Chicken Taco Casserole

A quick hello from us at the Table! Missed you guys! I have been going through a lot of changes around here the last couple of months and am REALLY looking forward to everything settling down in the next couple of weeks! (more on that to come) I hope you are all enjoying your summer , and I am looking forward to sharing all our exciting new stuff! Until then, another easy meal for you guys to try. As always, let me know if you try it and what you thought!

Super Happy Cactus DudeYou will need:

½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 packet taco seasoning

Water

1 can corn, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Shredded cheddar, about 8oz

Salsa (chunky works best), about 1 ½ cups

1 package corn muffin mix (and any ingredients listed on it) for this recipe I used 1 box Jiffy mix.

Medium sized casserole dish with lid

What you should do:

Cook chicken all the way through.

Add ¾ cup water and 1 packet of taco seasoning to chicken. While the seasoning is thickening, break up the chicken into small pieces using a wooden spoon.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix cornbread mix in a small bowl, set aside.

In Medium sized casserole dish, layer chicken in sauce across the bottom.

The next layer will be the black beans, then corn.

Layer cheese, then salsa.

Pour cornbread over the top, smooth with spatula.

Bake until cornbread is done all the way through. This will take about 35 minutes.

*Tip: if the cornbread starts to brown too much, put the lid from the casserole dish on top.*

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Jazzing up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Who’s over their Thanksgiving leftovers? Tired of plates of Turkey, stuffing, greens and cranberry sauce? It’s cool, me too, and for the record there has never been a “part 6” of a series that wasn’t tired and at least a little disappointing. The following recipes are versions of Shepard’s Pie that are designed to use my Thanksgiving leftovers. I recommend not doing all of these, pick the leftovers you have the most of for this one and then do something completely different tomorrow night. Also? All of these can be frozen after assembled for about 3 to 4 months, so you can save these for February when you really like turkey again if you’d rather.

Option 1:

  1. Tear or dice cooked turkey (white or dark won’t matter) and place in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add 1 can drained or 1 small bag frozen mixed veggies (soup mix or diced mix work best) to casserole dish.
  3. Top with enough turkey gravy to coat (about 1 to 2 cups, this is a preference thing) and stir.
  4. Create “top crust” with mashed potatoes. You want this layers to be between 1 1/2 and 3 inches deep, again depending on preference. Also, it’s a crust, do not stir.
  5. Sprinkle paprika and seasoned salt across the top.
  6. Bake in 350 degree oven until peaks of potatoes brown slightly, this will take about 20 minutes.
  7. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 2:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from above.
  2. Top with “top crust” of stuffing (or dressing, whatever you call it). This layer should be about 2 to 3 inches thick. Do not stir.
  3. Sprinkle with paprika across the top.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until edges of stuffing become browned and crispy, about 20 minutes.
  5. Make sure dish is hot all the way through and serve!

Option 3:

  1. Repeat steps 1 through 3 from option 1.
  2. Crumble cornbread over top, creating a 2 inch minimum topping. (If you have no cornbread but want to try this: mix 1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix as directed on the box and pour over “filling”. Bake as directed on box)
  3. Add several (generous or about 2 Tbls) dollops of butter sporadically over the cornbread. Cover dish with lid.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until heated through and butter has melted, about 20 minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Option 4:

  1. Repeat step 1 from option 1.
  2. Add any leftover veggies (ex: corn off cob, green beans, broccoli, spinach); or few spoonfuls of green bean casserole (now mushy onions and all); or broccoli casserole. whatever you add, stir it all together.
  3. Add about 2 cups (again preference thing here) of shredded cheddar or colby cheese. (If you are using broccoli casserole you should probably go with just one cup).
  4. Top with mashed potatoes, twice-baked potato casserole, or cornbread. (Depending on what you are topping with follow the appropriate instructions above, or just coat top with potato casserole about 2 inches thick).
  5. Bake about 20 minutes in a (you guessed it) 350 degree oven.
  6. Make sure it is heated through and serve!

Option 5: (the veggie-less option for the picky ones in your group)

  1. This works best with leftover ham torn into bits, but turkey and chicken also work. Layer leftover meat in bottom of medium-sized casserole dish.
  2. Add one can (drained) in its own juice chuncked or tidbit pineapple. (if you have leftover crushed or that’s what’s in your pantry, that’s fine, just use about 1/2 of the can (also drained).
  3. Top with leftover sweet potato casserole or any leftover cooked sweet potatoes (including just plain mashed or sliced). Sprinkle crushed pecans on top (if you like).
  4. Heat in microwave until heated through, or oven if you prefer (but put the lid on in the oven).
  5. Serve and enjoy!

So five casseroles to choose from. These use up some leftovers pretty quick (especially if you make one to freeze for later). Obviously all of these are still going to have a fall comfort food feel, so I like to alternate a leftover casserole with something like spaghetti or tacos, just to break things up. I hope these ideas help you jazz up some of your leftovers!

Crockpot Chicken n’ Dumplin’s

No those are not type-os, that’s exactly how you should say Chicken n’ dumplin’s. With everybody sick off their rears still and the weather starting to turn all Fall on us (go figure) it seemed like Chicken n’ Dumplin’s was the way to go. Again this recipe is easy and perfect for those of us who have to work all day especially when we are sick.

What you will need:

Crockpot that holds at least 6 quarts

3 Medium (or 2 large) Boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts ( you can use on the bone, but you will need 1 additional breast, and prior to putting in the dumplings you will need to fish out any bone/cartilage/skin/fat chunks)

1/4 cup dried minced onion (which is about 1/2 fresh onion)

4 Tablespoons Paprika

3 Tablespoons Seasoned Salt

4 Tablespoons Dried Rosemary

2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup

1 Can Cream of Celery Soup (If you have people for whom this will be a deal-breaker ingredient, use 3 cans Cream of Chicken instead)

Water

4 small cans biscuits (the kind that often come with soda can style plastic rings around sets of 4)

Black Pepper (to taste)

To Begin: (start Crockpot the night before or in the morning of the day you plan to eat this for supper, either is fine. Just add 3 additional cups of water if you start this the night before)

Place in Crockpot Chicken and seasonings.

*Make sure to crush Rosemary*

Add all Cream of Soups

Fill each empty Cream of can with water twice (use spatula to get everything out of cans) and add to Crockpot.

Place lid on Crockpot and set to cook on low setting.

To Finish: (This part will take about 30 minutes to cook after it is all in the crockpot)

Use a slotted cooking spoon, remove Chicken Breasts and place them on cutting Bord.

Chicken will be fall apart tender and completely cooked at this time. Use two forks or a fork and a knife to make pieces of chicken very small (bite sized or smaller). Return chicken to Crockpot.

On a clean (and cool/room temp, so as not to start “cooking” the canned biscuits) cutting board open all 4 cans of biscuits.

Cut each biscuit in half.

Remove lid from Crockpot and add each 1/2 biscuit to pot, making sure each 1/2 is dunked at least once in broth.

*This part needs to be done very quickly. The biscuits will immediately start to swell and if you stir them too much they will just turn to mush, instead of fluffy dumplings. Use the slotted spoon from before to quickly drop them in one at a time while holding other dumplings out-of-the-way*

Replace lid. Turn setting to high. DO NOT stir for at least 10 minutes!

Now is when you get out plates/bowls/silverware and some raw carrots or some other veggie to go with this comfort dish.

After about 10 minutes, remove lid and, still not actually stirring, use slotted serving spoon to push dumplings down into crockpot (and break up ones that have fused into giant scary mass dumplings) and alow chicken pieces and broth to cover them.

* Make sure to get any stuck to sides off, they will burn if you leave them there.*

Replace lid and allow to finish cooking/thickening. This should take about 20 minutes.

*Dumplings are done when if you poke into one it looks like a pale cooked biscuit inside.*

Once Dumplings are done cut setting to warm (or off if you do not have a warm) and serve. Once everybody has gotten a serving, cut Crockpot off and allow to cool before placing leftovers in fridge.

Who here is psychic and knows that we are gonna be jazzing up these leftovers later in the week? Mmm Chicken Stew…

Anyway, enjoy both the soup and the dumplin’s and read this , when your  eyes aren’t watering, about why both of these recipes are great (but especially the soup) for sick folks.

Hope y’all stay well & we demolish the September Crud soon!

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Here at the table people are dropping like flies. Life is a little sad when you come home from the doctor and say, “Great news! It’s not strep.” And mean it. It is a fever of about 103, stuffy nose, achy body, sore throat, general ugh. We are calling it September Crud. We are all passing it back and forth (sharing is caring and all that) despite the constant Lysoling and bleaching of every GD thing in the house. Sorry I have had this for about a week on top of that whole dental issue I mentioned before, and now I’m bitter. So I have actually been doing a lot of easy to prepare comfort meals this past week and thought I’d share some with you.

First I’ll need to introduce you to my bestie in the kitchen. My Crockpot. She’s awesome, I get her going in the morning and she just cooks away all day while I’m at work, hot meal ready when I get home. I actually own 3 Crockpots (each is a different size) but the one I like best was a gift from my former mother-in-law (awesome lady btw). It is a Crockpot with a removable cooking bowl, which means easier cleaning and dishwasher safe! I try to avoid not dishwasher safe stuff in the same manner I avoid dry-clean-only clothes. Now the removable cooking bowl is actually 3 bowls. So this one Crockpot can be a 2 quart, a 4 quart, and a 6 quart, depending on what I am cooking, very cool. She not only has the traditional high/low/off settings, there is a setting for each sized bowl and a warm setting, which is nice for buffet style serving.

Now that you’ve been introduced, I will give you directions for making Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup. (Cause that’s the first thing I think to cook when people are sick) Who doesn’t, though, right?

You will need:

Crockpot that will hold at least 6 quarts (we are not making 6 quarts of soup, but you need the space for stirring, etc)

2 very large (think larger than an adult hand or two of my hands) or 3 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts

About 1/2 a celery bunch

1/2 medium yellow onion

About 1 pound baby carrots

1 box low sodium/fat chicken broth          

Rosemary (dried)

Paprika

Seasoned salt

Black pepper

Egg Noodles (medium-sized)

Water

To start: (If planning on eating for lunch begin the night before, if soup will be for supper, begin in the morning prior to 9 am)

*Note: If you are not a morning person (like me who totally doesn’t want to ever do anything pre 10am, well, much less sick)You can dice all veggies and store them in a Ziploc baggie in the fridge the night before, then just empty the baggie in the am.*

Dice into tiny pieces celery and onion then toss in the Crockpot.

*Tip: Adding these at this point makes them all but disappear by the time you are eating this soup, which means fewer “Ew, what is that?” kind of commentary at your table.*

*Onions will release less sulfur (which is what makes you cry) if they are very cold. Put the onion in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting and you can avoid shedding any tears.*

Cut each baby carrot into thirds and add to Crockpot.

Dice chicken breasts and add to Crockpot.

Add broth.

Fill broth box 1/2 full with water, add to Crockpot.

Sprinkle enough paprika to thinly cover top of broth.

Repeat with Seasoned salt.

Add a pinch of black pepper. (If you decide later you want more, add it to taste after the chicken is fully cooked)

Place 2 tablespoons of rosemary either in palm of hand or in mortar and pestle. Crush (to break it down & release flavor better) before adding to Crockpot.

Set on low cooking setting with the lid on. Then leave alone.

To finish: (this will need to cook about 30 minutes before you can eat it)

Give everything a good stir. (it will look closer to a thin stew than soup at this point)

*If you wanted to freeze your soup concentrate for later, this is when you should do that.*

Add 5 cups of water.

Add about 2 cups of egg noodles. (If you want more noodles that will be fine, just make sure to add equal water and noodle amounts after what is mentioned here)

Stir so that noodles are fully submerged.

Replace lid and turn setting to high.

Enjoy your soup!

Taco Salad

Here we get to eat taco salad (without the fried basket) and use leftovers! This is great for using up whatever taco-seasoned meat you have leftover from your last taco night. As you have discovered our Tex-Mex loving ways already, I’m sure you have guessed that having taco/burrito leftovers in our fridge is like having leftover Mac-n-Cheese or that 1 random leftover hot dog. This salad works with chicken, steak (not that I have ever put steak in a taco at home, but if I did it would be fine here), or ground beef. You can completely leave off the meat and substitute out about 1/8 cup refried beans per salad if you prefer. You can use the chicken burrito filler from before, if you want, just leave out the duplicate ingredients. You can also use the plain baked chicken, for people who are less loving of all things Tex-Mex.

Topping for Taco Salad:

Heat 1/8 cup per person of taco ground beef leftovers, or 1/4 cup if using chicken or steak in large pot on stove. Add to pot the following (simmering on low heat):

1 can (drained and rinsed) black beans

About 2 1/2 cups frozen white corn

1 can (do not drain) diced tomatoes (low sodium)

1 cup chunky salsa (your fav brand or your homemade kind, either would work)

2 handfuls (mine are small) of jack or queso cheese shreds

Allow this mixture to simmer until it resembles a chunky sauce, then remove immediately from heat. Let it cool to a warm, but not hot temperature (sauce will thicken considerably).

Portion out Base Salad into bowls.

With serving spoon or ladle pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of mix on top of each base salad.

Top with diced cucumbers and fresh tomatoes. (If anyone will eat it you can also add cilantro, avocado, or raw diced onions here)

Sprinkle with Colby and Jack cheese shreds.

You can add ranch or Sour Cream on top of this for those who feel they need dressing, but this is actually quite good as is.

“Garnish” with 3 or 4 wheat tortilla chips in side of bowl. Tostidos makes really great ones now.

Serve & enjoy!

Depending on how many you have eating, you will probably have leftovers. If you keep plain brown rice in your fridge, you can mix a little with this topping to thicken it enough to put in a tortilla for lunch if you like. Another idea is as a snack/party food/whatever you can add this topping to chips spread on a plate for some pretty awesome nachos!