Recipes

Gruyere/Swiss Grilled Cheese

Yes, it’s another grilled sandwich post, but I just tried a new cheese blend from Trader Joe’s and feel the need to tell everyone how great it is 😂

This cheese is amazing! Sharp, creamy, and great for grilled cheese or melting into your homemade macaroni and cheese. The best part: it’s only $4.99 at my Trader Joe’s!

The how-to is as simple as just making grilled cheese how your normally make it, but some of my suggestions for success are below:

• Prepare your pan – either with butter or your favorite oil non-stick spray
• Use good bread: I used the Trader Joe’s Tuscan Italian bread – works perfectly!
• Prepare your bread: always butter the outside of your bread! It makes for a nice, golden brown crust
• Let the cheese start melting on the bottom halves before adding the tops and flipping (otherwise you’ll have shredded cheese everywhere!

Enjoy! 🧀

Recipes

Summer Black Bean Salad

This refreshing salad makes a great side for any summer meal – from sandwiches and burgers to tacos and fish – this recipe can be completely customized to your liking and it never disappoints!

Things to keep in mind: if using avocado, always add it just before serving to avoid browning. Also, this salad is great when made ahead and chilled, so make it the night before (or a few hours before) your meal and the flavors will really pop when it has time to sit and marinate.

The basics: black beans, avocado, tomatoes, peppers, red onion, limes, and garlic.

Summer Black Bean Salad (serves 4-6)

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tomatoes (I used Roma), chopped
  • 2 ears fresh corn, removed from cob – feel free to replace with frozen corn or canned (drained)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 fresh peppers (I used a combo of red and orange, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon if you’re using pre-minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • fresh cilantro, to taste
Chop and dump!

How to – the easy chop and dump method!

  • Rinse and drain black beans, put in a large bowl.
  • Remove corn from cob and add to bowl.
  • Chop all vegetables and add to beans.
  • Add garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and cilantro if using, and stir to combine.
  • When ready to serve, chop avocado and add to salad. Mix again and serve. Store leftovers in a sealed container.
The delicious end result!
Recipes

Bakin’ Bacon

If you’re in the market for flat, crispy bacon – you’ve found the right post!

Baking bacon in the oven is quick, easy, and surprisingly mess-free! I was terrified that I’d set my oven on fire, imagining bacon grease splattering everywhere, but I’m happy to report that didn’t happen at all.

Crispy, and flat! Great for piling on sandwiches 🥓

How to: simply preheat your oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Line bacon on top of foil (slightly overlapping is ok) and bake for 20-25 mins (or until done to your desired crispness).

Clean up is easy: remove bacon slices and drain on a paper towel. Allow sheet pan to cool and remove foil with drippings.

Recipes

30 Minute Main: Instant Pot Chicken Legs

Got 30 minutes? Then you can make some really great chicken legs for dinner! These easy chicken legs start out in your Instant Pot and finish off under the broiler (or in a super hot oven) for an end result that’s moist and tender inside, and crispy outside. Starting off in the Instant Pot simply speeds up the cooking process (and retains those juices!), so you’ll have dinner on the table in no time at all. Tip: at the 15-minute mark, make your sides so that your complete meal is done all at once!

This recipe is just three easy steps:

  1. Season your chicken legs
  2. Place into your Instant Pot (on top of the trivet to prevent burning)
  3. When done, finish off in a hot oven or broiler to crisp up the skin

My all-time favorite flavor booster is Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I literally use it every day! From chicken to steak to roasted veggies and eggs, it adds that perfect little bit of flavor and tastes great on everything. In this recipe, I mixed up my dry rub and ground a hefty amount of this into the mix.


Instant Pot Chicken Legs
Serves 4
Total Time 30 mins


You’ll Need:

  • 3-4lbs Chicken Legs
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper (and if using, Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning)
  • 1 Cup water or chicken broth
  • Your favorite BBQ Sauce (I love Sweet Baby Ray’s)

How to:

  1. Combine all of your spices in a bowl and rub all over chicken legs.
  2. Place trivet inside the Instant Pot and add 1 Cup of water (or broth) to the pot.
  3. Pile up your chicken legs on top of the trivet.
  4. Close lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes (turn off Keep Warm feature).
  5. While cooking, preheat oven to 500 degrees F and make your sides.
  6. When done, quick release your pot and allow the steam to fully exit. Once pressure sensor drops and all steam has been released, set a timer for 5 minutes and let it sit.
  7. Once finished, your chicken legs are cooked! You can eat them as is, or if you prefer a crispy skin, line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray. Then, coat legs with your favorite barbecue sauce and place in the 500 degree oven for 10-15 mins.

Recipes

Baby Back Ribs (in the oven!)

Happy 4th of July! 🇺🇸

Nothing quite says American BBQ than baby back ribs. Mine are fall-off-the-bone delicious and super easy to make in the oven. Start with a dry rub first for the most flavor, then finish them off with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Before, during and after! Approx 3-4 hour cook time plus 15 mins under the broiler.

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 3-4 pounds baby back pork ribs (2 to 3 slabs)
  • 2 cups your favorite BBQ sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s)

How to:

  • Preheat oven to 275° and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Mix up dry ingredients and rub each rib slab with mix. Wrap slabs in heavy-duty aluminum foil; place on sheet pan.
  • Bake 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from oven, and unwrap ribs and discard foil and drippings. Place ribs directly on sheet pan and brush with barbecue sauce on top of each slab. Return to oven; bake at 275°F until ribs are tender and meat is pulling away from bones, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • After cooking, brush with barbecue sauce again and raise oven temperature to 450° F. Cook an additional 10-15 mins. Cut up ribs and serve!

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

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

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

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!