Category Archives: cooking

Recipes and Memories

Mexican Spiced Shredded Beef

Printable recipe at the end of post.

Do you have some favorite recipes that you have been making for years and years?

I love shredded beef tacos and burritos, and  I was  craving some last week,  so I decided to make my favorite recipe for shredded beef.  I’ve been making this shredded beef  several times a year since I was around 20 years old, and newly married. I have the recipe pretty much in my head, but something made me go look for the printed recipe anyway.

I looked high up in the cupboard and found my treasured recipe box. I found the recipe I was looking for grease stain and all. Then, I started flipping through the recipes that I have collected over the years. Looking at all those recipes I’ve collected from dear friends and family brought back so many good memories of my days as a young wife and nurse. Many of the recipes are from my nurse friends at the hospital I used to work at. I’m glad I saved this little box of memories. I smiled when I found a spaghetti recipe from my dear friend Debbie, who passed away much too young. It made me think about how excited we were to make a homemade meal for our husbands. I also found the over achiever list of cookies and baked goods my friend Janell and I made one Christmas. It reminded me of all the flour on the floor, when we dropped the giant bag on the ground. I’ve never purchased 25 pounds of flour again.

I wonder if collecting, and looking at recipes on my computer, will give me the same satisfaction years from now, like this little box did today when I looked at it.  I’m glad I saved it.

My Old Recipe for Shredded Beef

4 1/2 lb. bone-in chuck roast
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
7 oz. can diced green chilies
3 Tbs. Chili Powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic minced
salt, pepper, & cayenne to taste

Tortillas, avocado, grated cheese, lettuce, or any of other favorite fixings

Cooking Instructions 

Line a roasting pan with heavy duty foil. Leave enough hanging over the edges to wrap up the meat to seal in juice. Place meat onto the foil. Rub seasonings over the roast. Cover the meat with the tomatoes and diced green chiles.

Wrap and seal the foil to seal in the juices. This also keeps the meat from drying out and makes the pan easier to clean.

Cook in a 300 degree oven for 4-5 hours.

Make sure to take the meat out of the oven after 2 hours to flip the meat and check how it’s doing. It should look something like this.

After 4-5 hours your finished meat should look like the picture  below. It is done when it easily shreds apart.

Carefully lift the meat out of the pan and into a container to shred the meat. You can add as much of the juice as you like.

That’s it you are now ready to make great tasting tacos, burritos, sandwiches, or tostadas!

Good things to know

> Left overs freeze well
> Boneless Chuck Roast works great. I just buy what’s on sale
> Can be made in the crock pot, but I like oven method best
> Great recipe for parties
> It will become a family favorite if you like beef

Print Recipe

Bon Appétit


This Saves So Much Time – Why Don’t I Do It Every Week?

When I go food shopping, I say to myself, go grocery shopping, come home, wash the produce, and cut it up. I also plan on storing it all pretty in the fridge. Why is it I only do this about 1/3 of the time, maybe?

It’s not hard, and it doesn’t take that long. Wash, trim, and pop into containers to use in salads, packed lunches, and dinner recipes. Nope, I still don’t do this as often as I would like, even if it is easy. Probably because my back hurts after bringing in all the groceries and finding a place to put them LOL. I think… forget this, I’m sick of food at the moment. Well, until I remember the candy bar I had the checker hand me at the cash register, so I could stash it in my purse. Hey, it’s my bonus for doing the shopping.

I’m going to try to do the veggie prep more often because it really does save a lot of time, and it makes meal prep much easier. We will see what actually happens.

Do you wash and chop veggies right after grocery shopping?

A real refrigerator for two people not set up for a photo shoot.

Quick and Easy Food Gift Tip ~ 2-in-1

Every year at this time my DH and I make gifts of food. Some years it’s really fancy and some years it’s very simple. This year we chose to do it simple. The food gifts are for people that don’t cook much, or can’t really cook much because of age or illness. We made soup, bread, sweet treats, and of course my DH’s famous Italian olives.

2 gifts-in-1
I love to wrap food gifts using reusable items such as tea towels

Do you give gifts of food during the holidays? Leave a comment and share your favorite food gift, tip for wrapping, or to just say hi.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Best Corn Chowder I’ve Ever Made

I was having a craving for corn chowder a while back so I headed to my pantry and started looking to see what I had to make it. This recipe is what I came up with. My husband loved it and so did I. Our DD loved it too. It was  super easy to make and didn’t take very long. Quick and easy is what I like when it comes to cooking daily meals

Ingredients for 6-8 servings:
2-14 3/4oz. cans Del Monte sweet creamed corn
2 cups Organic low sodium vegetable broth
1 cup 1/2 & 1/2
1 medium onion chopped
10 slices bacon cooked and crumbled (I used Trader Joes fully cooked apple smoked bacon).
2 Lbs. Organic klamath pearl potatoes cut into bite-size chunks (skin on) I also got these at TJ’s
Pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Chop and dice the potatoes and onions. In a large stock pot cook bacon. (This only took a minute with the pre-cooked bacon). Remove bacon and set on paper towels. Leave a tsp. of bacon grease in the pot. I did not have to drain any. Add the onions and potatoes. Saute for two minutes. Add the cream corn and vegetable broth. Cook on simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. When the potatoes are tender add the crumbled bacon, 1/2 & 1/2, pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Oh boy I almost forgot. I used a potato masher inside the pot to make the soup thick and chunky. I did not want it pureed.

I think this was so tasty because… The potatoes did not get mushy. Leaving the peel on made it easier. Using pre-cooked bacon was a big time saver. The ingredient list was short. It was done in less than 30 minutes, and my husband raved about it.

It is not low-cal, but I did not care it was too good. Add a simple green salad and you are set with a delicious lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

Print Recipe

Easy Chocolate Pretzel Stix – Perfect for Gifts

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Make a Perfect Holiday Treat……..

I love making homemade gifts and goodies around the holidays. For me it is something I look forward to each year. These pretzels sticks are so EASY to make and they are very tasty. This is a perfect treat to make with the kids. Even very young children can help and it only requires a few tools and ingredients.

You can switch things up by changing the color or type of topping you use. For instance I made some for 4th of July, see here, or you could use pink or blue for a baby shower. The possibilities are endless.

These sweet treats would be perfect to add to a holiday gift basket or to bring as a hostess gift.


Ingredients: Print Recipe

  • 1 bag pretzel rods
  • 10oz. bag chocolate chips
  • 1 jar Fall Color Mix sprinkles


  • Wax paper
  • Cellophane Pretzel Bags
  • Cookie Sheet
  • 4 cup Pyrex or other microwavable dish.
  • Butter Knife
  • Small Plate


Put a piece of wax paper on a rectangle baking tray. Use some sort of microwave safe container to melt the chips (deep enough to dip the pretzel rods). I used a 4-cup pyrex measuring cup. Pour the chocolate chips into the container. To melt the chips cook in microwave for 1-1/2minutes, stir with butter knife then cook another 30seconds and stir again. Take a pretzel stick and dip into melted chocolate to coat. I tilted the measuring cup to get the chocolate far enough up the pretzel. Holding the pretzel horizontal I twirled it until no more chocolate was dripping. Then, hold the pretzel over a plate and sprinkle with candy sprinkles or whatever you choose. Set the pretzel on wax paper and continue with the next one. Makes 12 pretzels.


Now all you have to do is to wait for hem to harden. It took a few hours sitting on the counter. Or, you could put them into the freezer for a few minutes.

When the chocolate gets firm you can

carefully slide them into the pretzel bags.

That’s it. They only take a few minutes. Perfect for you to make with the kids. They are very tasty. In fact I will share with you my little secret shh… I ate one for breakfast with my coffee and it was Yummy! Don’t tell

Bon Appetit,


Super Easy One-Dish ~ Chicken, Beans, and Rice







Have you ever arrived home from work and thought Ugh! What am I going to make for dinner. It’s 9:00 pm and DH and I are starving, and the chicken is still slightly frozen.  Dinner  had to be simple and I wanted it to almost cook itself with little mess. We both had some work to finish up before dinner. Well, hubs and I went to the pantry, looked around, and this is what we came up with.

At first we thought just black beans and rice. Then we thought how about adding some cream corn. Well, actually I thought it was regular corn until I opened the can LOL. I thought, Lets give it a try and see how it turns out. To add some liquid we added the diced tomatoes, and for a little spice we added onion.

Here is the recipe we came up with. Basically you plop everything in the baking pan and forget it until it’s done.

Super Easy One-Dish Chicken, Beans, and Rice
Serves – 4

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
15-oz. can Black beans. Drain the liquid on the top leaving some
15-oz. can cream corn
15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 onion cut into chunks
cracked black pepper to taste
Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute to taste (a mix of common seasonings)
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
4-6 cups of cooked jasmine rice or white rice
(I used TJ’s frozen Jasmine rice-1pkg for two people)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Picture of tomatoes, black beans, chicken in glass baking pan

I used a 13in. x 9 in. glass baking pan.

Sprinkle some 21 salute and cracked pepper on bottom of pan. Add just enough to season one side of chicken. Then place chicken thighs in pan on top of seasoning. Now sprinkle more seasoning on top of chicken. Pour black beans, cream corn, onion, and then diced tomatoes on top of the chicken.

Put into the oven and let cook until bubbly around 30 minutes. Give the pan a stir mixing up all the ingredients. Cook another 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add cheese on top and cook a bit more until it melts.

To Serve:
Place rice on plates and top with the chicken and bean mixture. How easy is that.
Top with a bit of sour cream and or avocado for an extra flavor bonus.

Both my husband and I thought this was a delicious dinner.

We were kind of surprised how yummy this was and how easy it was to make. Both of us were able to get our work done with little attention to our baking dinner. I know eating at 10pm is not recommended, but that is how it works at our house. We have late schedules.

We also ate this the next night using brown rice instead of the jasmine. The brown rice was also very very tasty. I was going to add a pic of the finished dish, but my food styling was not very good and it looked, well, let’s just say not very pretty 🙂

Print the Recipe

Bon Appetit

Kids in the Kitchen: Fulfilling Fun

Guest Post by Lisa Shoreland

Cooking with your kids is a great way to build a variety of skills while having tasty, tactile fun in the process. Working off of a recipe, whether from a cookbook, online or even–yes!– on a Wii, helps enhance a child’s reading skills. Ingredient measurement and unit conversion draw math into the mix, and the step-by-step organizational process of cooking improves logical thinking (for added practice, try doubling recipes or cutting them in half). The best part about cooking with your kids is that while children are practicing basic math, language and logic skills, they are being rewarded by their own delicious creations. And what could be better than that? Try these simple, time-tested recipes with your kids and get filled up on both laughter and learning.

1.   Ants on a Log

For children new to the kitchen, start with something basic like ants on a log. Fun and simple to make, these tasty ants are a classic childhood staple. As an added bonus, this recipe is recommended as a healthy “Smart Snack,” comprising several food groups, by the McKinley Health Center.

5 stalks celery
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup raisins

Directions: Cut the celery stalks in half. Spread with peanut butter. Sprinkle with raisins (“ants”). Enjoy!

2.   Mini Pizza

1 split English muffin or Bagel
Pizza sauce
 (approx 1/4 cup)
Pizza cheese (shredded)
Toppings such as mushrooms, pepperoni or broccoli

Directions: Toast your muffin or bagel. Spread pizza sauce evenly on muffin or bagel halves. Sprinkle cheese on top and add your toppings. Put on tray and put into toaster oven set on broil. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

3. Simple, Savory Soup

14 oz package smoked sausage, sliced
1 c thick salsa
1 c BBQ sauce
1 c corn, canned or frozen
15 1/2 oz can kidney beans, drained
3 lb 5 oz can pork and beans, drained
1 medium onion, chopped

In a large pot used for soup or pasta, combine all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Your stew is ready!

Remember to always supervise young children in the kitchen, especially with knives, toasters and ovens. Use your discretion when assigning tasks. Maybe Mom puts things in and takes things out of the oven, or Dad chops vegetables, while the children mix and arrange ingredients. Once simple recipes like the ones above have been mastered, venture into the more precise sciences, like baking (cookies anyone?). And always encourage sampling, tasting and experimentation; cooking should be a fun, enriching and delicious process for all!

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she’s been researching radiology scholarships as well as pharmacy scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips.