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Taco Salad

19 Aug

It has been a crazy month as my father has gotten a kidney transplant after waiting for three years.  While we rejoice in that, mama has not been in the kitchen.  Daddy has done a fabulous job, but he doesn’t care to take pictures before he eats. 🙂

A great, quick, go to pantry meal is taco salad.  I used to mix all of my ingredients together and serve.  However, in doing that, no one wanted to eat the leftovers because the lettuce and chips were soggy.  In a great kitchen epiphany, I decided the best way to be sure no leftovers were wasted was to keep the “guts” of my taco salad separate from both the lettuce and the chips.

First, I brown some ground beef and drain it.  Add it back to the skillet,  toss in a drained can of black beans and a can of drained diced tomatoes.  (I used my beloved Red Gold petite diced) EDITED TO ADD: I also add about a tablespoon each of chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.  You can add some taco seasoning if you prefer.  Thanks for pointing that out Jen!

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of sour cream and 3/4 cup of Catalina salad dressing.  Add beef mixture and mix well.  On a plate, put crushed chips, chopped iceburg lettuce, beef mixture, salsa and top with cheese.  Sorry for the photo.  It looks gross, but it tastes yummy. 🙂


Pantry Chicken Pasta

3 Aug

Even though I am back to grocery shopping this month, I am still on a quest to see what needs to be used up so that our pantry stock stays rotated and fresh.  There were a couple of boxes of partially used pasta and some chopped cooked chicken that needed to be used.  There was also this can of tomatoes I had been wanting to try in some kind of dish:

I cannot begin to express to you my love for Red Gold tomatoes.  Not all canned tomatoes are created equal, my friends.  I am not a tomato lover, and Red Gold tomatoes make my mouth sing!  I do use other brands when I have to (after all, I get them free!), however, when I want something to taste amazing I go to a can of Red Gold.  I absolutely love petite diced tomatoes over regular diced.  Regular diced are way too chunky for my liking.  This can was flavored with garlic and olive oil and they were amazing.  If you have regular diced tomatoes, be sure to add a couple cloves of garlic and a splash of olive oil.

Pantry Chicken Pasta

1 lb. pasta, any shape

1 can cream of chicken soup

8 oz. processed cheese spread (just use a couple of cups of shredded cheddar if the thought of processed cheese makes your stomach do flip flops)

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (be sure to add the garlic and olive oil if your tomatoes are unflavored, it adds so much!)

1/2 cup milk

2 cups diced chicken

Cooked your pasta al dente and drain.  Throw it back in the pot and add the rest of the ingredients and stir until all is heated through and cheese is melted.

My Fridge Food

20 Jul

My friend Danavee recommended a website when she heard of my “no spend pantry challenge” month.  It is called My Fridge Food.  It is what the name implies.  Just input what is in your fridge and pantry and it gives you a list of recipes based on what ingredients you have.  It also gives you all the nutrition information, which is super helpful.  My recipe tonight comes from that site.  It was super simple which is what I needed tonight.  I cooked it in the oven, but I’m guessing it would turn out delightful in the crockpot if you are not like me and decided what to make for dinner at 5:30 p.m.  So go check out My Fridge Food and tell me what you think!


Cola Chicken

1  cup cola (I used a throwback Pepsi)

1 cup catsup

salt and pepper to taste

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Wisk together cola, castup, salt and pepper.  Pour a small amount in the bottom of a 9×13 pan.  Place chicken in pan and pour remaining sauce over it.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, baste with the sauce and bake for another 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Mark and I thought it was tasty and the kids scarfed it down like wild beasts.

Three Cheese Pasta

19 Jul

So tonight was the night that I struggled with wanting to rush out the door to Steak and Shake for a yummy steakburger.  However, unlike the pizza, what I made was nothing like a steakburger.  Oh well.  You can’t win them all, but I am still sticking to our goals!  This recipe didn’t come from anywhere.  It was a random concoction and it was rich and delicious.  Enjoy.

Three Cheese Pasta

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 lb. box of pasta shape of your choice

While your pasta is cooking according to the box directions, put the cheeses and spaghetti sauce in a saucepan and start heating on med-low heat.  Cover and stir frequently so it doesn’t burn.  I whisked it several times at the end, just to get any remaining big cheese chunks to smooth out.  Then, drain your pasta, stick it in a serving bowl and pour the sauce on:

Stir it all up and serve with super yummy take and bake bread you got on Saturday at the food bank. 🙂

Creamy Pasta and Chicken

14 Jul

We get breaded chicken donated by Brakebush chicken on a regular basis.  Sometimes we get tired of eating it, or just want to do something different with it.  This is how I was feeling today, so I made up a recipe to use up some of the chicken and to finish up my carton of half and half.   It was tasty and filled our bellies.


approx. 1-1.5 pounds of breaded chicken tenders (or chunks, whatever you have as you will chop them up anyway)

2 cups half and half (I’d imagine milk would work too)

1 packet vegetable soup mix

2 cups shredded cheese (any kind you prefer, I used colby)

1 pound pasta, cooked and drained (I used multi color bow tie)

First, toss your breaded chicken tenders in the oven to cook.  I used approximately 12 tenders and cooked them at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

As your pasta is cooking, whisk together your half and half and your soup mix.  Let that cook on medium until the vegetables are tender, whisking frequently.  When the vegetables are tender, add in the cheese and whisk until smooth.

Meanwhile, chop up your cooked chicken into bite size pieces.  Drain your pasta.  Place pasta and chicken  in a large bowl.  Pour in your sauce and mix well, till all is coated.  Enjoy!

Tex Mex Chicken and Rice Bake

13 Jul

This is what we had last night. I served it with a salad and cornbread. You know you have over cooked your cornbread when your husband sees you cutting it and said “Oh, that’s cornbread? I thought it was brownies”. 🙂 It was still a good meal and filled our bellies. My youngest two children just picked out the chicken and ate it. I found this recipe on Cindy’s blog and adapted it to what I had on hand. Enjoy!


1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
1/2 cup water
1 cup whole kernel corn (I used frozen)
3/4 cup instant rice
1 lb frozen, fully cooked chicken breast strips
3 oz cheddar cheese, shredded

Stir the soup, salsa, water, corn and rice together in a large bowl. Stir in the chicken. Put in a 2qt shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Let stand until cheese is melted.

Eating Out of The Pantry

11 Jul

Sometimes finances for students here at Concordia Seminary dictate some frugal food creativity.  For July, we are not spending any money on food (or anything else!) except for milk and if we absolutely have to, eggs.  We get fresh fruits and vegetables (that are at the end of life and need to be used up in a few days) on Saturdays at our Sem food bank.  We also get bread at the food bank and twice a month we get canned staples and a few frozen items.  Obviously, we can do a little more with that to work with then someone who does not have these resources.  Hopefully this will still inspire you to dig around if your freezer and cabinets and eat the food you have!

Here are a couple recipes to get you started.  I will try to get pictures of our food from here on out.  I’m not a food stylist.  Please don’t judge. 😉

Great macaroni salad that I took as our contribution to our weekly community BBQ:

Picnic Macaroni Salad from Fresh Plate

Saturday I made Spanish Rice and served it with Cheese Roll Ups:

Spanish Rice:

2 T. olive oil (or whatever you have)

1/4 cup chopped onions

1 small green pepper, chopped

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup chili sauce

1 cup quick cooking rice

Cook the onions and pepper in oil until slightly soft.  Add tomatoes, water and chili sauce and bring to a boil.  Add rice.  Cover and cook five minutes.  Uncover and let cook until liquid is mostly evaporated and rice is tender.  I’m sure you could do this with long grain rice too, just adjusting the liquid and cooking times.

Cheese Roll Ups

8 flour tortillas

4oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Spray an 8.5×11 pan with cooking spray.  Roll shredded cheese in tortillas and place in pan.  Cook at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese is just melted.  Don’t let your tortillas get too crunchy. 🙂

Happy Cooking!