Category Archives: Truly Creating

Easy Peasy Chicken Burritos (and other stuff) That Will Make Your Tummy Happy

Ok, blog readers. First off, thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts and ramblings on life. It means a lot to me that you’re here.

Second, part of this blog is Truly Creating, which is something I LOVE to do. I love to decorate, organize, paint, draw, write, craft. If I can sit down and use my hands to make something pretty, oh boy am I ever in my happy place (and if there’s music I like playing in the background – even better.)

Another thing I have grown to enjoy is cooking (which has definitely not always been the case – funny how time changes things.) I believe cooking definitely falls in the Create category. (But I would be totally lying if I said I could just whip up something out of nothing. Nope. Totally don’t do that. I’m a recipe gal through and through.)

So, I decided today I would share with you one of my absolute favorite, go-to, easy peasy meals that is sure to please. This post will in no way shape or form be Pinterest worthy. (I don’t even have a picture of this dish – so no eye-appealing image to draw you in and make your mouth water.)

This is straight forward, to the point, and totally unemotional (which makes it completely different than almost everything I have been posting lately.)

The best thing about this dish? It’s a crockpot meal. Yep. I just said crockpot. Did we just become best friends? I think we did.

Here you go…….

Ingredients:

  • package of chicken breasts (Organic or not. Take your pick. This is a judgment free zone. How many pounds? I have no clue. However many pounds are in a package of chicken breasts, I guess?)
  • jar of your favorite salsa
  • package of taco seasoning
  • can of corn (not drained)
  • can of black beans (drained and rinsed)

Optional Ingredients:

  • shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever your favorite cheese mixture may be)
  • red or green enchilada sauce
  • sour cream
  • green onion
  • cilantro
  • guacamole or avocado
  • rice
  • flour or corn tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • your favorite taco toppings: lettuce, tomato, onion, etc.

Make it (Sorry. That sounds a little bossy, doesn’t it?):

  • Place the chicken breasts, salsa, taco seasoning, corn (not drained), black beans (drained and rinsed) into crockpot. Cook on low for 4 to 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through. About a half an hour prior to serving, shred chicken and leave in crockpot with black bean/corn mixture to let the chicken soak up more of the yummy flavor.
  • Ok, here is where it gets fun. This dish has options, baby. Oh yeah. You can eat it straight out of the crockpot as is, or……..

Option 1: Chicken burritos: Place chicken mixture into flour tortillas, roll and place in 13 by 9 baking dish. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until cheese is ooey, gooey, melty and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole  or avocado, cilantro, green onions (all optional.)

Option  2: Chicken enchiladas: Roll mixture into flour tortillas. Cover with your favorite red enchilada sauce. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and repeat the baking instructions listed above.

Option 3: Chicken tacos: Instead of using ground beef like a standard taco, use the chicken mixture in hard shell or soft shell tacos. Top with your favorite toppings: lettuce, tomato, olives, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, taco sauce, avocado….you get the idea.

Option 4: Chicken nachos (definitely a crowd pleaser in our house): Heap a giant pile of tortilla chips onto a baking dish (which now makes this a gluten free dish – oh yea.) Cover the chips with the chicken mixture and your favorite blend of cheeses. Broil until cheese is melted (Be sure to keep a really close eye while they are under the broiler. It doesn’t take long.) When they come out, top with your favorite toppings (see Option 3.)

Option 5: Rice bowl: Make your favorite rice according to directions. Place rice in a bowl and cover with chicken mixture. Top with your favorite toppings.

Option 6 (The final option. I bet you thought this would go on forever.): Chicken enchilada bake: I can’t have gluten, so this is one of my fave ways to prepare this dish. Grab a 13 by 9 dish. Spread a little enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish until it is covered (not a thick layer, just a small amount). Place corn tortillas on top of sauce. (If you want to get really fancy, place a small amount of chicken broth in a skillet – enough to cover bottom of skillet – and heat to simmer. Place corn tortillas in broth for a second before putting them in casserole dish) Cover tortillas with chicken mixture. Pour sauce on mixture. Cover with Cheese. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbling – approximately 30 minutes.

Now you can see why I love this dish! Number one – the crockpot, so it cooks all day while I do other things. Number two – options, so it never gets old. It’s the Choose Your Own Adventure recipe. Number 3 – gluten free possibilities. Number 4 – all of the options involve cheese.

Enjoy, my friends!!

 

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Mexican Pasta Recipe and A Fabulous Book….What More Could You Ask For?

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For those of you who have known me for a long time, seeing the title “recipe” may seem a bit alarming.

I have always been a huge fan of food.  All kinds.  This may seem like a weird thing to say.  Isn’t everyone a fan of food?  I’m not sure if everyone is, or isn’t, but what I do know is that I am a huge, huge fan. The word picky would never be used to describe me.  I love food so much that when I was a kid, I would sit down at the table and ask if there was enough for seconds before I had even taken a bite of the meal.  That may not have been the healthiest relationship to have with food, but you get my drift.

Loving food has never been the problem.  Cooking has been.  Cooking was something that I did out of necessity, not because it brought me joy.  I liked the end result of cooking, but not the act of cooking itself.

When I was in college, I would open a can of creamed corn, chop some veggies, add it to the creamed corn and call it corn chowder.  Gross.

But slowly.  Very. Very. Slowly. Something in me has started to change.

This mundane task that was merely a means to get food on the table has now become something that I actually enjoy.

A catalyst for this new found enjoyment of cooking was a book that I read titled, “Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes” by Shauna Niequist.  This book has wonderful stories and amazing recipes that compliment the stories. It is all around fabulous. The recipes are healthy and delicious and have become some of my family’s very favorites.  It is a book that I highly recommend.

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I have always been a very strict recipe follower.  I would not stray an inch from the instructions and I would never dream of trying to come up with something of my own.  Other than those tragic culinary years of college.

But as I said, something in me has started to change.

It started with me having the courage to tweak recipes, which Shauna does recommend. Thank you Shauna.  She advises trying the recipe just as it is written the first time and then taking liberties with it from that point on.  She suggests making it your own.  I love spice and I am learning that making a recipe my own usually involves a lot of onion, garlic and heat.

This recipe that I am about to share is my first real attempt at creating my own dish.

I was just starting to get comfortable with the idea of tweaking recipes and had no aspirations of creating my own dish.  But as stated by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This recipe was created out of necessity.  I had to get dinner on the table and I hadn’t been to the grocery.  We had already gone out to eat that week and I knew that the budget-friendly thing to do was to work with what we had in the house.  I was stuck with the food that we had.  After looking through the freezer and refrigerator, I came up with a plan.  Mexican Pasta was made.  And enjoyed. By all.  It was a happy mama moment.  I did it!  I came up with a meal on my own, and thankfully it was much better than corn chowder.

So here is my recipe making it’s culinary debut.  Mexican Pasta.  Maybe not the healthiest meal,  but good nonetheless.  Healthier recipes will come later.  I can only tackle one giant at a time.

Mexican Pasta

Ingredients:

1 box of penne pasta (or a gluten-free pasta alternative)

1 small can of green chiles

1 can of red enchilada sauce (I used Muir Glen Organic Mild Red Chile)

1 box of cream cheese

1/2 of an onion

1-2 cloves of garlic (I love garlic, so I used two)

1/2 of a jar of Trader Joes Cowboy Caviar (or another chunky black bean and corn salsa) – optional

1 lb of ground beef

Taco Seasoning

*When I originally made this recipe I had a half a pound of ground taco meat that was frozen in the freezer.  When I made it again, I cooked a pound of hamburger but only used half of the taco meat and froze the other half.  You could use all of the taco meat in the pasta, but I recommend using the meat for two meals.  Use half in the pasta and freeze the other half for later.

Directions: 

Cook ground beef.  Add your favorite taco seasoning according to package instructions.

Cook penne pasta according to directions.

In a separate skillet, sauté onion.  I prefer to sauté my vegetables with coconut oil, but feel free to use whatever oil you typically use.  After the onions have sautéed for a bit and are translucent and their sweet smell has filled the house, add garlic and sauté for a couple minutes more.  Next, add the can of diced green chiles.  Sauté for a few more minutes.

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Add the enchilada sauce to the green chile and onion mixture.  If you are fortunate enough to have a Trader Joes nearby, I recommend using some of the Cowboy Caviar.  This is delicious and adds a little extra something to the dish.  If you do not have a Trader Joes, you could substitute another chunky black bean and corn salsa.  The Cowboy Caviar is very chunky and a little sweet.  It is awesome!  I only use about a half of the jar of salsa when I make this dish.  Let this simmer for a few minutes on the stove.

 

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Once this has simmered, add the cream cheese.  I recommend cutting the cream cheese into cubes and placing them into the sauce.  Once the cream cheese is melted, add the taco meat.

 

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Next, add the cooked penne to the sauce.

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Now you are ready to enjoy your Mexican Pasta!  I serve this with bowls of cheddar cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, olives, green onions, fresh cilantro, on the table and let everyone choose their own toppings.

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I hope you enjoy this tasty meal!

 

 

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