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Recipes

My Go-To Skillet Pasta Dishes

 

There’s always that one random box of pasta you don’t know what to do with…surely I’m not the only one! The one you usually just dump a jar of marinara over and call it a day? Yeah that one.

Well hold your Ragu people – I have some answers for you! These taste WAY better and don’t take much more time or dishes to make. And I’ve made every one of these recipes myself so I can vouch for their ease and tastiness personally.

Plus, they are easy to add extra veggies to, they can feed a crowd and they reheat like a charm, what’s not to love?

  1. Creamy Sausage and Spinach Tortellini
    Tip: Buy some frozen tortellini so you don’t have to worry about the fresh stuff going bad before you have a chance to make it – Aldi has a great one.
  2. Cajun Chicken Pasta (made this one last night with a hidden box of bowtie pasta ;))
    Tip: Use frozen chopped bell peppers and onions for the same reason as above, OR use this as way to get rid of your on the edge produce that’s about to go bad. Also – want to lighten up the recipe? Go easy on the cream or sub milk, you don’t have to drench the pasta in sauce.
  3. Pesto Chicken Florentine 
    Tip: The packet alfredo is really much better than the jarred, it takes more time but it’s worth it. Promise.
  4. No Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni
    Tip: Reheats really well!
  5. Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
    Tip: Serve with chicken or shrimp

 

Freezer Friendly, Meal Planning, Recipe Basics, Recipes

Meal Planning for the Spontaneous

Meal Planning for the spontaneous.jpg

As much as the “good southern wife” in me wants to have dinner on the table at 6, it just doesn’t happen. My husband works in ministry so business hours aren’t strict 9-5 and we’re pretty spontaneous with our plans on top of that.

Plus, I’m really bad at meal planning, or that’s what I’ve always told myself. Turns out, I’m meal planning for a life that doesn’t exist for me. I’m meal planning for the “dinner at 6” life.

As soon as I realized that, I decided to shift my mentality for meals. My husband would call halfway through the day and see if we could go grab dinner with his parents. That’s fine and good but “dinner at 6” Kailey already had some chicken thawing and multiple veggies chopped and prepared. So it was hard to enjoy spontaneity knowing I had wasted my time, money and probably food. Because when I don’t cook Monday’s dinner, I just move on to Tuesday’s instead of carrying Monday’s over for various reasons.

Here’s where the chunks come in (not gross. I promise.)

I started making a list of every meal I had available. Just one long post-it.

I write the name of the meal, the sides to go with it, and the big ingredients I have ready to go right now. (I underline the “maybe” ingredients to check on later, like spices) I also put a star next to super quick meals.

I also keep a list of produce about to go bad and if I’m REALLY on top of my game: a list of leftovers, as well.

Let me just tell you – THIS DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO COOK THE SAME THINGS OVER AND OVER. I get it, you’re reading this because you ARE spontaneous and the idea of not cooking something new is scary. Guess what? I have Pad Thai on my list…I’ve never cooked Pad Thai before but I know what’s in it and how long it will take so I can squeeze it in one of these nights!

So here are my tips for making your Master Meal List

  • Walk through your fridge and pantry and be realistic with what you CAN make and what you WILL make.
  • Make the hard part easier, if it takes a lot of ahead of time meal prep, it may not be easy to put it into your meal schedule
  • Be okay with moving things around.
  • Don’t do what you don’t like to do (chances are you wouldn’t have done it anyways). This means a chopped veggie soup when you hate chopping veggies is probably never going to happen and your veggies will go bad.
  • Put a safe meal on your list – this could be pasta or a frozen meal.
  • Most importantly, don’t let meals cramp your spontaneous style! If a friend calls to get dinner. Go! Enjoy dinner and don’t be bitter that your elaborate casserole has gone unmade.

I hope this is helpful for you – it’s a game changer for my life. Especially since it’s just me and the husband for a bit until baby comes (and even then, he’ll eat what I eat for a while so it’s whatever).

Don’t let the dream of another life sabotage the great one you have!

Freezer Friendly, Recipe Basics, Recipes

Basic Shredded Chicken

You know how every recipe calls for basic cooked or shredded chicken? I never remember that until I’m mid-recipe and then it’s like “WHAT? NOW I HAVE TO COOK THE CHICKEN?!” and then we eat dinner at midnight because I didn’t plan ahead.

Don’t get me wrong, a rotisserie chicken can absoLUTEly suffice, but I usually don’t have that on hand either.

So, I did some tweaking and found a way to cook loads of chicken at once in a crockpot.

I shred and freeze this in 1lb portions since that’s what most recipes call for. You could also cube it instead.

Here we go.

Put your raw, thawed chicken in the crockpot (you could maybe do this frozen but I doubt it would be as tender and it would definitely take longer).

Photo Apr 25, 1 19 17 PM

You can typically do 2-3lbs at a time. For me, since I use Omaha Steaks chicken, it takes 6+ but the mega chicken breasts from the store would take less.

Add 1 tsp Salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 TBL minced onionPhoto Apr 25, 1 19 55 PM

You can cover the whole thing with water or chicken broth or do half and half which is what I do. I use this stuff because I can’t be trusted to keep a carton of half used chicken broth in my fridge without it spoiling immediately. #wastefulPhoto Apr 25, 1 20 21 PM

Cover chicken with 1 inch of liquid, this was 4 cups for me. May vary by chicken quantity.Photo Apr 25, 1 20 44 PMSo here are your options. You can do low for 6 hours, or low for 2, high for 2 or high for 4. Whatever cooks your chicken *ifyaknowwhatImean* (and I feel like I’m being fairly obvious)Photo Apr 27, 1 43 18 PMThis is what it will look like when it’s done. YUM.
Take the chicken out of the pot, leaving the liquid and put into a bowl.Photo Apr 27, 1 44 07 PMI like to shred it immediately because it’s a lot easier to do when the chicken is warm. Just use 2 forks and go to town.

You can freeze in Ziplocs as I mentioned before.

BUT KAILEY, WHAT ABOUT THE CHICKEN BROTH YOU DIDN’T WANT TO WASTE?!

Perfect, glad you asked. I strained it and cooked rice in it for dinner that night as well as to be reused in recipes over the next week. Haven’t tried freezing cooked rice yet because it seems too easy to cook for me to try to make it even easier…it seems suspicious and I’m sure I would mess it up.

So enjoy your shredded chicken, let me know what recipes you use it for!

Fill-In-The-Blank Recipes, Recipes

Fill-in-the-Blank Candy Cookies

M&M Cookies

I had a bunch of M&M’s to get rid of, that’s how I’ll start this, don’t ask me why. So I Googled a cookie recipe and found one that had 4.5 stars with 942 reviews….uhhh let’s start there.

This was the raved about recipe I started with, MAD props to Robbi for sharing this wisdom.

Here’s what I changed:

  • Butter instead of shortening (uh. DUH)
  • Chilled the bowl after mixing but before scooping and baking
  • Took the cookies out when they didn’t quiiiiite look done but had golden brown edges. (You gotta have FAITH-a, FAITH-a, FAITH-ahhh)

Now why am I calling these “Fill-in-the-Blank Candy Cookies”? Because with this incredible base recipe. You can add pretty much any. Candy. Your. Little. Heart. Desires. So you better bookmark this little post because you will WANT to use it to get rid of that Easter candy. Chop up some Robin’s eggs or Reese’s Eggs, or any other non-fruit candy. You could add Heath Bar Bits, Chocolate chips, the list goes on and on.

I love amazing Fill-In-The-Blank recipes because it starts with something awesome and GETS EVEN BETTER!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup Butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups candy-coated milk chocolate pieces (such as M&M’s(R))

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, shortening, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture. Blend well. Add 3/4 cup candies or more…
  2. Chill bowl in fridge while oven preheats (5-7 minutes)
  3. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto baking sheet. Slightly push a few candies on top of each dough ball with remaining candies.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 9 to 11 minutes.
Recipes

Brunch at Home

easy-brunchSometimes I pick my favorite brunch/shower foods and make them at home. That way I don’t have to pick out a dress or get a last minute gift off the registry and I still enjoy the delightful finger foods. Everyone wins!

My favorite simple breakfast dish that’s easy to share (or not share) is pigs in a blanket. It seems too easy to share the recipe but sometimes it helps to see just how easy something is in words. Also I need to be honest with you: I used generic brand crescent rolls…not Pillsbury. And it was awful. It was so horrible that if I had posted pictures, this post would not be safe for work. The dough was sticky and greasy and would barely unroll. It straight up stuck to the pan and had CHUNKS of fat in it (shortening I’m pretty sure). So Pillsbury – if you’re reading this, I’m so so sorry – my grocery store only had 1 can of your crescent-y goodness and I needed 2. So I went subpar and it bit me in the butt. Forgive me??

Here’s the half-recipe if you aren’t taking it to your colleges roommate’s bridal shower – just double it if you feel kind enough to share (you’ll only need to double the rolls, the sausage is enough for 2 batches)

1 can PILLSBURY Crescent Rolls (no other brand. TRUST me)
1 container of Hillshire Farms Little Smokies (You’ll only use half the pack)

  1. Unroll the crescent rolls and cut each triangle in half (I like lots of bready goodness, you could cut each triangle into thirds if you like more sausage)
  2. Roll a smoky in each strip and spread evenly on a nonstick pan
  3. Bake at 350 for 15ish minutes until golden brown (the sausages are fully cooked, you’re just heating them through).
  4. Plate and enjoy warm!
Recipes

Change Your Life Brownie Recipe

Warning: these brownies will change your life.

caramel-brownies-2On Tuesdays we host a home group at our house and I’m trying to make time to bake something fun to share with our friends. And this week, I just felt like brownies.

The thing with Pinterest recipes is that I can never find the same one twice and I can never find the one I used the first time. I don’t have that problem with cookbooks. One of my favorites is “Deep in the Heart” a hand-me-down Junior League cookbook that has some of my FAVORITE go to recipes. It fell apart as if on cue when I tried to take it’s picture. Poor thing.

Caramel Brownies 1.jpgSo here’s the recipe – I would write it down somewhere if I were you because you’ll never find it again. swear.

Caramel Filled Brownies – Mrs. King Bourland

1 pkg Caramels (14 oz)
2/3 C Evaporated Milk, divided in half
1 pkg German Chocolate Cake Mix (You can use any chocolate mix but avoid the ‘pudding in mix’ because it’s sticky as all get out and doesn’t set up the same…I learned the hard way last night.)
3/4 C Butter softened or melted (if you melt it, you’ll have to let the mix sit in the fridge to set. If you soften, you’ll have to use a hand mixer. Pick your battle)
[1 c. chopped nuts – only add if you hate yourself. I don’t]
1 tsp Vanilla (I often do not add this and it’s fine)
1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz)

Combine caramels and 1/3 c of evaporated milk in a saucepan over low heat or in a microwave bowl heating for 30 seconds at a time and stirring until melted.
Combine cake mix, butter, 1/3 c evaporated milk, nuts and vanilla. Press 1/2 of cake mix into greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes (I bake until it puffs up, closer to 8 minutes for me). Sprinkle with chocolate chips and and drizzle caramel mixture over chips. Use knife to spread if desired. Crumble remaining Cake dough over caramel mixture. Bake 15-20 minutes. Cool and cut into squares. Yield 24.