Living in MN, I think there is a short window of time to use your smoker for “hearty” meals.  You can use it year-round for various kinds of meats or perhaps vegetables, but if you are making something traditionally enjoyed during winter months or that is much more filling, you don’t have much time.  That is why I took advantage of the mild winter and slightly warmer than usual temperatures lately to make a batch of Smoked Chili with Ground Beef.  I chose this time of year for a couple of reasons.  1) winter is too cold for me to want to smoke food and I would spend too much time trying to keep the temperature consistent, and 2) I wanted to make something hearty that could be enjoyed while it was still cold out.  That’s why this time of year was perfect (for me).  The smoker was able to … Continue reading

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Loaded Baked Potato Skillet is a bit of a copycat recipe.  We had something similar at a local restaurant and knew we had to recreate it at home.  It’s such a wonderful side dish or can be used as a full meal if you want to fill up on only potatoes, which is entirely what we did 😊 The skillet is quite literally loaded with tender potatoes that are topped with a cheese sauce, shredded cheese (because you can’t have enough cheese), crumbled bacon, sour cream, and chives.  It’s a typical loaded potato but pre-chopped, cooked in a skillet, and large enough to share.  I highly suggest you give it a try! The recipe can be found here. Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the butter into thin pieces and place half in the bottom of a 9-inch cast iron skillet (reserve the other half of the butter).  Add the … Continue reading

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Homemade Peanut Butter Cups are what dreams are made of.  I’ve made these multiple times, and each time is harder and harder to not eat the entire batch myself!  If you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you are going to want to try these.  Personally, I think they are better than the store-bought version.  They are rich and creamy, perfectly sweet, and super easy to make.  And they are healthy-ish 😊 An absolute crowd pleaser when you are looking for a light dessert or something sweet to share.  They WILL disappear quickly.  I brought some to a potluck at work, ended up sharing the recipe, multiple people told me they made them for their families, and planned to make them again.  So that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish when I share the recipe with you today! The recipe can be found here. Start by adding 12 muffin liners to a muffin … Continue reading

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Pan Fried Chicken with Gravy is such a classic dish.  It’s easy to make, tasty, and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients.  Some might call it a pantry meal because you probably have most ingredients on hand already.  With this recipe, you’ll find tender, juicy chicken that’s topped with a very basic (but very creamy and flavorful) gravy. The recipe can be found here. Start by seasoning both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I’m partial to boneless skinless chicken but you can use thighs, or another cut if you prefer.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook on each side for 4-5 minutes then transfer to a plate.  The chicken will NOT be cooked through at this point but will continue to cook in a later step. Add the butter to the skillet and melt over medium high … Continue reading

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I recently made a batch of Creamy Beef and Shells and was told “I’d eat this again” and “I could lick the bowl” in the same sitting so I’ll take that as a win!  If you’ve never had Creamy Beef and Shells, it’s essentially a twist on classic macaroni and cheese.  It has lots of flavor and is a very hearty, comfort food, that is perfect for picky eaters because it will satisfy any taste buds.  There really isn’t a lot to this dish and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand already so it’s a great pantry meal. The recipe can be found here. Start by heating 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or deep pot over medium heat.  Add the beef and cook until completely cooked through, crumbling as it cooks, about 6-7 minutes.  Add the salt, pepper, and onion powder and stir to … Continue reading

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These are my new favorite meatballs!  So easy to make and incredibly tasty!  I have a “don’t knock it until you try it” mentality when it comes to plant-based food.  A lot of it sounds weird but ends up being a winner in my house, so if you are willing to try something new, please give these meatballs a try. They are tender and juicy, packed with flavor, and come together in about 30 minutes.  You can use either the Impossible or Beyond Meat brand, I’m just partial to Beyond Meat.  They do have slightly different textures and tastes but when you combine them with the rest of the ingredients you probably won’t tell a difference. The recipe can be found here. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Start by combining the breadcrumbs and almond milk in a small bowl then … Continue reading

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Have you ever had a shot of Fireball Whiskey?  It’s like drinking Red Hots.  It’s burns a little going down, it’s very cinnamon-y, and warms you very quickly.  But when paired with chicken wings, it’s a completely different flavor!  Fireball Glazed Chicken Wings are my latest creation.  The chicken wings are moist, tender and have a wonderfully sweet yet spicy flavor.  The chicken is marinated overnight, then baked, and finished off with a Fireball Whiskey glaze.  The glaze is where the flavor comes into play.  There is a slight hint of cinnamon but it’s not overpowering, red pepper flakes to kick the heat up a notch, and brown sugar to level it all out.  They are phenomenal! The recipe can be found here. Start by preparing the marinade for the chicken.  Add the brown sugar, salt, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes to a … Continue reading

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Air Fryer Hot Pepper Lemon Skewers are a quick and easy weeknight meal with great chicken wing flavor.  Think tender, juicy chicken that falls off the skewer and a homemade sauce that’s tangy, zesty, a little spicy, and delicious.  They come together in less than 30 minutes and are something the whole family will love.  You will have requests to make these again and again.  Perfect for a weeknight meal, make ahead lunch to bring to work throughout the week, an appetizer, or shareable dish to bring to a potluck.  We like to enjoy the skewers as is, but they would pair well with rice, some steamed veggies, or perhaps a salad. The recipe can be found here. Start by soaking the skewers for at least 30 minutes to prevent the meat from sticking to the wood.  I try to soak my skewers before leaving for work in the AM … Continue reading

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Every so often, we like to prepare meals with Beyond Meat.  I know it’s not for everyone and some aren’t willing to try it but if you are curious, I highly recommend eating it at least once.  Our latest creation is a Beyond Meat Patty Melt.  It was amazing! Beyond Meat has a similar texture to ground meat but I think it’s a bit moister and juicier.  I also think it has a slightly nutty flavor.  In this case you will know you aren’t eating meat but if you are making other dishes, Tacos or Sloppy Joe’s for example, you won’t taste a difference after adding all the spices and sauces.  The “patty” in this recipe is seasoned Beyond Meat.  You will get the full texture and taste of the product.  Personally, I think it’s great.  Andrew even liked it! The recipe can be found here. Start by dividing the … Continue reading

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The weather has been so weird lately; it is still winter?  Did spring come early?  Who knows!  But winter is a time for chili so regardless of the outside temps, I was going to make chili.  I ended up with a Chili Cornbread Skillet.  It might look and sound complicated but it’s actually quite easy to make and doesn’t need to cook in a slow cooker all day.  It a delicious comfort food that packs a little heat (but isn’t too spicy) and has great texture.  There is a good ratio of meat to beans to tomatoes in each bite too, with neither ingredient overpowering another.  And the cornbread topping is a nice addition if I do say so myself.  It’s hefty and makes the dish extra savory since the cornbread is part of the dish vs being served on the side. The recipe can be found here. Start by making the chili.  You’ll want to use a Dutch oven or large … Continue reading

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