Skillet Baked Ziti

Skillet Baked Ziti

Even though I’m back to calorie counting, I just love a good, comforting meal sometimes. I try to limit my splurges to one splurge meal per week, eating something I normally wouldn’t want to admit to MyFitnessPal :-). I made this dish for the first time last fall, and I was shocked at how flavorful it was for being a fairly simple recipe. I ended up making two batches of this ziti, one for us and one for my dear friend, who had just had a baby. She and her husband absolutely loved the dish, as well and ended up asking for the recipe! I consider that the biggest compliment of all!

This dish is a dream for clean-up…you make everything in the skillet from start to finish. I ended up making this in a braiser pan, and it worked just fine. This also makes a good bit of food…we had leftovers for a couple of days between my husband and I (and we totally went for seconds the first night). It was SO good, and I shouldn’t be surprised…it was from America’s Test Kitchen, and also, one of my favorite bloggers, Pink Parsley, blogged about it before (which is where I originally read about the recipe first).

Skillet Baked Ziti

Skillet Baked Ziti
Source: Pink Parsley, originally from America’s Test Kitchen


  • 1 lb. sweet or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 oz. ziti
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 oz. (about 1 cup) freshly grated mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. In a 12-inch oven-safe skillet (I used a 3 1/2 qt. braiser pan), brown the sausage over medium-high heat, breaking up the large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink (about 4 minutes). Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes, cooking for about a minute (until fragrant). Add in the crushed tomatoes, as well as 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer everything gently for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add in the water and ziti, then carefully stir everything to combine. Cover the pan, increase the heat to medium, and cook at a simmer, stirring often for about 15-18 minutes, until the pasta is just tender/al dente in texture.
  3. Remove the mixture from heat, and stir in the cream, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, and 3 tbsp. of basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle in the mozzarella, as well as the remaining 1/4 cup of parmesan on top of the pasta. Transfer the pan to the oven, and bake until the cheese has melted/browned, and the sauce is bubbling (about 10-15 minutes). Before serving, sprinkle with the remaining tbsp. of basil. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos


I’m such a huge fan of the slow cooker. We don’t use it often enough, but every time I use it, I make it a goal of mine to use the darn thing more often. That never happens, though, because I just always seem to forget about the slow cooker when menu planning. ::sigh::

One of my favorite things about the slow cooker is the amount of time it takes to be in the kitchen. This recipe is a great example of that. It requires just a few ingredients, and you just let the slow cooker do its job for 8 hours. Not much work at all, and you have a delicious, homemade meal ready for you for dinner that evening.

A meal like this is perfect for a new mom, actually, and today I’m so excited to be a part of Katie’s (of Katie’s Cucina and Sew Woodsy) surprise virtual baby shower, which was organized by Julie of The Little Kitchen and Christine of Cook the Story.

Katie is a good blogger friend of mine, who I met at Food Blog Forum last year. When I met Katie, I felt like we were just instant friends. She’s just super sweet…just like she comes across on her blogs!

Food Blog Forum 2013

She and her husband, Jon, are expecting their first baby…a BOY in March. :-) Since they’re pretty much DIY gurus, I’ve especially enjoyed following the nursery planning on their DIY blog, as well as her Instagram. I’m sure it’s going to come out amazing!

For Katie’s baby shower, the theme is easy recipes & crafts for busy families. I instantly thought of the slow cooker for this theme, and since tex-mex cuisine is a favorite of mine, I just had to share this recipe with y’all.

This is such a great, basic recipe for a meal. The pulled pork takes very little prep time, and it’s super versatile. You could use it for tacos (like I’m showing y’all today), enchiladas, serve it over mexican rice, quick tortilla “pizzas”, nachos, etc. Also, since this calls for 3 lbs. of pork, you can easily make this for a dinner one night, freeze the leftover meat, and use it for dinner another evening.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a shower without a whole variety of recipes/crafts to try! Check out these amazing ideas from the other bloggers who contributed to Katie’s shower. Congratulations again, Katie…can’t wait to “meet” your little one!


Easy Broccoli & Cheddar Soup from The Little Kitchen
Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers from Cook the Story
Individual Tortilla Caprese Pizzas from a farmgirl’s dabbles
Easy Cheesy Potato Corn Chowder from A Little Claireification
Slow Cooker Jambalaya from A Spicy Perspective
Italian Style Stir Fry from Aggie’s Kitchen
Apricot Chicken from Bombshell Bling
Easy Baked Spaghetti from Chocolate & Carrots
Cuban Casserole with Whole Grain Mustard Butter Biscuits from Climbing Grier Mountain
Freezer-Friendly Quinoa Meatballs from Cooking with Books
Baby Boy Subway Art Printable from H2OBungalow
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Cake from Inside BruCrew Life
Asparagus And Leek Quiche from Kokocooks
Roasted Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Red Potatoes from Life After Empty Nest
Yogurt Blueberry and Honey Smoothie from My Sweet Zepol
Pesto Parmesan Chicken Salad from Shaken Together
Printable Baby Whale Themed Cards and Project Life Mini Album from Simply Kelly Designs
Coconut Cookie Butter Sandwich Cookies from Simply Southern Baking
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Garden Vegetables from Sweet Remedy
Easy Kofta Kebabs from Tasty Chomps
Crock Pot Fajitas with Chicken and Quinoa from The Dinner-Mom
Overnight Oatmeal from The Hungry Housewife
Honey-Dijon Chicken, Apple & Quinoa Wraps from The Kitchen Prep
Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Soup from The Lemon Bowl
DIY Whale Art from While They Snooze
One Pot Mexican Chicken and Rice from Yellow Bliss Road

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos
Source: inspired by Can You Stay For Dinner


  • 3 lbs. boneless boston butt/pork shoulder
  • 1 jar of store bought salsa
  • 1 batch of taco seasoning


  1. Pour the jar of salsa in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker. Gently place the boston butt/pork shoulder over the salsa. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the top of the pork. Set the slow cooker on the low setting and cook for 8 hours. Shred the pork using two forks and enjoy…..or for a more crispy texture, follow the next step.
  2. Optional: To give the pork a crispier texture for some pieces, shred the cooked pork and place it in a rimmed baking sheet, spreading the meat as evenly as possible. Place the meat under the broiler on “low” and allow it to bake, checking it every minute or so, until the meat starts to brown/crisp on top (about 5 minutes).
  3. I served mine with plenty of chopped cilantro and white cheddar, but you could also opt for finely chopped red onion, salsa and/or sour cream, to name a few ideas! Top them however you like!


Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas


Since we got our pressure cooker for Christmas, I’ve sadly only used it a handful of times. We don’t cook much for dinner anymore, since usually all we want after an evening gym work-out is a protein shake with lots of fruit. It’s kind of hard to stand up for 30 minutes – an hour when you’re feeling ravenous and your legs are also feeling like jello. So, usually our big meals are on weekends. When my husband came home from a conference, I decided to surprise him with some carnitas. I saw this recipe a while back on Table for Two and thought it would be nice to give this recipe a try in the pressure cooker, rather than cooking in the oven for a couple of hours. In the summer, this is so awesome, because you aren’t heating up your house for 2 hours. In Louisiana, the less the A/C has to work, the better.

This recipe came out beautifully, and I’m still so shocked at how perfect the meat cooked up in 20-ish minutes (once it reached pressure). I ended up freezing this in 1 lb. portions, because there was no way my husband and I were going to eat this much pork within a few days. However, for a party (maybe a taco bar?), this would be perfect!

Just to note: I’m going to type out the directions that I used for the electric pressure cooker (this is the one we own), however, for the conventional method, feel free to check out Table for Two’s post.

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
Source: directions adapted from Table for Two, originally from Cooks Illustrated


  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves


  1. Place all of the ingredients in the electric pressure cooker (including the spent halves of the orange) and set the cooker to the “simmer” setting.
  2. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, cover the pressure cooker and seal it. Set the pressure cooker to the “high pressure” setting, and set the timer for 20 minutes. (Note: do not use a kitchen timer…it’s crucial to use the timer on your appliance since the timer starts when it reaches the desired pressure to cook.)
  3. Once the pressure cooker is done, allow the cooker to naturally release pressure before attempting to open the pressure cooker, and then uncover.
  4. Turn your oven on to the broil setting, and line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked pork and place it on the foil lined pan. You can discard everything else (vegetables/aromatics) at this time, except for the cooking liquid. Turn the pressure cooker to the “brown” setting, which is high heat, and boil the liquid until it’s thick and syrupy (about 20 minutes).
  5. While the liquid mixture is heating, use two forks to shred the pork (and discard fatty pieces). Once the liquid mixture has thickened, add the pork back into the liquid and gently mix the pork into the liquid, to avoid breaking up the pork further.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, place the pork back on the lined pan, and place the pan in the oven under the broiler for 5-8 minutes. After that’s done, flip the pork and allow it to brown on the other side for another 5-8 minutes. Be sure to watch the pork carefully to ensure that the pork doesn’t burn.
  7. Serve immediately. You can also refrigerate (for up to 5 days) or freeze the leftovers.



Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Happy first day of summer! It feels like it’s been the summer here for quite a few weeks already…the humidity is crazy, it didn’t rain for about two weeks, and bugs are everywhere. Yay Louisiana summer!

One of the great things about summer is that it’s grilling season. Man, I love grilled foods…the flavor…the pretty grill marks on food…the fact that I don’t do the grilling. 😛 Yeah…grilling outside is my husband’s thing. He’s great at it, and I don’t like dealing with fire.

We had a pork tenderloin in our fridge that I had other recipe plans for, but ultimately decided on grilling it, because it seemed quick/easy. This recipe is from Alton Brown, who has never steered me in the wrong direction. The marinade for the pork is flavorful and very simple to throw together. I was a bit worried with the addition of the chipotle pepper, but it just gave the pork a little bit of smokey flavor and heat. It was nothing over-bearing. I especially love that you just marinate the meat the day before, and the next day, just grill it. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner!

The only thing we did differently is that once the grilling was done, we let it finish in the oven until it reached an internal temperature of 155 degrees. I know that 140 degrees is OK for pork (which is what Alton’s recipe is written for), but my preference is for the pork to be well-done.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Source: Alton Brown


  • 1 whole pork tenderloin, appx. 1 pound
  • 1 lime, zest finely grated
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


  1.  Trim the fat and skin off of the pork tenderloin, and place it in a gallon ziploc bag. In a jar with a lid, add the lime juice, lime zest, honey, salt and garlic powder, and shake everything to combine. Add half of the marinade to the ziploc bag with the pork, as well as the chopped chipotle pepper, and seal the bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible. Place the bag in a container to catch any leaks, and allow the pork to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours (rotating the bag halfway through to make sure the marinade gets in on both sides). Place the rest of the marinade in the fridge for later use.
  2. Remove the tenderloin from the fridge, and allow it to sit at room temperature while the grill preheats. Also, remove the jar of marinade from the fridge. Preheat the grill to medium heat.
  3. Brush the grill area that you’ll be cooking on with the vegetable oil once it’s preheated. Remove the tenderloin from the bag, and place the pork in the center of the grill. You can discard the ziploc bag with the used marinade at this time. Cover and cook the pork for 12-15 minutes, turning every 2 minutes, until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Move the tenderloin from the grill, and place it on a large piece of heavy-duty foil. Fold in the edges of the foil on the sides to create a packet, and pour in the reserved marinade. Wrap the top of the packet well.
  4. If you’d prefer the pork to be cooked more, place the foil packet in a preheated at 350 degrees oven, and let it finish cooking until it reaches 155 degrees (this took 7-10 minutes for us). Then, take it out of the oven, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving. If you prefer the pork as it is, just allow it to rest in the foil packet for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. To serve, take the pork out of the foil, and garnish with cilantro. Then, slice the pork and enjoy!



Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa

Crawfish Pies

Crawfish Cheesecake

Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Pork and Sausage Jambalaya


Around here, Jambalaya is a staple. If you live in Louisiana, you’ve had it. If you live in Louisiana and you haven’t had it, let’s just say you haven’t fully lived yet. :-)

The best jambalaya is usually cooked in huge quantities in a large cast iron pot. If you’re going to a tailgate out here, they’re probably serving jambalaya. Same goes for huge family reunions. Heck, we had jambalaya at our wedding. It’s one of my favorite foods for a gathering and with good reason. It’s absolutely delicious!

Now, at home, we usually would make jambalaya from a mix. I really had no idea how to make jambalaya from scratch….until now. My friend Kayla, who used to have a food blog (hint hint, Kayla…), posted this recipe for jambalaya, which comes from her husband. When my husband and I tasted this, we were absolutely floored! This recipe tastes just like the amazing jambalaya that is made in those huge cast iron pots. I call it tailgating jambalaya in a much more manageable amount. However, be warned (in a good way)…..this makes enough jambalaya to completely fill a 5 qt. dutch oven. We had leftovers that filled up a gallon ziploc bag, which we happily ate throughout the week and even shared with the in-laws.

So yes…make this. For those of you who are wondering, there are no ingredients in this jambalaya that are regional (to my knowledge). Anyone can make this! Just do it. :-)

On an unrelated note: If you have a minute, I would really appreciate your vote for my entry (Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles) in a local holiday dessert recipe contest. Voting ends on Wednesday, and the top 10 entries (by popular vote) move on to be finalists! I know that you have to register to vote, but I’d completely appreciate the support! You can also vote once/day if you wanted to be extra nice. 😛

Source: Scrumptiously Sassy (recipe posted on Cooking with Christen)


  • 2.5 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1.5″ chunks
  • 1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3/4 cup green onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 8 cups water (for rice)
  • 3 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning & seasoning sauce
  • Seasoning (salt, red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.)
  • Extra water (for meat)


  1. In a 5-6 quart cast iron pot, heat up the vegetable oil.  Season pork to taste and brown thoroughly (do this in small batches, putting the browned pork in a bowl as it’s done browning).  If the pork starts to stick to the pan, you can add a little water to the pot.
  2. Once you’ve browned the pork and removed it from the pot, add the sliced sausage to the pot to brown it as well. Once it’s browned, add the vegetables and cook until tender and translucent. Add the pork chunks back in the pot and stir to combine. Add enough water to cover and simmer on medium-low until almost all of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the 8 cups of water to the pot and season to taste. You want the liquid to taste spicier and saltier than your preference, since the rice will soak up those flavors. After the liquid is spiced to your preferences, add the Kitchen Bouquet to darken the liquid.  Once the liquid starts to boil, add rice, parsley and green onions. Keep stirring the pot until most liquid is absorbed, then turn the fire to low and cover for 20 minutes. During those 20 minutes, do not remove the lid.
  4. Remove the lid and stir to fluff. Once the mixture is well stirred/fluffed, put the lid back on and cook on low for 10 more minutes.  Again, do not remove the lid.
  5. Once the jambalaya is finished, uncover the pot and once again, stir/fluff the mixture. Serve and enjoy!






BBQ Baby Back Ribs

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

I know half of you have the Chili’s Baby Back ribs jingle stuck in your head at the moment. Haha..I’ll admit that I do too.. Ribs are the perfect food to enjoy in the summer and fresh off the grill. Of course, the best way to cook them is low and slow, but since we don’t have a smoker, we used our oven and finished them off on the grill.

Just a random tidbit of information, but did you know that there’s a membrane along the back of the ribs that you’re supposed to cut/peel off? I didn’t know this until doing some google searching. Otherwise, your ribs will be tough. Sadly, this information isn’t on the pack of ribs…how are people like me, who have never cooked ribs before, supposed to figure this out?

I used a recipe from my favorite Food Network star, Alton Brown. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet, and according to my family, who kept eating these, this recipe was no different. These ribs were tender, full of flavor and bonus, there’s a good chance that you’ll have some leftover wine to enjoy since the recipe only calls for a cup of it for the braising liquid. :-)

BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Source: adapted from Alton Brown


  • 2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs

   For the dry rub:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

   For the braising liquid:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine the spices and brown sugar and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat and rub the dry rub into the meat and form the foil into a packet over each rib. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour.
  3. In a microwavable bowl, mix all of the ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave the mixture for 1 minute.
  4. Place the ribs on a baking sheet.  Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet for the braising liquid to distribute over all parts of the rib rack. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  5. Transfer the ribs to the grill and brush the ribs with  your favorite bbq sauce. Continue to cook the ribs until they have a nice sear/char to them.

Foodbuzz 24×24: A Culinary Journey Down the Muddy Mississippi

When I was a little kid, I had such trouble spelling “Mississippi”. Was it too many “s”s or the double “p” that threw me for a loop? I just couldn’t get it. My house was less than a tenth of a mile away from the river, and I just couldn’t spell it. That bothered me. My parents taught us a little fun way to spell it eventually, and now I can’t ever spell Mississippi wrong. When in doubt, I tell myself “M-i-s-s… I-s-s…i.P.P.i”. There was an emphasis on the cap letters, so it became a bit of a rhythm to say it in my head that way before spelling it out.

Since I grew up living so close to the Mississippi, I’ve seen the river have its ups and downs. Literally. When the river gets high in the Spring, boats appear like they are floating on the levee. And of course, when it gets low, you’ll barely see the tops of the boats. It’s crazy how much it varies, and this year was no exception. For the first time in almost 40 years, the river was so high that the Corps of Engineers had to open a spillway north of Baton Rouge in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding. Sadly, this spillway isn’t just land. People actually built their homes and farms in the spillway, so they had to evacuate. While I’m glad that nothing catastrophic happened to our big cities, it still hurts to know that some people suffered from this.

While I was watching a news segment about the river one night, I couldn’t help but think about the massive journey that the water takes. All the way north from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many different cities that the river just flows by, and my husband had the greatest idea. A culinary journey down the river–from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. Our party idea featured foods that are notorious in the major cities along the river: Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. I was so stoked when Foodbuzz let me know that our party proposal had been accepted for this month’s 24×24, so I called up our families and had them over for this awesome party!

For Minneapolis, we grilled up the famous Juicy Lucy burger! You can’t go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger, and this burger was one of the favorites of the meal!

Jucy Lucy

For St. Louis, we baked a gooey butter cake. We served it with ice cream and various summer fruit sorbets. The cake is a yeast based batter on the bottom and of course, a gooey butter base layer on top. Many of us (myself included) have never had a gooey butter cake, but it was a great hit! I think next time, this would go perfectly with some fresh fruit.

Gooey Butter Cake

For Memphis, we made some fabulous BBQ Baby Back ribs. This was my first time ever working with ribs, and it really wasn’t that bad. These were very flavorful ribs and super tender, since they were in an oven for a good part of the morning before finishing off on the grill!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

And of course, for New Orleans, we made some grilled corn grits. Grits are a favorite around here, and in one of our favorite restaurants, this is how they make the grits. It’s fabulously rich and flavorful! You probably don’t want to know how much heavy cream and butter are in these grits, but I’ll tell you anyway later when I post the recipe! :-)

Corn Grits

Oh, and since we’re all from Louisiana, we had to add in a little lagniappe for NOLA: Hurricanes. I mean, how could you NOT? For a hot, summer day, these are always a hit!


*all recipes will be shared on the blog at a later date*

It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the food. You know it was a good party when people ask for the leftovers and recipes as they’re leaving! :-)

Dessert Time


Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for making this party happen! We really enjoyed the different foods from cities along the river, and also had a blast spending time together!


Bacon does make everything better..

Happy New Years everyone! I hope you had a great 2009, and here’s to a truly awesome new year and decade!

After looking through the archives, I’ve found the primary reason for my weight gain since the wedding in May: this blog doesn’t have much “skinny” food anymore! So, I’m really going to strive to bring back the “skinny” recipes to this blog, since this blog’s title, after all, is Skinny Food by Amy. While I’m gonna miss the cheesecake and candy, I think I need to go back to the reason that I started this blog: to lose weight and still enjoy food. I hope you all enjoy the journey! :)

Now, here comes a not-so-skinny recipe…sorry folks!

My husband and I have enjoyed the Cooking Light recipe for pot roast for a while now. I was curious to see what else is out there, though. So, I found this pot roast recipe on Epicurious that involves the ever-so-famous bacon! I was pretty excited to get away from turkey bacon for a day, so I bought some thick cut smoked bacon at the store  for this recipe. I totally forgot how much grease is in real bacon…whoa. Needless to say, this recipe won’t be a regular in our diets, but it was a yummy indulgence. Bacon really does make everything better, trust me!

Pot Roast
Source: adapted from Bon Appetit


  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 3-pound boneless rump roast
  • 6 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 12 small shallots, peeled
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 large carrots (about 1 pound), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Rub spice blend all over beef. Cut 6 slits in beef and insert a clove of garlic in each slit.
  2. Cook bacon in a dutch oven over medium heat until browned and lightly crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer beef to plate. Add red wine to pot; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bacon. Place beef atop bacon. Scatter onions, shallots, remainder of garlic, and bay leaves around beef.
  3. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and roast 1 hour. Turn beef over; stir onions. Cover and roast 1 hour longer, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry. Transfer beef to plate. Add carrots and potatoes to pot; stir to coat. Place beef atop vegetables, cover, and roast until beef and vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes longer. Transfer beef to platter. Spoon off fat from surface of sauce and remove bay leaves. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over beef and serve.

Mom’s Cornbread Dressing

Since we were hosting Thanksgiving, I knew I was going to make my mom’s fabulous cornbread dressing. It’s so flavorful, moist and just delicious! I was afraid it wouldn’t be as good as mom’s, because the recipe she gave me was a lot of ingredients “to taste”. So, I was surprised to see that people actually gobbled (hehe..pun) it up!

I wrote ingredients down as I did it, and so this is my version of my mom’s dressing!

Mom’s Cornbread Dressing


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches of green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 9×13 pan of prepared and cooled cornbread (I did this using 6 packs of Jiffy cornbread mix.)
  • 1 lb. lean ground meat
  • 1 roll of Jimmy Dean reduced fat sausage
  • 2 cans of beef broth
  • Cajun spice, paprika, salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t measure these…sorry!)


  1. Saute onions, green onions, bell pepper and celery in a dutch oven until transparent. Add garlic.
  2. Brown sausage and beef in another pot until fully cooked and drain fat.
  3. Add meat mixture to the onion mixture in the dutch oven.
  4. Cut up and crumble cornbread by hand and add it to the pot.
  5. Add beef broth about a half can at a time, until the mixture is moist.
  6. Add spices to taste.
  7. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld. The next day, place the dutch oven (covered) in the oven at 350 degrees until the dressing is warm. Serve.