Easy Santa Maria Style Pinquito Beans

If you’ve ever been to the California Central Coast for barbecue, then you’re familiar with Santa Maria style beans.  Until a few weeks ago, I couldn’t find the pinquito beans in local stores (they’re native to and could only be found in the Santa Maria Valley).  I was at Vons and stumbled upon the S & W Pinquito Beans with Onion and Garlic in the canned beans section.  They were on sale and I bought a ton!  The beans, straight out of the can, are pre-seasoned and are actually really good (great for camping, etc.).  But, they do need some additions to taste like the real thing.  I scoured the internet for various recipes and each one was very different, so I took ingredients from several and made up my own.  I don’t ever recall bacon being in these beans, but added it anyway because…it’s bacon.  You can’t go wrong!

This recipe can easily be doubled or quadrupled for a larger crowd.


2 cans of S & W Pinquito Beans with Onion and Garlic

2 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped

1/2 medium white onion, chopped

1 T. chili powder

1 small garlic clove, minced or crushed

1 T. tomato paste

salt, to taste

pepper, to taste

Cook the chopped bacon in a skillet on medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp.  Add the chopped onion and chili powder and cook for another 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for five minutes more until the onions are soft.

Combine the bacon-onion mixture with the canned beans in a pot.  Add tomato paste and salt and pepper, to taste.  Cook the beans on low for approximately 30 minutes (make sure you don’t overcook them as you don’t want the beans to get too mushy).  You can serve them immediately or transfer to a crockpot and keep on warm.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Got an Instant Pot pressure cooker for Christmas and this is one of my new favorite potluck go-to recipes!  Six ingredients and it’s ridiculously quick and easy.  I still need to try doubling the recipe and will post the results, and any variations to the recipe, once I do.


16 oz. elbow macaroni

4 cups water

1 tsp. kosher salt

3 cups shredded cheddar

3 T. Butter

12 oz. can of evaporated milk

Combine the macaroni, water, and salt.  Cook on high pressure according to your pressure cooker’s directions.  For pasta, my pressure cookers says to cook for half the time minus one minute.  The package on my pasta says six minutes, so I cook on high for two minutes.

Then, do a quick release.  When it’s safe to open, stir the pasta.  Switch to the low saute’ setting, add the cheese, butter, and milk.  Stir until the cheese is nice and melted.

Then, you’re ready for potluck time!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes


There is so much cooking to do on Thanksgiving Day which is why I like to do as much prep as possible the day before.  This way, I can enjoy the day and just pop things into the oven.  Peeling, boiling, and mashing potatoes, while trying to time all of the other dishes, is one of the most frustrating parts of preparing the Thanksgiving feast.  So, a few years ago, I started making these mashed potatoes and I haven’t looked back.

They are just as creamy and luscious as any potatoes I’ve ever made on the day and the cheesy parmesan crust makes these Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes even better than the standard version of mashed potatoes!

This recipe was inspired by Ina Garten’s Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes Recipe.


Approximately 8 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

Milk, to taste

1 bar cream cheese

1 stick of butter

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Grated parmesan cheese

Boil the potatoes in a large pot until soft all the way through.  Drain the potatoes in a colander and remove all of excess water.  Immediately put the potatoes back into the pot, add the cube of butter and bar of cream cheese.  Put the lid back on the pot and let sit for five to ten minutes, so the butter can melt and the cream cheese can soften.

Using a hand mixer, blend the potatoes until they are broken apart and well blended with the butter and cream cheese.  Add the milk in small parts and continue mixing until they are smooth and have very few lumps.  Make sure the potatoes are a little runnier than you like, as they will lose some moisture in the fridge overnight.  This way, they will be the perfect consistency when you serve them.  Also, the cream cheese helps prevent the potatoes from drying out.

Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Put the potatoes in a buttered 9 x 13 inch casserole dish.  Let cool completely, cover, and store in the refrigerator.  Take the casserole out of the fridge approximately one hour before baking time so they are at room temperature when you put them in the oven.

Sprinkle them generously with the parmesan cheese.  Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese is browned on top and the potatoes are heated through.  A good way to test this is to insert a knife in the center.  If a good amount of steam comes out, then they’re ready!

Creamed Corn


I was never a fan of creamed corn until I had Sharon’s Creamed Corn!  She made it for the annual family campout potluck and it was delicious.  This recipe is quick, easy, and inexpensive to make.  It calls for flour in the white sauce.  However, she only had Bisquick and that worked just a well (if not better because it added some extra sweetness!).

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing this recipe!


2 – 16 oz. bags frozen corn (fresh or canned will work too)

4 T. butter

4 T. flour

2 cups heavy cream

2 T. sugar

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Black pepper, to taste (optional)

Salt, to taste (optional)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and let it simmer for one minute.  Gradually whisk in the heavy cream.  Add the sugar and cayenne pepper.  Continue whisking until the white sauce is thick.  Turn the heat to low.  Stir in the corn with a wooden spoon until heated through.  If using frozen corn it will take awhile for the corn to thaw and the creamed corn to be warm, but it’ll be worth the wait.

Add optional salt and pepper, to taste.  Reheat right before serving or keep in a crockpot on the warm setting.  You’re ready for potluck time!

Corn Dog Cupcakes

Corn Dog Cupcakes5


Corn Dog Cupcakes are ingenious!  So simple to make and a total crowd pleaser.  Only two ingredients plus condiments are needed.

This recipe was shared by Brandy who sent me a photo of the recipe.  It wasn’t until after I made the recipe that I realized it originates from The Healthy Gluten-Free Life cookbook.  Suffice to say, this recipe can easily be made with or without gluten*.  Either way, you’ll be popular at the potluck!


1 batch of cornbread batter

1 pkg of good, uncured hot dogs (I used Hebrew National)



Line a 12-cupcake baking pan with paper baking cups.  Spray them lightly with non-stick spray.  Fill each cup 2/3 of the way with cornbread batter.  Slice the hot dogs into bite-sized pieces.  Press eight to ten hot dog slices into each cupcake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm or at room temperature with sides of mustard and ketchup.

* Note: make sure to double check all ingredients if you’re going to make these gluten-free!

Brussels Sprouts Bon Vivant

Brussel Sprouts Bon Vivant

Not a fan of brussels sprouts? This Brussels Sprouts Bon Vivant recipe will change your mind!  Tender brussels sprouts are layered with a swiss cheese white sauce, sausage, stuffing, water chestnuts, and topped with more swiss cheese.

We love brussels sprouts at my house and this casserole is a big hit!  It’s especially suitable for an Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas potluck.  But really, it’s delicious anytime.  Thank you to Joyce for sharing this recipe!


1 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts

2 tsp. grated onion

1 cup water chestnuts, sliced

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup prepared poultry dressing (I used Stove Top chicken stuffing. It worked perfectly and only took a few minutes to prepare.)

1/4 lb. ground pork sausage

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1/2 cup grated swiss cheese, plus extra for top of casserole

Additional nutmeg

Cook sprouts in salted water with grated onion and drain.

Make white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook for one minute.  Whisk in milk and cream gradually, making sure that there aren’t any lumps.  Continue whisking and cooking until white sauce is thick.  Take off heat and mix in cheese until melted.  Add nutmeg.

Saute’ sausage and drain well. Add in cooked poultry dressing and chestnuts and sauté it with enough butter to coat it evenly.

In a buttered baking dish, put half the sprouts, half of the sausage mixture, and half of the sauce.  Repeat.  Top with additional cheese.  Sprinkle with more nutmeg.

Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 30 minutes or until cheese melts and is bubbly.

Baked Corn Casserole

Baked Corn Collage2

This Baked Corn Casserole is insanely good and it’s ridiculously easy to make!  The double corn combo with the corn muffin mix, butter, sour cream, and jalapeños provide a sweet, savory, and spicy dish that is perfect for any potluck.

This recipe is compliments of Justin who gives fair warning that, once you bring this to a potluck, you may be required to bring it to every future potluck!  It’s seriously that good!


15 oz. can whole kernel corn, drained

15 oz. can cream corn

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

2 – 8.5 oz. Jiffy corn muffin mix

4 oz. can diced jalapeños (you can substitute green chiles if jalapeños are too spicy)

Butter a 9 x 13″ baking dish.  Mix all of the ingredients together and pour into the dish.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.  Make sure to stir it occasionally as it cooks (I stirred it every 10 minutes and it worked perfectly).

If you’re making it ahead of time, then let it cool completely, cut into squares, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.  Microwave for a minute or two until warm, then serve!

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Cheesy Garlic Bread

This is absolutely one of the best Cheesy Garlic Breads that I have ever tried!  The key is to buy a really good, fresh French bread from a bakery.  This bread is so yummy that it will get devoured quickly at the potluck!  So, if you want a piece, make sure to grab it right away.  Otherwise, you will miss out!

Thank you, Brandy, for sharing your Cheesy Garlic Bread recipe!


2 loaves of fresh French bread

2 cubes butter, softened

2 huge spoons of mayonnaise (I only use Best Foods!)

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, chopped

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Black pepper, to taste

Paprika, to taste

Cut the french breads in half length-wise.  Mix the butter, mayo, garlic, and onions thoroughly.  Spread the butter mixture over the french bread halves.  Top with cheddar and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with pepper and paprika.

Broil until the cheese is bubbling.  Be careful not to burn it. Although, this bread is so good that most people will eat it anyway!

Take it out of the oven, and let it cool slightly.  Slice and serve.

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

This Broccoli Quinoa Casserole is a delicious, healthy, comfort food! It’s quick and easy to make.  You can also double the recipe and use a 9 x 13″ pan for a larger crowd.

Thank you, Debbie, for sharing this wonderful recipe!


10 oz. package frozen, chopped broccoli

1 1/12 cups quinoa, cooked and cooled (Measurement is for quinoa after it is cooked. If you have a rice cooker, use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water.)

3 eggs

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

3 T. white whole wheat flour

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

Shredded parmesan (I forgot to buy shredded parmesan, so I used grated instead)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

Heat broccoli according to package instructions.

While broccoli is cooking, beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add in the cooked quinoa, cottage cheese, and flour.  Season with salt and pepper.

When broccoli is finished cooking, drain it well and fold it into the quinoa.  Scoop mixture into prepared casserole dish.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese on the top for the last 5 minutes.


Tarragon Potato Salad

Tarragon Potato Salad

This recipe is inspired by Ina Garten’s Tarragon Potato Salad recipe, with just a few revisions.  I was looking for a potato salad recipe that incorporated red potatoes, tarragon, and a dressing that isn’t too heavy.  For this recipe, I used red potatoes instead of gold Yukon and omitted the dill and green onions.  All of Ina’s recipes are fabulous, so you can make it either way!


2 lbs. red potatoes

1 cup good mayonnaise (Best Foods is always my first choice!)

2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 T. white wine vinegar

Kosher salt

Black Pepper

Red onion, chopped

Fresh tarragon, minced

Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces (typically in eighths, depending on the size of your potatoes).  Boil them until just soft.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Let the potatoes cool.

Mix the mayonnaise, lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl.  Place the potatoes in a salad bowl.  Add the dressing and toss lightly.  Add the salt, pepper, onion, and tarragon, to taste.  Chill for at least two hours before serving.