Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Squash Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I've been wanting to make my own version of chicken tortilla soup full of fresh locally grown summer vegetables like the local onions, jalapeños, squash and zucchini I find at the farmer's market. My inspiration comes from a tortilla soup I've had that simply cannot be beat in my opinion. There's a Mexican food restaurant in Bowie and Graham, Texas called Dos Chiles Grandes that serves the absolute best chicken tortilla soup I've ever tasted and it has every vegetable you can think of in it. I've looked all over for a recipe like theirs...with no success. So I thought I'd experiment and come up with my own recipe incorporating a few of my favorite summer vegetables. I hope you like it! 


4-5 frozen chicken tenderloins or 3-4 boneless breasts
2 cans diced tomatoes and green chiles (I use mild Rotel - do not drain)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can chipotle white corn (do not drain)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1-2 fresh jalapeños (diced with or without seeds- made mine without)
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
1-2 medium zucchini (sliced)
1 yellow summer squash (sliced)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1  tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
A few sprigs of cilantro (torn small)
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth 
1-2 limes 

Soup Toppings (all optional): 

4 corn tortillas cut into strips 
Taco seasoning (sprinkle on tortilla strips before baking)
Diced green onion
Sour cream or fat free Greek yogurt
Shredded Mexican cheese 
Avocado (sliced)

Begin by lining the bottom of the crockpot with the frozen tenderloins. Then add all the ingredients minus the lime and toppings. I added mine in the order they appear, but that's not necessary. Put the lid on and cook in the crockpot for 6-8 hours. After about 3 hours, shred the chicken with two forks and give the soup a good stir to mix all the ingredients well, put the lid on and leave it alone for the remainder of the time.

When the soup is done, preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut the tortillas into strips and place flat on a cookie sheet. Spray the strips with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray and sprinkle with taco seasoning. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they begin to turn golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven to cool. 

Cut the lime into wedges. Ladle soup into bowls. Squeeze lime into soup for an added wonderful flavor enhancement (optional). Add tortilla strips and your favorites of the optional toppings to individual bowls and ENJOY! 

    Hubby's bowl with shredded cheese but minus the tortilla strips and lime.

My bowl of steaming hot tortilla soup with shredded cheese, lime and tortilla strips.

This has become my go to recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup. In the fall/winter I plan to sub in carrots and celery and other vegetables more readily available then. That's what's great about this recipe, you can add and subtract vegetables as you see fit. 

I can't wait for you to try this. So many yummy flavors. The chicken gets more tender and the flavors get better and better the longer it cooks. The best part...it's so easy to put together. And you can basically use what you have on hand, too.

If you get a chance to make this awesome recipe, let me know by commenting. Be sure to subscribe if you haven't already. 

I'm ready for for next cold spell to make the next batch. I'm definitely ready for cooler temps and my favorite season, Autumn. This is perfect for a chilly evening. Heck, it's so great it works in the summer time as well. Ha! Just ask my family who devoured my entire batch in one evening. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hatch Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Crustless Quiche

It's crustless quiche time again. After finishing off my last homemade quiche, I decided I needed a more lunchtime southwestern feel this time around, so I came up with the following recipe.

Hatch Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Crustless Quiche


6 eggs
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon homemade taco seasoning (you can use the package)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons taco sauce (I use Taco Bell Fire)
1 can shredded chicken (drained)
1 can chopped Hatch green chiles (drained - I used mild)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
1/2 small onion or 2 shallots
1 tablespoon butter (softened) 
Minced onion flakes

Set oven to 350. Spray cooking spray into a pie pan and set aside. In a bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt, pepper, taco seasoning, cumin and taco sauce. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie pan. Sprinkle a little minced onion flakes on top. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the middle is no longer jiggly. Serve with a side of black beans and a salad or even vinegar cucumbers and onions (check out the recipe). 

I was afraid the recipe would be too spicy, but the spices and taco sauce just added to the wonderful flavors and only enhanced them. If you want it to be spicier, I suggest regular chiles, not mild, and double the taco sauce...maybe a little red pepper too which is always good. You could substitute the red pepper on top instead of the minced onion flakes. Ooh I like that idea and will give that a shot next time...

The finished quiche is simply delicious, full of wonderful southwestern flavors reminiscent of the tastes New Mexico and our recent family vacation this summer to Ruidoso. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe and make your own. It's very easy and you end up with a healthy low carb, protein-rich yummy quiche the entire family can enjoy. If you make this quiche, be sure and comment with how yours turned out and tasted and, as always, please subscribe if you like what you've seen and tried. 

Until next time, Bon appetite! 


Have a great 4th of July, my friends! 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

2 Recipes in 1: Broccoli, Ham and Cheese with Onion Crustless Quiche and Spicy Vinegar Cucumbers and Purple Onion

Man, I love summer! Summer vegetables are my favorite. I love to buy locally from the local farmers market to little fruit and vegetable stands here. I would grow my own but it's just too damn hot here in North Texas and we are in the middle of a drought as well. Who am I kidding? I'd rather buy than grow it myself. I'm not great at keeping plants alive. 

My first trip this summer to the vegetable stand here in town and I brought home some tasty local vegetables and fruit...cucumbers, purple onions, squash, zucchini, new (red) potatoes and peaches for my kiddo. I am a sucker cucumbers and since childhood we've put cucumbers in a vinegar concoction and let them marinate and they come out still so crispy and delicious and perfect for summer.

So are you ready for this easy, healthy snack or summer side to any meal with locally grown cucumbers and onions you can get in your own garden, at your local farmers market or fruit/vegetable stand? This recipe also works really well with the large cucumbers that are too bitter because they've grown too big in the garden. 

Vinegar Cucumbers and Onions

4-5 small to medium size cucumbers (peeled and sliced)
1 medium purple onion (sliced into rings)
2 cups of vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (or sugar substitute like agave nectar with 1 tablespoon)
1  tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste but may omit)

Get a good size bowl you can seal with a lid. Wash, peel and slice cucumbers and place in the bowl. Cut the onion into slices and place in the bowl as well. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Seal with lid and place in refrigerator overnight or 12 hours so they soak up the flavor. The longer they marinate the better they taste and the spicier they get, too! 

     (First serving of yummy cucumbers that summer...delicious!)

If you know me any at all I'm always trying to find and create healthy, protein-rich meals for maintaining this healthy lifestyle I started just over a year ago. Lately there have been too many carbs in my recipes for my liking, so this next recipe is low carb (basically no carb) but still tasty even without those unhealthy carbs. 

I'm always experimenting trying out new and different things and my newest venture is making quiches.  I love a good quiche. I am particularly fond of the flaky crust that comes with a good quiche, ugh my downfall I know! So I decided to see if a crustless quiche was just as good...and you know what? It comes pretty close if it's made right.

My first crustless quiches combines some of my favorite fixins, too...ham, cheese, broccoli and locally grown fresh onions. Yum!

Broccoli, Ham and Cheese with Onion Crustless Quiche


6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend)
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 package frozen broccoli steamer 
1 cup diced ham (I used deli sliced that is diced up pretty fine)
1 small purple onion (diced)

Preheat oven to 350. Microwave broccoli steamer per instructions on package, chop finer if you wish and set aside. Spray cooking spray into pie pan and set aside as well. Whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add in ham, cheese, onion and broccoli and whisk everything together well. Pour into pie pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly. Remove from oven and serve with your favorite side (like spicy vinegar cucumbers and onions maybe). 

(A slice of quiche with a side of spicy vinegar cucumbers and onions...perfect summer meal)

I believe my next quiche will include more of my summer vegetables. Good stuff! Now that I know how yummy these crustless quiches are I plan to make a lot of them with all kinds of different ingredients. Check back for more wonderfully mostly healthy recipes. And remember to comment if you had a chance to try out this recipe or other recipes of mine and, if you like what you see, please take a moment and subscribe. 

Enjoy your summer and try to stay cool the best way you know how. Bon Appetite! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

New Mexico Family Vacation and Slow Cooker Creamy Pesto Chicken Ranch Pasta

This week we went on our first family vacation to Ruidoso, New Mexico.  Well, technically not our first. We went to San Antonio when Jude was two, but had turn around the very next day and come home after Jude got sick. So we were excited about this trip to New Mexico and the mountains and cooler temperatures. 

                 (A rest stop near Lubbock, Texas.)

Lance's mom (Nona) and stepdad (Grandpa) went with us and we caravaned to Ruidoso. We stopped in Roswell for lunch and photo op at the McDonalds. 

We stayed at this cute, quaint little motel in Ruidoso called Sitzmark Chalet Inn. We loved staying there. It was perfect for us. Clean with cute little touches that made it even better like complimentary fruit infused water, fresh baked breakfast muffins and coffee each morning and a colorful array of washcloths hand and bath towels. There's a lovely outside area where you can sit out and enjoy the hummingbirds and locusts. One day at lunch we sat at the picnic tables outside and Nona and I ate lunch from a wonderful little place called Cornerstone Bakery and Jude ate a Happy Meal. 

They even have a little barrel sauna guests can enjoy and an old-fashion mechanical horse you put a quarter in and enjoy the ride.

Also on our trip we discovered a nice little nature trail we went to twice. Once we took a walk, took pictures and scoped it all out and the second time so Jude and Lance could "climb a mountain". They seriously climbed a mountain one evening after dinner before it got dark. Lance was a little sore the next day after their adventure.

The water in the stream was very cold...it was across the street from where we were staying. 

My kiddo got the chance to go horseback riding with his dad and Nona. I would have loved to have gone, but I'm very allergic to horses. 

We enjoyed lots of time together as a family as you can see. The pictures speak for themselves. 

We ate fantastic food, did plenty shopping and saw some beautiful scenery...oh it's so gorgeous in Ruidoso and the surrounding areas like Hondo where we explored the Hondo Iris Farm.

We even saw some local wildlife...although what I really wanted to see were bears. There's always next time, I guess...

I don't think we could ask for a better family vacation...

We came home yesterday. Today was basically a "rest day" even though our vacation was actually pretty relaxing. I decided to put something in the crockpot to cook slowly all day to have for dinner. I wanted to try out another pasta dish incorporating chicken, pesto, Ranch and creamy cheesy goodness.  What I came up with certainly does not disappoint. The longer you cook it the more tender the chicken becomes and just falls apart. It's so easy and so good! Without further ado...my own Creamy Crockpot Pesto Chicken Ranch Pasta. 


4-5 frozen boneless chicken breasts
1 jar of pesto 
1 cup chicken broth
1 package ranch dressing mix
1/2 onion sliced into rings
2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons onion and chive cream cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 package whole wheat penne pasta
Fresh shredded Parmesan cheese 

Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray. Place frozen chicken breasts in the bottom of crockpot. Cover chicken with pesto, ranch dressing mix, broth, minced garlic and onion slices. Put on the lid and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. I put mine on 10:30 am and cooked until 5:30 pm. After four hours, I  used two forks to shred the chicken breasts. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package. While pasta is cooking, add the mozzarella and cream cheese to the chicken mixture. After the pasta is done, add it to the crockpot and cover completely with the creamy chicken pesto mixture. Let the pasta warm in the crockpot for 15-20 minutes if you have time, if not, just set crockpot on warm until ready to serve. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to taste when you serve pasta. Enjoy with steam broccoli on the side. 

This is a yummy pasta dish full of flavor and with chicken in every bite. You can use more or less chicken if you like and make it even cheesier if you wish. It was absolutely delicious. Let me know if you made this pasta by commenting in the comments and be sure to subscribe! 

Now back to Pinterest, where I will be beginning to research and plan next year's family vacation. What are some of you favorite family vacations you've gone on? Leave me a comment with some vacation ideas! 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Easy Creamy Cheesy Baked Ziti

Today is Memorial Day, a day to think of and honor those who served and died fighting for our nation's freedoms. My dad was one of the fortunate ones who served and made it home safely to his family. He was able to come home, get married, have and raise his own family and be best dad a girl could ask for. Now because he's no longer with us, I will always honor him along with those who weren't so fortunate to come home. 

Ultimately, the war in Vietnam had a hand in taking my dad much too soon from us as he was one of the many victims of Agent Orange. My dad passed away from heart disease back in 2005. Not a day goes by that I don't think about him and miss him. I hate that my son Jude never had the chance to meet his Papa, however, I see a lot of my dad in Jude and it makes me smile. And I know that he and my mom are Jude's guardian angels watching over my sweet boy. 

Remembering my dad who served in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner (last on the right back row).

Being off on Memorial Day, I decided to make pasta (something I've been craving lately) for my family for lunch. I wanted something creamy, cheesy and easy to make. I got to thinking about a recent trip to Olive Garden where my hubby, Lance, discovered baked ziti. He loved it so much, he asked if I could make some at home. 

With trial and error, I have come up with my own EASY copycat recipe that Lance said  "I wouldn't mind you making it again" after finishing thirds of the baked pasta concoction. It's not exactly like the Olive Garden baked pasta, but with only 7 ingredients and very little prep and baking time, it's still so yummy you definitely won't be disappointed.


1 box whole wheat ziti or penne pasta (you can use regular if you like)
1 24 oz jar marinara sauce 
1 15 oz jar Alfredo sauce 
2 cups shredded mozzarella 
1 cup shredded Parmesan 
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare pasta as directed on box (boil 11-12 minutes). As pasta is boiling, combine Alfredo and marinara sauces in a large bowl. Add in 1 1/2 cup of the shredded mozzarella to the sauce mixture (leaving the remaining mozzarella for the top) and mix well. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the sauce mixture and coat completely. Pour into a 9x13 casserole dish (I used 2 8x8 dishes so we could eat one at lunch then reheat the other for dinner). Bake for 25-30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan on top and return to the oven to continue baking. Remove from the oven and serve.

The next time, I'd like to try this recipe and use spaghetti squash as a substitute for the penne pasta. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

I'd love to know if you made this recipe and your thoughts on how it turned out and whether your family enjoyed it. Be sure to comment and, if you like the recipes you see here, subscribe! 


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creamy Mushroom Stuffed Baked Chicken Breasts

I've been on a mushroom kick lately, in the last week or two at least. This spring I've been cooking with a lot fresh vegetables. I'm really looking forward to home-grown summer vegetables as the season changes soon. 

 I'm lately looking for and working on new recipes where I can incorporate fresh mushrooms my hubby and I both love. And being a protein seeker, I've adapted this recipe to be healthy and protein-packed and, at the same time, absolutely delicious. The added protein is added into the cheese mixture so it's basically undetectable to anyone but the chef. 


2 boneless chicken breasts (thawed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup diced onion
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons spreadable cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon flax seed/chia seeds (I use Raw Organics flax seed and chia seed combined)
Black pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Add in garlic and onion. Sauté until until onions begin to look translucent. Add in mushrooms and sauté, heating through completely.  Turn off heat and add basil, flax/chia, cream cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Mix together to create a creamy cheese mixture. Flatten out chicken breasts to 1/4 inch. Spray non-stick oil spray into a casserole dish. I used the square one to bake two breasts. Add half the mixture to one breast. Roll the mixture up in the breast loosely and secure with a toothpick. Push the leaking mixture back inside the rolled breast. Add the remaining mixture to the other breast, roll and secure. Add both chicken breasts to the casserole dish. Sprinkle with garlic powder, black pepper and red pepper (may omit). Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Remove from oven and serve.

I served the stuffed chicken with sautéed garlic Parmesan zucchini. Absolutely delicious. 
Give this recipe a try. Let me know what you think in the comments. And as always, please subscribe!

 Bon appetite! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A New Hairstyle and A Recipe For Protein-Rich Egg Salad With A Little Kick

Each time I get my hair colored, somehow I go shorter and shorter, which in turn makes me love my hair more and more. Now that I've taken so much of the weight off, I can wear it short, making it more fun and also much easier to do my hair in the mornings. Whoo hoo! 

So what do you think? 

I love it. I absolutely love my hair this short. I wasn't sure at first, but it's quickly become my favorite style I've had in a long time. I feel like the color suits me (a dark brown with dark red highlights) and best part, no double chin like I would have had 20 lbs ago

In my search for meal and snack ideas loaded with protein, I've also discovered that I love homemade egg salad. Searching through recipes on Pinterest (another of my obsessions), I couldn't find just the right recipe with the combination of ingredients to create the homemade egg salad I wanted to make to take to work for lunch. So with some trial and error, I've created a tasty egg salad with the added protein so many of us are seeking. 

Where does that added protein come from you ask? I use Greek yogurt, chia seeds and flax seeds in my recipe. Here's a fantastic combination of the two seeds I found at the grocery store that I use in a lot of different recipes including my yogurt and oatmeal in the mornings as well as meatballs, meatloaf, etc. I keep mine fresh (particularly the flax seed) by storing it in the refrigerator. 

Check out my version of the old classic egg salad recipe. 


6 hard-boiled eggs (peeled and diced small)
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip but you can put in another tablespoon of Greek yogurt instead of mayo)
2 teaspoons stone ground mustard (adds a nice spice to the recipe but regular mustard works too)
1 celery stalk (diced)
1/2 small onion (diced)
2 teaspoons sweet relish
2 teaspoons dill relish
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
2 tablespoons chia seeds/ flax seeds
Red pepper flakes (to taste, may be omitted)

Peel and dice up the boiled eggs pretty small. I prefer my salad chunky, so I don't mash up the egg. Chop up the celery and onion and set aside. Add in the Greek yogurt, mayo, mustard, relishes, paprika, and chia/flax seeds.  Mix well. Then add the diced onion and celery. Mix well. Sprinkle a little more paprika and red pepper flakes (to taste) on top. Chill in refrigerator before eating and then serve. 

I let it chill overnight to let the flavors mix and mingle for just the right taste. I like to dip mine with homemade wheat tortilla chips. Also I make mine into a (multigrain) wrap occasionally as well. 

I hope you like my version of the traditional egg salad. I like it because of the crunch in it, spiciness and combination of sweet and tangy flavors. Let me know your thoughts in the comments if you try out the recipe. Be sure to subscribe too!