Category Archives: Food

Super Easy Baked Potato Dinner

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Super Easy Baked Potato Dinner

Hello! After a long stint of craziness in my life, I have finally found some extra time and energy in the evenings to cook again. It makes me so happy to be able to make dinner and mine and Johnny’s wallets have been happy because we haven’t had to DoorDash in weeks! Despite having the additional time to cook, that doesn’t mean I want to spend all evening cooking and if the meal takes longer than a half hour to make than I say forget about it lol. The same goes for if the recipe has a million ingredients because that’s a hassle and a half too!

With my time and ingredient limit in mind, I racked my brain for dinners that I could make fairly effortlessly when putting in my curbside order. I came up with several, one of them being baked potatoes. I cannot tell you the last time I have had one and as soon as I thought about it, I was craving them something fierce. This past week, I made a baked potato meal with all of the fixings for me and Johnny and my dad and brother and it turned out SO bomb. 20/10 would make again! Check it out:

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Although baked potatoes are crazy easy to make, I have never made them before. In my youth, I remember my parents just sticking the potatoes in the oven and calling it a day. I wanted to make the 2.0 version, however, and began consulting different websites to find the best way to make them. The resounding theme that I found was to coat the potatoes in olive oil and seasoning and bake it on a foil lined sheet. I did just that and coated the skins with salt, pepper, parsley, and rosemary and let them bake for about an hour at 425 degrees. Once they were close to being done, I steamed broccoli and dinner was ready to go.

The final result of my baked potato effort was a huge hit and everyone who I cooked for loved it. The oil and seasoning truly made all of the difference. The skin of the potato was so crisp and flavorful and the inside was soft and fluffy – they were the dictionary definition of “just right”. This meal required no skill or thinking, but it was the favorite thing that I have made for my captive audience in a minute. Often times, simple is best when it comes to making dinner and this is one that I would definitely make again soon!

I have been working hard at setting small goals for myself and cooking was at the top of my list. I am beyond thrilled that I am holding true to my goal and accomplishing it and the reward is everyone enjoying what I am making. That’s the best part of all! ❤

What is your favorite easy dinner to make? What is your go to baked potato toppings? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

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Peanut Tofu With Coconut Rice

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Peanut Tofu With Coconut Rice

Hello!! The past almost three months of my life have been absolutely insane and one thing that fell by the wayside at home was cooking. After returning home from long days at the Cleveland Clinic, it was so much easier to DoorDash something or throw frozen food in the air fryer and call it a day. However, DoorDash was adding up and I was SO sick of not being able to make dinner because it’s one of my favorite things to do. I decided to really make an effort to begin cooking again with this past curbside order and I have been holding true to it.

On Tuesday, I made peanut tofu with coconut rice for my dad and me because Johnny hates both tofu and peanut butter lol. I have had this recipe by Nora Cooks saved on Pinterest for forever and was eager to finally try it out. It turned out pretty good and I would definitely make it again with a few adjustments. You can view the recipe here! Now, let’s get to it:

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When I am looking for new recipes on Pinterest, I save the ones that don’t require a ton of ingredients and are simple and fast to make. The peanut tofu with coconut rice met all of these requirements and delivered on what was promised – a meal made in thirty minutes. The prep work for this recipe was insanely minimal and the only things that needed chopped were the tofu and garlic. The rest of the tasks were stirring ingredients for the sauce, cooking instant rice, and throwing the tofu into the oven to bake. It was SO easy and the rice and sauce were made with time to spare while the tofu cooked for twenty-five minutes.

Although Johnny can’t stand peanut butter, he told me how good it smelled while I was cooking and it really did. By the time everything was ready, I was beyond ready to dig in! For a first try, I thought that this dish turned out as good as it could have. But, there were some things that I didn’t like. The sauce, for example, had ingredients in it like ginger, lime juice, and soy sauce, but all I could really taste was the peanut butter. I prefer when peanut sauce has a bit of bite to it so next time around, I will be adding some sesame oil and vinegar for more variety in the flavor.

This recipe turned out very saucy and when I make it again, I will add some veggies to absorb all of the excess. I plan on using steamed broccoli and sauteed yellow pepper and onion. This will also give the meal some more texture because it was fairly one dimensional. Be warned that this dish is very rich between the peanut butter and coconut milk used – I was full after a small serving!

While there are things that I will be changing in this recipe for the next time I make it, it is still one worth trying out and putting your own spin on. I am looking forward to making my 2.0 version soon!

Are you a tofu fan or no? Have you tried any new recipes recently? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Updated Vegetarian Cheesy Gordita Crunches

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Updated Vegetarian Cheesy Gordita Crunches

Hello!! Last year, I began making vegetarian cheesy gordita crunches as an homage to my beloved Taco Bell. It has become a staple in mine and Johnny’s dinner arsenal ever since, which is fine by me because they are so yummy and crazy easy to make. Also, can we talk about how freaking expensive Taco Bell is now? What used to be a constant in my life has quickly become an every once in a while thing because of it. While it saddens me deeply, I have upgraded my at home gordita game quite a bit and truly consider it to be a Taco Bell taste alike. Check it out:

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^^^ Note that Taco Bell doesn’t use sour cream on their gorditas. I love it though and the Daisy sour cream squeeze bottle is perfect for tacos!

Although I miss TBell something fierce, I do find comfort in the fact that some of their products are available in grocery stores like the taco seasoning and Baja sauce. It takes the edge off, but only slightly lol. I have already been using both of these when making my gordita crunches and the real game changer happened when I discovered Old El Paso made nacho cheese shells. My mind was blown during my last curbside order and so was Johnny’s! The nacho cheese cheesy gordita crunch is his go to order at Taco Bell. 🙂

When I made this dish last week, it was definitely the best ever. I love to cook, but I have never made anything that I considered to be even remotely close to a restaurant or fast food chain before. What made it even better was how simple it was to make. This dinner took under a half hour to prepare with minimal work involved. All I did was make the taco meat for Johnny, heat up vegetarian refried beans for me, and melt cheese lol. This is a meal that I am so fine cooking regardless of how busy my day is and the leftovers turn into more easy peasy dinners throughout the week. You can’t beat that!

With some upgraded ingredients, I was able to invoke the taste of Taco Bell from the comfort of my own kitchen. Even if the prices of TBell went down, I will absolutely still be making my taste alike cheesy gordita crunches at home! 😀

Do you have any restaurant or fast food taste alike recipes? What is your favorite dinner to cook? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

 

 

Simple Dinner: Homemade French Bread Pizza

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Simple Dinner: Homemade French Bread Pizza

Hello! My life is pretty crazy at the moment and it can be hard to find the time and energy to do much of anything once I return home for the day. One thing that always makes me feel good no matter how tired I am, though, is cooking dinner when I can. Earlier in the week, Johnny and I put in a curbside shopping order filled with all of our essentials and ingredients for me to make meals with. As soon as all of our groceries were put away, I got to work making homemade French bread pizzas as I wanted to use the loaf of bread we got at its freshest. They turned out SO good!

The cheese doesn’t look as melted as it actually was in these pictures and I will definitely keep them in the oven longer the next time around. I just didn’t want the pizzas to burn because I accidentally broiled them a bit too long in the first step. That was my bad because I actually should have baked it instead of broiled lol WHOOPS! Check it out:

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Ingredients:

1 loaf of French bread

Pizza sauce

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Butter

Garlic powder

Toppings

Step One: When I made jalapeno popper bread, I learned from the recipe to bake the bread with a melted butter and garlic powder spread to keep it from getting too hard. This was very effective and it kept the inside of the French bread soft and the outside nice and crisp. And, I repeat, BAKE not broil lol smh.

Step Two: Once the bread was taken out of the oven, I added pizza sauce, pepperoni for Johnny, and cheese, then put it back in the oven again to bake. Because of the broil catastrophe, I was monitoring my creation pretty closely and made the executive decision to take them out early. The cheese could have melted more, but it was an overall great first try!

Step Three: Enjoy!

This was such an easy and yummy dinner to make and was a fun twist on regular old pizza night. I really enjoyed my cheese French bread pizza and I know that Johnny loved his pepperoni ones because he asked me to make it again as soon as he was done eating. This is the best stamp of approval of all because my sweet husband is a fairly picky eater! I kept things simple in terms of toppings, but next time French bread pizza is on the menu, I will add some green pepper and red onion to mine; My favorite!

What is your favorite pizza topping? What is your go to simple dinner to make? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

 

Super Yummy Jalapeno Popper Bread

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Super Yummy Jalapeno Popper Bread

Hello!!! Things have been crazy and stressful in Lil Red’s world and, thankfully, there appears to be a clearing in the woods. This past Thursday, I was so happy to finally have the time to cook something! Despite loving to cook for Johnny and myself, it is often one of the first things that falls by the wayside when life gets too busy. I have several recipes that I bought groceries for and decided to keep things simple by making some jalapeno popper bread. It was SO easy, cheesy, and delicious and I wanted to share it with all of you for a meal or snack that took barely ten minutes to prepare! Check it out:

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This recipe is compliments of Kami at NoBiggie and can be found on this link!

One of mine and Johnny’s favorite meals is jalapeno popper quesadillas. Naturally, we like any variation of cheese and jalapenos so when I saw the recipe for jalapeno popper bread on Pinterest, I was eager to try it out! When scouring for new food to make on Pinterest, I like to find recipes with minimal ingredients and prep time. The popper bread recipe boasted both of these requirements with only eight ingredients, ten minutes of prep, and about fifteen minutes of baking. I could definitely swing that!

To make my popper bread, I purchased a gorgeous loaf of artisan cheese bread from Giant Eagle’s bakery. I already had several of the ingredients listed, but I was also in need of pickled jalapenos and found a jar of sweet heat ones that were really tasty. To start, I cut the bread in half and brushed it with melted butter and garlic powder and let it bake for five minutes. During that time, I mixed up the mozzarella cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and jalapenos to top it off with. This spread was then applied to the bread and it went back into the oven to bake. Done and done.

While the bread baked, I monitored it pretty closely because our oven has the habit of burning things as soon as your back is turned. It was so satisfying to watch the ooey gooey cheese bubble and brown and it couldn’t bake fast enough; I was starving! I knew that the bread was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be freaking mind blowing. The cheese mixture had the consistency and flavor of a white pizza, the jalapenos added some kick, and the bread was crisp without being tough. It was SO yummy and filling too. I was full after a one third size piece!

I would happily make this recipe again and cannot recommend it enough. In fact, I plan on buying another loaf of bread to use up the rest of the ingredients as soon as we are out of leftovers. Thanks again to Kami of NoBiggie for sharing this!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? Do you have a favorite food blogger? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Indian Cooking Class At Stir Studio Kitchen

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Indian Cooking Class At Stir Studio Kitchen

Hello! Indian food is one of my favorite things to eat, but is something that I have never tried to cook before. Sure, I have recipes for some of the dishes I like on Pinterest, however, I never took the plunge to buy the ingredients. Some of them are pretty expensive and I could never justify it before because Johnny isn’t an Indian food fan (He never tried it and never wanted to!). This all changed this past weekend, however, because I learned how to make some Indian dishes at a cooking class and, surprisingly, Johnny loved the leftovers! With this newfound knowledge, maybe I will prepare Indian food at home yet! Check it out:

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On Friday, my aunt and I both attended a three hour Indian cooking class at Stir Studio Kitchen in Hudson. There were ten students in total and we were taught by a very skilled chef named Zack. During our class, we learned how to make naan, tikka masala, and palak paneer. We were also treated to kulfi ice cream for dessert made by our teacher. The class was amazing and while it was fun to cook, it was even more fun to enjoy the meal we made together – we were all starving by the time everything got plated up!

To begin our class, we prepared the dough for the naan, which was incredibly easy and moved onto veggie prep while the dough settled. While we all had our individual naan, the veggies we chopped would go into the tikka masala and palak paneer for us to share. For these dishes, we chopped up onion, garlic, red pepper, chili pepper, ginger, and tomato. Zack also taught us about the proper techniques for using a chef’s knife as well as tips and tricks for easier, more efficient veggie prep. My mind was blown when we set the garlic underneath the knife blade, hit it, and it unpeeled. 😀

As our veggies cooked, Zack introduced us to all of the spices that we would be using. We had to try and guess all of them and while the group was able to identify several, there were many that left us stumped! This was a very interesting section and one of my favorites. Zack was such a knowledgeable and fun teacher and it was cool to learn about the spices and where they came from and why they are used. Throughout the class, Zack taught us all about the chemistry that makes the ingredients activate with each other and it was so neat to learn about food in a completely different way.

Once our crash course on spices was complete, it was time to roll out our dough for the naan and bake it. To do this, we fried them on a completely dry cast iron pan with a bit of flour on it. Then, we spread a mixture of butter, chives, and garlic over top to create the final product. While other students were baking their naan, I got to help Zack out by using an immersion blender on the tikka masala and that was a hoot! As a vegetarian, I got to taste test it before chicken got added and a special dish was set aside for me so I could have it with chickpeas. It was delicious and made me even hungrier!

While everyone finished up with their naan, Zack began to plate up our food with jasmine rice and all that was left to do was eat! When it comes to my Indian food order from my favorite restaurant, The Saffron Patch, I always get the same thing because it’s too good not to. I have tried palak paneer and tikka masala before, but it has never been as yummy as this! The tikka masala was spicy and bold and the palak paneer had a cooler heat that paired beautifully together. I liked the palak paneer the best and, of course, the homemade naan was divine.

By the time our dessert of kulfi ice cream was passed out, everyone was bursting at the seams partially from fullness and pride at our handiwork. Under Zack’s expertise, we created a meal together that was better than any restaurant I have ever been to. I enjoyed my experience at Stir so much and would happily take another class there again!

Have you attended a cooking class before? What did you make? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Do Pickles Go On Pizza? YES!

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Do Pickles Go On Pizza? YES!

Hello!! Sunday is mine and Johnny’s day of rest before it’s back to the grind. We watch TV and movies all day and DoorDash dinner and it is one of my favorite times of the week. At least until 5 PM, anyway, then it starts sinking in that we have to go to work the next day! For the past several weeks, I have been asking Johnny if we could try out a new to us pizza place called the Twisted Tomato and he finally agreed to give it a shot. It was SO insanely good and pats on the back for me because right away, Johnny said we need to get it again! Check it out:

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The Twisted Tomato features a pizza called the Peter Piper Pickle Pizza, which has mozzarella and provolone cheese, a white garlic sauce, dill pickle slices, and Italian seasoning. About a year ago, a Facebook friend of mine posted a picture of it with his recommendations and I screenshotted the post with every intention of trying it. Then, I forgot lol. It wasn’t until I started my new job working with an online directory at the beginning of this year when I remembered because Twisted Tomato has a listing in our food and dining section. I love my new gig and I love it even more that it led me to mine and Johnny’s new favorite eatery!

After scouring the menu on Saturday night, I decided to go with the pickle pizza and an order of their Rotini in a creamy pesto sauce on Sunday. Johnny went for a personalized calzone and cheesy bread, but it was incredibly hard for both of us to narrow our choices down because everything looked so delicious! Our food arrived quickly and even our DoorDash driver, the incomparable Frank, told us how good it smelled haha we almost invited him in for a slice and screening of HELP! 😀

I can’t speak for Johnny’s calzone because it had meat in it, but everything else in the order was freaking incredible. The answer to the question of if pickles belong on pizza is a resounding YES. The pickle pizza took my taste buds around the world with dilly, garlicky goodness and the combination was just right. The pickle flavor wasn’t overpowering and it just enhanced all of the other ingredients. Because I didn’t know if it would be a love or hate situation, I ordered a small pickle pizza. However, Johnny and I both liked it so much that we will have to get a bigger size next time!

The creamy pesto sauce for the Rotini was also really yummy and was a blend of Alfredo and pesto sauce. I have never tried anything like it before and it was good, but not as garlicky as I prefer. I will give their plain pesto a try next time so it won’t be diluted with the cream sauce. Another definite reorder item was the cheesy bread, which was probably one of the best I have ever tried from a pizza place. The layer of cheese was so thick and the dipping sauce was sweet, making for a perfectly savory/sweet blend with each bite.

Lazy Sunday was a raging success this past weekend and I think that Johnny and I will be frequenting the Twisted Tomato often. I have a feeling that I will be getting the pickle pizza every time!

What is your favorite specialty pizza shop? What are your favorite pizza toppings? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

 

Valentine’s Day Chocolate

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Valentine’s Day Chocolate

Hello everyone and Happy Valentine’s Day! Last week, I spent a wonderful free afternoon making chocolate with my mother-in-law. This was the second time I have made chocolate with Johnny’s mom and it was even more fun and satisfying than I remember from our Christmas candy session. Johnny finally brought home the end results of our handiwork this past weekend and our Valentine’s Day chocolate came out perfectly, if I do say so myself! Check it out:

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Making your own chocolate can be as easy or intricate as you would like it to be. You can take your time and paint details into the molds or you could simply pour the melted chocolate in and call it a day. Johnny’s mom and I did a healthy combination of both methods and the most time consuming project was definitely the pretzel rods. The molds took forever to paint but they turned out so nice that I wasn’t complaining! They were also freaking delicious and are my favorite creation from the batch. 😀

Johnny’s mom is no stranger to making chocolate and used to have her own small candy business with a friend. And, I’m sure if she wanted to, she could open her own candy shop now with her stockpile of chocolate wafers, molds, and supplies. I was surprised to learn that all of her chocolate making gear comes from Mr. Bulky’s, which is a bulk candy store in our area, as the name suggests lol. I had no idea that her craft was so attainable and affordable and it makes me want to go out and buy my own supplies. However, I would much rather spend more time making chocolates together with Johnny’s mom, instead! ❤

I am insanely proud of how my chocolate came out and I am so looking forward to making Easter chocolate at chez in-laws next month. We will also have a special guest because my niece, Val Gal, is going to join us. I can’t wait for her to take part in the chocolate making fun too!

What is your favorite kind of candy? What kind of chocolate do you prefer? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Chocolate Making Fun

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Chocolate Making Fun

Hello!! Last Thursday, I spent what felt like my first free-ish afternoon in forever making homemade chocolate with my mother-in-law. It was SO much fun! Johnny’s mom is amazing at making chocolate and used to have her own small candy business with a friend. We made Christmas chocolates together a few years ago and had plans to do the same this past holiday season. Unfortunately, both of Johnny’s parents came down with a nasty bout of the flu so we opted for Valentine’s Day candy, instead. Take a look at some of my chocolate creations:

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When I got to my in-laws after a short shift, Johnny’s mom had all of our supplies ready to go. The chocolate wafers were melting, paintbrushes of every size were procured, and a crazy amount of V-Day molds were in place to make confectionery magic. It had been a while since I tried my hand at making chocolate and, I admit, I was a bit nervous that I had lost my touch. However, I forgot just how easy making chocolate actually is and quickly picked up where we left off the last time.

To start, I decided to make some lollipops while my MIL made salted caramel hearts filled with caramel that I can’t freaking wait to try!! I began with the smaller molds that had the “Love” and heart details. I painted in the small parts of the mold with a tiny brush and colored chocolate, then let it harden in the fridge for a minute or two. Afterwards, all that was left was to add the stick, fill the remainder of the mold with melted chocolate, and stick it back in the fridge. And voila! Once it hardens, you have a handmade chocolate sucker. 😀

I had so much fun with the lollies that I wanted to make more and did the big hearts with roses next. Then, Johnny’s mom suggested that I make the chocolate boxes so we could fill them with little chocolate hearts. While I painted the lids, my MIL made tons of itty bitty hearts to make what I think of as a chocolate treasure chest. I am so excited to give my niece one for a Valentine’s Day surprise!

Although I had free time that afternoon, I was still on a bit of a time crunch and we concluded our time together by making pretzel rods. This was pretty tedious because the molds were quite intricate and required a lot of painting. I just know they are going to turn out adorable, though, with painted on white, light pink, hot pink, and red hearts. I love everything about making chocolate but I can live without waiting until seeing the end result lol.

I had such a blast with my mother-in-law and we already have our sights set on an Easter candy making session. I am even bringing my niece, Val Gal, to join in and I am so looking forward to it! ❤

Have you ever made chocolate before? What is your favorite kind of candy? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Brand New Pizza Experience

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Brand New Pizza Experience

Hello!! After a whirlwind experience this past week of both good and bad oven pizza, Johnny and I wrapped things up with a brand new to me pie: Little Caesars. All of last week, we had been planning on watching the wrestling Royal Rumble on Saturday purely for shits and gigs. It was actually a hoot and we might just become wrestling people because it was so funny! Anyways, we decided to order some pizza because a friend was coming by for the big show and Johnny suggested Little Caesars. I had never tried it before and was, honestly, very ambivalent – so, you can imagine my surprise when it was the friggen bomb!

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When Johnny and I order out, pizza is usually our way to go because then he can take the leftovers for his lunch at work. While we are partial to Domino’s and Papa John’s, I was totally fine with switching things up for our Royal Rumble meal purely from a cost perspective. A large cheese pizza, a large pepperoni, a meat deep dish, and crazy bread was only THIRTY DOLLARS from Little Ceasars and you just can’t beat that. For price alone, Little Caesars was already winning but I still held my reservations because how can something so cheap be good? However, one bite in made me eat my words.

Johnny recommended the cheese Extra Most Bestest (and yes, I felt just as dumb typing it as I did saying it!) and it did not disappoint. The crust was fairly thin and crisp, there was a perfect amount of sauce, and it was smothered in cheesy delight. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t that! I told Johnny that this was like a fifty percent improvement from oven pizza and he agreed. This wasn’t a putdown, though, but a compliment. Your girl loves oven pizza so if anything tastes better than that, I consider it a victory. 😀

Watching the Royal Rumble paired with Little Ceasars was the night in that I didn’t know I needed. If you haven’t tried LC and are feeling wishy washy about it, then I highly recommend going for it. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and that’s going to make it even better!

What is your go to take out order? What is your favorite pizza franchise? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah