Happy Food is Homemade Food

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Bacon Jerky !!!

Bacon Jerky !!!

OMG Bacon!!! Bacon is so diverse with so many amazing preparations. This is everyone’s favorite part of pork, and if anyone says differently, there is a good chance they are lying. I honestly had to seriously edit down my intro in my video because I […]

Lemon Zucchini Quinoa

Lemon Zucchini Quinoa

I am sure I am not the only person that hates the super hot, humid, muggy days of Ohio summers. I am also sure that I am not the only gardener that has had too many zucchini ripen at the exact same time and needs […]

Strawberry Basil Salsa and Sweet Chips

Strawberry Basil Salsa and Sweet Chips

Spring has Sprung!

This also means grocery stores and farmers markets everywhere are again able to stock super fresh and seasonal and local produce. I can never seem to fully appreciate the extra sweetness and flavor of the ripe berries when they come in season each spring. The difference of a strawberry in May (vs January) is astounding!

And of course my love of basil is still so real! Anyone that has checked out my basil pesto recipe knows how much I love basil! The early spring, when all the garden stores give me plant envy is always tempting because my six week seedlings look nothing like the much bigger and robust basil plants that have popped up in stores seemingly overnight.

When it comes to spring recipes, what could be better than the combination of two of my favorite produces? Strawberry and Basil!!! These are two ingredients that I have randomly noticed frequent menus together, most often in sweet tooth settings 🙂

It wasn’t until a month or so ago I actually had the inspiration to try them together. I had made a quick WFM stop for fresh basil (the day I made the Italian Sausage Pizza Burgers) and impulse bought some amazingly fresh strawberries on a great sale. Because of my love of all things basil, I naturally had to smell it as I walked to my car. For some reason I did this with the strawberries too. The smell of the basil was still fresh in mind when I smelled the strawberries, and this really got me thinking. They smelled amazing separate, but smelled somehow even better together?!?!

Any onlookers in the parking lot must have been thinking I was nuts.

Anyway, this recipe came to be with a few taste tests and some experimentations (pro tip: salt does not help this recipe!) I was originally thinking the strawberry basil salsa would go super well with a sugar cookie or shortbread cookie (and I totally think they would flavor wise!) but chips and salsa are like peanut butter and jelly. This salsa needed a chip.

During one of my self cooking/learning phases, I went on a bit of a Chipotle copycat recipe bender. During this delicious stage of my life I learned a super great way to make fresh chips at home. I adapted (only slightly) that method to make the crunchy sweet chips included here! Basically, I swapped the salt and lime juice in my chipotle copycat chip for sugar and cinnamon 🙂 Yummy!

My pro-tip for serving this delicious recipe? Wait to combine the strawberry sauce with the fresh strawberries and basil until right before serving! You can totally pre dice the produce and pre mix the sauce and pre make the chips for ease of recipe prep. Waiting to mix the sauce until serving time really helps keep this fruit salsa feeling super fresh and keep the natural texture of the fresh strawberries. In my opinion, this recipe is best the day it is made 🙂

I really hope this delicious, sweet, fresh, fruity combo is something you and your friends and family will enjoy again and again! Please like, share, comment, and subscribe for more delicious recipes to come!

Strawberry Basil Salsa and Sweet Chips

  • 1 Pound Strawberries, small dice
  • 1/2 ounce Basil, chiffonade/dice
  • 12 pack Uncooked Tortillas, cut into 1/8 ths
  • Olive Oil (or other oil of your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Granulated Sugar, 1/2 cup
  • Powdered Sugar, 1/4 cup
  • 1 Tablespoon Strawberry Preserve/Jam/Jelly
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lime
  1. Chips
    1. Separate and cut uncooked tortillas into ‘chip shaped pieces’ or 1/8 ths
    2. Mix granulated sugar and cinnamon
    3. Layer tortillas in bowl with cinnamon-sugar mixture and splashes of oil
    4. MIX! This may take a few minutes with tongs or slightly less time if you get your hands messy
    5. Single layer chips onto parchment paper and bake at 350 for about ten minutes, flipping after fiveish minutes
  2. Strawberry and Basil Prep
    1. Strawberries require a simple cleaning/removal of the greens and a small dice. You want the dice small enough to be easily scoopable with the chips
    2. Basil is easiest to dice if you first roll it into a cigar like shape to chiffonade it (ribbon like pieces) then cross cut it to make a quick dice. See video at 3:20 for visual details
  3. Sauce
    1. Combine strawberry preserves, powdered sugar, and lime juice with a wisk until well combined
  4. Combine sauce with diced strawberries and basil just before serving
  5. Dip that Chip and ENJOY!!!

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Italian Sausage Pizza Burger

Italian Sausage Pizza Burger

So Pizza Friday is basically a rule at my house. In some fashion, we are having pizza on Friday. Sometimes we make pizza, sometimes we have Stromboli filled with many meats, and sometimes the dirty dishes have overflowed the kitchen and we go out for […]

Potato Bacon Soup

Potato Bacon Soup

What can be better? Warm creamy soup, soft bites of potatoes, and bacon. SO MUCH BACON! Potato soup is something that makes me think of spending time in the kitchen with my parents, specifically with my Dad. I don’t know where DOD (Dear ‘Ol Dad) […]

Hearty Midwestern Pot Roast

Hearty Midwestern Pot Roast

Cold and snowy Ohio mornings always make me crave warm comfort food. Beef Pot Roast is probably the meal my mom made most frequently when I was growing up and something about it always reminds me of my childhood home. The mere thought of a warm, rich, hearty bowl of pot roast is practically nostalgia at its core.

I am Ohio born and raised. I spent the majority of my childhood in a small town with lots of farms and livestock fields nearby. My sister were 4H members and I showed our pygmy goats in the local fair. We didn’t have quite the farm experience where there were lawnmower races (as seen in The Prince and Me starring Julia Stiles) but I think it is the closest movie example to some of my childhood midwestern experiences.

Beef Pot roast is a classic slow cooker meal that offers a super easy prep. The real rock star is the slow cooker itself.  It works magic over a number of hours and transforms the inexpensive piece of meat into a tender fall apart dinnertime meal. I like to prep this recipe before work then set it to low on the slow cooker so it is ready and waiting when I get home.

Today I am sharing my moms homemade pot roast recipe with two updates of my own 🙂 

To get started, you really only need a few ingredients:

  • Beef Chuck Roast
  • POTATOES! This is a meat and potato meal! It needs the potatoes to be a great pot roast!
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Onion (my addition–my dad hates onions so my mom never cooks with them)
  • Beef Broth (my mom uses a can of premade gravy in her pot roast)
  • Salt and Pepper

Making a pot roast really is that easy! Note: I forgot to show where I added the salt and pepper! (I accidentally took a picture instead of the video I intended) No salt and this is a really bland meal. I recommend you season all the sides of your beef roast with salt and pepper, then season the veggies with salt as you add them into the slow cooker.

OOPS! I thought I was taking a video!

The first non optional ingredient is obviously the beef itself. Bonus, you basically cant buy the wrong beef for this recipe. Today I used a beef chuck roast (it was on sale recently) but over the years we have used shoulder roast, rump roast, or pretty much any inexpensive beef roast (that has not been sliced in steaks) and still ended up with a great pot roast. Using a slow cooker to easily tenderize a less expensive, tough cut of beef can also be a great budget stretcher!

As I said in the video, you cannot have a good pot roast without the potatoes. I actually had to run to the store this morning for more potatoes because I forgot why I had the potatoes set aside and made potato soup yesterday with the ones originally intended for todays dinner. OOPS! I am not a morning person but the potatoes are exactly that necessary if you want the perfect pot roast. I used red potatoes today, but most potatoes will work well in this dish. Russet or Idaho potatoes are great, and I think my dad even made this for us a few times with the yellow Yukon gold potatoes.

What is optional (in my opinion) is if you are missing one of the following: the onion, the carrots, or the celery. Notice I said OR. I think each of these veggies bring something to the table. Traditionally, these three aromatic veggies are called a mirepoix when paired together. While I recommend using all three, you will still end up with a good pot roast if you omit one of the three (remember–my mom never cooks with onion because my dad hates them!)

Also optional is a finishing dash of fresh chopped parsley added as you dish up each serving. I forget which guest cook on Rachael Ray said it a few years back, but it is true–finishing slow cooker meals with a touch of something fresh brightens the entire meal. Plus since we all eat with our eyes first, this tiny addition makes the whole meal look even better!

Hearty Midwestern Pot Roast!

Ingredients:

  • Beef Chuck Roast, I used 2 pounds as I am cooking for 2 and I did not want leftovers, Use up to a 5 pound beef roast to feed more people or to have leftovers
  • 2 pounds of Potatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 pound Carrots, sliced
  • 6 stalks or 1/2 a bunch of Celery, sliced
  • Onion, rough chop
  • Beef Broth, I used just less than 1.5 cups, a bigger roast will benefit from a full 16 ounce container
  • Generous seasoning of Salt and Pepper
  1. Layout and prep ingredients, see video for visual suggestions on how to cut veggies (rough chop/quarter)
  2. Generously salt and pepper outside of beef roast
  3. Layer bottom of Slow Cooker with some of each veggie (potato, carrot, celery, onion) and add salt
  4. Place S&P Beef roast in middle of Slow Cooker, surround with remaining vegetables, add another pinch of salt to vegetables only
  5. Turn on Slow Cooker
    1. Use Low if you have six to eight hours
    2. Use High is you have only four or five hours
  6. Go to work/clean house/take a nap while the Slow Cooker is working its magic for you
  7. Optional: Add fresh cut parsley when plating
  8. Enjoy!

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Semi-Homemade Stromboli

Semi-Homemade Stromboli

Friday nights at my house are almost always deemed Pizza Night. We love this one consistency in our weekly meal planning. And also at the end of a long work week, my husband and I usually find ourselves looking for a simple, no decision making […]

Easy Weeknight Ramen

Easy Weeknight Ramen

Cold weather and busy work days sometimes make it a bit hard to get a fast dinner ready on a week night. This fast soup is the perfect remedy! I take your typical store bought 25 cent ramen packet, toss out the weird ‘chicken’ flavor […]

Super Easy Pork Ribs

Super Easy Pork Ribs

I met my husband almost ten years ago (!?!?!) and his family shortly thereafter. Drew’s mom, my mother-in law, Debbie, makes some of THE BEST Pork Ribs. Like seriously, I never really liked BBQ sauce as a kid but these ribs changed that (my unbreakable bond with Ketchup has a much longer history) These ribs were probably served at one of the very first dinners I ate with the Hitchcocks, and let me say, paired with Montgomery Inn BBQ was a such game changer! I probably could have asked sooner, but I don’t think I had the courage to ask her for the (in my mind) super secret ribs recipe until after Drew and I got married.

And yes, I also double checked she was OK with me sharing it too 🙂 !

The simple ingredient list is this: Pork Ribs, Thyme, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper, and BBQ. Want it even easier? There is effectively no measuring! We just eyeball it, and give thin even layers of each spice on both sides of the rib meat. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, cover, and bake at 275 degrees for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, heat the BBQ, and serve! Today I fed these ribs to my hubby with a side of asparagus, but the best sides are warm kettle chips and buttered broccoli! (As you may have just guessed, this is what Debbie always serves as sides!)

Wondering what the ‘eyeball’ measuring looks like? Go to 01:25 in the above video for a demonstration!

These ribs are the most requested dinner that my husband and I give Debbie anytime she asks. I even served them on Christmas Day when I hosted my side of the family for dinner! All around, everyone loves them!

A few key secrets I have for choosing the perfect ribs at the store:

  • look for the thickest meat filled ribs
  • gander at the white bits of fat
    • the meat should be marbled with fat when you look at the side of the meat
    • the outside should be mostly the pink/red pork color, should not be a solid white layer of fat (I give the completely opposite tip for my pork belly)
  • try to pick a rack with smallish bones (the meat is what you really want!!!) you do this by really feeling the meat
  • aim for about 1 pound/person
    • this provides room for shrinkage as the fat cooks away, allows for the weight of the bones to be removed, and usually provides enough leftovers for me to have lunch tomorrow 😉

For us, Montgomery Inn BBQ sauce is the way to go. I am not sponsored to say this, their sauce is just truly that good. It is very smooth, thick, and has a sweetness balanced by a bit of a vinegary tang–overall very mild, not spicy! My In-Laws have lived in/near Cincinnati for their whole lives and I have spent basically all of my adult years both in Cincinnati and with the Hitchcocks so this Cincy based hometown BBQ just maybe has something to do with our preference for this brand. Please tell me in the comments if you have a favorite BBQ!

 

Super Easy Pork Ribs

Ingredients

  • Pork Ribs, super meaty
  • Thyme
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water (for baking)
  • Montgomery Inn BBQ
  1. Set out all ingredients, take Pork Ribs out of packaging
  2. Use super scientific eyeball method of measuring to add thin layers of thyme/garlic powder/sale/pepper to both sides of ribs. See 01:25 in video for visual reference
  3. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the baking pan, cover with foil
  4. Bake low and slow: 275 degrees for three to three and a half hours for maximum meat-falls-off-the-bones tenderness
  5. Warm the BBQ and enjoy!

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Homemade Chili from Scratch (No Seasoning Packet!)

Homemade Chili from Scratch (No Seasoning Packet!)

Happy January! Todays high was 15 degrees, the low this evening will be -4 degrees and my yard is pleasantly covered with a good 5ish inches of fresh snow. This is the bitter winter weather that calls for an evening cuddling in front of a […]