Monday, October 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken

While I continue to search for and try new slow cooker recipes, I often find myself falling back on my old favorites.  This is a delicious "oldie but goodie" that I have made for years.  With a little prep the night before, it is a simple meal to throw together in the morning before work.

  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix (or 3-4 Tbsp if you use a container instead of the packets)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 each green and red pepper, coarsely chopped (1/2 inch - 1 inch pieces)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 (15 oz) jar of chunky salsa
  • Mexican style or cheddar shredded cheese to top
  1. Toss chicken with seasoning mix and flour in slow cooker.  Stir in all remaining ingredients except the cheese; cover.
  2. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or (or HIGH 3-4 hours).  Stir just before serving.  Serve over rice or quinoa; top with shredded cheese.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10-15 minutes prep, 3-8 hours cooking time (depending on setting)
Source: Adapted from a recipe found in Kraft Food & Family magazine, Fall 2007

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mexican Casserole

I love making casseroles! This one is quick and easy. Plus, you can use leftovers to make it; I make this the same week I prepare taco cupcakes so that I brown the ground meat, black beans, and taco seasonings and reserve half. If you don't want to have two Mexican dishes in the same week, go ahead and freeze the meat mixture.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 package taco seasoning and 2/3 cup water per directions
  • 15 ounces of refried beans
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese (I also use Colby Jack if that is what I have)
  • 1 cup salsa (I finish off the jar from the taco cupcakes)
  • 1 can sliced black olives (drained)
  • 1 tomato (chopped)
  • 2 cups crushed corn chips
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Brown and drain meat. Add black beans. Add seasoning; following the package directions. Set aside.
  3. Heat refried beans in saucepan. Add salsa and 1 cup of cheese. Stir.
  4. Place crushed corn chips on bottom of 8x8 dish. Spread bean mixture. Add meat.
  5. Sprinkle remaining cheese, green onion and black olives.
  6. Bake until heated and cheese is melted.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped tomatoes (if you don't have fresh tomatoes, I have used canned with green chilies, drained).
Difficulty: Easy
Time: 10 minute prep; about 15 minutes baking time

Monday, October 15, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Skillet

I loved stuffed peppers as I was growing up. Mostly, I liked the filling, but as I got older, I came to love the peppers just as much. My first attempt to make them came before I was married; when my future husband took the first bite and I heard a crunch, I knew something had gone terribly wrong.  To date, that was the worst meal I have ever made and I still give him credit for attempting to eat it.  Needless to say, I have been a bit gun-shy about making stuffed peppers since, though.  I have had great success with Kelly's Southwestern Stuffed Peppers, but when I saw this one-skillet recipe, I knew I had to try it.  As I hoped, it is delicious and easy, and has quickly become a family favorite.

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 large green pepper (or two!) chopped or cut into slices
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups instant rice (uncooked)
  1. Brown meat in a large skillet until no longer pink; drain.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, add peppers and onions and saute for 2-3 minutes.  
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, seasonings, and water; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) until veggies are done to desired tenderness, stirring occasionally.  
  5. Stir in rice.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in beef.  Return to heat for a couple of minutes until heated through.

Difficulty: Easy
Time: about 25 minutes
Source: adapted from

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kelly's Menu Plan 10/13 thru 10/20

I am overwhelmed with the number of things I need to do in a day.  Honestly, I would drop at 8 PM each night if I could.  Meal planning is helping me to keep on top of grocery shopping, dinners, and lunches for work.  Just like in school, there is a calmness because everything is ready to go; if I over plan,  I am just all the more prepared for the next day.

Saturday-Potato Soup
I am enjoying the fall weather with my kids-leaves, pumpkins, parades, costumes.  After being outside most of the morning and early afternoon, potato soup will warm our chilly bodies. An added bonus is that this is a crock pot meal.  
Sunday-Pumpkin Dump Cake
This is hands down my favorite fall dessert recipe.  I've been looking at the pumpkin pies in Costco for weeks is time to start some holiday baking.  Now, I must find a way to get the picture before the family dives in.
Monday-Creamy Cauliflower Mac
 I could hardly contain my excitement when Farmer Boy at the CSA handed me a giant cauliflower.  This is one of the best, most unexpectedly good recipes I have ever found.  
Tuesday-Delicious Crock Pot Pork Chops
I have some pork chops from a recent BOGO sale.  They've been in the deep freeze for two or three weeks.  I plan on pairing this with roasted squash.
Wednesday-Dinner on the Run
We will be eating in our car Wednesday since both girls have dance class.  Both girls' new favorite is a mini bagel with ham, cheese, and lettuce.  That is what I will pack.  I will have to put sticky notes everywhere so I remember to bring the dinner into work to keep cold AND take it with me on the way to pick them up.
Thursday-Taco Cupcakes
I have some extra won-tons and ground meat in the freezer; plus, my husband picked up some queso dip at Aldi.  I have almost everything I need to make this crowd pleaser.  I don't worry too much about slicing tomatoes for toppings; I just add salsa with more fresh tomatoes.  Sometimes time is more valuable.  The kids will gobble this up with a side of corn.
I found that when I stop home to pick up my daughter from the neighbors and take care of the dog there is just enough time to call Pizza Hut.  By the time I pick up the other two children, all I have to do is cross the street and go through the pick-up window.  It may not be the most healthy option, or the most affordable, but it is the most convenient. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Crisp

There isn't much that can beat the smell of an apple crisp baking on a cool fall day... except maybe the taste of that apple crisp when it is still warm from the oven.  I always look forward to this time of the year when apples go on sale and the days get cool enough for me to want to heat the oven to make this delicious recipe.  I have made it for years and most recently made it to take to dinner at a friend's house.  It was a hit, as it always has been.  My kids helped me make it this time but didn't get the opportunity to eat it, so I plan to make another with them very soon.  We love all kinds of apples (as well as their health benefits)! If you want to learn about what the differences are between types of apples and their amazing science-backed heath benefits, here is a great article:

(You will need more apples than I have in this picture.)
  • 1/2 c old fashioned or quick-cooking oats
  • 3 graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 1/3 c plus 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 c walnut pieces
  • 1/3 c butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 6 c apples (~5 med), sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, mix oats, graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup of flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, walnuts, butter, and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon until well blended.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, and remaining 1/2 tsp of cinnamon.  Add sliced apples and toss to coat.
  3. Place apples in an 8 inch square baking dish; sprinkle with oat topping.  Bake 35-40 minutes until apples are tender.

Difficulty: relatively easy, but a decent amount of measuring plus the slicing of the apples
Time: ~15 minutes prep, 35-40 minutes baking

Monday, October 1, 2012

Zucchini Bread with Pineapple

Zucchini is something that seems to grow extremely well in our part of the country. People are always giving me fresh zucchini from their gardens. My CSA produce contains zucchini almost every week so I've tried lots of recipes.  Now that the weather is cooling off, I am ready to start turning up the oven for baking. This recipe is from one of the best bakers I've ever met; she often brings warm baked treats into work in the morning.  I have yet to be able to bring one of these loaves of bread to work warm, but everyone enjoys them anyway.

  • 2 grated zucchini (I peel and throw them in my mini-chopper)
  • 8 oz of crushed pineapple (drained)
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 cup nuts (I use chopped walnuts)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t nutmeg
  • 1 cup chocolate morsels (this is my addition to Susan's recipe)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix oil, sugar, vanilla; beat well.
  3. Add eggs; beat.
  4. Add grated zucchini and pineapple; mix.
  5. Add dry ingredients and mix until blended.
  6. Pour into 2 loaf pans (sprayed with cooking spray and floured)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour.
  8. Test with a toothpick; cool 10 minutes.
  9. Turn out onto wire rack.

Difficulty: Medium
Time: 30 minute prep; 1 hour baking time
Source: my coworker Susan