One Pan Dinner, Delicious!

One Pan Dinner, Delicious!

Hi Smiley’s,

You know I am always trying to find ways to make life less hectic all within a defined budget. But I must say, cooking everyday, three times a day, can be very exhausting. Especially when it is followed by mountains of dishes. YES, I use the dishwasher and YES, I use paper plates but some items must be hand washed and paper plates don’t rid of all dishes. And to be honest, I’d rather wash plates then buy them because that is money that goes into the trash everyday, literally!!!! Anyway, it is a small sacrifice that helps lighten a burden.

Well, this month while drowning in loads of laundry and dishes, I found myself thinking: “There’s got to be a better way!!!” For centuries, hot, delicious and nutritious meals were made all while houses remained spotless. Where am I going wrong? I mean there’s always: sandwiches, salads, and eating out. But eating out all the time has it consequences: budget and health. Sandwiches, same thing, a bunch of refined carbs and processed meats shouldn’t be the foundation of one’s diet. And salads, salads are great but everyday, twice a day and that’s it?? hmmm, nooo, my family likes me to break up the monotony and now I’ve grown accustomed to it.

So, one day I was out at Barnes and Noble and normally when I am down in the food menu planning dumps I go buy a cookbook but this time I thought I would browse the Magazine section. While doing so, this recipe caught my eye! It was the answer I was looking for: One Pan Meals!!! Yes, Yes, Yes. So we have the CrockPot… Now, we are adding this beauty to our Toolkit of Simpleness. And what I love most is that it stays within my guidelines of Nutritious and Delicious.

Magazine: Diabetic Living, Summer 2018

Recipe: Sheet Pan Orange-Apricot Drumsticks

(Smiling Danny Tweaks/Additions will be notated with a **)

You will need:

  • 1 pound multi-color fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
    • ** I did not cut the fingerling potatoes
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
    • ** I bought Organic Green Beans that were bagged so I did not trim them since they didn’t have a stem
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
    • ** I diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ** Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • ** I did not use salt, you get plenty of salt from the soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
    • ** I used all the pepper on the veggies and did not add to the marinade
  • 4 large chicken drumsticks (1½-2 lbs. total), skin removed
    • ** I used 5 drumsticks, skin attached
  • 1 orange
    • **I used 2 tablespoons of orange juice instead
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
    • ** I used reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place potatoes, green beans and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Nestle chicken into the vegetables.

Grate ½ tsp. zest from orange and squeeze it to get 2 Tbsp. juice. Combine the zest and juice, preserves, soy sauce (or tamari), garlic and the remaining ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the chicken with half of the glaze.

Roast the chicken and vegetables for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables; turn the chicken and brush with the remaining glaze. Continue roasting until the chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer and the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes more.





So Smileys, I hope this helps you this month with your menu planning and with making your life a little less hectic. This magazine also featured 35 recipes plus a week long menu plan (not sponsored). Check out the Wine section of the website to see which wine I paired with this delicious meal. Also, check out the Finance section to see my budget tip of the month. I also updated my Cooking and About sections. You can visit my YouTube Channel for more recipes. Channel: Smiling Danny.

In the Meantime, Bon Appetit and Happy Tasting.

XOXO, Smiling Danny


What Goes in an Emergency Fund

What Goes in an Emergency Fund

Hi Smileys!

Hope you have had a wonderful month and are ready to begin Summer festivities. This month I thought I would focus on what goes in an Emergency Fund.

According to Dave Ramsey, an emergency fund should include at least 3 to 6 months of living expenses. The fund should have 6 months of living expenses if there is only one spouse working. In addition to this, I have thought of some other things that should be included in the account:

  • All quarterly and yearly expenses: each year/quarter you know that you will have to pay for homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, license and registration for your vehicles, renter’s insurance, oil changes etc. Think of events that you know are going to happen and plan accordingly by saving for them throughout the year.
  • Emergencies: deductibles for car or home in case of a car accident or storm.
  • Car Maintenance such as tires, engines, mile service and more.
  • Home maintenance such as pest control, fence replacement, plumbing and electrical needs.
  • Vacations: if you are planning to take a trip within the year or two, plan accordingly by pricing your lodging, food, travel and souvenirs up front and save for them throughout the years.
  • Gifts: birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, graduations, congratulations, and being a blessing to someone in need. These events are likely to happen, set aside a few dollars each month for them so that when they occur you aren’t altering your budget in order to be a blessing.

Hope you find these tips helpful,

Smiling Danny

Hello Spring!

Hello Spring!

Spring is Here! That means we can get out of the house and really enjoy the outdoors. One of the things I really enjoy doing is going to different wineries. It’s always a pleasure to view the vineyard, learn about the grapes and enjoy a glass of the wine they are showcasing that season. I look forward to sharing with you in the upcoming months my experiences and the wines that really caught my eye. In the meantime, I thought I would share with you some of the wines that get me in the mood for Spring and before you know it; Summer!

  • San Antonio Winery Cardinale Sweet Red: This wine surprised me because it is the perfect amount of sweet for those who tend to prefer dry reds. For those of you who enjoy drinking wine for the taste and the social aspect, this is the wine for you! It is delicious. This wine can be served chilled or room temperature.
  • Hatch Green Chile Wine: I equate this wine to a party wine. It is a spicy white that pairs well with white meat dishes whether it be barbecued or a delicious Latin/Mexican dish. Shrimp, chicken, pork, fish, or vegetables this wine pairs well and ends with a nice kick of spice. This wine is to be served chilled.
  • Madria Sangria: This is my favorite store bought Sangria!!! When I have a glass of this wine, I feel like I am at a restaurant. Sangria is wine infused with fruit. Some will also add soda or fruit juice too when making their Sangria but traditionally it is just fruit. This wine you also serve chilled and pairs well with Latin/Mexican dishes, A Barbecue, appetizers or just great conversation.

I hope you try some of these wines. They are not too costly and they are delicious. Let me know your thoughts. Also, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel in the month of the May. This is where I will be sharing videos with different tasting notes, pairings and winery visits. My YouTube channel is Smiling Danny. Just go to and enter Smiling Danny in the search bar. Or, you can click the YouTube icon in the upper right corner of the home page and it will take you directly there.

Happy Tasting, SmileyDannyGirl

Finding Money Around the House

Finding Money Around the House

Hi Smileys!

I hope you all had a wonderful month of February. I sure did and am excited to share with you some ways to make a little extra money this month. I have spent the month removing unused and unwanted items from our home and ended up making a little extra money in the process. I have a rule: “If I have not used it or thought about it in the last year, it must go!” This rule applies to clothes, shoes, appliances, jewelry, handbags, etc. Normally, I just give away or donate these items. This year I have been giving away, donating and selling these items. Of course, your normal Goodwill, Women’s shelter, Men’s shelter, Homeless shelter, Pregnancy centers, Churches, family and friends are wonderful places to give. In addition to those avenues, if you are interested in making some money off your items, here are some places that I came across that will buy from you:

  1. Style Encore: buys and sells gently used, casual and business clothing for women. They also buy and sell shoes, handbags and accessories. They will pay you cash immediately.
  2. Plato’s Closet: buys and sells gently used teen and young adult style clothing and accessories. They also pay cash on the spot and have both girl and boy clothing items.
  3. Once Upon a Child: buys and sells gently used baby and kids clothing, shoes, toys and baby gear.  They will pay cash on the spot or write you a check immediately.
  4. Consignment Shops/ Pawn Shops: I have not had experience with either of these avenues but know that with consignment shops they do not pay cash on the spot but after a period of time. Rules apply differently with each shop.
  5. Yard Sale/ Garage Sale/ City-wide Garage Sale: check with your local Parks and Recreation center for more information about this and for proper licensing.
  6. Half Price Books: buys and sells books, textbooks, movies, cd’s, dvd’s, cellphones, tablets, e-readers, games and gaming consoles. They also pay cash on the spot.

Let me know if you try any of these avenues. I would love to hear your success stories!

I also would like to encourage you to browse the different tabs on this site. Each month, I will be sharing my favorite wine on the Wine tab. I have also listed different YouTube videos on the Money & Finance tab that you can view in order to learn more about budgeting and saving.

Recipe for Month: Save your Spare Change

You will need:

  • Cash
  • “Piggy Bank”, Jar or Vase
  • Coin Wrappers


  • Use whole bills for each transaction.
  • Save change in a piggy bank, jar or vase.
  • At the end of each month or quarter, sort, count and roll your change.
  • Take your rolled coins to your bank and deposit into your savings account, kid’s savings account or the college fund account.

Happy Savings,

Smiling Danny

Fast Food Fixes and Cutting Corners

Fast Food Fixes and Cutting Corners

Hi Smileys!

I hope you all had a wonderful month of January and found ways to save $$$ and cook more at home. I sure have. I noticed through the month though that there were times when I had a taste for Chinese food or Mexican food. Instead of going out to eat though, I whipped up a couple of dishes that were simple and delicious.

The first dish I made was what I call: Green Chile Enchilada Chicken. I sauteed some chicken breast tenderloins (1 lb) in olive oil. Chicken was seasoned with lemon, parsley and black pepper (You can add salt). Then I took one packet of green chile enchilada mix and poured it over the chicken. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I made some black beans and I also roasted some zucchini and squash. Once the chicken was nice and simmered I plated it along with the sides. Once plated, I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top of the chicken and black beans. Then I added pico de gallo on top of the beans as well. Very delicious! I felt like I went out to eat.

The next dish I made was Orange Chicken. From Sprout’s Grocer I bought a bag of orange chicken and heated it per package instructions. Meanwhile, I made some brown rice, simmered some frozen broccoli (seasoned with pink salt and pepper) and I baked some vegetable egg rolls. Once the chicken was done I plated my meal: brown rice, broccoli on top, then chicken on top. Deeee-licious!

So Smileys, these are a couple of recipes that you can use so that you can get that going out to eat feel without messing up too many dishes and without spending too much money. The family enjoyed both meals!

Lastly, this month I went through my grocery list and found ways that I could save money on my purchase. Of course you know that I enjoy using coupons. I also found that I can save money by brewing a pot of tea versus buying a gallon. Another thing I found was that I could buy my salad leaves and chop it myself versus buying it in the bags. Warehouse stores such as Sam’s and Costco also have their salad at a good price. Buying value packs of cheese and fruit (apples and oranges) saved money and lastly, buying frozen mixed berries versus fresh berries was also a money saver.

I hope you find these tips helpful!


Bon Appetit and Happy Saving, Smiling Danny



January Challenge

January Challenge

Hi Smileys!

As you know, I enjoy cooking AND budgeting/saving. This year I am determined to reject that urge to order take-out and embrace the leftovers that I have in the fridge. My family doesn’t eat out often but the few times that we do, we find it to be very expensive and not always tastefully satisfying. This year I intend on doing a lot more cooking and a lot more saving. I feel weird saying that because I cook A LOT! But like I said, $30-$50 per take-out adds up and will look very nice sitting in a savings account versus leaving my fingertips.

I’ve tried the planning your meals bit but find that I don’t cook what I intended on cooking. I usually cook based off of what I have a hankering for; with the exception of breakfast/lunch. I do intend on trying that again as a means to save money but not sure how successful I will be with that. Any other suggestions?

Anyway, I’m sure you are wondering: Sooo Danny, what’s the challenge? The challenge is to cook more this year as a means to eat out less and also to save money. So, will you join me? Will you join this: “Cook more, Spend Less challenge?” I sure hope so. I would love for us to do this together; encouraging each other along the way. Your reasons for cooking more this year may be different from mine but whatever reason, we will make a great team!

Happy Cooking, Smiling Danny


I kicked off my month this month by cooking Turkey Spaghetti with a Butternut Squash Sauce. Deee-lish!

Ingredients: 1lb Ground Turkey Meat, 1/2 pkg wheat spaghetti noodles, Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Sauce,  Pink Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Instructions: Season and Brown Meat, Cook Noodles, Simmer sauce. Combine cooked meat and sauce, season with salt and pepper. Once sauce tastes to liking, remove from heat and add cooked noodles. Let stand for 5 mins. Bon Appetit!



What’s for Dinner? Leftovers, Nooo… Can we have Take-out?

What’s for Dinner? Leftovers, Nooo… Can we have Take-out?

I know, I know. Sometimes, we get in that mood where we don’t want leftovers for dinner. Or as I like to say: Fir Dinner, hahaha :). However; leftovers, can be convenient and beneficial to your household because it saves time, money, energy, thought, debates, and can improve your health. How does it improve my health Danny? It improves your health because it forces you to stay on the diet that you have determined for yourself, that is if you are cooking the appropriate meals conducive to your diet, and you get to dictate what and how much salt, sugar, butter, etcetera that is going in your dish. And my favorite, it saves money because you aren’t paying double, sometimes triple, the price for a meal that you can cook better yourself.

So here is what happened tonight, I went to the fridge to do my mid-week: “what’s in the refrigerator that we need to eat so that it doesn’t get wasted bit?” I found some boneless ribs. Let me tell you, I WAS NOT EXCITED about having this for dinner but I wanted to end the year and start a new one with a bang, so I refused to spend grocery money on eating out. These ribs looked so bland and lifeless. I could taste my palate desiring something else… Something else like…. Ramen Noodles. RAMEN NOODLES! YES! Ramen Noodles! And No, not the fancy smancy gourmet kind but the the 25 cents, high sodium, cardiac arrest Ramen noodles. Oriental to be exact. Instead, I took those ribs, put them on the stove on low heat and began thinking of what I could do to elevate this dinner. I am watching my sugar intake and since I don’t eat much desserts I am cutting back in other areas such as carbohydrates and condiments. So I knew my go-to adding BBQ sauce wasn’t going to work because it is loaded with unnecessary sugars. So I took some raw unfiltered honey and some steak sauce and mixed those together. (1 part honey, 2 parts steak sauce) and wha-la! I had my own delicious sauce and my family truly enjoyed! I heard yums and palate tunes all throughout dinner. My heart was so filled. It was if I had been in the kitchen all day.

I also kicked this meal into a high gear by changing up my sides and by not using paper plates. Instead of the regular and routine brown rice I would normally use, tonight I did wild rice with carrots and peas. Delicious!

So now, we ate good and we have money to eat out when we like, we get to order what we want and can truly enjoy the experience and fun of eating out at a good restaurant.

So Smileys, take your leftovers to the next level by changing up the sides, sauces and/or seasonings and even by using different dishes (that you already have in your home) and surprise your family and their taste-buds with a new recipe or meal created and made by you!

Happy Eating!

Smiling Danny


This month’s recipe:

No Sugar Added BBQ Sauce:

1/8c Honey (Raw and Unflitered)

2/8c of Steak Sauce

Steak, heat on low heat until warm, serve on meat of choice

Danny’s meat of choice: Pork Ribs

Wash 12 boneless ribs, season with Himalayan Pink Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Powder. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until pork is no longer pink. Let meat rest.  Serve with sauce poured over meat. Enjoy.