Food Recipes Tried

Dinner :: Taco Casserole

Taco Casserole from the oven
Taco Casserole from the oven

This is from one of my favorite food blogs, Salt and Lavender. Her recipes are soooo good. Almost everything I’ve tried before this was creamy. Creamy Spinach Mushroom Pork Chops (which I’m making again tomorrow), Creamy Tuscan Sausage Gnocchi, 15 Minute Creamy Garlic Pasta, and my favorite, Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup. This was not creamy, but was super delicious.

Just like a taco only less messy! It’s basically what is left on your plate when your taco explodes at first bite.

I made this January 6, 2020 while we watched the news and the Capital was being overtaken by a mob of delusional cult members (or as my favorite Tiktok lady says, “Cheeto-Humping Fuck Nuggets”). Yes, I am not a supporter, if you are, you can stop reading and stop following me.

Still here? OK so anyway, here are my notes:

I only had one small bag of Nacho Flavored Doritos so I used that and then filled the rest of the 2 cups with crushed Hatch Chili Corn Chips from Imperfect Foods.

I used Salsa Lisa, medium spicy. The chipotle version of this would be really good here too.

For the chili powder, I used a half regular and half chipotle powder.

I followed the recipe, except I added a chopped red pepper (she suggested this in the blog post, I didn’t go completely rouge).

Toppings we used were: sour cream, cilantro, green onion, tomatoes, black olives, lettuce (which I forgot when I took the photos) and remaining salsa from the container of Salsa Lisa.

She has this clocking in at 554 calories but My Fitness Pal says this is 333 calories per serving (without toppings), due in part to the oil I didn’t use. I am not sure what the other discrepancies are.

I did not use any salt when cooking the meat because of the salt in the chips. Next time I may use plain corn chips (Tostitos, no flavor) and then use some salt or Tajin in the meat. I did feel like the meat could use some oomph. I’d add some cayenne to the meat mixture too.

I highly recommend making this! If you love tacos, you’ll love this.

Taco Casserole with toppings
Taco Casserole with toppings, except for the lettuce which I forgot.

Original Recipe : Easy Taco Casserole

The beef, green onions, corn chips, onion, black beans, and tomatoes were all from Imperfect Foods.

Use my link and get $10 off your first box. (Full disclosure, I get $10 off too.)

If you do this, order those Hatch Chili Corn Chips! They’re amazing!!

bag of Hatch Chili Seasoned Corn Chips from Imperfect Foods
Hatch Chili Seasoned Corn Chips from Imperfect Foods

I had the leftovers for lunch today, I just sprinkled some more corn chips on top!

Taco Casserole leftovers
Taco Casserole leftovers



I made this again and I made a couple of changes, mostly out of what was on hand.

I used a Taco Seasoning packet instead of the spices suggested and it was fine.

I used my own homemade Salsa (which is more like a pico) along with some roasted tomatoes that I had made earlier in the week with grape tomatoes that were starting to wrinkle.

I used some of those Hatch chips along with plain corn chips as the base.

Then, I had the leftovers for breakfast with an egg on it!

Taco Casserole with Egg
Taco Casserole with Egg
Food Recipes Tried

Bailey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these delicious Baily’s flavored cookies from Baker by Nature. First off, I HATE baking. I think most of the reason is that I always end up with flour all over the place. It just explodes on me for no reason (that I can tell). But I was determined to make these because they looked soooo good on her website (a friend posted the recipe on Facebook).

Another reason I don’t like baking is that the things I make usually aren’t very good. But I think it’s because I can’t seem to follow directions. Mostly I am too impatient to make the dough and let it chill. But this time I did it right! And it paid off.

Cookies on a rack

These are good! They’re gooey, and almost not done in the middle. So, they’re perfect for heating up in the toaster oven if you want to eat them warm.

close up cookie
I’m ready for my close up

They’re very sweet though, so I I gave them 4 stars of 5. I would leave out some of that brown sugar. It was too much. Do any of you bakers know, can I leave out some of that sugar and not have it affect the outcome? If not, what can I do to reduce the sugar/sweetness?

Recipe for Bailey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food Recipes Tried

Recipe :: PW’s Perfect Pot Roast

I finally made The Pioneer Woman’s “Perfect Pot Roast”.

I mean, perfect is pretty hard to attain, but this was certainly one of the best I’ve ever had.

It turned out great! What did I change? Glad you asked.

-I did add about a pound of creamer potatoes to the vegetable mix.
-I didn’t use wine because I was too lazy to go downstairs and get some.
That’s all. Everything else I did just as written!

Here it was going into the oven:

Pot Roast Before the oven
Before the oven

We loved it. Our roast was 2.5 pounds so we cooked it for almost 3 hours, I think we took it out a tad early.

Pot Roast after cooking
after removed from the oven

Greg spooned off some of the braising liquid and made a delicious gravy.
Pot Roast the table
Then with the leftovers (though there wasn’t much left) we just cut the meat into smaller pieces and mixed it with the vegetables, juice and gravy and it was a fabulous stew for lunch the next day.

Pot Roast my plate

Let me know if you try it, and how it turns out!

Original Recipe

Onions and carrots were from Imperfect Foods.

Use my link and get $10 off your first box. Full disclosure, I get $10 off too.


Food Meal kits Recipes Mine

Recipe :: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Brown Rice

This was a Plated dish called Indian-Spiced Chicken with Cardamom Brown Butter, Pistachios, and Roasted Carrots. I’ve made it a few times now, without the kit and make some changes.
Sine the meal kit it came from is discontinued I think I can share the recipe, especially since I’m not sharing their recipe, but my adaptation of it.
Here’s what it looked like when I made it with the kit:

Indian-spiced chicken
done with the meal kit

The second time I made it, I substituted thighs for breasts. I don’t recall why I made that choice, but I prefer dark meat, and usually have it on hand more than chicken breasts, so that’s probably it.

Indian-spiced chicken
without the kit, subbed meat and no nuts

The third time I made it, well…the new change was an accident. I prepped the carrots and put them in the oven. I set a timer, but I didn’t hear it and didn’t remember the carrots until we were done eating. Ooops! Luckily it was still amazing!

Indian-spiced chicken
on my own, who needs carrots?

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Brown Rice

3 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
6 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 cup quick cooking brown rice
2½ cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ tablespoons golden raisins
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Dash of cayenne
black pepper

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat (if you’re making the rice on the stove). You’ll be draining it so you want at least 2 cups of water.

Rinse spinach and pat dry with paper towel; roughly chop.

Pat chicken very dry with paper towel and cut into 1/2″ pieces. Season all over with garam masala, a sprinkle of salt, and pepper.

Meanwhile, season boiling water generously with salt. Stir in rice and cook until tender, 22–25 minutes. Drain and return to pot, off heat, then cover to keep warm. Or you can make the rice in the Instant Pot, quick release and drain off excess water.

While rice cooks, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add chicken; sear until golden and pieces easily lift from pan, 6 minutes. Stir and sear other sides until cooked through and no longer pink, about 6 minutes more. Remove pan from heat. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside to rest; wipe pan clean for the next step.

Place pan from chicken over medium heat, then add butter, cardamom, and almonds. Swirl pan occasionally until butter turns golden and fragrant and pistachios are toasted, 7–8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired; remove pan from heat.

To pot with rice, still off heat, add golden raisins, spinach, and half of cardamom brown butter and pistachios. Stir everything to combine and wilt spinach slightly. Taste for salt and add as needed.

Divide rice between serving plates. Top with Indian-spiced chicken and spoon over remaining cardamom brown butter and almonds.

I did think that this would be great with roasted vegetables such as carrot (which the original recipe called for) or asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, or broccoli. Any veg that roasts well. I think I will do brussels next time.

Let me know if you try it (or if you have in the past!)

Food Recipes Mine

Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving Table
Well, this year was different for all of us. We usually have my parents over to dine with us. But last year my father died, and then this year…well, we all know what this year brought. My dad’s wife spent Thanksgiving with her family and we were going to have my mom over. But as the day got closer she decided she didn’t want to chance it with the virus spreading like wild fire.

We’d already bought all the food so we were doing the meal either way. Greg really likes doing the turkey and I like doing all the sides, so we had a very small Thanksgiving with just us and the pets.

Click the names of the recipes to visit the sites where they came from.

I made The Best Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes from Pinch of Yum

Thanksgiving Mashed Potaotes
from Pinch of Yum

Simple is Best Stuffing from Bon Appetit  I made this last year too and it’s super good!

Thanksgiving Stuffing
from Bon Appetit

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey and Miso. This is from the New York Times so if you don’t subscribe you may have trouble seeing this one. You may know of my love/hate with NYT cooking (last year I used their mashed potatoes and they were TERRIBLE) but this one is great!

Thanksgiving Brussels Sprouts

And the Pièce De Résistance…

Thanksgiving Turkey
Yes, the top looks burned. It got a little hot at the end, but it was delicious!

Greg’s Brined and Roasted Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey carved

I wrote up the recipe based on what he told me. I think he left some things out, so if you use this, you might have to improvise a little. Nothing is specific. That’s how we roll.

Brine Ingredients:
1¼ cup Kosher Salt
2 cups sugar
2 cups honey
1 big bunch of parsley
6 or more sprigs each of thyme, tarragon, sage (if you don’t have fresh, I just use up my old dried herbs).
3 lemons halved
1 can concentrated apple juice
1 gallon (16 cups) boiling water
1 gallon cold water
You can also throw in an orange of whatever else that is hanging around and seems good.
12 pound turkey

Roast Ingredients:
3 large fresh fennel bulbs, trimmed, each cut into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in resealable plastic bag
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 lemons, halved
1 stick butter, room temp/softened

Brine Directions:
Combine all ingredients except water in a large stock type pot.
Boil 1 gallon of water and pour over the brine ingredients.
Simmer on the stovetop for 5 minutes.
Add one gallon of cold water
Bring mixture to room temperature.
Submerge turkey (after washing and getting all the gross stuff out of the inside) in this fantastic brine and refrigerate overnight 12-24 hours (original recipe says 18 hours is optimal).
If you have to use more water to submerge the turkey, just add some more salt.

Roast Directions:
Cook fennel in large pot of boiling salted water until tender when pierced with knife, about 8 minutes. Drain. Transfer to bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons oil; garlic; 1 tablespoon each fennel seeds, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, and marjoram; then 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix remaining 1 tablespoon each fennel seeds and herbs in small bowl.
Rub 1 stick softened butter under the skin of the bird. Oil up the bird and rub with salt, pepper, fennel herb mix. Fill cavity with herb, garlic, lemon, apple, onion, celery.
In large roasting pan, arrange remaining fresh fennel mixture along with any of the other veg that didn’t fit in the cavity. Place turkey, breast side down on top of the vegetable mixture. Tie the legs together.
Roast for 30 minutes. After that time, turn the heat to 350F and continue roasting turkey, basting occasionally with pan juices until juices run clear when pierced with fork in thickest part of thigh, about 2 hours longer.
Transfer turkey to a cutting board and let rest for about 30 minutes before carving.

We don’t serve the veggies. But you can save them to use in the Instant Pot later when you make broth out of the carcass.

Pour pan juices into bowl; skim off fat. Make gravy from the drippings. (butter, flour, broth and juices).

Thanksgiving Turkey Gravy

It made so much that I was able to pack up several boxes of leftovers and give some away.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

It was really nice, but I do hope we can have more family visiting for Christmas.

Food Recipes Tried

Dinner :: Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni

Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni

So, as you’ll see as you read a lot of my stuff, I have a real problem making a recipe exactly as written.

It’s not because I think I know better. Well, sometimes it is. But usually it’s because I was out of an ingredient and felt another would be a suitable replacement. That was what happened today.

I made the Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni from the blog, Meatloaf and Melodrama (great name).

See the original recipe

Here are the changes I made:

  • Cooking spray instead of olive oil
  • Instead of sea salt I used seasoned salt because my sea salt was unopened.
  • I didn’t have dried minced onions, but I had dried minced shallots.
  • I didn’t have cream so I used whole milk with about a teaspoon of flour whisked in.
  • I didn’t have cheddar (well I did but it was moldy) so I just used a full block of Colby Jack.
  • Also after it cooking for the 4 minutes I felt it too bland. So I added some Worcestershire, and a teensy bit of liquid smoke.
  • I also felt it was too plain looking, so I added some chopped up roasted red peppers and they were really good.
Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni

OK so I made some very small changes, but it was good!! We both ate two bowls.
I will keep this one in my arsenal because I almost always have these ingredients on hand (or at least my substitutions) so it’s a quick and easy throw together when you’re out of ideas.

Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni Close up

Close up! Note: the turkey and the macaroni were from Imperfect Foods. 

Use my link and get $10 off your first box. Full disclosure, I get $10 too.

Food Meal kits

Dinner :: Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls

I made the Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls with Scallion Rice & Spicy Special Sauce from EveryPlate for Meatless Monday!

Ingredients for meal
Ingredients for the meal

Not to mislead you with that exclamation point, It was ‘meh’. This had almost no flavor. Nowhere near worth the 840 calories it supposedly has. Where are all those calories? This was boring boring boring. The carrot mixture had no flavor despite having 3 packets of soy sauce. It needed something else, desperately. Garlic? 5-spice? Sesame oil? Anything!

The mushrooms were good, but that’s likely due to the pat of butter that you put on them after they’ve cooked. I even added the leftover fry seasoning to the rice before plating, and added some salt. But still, it was bland.

Oh and it uses three pans so clean up was a pain too. Also a little miffed that I have to provide so much of my own ingredients. How hard would it have been to include a packet of ketchup, pack of sugar, a couple of pats of butter, and 2 eggs?  We all expect to provide our own oil, salt and pepper, but the other stuff?

Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls
Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls

I will not make this one again, nor would I recommend ordering it. All the time I was eating it I was thinking, ‘well at least it’s healthy’. It’s not.

I will leave on a positive note…the mayo sauce was good. It was mayo, sriracha, ketchup, sugar (I only used a tiny bit–there’s sugar in ketchup already), and this mysterious “fry seasoning” (it tasted a little like Cajun spice).

At least it was pretty!

Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls
Zucchini & ’Shroom Hibachi Bowls

Every Plate – honestly, they have some really great meals! So if you want to give it a try use my link for a free box.

Food Recipes Tried Reviews

Lunch :: Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup
Lasagna Soup with chicken sausage

I just felt I had to make sure everyone knew about the Lasagna Soup from Skinnytaste. Now, Gina over at Skinnytaste makes a ton of amazing dishes and I’ve tried a lot of them. But this one is my favorite and it’s very popular over on the Skinnytaste Facebook group as well.

Here’s the original recipe.

If you know me, you know it’s very hard for me to follow a recipe to the letter. I usually make changes either out of necessity, or taste. This one I follow pretty well, but since there are variables within, it’s different each time. For example, she calls for 2 cups of marinara sauce. The taste will vary greatly depending on what sauce you use. I like Classico’s 4 cheese.

Also it calls for uncooked Italian Chicken Sausage. Well, I’ve never been able to find Italian seasoned chicken sausage, so I’ve used something else each time. The first time I used a Caprese Flavored Chicken Sausage (from Gilbert’s) but it was already cooked. Tasted fantastic though.

Here’s the sausage I used:

Gilbert's Chicken Sausage
Gilbert’s Chicken Sausage

The last time I made this I used ground beef and just added Italian Seasoning to it (as well as some ground fennel). It was not as good. So I’d stick with the sausage, even if you can only find it cooked. Just chop it up small.

And whatever you do, do NOT skip the ricotta. Even if you think you’re not a fan. It makes the soup. The soup is good without it, but it’s AMAZEBALLS with it! It’s what makes it taste like lasagna.

Whenever someone asks for a good soup recipe (especially one for the Instant Pot) I recommend this one.

Lasagna Soup
Lasagna Soup made with ground beef.

I hope you will try this one! If you do, or if you have already, let me know in the comments!

Food Meal kits Reviews

Dinner :: Beef Banh Mi Bowls

Tonight I made the Beef Banh Mi Bowls from EveryPlate. EveryPlate is the budget-conscious little sister of Hello Fresh. The meals are usually pretty good, and far less expensive than any other meal kit that I have tried.

Part of why it is so inexpensive is that they don’t give you all the ingredients. In an upcoming meal I have, there are 7 ingredients listed that you ‘must have on hand’. I totally get providing my own salt, pepper and oil. But this one needed me to have on hand: Salt, Pepper, Ketchup, Butter, Sugar, Vegetable Oil and eggs.

But that’s another meal that I’ll be making for lunch next week. This one provided everything but salt, pepper, oil, butter and sugar(which I barely even used).
Ingredients for Banh Mi Bowl
This is the second time I’ve made this and I really wish I’d read my notes on time #1 because there I noted there was much too much carrot. Well, since I *didn’t* read that, there was this time too! Funny, how that works.

This is one of the best ones from EveryPlate in my opinion. I’ve never had anything terrible from there, but certainly there have been ones that were just unremarkable. This one is pretty good though, since I’ve ordered it twice!

I did not use the full amount of sugar as I’m trying to limit that, and I don’t like sweetness in savory dishes (though I love salt in sweet dishes. I’m weird).

Here’s the finished product. This time I served them with pot stickers (frozen) that I steamed in the Instant Pot.

Beef Banh Mi Bowl

I should have used larger bowls like I did the first time.

Beef Banh Mi Bowl

Try EveryPlate here.