Rule #352: Cleaning one dish is better than cleaning more than one dish.

This little number was inspired by one of our favorite local hangouts: Willie’s Grill & Icehouse. They have a delicious dish called Chicken Ranchero that’s made up of the same basic things in this recipe. This is a perfect meal for a weeknight because it only uses 1 pot and 7 ingredients! It’s also a great dinner to serve to a crowd because it takes very minimal effort to prepare and is a total show stopper.

chicken ranchero

Here’s what we need to make this little number:

chicken breast, EVOO, 1 white onion, 2 jars of salsa, S&P, and a few slices of cheese

chicken ranchero

Plus a little cilantro if you’re hoping for a good ole garnish.

chicken ranchero

Here’s how we make this easy one-pot-wonder:

Heat some olive oil until shimmering over medium-high heat.

chicken ranchero

Sauté onion until cooked through (about 8 minutes).

chicken ranchero

Meanwhile, liberally sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.

chicken ranchero

Once the onion is nice and softened with a little brown color…

chicken ranchero

… move the onion to the sides of the pan. Place the chicken breasts in the center and brown (about 4 minutes per side).

chicken ranchero

Then, cover the chicken with the onions,

chicken ranchero

pour on two jars of your favorite salsa,

chicken ranchero

and top with some slices of cheese. We love to use Monterey Jack, but Swiss works great, too.

chicken ranchero

Cover and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

chicken ranchero

Ta-daa! There’s one easy, delicious dinner for you. And you’ve only got to clean the one pot! Hello, happy weeknight.

chicken ranchero

We like to have our Chicken Ranchero with this Easy Peasy Mexican Rice and some canned black beans with a little seasoning added. We also will sometimes pair this with a Mexican Veggie Medley.

easy peasy mexican rice

chicken ranchero


Chicken Ranchero

2 tbs. EVOO
1 white onion, sliced
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 jars of your favorite salsa
Monterey Jack cheese slices (Swiss works well, too)

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until softened (about 8 minutes). Liberally sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper.

Move the cooked onions to the side of the pan, and place the chicken breasts in the center. Brown the chicken breasts on both sides (about 4 minutes per side). Move the onions back on top of the chicken breasts, pour the salsa all over, and cover with cheese slices.

Bake, covered, at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Chicken Ranchero

Rule #132: Don’t mess with Nonna’s kitchen. 

I’d like to think that one day, I’ll be a wise old Grandma who doesn’t take any lip off of anyone, can cook like the devil, and can hug you hard enough to make all your worries disappear. All the stories I’ve ever heard of Italian grandmas (aka Nonnas) has made me feel like maybe I’ve got a little sassy Italiana in me somewhere. They live for their families, cook meals to feed small armies, and protect their kitchens (and recipes) with their lives. This recipe is one of those Italian family gems I’ve tweaked a bit to go in the slow cooker. Sunday Sauce is basically a combination of pot roast + spaghetti bolognese. What could be more Italian grandma than that?

slow cooker sunday sauce

To take it to a whole notha level: this bad boy is a slow cooker recipe. Throw it all in the pot, crank ‘er up, and you’ve got home cooked Italian comfort food in a matter of hours.

slow cooker sunday sauce

There’s a little Italian turkey sausage you’ve got to brown before throwing it into the slow cooker, but you can always brown that the night before. Just store it in the fridge and throw it in the next morning. Chopping the veggies + pancetta the night before makes it easier to add to the pot when you’re ready, too.

slow cooker sunday sauce

Don’t skimp on the Parm + the basil, y’all. Nonna says that’s a “No, No.” She’s even shaking her finger at you. 

slow cooker sunday sauce

Depending on your mood, you can serve this Sunday Sauce with good ole spaghetti or with some sautéed zoodles. Nonna said that was okay. 

slow cooker sunday sauce

The leftovers hold up very well in the freezer. Just store in airtight containers or Ziplocs, thaw in the fridge overnight, and heat up the next day.


Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce

2 hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
10 baby carrots, chopped
3 oz. pancetta, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed with your fingers
3-4 lb. trimmed Boston butt roast (pork shoulder)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Cabernet (or other dry red wine)
28-oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
24-oz. tomato puree
1/2 cup water
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, julienned, for garnish

Option A: Prep the night before. Chop all of your veggies (onion, garlic, carrots) and pancetta. Store mixed together in a covered container in the fridge overnight. Store the browned sausage in a separate container until the morning.

Option B: Do it all that morning.

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Place all ingredients (minus Parmesan and basil) in a large slow cooker or Crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 9 hours. Turn the heat to low, shred pork, and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti or zoodles. Garnish with Parmesan and basil.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce

If songs were paired with recipes, this recipe’s lyrics would be:

I think I love you, so what am I so afraid of?

I know some of you saw the word CURRY and ran screaming for the hills. Curry ain’t scary, y’all. It’s also not as ‘stinky’ as you’d think. I cook with curry probably 4 times a month, and no one has ever walked into the house complaining about my bad smellin’ business. Think of this little dish as Homemade Hamburger Helper: The Curry Edition.

beef and potato curry

I’ve used tons of different curry powders including some actually from India (thanks to my hubby for acting as the shipping department on that one). Curry powder is basically just a combination of a bunch of spices that you probably use and eat all the time. It’s nothing to be scared of, my friend. Just think of it as another tool for your cooking tool belt. I like the simple stuff like this one:

curry powder

You can grab that guy at any grocery store, and it’s usually less than $3. I recently found a cool little speciality shop called Olive & Vine in City Centre here in Houston that has some great spices, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. I snagged a Madras Curry Powder from them to try out. It’s fantastic! It has even more depth of flavor than the regular grocery store kind.

madras curry powder olive & vine

I’ve fed this to even the most skeptical of naysayers, and I promise you, they all loved it! It’s a comforting, hearty, flavorful, ONE POT dish that will leave you feeling all warm + fuzzy inside.

beef and potato curry

Another bonus to this dish is that it only comes in at 390 calories per serving [6 servings to this recipe] with 17g fat and 22g protein. If you have 3/4 cup of cooked rice with it, that adds about 150 calories. For a little more ‘sinful’ of a meal, try some warm naan with it to soak up the sauce. You’ll never walk by naan without your mouth watering again. Trust me.

beef and potato curry

I would normally cook this dish in my Dutch oven, but he was busy cooking something else that moment. I also already had about 3,284 dishes to do that day, so I opted for the dishwasher-friendly vessel to cook with.

beef and potato curry

This big guy also freezes very, very well. I usually freeze at least half of each batch I make, thaw it the night before we want to eat it, and then we chow down on it like I made it that same day. Winner, winner, curry dinner.

beef and potato curry


Beef and Potato Curry

1 lb. lean ground sirloin
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tbs. fresh ginger, grated or minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tbs. curry powder
2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered, skin-on
1½ cups beef stock
One 14-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
One 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with their juices
1½ cups frozen baby peas
Chopped cilantro, warm naan and steamed rice, for serving

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the meat over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes). Add in the onion, stir, and cook until onion is softened (about 3 minutes). Add ginger, garlic, and curry powder. Stir to combine. Cook until mixture is fragrant (about 2 minutes).

Add in the potato, beef stock, coconut milk, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender (about 15 minutes). Using the back of a spoon, crush about half of the potatoes. Add in the peas, stir, partially cover, and cook until the peas are done (about 10 minutes).

Serve over rice with warm naan on the side. Garnish with cilantro.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Beef and Potato Curry

Chicken Marsala has to be one of those dishes that epitomizes comfort food. It’s hearty, creamy, savory, and best of all for you and me: it’s so simple to make! This recipe makes 4 good-sized servings that come in at about 330 calories. Jon Boy opted to have a little more chicken than I did, but that’s totally fine when the meal is already pretty healthy. The flavors in this dish make you think it’s completely luxurious and definitely not under 500 calories!

chicken marsala

Here are a few of the players in this Marsala Game. Marsala wine can be found at your regular grocery store. I usually find it near the oils + vinegars. I really love to make this dish with shiitake mushrooms, but our local store doesn’t have them. I went with Baby Bella mushrooms and it worked out just dandy anyways.

chicken marsala

I’ve heard a dozen times on the millions of cooking shows that I watch that you should NEVER wash your mushrooms in water. It makes them get ‘spongy’ according to all those fancy chef-y people. I just use a dry paper towel to wipe off the caps, then I wiggle out the stems, and we’re good to go! I’ve done this for years, and I’m still standing.

chicken marsala

Here’s how you make this one:

First, melt EVOO (olive oil) + unsalted butter in a biggo Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat.

chicken marsala

Liberally* season both sides of your chicken with Kosher salt + black pepper.

* This is the only time I season this dish, so I tend to make it rain at this point.

chicken marsala

Once the EVOO + butter are warm, toss in your sliced mushrooms and thyme sprigs.

chicken marsala

Meanwhile, whisk together some flour + chicken broth to make a slurry that will thicken our yummy sauce.

chicken marsala

Sauté the mushrooms + thyme until the mushrooms are tender (about 5 minutes). Then, make a ‘well’ in the middle of the mushrooms.

chicken marsala

Nestle in your little chickens. Let them cook on each side until they’re browned (about 3 minutes per side).

chicken marsala

Once the chicken is browned on both sides, pour in the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan.

chicken marsala

Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden (or plastic) spoon to get up all of the fond (yummy brown stuff at the bottom of the pot).

chicken marsala

Pour in the flour + chicken broth mixture, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).

chicken marsala

We had our Chicken Marsala with some Cauliflower Mash leftover from the night before. I always make a double batch of the Mash because it’s so yummy + it freezes perfectly. Work smarter, not harder, ‘m I right?

chicken marsala

You could also serve this with buttered egg noodles, zucchini noodles (zoodles), or pasta. Garnish with extra thyme.


 Chicken Marsala

2 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tbs. EVOO
16 oz. mushrooms, stems removed, sliced (shiitake, baby bella, or white button)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Marsala wine
2 tbs. flour
1 cup unsalted chicken broth

In a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt 2 tbs. butter and 2 tbs. EVOO. Add mushrooms and thyme sprigs; sauté until mushrooms are softened (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, season both sides of chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Make a well in the middle of the Dutch oven, add the chicken, and brown on both sides (about 3 minutes per side). Pour in the Marsala wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to get all of the fond (brown stuff) off the bottom.

In a separate bowl, whisk flour and chicken broth until combined. Add mixture to pot, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through (about 15 minutes).

Discard thyme sprigs. Garnish with fresh flat-leaf parsley or more thyme. Serve with mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, or egg noodles.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Chicken Marsala