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!

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

These little greek pastries are seriously to die for. No, really. They’re that good! I hadn’t even finished eating yet, but I still had half a pastry left, and the sons were already squabbling over who had called dibs first. Any meal that has the sons arguing over who deserves another helping of any leafy green is a win in my book.

These bring back a classic combinations, chock full of spinach and yes, two kinds of cheese- feta and mozzarella.  The feta adds a bit of saltiness, which means you don’t have to add any additional salt in making the recipe, and the melted mozzarella helps bind everything together nicely. The puff pastry, especially after the egg wash, bakes in  perfect toasty, crusty complement to it’s filling.  Of course, these are two of the best characteristics of baking with cheeses and with pastry – the salty addition and the toasty exterior.

Get your Greek on tonight with one of these bad boys.

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

 Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

recipe adapted from Chef In Training

1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
2 oz. cream cheese softened
3/4 cup frozen spinach thawed and well drained
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
2 green onions chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg + 2 tsp water, well beaten

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets 2

Look at all that melty, cheesy goodness!

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Carefully unfold (you don’t want it to tear) the sheet of puff pastry out onto a lightly floured surface.
3. Spread the softened cream cheese evenly over the pastry sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch of space along the pastry sheet’s edges.
4. Spread the thawed & drained spinach evenly over 1/2 of the puff pastry sheet (width wise), again leaving about a 1/2 inch of space along all the edges.
5. Next, spread the chicken and green onions evenly over the spinach, still saving a 1/2 inch space around the edges.
6. Finally, sprinkle the feta and mozzarella cheeses evenly over top of the chicken, still leaving a 1/2 inch space around edges.
7. Carefully fold over the half of the puff pastry that doesn’t have anything on it. Rub the edges with a little bit of water on your finger and press them together to seal them up nice and tight . Brush the outside with the egg wash.
8. Place the puff pastry ‘pocket’ on a greased cookie sheet, or one with a silicon baking mat, and bake for 15-20 minute or until the outside is a nice and crisp golden brown.
9. Cut into slices and enjoy!

 

Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

Lentils are such an understated legume. They’re cheap, tasty, and (don’t tell the kids) healthy! Previously, my favorite way to use them had been in a delicious, good-for-you soup. Buuut, a cheesy, skinny casserole?! Move on over soup, Mama’s got a new favorite in town.

Busy day, busy afternoon/evening? This casserole will come to your rescue! Casseroles are great like that, and this one’s no exception.

This recipe delivers a true Santa Fe-style experience straight to your taste buds with lots of cumin, a nice cayenne ‘kick’, and plenty of cilantro. That, combined with the lentils (which we can’t forget were cooked in, not water, but chicken broth!), tender pieces of chicken, and the perfect amount of melted cheese, you’ve got yourself an award winning combination. I promise!

Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole

recipe adapted from ifoodreal

Lentils
1 + 1/2 cup green lentils, rinsed & drained
3 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/8 tsp salt

Chicken
2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Cooking spray

Vegetables
1 large onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, crushed or 5 tsp minced garlic
2 large bell peppers, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix-Ins
14 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
2 cups corn, frozen & unthawed
2 cups  Tex Mex or Colby Jacks cheese, shredded & divided
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 cup cilantro, chopped & divided, or 2 tbsp dried

4 Sons 'R' Us: Santa Fe Style Chicken & Lentil Casserole 2

Look at all those pretty little lentils. Can’t you just hear them calling to you. Eat meeeeeee….

Directions

1. In a medium pot, combine lentils, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil on high, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 35 minutes. Do not drain excess liquid. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, preheat large skillet on high and spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and draining any liquid if necessary. Add cumin, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Return skillet to medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add onion, garlic, bell peppers, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper and cook for 7 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
4. Transfer to the bowl with chicken along with cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, corn, 1 cup cheese, garlic powder, cumin and 1/2 cup cilantro (or 1 tbsp dried cilantro). Mix gently with spatula enough to combine. You may want to taste and adjust the spiciness/salt of the dish with extra cayenne/cumin or salt.
5. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish and press gently with spatula to evenly distribute. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake uncovered for 50 mins. Remove casserole from the oven, cover with foil and let stand for half an hour before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro, cut into 8 slices and serve hot.

{One Pot Wonder} Mexican Chicken & Rice

The great thing about this dish? (I mean besides the incredibly tasty flavors) It can all be made in one pot. All of it. Rice and all. It’s like magic. Dinner magic. One pot to dirty, one pot to clean, one delicious meal to consume. And if I haven’t convinced you yet… it’s quick. Super quick. Less than 30 minutes quick. Don’t believe me? Here, let me walk you through it.

Cook chicken –> stir everything else in –> let cook 20 minutes –>DONE. Piece. of. chicken & rice. cake.

{One Pot Wonder} Mexican Chicken & Rice

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken & Rice

recipe adapted from Yellow Bliss Road

Directions

1. Cut chicken into one inch pieces and season with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Cook until just barely browned, but not cooked through.
2. Add one cup of long grain white rice and saute for one minute. Add remaining ingredients, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender and fluffy. If there is still liquid in the pan, uncover and simmer until the liquid is reduced.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken & Rice 2

Buen provecho!

Sous Chef Sunday: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

Mmm. Chicken, and waffles. Two seemingly unrelated things, but when put together make a food-gasmic combination. The sons, yet again, were skeptical. Four identical sets of little arched eye-brows as I got out just 3 ingredients. When, oh when, will they learn to trust me in the kitchen?! The sons followed the super simple recipe all by themselves, although with supervision since they were using the oven. The older sons can handle it, but Son # 4 gets so excited to be involved in the process, I worry he might forget hot things lead to burned fingers. Each son, in turn, took one tentative bite, and then proceeded to scarf them down. They looked like squirrels packing away food for winter. There was even a brief skirmish over the last two and who deserved them MOST. A chicken and waffle combo may have sounded weird to the more traditional tastes of the Sons, but they all agreed UNANIMOUSLY (might I point out this almost never happens!), that these little suckers are finger-lickin’ good.

Chicken & Waffle Sliders

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Waffle Sliders

frozen mini waffles, fully toasted
chicken tenders, cooked
{real} maple syrup
toothpicks

Directions

1. Slice your cooked chicken tenders in half. Break your toasted waffles apart.
2. Sandwich one piece of chicken between two cooked waffles. Secure with a toothpick.
3. When all the tenders have been ‘sandwiched’, drizzle them with maple syrup and serve warm.

Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese sandwiches bring back the memory of staying home from school, sick on the couch with a potentially fatal math-class-hating fever, watching my grandma’s favorite soap opera, and eating white bread and yellow cheesefood-slice filled grilled cheeses dipped in Campbell’s tomato soup. All these years later, now with my own kids stuck on the couch, there’s still something super comforting about the crusty concoction. As time has gone by though my grilled cheese obsession has managed to mature a bit since my elementary, middle, and high school days.

Here’s out latest version of what the sons call a ‘grown-up’ grilled cheese. All the familiar ooey,gooey cheesy bits you love, but filled with real ingredients and flavors fit for any sophisticated adult palate. I’m lucky the sons love them too, even with the addition of veggies. Yes sons, your Mom can and will attempt to try and ruin one of your favorite ‘classics’ by making it a tad bit healthier.

Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken & Broccoli Grilled Cheese

recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

1 cup shredded or finely chopped, cooked chicken
1 cup steamed broccoli, finely chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
¼ t garlic powder
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt & pepper, to taste
8-10 slices of your favorite bread
2 tbsp butter, plus extra if needed

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken, broccoli, cheddar, Parmesan, garlic powder, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and salt & pepper.
2. Divide the mixture evenly between four of the bread slices, and top with another slice of bread.
3. Melt butter in a pan over medium-low heat.
4. Cook the sandwiches for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Covering the pan with a lid during cooking will help the inside get all warm and gooey before the bread gets too browned.

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

This meal is easy and perfect for our busy nights. The chicken comes out cooked to perfection with the perfect kick. Customize your ‘kick’ by adding less buffalo sauce or more, to taste. Don’t have buffalo wing sauce? Substitute hot sauce. I heart a flexible recipe!

You’ll want good bread. Life is far too short and unpredictable to suffer through bad bread. Trust me on this. Don’t go sale, don’t go clearance. Go fresh. We made ours using a nice fresh loaf of sour dough, the slices toasted to perfection.

Good butter goes with good bread. Turn these into a delicious grilled cheese version by buttering the outsides of both slices, adding some shredded cheddar and/or blue cheese crumbles to the inside, and ‘grilling’ on a hot griddle until the outside are nice and crisped with melted cheese inside.

These sandwiches are perfect for any occasion: a delicious dinner, a game day snack, you name it!

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (12 oz.) bottle buffalo wing sauce
2 tablespoons ranch mix seasoning
2 tablespoons butter
1 loaf of sour dough bread, or other crusty bread
shredded cheddar cheese or blue cheese crumbles (optional)
ranch dressing (optional)

Directions

1. Place chicken breasts in a lightly greased slow cooker.
2. In medium bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce and ranch seasoning.
3. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
4. Shred chicken breasts in the slow cooker, or use your paddle attachment and easily shred them in a stand mixer. Stir in butter until melted.
5. Pile buffalo chicken onto toasted slices of crusty bread. Top with cheese and/or ranch dressing, if desired.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Do you love nachos? Buffalo Wings? Ranch Dressing? Tired of the same old, same old thing? Then this creative spin on a familiar favorite is the recipe for you! These mouth-watering nachos are a perfect powerhouse of flavor. Quick and easy to assemble, this recipe is great for a busy weekday dinners. With it’s affordable ingredients, most of which are probably already somewhere in your kitchen, they’re party and event friendly. Finger-lickin’ good, Buffalo Chicken Nachos are a must-try. ‘Regular’ nachos will never seem the same again.

Family-friendly or crowd-pleaser, this versatile recipe will put a smile on the diner’s face. Mom and/or hostess beware: you will be asked for the recipe. Repeatedly.

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

4 Sons 'R' Us: Buffalo Chicken Nachos

recipe adapted from Will Cook For Smiles

  • 2 grilled chicken breasts, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Ranch Dressing (I put my ranch in the blender with some cilantro and blend together for our dressing)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mexican blend, or cheddar, cheese
  • 1/2 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • tortilla chips

Directions

  1.  In a small pan, heat up buffalo sauce and water.
  2. On a baking sheet start layering the nachos.
  3. -spread half the desired amount of tortilla chips
    -spread 1/2 the lettuce
    -spread 1/2 the tomatoes
    – drizzle 1/2 the Ranch dressing
    – spread 1/2 the cheese and 1/2 the chicken over it
  4. Repeat to make the next layer.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-13 minutes.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Sometimes, I think my kids must find me a real drag. I mean, they love carbohydrates sooooo much. Why should they be forced to suffer through a salad? If they were meant to eat leaves, they would have been born cows… right? No.

I’m kidding. Just a little. Maybe. Really they don’t complain. Much.

However, this mean, green Mama came equipped with a wonderful little sensor. I can feel the resistance building. When I feel an attack of the ‘anti-leaf’ campaign approaching, I immediately resort to subterfuge. I find a way to get those greens in. I get behind their defenses and hit them where it hurts. Right in the taste buds. This recipe is a beautiful pairing of pasta and salad that they can’t resist. The secret ingredient? Bacon! They see the greens, they know they’re good for them. They know they should at least try to resist, but their surrender is inevitable. This dish is just too tasty. Support your own troops with this delicious pasta salad. Pack a punch that they won’t soon forget. Who said your greens had to taste ‘green’ anyway?!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

4 Sons 'R' Us: Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

  •  1 cup dry pasta; cooked according to package directions
  • 8 pieces bacon; cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 tbsp bacon grease*
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • 1/2 head of lettuce (or whole if small), chopped**
  • 1 cup croutons (optional)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup casesar dressing (or more to taste)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon, reserve 1-2 tbsp of the drippings/grease.
  3. Transfer cooled pasta to a bowl and toss with the bacon drippings* until evenly combined.
  4. Add in all other ingredients and stir thoroughly until evenly combined.
  5. Add in more dressing if necessary, to taste, and again toss everything to evenly coat.
  6. Serve immediately.**

*Don’t skip the bacon drippnigs! I know it might be tempting, but the flavor just isn’t nearly as robust without it. Also, it helps prevent the pasta from sticking together if you want to let it chill or transport.

**If not serving immediately, DO NOT add in the lettuce until you are ready to serve. If you add in the lettuce and don’t serve immediately the lettuce will be wilted and soggy.