Instant Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Back to the aforementioned affinity to make themed food for football weeks.  The Browns were playing New Orleans Saints, so I made jambalaya! I was surprised at how much I liked this.  It’s not a typical flavor profile I would go for, and honestly, I still struggle to find Instant Pot dishes that I think are better than just okay.  This one was great and would also make an excellent meal for hosting a party!



Instant Pot Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

  • 2 Tbsp. oil, divided
  • 12 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4 in. thick slices (I used kielbasa to reduce spice level for kids, and because I’m not a big fan of andouille.)
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Cajun seasonings
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup long grain white rice
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Turn instant pot to saute setting, and add 1 Tablespoon of oil.  Once heated, add sausage/kielbasa slices, and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.

Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of oil to the pot, and add the chicken and cook for one minute, scraping up the browned bits from the sausage. Turn off instant pot. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, and allow residual heat to cook for one minute or until you have a chance to add the seasonings.

Add Cajun seasoning, dried basil, thyme, and rice and stir to combine.

Add diced tomatoes with juice, chicken stock, and salt.

Seal the instant pot lid and turn valve to sealing. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 5 minutes. When the timer beeps, allow the pressure to naturally release
for 5 minutes, and then quick release the remaining pressure.

Remove the lid carefully, and gently fluff the rice with a fork. Add the sausage/kielbasa back on top of the rice and return the lid to let the mixture rest for an additional 5 minutes. Then, stir and eat!

Recipe Source: Tastes Better From Scratch


Cookie Dough Cake

For several years, I’ve made some sort of dessert for our United Way Dessert Auction at work (see here and here, for example).  It’s fun for me to get to try out a new recipe and have a reason to set aside time to bake which is challenging with two little ones and a full time job.  The person who ultimately ended up winning this one was so sweet! She emailed me to say she’s a self-proclaimed cake connoisseur, and this was one of the best cakes she’s ever had! Then, I saw her another time and she told me her husband said he’d pay for another one HA! So now, I definitely need to make this cake again and get to eat it this time. 🙂



  • 1 box white cake mix or yellow
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips


  • 2 cups butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5-6 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup mini chocolate chips (for the filling)


  • 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
  • 8 chocolate chip cookies + 1/3 cup crushed cookies (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3, 8-inch pans.  I decided to do 2, 9-inch pans since I was short on time and it worked out great as well!

If you’re feeling super ambitious, sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside. I was not, so I skipped this step.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, buttermilk, sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in cake mix and chocolate chips.

Divide evenly in the pans and spread the batter level. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.  For two layers, 20-25 minutes.

For the frosting – Beat butter and brown sugar for 2 minutes. Add vanilla, flour, and salt and beat again. Slowly add in powdered sugar until reach desired consistency.

For the frosting to go between the cake layers, remove about 2 cups of frosting and mix with the chocolate chips.  I forgot to do this and chips kept getting stuck in my icing tip, so I will definitely do this next time.

To assemble: Spread 1/2 the frosting mixed with chocolate chips (or all of it if you’re only using two layers, on your bottom cake layer, then put the other layer on top and frost.  Then cover the sides of the cake with the mini chocolate chips.  If you’re using the crushed/chocolate chip cookies, put those on top.

Recipe source:

Mexican Rice

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a good version of Mexican rice that either isn’t incredibly spicy or take forever to make.  I recently went through Joanna Gaines new cookbook, Magnolia Table, and bookmarked a slew of recipes one of which was this one.  Both boys (really all three ;)) gobbled this up, and I’m back to the blog so I can document this one and have it readily available for next time!

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, rinsed (only necessary if your rice’s instructions directs you to do so)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken broth (or water)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley, optional (for garnish)

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add the rice and saute, stirring, until lightly browned (about 10 min.).  Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds.  Then add the onion and garlic, stirring often until softened (about 5 min.).

Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, stir once, cover, and reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove pan from the heat and let it stand still covered for 10 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and sprinkle with cilantro/parsley.

Recipe Source: Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines

Sugar Cookie Cake



My work holds a Silent Dessert Auction each year during our United Way kickoff. I've contributed a few years like this yummy Reese's cake and taken a few years off since it's a lot to balance trying to whip something up mid-week with little ones. This year I decided to participate despite being the first year with two little boys so it took some pre-planning to get it all done (thanks to my husband who did the dishes for me).

I didn't actually get to try the cookie portion of the cake, but the winner told me it was "absolutely scrumptious", so hopefully that's true. I already have four requests for this, so at least people think it looks delicious. 😉

I ended up using a different buttercream recipe based on some of the reviews, and added about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sprinkles to the batter itself just to make it a little more festive.


Sugar Cookie Cake


  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Sprinkles!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 3, 8-inch, (or 2, 9-inch) cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper circles.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium high. Add the eggs individually, mixing after each then add the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two parts, and the sprinkles, if using, but be careful not to overmix.  Stop after just combined.

Divide the dough evenly amongst the pans and spread using a spatula or parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes (mine were thicker than the original recipe picture and probably took closer to 20 minutes to bake through) until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


I used this one and ended up adding more powdered sugar until it was the consistency I was looking for.

Then assemble the cake! Place a sugar cookie layer on your cake board or plate, top with frosting, and repeat until you have used all three layers. Decorate as you wish!

Recipe Source: Cookie:Completely Delicious Frosting: Brown Eyed Baker


Skillet Lasagna

Every week, we like to pick a “themed” meal based on who either the Ohio State Buckeyes or the Cleveland Browns are playing.  A couple weeks ago, the Browns were playing the Jets, so we decided on Italian food. I loved how easy this was compared to making a huge tray of lasagna which is significantly more time consuming.  And, this turned out to be exactly the kind of warm, delicious dinner we were looking for.  I even took it for lunch the next day and since leftovers are typically not my favorite, that’s saying A LOT!

Skillet Lasagna

Skillet Lasagna

  • 1½ (28 oz.)  cans whole peeled tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¾ tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage, crumbled
  • 10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp. minced fresh basil, optional

Coarsely chop the tomatoes.

Place a large cast iron or non-stick oven-safe skillet with a lid over medium heat.  If using ground beef, cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Then remove the ground beef from the pan, drain any grease, and heat the olive oil still over medium heat.  If using Italian sausage, heat the olive oil over medium heat (you’ll cook the sausage later).  Add onion, salt, and pepper to pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened about 5-7 minutes.  Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook 30 seconds until just fragrant.

If using Italian sausage, add it to pan now and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  If using ground beef, add it back to the pan now.  Scatter the lasagna noodles in the skillet, and pour the tomatoes with their juices over top of the noodles.  Increase heat to medium-high and cover.  Stir it often at a strong simmer until the lasagna noodles are al dente, about 20-24 minutes.

Preheat your broiler.  Once the noodles are al dente, remove the skillet from the heat, and stir in half of the mozzarella and Parmesan, and ¼ cup of the ricotta.  Dot remaining ricotta over the top, and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheeses in an even layer.  Place in the oven and broil until cheese is slightly browned and bubbling, about 5 minutes.  Take it out of the oven, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Pasta Revolution via Annie’s Eats

Speedier Suppers…Honey Sesame Crockpot Pulled Pork 

We usually all get home around 5:45, and our son typically wants to eat by 6:00 pm which leaves a whooping ~10 minutes to get food together after shoes are off, cars unloaded, etc.

Crockpot meals are great for cooking while you’re away and being almost ready to serve when you finally arrive. Yet I find them, especially meats, are a challenging one for me because everything ends up so similar in texture. Also, the ones where you precook elements or it cooks in three hours would definitely have to be regulated to weekend only meals. This one stood out in terms of flavor and easiness to prepare, and we’ve already made it twice in about two weeks!

Honey Sesame Crockpot Pulled Pork

  • 2 – 3 pounds pork shoulder or butt, trimmed
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed pineapple
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional, I omitted)
See notes below…
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup cold water
Insert slow cooker liner or spray slow cooker with cooking spray.  Trim any significant fat cap off of the pork shoulder.  Put pork in the bottom of the slow cooker.
In a large measuring cup or medium bowl mix together onion, garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame seeds, pineapple and red pepper flakes and pour it over the pork.
Cook on low for approximately eight hours (I’ve left it for closer to 10 hours, and it was fine) until pork is completely cooked through. Remove pork from the slow cooker and shred.
Notes: The original recipe then mixes the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and slowly stirs it into the sauce remaining in the slow cooker, covering it with the lid while shredding the pork.  I have just pulled some sauce out and reduced it in a small saucepan by bringing it to a boil and letting it go for a bit until the liquid decreases by almost half.  Either option works!
Combine pork with sauce and serve.  We liked this on sandwiches, in tortillas, or by itself with some green onions, additional sesame seeds, and more pineapple. 🙂
Recipe very slightly adapted from Chef in Training

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

*Updated 8/23/16 to reflect using an entire box of pasta which is how we traditionally prepare it!

This is one of those recipes that has been made 800 times by your family.  So when my friend alerted me it wasn’t on the blog, it finally warranted me getting out of my year and 1/2 long slump of not posting.  I’m not sure anyone is still out there; however, I have missed having the new recipes we’ve enjoyed in an easily accessible location! We have an amazing reason for being absent and trying fewer recipes.  It’s been a busy time, but that fantastic reason is that we have an almost one year old son!!!

This is the baked mac and cheese recipe we go back to time and time again. Hope you all enjoy it as much as we do!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese {peasandcues}

Macaroni & Cheese

  • 1 – 16 oz. pkg. Cavatappi pasta
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 5 1/4 cups grated cheese (I like to use a blend of sharp cheddar (white or yellow) and a softer, melting cheese like colby jack)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 tsps. salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Potato chips or croutons, crushed (We prefer croutons.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a 2 qt. casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook pasta per manufacturer’s directions for al dente.  Drain pasta and return to the pot.

Stir butter into pasta until melted.  Add 6 cups of the cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Pour into casserole dish.

Bake 30 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese and chips or croutons and broil for one minute or until brown on top.

Slightly adapted from a recipe my mom has been making for years…I will update with the cookbook source next time I’m home!

Asian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Pair a flavorful chicken salad with the crisp bite of a quick pickled cucumber.  Super tasty for a quick weeknight meal!

Asian Chicken Sandwiches {peasandcues}

Asian Chicken Salad Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 English cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced thin
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1 (2 1/2-pound) rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat shredded into bite-size pieces (3 cups)
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices rustic white bread, lightly toasted

Combine vinegar and sugar in microwave-safe medium bowl and microwave until sugar dissolves, about 90 seconds.  Add cucumber slices to bowl and toss to combine.

Whisk together mayonnaise, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until combined.  Add chicken, scallions, and sesame seeds to bowl with mayonnaise mixture and toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top 4 slices bread with chicken salad, followed by cucumbers, then remaining 4 slices bread.

Recipe Source: Simple Weeknight Favorites – America’s Test Kitchen cookbook

Green Chile Cheeseburgers

Despite the rain that’s in the immediate term forecast, we’re finally starting to get into grilling weather! While this recipe seems a little involved for a weeknight dinner, there are a few modifications we’ve done to shorten the time frame just a touch plus there’s options to do some of it ahead of time.  First, the pickled red onions need to be made ahead of time so they will just hang out until you’re ready for them – up to 48 hours. We’ve also prepped the burger mixture beforehand and substituted a pepperjack or monterey jack cheese (pictured here) for queso.

Either way, as a result of salivating over this picture, these burgers have just made it back onto our menu.

Green Chile Burgers {PEAsandcues}

Green Chile Cheeseburgers 
Yields 4 burgers

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced

Green Chile Relish

  • 1 medium poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 Hatch chiles or 2 Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 Serrano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted
  • 8 Tbsp. Queso sauce (Queso recipe coming soon!) or Monterey Jack or Pepperjack cheese

Pickled Onions: Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  While cooling, slice up the onion and place in a medium heat-proof bowl.  Once cooled for at least 10 minutes, pour the vinegar over the red onion slices.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 and up to 48 hours.

Green Chile Relish: Start by roasting the chilis.  Heat broiler in oven to high heat and place a baking sheet with the chiles on it 6 inches from the heating element or char them on your burners if you have a gas stovetop.  Use tongs to turn the chiles every couple minutes until blackened all over.  Once blackened, add the chiles to a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Allow to cool about 10-15 minutes, then peel the chiles.  Remove the seeds and ribs and chop into small pieces.

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, olive oil, and cilantro.  Stir in the diced chiles, and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Burgers: Preheat grill.  In a large bowl, lightly mix together beef, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and red pepper flakes until just combined.  Shape into four patties, each about 1 1/2 inches thick.  Grill the burgers to desired doneness, flipping once.

Time to eat!  Pile queso or cheese, chile relish, and pickled red onions on top of your burger and “nom, nom, nom”!

Recipe ever so slightly adapted from Pink Parsley; adapted from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown!

My Favorite Fruit Pie: Cran-Apple Pie

My mom makes unbelievable cran-apple pie.  It’s not very common.  I’ve never seen it offered in a restaurant, and we’re all aware how much I like to eat.

Cran-Apple Pie {peasandcues}

The tartness of the cranberries is an excellent pairing to crisp apples.  In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought I’d share something from my mommy’s kitchen to yours!

Cran-Apple Pie {peasandcues}

Cran-Apple Pie

Yields 8-10 servings

  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 8 to 9 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Pastry for basic pie crust or use Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust 😉
  • 1 egg white mixed with 1 tsp water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Blend together sugar and flour in a small bowl.  Place pie crust in bottom of a 9″ pie plate.  Alternate layers of apples, cranberries, and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with apples.

Dot the top with small pats of butter.  Put on top pie crust and crimp edges.  Cut slits through the top crust to allow steam to escape.  Use a pastry brush to brush top crust with egg water mixture.

Cook for 50 minutes.

Recipe adapted by my Mom from 1981 Kenmore microwave-convection cookbook