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.

Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

I have another quick, easy, and healthy dinner for y’all! This is really more of an idea than a recipe because it is so versatile and there are so many delicious filling ideas. I actually used to HATE sweet potatoes until about 7 years ago when I created the hash linked here. I love them now and am always looking for ways to add them to our dinners.

Y’all know that I always have Mexican food on my mind and tacos are my favorite food ever. How did it take me so long to start making Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes?!? They are so good and so simple! For the ones pictured here, I used ground beef cooked with bell pepper and my favorite Frontera taco sauce. Then I topped them with shredded cheddar, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and green onions. There are so many more options too! For the actual “recipe,” I listed what was used for the picture but check the notes for more yummy ideas. I love this family dinner because everyone can customize their sweet potato to their liking!

My favorite taco sauce!

Did you know that just one sweet potato contains 400% of your daily Vitamin A? They are such a great source of fiber, beta-carotene, antioxidants and potassium too. Skip the tortilla for this meal and fill a sweet potato with all the taco goodness that you love!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of February 25-March 2: Ground beef (2 days only-Friday and Saturday), taco seasoning (several brands), bell pepper, sour cream, shredded cheese

Taco Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

4 sweet potatoes
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pouch Frontera Taco Skillet Sauce
1 bell pepper, chopped
Pico de gallo
Shredded cheddar
Sour cream
Green onions, sliced
Guacamole

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil and prick (clean) sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake until tender, about 45-60 minutes depending on size.

In a large skillet, brown ground beef with bell pepper. Drain if needed. Add taco sauce and cook until warmed through.

Open up sweet potatoes and fill with taco meat, cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and green onions.

Notes:
1. Ground turkey can be used instead.
2. Other topping ideas: black beans, salsa, sliced avocado, black olives, corn, jalapenos, lettuce, fresh tomatoes

Italian Mac N Cheese

I am pulling a recipe out of the vault of my family’s favorite recipes this week! I wrote this down watching a Food Network show 10+ years ago and have been making it ever since. Yes I wrote it down and didn’t print it! I think it was a Rachael Ray recipe but I’m not sure so thank you to whoever shared it first! I have tweaked it slightly over the years but didn’t change much because it’s pretty perfect. You just can’t go wrong with a homemade Italian cheese sauce, Italian sausage, buttery garlic mushrooms, and the tomatoes that brighten it all up!

Italian Mac N Cheese is a 30 minute meal that tastes like you worked for hours. If you want the process to move quickly, my biggest piece of advice is to prep everything ahead of time. Measure out the broth and cream, chop the mushrooms, mince the garlic, etc. While you’re prepping, start boiling your water too. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the less stressed you’ll be when you’re cooking. This dish is really fun to make!

Always salt your pasta water generously! Adds so much flavor!

I prefer to use crimini or baby bella mushrooms in this over button mushrooms because they have more flavor. Side note, my kids HATE mushrooms but still love this dish. They are easy to pick out!

Have you ever made a roux? Knowing how to make one is such a useful cooking skill because you’ll be able to make the most delicious homemade sauces and gravy. You do have to make one in the dish but it is so easy! It’s basically flour and fat cooked together to thicken a sauce. In this case, the fat is the butter and olive oil that the mushrooms are cooked in. Just sprinkle the flour on, cook for a minute or two, then add the liquid.

This is one of those dishes that will impress dinner guests because they’ll think you’ve been cooking all day. I have made it countless times over the years for company and everyone loves it. Because it’s a 30 minute meal, it is also great for busy week nights. It makes a lot too and makes great leftovers (if you don’t devour it all)! This is a win-win kind of meal!

Fresh out of the oven. Hard to tell but that’s a huge 12-inch skillet!

Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale at Lee’s the week of Jan 21-27: penne, Italian sausage, olive oil, butter, flour, chicken broth, Italian cheese blend, Parmesan, diced tomatoes

Italian Mac N Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb. penne pasta
1 lb. mild Italian sausage (bulk not links)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz package crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Preheat broiler.

Heat a large non-stick skillet (broiler safe) to medium-high heat. Cook and crumble sausage until brown then drain and set aside. Add olive oil and butter to the pan then add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes or until mushrooms are brown and soft.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil then stir in ¾ of the cheese blend. When the cheese melts, add tomatoes, salt, and pepper then stir. Bring to a boil then add pasta and sausage. Stir until everything is well combined.

Turn off heat and sprinkle remaining cheese blend and parmesan over the top. Place skillet in oven under the broiler for about 5 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: If you do not have a broiler safe skillet, just transfer the pasta mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle on cheeses and place under broiler.

Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls

Happy New Year! This is my first post of 2020 and I’m so excited to share it with y’all. I have so many delicious recipes and foodie projects planned this year and I feel it in my bones that this year is going to be amazing!

A few weeks ago I asked my awesome followers on Instagram what kind of recipes that they were looking for now that the holidays are over. 99% of the responses were “quick, easy, and healthy.” Surprise, surprise. Ha! I am definitely known for my cheesy, indulgent, Tex-Mex recipes but I also have quite a few healthy ones. I love to balance comfort food with healthy! My philosophy on healthy recipes is that they must still have big, bold flavors. Taste should never be sacrificed for a healthy meal because it doesn’t have to!

The first recipe that came to mind was this one. My Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls are so flavorful and so delicious that you’ll be putting it on your regular dinner rotation. Now, don’t @ me because of the sugar! Ha! “Healthy” is a relative term because everyone is on a different eating plan these days. Sugar to some is a huge “no no” but for me, if it’s full of veggies and has healthy, lean protein, then I’m sold! You could definitely experiment with sugar alternatives and use even leaner meats like ground turkey or chicken.

“Easy” was another big request and this one definitely checks that box. I had my veggies chopped and dinner served in 30 minutes! My kids loved it! You could also double the recipe and use it for meal prep for the week. I love how versatile this is!

This is a sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of January 14-20: ground beef, bell pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice

Korean Beef & Veggie Bowls

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil (or other light oil)
2 cups zucchini, sliced
1 cup carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced and divided
1 lb lean ground beef
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
2-3 tablespoons Gochujang sauce
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
Sriracha sauce (optional)

Directions

Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high. Add olive oil then add zucchini, carrot, bell pepper, and about ¾ of the green onions. Sauté until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Push vegetables to the side of the pan and add ground beef. Cook and crumble then stir into the vegetables. Drain grease if needed (use lean meat so you don’t have to).

To the pan, add brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Gochujang, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, reduce heat to medium, and let cook for 5-10 more minutes.

Serve on top of rice and garnish with remaining green onions and sriracha sauce.

Note: Gochujang can be found in the Asian section of most grocery stores. Don’t leave it out! It’s worth the buy and adds amazing flavor.

Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta

As the days grow colder, I am craving comfort foods and my Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta definitely hits the spot. Think spinach artichoke dip and baked pasta combined-so good! All the yummy cheese makes it indulgent for sure but the addition of lemon juice and zest brightens it up and balances everything so well. This totally tastes fancy like you’ve made so much effort but it is not hard to make at all. I love meals like this! Minimal effort but BIG taste!

This is my go-to meal when I want to make my family a meatless meal. However, if you wanted to make it heartier and stretch it further, you could definitely add chicken. Rotisserie would be perfect! This dish also makes a great freezer meal! If you have 4 or less people to feed, you could easily split this into two casserole dishes and freeze one. You might notice that red onions are pictured but they were all I had when I needed to take pictures. Yellow onions are definitely preferred! Food blogger probs-ha!

This is one of those dinners that you’ll keep coming back to and will become a family favorite!

This is a sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace. Items on sale the week of November 5-11: cream cheese, Parmesan, frozen spinach, artichokes, mozzarella, olive oil, pasta

Spinach Artichoke Baked Pasta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

16 oz short pasta (mini shells, orecchiette, penne)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sour cream
4 oz cream cheese, softened (room temp)
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated and divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
10 oz frozen spinach (thawed, excess water squeezed out)
14 oz can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1 ½ cups mozzarella, shredded and divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 425. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/3 cup pasta water before draining. Prepare 3-quart casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray.

Heat a skillet to medium and add oil and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic and cook for one minute.

In a large bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, ¾ cup Parmesan, ¾ cup mozzarella, lemon juice and zest, spinach, artichokes, onions, and garlic.

Add pasta, reserved pasta water, salt and pepper then stir to combine well.
Add pasta mixture to prepared pan. Top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella.

Cook uncovered for 10-15 or until golden brown. Serve immediately.