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Recipes

Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs

Great Baby Back Ribs don’t need to be a long, strenuous process! This easy recipe is pretty hands-off, and the end result is delicious! I picked up two packs of pre-cut pork ribs and had them on the table within an hour and a half!

Ingredients and How-To:

  • Baby Back Ribs, separated (I used about 3lbs total)
  • Your favorite dry rub. I made mine with eyeballed amounts of paprika, cumin, brown sugar and garlic powder. You can also just salt and pepper them!
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Line a sheet pan with foil, leaving enough extra overlapping so you can bring it up to fold over your ribs, like a pocket.
  • Toss ribs with dry rub and lay on lined sheet pan.
  • Bring up foil and fold over to seal. Bake at 375°F for one hour.
  • Open up foil and brush ribs with BBQ sauce. Put back in oven uncovered for 30-45 mins and serve.
Recipes

Copycat KFC Famous Bowl!

So easy, no real recipe needed! But I will tell you how this super easy dinner came together for us:

Imagine this: it’s Monday at 4pm. Leaving work. No one has any ideas for dinner. I didn’t go grocery shopping over the weekend because #MothersDay and I was on strike! 🙂 So I stop off at the store and wander the aisles for inspiration. I spy Perdue’s Popcorn Chicken in the freezer section, so I grab a bag thinking that it would be something easy to keep in the freezer for a fill-in meal. I also grab frozen corn, a household staple. Then, as I’m walking down the pasta/instant potatoes aisle, it hits me! Let’s try and make those yummy KFC bowls at home! Seemed easy enough – AND IT WAS!

Crockpots and Coffee Cups’ Copycat KFC Famous Bowl!

The longest part of the process to make this great bowl was waiting for the chicken to cook! Other than that, about 10 mins before the chicken was done, I made the potatoes and corn, and heated up the gravy. I’m not going to pretend for one second that this is in any way “healthy”, but this carb-loaded comfort food dinner hits the spot when you need it. Check out my ingredients list and how-to below, and let me know what you think of this quick and yummy dinner!

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • One package Perdue Frozen Popcorn Chicken (26oz)
  • Two packages Idahoan Instant Mashed Potatoes (just add water! These are always $1 each at my Shop-Rite store!)
  • One package frozen white/yellow corn (I purchased the steamer bag for less dishes!)
  • One small jar Heinz (or any other brand) prepared Chicken Gravy
  • Approx 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

How to (it’s all in the assembly!):

  1. Prepare chicken according to package directions.
  2. When chicken has about 10 minutes left, prepare corn and boil water for instant potatoes. Follow package directions.
  3. Heat gravy.
  4. Grab a bowl and layer up! I started with a layer of potatoes, then shredded cheese, then corn, then chicken and topped with a drizzle of gravy, but the beauty of this is that you can layer it any way you like!

Some tips:

Change this up! Maybe instead of gravy, you can drizzle with BBQ sauce or Ranch dressing? Add sliced green onions, bacon and sour cream for more of a “loaded potato bow”! The options are really endless and there’s no wrong way to do it. Enjoy!

Recipes

Birria Tacos: an experience.

My daughter’s always finding some amazing-looking recipes on Tik Tok. The Birria Taco sensation was no exception. She showed me countless versions of the same dish, but we loved the tutorial by @collegegirleats – it looked easy enough to follow, so we decided to try it. Let me just say, the end result, while not ridiculously spectacular, not ‘omg we need to make these again’, was in fact okay. The flavor was absolutely there, just the time it took to make these and get them served was A LOT, and it got discouraging when our tortillas were falling apart until we swapped pans and all went right with the world again.

Was it worth the effort? Yeah, it was fun to make these with my daughter, it was fun to say we did it, but again… not something I think we’ll go back to any time soon, but the plus is that we had a lot of shredded meat and sauce left over, so it’s now in the freezer for next time and we’ve saved ourselves 3 hours! The assembly at the end was the most time consuming, but regardless, here’s how we did it, and I’d love to hear your experiences with these viral tacos!

Birria Tacos
Serves at least 6
Cook Time: 3 hours


Meat:
• 2lb Chuck Roast

Peppers, Veggies and Spice:
The dried peppers were tough to find, not one at my regular grocery store, but we ended up at a really awesome bodega in my area that had all of them!
• 3 dried Guajillo Peppers
• 2 dried Ancho Chile Peppers
• A scoop (or two, depending on your spice tolerance) of canned Chipotle Peppers
• One whole onion, peeled
• 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
• 6 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
• 5 bay leaves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1tsp ground cumin

To Serve:
• Corn tortillas
• Shredded cheese (we used cheddar jack)
• Avocado slices – we didn’t do this, but wished we did!
• Sour cream

The Process:
1. Sear your meat on both sides in a large pot (I used a deep Dutch oven).
2. Add about 6-8 cups of water, enough to cover the meat by at least an inch.
3. Add to pot: all of your peppers, veggies and spices listed above.
4. Cover and simmer for one hour.
5. While the meat is simmering, boil one whole large tomato.
5. Once an hour passes, open the lid and remove the bay leaves. Then, pull out all of your peppers, veggies and spices from and put in a blender with the boiled tomato (with a little of the liquid if needed to blend).
6. While blending, remove meat and shred with forks.
7. Add blended veggies back to the pot, and add shredded beef. Simmer on low about 2 hours more.
8. Once done, remove the meat to a bowl and shred, it should just fall apart. Add shredded meat back to the pot and stir to coat.
9. In a frypan, heat up a little vegetable oil. Dip tortillas into sauce and place into fry pan. Add shredded meat to one side and top with cheese. Fold over, and brown lightly on both sides. Repeat for as many tacos as you like! See my photo set below for the full process!

TIP: We did switch to a non-stick fry pan about half way through and that helped a TON with sticking.


Recipes

Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés (by Ghirardelli)

This recipe is SO EASY and SO GOOD, I just had to share it! I made these Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflés for my family on Valentine’s Day, and everyone could not stop raving about them. Sure, they take a little extra love than stirring up a cake or brownie mix, but they are 10000% worth the effort, I promise. I followed Ghirardelli’s recipe exactly, and my batter filled four brand-spanking-new 8oz ramekins, that I actually went out and bought specifically for the occasion. I’m sure you can make this in a larger quiche dish, but you’d really have to watch your timing. My vote is for individual-serving ramekins all the way.

IMG_7282
Look at the rise on these souffles!!

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oven

Recipe, from Ghirardelli.com
Makes Four 8oz Ramekins

• 10oz Ghirardelli 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Premium Baking Chips
• 6 TBS Unsalted Butter, plus more for coating dishes
• 6 TBS Granulated Sugar, plus more for coating dishes
• 6 Eggs, separated, at room temperature
• 1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
• 1/8 tsp salt
• 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
• 1 TSB Orange liquor, optional
• Powdered sugar, optional

How To:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Generously coat eight 1- cup ramekins with butter, then coat bottom and sides of dishes with granulated sugar, tapping out the excess.
  3. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter, heating in 30 second increments and stirring in between until completely melted. Whisk in egg yolks, salt, vanilla extract, and orange liquor if using, until combined.
  4. In an electric mixer, beat egg whites with cream of tarter on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer still running, add sugar one tablespoon at a time, beat until egg whites hold stiff peaks and appear glossy.
  5. Whisk a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixer to lighten batter. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter amongst ramekins, filling each almost to the rim. Using a wet paper towel, wipe excess batter from rim.
  6. Bake until soufflés are puffed and center moves only slightly when dish is shaken gently, about 11-13 minutes. Dust top with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
  7. To make chocolate soufflés ahead of time, freeze filled ramekins until you are ready to bake. Preheat oven to 400F and bake soufflés for 17-18 minutes.



Recipes

Beef Stew…pie?

I’ll admit it, I’m a superfan of Emmymade on Facebook. If you’re not familiar, click through and check out her page. She makes really fun food videos, and covers everything from recipes that went viral on TikTok and copycat versions of famous foods, but my favorites are those where she takes military-issued food rations and makes something insanely good out of them, like this one:

Video credit: Emmymade // At around 13:17, something caught my eye – she puts beef stew in a pie (puff pastry)!


My husband and I were watching this video the other night, and when she got to the part with the beef stew (13:17) the two of us looked at each other as if the light bulbs above our heads lit up at exactly the same time!

I had a plan already to make my regular beef stew, so I thought, hey, let’s mix it up a bit and try putting it inside puff pastry! SPOILER ALERT: IT WORKED AND IT WAS REALLLLLY GOOD!

You can use any beef stew you like (including canned, if you’re in a pinch), but if you need a great, simple beef stew recipe, try mine. The steps are below, in photos:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. I used Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheets (one box includes two sheets). Defrost as package instructs, and place one sheet on a sheet pan lined with foil and lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon your cooked stew over the sheet, leaving room at the edges for sealing.
Beat up 2 egg yolks and brush around the edges of the base layer. Drape second sheet of puff pastry dough over the top of the stew and press the edges to seal. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg and cut a small hole in the center to release steam. I sprinkled mine with a little bit of dried thyme, but it’s not necessary.
Bake for about 20-25 mins or until crust is puffed and golden brown.
Cut up and serve! I had extra stew, so I served it separately in a bowl and froze leftovers.
Crispy, flaky and buttery outside, savory and warm inside. A winner dinner – except for my daughter, who hates all things beef stew and protested this meal by having a TV dinner that’s off in the distance!


Takeaways:
1. Next time, I think I’d try to make individual pies, which would give a crispy crust on all four sides (because, who doesn’t love puff pastry?!)
2. You could make your stew ahead of time and keep in the fridge. It can be added to the pastry cold, since the cooking in the oven will warm it right up.
3. I’d chop my veggies and beef smaller, for more uniform bites in the filling.

Give this a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

Recipes

Homemade Taco Crunch Wraps – Success! (but not before a fail!)

We’ve fallen into a rut of ‘typically expected’ weekly meals – pasta one day, burgers the next, chicken on another day, even a little breakfast for dinner now and then, but tacos – those are always on a Tuesday. This week, I decided to switch that up a bit and try to make one of my favorite things from Moe’s Southwest Grill – they call it a Stack!

They describe a Stack as “Our Take on a Southwest Wrap: soft on the outside, crunchy on the inside, it’s like a quesadilla and a hard taco had a baby”. Image credit, Moe’s Southwest Grill

The way I see it, a Stack, or Crunch Wrap as Taco Bell calls theirs, is basically a hard shell taco that’s split, filled, and wrapped in a giant tortilla. In any case, the crunch on the inside and the warm wrapper on the outside makes for a great, filling meal that’s fun to just pick up and eat. What’s also nice is that you can fill it with anything you like – in this week’s version, I made mine with ground turkey meat instead of beef, and added a standard taco seasoning, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. I also added a little shredded lettuce, but found that it got too warm and soggy in the grilling process so ended up picking it out as I ate. I think it would be great to experiment with fillings (as you could with any regular taco or burrito situation) – maybe use shredded up rotisserie chicken for a quick version, or ground beef or shredded pork… even just a plain cheese and vegetable one for the non-meat eaters out there. The possibilities are really endless!

My instructions below are simply for the assembly – be creative!

What you need:
– Protein like chicken, ground turkey, ground beef cooked in your favorite taco seasoning
– Shredded cheese
– Toppings like: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, black beans, refried beans, jalapenos, etc.
– Large flour tortillas (like burrito size wrappers)
– Tostadas, I found mine in the Taco section of the supermarket
– Griddle or large fry pan

How To:
1. See the above photo set of the process, but it goes like this…
2. Have all of your filling ingredients ready to go.
3. Don’t make the mistake I made! ++FAIL ALERT CENTER PHOTO++ I thought by assembling on the hot griddle, the wraps would get softer and easier to handle – NOPE! The wraps got crispy very fast and were impossible to fold over since they shrunk a bit as they got hotter, leaving the tostada exposed. Do all of your assembly on a plate, then move to the griddle for the final crisping.
4. Heat up your griddle or pan.
4. Layer in this order: tortilla, tostada in the middle, cheese, meat (or extra cheese), toppings, cheese again, then a final tostada on top.
5. Fold the tortilla up and around the middle until you get it as tightly closed as possible and grill folded side down to seal it all in. Flip when lightly browned and enjoy!

The end result is a warm, slightly chewy/crispy outside and a nice crunch inside – full of your favorite filling. Let me know in the comments what combos you come up with!

Recipes

Easy Semi-Homemade Chicken Soup

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I see a recipe for “real” chicken noodle soup that calls for boiling a carcass, I just can’t.

I’m by no means a vegetarian, but I’ve always had an issue with bones. I won’t eat a chicken wing (without a fork!) and never a steak or chop on a bone.

Anyway, this version of Chicken Noodle Soup is really easy to make (especially on a weeknight) – without hours of boiling – thanks to the addition of a rotisserie chicken, and offers the roasty, slow-cooked taste of a hearty soup thanks to a quick sauté of the veggies.

What I did differently this time (that I really loved) was add some fresh lemon slices at the end to give it a little fresh vitamin C boost and more flavor. Follow my how-to below and let me know what you think!

Semi-Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:
• One cooked rotisserie chicken
• 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 2 stalks celery, sliced
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cartons (32oz each) chicken stock
• Fine egg noodles (I use about a half a bag)
• 3-4 slices of fresh lemon, seeds removed
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1tsp dried parsley
• Salt & pepper to taste

How To:
1. In a stockpot (or large Dutch oven), add olive oil and get hot. Gently sauté carrots, celery, and onion until onions are soft and translucent. Add thyme, parsley, salt and pepper and stir.

2. Add chicken stock to pot and stir, scraping cooked bits off the bottom. While waiting for the stock to boil, remove chicken meat from bones and chop into bite-sized pieces.

3. Once stock is boiling, add chicken, egg noodles and lemon slices and boil for 8 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy with bread or crackers.

TIP: This soup reheats well for lunches – double the batch and have it ready to go!

Art

Etsy Shop Holiday Update!

Hi everyone! Now that the holidays are coming up, I thought I’d take a sec to (re)introduce you to my Etsy shop. In addition to cooking and baking, I also spend a lot of time painting – in watercolor and acrylic – and all of my work is available on Etsy.

Original art makes a thoughtful gift, and is a great way to spruce up your space with something unique! Each item of mine is one of a kind and priced affordably for giving or keeping for yourself 🙂 The shop’s just been updated, so I’d love it if you’d take a look!

See all of my available pieces here, and feel free to message me with any custom ideas or questions: H2OStudio on Etsy

Thank you for reading!

Recipes

Brunch, anyone?

Wikipedia says: “Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, and regularly has some form of alcoholic drink served with it. It is usually served anytime before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch.”

I’ll just say that a weekend brunch is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun to mix it up a bit and get family and friends together to enjoy a meal during the day, rather than a later dinner.

This recipe is my version of a pretty basic breakfast casserole that my Mom used to make. It’s eggy, bready, cheesy and the best part is, you can pretty much throw as many add-ins as you want and it still turns out delicious!

Breakfast Casserole | Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf white bread, chopped
  • 9 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups milk (I used 1%)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package frozen Brown & Serve breakfast sausages
  • Additional add-ins (if desired): frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), cooked sliced mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, or cooked chopped bacon or ham.
  • Serve with maple syrup or ketchup.

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix up eggs, milk, salt, pepper and melted butter in a bowl.
  3. Place a layer of chopped bread into your baking dish. Top with meat and cheese, repeat until your ingredients are used up and your casserole is piled high.
  4. Gently pour egg mixture over bread/cheese/meat. Let sit 15 mins to soak in.
  5. Bake for 45-55 mins or until casserole is golden brown and puffed.
  6. Top with maple syrup or ketchup and serve.

Recipes

Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

My original plan for this recipe was to just throw it all in my Crock Pot and let it do its thing while I went to work, but time got away from me that morning and then I thought – “I bet I can do this in the Instant Pot”!

So I started Googling. I found lots of great recipes online, but some featured different cuts of pork, some had a lot of extra ingredients (that I didn’t have on hand), so I settled on creating my own mashup of the parts of a few recipes that I liked and it turned out great! What I like most about the Instant Pot version is the crusty bits that you can only get from searing the meat prior to cooking. I find that when I slow-cook this (even if I sear ahead of time), it ends up being a bit waterlogged and bland. This recipe has a great texture, gets nice and stringy and is full of great barbeque flavor.

Ingredients:
Serves 4-6 on slider buns

• 3lb Pork shoulder roast
• 2 Cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
• 1-1/2 Cups water
• 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning Rub – you can use this, or a packaged version:
• 2 TBS dark brown sugar
• 1tsp red pepper flakes
• 1tsp garlic powder
• 2tsp onion powder

Browse through the slide show to see before, during and after!

How To:
Total time, about an hour.

  1. Turn on Instant Pot to Sauté Mode and allow to get ‘HOT’; add olive oil.
  2. Combine seasoning rub ingredients in a small bowl. Trim excess fat off pork shoulder and cut into 3 large/even chunks. Coat each piece with seasoning rub and place into Instant Pot.
  3. While pork is browning, combine 1 cup of your barbeque sauce with the water. Remove pork from Instant Pot and set aside on a plate when browned on all sides.
  4. Deglaze pot- pour BBQ sauce/water mixture into pot and scrape browned bits from the bottom. Add pork back to pot and cover with lid with vent on ‘sealing’.
  5. Set time to 40 minutes on high pressure (with keep warm off) and when done allow for a 10 minute natural release. Flip vent to remove any additional pressure before opening.
  6. Shred pork with 2 forks and add in remaining barbeque sauce. Serve on buns with pickles and coleslaw. Enjoy!