Classic Chili

Learning To Cook For Two, Classic Chili


1 pound ground meat (beef, lamb, bison)

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

2 cups beef broth (Sam and I don’t care for soupy soups, unless it’s Chicken Noodle.  Next time, I would reduce this to 1 cup beef broth)

Green Bell Peppers

Directions (Directly from The Whole 30, The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom)

  1. Heat a large pot or high-walled skillet over medium-high heat (without cooking fat).  Add the ground meat and cook until the meat is fully browned, 7 to 10 minutes.  Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a side dish, keeping the leftover fat in the pot (In hindsight, I would have drained the fat and returned the meat to the pot.  I’m a rule follower, so I did as directed the first time.  Next time, game on.)
  2. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, mustard powder, and salt to the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the onions are translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and broth.  Turn the heat up to high.  When the chili reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour (I let it simmer for about 30 minutes and then it was dinner time).

Classic Chili


Recipe:  The Whole 30, The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom


Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake

As the title of this recipe suggests, it is impossibly easy!  I was nervous to use gluten-free and lactose-free cheese, but it actually tasted pretty good!  I won’t convert over to this cheese permanently, but it is nice to know that it doesn’t taste like plastic.  Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my hungry belly did this morning!

Learning To Cook For Two Breakfast Bake


1 package (16 oz) gluten-free bulk pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean, All Natural, Gluten Free Pork Sausage)

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cups frozen hash brown potatoes

2 cups gluten-free shredded Cheddar cheese (I used Go Veggie! Cheddar Flavor Shreds, Lactose and Gluten Free)

6 eggs

2 cups milk (I used skim milk)

3/4 cup Bisquick Gluten Free mix

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for Casserole

Directions (directly from Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray (without flour).  In 10-inch skillet, cook sausage, bell pepper, and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sausage is no longer pink; drain.  In baking dish, mix sausage mixture, potatoes, and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese.
  2. In medium bowl, stir eggs, milk, Bisquick mix, and pepper until blended. Pour over sausage mixture in baking dish.
  3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake about 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake

Servings: 6

Weight Watcher Points Per Serving: 10


Recipe:  Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cooking

Vegetable Quesadillas

Learning To Cook For Two= Vegetable Quesadillas


8 (6-inch) flour tortillas (I used Ole Mexican Foods, Tortilla Wraps, High Fiber, Low Carb)

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 cup frozen corn kernels (I used whole kernel corn from a can, not frozen)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (I used 1/8 cup dried cilantro)

1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese (I used Colby Jack, full-fat, because that’s what I had in the fridge)

1 1/2 cups salsa

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream



  1. Adjust the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds.  Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange 4 of the tortillas on a baking sheet.Pre-oven Vegetables Quesadillas
  2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Swirl in the oil, then add the onion and pepper.  Sauté until softened, 6 minutes.  Stir in the corn, cumin, and oregano; cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, 4 minutes more.  Remove from the heat; stir in the cilantro.
  3. Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the tortillas on the baking sheet, leaving a 1/2 inch border.  Spoon the vegetable mixture on the top, dividing evenly among the tortillas and spreading level.  Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and top with the 4 remaining tortillas, pressing lightly on top
  4. Bake until golden brown and the cheese is melted, 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.  Cut each quesadilla into 8 wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Vegetable Quesadillas


Recipe:  Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook, pg. 194


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

Learning To Cook For Two

You had me at chocolate chip cookie dough.  Making it a dip and adding vanilla wafers and graham crackers?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  Excuse me while I turn Netflix on, continue wearing my PJ’s (I mean, who puts real people clothes on when you have a day off work? Don’t’re reading this in your PJ’s), and binge on this delightful dessert appetizer.

Medium Saucepan


1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup brown sugar, slightly packed (I’m not sure what “packed” really means, but mine came in a box)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (Time saver:  microwave for 15 seconds and you’re ready to go.  Who has time to wait for the cheese to get to room temperature?)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular size because I had some in my cabinet)

Mixing Dip


  1. In medium saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat until sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove pan from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.  Set aside and let cool.
  2. Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar for 1-2 minutes in large bowl (I used my mixer on medium.  More clean up, but preventing arthritic hands at a young age)
  3. Slowly pour (or just regular pour because gravity doesn’t have speed settings) butter mixture into cream cheese mixture, add vanilla extract.  Beat until the mixture is combined and not separated.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, and animal crackers.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip


Recipe Website:  Chef In Training


Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers Complete

Before tonight:  Kale (BLEH!)

After tonight:  Kale (Meh..).

Everyone is talking about kale.  Kale this.  Kale that.  “Put it in your smoothie.”  “Add it to your salads.”  So here it is, reasons why Kale and I were not friends until tonight:

  1. Kale does not SOUND appetizing to me.
  2. I had all these judgments about kale and I never really took the time to get to know kale.
  3. I would gossip about kale and say bad things about it.
  4. Kale was a member of the Green family (obviously not my favorite as my heart resides in the family of potatoes and chocolates).

Kale and I were NOT best friends.  Tonight, kale and I sat down, talked about our differences, and then I cooked it.  With this meal, I didn’t really taste the kale (Go ahead you healthy people. Say it. “See, I told you that you wouldn’t taste it.” Whatever. You’re right.  Let’s move on.).  I’ll have to use it in future recipes to see how our relationship evolves (Plus, I bought a bag of it at Kroger and I can’t waste it. Maybe I’ll try it with a smoothie).

Tonight was also the first time I have chopped butternut squash.  Have you ever done that?  It’s not easy (or maybe I’m doing it wrong).  Also, a Friends reference could be used for another one of my firsts in the kitchen.

Joey:  “Remember when Ross tried to say, ‘Butternut Squash” and it came out ‘Squatternut Buash.'”


4 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers

3 tablespoons cooking fat (I used coconut oil)

1/4 cup finely chopped onion (I used a whole onion. I don’t know why anyone cooks with less than 1 whole onion.  Onion haters.)

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 1 teaspoon garlic powder because the forecast didn’t call for Vampire prevention).

4 kale leaves, stems removed, leaves finely chopped (I used a bag of kale because the large bunch in the produce section intimidated me).

1 cup finely chopped peeled winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.)

1 pound ground meat (beef, lamb, bison) (I used beef because the others sounded expensive).

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions (directly from The Whole 30, The 30 Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom)Ingredients

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a deep baking dish with parchment paper.
  2. With a paring knife, slice around the top of each bell pepper and gently pull on the stem (twisted it gently).  Discard the seeded core.  Place the peppers in the prepared dish.  Bake for 10 minutes, until softened. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the cooking fat in a large skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom (GENTLY swirl because if it swishes too quickly it gets on the floor.  And it’s slippery.  And it hurts when it hits your feet.  And at least your husband wasn’t home to witness it.  And then your dog will try to lick it up.  Because you know, that sounds like something that would happen to me.  That’s just what I heard happens when you try to do it. Not like that happened to me…at all…).  When the fat is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.  Add the kale and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Add the ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a spatula or wooden spoon and stirring it into the vegetables, for 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Cook until the meat is mostly browned, 7 to 9 minutes.  Stir in the squash and cook until the squash is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Divide the meat and squash mixture evenly among the softened bell peppers.  Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the peppers look wrinkly and the beef is slightly browned on top.

Peppers Pre-Oven


Recipe:  The Whole 30


Cupcakes From Scratch

Gwinnett Braves Cupcakes

Today, I set out on an adventure to make cupcakes from scratch.  After watching the Gwinnett Braves kick butt yesterday against Louisville (10-2), I was inspired to make Gwinnett Braves themed cupcakes!

I don’t remember ever baking anything from scratch by myself (with the exception of baking on a small wooden chair next to Grandma when I was little).  While I still thoroughly enjoy opening a box of Ghirardelli or Duncan Hines to make cakes or cupcakes, I found this cooking adventure to be exciting and a little messy (messy is fun until you have to clean it up).  To decrease messiness, do not (I repeat, DO NOT) turn the mixer on medium when you start (Flour can poof in face.  You see where the messy starts to enter the equation).

Ingredients for Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (or 1/3 teaspoon baking soda as substitute for forgetting to get baking powder at store)

1/4 teaspoon salt (if you use your salt shaker, be aware that not ALL of that salt is going on the measuring spoon…fun fact.)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup whole milk

Frosting (see below for directions on frosting)

Batter Up

Directions for Cupcakes

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder (or soda), and salt in bowl.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in stand or hand mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Beat in the vanilla.
  7. Reduce the mixer speed to medium low.
  8. Beat in half of flour mixture.
  9. Beat in milk.
  10. Beat in remaining flour mixture.
  11. Divide batter among the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.
  12. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean (approximately 18-20 minutes)
  13. Allow to cool.  Top with frosting!

Pre-Oven Cupcakes

Ingredients for Buttercream Cupcake Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, room temperature (or 2 sticks of unsalted butter)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon food coloring

Cupcake Icing

Directions for Buttercream Cupcake Frosting 

  1. Place butter and sugar in medium bowl and use mixer to cream until mixture is light and fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla and heavy cream to mixture and continue with electric mixer.
  3. Add selected food coloring.
  4. Frost your cupcakes! (I used Farberware Icing Bag Set to get this look)

Complete Cupcakes


Recipe Websites:  Cupcakes and Frosting


Chicken and Spicy Black Bean Tacos

Chicken and Spicy Black Bean Tacos

I’m still not feeling well, so my diet consists of bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.  I did not subject my husband to the same dinner.  Instead, I made him some chicken and spicy black bean tacos.  This recipe worked for me because the majority of the work is done by the Crock Pot, allowing me to rest before I head back to work tomorrow.

Usually when I make tacos at home, I use beef because I thought it was easier (because let’s be honest with ourselves, if we are making tacos, we aren’t looking to put a lot of effort into dinner-which is OKAY!). You can cook your chicken any way you would like, but I found the Crock Pot to be simple and a “throw and go” meal.  Also note that the original recipe did NOT call for onion, but I added it because A) we had it and B) we love onions.

Taco Shells


1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (10 oz.) tomatoes with mild green chiles, drained

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry

12 crisp corn taco shells

Optional toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, ripe olives

Chicken Rub


  1. Coat Crock Pot slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.  Add beans and tomatoes with chiles.
  2. Blend chili powder and cumin with 1 teaspoon oil and rub onto chicken breasts (I put these ingredients in a large bowl and used my hands).
  3. Place chicken in Crock Pot slow cooker.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 3/4 hours.
  4. When you have 30 minutes left on the timer, add your onions (Although, I prefer mine slightly crunchy in my taco.  If you prefer them soft, add them when you place bean mixture in Crock Pot).
  5. Remove chicken and slice.  Bean Mixture
  6. Transfer bean mixture to bowl using slotted spoon (the original recipe calls to add 1 tablespoon oil to this mixture.  Mine was moist enough, so I did NOT add it.  Rebellious, I know).
  7. To serve, warm taco shells according to package directions.
  8. Fill with equal amounts bean mixture and chicken.
  9. Toppings as desired.



Original Recipe:  Crock Pot, The Original Slow Cooker:  Slow Cooker Bible, pg. 130.