Happy Food is Homemade Food


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 […]

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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚ 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 šŸ™‚

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 šŸ™‚ 

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!


  • 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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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 […]

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 good show after a hearty bowl of some bone warming chili šŸ™‚

There was a joke growing up that if my sister or I made soup before a snow storm then my dad (the superintendent) would have to cancel school the next day. I can assure you that any cancelling of school was completely coincidental and 100% weather related šŸ™‚ Nevertheless soup was always fun. My Dad was always the ‘Chili’ maker growing up. It always had tomatoes and ground beef, sometimes had beans, and never had onions or peppers.

Mine is a bit different. I think I first made chili for myself in college on a cold snow day. I learned with the chili seasoning packet spices just like Dad. As I began using more jared spices in my mid twenties, I realized that I was already stocking all of the spices typically found in those seasoning packets. Several years and quite a few batches of chili later, I have come to love this great mild Chili that is hearty, versatile, and super easy to make.

The only fresh ingredients needed to make a great chili are onions and jalapeƱos (and the jalapeƱos are optional). Everything else is super easy to keep on hand between the pantry and freezer. I like to stock up on the various canned tomato products when they go on sale. Just last week I was able to buy the 14.5 ounce canned tomatoes for just 0.69 cents per can! I do the same with the ground beef. I combined a good sale with coupons and was able to get five packs of the ground beef for just $4.49 each. Pull the cans from the pantry and the beef from the freezer when you are ready to try this recipe!

You need only a few spices: Chili Powder, Cumin, Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper. Plus salt. As is the name of the dish, the Chili Powder is the most used of these. Despite the name and the amount used it won’t actually make a super spicy stew! The Cayenne Pepper helps add a bit more spice too. I prefer my spice level relatively low, just enough heat to make my nose run by the end of a hearty bowl (sorry if that is TMI). The cumin brings a bit of another spice element, combining with the meat/beans/onions to make you think you are eating a bit of tex-mex. And I have found that onion powder is easier to control than fresh garlic cloves when it comes to a good chili.

The only real prep is giving the onion and jalapeƱos some rough dicing. I used a mid size yellow onion that was about 2/3rds pound. The three jalapeƱos came in at 1/5th pound before I cut the stems off and removed the seeds and ribs. You can use more jalapeƱo, not remove the ribs and seeds, or choose a spicier pepper to get more heat. The easiest way to remove the seeds and ribs is to firmly peel it out with a spoon. Then to dice, I recommend you first julienne the pepper longways (make long thin strips or match stick size pieces) then cross cut to dice.

The chili transforms somewhat quickly once we start adding ingredients into the soup pot. Start with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil, the diced onion, and medium heat. Stir the onion frequently. Our goal is to merely soften the onions, not brown them. Four or five minutes into this add all of the jalapeƱos and keep stirring.

Once the jalapeƱos start softening it is time to get all of the spices into the mix. The heat will give the spices a slight toast and help infuse their flavors into the entire dish. Stir to combine and let the heat wake up the spices for just a minute or so.

My secrets for the thick texture I like is to add the beef stock then add the ground beef uncooked. Also, instead of a spatula to break down the meat I use my potato masher. This combo almost dissolves the ground beef into the stew as it cooks and really thickens the Chili.

Yes, dissolving meat in broth sounds terrible, but you have to trust me here. This will be a great texture! The best mainstream comparison I can offer is that of Cincinnati Style Chili, AKA Skyline or Gold Star. Note: I am not finished yet! We still have the tomatoes and beans to add!

Get ready! We are almost done! I add tomato paste (rich and thick), a double can of crushed tomatoes (super thick texture), tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes (bigger pieces add texture). If you can find them, I like to use at least one can of fire roasted tomatoes. I think the hint of smokyness adds that something something to the finished product.

If using canned beans take a moment and rinse the beans before adding to the stew. I swear something about the cloudy water and bean funk at the bottom of the can changes the flavor if you let it in the dish. It is also a habit I started because dozens of other recipes recommend it too. If I have more time I do like to soak my own dry kidney beans. When I do this I always make extra and keep some in the freezer.

Here is the hard part. We need to let the mix simmer and reduce a bit to thicken up a bit more. The chili smells so good and tempting already! It still needs some time and taste testing though. The picture on the right shows just how thick I like my Chili. I think a really good Chili should be like a thick meat stew that can really be piled high!

Also, you may have noticed the lack of any salt being added thusfar. I love soups of many kinds and adding too much salt can quickly ruin an otherwise great soup. I am especially conscious of this when using so many canned items simultaneously. I taste test while the Chili is simmering and add salt to taste, plus check on the other spices levels too. I needed two tablespoons salt today (note, the double can of crushed tomatoes was salt free).

The versatility of this semi mild chili can really be shown in the way you serve it. This Chili can be served on top of french fries/baked potato/pasta/Macaroni and cheese. You can top it many ways, including but not limited to diced avocado, extra jalapeƱos, cheese, sour cream, oyster crackers, or guacamole. Or you can serve it as is next to a grilled cheese or peanut butter sandwich. There are so many different combos you can make! Today I served it with some al dente bucatini pasta, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of cheese. Dad almost always served his Chili with peanut butter sandwiches or cheese and oyster crackers. Pro tip: dipping a PB sandwich into the chili is an odd yet satisfying sweet/salty/spicy combo that just seems to work!

Happy Chili making! I hope this recipe helps warm up your snowy winter days!


Homemade Chili (No Seasoning Packet!)

  • 1 Diced Yellow Onion
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Diced JalapeƱos, optional, quantity is your choice (I use 3)
  • 5 Tablespoons Chili Powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 can Beef Broth
  • 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 6ounce can Tomato Paste
  • 4 cans of Tomatoes
    • I used a double size can of crushed tomatoes, plus one each of tomato sauce and fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 cans rinsed Kidney Beans


  1. Peel then dice Yellow Onion
  2. Wash JalapeƱos, remove ribs and seeds, julienne, then dice
  3. Pre-measure your dry spices
  4. Add oil and onion into soup pot, stir, cook til onion softens, about 4-5 minutes
  5. Add JalapeƱos, stir, add all of the spices about one minute later, stir
  6. Add Beef Broth, then ground beef, combine using a potato masher (its a texture thing-details above)
  7. Add all the various canned tomatoes, stir
    1. tomato paste
    2. crushed tomatoes (2 cans)
    3. tomato sauce
    4. diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  8. Simmer, and periodically stir and taste for seasoning, add salt and or other spices as needed
  9. Once reduced to desired thickness serve as is or with choice of topping/sandwich/side (suggestions above)

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Homemade Three Ingredient Dark Chocolate

Homemade Three Ingredient Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is basically woman’s best friend. It helps cheer up a bad day, celebrate a good day, and pairs just as well with breakfast coffee and pancakes as it does with dessert ice cream or wine. Plus, as an added bonus, it even provides you […]