– Ben Martens


Chicken Carbonara

My standard cooking schedule for the week is to make something on Sunday that takes a little longer and gives us leftovers for a couple nights. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday, I make something quick in 20-30 minutes. It’s hard finding great recipes that only take that long, but I recently found this one and it quickly got added to our list. Deeeelicious and easy.

• 1 package (7 ounces) spaghetti
• 3/4 pound of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
• 2 cups cut-up cooked chicken
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream


1. Cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
2. Cook chicken.
3. While spaghetti is cooking, cook bacon in 3-quart saucepan over low heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan with slotted spoon; drain. Drain fat from saucepan, reserving 1 tablespoon in saucepan.
4. Cook onion and garlic in bacon fat over medium heat about 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is tender.
5. Stir in spaghetti, chicken, cheese and whipping cream.
6. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Toss with bacon.

Graham Cracker Brownies

grahamcrackerbrowniesMy mom always made a bunch of delicious Christmas cookies, but my favorite were graham cracker brownies. They’re so good! The recipe is really simple but it’s a good arm workout because of how thick and gooey the batter is. And the fun isn’t done after you pull them out of the oven. Getting them cut and removed from the pan is a workout too! But when you’re done… mmm…. a friend at our recent party said, “What is in these crack brownie things?!?!” Enjoy!


  • 4 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs. (it is about 1 package of graham crackers from a box. Or you can buy already crushed graham crackers. You usually find them in the baking section by the graham cracker pie crusts.)
  • 1 package of chocolate chips
  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk) (found in the baking aisle.)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla



Mix all together. Bake in a 9×13 pan for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. It’s easier to remove the bars if you use a glass pan. You’ll want to let them cool a bit before removing them from the pan because they will probably be too gooey at first.

Other versions of this recipe have you had baking powder which would probably make it a little fluffier when it’s done, but I really like the dense result.

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

chickenpotpiestewChicken pot chicken pot chicken pot pie!

Last week I made an effort to cook only recipes that I’ve never cooked before. Sunday was crock pot day and I somewhat randomly picked this recipe. It ended up being delicious! Our crock pot finished it perfectly right at the 5 hour mark. It’s important to keep your chicken and potato pieces big so that they don’t melt away.

• 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into cubes
• 5 medium red potatoes, quartered
• 1/2 (8 ounce) package baby carrots
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1 (26 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
• 3 cubes chicken bouillon
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
• 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1/2 (16 ounce) bag frozen mixed vegetables
• 1 roll of buttermilk biscuits

1. Combine the chicken, potatoes, carrots, celery, chicken soup, chicken bouillon, garlic salt, celery salt, and black pepper in a slow cooker; cook on High for 5 hours.
2. Stir the frozen mixed vegetables into the slow cooker, and cook 1 hour more.
3, Make biscuits!

Chicken Kabobs

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Cook With Meat. He recently had a video about some marinated chicken kabobs that looked so delicious and easy that I had to try them. Instead of boring you with my own poor photos, check out this beautiful video that also includes the recipe:

Easter Recap

For my entire life, major holidays have always been celebrated at someone else’s house. This Easter was the first time that the big holiday meal happened at our house. What to cook?

I wanted to have a full table but also not stretch myself too thin so the plan was:

  • Ham
  • Green bean casserole (simple recipe from the back of the French’s onion container)
  • Stuffing (simple recipe from the back of the box, baked with celery and onion)
  • Gravy (from a packet)
  • Mashed potatoes (homemade with garlic, butter, milk and salt)

My plan was to focus on the ham and keep the other stuff simple. Mom gets credit for finding a good ham recipe that used a grill. I liked this because grilling is fun and it kept the oven free. In retrospect, the stuff that went in the oven would have been fine at the same temperature as the ham so I think next time I’d do it there.

It was raining for much of the cooking time and it was a little tricky keeping the grill at the right temp as the rain came and went. It took a little longer than I thought, but eventually the ham made it up to the right temperature and I ran out of basting juice. The result was pretty good, but I think most of the credit there goes to the butcher who sources some great ham. There were plenty of people around to help with the side dishes and everything came together nicely. It was a full house with Don, Nancy, Logan, Megan, Ken, Dad, Mom, Tyla, Elijah and myself.

Oh, and dessert? Homemade rum cake!

easter2016 hamgrill2016

Pollo A La Crema

polloalacremaMost of my Spanish was learned by reading delicious menus so I’m pretty sure that “pollo a la crema” means “chicken in cream”. I see it on the menus when I go there and think “I should make that at home”, but I’ve never followed through. I can’t say that anymore. Tyla’s verdict was that it was delicious, but the sauce wasn’t the same flavor as what you usually get in a restaurant. I think this will be a regular in our rotation.

The recipe comes from but we modified it to include mushrooms and onions.


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • Mushrooms
  • Onion
  • 6 (6 inch) flour tortillas



  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  2. In a separate skillet, cook mushrooms and onions
  3. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently until juices run clear.
  4. Stir in the flour and ketchup, then whisk in the broth.
  5. When sauce begins to thicken, reduce heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Simmer covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chicken Pasta With Sundried Tomatoes

chickenpastatomatoesI guess we were a little burned out with all our grilling because we’ve been eating everything from the stove or the oven since that ended. We’ve been eating some great food though! We just tried a new recipe for chicken pasta with mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. It was deeeelicious! You can find the original recipe here.


  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small jar (3-4 oz) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or use 3-4 oz fat-free sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 lb chicken breast tenders
  • salt
  • paprika (just a little bit)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon basil (if using dry basil), if using fresh basil you can add more
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (at least, add more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water (or more)
  • salt, to taste



  1. Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this drained oil for sauteing as described below:
  1. In a large pan, on high heat, sautee garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil) in 2 tablespoons of oil (reserved from the sun-dried tomatoes jar – see note above) for 1 minute until garlic is fragrant. Remove sun-dried tomatoes from the pan, leaving the oil, and add chicken tenders, salted and lightly covered in paprika (for color) and cook on high heat for 1 minute on each side. Remove from heat.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with cold water (to stop cooking).
  3. Slice sun-dried tomatoes into smaller bits and add them back to the skillet with chicken. Add half and half and cheese to the skillet, too, and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all cheese melts and creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick – don’t worry – you’ll be adding some cooked pasta water soon. Add cooked pasta to the skillet with the creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of basil, and at least 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
  4. Add about 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water because the creamy sauce will be too thick (do not add all water at once – you might need less or more of it). This will water down the thickness of the cheese sauce and make it creamier. Immediately, season the pasta with salt and more red pepper flakes, to taste, if needed. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
  1. Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.

Meat Week – Hot Dogs

meatweekhotdogsElijah had hot dogs at the church VBS picnic and ever since then, he has been asking us to make hot dogs. So I swung by the butcher and picked up some all beef hotdogs. There’s not much to say about grilling hot dogs, but Elijah was happy.

This also brought our “grill week” to a conclusion. For 28 days, we only cooked dinner using the grill. It was a delicious month!

Meat Week – Chicken Breasts

meatweekchickenWhen I think of chicken breasts on the grill, I think of dried out meat. After reading a couple articles this summer, our chicken breasts are tasting delicious of the grill. Here are a couple things that are part of my grilling plan:

  • Thin out the chicken breasts. Put them in a bag and pound them to a constant thickness. This makes it possible to grill the whole piece evenly.
  • Marinate! Give it a full 24 hours. If you’re using skinless chicken, don’t put any lemon in the marinade because it will “cook” the outer part of the chicken. You can find plenty of marinade recipes online but I usually just throw stuff in a bag and it’s a little different every time. I usually do something like olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and minced garlic.
  • Get the grill hot! I put it on the grill at about 500-550 degrees. If you flip it over and it sticks to the grill, you needed to let it wait longer before you flipped it. Your goal is to cook the chicken as quickly as possible (within reason) so that it doesn’t dry out.

Meat Week – Ribs

meatweekribsI’ve only made ribs once in my life and it was one of those prepackaged deals from Safeway. We cooked it in the oven. This time I picked up loin back ribs from the butcher and did them on the grill. Doing them on a gas grill is pretty much the same as doing them in the oven but it worked ok. This meal was probably the dud from the meat week menu. The ribs weren’t terrible but I cooked them too long and they weren’t super awesome. Here’s the recipe/instructions that I used: