Quick Taco Bake Pie

While it may appear that I have dropped off the face of the blogosphere, I promise I haven’t. Some things may have taken up a bit more of my time than I expected, in real life that happens. What I haven’t done is stop coming up with blog ideas and working on new recipes. Just trying to get my hot southern mess creativity on in general. I have been having debates about what I should blog about next. Do I go with something Easter-related or do I go in some other direction? In perfectly, hot southern mess fashion I chose to go the other direction with a deliciously easy recipe for Quick Taco Bake Pie. It’s perfect for Taco Tuesday or any day of the week.

Quick Taco Bake Pie | My Hot Southern Mess


Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FamilyPastaTime #CollectiveBias

Cooler weather is here and that means it’s time for comfort food! There is just something about when the temperatures begin to drop and wanting a nice warm casserole. Plus casseroles are the perfect thing for busy moms, they tend to be quick and easy to put together which is perfect for weeknight dinners or that holiday party that someone forgot to tell us about. I love that with a few ingredients I can have a complete, tasty dinner for my family with minimal effort, like my husband’s favorite, Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken. It is what happened when holiday party food meets dinner.

Spinach Artichoke Penne with Chicken | My Hot Southern Mess


Fake out Take out, Kung Pao Chicken

In the days before I was gluten free if I were to go out to eat my thoughts went to Mexican food or Chinese. Thankfully I still can eat Mexican food, just not everything but my days of stopping at Panda Express for a quick lunch are over. Most Chinese food has some form of gluten in it from a source most people would not expect, soy sauce. Thankfully though they make gluten free soy sauce so I can still have Chinese food, I just have to make it myself. For that reason, I am also thankful for the many recipes out there that let me have my favorites like, Kung Pao Chicken.

Kung Pao Chicken | My Hot Southern Mess


#ad Garlic Basil Aioli and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tyson Foods, Inc. This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TMNT2andTyson #TMNT2 #CollectiveBias

In the late 80’s, there were some new superheroes taking over and now almost 30 years later, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are still as popular as ever and even have a new movie coming out. Thanks to my little brother, I was introduced to the turtles and honestly what was there not to love? Teenage crime beating, pizza loving turtles named after renaissance era artists who lived with a giant rat sensei named Splinter. My 10 year old self loved the totally bodacious language the heroes in a half shell used. So maybe in the late eighties we all wanted to talk like surfers from California, it was like cool, ok. I openly admit to still saying things like awesome way too much but it is all good. Just like the fact that I can be a totally tubular mom now since I grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and can have conversations about the turtles with my own kids now.

Garlic Basil Aioli | My Hot Southern Mess turtles


Cheater Spicy Chicken Penne

A few years back, when my oldest and youngest still ran USATF track I was introduced to a pasta dish at a team dinner that I fell in love with, Spicy Chicken Rigatoni. I came up with my own version and my family loved it. Then when I gave gluten the boot I stopped making it. Truth is there really aren’t a ton of different gluten free pasta shapes. There is penne though and it is similar to rigatoni. Well, it is close enough for me. Spicy Chicken Penne is now something that has been added back into my families meal plans and is a meal my kids would eat weekly if I would let them.

Cheater Spicy Chicken Penne | My Hot Southern Mess


How to Host a Dinner for a Large Group

Hello, is anybody out there? It’s me Debbie. I promise i’m still here, life has just been a, well, hot mess. First let me apologize for the lack of blog posts here. It is completely my fault. I let life get busy but I will be back to regular posts.  So what have I been busy with? Planning a pasta dinner for my favorite veteran’s non-profit, Team Red, White, and Blue. There were days I wondered how it would turn out but in the end it went really well. So I thought I would share some tips about how I did it.

Team RWB is a veteran’s outreach organization that reaches out to veterans through both physical and social activity. Here in the Fort Bragg area a large event that we have is the All American Marathon and we have tons of members that participate so having a pasta dinner was a no brainer. You are suppose to carb load before a marathon, right? Plus anyways it was just a great way to get everyone from our chapter and visiting chapters together. Pasta dinner for 50-100 people, I could do that no problem.

How to Host a Dinner for a Large Group | My Hot Southern Mess



Santa Fe Chicken and Rice

School is back in session here in North Carolina and we have survived the first week! Woohoo! After a couple months off for summer break we are getting back on track with our school days schedule. We are back to the after school bus schedule, homework and cross country practice. The evenings get a little crazy sometimes especially on those nights when my oldest son’s cross country practice runs late. Don’t they know I need to get dinner on the table? To combat the craziness of our weekday schedule I try to have a variety of easy dinners on my meal plan for during the week. One of our new favorites is Santa Fe Chicken and Rice.

Santa Fe Chicken and Rice | Country Girl Gourmet

I discovered Santa Fe Chicken and Rice thanks to Allrecipes and this month’s sponsor activity with Swanson Chicken Broth for Allrecipes Allstars. After trying their unsalted chicken broth and having success making their Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Mash I decided to try some more of the Swanson recipes on Allrecipes.com and I am happy that I did! Santa Fe Chicken Breast and Rice is an easy to make, family favorite that is made in one pan! I love complete meals that I can make in one pan. That means fewer dishes and that means more time to do other things. Talk about a win-win!

Santa Fe Chicken and Rice | Country Girl Gourmet

The entire meal took around 30 minutes to make and my family inhaled it! I did double the recipe since we are a family of 6 but there were no leftovers because my kids and husbands all went back for seconds. It has been added to our meal planning meal list rotation. It the perfect for those busy weekdays meals! Plus, clean up is a cinch since you only have to worry about cleaning one pot not a handful. What are you waiting for try it today!

What are some of your favorite quick and easy, one pot meals?

Santa Fe Chicken and Rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1¾ cups Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Chicken Stock or Swanson® Unsalted Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup Pace® Picante Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 (15 ounce) can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
  • ½ cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese - I chose cheddar jack)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the rice and cook and stir until it's golden. Stir in the broth, picante sauce and cumin and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in the beans and corn. Return the chicken to the skillet. Top the chicken with the cheese. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the rice is tender.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Santa Fe Chicken and Rice | Country Girl Gourmet

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews on Country Girl Gourmet. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Country Girl Gourmet.


Coffee Rub Steak

Once upon a time I tried to be a vegetarian of sorts. You know how some vegetarians eat seafood, well I would eat chicken and turkey. I was one of those unhealthy vegetarians, I ate a ton of junk but hey I was 18. My life as a vegetarian ended abruptly in 1999 after I became pregnant with my oldest son. To this day I can remember wanting a steak slathered in A-1 and as luck would have it I got my steak at a BBQ that evening. After that evening I was no longer a vegetarian and today a good steak is one of my favorite things to eat. I have been lucky to have been able to eat some of the best steaks out there. While living in El Paso we had several steakhouses to choose from including Cattleman’s Steak House in Fabens, TX. It is a must stop if you are ever in the area. Wagon tours around movie sets, a children’s zoo, a rattlesnake pit and more. There is just so much to do there and their steaks are awesome! They have been voted best and even featured on Travel network best of shows. Leaving Cattleman’s and other great steakhouses in Texas was pretty sad for my family. Where would we now go for a good steak? We are still looking for the perfect steakhouse in the Fort Bragg area but while on a mini vacation to Myrtle Beach we discovered an awesome restaurant with beautiful food. My steak was the closest to any steak I had in El Paso too. Plus it had a beautiful coffee rub.

At first I was unsure about a coffee rub steak. I do not like coffee. I know what you are thinking but, no, there is nothing wrong with me. I just don’t care for coffee. My husband talked me into to it and I was happy he did! The coffee rub was the perfect compliment to the steak. Plus it didn’t taste like coffee. My husband tried my steak and he loved it also. I instantly knew what I had to do next, I needed to recreate  that coffee rub. So I did and it turned into something really beautiful. Although going out and having someone else cook for me is nice since we have yet to find the perfect steakhouse I don’t mind staying in and making this coffee rub steak. My kids request it on a regular basis too and get mad if I make it when they go away to their grandparent’s for the weekend. I guess I would be too, it really is that good!

Coffee Rub Steak | Country Girl Gourmet
Making a Coffee Rub Steak is pretty simple. You start with a good quality coffee. Yes, you could use something like Folgers but your steak will taste much better when made with a good quality coffee. We like nice dark roasts. You combine the coffee with your other spices to create your rub seasoning mix.

Coffee Rub Steak | Country Girl Gourmet

Next you add it to your steak. We have used rib eyes and NY strips but any nicely marbled steak will work. You can add as much or as little as you would like. I use a heavy hand to help ensure a nice crust.Coffee Rub Steak| Country Girl Gourmet

Now all that is left to do is cook your steak your favorite way and to your desired doneness. I have cooked our steaks both on the grill, heavy bottom skillet as well as our electric skillet with good results.Coffee Rub Steak| Country Girl GourmetWhen done cooking just remember to allow your steak to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Coffee Rub Steak| Country Girl Gourmet

We serve with baked sweet potatoes and other favorite vegetables such as asparagus.

Have you tried coffee rub steak? What did you think? What is your favorite way to make steak?

Coffee Rub Steak
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ground Coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Chilli Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Transfer to an airtight container. Coffee rub can be made 1 month ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
  2. To use sprinkle desired amount on steak and cook using desired method to desired doneness.
  3. Allow steaks to rest 10 minutes before serving.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

When my husband and I were first married and didn’t have much money I would often throw things together for meals. Sometimes these things were hits and others were misses. One of my favorite hits was simple spaghetti mixed with “butter”, garlic and parmesan. Not the good parmesan though, the stuff that comes in the green can and even at that it wasn’t Kraft. It was some generic version they sold at the commissary. Oh and that garlic was garlic powder, the at the time 50cent a bottle garlic powder. The butter well it was margarine. I remember eating it one day when my sister and her now ex-husband came over and he thought it was the the weirdest thing. Then again he was from Albuquerque, New Mexico so if it didn’t have green chiles it was weird.

The simple spaghetti was something quick and easy I could put together and became comfort food. I even taught my oldest how to make it but now our ingredients are a little different. Now I use real butter, parmesan  and garlic. While working with Barilla this month I was introduced to a even more grown up version of this simple dish and I was hooked. Heck, my whole family was to the point they were fighting over it. Thank goodness I can get gluten free pasta and Barilla makes a pretty good gluten free pasta so I can continue having this for a quick lunch or dinner.

If you are in a pinch and looking for something tasty and quick and easy to make this is the recipe to try. Try for yourself, you will be happy you did. It may become one of your comfort food favorite dishes.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil | Country Girl Gourmet

Spaghetti with Garlic, Red Pepper and Olive Oil

from Allrecipes.com


  • 1 (16 ounce) box Barilla PLUS® Thin Spaghetti
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes; saute 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Cook Plus® Thin Spaghetti according to package directions.
  4. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Immediately add hot pasta to skillet. Stir in reserved pasta cooking water. Mix well. Add cheese and toss lightly.
  5. Transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

New Year’s Day Lucky Foods

Do you eat anything special for New Year’s Day? Are you superstitious and believe in New Year’s Day Lucky Foods? In our house we don’t chance anything and will take all the luck we can get. Lucky foods come from many different countries that are passed down over the generations.

New Years Day Lucky Foods | Country Girl Gourmet

Here are a list of some lucky foods and why they are lucky:

Circular foods like doughnuts and round cakes represent the year coming to full circle. Throw a coin in the cake and the person who finds it is said to have good luck all year.

New Years Day Lucky Foods | Country Girl Gourmet

Pork is considered be one of the luckiest food for your New Year’s Day feasts. This is because pigs are rotund and that represents prosperity. Pigs also root forward and that represents progress. How you eat your lucky pig is up to you, there are plenty of options from ham, pork roasts and even bacon.

If pork isn’t your thing there is always fish. Fish scales represent money as they look like coins.  Fish also swim in schools and this represents abundance and prosperity. Lastly fish swim forward and this represents progress.

Beans and Lentils are lucky as they symbolize coins. In the south Black Eyed Peas are popular, especially Hoppin John.

New Years Day Lucky Foods | Country Girl Gourmet

Greens such as Cabbage, Collards and Kale represent Money.

Noodles and grains (such as rice, quinoa and barley) are symbols of a long life and abudance.

Cornbread  represents gold.

Pomegranates represent prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds = more luck!

A hispanic tradition is to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Each grape represents a month. If that grape is bitter it is said you need to watch out for that month.

Those are the main New Year’s Day Lucky Foods. We plan on eating plenty of lucky foods. Here is our menu:

Super Easy, Homemade Doughnuts for Breakfast

Ham with Brown Sugar and Apricot glaze 

Hoppin John

Southern Fried Cabbage

Sweet Cornbread

New Years Day Lucky Foods | Country Girl Gourmet

Do you know of any other New Year’s Day Lucky Foods? If so what are they? I would love to know.

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