Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why, Yes! I Actually DO Cook! ... Sometimes.

Thanks to Pinterest, I've gotten [a little] more interested in cooking. If you ask my poor husband, he'll tell you I don't cook very often. But, when I do, I'm really not bad at it! My problem is that I get stuck at trying to think of what to cook... so after my brain starts to short-circuit and give off smoke from thinking too hard, I just give up and choose not to cook at all! ;)

But, like I said, with all the delicious-looking recipes on Pinterest, I've branched out and made a few new recipes. The following pictures represent just some of the dinners I made during the month of February (also throw in omelets, sandwiches, Stouffer's lasagna, etc., which aren't pictured here).

Recipe #1: Cola Pork Ribs (a crock pot recipe!), herb potatoes, and green beans. Recipe for ribs came from the 365 Days of Slow Cooking blog (click here) and the herb potato recipe came from, which was the first link that came up when I googled "Herb Roasted Red Potatoes" (click here). The only thing I changed about the potato recipe was that I had to bake them a bit longer (10-15 mins) to get them soft. Green beans are from the can, but here's my secret to making them taste soo much better: Drain the can, put beans in a pot with some water, add a vegetable (or beef) bouillon cube for flavor, heat through!
So, the verdict on the cola pork chops? Delicious!! And SO tender. We will be having this again. And, why yes, I did use caffeine free Coca Cola ;) And the potatoes? Also wonderful, just what I was craving... and the cooked onions were my favorite part, which is a big shocker if you know me because I'm not usually an onion person.

Recipe #2: Hawaiian BBQ Chicken (another crock pot recipe!) from Six Sisters' Stuff blog (click here). I would highly suggest buying the exact sauce they recommend (I couldn't find anything comparable at the normal grocery store... so off to Target I went). I also recommend doing what I did, and taking time to shred up the chicken with forks about an hour(ish) before it's done cooking.
The verdict on the Hawaiian BBQ chicken? Pretty good. Both T and I agreed that it could have used just a bit more flavor from somewhere. But, overall, definitely a keeper and one we'll try again (I LOVE crock pot recipes!!).

Recipe #3: Spaghetti. Okay... so this actually isn't a special recipe. I was just in the kick of taking pictures of my meals. ;) The only thing I play with each time is the sauce. Depending on what's in my pantry, it's usually some mixture of basic canned sauce, canned diced tomatoes, ground beef (if I have any), fresh pressed garlic, chopped onion, and extra herbs to taste. The longer the sauce cooks, the better it tastes :)
Recipe #4: Roast, potatoes, green beans, and sweet carrots. Also, no recipe for this one, although I will tell you how I make the roast (super easy - and, yes, a crock pot roast!). Buy a chuck or sirloin pot roast (you pick the size, depending on how many you'd like to feed or how many leftovers you want). Sear each side of the roast on a pan on the stove and then place it in the crock pot. Pour in a packet of onion soup mix and some beef bouillon (2 large or 4-6 small cubes). Fill with water so it just barely covers the meat. Cook on high for 2-3 hours and then low for 3-4 hours. Or, if you have less time, just play with it... but the longer it cooks, the more tender and juicy and wonderful it will be!
Of course, the mashed potatoes are standard; make them to taste (I use salt, pepper, butter, sour cream, and milk). Green beans are canned, but "spruced up" as talked about above. The carrots are my mom's specialty: First, she steamed baby carrots in a saucepan with water on the stove. After they were cooked, she added syrup and brown sugar to the pan and let them simmer in that for a while. They are SO good and add a nice sweet touch to a savory meal. They could **almost** work as dessert... but if you know me, I'm still headed straight for the dark chocolate brownies after dinner ;)

Recipe #5: Greek Pastitsio Casserole. Recipe is at Mel's Kitchen Cafe (click here). Honestly, I don't even know what a Greek pastitsio is... let alone how to pronounce it. So I had no clue what to expect. It just sounded pretty good and I was feeling daring, so I went for it!
It actually turned out pretty darn good! I loved the tomatoes in it. (I'm a sucker for warm tomatoes yum!) I made mine with ground turkey for a "leaner" approach. This recipe also made quite a few leftovers, which is good for me being at home and for T to take to work. Again, we both felt like the flavor was a little more bland than we'd like. But I'm really not sure what to do to make it pop. And I will tell you one thing... it definitely wasn't from a lack of garlic. That stuff was coming out of my pores for the next 12 hours. And I didn't even put in quite as much as the recipe called for! Whew! ;)

Anyway, I hope if you try some of these meals that you'll like them too. And if you have suggestions of recipes that you've tried lately that are "must makes", PLEASE send them my way! Although, if they have tons and tons of ingredients (or weird ingredients), or if I'd have to slave away in the kitchen for more than an hour... please just keep them to yourself ;)

I like to keep it simple, but tasty! <3


  1. Good for you!!! A couple thoughts from a foodie as I was reading...

    1) The best way to make roasted potatoes is to par-boil (just boil until barely tender before you bake them) - it guarantees that they get cooked through before getting roasted. So much easier - but it does dirty an extra pan.

    2) Bland usually means there's not enough salt. (That dish looked like a cream based dish - anything dairy based usually requires a LOT more salt than you would think!) You can also try strong spices like curry or red pepper flakes, a richness with butter or cream, or a punch of acid with lemon juice or vinegar.

    3) The best way to keep yourself from thinking too hard about what to eat is to pick one day per week (my day is Saturday), at a time when you are hungry (before lunch is usually my best time), and go through your Pinterest recipes, recipe books, blogs, etc. to find recipes for the week that interest you. Make a menu (I did a mommy-blog style menu board so I don't forget what we're having - it helps me to remember what day we're having what, so I don't forget to thaw meat or throw everything in the crock), write down the groceries necessary as you go (I usually write everything down, then go through my fridge and mark off what I already have), then head to the grocery store. Your bill will be less, you have a planned out menu, you don't have to grasp at straws when dinnertime hits, and you are more likely to pick out the recipes you really want when you're hungry. Don't forget to plan in leftover days. :) You can also use one day a week to chop up some veggies all at once so when it comes time for dinner your prep is cut down significantly - dinner goes a LOT quicker for me this way.

    4) I TOTALLY make green beans the same way - even as a food freak! I just add some chopped onion but that is my absolute favorite way to eat green beans - I like it better than even fresh! Oh but I don't drain them and add back water - I cook them in their liquid, but I'm sure that your version is lower sodium.

    5) A pinterest trick for shredding chicken that TOTALLY works - take the warm chicken breasts, throw them (warm) in your kitchenaid with the paddle attachment, turn on, and it will shred almost instantly. Pretty amazing and SO much easier!

    6) If you want the most delicious spaghetti I've EVER had (and I'm not joking), and something that you don't need fresh herbs for, try McCormick's Thick and Zesty spaghetti seasoning packet. All you need is that, tomato paste, and some water - it makes the most delicious spaghetti sauce and it's a total no brainer! I've never had a canned sauce or a from-scratch sauce that I thought compared. You can also keep some frozen garlic bread or cheese bread on hand to make it a complete meal!

    I have TONS of delicious recipes... I'm working on posting all of them on my food blog (, but if you want some of them quicker, shoot me an email or FB message and I'd be happy to pass them along!

  2. I've been looking for a good pork chop recipe, thanks! I'm going to try yours! I'm into cooking right now as well and have posted some recipes on my recipe blog, so if you're in need of any ideas feel free to check it out. ( And keep posting if you stumble on more good recipes- I'm always looking for more!

  3. I found this: and changed it around a bit. The actual recipe is probably a lot better, but what I did was put the chicken in the crock pot (I used tenders) with the soy sauce-yellow mustard mixture (no brown sugar) poured over. I used a ton of soy sauce, though, and less mustard (trying to achieve more of an asian-y flavor?). Added fresh diced pineapple in the last half hour of cooking. Served with steamed brown rice and green beans (broccoli or peas would have been good, too). This wasn't anything close to the real thing, but it did at least help to push away my craving for ridiculously unhealthy Chinese takeout. :)

  4. Country Style Ribs

    1 package of boneless country style pork ribs
    2 bottles of Bullseye or Kraft BBQ sauce (I only stick to these 2 brands for this recipe)

    Boil ribs in pot for 20 minutes. Pat dry.

    Line 9x13 pan completely with plenty of excess foil. Cover bottom of lined pan with bbq sauce. Place ribs in the pan in a single layer. Pour bbq sauce over ribs, making sure that no meat is left uncovered in sauce(Use a brush or spoon to cover the ribs completely.) Wrap a layer of foil directly on top of and around the ribs in pan so that they're close to being air tight. Keep using pieces of foil to ensure that no air can get in or out of the foil package. (This is the most crucial step. It will make the ribs tender, whereas if they're not sealed properly they'll end up tougher).

    Bake at 275 or 300 for 3 hours. This is seriously easy and soooooo delicious. But you may want to have lots of napkins available while eating them.... :)

  5. we love love love mels kitchen cafe. her blog is full of amazing recipes.