Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Barbecue Favorites

It felt like forever for summer to officially arrive and now that it has, it's going by so quickly! Like many of you, some of my favorite moments are those relaxed evenings spent with friends and family outdoors. Grilling our favorite foods, sharing appetizers, salads and desserts; all while surrounded by the bon fire.

Today I've teamed up with some of my Iowa blogger friends and we've got one spectacular selection of recipes for you. Everything from homemade mayo for those burgers and sandwiches to sweet, delicious strawberry ice cream. Still working on your Fourth of July menu? No worries, we've got you covered!


This first recipe comes from myself and is one of my absolute favorites to make during the summer. Veggie crostini is a perfect starter and a great way to make use of those garden fresh veggies. I can seriously make a meal out of these babies!

 Ally from Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats has an awesome grilled summer party bread she's sharing today. Garlic, bacon and cheese all stuffed into bread? Sounds perfect to me!

Main Dishes:

Jenny over at In the Kitchen with Jenny has my mouth watering with her grilled baby back ribs with whiskey bbq sauce. I love her step-by-step instructions, you won't feel intimidated when preparing these for your next barbecue.

Speaking of step-by-step instructions, Kelli from The Sustainable Couple shows us just how easy it is to butterfly a pork loin. Plus you'll love her brown sugar rub she slathers on before grilling!

Now maybe you've grilled up some chicken breasts and have leftovers sitting in the fridge. Or you just feel like something a little different than grilled hot dogs and burgers. Give this classy chicken salad a try! Mackenzie from Life in Kenzie's Kitchen is sharing this new favorite and chicken salad always seems to be a big hit especially during the summer.

Side Dishes:

I love how Jeni of Jeni Eats incorporates fresh bell peppers and green onions into this healthy quinoa salad. It won't be long before bell peppers will be plentiful in our gardens and I personally cannot wait to try this!

I'm a big sucker for salads. Sometimes I'd rather fill my plate with sides rather than the main dish and Jenny's spring pasta salad is no exception. The sweet and tangy sauce is key and you've got to love the extra crunch the veggies provide. All around a real crowd pleaser!


We can't forget our seasonings. Ally has a really simple all-purpose meat and veggie rub that she uses on just about anything. Toss all the spices together into one jar and you're ready to go. Next time you throw steaks on the grill along with veggies, add some of this rub for extra flavor.

Making my own mayonnaise has been on my to-do list for quite some time now. After reading Kelli's post and seeing just how easy it is, I can't wait to give her homemade mayo recipe a try! I bet BLTs will taste so much better now.


We can't forget the sweet stuff now can we? Michelle from Simplify, Live, Love has a really neat (and healthy if I might add) idea for a sweet treat. I know my girls would go crazy over her easy summer fruit snack. You could also add in some vanilla ice cream if you wanted.

Easy Kool-Aid Pie donnahup #CollectiveBias #KoolOff

Donna has a really neat pie that involves Kool-aid. As a child, we grew up on this fruit drink but I never thought to incorporate it into a dessert. Easy Kool-Aid pie looks like something even the kids could help make and I bet even more fun to eat!

You can never go wrong with ice cream, especially strawberry ice cream. Our local farm still has many berries left for picking and I've always wanted to try making my own, this would be a great way to end our meal. Yudith of Blissfully Delicious leaves us with this mouth watering dessert.

As you gather with friends and family this summer, I hope you'll add many of these dishes to your menu. Everything looks amazing and I for one, am anxious to try some of my friend's recipes!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Berry Fruit Crisp

Last Saturday after we finished up with our garage sale, the girls and I ventured back out to the strawberry farm. Although it was the middle of the afternoon and very warm, I was determined to pick another twenty pounds for jam making and to fill my freezer with. I spent Monday making jam, we got 15 jars stashed in the freezer and that should be plenty. I'm a little sad that I've only managed to get three quart sized bags of sliced berries in the freezer for winter. We've been eating them so much that they disappear quickly.

Since there wasn't much left and I really haven't made anything with them like I originally planned, I thought of this fruit crisp. Crisps are the perfect summer desserts! You can add practically any type of fruit or berry and top with that delicious brown sugar-oat crumble topping and it's absolutely delicious.

Look how browned and crunchy that gets. And served warm with a scoop of ice cream, I really don't think there's anything better.

You know, Fourth of July is exactly one week away. With berries being in abundance this time of year, I think it's only right you add this to your menu. I went with blueberry and strawberry only because that's what I had in the fridge. Of course, blackberry and raspberry would be great additions. It's a perfect crowd pleaser and so easy to whip up. I'll also note, this dessert is best served the day it's made or the day after. After that it starts to get mushy and I love that crunchy topping to stay that way.

Berry Fruit Crisp

5 cups fruit {I used 2 c blueberries, 3 c halved strawberries}
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

crumble topping:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 stick butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together three cups of the fruit with the flour, sugar, salt, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir to combine well. Spread berries into bottom of prepared pan. Top with the remaining two cups of berries.

To make the topping: In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon and salt. Stir together using a fork or whisk. Add in cubed butter and stir together using your hands or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle topping over berries. Bake for 45 minutes or until berries are bubbly and topping is browned. Remove from oven and let cool before serving. Best served just slightly warmed and with vanilla ice cream on top.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

I've officially gotten my garage sale behind me, it was a huge success! I am so glad I was able to get rid of pretty much everything. I have a few items that got thrown into the donation pile and then a couple totes that will be taken into our local consignment shop for sale. They sure are a lot of work, but my home already feels so much more open and less cluttered. I'm ready to relax a little bit more and continue enjoying my summer with the girls.

I've come across some really neat things lately and can't wait to share them with you. Let's take a peek:


My kids absolutely love watermelon, well who am I kidding, they love any sort of fruit! But seriously, they will eat an entire one within 24 hours. So I know they would love this healthy watermelon taffy from my friend Kristen. This will be one snack we definitely need to make this summer.

The fourth of July is just next week and while I don't know if we'll actually get these made, I can't get over how cute these tank tops are. They look really easy to make too!

Sweet Kale Salad -

Our CSA box is just getting started and I know we'll be receiving a lot of kale in the coming weeks. Sometimes I know it can get overwhelming trying to figure out what to do with all these greens. That's why  I really like this sweet kale salad, I think the girls would even like it because I can incorporate some of their favorite fruits into it.


I shared this post on my personal facebook page earlier this week. I think as moms it's important that we remember how much our bodies have been through. It's not an easy task by any means. So why are we so hard on ourselves? To keep this perfect image, comparing ourselves with other moms. I'm guilty of it as well, especially as I look around the pool as see many other moms that have flatter stomachs than I do. But that's okay. I've learned to be happy in my own body and it won't keep me from playing with my girls and enjoying every single moment with them!

Last but not least, I shared this picture on Facebook last night. Beginning July 1st, I'll be devoting an entire month on the blog to nothing but freezer cooking. I can't tell you how excited I am for this! There will be lots of new recipes and ideas plus some of my old favorites incorporated. The hope is to give you some new inspiration for meal times and encouragement to jump on board if you're new to freezer cooking. Plan to cook along with me if you want, we can fill our freezers together for the whole month of July. It's going to be a great time!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ways to Use Leftover Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is one of my most favorite meals, I love trying new ways and methods to prepare it and it's usually the only thing I order when we visit a favorite restaurant in town. Not everyone shares the same excitement in our family, especially the hubby. They'll all eat it just fine but are done after one meal.

So to not get bored eating sandwiches day after day, I try to get creative and change it up a bit. Today I'm sharing some of my favorite suggestions for using up leftover pork, whether it's slathered in barbecue sauce or plain.

Many times when I prepare a roast whether it be in a slow cooker or using the dutch oven, it's meant to be for pulled pork {or beef}. I have a couple of recipes I like, found here and here. Last week I did take the slow cooker route but instead of using pop {we've since eliminated that from our house altogether} I added just a little bit of water and liquid smoke to the pot. Broth would be great to use also. The meat ended up being very tender and full of flavor.

Our roast was on the smaller side, which meant I didn't have tons of leftovers like I might normally have. For the next couple days my lunch consisted of a baked potato topped with cheddar cheese and some of our barbecue pork mixture. A simple, yet filling meal.

It's been awhile since I've made this particular dish, but barbecue chicken and penne skillet is a great way to make use for any type of barbecue meat, whether it be pork, beef or chicken. I remember making this for the daycare kiddos and they loved it. Usually anything with pasta is a hit with children. I should also add this meal is made from start to finish in under 25 minutes!

While I don't have any pictures for these next suggestions, I think they're worth sharing:

barbecue pulled pork pizza- add any of your favorite toppings such as sliced red onion, maybe some spinach or arugula and of course extra barbecue sauce

tostadas- use any type of meat for this and if you don't normally add barbecue sauce while your roast is cooking, this will be perfect. Shred the meat and top over tostada shells, layer with lettuce, tomato, peppers, avocado, cheese, sour cream and salsa.

nachos- a fun appetizer, again layer meat over tortilla chips. Top with cheese and heat until melted. Then again, you can top with some of your favorite veggies and serve with salsa if desired.

salads- for a healthier spin, top your favorite garden veggies with leftover meat. This would make for a healthy lunch or light dinner.

lettuce wraps- again for a meal that's lighter and healthy, use large leaf lettuce, make just like you would a taco or wrap.

I hope I've given you some good inspiration for next time you're faced with a large bowl of leftovers. I'm sure there are tons more of ideas out there that I haven't written down for you. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Breakfast Quinoa

Quinoa {pronounced keen-wah} has been all the rage in the last couple years. I've seen countless variations on how to prepare it, mostly savory. While I'm not the most experienced cook with it, I have enjoyed incorporating it into our meals occasionally.

When it comes to breakfast, I can't help it, I have a major sweet tooth and love everything from muffins to cinnamon rolls. Of course those will not typically leave me feeling full for too long. When I was planning out our menu for the week, I thought it might be fun to try a sweet quinoa dish, specifically for breakfast. Why not, right?

We love oatmeal in our house and I figured it might turn out quite similar. Plus it gave me a chance to use up the last of our strawberries that we picked last week. In a word, yum! Seriously, very good and simple.

It was just enough for two people, our oldest and I split the small batch. The other two little ones, well I couldn't interest them in it just yet. We'll keep trying! I cooked the quinoa in coconut milk and I really believe, even if you don't like coconut, you'll like this. You won't be able to taste it. If not, substitute almond milk.

There's a subtle sweetness and the fresh berries were the perfect addition. We did end up drizzling just a tad bit of honey over top, it made the whole dish very delicious. And of course, we were full, like really full. I felt satisfied all morning long and didn't have the urge to grab a snack at all. I definitely think we'll try incorporating breakfast quinoa into our menu more often, there's so many more variations we can try that I'm sure it'll never get old.

Breakfast Quinoa

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tbsp water
3/4 cup coconut milk
pinch of salt
1 tbsp brown sugar
desired toppings such as: toasted coconut, fresh berries, bananas, honey

Rinse quinoa in water using a fine mesh sieve. Do this a couple times, this will help to remove the bitter taste that coats the quinoa. Add quinoa, water, coconut milk, salt and brown sugar to a small saucepan; combine well. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.  Then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. You'll want to constantly stir mixture during the last one-two minutes of cooking.

Once all liquid is absorbed, fluff the quinoa using a fork. Cover pan with lid again and let set for about 10 minutes while you prepare your desired toppings. I found this to help the quinoa dry up a bit more so it wasn't mushy.

Divide quinoa into two bowls, top with fresh fruit, coconut or almonds and drizzle with honey if desired. Serve warm.  Serves 2.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Strawberry Salsa

Sounds like most of us in the Midwest might have gotten some nasty weather last night. We had tornado warnings for our area but thankfully nothing ever touched down. Instead we got some much needed rain, maybe a little too much though in such a short amount of time. Our youngest was a little scared and they were all up later than normal because of the storms, so I'm letting them sleep in a bit this morning.

Last week we trekked out to our favorite local strawberry farm and did our annual picking. It was beautiful that morning we went; sun was shining and there was a breeze going so we were not hot by any means. With the girls having their dance performances all weekend long I only wanted to get one box, I'd hate for them to spoil before I had time to process them all. So we ended up with about 10 lbs. of berries for our first picking. We'll head out either tomorrow or Thursday and try to get another twenty pounds so I can fill our freezer with jam and sliced berries to use throughout the winter.

The contents of our first box seems to be diminishing quickly. The girls are going to the fridge and grabbing a handful of berries to snack on frequently. But I did manage to get this salsa made last night. The hubby gave me a funny look when I pulled out strawberries, a cucumber, cilantro and a jalapeno and set them out on the counter. I promised him it would be good.

It might seem like a strange concoction but I swear it's really good! I let the flavors meld together overnight before I tried taking a picture this morning. My berries are also so ripe and juicy, hence why everything looks red in the bowl. The berries of course offer a sweetness to the salsa, but I love how the jalapeno and cilantro counter that so it's not too sweet. I didn't add any of the jalapeno seeds to my batch just because I didn't want the kiddos to think it was too hot. It's very mild, but if you'd like some kick make sure to add a few of those in.

I love this time of year and making salsa, it's a favorite snack of ours or when it's simply too hot we can even make a meal out of it. I think this would also be great served on top of grilled chicken or fish. That might be something I need to try soon.

Strawberry Salsa

1 large cucumber, diced
2 cups diced strawberries
1 jalapeno, finely diced
handful of chopped cilantro
2 tbsp of honey OR 1/4 cup of brown sugar, for a little sweetness

Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl and combine well. Season with a little bit of salt if desired. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.


Did you catch my newest giveaway from last Friday? Make sure to enter, one lucky person will win an ultimate summer grilling package, it contains some awesome prizes, including $50 in free pork coupons which are good at any local grocery store. Perfect for all of those summer barbecues!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spice Rubbed Pork Loin BLT Sliders

I'm really excited about today's post as it's been awhile since I've offered you all a giveaway! I have recently teamed up with the Iowa Pork Producers Association for their first ever Iowa Blogger Pork Partnership.

 The Iowa Pork Producers is an organization that works within the community to educate and promote for a sustainable, socially responsible, profitable and globally competitive pork industry. They've got a ton of great information and tools on their website, including recipes, so make sure you check those out.

I was given a chance to look through all of their recipes and choose one to prepare and share with my readers. Let me tell you, this was hard. Everything looked wonderful. In the end, I decided on these sliders. I knew it was something the whole family would like and they seemed fun.

I love little sandwiches like these, especially for parties and get togethers. I started the pork loin right away for dinner that night; I know this won't be your go-to quick and easy weeknight meal but perhaps prepare the pork loin ahead of time or save for the weekend when you're not as rushed While that was roasting in the oven, I was able to get everything else prepared and ready for assembly. Nothing complicated all, I like that.

The sauce is really key to this slider, it really makes the whole thing in my opinion. Honestly, I was the only one in the family that even tried it. I didn't push it with the others because I know how they are. However, it's very simple to throw together and would be great on so many other dishes. Perhaps throwing on other burgers, dipping french fries or chips in or maybe even some veggies.

Spice Rubbed Pork Loin BLT Sliders w/Dijon Remoulade

For the Dijon remoulade:
1 cup mayo
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
3 tbsp dill pickle relish
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp black pepper

For the pork:
2 lb. boneless pork-loin roast
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

24 small dinner rolls, King's Hawaiian
2 cups baby arugula or lettuce
3 plum or Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
12 slices bacon, cooked, each cut into quarters to make 48 pieces

For the remoulade, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all spices for the pork loin together and generously rub all over the pork loin. Place on a rack of a roasting pan and let cook in the oven for 10 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast for another 60 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, inserted into the middle of the loin, the temp should read 145 degrees. Let meat stand for 10 minutes.

To serve, carve roast crosswise into thin slices. Divide meat into 24 portions, probably about 2 slices for each slider. Top each bun with remoulade, pork, arugula, tomato and finish with two small pieces of bacon. Sliders are best served warm.

Now, I know you want to make these, don't you? How fun would they be served up this summer at a barbecue? To get you started, I've got a pretty sweet giveaway, courtesy of the Iowa Pork Producers Association. One lucky winner will receive the following:

$50 in pork coupons
A 3-piece grilling tool set
Bottle of a local BBQ sauce
Pork Be Inspired apron
Meat thermometer

You may enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below, you'll have two chances to win. You have until June 20th at midnight to enter, then I will have Rafflecoptor pick a winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to the Iowa Pork Producers Association! They provided me with $20 in pork coupons, an apron and meat thermometer in order to help bring this post to you. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cookies n' Cream Snack Mix

It's been awhile since I've made you a ridiculously decadent dessert. Something that has no nutritional value at all, but you won't care because it tastes good. Everything in moderation, right?

This concoction came to me, sort out of the blue, when I noticed we had two opened boxes of Chex cereal needing to be used up. In fact, I think my mother-in-law gave them to me after she had made a savory snack mix herself and didn't want them to go to waste. The hubby had just bought a package of Oreos for the kids, because of course he can't say no to them when they go to the store.

It's sort a fun little spin on the popular puppy chow everyone loves. Instead, I melted some vanilla almond bark, drizzled that over the cereal and mixed everything all together with crushed Oreos. It's sweet, you definitely only need a little bit, but it tastes just like Oreo cookies. I think even some broken pretzel pieces would be a great addition.

Cookies n' Cream Snack Mix

14 oz. box Chex cereal
24 oz. package vanilla almond bark
15 Oreo cookies, crushed

Dump cereal into a large bowl and set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, melt almond bark in 30 second intervals until melted and creamy. Meanwhile, pulse Oreo cookies through a food processor.

Drizzle melted almond bark over cereal, using a large wooden spoon start mixing together. Sprinkle crushed Oreos into bowl and fold together well.

Lay out two large pieces of wax or parchment paper onto the counter. Spread mixture onto paper and let cool. Once set, store in large airtight containers.


So summer vacation has officially begun in our house!  The girls finished up their last day on Monday. I was afraid I would have a sad little 6-year-old again, but she did good. We're off to enjoy a little pool time later this afternoon and then strawberry picking tomorrow!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Freezer Meal Gift Basket #2

Last July I shared with you a gift I made for one of my friends whom had just had her fourth baby. I had never made anything like this before but knew I wanted to combine my love of freezer cooking with something that would benefit her and her family in the coming weeks. Now if I had unlimited resources and time, I honestly would have stocked her freezer for months to come; but we know that's not possible. So I settled on a few items I thought they would enjoy.

Today, that first freezer meal basket is my most popular post on the blog. I can't get over the excitement about this idea, I only wish I would have thought of it sooner! I'm so glad that others are able to share this sort of gift with their friends and family, because all of us moms know how wonderful it is to have home cooked meals within arms reach during those first weeks home with the little one.

I used some of my free time last week to work on another basket for one of my good friends. She's due with her second child any day now and I know how much this will help them while they're getting adjusted to having another child in the home.

I had a hard time finding just the right container for the meals, I really had hoped for one of the cloth totes I used last year. I finally settled on this nesting basket, I figured it's got plenty of space for other storage such as toys. Plus I love the handles!

I included the following items:

Mini pancake bites - both blueberry and sausage
Twice baked potatoes
Meatloaf burgers
Overnight coffee cake
Mexican chicken stuffed shells

Each recipe makes quite a bit, especially for smaller families. The stuffed shells for example, I was able to get three pans of 12 shells. That's like three separate meals for them. When preparing a gift like this, it helps to know some of their favorites, things they don't like and any allergies. Fortunately I think my friends are probably some of the most easy going people and like just about anything.

So there you have it, another awesome gift to surprise a new mom with. I love making these, they are a lot of fun and much appreciated.

Have you ever done anything like this for a friend or family member? Share some of your stories below, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pretzel Crusted Fruit Pizza

Today calls for something a little sweet. We've done great this week eating lots of greens and other veggies, going for long walks every day and drinking lots of water. I figured we'd earned a treat and fruit pizza is one of my favorite desserts to make in the summer.

This time I'm changing it up a bit, instead of a typical sugar cookie crust, I thought I'd go with a salty, crunchy pretzel one. It's the perfect salty, sweet combo!

Combined with my go-to cheesecake filling and fresh fruit, it's one delicious dessert.  Add these ingredients to your grocery list for the weekend, pull the kids up to the counter and get to making this. It's simple and fun for them to be involved.

Pretzel Crusted Fruit Pizza

3 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup sugar
2 sticks cold butter, cubed
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. tub whipped cream
1 cup powdered sugar
assorted fresh fruit

To prepare crust: Pulse pretzels through a food processor, add crumbs to a medium bowl. Add sugar and mix to combine. Cut in butter using a pastry blender, until crumbs form. Press mixture into a pizza pan, mine was twelve inches round. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, just until set. Remove from oven and let cool. Chill in the fridge for at least thirty minutes.

In the meantime, cream together powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in whipped cream. Once crust is chilled, spread filling over crust. Decorate with assorted fruit. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

It's been a few weeks since I've shared one of these posts, so let's sit down and chat a little while.

Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Sparkly, Safe Faith Is No Longer Enough

We've already established how much I love to read so I have to share this book I finished last week. It's probably one of the best I've read all year so far! Blogger Kristen Welch from We are THAT family shares her personal story of saying "yes" to God and stepping out of her comfort zone to do what he has called her to. After visiting Africa in the heart of the slums she knows there's no going back to her normal life, she feels compelled to make a change. I don't want to spoil it for you, so I'll leave it at that. I highly encourage you to add this to your summer reading list.

Family Summer Bucket List - Exploring Iowa and the Midwest

Do you make a summer bucket list? I usually try to have a few things in mind that we'd like to do each year, whether they be small trips, specific craft activities the girls want to work on and what have you. Val from Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids shares her family's bucket list for this year. I'm planning to have the girls each give me 2-3 ideas and we'll compile them all together and see what we come up with.

I finally got my hands on some rhubarb and I'm anxious to make something with it. Michelle's whole wheat strawberry rhubarb muffins look fantastic!

Easy Cucumber Tomato Salad Recipe from A Kitchen Addiction

I'm definitely tucking away this recipe for Easy Cucumber Tomato Salad for when these veggies are in season here in Iowa. I love all the colors and it looks very flavorful too.

Lemon Blueberry Cake | Cooking Classy

We can't get away without sharing dessert now, and I love anything with lemon. This lemon blueberry cake is making me drool! How good would this be at a barbecue? Yum!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Thank you so much for all of your encouraging words regarding Friday's post. I'm already enjoying my time off, the girls still have school until next Monday, but the little miss and I have plenty to keep us busy. We were able to grocery shop early this morning, go for a nice walk and watch our first grader and her class perform a cute little play at school this afternoon.

I'm sure I'm not the only one with busy evenings now that summer's starting. We don't have the usual softball schedule this year but we're still finishing up dance lessons right now and rehearsing for the girls' big performance that will take place next weekend. That means multiple trips to the dance studio each night and quick dinners.

That's when I especially love to make use of my crock pot. I threw together this chicken taco mixture last week and it turned out fabulous! The meat was so flavorful, I almost thought it had sort of an enchilada flavor going on. The rest of the family had theirs with flour tortilla shells but I really liked my serving on these large lettuce leaves I've been picking up at our farmers' market. We'll be sick of salads soon but I love taking advantage of all the fresh greens available right now.

Go ahead and use this chicken mixture for tacos, taco salads, nachos, enchiladas, even a Mexican style pizza. I love how versatile it can be and I bet it would be great to freeze. Make up a double batch and store half in the freezer for another meal. I love when I'm able to do that.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes w/garlic & olive oil
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp chili powder
small handful chopped cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh tomato, bell pepper, lettuce and avocado for topping
tortillas, if desired

Place chicken breasts in bottom of crock pot. Pour all ingredients over top (do not drain tomatoes). Cover and let cook on low for 5-6 hours. Shred chicken and let cook one more hour in the sauce.

When ready to serve, you'll want to drain the chicken a bit. Serve over tortilla shells or using large lettuce leaves like I did. Top with desired toppings.
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