easy

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.

Ingredients:

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.

National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day!

It’s National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day and I’ve been waiting for any excuse to make these again!  The brown sugar butter glaze caramelizes the top perfectly to make these sweet and luscious Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes.

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix (I used Betty Crocker’s Extra Moist Yellow Cake and highly recommend it!)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

20 oz. can of sliced pineapple, drained and reserve the juice

1/3 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

12 maraschino cherries, cut in half

24 baking cups

Spray the baking cups really well with non-stick cooking spray.

Drain the pineapple slices and set the juice aside.  Cut the pineapple rings into four pieces each.  Cut the maraschino cherries in half.

On low speed for 30 seconds, mix the cake mix, oil, eggs, and pineapple juice.  Continue mixing on medium speed for two minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar.  Put 1 1/2 tsp. of butter mixture into each baking cup.  Add a maraschino cherry in the center (round side down) and then add two pineapple slices on top of the cherry.  Lastly, add 1/4 cup of batter on top of everything.

Bake the cupcakes in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Flip the cupcakes upside down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Carefully remove the baking cup liners

Serve warm or at room temperature.  You’re ready for potluck time!

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

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.

Ingredients:

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!

Sloppy Joe Day!

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Today is National Sloppy Joe Day!  Our recipe, a twist on the classic, is made even better by using crescent rolls, instead of bread.  And only 5 ingredients are needed to make this easy, crowd-pleasing casserole!

A few years ago, I saw this recipe on a Pillsbury commercial.  I made it for Superbowl Sunday and it has been one of my staple potluck recipes ever since.  You can make it right before potluck time or slice it into squares, store in the fridge, and reheat before serving.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 – 15 oz. cans sloppy joe sauce

3 cans of crescent rolls

Grated cheddar cheese (you decide how much!)

Brown the beef and onions over medium low heat until the meat is browned and the onions are soft.  Drain off excess liquid.  Add in both cans of sloppy joe sauce and simmer until heated through.  Take off the burner and let the meat mixture cool completely (if you don’t, the heat will make your crescent rolls soggy).

Spray a 9 x 13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.  Unroll and place 1 1/2 cans of crescent rolls in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Using your fingers, press the seams of the crescent rolls together.  Spread the meat mixture on top of the rolls.  Top with cheese.

Unroll the remaining 1 1/2 cans of crescent rolls.  Press the seams of each square (made up of two triangular crescent rolls) and lay the individual squares on top of the casserole, slightly overlapping, if necessary.  They don’t have to be perfect.  The goal is to just have plenty of crescent roll squares covering the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let it cool before cutting into squares.  If you’re going to make ahead, make sure they are completely cooled, store in the fridge in an airtight container, and reheat right before potluck time!

 

Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes

make-ahead-mashed-potatoes

Every year, I do a lot of holiday cooking and it’s often difficult to get everything made, photographed, and written up before the holidays come and go.  So this year, I made sure to at least snap photos and promised myself to catch up later.  These are make ahead mashed potatoes, which can be made year round, but are absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving because you make them the day before (I’m all about prepping the day before and just popping everything into the oven on the big day)!

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.

Ingredients:

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!

Layer Bean Dip

layer-bean-dip

I love this dip because it’s so easy to make, it’s yummy, and I typically have all of the ingredients on hand anyway!  Made it for a potluck last Friday night.  Ran by the store on the way home to grab tortilla chips and whipped it up in five minutes.

Ingredients:

2 cans of refried beans

Taco seasoning or taco sauce

16 ozs. sour cream

Guacamole (optional)

1 jar of salsa

Shredded mexican blend cheese

1 jar of sliced black olives

Four green onions, sliced

Tortilla chips

Heat the beans in a pan and add taco seasoning or taco sauce (I had some leftover Del Taco sauce packets which worked great).  Let cool and spread in a square pan.  Add a layer of sour cream, a layer of guacamole (optional), and a layer of salsa.  Top with cheese, then black olives and green onions.

You can make ahead.  Store in the refrigerator until potluck time.  Serve with tortilla chips!

Quick and Easy Chocolate Oreo Truffles

Quick and Easy Oreo Truffles

Only 3 ingredients are needed for these Quick and Easy Chocolate Oreo Truffles!  You can keep it simple by rolling them in powdered sugar or get fancy with crushed candy, coconut, sprinkles, or nuts.

This recipe was provided by Sam from the Sugar and Sam Blog.  She and I share an affinity for chocolate and Cadbury Mini Eggs and I love her blog!  She has tons of fun recipes, so check out it out at http://sugarandsamblog.com.

Ingredients:

1 box of Oreos

3/4 cup (or 6 ozs.) of cream cheese, softened

Powdered sugar, nuts, crushed candy, or other ingredient of your choice, for rolling

Put all of your Oreos into a really good blender or food processor and blend until most of the big chunks are gone.  If you don’t have a blender or food processor, put them in a large ziploc bag and crush them using a rolling pin or the smooth side of a meat tenderizer.  Pour the crumbs into a large bowl.

Cut the cream cheese into small cubes and pour in the bowl with the crumbs.  Mix together until smooth.  Measure out approx. 1/8 cup (or use a melon baller) and roll into small balls.  Place them on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  Once they’re all rolled out (it should make approx. 24 balls), then roll them in powdered sugar or your favorite ingredient.

Place in an airtight container until Potluck Time!

 

 

 

Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu Chicken

Shoyu Chicken is a staple dish in Hawaiian plate lunches.  It’s easy to make and the flavors are simple, but it is so “Ono”!

I was recently reminded of how much I love Shoyu Chicken and how perfect it is for potlucks when Chelsea made it for a dinner.  It is typically served over rice.  However, you can show up to any potluck with or without the rice, and everyone will still love you for bringing this dish.

Thank you, Chelsea, for sharing this recipe!

Note:  Ingredients are listed per pound of chicken.  You will definitely want to double, triple, or quadruple the qty of ingredients, depending on how much chicken you have.

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 cup Aloha Shoyu (or you can use regular soy sauce instead; I prefer low sodium)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 T. minced garlic

2 T. ginger, crushed and minced (leave in big pieces if you don’t like to eat bits of ginger)

There are three options for cooking this recipe.  Choose any one as they are all great!:

#1 – Simmer slow and low on the stovetop for at least one hour.  The longer the better.

#2 – Cook in the electric pressure cooker for 13 minutes perfectly.

#3 – Cook in the slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours.

You’re ready for potluck time!

Sloppy Joe Crescent Roll Casserole

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Only 5 ingredients are needed to make this easy, crowd-pleasing Sloppy Joe Crescent Roll Casserole!  A few years ago, I saw this recipe on a Pillsbury commercial.  I made it for Superbowl Sunday and it has been one of my staple potluck recipes ever since.  You can make it right before potluck time or slice it into squares, store in the fridge, and reheat before serving.

Ingredients:

2 lbs. ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 – 15 oz. cans sloppy joe sauce

3 cans of crescent rolls

Grated cheddar cheese (you decide how much!)

Brown the beef and onions over medium low heat until the meat is browned and the onions are soft.  Drain off excess liquid.  Add in both cans of sloppy joe sauce and simmer until heated through.  Take off the burner and let the meat mixture cool completely (if you don’t, the heat will make your crescent rolls soggy).

Spray a 9 x 13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.  Unroll and place 1 1/2 cans of crescent rolls in the bottom of the casserole dish.  Using your fingers, press the seams of the crescent rolls together.  Spread the meat mixture on top of the rolls.  Top with cheese.

Unroll the remaining 1 1/2 cans of crescent rolls.  Press the seams of each square (made up of two triangular crescent rolls) and lay the individual squares on top of the casserole, slightly overlapping, if necessary.  They don’t have to be perfect.  The goal is to just have plenty of crescent roll squares covering the top of the casserole.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.  Let it cool before cutting into squares.  If you’re going to make ahead, make sure they are completely cooled, store in the fridge in an airtight container, and reheat right before potluck time!

 

Quick Bean Soup

Quick Bean Soup

Warm up your potluck with this Quick Bean Soup!  It’s hearty and flavorful, with just the right amount of heat, and is perfect for any fall or winter potluck.  It’s quick and easy to make and only 5 ingredients are needed.

This recipe is from an old cookbook of mine called “Just a Matter of Thyme.”  Every recipe that I have ever tried from this book has been fantastic.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef

1 onion, chopped

3 – 10 oz. cans minestrone soup

2 – 10 oz. cans Rotel tomatoes and chiles

2 – 15 oz. cans Ranch Style Beans

Brown the beef with the onion and drain off the fat.  Combine in a stock pot with the other ingredients and simmer for 1 hour.  Put it in a crockpot on the warm setting and you’re ready for potluck time.  And don’t forget the paper bowls and spoons!