Slow Cooker Mexican Pinto Beans

Slow Cooker Mexican Pinto Beans


  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 lb dry pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon each cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder, New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 7.5 cups of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt


Add onion, garlic, beans, spices, hot sauce, and water to slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours, then uncover, turn heat to high, and let simmer for another hour, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy but not too liquidy. Add salt. Serve.


Never in a million years did I think I would make perfect pinto beans at home. The texture – as I said above, creamy, but not too liquidy – seemed elusive. But somehow this method and time are the magic combination to get them exactly right. I have been making these for about 6 months now (when I make a pot, I portion them out for the freezer since it’s just the two of us) and I have served them with red chile shredded beef tacos, enchiladas (wild turkey and wild pig), carne guisada, Chile Colorado, and – our favorite – eggs and beans for breakfast. These are the perfect example of simple food is best food. We love them.

Cajun Chicken Meatballs and Fettuccine

4483A9EE-C1CD-47CD-B818-78683035C04BD0B848F5-96A7-4E9E-B292-DCDC42EF11DACajun Chicken Meatballs and Fettuccine


  • 12 oz. dry fettuccine


  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (I make my own, recipe shown here)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (plus more for serving)
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken (or turkey)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thin, large strips cut in half
  • 8 oz. small brown mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Chopped parsley, for serving


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta for 9 minutes until just al dente. Drain; set aside.

For the meatballs:

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the Cajun seasoning, garlic, panko, egg, parmesan, parsley, and chicken. Mix with a fork until just combined; do not overwork. Divide the meatball mixture into 30 meatballs and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, then flip the meatballs over to brown on the other side; bake another 8 minutes.


While the meatballs are cooking: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions and bell peppers to the pan and saute until just soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until they have released their moisture, about another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add tomatoes and Cajun seasoning and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer another 3 minutes or until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in half and half and parsley and simmer for another minute until sauce is thickened. Stir in cooked pasta and toss to coat.

Serve pasta in bowls with meatballs on top.


Favorite recipe I’ve added to my archive this year (maybe a tie with the red chile shredded beef). So good. I could eat this every other week and never tire of it. The only downside to this recipe is that it takes a bit more effort than my typical weeknight stuff because it involves cooking three separate elements. This is probably one of the only recipes in my permanent favorites list that is like that. But damn is it worth it!

Red Chile Shredded Beef


Red Chile Shredded Beef


For the sauce:

  • 2 dried New Mexican chiles
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried Ancho chiles
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock (more, as necessary)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

For the beef:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3- to 4-pound beef chuck roast, cut into two or three pieces, if necessary to fit in the crock pot


For the sauce:

Cut the heads off the chiles and shake out all the seeds. Cut the chiles up with a pair of scissors (or rip them by hand) into large pieces.

Heat a large skillet on medium low. Place the dried chile pieces in the skillet and toast until fragrant, shaking and tossing the chiles to prevent burning.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Put the chiles into a glass bowl and pour enough boiling water into the bowl to cover the chiles. Place a lid or plate over the bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour, to soften the chiles.

When the chiles are soft, pull them out of the soaking water and place in a blender with the onions, garlic, chicken stock, cumin, oregano, salt, and sugar. Blend until liquefied, about a minute.

For the beef:

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Add to the beef to the pan and cook for 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned.

Place meat in the slow cooker; add the red chile sauce. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When the meat is done cooking, remove the crock pot bowl and refrigerate overnight (or at least 8 hours).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Use a spoon to remove the congealed fat from around the beef. Discard the fat. Transfer beef to a large cutting board and either shred with two forks or chop with a large knife until shredded to desired consistency.

Place shredded beef in large baking dish. Stir up the remaining sauce in the crock pot, pour over the beef, and mix well. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to broil on low and place baking dish under the broiler for 5 minutes, turning once to crisp as much of the meat as possible.

Serve in tacos or burritos or with eggs and beans.


This is absolutely unbelievable. Out of this world good. Two notes:

  1. This is obviously great for feeding a crowd, but if you’re like me and only have two people in the house, the leftovers also do really well in the freezer! You can reheat the frozen leftovers in a 350F oven for 45 minutes, easy.
  2. If it weren’t for Rebecca at Foodie with Family and her Cuban Pork recipe, I never would have thought to do crock pot shredded meat with the extra steps of refrigerating overnight, removing the fat, and subsequently crisping in the oven. And honestly, it really makes the recipe. Highly highly recommend making the effort to plan ahead and do the extra steps!

Instant Pot Spanish Rice

IMG_8634 (2)WWDQ6723

Instant Pot Spanish Rice


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce


Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Add the rice and onion; stir to coat. Saute until rice is starting to brown. Add the spices, stock, and tomato sauce; stir to combine.

Pour all ingredients in instant pot and close lid. Use the Manual/Pressure Cook button  to set it to cook on High Pressure for 5 minutes. After the pressure builds and it has cooked for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and do a 15-minute Natural Release. Release any remaining pressure and open the lid carefully.

Fluff the rice with a fork, then serve.


None. Perfect as is. I finally have perfect Spanish rice again!!





  • 1 lb. ground beef, venison, or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon each salt, ground cumin, Mexican oregano, ancho chile powder, and New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 cup (one-half of a 16-oz. can) refried beans
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 box tostada shells (I buy the El Paso 12-pack, but any 10- or 12-pack will do)
  • Topping options:
    • Shredded cheese
    • Shredded lettuce
    • Diced tomato
    • Diced onion
    • Jarred pickled jalapenos (usually called “nacho slices”)
    • Sour cream
    • Salsa or hot sauce


Heat a medium skillet over medium heat (if using venison or turkey, I recommend adding a tablespoon of oil as well). Add the ground meat and cook, breaking into chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, refried beans, and water; stir to combine. Simmer until the water is just evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spread mixture over tostada shells and serve with desired toppings.


I could eat these every week. The only reason I don’t is because the toppings can be a bit of a hassle to put together, especially for work leftovers. Still, I can’t go long without putting them on my menu.

Pro tip (although not shown this way in the photo above): if you want sour cream on your tostadas, smear the sour cream on the shell FIRST, then put the meat on and top with everything else. It’s virtually impossible to “spread” sour cream on after the fact, so this is a good alternative.

Broccoli Rice Casserole


img_8204img_8201Broccoli Rice Casserole


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces broccoli florets, steamed until tender
  • 3 cups cooked rice (yield from 1 cup dry)
  • 4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup half and half


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a medium sized casserole dish with nonstick spray (or grease dish with butter).

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until just soft. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Put mixture in casserole dish and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.


Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad


Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad
slightly adapted from Creme de la Crumb



  • 1 lb. cheese tortellini pasta, fresh or dried, cooked per package instructions
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 (14-oz. can) quartered artichoke hearts, drained, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Greek Dressing

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


Combine all dressing ingredients in a jar, cover and shake well.

In a large bowl combine tortellini, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, artichoke hearts, olives, feta cheese, and basil. Pour dressing over the top, then toss to combine.

Serve or refrigerate immediately. Best fresh but can stay good 4 to 5 days.


I cannot. stop. making this. Best pasta salad I’ve ever made. Awesome contribution to a potluck, sure, but I keep making it over and over for lunches and dinners just for myself – and probably will keep doing so for years to come. SO GOOD.

American Lasagna

img_0159American Lasagna


  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 recipe homemade ragu bolognese
  • 8 oz. spinach, cooked, drained, chopped
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a medium skillet on medium low heat, combine ragu bolognese, spinach, tomato paste, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 5 minutes until well combined. Cool to at least room temperature before proceeding.

Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain. Gently transfer noodles to foil sprayed with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese with egg, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

To assemble, spread a little bit of the meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish, then layer three times as follows:

  • 4 noodles lengthwise
  • one-third of the ricotta mixture spread over the noodles
  • 4 oz. mozzarella
  • 1 oz. parmesan
  • one-third of the remaining meat sauce

Cover with foil.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes before slicing. Top with a bit of grated parmesan and red pepper flake, as desired.


I’ve made quite a few lasagnas over the years, but this is my favorite tried and true. And although I absolutely love Italian sausage in lasagna, and certainly you can make a sausage or sausage/beef sauce in place of the ragu here, I almost always have portions of bolognese in the freezer so it makes it even easier to crank this out whenever I’d like. Perfect, repeatable, delicious.

Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese

Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese
with thanks to Belly Full


  • 1 quart (4 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 10 oz. mini pepperoni (or regular size, cut into quarters)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cups dried macaroni pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese


In a medium bowl, whisk together the broth, tomato sauce, garlic powder, salt, basil, oregano, and thyme.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pepperoni. Cook for 2 minutes, until the pepperoni has started to release its oil into the pan, then add the onions. Saute the onions until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour the broth mixture into the pan. Bring to a boil and add the macaroni. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until the pasta is tender, stirring a few times to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the macaroni is done, sprinkle the grated cheeses on top. Stir until melted and serve immediately.


Even better than I imagined it would be when I first saw the recipe. I do not consider myself a pepperoni lover – honestly, it’s one of the last ingredients I will order on a pizza – but this was utterly delicious. Comfort food at its finest.

Easy Curry Beef Bowls


Easy Curry Beef Bowls


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups stock or water
  • 1 cup peas


Add the ground beef to a large saute pan over medium heat. Cook, breaking into chunks with a wooden spoon, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove beef to a bowl (leave any fat in the pan) and set aside. Add onions and saute 3 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.

Add potatoes, carrots, spices, and sugar and stir to combine. Stir in stock (or water). Bring to a boil on medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, until potatoes are about halfway done.

Add the ground beef back to the pan, and cook uncovered another 2-3 minutes, until potatoes are done and the sauce has thickened. Stir in peas and cook for another minute, until heated through.

Serve over cooked basmati rice.


I must say when I tagged this post as both “beef” and “Indian,” it felt oh so wrong. So please feel free to make this with ground turkey or lamb or chicken or venison or whatever you like. The point here is not the recipe, but the recipe idea: a quick, healthy, easy, deeply flavorful Indian-spiced one-pot dish. I imagine I will do plenty of variations of this over the years because the meat and vegetables can probably all be substituted while the concept remains the same. I love these kinds of meals. Big thanks to Woks of Life for the inspiration.