Happy Winter everyone! These cold, snowy days have me craving all the comfort foods (or maybe it’s the pregnancy!). That in combination with not wanting to stand over the stove for more than 30 minutes has really made me hone in on quick and simple recipes like this one. Only one pan to wash (win!), no meat to cook (win!), and it is loaded with cheese (major win!). Plus my 18 month old ate about half of it (sort of win!).
My due date is in 6 weeks which is very very surreal to me. I feel like in some ways I have been pregnant for 125 years, and other times I feel like there’s no way it is already winding down. I knew that my second pregnancy would be different than my first, but I wasn’t expecting all of the new emotions you feel with round two. I go from super excited to grow to a family of 4 to a little bit sad thinking that I won’t be able to give all my attention to Rory anymore. I know he will adjust, as all first children do, but is it weird that I feel guilty for making him share everything including his parents?! I’m sure once the baby is here all will be right with the world, and my funny thoughts about having this second child will subside but for now, I’m over here feeling like I’m a string of happy-sad-happy-sad-happy-crying-laughing emojis. Ugh, hormones man.
Anyway, please enjoy this hearty, lazy meal and don’t feel guilty for making your significant other wash the dishes! (one dish! – and maybe a cutting board)
One Pot 30 Minute Taco Mac & Cheese
Everything gets thrown into one pot and is ready to serve 30 minutes later! Weeknight winner for sure.
Mince onion and place in a large stock pot or dutch oven with 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add in 2 Tbsp of the taco seasoning and the green pepper. Saute for additional 2-3 minutes.
Add in tomatoes, beans, broth, pasta, and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once pasta is done, add in the final 2 Tbsp of taco seasoning, 1 Tbsp chili powder, and the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and serve.
You can add chicken or ground beef to the first step if you would like additional protein.
Omit the chili powder if you are feeding sensitive palates (I dished some up for my son before I added the chili powder).
We like to top it with sour cream, but feel free to add any additional taco toppings you would like!
I started making this side dish about 4 years ago, and it has been in weekly rotation at my house ever since. My favorite thing about this orzo is that it pretends to be a risotto (with pasta of course) but is wayyyy less maintenance. Also, my one year old loves it – WIN!
As a Mom, one of my biggest goals is to create those things that my kids will look back on one day and immediately think of me. As I type that, it sounds a little bit selfish, but I want my kids to have fond memories of their childhood. Many of those warm feelings for me come from food – my grandma’s cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies, my mom’s runzas and ham balls, my grandma’s love of strawberry shortcake and how I tried to make it one time and accidentally used way too much salt. It seems that it’s those recipes that never taste quite as good when you make them yourself. I’m still trying to find “those recipes” of my own, and I think in time they will come naturally. For now, this orzo is probably one of them for my husband as he literally asks me to make this every week.
So go on, give this a try tonight and reminisce about all of those recipes that bring you warm feelings in your family.
Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)
Creamy (without the cream) pasta dish that everyone at your table will enjoy.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the garlic. Heat for 30-60 seconds.
Add the orzo and toast (stirring frequently) until some pieces just start to turn light brown.
Pour in 2 cups of the chicken broth and let simmer down until almost completely absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time until the orzo is done (you'll have to taste it). Add an additional 1/4 cup of broth and let it heat up.
Stir in red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated (it should melt quickly) and the orzo is a creamy consistency.
You made need more or less chicken broth depending on how quickly it absorbs.
Freshly grated parmesan works the best, but you can also use parmesan out of the jar (green Kraft container).
You can easily make this into a full meal by adding chicken and/or broccoli.
It’s May! And it’s rainy. I guess it doesn’t matter if May is “in like a lion”. The motto for May in Colorado is “I do what I want”. Snow, rain, hail, 90 degrees, we saw it all last year. I’m looking forward to having a garden and being somewhat self sufficient with produce (as soon as our backyard is no longer just dirt – the joys of new construction). I started tomatoes from seeds indoors but now they are looking so wimpy – any guru gardeners out there??
On another note, this post is all about using those leftovers. YES! Have you made my Crock Pot Pulled Pork recently and got sick and tired of sandwiches by day 4? (me! me!) Don’t worry, I’ve got your back! Costco recently got me again! They had Pillsbury crescent rolls on sale for < $1 a tube (steal!) but did I really need 40 crescent rolls? Sigh. Probably not. It gave me the perfect excuse to continue experimenting with this recipe until I got it just right though. Five ingredients and 20 minutes will get you a fun dinner on the table. Kids will love it because it looks cool and your husband/wife/SO will appreciate it because it looks like you put effort into dinner (shh don’t tell). Have at it!
Pulled Pork Crescent Roll Ring (with BBQ + Ranch Dipping Sauce)
Reinvent pulled pork with this fun and easy weeknight dinner. Have it on the table in < 30 minutes!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for dark or nonstick pans).
Open crescent rolls and place in a circle with overlapping corners (should look like a sun when you are done).
Spread the cheese around the base of the crescent rolls in an even circle.
Then add the pulled pork the same way (no need to heat the pork up first).
Then sprinkle onions over the pork followed by one slice of jalapeno at the center of each triangle base.
Fold the point of each triangle over the base and attach it to the base of the triangle next to it. It will look like a pinwheel when you are done.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes or until crescent rolls just start to turn golden brown. I baked mine on parchment paper to save with clean up.
To make the dipping sauce: equal parts BBQ sauce mixed with equal parts ranch dressing! That's it! Cut into slices, dip, and enjoy!
Get the recipe for Crock Pot Pulled Pork here.
The leftover episode part 2 is here! Have you made the Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken nachos and now you have half the chicken leftover? Well make these enchiladas. Please! You will not be disappointed. These enchiladas definitely make my top 5, that’s right – TOP 5, list of leftovers I will gladly eat cold, hot, for breakfast, for lunch, for a snack, etc. They are that good and so easy – only 5 ingredients (plus your favorite toppings).
On another note, my husband and I had our first overnight trip without the baby. I don’t think I’ve ever organized things more in my whole life than I did to prepare for my parents’ babysitting him. I made meal lists, food prepped (left them a container of Crock Pot Pulled Pork) emergency contact lists (for the baby and the animals), routine lists, suggestions for how to get the kid to go.to.sleep. The struggle is real sometimes people. All in all he survived, we survived, I think Grandma and Grandpa survived. We went to the Cub’s spring training in Arizona, and I think we thought we could go to dinner after 8 p.m. (the rebelliousness I tell ya) and sleep in. Well, my husband went to bed at 9 pm the first night and slept until 9 am. Me on the other hand – I couldn’t fall asleep until 10 pm and then of course I had to get up to pump at 6 am anyway and then I couldn’t go back to sleep. SMH. At least my alarm clock was internal and not a crying baby.
It was nice to be home though and to have some easy meal ideas in my back pocket. These enchiladas take < 10 minutes to prep and < 15 minutes to cook due to using leftover chicken. You can also definitely make this with fresh Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken and save the nachos for another day! Also, add another freezer friendly meal to your list (yessss) to save yourself even more time in the future. Go to this link to get the recipe for the Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken.
Chicken Enchiladas with Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
Part 2 of using your Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken. So yummy and extremely easy!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken (cold is fine), taco sauce, and 1 cup of the cheese.
In the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, spread 2-3 Tbsp of enchilada sauce around to coat the bottom.
Dollop about 2 Tbsp of chicken mixture onto the middle of a tortilla shell and then roll up the tortilla. Place seam side down into the 9 x 13 pan. Repeat this process with remaining 11 tortillas and line them up in the pan. Go ahead, squeeze 'em in!.
Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the enchiladas and spread evenly (make sure they are all covered). Sprinkle remaining 1 cup of cheese over the enchiladas.
Cover pan with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until sides are bubbling.
Top with toppings of your choice. I prefer going the simple route with olives and lettuce but tomatoes, sour cream, onions would also be good!
Happy May and welcome to Spring! Kind of. Let’s forget the fact that it snowed 8″ last weekend in Boulder. Ew! May has been a quick and wonderful month, and I am now somehow in my 9th month of pregnancy. There are so many new feelings with a first pregnancy, and I can honestly say that each one surprises me. I’m pulling out the honesty card here, and I would like to discuss stretch marks. These little things had thankfully stayed away from my growing belly for 8.5 whole months and then BAM, welcome to 35 weeks last Saturday and my skin feels like it might get to a translucent state by the time I deliver. I had mentally prepared myself for a change of appearance of my (previously imperfect anyway) stomach, but I somehow missed the memo on the itching and literal burning pain that accompanies such a quick expansion of your belly. At least I know the little babe is growing!
On another note, my sister and her friends were in town for her bachelorette party this past weekend. Woot woot! (Yup, I just said that without shame) Don’t worry, there wasn’t any late night “woot”-ing, boy part shaped things, or hangovers. We stuck with more low key, but still super fun, things like brunching, brewery drinking, hiking, and painting. If you have never done one of those ‘wine and paint’ things, I highly recommend – you don’t have to be even remotely good at art, I swear! At work, even my stick figures leave something to be desired, but the paintings at the classes leave enough room for error that everyone’s piece turned out great!
Today, I thought I’d leave you with a quick weeknight meal. These days, I appreciate the simplicity of a < 10 minute prep, set it and forget it kind of meal. Trying to get in all of the needed nutrients for growing a human can be tricky some days, but this recipes covers a lot of the bases – peppers are loaded with vitamins and the salmon is packed with Omega 3s (watch your weekly mercury intake though pregnant mamas!). I used entirely too many peppers because I needed to get rid of some in the fridge before they went bad, but you can feel free to take it back a notch.
Salmon n' Pepper Foil Packet
Super simple oven packet salmon! Served over a bed of rice and corn for extra color.
Thaw frozen salmon according to package instructions. I used pre-marinated for simplicity but you could season it your self with Cajun seasoning or even use fresh salmon.
Slice peppers and onion into thin slices.
Place salmon pieces on individual pieces of aluminum foil. Top each with half of the peppers and onions.
Drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil over each packet.
Seal packets by folding over and rolling up the seams so there are no holes.
Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees or until salmon is done.
Meanwhile, put rice, appropriate amount of water, and Cajun seasoning in the rice cooker. Set it and forget it.
Go put your feet up until both timers go off, then scoop rice onto plate and top with contents of a foil packet. Enjoy!
I haven’t written since October…OCTOBER! Holy man, I didn’t realize it had been that long, but a lot has changed around here since then, and for 3 of those months I was not very good friends with food. The biggest life change we have going on is…dun dun da DA…we’re having a baby! Scheduled arrival is the end of June, but I’ve been told that your first babe has a mind of his or her own when it comes to arrival and frequently likes to stay snuggled inside for a little longer than expected. For all of you previously or currently pregnant mamas out there who have dealt with
morning ALL DAY sickness, I can totally sympathize now. How the heck did you maintain a job with that happening?? I’m definitely grateful that I was still on the job hunt during that period. Needless to say, cooking was the last thing on my mind until about the end of November when I actually felt like a semi normal person again.
Another life change is that I finally entered the working world again a few months ago. My first Colorado gig, and so far so good. However, being in my third trimester and working full time leaves me little desire to stand over a stove for more than 30 minutes in the evenings which brings us to the star of this show, er, post: chicken tortilla soup. Yeah, yeah I know there are a million recipes out here for it, but it is so versatile, I thought I’d throw in my two cents (and some tips to make it super simple). I know it’s getting out of the “soup weather” season thankfully, but in my defense it did snow 5 inches here the other day (let’s omit the forecast of 71 degrees for tomorrow!).
Rotisserie chicken. There you go. The best time saver for this recipe. If you take anything away from this post, it should be to buy a $4.99 rotisserie chicken from Costco on the weekend – hello 2-3 meals at least! Throw in some veggies you have waiting in the fridge, a can of black beans, salsa, and some chicken broth and you are ready to roll. The best thing about this recipe is that you don’t really have to follow a recipe! I do appreciate you taking the time to read MY recipe though to get you started.
30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup
A little chopping and dicing beforehand will save you even more time. If you're a Sunday prep-ster you could have this on the table in about 20 minutes!
Dice peppers and onion. Add corn and veggies to soup pot with olive oil over medium heat. Saute until slightly tender.
Add chicken, salsa, and black beans to the pot. Stir and add spices and garlic.
Cook ingredients for 1-2 minutes and then add chicken broth (I used the full 6 cups for volume's sake).
Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally (to smell the amazing aroma!)
Done! Dish up into bowls and add your desired toppings. I used sour cream, shredded cheese, green onion, and tortilla chips for creaminess, crunch, and a little extra flavor.
Add or subtract veggies as desired, just remember that they all add flavor!
If you don't use a rotisserie chicken, you can cook up a couple chicken breasts and shred them.
For milder palates, take out the jalapenos and chili powder.