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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Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)

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.

Print Recipe
Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)
Creamy (without the cream) pasta dish that everyone at your table will enjoy.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the garlic. Heat for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the orzo and toast (stirring frequently) until some pieces just start to turn light brown.
  3. 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.
  4. Stir in red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated (it should melt quickly) and the orzo is a creamy consistency.
  5. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

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.

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Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing

I can’t believe it’s only a week before Thanksgiving. Is it just me or does time continually get faster as you get older, especially when you have kids ?! (Sorry for the sentimental blubbery and cliche statements). I’m feeling a little emotional these days and trying to savor these last few months with one kid – that’s right, I’m pregnant! Super exciting, super exhausting, super duper didn’t feel like cooking for about 4 months, which explains questions I have been getting about ‘Are you still writing your blog?’. Oops, yes! Just hard to keep up with a cooking blog when the only thing entering and staying in my stomach there for awhile was Ramen and watermelon popsicles.

Anyway….whether you are hosting, gathering elsewhere, or just having an intimate family meal with you and yours, this stuffing recipe is great to toss together as you will more than likely have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t know about you, but I used to be intimidated by making stuffing. I don’t know if it’s because there are so so SO many variations of it, and in all honesty sometimes it just doesn’t taste great for whatever reason, but I decided this year I was going to tackle it in a way that I wouldn’t mind re-creating any time of the year. (Also, I had a loaf of homemade white bread that desperately needed using before I had to sadly and guiltily toss it).

Served with pork chop with pan gravy and green beans

Give this a go on the big day, you won’t regret it. ♥

Print Recipe
Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing
Simple stuffing made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Give it a try and wow your guests.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Instructions
  1. Cut bread into 1" cubes and let dry out on a baking sheet overnight. If you didn't have time to do this the day before you can also place the baking sheet in a 250 degree oven until the bread starts to dry out (will vary depending on bread, check on it every 5-10 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook down for 10 minutes or until softened.
  4. Place dried bread cubes into a large bowl and pour melted butter with onions and celery over it. Stir together well.
  5. Add the sage, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth over the bread mixture and mix together well.
  7. Whisk together the 2 eggs with 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Pour over the bread mixture and again mix well. It will start to get mushy at this point and that's okay! Continue to add additional chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time until all the bread is saturated.
  8. Place into a greased casserole dish. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover then cook for an additional 10 minutes to get a nice crisp on top.
  9. For the final touch, melt 3 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Stir in the additional 1/4 tsp of sage, thyme, and parsley. Drizzle over the top. Dig in!
Recipe Notes

The amount of chicken broth needed will vary between 2-3 cups depending on how long your bread was allowed to dry out and what type of bread you used. I used homemade white bread and I used more toward the 2 3/4 cup end, but if you use store bought sliced bread it won't take as much.

You can omit the final topping of butter if you're worried about calories 😉

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30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

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. 

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Print Recipe
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!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Toppings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Toppings
Instructions
  1. Dice peppers and onion. Add corn and veggies to soup pot with olive oil over medium heat. Saute until slightly tender.
  2. Add chicken, salsa, and black beans to the pot. Stir and add spices and garlic.
  3. Cook ingredients for 1-2 minutes and then add chicken broth (I used the full 6 cups for volume's sake).
  4. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally (to smell the amazing aroma!)
  5. 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.
Recipe Notes

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.

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