Category Archives: Main Dishes

Smoked Meatloaf

My husband LOVES to smoke stuff.  He doesn’t care what….anything.  He’s tried to convince me to bake a cake for him to smoke…….I really haven’t felt the need to mesquite smoke chocolate cake though…..

We decided to smoke a meatloaf for some friends, they results were AMAZING!

So here is the recipe….This could be used for the oven as well…..Which is how I use to do it, but that way is now the way of the past.

This recipe feeds 6-8.

First take 2 pounds of ground beef and 1 pound of sausage and put in a bowl, add 3/4 cup of bread crumbs or crushed tortilla chips.  (if you use tortilla chips cut back on the salt later on)


Now is a separate bowl combine:

  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire
  • 1 Teaspoon of Soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon of Oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon of Basil
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt (1/2 teaspoon if used salted chips for the breadcrumbs)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Mustard
  • 1/3 cup of finely diced Onion
  • 4 Eggs

Pour this mixture into the meat, mix well.


Now put in loaf pan and put into fridge for about 30 minutes to help it take shape.

Take out the pan and flip into a pan that will catch the grease, and that can go in a smoker.


I used a 13×9 Cake pan.  Now put in the heated smoker that is set at 225 for about three hours.  It will be done when it reaches 165 on the inside.  (To bake in oven 375, 45-50 mins)

Remove from grease filled pan and put on clean cookie sheet or cutting board to cut.


Now just cut and serve, and be prepared to be amazed….




Marinara Sauce, and so much of it..

I am a big fan of spaghetti, or lasagna, or pizza…really anything with Marinara Sauce…..

I also like making a large amount of it at once, and then freezing the rest…..this recipe makes a bit over a gallon of sauce…I usually get 6-8 bags to freeze out of this recipe.

This recipe does take a few hours, but it’s worth it to have a couple of weeks of easy dinner starters in the freezer.

To start with take a medium onion, two carrots and two stalks of celery and dice them all up.  Pour a little bit of olive oil on the bottom of the pan, just enough to coat it.  Heat the pan and then add the veggies….stir frequently while they cook.

While this is cooking add in a small bowl:

  1. 1 Tablespoon of salt
  2. 1 Tablespoon of basil
  3. 1 Tablespoon of oregano
  4. 1/2 Tablespoon of thyme
  5. 2 Teaspoons of red pepper flakes
  6. 2 Teaspoons of black pepper
  7. 1 Tablespoon of sugar



When the veggie mixture is cooked, soft and translucent remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of wine.  Mix well and return to heat till the wine is soaked up by veggies.


Now add:

  1. 1 Gallon of tomato product, any mixture of crushed or diced tomatoes. (this is 128 ounces of canned products, it doesn’t have to be exact, but close!)
  2. A 6 ounce can of tomato paste
  3. 3 Bay leaves
  4. 1 Teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce.
  5. 1.5 cups of water
  6. Add in the bowl of seasonings

Now cover and put on a low simmer….let cook for about two hours.

When done let cool for a bit, and then add to a blender.  Beware, it it’s still steaming don’t fill it up….something bad could happen.

Once the mixture is blended, just put in freezer bags and date 🙂 Make sure it is completely cooled before you put in the freezer!  Don’t forget to leave some out for dinner :).


Hope you enjoy it as much as Tommy did!


Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

My husband is amazing at smoking meat.   Brisket, Pork Butt, Chicken, anything really.  Unfortunately he is gone right now and I wanted pulled pork.

I have no need or desire to even try to figure out how to smoke a Pork Butt. It takes way to much time and patience in my opinion, so I pulled out the trusty slow cooker.

This is seriously one of the easiest recipes.  EVER.  It does take awhile, but you don’t have to do anything.

It is one of those perfect leave in the morning and come home at night recipes.

First, the night before follow these few steps.

In a small bowl mix:

  1. 2 tablespoons of salt
  2. 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  3. 1 teaspoon of black pepper


Now, put the 6-8 LB pork shoulder (or pork butt, whatever you want to call it) in a bowl and stab it with a knife about ten times on each side.  Then rub the dry mix on both sides evenly. After this is done cover and put in the fridge for the night.

This part does need to be started at least 8 hours before you want to eat.

Take out the pork shoulder and mix up

  • 1 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp of Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp of Soy Sauce (this can easily be omitted for allergies)

    Rub down both sides and put in the crock pot on low and walk away.

    If you are home you can turn it every 2-3 hours…but not necessary.

After 7-8 hours the meat should be able to pull.  You will know this when it starts falling from the bone, and you can twist it off with a fork.


When it does this transfer to a pan of some sort and pull the meat with two forks, just shredding it.  You can remove the excess fat and bone at this point.


It should look something like this.

If you are eating now then dig in!
If you want to keep it warm for awhile reserve about 1 cup of the juice in the slow cooker and add the pork back into that one cup. (dump the rest of the liquid out)

You can add BBQ sauce into the pork if you desire, I prefer to leave it plain so I can do more stuff with leftovers! Great for enchiladas!


Slowcooker Bacon smothered Porkchops

One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to cook onions for a stew or soup or sauce.  I love the smell of the simmering onions, nothing could make it better.  Except to add bacon to the simmering onions.  Now that’s magical.

You know what else is magical?  A Slow Cooker.  I love lazy Sundays, and nothing is lazier (or more efficient) than fixing the majority of your dinner 8 hours before you actually eat it.

You will need:

  • 4-6 Boneless Pork Chops
  • Medium onion
  • 6 Pieces of Bacon
  • 1.5 Tablespoon of minced garlic.
  • 3 Cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon of Red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Mustard
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.


I started with 6 Pieces of bacon and a small onion, both diced.  I added them to a pan at medium heat, this is where the smell started getting real.

On a side note, my husband (who I love dearly) is worse than a child when it comes to onions. While he KNOWS I put them in almost everything I cook, if there is a “crunch” he won’t eat it.  I have learned that a nice caramelized onion goes undetected, hopefully if you have a picky child this will work as well!

When the bacon and onions are close to being done make a circle in them and add pork chops, 20 second on each side.

Pull the pork chops out, and place them in an empty slow cooker.  Pull onion mixture off heat and add 1.5 tablespoons of minced Garlic, mix with spatula for about 30 seconds and return to heat. Now add 1 cup of the 3 cups of chicken broth.

And mix in:

  • 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Black Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon of Red pepper flakes
  • 1.5 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of Mustard
  • 2-3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.

Let the mixture simmer for about three minutes and all of that goodness soak in together. Pull from heat and pour over the chops, then add the remaining two cups of chicken broth and move chops around till they are all fully covered. If you need to add more broth, do so.   IMG_2301


Now, close the lid and go do something productive, or binge watch Netflix, whatever.  You can relax knowing you have braised Pork Chops simmering for dinner.

If you are leaving the house I suggest keeping it on low (not warm).  You don’t want a boil.  If you are staying home and looking for faster results you can start on High for about 30 minutes, and then turn down to low for 5-7 hours.

You will know when it is done by the “spoon test”. Yes, I said spoon.  Stick a spoon in the middle of one of the chops, if it falls apart then it’s done.  Serve on top of potatoes, rice or noodles.  Make sure to strain some of the bacon and onions to top it with! IMG_2303


Simple White Gravy

I don’t know many people who don’t like gravy, and it’s probably a good thing, because I don’t know if I could be friends with those people.  Is it healthy?  Absolutely not.  Is it amazing?  Absolutely.

Gravy can intimidate some people, I know this because why else would they have pre-made gravy powders at the grocery store?  The thing is, it isn’t hard. Not one bit, and I have step by step pictures to help you out!

First you need to obtain grease.  If you are making bacon, that’s perfect.  Sausage grease works well, but you may have to add a bit of butter to make enough.  Chicken Fried Steak for dinner??  Perfect, use the grease.  Keep a jar of bacon grease handy for when you just want gravy.  This morning I was going to cook bacon, so I just used that.

I fried up six pieces of bacon and left in the pan was about 1/3-1/2 cup of grease.  I just went with this, if you fry up a bunch of bacon you will want to pour some out till you have around 1/2  a cup.  Please don’t try to do to much measuring…this is going to be very hot, don’t burn yourself, this isn’t a recipe that has to be exact.

Next add flour, and keep it moving with a whisk. Your oven should be on a medium heat, I added just under 1/2 a cup, but do it in slow increments.  The flour/milk mixture should become pasty, if you add to much flour and it becomes flour balls you can add some butter to thin it out.   Keep whisking on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste (1-2 teaspoons each) Also, I add about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne for kick, completely optional.


When the Mixture resembles the picture SLOWLY add milk, while constantly stirring.  I usually start with adding enough to fill about 1/3 of the pan and then as that becomes thicker add more to reach desired consistency. This process will take 4-6 minutes.  Some people are more fond of a thinner gravy, and some want it so thick they can feel their arteries clog.  It’s up to you when you pull it from the stove, and how much milk to add.  Personally, I like it on the thicker side.

IMG_2281  If you think you added to much milk, just let it cook for a few more minutes, and it will also thicken as you remove it from the heat and it starts to cool.



Gravy is pretty forgiving, just don’t let it get to hot, simmering is fine, but don’t let it boil.  Also, remember to add the milk very slowly, to fast will cause lumps.

Pour on your favorite dish! IMG_2287

Comment if you have any questions! This also goes great on dinner dishes, not just for breakfast!

This gravy is also amazing if you add a pound of cooked breakfast sausage to it and then pour it over the biscuits.

Best Baking Powder Biscuits!


When my husband and I were at our last duty station, and both a bit younger we had a three bedroom house and tons of friends that liked to hang out in our garage and drink beer.  In an effort to keep them from driving home I always bribed them with a bed and breakfast the next morning.  I am convinced that there are some people who really didn’t drink all that much, but stayed over for breakfast….not that I minded, I love cooking for friends and family.

My biscuits and gravy was always a fan favorite,  I usually make sausage gravy, but today I made regular white gravy from bacon grease and it is more versatile.   We are going to start with the biscuits though!



Step One.  Put 1 and a half sticks of butter in the freezer, and preheat oven to 450 I promise this will make sense in a minute.

In a decent size bowl combine:

3 Cups of Flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons of baking powder

1 1/2 Tablespoons of Sugar

1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

1 teaspoon of Salt

Pretty simple so farIMG_2239

At this point grab your cheese grater and grate the butter: 3/4 cup of butter (1.5 sticks)

IMG_2242 it sounds odd, but it’s easier and faster then using a pastry cutter. It has to be done quickly though, and the butter needs to be cold!


Add butter to flour mixture and gently toss, coating the butter. You do not want to be adding a bunch of pressure here, just make sure the flour and butter are evenly distributed throughout the bowl.  Now, slowly start to add your milk (1 Cup), while simultaneously mixing the dough, you may use a little less then a full cup of milk, you want the dough to be pulling away from the bowl, but not mushy.

When the mixture is starting to pull away from the bowl, it is time to flip it onto a lightly floured surface.  IMG_2247

IMG_2248Place dough onto the counter and fold onto itself around 10 times.  IMG_2249

IMG_2252  Now it’s time to roll!  Gently roll out till dough is about half of an inch.

IMG_2255Now, grab a small bowl of flour and a drinking glass, or a biscuit cutter if you’re fancy like that….Dip the rim of the glass in flour, and then place it in the dough like so….


IMG_2257  IMG_2258If you want more biscuits try to stay as close as possible to one another.  I was only going for a few here.  You can roll the dough back out for a second session of cutting, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that more then once.

I use a bench scrapper to get them off the counter top, and then place in pan.  I Put them close, but not quite touching.

Now pop in the oven for 11-13 minutes.  Pull out when golden brown! IMG_2285  MMMMMM.  If you want, just go ahead and rub some butter on top of those bad boys!

Serve with jam.  Or gravy.  Or just stuff them in your mouth.



Cast Iron Chicken

I LOVE to bake.  But a soul cannot live off baked goods alone, at least not survive and manage to stay in the same pair of jeans for an extended period of time.

One of my favorite things in the kitchen is my Cast Iron.  I LOVE it.  Especially for Sunday morning biscuits and gravy….YUM!

Anyways, when treated right and loved correctly, a Cast Iron can be a girls (or guys) best friend in the kitchen. In today’s installment of Cast Iron Specials I present to you…THE CAST IRON CHICKEN!

You know when you see the weekly supermarket add for whole chickens and a fairly cheap price?  You think to yourself, “what would I do with that”?  Well.  I have the answer.  A very simple and delicious answer.

Take an EMPTY Cast Iron and put it in the oven, turn on oven.  Keep it there till your oven is at 450.

In a small bowl mix the followig
1 Tablespoon of salt
1.5 teaspoons basil
1.5 teaspoons rosemary
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon of Cayenne
2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard


Take a whole chicken, make it dance.  When you’re done playing with your food wash is off (clean out innards if there is anything hanging around in there), pat dry, coat with olive oil and seasonings.

Pull Out Pan, place chicken in pan, return to oven and let cook for 15 minutes at 450.  After 15 minutes turn oven down to 375 and let finish, will take around 45 minutes.  Let sit for about ten minutes in pan before carving.

This will be the hardest part of the whole process, because by this time your kitchen will smell like so much goodness.  Be wary, men and children will try to come and snack off of your beautiful chicken before it hits the dinner table. Serve with veggies, or potatoes, or really anything.  Keep the leftovers if there are any, they become versatile!

Chicken whole