Category Archives: Veggies

BBQ Cowboy Casserole *No Cowboys Were Harmed In The Making*

I promise I did not cook up and shred actual cowboys for this dish. Although the joke in my family is since I have a culinary degree and a forensics degree that I will inspect the bodies and then cook them. Gross I know.

However, one and a half chickens did die for this meal. Sad yes, tasty, even more so. It’s a sick sense of humor kind of a day. I apologize. 

So onto the actual food part of this post!!                                                                                                                                    

I have seen so many cornbread topped casseroles lately and they sound good. So decided to experiment and this is what I came up with.

Servings: at least 6, less if you’re really hungry, more if your not


3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 cup of your fav bbq sauce, I used Sweet Baby Rays Original, divided

2 cans black beans, rinsed

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 boxes jiffy cornbread mix, if you are lazy or don’t have cornmeal on hand.**

**For those of you who would like it:

 Cornbread Topping:
½ cup cornmeal
1 ½ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup milk


In a small crockpot place 1/2c bbq sauce and the chicken breasts. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. I did this because I like the consistency of shredded chicken in casseroles. You can also use left over chicken and shred it or cube it up or you can just cube up the chicken and cook it right before you need to use it. However you like,  I am sure it will work well.

Preheat oven to 375.

Lightly grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a medium bowl mix up the corn bread batter. Add 3/4c cheddar cheese and stir. Set aside to rest.

In a large bowl shred the cooked chicken. Add the drained corn, rinsed black beans, 1/2c bbq sauce and cheddar cheese to the chicken. Mix until well combined. 

Spread mixture into the greased baking dish. 

Remix the cornbread batter, about 3-4 stirs is enough. Drop batter by large spoonfuls on top of the base, then spread it evenly across the top.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes. You want the cornbread to be brown but fully cooked. If when you insert a toothpick into the cornbread it comes out clean then turn off the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. If toothpick has uncooked cornbread on it but the top is brown, tent with foil and cook another 5-10 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Then let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

Now there are many variations you can use in this casserole.

For example:

Meat: chicken, ground beef, ground pork, shredded pork, ground chicken

Beans: black, pinto, white/cannellini 

Corn: canned, frozen, fresh off the cob

Sauce: bbq, salsa- homemade or jarred

Cornbread: homemade, boxed

Cornbread add ins: cheese, fine diced jalapenos, fine diced red or green pepper

You can do your own experimentation with any of these ingredients. I used what I had on hand any combination of these would be fantastic. Don’t be afraid to mix it up!!

If any of you try any of these combinations please share with me what you used and how you liked it.

As always I bid you,

Happy Eating!! 


Tags: , ,

Marc’s Shepherds Pie- Quick. Simple. Delicious.

As I am sure all of you are aware, there are so many ways to make this classic casserole. Some think ground beef, corn, brown gravy, topped with mashed potatoes.

Others think ground lamb or mixture of lean ground meats, peas, carrots with a flavorful sauce topped with whipped potatoes. One lady told me some restaurant keeps begging her for her recipe, she made me some, I was NOT impressed. Way over the top, she used ground beef, did not drain the grease, the veggies were assorted peas, carrots, corn and lima beans. Sadly she did not cook them well and they were still very hard. The sauce was a odd combination of white wine, cream and some butter and herbs. Then to top off the monstrosity her “famous” whipped potatoes. Lumpy, slightly runny, how that is classified as whipped I will never know. They might have been ok but she added way to much    lavender and tarragon to them. She managed to take a rustic meal and tried to turn it into upper crust but failed miserably. 

The other end of the spectrum is my mothers. We were poor. I am not knocking my mothers cooking at all but somehow this rustic poor mans meal turned even poorer when she made it. Sadly to the point where I would not touch it for many years to come, that is until I met my fiance. Hers was so dry, poor quality ground meat and layers of unflavorful boxed  mashed potatoes and vegetables.

Marc, said fiance, cheats a little because we do not have a lot of space or money most times. We do however love to eat. This tray does not last the night in our house

Starts off with as lean of ground beef as we can afford, browned and drain thoroughly.

In a glass baking dish he combines 2 cans of veg-all, yes canned veggies, I told you he cheats due to space, our freezer is an avalanche of meat from awesome deals, this way we save money on meat but then sadly have no space for frozen veggies. 

Back to the pie. Stir in 1 can tomato soup, condensed. Do not add the water. Combine well. Add the drained meat to the soup/veg mix and combine well. 

We do make our own mashed potatoes, so after they are done boiling rinse well and add back into pot. I use 6-8 large potatoes or more depending on what that looks like chopped up. We like to have a huge potato top. Add to the potatoes, a pinch of salt, pepper to taste, 3oz cream cheese, soft, 4T butter soft and milk to desired consistency. Mash until desired lumpiness is achieved. 

Plop the  potatoes on top of meat/veg mix and spread out over the whole top. Bake at 350 until top is golden brown. Not sure how long since the fiance doesn’t do this, he just puts it in the oven until it’s hot all the way through. 

I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to make this dish, to each their own, but Marc’s is for me rustic enough, flavorful and simple. We each have two servings for dinner and the last two servings are for lunch the next day. 

If anyone has a favorite shepherds pie recipe they would like to share, I would love to try them!! 

Happy Eating!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on July 26, 2012 in Beef, casseroles, Veggies


Tags: ,

Loaded Hash Brown Potato Casserole

Pinned onto my MMM Food board on pinterest is this loaded hash brown potato casserole dish. 

One of our favorite dips is Cheddar Bacon Ranch dip, or what I refer to as “Crack“.  I usually only make it during football season because it is HIGHLY addictive.  I only made this once this football season and  I forgot to take it to the tailgate.  I left it in my parent’s refrigerator!  I was devastated!  
I took the dip back home and started thinking about what to do with it – other than eat it all by myself.  I decided to mix the dip into a big bag of frozen hash browns.  The result? A fantastic potato casserole!  
Quoted from the blog Plain Chicken on Blogger
Needing to change up the boring meals as of late, I decided to try this out. We had my fiances 12 year old daughter this past Sunday and she is kind of a picky eater. I thought what kid doesn’t like smothered potatoes? So I whipped up a batch of these. 
Served with dutch oven braised boneless pork ribs, and peas with butter.
2 (16oz) containers sour cream
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 (3oz) bags real bacon bits
2 packages Ranch Dip mix
1 large (28 – 30oz) bag frozen hash brown potatoes – shredded kind
Combine first 4 ingredients, mix in hash browns.  Spread into a 9×13 pan.  Bake at 400 for 45-60 minutes.   
Side note… when opening the lid to the dutch oven pot straight out of the oven DO NOT I repeat DO NOT forget that there will be steam!!!!!!! Hence the following picture warning.                                                                    
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 18, 2012 in casseroles, Cheese, pork, Veggies


Tags: , ,

Byblos Restaurant and Hookah Bar

In the summer of 2010, while trying to save my now none existent marriage, my ex and I stumbled upon this hookah lounge in Providence, RI called Byblos. It’s on a side street in the shopping district of Providence. 

Neither one of us smoke but we sure do love Lebanese food. We decided to check it out.

We were greeted by the owner/chef, who informed us of the special lunch/hookah deal of the day. After we finished our meal and hookah and saw the bill, we found that it wasn’t all that special of a deal at all but it was a nice day.

We started our meal with a couple of appetizers, I had the hummus plate and he had the grape leaves. For our main meal I had this delicious chicken panini which consisted of  chicken marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, za’atar and then slowly grilled to tender juicy perfection, lettuce, feta  and this magnificent garlic spread. Then the whole thing is pressed on a panini maker and served with a small mixed greens salad tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and za’atar. He had the fattoush. A hearty helping of mixed lettuce, cucumbers, tomotoes,  red onions, feta and olives and tossed with the traditional lemon juice, olive oil and za’atar dressing. 

After lunch we were given a menu of the different flavors of hookah tobacco to choose from, the list had close to fifty different choices ranging from bubblegum to orange to mint. We opted for the blueberry since I love blueberries and he wanted to make me happy. The owner brings over this hookah with one pipe, and all the needed accessories to provide us with an enjoyable smoking experience. He set it up on our table and explained every step in setting it up and then showed us how to properly use the pipe. We were each provided with a mouthpiece and told that after taking a hit you then place the one part of the hose over the other and then pass it to the next person, its a sign of respect. We then spend the next hour and a half to two hours smoking our blueberry hookah and really relaxing. 

Now I would definitely recommend this place to anyone 18+ (no one under 18 allowed). Just beware of a couple of things, it is not cheap by any means. Hookahs are roughly 20 bucks to start but be prepared to spend more on just one. Plus if you have more than two people they recommend more than one hookah because they only have hookahs with one pipe. This makes sharing difficult and timely unless you don’t care about that. 

It is a great place with a wonderful atmosphere, yummy food and great people. So if you find yourself in Providence, RI and looking for fun, check them out. they are also on facebook and twitter. 

Happy Eating!! Get your smoke on 🙂


Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Chicken, Hookah, Restaurants, Veggies


Tags: , , , ,

To sugar or not to sugar?

If any day can be considered lazy, it was yesterday.

What is more fun then spending the day in and around an in-ground pool, hanging with family and eating food? That was my Sunday.

We packed ourselves, hubby, his daughter and I, into my truck and drove up to the Poconos area to visit his aunt and cousin. The two girls played in the pool while the adults lounged around catching some sun. Next thing I know I’m in the pool in my shorts and sports bra (I don’t have a suit) cause the girls decided it would be fun to splash and squirt water at us. Since I was already wet I figured it was the only thing left to do. 

Soon it was time for lunch. 

It was a feast of grilled sausage with sauce and peppers, hot dogs, beans, tortilla chips and potato salad. For a second I had loss of brain and said yes I would love some potato salad. Forgetting that I am in PA, land of the dreaded sugar induced potato and macaroni salad. 

Don’t get me wrong, if you grew up here or were raised on the sweetened cook out must haves then it is ok but if you are like me, I am from CT, we do not use sugar in our salads.

I made this mistake when I first moved here roughly a year and a half ago. We went grocery shopping and hubby wanted macaroni salad, he went in search of some. He brings back this delicious looking salad with elbow mac, carrots, a bit of green pepper all encased in this velvety looking mayonnaise with a hint of yellow, which is fine by me because it means a touch of mustard. I like that, it adds a nice flavor. We get home, make lunch and he puts a scoop of the salad on my plate, I can’t wait to dig in. I am a carb whore. I put a forkful in my mouth and before I even started to chew I excused myself and spit it out. I tell him I think someone played a mean joke on the maker of the salad, they switched the mayo or salt with sugar. It was horrible. He took a bite and was very much in love with it. He has lived here his whole life. He is used to the sugared salads. GROSS!!! I found out that if something is labeled Amish or Dutch it is sweet, and if it looks shiny it most likely has sugar in it. I now always ask to try some before buying or I read the ingredients first. 

So back to the potato salad for lunch, I put a small fork full to my mouth, hoping and praying it wasn’t overly sugared. Surprise!!! No sugar. I was in heaven. It was almost like my gram used to make. Perfectly cooked potatoes, fresh parsley, celery, a hint of s+p, a tad bit of onion and mayo. Delicious. That made my day. 

Later on we stopped by a good friends parents house, who also happens to be my hubby’s “adopted” parents house. The gang was all there, mom, dad, Mike his wife and kids and his brother. Hubby made it through the house and out to the back yard but before I could make it out the door mom came in and asked if i would like some potato salad. I said yes please, I love your potato salad. It too is not sweet, she uses a  mix of mayo and sour cream, celery, onion and egg. Yum. I was in heaven yet again. 

I love my new family and will gladly eat their unsweetened salads anytime of the year. so when the hubby gets a craving for macaroni or potato salad, unless I taste it first, I buy the the ingredients, and whip up my own, this way there is no sugar. Sometimes he gives me a break and buys a small dish of his salad and jokingly asks me if I’d like a bite, to which he knows my answer. Absolutely no thank you. 

To all of you picnickers, hope you have a wonderful time but if you invite me please, please, please do not add sugar to your salads if you want me to try them. Sugar is for desserts not salad.

Happy Eating!!!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Grill, Pasta, Veggies


Tags: ,

Foil Pack Potatoes

Foil pack potatoes are so delicious they should be illegal!!! My hubby makes these for me upon request.

You take potatoes whether they be Yukon gold, red bliss, Idaho, whatever your choice may be slice them up into roughly 1/4inch thick slices, try to keep them uniform, use a mandolin if you have one. Take an onion and cut in half. Slice one half up into roughly 1/4inch thick slices as well. Save the remaining half for another use. 

Take foil large enough to fully wrap around the potatoes to create a package. Place potatoes still in a line in the foil and wrap the foil up around them to hold them in place. Section out the onion slices and portion between the potato slices, does not have to be one for one, it is used for flavor mainly. Do the same with the slices of butter. You do not need a lot of butter, maybe a tablespoon per pack. Close the foil up around the potatoes so the ends are folded up and so is the top. There might be a slight opening on the top, this is ok. 

Place potato packs on a cookie sheet, this is recommended for oven cooking because you will need to pull them out to check them and if you are like me you will probably make a whole in the oil and all the butter will leak out and create a greasy mess and maybe a fire in your oven. Yes this has happened to me. So now I use the cookie sheet! Bake at 350 for roughly 45 minutes, check them and adjust cooking as needed. If cooking on a grill basically the same thing, place on the grates and cook until done, cover grill for best results. Just make sure that you start these first so they are fully cooked to be ready for meal time.

Happy Eating!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 11, 2012 in Grill, Veggies


Tags: , ,

Leftovers Casserole

This started a few years ago as a “I have to many bits of leftovers then I know what to do with”.

As I looked in my fridge I saw that I had leftover stuffing from Thanksgiving, leftover chunks of cooked chicken breast and a closer look in the freezer revealed a single chicken breast half (there were two of us so one half is not gonna cut it), some gravy and some broccoli florets.

“Well self” I said, ” lets get to layering”.

I took the stuffing and smoothed it out in the bottom of a casserole dish (probably a 9×5)

Next I took the lone breast of chicken and cut it up into bite size chunks. Sauteed it in a tablespoon of olive oil until browned and cooked through. Then I added the rest of the chicken and heated through.

In a small pan I reheated the gravy, you can also use gravy packets (i use two turkey gravy packs) or gravy from the jar if you don’t have gravy on hand.

I then added the broccoli to the chicken to heat it up. The other night I used green beans and cauliflower. It’s what I had and was very yummy. You can use what ever kind of veggies you like. These three are the only ones I have used to date and they are all excellent.

Turn on your oven to 350-375 to preheat.

After mixture is heated add it to the top of the stuffing and spread evenly.

Top this with the gravy, I just pour it over the top in ribbons. You can also add it to the mix and blend in before you top the stuffing with it.

As a totally delicious addition because if you are like me most things are better with CHEESE!!!

I always have cheese in the fridge, it may be cheating cheese (pre shredded) but it’s still cheese.

I top the whole thing with two cups of shredded yellow sharp cheddar.

Cover with tented foil, so the cheese doesn’t stick to it when it melts.

Place in preheated oven for 45mins to an hour. If you want the cheese brown, remove the foil for the last 15mins of cooking.

Finished product. Time to sit down, relax and enjoy a plateful of this fridge cleaner outer.

Happy Eating!!!!

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 8, 2012 in casseroles, Chicken, Veggies


Tags: , ,