Crock Pot Ranch Chicken Tacos (or Pressure Cooker)

Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos

Fall= crock pot season. My crock pot has been living on my counter these last few weeks. I love how easy it makes my life! Throw a bunch of crap in the pot, turn it on, and come home to a delicious dinner. How awesome would it be if there were crock pots for other things in life? Like…cleaning your house, paying bills, jury duty, you know, pretty much one for everything you hate doing in this world.

Let’s talk tacos. Tacos are rad. I could eat tacos every day…maybe….

These crock pot ranch chicken tacos are pretty flippin’ awesome! The chicken is so flavorful, I could just eat it with a fork and totally skip the tortilla. Aside from tasting awesome, they are also low in fat! Choose your toppings wisely and you will have yourself a healthy and seriously tasty meal! These tacos are in our regular dinner rotation in my house and we make them 2-3 times a month. And while I used to make this all the time in the slow cooker, I now make it in my Instant Pot in 25 minutes so I’ve included instructions to make it either way!

Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos

The ranch flavor isn’t too overwhelming in these, but you can definitely taste it. If you want a stronger ranch flavor, you can use less of the taco seasoning and/or extra ranch seasoning. Or you could also drizzle some ranch dressing on your tacos in place of sour cream! And of course, this chicken can go in more than just tacos! Use it for nachos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, or on a Mexican salad. I have also found that leftovers freeze wonderfullyjjjggg with some of the leftover liquid) and reheat easily in a pot on the stove!

Crockpot Ranch Chicken Tacos

Natalie: Five Months

Natalie Five Months

I can’t believe this baby is already almost 6 months old. I’m just going to get straight into this update!

Sleep stuff has not been as great the last few weeks honestly. Natalie has definitely grown out of her rock and play. She’s been trying to turn over in it because I suspect she would rather sleep on her tummy or side. So, it is time for the crib! In last month’s update, I talked about our stress with our housing situation. We’ve realized that leaving the crib in our loft is just not going to work. Although it stays pretty dark in there, it’s too noisy. Sean and I like to watch TV, talk, cook, and are often cleaning dishes after the girls are in bed so we don’t want to live on eggshells with noise. We are moving our dresser out of our bedroom and are going to put her crib in our room for now. I’m hoping this set-up will work for her during this transition and eventually to sleep training as I am assuming I will need to do at some point with her.

This girl has been doing so many new things physically. First, she is just about able to sit up on her own. Sometimes she can sit up for a few minutes unassisted before toppling over. I know this opens a whole new world for her in terms of being able to see things and play with her toys. She also really wants to spend time on the floor so she can roll to her tummy and just practice moving around. She actually has been getting a bit more frustrated if we just sit her on our laps for a while like we have always done, she wants more independence. She wants to crawl so badly and manages to pivot, scoot, and roll herself all over the place now as I often put her down in one place and and find her in a different place when I look back.

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

It’s Pumpkin Spice Latte season and while everyone is lined up to get their PSL fix, I’m over here at home mixing up glasses of this amazing Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie! The truth is even though I am a total pumpkin addict, I’ve never really been a big fan of the PSL. I know, call me crazy, but it’s just not my favorite. I think it’s because it doesn’t really have much actual pumpkin flavor. Plus, there’s way too much sugar in those things!

This smoothie though? It will totally satisfy your pumpkin pie cravings without all the sugar and calories. And better yet, this smoothie is also packed with protein meaning you can satisfy your pumpkin cravings and not feel guilty about it!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

The base for this smoothie is a frozen banana, which, if you haven’t tried it, makes your smoothies so incredibly creamy and ice-cream like! Then there is all the protein thanks to the Greek yogurt and protein powder. And of course, you’ll also add a good dose of pumpkin puree and spices! I use maple syrup to sweeten this and find that 2-3 tablespoons is plenty sweet for me, but feel free to adjust that. The same goes for the milk- any type of milk will do and you can also adjust the milk to thicken or to thin the smoothie to your desired thickness. This smoothie is the perfect meal replacement for the season!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sometimes a girl just needs a huge chunk of dark chocolate and some cookies. Or maybe not just sometimes, but often. Okay, okay, every day. A girl needs dark chocolate and cookies pretty much every day. Forever and always.

Madeline loves when we make cookies together. She runs for a chair from the kitchen table so she can reach the counter to “help”. I use the term “help” quite loosely here because what she really just does is eat the chocolate chips from the container and sticks her finger in the bowl each time I add a new ingredient. Add a pile of sugar? Sticks her finger in the sugar and eats it. Pile of flour? Also sticks her finger in it and eats it (and then says “yuck”)! She sometimes wants to help me stir things, but that’s mostly because she just wants to lick the spatula. Then when it’s finally time for me to add in the chocolate, she says, “Hey, that’s mine chocolate chips!”. What can I say? She’s a girl after my own heart. Like mother, like daughter, one hundred percent!

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I used my best ever chocolate chip cookie recipe for the base of these cookies and made just a couple of small changes. These cookies are just dreamy. They are nice and thick and super soft in the middle! The secret to thick cookies is to chill the dough before baking. I prefer for it to chill for at least two hours, if not more, so plan accordingly! One other tip I want to let you guys know about is that I have been making my chocolate chip cookie recipe for many years now and I notice a difference in the thickness and softness of the cookies when I mix everything by hand versus using a mixer. I always seem to get a better result when using the mixer because it seems to do a better job of blending all of the ingredients together than what I do by hand so I do recommend pulling out your mixer for these cookies for the best result.

Gah, I’m drooling just thinking about these babies! For the dark chocolate, I recommend getting some of the good quality chocolate bars and chop them up, but you can also mix in regular dark chocolate baking chips (I love the Ghiradelli ones, FYI). To finish them off, you’ll sprinkle on a touch of sea salt!

Salted Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana

I hereby declare that soup season is here. Well, not really, but it’s mid-September so it has to be close, no?! I love making homemade soup over lazy weekends this time of year. They are so comforting and make you feel all nice and cozy.

I’ve been hearing about Zuppa Toscana for years now from people all over, but I never really knew what it was. Zuppa Toscana is actually just a broad term for Tuscan soup and usually contains veggies like kale, beans, zucchini, and potatoes. Zuppa Toscana has become popular here in the United States thanks to the Olive Garden which is how many of you may be familiar with it. To be honest though, I haven’t been to the OG in many years and have never had their Zuppa Toscana, but it sounded pretty good so I wanted to make my own version at home!

Zuppa Toscana

This version contains ground sausage, potatoes, and kale. You can certainly add in cannellini beans or other veggies if you desire. I’m fairly certain the OG version also contains a good amount of heavy cream, but this recipe only uses skim milk and a touch of half and half. A bit of flour also thickens it a bit. Then there’s the bacon. Obviously, you want to add the bacon on top because…bacon. But, hey, at least there is kale too!

Zuppa Toscana

Chicken Enchilada Dip

Chicken Enchilada Dip

Football season is here! It’s yet one of the many wonderful things about this time of year. Even if you aren’t a big football fan, you at least have to be a fan of all the game day eats, right?! While I enjoy college football a lot, my husband basically wants to structure our weekends around certain games and he almost always requests some good football snacks. I wouldn’t dare leave him hanging so I’ve been trying to come up with some new game day eats and we voted this one to be a total winner! What’s not to love about a creamy and cheesy dip mixed with tasty enchilada sauce!

I based this Chicken Enchilada Dip off my Buffalo Chicken Dip (which is another game day favorite on this blog!). In this dip, we use cream cheese, shredded chicken, enchilada sauce, and of course, cheese!

Chicken Enchilada Dip

You can customize this dip in a number of ways too. First, any canned enchilada sauce will do, but I highly recommend my homemade enchilada sauce because it tastes so much better than most store-bought sauces I’ve had! The second way you can change things up is with add-ins. Green chilis or diced jalapeno would be fabulous in this dip as would pretty much any other traditional Mexican-food topping like avocados, green onions, cilantro, or even salsa! If you are serving a group, I’d be careful about adding too much heat though. Lastly, I like to use a combo of sharp cheddar and jack cheese, but any Mexican blend or pepper jack would also be perfect in this recipe so customize away!

Chicken Enchilada Dip