Category Archives: All Recipes

4-Can Tortilla Chicken Soup

No, I’m not gone forever. Yes, I’ve been gone from here. But to be fair, I have been active over at my new wedding planning side-business blog, moving into a new apartment, starting a new job…well, I’ve been doing life stuff.

4-Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

4-Can Chicken Tortilla Soup

But now I’m back at least for the moment. And boy, this one is a hodge-podge recipe for the books.

Born out of utter laziness and a reluctance to turn on the oven to cook a massive pork roast or have the foresight (and energy) to use a crockpot this week, I decided to throw a bunch of cans together and see what happened.

This happened: a 4-can tortilla chicken soup that even my hot-food-hating husband liked.

Behold, the ingredients:

Ingredients: cream of chicken condensed soup, chicken noodle condensed soup, black beans, italian style tomatoes, and neufchatel cheese.

Ingredients: cream of chicken condensed soup, chicken noodle condensed soup, black beans, Italian style tomatoes, and neufchatel cheese.

It’s unfair how simple this is.

Combine all cans (drain only the black beans) into a pot. Add 2 oz. of neufchatel or cream cheese. Stir. Simmer 10 minutes.

Combine all cans (drain only the black beans) into a pot. Add 2 oz. of neufchatel or cream cheese. Stir. Simmer 10 minutes.


Serve with favorite toppings.

Serve with favorite toppings.

It’s just the right blend of creamy and tasty with no added spices and isn’t too spicy if you have picky eaters (or are one).


  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (condensed)
  • 1 can chicken noodle soup (condensed)
  • 1 can Italian-style tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (undrained)
  • 1 can black beans (drained)
  • 2 oz. neufchatel or cream cheese

Combine all canned items in pot. Add 2 oz. cream cheese. Stir. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with favorite toppings such as shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, or Tabasco sauce.

Serves about 4.


Pizza Quesadillas

Pizza Quesadillas

Whilst trolling the interwebs for something yummy, I came across this great recipe for pizza quesadillas. Think Totino’s pizza rolls, but bigger and healthier with real pepperoni and cheese. I’ve made these several times since then since it’s such a quick dinner. So quick, I often forget that I need to flip and end up with slightly-burned quesadillas. It adds to the flavor, I tell myself.

Source: Snixy Kitchen

Substitute your favorite pizza toppings - sausage, olives, mushrooms, onions, green pepper, bacon...the possibilities are endless.

Start with your basic pizza ingredients – sauce, seasoning, toppings, and cheese – and add tortillas in whatever size. I used really big tortillas because I spend less time cooking by making three large quesadillas instead of six small ones.

Don't over-do the sauce. Just enough to give some flavor and some "stick" for the rest of the toppings.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of tomato or pizza sauce, layer on pepperoni, and top with some Italian seasonings. If you don’t have a good Italian blend, substitute a sprinkle of oregano, basil, and a smidge of fennel.

This time I used some whole-fat Kasar cheese, thinly sliced, for some extra flavor. Try to use shredded or paper-thin slices of cheese since it needs to melt rather quickly.

Top with cheese of your choice. Any cheese will work, but mozzarella will give that authentic pizza taste.

You're probably thinking "That escalated quickly." Truth is, tortillas in a pan are boring and difficult to compose in a photograph well.
Cover with a second tortilla and cook over medium heat in a large pan about 1-2 minutes each side – no need to use oil in the pan either. Be very careful if you’re using an electric stove – about 30 seconds for the second side is long enough. Use a large knife to cut into desired size.

Notice how slices 2 and 4 are slightly cripsy. They are the reverse side of that tortilla, and while shooting this, I was meanwhile burning another quesadilla even worse. Such is life.

Serve with additional sauce on the side for dipping.

My recipe:

  • 6 large (8-10″) tortillas
  • 1 can of traditional tomato sauce
  • 1/2 package of pepperoni
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning

Spread 1-2 tablespoons of tomato sauce on a tortilla. Layer pepperoni, seasoning, and cheese. Cover with a second tortilla and cook over medium heat in large pan for 1-2 minutes each side or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve with sauce on the side.

Makes 3 pizza quesadillas (enough for 2 adults).

Valentine’s Day Chili

Valentine's Day ChiliAs promised, here’s my great-grandfather’s recipe for beef and beans chili in the crockpot that I made for Valentine’s Day. You can also make it in a regular stockpot by simmering for an hour, but I prefer to set it and forget it.

Source: Great-Grandpa Czarnecki’s original chili recipe

Wow, a lot of ingredients. Use your own mix of spices, but keep in mind that the gravy will compensate for a lot of kick, so amp it up.

Set up all your cans, jars, spices, an onion, and your meat of choice – or omit the meat to make a vegetarian chili. Oatmeal, quinoa, and barley make good replacements and bring in the protein.

Price out the difference between baker's chocolate and the squares in the chocolate aisle. I found this one to be 50 cents cheaper than the 80% bakers chocolate.

Don’t forget the special ingredient: a square of dark chocolate. Anything over 60% cocoa works.

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Combine all ingredients (with can liquid!) into your crockpot or stock pot.

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Dice the onion and brown the meat. Drain off the fat.

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Add meat and onion to pot. Stir. Cook on low for 8 hours or simmer on stove for an hour.

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One of our favorite add-ins is macaroni noodles, about 1/2 cup dry per person. Start the water boiling about 20-30 minutes before serving.

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Set out other toppings like sour cream, cheese, or cornbread to help counter the heat, both temperature and spice.

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Serve hot!

My recipe:

  • 1 lb. lean beef
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about half of a medium onion)
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 can beef gravy (10 oz. can)
  • 1 square 72% Ghirardelli chocolate

Brown beef in pan and chop as it cooks. Add onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add all ingredients to pot (5 quart or larger) including liquid from beans and tomatoes. If desired, smash the tomatoes as they cook. Cook on low 8 hours/high 4 hours or simmer 1 hour on the stove.

Makes enough chili to serve 5-6 in 5-quart crockpot.

Optional additions:

  • Elbow noodles (make about 1/2 cup dry noodles for each person)
  • Crumbled cornbread or scalloped corn casserole
  • Sour cream, Greek yogurt, or any grated cheese

Valentine’s Day Dinner: Heirloom Chili Recipe

So I was thinking about Valentine’s Day last week and thought at the time I would be working two jobs with little time to cook – and honestly, who wants to cook on Valentine’s Day? At the same time, delivery pizza seemed like a cop-out.

And then it hit me: chili in the crockpot.

Valentine's Day Chili

A few weeks ago, I made my great-grandfather Czarnecki’s recipe for chili and the family loved it. When I talked to my mom, she reminded me that there was a secret ingredient missing from the cookbook, and I knew I had to make it again soon.

So tomorrow, I’ll be whipping up a pot of this fabulous dish and promptly forgetting about it until it’s time to serve. Expect a full blog post with pictures to follow.


  • 1 lb. lean beef
  • 1 clove of garlic (substitute 1/2 tsp. garlic powder or 1/2 tsp. minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (about half of a medium onion)
  • 2 cups red beans (1 lb. can)
  • 2 cups peeled tomatoes (1 lb. can)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon “Accent” (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 can beef gravy (10 oz. can)
  • 1 square baker’s chocolate (or other >60% cocoa chocolate, approximately 1/2 oz.)

Brown beef in pan and chop as it cooks. Add onion and cook until onion is transparent. Add all ingredients to crockpot (5 quart or larger) including liquid from beans and tomatoes. If desired, smash the tomatoes as they cook. Cook on low about 8 hours or high about 4 hours or until chili is thick. Makes enough chili to serve 5-6 in 5-quart crockpot.


  • Serve chili over elbow noodles (or other small pasta)
  • Mix in crumbled cornbread or scalloped corn
  • Top with sour cream or cheese (in Wisconsin, we do both)

Feel free to join me in making chili, or comment with what you’ll be making for Valentine’s Day dinner!

Garlic Lime Chicken Bites

Garlic Lime Chicken Bites

Who doesn’t love Superbowl food? Even if you can’t stand football, there’s no excuse for passing up another “this is a holiday, calories don’t count” day. These are a hodge-podged attempt at making a non-spicy version of buffalo turkey meatballs and they’re gluten-free to boot.

Source: inspired by I Breathe I’m Hungry‘s Buffalo Balls.

Ingredients for chicken bites only: ground chicken, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, butter, onion, egg, pepper. Sauce ingredients listed below.

Gather up your stuff: ground chicken, cream cheese (only 2 oz.), mozzarella cheese, an onion, an egg, and black pepper. You’ll also need ingredients later for the sauce – that’s where the butter goes, but I didn’t read the whole recipe before photographing. Silly me.

It will taste better than it looks at this stage.

Dump all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, preferably using hands, until cream cheese is well incorporated. (Be sure to remove any rings or bracelets before this part; ground meat is impossible to get out of fine jewelry.)

Halfway through baking, before dipping. Don't worry if they ooze a little. This will go away in the next step.

Form into balls using a tablespoon measurement or small cookie scoop and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

The start of the sauce: butter, juice of a lime, and some garlic seasoning.

Meanwhile, start your sauce. Begin with some butter, juice a lime, and dash in some garlic and seasonings. Minced garlic or fresh-pressed garlic would be even better, but any mix of Italian spices and ground garlic works just fine.

Notice how much more butter is required. We like butter.

Add more butter. Seriously, do it. I ended up adding at least 6 tablespoons since I ran out of sauce after the first batch and had to make more. Having leftovers for dipping sauce is nice too.

These golden babies are good enough to eat.

Remove chicken bites from oven and dip/dunk/slather in garlic lime sauce. Return to pan and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes or until beginning to crisp and brown on the top. Serve with leftover sauce for dipping.

My recipe:

Chicken bites:

  • 1lb ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4-6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned garlic powder OR 1 teaspoon minced garlic/2 garlic cloves and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all chicken bites ingredients in a bowl and mix well with hands or spoon. Form into balls with tablespoon measurement and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lime juice, butter, and seasonings in small saucepan and melt. Remove bites from oven, dunk in sauce, and return to pan. Bake for additional 10-12 minutes or until bites begin to brown. Serve with leftover sauce for dipping.

Makes approximately 24 chicken bites.

Cheesy Ranch Pasta

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Coming up with a title for this delicious dish was difficult, so you’re stuck with a name that does not begin to describe how tasty this cheesy ranch pasta with chicken and bacon really is. The first time I made this a few months ago, my husband raved about it and told me to make it again. So here it is!
Source: Cassie Craves
Ingredients: chicken, bacon, noodles, flour, milk, cheese, and ranch seasoning packet.

Gather it up: chicken (tenderloins or chicken breast work best), bacon (turkey or pork is fine, bacon bits if you want to save on time), noodles (penne or any small noodle), flour, milk, cheese (any cheese works, but shred by hand if possible – see note below), and a ranch seasoning packet.

Note that crispy turkey bacon doesn't crumble well, as my husband discovered when I tried to enlist his help.

Brown the bacon and crumble, or just use bacon bits. We had some turkey bacon on hand which notoriously does not crumble well, so pre-slicing before cooking is a good idea.

That dark spot is steam from the pan. Not the fault of photographer or camera.

Cook and dice (or dice and cook) the chicken in 1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease (drain the rest) or melted butter to brown nicely.

This is the process used to typically make a roux: butter/bacon fat and flour. This won't scorch as easily as a traditional roux because of the milk added soon after.

Once chicken is cooked, add flour and ranch seasoning packet and stir.

It looks a little weird, but it's going to be addicting. I promise.

Add milk and stir until well mixed. Let simmer until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, boil the water and cook pasta according to directions on the box.

Kaşar cheese looks like a giant block of mozzarella made with whole-fat milk. It has a very heavy taste by itself but works well in this dish. Any other cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, colby, muenster, etc.) would work just as well.

Measure out about a cup of shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese from a bag may not melt as smooth since it has an anti-caking agent that inhibits melting. I used about a cup of whole-fat Kaşar cheese imported from Turkey and about a tablespoon of shredded mozzarella, but I’ve also used cheddar before.

Be sure to stir pretty frequently, at least once a minute, while the sauce is thickening. Too thick, and you won't have enough to coat the noodles.

Add cheese to chicken mixture and stir thoroughly until melted. Let simmer until thickened to your preference. If you anticipate having leftovers (feeds 6, or 4 very hungry adults), leave it a little runny for best reheating.

My favorite part: bacon.

Add about half of the crumbled bacon or bacon bits and stir well.

That wasn't so hard, was it?
After draining pasta, add to pan and stir to combine. Serve with remaining bacon bits on top.
A pretty bowl with some extra bacon and a veggie on the side rounds out a hearty dinner.
My recipe:

  • 1 pound mostaccioli or other short pasta
  • 6 strips of turkey bacon (or approximately 1/2 cup bacon bits)
  • 1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease (or 1 tablespoon melted butter)
  • 1 split chicken breast, diced (2 chicken breasts or several chicken tenderloins also work)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet ranch dressing packet
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used kaşar and mozzarella)


Cook bacon. Drain on paper towels, reserving about 1 tablespoon grease in pan. Cook diced chicken until no longer pink. Add flour and ranch packet and stir well to coat. Add milk and let simmer until thickened. Meanwhile, cook pasta in separate pan according to directions on box. Add cheese and bacon to chicken mixture and stir thoroughly. Drain pasta and add to chicken pan and mix. Serve with remaining bacon on top.

Healthier Mac and Cheese (from the Blue Box)

Healthier Mac & Cheese (from the Blue Box)

Ever wonder how basic macaroni and cheese could be healthier? Or tastier? Or just plain different? Get all three with this twist on the childhood classic.

Source: low-fat, low-cholesterol cookbook and brainstorming with Dad.

Box of mac and cheese, tuna, sour cream, milk, and peas or veggie of your choice.

Grab your box of mac and cheese of choice plus a can of tuna, some milk and sour cream, and a vegetable of your choice. Notice that there’s no butter in this one.

Almost done! Macaroni is really easy to tell when it's al dente - it turns a lighter color on the ends.

Cook the noodles according to directions and drain.

Sauce ingredients. Leave the peas until after you've combined the rest or else you can get smashed pea sauce too. I know from experience on this one.

Add sauce ingredients to the warm pan (keep pan on low for best results): 2 tablespoons of milk, 1/3 cup of sour cream, cheese packet, can of tuna (drained), and about half a cup of vegetable. I can see this working well with peas, carrots, mushrooms, or broccoli.

Looks like baby food, but I promise it taste delicious.

Stir well until mixed and warm. Add noddles back to pan and continue stirring until fully incorporated. Don’t be afraid of keeping the burner on low.



  • Store-bought macaroni and cheese box
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used skim)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas or vegetable of choice
  • 1 can tuna in water, drained

Boil water and cook noodles according to box. Drain. Mix milk, sour cream, tuna, peas, and cheese sauce packet in pan on low heat until mixed. Add noodles to pan and mix thoroughly. Serve hot. Makes enough to serve 4 kids or 3 adults.

Note: I substituted the sour cream for butter without my husband’s permission and he noticed a difference in the taste immediately. I didn’t taste any difference, but I sure felt better about subbing 4 tablespoons butter for the reduced-fat sour cream. If you’re not ready to try such a drastic substitution, replace 2 tablespoons butter with 1/4 cup sour cream and adjust until the sauce is a desired creaminess.

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