Category Archives: Dinner

First try at Freezer Cooking! Chicken Taco Chili

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Last week I posted a list of 30 things I want to do while I’m 30. I’m still 8 days away from my birthday, but I figured I might as well get started on it while I’m excited! While creating the list, I’d also been mulling over how to tackle this freezer cooking phenomenon that is all over Pinterest. It seems easy enough, right? Throw some food in a bag, then pull it out when you’re ready to cook it.

Well, it’s more than that. There’s a lot of planning and coordinating that goes in to it, a huge shopping trip, hours of food preparation, and a little bit of Tetris skill. I’ve been scanning the boards for recipes, but all the combinations of recipes that I found had a few that just didn’t sound appetizing to me. It seems that bloggers work in recipe groups of about five, buying ingredients that work in more than one recipe. And for some reason, all of the fivers that I found included some sore of pineapple chicken. I LOVE pineapple – but I hate it cooked with meat.

Then it dawned on me that I don’t need to find a specific “freezer recipe”. Just prep my favorite crock pot recipes, freeze them, and pull them out when ready to use! I wrote up ten, yes ten, recipes that I was determined to concur. Wrote up my shopping list, and got to it.

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Shopping was interesting. One new to me recipe called for a brisket which I had never purchased before. I didn’t realize it was a $35 investment, so I skipped that. But, didn’t remember what other ingredients went with it so I ended up with a few unused extras. I also WAY underestimated the amount of chicken I needed for everything I picked out.

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This all turned out OK though, because in the end I only ended up doing four of the recipes and I was exhausted and out of ingredients by the end of it all.

The first one I’ll share with you was inspired by my Homemade Taco Seasoning from last week.

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I adapted this recipe for Taco Chicken Bowls

Chicken Taco Chili over Rice
2 Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Salsa
1 can of Black Beans
1 package of Frozen Corn
3 Tbs Taco Seasoning

  • Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag.
  • Squish bag around to mix slightly.
  • Freeze.
  • When you’re ready to eat it, remove the bag from the freezer and dump it in the crock pot. Add a cup or so of water or broth. Cook on low 6-8 hours.
  • Open crock pot, shred chicken with a fork, continue to cook on high until ready to serve.

Serving Ideas:

  • Serve alone, or over rice or pasta!
  • Serve in soft taco shells!
  • Sprinkle with cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, more salsa, anything!

 

All of the sites for freezer cooking tell you to lay your bags flat. This was great until I had one leaky ziplock. So, I put them all in looking like you see below. This was find for me though, because they still all stacked in this shape, AND, the “block” fit in my crockpot without thawing. Looks appetizing, huh?

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The house smelled AMAZING when I got home from work! I ended up cooking mine for 12 hours. From 6am-4pm on Low, then shredded the chicken and cooked on high til 5 when we ate. I cooked up an entire bag of brown jasmine rice (which I froze in 5c tupperwares) and served it over rice, sprinkled with a little sharp white cheddar.

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My husband pretty much loves anything that comes out of the crock pot. This recipe made enough for us to each to have it for dinner twice and lunch once.

I had a slight phobia of leaving the crock pot running all day while I wasn’t home. Do you leave yours running unattended?

Happy Pinning!

Happy Cooking!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

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I’m becoming increasingly weary of prepacked over-processed convenience foods. I happened upon this pin a while ago and tucked it away. Then as I began trying to gather recipes for freezer cooking, I had one that looked tasty and called for taco seasoning.

We don’t eat tacos all that frequently, but when we do it’s a battle between my husband wanting the Taco Bell brand seasoning packet, and me opting for the cheap store brand packet.

This Pin-Project is super fast and easy, and you probably have most of the stuff on hand! You literally just dump all the seasoning in a jar, give it a stir/shake and you’re ready to use it! I quadrupled my recipe for the amount seen in the picture.

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And, here is what’s in it!

Taco Seasoning

1/4 c Chili Powder
2 Tb ground Cumin
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Oregano
2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp ground Roasted Coriander
1/2 tsp ground Chipotle Chile Pepper
1 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 cup Corn Starch

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It was too pretty to stir up, so I left it like this for a while. And oh lordy, it smelled amazing. I kind of wanted to add water and drink it. Not really, but you get the idea. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m so excited to share a recipe with you when I do!!

Happy Pinning!

Happy Cooking!!

Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes”

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I’m not sure why people call this Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes and not just mashed or pureed cauliflower. Probably because pureed cauliflower sounds kind of disgusting. And these, are well, delicious.

Pinterest is littered with cauliflower recipes that boast a smooth and yummy potato flavor, but this is the one that finally caught my eye.

I made this like a month ago. But, because I was trying to be super mom and do seven million things at one time, I didn’t take any pictures. I recently made them again, but the “unloaded” version. So, I’ll give you the recipe and method for both kinds, but only pics for the latter.

{Ingredients}

1 head of cauliflower
2T butter
3 cloves garlic
dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt
{Optional extras}
1/2 c shredded cheese
1/2 c bacon crumbles (unless you’re in my house and you just cook a whole pack)
1 small bunch of green onions, chopped
1/4 c diced chives

{Method}

1. Steam your cauliflower. I did this by breaking up the head of cauliflower into a small pot and filling it half way with water. I let it boil, turning the contents occasionally, until the stem of the cauliflower was tender to poke with a fork.

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2. In your blender/food processor/baby bullet, add your butter, sour cream, and pressed/minced garlic.

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3. When the cauliflower is soft, add it to the blender. Pulse a few times to make room for the rest if needed, then run until smooth. In my baby bullet it takes about 30 seconds.

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4. At this point, you can stir in whatever extras you have. Pretty much anything you could think of to put in your mashed/baked potato will taste good in here!

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5. Divide the mixture in to oven safe ramekins or bowls. At this point if you want to bake them, you can, 400 degrees for 15 minutes. In my experience, it didn’t do much to change the texture or flavor, and mine was already hot from boiling the cauliflower.

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6. Top with cheese, and serve!

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Yes, I know my chicken looks delicious as well! All I did was marinate it in a ziplock bag with honey mustard salad dressing for 15 minutes, then cooked it in my panini press pan! So fast, easy, and yummy!

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Have you jumped on the cauliflower band wagon? Do you prefer it raw or “mashed”? Do you think it could ever really replace potatoes?

Happy Pinning!
Happy Cooking!!

Chicken pot pie

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Spring has just started to come out of hiding here in the NorthWest, but for some reason I was still craving a warm, yummy, comfort food for dinner! I scanned Pinterest for a yummy looking Chicken Pot Pie. I knew I hit the right one when I found this in her description:

 Spring time is the perfect time to make this dish.  It’s semi-light but warm and comforting for the damp spring evenings.

Here’s a look at her pin:

Does that not look heavenly?! I used her recipe more as a guideline. I knew I wanted to put fresh carrots in mine, and I since I had to grocery shop before dinner, I had no time for my own crust.

Here is my modified recipe

{Ingredients}
2 Chicken Breasts
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1 bunch of organic carrots (about 6 medium carrots)
1 small bag of frozen peas
3 small yellow potatoes
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 stick of butter
1/2 c of cream
3T flour
1 package of flaky biscuits

{Method}
1. Saute the chopped onion and chopped/pressed garlic in the butter in a large pot. While this is going, chop up your carrots and potato.
2. Toss in your chopped potatoes and carrots. Add half of the chicken broth. Let simmer while you cook your chicken
3. In a small pot, boil your chicken breasts until fully cooked (I did this in chicken broth for more flavor). Then dice the chicken and add to your veggie pot.
4. Whisk the cream and flour together with a fork and slowly incorporate additional chicken broth until thinned. Add this mixture to the pot.
5. Season with S&P as desired, and add chicken broth until desired consistency is reached.

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6. Spoon into oven safe dishes. I used two oven bowls for our dinner, and a 7×11 dish for the rest.

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7. Gently pull the biscuit dough to lightly stretch them to cover your dish.

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8. Bake according to the biscuit instructions.

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This meal was DELICIOUS! I’m hoping that I can try her crust recipe in the future because it looks beautiful and flaky and scrumptious! I think next time I do this, I might chop up enough veggies, and cook enough chicken to make a few freezer bag meals.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Happy Pinning!
Happy Cooking!!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Herbs

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Stop, you had me at Parmesan and Herbs. Those are my sucker keywords to get me to try almost anything. I’m not even sure why, Parmesan falls around the middle of my favorite cheese list, I digress.

Since Baby O joined our ranks, I’ve been trying to get us to eat healthier. Since Baby O started eating solid foods, we’ve been diligent of having family dinner time, with everyone at the table and “no-phone-zone”. Since I’ve been getting excited about eating healthy and eating all together, you can imagine how much my “Recipes – Food” board has been blowing up!

So, here is the original pin:

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This leads back to the Whole Living site with a few recipes for Spaghetti Squash. I used the first recipe listed, which does not match the picture, but that’s ok.

1. Start with your Spaghetti Squash and cut it length wise. {I feel like I always make this harder than it should be, and I’m quite frankly shocked that I haven’t lost a hand to cutting open squash.}

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2. Scoop out the seeds. {This being my first time with spaghetti squash, I found it amazing that it already was starting to come apart looking like noodles! I examined my cut closely and you can see little dots that are just waiting to pull apart!}
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3. Whole Living says to bake at 425 for 40 minutes. However, my squash came with a handy dandy instruction sticker that said “Bake cut side down for 45 minutes at 375. Then turn over and continue to bake until tender”. This ended up being an additional 15 minutes for me}

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4. Take em’ out of the oven and let them cool until you can handle them
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5. The “sauce” was made with 4T olive oil, 3T lemon juice, 1/4c chopped parsley and 1Tparmesan. {this was WAY too much lemon for me! I ended up adding a lot more cheese, some garlic powder, and S&P to try to tone it down. A little lemon was good, but a little goes as long way!}
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6. oooo, pretty sauce!

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7. Using a fork, scrape the squash with the grain. It will easily come apart into “noodles”
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8. This squash just kept amazing me, how easily it comes apart, and how it really looks like spaghetti!
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9. This is how much I scraped originally. Then after I realized how much lemon I had, I cleaned this out to the skin. I was really surprised how much more I got!
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10. See! Looks just like Spaghetti in a bowl!
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11. With the sauce and I also added some shredded chicken for protein.
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Once we had it on the table {sorry, I forgot the in my bowl shot!} I added some more pepper and Sriracha. The husband really enjoyed this meal, which surprised me because he usually is afraid of new things. We had a guest for dinner too who also enjoyed this, and between the three of us we ate up the whole bowl of it!

 

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!

Quinoa Burgers

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I’m a little big Quinoa Crazy just like most of us on Pinterest. Quinoa is so stinking easy to cook and it’s versatile! So, when I came across this recipe for quinoa burgers, I had to try it!

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Photo from Eating Well Living Thin.

The recipe is simple and includes “hidden veggies” for a bonus!

I mixed up all the ingredients and became a bit skeptical at first. It kind of resembled a bowl of barf:

But, I’ve done enough DIY to know that you can’t judge it til it’s done, so I {thankfully} pushed on. I started by putting all the recommended oil in the pan to fry up the patties. But, then I realized that each batch that goes into the pan will use up all the oil, so I added just a bit each time to keep it from sticking.

I started out trying larger burger sized patties. But, they were a little wet and crumbly and hard to keep together while flipping, so I made them a little smaller each time until I reached a good size.

I think that about four in a 9″ pan is about the right size. I also have a hard time waiting to flip things, so smaller = less cooking time = faster flipping.

I ended up with a TON of small silver dollar quinoa pancakes.

My husband does not like tzatziki {that was almost a deal breaker} so we just topped ours with a little sour cream. He’s also not the bravest at trying new foods, so it made me a littler nervous to present these for dinner. But, he gobbled a few up for dinner, and some the next night as left overs! All in all a huge success and a recipe added to our irregular rotation!

 

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!!

Quinoa Mac & Cheese

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Seriously, is there any better mean than good old mac and cheese?! What about making it with protein rich quinoa instead of processed pasta? Sounds like a good trade to me.

Here is the original pin:

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Image from Around the Table in RI

Simple recipe, and I had everything on hand so it required minimal effort, which these pregnant days is a huge plus!

I have no after picture, because I’m overly pregnant, hungry and lazy, and the food was eaten before I took a picture! :)

However, I will still give you the run down. It turned out pretty much exactly looking like the original pin. This recipe was so fast and easy. I ended up doubling the cheese and adding siracha to my mix. I also used about 2c quinoa uncooked.

The first bite was … interesting. I had mac’n’cheese in my mind. And – this is quinoa. So, if this is your first try at cooking quinoa, you might not like it at first if you’re thinking mac’n’cheese. But, then I was like, “duh self, this is not noodles”  and happily chowed down a bowlful (about 1/4 of the pan, lol). It was good, but a little plain. Next time, I’m going to add chopped up broccoli, more siracha, and maybe some bacon or chicken.

I would definitely recommend trying this, especially if you can get your kids to eat it as an alternative to processed pasta. Cheap, easy, cheesy, my kind of dinner!

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!!

Southwest Quinoa Salad

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My first experience with quinoa didn’t turn out quite as good as I had hoped it would. I didn’t let it deter me. I’ve developed a mild obsession with this little grain since I first tried it a couple months ago. My sister had a quinoa salad at her rehearsal dinner and again at her wedding, so it was fresh in my mind that I’d need to give quinoa another chance in my kitchen. We had some family over last weekend to celebrate my dad’s birthday {remember, we had espresso chocolate mousse for dessert!} and one of our guests is a vegetarian. We were having burgers for the main course, so I wanted a good hearty side dish to make up for that for my veggie aunt. Pinterest for the win with this delicious Southwest Quinoa Salad

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This was a fantastic combination of southwest elements and quinoa! Quinoa is so flexible and easy to mix and match into so many combinations! I pretty much just went with the general idea of this salad, and started throwing in whatever else sounded good! My salad included:

  • Quinoa
  • Black Beans
  • Frozen Corn
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Diced Cherry Tomatoes
  • Finely chopped cilantro
  • Diced red pepper

I did use the above recipe’s dressing. It’s just enough to hint the salad with some extra flavor, you can’t even see the dressing once it’s mixed in. It’s comprised of:

  • Olive Oil
  • Vinegar (the recipe calls for red wine vinegar, I used white wine vinegar)
  • Chili pepper
  • salt and pepper

I made a HUGE bowl of this stuff! Six of us had it for dinner the first night, four had it for lunch the next day, and the hubs and I have both had a helping a day since. I just finished off the rest of it for lunch today. Between the beans and the quinoa it’s very filling and protein packed. I’m thinking about making this a daily lunch thing, just mixing up what extra ingredients go in.

This time around I used Red Mill’s quinoa and followed the cooking instructions on the package. I was much happier with how it turned out than the bulk quinoa I bought at the store. Now that I’ve had some success – I might give the bulk stuff another go.

Have you tried anything new lately? What’s your favorite quinoa dish?

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!!

Mini Shepherds Pie

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My husband is Irish and loves his classic Irish food. Including Shepherds Pie! I’ve never been a huge fan, so we don’t have it all that often. But, when I ran across this recipe for mini shepherds pie, I couldn’t resist!

The first thing that attracted me was that it is made with Pillsbury rolls. I am a huge fan of Pillsbury rolls! You smash a roll into each cubby of a muffin tin. Now, the rolls come in packs of 8 – but the muffin tin has 12 holes, so I pulled a few in half, and grabbed little extra pieces off the remaining whole rolls to try to even it all out.

Then you add in your meat filling. I chose to use ground turkey instead of beef. The recipe calls for chili sauce {which I didn’t have in the house} or ketchup {which I don’t eat} so I did a little dancing around this part. I used a little Worcestershire sauce and added a little broth and flour to thicken it up. It was closely approaching bland in taste – so next time I’ll have to figure out a way to spice it up a little more.

After you scoop in your meat, you top it with mashed potatoes! I used box mashed potatoes, simply because it’s easy. The recipe called to add cream cheese to them. Then top with potato chips. I used fully loaded potato chips for a little something extra.  Then you bake them for about 25 minutes. They definitely pop up in size as the biscuits rise.

I ate my first one with a fork, which almost proved to be more challenging! So, for the second, I ate it cupcake style. The biscuit really held everything together making it easy to eat this way.

This was a good recipe all in all. I think it would be great for a picnic or potluck in that it’s already proportioned out to individual servings. 12 was a lot for the two of us, so we’ll be eating this for dinner again tonight…and probably lunch tomorrow! My husband requested next time to add carrots to the meat mix – you can definitely take some creative freedom with this recipe.

 

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!!

Pizza Roll Ups

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I have to admit right off the bat that this next recipe did not come from Pinterest. However, my over all feeling of inspiration and creativity did! And, I will be pinning it to the Pin There Done That board! In my quest for quinoa ingredients earlier this week, I was too distracted at the grocery store to remember that the hubby needed some basics like bread and milk, and when I got home he was not keen on quinoa as a substitute. So, I was back at the store a day later picking up basics and trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner.

I strolled through the new aisles at Fred Meyer trying to figure out where the cheese lives now, and wandered past the Pilsbury cold case – you know, where they have the break apart cookie dough, biscuits, and the most amazing creation of all time: Crescent Rolls! Immediately I thought “PIZZA ROLLS”. I cannot give credit to whoever originally put the idea in my head because I just don’t remember! It was almost fate – because a few feet down from the crescent rolls was the bag of grated mozzerella, and a few more feet after that, the bags of pepperoni.

Such a simple simple prep and process with AMAZING results.  First roll out your crescent dough. Sprinkle a small layer of cheese on the triangle. Then place three pepperonis down the triangle.


Carefully roll up the crescents, tucking in the pepperoni and cheese as you roll, and arrange evenly spaced on your pan.


Bake the rolls for 10 minutes, or until golden, on 375.


Put em on a plate and eat em!


I made these on a night Mr. W had his friend over to play video games {yes – sometimes it’s like being married to a 14 year old}. They were a huge hit with both boys!! I made them again a few nights later for friends that came over for game night! The first night I went heavy on the cheese thinking it would be good to have lots of layers of it. But, it tasted like all the cheese was in a big globby melty chunk in the middle. It was good – but a little heavy. The second time I went lighter on the cheese and had a much better outcome!

Happy Pinning! Happy Cooking!!