My Secret Ingredient

If you know anyone who cooks a lot or is a chef you might have heard them talk about their secret ingredient that they use a lot. I have one too. For me, I love garlic. My secret ingredient is minced garlic. I always keep a big jar on hand in the refrigerator to add to things. Now, I am not saying that is all I use, I love garlic in all forms, whole clove, garlic powder, sometimes even garlic salt.

For me, garlic adds that other dimension to a dish. The extra flavor. I put some in mashed potatoes, I recently used it in my twice baked potatoes for the first time and my Army Boy was like, these are so good! Now normally, I would be like, and they are not usually good?!?! But i understood there was a little more pizzazz in them this time, so I let that go. Sometimes as cooks we wear our hearts on our sleeves and when someone says something like that it is almost like stabbing us in the heart and leads us to think that the dish we made before was not as good. Which honestly kills us a little bit inside.

But back to garlic. It does not take a lot and face it garlic is healthy for us too. I am not saying you need to eat tons, but to dress up a dish and change it around it is good for that most definitely.  I use it in marinades, side dishes, main dishes, everything but dessert. As I said, sometimes it only takes about 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to give it a different flavor. You can usually find the minced garlic in the produce section, it comes in small jars or large jars. I am a large jar kinda girl! It is also good for those people who like garlic but don’t want to frighten off that special someone. Use in small quantities and you will be fine. Of course if you scorch it , minced garlic will act like regular garlic and be bitter. It is still garlic after all!



Slow Cooker Beef Stew

** I made this last night and it was the best beef stew recipe I have had in a while. It is easy and the slow cooker does all the work! **


1 large onion

2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into bite sized pieces

1 pound sew meat- beef chunks

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. fresh thyme

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 cups beef stock

2 TBS. light brown sugar

3/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

pepper to taste

3 TBS four

2 tsp. tomato paste


Put all the ingredients except for the four and tomato paste into the slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours until the beef is tender and potatoes are fork tender.

Stir the stew once or twice as it cooks, if possible

30 minutes before serving, transfer a ladle full of broth to a small mixing bowl

Add the flour and tomato paste, whisk until smooth, then stir the mixture back into the stew and cook for the remaining 30 minutes.

Cooks Tips: First of all, I found this strew to be good but bland with only the 3/4 tsp of salt, so you might want to add more to your liking. Although if you are on a low sodium diet it is perfect! I also used frozen green beans instead of fresh, just add them in with the flour and tomato paste mixture and let them cook for the last 30 mins, so they won’t be mushy. I also served with Croissant rolls, but you could serve with your favorite bread.

Easy Lasagna

** I am making this for dinner tonight, so if I remember I might have a photo of it. I got this from my Just a Pinch website. I will pair this with a quickie homemade garlic bread and salad.**


2 1/2 pounds of ground beef

1 egg

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 large container cottage cheese

1 TBS. parsley flakes

2 packages of Mozzarella cheese

1 package lasagna noodles

3 cans of Hunts 4 cheese pasta sauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Boil noodles until just under done as they will continue to cook in the oven.

Brown the ground beef. In a bowl combine cottage cheese, parmesan, egg, and parsley flakes and set aside.

When the meat is cooked through, add one can at a time to decide how saucy you want your sauce.

in your 9×13 pan, spread a spoonful of the sauce on the bottom of pan. Start your layers of noodles, layer of cheese spread, mozzarella, meat sauce. Continue layers until you have built your lasagna.

Bake until heated through, about 1 hour depending on how your oven works. Add some more shredded cheese on top and bake 5-10 minutes more until cheese is melted and bubbly.

COOKS NOTES: I personally will not use the cottage cheese. Also, I do not like the canned sauce, it has that ‘flavor’ so I use jarred. I think this recipe only needs maybe 1 to 1 1/2 jars, but that is up to you. You can also use ricotta cheese, I do not like it much because of the grainy texture.

Homemade Mozzarella Sticks


12 sticks of string cheese in your choice of cheese, you can also use low sodium

1 large egg

2 Tbsp flour

5 Tbsp bread crumbs

2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

a dollop of olive oil or cooking spray


Cut the cheese sticks in half, making 24 slices, then freeze the slices in the freezer until completely frozen. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Use a separate bowl to combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese

To bread cheese sticks, dip the frozen cheese sticks into the flour, then into the egg, then into the bread crumb mixture.

Once all the 24 sticks are coated place them on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil coated with a few drops of olive oil or sprayed with cooking spray ( this will keep clean up easy and keep the sticks from sticking to the pan)

Bake in the oven for about 4 minutes or until crisp. They need to be watched closely so they don’t melt completely! Dip in some warm marinara or just enjoy plain!

Making This Blog Print Friendly

I just found out that I could have my own print and PDF button on this blog for those of you who want to try out some of the recipes that I am posting. Before this morning I did not realize there was a free service for this! I am thrilled by this because it means that you the reader, can easily use it and making the recipes!

So there should be a button on the bottom of every post now and please with my blessing use it! Make these recipes and come back and tell me how they were!