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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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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Final Month Preparations

Here we are at week 38 already. As many times as I try to will this baby out of me each day, I would still be totally surprised if it actually happened today, tomorrow, or even in two weeks! I was having this discussion with my husband the other day – when do you actually feel like a mom? I mean, obviously I love this little “it” that I am growing, but it 100% has not hit me yet that I am his or her Mom. Does this happen when I go into labor? Hold the baby for the first time? Bring it home to be totally reliant on me and my husband? It’s a funny thing to think about.

While I lie in bed at night between bathroom trips and rolling back and forth like a whale, I ponder all of these crazy questions, and I also think about how I am going to politely fend off all comments tomorrow at work regarding my pregnancy – like I’ve had to every week for the past month it seems like: Yup I am still here.  –  No, I am not past my due date (and on that note, yes, I still have until June 24).  –  I know, I feel as big as I look.  –   No, I am not having twins.  –  No, they have not told me my baby weighs more than 10 pounds, actually it was in the 53rd percentile at our last ultrasound.  –  I know I look tired, thank you (I am tired! You try getting up 5 times during the night to go to the bathroom and then carry around a bowling ball all day while doing physical therapy on people!)  – No, I’m not worried about going into labor at work (at least I wasn’t until you said that).  Of course I respond to each and every comment with a smile and a self-reminder that thankfully pregnancy is only for a finite amount of time.

I have been trying to do last minute preparations around the house “just in case” this babe decides to debut early. I guess maybe I’m nesting? I was originally a little naive and didn’t think I would do freezer meals because “I could make quick meals after the baby is here”. Okay, okay. I apologize to all of you out there who are already moms because you probably just rolled your eyes and laughed at me a little, and I’m sure I deserve it. I think around 30 weeks it hit me that, yeah, I’m going to have a baby attached to me (literally) every 2 hours for the first few months of life, not to mention if I think I feel like a zombie now, it’s only going to get worse with less sleep! Therefore, freezer meal prep began. I made 5 different meals this weekend and last, but I am going to share my chicken burritos with you for now because they are super easy and very versatile!

Chicken Burritos

Print Recipe
Make Ahead Freezer Chicken Burritos
Simple, versatile make ahead burritos. Customize your ingredients and customize your final cooking style!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2-30 minutes
Servings
burritos
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2-30 minutes
Servings
burritos
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Season chicken breasts as desired (I recommend either taco seasoning, Tony Chachere's, or a mix of cumin/chili powder/paprika). Cook in 350 degree oven until center of chicken reaches 165 degrees. You can also cook stove top. Once cooled, shred chicken.
  2. Saute bell peppers in 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil until tender but not mushy (you want them to hold up in the freezer!).
  3. Prep all other ingredients and get ready in assembly line format. I know it seems like a silly step, but I promise it will make final burrito-making quicker.
  4. Lay out a few pieces of square aluminum foil at a time and place a tortilla shell on top. Add ingredients to the shells as desired - I recommend about 1/4 c chicken, 1/4 c peppers and 2 Tbps of all other ingredients for a full but not stuffed shell.
  5. Roll tightly in shell and then tightly wrap aluminum foil around the burrito, making sure there are no open areas. (I have also read that you can wrap in plastic wrap before the foil for better freezer preservation but I have not personally tried this)
  6. Add as many as you want to a freezer gallon bag or other storage container. Label with date and any final preparation instructions then pop in freezer. DONE!
  7. Once you are ready to cook, you have many options - you can simply take out of foil, cover with a paper towel and microwave for 1.5-2 minutes; you can make enchiladas by popping a few in a square baking dish and pouring enchilada sauce over - cook at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes; you can create smothered burritos by heating in microwave or oven and then topping with queso, sour cream, or salsa.
Recipe Notes

These are so easy to add or subtract ingredients based on your needs! You can make with beef or even make vegetarian. If you are breastfeeding, you can easily eliminate any ingredients your baby might not like (such as beans or any spicy seasoning). You could even mix and match your batches of burritos - just make sure to label!

For final prep, I do recommend adding some sort of topping. They are good plain, but they are just that, a little plain. Enchilada style would be great if you have a few extra minutes, but a dollop of sour cream or a spoonful of salsa after heating would also do the trick.

Enjoy and happy eating/prepping!

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Simple Salmon Supper

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 packet

Print Recipe
Salmon n' Pepper Foil Packet
Super simple oven packet salmon! Served over a bed of rice and corn for extra color.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Slice peppers and onion into thin slices.
  3. Place salmon pieces on individual pieces of aluminum foil. Top each with half of the peppers and onions.
  4. Drizzle 1-2 tsp olive oil over each packet.
  5. Seal packets by folding over and rolling up the seams so there are no holes.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees or until salmon is done.
  7. Meanwhile, put rice, appropriate amount of water, and Cajun seasoning in the rice cooker. Set it and forget it.
  8. Go put your feet up until both timers go off, then scoop rice onto plate and top with contents of a foil packet. Enjoy!
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