Sneak Peak into Wildflower!

Hi, everyone!

I decided that I wanted to share the first chapter of Wildflower so you can decide for yourself if you want to read the story, since I keep badgering everyone about it. So here we go! The link below will open up Chapter One as a PDF. If you’re interested in more of Cole and Elle’s story, it can be found on Amazon for Kindle!

Wildflower_Cover

Wildflower_PDF_ChapterOne

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy their story!

Taco Bake (Hassle-free walking tacos!)

Brandon and I just got back from our belated honeymoon in Philly. It was fantastic! I will be posting a blog about it and all the fun we had. We are still in the woes of post-vacation. Work is dragging and we’re overall grump-butts to everyone. I’m also going through husband withdraw. It was a treat getting to spend 6 whole days with him! We’ve been back at work for 3 days now, and they’ve been miserable. And somehow, the laundry fairy didn’t stop by the house when we were away, and I have an unnatural amount of clothes to clean.

I first heard of this recipe when my mother-in-law texted me some pictures of it. Cruel! It looked so tasty I almost drove two hours to steal it from her. I jotted it down in a book so I’d remember to try it… but like most things go, I completely forgot about it. When I was on Pintrest the other day, I spotted it again! I was quick to put it on my actual grocery list so I wouldn’t forget.

This is a quick, tasty, and easy meal! If you’re cooking for more than 3 people, or you like having leftovers, I would suggest doubling the recipe. This bake is PERFECT for work events and family outings because it is a hassle free, non-messy walking taco. Try it out!

20140917_170312

Taco Bake

You’ll need:
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg taco seasoning
2/3 cup water (for seasoning)
1 bag chili cheese corn chips
1 can cheddar cheese soup
½ cup milk (for soup)
1 bag shredded mozzarella
Toppings as desired

You will:
Brown beef, drain, and add the seasoning and water
Pour enough corn chips to cover the bottom of a pan (I used a 9×9 pan)
Top with taco meat
Combine soup and milk in saucepan and heat until smooth
Top taco meat with cheese sauce
Add a thick layer of mozzarella cheese to the top of the mixture
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until top layer of cheese is melted
Serve over lettuce with desired toppings

20140917_170200

I didn’t serve this with any toppings, but I wish I would have. It completely slipped my mind at the store. Still, this was delicious even sans sour cream and lettuce and all the extras!

Trust me when I say it is a delicious and hassle free walking taco. The bottom chips get a little soggy, so I added a few chips to my bowl after it was done cooking to give me an extra crunch. If soggy chips completely freak you out, I’d suggest doing a very light layer of chips in the bottom of the pan and then loading up your bowl after it’s done with fresh crispy chips!

Chicken Bacon Pockets

Has it really been a week since I posted last? Whoops! Between me being sick, work, and preparing for the wedding I haven’t really cooked much. I have been forcing my mom to cook delicious meals for me. I think I am going to start doing special “What my mom cooked” posts, because I get all my culinary… er… creativity? (ha!) from her.

I have cooked one meal this past week. Chicken bacon pockets are probably our favorite meal in the Walters house. They were one of the first things I cooked in our home and have since become a staple. They’re from one of my absolute favorite blogs, Buns In My Oven. When I first started becoming a regular on blogs for recipes, hers was like the first one I fell in love with. I am also borrowing her picture because I didn’t anticipate doing a post on this recipe since I have felt so down in the dumps.

 

 

CHICKEN BACON POCKETS 

You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tube refrigerated Grand’s Biscuits
  • 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, finely crushed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk

 

You will:

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add the chicken, bacon, cream cheese, sour cream, and all the spices. Stir often while the cream cheese melts and coat the chicken with the mixture.
  • Remove the 8 biscuits from the tube and flatten them between the palms of your hands. Stretch them to around 5 inches around. Spoon as much of the chicken mixture as will fit into the center of each biscuit. Fold the dough up to create a half circle and pinch the seams closed tightly.
  • Place the cracker crumbs in a shallow dish.
  • Whisk together the egg and water in a second shallow dish.
  • Dip each of the biscuits into the egg and then the crackers to coat. Place on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  • While the biscuits are cooking, heat the soup, cheese, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Spoon the sauce over the biscuits before serving.

 

I could eat just the chicken mixture and be satisfied. I don’t know if it’s the sauce, or how the cream cheese, bacon and chicken mix perfectly together, but just typing about this recipe gets my mouth watering. I use bacon bits instead of actual bacon because neither Brandon or I know how to cook bacon. Seriously, you would laugh at how much delicious bacon we have messed up in almost a year of living on our own together. I have just given up on it. Bacon bits have become my new friend.

The first time I went to make this, I was intimidated. The ingredients list is long and it seemed complicated. It isn’t! If you make it, I guarantee it’ll become a staple in your house as it has mine.

I probably won’t post for another week or so since I get to marry my best friend in FOUR DAYS! Almost three, since today is almost over. Holy mackerel. Next time I blog I will be Mrs. Walters. How trippy is that?!

Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken, Bacon, and Tater Tots

In the almost year Brandon and I have lived together, I have made this recipe more times than I can count on one hand. I would go as far to say it’s one of my favorite meals. The fact that it is simple and quick probably helps that statement. I love cooking elaborate meals and spending a lot of time in the kitchen. At the same time, it is nice to have a break every now and then with a nice casserole crock pot dish. 

Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken, Bacon, & Tater Tots 

You’ll need:

  • 1 (32 ounce) bag tater tots
  • 3 ounce crumbled bacon pieces
  • 1 lb skinless chicken breasts
  • 1½ cups grated colby cheese
  • 1½ cups grated monterey jack pepper cheese
  • ¾ cup milk
  • salt and pepper

You’ll do:

  1. Grease the bottom of the crock pot
  2. Layer ½ the tater tots on the bottom of the pot
  3. Sprinkle ½ of the bacon pieces on top of the tator tots
  4. Combine the two cheeses, and sprinkle ⅓ of it over the bacon and tots
  5. Top cheese with the chicken breasts
  6. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste
  7. Top chicken with another ⅓ of cheese
  8. Sprinkle with other ½ of the bacon pieces
  9. Add remainder of the tater tots
  10. Top with final ⅓ of the cheese
  11. Pour milk over the top
  12. Set crock pot to high and cook 3-5 hours (you’ll know when it’s done!)

 

You can use any cheese. I only had colby jack and cheddar on hand. Be liberal with your cheese, as well! The more the merrier. This crock pot meal, unlike most others I make/post, only takes a few hours to cook. You’ll have to make it on a day you don’t work or have some time. I am so used to just turning my crock pot on in the morning and letting it go until dinner time. That’s the best part about crock pots, right?! I was also so caught up in the magic of this dish I forgot to take any pictures (it is also a dish that is very hard to take a picture of), so I am borrowing an image from Kelsey at Chicnsavvy Reviews. She is one of new favorite bloggers and posts about everything! 

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken & Bacon Tater Tot Casserole

 

In other completely food unrelated news: Our wedding is only THIRTEEN DAYS away now! We went to the court house today and got our marriage license. The past couple of days have gone by so slow because I just want August 10th to be here already! Here’s to hoping time goes by a little faster! 

Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake

Pasta has always been a staple meal for me. I don’t know if my love for pasta came in high school, when all I could do was make spaghetti, or if I have just always had a noodle passion. Either way, I could eat pasta every day. It is my comfort food. Brandon makes fun of me because if I have a day, we have spaghetti for dinner. Ha! 

I know you aren’t supposed to mess with classics. Why fix what isn’t broken? But a recipe promising three cheeses with my chicken alfredo was too tempting. So I took a swing. 

 

Three Cheese Chicken Alfredo Bake 

You’ll need:

  • 1 (16 ounce) box Penne pasta noodles
  • 2 (10 ounce) containers Alfredo sauce
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 (15 ounce) container Ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

 

You’ll do:

  • Boil Penne pasta in a large pot of water, according to package directions. Drain water, and then return pasta to pot. Add all the remaining ingredients, except for the mozzarella cheese. Stir together to combine and then pour mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Sprinkle the top evenly with the mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. 

Add everything together in your original pan

                add everything together in your original pan

pour in a casserole dish and top with cheese

                  pour in a casserole dish and top with cheese

bake and enjoy with some garlic bread!

              bake and enjoy with some garlic bread!

 

I enjoyed this meal. Brandon- not so much. He hates ricotta cheese with a passion. I tried to sneak it in and not tell him, but like always, he found out. I ended up taking most of the dish to my mom’s house so it didn’t go to waste because there was no way I’d be able to eat these leftovers by myself. 

On a completely unrelated note- have I mentioned that I hate the summer time? For some reason, mosquito love me. All biting bugs, actually. Too bad it’s a one sided relationship. I currently have vinegar soaked cotton balls duck taped to my feet (both randomly got a bundle of bites after sitting down at my desk? we have hardwood floors throughout the house so no ideas what might be the source) underneath socks and long pants. I am ready for fall to be here! One good thing about the summer is that a very Walters wedding is coming up in NINETEEN DAYS!

Lemon Chicken, Thyme, and Self-Love

This past week has been so stressful for me for a plethora of reasons, and it is only Wednesday. Between a flub with my job, anxiety with my surgery (which is tomorrow!), Brandon starting back at the factory, and general worries about money and our future- I have not had time to appreciate my life. I often let myself get so wrapped up in the negatives that I forget the positives. I have been trying to tell myself at least 5 things that I love about myself and 5 things I appreciate about my life (I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but believe me, for me it is) every day.

I love that I am compassionate.
I love that I have a belly full of stretch marks.
I love that my eyebrows naturally arch the way I like.
I love the fact that I know a thing or two about cooking.
I love that I am trying to love myself.

I appreciate my support team- I now have two very loving and very large families that are always there for me.
I appreciate my home- We had such incredible luck landing a nice house instead of getting an apartment.
I appreciate my mother- She is part of my support team, but she is so much more to me.
I appreciate my fiancé- He gives me the strength to get out of bed. He gives me encouragement to be a better person. For that, I am grateful.
I appreciate myself- Sort of. I appreciate the effort I am trying to make to love myself and love my life without sweating the small stuff.

And with that, here is today’s recipe. This recipe is LIFE CHANGING. It really is. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but this recipe is delicious and so incredibly easy to make. Not to mention it is great for you. I got this recipe from Eat Yourself Skinny. She has so many amazing recipes I can’t wait to try out. Even though she doesn’t post anymore, her blog will keep me busy for a while!

LEMON CHICKEN & THYME

You’ll need:
• 3-4 chicken breasts
• Juice of two lemons
• Zest of one lemon
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp. fresh thyme
• ½ tsp. sea salt
• 1 tsp. pepper

 20140611_175007

To do:
• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
• Whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper: set aside.
• Place the chicken breasts I a baking dish and pour mixture over top, kaing sure to completely coat them.
• Bake for about 40 minutes, depending on how big the chicken is.
• Enjoy!

20140611_175536

 

Nutritional information:
• Serving size: 1 chicken breast
• Calories: 150 per serving
• Fat: 4 grams
• Carbs: 2.4 grams
• Fiber. 0.08 grams
• Protein: 25 grams

I altered this recipe just a bit. I have had a terrible experience with mincing garlic, so I just used garlic powder. Not the best substitution, but it worked. And I put my lemon and thyme in the pan with the chicken so it could hopefully soak up some of that flavor. That’s about it! See? Quick and easy recipe. Oh, and if you’re worried about the price of this meal like I was, thyme is only 99 cents and lemons are about a dollar each! I buy my chicken in 3 pound bags for the week since I make a lot of chicken recipes, and it’s just under 7 dollars at Walmart. A great and cheap meal. Paired with some veggies and maybe some rolls, it’d be hearty enough for just about anyone.

 

2014-06-11 19.07.57

 

After my surgery I am not allowed to lift a lot, but hopefully I will have strength to cook! The first few days I know I won’t want to do anything, but I’m not sure how long I can eat frozen meals for. Okay, so Brandon isn’t THAT bad of a cook. He is my dedicated grill master, and actually makes dinner sometimes. He just has no idea how to follow instructions! One time he asked me how to make something from a box with instructions on the back of it. Such a goof.

Also, does anyone else have an issue with their pictures not uploading? They uploaded fine when I first started the blog, but now I have to save my post as a draft and then go edit the draft to add pictures.

Until next time!

 

Zesty Shrimp

Shrimp freaks me out. I had a taste of breaded shrimp years ago, and admittedly, I forget what it tasted like.I just know that the texture and appearance freak me out. A lot. Brandon loves shrimp. He’ll eat an entire bag himself (and has before). For his sake, I decided to try it. I must love him because let me tell you, dinner tonight was a trip… and not a very good one. I found a recipe for zesty shrimp and quinoa, but we aren’t ready to jump on the quinoa bandwagon yet, so we substituted brown rice instead. Here’s the recipe:

Zesty Shrimp and Quinoa

You’ll need: • 1 bag of shrimp • 1 cup quinoa • 1 onion • ½ teaspoon pepper • 1 clove garlic, minced • ½ cup soy sauce • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar • 2-3 dashes of hot sauce

Directions: • In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, garlic and hot sauce. Stir and set aside. • Start cooking your quinoa. • While quinoa is cooking, begin cooking shrimp: heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shrimp and onion to pan. • When the shrimp turns pink, add the sauce to the pan and continue to cook, stirring frequently. • When the shrimp is cooked, add quinoa to pan and stir until well combined.

I modified the recipe, as I said. I used brown rice, and I used a little bit of butter instead of olive oil because I don’t have any. I also put crushed red pepper and onion powder in the melted butter for more flavor. I also didn’t combine the rice at the end and just served the shrimp over it. Here is my finished product-

20140606_175955

It looks good, but as anyone who has ever cooked- or eaten- food before knows, what looks good may not always be good, and what looks gross may be delicious. First off, this was not zesty at all. I added at least a fourth of a cup of frank’s red hot and still couldn’t taste it. There was way too much soy sauce for both of our preferences. I was instantly disappointed by the lack of spice and the over abundance of soy sauce, when I did not use as much soy sauce as the recipe recommended and used more hot sauce.

I tried a piece of shrimp and was so turned off by the texture that I wanted to gag, but instead I shoveled a big helping of rice into my mouth. I did this for about 3 or 4 pieces before I tapped out. I gave Brandon the rest of my shrimp and just ate rice for dinner. Even now, a while later, I’m still totally freaked out by the fact that there is shrimp in my body. I think of it touching my lips and shudder. It’s safe to say I’m never trying shrimp again!

That is one of the best (and worst) parts of food and cooking, in my opinion, is trying out new things. By saying that, I know I shouldn’t swear of shrimp forever. There are so many recipes and options out there for shrimp that I’m sure maybe I’d like it, but it just isn’t my thing. At least I was adventurous, even if it was only in my kitchen.

Make sure you follow me on Instagram to keep up with my fascinating (huge eye roll here) life!

6a00d8341c764653ef016303e8de29970d-800wi