Brunswick Stew- Instant Pot Style

This recipe was Garen’s request for me to make in the Instant Pot so it was the first recipe that required more than 3 ingredients. I was a little leery since I’d never had Brunswick Stew and didn’t even know what to expect. As I always do when cooking something I don’t have a go-to recipe for, I went to Pinterest. I didn’t find an Instant Pot version I liked but I did find this slow cooker version from Rosie at i heart Recipes. I used this for an “outline” and tweeked it to work for what I had and to cook in the Instant Pot.

This recipe is fantastic. Really. I can’t make it up. Garen thought it was the best recipe I’ve ever made. The littles even liked it, making it even better in my book!!!

I used the Easiest Pulled Pork Ever recipe and shredded chicken that I made earlier in the day for it. You could easily use another recipe or even store-bought pulled pork.

Here it is- Brunswick Stew, Instant Pot Style


  • 2 Cups Pulled Pork
  • 2 Cups shredded chicken
  • 1 Red onion, diced
  • 1 Can Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 Cups Chicken broth (I substituted 1 cup for juice from the pulled pork to use what I had)
  • Frozen okra, 12 oz
  • Frozen peas, 6 oz (half bag)
  • Frozen corn, 12 oz
  • Frozen lima beans, 12 oz
  • 3 Small sweet potatoes, pealed and cubed
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Cup BBQ sauce (I used half Rudy’s and half Sweet Baby Ray’s since that all I had)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2-1/2 tsp Seasoning salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Black pepper


  • Add all of the ingredients into the 8 qt Instant Pot bowl (if your Instant Pot is smaller, you may have to adjust the recipe to not fill it past the max fill)
  • Mix all ingredients very well
  • Put the lid on, close it completely, and close the vent
  • Press Manual setting and set for 15 minutes. It will take a long time to get pressured because it will be almost to the max fill line. It will shift from On to the number of minutes remaining to cook
  • Once time is up, let it natural release for 10 minutes before opening the lid.  This ensures the meat is tender and juicy.
  • Open the lid. Check to make sure the potatoes are cooked completely. The meat was already cooked so the main thing is that you’re letting the veggies cook and that everything soaked up the wonderful flavors.
  • Enjoy.

Like I said, this stuff is wonderful. It’s not your typical soup/stew and I’m soooo glad Garen wanted me to try this recipe out!

Happy Instant Potting!


Sweet Saturday: Salted Carmel Pretzel Brownies

Today I’m gearing up for Nacho Night. More on that in a separate blog. I had some boxes of Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix that have been calling to me. Judge me if you must but if you’ve not tried this mix, found at Sam’s Club, you are missing out. They’re super easy and every time I make them for something I get requests for my recipe. So, you’re in luck. Today I’m sharing my guilty, cheating “secret recipe.”

They’re also great for doing different spins on the traditional brownie. That brings me to today’s “experiment. ” Once again I am working to use what I’ve got on hand and the first thing that jumped out at me was a bag of pretzels that needed to be used. My mind instantly flew to creating salted caramel brownies and I remembered that I had a jar of salted caramel from my cousin Kim’s wedding (which was AWESOME and Kim, if you’re reading this, please send me the recipe.)  Best wedding favor EVER!

Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Wedding Favor

Of course, now I had to break one of my cardinal rules of hosting a dinner party: never try something new on guests. And tonight I broke it twice since I also made Pumpkin Sopapilla Cheesecake.

Ok, ok. Enough back story. On to the my made up, super easy, half-cheating recipe for Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.


  • 2 bags Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 cup pretzels, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel


Follow the recipe on the back of the box of brownies (see below) except at 25 minutes into the baking, stop and top the brownies with the broken of pretzels. Then drizzle with the salted caramel and bake the remaining time or until the brownies are finished. Salted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesSalted Caramel Pretzel BrowniesBest Brownie Mix Ever

The back of the box says it makes 40 brownies but in reality with the large pan I used and the size brownies most people eat it’s more like 25-30. Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

You could do the same with another brand of brownies or even from your own scratch recipe if you’re an overachiever like that. I’m sure it would still work. The key is getting the pretzels and caramel on there at the right time so they sink into the mix a bit but not too much.

I whipped up some real whipping cream and, together, they were pretty delicious (sorry to sound braggy.) Ice cream would’ve been equally delightful with them straight out of the oven or even microwaved. I happen to be thinking about how good they’d be paired with a big, cold glass of milk for breakfast!

They do come with a warning: These are really rich but, being the girl that waits all year for Starbucks to start serving their salted caramel mocha again, I loved them. My guests said they were good too but I think when it comes to something like this some people love them and others not-so-much.  If you’re looking for something less chocolately but still really tasty in the “brownie family,” check out these blonde brownies.  They’re always a hit too!

I hope your Saturday was as sweet as ours. More on our nacho night later!

Disclaimer:  I didn’t get paid in any way for this blog post.  The opinions and randomness are completely my own doing.  Feel free to share!

Repurposing Food: Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle 

This is another repurposing recipe. When I say recipe, I really mean more like guidelines for making something you need to get rid of look good. See another post for another similar trifle

I had some leftover pound cake in the freezer and wanted to fix something with it and incorporate cheesecake….because who doesn’t like cheesecake. I also had some frozen strawberries and cool whip in the freezer. And so this trifle was born. 


  • Pound cake- about 6 cups cut into cubes*
  • Frozen sliced strawberries- 6 cups**
  • Cream cheese- 2 packages, 16 oz
  • Cool whip- oz package
  • Sugar- 2 cups, divided 


  • Mix strawberries with 1 cup of sugar. Microwave if they’re still frozen. 
  • Cream the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar. 
  • Beat cool whip into cream cheese mixture. 
  • Cut up pound cake. 
  • Layer about half of the pieces of cake into the bottom of the trifle dish. 
  • Spoon about half of the strawberries on top of the cake. 
  • Spoon about half of the cream cheese mixture on top of the strawberries. 
  • Repeat layers. 
  • Optional- sprinkle the top with sprinkles. 

*You could use pretty much any kind of cake that you want. I will sometimes use angel food and it works well too for trifles. 

**You can use fresh strawberries if you have them and want to slice them. I was going for speed and what I had on hand. Also, it’s a really sweet dish, so if you don’t want that either eliminate or reduce the sugar for the strawberries. 

Trifles are always a hit with the kids…anything pudding-like is a crowd pleaser at our house. Add sprinkles and your golden. This was part of our Christmas menu, so red and green sprinkles did the trick. 

Again, the thing I like about trifles is that you can pretty much put anything in there that you want (or need to get rid of). Here’s a few idea variations as well. 

Icebox Oreo Pie

This is another one of my “throw together what you’ve got” recipes. A few weeks back I bought a couple of chocolate pie crusts off of the clearance rack and put them in the freezer. 

Cheapskate, frugal, thrifty. Call me what you want. I was glad I had them the day we decided to have friends over for Cilantro Ranch Chicken and Baked Parmesan Crusted Zucchini!


  • 2 chocolate cookie pie shells
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 12-15 Oreos, more if you want it more chocolately (Is that a word?)
  • Vanilla pudding, prepared
  • Whipped topping, about half large size container or full small 


In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until whipped and light. In a separate bowl, prepare pudding with milk as directed. Crush Oreos or use processor to make into crumbs. Pour Oreos and prepared pudding into the large bowl and mix well with the cream cheese. 

Pour mixture into equally into the two pie crusts. Top with whipped topping and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. 

I could probably eat one of these by myself in one sitting. You just can’t go wrong with Oreos and cream cheese. 

The greatest thing about this is how easy it was. Sometimes it really does pay to be lazy. 

Baked Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

I love zucchini any way it’s cooked. Growing up, my Grammy made the best fried zucchini. My mouth waters just remembering it. 

I rarely make it because the frying isn’t all that healthy and it’s also kind of a pain. I decided to take a stab at doing an oven baked, slightly-altered version with some fresh Parmesan and bread crumbs that I needed to get rid of.  Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 4-5 zucchini, sliced thinly lengthwise 
  • 1 cup garlic bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan 

Preheat over to 425. Spray a large baking sheet or pan. (I also cover mine in foil because I’m lazy and it’s an easier cleanup) Melt butter. Slice zucchini thinly lengthwise. Toss in a large bowl with the melted butter. 

In a separate bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, pepper, and cheese. Dip and coat each strip of zucchini in the mixture. Lay them on the pan in a single layer. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they brown. If you want some good color, use the broiler for a few minutes. 

It isn’t the same as Grammy’s fried zucchini but it was prett tasty….and much healthier. It went well with Sriracha Honey Chicken and a salad. 

What’s your favorite zucchini recipe?

Spicy Zucchini Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

I’ve been planning to cook zucchini spaghetti for two months and never have actually done it, despite it being on the menu. Tonight I finally did since I had plenty of zucchini in the fridge to be used.  

 I went into this not having a plan but I  knew that I had to use whatever I had at the house because it was too late for a grocery run. I also felt like whatever I cooked needed some good spice, which is why I decided not to go with a traditional Italian spaghetti sauce.   

Since I had a Pei Wei salad for lunch today, I knew tonight called for light meat. I just happened to have a Sam’s Club size bag of turkey meatballs that I figured would be a perfect addition to the zucchini spaghetti.   


  • Frozen turkey meatballs, about 30
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
  • 5 zucchini, make into noodles 
  • 1 tbsp garlic salt 
  • 1 tsp red crushed pepper flakes 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • Parmesan cheese, about 1/4 cup


Put Frozen meatballs, crushed tomatoes, and drained Rotel into a big pan. Add spices and mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes. While that cooks, make your zucchini noodles. After 20 minutes, add noodles and mix well so they are coated with the sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes on low. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve hot.  

It turned out pretty well. A few things worth noting:

  • It’s pretty spicy. If you don’t like things that hot I suggest using mild Rotel and omitting the red pepper flakes. 
  • The sauce will seem thick but the juices from the zucchini thin it out nicely. 
  • You could substitute another meat easily. Garen suggested Italian sausage but I’m not a fan. 
  • If you use turkey or another light meat, it should be pretty healthy, although I didn’t calculate the nutrition facts to check. 
  • I used my Veggetti noodle maker. There are different brands that do the same thing. I’ve had this a while and it works well enough. 
  • You could use this sauce for almost anything. It’s fast, easy, and flavorful. 

Grilled Sriracha Honey Chicken

  Because I knew Garen Grillmaster was already going to be grilling Cilanro Ranch Chicken for us last night, I went ahead whipped some sauce up for him to cook some Grilled Sriracha Honey Chicken. 

Garen loves Sriracha…He puts it on an estimated 40% of his food, so when I saw the pin of Sweet Sriracha Chicken from Kacey at The Cookie Writer, I knew I had to try it. Only, I did an adapted version of it because I did these things different:

  1. I love fresh cilantro and used that rather than dried basil. 
  2. I had crushed pepper flakes instead of crushed red pepper. 
  3. I didn’t have soy sauce (shocking, but true). 
  4. I use pre-minced garlic (because I buy it at Sam’s, it stores forever in the fridge, and it saves a little time).

Warning:  This recipe packs some heat so if you don’t do well with spiciness, my friends, this recipe is not for you


  • 2 lbs chicken breast, about 4-6 pieces
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha 
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted 
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp,  minced garlic


Mix all ingredients well together in a bowl. Brush about half of the sauce onto the chicken. Cook on the grill around 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat, until cooked through (Garen Grillmaster handled this part).  Brush on more sauce a couple times during the cooking. 

 It was spicy, yet sweet and very tender. We will have it again. Next time probably with some grilled corn and potatoes.