get bored. This recipe for loaded baked potato chicken is a perfect meal. Because the potatoes are on the chicken, I just make a side ( usually green beans) and a small salad and dinner is served. You  can make this recipe your own by switching up the cheeses and adding other traditional baked potato toppings, like sour cream.  I think adding small broccoli florets would be great as well. I will do that the next time I make this dish. And I will definitely make it again!
*I use reduced fat cheddar (Cabot brand) and turkey bacon to lighten it up a bit.

Loaded Baked Potato Chicken

8 medium red potatoes, diced

1/3 c olive oil

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 c sharp cheddar cheese. shredded

1 c cooked crispy bacon, chopped

1/2 c diced green onion


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a 9x9 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2.In a large bowl, add potatoes, olive oil, garlic powder,kosher salt,paprika and black pepper.Toss to combine.

3. In a medium pan, add the remaining oil and heat to medium. Cook the chicken until cooked through. Take off of the heat and keep warm.

4.Place the potatoes in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30-35 minutes  until the potatoes are done, but not falling apart.

5.Place the chicken in the casserole dish .Top the chicken with the potatoes and sprinkle on the cheese and bacon.

6.Broil until the cheese is melted. Add green onion to serve. 

Queso Dip

Thursday, September 28, 2017

We love to entertain. Having friends and family around us is so important, for both my husband and I and our boys. Normally we just double or triple what we are making and have people over to eat. One of the favorite themes we like is Mexican. It is so easy to  make  a big batch of chicken or beef for tacos, nachos or enchiladas. If you prepare the fixin's (lettuce, cheese, guacamole, etc)  ahead of time it is a low stress way to entertain. I have been making this super easy slow cooker queso dip for awhile now and everyone raves about it. Super flavorful and creamy. And did I mention it is super easy ? :) Seriously just dump all the ingredients into a crock pot and in an hour you have queso perfection. You can find white American cheese in the deli at your local grocery store. Just ask for 1 lb and cube it . OR you could buy a package of individually wrapped white American cheese , but unwrapping all those pieces of cheese is a pain . And you can buy a can of hot rotel tomatoes for a spicier version. Or even add diced jalapeno. Lots of options. Serve with warm tortilla chips and be prepared for compliments and no leftovers :) 
* I have a smaller crockpot that I use for dips and sauces. I found it at Target and recommend having one on hand if you make lots of dips. It is the perfect size , and you don't have to lug out a big one.

Slow Cooker Queso Dip
1 8oz block cream cheese, cubed
1 lb white cheddar cheese, cubed
1 T salted butter
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
4 T milk
2 T chopped , fresh cilantro

1. Combine cream cheese, American cheese, butter, and drained rotel tomatoes in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low 1 hour. Stir until well combined and add the milk, 1 T at a time until you reach a desired consistency. I usually use all 4 T.
3. Stir in chopped cilantro right before serving.
4. Keep warm in slow cooker.

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn

Friday, September 22, 2017

One of the foods I love to make for neighbors, teachers and friends during the fall season is this old fashioned caramel corn. Growing up, this popcorn was always at my nana's when we could pop over to visit. She would make  a double {or triple) recipe and store it in a large Charles Chips tin. My sister, cousins and I would sit around the kitchen table and eat handfuls of it until nana cut us off. As we got older, she would put bowls of the corn  on the table as we played Scrabble . It brings back so many great memories. Don't you just love when food sends you into reminiscing about childhood?
This recipe is easy, once you get the hang of it. It is rich and buttery and makes a great snack. Keep it in  an airtight container , otherwise it will get soft. I would make a double batch if I were you .It goes quick!

Old Fashioned Caramel Corn
2 cups brown sugar (packed)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
5 quarts popped corn

Pop corn and keep warm in two shallow pans (however, I recommend using one large roasting pan versus cookie sheets) in 250 degree oven. Combine sugar, butter, syrup and salt in sauce pan on stovetop. Bring to a boil slowly and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour immediately over popped corn and mix well. Place back in oven and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.Let cool and break up. Store in container.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

This is one of my very favorite meals to make. The flavors of the cranberry balsamic sauce over the pork tenderloin is fantastic. The woodsy rosemary, the tart cranberry and the sweet balsamic...heaven. This would make a great meal for holiday guests, and it is easy enough for a weeknight meal as well. I usually serve this pork with maple pecan sweet potatoes. Any type of sweet potatoes will do for this recipe. The potatoes really compliment the flavors of the pork.

Cranberry Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes.
Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary; sauté until onion softens, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes. Transfer pork to work surface. Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture.
Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Slice pork and serve with sauce.
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Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Chicken dishes are one of the staples on our dinner table. I usually cook with chicken a few times a week. This recipe is one I came across a few years ago from Amy over at She Wears Many Hats . I love the flavor profile of coconut milk, garlic, lime and basil. This recipe uses all of those, plus the added bonus of ginger. If you do decide to add this recipe to your menu plan, make sure you prep ahead. The chicken is better if it marinates for a few hours ( or overnight). But if you don't, that is ok too. I have made it late in the afternoon and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so before baking it and it has been yummy. No complaints from any of us. Also make sure that you buy canned coconut milk , and mix it well before you prepare the marinade. Coconut milk tends to separate while shelf stable in the can. In the summertime, if you can find fresh Thai basil, I highly recommend mincing a few leaves and garnishing the chicken before you serve it. It gives it a subtle spicy kick.
* you can use any type of chicken, but I love the bone in, skin on chicken thighs. It absorbs the flavor and the chicken doesn't dry out when baking . You can always take the skin off before serving.

Baked Coconut Milk Chicken Thighs
{Adapted from She Wears Many Hats)

1/2 c canned coconut milk
3 T fresh lime juice
3 T brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
thai basil leaves , for garnish ( optional)

Preheat the oven to 450*
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together except the chicken thighs and thai basil, if using.
Transfer the marinade to a large Ziploc bag. Add the chicken thighs and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours, or overnight.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and place the chicken in an oven proof skillet. Discard the marinade.
Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes , or until the chicken is cooked through.
Garnish with minced thai basil, if desired.

Maple Chicken Tenderloins

Thursday, September 7, 2017

I have a confession. I am a recipe hoarder. Seriously. I am constantly printing, cutting out or jotting down recipes.Every day I add to my pile.It is so bad, I have to go through my pile every few weeks and downsize those recipes that I thought I would make at the time,but have since decided against. Now people, I am a spice snob. I tend to use Penzey's Spices on a regular basis and very ,very rarely do I buy any other. But looking through my myriad of recipes,I have always come back to this one, and it calls for Montreal Steak Seasoning. So I caved and bought a bottle. Made the recipe...and I am hooked! This recipe is ah-mazing. One of the best I have tasted in a long time.Plus, it is super easy to make,with very minimal ingredients and effort.I strongly suggest you make mashed sweet potatoes to accompany this chicken. Your taste buds with thank you. I know will have a bottle of McCormicks Montreal Steak Seasoning in my cabinet. Because I know I will be making this recipe often. And sharing it with anyone who tastes it . Now I am off to try to downsize the ever-growing pile of "to try" recipes. :)

Maple  Chicken Tenderloins
1 lb chicken tenderloins
2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
2 T butter
1/4 real maple syrup (splurge and use the real stuff.It is worth it. )

1.Lightly coat chicken with steak seasoning on both sides. Heat butter in a medium high skillet  and cook chicken 6-10 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from skillet and keep warm.
2. Stir the maple syrup into the hot skillet , scraping the seasoning from the bottom. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring.
3. Put chicken back into the skillet  and coat with the maple syrup glaze. Simmer for a few minutes to rewarm the chicken.
4. Serve over mashed sweet potatoes.

Homemade Caramel Apples (Using a Slow Cooker)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Along with candied apples, we always look forward to caramel apples in the cooler months. These caramel apples are super easy . The caramel is melted in a slow cooker and the crisp apples are dipped into the caramel to set. I turn on the slow cooker to low and in about an hour , the caramel is melted and ready to use. The longest part of this recipe is unwrapping two whole bags of caramel.

Homemade Caramel Apples
2 bags caramel candies , unwrapped
1 T milk
10 small apples
10 popsicle sticks

1. Place all of the caramels into the slow cooker and put on low heat.
2. Meanwhile, clean and dry the apples and place a popsicle stick into each one.
3. Lightly grease a cookie sheet. set aside.
4. after about and hour , stir the milk into the caramel. It should be creamy and melted. If not, put the lid back on the slow cooker and heat a few more minutes.
5. Holding each apple by the popsicle stick, dip and turn the apples into the caramel, letting the excess drip off. Place each apple onto the greased cookie sheet to set.
* you have to work pretty quickly to get the caramel coated on each apple. I use a butter knife to spread the  caramel around the apple.

Homemade Roasted Jalapeno Salsa

Friday, September 1, 2017

With  the abundance of tomatoes we are  (and will be for the coming weeks) blessed with this year , I am canning salsa, tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce. My crew here goes through salsa very fast . We eat it with tortilla chips, add it to cream cheese for an awesome chicken enchilada base, added to  black  beans and chicken broth for black bean soup, and baked on top of chicken or pork for an easy weeknight  meal. The tomato sauce I use as a base for tomato based soups (green pepper soup,  hamburger soup etc) and the spaghetti sauce is for rigatoni,lasagnas and quick pasta dishes.I just add ground beef, turkey or sausage and simmer.

This recipe for canned salsa is very easy. I think the only tedious part is chopping all of the vegetables. but once that is done, it comes together quickly.I use the hot water bath method on all of my tomato based canning.My nana always made her canned tomatoes that way, and I am carrying on the tradition. I doubled  this recipe and came away with 12 pints of salsa. Stay tuned for pictures and recipes for other canned food.
*note -you can adjust the amount of hot peppers to make your salsa as hot or mild as you  like.I made one batch as written and the second batch with less peppers, for my younger boys.


    • 10 cups roughly chopped tomatoes
    • 5 cups chopped and seeded bell peppers
    • 5 cups chopped onions
    • 2 cups jalapeno peppers, roasted, chopped, seeded (more or less to your taste)
    • 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
    • 3 teaspoons salt
    • 1 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste


  1. Combine all ingredients except tomato paste in large sauce pot.
  2. Simmer until desired thickness.
  3. Stir in tomato paste.
  4. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch head-space.
  5. Process 25 minutes in a hot water bath.

Baked Balsamic Glazed Chicken Caprese

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This recipe is super easy  to put together on busy weeknights.  I usually have all of the ingredients on hand. The balsamic glaze is very simple to make, but you can buy balsamic glaze if you prefer. I use light brown sugar for the balsamic glaze, but you can use 1 T of honey as well. Just let it reduce to a thickened glaze to  drizzle over the chicken.

Baked Balsamic Glazed Chicken Caprese

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil or melted butter
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4-6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
12 fresh basil leaves, julienned
balsamic glaze (recipe follows)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. I a small bowl, mix together the olive oil ( or melted butter), basil, oregano , pepper,  and salt .
3. Place the chicken in a shallow baking dish and brush the olive oil mixture over the chicken .
4. Bake the chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Top each chicken breast evenly with shredded cheese, halved tomatoes and julienned basil. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze.
5. Serve hot.

Balsamic Glaze
1/2 c balsamic vinegar
2 T packed light brown sugar or 2 T honey

In a small saucepan , bring the balsamic vinegar and the brown sugar (or honey)  to a low boil until it has been reduced by half . About 8-10 minutes . Cool completely.

Slow Cooker Potato Soup

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

School started a few weeks ago here in WV. The boys have already started their fall sports practices and we are carpooling and running all over to practices, scrimmages and games. 
We still like to sit down and eat as a family, albeit later in the evening. Slow cooker meals are a life saver for hurried weekdays. This potato soup is a staple slow cooker meal on our rotation. So easy to throw together in the morning.  I have used both frozen diced potatoes or the frozen hashbrowns. Both work well, but I prefer the hashbrowns. They cook down amd make the soup a bit creamier. If you like chunks of potatoes in your soup, go with the diced ones. 


 1 30oz bag frozen hashbrown potatoes
1/2 c chopped onion
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cans low sodium chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 package cream cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Combine all ingredients except the cream cheese and shredded cheese in a slow cooker. 
2. Mix well and cook on low  6 to 8 hours .
3. The last 30 minutes of cooking, add the cream cheese. 
4. Stir well until the soup is smooth and all of the cream cheese has melted into the soup.
5. Spoon into bowls and add shredded cheese.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In my opinion,you can't get more kid friendly than sloppy joes. My husband and sons love these things.I have a few recipes that I use,but this one gets the most compliments from them.The perfect tangy ,tomato-y sandwich. This recipe used sweet relish,which I love in my sloppy joes. I double the recipe and there is enough for lunches the next day. ** The longer it simmers to meld the flavors,the better.

Old Fashioned Sloppy Joes

  • 2 lbs ground chuck
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 6 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 hamburger buns, toasted
  1. Brown ground chuck and onion in a large nonstick skillet, stirring until meat crumbles; drain.
  2. Stir in ketchup and next 5 ingredients.
  3. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Spoon meat mixture over bottom halves of buns; top with remaining halves.

Beef & Broccoli

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer is winding down , the kids have started football practice in the afternoons and school starts in a few short weeks. Which for me means slow cooker meals.  Fortunately  both kids are in the same school this year, so they will both be home at the same time, which will make dinner a whole lot easier than when they were home in shifts. I tend to rely on slow cooker meals to feed them a few nights a week. This beef and broccoli has been a staple dinner for us for years. Chinese food always gets smiles from them and this recipe is no exception. If my older boys are home I will double this recipe and use my large oval slow cooker, but now that there are just 4 of us at home, one recipe seems to work for us if I also make a salad and bread.
For the broccoli, I buy a bag of steamable broccoli and microwave it  for half the time it states  (you don't want the broccoli too mushy) and put the broccoli into the slow cooker the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking.  If you do not have fresh ginger , just use ginger powder. A few shakes to your taste. Or you can leave out the ginger altogether,  but I always use it. It makes the sauce super flavorful. Serve the beef over steamed rice and you have a great weeknight meal.

Beef & Broccoli

1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic,minced
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 cup beef broth
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 brown sugar, packed
1 T sesame oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 T cornstarch
4 cups broccoli, steamed
White rice, prepared


1.In a slow cooker, add strips of flank steak, onions, garlic and ginger.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Pour sauce over the steak in the slow cooker.

3. Cook on low 3 to 4 hours. After 4 hours, remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker and whisk in 2 T of cornstarch until smooth. Add back to the crockpot and stir.

4. Add the steamed broccoli and stir well. Cook for another 30 minutes and serve the beef and broccoli over rice.

Fire and Ice Pickles

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

You guys!  have no idea why I haven't shared this recipe with you before. I have made these yummy pickles for years and every time I do, I fall in love with them all over again. These pickles are so easy to make . Just mix, let sit and refrigerate. No canning involved. I promise these things are addictive. They are sweet and crunchy when you first taste them. But then the hot kicks in from the Tabasco and red chili pepper flakes. And oh man! You just can't  eat just one.  These make great hostess gifts and Christmas gifts for teachers and neighbors.

* note * use hamburger chips , not kosher dill slices. The kosher dills leave a weird aftertaste. I find the 32oz jars of hamburger pickles at Aldi . They are perfect for this recipe.

Fire & Ice Pickles
32 oz jar sliced dill pickles ( I use hamburger chips)
2 c sugar
1 T Tabasco Sauce ( or other hot sauce)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( I use a bit more. I like the heat)
1 clove garlic, whole

1. In a medium bowl, add all ingredients and mix well.
2. Cover the pickles and let them stand for two hours.
3. Stir the pickles well and transfer all ( pickles and juice) to a jar.
4.Store in the refrigerator. Will keep for a few weeks .


Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

Monday, July 31, 2017

This is one  of those go-to recipes I use when I really do not want to cook, but  I know that I will be  even more inclined not to cook as the day goes on. Every now and then I am a total sucker for convenience foods. In fact, I always make sure I have packets of italian salad dressing mix and a can or two of Healthy Choice reduced fat cream of chicken soup on hand so I can make this meal on days like today.  I first had this chicken stroganoff almost 12   years ago when our youngest child was born. A friend from our church brought us over   chicken stroganoff ,and my  husband and older sons loved it. So it became a favorite meal very quickly. I love that it is so versatile.You can add mushrooms ,onions,  or even broccoli florets.You could also use sour cream instead of the cream cheese. Or use  both to make it super rich. It can easily be doubled for a larger family. I use reduced  fat  cream of chicken soup  and cream cheese. Who doesn't love a tasty, kid friendly meal that cooks in the crock pot all day?

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff


4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed

 2 T butter

1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix

1 (8 ounce) package  reduced fat cream cheese (or you can use sour cream)

1 (10.75 ounce) can reduced fat condensed cream of chicken soup


Put chicken, butter and dressing mix in slow cooker; mix together and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

In a bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and soup. Pour over the chicken and cook on high for another 1/2 hour or until heated through and warm.

Serve  with rice ,egg noodles or  pasta of your choice.

Pineapple Ginger Shredded Pork

Thursday, July 20, 2017

As a mom of boys, one thing I figured out early on in the madness that is motherhood, is that if I put dinner in a taco or tortilla, it will be eaten. It is just one of those meals that I know that they will eat. This shredded pork is no exception. It is slow cooked all day in a slow cooker, yielding perfectly tender meat that stands out in flavor. It really packs a punch. It has a hawaiian/ pacific islands type taste to it, but I use it as my staple shredded pork. It tastes so good with cilantro and pickled onions on tacos as well as piled onto a sweet hawaiian bun or even atop a bed of coconut rice to make a quick meal.
We always have leftovers of this meat and the sauce, and the next day I  make grilled naan pizza with the shredded meat. I thicken up the leftover sauce in a saucepan over medium high heat and a bit of cornstarch to thicken it up a bit to spread over the naan. Then I pile on the meat, add fresh pineapple , red onion and cilantro, topping it all off with fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. Heaven !
This pork is a good idea for weeknight meals , especially during the school year. It has become a favorite in our rotation. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder (or butt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 cups pineapple juice
2 tsp ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
1/4 c rice vinegar
1-2 T Sriracha sauce

1.In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sprinkle evenly all over the pork shoulder.
2. Place the pork shoulder in the slow cooker. With a sharp knife, stab the meat a few times. (This helps absorb the sauce)
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, ginger, garlic,brown sugar,soy sauce, ketchup, rice vinegar and sriracha sauce.
4. Pour 1/2 of the sauce over the pork, reserving  the rest.
5. Cook on low. for 6 -7 hours.
6. Shred the pork and add the reserved sauce to your liking .

Easy Weeknight Korean Beef

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This is a tried and true recipe that everyone in my household loves. Korean Beef. This is not authentic korean beef. But the flavors arw close , eveb with it being Americanized. Sweet, spicy carmelized ground beef over steamed rice. So good. And it is so quick to put together. And inexpensive to make. You can always add steamed veggies to the meat to make it more substantial. If I have fresh broccoli or cauliflower , I will usually serve it on the side. But it is just as good without the veggies. 1/4 c of brown sugar is enough for us ( and a scant one at that) , but you can add up to 1/2 c if you like the meat a bit sweeter. And you can sub  the Sriracha sauce for crushed red pepper. I usually use the crushed red pepper, but my husband prefers the Sriracha. There are never any leftovers with this one.

Weeknight Korean Beef
1 lb lean ground beef
1 T vegetable oil
3 T brown sugar
1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper (or Sriracha sauce,to taste)
1 bunch green onions

1.Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and garlic. Brown an drain off the fat.
2.Add the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, black pepper and crushed red pepper ( or sriracha sauce). Simmer for a few minutes to heat through, stirring well.
3. Serve overrice and top with sliced green onions.


Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Florentine Pasta Sauce

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Ladies and gentlemen, you have been warned! This is a recipe that you will go back to and make for years to come! I have a few spaghetti sauces in my arsenal, like this one that my nana made in humongous batches when I was growing up. I make both of these sauces quite frequently , but this one is a quick, no fuss recipe that is perfect for weeknight meals. It is just that easy to whip up and not have to worry about dinner.Just brown the sausage and dump the ingredients into a slow cooker to simmer all day. Add it to your favorite pasta, pop in a loaf of garlic bread to crisp up in the oven and toss a quick salad and dinner is done.  The spinach in it is awesome! And...if you have picky eaters who eat by sight and you think that the spinach with deter them.... it cooks down and turns dark , so it blends in with the sausage and the tomato sauce. They won't be able to pick out the green stuff! Score one for mom !!!! Woot woot! (Just don't let them watch you drain the spinach and put it in the pot. ;) * You can sub the hot italian sausage with sweet sausage or a milder version. We like the hot variety. Whatever works for you. Happy Eating!!!!~Liz

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Florentine Pasta
2 lbs ground hot italian sausage
2 jars your favorite pasta sauce ( I use Classico brand  )
1 10oz frozen package spinach, thawed,drained and squeezed dry
1 box pasta , cooked al dente
grated parmesan cheese , optional
In a medium skillet, cook the sausage until cooked through and crumbly (drain fat if needed
Place cooked sausage in the slow cooker and add the two jars of pasta sauce.
After you thaw the spinach, squeeze it a few times to drain the juice and then place between paper towels to dry it out. Then add the spinach to the sauce and meat in the slow cooker.
Stir well to combine and cook on low 5-6 hours or high 2-4.
Spoon sauce over cooked pasta and sprinkle on grated parmesan cheese. (optional)
Serve immediately.

Smokey Mountain Chicken

This is one of those oh so easy chicken recipes that my family loves. Gooey cheese, barbecue sauce and spices...who wouldn't love it! The chicken comes out moist and flavorful every time. You can use any barbecue sauce , we prefer Sweet Baby Ray's. And I have used thick sliced colby jack and sharp cheddar and they both are awesome. I actually prefer the sharp cheddar, but the kids prefer the colby jack. Easy weeknight meal that is good enough to serve guests.  *note- the recipe calls for chopped tomato as well as green onion for garnish. I forgot to buy a fresh tomato for this meal, so I skipped it. But on any other day, it would be on top!

Smokey Mountain Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian-style seasoning
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
12 slices bacon
4 slices Colby Jack cheese
1/8 cup chopped green onion for topping
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Season with pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning to taste. Bake seasoned chicken in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked through and juices run clear.
3. When chicken is done, remove from oven and pour on barbecue sauce. Layer each breast with 3 slices of bacon  , then a slice of cheese. Return to oven and continue to bake for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from oven and top with chopped green onions and tomatoes.

{ Summer Squash Bread }

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

 I  made 6 loaves of this yummy bread to freeze and two to eat for the next few days. I love this bread. Very like zucchini bread, but so pretty with yellow specks throughout! It freezes so well and is good toasted and buttered for breakfast. Great way  to use yellow squash!

Summer Squash Bread
2 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups yellow summer squash, peeled and grated
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans.In a large bowl, beat the eggs well.Add the oil, sugar, squash and vanilla. Cream all together until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat until well blended. Pour batter into two loaf pans. Bake at 325 for 1 hour, or until the center comes out clean with a toothpick.

Grilled Sausage & Shrimp Foil Packets

Monday, July 10, 2017

It has been so hot in the afternoons here in WV . Summer is definitely in full swing. Yesterday was one of those lazy days when all my husband wanted to do was lay around, catch up on sleep and not even worry about dinner. He suggested we make these foil packets for the grill so we wouldn't have to heat up the kitchen. We make these often , but usually just with salt and pepper for seasoning. He added creole seasoning before we closed up the packets for grilling, and they were perfect. And the cleanup, super easy. My kind of dinner.

                                         Grilled Sausage & Shrimp Foil Packets

4 corn on the cob, each cut into thirds
8 -10 potatoes, washed and cut into fourths
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb andouille sausage , cut into 1" rounds
1/4 c chicken broth
4 T butter, divided
creole seasoning , to taste ( I used Zatarin's brand)
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat grill.
2. cut 4 pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil into 12"x 18" and lay each on a flat surface.
3. Evenly distribute the corn, potatoes, shrimp and sausage between the 4 squares. Dot each packet with 1 T butter , a drizzle or two of chicken broth, and salt, pepper and creole seasoning to taste.
4. Tightly fold up and seal the packets.
5. Grill for about 30-35 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the sausage and shrimp are cooked through.
* Be careful opening the packets. steam will escape and it will be very hot!

Chicken with Broccoli & Mushrooms

Friday, July 7, 2017

I try to make my weekly dinner menu a bit diverse so that we don't get bored with the same dozen or so meals over and over. My kids , thankfully, are open to new foods , so I try to mix it up for us a few times a month. One of our favorites is Chinese food. We do not have a very good choice of Chinese take out in the town where we live, so I make as many dishes as I can at home to satisfy our cravings. This Chicken with Broccoli and Mushrooms is a great meal that tastes great and is kid friendly. No strong flavors  to weird them out. I always make rice ahead of time and prep the ingredients and the sauce before I start cooking, and it is really easy to put together and get on the table. As always, I double the recipe to feed my house of boys.

                                                 Chicken with Broccoli & Mushrooms

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into chunks
2 T canola oil, divided
2 c broccoli, cut up
1 c mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 c hoisin sauce
1/4 c chicken broth
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 c water
salt and pepper to taste


1.In a large saute pan, add 1 T canola ( or vegetable) oil and heat to medium high.
2.Add broccoli and mushrooms and cook in the oil for about 4 to 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Transfer to a bowl.
3.Add the second T of oil to the pan. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Add the vegetables back to the pan and cook for an additional two minutes.
4.In a bowl, whisk together ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, chicken broth, sugar , sesame oil and soy sauce. In a separate bowl, mix together the water and cornstarch until smooth.
5. Add the hoisin sauce mixture to the pan and cook on medium high for about 2 minutes, stirring. Add the cornstarch slurry and bring to a boil. Cook  and stir frequently until the sauce thickens, about  1 minute.
6. Serve hot over rice.

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Thursday, July 6, 2017

I am forever  looking for creative recipes using ground beef. Especially when it is on sale . Usually, ground beef recipes are a life saver for me on busy weeknights. It doesn't take long to cook and you can add so many different sauces to make pasta, casseroles or sloppy joes. My kids love sloppy joes. I make them often, knowing they will be eaten with happy faces around the dinner table . You can check out my Homemade Sloppy Joes recipe HERE and Buffalo Chicken Sloppy Joes HERE . These sloppy joes are reminiscent of Philly cheesesteaks, although I do not use provolone cheese . I know, I know. Everyone knows philly cheesesteaks use provolone. But after making these for many years and trial and error. I like the combo of mozzarella and gouda. And I even used mozzarella and parmesan once when that was all I had and it worked beautifully. Basically,  use any cheese that you  want. This recipe makes a bunch. But I have a houseful of teenage boys, so I make huge amounts of food anyway. So cut the recipe in half if you have a smaller family to feed. 

Philly Cheesecake Sloppy Joes

2 lbs ground beef
4 T butter
1 yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
4 oz white mushrooms, minced
4 T ketchup
2 T worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 T plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 c beef broth
2 slices gouda cheese, diced small
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
8-12 buns

1. In a medium to large skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through. Remove beef to a bowl and keep warm.
2.In the same skillet, add the butter, onions, green peppers and mushrooms. Cook on medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 2 minutes.
3. Add beef back to the skillet. Stir.
4. In a measuring cup add the beef broth and cornstarch and stir until you have a light brown slurry.
5. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and beef broth/cornstarch mixture.
6. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced and the sloppy joes thicken up a bit.
7. Turn off the heat and add the gouda and mozzarella cheese. Stir well until all of the cheese is melted .
8. Serve hot on buns.

Blueberry Sweet Corn Salad

I get so excited when I think I am being creative in my food. Like I am on to the next big thing. Well, last night I had a bit of everything in the refrigerator, yet not enough of any of it to make a complete meal. I had half a pint of blueberries, a bag of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers. I made a tomato cucumber salad.That was a given. What to do with the blueberries and corn? While my husband was grilling chipotle chicken , I got a hairbrained idea to add the corn and blueberries together. I added fresh basil, salt , pepper, olive oil, a pinch of garlic salt and a bit of white wine vinegar. No measuring, just threw it together. I let it sit in the fridge for a bit to meld the flavors.My husband and kids looked at it when I put it on the dinner table and turned their noses up. But I made each of them , (hubby too) try it. And they all said it was good. And ate it all. I have to admit the flavors really did go great together. The slight tartness of the blueberries, the sweet corn, the basil. I loved it and instantly wished I had made more. So I snapped a pic and had these huge plans to reveal my great recipe to the masses this morning. But I googled. And quickly realized I was not on to anything . It has been done before. Sure, some corn blueberry salads have more ingredients. Some not. Some use roasted corn, some use small Maine blueberries. But, all in all I am not original....this time. But here is my version of the salad, nonetheless. Oh, and I learned something else last night. After so many years of marriage, I found out my husband does not like raw blueberries. In muffins, cakes and sweets, they are ok. But just popped in a salad or eaten from the fridge, not so much. Huh? Why has he never said anything? Men. But he ate the salad . And said it was good. I like to think he wouldn't tell a little white lie to make me happy. Or would he? ;)

Blueberry Corn Basil Salad

2 cups corn
1 cup blueberries
4-6 leaves of basil, cut into thin strips
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of garlic salt
2 T olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together . Refrigerate to meld flavors. Serve cold.

Grilled BBQ Bacon Chicken Kabobs

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

We do a lot of grilling in the summer  months. For obvious reasons. Quick, easy meals that do not heat up the house. This particular chicken recipe was a huge hit with my husband and my boys. There was not a single piece left and they all said I can make this again and soon. My husband wants to try to rub on pork next time he uses his smoker. All you do is make the rub in a food processor and coat the chicken , thread them on skewers and grill. The fat from the bacon in the rub keeps it moist. Seriously good ! I was going to baste the chicken with bbq sauce at the end of the cooking time, but one of my kids would not eat it with the sauce , so I decided to serve the sauce on the side, for dipping.  I used Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce. For the bacon. I used the prepackaged ready made bacon .  It is already cooked and it makes the rub perfect!  These would be good as appetizers too. Yum!

Grilled BBQ Bacon Chicken Kabobs

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cubed for kabobs
3 T brown sugar
2 T smoked paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
6 pieces ready cooked bacon 
1 cup bbq sauce, for serving

1. Preheat grill.
2. In a food processor , add the brown sugar, paprika, salt,pepper ,garlic powder, onion powder and  ready cooked bacon . Pulse all ingredients until you have a rub. about 15 seconds.
3. Place the rub in a bowl and dredge each piece of chicken in the rub, then thread on skewers.
4. Grill until the chicken is cooked, about 4 -5 minutes on each side.
5. Serve with bbq sauce for dipping.

I am linking up this week to The Dedicated House and Stone Gable Blog  and  Eighteen25  and  A Stroll Through Life and   My Uncommon Life in Suburbia    linky parties. Head on over to see some great ideas !

Summer Avocado Corn Salad

Saturday, July 1, 2017

This salad has become a staple on our summer dinner table. It is one of those salads that are super quick to put together and the longer it sits the better it gets. And you really can add or delete the ingredients to your liking. You can add fresh sweet tomatoes , jalapeno pepper instead of the poblano. Even give it a mexican twist by adding diced jicama and black beans. See, it is a great recipe! I use fresh corn, but you can definitely use canned corn in this when fresh is not available. Canned sweet white corn is my favorite in a pinch.

Summer Avocado Corn Salad


2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 poblano pepper, small dice

2 avocados, diced

1/2 cup purple onion, diced

1 T sugar

1 T white balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper


In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to meld the flavors.

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Roast Beef Sandwiches

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I cannot believe that I have not posted this recipe before. It is a wonderful, full-flavored slow cooker recipe that everyone in my family devours. And it is super easy. I serve it on big hoagie rolls with melted provolone cheese. There is a bit of a kick to it, but the boys  do not seem to mind. Especially with the melted cheese.
*****NOTE- you do not have to use the beer. I use it only if I have some in the house, and the meat still tastes great.

Slow Cooker Pepperoncini Roast Beef

1 boneless beef roast (3-4 lbs)
1 jar (12 oz) pepperoncini
1 can beef broth
1 can beer
1 package (1 oz) Italian dressing mix (dry)
hoagie rolls
provolone cheese

Place roast in the slow cooker. Drain the peppers and remove and discard the stems . 
Add peppers, broth, beer, and dressing mix to the slow cooker. Do not stir. Cover and cook 8-10 hours on Low .Take the meat out and shred. Return the shredded beef to the slow cooker and mix well. Serve on hoagies with provolone cheese.

Chicken Marsala

This chicken dish is a great, classic marsala recipe that my family loves. It is one of the only recipes with mushrooms as an ingredient that my kids will eat. It is very easy to make for a weeknight dinner. Pair it with mashed potatoes and roasted green beans and you have a complete meal!

Chicken Marsala


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 small chicken breasts, pounded thin and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

  • Directions
    1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook until browned,  2-3 minutes per side . Set aside.
    2. Add the butter and mushrooms . Saute until browned on both sides, about 7-8 minutes.
    3. Add the shallot and saute for 1 minute 
    4. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
    5. Add the marsala, deglaze the pan, add the chicken broth and lemon juice, bring to a boil and let simmer until reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes.
    6. Season with salt and pepper, mix in the butter and return the chicken to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
    7. Sprinkle with parsley

    Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

    Wednesday, June 28, 2017

    I have really been getting my moneys worth of use out of my ice cream maker. A few years ago I purchased a Cuisinart ice cream maker and , like always when I purchase a new kitchen appliance , I had grandiose plans for homemade ice cream all summer long. Well, after a few uses I put it in the closet and forgot about it. This spring I was cleaning out said closet of small appliances  like a panini maker, an ebelskiver pan ( really, Liz!)  and a cake pop maker ( seriously, box never even opened) and I just could not bear to part with the ice cream maker.I really didn't want to get rid of it, so I plopped it on the kitchen counter, put the cylinder in the freezer to freeze up and the rest is history. We have had lots of homemade ice cream already this summer and have plans to make much ,much more. I made this dark chocolate cherry ice cream with a bit of the fresh cherries we picked last weekend and it is my favorite so far!  I used mini dark chocolate chips and they were perfect.

    Dark Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream


    2 c sweet cherries, pitted  and rough chopped, divided
    3/4 c whole milk
    1 3/4 c heavy cream ( or half and half)
    1/2 c sugar
    pinch of salt
    1/2 c mini dark chocolate chips


    1. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 c cherries, milk, cream, sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
    2. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. You will have small bits of cherry , which is what you want. 
    3. Place bowl in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to chill .
    4. Freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker.
    5. Fold in the remaining cherries and the chocolate chips.
    6. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container. Freeze overnight.

    Cherry Butter

    I am about to bombard my blog with recipes using fresh cherries. Sorry, not sorry! My bestie and I wrangled up our husbands and kids this weekend and headed to our local orchard and picked an insane amount of cherries. It was so fun and hopefully we will do it again next year. I swear I didn't think we picked so many, but when I got home and had to pit 18 lbs of cherries, then yeah, we picked so many dang cherries. But I had a folder full of recipes for them, so I have spent the last few days knee deep in cherries. I made cherry pie filling , cherry crisp, cherry cheesecake popsicles, dark chocolate cherry ice cream ( recipes to follow ) and this cherry butter. I have never made cherry butter before, and after tasting the final product I am so glad I did. It is basically apple butter, but with cherries. Slow cooked cherries with sugar and spices ! This recipe made 4 small jars full. I highly recommend trying this recipe. Smooth, velvety cherry butter to slather on biscuits, or over ice cream or spooned into oatmeal. So many possibilities.


    6 cups sweet cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
    1.5 - 2 c sugar
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/8 (scant) ground allspice
    1 lemon, zested and juiced

    1. In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and lemon juice and zest . Mix well and bring the cherries to a simmer.
    2. Stir the cherries and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it slowly reduce, while stirring every 5 minutes or so. It will need to  cook for about an hour to thicken up.
    3. Take the saucepan off of the heat and use an immersion blender to puree the fruit to a smooth consistency. 
    4. Ladle the butter into prepared jam jars. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
    5.If you do not want to can  , just keep the jars refrigerated and eat within 3 to 4 weeks.

    Juanita's Baked Chicken Leg Quarters with Red Pepper Vinegar Sauce

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    I spend my quiet time, usually at night when my husband and sons are sleeping, developing recipes. Most of the time they are of foods I remember growing up on in NC. This one I created based on my Grandma Juanita's  bbq chicken. I have never tasted anything like it except when we would gather at her house in the summer. She made it a bit different than I do, using a huge pot and lots of chicken . I think there may have been broiling involved. I adapted the recipe from what I remember it tasting like. Trial and error. I ended up using chicken leg quarters . They are inexpensive and I have a house of hungry boys who can eat. No exaggeration when I say they are eating me out of house and home. This recipe I used 4 chicken leg quarters. the sauce can be doubled or tripled depending on how much you need. The sauce has a vinegar tang with a bit of heat from the crushed red pepper. I added extra pepper for my husband and I . We like hot. I also kept the skin on the chicken and roasted it. I prefer it that way. It cooks up crispy and when the sauce is poured over it, the flavor is incredible. I serve the chicken with roasted potatoes and asparagus.

    Juanita's Baked Chicken Leg Quarters with Red Pepper Vinegar Sauce

    4 chicken leg quarters
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp pepper
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 c melted butter
    1/4 c white distilled vinegar
    1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ( or more if you like it hot)

    1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13 glass dish.
    2. Place the chicken quarters in the dish. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
    3. In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, vinegar and red pepper. Using a brush, brush the chicken with the sauce. an even layer will do. Reserve the rest of the sauce.
    4. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, basting once after 20 minutes. 
    5. When the chicken is done, pour the rest of the sauce over the chicken and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve .

    Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    As  you have probably figured out by now, we grill often in the warmer months. It is so easy to marinate chicken, beef or seafood during the afternoon and grill it after  a  long day. This a simple marinade that  uses ingredients that I usually have on hand. I used large chicken tenders for this recipe (12 count) and it worked perfect. I have used chicken thighs and shrimp before and it has been wonderful with both. I have also left out the tequila (once) when there was none here, and it still turned out so yummy. Why not make a few extra pieces of chicken to toss on a salad or add to brown rice and black beans for a tasty lunch the next day.

    Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken

    4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (or tenders)
    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 tablespoons green onions, minced
    1 garlic cloves, minced
    4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1/2 cup tequila
    1 tablespoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
    2 teaspoons cumin
    salt and pepper, to taste

    Combine all ingredients except chicken in a large zipper bag. Shake to combine. Add chicken, turn to coat well. Refrigerate and marinate for about 3 hours.
    Heat grill to medium high. Remove chicken and discard remaining marinade. Grill chicken 4-5 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.