Easy Chicken Pot Pie

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There’s nothing like a good slice of chicken pot pie on a chilly, fall night…or I mean really ever. Growing up chicken pot pie was basically a staple in my house. Whenever I was sick I wouldn’t want chicken noodle soup, I would want chicken pot pie. My mom would make pre-made one that she would pick up at the store and I would lay in bed watching Robin Williams and Julia Roberts battle Dustin Hoffman in Hook. It was my little tradition, and it always made me feel better. Chicken pot pie reminds me of feeling safe, and being home. Now I’ve made elaborate chicken pot pie recipes, but honestly this one is my favorite. It’s super easy and quick, and tastes just like memories.

Ingredients

Pre-made piecrust

4 raw chicken breasts

2 cans of cream of chicken

½ cup of finely chopped celery

½ cup diced/sliced carrots

1 cup of peas, drained

Salt

Pepper

First thing you’ll want to do is cook the chicken. Like many other recipes I do, if I’m cooking chicken twice I like to boil it first so that it stays moist. Boil the chicken in a large salted pot of water until the chicken is entirely white, and you can no longer see any pink.

Take the chicken breasts out of the water and shred thinly. In a large mixing bowl pour in both cans of cream of chicken, chicken, celery, carrots, and peas. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well.

Line a pie pan with the first layer of the crust. Pour the mixture inside the pie crust, and layer with the second crust on top. Fold tightly, and cut 4 slits in the middle so that it can breath.

Bake at 375 for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

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Mama’s Macaroni and Cheese

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Clearly with the name of this recipe, my love of macaroni and cheese comes from my mama. Macaroni and cheese has always been my favorite food. Growing up when we would go to restaurants that’s normally what I would get as my meal, I would get excited if they had it at school, and love to get a box of Kraft Mac and cheese for an easy dinner. However, there is no macaroni and cheese like my mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese. Everything about it makes me just…happy. It’s creamy, cheese, and has huge noodles that soak up every little bit of cheesy milk. So naturally, I had her teach me step by step exactly what to do to make it myself when I moved out.

Ingredients:

1 box of large elbow noodles (shells work too, as long as they’re large)

 1 8oz block of sharp cheddar cheese

 1 16 oz bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 2-3 cups of milk

 ½ stick of butter

 1 cup of flour

 Salt

 

So, the first thing you’ll need to do is boil a large pot of salted water. I normally fill the pot about 2/3 full and then salt it right before it starts to boil. Once it’s boiling, I add my noodles. Let the noodles cook in the boiling water for about 5-7 minutes. Then turn the stove down to a low medium and let the noodles cook for about 20 minutes. Stir often so the noodles don’t stick together.

Right before the noodles are done, prepare your baking dash. I use a large baking dish and rather than spraying it with cooking spray I spread butter around the pan using a napkin. Then drain the noodles and pour into the dish. As soon as you pour them in I add another small portion of butter and a large chunk of the cheese block in the noodles and mix well so that the cheese and butter melts.

In the same pot you cooked the noodles in, I pour the milk and about ¼ of the shredded cheese in. Keep the pot on low and stir continuously, and slowly start to add the flour into the mixture. Do this until it starts to make a rue. Once the cheese is all melted and the flour is well mixed in, pour the milk mixture on the noodles.

Next, you’ll slice up the rest of the block of cheese as small or thick as you like and put and on top of the noodles. Top the whole thing with the remaining shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake at 425 for about 40 minutes or until the cheese is well done on top.

Serve along with your turkey and dressing for thanksgiving, with a roast and mashed potatoes, or just on a lazy Sunday afternoon with fried chicken. The possibilities with this dish are endless!


Buffalo Chicken Zucchini Boats

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         I feel like I am constantly struggling to find dinner options that are low carb, but still going to fill me up. That’s when I remembered seeing a bunch of recipes using zucchini as ‘boats’ and stuffing them with some of your favorite things. For me, that would be buffalo chicken dip. Buffalo chicken dip satisfies my love of cheese, chicken, and spicy food all in one delicious gooey meal. However…munching on dip and chips isn’t really a nutritious meal option. Then came the buffalo chicken zucchini boats.

Ingredients

Boneless Chicken Breasts 4

Cream Cheese 2 8oz containers

 Shredded Cheddar Cheese 2 cups

 Blue Cheese Dressing 1 ½ cup (almost a whole bottle)

 Franks Red Hot ½ a cup

Zucchini 6-8 whole zucchini

What to do:

 First you’ll want to prepare the chicken. I prefer to boil mine because it keeps it more moist since you technically cook it twice. Fill a medium sized cooking pot about ¾ full of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add chicken and cook for about ten minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Meanwhile, go ahead and mix your blue cheese, Franks, cream cheese, and 1 cup of
cheddar cheese in a large mixing bowl. Mix well until cream cheese is spread out thin.

Once the chicken is cooked, go ahead and shred it into thin slices and add to the creamy mixture. Mix until all of the chicken is well covered in the mixture.

Set the buffalo chicken mixture aside.

Wash each zucchini well and slice in half, lengthwise. Using a knife and spoon cut out a little bit of the middle of each zucchini. Brush the edges of each zucchini boat with olive oil, and then stuff each boat as full as possible with the buffalo chicken mixture. Sprinkle any extra cheddar cheese on top of each boat.

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is well done.

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Wah-lah! A yummy and low carb dinner that everyone will love! I love to serve my zucchini boats with a spinach salad, but these could be great with orzo.


Southern Fried Okra

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         Hands down one of my favorite southern staples, fried okra. There really is no vegetable that I don’t enjoy eating, but once you fry said vegetable…it’s almost an addiction.

          That being said, I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect recipe for quite some time. I’ve tried a multitude of recipes from cookbooks, Pinterest, friends…but nothing was adding up to me. To me, fried okra needs to have a good crispy outside that has a little kick in the batter. At last, I believe I have perfected a recipe that embodies everything I’ve been looking for.

 Ingredients:

 1-2 lbs. fresh okra

2 cups corn meal

1 cup flour

2 tbsp.  paprika

1 tbsp. sea salt

1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper

3 cups butter milk

 First thing you need to do to make your fried okra is wash and dry your okra well.

Then cut into 1-2 inch pieces. (Whichever you prefer.)

Put all of your cut up pieces of okra in a large mixing bowl. Then, pour 3 cups of buttermilk over the okra, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Right before you take your okra out of the refrigerator, go ahead and make your dry mixture. In a separate mixing bowl you’ll need to combine the corn meal, flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix them together well.

Now it’s time to prep your oil! Whenever I fry anything I like to use my cast iron skillet and vegetable oil. I fill the skillet 2/3 full of oil and then set my burner to medium high.

While you’re waiting for your oil to start bubbling, go ahead and toss your wet okra in the dry mixture. Make sure to get it evenly coated!

 Once your oil is ready, put your first batch in the skillet. Leave the okra in the oil for 6-7 minutes or until fried to golden brown.

 Once I pull okra out of the skillet I usually place it in a bowl with a drying rack or paper towels to get rid of the excess oil. Then I add a little bit of extra salt.

Repeat until you fry up all the okra, and enjoy!

 FYI if you haven’t tried dipping fried okra in ranch you haven’t been living…

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Mexican Stuffed Peppers

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I’m pretty much a sucker for any food with a Mexican flare to it. That being said, when I first started doing meal preps for lunch at work I tried out several different recipes and stuffed peppers have hands down been one of my go-to. One thing that I love about stuffed peppers is that you can substitute/take away/add to them as you see fit. For this particular recipe I use turkey meat instead of ground beef and black beans instead of pintos. I chose these for a slightly healthier version, I usually do the same when I make tacos. Now I do use brown rice but you could use couscous, Mexican rice, white rice, or no rice at all. Once you make stuffed peppers once or twice you can get a better feel for what you like best in yours.

What you’ll need…

For the Peppers: 

1 lb ground turkey

6 medium sized peppers (green or multi-colored)

1 cup of Mexican cheese

1 cup of brown rice

1 cup black beans

1 cup yellow corn

Taco or fajita seasoning

Toppings: 

Sour cream

Salsa

What to do…

Preheat the oven to 425. While the oven is preheating go ahead and cook your turkey in a medium sized frying pan, mixing in the seasoning to your liking. While the turkey is still simmering cook your rice, black beans, and corn.

Wash each pepper thoroughly,  then cut the tops off of all six peppers and clean the inside of them. Stuff each pepper about 1/2 way with your cooked ground turkey. Then layer a spoonful of rice, beans, and corn all the way to the top of each pepper.

Place the stuffed peppers on a large baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Remember, your meat is already cooked so now you’re mainly just baking the peppers.

After 12 minutes, take the peppers out of the over and turn oven temperature to broil. Place cheese atop each pepper and then put the peppers back in the oven until cheese is brown. (About 2-3 minutes)

Let peppers cool for a few minutes and then when you’re ready to eat one, top with salsa and sour cream!

Bon Appétit!


Pineapple-Mango Salsa

 

 

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With summer quickly approaching I’m eager to break out all of my favorite summer recipes! Getting fresh fruits and veggies from local farmers markets and food stands definitely plays a big role in what I eat throughout the summer months, and this recipe is no exception. Combining one of my favorite food indulgences, chips and salsa, with a fresh fruit twist, this pineapple mango salsa is sure to be something you will want to make over and over again. It’s not a very heavy snack, which makes it perfect for hanging by the pool or just relaxing on your porch enjoying the cool nigh air. Plus, it takes less than twenty minutes to make from scratch, which makes it a double plus in my book.

What you’ll need…

2 cups of diced pineapple

2 cups of diced mango

1 cup of diced jalapeño

1 cup of diced red onion

1 tbs. lime juice

2 tbs. cilantro

 And that’s it.

Once you have your ingredients prepped, mix well together in a large bowl and let chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

 I know that sometimes buying ingredients based off of measurements can be stressful. So, basically what my grocery list consisted of was: one whole pineapple (you don’t need the whole thing, but I wanted to keep the rest as a separate snack. You could just as easily buy it in a can), one mango, two jalapeños, one red onion, one bushel of cilantro, and one lime.

Enjoy!

 

 


Peanut Butter Energy Bites

 

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Okay so in a couple of other recipe posts I’ve talked about incorporating more protein in my diet to keep up my energy when at work. I’ve pretty much got the breakfast and lunch part down, but I’ve been searching for a good light snack. Just something that I can eat during my planning period or even something I can munch on right after school before I go work out. This quest has been especially difficult with students having birthdays constantly and bringing cupcakes almost every single day. With my big sweet tooth I knew I wanted something tastier than just a cheese stick or a banana…so I discovered energy bites! The original recipe I used called for some different ingredients, so I actually changed it a bit to fit what I had in my kitchen and WOW these things are delicious! They are full of protein and fiber and really help satisfy my taste buds while also keeping me energized. Even if I just eat one during planning I feel like my appetite is curved and I have plenty of energy to get me through the rest of the day…like seriously they helped me that much. Another huge plus of these energy bites…no baking! They seriously probably took me a total of 15 minutes to prep all together and that’s including 10 minutes of being in the fridge to solidify.

The ingredients:

½ cup Dry Oatmeal

1/3 cup Honey

2/3 cup Creamy Peanut Butter

½ cup Chocolate chips

1/3 cup Chia seeds

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Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and then let chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes. After the ingredients have been in the fridge form into small balls…about the size of a golf ball or a little smaller. Should make about 14-16 balls depending on how big you make them. Place back in the fridge for at least an hour ( I did overnight) and enjoy! Only five ingredients, no baking, and these things seriously hit the jackpot in my book!


Turkey Sausage and Veggie Frittata

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            I am the type of person who loves breakfast, but definitely doesn’t feel like making it at six in the morning. When I first started my teaching career I found myself tired and grumpy by the time school was out everyday. After talking with my doctor we both came to the conclusion that getting more energy for the day was going to have to start with a protein based breakfast. This was going to be somewhat of a struggle to get use to because I spent most mornings grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door…no way did I want to get up any earlier than I was use to. So one of the things I did to help me get use to breakfast in the morning without losing extra sleep was breakfast meal prep. I’m not saying I prepped every single breakfast item, but maybe I cooked my meat the night before and just heated it up or I went ahead and cut all my fruit for the week. Eating a good breakfast before work has seriously changed my entire work day! I feel more energized throughout the day and when I get home I don’t feel like crashing in my bed anymore. With that said, this turkey sausage and veggie frittata has been one of my favorite breakfast prep meals. It has tons of protein and good vegetables in it to keep you going and keep you full…plus it tastes great with hot sauce! 😉

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • 6 turkey sausage links cooked and sliced to your preference (I do frozen usually)
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ a yellow onion-diced and sautéed
  • ½ a green pepper-diced and sautéed
  • ½ cup of mushrooms-diced and sautéed
  • ½ cup of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup of spinach (you can sauté this with your veggies too or you can toss it in fresh)
  • ½ cup of feta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic

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What to do:

  1. Prep the turkey sausage and veggies. Even though dicing all the different vegetables takes a few minutes, the flavors really work well together in this dish. Some ways that I’ve cut down on prep time is I have bought pre-diced vegetables and I sometimes divide my pan so that the sausage is cooking in one half, the veggies in the other half. (They’re all going in the same dish anyways.) Or if you want a good crunch in your frittata you can skip the sautéing and put them in fresh!
  2. Once you have the pre-cooking done its time to assemble the frittata! Crack your eggs in a bowl and stir in the salt and pepper.
  3. After you’ve broken all the yolks in the eggs, add in all of the veggies, cheese, and garlic.
  4. Mix together well in bowl.
  5. Spray a baking dish or skillet well with cooking spray and then pour your mixture into the dish.
  6. Bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are done to your liking.
  7. Enjoy! I usually like to add a little hot sauce or sour cream on mine to add a little something something, or you can just rock it as is!

 


Sweet and Tangy Party Meatballs

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        Whether it’s a birthday party, tailgate, or just a few friends getting together there’s nothing like having some good party food for everyone to munch on. Most people bring something easy like chips and dips but these party meatballs are super easy and sure to be a HIT at your next party!

Probably my favorite thing about these meatballs is how little work it takes to make them. Once you get the ingredients you just dump it all in a large pot and wait for some of the best tasting meatballs you’ve ever had!

What you’ll need…

  • Frozen Italian-style Meatballs (how many would just depend on the size of people you’re cooking for-I usually get two bags for a party of 12-15 people)
  • Large can of whole cranberry sauce
  • One bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Large pot or crockpot

What to do…

  1. Grab your large pot and pour the meatballs, half the bottle of BBQ sauce, and the can of cranberry sauce inside.
  2. Place on a large stove eye and cover-leave on low heat for 1-2 hours (stirring occasionally) or medium heat for 45 minutes.
  3. About 20 minutes before you plan on serving the meatballs add the remaining BBQ sauce and bump up the heat a little bit to make sure that the meatballs are good saucy!
  4. Serve it up!

Seriously…it’s that easy! These meatballs are always a crowd pleaser whenever I make them and they definitely stand a part among the ordinary party snacks.


6 Reasons to Start Shopping at Aldi

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No matter your age, where you live, what car you drive-everyone eventually has to go to the grocery store. While most grocery stores basically sell the same products, there are always so many stores to choose from. Within fifteen miles of my apartment I have the options of Bi-Lo, Wal-Mart, Ingles, Publix, Lowes Foods, Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Sams, and Costco. All great stores that I’ve always had amazing experiences at for various reasons. However, I’ve recently discovered the magical land of Aldi. I had heard people talk about Aldi plenty of times in the past.

“ Oh I love Aldi!”

“Aldi has great prices!”

“I always get my produce at Aldi!”

But I never thought much about it because that’s all they would say. Even after having several friends tell me that they’ve started shopping there I still hadn’t set foot into an Aldi. It wasn’t until my mom came home with a box full of fruits and vegetables and told me that she only paid six dollars for all of it that it all changed. SIX DOLLARS! I was so impressed that I had to see what all the hype was about, and now that I’ve been shopping at Aldi for almost three months—I honestly can’t imagine myself getting my weekly groceries anywhere else.

Why you need to be shopping at Aldi too…

  1. Produce of the Week

Yes, it’s true—their prices on produce in general are amazing compared to that of another img_9488grocery store. However, it’s their produce of the week picks that consistently blow my mind. Every week there are three of their produce that they have on special sale. I’m talking a pack of three green bell peppers for seventy-nine cents sale. Avocados for forty-nine cents a piece sale. THAT IS RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP! I almost always get their produce of the week no matter what it is, because for prices that good I’ll find a way to incorporate it into my meals.

  1. Organic for Cheap

 Okay so I feel like most people have started to go the organic-gluten free route in their diets lately. Now it’s always a great thing when you want to make your life healthier, but have you seen some of the prices on stuff lately? Whole Foods has tons of organic and gluten free products for you but you’ll end up spending fifty bucks on six items. Now unless you are a millionaire who just loves throwing their money around, that’s gonna really start to hurt your grocery budget. Health nuts no longer have to fear for their wallets, because Aldi is here to save the day! Aldi has a huge selection of organic AND gluten free products for a fraction of the cost. Now being healthy won’t actually break your bank.

  1. Off Brand Glory

img_9487For me, buying off brand food products can either be a hit or a miss. Sure, it’s usually cheaper to buy that store’s brand of product but it’s usually not as good. Well I can say with 100% certainty that there has not been an Aldi-brand product that I haven’t loved. Tortilla chips, salsa, cheese, yogurt, soup…you name it I’ve probably tried it and it’s all just as good if not better! Hands down my favorite Aldi-brand product has to be their Vie Sparkling Water. They come in a variety of flavors and taste just as amazing as La Croix but they cost almost exactly HALF THE PRICE!

  1. Name Brands Too!

Not into the off brands? I totally get that! One reason I never found myself doing all my img_9490shopping at Trader Joes is because all they have is their brand of products. Not at Aldi! Aldi has tons and tons of brand name products for a reduced price. Nothing is wrong with them and there is no quick approaching expiration date, just sold a lot cheaper because of the selection they offer. Just on my last trip there I saw products like Gatorade, Capri Sun, Pringles, Naked smoothies, McCormick, Tide, and Little Debbie. That’s just me naming a few of them; there are dozens of name brands all throughout the store for you to choose from.

  1. Save the Planet

Everyone should always be looking for ways to improve our planet and make the environment a better place. Aldi is a great place to practice those green skills! At Aldi they don’t waste a single thing. All products are placed directly on the shelf in their boxes that they were shipped in and they don’t use any bags when you check-out. What you’ll have to do is either bring your own re-usable bag or you can just grab one of the empty boxes that was on the shelves and pack your groceries in. Voila! You just shopped for groceries and made one small step to reduce waste.

  1. B.U.D.G.E.T.

Okay so as far as making a budget for grocery shopping…I’m terrible. I always make a list before I go to the store but I usually end up buying twice as much stuff as I went in there for. Before I started shopping at Aldi I was spending about $60-80 a week on groceries. My list would usually consist of groceries to cook two dinners and lunch for the week for myself. Now, I’m spending about $30-40 a week and I can get groceries for two dinners, lunch for the week, breakfast for the week, and snacks. Think I’m exaggerating? This is my exact list of groceries that I bought on my last trip to Aldi:

  • Almond milk
  • Orange juiceimg_9494
  • Boneless chicken breasts
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Turkey Pepperoni
  • Pesto sauce
  • Pack of mini cucumbers
  • Two packs of tomatoes
  • Bag of onions
  • Fresh salsa
  • Raspberries
  • Mushrooms
  • Mayonnaise
  • Spinach
  • Mint chocolate chip ice cream
  • 12pk sparkling water
  • Naked smoothie

img_9495All of that for exactly $41.24!! I’m spending less and getting more groceries than I ever use to when I would shop at another store.

Aldi might not be a household name just yet, but I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Saving money on groceries doesn’t mean that you have to be an extreme couponer…if you take advantage of places like Aldi then you can easily save hundreds of dollars a year. Use the link below to see if there is an Aldi near you and start shopping and start saving!!

https://storelocator.aldi.us/Presentation/AldiSued/en-us/Start