Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Loaded Nachos

Every now and then, there is just me and the youngest two home for dinner.  We had a night like that last week.  A girl could be tempted to just pass through the drive through.... but you know, they end up getting the same dang thing each time.  Who's with me on this?!  I just knew that I had something in the freezer, fridge, and pantry that we could make an easy dinner out of, that would be both mom and kid approved and easy!  I had a couple of individually packaged chicken breasts in the freezer.  And let's face it, they are pretty huge these days, anyway!

We just threw those in the crock pot, threw some stuff on top, and let the crock pot do the work while we were off at school and work for the day.  After cooking for several hours, the house smelled amazing, and the chicken was so tender that I literally shredded it with a couple of forks.   That evening, we had some of the best loaded nachos around!  Of course you could use this crock pot taco chicken for all manner of applications - tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, chimichangas, you name it!  But loaded nachos is what appealed to us... and quite frankly, was what we had ingredients for on hand. 

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Ingredients for the chicken: (4 - 6 servings)
  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 packet of mild taco seasoning mix
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp cumin

Step-by-Step:
The great thing about nachos, is that each person gets to "build" their own... as my children call the process.  You can make them as loaded as you wish.  You can go with really decadent toppings, or really low fat toppings.  Speaking of fat, this chicken is super lean.  Another positive, is that is tastes really Mexican'y (yes, I know that's not a word), but it's not spicy at all.  That's because I was cooking for small kids that night.  If you want heat, feel free to substitute a can of Ro-tel tomatoes for the diced tomatoes, and perhaps a hotter taco seasoning.   I'm sure you can find ways to spice it up.  

Basically, just throw everything in the crock pot on high for about 4 hrs until you can shred it. Remember, the chicken I used was frozen.  If you use thawed chicken, it will take less time.  If you use bone-in chicken, expect it to take longer.
2 frozen chicken breasts
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (I used mild, but use the amount of heat you would like)
1 package of Taco seasoning (available in varying levels of heat as well as low sodium)
1 Tbsp of cumin
 After 4 hours on high...
Shred with two forks.

Now this chicken is going to be so juicy! And you can see how tender it is.
Note: There were three of us eating.  We had SO MUCH left over!!!  This sauce could have easily accommodated another chicken breasts and probably served 6 - 8 eating nachos with 3 the breasts.

If making nachos, top as you wish.
I added sour cream, guacamole, cheese, cilantro, jalapeno slices, and a big squeeze of lime.  Of course you are limited only by your imagination and palate!

Here's a close up.
For a couple of stray chicken breasts in the freezer, this is NOT too shabby!!!!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!

There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

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If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Meatballs Stroganoff 

Spicy Garlic Shrimp 

Sour Cream Banana Nut Bread 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli 

Buffalo Chicken Dip 

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Chicken Breasts 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Muffin Tin Drop Biscuits

Okay, folks... we are going extremely easy on these breakfast favorites... as in - four ingredients!  And if you think you are going to have to get all "artsy" here with kneading, and rolling, and cutting out biscuits, you can think again.  Who has time for THAT in the mornings?!  Certainly not me.  All you do for these biscuits is dump, mix, and drop them into the wells of a muffin tin.  I have complete faith that you can do that.  Besides, the batter is so ooey, gooey that I doubt you could roll it out if you wanted to.  

I remembered the other day that a high school friend's mom used to make biscuits using Sprite.  So I started digging, and it seems that this recipe is all over the place!  I have no idea who came up with it.  My kids thought I was crazy when I told them what was in them.

The texture seemed to me to be sort of a cross between a biscuit and a muffin.  Not as dry and crumbly as a traditional biscuit.  More moist and tender.  Then, for the ones we had left over from breakfast, we split them and made old fashioned strawberry shortcakes for dessert after dinner that night.  I'd say that was a home run!  There was not one left!  The kids no longer think it's that crazy.  HaHa!

Print this recipe!

Ingredients:  (10 biscuits)
  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup cold Sprite (or other lemon lime soda)
Step-by-Step:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Dump all the ingredients together. 
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup melted but not too hot butter (the regular, salted kind)
1 cup cold Sprite
So what you see here appears to be a wet, gooey mess.  Yep.  Me, too.  There's no way I would attempt to roll this mess out.  Plus, I've got four kids to get off to school.  These are going to be dropped by the spoonful.  End of discussion.
I inherited a set of these silicone muffin cups.  They are the size of standard muffin tin wells.  I'm going to try them out on this recipe.  If you are using a traditional, aluminum muffin pan, I'd spray them first.  For the silicone ones, I'm not going to prepare them with anything.  I'm confident they will pop out. 

I popped them into the oven at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes.  Uncovered, of course.  This was the result.  Tender.  Light.  Moist, and delicious!  
You see how rough and uneven and lumpy they looked as batter?  Well somehow, magically, they pretty much evened out in the oven and turn into beautiful swans!  Don't ask me how.  I'm just the messenger.  
Optional - When they come out of the oven, try brushing the tops with melted butter,  or melted butter and honey.  Or for a savory biscuit, try melted butter and garlic!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!

There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Breakfast Casserole 

Ham Cups 

Funky Monkey Morning Smoothies 

Black Iron Skillet Deep Dish Pizza 

Spicy Fried Cauliflower Bites 

Cajun Chicken Salad 

Written Method:  
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Dump all the ingredients together and mix to combine.  Drop by the spoonful into prepared muffin tins.  If using standard aluminum muffin tins, prepare with cooking spray.  Bake at 425 degrees F for about 15 minutes uncovered or until golden brown.  Optional - brush the tops with melted butter when they come out of the oven.  Or melted butter and honey.  Or for a savory biscuit, try melted butter and garlic!

Oh.. and to turn them into strawberry shortcakes, that's super easy too.  Slice your strawberries and add a couple spoons of sugar to taste (to start drawing out the juices).  Get a pint of heavy whipping cream really cold, and whip it with a hand mixer in a metal bowl with a bit of really good vanilla and a few spoons of powdered sugar until you have a glorious whipped topping.  Whip until you have a good peak, but don't go too long, or you will have butter.. ha!  Layer the biscuit, whipped cream, strawberries... biscuit, cream, berries again.  Voila!  :)  Messy and wonderful!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake

As many of you know, we just moved into a new house.  And it seems that we now have a continual swarm of random teenagers over on any given evening.  Am I complaining?  NOPE!  I love knowing where my kids are, and with whom.  I love knowing that they are choosing to be here, and that they are bringing their friends over.  But goodness gracious, they eat... a LOT. 

Well if you are feeding a small swarm of your own, this easy recipe may do the trick.  It's super easy, goes a long ways, and we all know that pasta is a pretty economical way to stretch your budget.  The list of ingredients is most likely things you probably already have, so that's a big bonus!  This recipe does have a bit of a kick to it, so feel free to adjust the heat to your preference.  I was not in the mood for anything bland when I made it.  The verdict?  Two thumbs up from the teens!  :)

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Ingredients:  (6 - 8 servings)
  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup mixed color bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can "mild" Ro-tel tomatoes, with juice
    • control heat here.  There are hotter varieties.
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 - 3 tsp Creole seasoning
    • control heat here.  
    • Use 2 tsp for less heat,  3 tsp for more heat.
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 3 - 4 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, in bite-sized pieces
  • 16 oz pkg egg noodles, boiled and drained according to package directions
  • 2 cups shredded Colby-Monterrey Jack cheese blend
  • optional crunchy topping ideas
    • tortilla strips
    • seasoned bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs
    • crushed Ritz crackers
Step-by-Step:  
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  We'll start by heating up some 1 Tbsp canola oil and 2 Tbsp butter.  You'll need a large pan for this.  I chose a 12" pan with rather deep sides.  I didn't want the strong flavor of olive oil for this one.   
Once the oil and butter are sizzling, add in the chopped peppers and onions.   You can save yourself quite a bit of time here by using peppers and onions that you have already chopped and frozen.  Not only do you not have to chop them, but they will cook down a lot faster.
Now add in your crimini (baby bella) mushrooms.  Once the liquid in the bottom is all "used up," I added the other 2 Tbsp butter.  Give these all a few minutes to saute so the flavors can marry together.

While your veggies are cooking down, you need to have your water going for your pasta.  Cook them according to package directions for al dente (about 7 minutes).  They will cook more in the oven. 


Here's where you just start dumping things together.  Cream of celery soup.  Cream of chicken soup.
A can of Ro-Tel tomatoes.  I used the "mild" version.  There are hotter ones.  You could really super charge this recipe with heat, but I wasn't really looking for THAT much heat, just a nice kick.  Notice, I'm not draining the tomatoes first.  We are going to need all this liquid.
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, then 2 - 3 tsp Creole seasoning.  Here's another opportunity to control your heat.   
*If you don't want heat in your dish, or are cooking for small children, consider using more garlic powder and substituting plain salt and pepper rather than Creole seasoning.  Or even try 1 tsp and try a "taste as your go" method of seasoning.
 
Here we go with our main liquids:  1 cup of milk, 1 can of chicken broth.  
Add in your chopped green onions, bring to a boil, then add in your 3 - 4 cups cooked chicken.   At the point where you add the chicken, turn off the heat.  You don't want the chicken to cook more than it has to, as it's already done.  We don't want it all dried out.
Let me take this opportunity to say you could add your protein of choice here.  One of my kids suggested that crawfish would great in this dish.  Someone else suggested shrimp.  Cooked roast pork would be great.  I'm a huge advocate of making a recipe your own, so go for it!  :)

Add the cooked, drained pasta to the sauce.  If you would prefer a different type of pasta, go for it!  I felt the egg noodles would hold the sauce well without soaking it up too much, making it dry.  If it looks too soupy right now, don't worry.... pasta is thirsty.  It will indeed soak in some sauce.  Now you can see why I started with such a large pan.
Add the contents of your pan to a greased casserole dish.  Garnish with more green onions if you'd like.  Or if you are in a big hurry, you could even leave it in the first pan if it's oven safe, making it a one-pot meal!  
Alright, I'm going out on a limb here, but that's what I do.  I love a bit of crunch on my food.  We seem to be a family divided on this issue.   We are the crunchy lovers, and the "nots."  So I am going to add some crunch to half of the casserole dish.  I got to thinking of some ways folks usually top their casseroles..... bread crumbs, Panko, cracker crumbs... but there staring at me from the shelf were these brightly colored tortilla strips.  Oh yes - this was going to happen.  Color, crunch, and that salty, corny flavor!   I always tell you, play with your food!   Feel free to leave it naked if you are crunchy aversive.  It's your meal.
Now I'm going to smother this thing in cheese.  Yep yep yep!
A bit more green onions, and we are ready to bake this baby.  It almost did not fit in the casserole dish.  This is a seriously large amount of food, folks!  This would be great for bringing to a pot luck, for having a group of people over from your church group, block party, or family.. or a swarm of hungry teenagers!  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes.  I did not cover it. 
For serving to the NON-teens, this sure goes nicely with a glass of wine!
Here's the inside.  Like I said, this is a LOT of food!  Chicken, veggies, mushrooms, pasta....
Serve this with a nice salad and some garlic bread and you are all set for the troops!!!  

If you do not need to cook for a swarm of people, you might consider portioning this out into two separate meals.  Casseroles such as this freeze beautifully.  For freezing one, cool first and freeze unbaked.  Thaw overnight in the fridge.  Remove about 30 - 45 minutes before baking it.  You will probably need to bake it 55 - 60 minutes or until the center reaches about 165 degrees. 


I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Oven Baked Fajitas 

Coconut Lime Chicken 

Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli 

Parmesan Zucchini Gratin 

Stuffed Pork Chops 

French Onion Soup 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler 

Written Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  We'll start by heating up some 1 Tbsp canola oil and 2 Tbsp butter.  You'll need a large pan for this.  I chose a 12" pan with rather deep sides.   Once the oil and butter are sizzling, add in the chopped peppers and onions.   Now add in your crimini (baby bella) mushrooms.  Once the liquid in the bottom is all "used up," I added the other 2 Tbsp butter.  Give these all a few minutes to saute so the flavors can marry together.  While your veggies are cooking down, you need to have your water going for your pasta.  Cook them according to package directions for al dente (about 7 minutes).  They will cook more in the oven. 
 
Here's where you just start dumping things together.  Cream of celery soup.  Cream of chicken soup.  A can of Ro-Tel tomatoes.  Notice, I'm not draining the tomatoes first.  We are going to need all this liquid.  1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, then 2 - 3 tsp Creole seasoning.  1 cup of milk, 1 can of chicken broth.  

Add in chopped green onions, bring to a boil, then add 3 - 4 cups cooked chicken.   At the point where you add the chicken, turn off the heat.  You don't want the chicken to cook more than it has to.  Add the cooked, drained pasta to the sauce, then add the contents of your pan to a greased casserole dish.  Garnish with more green onions if you'd like. 

I love a bit of crunch on my food.  So I am going to add some crunch to half of the casserole dish.  I got to thinking of some ways folks usually top their casseroles..... bread crumbs, Panko, cracker crumbs... but staring at me from the shelf were these brightly colored tortilla strips.  Feel free to leave it naked if you are crunchy aversive.  Add your cheese and a bit more green onions to the top, and we are ready to bake.  Bake at 350 degrees F for about 25 minutes. 

If you do not need to cook for a swarm of people, you might consider portioning this out into two separate meals.  Casseroles such as this freeze beautifully.  For freezing one, cool first and freeze unbaked.  Thaw overnight in the fridge.  Remove about 30 - 45 minutes before baking it.  You will probably need to bake it 55 - 60 minutes or until the center reaches about 165 degrees. 

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