Kale Pesto

My four year old ate a bowlful of noodles coated in kale pesto!

If that doesn’t convince you that this is a tasty way to get some raw kale into your diet, then I’m not sure what will. This is my traditional pesto recipe just replaced with kale instead of basil.

I actually love kale. It’s something that I had to talk myself into trying, but now I can’t believe how much I love it! It’s basically a nutritional powerhouse, being one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. However, as much as I may love raw kale in a nice fall salad with dried cranberries and pears, trying to talk Wyatt into eating a kale salad is laughable. Believe me… I’ve tried. He’s been blackmailed into trying small bites of raw kale before in exchange for the promise of dessert. It’s never been worth it. He takes the smallest bite humanly imaginable, shudders while he dramatically chokes it down, and then gets to eat a cookie for his trouble.

The night I made this pesto, I made sure to use a fun-shaped noodle that he hadn’t seen in awhile. I also never used the “k-word”. It was strictly referred to as “green noodles”. Dinnertime with Wyatt has become hit or miss as of late. Some nights he’ll just eat happily, and others (I’m afraid the majority) he needs to be coaxed or hounded into taking every single bite. I have to say that this was one of the easiest dinners (not to mention tastiest) in recent memory!

Please try this and let me know what you think!

Kale Pesto Recipe

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Appetizer, Condiment, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Snack, Starter
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 6 cups washed baby kale (most of a 9 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped marcona almonds (or salted nut of your choice)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Step 1
Even though pesto is a raw sauce, I decided to turn the olive oil into garlic oil. It's a really easy process.

Add the 1/2c olive oil into a small saucepan, and add a tablespoon of minced garlic.
Step 2
If I'd had a fresh head of garlic I would have simply added in about 2 or 3 cloves. We always have a jar of minced in the fridge, so even though it's more to scoop out later, it'll taste just as garlic-y!

Heat over low/medium heat. Usually I say medium/low heat, but you really want to be careful not to scorch the garlic here so make sure it's set to the lower end of things for this. Give it about 10 minutes to really infuse the oil.
Step 3
Expect some bubbles the last couple of minutes, but pull it off the heat early if you think it's about to really boil! After about 10 minutes pull the pan off the heat; allow to completely cool before you add it into your pesto.

Add two overflowing cups of kale into your food processor.
Step 4
I have a mini-prep food processor, which I love, and use for almost everything. Now, however, is definitely the time for your large food processor if you've got two size options.

Look how full my larger processor is with just two cups... I can't imagine how long it would have taken if I'd had to use my mini-prep!
Step 5
Pulse kale about 4 times. Add 2 more cups kale; pulse again. Add the last 2 cups of kale; pulse again.

Here's what 6 cups of pulsed kale looks like, if you'd ever wondered.
Step 6
Add in the chopped nuts, parmesan, and lemon zest.
Step 7
Pulse about 8 times.
Step 8
Add the tablespoon of lemon juice, and pulse about 3 more times.

This smells fantastic by the way!

Now, using a slotted spoon, scoop the garlic out of your cooled oil, and add it into the pesto.
Step 9
Replace the lid of the food processor. Turn it onto the lower setting (mine has 1 or 2... I picked 1) and slowly pour in the garlic infused olive oil.

Unfortunately I'm not skillful enough to pour a steady stream of oil into a running food processor and photograph it... so here's what it looks like after adding the oil and letting the machine run for about 20 seconds.
Step 10
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add salt and pepper to taste. I added 1/2tsp salt and 1/4tsp black pepper.
Step 11
Run the processor one last time for about 10 seconds, and you're left with this beautiful pesto!
Step 12
Of course the obvious use for this is simply tossed with your favorite pasta shape of the moment...
Step 13
but you can really use as you would any other condiment. Brian's already tried it as a sandwich spread and inside burritos!
Step 14
I was thrilled that Wyatt ate up the "green" noodles without a fight, and I hope that everyone in your house is delighted with these healthy dish as well!

Beef and Black Bean Chili

With the weather beginning to cool down, I couldn’t wait to make a pot of chili! This beefy chili with black beans makes the perfect dinner or lunch on a cool October day!

I used some local grass-fed beef from my family’s favorite farm White Oak Pastures. They are really a farm that’s doing it right. They care about the welfare of their animals, and giving them a humane existence. Being a butcher, the quality of the meat that ends up on our family table is very important to me. These animals are antibiotic and hormone free, and spend their days grazing on White Oak’s lush pastures. It’s a truly inspirational place.

Wherever you get your beef from, make sure to use a cut that will braise well. I used shoulder clod, but any number of other tough cuts would work: chuck blade, chuck, bottom round, eye round, boneless short rib. I’m a fan of anything shoulder or “chuck” related for chilies like this. Just don’t get anything too tender. If you begin with a cut that’s tender to start with, it’ll overcook in the chili and actually become tough. So save the money and buy something cheap and tough!

I fell in love with the pumpkin beer that I used here. I’d never tried one before, but I’m a sucker for all things seasonal so I gave it a go. It’s smooth and light, and it worked great in the chili! Use anything you’d like to drink on the side. I also think a stout beer would work well here, because I love to use stouts in braises. If you’re not a beer drinker just use an extra cup of beef broth.

Happy fall, and I hope you love this chili!

Beef and Black Bean Chili Recipe

Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish, Soup
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot

Ingredients

  • 2lb lean beef shoulder (in small cubes)
  • 3 cups diced onion (about one large onion)
  • 2 cups bell pepper seeded and small diced (about 2 on the larger side)
  • 1 cup poblano pepper seeded and almost minced (about 2 large poblanos)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can pumpkin beer (or your favorite seasonal beer)
  • 2 cans black beans (15.5 oz cans)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 oz can)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus another 2 tsp. later)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder (plus another 1 Tbs. later)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (plus another 1 tsp. later)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (plus another 2 Tbs. later)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • sour cream
  • sliced green onion

Directions

Step 1
I like to get everything seasoned and chopped before I start, so that I'm not scrambling around to cook and take pictures. Since you'll just be cooking without the photo shoot, you could probably get away with chopping your veggies while your meat browns.

Anyway, I'm a non-multitasking scaredy cat so I chopped my veggies first. Here's my line-up.
Step 2
I had one gigantic onion, a large and a medium bell pepper, and two large poblanos. I wouldn't get too hung up on the measurements or sizes being exact. I measured just to give you a guideline, but feel free to add more, less, or different veggies to make the chili your own!

I completely seeded my peppers.
Step 3
I'll be attempting to feed this to an almost four year old. So wish me luck, and feel free to add some seeds for extra heat in your chili.

Another thing I did to help get Wyatt to eat this was to practically mince the poblanos.
Step 4
As you chop the veggies, add them into a bowl, and top with the minced garlic.

Now is a good time to heat up 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
Step 5
Here's the beautiful grass fed beef. This is exactly 2 pounds of shoulder clod that has been: seamed out, trimmed of excess fat, and chopped into very small cubes.
Step 6
Just so you know, my "chili-sized" small cubes are small enough that you could easily scoop up three or four pieces per spoonful.

Toss the first round of spices in with the meat: 1tsp. salt, 2tsp. garlic powder, 1tsp. cumin, 1/2tsp. cinnamon, 1/2tsp. black pepper, 1Tbs. chili powder.
Step 7
Add half of the seasoned beef cubes to your heated oil, and brown for around 2 minutes.
Step 8
After the first batch is brown, pull it to a bowl. Use a slotted spoon so that you leave all of your flavorful grease in the pan for the second round of beef.
Step 9
Now brown round two for another 2 minutes. This smells fantastic by the way! After it's brown add it to the bowl of beef.
Step 10
Add one more Tbs. of oil into the hot pan, and dump in your big bowl of veggies. Give them a good stir to get everyone tossed in the beef flavored oil.
Step 11
Cook around 8-10 minutes over the medium high heat, tossing occasionally.

Once they look softened and tasty, it's chipotle time!
Step 12
I scooped 2 heaping Tbs. right out of the can. I avoided any bigger pieces, and also made a point of getting plenty of adobo sauce in both of my scoops.

Stir those in with your softened veggies, and let that cook for a minute or so while you crack open some cans.
Step 13
Open and add:

a large can of crushed tomatoes,
Step 14
two cans of black beans,
Step 15
one can of beer,
Step 16
and two cups of beef broth.
Step 17
Stir everything together.

Add in the rest of your spices: 2tsp salt, 1Tbs garlic powder, 2Tbs chili powder, 1tsp cinnamon.
Step 18
Add back the browned beef and all of it's tasty beef juices.
Step 19
Stir everything together again.
Step 20
Realize you haven't used a big enough pot.

Dump the whole thing into the dutch oven you should have used in the first place.
Step 21
*Or you could skip that step by just using a big enough pot in the first place!

Anyway, bring the whole shebang to a boil.
Step 22
At this point the beef shoulder still needs to braise a bit. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Simmer for an hour stirring occasionally.

After it's cooked an hour covered, the beef should be tender enough, but now it needs to thicken up some (unless you'd like Beef and Black Bean Soup). I let mine simmer another half an hour uncovered still on medium low. Then I increased the heat to medium, and let it bubble and thicken for about 20-30 minutes.
Step 23
I strongly recommend serving this with sour cream and sliced green onion.
Step 24
Of course whatever beer you cooked with will be perfect on the side.
Step 25
If I'd had any cornbread it would have been great with this.
Step 26
But since I didn't, I just dove into the bowl!

Apple Cider Pork with Kale Salad

Here’s my autumn twist on stir-fry!

This is one of my easy weeknight go-to’s during the fall. Honestly, the hardest part of this meal is planning ahead an hour to marinate the pork! The marinade is practically two ingredients, plus, once you begin actually cooking, the whole thing comes together super fast. I made this on a Tuesday night after getting up at 4:30am, and working a full day. If this weren’t really an easy fix, there’s no way I would have attempted a “photo shoot dinner” on a workday.

I like to serve this with something green. Brian’s got lots of “Brianisms” or goofy one liners that he says a lot. One of them is “I need some green in my life.” Well here’s some green for everyone’s life. It’s my favorite way to eat raw kale at the moment. This is the basic version, but please add anything and everything you can think of. I’ve added pears, apples, pecans, pine nuts, and almonds before. Please comment if you think of any other great additions… I’m always trying to think of new things to dig for in salads!

Tasty. Healthy. Fast. Seasonal… Enjoy!

Apple Cider Pork with Kale Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4lb pork tenderloin (in small cubes)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 6 cups chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt

Directions

Step 1
In a 2 cup measuring cup, measure out your apple cider vinegar and apple cider/juice.
Step 2
Add in the salt and pepper, and give it all a good stir.
Step 3
Pour into a 13x9 inch dish with your pork tenderloin cubes.

Spread the cubes out into an even layer so that everyone gets plenty of marinade.
Step 4
Cover with plastic wrap while pressing all the pieces down into the apple cider mixture.
Step 5
Pop into the fridge for an hour.

Once it's had at least an hour in the marinade, drain off the pork cubes.
Step 6
Spread them out onto several layers of paper towels.

Being drier when they go into the skillet will help them brown a bit better.
Step 7
Another thing that will help the pieces to brown is to cook the pork in two batches.

Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and add roughly half of your pork.
Step 8
This is just like a stir-fry. That means you'll be constantly moving the pieces around over a fairly high heat.

Toss the cubes around around 2 minutes and then pull to a plate.
Step 9
Add one more tablespoon of oil to your skillet, and brown the second batch for another two minutes.

Pour the first plateful of pork back into the skillet. Cover the whole thing with a lid, and simmer one minute.
Step 10
Remove the lid and let it bubble another 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on the size of your pork cubes). Be careful at this point, because dry pork is no fun for anyone involved. If you have really small pieces, then they're probably done about the time the lid comes off.
Step 11
I always pull one of the largest pieces and cut into it to make sure it's done. I figure once the bigger pieces are ready, then they're all good to go!

As soon as you think they're done, pull them out of the hot pan!
Step 12
As I said earlier, I always like to serve this with something green. Here I paired it with a super simple kale salad.

I de-stemmed, washed, and chopped about 6 cups of kale. Then I tossed it with equal parts lemon juice and olive oil (it was around 1/8 cup of each). Add in a sprinkle of kosher salt and a handful of sweetened and dried cranberries (about 1/2 cup), and you've got yourself an easy and tasty seasonal salad!
Step 13
Nestle a tasty pile of pork into the cranberry kale salad,
Step 14
and enjoy a deliciously healthy autumn dinner!

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

I love sun dried tomatoes. Brian, however, does not. I don’t want to say that this causes problems in our house… but I also don’t want to lie to you.

Ok, so it’s not that serious. All the same, I’d really like to get Wyatt eating sun dried tomatoes now while I can still blackmail him into trying new things with the promise of ice cream. Well, this dish proved to be a “no blackmail needed” dinner for both of the boys! I feel strongly that if an adult “non-sun dried tomato eater” and a three year old will gobble this up, then anyone will!

It’s a great weeknight dinner option, because the bulk of the flavor comes from two kinds of jarred sauces. Fresh tomatoes, extra sun dried tomatoes, and fresh basil and cheese makes it feel and taste more homemade and scrumptious.

To sum up, the whole supper came together in just over twenty minutes, and we all loved it!

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 medium sized tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup sun dried tomato pesto
  • 1/3 cup alfredo sauce
  • 1 heaped tablespoon fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 pound dried pasta (like mini farfalle)
  • 1/4 cup pasta water

Directions

Step 1
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Next slice an "X" into the bottom of your fresh tomatoes.
Step 2
This will make it easy to peel them once they've gone for their dip.

Once you've got a rolling boil, lower the tomatoes into the water.
Step 3
These only need a few seconds in the water, so don't walk away!

My general rule of thumb for tomatoes is 30 seconds, then pull 'em.
Step 4
Lay them on a towel, and let them cool for a few minutes.

Once they're cool enough for you to handle (for me it's about 3 minutes--for Brian it's about 20 seconds... but he's a total cowboy) grab hold of one of the "X" segments and pull the skin right off.
Step 5
It really is like magic how easily tomato skins come off after just seconds in hot water.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but it really doesn't take long at all. Plus you're gonna have to boil the water for the pasta anyway, so why not use it twice? Also I am really not a fan of tomato skins in my pasta dishes.
Step 6
I apologize for the white balance issue. I'm still learning my camera, and apparently red tomatoes on a red cutting board in a kitchen with one small window is too much for me.

Anyway, photo issues aside, chop up the tomatoes to roughly the same size chunks. Make sure to keep all the seeds and juice. Everything will get added into the dish.
Step 7
Dump some kosher salt (maybe 2Tbs or so) into your already boiling water,
Step 8
and add your pasta.

I didn't have an unopened box of fun-shaped pasta in the house. I did however have two half boxes of mini farfalle.
Step 9
If that's not making figurative lemonade then I don't know what is!

Cook according to the package directions or to your liking (we tend to overcook in our house), and don't forget to hold back the 1/4 cup of pasta water before you drain everything!

Heat the 2Tbs. of olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Once it's nice and hot, dump in the minced garlic.
Step 10
Saute the garlic about 30 seconds. You don't want it to cook too long or it'll begin to brown and/or burn.

To keep that from happening, dump in all of your chopped tomatoes with their juices, plus 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt.
Step 11
Stir everything together, and simmer around 7-8 minutes. Stir occasionally, and adjust heat up or down as you go to keep the sauce simmering not boiling.
Step 12
For the sun dried tomatoes, I pulled out six nice-sized pieces from a olive oiled jar.
Step 13
P.S. Look who found the incandescent mode on her camera!

Anyway, once I chopped them up, it was almost exactly 2 heaping Tbs.
Step 14
Once your tomato sauce has simmered 7-8 minutes add in the sun dried tomatoes.
Step 15
Simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
Step 16
While things are simmering grate the cheese and mince the basil.
Step 17
Here are my secret ingredients for extra flavor.
Step 18
Ok, so it's a combo of jarred sauces. But it's a nice mix of flavors, with the creamy sauce and the pesto mixed, plus it's super easy for a weeknight dinner.

Add in 1/3 cup of the sun dried tomato pesto,
Step 19
and 1/3 cup of the alfredo sauce.
Step 20
Now the basil and parmesan jumps into the party.
Step 21
In case you ever wondered, this is was a pound of pasta that's been waiting in a strainer looks like.
Step 22
In goes the sun dried tomato sauce,
Step 23
and the reserved pasta water.
Step 24
Now just give everything a toss,
Step 25
and enjoy!

Raspberry and Spinach Salad

This salad is the perfect balance for me. I think salads are best when they have a nice mix of different flavors and textures. This one has it all! Spinach is my favorite base for salads, plus there are plenty of digs (the fun stuff that keeps you digging in salads to find them). Feel free to mix up the ingredients to please your palate.

I always like little pockets of sweetness. If it weren’t a great time of year for berries, my go to would be sweetened and dried cranberries. I caught these raspberries right at the end of their season and I say if you can find any kind of fresh berry use them here. The other fun “dig” for me in this salad is the goat cheese. Use any kind of cheese you like, or leave it out if you’re not a cheese in my salad kind of person. Mine is a mild and creamy goat cheese from a local dairy farm Capra Gia that my husband and I both love.

Another wintertime solution would be using your favorite bottled raspberry vinaigrette. Really there are tons of dressing flavors that would work great here. I’ve used my homemade Raspberry Vinaigrette. If you’ve got some berries and an extra ten minutes check out the recipe here.

Raspberry and Spinach Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • fresh spinach (chopped)
  • fresh raspberries
  • red onion (thinly sliced)
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • marcona almonds (chopped)
  • Raspberry Vinaigrette

Directions

Step 1
It's a salad. So I'm afraid there's not really much to the steps. It's not so much making it as it is assembling it.

Start with your chopped spinach.
Step 2
Sprinkle on the sliced red onions.
Step 3
Add the raspberry polka dots.
Step 4
Crumble over the goat cheese. Blue cheese would work great here also if you'd like a bit more punch.
Step 5
Now for the crunch!
Step 6
I've chosen chopped marcona almonds, but I came really close to using sunflower seeds. Feel free to add any or all crunch you'd like.
Step 7
Drizzle over as much or little of the vinaigrette as you choose.
Step 8
This is great as a fresh side,
Step 9
or make it the main attraction and feel really good about yourself!

Pizza Roll-ups

These roll-ups are so easy and fun! Kids will love getting to help sprinkle on the toppings. Plus anything handheld is perfect for little hands to eat!

We used some of our family’s personal favorites for pizza: italian meats for Kerry, fresh spinach for Brian, and of course black olives for Wyatt. Wyatt expects black olives on every pizza he eats… even if he does call them black beans instead of olives.

It goes without saying, but of course I’m gonna say it anyway, that these can be topped as many ways as a traditional pizza can. Feel free to make them your own. Mix up your garnishes to please your specific crowd of “roll-up makers”. Also, this deliciously easy dipping sauce would be great as a sauce on a regular pizza, meatball sandwich, almost anything!

Have fun with these!

Pizza Roll-ups Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 large flour tortillas
  • grated mozzarella
  • sliced black olives
  • fresh spinach
  • sliced salami
  • sliced peperoni

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 jar vegetable marinara sauce (around 9 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

Directions

Step 1
Let's make dippy sauce! Shall we?

Start with your favorite jar of red pasta sauce. To get a few extra veggies, I like to use a chunky vegetable marinara.
Step 2
Chunks are no fun, however, in a dipping sauce. So dump the whole jar into a food processor.
Step 3
Give it all a blitz until you're left with smooth tomato-y goodness.
Step 4
Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat.
Step 5
Add in the minced garlic once the oil is nice and hot. Sauté about 30 seconds.
Step 6
Pour in your pureed tomato sauce.
Step 7
Stir the hot garlic oil into the smooth sauce until it's completely incorporated.
Step 8
Simmer over the medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.

The sauce will have thickened slightly and be reduced by about a third.
Step 9
That's your yummy dipping sauce done!

On to the roll-ups!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and assemble your tortillas and fillings.
Step 10
Feel free to recruit "filling help" at this point.
Step 11
He never set down the banana by the way.

Each roll-up begins with a tortilla as a blank canvas.
Step 12
Sprinkle on some of the cheese first.
Step 13
Then sprinkle on any of the toppings you like.
Step 14
Just in case you thought the banana was gone...
Step 15
So here's how Wyatt topped his roll-up.
Step 16
Now start rolling up from the bottom.
Step 17
Fold in the sides, and then finish rolling all the way to the top.
Step 18
Lay seam-side down in a 9x13ish baking dish...
Step 19
and keep on rollin'. Here are some of the ones that I topped.

A little salami/pepperoni pattern action.
Step 20
One with no meat... why not?
Step 21
One with a partially eaten slice of pepperoni... thanks to Wyatt.
Step 22
And here's the whole gang ready for the oven.
Step 23
Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and pop into the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

Step 24
Slice in half, serve with the dippy sauce, and enjoy!

Junior Joes – Homemade Sloppy Joes Made Pint-Sized

These cute little bites are my homemade version of sloppy joes. They’re perfect for “junior” diners because they’re just the right size for young hands… plus they are truly yummy!

This dinner is ideal for parents to make for their little ones because it’s almost as easy to throw together as the store bought kind. Plus you get to control exactly what goes into them. My version is a little on the sweet side which all three of us really love. But for parents who would like to add a little less sugar, it’s no big deal to just leave off a tablespoon or two. Feel free to play with this and make it your own! Of course this meat sauce would be delicious on any kind of bun. They definitely don’t have to be “junior” all the time. Be that as it may, I do think they are wonderful on these parker house rolls, so please try them at least once!

However you end up making these, just make sure it’s on a bun and soon!

Junior Joes Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced bell pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 can tomato paste (6 ounce can)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 packages of frozen Parker House Rolls

Directions

Step 1
Pull your ground beef out of the fridge so it's not too cold once you're ready to cook. Preheat a skillet over just below medium heat. If you're using parker house rolls, preheat your oven according to the package directions for them as well.

While your pan and oven are heating up, mince the onion and pepper. Green is the traditional pepper of choice in sloppy joes. However, we are a non-traditional, green bell pepper hating kind of family. All that considered, pick your favorite bell pepper color and mince the life out of it!
Step 2
Once you're minced and the skillet feels hot to your hovering hand, add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Toss in the peppers and onions.
Step 3
Saute around 4 minutes, or until the minced combo looks translucent and softened.
Step 4
Plunk your ground beef or turkey into the skillet.

I don't know why I enjoy seeing it in this big blob, but I do!
Step 5
Use a sturdy spatula or spoon to break up your blob into smaller bits.
Step 6
Continue to brown the meat and break it up into smaller pieces for around 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder over the meat.
Step 7
Scoop out about half the can of tomato paste, and add it to the meat mix.

I didn't measure, but this is what half of a can looks like.
Step 8
Work the tomato paste into the meat until it's completely incorporated.

Next add in the whole can of tomato sauce, the worcestershire, and the sugar.
Step 9
Stir it all together, and reduce the heat to medium low.

Step 10
Once the sloppy joe sauce is bubbly, set your timer for 20 minutes. Apart from an occasional stir, all the sauce needs now is to simmer and thicken.

This is when I put my frozen rolls into the oven. Most of the frozen parker house rolls I've used go into a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. But definitely cook them according to your package directions.

Even frozen they look cute!

Step 11
Your sloppy sauce should be thick enough to leave a wide trail behind your spatula as it scrapes along the pan. If it's been at least 20 minutes, and your sauce is looking like this then it's time to cut the heat!
Step 12
Now it's just a matter of assembling these delicious little sammies!

Here's my son Wyatt's plate.
Step 13
I realize all three year olds eat differently. Heck, even the same three year old will eat differently from one meal to the next. But I have to say that he ate his entire plate of food happily!
Step 14
I hope that your family enjoys these tasty little Joes as much as mine did!

BBQ Baked Potatoes with Lemon Dressed Salads

This is the perfect weeknight dinner. It’s comforting and delicious, yet a cinch to put together. Basically I assemble the salads, the dressing, and the BBQ chicken while the potatoes are in the oven (and still have time for extra chores or a glass of wine).

Bake some potatoes.

Shred a rotisserie chicken, and toss in BBQ sauce.

Then make a super easy lemon dressing for a uncomplicated side salad.

Dinner’s done!

BBQ Baked Potatoes with Lemon Dressed Salad Recipe

Ingredients

Potatoes

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 jar of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 4 nice sized baking potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper

Toppings

  • sour cream
  • thinly sliced green onion

Salad

  • romaine lettuce
  • fresh tomato (chunked)

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Step 1
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Besides the sour cream (I always seem to leave someone out of the picture) this is everything you'll need to put these yummy potatoes together.
*Or if you're like my sister Mandy, this is everything you'll need*
Step 2
Give the potatoes a thorough scrubbing under water to ensure that you have a very clean skin. Lay them out on a towel and make sure they are unquestionably dry.
Step 3
Now pierce the potatoes several times. I always use a fork because my mom always uses a fork. I'm pretty sure you only need a few holes, but we always tend to go a little crazy at this point and stab them over and over.
*Just watch out for your hands*
Step 4
Line a baking sheet with foil, and lay on your potatoes. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over each potato then rub it all over them.
Step 5
Generously sprinkle with kosher salt.
Step 6
Pop into your preheated oven, and bake for about an hour. Towards the end I start to check on them every ten minutes or so to see if they feel soft enough. These skins are deliciously crispy and salty for all you "skin-eaters" out there.
Step 7
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle slice a line along the top of each. Scoop out the insides with a spoon and transfer the warm goodness to a medium sized bowl.
Step 8
Make sure you leave enough inside the skins to keep the potatoes held together. You'll be renovating these guys in just a minute.
Step 9
Mix together the potato mush with butter, salt, and pepper to taste. You could really get creative here if you'd like, and add all kinds of things like: BBQ sauce, sour cream, cream cheese, onions, herbs, cheese, sundried tomatoes, anything!
Butter with salt and pepper is about as simple as it gets but still totally yummy!
Step 10
Spoon the mixture back into the potatoes, leaving room for a sizable pile of BBQ. Now the potatoes are ready to get stuffed!
It may sound a little violent, but that's because it is.
Step 11
While the potatoes are roasting, you can address the chicken; "Hello Chicken!"
It's as easy as shredding and tossing. I start with a delicious salt and pepper rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods, but any flavor you enjoy will work.
Step 12
I have never found a way to shred the meat off an entire chicken without just using my hands and getting super messy. If you have a nice and neat way of doing this, all the more power to ya. Basically I break the chicken down into parts with my hands, pulling off the skin (sacrilege I know) and tearing apart the meat with my fingers as I go.
You'll end up with a bowl-full of chicken that you didn't even have to bake!
Step 13
Pour in as much BBQ sauce as you think it needs. It could be lightly coated or dripping with sauce. It's just however you like it best. Now that this is officially BBQ chicken, it's ready to get stuffed into your tatties.
Step 14
The salad dressing begins with about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest (basically the zest of two lemons). Don't forget to use all the zest that gets caught on the back of your zester.
Step 15
Dump the zest into a jar, or into a handy-dandy salad dressing mixer like the one I have here.
Step 16
Pour in 1/4 cup of lemon juice (also about two lemons' worth).
Step 17
Add the 1/2 cup olive oil, the 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and the 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.
Step 18
My salad dressing mixer has a really cool corkscrewy kind of thing attached to the lid that mixes it all up for you. However, for years I got the same results by dumping all my dressing ingredients into a jar with a lid. Make sure the lid is screwed on tight and shake it like a polaroid picture!
Step 19
Assembling this meal is a breeze, because while the potatoes bake I shred the chicken and make the dressing. Then it's just a matter of tossing some lettuce and tomatoes (or whatever salad veg you have on hand) with some of the lemon dressing, and stuffing your potatoes!
Step 20
I always seem to end up with extra BBQ chicken, so I usually make a lighter version for lunch the next day. I make the same salad with the lemon dressing. I just make more of it, and put it into a bowl with leftover BBQ. It's a delicious salad and a great use of leftovers!
Step 21
Whichever way you choose to combine these fixings, there's no way to go wrong! I hope you enjoy!

Herb Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

I can’t think of many meals more satisfying to smell or to eat than roasted chicken. It’s one of those wonderful comfort foods that can be completely transformed every time you cook it. This particular rendition is very simple and very delicious.

Both the chicken and the potatoes are seasoned with a basic combination of fresh herbs, salt, and pepper. The potatoes are slightly cooked ahead of time to help them match the cook time of the thighs, and the chicken is brown before going into the oven to guarantee a delicious and crispy skin.There is absolutely nothing complicated about preparing this dish. Which makes savoring its’ scrumptiousness all the more enjoyable!

Try it tomorrow!

Herb Roasted Chicken & Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 8 - 12 Chicken Thighs (Bone in and skin on)
  • 4 - 10 Potatoes (the number depends on the size of the potatoes)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (I used rosemary and thyme)
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • the juice of one large lemon
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Step 1
Rinse your potatoes and peel 'em like you're in the army. Cut them into fairly uniform chunks, and plop them into a bowl of water. They can hang out here until you're ready to boil them. Feel free to do this earlier in the day. The potatoes will be fine in their bath for quite awhile.
Step 2
When you're ready dump the potatoes (water and all) into a big pot. Add enough salt to the water to give them some nice flavor, and turn on the heat to high.
Check the potatoes often once they are really boiling because you do not want them soft enough to mash. You only want them to be barely fork tender. Remember that they'll be roasting for another half hour or so in the oven.
Step 3
Once you think they're ready, drain the potatoes and let them wait until you're roasting pan is ready for their grand entrance.
*Don't mind my brussel sprout scraps in the sink*
Step 4
While the potatoes are boiling, get your herbs ready. I made a nice little pile of rosemary leaves.
Step 5
Then I added a pile of thyme right on top.
Step 6
Now mince up the whole gang!
I used an exclamation mark on purpose because I find this part extremely fun and quite satisfying.
Step 7
This is by no means an exact science. I measured mine just to give you a rough idea of how much to end up with. I had almost exactly 1/4 cup.
*Don't mind the glass of wine in the background*
Step 8
Now on to the chicken! We love thighs, but I'm sure this would be delicious with drumsticks or breasts. I dumped the thighs into a big bowl with paper towels and patted them dry.
Oh! This is also the time to preheat your oven to 450.
Step 9
Next I get rid of the paper towels, and flip everybody upside down. Season them with plenty of salt, plenty of pepper and plenty of the minced herbs.
Step 10
Now give them all a flip and season the skin side with lots of everything as well. Remember this will be the delicious crispy skin, so you don't want to skimp on the seasonings here.
Step 11
Heat the olive oil and the butter in a big skillet over medium high heat.
Step 12
Once the pan is all hot and bubbly add some of your thighs skin-side down. Give them all plenty of room so that they brown rather than steam.
Step 13
Expect to do this in several batches depending on how many pieces you have.
Step 14
Each thigh will take about four or five minutes to brown over medium high heat. Once they're all nice and brown, you should end up with a tasty looking (if not slightly raw) plate of chicken.
Step 15
Dump your drained potatoes into the hot chicken grease and add the rest of your chopped herbs and a hefty sprinkle of salt.
Step 16
Toss them in the fat and seasonings until every chunk is thoroughly coated in all the tasty goodness. Now spread them out into a single layer that covers the bottom of the pan.
Step 17
Now lay all of your browned thighs on top of the potatoes...
Step 18
Squeeze one large lemon over everything...
Step 19
And pop the whole shebang into your preheated oven! Leave it alone for 25-30 minutes. When the timer goes off pull out a pan of deliciousness that looks like this!
*It smells even better than it looks btw*
Step 20
We always serve it with something green on the side (like these brussels sprouts) to pretend like this is healthier than it is, but this would be plenty of meal without any additions.
I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as we always do!

BBQ Pork Sliders

First and foremost, let me apologize for the lull in posts. Between the new puppy and the entire family getting sick, I have not been cooking or posting like I should. Now that I’m feeling better, and Thanksgiving is behind us, hopefully I will be back to cooking and writing all the time again! Thank you for your patience.

Now on to the really important stuff… Pork!

These sliders are so good and so easy they should really be illegal. It’s seriously just a matter of browning some cubed steaks and layering a few things in your crockpot. I would go on, but really that’s all there is to it.

Delicious! Easy! Pork!

BBQ Pork Sliders Recipe

Ingredients

Sliders

  • 1 1/4- 1 1/2lb pork cubed steak
  • 16oz jar of BBQ sauce
  • BBQ dry rub seasoning
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Hawaiian rolls

Slaw

  • 5-6 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Step 1
First get a skillet heating up over medium heat while you step back and look at how simple these ingredients are.
Step 2
Now dice up enough of your onion (probably about half of a large one) to have about a cup. It's listed as a cup on the ingredient list, but as you can see, I've definitely got a heaping cupful here.
Step 3
My pork cubed steaks were already pretty small, so I only had to cut most of these in half. Just keep in mind that these pieces should end up fitting nicely on your Hawaiian rolls, so cut them into smallish pieces accordingly.
Step 4
Now give everybody a generous shake of your favorite dry BBQ rub seasoning. I used a rub I absolutely love that my friend Whit Noble makes called Mrs. Sippy River Rub. Of course feel free to use whatever rub you like!
Step 5
In a shallow dish, mix together the flour, salt and pepper.
Each piece of pork gets a roll in this seasoned flour mix before getting fried.
Step 6
Add one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil to your hot skillet. Once it has melted all together, add in a few pieces of your seasoned and floured pork. Make sure not to overcrowd them. Plan on browning them in two or three batches.
Step 7
After about two or three minutes flip them over and brown their other side. Pull the browned pieces to a plate. Repeat the browning process with the rest of your pork, adding another tablespoon each of oil and butter in between batches.
Step 8
Once all of your pork bits are nice and brown the crockpot layering begins!
Start with some of your BBQ sauce in the bottom.
Step 9
Then sprinkle in some onions.
Step 10
Now add a single layer of tasty little pork pieces.
Step 11
Keep these layers going until you run out of all your ingredients. You'll end up with a delicious looking BBQ parfait!
Step 12
Now it's time to get back to those pan drippings. This is an optional step, but it is one that I believe adds a lot of flavor. Begin by turning the heat back on under your pan to medium high.
Step 13
Add 1/2 c. of water to your empty BBQ sauce bottle.
Step 14
Give it a good shake to grab all those last little drops of BBQ sauce.
Step 15
Pour the BBQ water into the hot pan.
Step 16
Let it bubble away while you scrape up all of those tasty little flavor bits off the bottom of the pan.
Step 17
Once you've thoroughly cleaned up the bottom of the pan, pour the hot water over the top of your BBQ parfait.
Step 18
Now just pop on the lid and heat on low for around 8 hours. Later that day this is what you'll end up with!
Step 19
Look at how tasty this looks!
Step 20
The cabbage slaw is super easy. I mix the dressing and shred the cabbage ahead of time, but wait to toss it all together until right before it's needed.
Step 21
Add all of the slaw ingredients (minus the cabbage) into a jar. Make sure you've found the right lid to fit on your jar before you add all the sloppy stuff in (I learned this the hard way)!
Step 22
Screw the lid on nice and tight and give it a shake!
Step 23
Dump all of the shredded cabbage into a large bowl and toss with the dressing.
Step 24
Now it's just a matter of assembly. I love Hawaiian rolls for sliders. Feel free to use another type of small bun especially if you're not a fan of the sweetness that the Hawaiian rolls bring to the party.
Step 25
Slice your rolls in half and start with a piece of pork and a touch more of the crockpot sauce.
Step 26
Then add a nice little pile of slaw.
Step 27
Now all you need is the top of the roll and an appetite!
Step 28
These little guys are so delicious, I hope you love them!