Queso Fundido

First off, what the heck is Queso Fundido? It sounded good, especially when I heard about it from Pioneer Woman, but what is in it?? Lots of cheese, veggies and either ground beef, sausage or chorizo! It’s all layered up in a skillet and super delicious. Melted down yumminess!

I found the original recipe for Queso Fundido from The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook and decided to change a few things and try it out for myself! I had some help in the kitchen too, my husband helped me dice up the onions and bell peppers. I always love a helping hand in the kitchen!

For my version of the recipe, I used ground beef instead of sausage or chorizo, I seasoned the meat while I cooked it on the stovetop in the skillet, and I used canned diced tomatoes with green chiles to top the whole thing at the end instead of using fresh tomatoes. You can also use ground turkey for this recipe if you don’t want to make it with ground beef, sausage or chorizo. You would just need to season it well, so it can be just as flavorful. We used a 10” cast iron oven-safe skillet for the whole recipe. See pictures below and of course, my recipe at the bottom! Mmm!

Browned up our ground beef
Cooked up the veggies
First layer of cheese
Layered everything up, baked it, then took it out and added the tomatoes on top!

Projects Around the Farmhouse 🐓

Painting projects seem like they never end, am I right? We have been painting our farmhouse room by room to update the colors and to remove smudges and imperfections. Our ceilings are 12’ tall, we have lots of walls to cover with paint! First room I painted was our little half bath that is next to our dining hall from a blue color to honey vanilla. Then I painted our sunroom which is next to our pantry. It was a lime green color that I didn’t care for, so I also painted it the same honey vanilla color as the half bath.

Then we both tackled painting our daughter’s room and even had help from missionaries who are serving their mission out here from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints! The missionaries helped us roller on the paint in our daughter’s room, a pretty mint color. See photos below of the hard work!

My hard work priming the walls, as you can tell I didn’t get on the ladder 😂
Me with Elders Callaway and Biorge working hard!

Our daughter’s room was a dark green, so we first had to paint it with a white primer and then work on painting it the lighter mint green color. The fireplace in her room was a maroon color and I wanted to brighten it up so I painted it white. The lower part of the fireplace is what the whole fireplace was painted. See progress and after pics below!

Painted the bricks white and had to do a few coats to cover up the maroon paint.
I love the all white brick fireplace look.
Hope you love it too!

We needed to paint both our front and back porches with new deck-over due to the paint peeling off and wood being exposed to the elements. We chose charcoal gray for both porches. The same missionaries that helped us paint Vivian’s room also helped paint our large front porch. My brother-in-law helped my husband paint our front porch. Our next project was painting our dining hall. After that, we painted our library. I will post pics about both very soon! 🤞🏼

In between painting, we have had plumbing work done to help with some issues with toilets not flushing and gurgling sounds coming from sinks. Also, we had to replace our water heater the first week after we moved in our home. Cold showers are never fun 🥶

Home ownership definitely has its ups and downs, but we are grateful for our home! We are thankful we were able to purchase our home this last year and that my husband’s job wasn’t affected by Covid layoffs. We are so thankful for me being able to stay home with our daughter as well, we have lots of fun together ❤️ she loves helping me with chores (for now at least!) and we make yummy food together too! I’ll make sure to post recipes where Vivian “helps” me too.

Hope everyone likes seeing our projects 🔨🪚🪜

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

I love the smell of beans in our home cooking all day in our crockpot. The smell of onions and garlic just bring out the flavor, and you have to add a little bit of jalapeño for that spicy flavor. For my recipe, I remove the membrane and the seeds from the jalapeño so it still adds flavor but isn’t hot. Feel free to leave some membrane or seeds if you want that extra kick. 🌶

I soak the beans overnight so they can degas. Have you heard of doing this before? It’s something I had never heard of and I knew I had to try it. I don’t like being gassy from beans but I sure do love them 😂 and degassing your beans really works! When you soak your beans overnight in a pot with water (with the lid off the pot) it pulls the gases from the beans and makes them softer to cook. You rinse the beans after they’ve soaked and then add them to the pot you are cooking in. See my recipe below for a delicious pot of beans!

All done and so delish!

Air Fryer Kitchen Fail : Air Fried Mahi Mahi

Sometimes we plan our meals to the T and end up having some setbacks, we all have! I have burned a meal here and there and messed up on ingredients and made the meal completely inedible 😂 It’s a learning process, especially when you have kids running around while you’re trying to prepare something to eat.

My husband and I wanted to use our air fryer tonight to make beer battered Mahi Mahi and it did not turn out like how we thought it would. The batter kept sliding off the fish and made a pretty big mess under the air fryer basket. We have always fried fish in oil so this was a new experience for us! Next time we try this, we will use a thicker crumb mixture to make sure it doesn’t slide off the fish. We also added onion rings to the batter and added on to the basket with the fish. The onion rings stuck to the basket and were very hard to get off without falling apart. Here is a picture below showing what the onions and fish looked like prior to air frying.

The batter we used smelled really good and had good flavor though. We used Louisiana Beer Batter Seafood Batter Mix. If we use this mix again, we will make sure to fry it the traditional way in oil.

The Mahi Mahi tasted really good minus some of the batter coming off of it from being stuck on the air fryer basket. And the rice pilaf I made went really well with it!

Not all recipes work out the way we want them to, at least this one was still edible 😂

Rice Pilaf in the Rice Cooker

Making the main dish the center of attention for your meal makes sense, but sometimes you have to make your side dish just as delicious!

For years, I have made my rice and pasta sides from bag or box mixes. I still make some meals with the bag or box mixes, but I definitely prefer making from scratch. The flavor just seems more savory, and pastas from scratch just taste better with milk and fresh cheese instead of the powdered stuff.

I have a recipe below for rice pilaf made partially in a saucepan then transferred to a rice cooker. I haven’t made the recipe completely in the rice cooker because the onion should be cooked in the saucepan prior to being cooked with the rice. You can also make this in your Instant Pot, just set the pot on the sauté mode to cook the onion and garlic then switch it to the rice mode when you cook the rest of it up. I made this recipe and paired it with air fried Mahi Mahi we made and it was a perfect match!

Instant Pot/Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

With all this cold weather we are having, eating a nice, hot bowl of chili sounded amazing. The wonderful smell that comes from slow cooking this makes it tempting to eat it before it’s done 😂 But trust me, waiting those few hours makes it worth the wait once you take that first bite! I included my recipe below, but feel free to make changes where needed for your taste preferences. You can substitute the ground turkey with ground beef, red onion with yellow onion, but you absolutely need to have the chicken broth, I wouldn’t substitute this with water.

You can also make this in a regular slow cooker, you would just need to cook the onions, bell pepper, and ground turkey in a skillet prior to adding to your slow cooker. I have made this both ways, in the Instant Pot and slow cooker and both turned out delicious. I prefer to use the Instant Pot because you can use just one pot for everything instead of using the skillet and slow cooker. Less dishes to clean after dinner makes this mama happy! I also made cornbread to go along with this and cornbread always goes great with chili.

All of my ingredients are in and ready to slow cook!
Beautiful hot and yummy chili! Worth the wait.
Chili garnished with Colby Jack cheese, cornbread on the side, and a small bowl with chili for our daughter. She was anxious to start eating, that’s why her hand is in the pic reaching for the bowl! 😂

Leftover Buffalo Chicken Wrap!

If you happen to have any leftover chicken legs from the Buffalo chicken recipe you just made, this wrap is going to be the perfect lunch for you!

I enjoy a cold chicken wrap for lunch every now and again, especially when it’s chicken flavored with Buffalo sauce. Mmm! Check out my recipe below for a fun wrap to spice up your weekday lunch. Leftovers are the best!

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Legs

I love Buffalo sauce. That spiciness, tanginess, vinegary flavor, but not too hot. I’m not a fan of the super hot Buffalo sauce, more of a mild to medium gal. I like Buffalo Alfredo pasta, Buffalo chicken wraps, and of course, I like Buffalo chicken legs! I have a recipe for baking them up in the air fryer below, but you can also make them in the oven as well. We made these last night, and they were delicious!

FYI : If you decide to bake them in the oven instead, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place the legs on a foil-lined baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake the legs in the oven for approx 40 minutes turning over halfway through. Since I have only made them in the air fryer, make sure to check them while baking in the oven for doneness as they may be done sooner than 40 minutes.

After being air fried and about to be coated in the yummy sauce!
Nom, nom, nom!

Mac & Cheese, The Best!

Even for our pickiest eaters, they all seem to love mac and cheese!

Our toddler’s go-to meal is anything with noodles, preferably with some cheese on top. Her absolute favorite though, is mac & cheese! I have made a few different versions of mac and this one seems to be her favorite so far. Hope y’all will enjoy this as much as she does (and us too, of course!)

Quality Matters

I used to buy my produce from big chain grocery stores, I thought that cheaper was just the way to go. I remember cutting up a Roma tomato one day and said to my husband, “this tastes so bland, like I’m eating a mushy piece of water. There HAS to be a better tasting tomato out there, somewhere!” Since my husband isn’t a fan of tomatoes, I knew I had to figure this one out on my own. We always stuck to our budget, and never ventured out to see what our different options could be.

After we moved to our small town, I looked up local farmers markets and found one just 10 minutes from our home. I wasn’t sure how the pricing would be, but I wanted to check it out. I picked up a couple items (tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers) and the pricing was actually cheaper than I was paying at the grocery store. To top it all off, the people that worked there were also very friendly. From that first bite into one of the tomatoes, my tastebuds were on sensory overload. The best tomatoes I have ever eaten were from our local farmers market.

Ever since then, I have gotten my favorite veggies and fruits from our local farmers market in town. If you can, buy from your local farmers market and support your local farmers too! Until I start venturing into creating our own garden, the farmers market is where I will be picking my fresh fruits and veggies.