Sheet Pan Chicken

We have found sheet pan meals to be a disarming retort to the dreaded “What’s for dinner?” whine. This recipe also seems to bring summer to the table. We found this gem from Debbie Matenopoulos on the Hallmark’s Home & Family show. The open pan roasting intensifies the flavor of the chicken, lemons, and tomatoes. The link is here. If you have trouble finding it, we list the ingredients and directions below.

Ms. Matenopoulos served the chicken with a cabbage and carrot salad. We served it with couscous. We can vouch that the dish with couscous was great!


2 ½ lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

5 medium to large shallots, peeled and quartered root to stem

3-4 rosemary sprigs

1 lemon in thinly sliced rounds

½ pint cherry tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Flaky salt (like Maldon Salt), for serving


Heat the oven to 425º F. In a large bowl, toss together the chicken with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, and rosemary sprigs.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Place the shallots, cherry tomatoes, and lemon slices on sheet pan and gently toss with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt.

Add the seasoned chicken skin side up in between the shallots and cherry tomatoes. Roast for 30-45 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the shallots, lemon slices, and cherry tomatoes are caramelized.

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Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Always in search of a tasty slow cooker meal, this recipe got our attention. We are leery of recipes that put too much liquid into the slow cooker. So much liquid normally releases from the solid foods in the slow cooker that adding too much additional liquid often results in a product that is more soup than stew.

This recipe does not have that problem. In addition, there are enough ingredients packing a taste punch to avoid the flavor dilution often found in slow cooker recipes. Unfortunately, the trade off for the extra flavor is more prep work up front. However, we did not find the prep excessive, and the payoff was worth it! Furthermore, the results are extremely versatile. You can serve the barbacoa in tortillas, on the plate, or in a salad. The barbacoa will also make tasty leftovers.

The beef barbacoa treat comes from Ms. Meredith Deeds of Edina, Minnesota. We found her recipe in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on May 30, 2019. We added more onion than the recipe calls for, but made no other adjustments. The ingredients and directions are listed here for those readers who cannot find the original. Enjoy!


2 dried ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed

1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

3 lbs. beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces

¾ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil, divided

1 medium onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp cinnamon

⅛ tsp ground cloves

1 chipotle chile canned in adobo sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

2 whole bay leaves


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Open up the dried chiles so they lay flat and arrange them in the skillet. Toast the chiles, pressing down on them with a spatula so they make contact with the skillet, for 30 seconds on each side. Add 1 cup chicken broth and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the beef with the salt and pepper. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown on all sides, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the same skillet. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, until just starting to brown. Add the oregano, cumin, cinnamon and cloves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to the blender with the chiles. Add the remaining ½ cup of chicken broth to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet to release all the brown bits.

Add to the blender, along with the chipotle chile, vinegar and brown sugar. Purée until smooth and pour over the beef in the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and cook on high setting for 4-5 hours or on low setting for 8-10 hours, until completely tender. Discard bay leaves and transfer beef to a cutting board. Skim fat from cooking liquid in slow cooker.

Use 2 forks to shred the beef into bite-sized chunks. Add the beef to the liquid and cook for another 2-3 minutes, gently stirring (you don’t want to break up the meat too much) until the beef is hot. Season with salt, if necessary.

Serve with warm corn tortillas, chopped onions, cilantro, diced avocado and lime wedges, if desired.

Serves 8.

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Instant Pot Pork Carnitas

We wanted a recipe for Cinco de Mayo, and this one truly made the grade. We tried this recipe from Chungah’s website Damn Delicious. You can find the recipe here. There are other excellent recipes to try there as well. If you can’t find the website, here are the ingredients and directions. (We recommend doubling the spices listed here, but adjust to your tastes.


1 Tbsp canola oil

1 (4 lb.) boneless pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed and cut into 3-inch chunks

1 (12 oz.) Pilsner or lager beer

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

6 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper


Set a 6-quart Instant Pot® to the high sauté setting.

Heat canola oil; working in two batches, add pork and cook until evenly browned, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in beer, orange juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 30 minutes. When finished cooking, quick-release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions.

Remove pork shoulder from the Instant Pot® and shred the meat using two forks; season with salt and pepper, to taste, if needed.

OPTIONAL: Preheat oven to broil. Place pork onto a baking sheet and broil until crisp and crusted, about 2-3 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Serves: 8

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

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One-Pan Cuban Chicken with Rice and Beans

One-pot meals not only simplify meal preparation but kitchen clean-up as well. We recently made this dish from to rave reviews from the family. For authenticity, use cooked black beans, but as the website notes, any other drained beans from a 15.5-ounce can will do nicely! (And yes, 5 garlic cloves is not too much!)

We give the ingredients and directions in case you can’t find them on the website.


¼ lb. thick-cut bacon (about 3 slices), cut into ¼-inch pieces

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

¾ tsp ground cumin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

½ green bell pepper, diced

5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1½ cups long-grain white rice

1 tsp dried oregano

2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

1¾ cups cooked black beans


Preheat oven to 375º F. In a large straight-sided ovenproof skillet, brown bacon over medium-high, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Season chicken with ¼ teaspoon cumin, salt, and pepper. Brown in skillet, turning once, about 10 minutes; transfer to plate.

Remove fat from skillet. Add oil, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 minutes.

Add rice, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, and oregano. Cook, stirring 1 minute. Add broth, beans, and bacon; season with salt and pepper. Nestle in chicken, skin-side up. Bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to oven. Roast until liquid is absorbed and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes; serve.

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

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Peanut Butter Hummus

This household loves hummus and salsa. We are always looking for some variation on either appetizer. This recipe from Cooking Light December 2012, was simple and delicious.


3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter

3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp olive oil

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp black pepper

⅜ tsp kosher salt

1 (15½ oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 garlic clove, minced

7 Tbsp water

1 English cucumber, cut into 48 ¼-inch-thick slices


Place peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 20 seconds. Combine peanut butter and next 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in water; process until smooth. Serve with cucumber.

Serves 8.

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Beef Tenderloin with Veggies

Sorry, no review of restaurant cuisine or fabulous nightlife from New Year’s Eve here. Instead, we stayed home and made this great dish for a cold, cold night. Thanks to Joy Bauer on the Today show for giving us a warm and tasty New Year’s Eve dinner. The link is here. We substituted some other root vegetables for the Delicata squash she recommended, and there was no fall off in flavor! Joy was right to use plenty of thyme leaves on the vegetables. Likewise, we did not spray oil onto the pan or vegetables. We used a good quality extra-virgin olive oil to brush both pan and vegetables. For those who can’t find the link, we include the instructions here. The recipe also refers to a White Wine Mushroom Sauce which can be found at the link, but which we did not try. Finally, any kind of mushroom you like will be great in this dish.


• One (4 to 5 lb) whole beef tenderloin, tied with string from butcher

• 2 tablespoons dijon mustard

• 3 tablespoons peppercorns crushed, or fresh black pepper

• 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, divided

• 16 ounces cremini mushrooms halved

• 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, melted (optional)

• 1 medium Delicata squash, seeded cut into ¾” rings

• 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

• 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1” chunks

• 1 to 2 red onions, cut into 6 small wedges

• 3 to 4 fresh thyme sprigs


Preheat oven to 425°F. Liberally coat a large skillet with olive oil spray and warm over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until just tender. Transfer to bottom of roasting pan.

Add the beef on top of the mushrooms in roasting pan, and rub with mustard and season generously with crushed peppercorns and 2 teaspoons salt. Drizzle the optional butter over the top of the beef.

Toss the cut veggies into the pan evenly around the beef, mist them generously with olive oil spray, season with a sprinkling salt and pepper and nestle in thyme sprigs.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes at 425°F. Then lower the oven to 375°F, give the veggies a good stir, and cook for about 30-45 minutes (or until the beef reaches an internal temperature of 145°F). If you like your steak rare, while its not recommended for safety reasons, remove when the thickest part hits 125°F. It’s always best to use a meat thermometer.

Remove the beef and veggies from the pan to a serving plate and cover with foil for at least 10 minutes before slicing to lock in the juices. Top with White Wine Mushroom Sauce.

Makes 12 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

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Shrimp Cocktail with Cilantro-Lime Cocktail Sauce

We wanted an appetizer for the long wait for the turkey. This recipe fit the bill. We thought the cocktail sauce was decidedly better than store-bought, and even better than most of the homemade variations we have prepared. The broth added a delicate flavor to the shrimp. Overall, we again commend the winter 2018 issue of Real Food from Lunds and Byerlys for this treat.


For the sauce:

¾ cup ketchup

¾ cup chili sauce

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 to 3 Tbsp prepared horseradish, to taste

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp Asian fish sauce

2 to 3 dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to taste

⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the shrimp:

3/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth

3 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1 small carrot, thinly sliced

1 or 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 bay leaf

½ tsp salt, any kind

¼ tsp whole allspice

16 to 20 extra-large shrimp in the shell


Make the sauce: Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Add more horseradish or hot sauce, to taste. Chill before serving.

Cook the shrimp: Combine 2 quarts water, wine, vinegar, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, salt and the allspice in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, partially cover, and then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.

Add the shrimp to the simmering broth, cover the pot and return to a simmer for 1 minutes. Immediately turn off heat, and let sit, covered, for 8 minutes. Drain in a strainer, and quickly rinse with cool water before plunging into ice bath to cool. Let chill thoroughly, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain again, picking out and discarding any vegetables. Peel and arrange the shrimp on a platter for dipping or refrigerate until serving.

Note: The cocktail sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Cooked shrimp can be kept in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

Serves: 8 to 10

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