Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

Do you like chicken? We sure do. It’s our main meat most days of the week. Do you love stuffing (or ‘dressing’ if you’re feelin fancy)? We definitely love that. Are you looking for an easy crockpot dinner? This one only requires four ingredients. FOUR! It’s super simple to throw together, so there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or under the gun about getting a hot, healthy meal on the table, even on your busiest of days. Pair it with some steamed veggies, or a salad, and you’re in business.

I know, I know. I usually enjoy making these types of things from scratch or at least froofing the box version. And while this isn’t straight from a box, and even though there’s plenty of room for it, there’s minimal froofage. Some days I just need some help with that quick and easy option, and for those days I count on a great crockpot recipe like this one. With one kid down for the count for day two with a headache and fever, and one recovering from the terrifying, traumatizing event of losing his first tooth, I’ve already got this cooking in the crockpot. This is a perfect meal for everyone to enjoy on a rainy Winter day, and it was a breeze to quickly get going so I have more time to get done what I really want to be doing today. Taking care of the sons.I’ll take my serving with a side of sick boy snuggles, please!

Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

 Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 box chicken flavored stuffing mix (6oz)
1 can cream of chicken soup
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup water

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in bottom of crockpot.
2. Pour stuffing mix over chicken.
3. In a medium size bowl combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream and water; mix well.
4. Pour on top pf stuffing mix.
5. Place lid on crockpot and cook on low for 4 hours (check it at 3 hours).
6. Fluff and serve.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

For those of you who don’t know the hubs, which is probably most of you, let me tell you about his love of all things neat and orderly. To put it bluntly, he can’t function in any other sort of environment. He knows where everything goes, and if one thing is out of place it’s going to systematically drive him crazy. Most of the time this doesn’t bother me since he’ll be the first one to start cleaning or come behind me as I’m cooking and wash the dishes as I go. Even when I get annoyed, I can’t help but appreciate this side of him because he totally balances me out. For example, just last week the hubs went on a two day long streak where he decided that we would pull everything out of every nook and cranny in the house and clean it and organize it. At first I was frustrated since this had clearly not been on my honey-do list for the weekend, but by the end of it I was thankful. Everything was thoroughly cleansed, we’d swapped out spring/summer wardrobes for fall/winter. The freezers had been defrosted and updated inventories made of what was where and when it expired. Instead of dreading taking on these tasks myself and getting them done piece meal, we both felt like we’d accomplished something, we both had help, and we rewarded ourselves the next day by mindlessly relaxing & binge watching a new TV show on Netflix with all the sons. And that had been on my list.

So that was the good. The bad? I had several things in the freezer that needed using in the very near future. Several of those things were multiple pounds of pizza dough. So guess what? We had pizza for dinner two nights in a row last week. The sons thought I’d gone and lost my mind. They were thrilled. This was what was on the menu with two pounds of said dough. Several of our favorite flavors and ingredients, coming together to star in one perfect pizza.

While I can flourish in clutter, the hubs can’t. The happy medium? We keep each other in sync and have many things to show for it. Not the least of which are some damn delicious dinners!

This recipe is a doozie. If you love pizza, bacon, chicken, and ranch dressing then you are going to love this.

Garlic Ranch Chicken Pizza

 Chicken Bacon Garlic Ranch Pizza

recipe adapted from I Heart Naptime

Dough for 1 large pizza
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced and diced
2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced
2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

 Garlic- Ranch Sauce

2 Tbsp sour cream
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 1/2 Tbsp milk
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon chopped, dried chives
1/8 teaspoon dill
1/8 teaspoon dried parsley
dash of onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine all the ingredients to make the garlic-ranch sauce.
2. Spread the sauce evenly over the pizza crust, leaving a 1/2 inch of ‘crust’ all the way around.
3. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella cheese over top the sauce, then evenly spread the chicken, bacon, onion and tomatoes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
5. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Crockpot Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

A few months ago, a friend of mine on Facebook posted that they were making this dish for dinner one night. I immediately headed on over to Pinterest and searched stalked her boards until I found the recipe. Still, it sat all alone and neglected on my own ‘to try’ board for quite some time. I’d almost completely forgotten about it. Lucky for me, I was totally un-inspired for dinner a few weeks ago and went through all 1,283 pins on that board looking for a recipe spoke to me. This didn’t speak so much as shout, ‘EAT ME,’ at me.

That night, after devouring this amazing crockpot pasta, the hubs and sons all looked at me like I was insane for not having made then and I just stared back at them innocently, like “I’m not the only one who can search Pinterest and throw ingredients in the crockpot, little sweeties.”

Simple, totally indulgent, delicious. You need this in your life.

Crockpot Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

Creamy Crockpot Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Pasta

recipe originally from Crockpot Gourmet

1 to 1½ pound boneless skinless chicken
3 cups chicken broth
½ cup buffalo wing sauce (1/4 cup now, ¼ cup later)
1 tbsp ranch dressing mix (dried packet kind)
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp celery salt
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp pepper
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water
16 oz linguine noodles
chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

Directions

1. Place chicken, broth, ¼ cup buffalo sauce, and seasonings into the crockpot.
2. Top with cream cheese and shredded cheese.
3. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8.
4. When chicken is fully cooked remove to separate bowl and shred.
5. Add remaining ¼ cup buffalo sauce to chicken and toss to coat.
6. Set aside the shredded chicken.
7. Whisk together corn starch and water and add to crock.
8. Use a whisk and stir until cheese and cream cheese is all combined and smooth.
9. Break noodles in half and place in crock.
10. Top with chicken and cover.
11. Turn crock on high for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally so the noodles don’t stick together, until noodles are fully cooked.
12. Garnish with cilantro if desired and serve immediately

The ‘Popeye’ Sandwich

Let me introduce you to our ‘popeye’ sandwiches. They’re packed full of protein with chicken, bacon, and spinach, stacked on a crusty ciabatta, or torta, roll, and (for the pies de resistance)  topped with a rich, creamy Alfredo sauce drizzle.

It may be green and leafy, but spinach—a renowned muscle builder—is also one of the ultimate power-house foods. It’s also heart-healthy, chock full of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Popeye was definitely on to something, which is probably why, now in the food-osphere, spinach is often referred to by the classic cartoon moniker. Hence the name of our sandwich. I’m lucky the sons are down for all this healthy green in just one sandwich, and can pile it on. Maybe it’s just the bacon. Bacon makes everything better. Am I right or what? We lightly bread and fry our chicken breasts, but I’ve used grilled chicken before and this sandwich is just as delicious, albeit a whole lot healthier.

The hubs and the sons like their popeye’s as is with the fixin’s pictured, but I love mine with a few thinly sliced red onions and a slice or two of fresh tomato. Doesn’t that just sound like it’d do a body good?!

Popeye Sandwiches

 Popeye Sandwich

chicken breasts (crispy or grilled) we filet ours so that they’re not super thick and more patty-like
bacon, cooked crisp
fresh spinach, washed and dried
Alfredo sauce
ciabatta or torta rolls, or some other crusty bread

Directions

Again there’s no real ‘recipe’ here per se.

1. Cut your roll in half. Add a piece of prepared chicken to the bottom bun. Top with bacon. Load it up with that fresh spinach.
2. Drizzle some tasty Alfredo sauce over top the spinach and top the sandwich with the other half of the bun.
3. Repeat for as many sandwiches as needed and then dig in.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich

Today’s post is another episode of ‘things we actually eat all the time.’ I was stumped this weekend on what to share today and was about thisclose to throwing my hands up when I remembered that whole concept/thing about cooking with easily accessible ingredients I keep on hand all the time and quick fixin methods so that we can all be a bit healthier and happier, faster, especially during the meal time rush. That’s the thing that I love and grilled-chicken-Caesar-something is a dish that we eat weekly, in one form or another. When a recipe or ingredient combo repeats and cravings/excitement are still detectable, it’s time to share, no matter how simple it is. I’m excited to share more of those meals that are thrown together with regular pantry fare (and even some seasonal items), but still have an overall vibe of goodness too. Hope you can feel me on this. Big hugs and some fist bumps for everyday good eatin’.

Chicken Caesar Sandwich

So, what’s better than a chicken caesar salad? A grilled chicken Caesar sandwich on a fresh ciabatta, or torta, roll. These make a perfect lunch food without giving you food coma and it’s entirely customizable. Looking for a lighter dinner option? Grilled Chicken Caesar’s your guy. This recipe makes 4 solid-sized sandwiches. When we’re having it for dinner we double the recipe. Somehow, even when we’ve doubled it, there still aren’t ever any leftovers. But, if the sons are eating all their greens (with relish!) then that is fine by me.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich

 Grilled Chicken Caesar Sandwich

1 cup romaine lettuce leaves, roughly chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
4 ciabatta/torta rolls, toasted, for serving
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated or shredded, for serving
red onion, sliced thin
Caesar dressing

Directions

1. In a small bowl, toss the romaine lettuce with 1 tablespoon of your caesar dressing, and set it aside.
2. Season both sides of the chicken breasts with the desired amount of salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat it  up over medium/high heat. Add the chicken and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let the fully cooked chicken rest 5 minutes before slicing across the grain. For a more authentic taste, season the breasts and then grill until completely cooked before cooling and slicing.
3. Serve sandwiches on ciabatta/torta bread with romaine lettuce, sliced chicken, red onion, Parmesan cheese and additional caesar dressing, each in your desired amount.

Do you love the strong, rich, and creamy taste that a good caesar dressing can bring to a recipe? Here’s some of our favorite caesar recipes: 

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tortellini Caesar Salad

Tortellini Caesar Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Caesar Dressing

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of our favorite “looks and sounds fancy, but it’s really totally easy” standby recipes. A classic cordon bleu features chicken, ham, and Swiss cheese. One night I decided to change it up by rolling everything up in a sheet of crescent roll dough. Turning it into crescent roll pinwheels? Knocked it right out of the park. These are even easier than our traditional version, and taste superb. They’re perfect party food and make a really pretty presentation. A drizzle of honey mustard gives these chicken pinwheels that perfect bit of extra mmph.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pinwheels

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels 2

recipe adapted from Mom On Timeout

1 can crescent rolls
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices deli ham
2 chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tbsp honey, optional
2 tbsp Dijon mustard, optional

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Crescent Pinwheels

Directions

1. Remove crescent rolls from can and lay out in a long rectangle. Pinch the seams together making sure they’re all ‘closed’.
2. Sprinkle the dough with the Italian seasoning.
3. First layer the cheese onto the dough, then the ham, and finally topping it with the chicken. Set the prepared dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow it to get chilled again.
4. Remove from the fridge, and pick an end to start at. Roll the dough and it’s contents up like a cinnamon roll and, using a sharp knife, cut into 8-10 rolls.
5. Place on a prepared baking sheet or in a baking dish and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. If using, mix together the honey and mustard until evenly combined and serve with or drizzle over the rolls before serving.

Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

Do you ever have times where you feel the need to disconnect? To step away from the computer, from social media, altogether for a few days and just reconnect with the world around you? To reconnect with your family, your spouse, your children? For us, it’s been the past four or five days. All the kids are home and it’s summer and sometimes we find we just need to be ‘present’. It’s amazing all that we always manage to get done during our completely unhooked periods. We deep cleaned. I’m talking the whole house, furniture pulled away from walls and cleaned behind. Carpets washed. Walls painted. Clothes and toys purged. We had movie days and movie nights. We rode bikes and threw footballs. We spent time with family. We talked. It was a much-needed and refreshing change of pace. But, starting tomorrow we’ll be back on the blog, emails will be re-opened, and social media re-visited. Thanks guys for understanding the need to occasionally go off-line. I promise the rest of this week holds several goodies in store!

For me, the crock pot is a summer must-have for come dinnertime, because turning the oven on is so not happening. When we think crock pot cooking, I know I typically think warm winter stews and casseroles, but it’s actually the steamy miserably muggy months when the crock pot becomes my BFF. My let’s make beautiful kitchen magic together, and save me money at the same, time forever friend.

Chicken, sausage, and rice is another one of my favorite crock pot meals to make, whatever the season. The chicken comes out cooked to tender perfection and pairs perfectly with the sausage. So much flavor! Round out the meal by serving this with a nice, warm piece of crusty bread and a refreshing side salad.

Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, & Rice

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Chicken, Sausage, and Rice

recipe adapted from Free WW Recipes 

1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp paprika
1 lb smoked sausage, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1 cup coarsely chopped green bell pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup sliced celery
1 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
4 bay leaves
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 lbs)
2 cups instant white rice
 
Directions
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry
2. Place sausage, bell peppers, onions, celery, tomatoes, broth, bay leaves, thyme, paprika, and garlic powder in slow cooker.
3. Stir to blend well.
4. Top with chicken and sprinkle with black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
5. Cover and cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
7. Add rice and stir gently.
8. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes until rice is tender.
9. Remove bay leaves and chicken bones before serving.
IMPORTANT: For best results, do not remove cover during cooking.

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Don’t you just love a good pasta salad? They just seem so summery to me. Whether as a light side with dinner, or as a lunch. My favorite though are the heartier versions where I can dump everything in, give it a good solid stir, and after it’s cold… voila! Dinner is served. Pasta salad literally provides endless possibilities for new flavor combinations and ingredients. It makes me so happy, like kid on Christmas morning happy. This particular pasta is one of my personal favorites. It also happens to include one of our favorite ways to season/prepare chicken. It’s so simple too!

 Generously season your chicken breasts with taco or fajita seasoning, and then bake them for 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cooked through. While having some on hand does give me an extra excuse to whip up one of our favorite pasta salads, we just genuinely like it that much. I love to dice it up and toss it in with some lettuce to make a nice hearty salad. The hubs uses it to make his own little protein packs to take to work. For the pasta salad though, you can make it all at once, or cook your chicken as much as a couple days ahead of time and have it ready to go.

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

Seriously, just look at those juicy slices of perfectly cooked chicken.

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘Eat your colors’? Fresh ingredients can be so vibrant, and I’m really starting to notice the burst of intense, natural flavor they add to our meals. My favorite chicken, vine-ripened tomatoes, bacon, and a Mexican blend of cheeses over a bed of pasta. Oh the intensity! They all combine beautifully with just a tiny bit of help from the special sauce.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad 2

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for… the recipe!

Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Southwestern Chicken Pasta Salad 3

recipe adapted from Recipes for our Daily Bread

3 chicken breasts, seasoned with taco or fajita seasoning
1/2 pound of bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
12 oz package of spiral pasta
1/2 cup Ranch dressing (not dry mix)
1/2 cup salsa, regular NOT a fruity blend
1 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, or cheddar cheese

Directions

1. Generously season the chicken with either taco or fajita seasoning and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through, at 350 degrees.
2. Allow the cooked chicken to cool slightly and then dice.
3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Set aside to cool.
4. Cook the bacon until it’s nice and crispy. Allow grease to drain by putting the cooked bacon on some paper towels and when cool, crumble it.
5. Chop the tomato.
6. In a a large bowl combine all ingredients, stirring to mix everything together.

That’s it! Told ya, simple. While it’s great straight away, it tastes best when allowed to chill. It’s just as good if made the night before and left to refrigerate overnight.

This recipe was taken over to Fiesta Friday # 24 which is hosted every Friday by Angie on The Novice Gardener.

Buffalo Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

I love traditional foods with a twist such as (ironically) Buffalo Mac & Cheese and Buffalo Chicken Nachos .  They make classic favorites over and into something new and exciting without completely offending those that enjoy routine. The hubs is a creature of habit, and here’s another one of those types of recipes. A bit of a compromise for a kitchen aficionado who loves experimenting and my tried and true kind of guy. I don’t mention the sons since they learned long ago, A. It’s best to be nice to and not question the cook, and B. You get what you get and don’t throw a fit. Sorry, I’m not sorry. But they’re troopers anyway and if it involves food, they’re game.

This quintessential comfort food was an automatic winner! I love nights like that. It’s the only time there’s silence in the house, when everybody’s too busy politely chewing devouring their food to be bothered with things like actual words. The cheesy mashed potatoes scream creamy comfort while the filling is flavored with tangy, and in our case, slightly spicy buffalo wing sauce. I’ve also made this with ranch seasoning mixed into the sauce, about 2 tablespoons worth, because sometimes the two flavors (buffalo & ranch) seem inseparable to me. With the ranch, or just the basic recipe, this cozy casserole doesn’t disappoint.

Buffalo Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Chicken Shepherds Pie

recipe adapted from Cupcakes and Kalechips

1 lb potatoes (russet, red, yukon, or sweet potato will all work), diced
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oil
half of a medium onion, chopped (about ½ c)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
salt & pepper, to taste
1 lb ground chicken
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (I used a mild version. Use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp butter, cut into tiny pieces

Directions

1. After you’ve put your diced potatoes in a pot, fill with water until just covering the potatoes. Boil for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain the potatoes. Put potatoes back in the pot (make sure it’s been removed from heat), add the milk & salt, and use a potato masher to mash and mix it all up.
2. While you’re boiling your potatoes, add the oil to a skillet and let it heat up over medium heat. Once heated, add in the onion, carrots, salt, and pepper.
3. Sautee for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions are starting to turn clear and the carrots are slightly tender.
4. Add in the chicken, crumbling it while it’s cooking.
5. Add the tomato sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire, stirring to combine, and let it simmer until everything is heated through.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and then transfer the chicken mixture to a lightly greased, 9 in square baking dish, and spread it out evenly.
7. Spread half of the cheddar cheese evenly over the buffalo chicken.
8. Top the chicken and cheese with the mashed potatoes, and carefully spread them out evenly over the mixture.
9. Spread them remaining half of cheese over top the mashed potatoes and dot with the cut up butter.
10. Bake it in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until everything’s heated through and the top is nice and crispy.

Ranch Chicken Tacos

This is our new favorite taco seasoning. The combination of ranch and taco flavors reminded me strongly of cool ranch Doritos. Fill your shells with the cooked chicken and top with your favorite fixin’s. We kept it pretty basic with just cheese and lettuce. Mine had diced tomatoes as well, but the sons and the hubs detest the red fruit with a burning passion. Makes no sense to me, but whatever floats their boyish boats. Top each ‘filled’ taco with a drizzle of ranch and chow down. Don’t stop at just tacos either, this goes great on tortillas, toastadas, or even over salad. Just seeing them again has had me thinking about them all morning. Seriously, I can’t get them out of my head. Guess I know what we’ll be having for dinner tonight!

Ranch Chicken Tacos

 4 Sons 'R' Us: ranch chicken tacos

3 cups cooked, chunked chicken
1 pkt. taco seasoning (chicken or beef)
1/2 cup Ranch dressing, plus extra for serving
taco shell, tortilla, or toastadas
lettuce
cheese
tomatoes
any of your other favorite taco toppings

Directions

1. Heat a skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken & warm it for a few minutes. Sprinkle on the dry taco seasoning. Do not add any water! Heat for 5-7 minutes until the chicken is heated through & the powder is stuck to the chicken.
2. Add Ranch dressing, heat an additional 2-3 minutes to warm through.
3. Serve in taco shells with all the fixings you love – plus an extra drizzle of Ranch.

It doesn’t get any easier, or any tastier, than that!