Meal Plan – February 8th – Febuary 14th

  • Friday: Family Dinner Out – North Star American Bistro – This is a restaurant I actually forgot about, but we ended up at due to their not having a wait on a Friday night when we’d already stopped at 2 other restaurants with hour+ long waits. I started with the Chestnut Manhattan, which I was looking forward to having again immediately after my first sip. Not surprisingly, we ordered calamari, which was very good. I loved my entrée of short ribs, cheesy mashed potatoes, and sautéed spinach. Unfortunately, Jim did not care for his entrée of bourbon salmon. His disappointment was slightly forgotten when he dug into a slice of turtle cheesecake garnished with candied nuts. So, so good.
  • Saturday: Caesar Salads, Antipasti, and Bolognese Sauce over Tagliatelle – Great recipe, didn’t change a thing. The best part is that it’s a large batch and freezes very well for a quick weeknight meal.
  • Sunday: Buttermilk Roast Chicken, Green Beans, Corn, and Mashed Potatoes – I LOVE this recipe. I don’t change much, except for upping the spices, and adding a bit of tabasco to the marinade. Another step I take is to drain and dry the chicken before roasting. I just use paper towels to sop up as much of the marinade as possible. The first time I made this, I didn’t do that, and the chicken was delicious, but soggy. When you dry before drizzling with oil and roasting, it gives the skill more of an opportunity to crisp up. And really, let’s be honest, isn’t crispy skin the best part of roasted chicken???
  • Monday: Errands & Dinner Out – Chili’s – For as much as I don’t care for chain restaurants, there are a few that are “worthy” of our time and money. Chili’s is one of those on our list. I used to get the chicken tacos, and I’m still a little annoyed that they took those off of the menu. Scratch that, I’m a lot annoyed. They were good. Really good. Whatever, I’ll try to move on … try. My new go-to are chicken fajitas, Cadillac style. They’re always good, and they ensure lunch is also covered for the next day or two.
  • Tuesday: Pizza and Salad – We had Carter’s 4K registration and tour, and didn’t get home until almost 8:00 p.m. Thank goodness for frozen pizzas from Costco. Did you know I love Costco?
  • Wednesday: Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef over Rice with Asian Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms – This was good. Like, Jim asked if it was from a bag good. I should be insulted by that, but I know him well enough to know he meant no harm. I did add some Sriracha, which I will definitely do next time as well.
  • Thursday: Alfredo Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Mushrooms and Steamed Broccoli – I just wasn’t feeling like actually cooking, so Carter and I picked up some sauce from the grocery and I tossed with sausage, mushrooms, and pasta we already had on hand. It was really a Valentine’s present to myself.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

I’ll update once I have a better picture, but thought it was better to share without, than hold onto the deliciousness for myself. This recipe is originally from Real Mom Kitchen, and is great for a weeknight meal, as everything goes into the crockpot at once, and then cooks all day until you’re left with a yummy, warm, and satisfying soup. I served with a tossed green salad and chips and salsa.


  • 1 15 oz. can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz can Diced Tomatoes
  • 10 oz. Frozen Corn
  • ½ cup Onion, minced
  • 1 cup Bell Pepper, any color and/or combination, chopped
  • 2 Chicken Breasts, boneless-skinless
  • 1 10 oz. can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 10.75 oz can Cream of Chicken Soup, 98% fat free
  • 1 ½ cups 1% Milk
  • 4 oz. Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded


  1. In a 3 ½ to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.
  3. Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  4. Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back into soup.
  5. Top with pepper jack cheese and serve.
  6. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips.

Note: if the soup is too thick for you, just add a little more milk after it’s all cooked.


Servings – 12

WW Points – 3 pts per serving

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

I could not have asked for these to turn out any better than they did. The meat was moist, tender, and flavorful. I don’t think it could have been any easier either. There are literally 3 steps from start to yum. If you’re nervous about the peppers, don’t be. This was spicy without being too much so. Also, if you can’t find serranos, jalapeños will work instead. This paired really well with Mexican Rice, Black Beans, and Restaurant Style Salsa and chips. Oh, and of course, a nice Margarita or two as well.


  • 3 to 4 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tbs Penzey’s Bold Taco Seasoning
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ Yellow Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 Serrano Chiles, quartered
  • 1 Cup Water


  1. Place beef in crockpot. Add in all other ingredients.
  2. Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, or low for 7 to 8.
  3. Shred meat and return to juices. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

Texas Crockpot Chili

A few years ago I discovered Williams-Sonoma’s Texas Style Chili Starter. I really liked the flavor and the idea of using cubed beef rather than the traditional ground. What I didn’t like was the price tag. At $15 a jar, this made a relatively cheap comfort food into a meal that you almost needed to save up for. I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for awhile now, and I think I’ve both gotten it to where we want it, and, finally, remembered to write it down so it doesn’t feel like an experiment every time we want chili.

This definitely packs a punch, but I like mine with a little dollop of sour cream, so that mellows the heat. If it’s too hot for you, seed and remove the ribs from the jalapeño before adding it to the pot. I wouldn’t skip it completely, as it adds a depth of flavor (big fancy culinary term there for you) to the final dish that you won’t want to miss. Serve this as you like it. As you can see from the picture, we like ours over pasta with a sprinkle of cheese, and some sour cream for me. This pairs perfectly with an ice cold beer and some cornbread, or even some Jalapeño Cornbread Whoopie Pies if you’re feeling like taking things to the next level. You’ll want to take things to the next level, trust me.


  • 3 lbs Stew Beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper, freshly ground
  • ¼ cup Oil, divided
  • 1 Onion, cut into a large dice
  • 1 Jalapeño, stemmed, quartered, and roughly chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans, 29 oz., Canned Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Beef Broth (I use Penzey’s Beef Soup Starter)
  • 3 Poblano Peppers, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tsp Oregano, Mexican if you have it
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Chipotle Powder
  • 1 cup Black Beans, optional


  1. In a large bowl, combine beef, flour, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add in about 1/3 of the beef and brown for about 5 minutes on each side, stirring once or twice. Repeat with remaining beef. Add beef to slow cooker pot.
  2. In same skillet, add remaining Tbsp of oil, and sauté onions for about 5 minutes, stirring only once or twice, as you want them to brown slightly. Stir in jalapeño and garlic. Sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until peppers start to give off their heat. Add to slow cooker pot.
  3. Pour in tomatoes, broth, peppers, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Cook on high for 4 ½ hours or low for 9 hours.

    *If adding black beans, stir in when there is about 1 hour left in the cooking time. Keep in mind, you will no longer have a true “Texas chili”, but it will still be darn good, I promise.

Saucy, Spicy Crockpot Black Beans

As of late, I have become even more conscious of what we are eating and what it costs. Beans are a great example of something that seems inexpensive enough anyway, but can be even more economical without a lot of effort. On average, a 1 pound of organic dried black beans is about $2.50, which yields about 8 servings of cooked beans, depending on your portion size. Also, in our house, we only use about a ½ a can of black beans at a time, and I often find myself throwing the other have of the can away after it sits in the fridge for a week or so. By making my own, I can portion and freeze in a size that makes sense for us to consume at once, which eliminates the waste, and, in turn, saves more money. I love the idea of saving a few dollars while not compromising on quality or taste.


  • 2 cups, usually a 1 pound bag, Dried Black Beans
  • 6 cups Water
  • 4 cloves Garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Powder



  1. Wash the dried beans really well and pick out any rocks or beans that look funky.
  2. Pour them into a pan and add water till it is at least 2 inches above the beans. Let soak overnight (or for 8 hours.)
  3. Drain off the water and pour beans into a crock pot.
  4. Add water and remaining ingredients.
  5. Cook on high for 8 to 10 hours.
  6. Enjoy straight from the crockpot or portion and freeze for later.

White Chicken Chili with Poblano Peppers and Quinoa

I am woefully behind in my blogging, but I have a good excuse, as I have been busy and traveling for work the past couple of weeks. After being laid off for almost a year, I am still excited to be overly busy with my job. As gratifying as being a wife and mother can be, there is most absolutely a space within me that can only be satisfied with the feelings accomplishment that a job well done, in terms of my career, can bring. Now, onto the food . . .

There are many, many recipes for white chicken chili out there, but I wanted to try my hand at one that was truly my own. Oh, and I had Poblano peppers to use up, AND I wanted to use my crockpot, and this week was, unofficially, crockpot week at our house. I found a few recipes as jumping off points, like this one from Rachel Ray, and this one on Bakin’ and Eggs, and this one on Whole Grain Gourmet. I also consulted the White Chili with Chicken recipe found in the Cuisinart Slow Cooker manual.


  • 2 chicken breasts, bone-in
  • 2 tsp pepper, divided
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 Cups water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp Chicken soup starter (if you’d rather, you can skip this, and use 2 cups of chicken stock in place of 2 cups of water)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil (feel free to skip this if you have non-stick pans)
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 6 small or 4 large, Poblano peppers, cut into a large dice
  • 2 cans White Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 jalapeño, veined, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp Oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 cup corn, frozen
  • ¾ cup quinoa


  1. Place chicken in slow cooker with 4 cups of water and 1 tsp each salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, depending on slow cooker and whether your chicken is frozen or thawed.
  2. When chicken is done, remove from slow cooker, and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred with fingers or fork.
  3. Add last 2 cups of water to the pot with the juices from the chicken, and whisk in soup starter. (If you’re not using the soup starter, this is where you would add in your stock.)
  4. In a pan over medium heat, sauté onions, stirring infrequently so they get a little color, for about 6 to 8 minutes. Add in garlic, and cook about 2 minutes more. Add to slow cooker pot. Add peppers to pan and cook, again stirring infrequently, for about 5 minutes. Add these to pot as well.
  5. Stir in beans, cumin, coriander, oregano, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper, and shredded chicken.
  6. Cook on high for 4 hours. When timer goes off, stir, add in corn and quinoa, and set on high for 1 additional hour.
  7. Discard bay leaf and serve with cornbread or chili-cheese quick bread.

Shredded Pork Enchilada Bake with Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

We love Mexican food. I know we’re not alone in that fact, but we seriously eat some sort of Mexican dinner at least once a week. I love my husband for this, because he does not come from a spice loving family, and I don’t know what I would do if I had married a picky eater. That being said, when I made the pork tenderloin for these enchiladas, I originally planned on them being a filling for tacos, but Jim said, although he liked the flavor of the pork, he just couldn’t “see” them as being the main portion of a taco.

Great. Now what would I do with the 2 pounds of pork tenderloin in the refrigerator?

My immediate thought was enchiladas, but I needed a sauce that would both compliment the flavor of the pork and balance out the spice. I found it at Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations with her Creamy Roasted Tomatillo Sauce. Like she noted in her blog, it was a great balance of creamy, tangy, and a little kick at the end. Now, although I originally thought enchiladas, and still liked the idea, I knew this week was going to be a crazy one when it came to work, so I decided that I would be a little lazy, and save myself some time, but doing a layered bake instead of rolling individual enchiladas. I didn’t exactly need a recipe for the enchilada bake, but found a basic “framework” for my recipe with Cooking This & That’s
Enchilada Casserole recipe.

The resulting casserole is full of flavor and came out just as I’d hoped, with a balance of flavors and textures. When I asked for Jim’s feedback for next time, I was told not to change a thing. Not a bad review if I do say so myself. He must have meant it too, because he even helped clean up the kitchen. J

Tomatillo Sauce ingredients ready for the oven.


Pork Filling:

  • 3 lbs Pork Tenderloin
  • ¼ Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 jar salsa
  • 1 Tbsp Taco Seasoning (I used Penzey’s)

Tomatillo Sauce:

  • 10 small/medium tomatillos; remove husks and wash; cut into halves or quarters
  • 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup half & half
  • 3 oz Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
  • Dash of salt


  • 18 corn tortillas
  • 2 ½ cups Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded


Pork Filling:

  1. Put all ingredients into crock pot.
  2. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8.
  3. Set pork aside to cool.

*Store in a Ziploc bag or other container with its juices from the pot until ready to assemble enchiladas.

Tomatillo Sauce:

  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a baking dish. Roast on 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until tomatillos are tender.
  2. In a pot, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.
  3. Add roasted veggies, cilantro, and the salt. Mix everything together and then puree. I used my handheld immersion blender, but if you don’t have one you could use a blender.
  4. Slowly add the cream.
  5. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  6. Let lightly simmer until you are ready to assemble your enchiladas, stirring occasionally.


  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Layer 6 tortillas on the bottom of prepared baking dish, cover with ½ of the pork and 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat the process, and end with a final layer of tortillas, sauce, and remaining cheese.
  3. Cover with foil and cook for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 10 minutes. If top is not browned to your liking, broil for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes to allow to set. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream, if desired.