One Pot Vegetarian Taco Mac & Cheese (30 Minute)

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)

Print Recipe
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.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole, Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole, Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Add in tomatoes, beans, broth, pasta, and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. 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.
Recipe Notes

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!

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Pulled Pork Crescent Roll Ring (with BBQ + Ranch Dipping Sauce)

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!


Print Recipe
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!
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 degrees for dark or nonstick pans).
  2. Open crescent rolls and place in a circle with overlapping corners (should look like a sun when you are done).
  3. Spread the cheese around the base of the crescent rolls in an even circle.
  4. Then add the pulled pork the same way (no need to heat the pork up first).
  5. Then sprinkle onions over the pork followed by one slice of jalapeno at the center of each triangle base.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. To make the dipping sauce: equal parts BBQ sauce mixed with equal parts ranch dressing! That's it! Cut into slices, dip, and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Get the recipe for Crock Pot Pulled Pork here.

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Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken Part 2: Enchiladas

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.


Print Recipe
Chicken Enchiladas with Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
Part 2 of using your Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken. So yummy and extremely easy!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the chicken (cold is fine), taco sauce, and 1 cup of the cheese.
  3. In the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, spread 2-3 Tbsp of enchilada sauce around to coat the bottom.
  4. 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!.
  5. 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.
  6. Cover pan with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes or until sides are bubbling.
  7. 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!
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Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken Part 1: Sheet Pan Nachos

How do you feel about leftovers? I am an appreciate-r usually, I mean it’s one less meal I have to put thought into preparing. There are many times though when I make something and either don’t want to eat it as a leftover (some things just don’t taste as good on day 2, am I right?) or really wish I could do something different with it. Lately I’ve been experimenting with cooking a protein in the crock pot and then using it for a variety of meals throughout the week. To be honest, I make a lot of nachos because 1 – I love (insert heart emoji x 10) nachos and 2 – I usually have some conglomeration of ingredients to make them even if they become pulled pork + bbq + ranch + taco toppings nachos (actually those were REALLY good – I’ll have to share another time).

If you keep up with my blog or Instagram, I am kind of in love with my Crock Pot lately. I go in spurts, and right now I’m in a “I found this shirt at the bottom of my dresser that I forgot I bought and it’s like Christmas” kind of love with my Crock Pot. This chicken recipe isn’t for you non-spicy eaters out there. There are a couple of ways to tone it down a little bit (see notes below the recipe) but it will still have a mild-moderate kick. It is so easy though. A true set it and forget it recipe.

Let’s talk about nachos for a second: the key to truly scrumptious nachos is a sheet pan and layering. Every chip has something on it and it’s heavenly. See the recipe for details about how to assemble.

Come back soon for Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken Part 2: Enchiladas. They were so good that I had them as an “appetizer” while I was making dinner the next night (aka I took a bite between every veggie I cut up, you know, as a reward).

Enjoy! I would love to hear of any other ways you used this chicken. P.S. it’s freezer friendly!

Print Recipe
Sheet Pan Nachos with Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
Nachos with a party on every bite, covered in a spicy chicken that will leave you wanting another scoop of sour cream - in a good way!
Cuisine Mexican
Cook Time 7.5 hours
Passive Time 7 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
Sheet Pan Nachos
Cuisine Mexican
Cook Time 7.5 hours
Passive Time 7 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
Sheet Pan Nachos
Instructions
Crock Pot Chipotle Chicken
  1. Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot.
  2. Pour in chipotle chiles, including all juices. Make sure chicken breasts are covered with the chiles.
  3. Pour black beans over chicken as well.
  4. Cook on low for 6-6.5 hours or until chicken cooked through.
  5. Remove chicken and chiles from crock pot. Shred both (make sure chiles are shredded into small pieces!) and return to crock pot. Give it a stir and cook on low for an additional 30 minutes.
Sheet Pan Nachos
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Get out a large sheet pan and place a single layer of tortilla chips on it. Sprinkle these chips with half of the cheese and a good amount of the chipotle chicken (you decide!).
  3. Add another layer or tortilla chips on top of the first layer then repeat cheese and chipotle chicken layer.
  4. Cook in oven for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted. I would recommend keeping a close eye on them as some chips and cheeses cook at different rates.
  5. As the nachos are cooking, heat up frozen corn in a small skillet over medium heat with a little bit of butter - add some spices if you like ( I used Tony Chacheres)
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle on olives, taco sauce, jalapenos, corn, lettuce, and sour cream.
Recipe Notes

To make it less spicy:

  •  Use plain black beans instead of black beans + jalapenos
  • Remove the chipotle chile pieces from the crock pot after the chicken is cooked instead of shredding them with the chicken
  • Omit jalapenos from the nacho toppings

Feel free to add or subtract any nacho toppings!

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Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sliders with Spicy Feta Coleslaw

How’s everyone doing in 2018 so far? New Year’s resolutions going well? Keep at ’em, you can do it! I’ve learned that if I call them “goals” instead of “resolutions” I’m much more likely to succeed. There’s just something about being able to check off a goal as completed that makes me feel like the “throwing money in the air” meme. I’ve also started semi-bullet journaling this year – I call it semi because let’s be honest, I will never be as talented or artistic as the examples you see on Pinterest. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. Seriously, it’s impressive) So far it has been helpful, and not just for my yearly goals but for keeping track of how often you do certain things. For example, I’m trying to keep track of how often I change my contacts – if you’re an optometrist please don’t get mad – but I’m pretty sure I have been wearing this pair for > 6 months. No wonder I never run out.

On another note, how about that Superbowl? In full transparency, I didn’t watch much of it because we had some friends over who brought their 9 month old, and I spent most of my time trying to keep my kid from using his friend’s foot as a chew toy. What do I even do with a 7 month old who has 6 teeth? All of my pre-baby reading about “what to expect your first year” did not prepare me for this stage this early.

Speaking of biting and chewing, I made this amazing pulled pork for the big game, and it totally turned out better than I expected. I was literally eating it by the forkfuls cold this morning. The spicy coleslaw paired so well with it too. If you aren’t into breaking out of the traditional coleslaw mold, your good old-fashioned picnic slaw would be great also!

Just a little PSA prior to giving you the recipe: if you have time to toast your buns – do it. Buttery toasted Hawaiian rolls + saucy pulled pork + crisp, spicy slaw = Par-tay! You won’t regret it.

Print Recipe
Crock Pot Pulled Pork Sliders with Spicy Feta Coleslaw
Tender, juicy pulled pork (that's also very versatile and freezer friendly) paired with crunchy spicy slaw will leave you wanting to make this every week
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8-9 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Crock Pot Pulled Pork
Spicy Feta Coleslaw
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8-9 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Crock Pot Pulled Pork
Spicy Feta Coleslaw
Instructions
  1. Thaw pork and trim of excess fat.
  2. Slice onion and place in bottom of Crock Pot (I used a 6 qt).
  3. Place roast on top of onion and pour 1/2 can pop over the meat.
  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until cooked through.
  5. Remove meat from Crock Pot and shred. Remove all but 3/4-1 cup of liquid from Crock Pot and return shredded meat to it. Pour desired amount of BBQ sauce in, and mix well.
  6. Cook on low for an additional 1-2 hours.
Coleslaw
  1. In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, and seasonings. TASTE it at this point and adjust the seasoning for your dressing as desired!
  2. Pour dressing over coleslaw mix and mix together. Fold in feta cheese. Let your coleslaw rest in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to combine the flavors.
  3. To serve your sandwiches: bun + meat + coleslaw! Done!
Recipe Notes

This pulled pork is also wonderful on its own, on nachos, on pizza, etc! It is freezer friendly with appropriate storage in a container or Ziploc bag. I really wish I would've made this to throw in the freezer before my son was born!

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Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (with Red Lobster Biscuits)

Happy time change everyone! I was naive to think that my 4 month old would also understand the time change and adjust his sleeping habits accordingly (nope!). We survived though, and it was actually a great weekend for “falling back” because we had a bunch of family in town for my son’s baptism. Before we moved to Colorado last year, I took for granted how easy we had it in Iowa being able to see our family anytime we wanted (and within 2 hours). I still get teary-eyed every time we drive back through Des Moines, thinking “ugh, we could be home by now” instead of having another 10 hours on the road. Don’t mind me, I have small pity parties from time to time. I now know that the move was a blessing in disguise because not only does my husband love his career, but I appreciate my family so much more. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I both come from very close families, but now I count down the days to when we get to see them and cherish every moment.

I don’t normally publicize my religion because it is something I hold dear to my heart, and it’s a part of me that I would rather save for myself, my husband, and my family, but seeing my son getting baptized was one of those eye opening moments of my life. I knew I would get emotional about it (thanks new mom hormones), but as it was going on, I caught myself looking from my son to our family who traveled so far to be with us. I felt so incredibly grateful not only for having an amazing support system, but because we get to teach our son about God and introduce him to a faith that has gotten me through a lot of hard times. It’s a wonderful feeling.

That’s my small insight into my faith. Speaking of church, I’m sharing a recipe today that makes a perfect Sunday dinner. I love reminiscing about coming home from church on Sundays during my childhood and having a hearty Sunday dinner, or being at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house, eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes after church. (Sidenote: why can I still not make mashed potatoes as good as my Grandma’s?!)

You are going to love this version of chicken pot pie because 1 – it’s easy, 2 – it contains cheese, and 3 – it is topped with Red Lobster biscuits. I had no idea they sold Red Lobster biscuit mix in stores until we came across it in Costco. (Another sidenote: I feel like I can’t write a post without mentioning Costco – oops. My husband and I are the crazy people who go there every weekend, look at the same things, and have the same conversations about products. I can hear Nick now saying, “That three pack of scissors really is a great deal“.) I have also seen the mix in Target and our local grocery stores if you are having trouble locating it.

Enjoy! See below the recipe if you would like to make this without a cast iron skillet.

Print Recipe
Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (with Red Lobster Biscuits)
Quickened version of chicken pot pie - in one pan! Definitely worth the effort 🙂
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In cast iron skillet, melt 2 of the 4 Tbsp of butter. Add chicken pieces, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic to skillet (add another Tbsp of butter if skillet too dry). Cook for 1 minute and then add frozen bag of vegetables (no need to thaw). Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently. Add thyme, salt, and pepper.
  4. When vegetables are soft, melt remaining 2 Tbsp of butter in the skillet with the vegetables. Sprinkle the flour over the mix and stir around.
  5. Pour in milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened to the consistency of a melted milkshake then turn off the heat.
  6. Add the chicken back in the skillet along with the 3/4 cup cheese.
  7. Mix biscuit mix according to package directions, and drop biscuits onto the filling mixture in the skillet.
  8. Place cast iron skillet into oven, and cook according to biscuit package directions (14-16 minutes).
  9. Remove from oven, melt 1/4 cup butter and mix in the biscuit seasoning packet. Spoon or brush the butter-seasoning mix over the hot biscuits.
Recipe Notes

If you do not have a cast iron skillet: make the filling as instructed above in a normal skillet (steps 1-6). Transfer the filling to an oven safe casserole dish then add the biscuit topping. Cook according to biscuit directions, remove from oven, and top with butter-seasoning mix as described above.

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Meatless Mondays ~ Tortellini Bake

It was one of my New Year’s resolutions to eat less red meat, and to try to eat healthier not only for myself but for my husband. We eat out wayyy too much but we also know that for now there is just the two of us, so those care free, spur of the moment nights out are probably limited. We have a tradition of going out on Thursday nights – I don’t remember how it started. I think we decided to go out for Mexican and margaritas one Thursday in West Des Moines, and after that we decided that the $11 pitchers (best. deal. ever.) were definitely right up our alley.

Sorry about that little side note. Anyway, the other nights of the week I try to make something home cooked. Last night’s specialty was my version of a tortellini casserole. We have tried many many many different kinds of tortellini, and the next statement is my own personal opinion: please buy refrigerated. We have tried frozen and dry but in my experience the refrigerated kind just cooks better. We prefer Costco’s Five Cheese Tortellini. I should also disclose to you that I am the master of choosing a casserole dish that is too small for the amount of food I am cooking and not realizing it until it is too late. This means that I usually end up doing more dishes that I desire to because I have to put a cookie sheet under the casserole dish so my oven doesn’t become a hot mess (literally).

This is a great recipe to ad lib and add your own flare. This time around, I had to make my own spaghetti sauce because I didn’t have any on hand. I mixed a can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onion and a small can of tomato paste in a medium sauce pan and brought it to a simmer; then add water until it becomes the consistency that you want. When you are making the casserole, alternate layers of sauce, tortellini, and mozzarella. The secret to the creamy, richness of this dish is a layer of 1/4 cup cream mixed with 3/4 cup parmesan in the middle of the casserole. When cooked and dished up, the secret layer adds richness and tones down the tomato-y flavor a tad. You can totally omit this if you want!

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I know, I know, this isn’t the healthiest of meals but a small portion is very filling and it makes for great leftovers. It would freeze great for meals in the upcoming weeks also!

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               Look at all that creamy, cheesy pasta. Yes ma’am. Mmmhmmm


Print Recipe
Creamy Tortellini Bake
Cheesy, creamy, rich pasta goodness make for a fantastic meat-free meal!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Bring tomatoes and tomato paste to a simmer. Add water to take it to the consistency you desire (I like mine on the thick side)
  2. Cook tortellini according to package instructions. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Just a little hint - you really don't need to stir while they are cooking, and most usually take 2-3 minutes tops.
  3. In the bottom of a casserole dish (I recommend a rectangular one), spread 1/4 cup of your tomato sauce then layer 1/2 of the tortellini followed by more tomato sauce and a layer of mozzarella cubes.
  4. Before adding the second layer of tortellini, mix the cream and parmesan in a bowl and pour over the first layer.
  5. Repeat layers, using the rest of your ingredients and finishing off the top with the cubed mozzarella.
  6. Cook at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until mozzarella begins to brown.
  7. Serve with a sprinkle of Italian seasoning. Enjoy!
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