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Family Night With Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs Makes Eating In More Fun!

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Panda Express. All opinions are 100% mine.

Growing up, I remember how much fun it was to eat out with the family at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Back then, my Mom would cook every day but Sunday – her official day off from the kitchen.

As an adult, I still love to go out to eat. But sometimes restaurant food tastes so much better when I can enjoy it while relaxing in the comfort of my own home. That’s why I jumped at the chance to bring the new Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs home for a Family Night In.


These Chinese Spare Ribs are only available for a limited time at Panda Express. They’re slow cooked for 5 hours with sesame oil, garlic, red peppers and other ingredients for a one-of-a-kind sweet, spicy and savory flavor. Don’t they make your mouth water?

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad

Planning a family night in takes no planning at all. That’s what makes it so easy to do any night of the week. I just drop by my local Panda Express, located in the Louis Joliet Mall, to see a bountiful buffet of tantalizing options.

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad

Of course, I’m getting the Chinese Spare Ribs, fried rice and chicken egg rolls. But I can’t pass up the Black Pepper Chicken. And don’t forget the fortune cookies!

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad

The line moves very fast, but you can also Order Online and drop by to pick up your order before heading home for dinner with the family.

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad The fried rice and chicken egg rolls are delicious and satisfying. And there’s enough for everyone to share.

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs #ad

But the main event on everyone’s mind – and tongues – is the Chinese Spare Ribs. They fall off the bone; the perfect marriage of classic American barbecue and Chinese Char Siu.

Who enjoyed the Chinese Spare Ribs the most in my family? Sauce-laden fingers and mouths might have given that person away – except that it was all so finger-licking good there was no barbecue sauce left!

Watch this video from for some great ideas for Dad’s Night Dinner with your family:

Find out more about Panda Express dishes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Win a $25 gift card from Panda Express! Leave a comment below sharing why you’re excited to try the new Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs for a chance to win.

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Your Recipes (and Family!) Deserve Only The Very Best Ingredients

chicken vesuvio

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Harvestland® by Perdue®. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve always believed that when you cook for your family you should use the very best ingredients available to you — and to keep the recipes you often use as simple as possible. Cooking can be therapeutic to you as the home cook, and coming together as a family to the dinner table has additional benefits for your family’s health. Simplicity is the key.

And sometimes keeping it simple means finding shortcuts in the food preparation or cooking process. Finding ingredients you can trust doesn’t have to be hard, if you know where to look. Harvestland® by Perdue®, available at Walmart, has fresh and fully cooked turkey, chicken and pork products. These products come from local family-owned farms throughout the United States and are USDA process verified.


That means Harvestland® by Perdue®’s all-natural products are:

  • Raised cage free
  • Fed all-vegetarian diets (no animal by products!)
  • Free of antibiotics and contain no artificial ingredients

You can trust Harvestland® by Perdue® to be a natural choice for your family when you’re cooking at home. It’s food that’s pure and simple, which allows your family to Eat Like Your Ancestors.™ What does that mean exactly? Check out this fun video to find out!

Luckily it’s gotten easier in the modern world to cook for your family. My favorite secret weapon for a hearty, wholesome meal is my slow cooker. Try my Chicken Vesuvio (family-style recipe) with your family. Substitute your kin’s favorite root vegetables for a one-pot wonderful meal that will nourish the body and soul.

Family-style Chicken Vesuvio Recipe

chicken vesuvio


  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 Harvestland® by Perdue® Fresh Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 pound small red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
  • 12 ounces edamame, shelled
  • 1 cup sweet yellow and red peppers, julienned
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienned
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley for garnish


Lightly coat a frying pan with canola oil and place on a stovetop burner, set on medium-high. Warm the pan for a minute so it is hot enough to sear the chicken breasts.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Using a barbecue brush, lightly coat the top of each chicken breast with canola oil. Season with a pinch each of sea salt, black pepper, and Italian seasoning. Place the chicken breasts in the hot frying pan, seasoned side down. Cook for about 6 minutes.

Immediately coat the remaining side of each chicken breast with oil. Season with one pinch each of sea salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning. Cover the pan with a lid until you’re ready to turn the chicken breasts. After you turn the chicken breasts, cook for another 6 minutes or until both sides are browned.

Place the potatoes, edamame, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, garlic and remaining sea salt, black pepper and Italian seasoning in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add chicken broth and white wine. Gently stir to immerse vegetables evenly in the broth mixture. This helps the vegetables to properly steam and cook evenly. Top the vegetables with the chicken breasts.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 to 3.5 hours (or LOW for 6 to 7 hours) until chicken breasts and potatoes are tender.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a serving plate. Top with juices from the slow cooker. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Cook Time: 3 hours, 12 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.

undefinedSave $1.00 off Harvestland Fresh or Frozen Chicken.

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Entrees/ Events & Entertaining

Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs: Boldly Chinese and Classically American

Panda Express

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Panda Express. All opinions are 100% mine.

The Panda Shoots and Scores

Just in time for your next March Madness viewing party, Panda Express has introduced Chinese Spare Ribs to its menu. These Chinese Spare Ribs are slow cooked for five (5) hours with sesame oil, red chili bean paste, garlic, mirin (a sweet rice wine) and red peppers for a one-of-a-kind flavor that is both boldly Chinese and classically American.

Since 1983, Panda Express has been a family-owned company dedicated to bringing families together at the dining table with delicious, high-quality food. The new Chinese Spare Ribs are perfect for any family gathering or celebration like Uncle Bill’s 50th birthday party or entertaining your neighbors and friends for the next big basketball game. The sweet, spicy and savory goodness and fall-off-the-bone tenderness of Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs will satisfy kids and adults alike.


East Meets West On Your Tongue

This is the kind of casual, contemporary Chinese dish that is uniquely Panda Express. Inspired by authentic Chinese BBQ flavors, these Chinese Spare Ribs are premium, high-quality ribs conceived in the Panda Express kitchens by Chef Andy Kao, a 30-year veteran who leads the Panda Express culinary team. In this dish, Chef Kao brings together American slow cooked St. Louis-style spare ribs with Char Siu, a traditional Chinese barbecued pork.

Available only for a limited time, it’s easy to Order Online from Panda Express and enjoy these authentic Chinese BBQ flavors at home with your entire family. Learn more about Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs, and other menu items, by visiting Panda Express on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

chī hǎo hē hǎo 

This literally translates as “eat well and drink well” but it actually means “enjoy your meal.” When you bring Panda Express Chinese Spare Ribs to your next family gathering, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your meal and the company!

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Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Malaysia Kitchen for the World. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve never cooked Malaysian cuisine before, but I’ve enjoyed Chicken Satay – perhaps Malaysia’s most popular contribution to the culinary world – many times in restaurants. As someone who loves to travel and experience culture through local foods and ceremonies, I wanted to challenge myself to make an authentic Malaysian dish in my own kitchen.

Chicken is one of my favorite proteins to cooks with and I love, love, love black pepper. So I was excited to try creating my twist on a traditional chicken satay with the Malaysian Black Pepper Sauce from Asian Meals®. The aroma of the black pepper sauce was intoxicating. It works both as a marinade or a dipping sauce — and it would definitely add a burst of Malaysian flavor to any burger, steak or fish.

Malaysian cuisine is often considered exotic, colorful and tempting because of its a unique blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian food traditions with Indonesian, Thai, Portuguese and Middle Eastern influences. Quality spices have been at the center of Malaysian cooking for centuries, dating back to when Malaysia became a major crossroad for the ancient eastern spice trade route. Cross-cultural borrowing among the Malays, Chinese and Indians has created a number of dishes that are uniquely Malaysian.

Rice (nasi in Malay) is eaten at most meals and a staple food found in every Malaysian kitchen. Typically, plain rice accompanies an entree — and a more complex rice dish can be a meal on its own. Rice is a perfect complement to a traditional satay, which consists of small pieces of marinated meat (usually chicken) skewered on sticks and grilled over a charcoal fire. Traditional satay dipping sauces often contain peanuts.

In my recipe for Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay, the fresh cucumber slices refresh the palate in a perfect balance to the rich black pepper spices. You could easily prep this dish in the morning and let it marinate while you’re at work. Then when you get home, you’ve got a hot, hearty — and a bit exotic — meal in about 10 minutes.

Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce 5

Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 10 minutes; Serves 4 people.


  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless), cut into medium-sized cubes
  • 1 package of Asian Meals® Malaysian Black Pepper Sauce*
  • Bamboo skewers, soaked in water to avoid burning
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 2 packets of Asian Meals® Malaysian Satay Dipping Sauce*, peanut flavor
  • 2 cups instant brown rice

*available via


Cut the chicken breasts into medium-sized cubs, large enough to stay together when skewered. Place in a resealable plastic container. Marinate in Malaysian Black Pepper Sauce in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce 3

Prepare brown rice according to package directions. Slice cucumber; set aside.

Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce 4

Thread the chicken on the bamboo skewers and grill for 3 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked with a slight char on the chicken.  Serve hot with fresh cucumber slices, brown rice and peanut dipping sauce.

Malaysian Black Pepper Chicken Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce 2

For other Malaysian cuisine inspirations, visit the Malaysia Kitchen for the World website and follow Malaysia Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter @MKPUSA or @MalaysiaKitchenUSA on Instagram.

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Mushroom Mini Turkey Meat Loaves Shaped Like Footballs?

It was the Saturday before the Super Bowl and I saw this new product from Campbell’s Soups at my local grocery. The mini meat loaves on the package looked exactly like footballs to me. Do you see the resemblance? Perfect for game day.

Campbell Soup For Easy Cooking

As an adult, I’ve grown to love a good onion soup. I usually only eat it when dining out, especially during my travels. The last truly great bowl of onion soup I’ve had was during a rainy weekend visit (my first time!) to Amsterdam. It was exactly what a tired, hungry traveler needed to recharge and explore a new city. It was like a big warm hug from the inside.

So I was excited to try this product on my traditional turkey meatloaf to give it a new twist. Sometimes making the “same old” meatloaf can be boring to make and to eat.

And I wanted to try to make some individual-sized turkey meat loaves, like the ones I saw on the package, to enjoy during the Super Bowl.  So I adapted my typical recipe (ground turkey, panko bread crumbs, egg and Italian seasoning) by pouring this soup on top, baking (and sometimes basting) until ready to eat.

mini meat loaves

This is how they looked coming fresh from the oven. Cute, huh! And quite scrumptious. All I needed to make this a near perfect home-style meal: a side of dirty mashed potatoes!

turkey meatloaf close up

Do you ever get inspired to “shape your food” into something different?


Entrees/ Snacks & Candies/ Soups, Salads & Sides

Elevating A Classic Comfort Food: Mac & Mimolette Bake

Disclosure: I was given an assortment of free samples by The Cheeses of Europe to review. I get no additional benefits for talking about this product or company. All opinions about this product are 100% my own.

Comfort foods should bring both a physical and emotional comfort. But sometimes the comfort you remember as a child from your favorite foods doesn’t translate for your adult palate. Like the classic Mac & Cheese.

We all grew up with the ubiquitous Mac & Cheese blue box in our pantries filled with elbow macaroni and a “cheese-like” powdery substance. While that may have satisfied you as a kid, it is totally lacking of comfort for the adult you are today. The solution is to update the core ingredients in a classic Mac & Cheese recipe with quality ingredients that will satisfy the adult you are today that can also bring back some of the emotional comforts you associated with the dish as a child.

While it gets second billing in the title, CHEESE is the critical ingredient for a Mac & Cheese that you want to devour on a cold winter’s day. So for a modern twist, I’m using Mimolette Cheese instead of Cheddar cheese.

Mimolette Cheese?

Mimolette (pronounced mee moh LET) is made from cow’s milk and comes from the Pas-de-Calais region of France. It’s a hard cheese that typically comes in the shape of a cannonball. Its rind is brownish with tinges of orange.

Mimolette has a sharp, nutty and fruity taste that includes sweet hints of butterscotch. Its brilliant orange color makes it a colorful addition to any cheese platter – and it adds a sophistication without being pretentious to this adult Mac & Cheese dish.

MIM logo

Mac and Mimolette from CheesesOfEurope on Vimeo.

Does that have you salivating? There’s something so indulgent and satisfying about gooey cheese hot from the oven that is almost indescribable; it makes every dish that more delicious!

Try this Mac and Mimolette Bake recipe and decide for yourself if the Mimolette should get top billing over the Mac. Bon appétit!

baked macaroni with cheese

Mac & Mimolette


1/2 pound shell pasta
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup grated Mimolette cheese, plus more for garnish
1 large tomato, finely chopped


Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray; set aside.

In a large pot of boiling water (salted), cook the pasta according to package directions. Set aside.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, place the cream, brown sugar, sea salt and wine over medium-high heat. Bring to a slow simmer, then cook gently for 5 minutes. Don't let it boil or it will become grainy. Stir in Mimolette cheese and cook, stirring until melted.

Stir the sauce and chopped tomato through the cooked and drained shell pasta. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with more grated Mimolette cheese and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown on top.


Recipe lightly adapted from The Cheeses of Europe

Disclosure: I was given an assortment of free samples by The Cheeses of Europe to review. I get no additional benefits for talking about this product or company. All opinions about this product are 100% my own.

Desserts/ Entrees

Baked Chicago’s Top 5 Most Popular Recipes of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s fun to look back to see what’s been cooking in the kitchen. I have my favorite recipes from the past year. Two of which made the Top 5 most popular recipes. If you need a hint, it’s the two savory recipes. Go figure!

But this look back is focused on the recipes that you liked best, so here’s a recap of the five most viewed recipes on Baked Chicago in 2014. Which one is your favorite?

#1 – Jazzy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


#2 – Heavenly HALO Olive Oil


#3 – YOLO Bolognese Sauce for the Slow Cooker


#4 – Ranch Patty Melt


 #5 – Rum-infused Bing Cherry & Chocolate Chip Olive Oil Cake


I can’t wait to find out what’s on the menu for the coming year. Best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2015!

Entrees/ Events & Entertaining

Talking About Culinary Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club! Well I’m not Brad Pitt, so I’m going to break the rules and talk about the upcoming Culinary Fight Club TasteBud Challenge set for August 21.

Culinary Fight Club 1

Never heard of the Culinary Fight Club? The Culinary Fight Club produces live monthly cooking competitions in Chicago called “TasteBud Challenges.” It’s been recently selected as an official qualifying event for the World Food Championships in Vegas, where chefs of all levels go to compete for the “Golden Ticket” and win their spot in the highest stakes “Food Sport” Competition in the world!

Culinary Fight Club 2

One of the things that impresses me about Culinary Fight Club is its focus on #payingitforward. All ticket proceeds benefit Fight2Feed, a Charitable Organization on a mission to “KO” hunger in Chicago.

The theme of the next TasteBud Challenge (August 21) is “The Amazing Culinary Fight Club Race.” [Every month has a new theme.] Competing chefs will have to drive to different restaurants around Chicago to pick up their ingredients. [My advice to the competitors: Uber!]

Culinary Fight Club 1a

Chef AndrewOne of this week’s competing teams is Pure Kitchen Catering, led by Chef Andrew. He looks very confident and calm!

Chef Andrew is kindly sharing his recipe for Stuffed, Braised Short Rib Prime Burgers. Now that’s what I call inventive. I think I’m going to try this recipe out for my Labor Day weekend barbecue.

I can’t wait to see what Chef Andrew’s team whips up at the next Culinary Fight Club TasteBud Challenge on August 21. Tickets are available on Eventbrite. Good luck to all the competitors – and may the best food win!

Stuffed, Braised Short Rib Prime Burger


8 oz boneless short ribs
8 oz grass-fed prime ground beef
1 farm egg
1 ½ cups mirepoix
½ bottle red wine
2 cloves garlic
2 cups beef stock
1 bouquet garni
2 slices white Cheddar
1 brioche hamburger bun
1 slice heirloom tomato
Arugula, enough for burger
1 oz garlic aïoli
½ stick unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste


In a medium skillet sear off your short ribs seasoned with salt and pepper. Add vegetables and cook till soft, deglaze with garlic and wine, add the short ribs to a dutch oven or a roasting pan and add beef broth and wine/vegetable mixture, toss in bouquet garni, braise meat for three hours at 350 until buttery tender. Let cool to stuff the burger.

Split your 8 oz burger in half and patty into discs, make a divot in the center and add the short ribs, make sure is not too much leave a length around patty so it will bind with other patty, form other patty into same size and mold over the short ribs, set in fridge to set the patty so it does not fall apart when cooking.

In a medium sauté pan add some olive oil to coat pan on high heat, season and sear burger on high heat on both sides, add butter and baste until nice and browned. Top with cheese and roast at 350 for 5 mins for med rare. In that time cook your egg and arrange your garnishes(bun,arugula, tomato, aïoli) enjoy!!


This recipe is from Chef Andrew of Pure Kitchen Catering


Salad Dressing Recipe Mash-up Goes Swimmingly With Fish Tacos

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch

Collective Bias disclosure 2014

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use pantry staples. When you use the same brands year after year, you can take for granted all its uses. Specifically, I was looking for a salad dressing recipe that would bring a bold and zesty flavor – yet creamy texture – to my Mediterranean-inspired Fish Tacos. My #FoodDeservesDelicious, so I was prepared to find just the right salad dressing that would inspire a Mediterranean flavor. After lots of tasty trials, the answer wasn’t a single salad dressing but a mash-up of Kraft’s Classic Ranch and Zesty Italian dressings.

The new Kraft Pourables have been reinvented with a new, better taste. This blend definitely gives an extra zing to my fish tacos. Kraft’s Classic Ranch is creamier, with more buttermilk (yum!) and savory herbs. On this #shop for #CollectiveBias, I discovered that it blends extremely well with sour cream to balance with Kraft’s Zesty Italian dressing, which has even more herbs and spices. I found Kraft Zesty Italian and Classic Ranch dressings in the Salad Dressings Aisle at my local Walmart.

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, Walmart

The key to Mediterranean food is fresh ingredients. And these Fish Tacos are filled to the gills with fresh veggies, like baby spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, red onion and black olives. It’s like a mini farmer’s market in every flour tortilla!

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, mise en place

After getting all of my ingredients mise en place, I combined the Kraft Classic Ranch dressing and some sour cream. It goes in the fridge until we’re ready to eat.

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, sour cream

In a mixing bowl, combine all the prepared fresh vegetables. Drizzle generously with Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing, and gently toss to coat. You want the onions, sweet peppers, cucumber, black olives, and tomatoes to absorb all the savory herbs while you prepare the fish tenders. Cover the vegetable mixture with plastic wrap or put in a resealable container and refrigerate.

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, marinate

Then bake your fish tenders (I like to use tilapia, but any white fish would be equally delish) according to package directions.  About 5 minutes before the fish is done, start warming your flour tortillas according to package directions.

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, tablecloth

Now you’re ready to assemble. This is an easy weeknight dinner that allows everybody to customize their own fish tacos (make mine with extra Kraft cheese, please!).

Place a fish tender in the center of the tortilla. Pile on heaping spoonfuls of veggies with Zesty Italian dressing. Sprinkle with cheese. And top it with a dollop of Classic Ranch-sour cream.

Mediterranian-inspired Fish Tacos #FoodDeservesDelicious #CollectiveBias #shop, salad dressing recipe, Zesty Italian, Ranch, closeup

Most of the ingredients in this recipe are plug-and-play, which means use whatever fresh vegetables you’ve got in stock and your favorite shredded cheese blend.

And I highly recommend trying your hand at mashing up your favorite Kraft Pourables to create your own custom salad dressing recipe. What Kraft dressing flavors would you choose to mash-up?

Mediterranean-inspired Fish Tacos

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


1/2 cup Ranch Dressing
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cucumber, diced
1 cup black olives, halved
1 cup sweet peppers, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
2 cups baby spinach, shredded
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Zesty Italian Dressing
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
14 ounces frozen breaded white fish tenders, about 6 servings (e.g. tilapia or cod)
8 8-inch flour tortillas


Mix together ranch dressing and sour cream in a resealable container. Refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, combine cucumber, black olives, sweet peppers, red onion, baby spinach, and tomatoes. Drizzle with Italian dressing and gently toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let vegetables marinate in the refrigerator while cooking fish tenders, according to package directions.

Heat six flour tortillas, according to package directions. Place one fish tender on each tortilla and top with Zesty Italian vegetable mixture and a generous dollop of the Ranch dressing-sour cream mixture. Serve immediately.

Entrees/ Snacks & Candies

Hot Sauce Recipes For Movie Night

Collective Bias disclosure 2014

Mega Cheesy Spicy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf #SauceOn #CollectiveBias #shop El Yucateco Red Habanero Host Sauce Recipes

Summer movie night at home means dinner and a movie – with snacks! Dinner needs to be simple, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. So I decided to give my go-to recipes for turkey meatloaf and popcorn a new twist with habanero hot sauce from El Yucateco. These hot sauce recipes add bold flavor and heat.

At my house, summer movie night is all about catching up on movies I never got around to seeing at the theater. And there are A LOT of them! It’s also about binge watching the latest seasons of “Orange is the New Black,” “Veep,” and “House of Cards.” [I think Netflix wins the award for best TV network this season!]

So I headed over to my neighborhood Target store on this shop for #CollectiveBias to pick up some El Yucateco Habanero Hot Sauce – which I found in the ethnic foods aisle. I got Red Habanero Hot Sauce and Green Habanero Hot Sauce to bring some excitement to these comfort food staples.

Target #SauceOn #CollectiveBias #shop El Yucateco Red Habanero Host Sauce Recipes

This turkey meatloaf recipe is MEGA because it has twice the meat, twice the spice and twice the cheese! It stands tall on the plate – and it’s a hearty mouthful of cheesy, spicy goodness!

If you think this meatloaf recipe is a twist on a patty melt because of the buttery grilled onions, you have read my mind! That was definitely my inspiration for stuffing the meatloaf with cheese and grilled onions.

To get started, you need to slowly cook a large yellow onion in butter on medium-low heat. The key to perfect grilled onions is slow cooking – with an occasional stir – until the onions turn lightly golden brown and translucent.

While the onions cook,  mix together the ground turkey with sea salt, ground black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. These are very simple ingredients. But they season the ground turkey well to balance the spicy grilled onions. Put half of the turkey mix in the bottom of a standard loaf pan. Then layer two slices of Swiss cheese; set aside.

When the onions are fully cooked, add the red habanero hot sauce and gently stir. Then spoon the onion mixture on top of the cheese. Layer two more slices of cheese, then top with the remaining ground turkey mixture. Pop it in the oven for about 50 minutes and you’ve got a hearty dinner filled with bubbling cheese and steamy, spicy onions. Now that’s BIG FLAVOR!

Mega Cheesy Spicy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf #SauceOn #CollectiveBias #shop El Yucateco Red Habanero Host Sauce Recipes

This mega cheesy spicy stuffed turkey meatloaf also is great the next day. Slice it up for an out-of-the-ordinary meatloaf sandwich. [I recommend a crusty rye or sourdough bread.]

Mega Cheesy Spicy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf #SauceOn #CollectiveBias #shop El Yucateco Red Habanero Host Sauce Recipes

Mega Cheesy, Spicy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Mega Cheesy, Spicy Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf


1 large yellow onion, skinned, halved and sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds ground turkey (93% lean)
18 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices Swiss Cheese


In a small skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat. Toss in onions and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. Onions are done when they are lightly golden brown and soft. They will continue to cook inside the meatloaf.

While the onions are cooking, preheat your oven to 375 F degrees. Spray a standard 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, sea salt and black pepper.

Place half of the ground turkey mixture in the prepared loaf pan. Use a spatula or tablespoon to evenly spread the mixture. Lay two of the Swiss cheese slices on the ground turkey. Set aside.

Returning to the onions, remove from heat and stir in the red habanero hot sauce.Spoon the onion mixture on top of the first layer of cheese. Spread evenly and then top with the remaining cheese slices. Top with the remaining ground turkey meatload. Spreading the mixture evenly.

Bake for 50 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let set for a few minutes before removing from pan. Slice and serve immediately.

For more spicy and flavorful hot sauce recipes, visit El Yucateco Recipes and get your #SauceOn.

Popcorn Makes Movies Better

There must be some scientific research somewhere to prove this point: movies are just better with hot popcorn! And while I love the convenience of microwavable popcorn, it’s not the same as movie theater popcorn…until I add my special ingredients: grated Parmesan cheese and green habanero hot sauce.

Zesty Parmesan Popcorn with El Yucateco Green Habanero Hot Sauce Recipes

zesty parmesan popcorn #SauceOn #CollectiveBias #shop El Yucateco Green Habanero Host Sauce Recipes



Pop a standard-sized bag of microwave popcorn according to package directions, yielding about 8 cups. Pour the popped corn in a large mixing bowl; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter and hot sauce together (about 60 seconds). Cover bowl to avoid making a mess in your microwave. I use a glass measuring cup and cover it with a paper plate.

Drizzle about half of the butter-hot sauce mixture over the popped corn, followed by half the Parmesan cheese. Toss gently to combine and coat. Drizzle the remaining butter-hot sauce and cheese over the popped corn. Toss to coast evenly and serve immediately. [By drizzling half of the butter-hot sauce at a time, followed by half the cheese, the popcorn can absorb the liquid more slowly. If you put too much on at once, the popcorn will become clumpy and the cheese won’t blend well.

It’s Show Time

Spoiler Alert: I feel like season 2 of “House of Cards” is calling my name tonight. I watched each hour-long episode of season 1 last weekend, and I’m totally hooked. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey’s character) is deliciously complex. He’s both evil and mesmerizing. You can’t help but root for him even though he does despicable things (like murder!).


Classic-With-A-Twist: This Ranch Patty Melt sizzles with flavor

#SayCheeseburger #CollectiveBias #shop KRAFT Classic Ranch Patty Melt

Collective Bias Social Fabric

#SayCheeseburger #CollectiveBias #shop KRAFT Classic Ranch Patty Melt

When you think about classic American foods, the cheeseburger definitely ranks among the top of the list. There’s something so satisfying about biting into a juicy, perfectly cooked burger on a toasted bun.

Even plain, a burger is delicious. But with a bun in hand, everybody can be a Picasso and ‘paint the canvas’ with the perfect combination of toppings. For most, that includes cheese, cheese and more cheese, please!

On this #shop for #CollectiveBias, I was faced with the challenge of creating a new, unique spin on a classic cheeseburger. A challenge I was ready to take on at full speed.

What came to mind immediately was the patty melt, which is a cross between a grilled cheese sandwich and a burger. But the patty melt is so uniquely its own that it almost defies classification.

The patty melt is deceptively simple. Aside from the seasonings and butter, there are only about four ingredients: meat, onion, cheese and bread. It’s the preparation and how these ingredients are combined that give the patty melt its sizzle.

Sometimes a patty melt will be served with only sautéed onions and sometimes with a “secret sauce” – which is usually Thousand Island dressing. That tangy, creamy flavor is a great pairing with the sautéed onions.

For my Ranch Patty Melt recipe, I’m substituting the Thousand Island dressing with Kraft Classic Ranch dressing as a topping and with extra on the side for dipping.

During a trip to my local Walmart, I picked up all of the ingredients – including Kraft Natural Swiss Cheese (the BIG slices!) and Kraft Classic Ranch Dressing. I prefer ground turkey for my burgers, but you could also easily use lean hamburger.

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Ranch Patty Melt

After getting my ingredients in place, I mixed together the ground turkey, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Don’t skimp on the Worcestershire!

Form four oval patties with the meat, matching the relative shape of the crusty rye bread. Set the patties aside as we prepare the onions.

Slice up a yellow onion and sauté it in a skillet with butter over medium-low heat. It takes about 25 minutes to properly brown the onions, but be patient. If you rush the process, the onions could easily burn.

Can you see the buttery steam rising from the pan in the photo below? It smells sooooo goooood.

#SayCheeseburger #CollectiveBias #shop KRAFT Classic Ranch Patty Melt

Next up, cook the patties in a skillet over medium heat until done in the middle and browned on the outside. When the patties are cooked, you’re ready to start the final assembly.

In another skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. You’re going to assemble each Ranch Patty Melt as follows:

  • slice of crusty rye bread
  • slice of Kraft Swiss cheese
  • turkey burger patty
  • one-fourth of the sautéed onions
  • two tablespoons Kraft Classic Ranch dressing
  • another slice of Kraft Swiss cheese
  • another slice of crusty rye bread

Grill the sandwiches in the skillet until golden brown on one side.  Add the remaining butter to the skillet and flip the Ranch Patty Melt sandwiches over. Cook until golden brown and crisp.

The cheese should be all melted and gooey. Cut in half and serve immediately.

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Doesn’t this look like absolute burger perfection? After you bite into it, you’ll think you went to burger heaven. How can it get any better?

#SayCheeseburger #CollectiveBias #shop KRAFT Classic Ranch Patty Melt

When you serve it with your favorite chips or fries and – most importantly – a side of Kraft Classic Ranch dressing for dipping!

#SayCheeseburger #CollectiveBias #shop KRAFT Classic Ranch Patty Melt

With the summer grilling season in full swing, you’ve got to try creating your own version of a cheeseburger classic.

How do you #SayCheeseburger? What are your favorite toppings for crafting the ultimate classic cheeseburger?

Ranch Patty Melt

Rating: 51

12 minutes

Cook Time: 28 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ranch Patty Melt


8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large yellow onion, skinned, halved and sliced
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (93% lean)
8 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 slices Swiss Cheese
8 slices crusty rye bread
1/2 cup ranch dressing, plus more for dipping


Organize your ingredients and cooking instruments. You'll need a medium bowl and three skillets (one small, one medium and one large) to prepare the onions, burgers and the completed patty melts.

In a medium bowl, mix together ground turkey, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Form into 4 oval-shaped patties, similar to the size of the rye bread slices. Put patties on a plate; set aside.

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Toss in the onions and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Onions are done when they are golden brown and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Cook the turkey burger patties on both sides, until done in the middle and browned on the outside. Set aside.

In the medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Assemble the patty melts first with a slice of rye bread topped with a slice of Swiss cheese. Add the turkey burger patty and one-fourth of the cooked onions. Cover the patty with 2 tablespoons ranch dressing followed by another slice of Swiss cheese. Top with another slice of rye bread, and grill the sandwiches until golden brown.

Repeat until all 4 sandwiches are in the skillet. When browned on one side, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the skillet. Carefully flip each sandwich over, and cook until golden brown, crisp and cheese has melted.

Cut in half and serve immediately. Serve with additional ranch dressing on the side for dipping.


Why is Arrabbiata Sauce angry?

arrabbiata sauce_1 I must admit for most of my adult life I’ve never made spaghetti sauce from scratch. With so many good pre-made sauces on the market, I usually stock up when there’s a sale and (occasionally) doctor it up with some fresh herbs or tomatoes. Can I get an “amen?” Browsing through one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks – Better Homes and Gardens Year-Round Slow Cooker Recipes – I found a recipe for arrabbiata sauce. I was intrigued because I’d never heard of arrabbiata sauce. After a little research, I discovered that “arrabbiata” is Italian for “angry.” The sauce gets its name from the burn of the crushed red peppers. Most everything about this recipe sounded great, but of course I had to add my own twists to make it more of something I’d want to eat. So I exchanged pancetta for bacon and I added a cup of Cabernet Sauvignon wine to the recipe. I thought if the sauce was going to be “angry,” then being a little “boozy” couldn’t hurt!

Arrabbiata Sauce with Turkey Meatballs

arrabbiata sauce_4 The arrabbiata sauce is extremely easy to make. Your slow cooker does most of the heavy lifting. To start the recipe, I browned the onion, bacon and garlic in a skillet – then transferred the contents to my slow cooker. You add all the rest of the ingredients (except for the pasta and meatballs – those come later!) into your slow cooker and give it a good stir. Set it on HIGH and put on the lid. Walk away for 4 to 5 hours and the sauce will be “perfetto!” arrabbiata sauce_2 About 45 minutes before your arrabbiata sauce is done, you’ll want to start making the turkey meatballs. I used pre-seasoned panko breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning spices, but you can use standard panko breadcrumbs and add in the Italian seasoning by hand. The mixture of the panko, butter and egg help bind the ingredients, and make for a great carmelized “crust” on the outside of the meatballs. I tend to like larger meatballs, so that requires even cooking. The trick is not to rush the browning process, so never go higher than medium-high heat. I don’t make homemade meatballs that often. Usually, I’ll just brown ground turkey into my sauce and make whatever sauce I’m using a meat sauce. But these turkey meatballs were to die for! Well worth the effort. You may want to make a double batch; they freeze well. arrabbiata sauce_6 Cook your pasta according to package directions. I used rotini pasta, but you can easily substitute your favorite pasta or what you have in your pantry. If you’re only having pasta for a meal, I like to use a bowl. It makes it easier to cover the pasta with sauce, without wasting a lot covering the entire length of a plate. Then pile on the meatballs and pour a healthy serving of arrabbiata sauce over it all. Top it with shredded Parmesan cheese and you’ve got a great weekday dinner or weekend lunch that’s good enough for company. arrabbiata sauce_3 I ended up adding Cabernet Sauvignon to this arrabbiata sauce recipe to make it “less angry.” What’s your favorite ingredient to add to spaghetti sauce?

Arrabbiata Sauce with Turkey Meatballs

Rating: 51

Cook Time: 4 hours

Yield: 8 servings


For Sauce:
1 large onion, chopped
5 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
56 ounces diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, undrained
15 ounces tomato sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon, or any dry red wine
8 servings cooked rotini pasta
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
For Meatballs:
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
20 ounces ground turkey, 93% lean
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 medium onions, minced
2 eggs
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


For Sauce:

In a skillet, cook the onion, bacon and garlic over medium heat until onion is tender and bacon is browned.

Transfer mixture to a 5-quart slow cooker. Set skillet aside to use when cooking meatballs later.

Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, parsley, oregano, basil, salt, and crushed red pepper. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours (or on LOW for 8 to 10 hours).

Serve over pasta and turkey meatballs. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

For Meatballs:

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, dried parsley, mined onions, eggs, butter, salt and pepper.

By hand, form golf ball-sized meatballs and place in cooled skillet (used when browning onion and bacon mixture earlier). Makes about 16 meatballs, or 2 per serving. Feel free to make your meatballs smaller or larger, based on your preference. But make all meatballs uniform in size so they cook evenly.

Place skillet with meatballs on burner at medium-high heat. Every 5 minutes or so, turn meatballs so that all sides will eventually brown and meatballs will be evenly cooked. Watch carefully and remove meatballs from skillet when done. Set aside to serve with arrabbiata sauce and pasta.


Sauce portion of this recipe lightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens "Year-Round Slow Cooker Recipes"