Chorizo Taco

Chorizo was on sale at the market, and I couldn’t resist picking it up. I love tacos of all kinds, so I decided to make some fancy chorizo tacos for dinner. I only used one link to make four tacos for dinner, so there were plenty of leftover chorizo links to make more meals!

RECIPE: Chorizo Taco
Makes 4 Tacos 

Cast iron pans
Cutting board

Chorizo Sausage Link
Yellow Onion
Small Flour Tortillas
Canned Jalapeno Peppers
Canned Tomatoes or Fresh if you have it
Pepper Jack Cheese

1) Remove the casing from a link of chorizo and begin browning in a cast iron pan.
2) Mince up the onion and add it to the chorizo.
3) Heat up another cast iron pan and use it to warm/toast the flour tortillas.

4) Cut up the canned tomato and slice the pepper jack cheese.
5) In a warm tortilla, fill with the hot sausage and onion mixture.
6) Top with meat mixture with canned jalapeno peppers and chopped tomatoes.
7) Lay down the 2 slices of pepper jack per taco for even cheese coverage.


Mutt Chili

There are so many people who argue that chili should only be made with beef, others argue that chili should only be made with beans. I call this recipe Mutt chili because it includes both meat and beans!

RECIPE: Mutt Chili
Makes 6 Servings

Cutting Board
Cheese grater

Ground Beef
3/4 of an onion
Green Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic
Black Beans
Pepper Powder
Pureed Tomatoes
Pepper Jack Cheese

1) Begin browning the ground beef in the bottom of the pot.
2) Chop up the onion, green pepper, and garlic.
3) Add the vegetables to the ground beef and stir.
4) Drain, rinse, and add the black beans to the pot.
5) Season with cumin, spicy pepper powder, paprika, and cilantro.

6) Stir in the pureed tomatoes, stir, and let simmer to bring the flavors together.
7) Grate about 1-2 ounces of pepper jack cheese.
8) Serve the chili warm with a sprinkle of shredded cheese on top!


The best part about the chili is that it tastes so good and the leftovers can be used in numerous different ways. The night after we had the chili, we had chili tacos with avocado and they were amazing! IMG_0910

Vegan Taco Cups

I love experimenting with vegan and vegetarian meals. While I will always be a meat eater, its great to have meals you can enjoy that don’t depend on having meat. The result is meals that are cheap, easy to make, and heart healthy! This is a variation of our taco cups that are vegan!

RECIPE: Vegan Taco Cups
Makes 4 Servings

Muffin Tin
Oven set to 350 Degrees
Food Processor
Cutting Board

4 Flour Tortillas
1/2 a can of Pinto Beans
Garlic Powder
Canned Jalapenos
Canned Tomatoes

IMG_10011) Place each of the flour tortillas into a muffin tin to form a cup shape. Place the muffin tin into the oven.
2) In a food processor, combine half a can of pinto beans with some cilantro, garlic powder, cumin, and paprika. Process until smooth.
3) Scoop the pureed beans equally into all four taco cups and place back in the oven.
4) Clean the food processor.
5) Add half a roughly chop and pealed onion to the food processor along with some canned tomatoes and a hearty helping of canned jalapenos. Chop into a fresh salsa that you can top the cups with! I decided to add the salsa and let them bake again to let the flavors cook together a bit. IMG_1002
6) Once the tortillas begin to brown around the edges and the bean mixture is hot in the center, remove the cups from the oven.
The smoothness of the beans and fresh taste of the salsa definitely distracted me from the fact that there was no cheese in this recipe! If you know me, you know my cheese obsession can be borderline unhealthy, so I’m glad that this taco cup delivers without the need for cheese!

Green Sausage and Durum Pasta

I love finding the sales meats at Kroger. It gives me a chance to try new foods and save money! The chicken spinach and feta sausage I found seemed like it would be perfect for pasta. Luckily, I had some new durum flour that I wanted to try out and the durum egg pasts went incredibly well with the chicken sausage! The fresh pasta for this dish was from my window sill!

RECIPE: Green Sausage and Durum Pasta
Makes 3 Servings

Mixer or Bowl
Pasta Rollers
Drying Rack
Wooden Spoon

3 Eggs
300 Grams Durum Flour
Water if needed
Chicken Sausage
4 Garlic Cloves
Half an Onion
Canned Tomatoes
(I used pureed tomatoes instead of the shown whole tomatoes)
Fresh Basil
Parmesan Cheese

1) In a mixer, beat together the flour and eggs. Add water if needed, but only a little bit at a time. When it comes to water I just prefer to wet my hands before kneading the pasta dough.  (I know your Italian Grandma doesn’t use a mixer to make her pasta, but I’m lazy and hungry!)
2) Let the pasta dough rest for about 10 minutes in three balls before you start rolling it.
3) Roll pasta to desired thickness and then cut. I decided to do fettuccine style.

4) Set pasta to dry on the rack. I only used half the pasta for the dish and stored the rest for another night.
5) In a pot, begin bringing some salted water to a boil.
6) Peal the casing off the sausage and drop it into a hot cast iron pan.
7) Chop up the onion and garlic. Add the onion to the cooking sausage.

8) Add the garlic right before you add the canned tomatoes. Let simmer.
9) Cook the pasta in the boiling salt water.
10) Drain the cooked pasta and add it straight to the sauce, mix and cook so the noodles absorb the sauce.
11) Cut up the basil.
12) Serve the pasta topped with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and lots of fresh basil.

IMG_0992The noodles really were the star of the dish! While the sausage and tomato sauce was good and well accented by the basil, it was the durum noodles that really stood out above everything else!

Beer Grain Pretzels

The best part of having a husband, who brews his own beer, is all the leftover spent beer grains. I just adore using them in all my savory cooking to impart a unique flavor profile and up the whole grains in the recipe. These pretzels go well with a nice cold beer and our homemade habanero mustard.

RECIPE: Beer Grain Pretzels
Makes 6-7 Servings

Pastry Board
Kitchen Scale
Lined Baking Sheet
Measuring Cup
Oven set to 500 degrees

10.5 ounces Water
0.33 ounces Yeast
12 ounces All Purpose Flour
4 ounces Whole Grain Pastry Flour
0.1 ounces Regular Salt
0.3 ounces Sugar
6 ounces Spent Beer Grains
8 Ounces Warm Water
1 ounce Baking Soda
Sea Salt (Pacific Grey Salt preferred)

IMG_09681) Begin by combining the 10.5 ounces water and yeast in a bowl. Let rest for a minute before adding both kinds of flour, salt, sugar, and the beer grains.
2) Mix into a dough but don’t over beat. Let rest for 30-60 minutes.
3) Use the kitchen scale to measure out chunks of dough at 5 ounces each.
4) Row each chunk of dough into a long snake and then twist into a pretzel shape.
5) Place the formed pretzels on the lined baking sheet.

6) In a measuring glass, combine the baking soda and the warm water. Brush the mixture over the pretzels.
7) Sprinkle with sea salt and bake for 8-9 minutes until golden brown.
8) Serve hot warm with mustard to dip them in! IMG_0975

The twists weren’t hard to do at all! Originally we planned on having these delicious pretzels as a light snack, but they were so good and we ate so many that it just became our dinner! I can’t tell you how they are the next day, because they disappeared fast!

I figure the spent grains and whole grain flour helps to make these hot pretzels a little healthier as well!

Cheap and Vegan (aka Rice and Beans)

They also say that rice and beans are one of the cheapest meals you can make. You can buy giant bags of dried beans, cans of beans, and bags of rice for almost nothing. In ode to my poor student days, I decided to revisit beans and rice and color it up a bit!

RECIPE: Cheap and Vegan
Makes 4 Servings

Cutting Board
Large Cast iron pan

1 Onion
1 Green Pepper
3 Canned Tomatoes
3-4 Cloves of Garlic
Pickled Jalapenos
Leftover or fresh Rice
Pinto Beans

1) Begin by cutting up the onions and add them to the cast iron pan.
2) Then chop up the green onions and tomatoes and add them to the cooking onions.
3) Mince the Garlic last and add it to the vegetables that are cooking.
4) Add pickled jalapenos to preference and add some of the pickling liquid to the mixture.

5) Slowly stir in the rice, letting it absorb all the moisture that was released by the vegetables as well as the pickling liquid.
6) Drain the pinto beans and add them to the mixture, stirring well.
7) Stir occasionally and let everything cook together. Serve as is without cheese or any add ons.
I love all the flavors of the vegetables which is why I tend not to season this mixture. You can season it as preferred! I also like to cook it quickly so the green peppers still have a bit of snap in him.

Guilty Pleasure Cookies

These cookies are an absolute guilty pleasure. Not only are they filled with bittersweet chocolate chips, but they also include bits of butterfingers candy! The only way to describe these cookies are as addictive. Seriously, you won’t stop yourself from getting a second once you have tasted the first.

RECIPE: Guilty Pleasure Cookies
Makes 2 1/2 Dozen Cookies 

Measuring Utensils
Food Processor
Large Cookie Scoop
Cookie Sheets
Oven set to 300 Degrees
Cooling Rack

1 Stick Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup White Sugar
1 Egg
1  teaspoon Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/4 Cups Flour
8 Butterfingers Candies
1 1/2 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips

IMG_10121) In your mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar.
2) Add the egg, vanilla, salt, and baking soda and mix until light.
3) Add the flour to the mixing bowl, but do not mix yet.
IMG_10144) Unwrap the butterfingers candies and put through the food processor until crumbs. Pour it over the flour.
5) Measure and add the chocolate chips.
6) Combine the flour and candy into the mixture, forming a cook dough and be careful not to over mix.
7) Scoop the dough out using a cookie scoop and drop onto an ungreased baking sheet.
8) Bake for 18-22 minutes. Remove immediately to a cooling rack. IMG_1015

Warm or cooled, these cookies are equally delicious. They even hold up to dunking in milk!

Umami Pasta

This pasta dish is filled with delicious Umami ingredients that will make your taste buds celebrate. With fresh pasta, this pasta dish will make you feel like you are eating at a five star restaurant. It would have been even better with fresh Parmesan, but sometimes you have to use budget friendly ingredients.

RECIPE: Umami Pasta
Makes 3 Servings

Cutting Board
Cast iron pan
Kitchen Aid Mixer
Pasta Rollers

2 slices of Bacon
2 Packages of Mushrooms
2 Cups All purpose flour
2 Eggs
White Wine

1) In a cast iron pan, let the two slices of bacon begin cooking.
2) As the bacon is cooking, begin washing the mushrooms and slice them thin.
3) When the bacon is done, move it to the cutting board and add the butter to the bacon grease.

4) Pour the mushrooms into the bacon and butter. Stir and let cook.
5) In a mixer, mix together the eggs, flour, and a bit of water if needed.
6) Let the dough set for a few minutes before rolling it out.
7) Cut the pasta into spaghetti size.

8) In a pot, bring to a boil salted water and add the fresh pasta to it.
9) Stir the mushrooms and add the white wine and tarragon.
10) Chop up the bacon and add it to mushroom mixture.
11) Drain the pasta and add it to the mushrooms.
12) Serve with a touch of Parmesan cheese on top! IMG_0824


North of Mexico Burger

While most people think of south of our border as great Mexican food, I think of north of Mexico as great Tex-Mex food. This burger is a bit trickier to eat, but is definitely worth the time to figure out how to finagle the tortilla. Next time we are thinking of getting smaller tortillas or just using a cookie cutter to get the right size. The guacamole had incredible flavor and texture, and had you licking your fingers and the plate clean!

RECIPE: North of Mexico Burger
Makes 2 Servings

Cutting Board
Mortar and Pestle
Meat Grinder
Wax Paper

1/3 Onion
3 cloves Garlic
Lemon Juice
2 Slices Bacon
Black Pepper
Pepper Relish/Green Salsa

IMG_08831) While I prepared the guacamole, my husband prepared the beef patties. He ground the beef with about 2 slices of bacon and then formed patties from the mixture.
2) For the guacamole, mince about a third of an onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Place them in the mortar.
3) Skin and pit the avocado and add it to the onion and garlic.
4) Season with some cumin, paprika, cilantro, a splash of lemon juice, and a sprinkle of salt.
5) Use the pestle to grind together the guacamole. Taste and adjust seasoning based on preference.
6) Right before you grill the burgers, sprinkle with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper.

7) Warm the tortillas either on the grill or on a hot cast iron pan.
8) Serve the burgers on top of the tortillas with a layer of pepper relish/green salsa, and then a mound of guacamole. IMG_0890

You can clearly see the layer of pepper relish/green salsa between the burger and the guacamole. I made the relish/salsa over the summer, and it complimented the guacamole amazingly. The tortilla bun still needed some work, but it was a great first try!

Blue Cheese Mash Potatoes

The focus of this recipe is on the mash potatoes! My husband loves mashed potatoes and blue cheese so I decided to see if I could combine the two into a single side for him. Now while he would have loved a dinner of just mashed potatoes, I decided to make the meat and peppers as a side to go with the potato main course!

RECIPE: Blue Cheese Mash Potatoes
Makes 1-3 Servings Depending

Cutting Board

3 Potatoes
Green Pepper
Chunk of Meat
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Black Pepper
Paprika (not shown)
2 T Butter
Evaporated Milk
Blue Cheese

1) After washing the potatoes, cut them into cubes and add them to a pot of water on the stove.IMG_0914
2) Bring the potatoes and stir occasionally, checking to see how done they are. They will be done when a spoon easily crushes a piece or a fork can pierce it with little to no resistance.
3) Cut the pepper into slices and set to the side.
4) Cube the beef and begin browning it in a cast iron pan.
5) Add the peppers to the beef. Season with onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and a touch of paprika.
6) When the potatoes are done, drain the remaining water.
7) Add the butter and a glug or so of evaporated milk to the potatoes.
8) Using a hand smasher, smash the potatoes until silky.
9) Smash and mix about half the container of blue cheese into the potatoes. Let sit on the warm burner to incorporate the flavors while you plate the meat and peppers. IMG_0916
I like to leave the skins on because that is wear a lot of different nutrients in potatoes come into play. I honestly now prefer it to mashed potatoes made with potatoes that are peeled.