Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken

Hello and Happy Monday!

I’m always looking for recipes that make enough for dinner for two nights. A bonus factor is if I can use my slow cooker to help have dinner ready whenever we are.

I made this Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken last week for my family, and it’s a recipe I’ve had for years. I’ve seen versions of it and have even tweaked what I add through the years.

This recipe is served over rice, but it’s also a great low carb option over cauliflower rice or even just on its own with lettuce, cheese and salsa as toppings.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts or chicken tenders
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 can of Rotel
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 packet of Ranch seasoning
  • Rice

Instructions:

  • Put the chicken in the slow cooker.
  • Then add black beans, corn, Rotel, taco and Ranch seasonings.
  • Then, I cube the cream cheese and spread the dollops around on top of the other ingredients.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Then, turn off the slow cooker and let everything sit for 30-45 minutes. (I don’t always do this step!)
Ready to slow cook!
  • Flake the chicken using two fork.
  • Serve over cooked rice.
  • Top with shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa, and any other desired toppings!
  • Enjoy!
Delish!

This is a recipe that is two nights of dinner for us. Sometimes, we put it on top of tortilla chips for nachos rather than on the rice. This is a easy, hearty, and pretty healthy recipe!

I hope you have a great week!

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Let’s Lunch

Confession: I live for lunch, y’all. Usually I’m doing intermittent fasting, so lunch is when I break my fast and am ready to eat.

Confession #2: I’ve really enjoyed lunch during quarantine for two reasons.

1. I get more than 20 minutes to eat lunch while at home rather than at school.

2. I really enjoy making lunch for my kids. I was never a stay-at-home mom (except in the summer), so I’ve really embraced having extra time to make breakfast and lunch for myself and the kids.

I’m not making anything Earth-shattering but even having the time to serve Hayden & Hadley something warm, like a grilled cheese sandwich, is nice and a favorite part of my day.

Breakfast:

For breakfast, I just stick to coffee.

Hayden’s been eating Cream of Wheat on repeat. He loves it, but it’s also soft and easy for him to eat with his new ortho appliance in his mouth.

Hadley typically has waffle with Nutella and strawberries or toast and jelly.

Lunch:

Rule of 3: I’m not sure if it’s a real rule or one I made up but I always put 3 things on their plate…their main course + two sides.

Also, I preach about not being wasteful, but I also don’t make them finish every bite. I tell them to eat until they’re full, but they better not come ask for a snack an hour later!

Some of the kids favorite lunches are:

  • grilled cheese
  • tomato soup
  • chicken noodle soup
  • quesadilla
  • hot dog
  • dinner leftovers
  • Trader Joe’s shells and white cheddar mac & cheese
  • Trader Joe’s mini tacos
  • Trader Joe’s black bean burrito

For sides, they usually have:

  • mini bell peppers
  • chips/pretzels
  • Babybel cheese
  • fruit
  • pickles
  • yogurt
  • celery (Hayden likes plain celery. Hadley likes celery with peanut butter)

My “go-to” lunches are:

  • salad
  • “charcuterie” board with dill cheese (from Trader Joe’s), pickles, salami or prosciutto, Cheezits or Dots pretzels, grapes or strawberries
  • Jasmine rice bowl (with chicken, black beans, sweet potatoes…and more!)
  • Tortilla roll up

For the tortilla roll up, I…

  • Take tortilla, and put two pieces of Provolone cheese on top,
  • Layer whatever lunch meat you like,
  • Place a couple of pieces of Romaine lettuce, then
  • Add bell peppers and a drizzle of mustard.
  • Enjoy!

This roll up can be tweaked with whatever you have on hand. I’ve used Arugula instead of Romaine, Cheddar cheese instead of Provolone, sometimes I put pickles on it, etc.

To end on a funny note…this made me laugh out loud 😂

What are some of your favorite things to eat for lunch? What do your kids typically eat?

Have a great day!

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Stuffed Shells with Ricotta & Spinach

Hello and Happy Monday!

I feel like I don’t cook as much in the summer…or maybe it’s that we grill out more often in the summer months…? but…

I was digging through my recipe box last week, and stumbled upon this recipe that I hadn’t made in forever. I’m not sure where I got the recipe, but I’ve had it for years, so I thought I’d share.

Ingredients:

  • 20-25 Jumbo shell pasta, cooked
  • 1- 24 oz jar of Marinara
  • 2- 15 oz containers of Ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, rough chop
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Turn on oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool under water.
  • Spread most of the Marinara sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish.
  • In a bowl, combine the Ricotta, spinach, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  • Spoon the mixture into shells and place them on top of the sauce.
  • Drizzle the remaining Marinara sauce on top and then sprinkle the Mozzarella on top.
  • Bake, until the shells are heated through, 10-12 minutes.
  • Increase heat to broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown, 2-4 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
I was almost finished filling the shells, but here’s the mixture in the bowl.

I squeezed 25 shells in the pan!

Almost ready for the oven (add Marinara and Mozz.)
Getting their bake on…
Ready to eat!
Dinner is served.

I’ve never done it, but I’m sure you could incorporate browned sausage, chicken, etc into the mix to make the shells a bit heartier with protein.

I hope this is a recipe you’ll enjoy.

Have a great week.

Posted in Meals and Recipes, Trader Joes

Easy Lunch Idea

Y’all, it’s no secret that my love for Trader Joe’s runs deep! I put together some of my favorite ingredients with my Kroger staples and made this easy and healthy lunch that I now eat a couple times a week.

Ingredients:

  • Jasmine rice (Game changer for me. I’ve just discovered this rice and LOVE it) There are three microwaveable bags in this box.
  • Sweet potato (I cut into small bites, drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkle with TJ Chile Lime seasoning. Then I roast the bits in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes)
  • Black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Feta cheese (I’ve used other cheeses before as well like shredded mozz)
  • Protein (I use this short cut with Perdue Carved Chicken Breasts from Kroger and cut them into bite sized pieces) You could use steak or shrimp too, I’m sure.
  • Sriracha Ranch (or a drizzle of regular Ranch would be good too) Also, I’m not a fan of spicy food, but a little bit of this goes a long way and is delish!)

Instructions:

  • Roast the sweet potatoes.
  • Cook the bag of rice in the microwave.
  • Cut the chicken into small pieces. Then, I warm up the chicken and the beans in the microwave together.
  • Mix rice, sweet potatoes, beans, and protein together.
  • Top with Feta cheese.
  • Drizzle with Sriracha Ranch.
  • Enjoy!
Looking pretty!
Mixed up….how I eat it 😉

When I make this, I can actually get about three meals out of it. So I make one serving in a bowl and divide the other ingredients into Tupperware for other meals. Then, when it’s time to enjoy those, I heat up the ingredients and top with Feta and the dressing.

What do you love from Trader Joe’s?? What are some of your go to lunches?

Happy eating!

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Pizza Pork Chops with Orzo

Hello! How was your weekend? Like the past few weekends, we had a good mix of productivity and laziness. The weekend weather felt like a glimpse of summer, for sure!

I was looking through my recipe box, which I don’t do very often, and I stumbled upon a meal I hadn’t made in awhile. It’s so easy, delicious, and a family favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 6 boneless pork chops
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped onion (about half a small onion…or more if you prefer!)
  • 1 jar Marinara sauce
  • 0rzo pasta
  • Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

  • Salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops and place in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  • Sprinkle the onions over the top of the pork chops.
  • Pour Marinara sauce over the pork chops and onions.
  • Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
  • When ready to eat, cook Orzo pasta according to package directions.
  • Place pasta on plate (or in bowl), the scoop out desired amount of pork chops and sauce. (*Note- meat is so tender that it will fall apart.)
  • Sprinkle with Mozzarella cheese (and some chopped fresh basil if you have some)
  • Enjoy!

I’d forgotten how easy and delicious this dinner is! We even had leftovers the next night!

We have one more full week of distance learning! #praisehands So…I’m go get my mind right for this week!

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Side Dishes

Hello! How was your weekend? I can honestly say after being so productive last weekend working on our master bedroom refresh, we were pretty lazy this weekend! The weather was so rainy and dreary, so we kind of took that as permission to be lazy.

We’ve regrouped and are ready to tackle the week ahead!

When the weather has allowed, we’ve been grilling out a bit. Over the past few weeks, I’ve made some of my favorite side dishes, so I thought I’d share them with you ! What I love about these is that that they are all even better the next day for lunch or for leftovers for dinner.

Pasta Salad

I’ve had this recipe pinned on Pinterest for years and make it quite often in the spring and summer months.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Rotini pasta, cooked
  • 1 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. Italian dressing
  • 1/2 c. of olives, chopped (sometimes I omit these which is what I did this time making it….just due to my personal preference)
  • 1/2 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut into fourths
  • 1 large cucumber, chopped
  • 3 Mozzarella sticks, chopped into bite sized pieces (I think I used four because it’s my kids’ favorite part!)
  • 3 Tblsp McCormick’s Salad Supreme (If I can’t find it, I use the Good Season dressing mix)

Instructions:

  • Boil the pasta.
  • Drizzle with the olive oil and stir.
  • Add salad dressing and stir.
  • Add in veggies and cheese and stir.
  • Add in McCormick Salad Supreme, mix together and then refrigerate.
  • Enjoy!

Wild Rice and Carrot Salad

This recipe, like many of mine, was in a Kroger coupon packet years ago. It’s a family favorite as well….even the kids devour it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. cooked, cooled wild rice or wild rice blend
  • 2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 c. chopped, toasted walnuts (I always use slivered almonds instead)
  • 3/4 c. golden raisins
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 2 Tblsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tblsp. honey
  • 2 c. roughly chopped arugula (or spinach, kale, or any leafy greens)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Enjoy!

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine rice, carrots, nuts, and golden raisins.
  • To make the dressing, whisk together shallot, vinegar, olive oil, and honey in small bowl.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. (Also, at this point, I usually end up adding another drizzle of honey! Again, just our preference)
  • Drizzle dressing over rice and carrot mixture, tossing until combined. (Recipe can be made a day ahead up until this point.)
  • Add greens, tossing until evenly distributed.
  • Serve, refrigerating any leftovers.

Asian Slaw

I’ve had this recipe for years. I believe I got it from a friend at a recipe exchange years ago. It’s actually one I’d forgotten about until I was digging through my recipe box recently. I made it as a side when Travis grilled burgers recently, and it was so delish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cabbage (I buy the classic coleslaw)
  • 1 package Ramen noodles
  • 2-3 Tblsp. fresh chives, chopped
  • 4 oz. toasted almonds (I used slivered almonds)
  • 1/4 c. salted sunflower seeds

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • seasoning from Ramen noodles
  • 1/4 c. water (if slaw seems to dry)…I didn’t feel the need to use water when I made it recently.

Instructions:

  • Crush noodles, set aside.
  • Toast almonds in the skillet for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir together noodles, slaw/cabbage, chives, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
  • Pour dressing on just before serving.

or…

***Toss everything together, minus the noodles, and chill. Then, add in noodles right before serving. (**This is what I did when I made it) Enjoy!

I hope these side dishes provide ideas for you to add into your meal prep rotation!

I hope you have a great week! For us, it’s time for us to start week 4 of distance learning.

Thanks for reading.

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Chicken Marinade & Orzo

Hello! Happy Monday. I hope you had a great weekend as well as a great Easter. Of course, our Easter looked pretty different this year, but we made the most of a gorgeous Saturday for an egg hunt in our front yard followed by dyeing eggs and decorating cookies. Yesterday, we a day spent in pjs watching our church service online, calling family to say “Happy Easter,” and spending time relaxing most of the day.

Although the weather is supposed to be cooler here in Lexington this week, we have been grilling out quite a bit. I don’t typically love chicken on the grill, but if we do grill chicken, we either slather it with BBQ sauce or use this marinade. I made this last weekend and remembered what a family favorite it is.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (or tenders)
  • 6 gloves of garlic, minced
  • Parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 c. Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:

  • If I use chicken breasts, I cut them into smaller pieces, almost the size of tenders.
  • In a bowl, put minced garlic, zest and juice of one lemon, chopped parsley leaves, salt, pepper, mustard, olive oil and then mix into a paste.
  • Put chicken in the paste, mix together, and then refrigerate until ready to grill.
Chicken mixed in marinade, ready to refrigerate.

A perfect side dish with this chicken is one of my favorite orzo dishes that I found on Pinterest years ago. Even my kids love it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tblsp. chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tblsp. milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Cook orzo according to package directions until just tender, about 10 minutes; drain.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Stir cooked orzo into butter.
  • Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Gradually add milk, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Stir in parsley and salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve immediately.
Enjoy 🙂

I hope you have a great week! I’m about to wake up two kids for week two of virtual/distance learning ! Wish us luck!

Thanks for reading, and happy cooking!

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Baked Chicken

Happy Monday! I hope this post finds you healthy and well.

It’s a weird start to the week. Last week, our governor said that schools in the state should close starting today until after our spring break (which is the week of March 30-April 3). So, we have three weeks off (possibly more!) starting today.

At this point, I’d like to continue my regular blog posting schedule, but, of course, please know I never want to seem insensitive to what is going on in our country.

Keeping a routine is important to me in times of uncertainty, and blogging is definitely a light-hearted part of my life.

Of course, thoughts and prayers for those who have been affected by this virus.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to wash my hands and to practice social distancing the best that I can !

Today, I thought I’d share one of my favorite meals. My dad gave me this recipe years ago. Not only is it tasty, but we always get two meals out of it as well.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tblsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • bread crumbs (I do a Panko/bread crumb mix to make the crust crispier)
  • Package of chicken thighs (The reason I seem to get two meals out of this is because I can never find a chicken thigh package with less than 12 pieces of meat!)

Instructions:

  • Remove skin of chicken thighs if necessary. The package I get is skinless.
  • In a dish or bowl, put the eggs, mustard, thyme, salt, and pepper and mix together.
  • In another dish or bowl, put the bread crumbs (or bread crumb / Panko mix)
  • Dip the chicken in the wet ingredients and then the dry ingredients.
  • Place on a wire rack on top of a baking pan (I always spray the wire rack with cooking spray)
  • Spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
  • Enjoy!
  • *I usually use the wire rack, BUT I’ve also just placed them on a baking sheet. If I do that, I usually flip the chicken halfway through to ensure it won’t stick to the pan.

Wet and dry ingredients ready to go.

In the oven…

Ready to eat!

#notafoodphotographer!

I served the chicken with microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes and bagged Ceasar salad. Easy dinner on a week night!

I hope we can find peace and calm in this time of uncertainty.

Thanks for reading today’s post, and I hope you enjoy this meal.

Posted in Meals and Recipes

Monday Meals: Corned Beef & Cabbage + Irish Soda Bread

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Ours was pretty low key in comparison to recent weekends and what our spring weekends will be like! So, it was nice to have a little downtime.

As I mentioned in my What’s Up Wednesday post, something I’m looking forward to in March is making Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Soda Bread. Growing up, we always had this meal for St. Patrick’s Day, so I started making it for family as well. I guess we could make it any time of the year, but I only make it on or around March 17th 🙂

Rather than share photos and the recipe after I make it this year, I thought I’d go ahead and share now in case you’d like to make the recipe too!

Corned Beef & Cabbage with potatoes and carrots

I always end up buying my corned beef at least a week in advance because I’m always afraid the grocery store will run out. haha Of course, they never do, but I like to be prepared.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of beer
  • 1 lb (or more) of red potatoes, cut in halves or fourths
  • 1 white onion, cut into fourths
  • Baby carrots
  • 1 head of cabbage, cut into fourths
  • 1 – 5 lb flat cut corned beef brisket

Directions:

  • Put corned beef in slow cooker and pour one beer and as much water as needed to cover the corned beef brisket
  • Put potatoes, onion wedges, baby carrots in the slow cooker as well.
  • Cook on low for 10 hours (Mine is usually cooked in 8-9 hours)
  • Take out cooked corned beef and wrap in aluminum foil
  • Put cabbage in the slow cooker and cook in the liquid on high for 1 hour.
  • Enjoy!
  • **I usually cook for 8 when I’m making this and having family over—so I actually use two slow cookers to make two corned beefs. I’ve learned to do this as the corned beef seems to shrink + if there are leftovers, that’s a bonus!
  • Also, we like Mr. Mustard on the corned beef…and every year, I forget to buy it and my brother gives me grief #itsatradition (He now knows to bring it because I will inevitably forget!)

Irish Soda Bread

Y’all, this is one of my favorite recipes…and definitely worth the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. unsifted flour
  • 2 Tblsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Tblsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1 c. buttermilk

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grease cookie sheet.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt.
  • Cut butter in with pastry blender or fork until crumbly.
  • Add raisins.
  • Add buttermilk; mix with fork only until moist.
  • Turn out onto floured board. Knead 1 minute until smooth. Shape into a ball. Flatten into 7 inch(ish!) circle (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • Press floured knife 1/2 through the bottom; do again at right angle into quarters.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes until golden brown & hollow sound when tapped.
  • Cool on wire rack, brush top with melted butter & dust with flour if desired.
  • Serve with butter. Enjoy!
  • **I know some of these steps may sound complicated, but I promise they aren’t. All the steps probably take ten minutes from start to the oven. I’m not a huge baker…and this is probably the most “complicated” thing I bake each year 😉 #evenIcantmessitup
Last year, Hadley had to share a recipe that showed a piece of her heritage…so I actually have a pic to share with you.

We have some Irish in us, and St. Pat’s Day has always been one we celebrate. The corned beef recipe is my dad’s and the Irish Soda Bread is a recipe I got from my mom, so all family is represented at the table!

An Irish Blessing: ☘️ “May your troubles be less, and your blessings be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.” ☘️

I hope you try these recipes out and enjoy them!

Have a great week,

Jen

Posted in Meals and Recipes, Uncategorized

Monday Meals: Pasta Dinner x 2

Happy Monday! The weekend seemed to fly by! The sun was shining all weekend, and it felt like a taste of spring!

Last Monday, I made both of these pasta meals for my family. I had picked up the gnocchi a few weeks ago and needed to use it. Since I was uncertain if the kids would like it, I decided to make them bow tie pasta with Alfredo sauce because I knew they loved it. A couple of months ago, I bought jarred Alfredo on a whim and made this quick pasta (the second recipe) and they scarfed it down. Believe it or not, but I think it’s the first time they’d had Alfredo sauce! They thought I was the best mom ever. haha

That being said, I’m no short order cook; the kids eat what I make them for dinner…like it or not. But, I knew these were quick dishes, and they would provide leftovers for Tuesday night, so went ahead and made both.

Gnocchi and Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of gnocchi
  • Trader Joe’s Three Cheese Pasta Sauce (or any marinara sauce)
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • Shaved Parm (or grated)

Instructions:

  • Bring pot of water to boil, add a heavy pinch of salt, and follow instructions for cooking the gnocchi. (Only a few minutes in the boiling water)
  • Brown the sausage in a skillet. (I browned it all and used 3/4 of it for the gnocchi recipe and the other 1/4 for the Alfredo recipe)
  • Once the sausage is browned, drain any grease.
  • Add in sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add cooked gnocchi into the sauce and stir to incorporate ingredients.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with Parm.
  • Enjoy!

Chicken, Bacon, Sausage in Alfredo Sauce

Ingredients:

  • Farfalle (bow tie) pasta (or any shaped pasta)
  • Jar of Alfredo Sauce
  • 4-5 slices bacon (Short cut: microwave bacon)
  • Chicken (Short cut: Perdue Carved Chicken Breast strips)
  • Cooked Italian Sausage (if desired)
  • Grated Parm (or shaved Parm—I just know my kids love grated parm)

Instructions:

  • Bring pot of water to boil, add heavy pinch of salt, and cook according to directions.
  • Cook the bacon in the microwave according to directions and then chop into small pieces.
  • Cut the chicken strips into desired bite size and set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat up Alfredo Sauce.
  • Add in chicken and warm it for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in cooked pasta and bacon. (and sausage if you’d like–that wasn’t a part of my original plan–but since I had the leftover sausage from meal 1, I decided to use that 1/4 lb because I knew the kids would like it)
  • Stir to incorporate ingredients.
  • Serve in a bowl and top with Parm.
  • Enjoy!
  • Also, last time I made this, I added frozen peas to it when I incorporated the pasta into the sauce–my kids love peas!

I could have added chopped parsley to both for a finishing touch, but I’m not a professional! haha

Also, side note: The Perdue Chicken Breasts (or similar brand) are something I use often. I add the chicken to my bagged salads for lunch or dinner, I cut the chicken strips into bite size pieces to use for chicken quesadillas, and obviously I also use the chicken in pasta dishes as well.

As a busy working mom with two busy kids, I do still like to make dinner as often as possible…but I also like to make something my family will enjoy as quickly as possible!

I hope you enjoy these recipes!

Have a great week!

Jen

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