Thursday, October 31, 2013

Easy Weeknight Pork Chops

Yesterday we had piano lessons until 5:30 pm, homework and I had to put together a treat for a work pitch-in so the window for making dinner was very small!! I keep these quick recipes on hand so we aren't tempted to just opt for fast food when time gets crunched! found a recipe on Pinterest for slow cooker pork chops that I converted to a skillet dish. This dish took 55 minutes with 45 minutes being in the oven. The other great thing was there were just 5 ingredients! It was a no fail dish that was enjoyed by all!

Easy Weeknight Porkchops:
(Based on

2 tbsp oil
1 pkt Hidden Valley Ranch Dip
6 thin sliced boneless pork chops
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup



Preheat oven to 350*F.  Heat oil in an oven proof skillet over med-hi heat.  Add dry dip to a shallow bowl and coat both sides of each chop.  

Cook the chops in the heated oil for 7-10 minutes or until brown.  Turn chops once to brown on both sides.

Mix the two soups together and pour over browned chops.  Place skillet in pre-heated oven and back for 45 minutes.  Serve over mashed potatoes or rice.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beef & Bean Burritos

After a busy day that included my husband becoming a Godfather to a beautiful baby, Lucas James followed by yard work, I opted for a simple meal in the form of beef and bean burritos.  I saw Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, make them a couple of weeks ago.  They looked simply yummy on the TV and they didn't disappoint!!  I amped mine up a little with green chilies.  While the meat mixture was cooking, my husband said he felt like he was sitting in a Mexican cantina!  The meal took about 45 minutes from start to finish because I used canned refried beans, sliced olives and green chilies. This would be a great meal any day of the week!

Beef & Bean Burritos:
(Originally posted on The Pioneer Woman)

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander 
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
1 small can green chilies
1 small can sliced black olives
1 tomato, diced
1 can enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded


Preheat oven to 350*F.  Brown beef and onion over medium heat. Drain off the grease.  Mix spices together in a small bowl. Add spices, chilies and water to the beef mixture. Mix all together. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat.  Heat the refried beans per the can directions to soften them.

Build your burritos by layer the beans, meat, olives, tomato and a pinch of cheese.  Lay each completed burrito in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Drizzle enchilada sauce and the remaining cheese over all the burritos.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.  Garnish with cilantro, sour cream and guacamole if you wish and enjoy!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

BBQ Boneless Country Pork Ribs

We had a rare slow day around here with no house showings and only a few errands all done before lunch. I curled up in a cozy blanket next to the fire and watched a movie during the afternoon. It was a nice relaxing day!  The dinner followed this theme as I made slow cooked BBQ country pork ribs.  I paired them with chive mashed potatoes and sugar snap peas.  The active time for the ribs was only 10-15 minutes and then they bake for a 1.5 hours in a 350* F oven, nice and slow!  You could also cook them in a slow cooker for 5-6 hours.  This dish is also very low on the messy scale which made my clean up crew (aka my husband) very happy!  He told me this meal should go into the rotation :o). 

BBQ Country Ribs:


3-4 lbs boneless country pork ribs
2 tbsp shortening (I used coconut oil)
2 cups ketchup
2 tbsp chili sauce
3 tbsp prepared mustard
1 cup brown sugar, packed firmly
1 cup water
1 tbsp garlic powder
4 tbsp Worstershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 small onion sliced into rings
1 lemon sliced
Salt & pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350*F. Melt shortening in n oven proof skillet over medium heat.  Brown the ribs in the skillet for 7-10 minutes. Arrange the onion and lemon slices over the meat.  Mix all other ingredients in a bowl and then pour over all in skillet.  Cover loosely with foil and place in the oven.  Bake for 1.5 hours.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quick Tomato Basil Soup & Grilled Cheese

Tuesdays are Scout nights so we usually have sandwiches.  I just can't oversee homework and cook a  meal in the window of time between school and scouts!  I had just planned on the grilled cheese, but I was freezing all day and thought soup would be a nice warm addition to the meal!  Of course, I made this decision after arriving home from work with no time to run out to the grocery!  I rummaged around my crisper drawer and came up with one carrot and three tomatoes.  Jackpot,  a steaming bowl of tomato soup was going to be had!!! I also had fresh basil courtesy of a friend at work who shared the bounty of her herb garden.  Thanks, Cindy!!  This meal took 45 minutes with half of that time of the soup simmering.  Perfect time to check homework!  

Quick Tomato Soup:

2 tbsp oil
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tomatoes, diced
4 cups water w/1 tsp chicken bouillon or 1 large container chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh basil
Salt & pepper to taste 

Heat oil in stock pot over a low-med burner.  Add the onion, garlic and carrot to the pot and cook until softened about 7-8 minutes.  Add liquid, basil and seasoning.  Turn down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  After 20 minutes, purée the soup in a blender or just use a potato masher to break it down if you don't have a blender.  Cook the soup for about 10 more minutes and serve hot!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Football Food: Crockpot Sloppy Joes & Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip

Another Sunday is coming to a close and as usual it was a busy family day.  It was a beautiful sunny day that called us outside.  First there was Church followed by a visit to the local pumpkin patch.  This isn't a typical patch, but one set up outside of a local motel built in the 1950's.  We go to this little roadside patch because they always have a supply of 100+ lb pumpkins which is a Sissons' tradition.  Everybody knows our house is the one with the mega pumpkins!

Halloween 2012

Since I knew we would be out most of the day and then into football mode this evening, I made crockpot sloppy joes, cole slaw and a yummy spicy pimento cheese dip! The cole slaw recipe was one that I posted in August.  The sloppy joes were an adaptation of a recipe I found on Pinterest.  The pimento cheese dip was also one that I found on Pinterest!  it was originally posted by Cook Like A Champion. 

This dip received thumbs up all around the table so it will probably make an appearance at one or two gatherings this holiday season as it was super simple to make!

Toss all the ingredients in a bowl.  Press the mixture into a lightly greased shallow casserole dish.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350*.  Enjoy with tortilla chips or crackers.

Instead of store bought roasted red pepper, I just roasted on over my gas stove top.  Place the pepper over the flame. Keep turning the pepper over the flame until it is blackened on all sides.


Place the charred pepper in a sealed plastic Baggie for 15 minutes to steam it.  When you remove it from the bag, the skin will come off easily.  Remove the seeds and ribs and dice up the remaining roasted pepper in your recipe.

Crockpot Sloppy Joes:

(Serves 8-10)


2.5 lbs ground beef
1 med onion, diced
11/2 cups ketchup
2 tbsp chili sauce
2 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tbsp Worstershire sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Sriracha (optional)



Brown the beef and onion.  Drain the meat and place the mixture in the crockpot.

In a separate bowl, mix together all the other ingredients.  I added Sriracha for a little extra kick!

Pour the sauce over the meat mixture and cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall Flavors: Kielbasa & Sweet Potatoes

We went on an overnight trip last night and didn't arrive home this afternoon until 4:30pm. Since we had pizza last night, I didn't want to have a carry out dinner two nights in a row, but I also didn't want to get into a complicated and messy meal late in the day. After looking through what I had on hand, I decided to pull together a simple casserole of Fall flavors.  The meal took 15 minutes to prep an then an hour to bake.  My mother-in-law put together a green salad to round out the meal.  My father-in-law told me he was going to charge a royalty fee for a picture of the salad, but it was so pretty, I'm taking my chances! :o)

Fall Casserole
(Serves 6-8)


2 kielbasa sausages
3 sweet potatoes
3 apples
1 medium onion
1/3 cup oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 425*F.  Slice up kielbasa.  Peel and cube sweet potatoes.  Peel, core and slice apples.  Slice the onion into thin rings.  

Toss the cut ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the oil and mix together.  Add the brown sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Mix well between each addition.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Place the mixture in a 9x13 casserole dish.  Cover with foil and bake for one (1) hour.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

GF Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

My boys are off of school this week enjoying Fall Break with their grandparents.  They are away on an overnight trip tonight so I thought I would have a treat waiting for them when they get back home. Instead of regular chocolate chip cookies, I made an oatmeal cookie with loads of chocolate chips and of course they are gluten free!  I used a large scoop which yielded 43 cookies.  There are currently 40 cookies cooling because after doing an initial taste test, my husband decided he needed to retest for quality purposes!  They passed the stringent quality control examination :o). 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups GF flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthum gum
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

I accidentally omitted the regular sugar and xanthum gum from the photo, but they were in the recipe!


In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. 

Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.  Let cookie dough rest in the refridge for an hour. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets (I use silpat mats on my cookie sheets). Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 1 minute before removing from sheet.

Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 1 minute before removing from sheet. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The World in a Bowl Night 4: GF Guinness Beef Stew and GF Banana Bread

Tonight, we went back to our beautiful honeymoon in Ireland.  I made a staple recipe, Guinness Beef Stew.   This time, I made it GF by substituting the flour in the recipe.  I also used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.   I posted it last Fall.:  

My youngest requested banana bread so I put together a GF 
version of the quintessential recipe.  It only took 5 minutes in the 
stand mixer.  Everyone liked it including the dog who managed 
to snatch a piece when my back was turned!  


GF Banana Bread:


3-4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of GF multi-purpose 


Preheat the oven to 350°F .  Mix butter into the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Incorporate the baking soda and salt into the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 70 minutes.  Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

These two recipes do make a lot of dishes, but are well worth the effort!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The World in a Bowl Night 3: Italian Wedding Soup & GF Herb Bread

Tonight's stop was in lovely Italy through a bowl of Italian Wedding soup!  After reading up on this soup, I found that it was not served at weddings, but rather that is the english translation of  si maritano bene which means the ingredients are well married together!  I would whole heartily agree that the ingredients do marry very well together!  It is very flavorful without one part being overwhelming.  In little over an hour, I was able to have the soup complete and simmering.  The prep time included making 4 dozen meatballs!  As with any good italian meal, we needed a nice bread to sop the bowl.  I bought Pamela's gluten free bread mix and instead of making a regular loaf, I added italian herbs and baked it in a 10 inch round cake pan.

I made a large batch (12 servings) so that I could freeze a portion for another meal.  If you only want to get one meal out of the pot then just cute the ingredients in half.  

Si può godere questo meraviglioso pasto nella vostra propria cucina!

Italian Wedding Soup:


2 lg containers chicken broth
6 cups water
4 doz meatballs (recipe below)
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 medium carrots, diced
1 heart celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups Acini de Pepe pasta
1 cup Parmesan
3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced


1 lb italian sausage
1 1/2 lb 80% lean ground beef
1/2 cup Romano cheese, shredded
3 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp fresh parsley


Place water and chicken broth in a large stock pot over med-high heat.  Mix all the meatball ingredients together and then form into 1 inch balls.

Place the meatballs in the broth mixture and bring to a boil for 30 minutes.  Remove the meatballs and replace them in the pot with the chicken breasts and diced up vegetables.  

Cook for 15 minutes and then remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into small pieces.  Add the meatballs, Parmesan cheese and pasta to the broth and cook for 10-12 minutes.  Add the chicken back to the pot and let simmer over low heat until ready to serve.  Add more water if needed when soup is mad more than 1 hour ahead.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The World in a Bowl Night 2: Crockpot Senate Bean Soup

Tonight was American night and what's more American than the US Senate?  Most people just call this ham and bean soup, but is sounds so much more prestigious when it is called Senate Bean Soup.  The story goes that it has been served daily in the Senate dining room since the 1840's. You can eat in the dining room and try it for yourself, you just have to make reservations in advance.  The original recipe called for it to be served over mashed potatoes, but I made skillet cornbread using a recipe from the Pioneer Woman.  I cooked my soup in the crockpot  as we had a soccer game tonight and I don't feel comfortable leaving a pot on the stove with an open flame!  This is a super easy dinner that takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and is uber low on the messy scale! Tomorrow night we have soccer practice and then I have a teleconference with my Japanese colleagues who are 13 hours ahead of us so dinner will be pizza delivery, but Thursday will be Italian Wedding soup so stay tuned!!

Senate Bean Soup:
(Serves 6-8)


1 lb dried navy beans
6 cups water
2 stalks celery, minced
2 carrots, minced
1 med onion minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp kosher salt 
1/2 tbsp pepper
1 lb ham, diced



Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  One (1) hour prior to serving,    gently mash the beans and remove the bay leaves.  Enjoy!  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The World in a Bowl Night 1: Mulligatawny and Naan

As I said yesterday, Fall is here bringing cooler weather which had me thinking of warm bowls of soup. My cousin, Harry suggested Italian Wedding soup and Chicken Tortilla soup so I thought my theme for the week would be soups from around the world.  The boys and I made a trip to our local mega-mart which has a great international section.  I found everything, but two ingredients for the week's menu, so don't think you have to run to a bunch of specialty stores on the hunt for rare ingredients!  

Our first stop on our tour was in India.  I made Mulligatawny and naan.  Mulligatawny is a spicy version of split pea soup.  It was very filling and delicious.  Naan is a bread that can be made in less than 90 minutes.  The entire meal took about 90 minutes of constant supervision so it is definitely a weekend meal for me!  I found both recipes on Pinterest!  



Sauce preparation

Soup start!



4 cups flour ( I used bread flour)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup plain yogurt
~3 cups milk
1 tbsp oil 


Mix together the first six ingredients.  Gradually add the milk and knead the dough into a soft ball, but not overly wet.  You might not use all the milk.  Dust a surface with additional flour, turn the dough out on the surface and knead for 5 minutes.  Rub the inside of a clean bowl with the oil and place the dough inside. Cover with a clean towel, set in a warm place and let rest for an hour.


After the hour has passed, place a griddle over medium heat.  Pull the dough apart and from into 2 inch balls.  Roll each ball out to a 4-5 inch circle.  Brush the circle with oil and fold into a semicircle.  Brush with oil again and fold once more.  Brush the top with water and place on the hot griddle.  Let bread cook and puff up about 5 minutes and then flip to cook another 1-2 minutes.