Category Archives: One-Dish Meals

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 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!

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.

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

Source: BevCooks at Tablespoon

These chicken pot pie muffins are near the top of my husband’s favorite dinners…and lunches…and snack. He can’t seem to get enough! These individually-sized pot pies are easy to make and bake and travel well for those brown bag lunches at school or work.

Ingredients: canned, frozen, tube, and pre-mixed. Doesn't get much easier!

Gather the ingredients: canned or frozen mixed vegetables, a can of cream of chicken, TWO cans of buttermilk biscuits, cheddar cheese or a cheese blend, assorted spices, and one chicken breast (not pictured).

Ready to mix?

Mix all ingredients except chicken and biscuits in a bowl.

Add the chicken!

Add chicken. (Really this was just an excuse to take two pictures.)

Flatten, press, and smash the biscuits into each muffin tin.

Flatten the biscuits until they are about 50% larger. Place over the muffin tin and smash it in with your knuckles. This is really fun for kids, though they might need a bigger hand to help! You can make regular or cheese-topped biscuits with the ~4 extra if you use two cans. You could also split the biscuits to make one tube stretch farther, but it doesn’t work well with cheap brands.

Spoon in the filling.

Spoon in the filling. About 1 Tablespoon per muffin is enough.

Golden brown and ready to eat.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until they puff up and turn golden brown.

Tip: if the middle muffins aren’t done yet but the outer ones are getting over done, turn off the oven and let sit while it cools down. This works wonders with pizza and other baked items since it stops the continual heat while still cooking or browning the rest.

My recipe:

  • 1 chicken breast, poached and diced
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup frozen California blend vegetables
  • 1 cup shredded Taco cheese blend
  • 1 Tbs Garlic and Pepper seasoning
  • 1 tsp Penzey Krakow Nights seasoning
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 (10 oz) cans buttermilk biscuits

Preheat over to 350. In bowl, combine all ingredients except biscuits. Grease muffin tin and place 1/2-1 biscuit in each tin. Spoon mixture into each cup. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let rest for 3 minutes before serving.

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