chicken enchilada casserole

I have an unabashed love for Mexican food. But who doesn’t?

For the hubs and I, we get our Mexican fix from several different local joints around town – we have a place for excellent margaritas and good food, a place for good margaritas and amazing food, and a place for amazing margaritas and amazing fish tacos. Depending on our hunger {or thirst} cues, one of said places often makes the cut.

But what does one do when you’re craving enchilada casserole?

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I can’t remember what struck that particular chord in me not long ago, but I had such an intense craving for an enchilada-style casserole that I just could not shake it. So imagine my surprise when this recipe found its way, seemingly right into my hands, not long ago! I immediately bookmarked it and knew that it would make a dinner appearance as soon as I could make it happen.

Luckily, a week-long deluge of rain {followed by an equally rainy weekend} presented the perfect opportunity. A wet Sunday afternoon set the tone for dinner, and yes…it was time for me to make this. I rolled up my sleeves and set to work, happily bumping around my tiny kitchen, working away and rolling tortillas up with delicious filling.

The beauty of this dish is multifold…it requires few pieces of equipment, utilizes ingredients most of us have on hand, comes together in no time, and can be made to fit anyone’s taste buds. I stuck pretty closely to the original recipe, but as I sit here typing, my mind wanders to the idea of using shredded pork instead of chicken, crumbled queso fresco instead of shredded Mexican blend cheese, mixing pico de gallo in with the enchilada sauce, incorporating other vegetables into the topping…you see where I’m going with this.

It’s dishes like this that keep me coming back for more, both seconds at dinnertime and into my repertoire of favorite recipes. Enjoy! And do share any variations you might come up with when you prepare it – I’d love to hear from you!

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Chicken Enchilada Casserole {recipe adapted from The Kitchn}

Easy enough to throw together even on the busiest of nights, this chicken enchilada casserole will leave you feeling satisfied and happy! Can be customized to fit any taste buds, or particular diet {sugar-, dairy-, gluten-free, etc.}. Leftovers freeze beautifully, or can be prepared and frozen in advance.

Ingredients:

1 {15-ounce can} red enchilada sauce *whatever brand you prefer is fine!

10-15 corn tortillas, set out to room temperature

1 lb. cooked shredded chicken* {can be from a rotisserie chicken; 2-3 cooked chicken breasts; or pressure-cooker chicken}

1 {4-ounce can} diced green chiles

1 to 1-1/2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese

1 medium red pepper, sliced into strips

1 onion, sliced into strips

optional toppings: sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, pico de gallo, salsa, sliced avocado, guacamole, shredded lettuce, etc.

*I prefer to toss the chicken with a bit of seasonings, done to taste – here, I used: salt and pepper, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin. Feel free to do so according to your preference! 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Ladle enough of the enchilada sauce into the dish to barely cover the bottom in a thin layer of sauce – about 1/4 cup or so. Set dish aside, but within reaching distance.

On a covered work surface, begin assembling the enchiladas. Lay one tortilla out, and spread down the center {no more than 2-3 Tbsp.} the shredded chicken. Top with a small scoop of the diced green chili. Gently roll the enchilada up and place it seam side down in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling mixtures, until you cannot fit any more into the dish.

One the casserole dish is full, sprinkle on the sliced onion and red pepper. Cover completely with remaining enchilada sauce, ensuring that all the surface area is covered. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Portion out and assemble with desired toppings. Enjoy!

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chicken and mushroom gravy: crockpot edition

Time to dust off the crockpot, y’all. It’s the most wonderful time of year!

…crockpot season, that is! While this beloved appliance of mine makes celebrity appearances during the summer {for dishes such as this and this}, it truly shines during the cooler months. There’s something so special about a slow cooked meal, and walking into your home at the end of a dreary day, greeted by aromas wafting from the kitchen. It is instantly soothing, like a hug or a pat on the back with someone saying – “don’t worry, dinner is on me tonight”.

Except we prepared ahead! This dish couldn’t be easier. For awhile now, I’ve been craving a mushroom gravy. I didn’t know with what, though; I spent a few nights last week brainstorming dinner ideas, and when I stumbled upon this recipe, I knew it would be perfect. I tweaked it a bit to fit the current state of our refrigerator, and voila! A perfect chicken dinner, prepared in no time.

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I spent the day at work {and the hubs too, I’m sure!} dreaming about this dish. Like I mentioned, I love the anticipation of the end of the day, knowing that dinner is doing work on itself. And y’all, it was amazing. From the moment I walked in until we sat down for our meal, there was nothing but smiles. The chicken is perfectly tender; the gravy is rich and flavorful. And piled high on top of your favorite starch, it’s a match made in chicken heaven.

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Enjoy!

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Chicken & Mushroom Gravy: crockpot edition {recipe adapted from food.com}

Wonderfully comforting and delicious, this dish is the ideal fall meal. With minimal prep time, it can be thrown together minutes before walking out the door for work; you and your family will be rewarded with the glorious aroma of roasted chicken and gravy after a long day! 

Ingredients:

3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breast

8 ounces plain Greek yogurt

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. rosemary

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

1 large onion, thinly sliced

8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms {I used shiitake}

2 Tbsp. cornstarch + 1/2 cup boiling water, combined {to be used at the final 15 minutes of the dish}

1 Tbsp. butter

To Prepare:

After removing the skin, generously season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place into the crockpot, and top with the sliced mushrooms and onions.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, 2 cups of the chicken stock, and herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken and vegetables.

Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until chicken is done and falling off the bone. At 15-20 minutes before serving, uncover the crockpot and shred the chicken and stirring well with the gravy mixture. Remove any bones you see! Pour in the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock, and add in the slurry {cornstarch and hot water}, making sure to combine thoroughly. Lastly, stir in the butter.

Serve over rice, egg noodles, or my favorite – – – smashed cauliflower.

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Enjoy!

philly mac n’ cheese

From a culinary standpoint, birthday celebrations are a big deal in our house. I look forward to them every year {more so the hub’s birthday than my own} because not only are they are good reason to pull out a good bottle of wine, but because we tend to go over the top in terms of dinner.

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We celebrated the hub’s birthday not long ago, and we spent quite some time trying to figure out what kind of meal to prepare. Every year, I let him decide on exactly what it is he wants. No limits, no rules – his dinner wish {and dessert!} is my command. It’s pretty much a win-win for both of us; he gets a meal of his own creation, and I get to have fun whipping it up in the kitchen!

When he settled on the more traditional mac n’ cheese, I asked him to come up with some sort of twist on it, sort of a way to spice it up a bit. We bounced ideas back and forth…flavor combinations, dishes that he likes, we we somehow steered the conversation to sandwiches.

“What about a philly?”  I asked him. His eyes lit up, and I knew we had found the dish of the year. The end result? – a combination of a few staple dishes in my repertoire, with some funky additions that make it perfect for him. It’s an indulgent dish, and you bet that we will be bringing this out again once the cooler autumn months come around.

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Enjoy!

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Philly Mac n’ Cheese {recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma}

Definitely one of the more creative birthday dishes we’ve dreamed up over the past few years, this mac n’ cheese hits all the notes of a classic cheese steak sandwich: perfectly loaded with cheese, traditional vegetable add-ons, and of course…oh-so indulgent. 

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. dried pasta, such as cavatappi

non-stick cooking spray

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 cup milk of choice

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock

3/4 cup freshly shredded Gruyere cheese

3/4 cup freshly shredded champagne cheddar cheese {if not available, feel free to swap out with extra sharp cheddar}

1 package frozen spinach {cooked, drained, and cooled}

2 cups baby portabella mushrooms

2 cups chicken {cooked, cooled, and shredded}

1/8 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 cup Panko {Japanese bread crumbs}

olive oil, for sauteeing the mushrooms

salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.

In a small nonstick skillet, cook the mushrooms with a splash of olive oil until lightly sauteed, about 5-7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and melt he butter. Add the cornstarch and cook, stirring well, until the cornstarch is thoroughly incorporated, about 1 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, chicken stock, and an generous pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Simmer, whisking frequently to smooth out any lumps, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and add a pinch of pepper and stir to incorporate. Slowly add in both the Gruyere and champagne cheddar cheese, making to sure combine thoroughly.

Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir well. Next, fold in the spinach, mushrooms, and chicken. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and top with the Parmesan and Panko. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with a side of roasted vegetables {we opted for asparagus!}.

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Vegas.com – A Challenge!

Awhile back, y’all might remember that my friends over at vegas.com provided me with an opportunity…a “challenge” if you will. I was asked to pick a dish from one of the famous Las Vegas hotels, and put my own unique twist on it. In typical Alicia fashion, I dove in head first, excited to stretch my culinary legs and see what I could come up with!

for those of you who might want to peak back, here’s my dish!

So I couldn’t be more excited to announce today that I was offered the opportunity to do it again! This time, we had a different list of restaurants to choose from. Immediately, a ‘roast chicken’ dish caught my eye. Something so simple, but offers endless possibilities. My brain started working and, after a few days of rolling ideas around, I finally got the light bulb – shepherd’s pie!

Now, before I go any further; this was no ordinary roast chicken dish. We’re talking gorgeous sauces, fine mushrooms, season vegetables. The whole nine yards. I mean, it’s Vegas after all! So I thought it would be a lot of fun to make the ingredients from the Vegas dish mimic the appearance of an actual shepherd’s pie. Fun, right?

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Perfectly seasoned ground chicken replaces the traditional beef.

Diced asparagus looks a lot like peas!

Mushrooms and onions add an earthy note to the dish, which pairs oh-so-nicely with the white wine that we’re incorporating into the base of the dish.

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And of course, no shepherd’s pie is complete without a generous spread of mashed potatoes..but I went rogue and used my smashed cauliflower! Delicious.

This is one dish you’ll want to recreate over and over, I promise. After the first bite, the hubs proclaimed it “one of the best casseroles he’s ever had.” The proof is in the pudding…er, casserole.

Here we go!

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Vegas-Style Shepherd’s Pie

Never one to turn down a challenge, I decided on making some fun modifications to one of Vegas’ most famous restaurants; I took their classic roast chicken recipe and made it my own! 

Ingredients:

smashed cauliflower {here’s my go-to recipe…so quick and simple!}

1 lb. ground chicken {I used extra lean, because it was what I had on hand}

1 large onion, finely diced

1 box of baby portabello mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 lb. asparagus, washed and sliced into medallions

1/4 cup white wine {you can use chicken stock, for an alcohol-free version}

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil for coating the pan

1/2 – 1 cup of cheese {your preference; this will be used for the topping}

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a glass 8″ x 8″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and set aside for later.

Add a drizzle of olive oil into the bottom of a large nonstick saute pan. Bring up to medium heat; once the olive oil is sizzling, and in the ground chicken. Use a wooden spoon to break into pieces, and cook until done. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Without cleaning the pan, add in the diced onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add in the garlic powder. Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent and beginning to soften slightly, about 7-10 minutes. Add in the white wine and bring the heat up to high {this will help cook off the alcohol, as well as reduce the liquid}. Add in the asparagus, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Lastly, add in the mushrooms and cook only until they begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.

Prepare the casserole: place the cooked chicken into the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Next, top with the onion/asparagus/mushroom mixture. Evenly dollop the smashed cauliflower on top, making sure to seal in the edges. Lastly, top with the desired amount and type of cheese.

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Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is beginning to brown slightly. For additional crunch, turn the broiler on and let it go an additional 1-2 minutes.

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Enjoy!

garlic parmesan wings

I’ve been so, so excited to share this recipe with y’all.

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One look and you’re in love, am I right? At least, that was how the hubs and I felt after devouring this meal for dinner.

These are a fun twist on my wings I made awhile back – they’re certainly a staple in our household; a quick and easy dinner to throw together during the week, full of flavor, and significantly healthier that traditional wings that are deep fried {so gloriously wonderful, but so naughty at the same time}. But for this particular recipe, we’re combining the Italian staples of Parmesan cheese and garlic but jazzing it up with loads of dried herbs, and two types of tangy mustard {!}. Is your mouth watering yet?

This batch of wings pack a flavor punch like no other. I am such a huge fan of explosive flavors, and these do not disappoint. As mentioned, we get that distinctive garlicky flavor from {almost} too much garlic, nutty undertones from Parmesan cheese, and more herbal notes than your taste buds will know what to do with. Both mustard types that I used – a classic, spicy Dijon and a sweet Honey Champagne – pair perfectly together, but you can easily sub in whatever your preference is. Baked until crispy and falling of the bone, the only thing that can take these one more notch above perfection is some dipping sauce on the side.

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Baked Garlic Parmesan Wings {adapted from Steamy Kitchen}

Ingredients:

2-1/2 lbs. chicken wings {I like to use the large ones}

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried rosemary

2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for baking

1/4 cup mustard {I used a combination of Dijon and Champagne mustard}

salt & pepper, to taste

non-stick cooking spray

serving accompaniments: hot sauce, homemade blue cheese dressing, celery, carrots – whatever you like! 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the herbs and grated cheese. Mix in the mustard, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the wings in the sauce, making sure to ensure a generous coating. Line up the wings on the prepared baking sheet, and drizzle any remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese.

Bake 45-60 minutes, or until juices run clear and internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

greek-inspired roast chicken

Oh, the whole roasting chicken. Super simple and basic, but bursting with possibilities.

Not to mention flavor – I was feeling inspired, and also craving one, several weeks back. It was particularly gloomy Sunday, and I keep reminiscing how my mom used to make the best whole roasted chickens when we were growing up. Deciding to act on those memories, I began drawing up ideas for how to make it my own. The hubs LOVES oregano, so I thought was would be a way to incorporate that? I settled on the notion of “going Greek!”

Hands down, this is the best roast chicken that I have yet to make. It requires minimal prep work and comes together in just a few minutes. We’re filling it with briny capers, fresh vegetables, and of course – lots of oregano! A generous pour of good white wine in the bottom of the roasting pan creates a culinary perfume that envelopes the bird while it cooks, resulting in a bright, fresh flavor. Served alongside my smashed cauliflower, it was the perfect meal.

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Without trying to state the obvious, you’ll most likely end up with leftovers, as this recipe will easily feed a small army. Once the chicken is broken down, it freezes beautifully and can be used in a plethora of dishes. Chicken and Dumplings, Chicken Noodle Casserole, and Chicken Pot Pie come to mind – but don’t be surprised if you see me making chicken salad of out it and stuffing it into a pita.

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Greek-Inspired Roast Chicken {recipe adapted from Lemon & Olives}

The perfect Sunday dinner for a chilly winter evening, this flavorful roast will leave you feeling supremely satisfied. Plus – it comes together in no time! 

Ingredients:

whole roasting chicken {mine was just over 6 lbs.}

1 lemon, cut into large wedges

2 onions, cut into wedges

1.5 cups baby carrots, left whole

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and left whole

1 heaping tbsp. capers, drained

1 tbsp. dried oregano {plus more for seasoning the chicken}

3/4 cup good white wine {I used a Pinot Grigo}

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

olive oil, for drizzling

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Remove the chicken from its wrapping and rinse well, making sure to get the inner cavity. Dry thoroughly, and rub with olive oil. Liberally season the inside and outside with salt, pepper, and oregano. To the inner cavity add in half the amount of onions, half the baby carrots, half the lemon, one garlic clove, and the capers. Set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In the bottom of a large roasting pan, add  in the white white and chicken stock, mixing to incorporate. Place the remaining vegetables plus the 1 tbsp. oregano into the liquid mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you have a V-shaped roasting rack, set the chicken atop it {if not, do what I did – lay a cooling rack atop the roasting pan and carefully place the chicken on top of it}. Roast the chicken according to the package directions. Baste occassionally, using the drippings from the bottom of the pan.

Once cooked through, remove from the oven and set aside. Cover with foil and let it sit 15 minutes, so the juices can redistribute. Carve the chicken and serve with pan drippings and vegetables. Enjoy!

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chicken & dumplings

Cold and dark winter evenings beg for comfort dishes to be prepared for dinner.

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Chicken and dumplings is the perfect dish to whip up on days like that. Easy to prepare and made, essentially, in one bowl. It’s an ideal entree that can be made even on the busiest of weeknights. Who doesn’t want to sit down after a long day of work to a dinner like this? Steaming hot and chock full of warm goodness, even the pickiest of eaters would be hard pressed to not enjoy this. Shredded chicken provides a boost of protein, vegetables pack in copious amounts of vitamins  and the dumplings, well, they steal the show. Fluffy and moist, so tender that they practically melt in your mouth.

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You can find me on the couch enjoying this dinner, wrapped up in my coziest blanket. Because the chilly evening has nothing that this dish can’t make better.

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Chicken & Dumplings {recipe adapted from The Gracious Pantry}

You can’t mess with a classic like this dish. Perfectly wonderful served piping hot, right off the stove top. 

Ingredients:

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 garlic clove, minced

2 to 4 chicken breasts, precooked and shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, peeled and diced

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced

Dumpling Ingredients:

2 cups flour {I used gluten-free}

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 butter {I used a Greek yogurt and butter blend}

1 cup buttermilk

pepper, to taste

Stew Directions:

In a large sauce pot over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once hot, add in the onion and carrot. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano and thyme. Pour in the stock and raise heat to bring to a boil. Fold in the shredded chicken.

Prepare the dumplings while waiting for the stock mixture to boil – in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine and then add in the butter, buttermilk and pepper.

Once the stock mixture is boiling, drop the dumpling dough in using two large spoons {like making drop cookies}. Boil until the dumplings are cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Ladle into large soup bowls and enjoy!

homemade wonton soup

I have long strove to find and make a wonton soup worthy of sharing. And today, y’all, I’ve finally done it!

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Wonton soup and I go way back. As in, I can still remember the first time that I had it – the hubs and I had spent the weekend camping with friends, and after coming home cold, wet and famished, there was simply no time to cook dinner {gasp!}.We had to eat, and we had to eat NOW. I let him pick, and after settling on Chinese delivery, the doorbell rang not five minutes later with the traditional box full of goodness. When he passed me a tupperware of soup, I looked at it curiously. We didn’t do Chinese much when I was a child, but it was a cuisine that I enjoyed. So I ladled myself a bowl and dug it. And, y’all, I demolished the.entire.bowl. I couldn’t help myself; it was so good!

I look back on this memory fondly, but now that I’ve got more experience with cooking {and recipe developing} I realize that this was probably not all as comforting as it could have been. As much as we all love it, a lot of delivery food is oftentimes high in sodium and other ingredients we may not want to enjoy. I’m in no means knocking it, because we still looooove a good Chinese takeout, but this recipe for wonton soup is going to knock your socks off. It’s unbelievably delicious, for real.

I kept the ingredients super simple, and used what I had on hand. Traditionally, wontons are filled with a mixture of pork and shrimp, but I personally like to use ground chicken instead. It’s super lean, so there’s less of a risk of fat/grease leaking out when you boil them. Paired with the minced shrimp, they make the perfect canvas for the spices we will be adding in. Low-sodium chicken stock lets us control the amount of salt we add in, making it easy for anyone to customize according to their taste. Ad the add-ins once the wontons are complete totally take this dish to the next level.

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Yes, preparing wontons at home is a bit of a process, but I promise you, it’s totally worth it. I like to make double or triple for what I need when making this soup, because they freeze beautifully. Simply prepare them as followed, them placed them on a sheet tray in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After that, transfer them to a baggie and they will last until you next need them! That way, whenever you have a hankering for wonton soup, you’ll be one step ahead of the game. Enjoy!

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Homemade Wonton Soup {recipe adapted from The Little Kitchen}

Deliciously warm and comforting, with the perfect amount of spice, this wonton soup is absolute perfection. 

Ingredients: Wonton Filling

1 lb. ground chicken

1 lb. shrimp {peeled, deveined and washed, finely diced}

1 cup of your favorite greens, finely shredded

3 green onions, finely diced

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

wonton wrappers

salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients: Broth/Soup Base 

8 to 10 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 large onion, peeled and sliced in half

1 lime, washed and sliced in half

1 large clove of garlic, peeled

1 head baby broccoli, washed and cut into florets

sliced green onions

optional add-ins/toppings: soy sauce, sriracha, soft-boiled egg, sesame oil, kale, arugula

To Prepare:

Add wonton filling ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and mix together, being sure to incorporate well. Everything should be smooth and well combined.

Add water to a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil.

In another {larger} pot, add chicken broth, onion, lime and garlic. Turn onto low heat.

To make the wontons: Add 1/2 Tbsp. filling into the middle of a wonton wrapper, and fold it so that forms a triangle. Flatten out to ensure that there are no air bubbles when boiling. Using your fingers and thumb, pinch the wrapper shut. I find it helpful to lay out an entire baking sheet, brush all edges with a big of egg white, and make an assembly line of sorts…scoop all filling out, then go back and triangle, then go back and pinch shut.

Boil wontons 6 to 8 at a time for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to platter.

While cooking the wontons, increase the heat of the broth to high and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. 1 to 2 minutes before you are ready to serve, add in the baby broccoli florets and green onions.

To serve: place desired amount of wontons into a large soup bowl, and ladle broth over. Garnish with additional toppings.

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individual chicken pot pies

Who wouldn’t want to dive right into a bowl brimming with warm, savory filling and topped off with a flaky pie crust?

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We’re in full-blown, top-of-the-line, let’s-get-a-little-bit crazy comfort food mode her on K.K. As soon as the leaves start changing, my heart {and my tummy} crave rich, savory casseroles and dishes that may or may not require a bit of a nap afterward.

Enter this chicken pot pie. It fits the bill perfectly – a luscious white sauce, piping hot with steam when you puncture the top, and full of chicken and vegetable goodness. But it’s a bit sneaky, y’all! As you’re well aware by now, just because it’s comfort food doesn’t mean it needs to make you feel UNCOMFORTABLE after you’re done eating it. That’s right…I’ve put a bit of a twist on this traditional {and traditionally unhealthy} dish.

I combed through a good amount of recipes until I settled on one to use as my base. By making some minor substitutions, we’re able to capitalize on this dish and enjoy it without the guilt! We’re making individual servings to help with portion control, and only using a top and bottom crust – no sides here! You can make the top crust larger to hang over the dish, or a bit smaller so that the filling bubbles over; it’s whatever you like. And you can skip the bottom crust, but I would recommend leaving it : ) We are also swapping out the whole milk for 1% {if you are a 2% drinker, go ahead and use that!}. The amount of butter we’ll be using to thicken the sauce is just the right amount, and won’t overpower the taste of the chicken and vegetables/herbs. It’s perfectly velvety and smooth, the perfect backdrop for the gorgeous filling.

And don’t feel as though you have to follow the recipe down to a ‘T’! The vegetables I’ve listed out are, honestly, what I had on hand at the time. Sometimes, a girl just doesn’t want to run to the store for one or two things, am I right? So feel free to swap anything out – I could see this being absolutely magical made with an assortment of mushroom and chicken, or do a combination of root vegetables {sweet potato/parsnips/beets} with the chicken, or you could even go meatless! This is truly a dish that’s adaptable to any pantry.

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The best part about this recipe? It will make enough filling for a least 4 individual servings; perfect to serve up as two for now, and then freeze the rest for an easy weeknight meal!

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Individual Chicken Pot Pies {recipe adapted from Food Network}

makes enough for at least 4 individual servings, in bowls with about a 4″ diameter

Steaming, full of warm and hearty goodness, these will be sure to put a smile on your face. Your stomach, and soul, will thank you after enjoying one of these!

Ingredients:

1 box prepared pie crust {I like Pillsbury because it gives two 9″ rounds, enough for a top and bottom crust}

4-1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock

large handful of baby carrots {or 5 medium ones}, evenly diced

1 to 2 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/3 cup 1% milk

3 stalks celery, evenly diced

3 cups shredded chicken, skin removed

1 bag {about 2 to 3 cups} fresh broccoli

salt and pepper, to taste

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a floured surface, lay out both pie crusts and cut out 4 circles. Two will be the same size as the bottom of your individual bowls, and the other two will be slightly larger {to fold over the top and seal in the filling}.

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Spray the dishes with non-stick cooking spray, and lay down the smaller ones in each of the bowls. Prick with a fork and bake in the oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly golden and the edges begin to pull away from the bowl. Set aside.

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Bring the chicken stock, carrots, thyme and oregano to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes; cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onion and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add in the milk and the warm broth mixture and simmer until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken, celery, and broccoli. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer filling into each of the baking dishes, and top with the remaining two pieces of dough – these are larger, so they will drape nicely over the rims, helping to seal in the filling. Make sure to press it tightly against the sides of the dishes!

Place on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving – the filling will be very hot!

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Let’s Discuss: did you ever have the frozen individual pot pies as a kid? What other vegetables do you like to put inside yours? 

ramen bowls with chicken & vegetables

Broth-based soups are the perfect canvas for taking on any flavor you want to impart.

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Whether we’re talking a seafood or meat based, a vegetable base, or a combination of sorts, there is really no limit to the imagination what you can do with a good box of stock {or homemade, if you have that!}. It makes for an easy dish, and warms you to the core.

But sometimes, you want a soup that comes together quickly, no? Sure, using the crockpot is great, or letting it slowly simmer on the stovetop for an hour or so, but sometimes that just won’t do. Tempting as it is, you might want to call in take-out…I won’t judge! But next time you’re thinking of doing so, consider making this soup! It’s bursting with flavor, texture, and color. It comes together in just a quick bit, and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand. If not, go crazy and throw in a few substitutions! – short on arugula?…throw in some kale or spinach. – don’t have any chicken?…frozen shrimp would be great!

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This soup is adaptable to any palette, and soooooo.much.better than any take-out can deliver. It can be easily doubled or tripled for leftovers the next day, too!

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Ramen Bowls with Chicken &Vegetables {recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats, original recipe from Easy Gourmet}

Quick to put together and full of flavor, this ramen bowl will warm you through and through. I especially like it drizzled with some sriracha sauce for a bit of extra flavor – and even more drizzled if I’m feeling a bit under the weather. 

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup sweet corn

1 medium onion, finely diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

8 ounces arugula

1 quart low-sodium chicken stock

6 ounces ramen noodes {I get them at a local Asian market; if that’s not available, a pack from the grocery store will work just fine!}

6 ounces cooked chicken

4 green onions, thinly sliced

optional: toasted sesame oil for drizzling, nori/seaweed pieces from serving

To Prepare:

Begin by soft boiling the eggs so that they can cool. Heat about three inches of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Once boiling, reduce the heat until it’s barely a simmer, add the eggs gently and cook for 6 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place in an ice bath. Let cool completely before peeling.

Prepare the ramen noodles by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Once there, drop in the noodles and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the butter and add the corn, stirring to coat. Add in the onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Once warmed through and the onions are slightly translucent, transfer to a bowl.

Heat the chicken stock just until it’s boiling, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Begin preparing the ramen bowls. In separate sections {it makes for a pretty presentation!} add in the noodles, corn, arugula and chicken.

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Ladle broth over the top, and finish with sliced green onions. The eggs can be halved and served right in the soup, or on the side. Enjoy!