Chicken Spaghetti

Y’all, I miss Texas so much. I have a trip planned for the end of May and am really hoping that actually gets to happen. I’m worried it won’t, so for now, I’m using food to remind me of home. Something that transports me right back to my mom’s kitchen is classic Chicken Spaghetti. This cheesy, indulgent dish was a staple for us growing up. It was something that my mom made often and knew that we would all love. The foods that we grew up eating as a child are usually at the top of our comfort foods list, right? With everything going on in the world right now, I felt like you all needed a bit of Texas comfort, too.

Chicken Spaghetti is so easy to make! It uses lots of simple pantry ingredients too. Yes it has VELVEETA in it! I’ve tried making it without and it just isn’t the same. My mom used only Velveeta but I like the sharpness that the cheddar adds. A little Velveeta is just perfect and adds the right amount of creaminess. I have recently seen two Food Network chefs use Velveeta on their Instagram stories so I think we are all looking for a little cheesy comfort right now. Ha!

My favorite brand of pasta!
Just simmer the onion and pepper in the broth to soften because that’s the way my mom did it!
Add the hot broth mixture to the bowl and mix! It turns into the sauce for the spaghetti.

One thing I love about this dish is that it makes a great freezer meal. Since my husband is gone right now, I knew it would take the kids and I a week to eat a 9×13 pan of it. I divided the mixture into two pans and have one in the freezer. I love when one meal (and mess) makes two dinners!

This is an 11×7 and a 9×9 pan.

I hope that my Chicken Spaghetti fills your kitchen (and bellies) with some delicious comfort during a time when we all need it so much. Please make sure to comment here on my posts and share your creations on social media!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace.

Chicken Spaghetti

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
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Ingredients

2-3 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
1 lb thin spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 small yellow or white onion, diced small
1 green bell pepper, diced small
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
½ teaspoon celery seed
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz Velveeta cheese, diced
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded & divided
Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

In a small saucepan, add chicken broth, onion, bell pepper, and celery seed. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

In a large bowl, add pimentos, soup, and Velveeta. Pour the broth mixture over and stir to combine. Stir in 1 cup cheddar. Add cooked spaghetti and chicken and stir until everything is combined well.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Pour in spaghetti mixture. Top with remaining 1 cup cheddar.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Notes:
1. If cooking your own chicken, make sure to season it first with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. If using rotisserie or canned chicken, no need to season.
2. This is a great freezer meal! Divide into two smaller pans and freeze one for later.
3. You can use fresh celery (1/2 cup) in place of celery seed if desired.

Whole Wheat Banana Crunch Pancakes

If you’re stuck in a breakfast rut right now from being home every day, look no further because my Whole Wheat Banana Crunch Pancakes are here to save you. Of course, they’re great for dinner too because y’all know I’m a huge fan of breakfast for dinner.

These pancakes have been on my recipe testing list for months and I wish I had made them sooner. The inspiration behind them comes from a vacation that we took about 12 years ago to Palmyra, NY. We were living in Dayton, Ohio at the time while stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and it was our first real family vacation. We stayed at the cutest Bed and Breakfast called Liberty House and they served the most delicious banana pancakes. I asked the owner what her secret was and she said that she put Banana Nut Crunch cereal in them.

At the time, I couldn’t find the cereal she used but we always have Honey Bunches of Oats in our pantry so I thought I’d try those. So perfect! It adds so much crunch, sweetness, and nuttiness! I can’t believe it took me this long to re-create them! They’re my new favorite pancakes!

The cast of characters.

I was so happy to find whole wheat flour at my grocery store! The shelves have been empty of flour and sugar every time I go in lately. I like the flavor that whole wheat flour adds to pancakes, muffins, and waffles. The addition of cereal to the batter makes is stretch! Instead of 12 waffles, it makes about 18 with the cereal!

Just add the cereal right in!

I made these Whole Wheat Banana Crunch Pancakes for a Good Things Utah segment that was a little out of the ordinary for me. I’m usually live in the studio but because of corona virus, they can’t have guests for the time being. I recorded my segment from home and sent it to them. I was more nervous to do that than live tv! Ha! It wasn’t perfect but it was fun and I hope to do it again soon. Watch me make them here.

Whole Wheat Banana Crunch Pancakes

  • Servings: Makes Approx 18
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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 small ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Honey Bunches of Oats cereal

Directions

In a medium bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and butter. Stir in bananas.

Pour the dry ingredients over the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in cereal.

Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. Heat a nonstick griddle (or skillet) to medium heat. Add a little butter to griddle if desired. Add about 1/3 cup pancake batter to griddle for each pancake. Flip when edges start to dry a little. Cook other side until golden brown.

Serve immediately. Makes about 18 pancakes.

Slow Cooker Beef Tips & Gravy

I have another slow cooker recipe for y’all! Slow Cooker Beef Tips & Gravy is something that I grew up eating in Texas. Unfortunately, I never got my mom’s recipe before she passed away but I think she would approve of my version. It is SO easy and tastes like you put much more effort into it than you do! You don’t even have to brown the meat beforehand. Just add everything to your slow cooker and let it do all the work for you!

This is such a great way to use stew meat instead of just making stew. The meat turns out so tender and melts in your mouth! The use of the gravy mix adds thickness and lots of rich flavor. If you happen to be a mushroom hater, you can leave them out. You can also use fresh or dried parsley. Serve these delicious beef tips over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles. As you can see, we prefer them over creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. Yum!

I love the McCormick Organic Brown Gravy mix!

This would also make a fantastic freezer meal. Just add everything (raw) to a freezer bag and save for later. Then on a busy or a “too tired to cook” night, you can just dump it in the slow cooker and be done with dinner!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace.

Slow Cooker Beef Tips & Gravy

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
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Ingredients

3 lbs beef stew meat
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth
2 (.87 oz each) packets brown gravy mix
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried

Directions

Place stew meat, mushrooms, and onions in a slow cooker. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together broth, gravy mixes, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.

Pour over meat and vegetables. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. Just before serving, stir in parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.

Note: If you want the sauce thicker, take the lid off of the slow cooker for 30 minutes before serving (but leave heat on).

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

With all the chaos in our world right now, I have been feeling a little uninspired in the kitchen honestly. I decided to ask my followers on Instagram what recipes they’d like to see from me and the unanimous answer was “pantry staples.” People are stocking up right now then hunkering down and want to be able to cook from what they have using fewer fresh ingredients. I totally get that because I’m right there with you! The recipes that I use the most canned ingredients with are soup. I can’t believe that I haven’t shared my Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla soup with y’all yet!

This recipe is simple and versatile! There are several options to choose from for the chicken (check recipe notes) and you can also use whatever plain canned tomatoes you have. Even swap the black beans out for pinto or kidney if that’s all you have. The recipe calls for cilantro and that was the one ingredient I didn’t have when I made this today. It was totally fine without it! You’re getting a short and sweet blog post today because life is a little weird and crazy. Just doing the best I can! Add this delicious, flavorful, easy soup to your menu ASAP because I’ll bet that you already have most of the ingredients on hand. Stay safe and healthy y’all!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
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Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken
1 (15 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
1 (10 oz) can mild red enchilada sauce
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
32 oz chicken broth
10 oz frozen corn (or 1 can, drained)
1 small onion (yellow, white, or red), diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Toppings:
Crushed tortilla chips
Shredded cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour cream
Avocado

Directions

Place all ingredients except for cilantro and lime in a slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in cilantro and lime juice. Garnish individual servings with toppings of choice.

Notes:
1. For the chicken, you can use shredded rotisserie, whole chicken (cooked and shredded), cooked chicken breasts, or canned chicken.
2. This doesn’t have to be made in a slow cooker. You can also cook on the stovetop by bringing to a boil in a large pot and simmering for 30 minutes.

Gnocchi Shepherd’s Pie

January felt like forever, February flew by, and I can’t believe we are already mid-March. Of course, I’m thinking about St. Patrick’s Day recipes for y’all! I don’t go too crazy with the holiday but do try to make something green or Irish themed for my family’s dinner. I absolutely love Shepherd’s Pie. It is so comforting and delicious! It’s not the quickest thing to make, though, unless I happen to have leftover mashed potatoes. That doesn’t happen often so I thought I’d try a quicker alternative using gnocchi (potato dumplings). My Gnocchi Shepherd’s Pie is the yummiest twist on this classic Irish dish!

Have you ever had gnocchi? I fell in love with the little potato dumplings about 4 years ago when we went to a restaurant in New York City called Butter. They had a Gnocchi Mac n Cheese that I still dream about! Gnocchi is easy to find near the dried pasta in the grocery store and is reasonably priced. I can usually find it for about $3-4.

The ground beef and vegetable mixture is very simple and fast. I highly recommend using a cast iron or oven safe skillet because it makes this a ONE DISH dinner. I love it when that happens!

After the beef mixture is cooked, you just place the gnocchi on top. No need to cook the gnocchi ahead of time! Then top with a generous amount of sharp white cheddar and place in the oven. The cheese melts into the meat and crisps up on the gnocchi that comes out nice and soft. So easy!

My Gnocchi Shepherd’s Pie is perfect St. Patrick’s Day or any day!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of March 10-16: ground beef, yellow onions, ketchup, frozen mixed vegetables, gnocchi

Gnocchi Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: Serves 4-6
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Ingredients

2 lbs ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons beef base (Better than Bouillon)
1 cup water
⅓ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
12 oz frozen mixed vegetables
16 oz gnocchi
2 cups sharp white cheddar, grated

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a cast iron skillet (or oven safe skillet) to medium-high heat and add ground beef. Cook and crumble until browned then drain grease.

Add onions, garlic, beef base, water, ketchup, Worcestershire, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add parsley and vegetables then stir to combine. Turn off heat. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Arrange gnocchi along the top of the ground beef mixture then top with cheese. Carefully place non-stick foil over the top of skillet then place in oven. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Tex-Mex Bagel Breakfast Casserole

We are big fans of breakfast for dinner around here. Are you? It’s always my go-to on nights where I’m busy or unprepared. I always have bacon in my freezer and Kodiak pancake mix in my pantry which makes a quick meal. We also have scrambled eggs and toast often. We also LOVE a good breakfast casserole. There’s one that I make with crescent rolls that is probably one of my kids’ top 3 favorite meals of mine. I need to share that one someday too! When I was looking over the Lee’s Marketplace ad this week, I noticed lots of breakfast items on sale. I remembered that I had written “bagel breakfast casserole” on my recipe idea list a while back so my wheels started spinning. There were lots of directions I could go with it but, of course, I decided on a Tex-Mex version. I made it up as I went and I could not be happier with how my Tex-Mex Bagel Breakfast Casserole turned out!

This casserole is easy to make and bold on flavor which y’all know is my thing! Here’s almost the whole cast of characters except for the milk and cheddar that I used. I decided I need those as I started creating! Ha!

Everything you need minus the milk and cheddar.

I used turkey sausage because it’s delicious, low fat, and tastes just as good as pork in my opinion. I also like the fact that I don’t need to drain grease!

After browning the sausage, pepper, and onions you add in a can of Mild Rotel that has been drained. A classic Tex-Mex ingredient!

I used 4 bagels and it was the perfect amount.
Then add your sausage mixture.
Next pour the egg and cheese mixture on. Ready to bake!

I love the addition of the cumin and chili powder to the eggs. It definitely adds more Tex-Mex flavor to it! Also, you can use any combo of cheddar, Monterrey Jack or pepper jack cheese as long as it totals 2 cups.

If you’re a cilantro hater, leave it off but we are huge fans! I love the brightness that it adds.

This is definitely going on our regular dinner rotation! It would also be amazing for a weekend breakfast or brunch. You just can’t go wrong with bagels, sausage, eggs, cheese, and all the bold Tex-Mex flavors! You really need to get this on your menu ASAP and if you’re a Lee’s Marketplace shopper, most of the ingredients are on sale!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of March 3-9: bagels, eggs (a few varieties), turkey sausage, Rotel, cheese (several varieties), cumin (Badia brand), cilantro

Tex-Mex Bagel Breakfast Casserole

  • Servings: Serves 6-8
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Ingredients

16 oz turkey sausage (or pork)
1 bell pepper, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 can Mild Rotel tomatoes, drained
8 eggs
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
4 bagels, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Cooking Spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add sausage, peppers, and onions to a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and crumble the sausage until browned and vegetables are tender.
Drain grease if needed. Add Rotel tomatoes to pan and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with milk, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Add shredded cheese and stir to combine.

Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray. Add bagel pieces. Add sausage mixture evenly over the top. Pour egg mixture on evenly.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until browned. Allow to sit for 5 minutes then garnish with cilantro before serving.