Beefy Penne Bake – Help Crush Hunger

red-gold-kids-eating

I have shared a lot of posts and recipes over the years, but this is one of the most important.  In a world that can seem a little (or a lot) out of control, with more bad news than we think we can handle, we also have the opportunity to join together for good.

This October, Red Gold is partnering with Feeding America for the #HelpCrushHunger campaign.  And we can easily join in to help!

For each Red Gold product purchased throughout the month of October, Red Gold will donate a meal to someone in need.  The goal is to donate 1.7 million meals to Feeding America food banks across the country.

You guys!  How easy is that?  All we need to do is buy Red Gold tomato products in October and a meal will be provided for people who need it!  Since every grocery list I’ve ever put together has canned tomatoes on it, this is a no-brainer, simple way for me to help.

red-gold-buffet-line

Our church has a small after school program for kids that live in a nearby neighborhood.  This year the organizers of the program committed to including dinner as part of the program.  Many of the kids don’t get enough to eat at home.

I made a big pan of Beefy Penne Bake to share with them last week.  They ate it up!  Another woman brought a watermelon from her garden.  The kids love fresh fruit.  One little guy is a true watermelon lover.  I lost count of how many pieces he ate.  I remember him loading up on watermelon during Vacation Bible School too.

I hope you’ll join me and #HelpCrushHunger during the month of October. When you show or tell about a family meal experience on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, use #HelpCrushHunger in the caption and you’ll be entered to win a Red Gold Family Meal Kit and $100 to donate to your local food bank.  Visit www.HelpCrushHunger.com for more info.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Beefy Penne Bake:   [Read more…]

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Pasta Puttanesca – So easy to make, so amazing to eat!

pasta-puttanesca-so-easy-to-make-and-amazing-to-eat

The first time I heard of Pasta Puttanesca, was in the book Belong to Me by Maria de los Santos.  (Fabulous book, by the way.)  Something triggered my memory of the dish the other day and I decided to make it.

Oh my!  This pasta is full of flavor!  Garlic, tomatoes, olives, basil, Parmesan and anchovies all come together in a burst of taste.  Please don’t leave because I said anchovies.  They add so much flavor and you’ll never even know they’re in there.  They disappear when cooked, leaving behind only a wonderful taste.  Even your kids won’t know about it if you don’t tell them.

This dish is so quick to make.  I pulled it together on a Sunday for lunch after church.  It’s ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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Pressure Cooker Mediterranean Chicken

Pressure Cooker Mediterranean Chicken with Feta

This recipe for Pressure Cooker Mediterranean Chicken started out as a slow cooker recipe.  Then I created it as a skillet recipe.

Now I’ve turned it into a pressure cooker meal.  Every version tastes great, so how do you choose which to make?  It depends on the time you have available.  I know I probably sound like a broken record, but I really want to make this clear.

Even though many pressure cooker recipes call for 15 or less minutes of cook time, it takes much longer than that in total.  You have to factor in the time it takes to reach full pressure and to release the pressure.

For a recipe like this one, the total time is about 35-40 minutes.  That’s starting with frozen chicken tenders.  It’s very convenient and easy to put all the ingredients in the pressure cooker.  And once they’re in there, you can do other things while they cook.

If you have 30-40 minutes at home before dinner time, using the pressure cooker is the way to go.

If you have time in the morning to load a slow cooker, but will be coming in ravenous at the end of the day, use a slow cooker.

If you only have 15 or 20 minutes to fix dinner at the end of the day, use the skillet method.  Speed that up even more by using rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken from your freezer.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Pressure Cooker Mediterranean Chicken:   [Read more…]

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Pressure Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Sandwiches

Chicken Cacciatore Sandwich in the Pressure Cooker

I’ve been trying to experiment with the pressure cooker more lately. As I’ve said before, the decision to use a pressure cooker or slow cooker is entirely dependent on your timing. If you would rather get your prep done early in the day and/or you want to eat as soon as you walk in the door in the evening, the slow cooker is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you have 30-40 minutes before dinner and/or you forgot to load the slow cooker in the morning, drag out the pressure cooker.

Recipes often state the cook time for the pressure cooker to be mere minutes. While this is true, it isn’t the whole truth. The cook time doesn’t take into account the amount of time for the cooker to reach full pressure or how long the pressure release takes.

This recipe for Pressure Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Sandwiches is based on the Slow Cooker version. Instead of serving it with pasta, I decided to make a sandwich out of it. We love hot sandwiches, and this was no exception. Sandwich meals are great if you need to eat in shifts or if you’re in a hurry. Sides can be kept simple and it’s easy to pile the filling on a bun.

The ingredients are all very basic, but I failed to snap a photo of them this time.

Chicken Cacciatore Sandwich

I started this with frozen chicken tenders and it worked great.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Sandwiches

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 lb. frozen chicken tenders
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup red wine, broth or water
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • ¾ tsp. basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Sandwich buns
  • Sliced mozzarella or provolone cheese
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in order listed in pressure cooker, except cheese and buns.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 14 minutes.
  3. Do a quick pressure release.
  4. Remove lid and shred chicken with two forks.
  5. Serve meat on buns topped with cheese.

 

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22 Ways to Cook Pork in the Slow Cooker

I don’t know why, but I feel like I get stuck in a rut a lot with pork. It’s not that there aren’t dozens of ways to cook it, it’s just that I draw a blank on what to make with it. Sometimes I see recipes that look so good, but so seem a bit complicated and time-consuming. But, thanks to the slow cooker, it’s really not that hard.

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I love the way that pork works with sweet, tangy flavors. As a sweeter meat, you can put sweeter sauces and fruits with it that you can’t with other kinds of protein. This makes it a great choice for sweet bbq style sandwiches, and sweet and sour Asian dishes. But Pork can hold its own with spicy flavors too.  Pulled pork is one of my favorite things. You can make it sweet or you can make it spicy. It’s good in a hot sandwich. It’s good in a taco. It’s amazing on top of sweet potatoes. But there are so many other pork dinners that we enjoy. From spicy tacos, to Mediterranean flair, to that delicious asian flavors. Making pork in the slow cooker is easy because you can cook it long and slow and get the meat tender and flavorful without drying it out. And with so many ways to make it, you are sure to find a meal that your family loves!

22 Ways to Cook Pork in the Slow Cooker

  1. Peach Pork BBQ Sliders
  2. Pork Gravy Sandwiches
  3. Teriyaki Pork Chops
  4. Tany Sweet Pork Chops
  5. BBQ Peach Pulled Pork
  6. Pork Carnitas
  7. Apple BBQ Pork Chops
  8. Honey Dijon Pork Chops &  Apples
  9. Sweet and Sour Pork Chops
  10. Pork Chops and Baked Beans
  11. Italian Herb Salt Pork Roast and Potatoes

Other Bloggers

  1. Cumin Pork Roast and Beans
  2. Mediterranean Pork with Couscous
  3. Brazillian Feijoada Pork and Black Beans
  4. Root Beer BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  5. Thai Style Pork
  6. Mexi Style Pulled Pork
  7. Shredded Pork Tostadas
  8. Pulled Pork Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
  9. Pulled Pork & Mexican Coleslaw Tacos
  10. Asian Pork Tenderloin
  11. Jerk Pork

 

PorkPin

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20 Slow Cooker Sandwiches

Sandwiches are the classic “I need to feed my family–quick!” kind of meals. But quick and easy doesn’t have to mean PBJ or BLTs night after night. There are lots of delicious things to serve between two slices of bread.  These fifteen different sandwiches you can throw into your slow cooker and forget about until dinner time are life savers for us during the summer–or any busy time of the year! There’s enough variety that even if we ate sandwiches for a week straight, we’d probably not be tired of them.

SandwhichFB

The slow cooker is such a time saver. And when it’s hot–not having to heat up the kitchen is a huge bonus. And thanks to the slow cooker, you get to enjoy big, juicy flavorful sandwiches without slaving over the stove or grill for hours on hot or busy days.  That’s my kind of dinner!

20 Sandwiches in the Slow Cooker

  1. Hawaiian BBQ Sandwiches
  2. Jerk Chicken Sandwiches
  3. Beef Shwarma
  4. Italian Sausage and Pepper Subs
  5. Pork and Gravy Sandwiches
  6. Chicken Bacon & Ranch Sandwiches
  7. Chicken Philly Sandwiches
  8. Beef Gyros
  9. French Dip Sandwiches
  10. African Pulled Beef Sandwiches
  11. Pizza Steak Sandwiches
  12. BBQ Chicken Sandwiches
  13. Italian Beef Sandwiches
  14. BBQ Peach Pulled Pork
  15. Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches
  16. Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches
  17. Bacon Cheeseburger
  18. Beer Brats
  19. Peach BBQ Pork Sliders
  20. Balsamic Chicken Salad Sandwiches

 

SandwichesPin

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Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry in the Pressure Cooker

One of my favorite slow cooker recipes is Chicken Curry.  I’ve also made a quick skillet version of this recipe.  It’s just so good!

This time I decided to try chicken curry in the pressure cooker.  I’ve been experimenting with altering slow cooker recipes for the pressure cooker.  Over all, this works really well.

For this recipe, I started with frozen chicken tenders.  On top of the chicken, I added salsa (nearly any type will work) and curry powder.  I set the pressure cooker to high pressure for 12 minutes.  It takes around 20 minutes to reach full pressure though, so the total time for this recipe is about 35 minutes.  That’s pretty fast, especially since it started with frozen chicken.

Which method you choose – slow cooker, skillet or pressure cooker – entirely depends on the amount of time you have available and when you have that time.  If you have a few minutes to load the slow cooker in the morning, but need dinner done as soon as you walk in the door, then that’s the best method for you.  On the other hand, if you have 35 minutes to wait on dinner to cook in the evening, the pressure cooker is the way to go.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Curry

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 3 Tbs. curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, onion, salsa and curry powder in pressure cooker.
  2. Set the pressure cooker on high pressure for 12 minutes.
  3. When the cook time is up, do a quick pressure release.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pot.
  5. Add coconut milk to pressure cooker. Stir into sauce.
  6. Return chicken to pot.
  7. Serve over cooked rice.

 

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Pressure Cooker Re-do – Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches done

The other day, I decided to alter the recipe for Slow Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches with Cucumber Mango Salsa and make it work for the pressure cooker.  Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes.  I’ve been thinking that all this pressure cooking frenzy going on around the interwebs was a bunch of craziness.

And then I tried it for myself.

Now, I will say that the sandwich meat isn’t as tender in the pressure cooker, but it was still good.  The key to know which appliance to use is know what the timing of your day is like.  If you have time to put the food into the slow cooker in the morning, then that’s the way to go.  But if you have more time in the afternoon (hands on time is still short), and can wait 30 or so minutes for dinner, then the pressure cooker is your friend.

Pressure cooker jerk chicken sandwiches

I used chicken tenders that were still frozen.  I gave them set the pressure cooker for a 12 minute cook time.  The total time it took was about 30 minutes, including the time to come up to pressure, cook and pressure release.

Pressure Cooker Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 lbs. frozen chicken tenders
  • 16 oz. jerk marinade
  • 1 mango
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Rolls, for serving
Instructions
  1. Place chicken, still frozen, in pressure cooker.
  2. Pour jerk marinade over chicken.
  3. Set timer on pressure cooker for 12 minutes.
  4. When cooking time is done, do a quick pressure release.
  5. Shred meat and serve.
  6. While chicken cooks, peel and dice the mango. Dice the cucumber. Toss together with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

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Steak on a Charcoal Grill – You can do this!

Fillet mignon on grill

I love to grill, but I admit that I’ve never really used charcoal to do it.  I’ve watched others grill over charcoal, but it intimidated me a little.

Then Kingsford Charcoal contacted me and asked if I would try their Kingsford Professional Charcoal to grill steak.  Perfect timing!  This is shaping up to be a tasty summer of outdoor grilling.  I’m hooked!

My first step was ordering a new charcoal grill.  I went with the Weber Kettle.

Next up – shop for steaks.  Costco had a pack of fillet mignon that looked wonderful.  Again, I was a little nervous to grill expensive steak.  What if I ruined it?  Shouldn’t I start with hot dogs?

The steak turned out to be so easy to grill.  The whole process takes about an hour, but it is easy to do.

The longest part of the process is waiting on the coals to get hot enough to cook over.  I use a chimney to light the charcoal.  You’ll need a few sheets of newspaper to roll up and place under the chimney.  True confession – I had to buy a Sunday paper for this, because we don’t take the newspaper anymore.  Pour the Kingsford Professional Briquets into the chimney, then light the newspaper at the bottom.  The flames will spread up through the chimney, catching all the charcoal on fire.

Kingsford Professional chimney starter

After about 45 minutes, the coals will become gray.  That signals the time to pour the burning coals into the grill.  Use grill gloves for this step so you don’t get burned.

Kingsford Professional

While the charcoal is getting hot, pull your steaks from the fridge and let them rest at room temperature.  You don’t want to put cold steaks on the hot grill.

I kept the seasonings simple so that they flavor of the meat could shine through.  I sprinkled each cut with kosher salt and pepper.  That’s it.

When the coals are ready, place the steaks on the hot grill.  Steak needs to sear and cook over high heat. Kingsford Professional Briquets are designed to achieve very hot temps. Since the fillets were very thick, I cooked them about 5-6 minutes per side, only flipping them once.  An instant read thermometer would be handy at this point, but I don’t own one yet.

Remove the steaks from the grill when they’ve reached the desired doneness.  Keep in mind they will continue to cook even after you’ve taken them off the heat.

fillet mignon finished with butter

Top each steak with a pat of butter and let them rest for several minutes before serving.  This is a good time to call everyone to the table, finish up side dishes, etc.

fillet mignon grilled done

Get out there and grill!

You can find Kingsford on Facebook and Twitter.

 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kingsford. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti or pasta is a favorite weeknight go-to dinner for many families.  It is for us too.

I used to reach for a jar of prepared pasta sauce, but once I figured out that homemade pasta sauce didn’t have to take all day to make, I rarely grab the jar.

Instead, I use some version of this recipe.  It starts with a can of Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes.  Well, actually I started this version with the Italian sausage, but the crushed tomatoes are the main ingredient.

The sauce comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.  It’s so easy!  Homemade is so much better than store-bought and it’s just about as easy as opening a jar.

Italian sausage and plenty of herbs spice up the good tomato flavor.  It’s fantastic over any type of pasta.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

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