Food

Dutch Oven recipe review: Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

I love easy weeknight meals that don’t take a lot of prep work and that use ingredients I have readily at hand. Even more so I love meals that can be made in one pan or pot, instead of dirtying 3 pots, 2 pans, a mixer and other random gadgets that all need to be hand washed and dried. πŸ™„

Lately with the cold weather I love heartier meals and use my dutch oven as much as possible. I have a one pan lemon chicken recipe I do from time to time but decided to search up some dutch oven recipes and found a similar one.

I rarely make a meal with chicken breasts because I have 3 kids who won’t eat a whole breast and heaven forbid I cut them in half for them to share! So most often I will slice them into tenders or buy tenders depending on price. In a quick search I found this extremely easy lemon chicken recipe for the Dutch oven. It was a total one pan meal…zero prep work aside from cutting up onions and potatoes.

This recipe calls for cut up chicken pieces but I substituted tenders, although I think thighs would be amazing cooked this way. There was no need to stray from the recipe at all because it was so easy. I cooked it for just about an hour like the recipe instructed and didn’t even check on it once since I was doing laundry or maybe I just forgot to check on it 😬 I did not broil it at the end because I didn’t use chicken with skin on. It came out perfectly cooked and was really juicy. The onions were cooked so good in the juices that my kids didn’t even complain once about onions on their plates! This ones a keeper and great for weeknight.

Here’s the link:

Lemon Roast Chicken and Potato’s

~Elena πŸ’–

Food, Uncategorized

Tuesday Trick 🍰

It’s Tuesday and that means I’m sharing something simple that we do around my house! If you’ve been following along with the blog you clearly know that both Erin and I like food. I do more baking and cooking at my house, she does more of the eating at restaurants though. lol. My kids love and have come to expect after school snacks and special desserts on a regular basis. I’m lucky that I get to be a stay at home mom and therefore have more time for all the cooking and baking but some days are too hectic. My husband always says it’s my own fault that they assume homemade goods will be baked often, oh well πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ

Some years ago I came across Cake in a Mug posts on Pinterest and life changed forever!!! I mean instead of me making crazy desserts all the time, I can now just make each kid their own mug from time to time. Which also means that I’m not home alone with a half eaten cake as often, because we all know what goes best with an afternoon coffee. I’ve made a few variations over the years and a few mistakes as well. It’s super simple and just requires 2 box cake mixes. One box of Angel Food cake, but it must be the kind that only requires water. If the ingredients needed require anything else it won’t work for this, I’ve made that mistake! I have found that Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines are the best, I’ve tried some store brands and they’ve never come out as good. The second box can be any cake mix you like. We’ve only used Butter, Yellow or Devil’s Food… whatever you choose make sure it’s one you know you will like because this will last a while. I take a gallon sized bag (or you can use a large container) and mix the two cake mixes together really well. That’s it!!! Depending on how often you make this it should last you a while as long as you keep it sealed.

When you are ready for your dessert, mix 3 tbsp. of the mix with 2 tbsp. of water and microwave for 1 minute. I usually write that on the bag or container with a sharpie so we don’t forget and my kids can make it themselves. I keep an extra measuring spoon in the bag. When we mix it I let the kids throw in chocolate chips, marshmallows or whatever they want in there and mix well. After it’s cooked we top it with powdered sugar or some cool whip, and you’ve got yourself a quick & easy dessert. If the kids aren’t home or asleep, you can double the recipe and cook for 2 minutes. Drizzle with some caramel or fudge….I imagine this would be amazing πŸ˜‰

Who doesn’t love a little cake without all the mess?!!!

~Elena πŸ’•

Food

Quick & easy after school treat πŸ˜‹

These Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins are one of my favorite, easy treats to make for the kids. It uses all ingredients you already have in your home and they bake in ten minutes!! Can’t go wrong! Here’s the recipe:

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/232104/chocolate-chip-mini-muffins/

It made about 58 muffins for me, so there are plenty left over to throw in lunch boxes or even freeze if you choose. And if you buy one of these mini muffin pans from Target (or anywhere really) it makes them so much quicker!

https://www.target.com/p/wilton-24-cup-mini-muffin-pan/-/A-14319819

I may or may not have eaten 5 myself, or 7 🀭 …But who’s counting!

~Elena πŸ’•

Food, Uncategorized

Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta recipe review. πŸ‹ πŸ

One of my recent goals is to make a new meal every week. At least one meal I haven’t ever made before to try to switch things up a bit. It proves to be difficult because our nights are seriously crazy! Between sports practices , gymnastics, religion and any other after school activity that pops up….then there are evenings my husband is home late or traveling. When weekends roll around there are games for said sports, more religion, church & altar serving, birthday parties….it’s usually just easier to make one of my regular go-to meals. But I’ve been off to a pretty good start since I’ve also been trying to use the crockpot and instant pot more. So for now Monday and Thursday are the weeknights that everyone can usually sit and eat at the same time. Last week I decided to try out a Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta recipe and oh my goodness it was delicious!!

I stumbled on the recipe on the Delish website while I was looking for something else and printed it out so I wouldn’t lose or forget it. It made enough for the 5 of us for one dinner, a leftover night and just enough for me to have another day for lunch 🀫 (don’t tell my oldest because she usually wants the pasta leftovers for her school lunch)!! We had it with a loaf of Italian bread and Cesar salad for a side.

Here’s the recipe: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a52782/lemon-asparagus-chicken-pasta-recipe/

There were only about 4 reviews that I could see which was so surprising because it was easy and delicious. I didn’t really have to change much of anything. I had a block of mozzarella so I shredded that, I didn’t have a red onion so I used a vidalia and I used about 1/4 cup less of the heavy cream to make it a tad lighter but went a little heavier on the lemon juice. The chicken turned out perfect and I had to remove my 6 year old from the kitchen because she kept stealing it off the cutting board before I finished making the pasta!! We all love asparagus in my house but if it’s fresh it really needs to be cooked perfectly so it isn’t too hard or overdone and mushy. I cut a good inch or so off the bottom and then cut each spear into thirds. I think that simmering it for a few minutes in the sauce really makes the difference so it’s cooked just right.

A few days later and my husband said ‘that asparagus pasta was amazing, you need to make sure you keep that for one of your go-to recipes!’ And honestly since I could eat pasta all day everyday πŸ€— he doesn’t have to tell me that twice!!

~Elena πŸ’•

Food

Super quick & easy Chocolate cake.

So last night I was searching on Pinterest for something totally not food related. In fact it was a sample cell phone contract for my tween because I hadn’t gotten around to doing that yet since she got a phone from Santa πŸŽ…πŸΌ. And Pinterest knows me so well that it thought I might like to try a chocolate cake……well don’t mind if I do Pinterest, thank you so much!

Since my son has been getting over the stomach bug, I’m fighting a little cold, kids had the day off and it was a lazy Redbox day this cake was just what we needed. The Chocolate Cravings Cake was super quick & easy to make, crazy chocolatey and small so I’m not forced to eat an an entire cake when the kids aren’t looking, not that I would do that 🀭

Here’s the recipe:

https://iambaker.net/chocolate-craving-cake/

I always love I Am Baker recipes and haven’t been disappointed yet!! This cake is super rich so I had mine with coffee β˜•οΈ

~Elena πŸ’–

Food

What exactly is pigs in a blanket?πŸ–

Last week I asked my family if they had any dinner requests and my oldest immediately said ‘Pigs in a Blanket’. I wasn’t sure what she meant because people have different ideas of what pigs in a blanket actually is. My son then yells “yes, those hot dog things!!’ At which point she says no, what she was referring to was cabbage rolls and my husband immediately agrees with her request.

Where we are originally from in Pennsylvania many people make stuffed cabbage rolls referred to as Pigs in a Blanket. A quick Google search tells me that the origin is Jewish or Polish , which there were large populations of both where we lived. But I’m Italian and I can tell you I don’t recall my mom ever making them…stuffed peppers yes but cabbage was saved for St. Paddy’s day.☘️

I’ve made Stuffed Cabbage in the past but this time I thought I would search for an Instant Pot recipe. I found a pretty clear and detailed recipe online that seemed doable. First I must admit it was a tad tedious and took quite a bit of hands on time. I tried to do a few things at once to get it done quicker but it definitely is a recipe you need free time for, and not one to put on your easy weeknight meal rotation. Normally I’m trying to cook while helping with homework and projects, but this one needed my full attention until it was all assembled and closed up in the Instant Pot. But all in all it was delicious!! We had leftovers since it made about 13/14 rolls for me and they were all eaten in 2 days!

Here’s the recipe.

I made one change and used 2lb of the super lean ground beef omitting the ground pork. I also put way more than 2 tablespoons of filling in each because I like them super full. The recipe says it made 15 rolls, I’m pretty sure I had 13 or 14 because I was out of large leaves by that point but I still had a lot of filling leftover. Since it was already mixed I decided to cook it up in a pan and added a few spoons of diced tomatoes. My girls (and I🀫) ate it while we waited for the rolls to cook in the IP. I didn’t need or use toothpicks to hold them together because they hold on their own with the seam down. When I put them in the IP they filled it up to just about the Max Fill line which made me a bit nervous since I’ve never used it that full before and I’m still terrified it’s going to blow!! Lol! In the end they cooked perfectly in the suggested time and came out totally in tact.

My husband always says there are just some foods that no matter how good they taste, they just don’t make for pretty pictures. You know like when you see friends posting their meals on FB and you’re like ‘WTH is that and why are you sharing?’ πŸ˜‚πŸ€£This is definitely one of them. But I promise if you have the time to make them you will not be disappointed!

~Elena πŸ’–

Food

Instant Pot trials πŸ˜œ

I’m excited to say I’ve used the Instant Pot twice in the last 4 days with total success and plan on using it again tonight. Nothing has blown up and I haven’t been injured 🀣 #intimidatedbytheinstantpot

My youngest turned six last week and I always let the birthday boy or girl choose their birthday dinner if we plan to be home for the evening. Since it was a school night and the second day back after Christmas break, we figured we would stay home and do a ‘party day’ on the weekend. Her dinner of choice was homemade macaroni and cheese with pineapple upside down cupcakes for dessert. I had recently searched up some Instant Pot recipes and printed them out encouraging myself to use it more and one of the recipes was for macaroni and cheese. Even more perfect was that I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. Here’s the recipe. And I’m so disappointed I didn’t take a pic so you could see how creamy & cheesy, so you’ll just have to try it! I did change up the cheese and use Colby jack in place of Monterey but I think you could try all different types. Next time I want to throw in some lobster 😍 It was so good, the kids loved it and all three took the leftovers to school for lunch the following day in thermos’. My son who won’t eat boxed macaroni and cheese even loved it!

Then yesterday after spending the entire day out in the cold taking down Christmas decorations, I just wanted something super easy to make for dinner. So I opted for turkey hot dogs and searched for a quick potato recipe in the Instant Pot. Most of the recipes were either for mashed potatoes or required a steamer basket or some other accessory I don’t have yet. (I’m still scared of blowing the house up 😣so I haven’t invested in any accessories yet.) I found a bacon ranch potato recipe that seemed doable. https://www.busycooks.net/instant-pot-cheesy-bacon-ranch-potatoes/ I didn’t have red potatoes so brown it was , I also substituted turkey bacon and light ranch dressing. I’m still confused a bit by all the buttons and settings, but this recipe was easy to follow and didn’t require too much work. It was delicious, a keeper!

I’ve read a lot of posts about the Instant Pot and issues people have had, I’ve picked up a few tips here and there. First of all I store mine open which I think helps keep any odors at bay. I hand wash the entire thing, dry it thoroughly and store with the lid on top but upside down. I know parts are dishwasher safe and lots of people do it, but I think hand washing really keeps it like new. It also keeps the rubber seal from getting discolored or having any build up. After washing and drying I do notice my insert has some discoloration on the bottom. Somewhere I read about a product called Bar Keepers Friend and OMG it’s AMAZING! I put a few drops on a paper towel and wipe down the entire insert then rinse thoroughly & dry. It’s even shinier than when I first got it. No joke! Plus I’ve used that product for other pots and to polish my sink. I was in a crazy long line in Williams Sonoma before Christmas and saw it while standing there. I grabbed it for under $5 but you can probably get it anywhere, you won’t regret it!! Just look how shiny 😲

I’m thinking an Instant Pot dessert next, we’ll see!!

~ Elena πŸ’–

Food

New Year=Fresh Bread πŸ₯–πŸ‘©β€πŸ³

Over the weekend we put all of our indoor Christmas decorations away…I know we didn’t waste any time. But our real tree stopped taking water a few days before Christmas so by the 26th there were needles everywhere! We decided to take that down ASAP and one thing led to another. I start to feel really cluttered and overwhelmed after the holiday. I seriously cannot wait to put it all out and decorate Thanksgiving weekend, then Christmas happens and there is just crazy stuff everywhere. I get so claustrophobic and feel totally swamped by it all at that point. So when the new year hits I want a clean, fresh start and that begins with my house being in order.

Then I wasted no time and decided to redo my kitchen cabinets. I found 5 extra pot lids πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ, candy I hid from my kids sometime in the past year and various pans I felt it was time to retire. In doing so I realized I have a little tiny obsession with small appliances. I mean I knew I was a tad obsessed with shoes and handbags, but this really brought my appliance obsession to light. πŸ˜‚ And I have this theory that if I can go a certain amount of time without using something and not missing it at all, I can get rid of it. Which means I need to make use of all my small appliances ASAP! No time like the present!

When I was in college I remember returning from Christmas break and everyone was sharing what they had gotten for Christmas, I returned with a bread maker and was beyond excited!! Dork, right?? Since that was forever ago that bread maker is long gone. But a couple of years ago I got a new one and it’s really awesome! I can make French bread if we’re having pasta and I have no desire to run to the store, and we love cinnamon raisin for breakfast …so when I’m not lazy this appliance gets put to good use.

In my immediate attempt to make my bread maker useful, today I made some Sweet Honey White bread 🍞 I’m going to force myself to use it and some of the other appliances more often and to keep myself in check I’ll share how it’s going. Below is the recipe I used. I’ve used it at least a dozen times in the last few years. It doesn’t require any crazy ingredients, so I always have everything on hand and it’s perfect without any tweaking. I have added oats in the past and my kids still love it! We had it fresh out of the bread machine with dinner tonight. My kids love fresh bread for breakfast, sandwiches and even afternoon snacks, they get it from their mama!!#CarbLife 😜

https://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/sweet-honey-white-bread-bread-machine-99799

~Elena πŸ’–

Food

It’s Christmas cookie time! πŸͺ

It’s Christmas baking time and obviously that means lots and LOTS of cookies!! Over the weekend Erin was baking for a cookie swap she decided to participate in. I’ve always thought it was a neat idea but I myself have never participated in one. Which is funny because as we were talking about it my husband says to me ‘you’ve done a few of those before.’ I explained that no I haven’t done them ever but I have been invited to quite a few over the years. So he says that he’s sure I’ve done them before because we’ve had some weird platters of cookies around the holidays that nobody eats. And there you have it, exactly why I don’t participate. Those weird platters of cookies are just sweet, generous gifts from friends & neighbors. But they rarely get eaten at my house.

So for a cookie swap you are asked to bake 6, 10 or 12 dozen of one type of cookie usually. Then each person takes a certain amount of each type, therefore going home with a variety of cookies. You often get to try and take cookies that you never would’ve made on your own…. Which sounds delightful! If I went to a cookie swap I would want to bring my ten dozen cookies back home with me 🀣😜. Not that everyone else’s cookies wouldn’t be lovely. But we are pretty set in our ways at my house. We know what we like and we don’t want to stray. I usually make the same lineup of cookies every year, once in a while I throw in something new to try. But heaven forbid I forget to do a regular and everyone in my house will let me know!

So we have about 6 staples that I must make every year and then if time permits I will make one or two others. Below is my lineup for this year…. let me know what’s on your must have list! If you would like any of the recipes I use send us an email or DM ☺️

1. Best EVER chocolate chip cookies

2. Mini Chocolate Chip Snowballs

3. Thumbprint cookies

4. Linzer cookies

5. Peanut Butter Cup cookies

6. Snickerdoodle

7. Black and White

8. Sugar Cookies

9. Italian Christmas Cookies

~Elena πŸŽ„

Food

Anyone else tired of Thanksgiving leftovers?

One meal of leftovers and my kids have had enough! But the Thanksgiving meal seems never ending 😣 We did a pretty good job of finishing everything up over the weekend and then I made turkey soup with the last of the turkey. But after days of cooking and cleaning up after cooking, I just want easy fall meals! When I had my youngest a friend brought a meal and it was a taco soup that we all loved. It was really so good and I of course asked for her recipe. In 6 years and a few moves I misplaced it. I’ve seen so many posted here and there but none were ever as good or easy as hers. While I was searching through my Thanksgiving meal folder (yes I have one and Erin thinks it’s hilarious πŸ™„) I found it!! It must’ve gotten mixed in accidentally at some point which is why I have the folders, lol!

Ok so for the soup I used 2 pounds of ground turkey, or you can use ground beef. I just cooked it up with some minced garlic and a medium sized diced onion. Then I added 2 packets of taco seasoning, 2 packets of ranch and mixed it up. All done in the same pot so no big mess! Pour in 2 cans of corn, one can of diced tomatoes, one can of Rotel, and 3 cans of beans…I used black beans, red beans and pinto beans. No need to drain anything, your preference. I just let it all cook on medium for about 45 minutes. My kids topped theirs with shredded cheddar, sour cream and some crumbled up tortilla chips. So good and super easy!!

~Elena πŸ’–