Happiness Project#85: Minestrone Soup!

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I can’t believe that it’s already 2017. Because of how grueling chemotherapy has been these past 6 months, I honestly never thought I’d make it to the new year. But, thanks be, I did it. I survived 6 months of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad endless days, and endless nights of fear, anxiety and pain. All FINALLY done and over with. Which means no more weekly rounds of chemotherapy drugs, no more pills to help me sleep, or eat, or control the nausea and pain. No more hospital stays. NO MORE CHEMOTHERAPY. Because as of right now, I am CANCER FREE! And though I’ll be starting a drug that blocks all estrogen growth within my body, in the hopes to stop the reemergence of my cancer, I am FINALLY back to being me. Back to being independent. Back to living.

I can honestly say that although I was NOT a very good cancer patient, and struggled desperately with mind numbing depression and anxiety, two things became very clear to me within this past half year.

Firstly, I am nothing without my family. My Mom, my Dad, my Mother & Father-in-law, my sisters, my husband, my daughter. No one else saw or understood the many (horrible) things that I endured. My family, who out of everyone else within my small circle of family & friends, were truly & fully there for me, every step of the way through it. Without them, I doubt I would have made it through.

Secondly, I pray that I will never take for granted any of my own independence, ever again. For 6 months, I wasn’t able to drive, or clean, or cook, or be with my own furry kids (my dog & 3 cats, who remained at my own house while my husband, daughter and I lived with my Mother). In nearly every way possible, I lost all tangible forms of independence. Which was horrible. Truly horrible. Something which I am totally ecstatic to have back. Like you wouldn’t believe.

So to celebrate being back in my own little house this week, surrounded by my 3 furry kids, I was super excited about throwing together this new slow cooker Minestrone Soup recipe! Specifically for my husband, as a small thank you for everything he endured last year. Because what says love more than a lovely bowlful of warm, homemade soup? Not much else.

Here’s how, you too, can give some love back to your own loved ones:

3 to 4 red potatoes, cubed

2 stalks of celery, diced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large red or white onion, sliced and diced

1 can of diced tomatoes

3 cans of tomato sauce

2 cups vegetable broth

1 can of red kidney beans, drained

1 can of green beans, drained

pinch of salt & pepper

1 box seashell pasta

1 cup shredded parmasean cheese, optional for garnish

Firstly, slice, dice and cube the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Cook the cubed potatoes, and the seashell pasta, in separate pots, until just fully cooked through. Drain each pot and set each ingredient aside.

Set your slow cooker to high, for 2 to 3 hours, and add in the can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable broth, kidney beans, green beans, carrots, celery and onion. Stir together until well mixed. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Now add in the potatoes and seashell pasta. Let all of the ingredients cook together for the full 2 to 3 hours.

Spoon out into desired serving bowls and garnish with a handful of parmesan cheese!

And enjoy! This wonderful vegetable soup may soon become one of your favorite winter soups, too!

Happy 2017, my friends!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project#81: Broccoli Salad with a side of Chemo!

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3 weeks ago I went in for my 7th surgery. To remove another tumor. But things didn’t quite go as planned or expected. Instead of leaving the operating room with one less adrenal gland, I ended up leaving without a full kidney as well. Though I wasn’t told WHY I had unexpectedly lost a kidney (throughout a grueling 10 hour surgery), until my 2nd recovery day in the hospital. To put it as simply as possibly, though not lightly at all, my 3 doctors took out my left kidney in response to a rapidly growing tumor that had gone from eating up my adrenal gland as well as encasing my entire kidney within the 3 months that I had been undergoing pre-surgical testing. 3 months. Needless to say, when the oncologist came over to my recovery bed, on that 2nd day within my 6 day hospital stay, and revealed to me the “news,” my heart froze, and my verbal response was nothing short of absolute silence. The 5th day, before the day of my release, the same doctor (now my official oncologist), visited me again to reveal that the preliminary testings from that unexpected tumor had come back as active (malignant) cancer. Yes, cancer. Stage 3 Ovarian cancer.

So with this shocking, unexpected diagnosis, my life has been turned completely (& brutally) shaken up, and turned upside down. Because after 11 years of benign tumors, severe endometriosis, depression, a panic disorder, menopause and more visits to the ER than a person could ever imagine, cancer was never something that I believed could ever happen. Not when I was still struggling with so much. Yet it’s happened. And nearly 3 weeks later, after hearing of my diagnosis, I’m still angry, and overwhelmed, and very scared.

Since meeting up with my regular MD, my surgeon, as well as the specialist who completed my first massive ovarian/tumor removal surgery nearly 11 years ago, within the past two weeks since being released from the hospital, I currently know just enough about my cancer to have a very general idea of the “plan.” Which means chemotherapy for the next 5 to 6 months. Though NO radiation. Which seems like a pretty significant blessing, in my book right now. This Wednesday though, will be the BIG day, when I meet up with my oncologist for the 1st time, to figure all of this out.

Until then, when I start my half year regiment of chemotherapy, until my body figures out what I can and cannot take, until I have a better idea of what I’m up against during this new battle of mine, I’ll scream, and cry, and rail against this Universe. A Universe that continues to push me beyond what I thought I was ever strong enough for. Because I’m beyond scared right now. In more ways than I can ever explain.

So for now, I wanted to leave you with the yummiest broccoli apple salad (or as I affectionately name as broccoli candy salad), that I have ever feasted upon. Feasted upon like I could eat this ENTIRE recipe all on my own. For real. Ready for your own?

3 cups uncooked broccoli florets, minced

1 cup shredded or finely diced pealed carrots

1 cup green grapes, rinsed

2-1/2 cups diced Gala apples (my personal favorite apple)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

pinch of fine sea salt

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup low fat Greek vanilla yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

*1 cup dried cranberries, optional

You’ll need two medium sized mixing bowls for this salad.

In the first mixing bowl, combine the broccoli, carrots, grapes, and apples.

In the 2nd mixing bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, mayonnaise, yogurt and lemon juice, until nice and creamy.

Drizzle the dressing onto the dry broccoli salad, and with either your fingers (who’s ready to get messy?) or a big wooden spoon, toss everything together until fully coated. Throw in some dried cranberries if you want an added pop of sweetness! Pop that pretty salad into the fridge to chill before serving!

And believe me when I say that this is one of those salads that you will never tire of. I could eat this every other day if I wanted. Because this is MY idea of candy salad! Try it. You’ll totally get it once you do!

In conclusion, I might not be blogging as many family recipes while undergoing the next 6 months of chemotherapy. It mostly depends on how well I handle everything. I will however, be blogging here, all about this unexpected new battle of mine. Because I know that I can’t fight this battle alone. Without those who love, encourage and hold me up. Those who are my army.

Until next time, all my love to you! xoxo

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project#76: Ross Family Butter Noodles!

butternoodleWho’s doing a little happy dance, right now? This Mama! I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase an indoor, tabletop lightbox studio, with two adjustable studio lights, and I totally love it! Up until now, I’ve been using the natural lighting that my “studio” porch bench outside provided, but would always need to wait through rainy weather to complete my blog post. So you can imagine how frustrating winter was. But now, this perfect little studio. Which fits quite perfectly on my kitchen table. And folds up for perfect storage behind my dresser. Yes, perfect! Very worth the $110 that I spent on it!

Anyhow, to celebrate the future with my new, wonderful studio, I wanted to share with you a recipe that my two sisters and I grew up with. A recipe that brings to mind so many joyful, yummy moments with my family. Like when my twin sister & I rented our very 1st 2 bedroom apartment together, a good 15 years ago. This super easy, fast noodle recipe was a near daily staple within the two years that we roomed together. Because noodles, butter and parmesan cheese? The perfect student go to! Anytime of the day!

So in honor of my family, here’s some yumminess just for you!

2 cups farfalle pasta

4 tablespoons salted butter, cold

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Firstly, cook the noodles to a boil, in hot water. Once the noodles are cooked through to your desired texture, be it crispier or soft, remove the noodles from the stovetop, and drain.

Add in each tablespoon of cold cut butter, stirring within the drained pot of pasta, until the entire potful of noodles is generously buttered.

Add in the parmesan cheese and toss until fully coated.

And serve! All by itself, or with a favorite vegetable. Like peas, or gently steamed broccoli.

That’s it! From start to finish, 10 minutes at most. Perfect for students away from home, older kids learning to cook, or as a fast, well loved family meal. Your tummies will thank you.

Happiness Project#74: Family Chili Dip!

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It’s nearly time. In a little over a week I’ll be going in for my 4th major surgery in 3 years. This time I’ll be having multiple damaged discs in my lower neck repaired. An invasive procedure that I’ve been needing to have done for well over 10 years. And here’s the honest, unfiltered truth: I’m scared out of my mind. Not because I don’t believe that it won’t work, because I do know that it will help me immensely, and I’ll finally (finally) be able to move pain-free again. Cue the hallelujahs!

Nor is it the thought of the recovery either (which will be 2 to 3 very long months), that’s messing with my head. It’s the surgery itself that’s leaving me incredibly, and irrationally nervous and anxious and yes, scared. You’d think that after undergoing 8 major surgeries within the last 11 years, I’d have gotten over this irrational fear of mine. Geez, I even have a handy prescription for the many situations just like this, when the fear and anxiety is nearly debilitating. But yet, after 11 years of more ER visits than I can count, the idea of being put under full anesthesia (as well as my actual neck being worked on), is still one of my deepest fears. It doesn’t seem to matter how encouraging and logical any of my family & friends are, when attempting to snap me out my panic. Logic doesn’t make it any easier.  Because it’s all just horribly, horribly scary. So even though I cannot wait to be pain-free and mobile again (like you wouldn’t believe), the waiting for and then undergoing both the surgery and long recovery, is leaving me undeniably emotional.

So what does this Mama do when her brain is freaking out over things that cannot possibly be controlled? She bakes. Or if not that, she whips up something else just as tantalizing. Because kitchen wizardry is my kind of therapy. Hence this super easy, delightfully addictive 3 ingredient Chili Dip! Yes, I did just say only THREE ingredients! Which means chip dip for days!! Here’s all you need:

2 cans of your favorite canned chili with beans, warmed by either microwave or stovetop

1/2 cup of fresh sour cream

A couple pinches of shredded cheddar cheese

Your favorite bag of dipping chips! In this case, tortilla strips!

Remember how I just mentioned how crazy easy this recipe is? Well, it really is. Because all you need to do is mix up the warmed chili with the sour cream, with the shredded cheese. Until those 3 ingredients are nicely fully blended.

And then, dip those chips!

Just a little warning, though. This dip is deliciously addictive, so you might need to forcibly resist gobbling up this entire chili dip in one mere sitting. My family can’t. I dare you to instead. Ha.

In case this is my last recipe post before my surgery next week, I’ll see you all on the flip side!

 

Happiness Project#71: Cheesy Meatballs!

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Another year. Another birthday. And today, my 38th birthday, was surprisingly very special. Most of those who know me well, understand how apathetic I’ve always been about my past birthdays. Yes, turning another year older IS a very momentous occasion, since too many in this war torn, disease fraught world never make it to their next birthday. But considering how creature-of-comfort I am, I’ve rarely felt the desire to do anything out of the ordinary for it. Until today. Because my husband took the day off work to be with my daughter and I. Which made today truly special. Not only did we go to my favorite local cupcakery (where I purchased lovely new wooden cooking utensils), and browsed through this FANTASTIC new hat store (where I found a BEAUTIFUL wide brim sun hat, with a lovely black bow), but we also ventured to one of our favorite playgrounds. To well…play. With an awesome wooden play train and a giant, full-size aircraft and many twirly slides. And even though my lungs and head were screaming at me because of the horrid surrounding trees and flowers that I’m near deathly allergic to, watching my Toddler “command” my husband to ride the train with her and play hide & seek among the many lovely trees, was quite honestly, magical to me. Since the 3 of us being out and about together doesn’t happen very often because of my health. So this birthday, because of it’s abnormal normality, was VERY special. One of which I will always cherish and hold dear. Yes, thanks be for birthdays.

To share in such a happy day for my little family, I decided to whip up this super-easy, super-versatile Cheesey Meatball recipe! Easy because it’s done in a slow cooker! Yes, I DID just say a slow cooker! Rejoice, my friends! Versatile because you can pair this wonderfully mild (but juicy) meatball with just about any dip or sauce of your liking! Truth! Trust me. So who’s ready for some meatball lovin??

1-1/2 pounds hamburger meat, thawed correctly

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons mustard

2 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes

pinch black pepper

pinch kosher salt

6 full size string cheese logs, cut up in 1 inch square pieces per string cheese log

Firstly, cut up each length of string cheese, into 4 to 5 one inch squares per string cheese. Set aside in a small bowl.

Now the messy (& kinda fun) part. Combine all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix together, with your hands, until every ingredient is fully combined. See? Messy. But kinda fun too!

Now roll about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture into nice sized balls. Once you’ve lined up all of the meatballs, gently press a piece of cheese into the center of each meatball, rolling them up (again) into a slightly larger sized meatball. Make sure that each piece of cheese is fully rolled up into each meatball (so that there is no cheese visible).

Lightly butter or spray the bottom of your slow cooker, before placing each cheesy meatball within it. Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you’ll be able to line up roughly 18-24 meatballs. Slow cook on low heat for 1 hour, turning each meatball over at the half hour mark. Now slow cook on high heat for another hour, until each meatball is a lovely darkened brown, with the cheese center starting to bubble up from within.

And serve warm! On a yummy bed of sticky rice, which is my family’s favorite way to eat. Or dip each meatball in your favorite pasta sauce or cheese dip! Because dinner options are ALWAYS welcome. Especially in a family with toddlers involved. We all know how toddlers can be with dinner, after all. Ha.

To all of my many fellow bloggers and readers, thank you for making this blogging experience of mine a truly happy one. From one birthday to the next! Onwards to another year of babies, baking and books!

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project#68: New Years Eve Tortilla Soup

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Forget Christmas. My now favorite time of year is New Years Eve. Why? Because it’s truly all about spending time with my family. No gifts or expectations. No running around in the mad rush of pre-Christmas frenzy. No cleaning FOR DAYS. It’s just one magical night, once a year, with pretty sparklers, s’mores and kids movies. One night a year which has become a Cadiz-Copper family tradition.

One of the uncountable things that I adore about my daughter’s toddler developments, is how excited she becomes over the experiences that just a year ago, she wasn’t “quite” into yet. Like throwing popping fireworks onto the cold, hard ground. I kid you not, I think I counted her gleefully throwing down at least a dozen of those popping sparklers this past weekend. All the while running around in circles, giggling joyfully, with her three adoring cousins in tow. It was such a beautiful sight to behold.

And dare I mention the giddy messiness of New Years Eve S’mores? Let’s just say that there was chocolate EVERYWHERE. On a counter, a floor, fingers, noses and maybe even in one mischievous little girl’s lovely curly hair. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.

However, the one New Years Eve tradition which has fast become my favorite sister experience? Whipping up some delicious crock pot Chicken Tortilla Soup. With everything warm and savory of a cold winters night. Which makes this Mama one very satisfied woman.

Ready to indulge in some of your own post New Years Eve magic? Let’s get to it! Here’s what you’ll need:

3 to 4 chicken breasts, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

6 cups chicken broth

15 ounces Diced Tomatoes, drained

1 (4oz) can tomato paste

2 (8oz) cans yellow corn, drained

1 (8oz) can black beans, drained

1 (4oz) can green chilis, drained

1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for garnish)

1 large bag of tortilla strip chips (for garnish)

The wonderful thing about this crock pot recipe is how quick and easy (truly easy!) it is to create. No more standing next to your bubbling crock pot, longingly counting down the (seemingly endless) hours until soup perfection. All you need is a little bit of pre-cooked chicken and 1 hour of cook time in that lovely little crock pot of yours. Seriously! So get cooking!

First up, the chicken. On medium-high heat, in a large pot of water, drop in 3 to 4 frozen pieces of chicken breasts, seasoning with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the chicken pieces are just on the verge of being fully cooked through. Remove from the pot and let stand on a cutting board to cool slightly before shredding into bite size strips.

While your chicken is cooling, spoon in all of the other ingredients, one at time, into the crock pot. Once the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, beans and green chilis are successfully transferred into the crock pot, add in the shredded chicken. Followed by 2 teaspoons of chili powder. Stir up all of that sweet goodness so that everything is mixed up well and good.

Now the easy part! Set the timer on your crock pot to 1 hour (on high heat) and let cook! It’s THAT easy! I’m doing a happy dance. Are you?

Once that hour is up, spoon out however much of this yummy tortilla soup as you want. Garnishing with a small handful of cheese and crushed tortilla chips.

AND EAT! Until you tummy is full and your kiddos are asking for seconds. Believe me, there will be seconds. Oh yes, there will.

Happiness Project #64: Santa Fe Mock Up Salad!

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Since I’ve now been enduring recovery for just shy of two weeks & everything physical is rather difficult, I’ve been desperately trying to find a way to feed my family, without relying on take out or assistance from family or friends every night. And wow, my friends, this recovery is not at all how I imagined it to be. When you’re not able to bend over (at all), or move remotely faster than at a snails pace or do anything but roll slowly out of bed like a small whale, if there’s anything I’ve learned thus far in these 15 days, it’s that back surgery is not for the faint of spirit. It’s not easy Or fun. Even though I’m supposed to be “relaxing” every day to heal. Which I’m sure to you sounds like a very welcome vacation of sorts. Relaxing, however, is just not me. I’d much rather be doing. Particularly since I’m relying on family to take care of my daughter every day while my husband’s at work. Sucks. Not being with my daughter. No car rides, or target trips or playground playdates for me. Just books, tv and blogging. Which, after two weeks of being utterly & throughly immersed in, has become sadly a tad boring to me. There’s only SO much good tv out there.

Which segways into this new salad recipe. The Santa Fe Mock Up Salad! Since I’ve only just recently started loving salad recipes, I’ve been determined to try out as many different flavored salads as my appetite can possibly handle. And I am overjoyed to admit that I have found another sald that I love JUST as much as my go-to Strawberry Fields Summer Salad! Except in this one, instead of mass amount of fruits, vegetables take the center stage. With juicy bits of chicken. Naturally. Ready for another fantastic summer salad? Here ya go…

1 8oz bag mixed greens

1 cup cooked and lightly seasoned cubed chicken pieces (approximately 1 full chicken breast)

3/4 can drained white corn

3/4 can drained black beans

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup crushed tortilla strips chips

Firstly, prepare the chicken correctly by cooking the whole breast in boiling, lightly salted water. Once the chicken breast is throughly cooked, shred with your fingers or cut up with a small serrated knife, into small bite size pieces. Set aside.

Drain both cans of the corn and black beans and mix them together in a small pan, on the stovetop, on low heat. Dap a tiny bit of salted butter onto the corn & beans, mixing for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and set aside.

Now, the fun part. In a large salad bowl, throw in those fresh mixed greens. Followed with the corn and beans, mixing as you incorporate. Toss in those beautiful cherry tomatoes and top the salad with the cheddar cheese and tortilla chips. Toss, if desired.

Drizzle lightly with your favorite spicy peanut sauce dressing! Or a little bit of chunky salsa. Either one gives you that lovely desired pop of flavor.

And serve!

Hope you’re all having a beautiful, yummy summer!

Happiness Project Recipe #62: Creamy Chicken Noodle Bake!

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Chicken Noodle Soup. Who doesn’t like Chicken Noodle Soup?? No one that I know. We all know that when sickness strikes, chicken noodle soup comes to the rescue. Every single time. But what about Chicken Noodle Soup as a standard dinner option? Even when there’s no little runny nose or no happy slap of rain upon the window pane? What about Chicken Noodle Soup in the Summertime? Yes, you heard this Mama right. Summertime Chicken Noodle Soup. When you’re NOT sick. With a twist!

What I love most about this recipe is that it’s both creamy and crunchy, all in one bite. Not at all like a classic bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup. Oh, sure, you’ve still got the cubed chicken and peas and carrots. But this dinner dish is a bit more like a casserole than an actual soup. With green beans, two types of pasta, as well as a lovely layer of bread crumbs. That’s baked. Not just stirred, Which makes ALL the difference. I think so at least. Because the truth? Even when I AM sick, the classic chicken noodle soup sometimes gets a little boring to me. Don’t hate me now, okay? I’m just being real here.

So who’s ready for a different spin on Chicken Noodle? Your kids (and dog, too) will love this one!

4 oz spiral pasta shells, cooked correctly and drained

4 oz elbow pasta shells, cooked correctly and drained

1-1/2 cups cooked and cubed boneless chicken breasts (approximately 3 whole chicken breasts)

1 cup fresh corn

1 cup fresh peas

1 cup fresh green beans

1 8oz can cream of chicken

1/2-1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Firstly, prepare all of your fresh pasta and veggies correctly. Set each aside, separately until you’re ready to combine them all.

Cut up the cooked chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350D. Lightly spray a 8×10 inch baking dish with butter.

While the oven is pre-heating itself, dump the pasta and can of cream of chicken into a large bowl. Stir until the pasta is roughly combined with the sauce. Now, add in the corn, peas and green beans, stirring until well coated.

With the entire bowlful of combined ingredients, spoon out into the prepared baking dish. Lightly dust the top of the dish with panko bread crumbs.

Pop the mix into the oven and let bake for 12-15 minutes, until the cream from below the bread crumb layer starts to bubble up (ever so slightly.)

Pull the dish out of the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.

A yummy Chicken Noodle Bake that everyone will enjoy. Even your furry kids. Must never forget our furry kids.

Happiness Project#49: In-A-Pinch Chicken Chili!

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Chili. My husband is the KING of all things chili! Both sides of our Family request his chili dish, whenever the weather starts to bring in some chill, without fail. But since I’m the one cooking dinner dishes, more often than not now, I decided that it was high time to create my own kind of chili bliss. Nothing like my husband’s traditional dish, either. There’s no way that I would ever want to mess with such a tantalizing culinary masterpiece! That’s how good his chili is! But here’s the thing, good chili recipes tend to have A LOT of ingredients. Like an entire grocery cart full of ingredients. Which is NOT good for my weekly grocery budget. Unless I’m willing to sacrifice my favorite granola cereal or favorite apple or worst yet, coffee. Needless to say, the thought of going coffee-less (even for a day) leaves me close to tears. So no, NO chili then.

Until now, my friends! Thanks to some Pinterest inspiration! With chicken, instead of meat! And the loveliness of whole, uncrushed bay leaves, which I rarely find a chance to use correctly! And best yet? I’m going to show you the “secret” short-cut to creating this super fantastic slow cooker dish, in-a-pinch! So that you don’t need to wait 5 or so hours to wrap your taste buds around this lovely Winter soup! Particularly if you’re a parent with little time to spare. Like me. So here you go…

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed

3 chicken bullion cubes

2 cans Great Northern Beans, drained

1/2 white onion, peeled and finely diced

2 whole bay leaves

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1-1/2 cans gold & white corn, drained

3 cups chicken broth

1 (1-ounce) packet Ranch dressing mix

pinch or two of salt for taste

You’ll be multi-tasking for this one, so get ready!

In a medium sized pot, with about 2 cups of water, over medium-high heat, drop in two pinches of kosher salt, followed by the 3 thawed chicken breasts. Let cook until the chicken is nearly cooked through. Drop the heat to low and add in the two whole bay leaves. Let cook for another 5 or so minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the 3 cups chicken broth, bullion cubes, onion, oregano, cumin, chili powder and ranch dressing. Let slowly incorporate for 8-10 minutes.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, drain and let stand at room temperature for a few minutes before you shred each chicken breast into long pieces.

Now the pretty part! Plug in your slow cooker machine, set on high, and pour in both cans of the beans and corn. Then add in the shredded chicken (which will smell ridiculously fragrant, indeed). Followed by the entire skillet full of the mixed broth and spices. Let sit in the slow cooker for 30 minutes before stirring up all of that lovely chicken chili together!

And serve! With a dollop of sour cream, for an added bit of creaminess!

So. SO. GOOD. So good that I might make this dinner dish at least once a week! Winter or not 🙂

Happiness Project #45: Turkey Pie Croissant Buns!

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Another lovely Thanksgiving has come and gone but the leftovers? Still crowding up my fridge. And yours too, I presume. And since I’m always attempting to reinvent the same dinner dishes, over & over again, to appease my sassy & VERY opinionated 21mo Daughter, I spied a lovely looking Chicken Pot Pie dish on Pinterest a few nights ago and flipped it to create a Turkey Pie (of sorts) instead. Bam! Taking care of my fridge full of Thanksgiving leftovers, all the while creating a simple, yet Toddler friendly dinner dish for my Daughter, as well! Don’t you love it when inspiration takes care of two things at once? I do! Hence my happy kitchen Mama dance! Which involves much jumping up and down, like a kangaroo, with my arms flailing around & all over the place. And maybe a giggle or two. Just because.

But anyhow, since you now have THAT particular image dancing around in your head (for better or for worse), let’s get back to this lovely, buttery, flakey pie bun. Which is ridiculously easy to create in just a paltry 15 minutes or so. Ready? Here you go…

1 twist can of Jumbo sized Croissant Biscuits

3/4 cup shredded or finely diced cooked Turkey

3/4 cup cooked mashed potatoes

1/2 cup steamed white corn

*Please note that all of the ingredients listed above, are leftovers from my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. You can substitute with ANY of your own leftovers instead. Didn’t have Turkey? Use Ham instead. No mashed potatoes? Stuffing works just as well. More vegetables, you say? How about peas or carrots? Experiment and have FUN with it!

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter or spray a 12 tin cupcake pan.

Pop open the Croissant can and lay out each of the 8 jumbo sized biscuits onto a marble or wooden work surface. Using the flat of your hand, gently press out each croissant round until each round is nearly double in size. Lay each round into each cupcake tin, gently pressing and working the dough up the bottom and the sides of each tin, until you’ve created a 1 inch overhang, flapped over each of the tin’s edges.

Now the messy part! Separate each of your pie fillings. Using a tablespoon, scoop in the mashed potatoes, followed by half a tablespoon of corn, and ending with 3 or 4 squares of turkey. OR create your own combination with your own leftovers! That’s the beauty of this recipe. You can create your very OWN Thanksgiving Pie! Brilliant, right?

Once you’ve added in all of your fillings, flip up the overhang flaps of dough and firmly crimp (or press) together in the center of the croissant dough. Essentially, creating a messy looking bun. The key word being: messy, my friends. Messy.

Pop the cupcake pan into the oven and let bake for 12-15 minutes, until the tops are a lovely golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before turning the buns out of the pan and then serving.

So, SO easy! And the perfect way to use up all of those yummy Thanksgiving leftovers!

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