Wednesday, January 29, 2014

crockpot salsa chicken bowls

For those of you who aren't Atlanta natives, let me bring you up to speed.
We are in the midst of the snowpocalypse over here.

It may not look like much, but us Georgians aren't prepared for anything more than flurries that melt as soon as they hit the ground, so this has been quite the disaster.
Like, a people-sleeping-in-their-cars-and-commutes-taking-18-plus-hours disaster.
I was lucky enough to be sent home from work just in time to miss the madness.
Thank goodness!
Joe is off on a business trip this week, so pup and I have been holed up in the apartment snuggling and keeping warm.
{Working from home is the best!}
Except for the couple of times I've pulled him outside to see the sights, which he was not thrilled about to say the least.

This morning, I woke up, took the pup on a walk through the winter wonderland outside, and decided I wanted something cooked low and slow for dinner.
I didn't go grocery shopping before the storm hit {I know, blasphemy}, but luckily I had a couple of staples on hand that I thought would make a decent meal.
And I was right!

This salsa chicken is so so good.
I've made it in the oven before, but it's even better in the crockpot {as most things are}.
Plus, it's incredibly easy to make and multi-functional!
I made a bowl out of it, but it would be delicious as a taco filling or on top of a bed of nachos.

...and my love affair with Mexican food continues.

Things you'll need:

4-5 chicken cutlets {breasts or thighs will also work!}
1 jar of salsa
1 cup of cooked rice
toppings of choice: shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream, cilantro, sauteed's the limit!

Lightly spray your crockpot with cooking spray.
Put chicken in {I used frozen cutlets, no need to thaw!} and cover with salsa.
For five cutlets, I used almost 2 cups of salsa.
As long as the chicken is covered, it'll work!
Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours {or on high for 4-5 hours}.
After chicken is cooked through, use two forks to shred.

Cook rice according to package directions.
You want about a cup of rice for each serving.

Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice.

Sprinkle on toppings of your choice!
Because I didn't grocery shop beforehand, all I had on hand was cheese and low fat sour cream.
I think it'd be great with some shredded lettuce, black beans, and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Maybe even some tortilla strips?
Make it your own!

Stir it up to melt the cheese, and enjoy!

If you're looking for something easy and relatively quick {I mean you really only touch it while you're assembling}, then I definitely recommend this!
Also, it was very filling.
The perfect meal for a day when you're in your pajamas taking refuge from a snowstorm!
{Besides soup, that is...we all know I'm also having a love affair with soup lately.}

How has your week been going?

Besides the weather, everything is pretty slow here.
Just taking it easy with pup, working from home in pajamas, and marking things off the wedding checklist.
Officiant and dj are officially booked!

Hope you're all staying warm!

Friday, January 17, 2014

spicy tortilla soup

You guyyyyyys.
We cannot stop eating tortilla soup.
Like, I make it once a week and if it's not on the menu, Joe requests it.
Every week for at least a month now.

I suppose things could be worse.
If the biggest problem I have is an addiction to tortilla soup, life is going pretty well.

Back in March, I shared a crockpot tortilla soup with you.
Truth be told, we lived off that recipe for a good while.
But sometimes a girl just doesn't have time to prep all the ingredients she needs for a crockpot meal.
I mean, yeah, the crockpot is still one of my favorite appliances and makes undoubtedly some of the best meals that come out of my kitchen.
But what's a girl to do when her boyfriend/now fiance is begging for tortilla soup an hour before dinner?

Make a one-pot tortilla soup that can be ready in 30-45 minutes instead of 6-8 hours.

This soup gives the crockpot version a run for it's money, I will tell you that.
It's warming, makes a delicious broth {which I'm obsessed with lately, if you didn't notice}, and is a tad bit spicy.
Courtesy of the jalapeno and cayenne, of course.
We do it big at our place.

If you're not into the spice though, feel free to leave one {or both} of those ingredients out.
Soup is all about making what comforts you the most.
For us, the more spice the better.

recipe adapted via
Things you'll need:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 tbsp cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of pepper
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth {or 5 1/2 cups of water!}
3/4 can of red enchilada sauce
1 can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Prep your veggies.
Wash, dice, seed, know, the works.

In a pot on medium heat, heat olive oil.
Saute peppers and onion until slightly tender, about five minutes.
Add garlic and jalapeno, and saute for another minute.

Add cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and give it a quick stir.

Now add the chicken.
While I was chopping the veggies, I boiled two pieces of chicken for 15 minutes and then shredded it in my Kitchenaid.
However, if you don't have time for this, you can also just cut your chicken into cubes, toss it in the pan now, and cook it for about 8 minutes, until it's browned on all sides.
I've tried both ways, and both are equally delicious!
{Side note - I think it would also be amazing to stop here and put this mixture on top of some nachos with some beans and cheese...just saying.}

Pour in broth/water, enchilada sauce, and green chiles.
Now is also a great time to add the cilantro, but I forgot to do that so I added mine at the end.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes, however long floats your boat.

Twenty minutes later, all the flavors will be married and your apartment will smell incredible.
Assuming you like the smell of Mexican soup, which we do.

Then, if you're like me, you can stir in the cilantro you should've added earlier.

Serve up and garnish with shredded cheese, a dollop of low fat sour cream, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime...the sky's the limit!
But whatever you do, do NOT forget to crush some tortilla chips on top.
That part is mandatory.

So there you have it!
A quick and easy tortilla soup that is perfect for a weeknight when it's too late for the crockpot to feed you dinner.

This soup is seriously delicious, and I would know because soup is literally all I'm making these days.
Trust me.
I wouldn't steer you wrong when it comes to anything soup/Mexican/cumin related.

What are you up to this weekend?

Joe and I have no plans {what?!} except an appointment at our wedding venue tomorrow to finalize plans and put down our initial deposit.
So exciting!
Except I've been having a mini-meltdown about the date lately.
I'm ready to get this part marked off the list so I can stop thinking about dates nonstop.

I also plan on finally finishing up my Breaking Bad marathon.
It was just as good the second time through as it was the first, no question.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


image via
let me know if you know the original source!
Last year, I did a year in review post.
Obviously I'm a little late to the party this year to get that going again {woops!}, but after looking over the list of things I wanted to accomplish throughout 2013, I realized something.
I actually did accomplish those things in one way or another.

Gym-going was still sporadic, but it happened.
I tried tons of new recipes {and even realized a newfound love for baking}.
Joe and I went on another trip to Mexico.
Pup doesn't beg for food as much {unless he's at his grandparents' house...I'm looking at you, Mr. D!}.
Cleaning wise, I still dread it.
But I got better about keeping the kitchen clean, which was one of the major things I needed to be doing anyway.

Lets just say collectively 2013 was a success, yes?

It's funny, because after writing those resolutions, I don't think I ever looked at them again.
But on some subconscious level I must have known they were out in internet land somewhere because I found myself working on all of them without even realizing it.

So I figured why not try it again?
I realize it's already January 15th...but still.
With all of the things going on this year, it couldn't hurt to make a concrete list somewhere to remind me of who I want to be at the end of the year.
Here are six things I've been thinking about {and I have put some thought into these, hence why it's taken me until the 15th to get this list together}:

1.  De-clutter.  Particularly, my apartment.  It felt so good throwing stuff away when we moved in, and ideally I'd like to continuously be throwing out the junk we don't need {i.e. piles and piles of mail on our dining room table - ugh!}.

2.  Meal plan more often.  Like, every week, not every other week.  And maybe even include a Friday or Saturday so that we're not eating out both of those nights.

3.  Breathe/don't get overwhelmed.  It's two weeks into this engagement, and choosing a venue has proved to be quite stressful.  No one warns you about that, I swear!  So going forward, I'd really like to take a moment every now and then to breathe, look around, and really soak up what's happening around me.  I don't want to forget what all of this is really about - starting a life with Joe.

4.  Write more.  I was a sporadic blogger the latter part of 2013, so in 2014 I want to change that.  I want to share more recipes, as well as write more about my thoughts.  It really does help getting them all out somewhere.  Maybe I'll even start some kind of weekly series this year...Wedding Wednesday, anyone?

5.  Make time.  We are always constantly checking our schedule and booking up weekend after weekend, to the point where sometimes we have to make plans a month in advance!  This year, I want to work on saying "no" more, not feeling obligated to do every single activity I'm asked to do.  I think this will help naturally free up time for the things I really want to do.

6.  Learn what it means to be a good wife.  This one will probably be ongoing for the rest of my life, and it's definitely something I want to continuously be working on.  These days, it seems like a lot of people don't put enough stock into really working at their marriages.  This is not a mistake I intend to make, I can guarantee you that.

So there you have it.  Six things I'd like to work on in 2014.

Did you make any resolutions?
Do you have any advice for me on how to keep some of mine?

Please share!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

scenes from the weekend / whatever's-in-your-pantry soup

Look at me!
Blogging on a Sunday!
Good things are happening in 2014 already, I tell ya!

Truth be told, Joe asked me earlier when I was going to share another recipe because it's been awhile, and that gave me the motivation I needed to crack open my laptop and get to work.
If he's noticing it's been awhile, it has been awhile.

Luckily, I accidentally made a good soup tonight!
I say accidentally because it was literally by luck alone that it turned out so good.

Sundays are usually the day that I do my grocery shopping, but today I just wasn't feeling it.
{Although I did manage to get to the gym!  I'll see you soon, wedding dress!}
So around dinnertime, I decided to just throw all the veggies we have into a pot with some chicken and see what I could come up with.
Make it up as I go along, if you will.

FYI, sometimes the best dinners happen when you do this.

This soup was light, yet surprisingly hearty because of the potatoes, and extremely warming thanks to the seasonings that made up the broth.
Which reminds me, I have this new thing I'm doing.
Instead of using chicken/beef/vegetable broth in all of my soups lately, I've been using water instead.
This is a trick I've learned watching The Chew everyday for the last six months.
Michael Symon always uses water instead of broth because 1. it's cheaper {aka free}, and 2. it allows the ingredients to really shine, which I have found to be completely true.
And seriously, you can't beat free!

Don't let the water trick scare you.
We seriously haven't noticed any difference in the flavor of any soup I've tried this with, so I don't think I'll ever go back!

Anyway, back to the soup.
This is totally customizable, so feel free to change it up wherever you like.
But here's what I did.

Things you'll need:

2 chicken cutlets, cubed
1/2 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 russet potatoes, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
5 1/2 cups water
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
poultry seasoning, to taste
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper {optional}


Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large soup pot.
Liberally season chicken with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning, and cook for 4-5 minutes, until all sides are browned.
Add onion and garlic and sauté until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add carrots, celery, and potatoes.  Give them all a quick toss, then add the water.
Add a good pinch of salt and pepper, another dash or two of poultry seasoning, and the oregano and cayenne pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

This was super easy, ready in about 30 minutes, and Joe loved it!
Probably because it was simple, and when it comes to food for him, simple is better.
Also, who doesn't love a warm, brothy soup on a chilly day?
Days like this are made for soup.

I call this 'whatever's in your pantry' soup because, seriously, I think this would work with any veggie you had on hand.
Have some fresh green beans you haven't used?  Toss 'em in!
Leftover zucchini or squash you don't want to throw away?  Yep.
Heck, I think this would even be great with some spinach or kale ribbons added in near the end.
The more color the better if you ask me.

Other fun things that happened this weekend include:

Eating the largest taco salad known to man.
{I went to the gym today, don't look at me like that!}

Reliving our engagement with some Katheryn Hall cabernet.
{Joe proposed with a similar bottle, story to come soon!}

Catching up on blogs and breaking in my new favorite coffee cup on a lazy Sunday morning.
Thanks, Kayla!

The most important activity, which is not pictured here, was having brunch at Cafe Intermezzo and shopping for a wedding venue with my sweet groom-to-be.
We looked at three {his parents coming along for two}, and I think we may have found the place!
A hold has been placed on a date while we make our final decision, but once the plans are made I'll make it official and share it here.
Because nothing is really official until it's announced via blog.

How was your weekend?

I hope you're watching the Golden Globes with me right now so we can discuss later.
All I'll say for now is WAY TO GO, BRYAN CRANSTON!

Friday, January 10, 2014

happy new year!

Can you believe it's already 2014?!

When people use the phrase "last year," in my head that means 2003.
I have no idea why.
It's like my brain stopped moving in time after 2003.

I'm the worst blogger ever these days. 
No Christmas recap, no year in review, nothing.
Things have just been crazy over here.
Particularly because...

Joe proposed on December 30th!
To say that it was a surprise would be a gross understatement.
I don't think he could have caught me any more off guard.

While I was at work that day, he met up with some of my girlfriends to go ring shopping.
I'm telling you, if you need help picking out a ring, these three are the dream team.
It's been almost two weeks, and I still catch myself just staring at it.

I'd like to do a post for the engagement story all on its own, so I won't say too much yet.
But it was just perfect.
The whole thing.
That guy of mine...well he's a keeper.

After what will always be the best December 30th of my life, we spent the rest of the holiday celebrating the new year {and the engagement!} with friends.
New Years Eve was spent eating at my favorite restaurant {Spice}, playing Cards Against Humanity, and drinking lots of pomosas.
Party hats and horns may or may not have been involved.

Also, in our newly engaged bliss, we thought it was very important that Joe know what it feels like to have someone go down on one knee for him.
I'm not sure if he really thought it was as magical as I did, but he got the gist.

Since then, the only thing I have gotten accomplished is starting a bunch of new projects at work {good} and overwhelming myself with wedding research {bad}.
I'm starting to find the balance though, slowly but surely.
And I'm not going to lie, it's kind of great that 75% of my friends are married already and can give me advice.
One day at a time.
I did get my bridesmaids all picked out, so at least I can mark that off the list.

Etsy is going to be the death of me.

How was your NYE?
And your Christmas?
Tell me about your lives!

I will be back with a recipe next week.
Heck, maybe even this weekend if I'm feeling crazy.

Hope you all had the happiest holiday season!

Post-holiday blues have officially arrived.