One of my goals right now while cooking is to find meals that are exceptionally delicious that take the minimal amount of time. I want to be able to cook for my family nearly every day, because I truly believe that family meal time is a precious gift in life. I don't remember all of the dinnertime conversations of my childhood, but I do remember that we always ate together. I can remember my mom in the kitchen cooking up her set of classics daily. I want that in my life, so I am working hard now to find those diverse and tasty meals. 

Recently, we had a bunch of friends over. As you know, I almost always chose the Mexican flavors. They are my forever favorite. But my husband loves Asian food about as much as I love Mexican, so I decided it was time to find so Asian inspired dishes. This one was a great starting place. It was easy-- crockpot. It is also sweet and wonderful. I loved it. 

Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  2. salt and pepper
  3. 1 cup honey
  4. 1/2 soy sauce
  5. 1/2 diced onion
  6. 1/4 ketchup
  7. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  8. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  9. 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  10. 4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons water
  11. sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Season both sides of the chicken lightly with salt and pepper, place at the bottom of the crockpot. In a medium sized bowl combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil, garlic, and pepper flakes. Pout over chicken.
  2. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or on high for 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove chicken from crockpot, leaving sauce. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and pout into the crockpot. Replace lid and allow the sauce to cook on high for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened.
  4. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, then return to pot and toss with sauce.
  5. Serve over rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

I use dry ranch ALL THE TIME. I started to get really conscious of just how bad those little things are for you. Full of MSG and SO much sodium. I have been using this recipe for almost a year now and I love it. I can taste the ranch flavor still, but am saving my life one bit of sodium at a time.

Recently, I used a name-brand package of dry ranch and was blown away by how salty it tasted. I almost didn't even enjoy by ranch chicken  the salt was overwhelming! I am so thankful to the creator of this recipe who figured it all out. 

DIY Dry Ranch Dressing Mix
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 dry buttermilk powder
  2. 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  3. 2 teaspoons freeze dried chives
  4. 1 and 1/2 teaspoon dillweed
  5. 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  6. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  7. 1/2 teaspoon dried onion
  8. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  10. 1/2 sea salt
  11. freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container and in the refrigerator if the buttermilk you purchased requires refrigeration.
  2. Makes about 1 cup of mix.
  3. When using dry mix in a recipe, I usually use 2 1/2- 3 tablespoons in place of 1 dry packet.
Adapted from Natalie at Perry's Plate
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

I simple meals. It may not be healthy, but it does make for a quick and tasty dinner. 

Crock Pot Bacon Ranch Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 4 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  2. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  3. 1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
  4. 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
  5. 1 cup sour cream
  6. 1 pound of chicken breasts
  7. 8 oz. of your favorite pasta
Instructions
  1. Spray slow cooker with a non-stick cooking spray and place chicken in the crockpot.
  2. Mix bacon, garlic, ranch dressing mix, soup, and sour cream together and pour over chicken. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6 hours.
  3. Shred chicken or cut into bite size pieces.
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  5. Enjoy
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

As you know, I so desire to cook with fresh fruits and veggies but its an area of cooking that just seems so foreign to me. We always had apples, oranges, and pears around growing up, but that'd about the extent of how interested I was in fruit. And vegetables, I was just against. Completely. But praise the Lord that our tastebuds develop, because now food is so much more enjoyable.  Even with all that growing up, I'm still not sure about my relationship with lettuce. So when I saw this idea for a salad, or dip, or topping; I was intrigued. AND the COLORS! It really is a beautiful dish. 

And after making it, I can attest that it is wonderful. Its so crisp and feels right as we move into the summer months I am sure that I will be making it over and over again. In fact, I happily ate it for lunch for the entire week.

Southwestern Black Bean Salad with Citrus Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 8 oz. cherry tomatoes, diced
  3. 1 cup corn
  4. 1 large orange bell pepper, diced
  5. 1/3 cup red onion, finely diced
  6. 3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro, stems removed
  7. 1 avocado (I opted out of the avocado and it was still delicious)
For the Dressing
  1. Juice from 1 large orange
  2. Juice from 1 and 1/2 limes
  3. 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  4. 1/2 teaspoon honey (or agave)
  5. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  6. Optional: cayenne pepper for a little kick
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing in a small bowl by whisking together all of the dressing ingredients until honey is incorporated. It should yield about a 1/2 cup of dressing. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients except for the avocado. Add the dressing and toss to cover.
  3. Best if chilled for at least 1 hour before serving. Stir well before serving because the dressing may gather at the bottom.
  4. Top with diced avocado right before serving.
Adapted from Kaitlin
Adapted from Kaitlin
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

I like this dinner. Its so GREEN. I feel like if I were a I would react in one of two ways to this dinner 1) I would be so freaked out by the green sauce that I would go to bed without eating or 2) I would think this was the coolest meal of all time because its kind of like green eggs and ham.... except that its green chicken. 

Other bonus: the sauce is delicious. Like I generously poured it over some rice. It would also be great on veggies. Each time I've made it using 3 poblano peppers: I have had an excess of sauce. So if you are a no nonsense, no excess kind of person you may want to cut down on your peppers and onions. But hey, if you make the whole thing you can just eat it with a spoon. 

Cheesy Chicken in Poblano Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 2-3 medium poblano peppers, seeddd and stemmed, chopped
  2. 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  3. 1 small onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  5. a small handful of cilantro leaves, plus some for garnish
  6. salt and pepper
  7. 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  8. 2 tablespoons flour
  9. 1 cup milk
  10. 1/2 cup heavy cream or Mexican crema
  11. 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  12. 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  13. 1 1/2 cups shredded Manchego cheese (I usually just use a Mexican blend of cheese)
  14. 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  15. thinly sliced red onions, for garnish
Instructions
  1. 1. In a blender or food processor, combine the peppers with the stock, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt and pepper; puree. In a saucepan over medium hear, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Whisk in the flour; add the milk and cream and raise the heat a bit. Add the poblano pepper sauce and simmer to thicken and cook the sauce, 20-25 minutes
  2. 2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. 3. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Brown for 3-4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a casserole dish, spread the poblano sauce over the top of the chicken. Cover in cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. It should be brown and bubbly on top.
  4. 4. Serve with cilantro sprigs and red onions, tortillas, or rice.
Adapted from Rachael Ray
Adapted from Rachael Ray
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

This is by far THE best dinner that I have ever made- not to mention the fanciest looking dinner. I mean it was eeeeeeeasy, but looks and tastes like true awesomeness. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. I so look forward to making it next time 

 

Crispy Caprese Chicken
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Ingredients
  1. 4 chicken breasts
  2. olive oil
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  6. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  7. 8 cherry tomatoes, slices 1/4" or thinner
  8. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  9. 16 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4" or thinner
  10. 16 large, fresh basil leaves
  11. toothpicks
  12. 1/2 cup flour
  13. 2 eggs
  14. 1 cup breadcrumbs
  15. 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  16. 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  17. *fresh, tomato-basil relish
  18. For the Tomato-Basil Relish
  19. 16 cherry tomatoes, diced finely
  20. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  21. 1/4 cup basil julienned
  22. olive oil
  23. salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  24. 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For the chicken
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil
  2. Prepare the chicken breasts by butterflying each breast, being careful to not cut all the way through. Place each breast between two pieces for plastic wrap and gently pound the chicken out with a mallet to about 1/4" thickness.
  3. Once thinned to 1/4" place the chicken breasts in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, the garlic, salt and pepper, the lemon juice and zest. Marinate the chicken for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is marinating, place the tomato sliced into a dish. Add the balsamic vinegar, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and allow them to marinate as well.
  5. To prepare the chicken, place one marinated chicken breast in from of you. Leaving about a 1/2" border at the bottom of the chicken, add two pieces of fresh basil, then 2 slices of fresh mozzarella, then four tomato slices. Add two more pieces of basil and two more pieces of fresh mozzarella. Starting at the bottom, fold the chicken over the ingredients, gently rolling upward until wrapped. Place 2-4 toothpicks through the seams at an angle to secure the filling and keep the chicken held together. Place onto a clean plate to hold. Repeat with each chicken breast.
  6. To bread the chicken, get three medium sized bowls. In one bowl, add the flour. In a second bowl, add the eggs. And in the third bowl, add the breadcrumbs, parmesan, and Italian seasoning and a pinch of cracked black pepper; toss to combine. Gently dredge each chicken breast in the flour, then eggs, the parmesan-breadcrumbs mixture. Set aside while you heat the oil.
  7. To fry, add enough olive oil to large heavy bottom pan or skillet for a shallow fry (roughly 1 cup) place over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in 2 of the rolled and breaded chicken breasts seam-side down and cook until golden-brown and crispy, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from oil and place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with the 2 remaining breasts. To finish, place the chicken in the oven and bake until the chicken is completely cooked through and the cheese is melted.
  8. To serve, remove toothpicks and serve on a bed of the fresh, tomato-basil relish.
For the Fresh, Tomato-Basil Relish
  1. Add all ingredients in a small bowl and fold together to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use with chicken. Prepare as close to when you are ready to serve as possible to keep the basil from discoloring.
Adapted from Ingrid
Adapted from Ingrid
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

 It's not that this is a revolutionary, except that is IS  REVOLUTIONARY to me

You can have a million places that you need to be but still have the coziest of side dishes cooking in the crockpot. I just love mashed potatoes. They pair perfectly with nearly meal. And they make me happy-- especially my mom's Christmas potatoes but that's another story for another time. 

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
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Ingredients
  1. 5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled if that is your preference
  2. 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  3. 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
  4. fresh ground pepper
  5. 3 to 3.5 cups milk, or a mixture of milk and cream
  6. 1/2 cup unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease the crockpot with butter or cooking spray. Chop to potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to the crockpot. Add the garlic on top of the potatoes. Stir in the salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Pour in 1 and 1/2 cups of milk and stir the potatoes. Cover the crockpot and cook 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or until the potatoes are very tender and soft.
  2. Turn the heat to warm.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir the 2 remaining cups of milk into the melted butter and warm over low heat.
  4. Mash the potatoes. When the potatoes are smooth, slowly stir in the milk and butter. The potatoes will look soupy at first but will soak up the liquid. Add an additional 1/2 cup of milk if you'd like them to be even creamier. Season to taste. Enjoy!
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

 Sometimes Monday night dinner with our friends freak me out because I cannot imagine that they want to only eat chicken all the time like me and Austin. I just have so little knowledge of how to cook anything else. This Monday I knew 2 things 1) pork roasts were on SALE! 2) I would have a lot of hungry mouths to feed after an awesome revival at church. 

The gravy here was OUT OF THIS WORLD! I made some mashed potatoes to go with it and YUM. We will definitely be having this again. 

Crockpot Honey Balsamic Pork Roast
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (2-3 pound) shoulder pork roast
  2. salt and pepper
  3. 1/4 cup honey
  4. 1 cup beef broth
  5. 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  6. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  7. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  8. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  9. 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Spray crockpot with non-stick coking spray. Sprinkle salt and pepper on all sides of the pork roast and place inside the crockpot. Drizzle honey over the top of the roast.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the beef broth, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder. Pour over the roast.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.
  4. When it's finished, remove juices from bottom of the crockpot and place in a small saucepan over medium high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Pour cornstarch mixture into the saucepan and whisk quickly, When the mixture starts to thicken, pour over the roast or reserve some to use as gravy with your side.
Notes
  1. The who write this recipe said that she prefers cooking the pork on low because it falls apart so easily. I did not try this method and still thought that my roast was nearly perfect.
Adapted from Camille
Adapted from Camille
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

When I first saw this recipe, I was intrigued. Mixing three distinct flavors to create a potentially delightful twist on such a standard meal. I love shrimp, but it can be expensive so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a meal that was so questionable. Then my sweet friend moved to Florida and gave me the content of her freezer (YES!) I knew just what I'd be doing with her shrimp. 

OH THE FLAVOR! Unbelievable really. I don't know what I was expecting, but this far exceed it. Sriracha packs a punch and the cilantro and lime come in to make it all kinds of delish. 

2.5.14 Sriracha Shrimp, Lime, and Cilantro

Sriracha Spaghetti with Shrimp, Cilantro, and Lime
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound shrimp
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  4. 3 tablespoons sriracha
  5. juice of 2 limes
  6. 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish
  7. pepper and salt to taste
Instructions
  1. 1. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente. Drain through a colander reserving about a cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  2. 2. In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and season with a little salt and pepper. Cook until the shrimp are pink and start to curl, about 3 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  3. 3. Once the shrimp are cooked, remove from heat. Add the sriracha and toss to coat the shrimp.
  4. 4. Combine the shrimp, excess sriracha sauce, 1/4 reserved cup water, cilantro and lime juice with the noodles. Toss until all of the spaghetti is well coated.
Notes
  1. I actually used frozen shrimp with the tail still on. Just be wise if feeding kiddos.
Dash of Goodness http://dashofgoodness.com/

I loved english class throughout my entire student career. But there were two things in English class that I hated: poems and reading in order to find the allegorical meaning. As I've grown up, metaphors have become at least a little bit more interesting. And I think thats only because I love the Bible and realize that by God's design, he spoke many times in vivid imagery. 

A friend of mine recently shared the website: www.jesusplusnothing.com with me. It is such as neat resource, but my 2nd favorite thing about it is the book suggestion page. I picked Ian Thomas' book, If I perish, I perish, simply because it was in .pdf format. That is probably not the best way to choose a book, but alas, it worked to my favor in this instance. 

This book takes an allegorical approach to the book of Esther. On my own, I would never have noticed many of the direct applications of the book of Esther in my daily life. Let's be serious, while I am married to a pretty cool dude, he is not a king and I will likely not play a role in saving an entire nation from genocide. But there is much to be found in Esther on living by the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a daughter of the Lord. I strongly encourage you to pick this book up. You can find it here as a .pdf and even read it on your phone. Each chapter was jammed pack with insight. I am again incredibly thankful that God has given saints throughout history the ability to break down sections on His word to make it more accessible to people like me. Also, I am thankful for technology that brought the book to me. 

Now you, go read!