Hawaiian Sloppy Joes

I love sloppy joes. It's one of my childhood favorites that has become a staple in this house as an adult. They are so easy to make, you can customize them with ingredients you like, and you can tweak the sauce to get a completely different tasting dish every time. Plus, they pair really well with tater tots or cauliflower tots.

One of my go-to dishes is my unsloppy joes. I've been making them for years and I love them, but I wanted to try something a little different. When I came across these Hawaiian sloppy joes, I knew I had found a winner.  I loved the sweetness that the pineapple adds to the sauce. I couldn't find any fresh pineapple at my grocery store so I bought a can of sliced pineapple instead. I will go ahead and say that fresh is definitely better in this but canned works in a pinch. It's not that the canned pineapple was bad but I think the fresh would have not only held up it's shape better but given the dish a more pineapple flavor. 
Recipe adapted from Vodka & Biscuits

  • olive oil as needed
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 green bell pepper, small dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, finely chopped in food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 pack hamburger rolls

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until onions are translucent and peppers are soft, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.
  3. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms become soft, another 5-6 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook an additional minute or two to let the flavors mingle.
  4. Stir in the lentils, pineapple, soy sauce, brown sugar. Mix until incorporated. Add the tomato sauce and vinegar and mix. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving on rolls.

Soyrizo Mushroom Hand Pies

I love empanadas. I used to love when my cousin would make them when I'd come over for a visit. I think that was one of the few things I actually cooked as a teenager. Once I got married and moved away, I continued to make them. However, now that I've given up meat, I haven't been able to find a recipe that I like as much as the original one I used to make as a teen... until now.

One thing I ate before I had even given up meat was soyrizo. I love chorizo with all of it's flavors and spiciness but I have never been a huge fan of sausage, hot dogs, or any other sort of processed meat that leaves you not wanting to question what it's made out of. Soyrizo has all the same flavors as chorizo without any of the gross, questionable ingredients.

These hand pies are super easy to make. All the ingredients are readily available at pretty much all super markets and it's really quick to throw together. The only item that I wasn't sure I'd find was the Cotija cheese. For some reason my grocery story put it over by the ricotta cheese. If you can't find Cotija cheese, you can substitute it with either Parmesan or feta cheese. Cotija tasted like a combination of the two, so either of those should work if you can't find it. You can make the filling ahead of time to shave off half the prep time for these or you can make the hand pies ahead of time and store them in your refrigerator on a baking sheet until you are ready to pop them in the oven. I've done both and they turned out great. These are definitely going into my "keep" pile of recipes.

Recipe adapted from Comowater

  • 1 package Soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo)
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced 
  • 3 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms 
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil 
  • salt 
  • pepper 
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  •  4 roll out pie crusts 
  • 1 egg, beaten 
  • 1 tsp. milk 

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a saute pan and heat over medium heat. Cook soyrizo until slightly crunchy (about 7-10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same sauté pan and heat over medium. Add onions. Saute 2 minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute over medium until onions and mushrooms are soft; about 5 minutes. Add a small pinch of salt and a few grinds black pepper.
  4. Mix the cooled soyrizo with the onion/mushroom mixture and let cool completely before beginning hand pie assembly.
  5. Lightly spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Lightly flour counter. Roll out pie dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out circles of desired size. Add filling to center of dough circle, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch border around the edge of the dough. Wet the edge of the dough slightly with water. Top with second dough round and seal the hand pies closed. Lightly beat egg with milk to create an egg wash. Brush the top of the hand pies with egg wash. Add the hand pies to the cookie sheet. Bake approx. 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool and enjoy!

Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Slaw & Spicy Black Beans

It's still been pretty hot here. The heat just doesn't want to let up. Which means I've been eating a lot of grilled or quick dinners so as to not heat up the whole house. One of the dishes I've recently made were these delicious shrimp tacos. I know they don't look all that great in the photo, but trust me, they were amazing. The Mister and I ate kind of ate the whole batch and I used the leftover slaw for breakfast tacos the next morning.
I wanted to show the tacos without the extra sauce and cheese on them

This was a quick and easy dinner to throw together. You can make the slaw and spicy black beans ahead of time and then just cook the shrimp when it's time for dinner. Just be sure to reheat the beans. The original recipe called for shredded cabbage but I went with a bagged coleslaw mix so that I didn't end up with a ton of cabbage leftover in my refrigerator. Plus, I liked the added bonus of the carrots in my taco. Made me feel like I was eating super healthy. If you can't find Cotija cheese (mine looked like a round wheel of cheese) I would substitute it out with feta, but I would really try to find Cotija.  I've never had Cotija cheese before but it reminded me of a mix between feta and Parmesan cheese. I have to say, I'm a huge fan of this cheese. I was putting it on everything.

recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

For the Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup plain fat-free yogurt
For the Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper  
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 cups coleslaw mix
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Cotija cheese and additional cilantro for topping
  • lime wedges for serving

  1. Pulse all the sauce ingredients except the sour cream in a food processor. When mostly smooth, add the sour cream and pulse until combined. Taste and adjust as needed. Set aside.
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil a large skillet over medium high heat. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and sprinkle with the spices, and a little salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and saute for 5-8 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.
  3. Toss some of the sauce (not all) with the cabbage until it the cabbage is coated to your liking. It should resemble a coleslaw - you want it to be enough sauce so the cabbage is weighed down a little bit. Use leftover sauce on top of the tacos or in other recipes.
  4. To serve tacos, smash a spoonful of avocado on the tortillas, top with a few pieces of shrimp, top with coleslaw, and finish with Cotjia cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges.

For the Spicy Black Beans
recipe adapted from Tyler Florence
  • 2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

I don't know about you but when it gets hot here, the last thing I want to do is spend time in the kitchen. Especially when we're going through a heatwave and I don't have air conditioning to cool down the house. When it comes to moments like these I usually do one of two things, cook on the grill or cook with my slow-cooker. Now I know what you're thinking, running a slow-cooker heats up the house, too. You would be correct. However, I put the slow-cooker in our garage or out on the back patio where it won't heat up the house. It's a little abnormal but I end up with a delicious home-cooked meal that's full of flavor and I didn't have to heat up my whole house to make it. ;)

I'm a big fan of stuffed peppers. There's so many different ways you can make them. I've had the traditional version, enchilada version, and even a lasagna version. All were very delicious and filling. However, one thing they all had in common was that I would boil the peppers before assembling them and then bake them in the over to finish them off. Neither of which is happening when it's in the 90's. This recipe requires neither of those things since it's all made in the slow-cooker. However, because I had to make the quinoa, I wound up making it the night before after it had cooled off some, and stored it in the refrigerator until the next morning.

recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum

  • 6 bell peppers
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups red enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar, colby jack, or pepper jack cheese
  • cilantro, guacamole, salsa, avocado, sour cream, for toppings

  1. Cut the tops off of the peppers and scrape out the ribs and seeds.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, beans, enchilada sauce, spices, and 1 cup of the cheese. Fill each pepper with the quinoa mixture.
  3. Pour ½ cup water into the bottom of a slow-cooker. Place the peppers in the slow-cooker so they're sitting in the water. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Remove lid, distribute remaining cheese over the tops of the peppers, and cover again for a few minutes to melt the cheese.
  4. Top the stuffed pepper with your choosing. 

Slow-cooker S'mores Cake

 You may not know this about me but I love all things S'mores. ALL things. I have tried various versions of S'mores, I've made them in a microwave, in the over, on the stove, and of course over the fire. I've have S'mores cheesecake, cupcakes, cookies, pastries, Pop-Tarts, you name it. I even have a mini S'mores Christmas tree with mini S'mores snowmen ornaments. Trust me, I'm a fanatic about S'mores and this is definitely a MUST if you are anything like me. ;)

One thing I LOVE about this recipe is how easy it is to put together. There's not a whole heck of a lot of work that you put into this but even if there was, I feel like it would be worth it. This is kind of like a S'mores lava cake mashup. You get all the flavors of S'mores but with this gooey, fudgy center. Mmm! Now one thing I did change in the recipe, and I do it all the time when a cake calls for oil, is I swapped out equal parts natural apple sauce for the oil. Trust me, this is an amazing cake that you don't have to fuss over. I even had leftovers, and after a quick zap in the microwave they were just as good as they were the night I made it.

adapted from A Savory Feast
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 (15.25 oz) box chocolate cake mix
  • Water, egg and oil as directed on cake mix box
  • 1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  1. Grease a slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, and butter. Mix until well blended.
  3. Press the graham cracker crust down evenly in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  4. Mix the cake mix according to the directions on the box. Add 1/2 of the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the slow cooker.
  6. Cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Top with marshmallows and the remaining chocolate chips. Let melt before serving.