Baked Chicken Breasts with Zucchini Noodles in Spinach and Walnut Pesto

I made zucchini noodles today and now I am wondering why it took me so long to try them. They were amazing! I could replace spaghetti with zucchini noodles forever and not miss it one bit. Also, they were incredibly easy and cooked super fast. This meal came together so quickly that I barely felt like I had cooked, but it was really tasty and Jeff gave it his stamp of approval. That’s always a win. Check out the recipes below:

Simply the Best Baked Chicken

I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this, but you could absolutely use bone-in chicken. You’d just need to adjust your cooking time. Usually bone-in chicken tends to take a little longer to cook. Just make sure that the juices are running clear when you puncture the chicken to be sure it is done.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 Tbsp avacado oil

Salt

Pepper

In a skillet, heat the avacado oil over medium high heat until warm. Make sure to swirl it around to coat the entire skillet. 

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place in the skillet seasoned side down. Season the other side with salt and pepper. 

Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for an additional 3-4 minutes. 

Transfer to a 400 degree oven and bake for 25 minutes. 

Browning the chicken in the skillet first makes such a huge difference in how flavorful this chicken is! Having that crispy, browned crust makes it so savory!

Spinach and Walnut Pesto

1 1/2 cups finely packed spinach

1/2 cup fresh basil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

Combine the spinach, basil, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a blender or food processor. Drizzle in olive oil until you reach the desired consistency. 

Put It All Together

Spiralize 3-4 large zucchini using a vegetable spirializer like this one. Sauté the noodles on medium high heat in avacado oil with a little salt and pepper for about 3-4 minutes or until tender. Add two tablespoons of pesto to the noodles and toss until coated.

Serve with sliced chicken breasts and toasted walnuts for garnish. 

Mexican Chicken Casserole for Two

I created this recipe tonight because my husband was tired of eating my Whole30 meals and wanted something a little more hearty. We had a party for the Bama vs. LSU game last night (Roll Tide!), so we had some leftover tortilla chips that I wanted to use. I also was meal prepping for my last week of the Whole30 by boiling a big batch of chicken, so I decided to use what I already had on hand and create a Mexican chicken casserole. I purposely made this a small casserole since I was making it just for Jef. It turned out to be the perfect size for two people (he’ll eat the rest for lunch tomorrow). It got the thumbs up from him and he said this recipe is a keeper.


Here’s what you need:

2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1/2 cup cooked white rice

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 tsp. diced jalepenos

1 Tbsp. taco seasoning

1/2 can whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

A handful of crushed tortilla chips

Mix the shredded chicken, rice, soup, onion, jalepenos, taco seasoning, and corn in a mixing bowl. Pour mixture into a small baking dish. Top with shredded cheese.

Bake at 359 degrees for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with crushed tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.

 

Crockpot Chicken and Potatoes

I made up this recipe this afternoon because I wanted something easy and the only meat I had in the house was chicken. Since I’ve been doing the Whole 30 program, we have had a LOT of chicken. I wanted something different than our typical grilled or baked chicken breasts, so I decided to pull out my crockpot.

I wasn’t sure how this would turn out, but it was really good! The chicken was perfectly cooked and really juicy, and the potatoes were nice and tender. This is probably going to be a regular in our house now! As my dad says, we’re going to “put it in the rotation.”

Here’s what you need:

2-4 Frozen chicken breasts (yes, I put them in the crockpot frozen because I had something to do this afternoon and didn’t have time to thaw them – it turned out fine cooking them from frozen)

1 can chicken broth

2-4 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

Salt and pepper

Minced garlic

Parsley flakes

Oregano

Red pepper flakes

Rosemary 

Thyme 

Bay leaf


Place the chicken and potatoes in the crockpot. Pour about half the can of chicken broth over the chicken and potatoes. (Don’t cover them – you just want a little liquid in the bottom of the crockpot). Season with salt and pepper, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf (I didn’t measure – I just gave a generous sprinkle of each one over the chicken. I took it easy on the red pepper flakes, though.) 


Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. 

I wish I had included some baby carrots in this and probably will do that next time. I had steamed broccoli with mine, and heated up some frozen rolls for Jeff. 

Keeping up with the Wallaces!

These last few weeks have been crazy busy. My husband and I started the Whole 30 challenge on Monday, October 10th. Somehow, he finished way earlier than I did…


I’m currently on day 9, and I’m honestly surprised that it actually hasn’t been that hard. I do miss bread (a LOT), but because you can eat so many fruits and veggies, I haven’t really felt super hungry or deprived, which is a really good thing when it comes to diets.

However, I do feel that my cooking game has been knocked off kilter since I started this challenge. There are only so many ways to cook chicken and fresh veggies… I have realized that almost ALL my recipes use some kind of forbidden food like flour, canned soup, or sugar. I know Jeff is ready for me to be doing something in the kitchen besides roasting chicken and I’m trying to come up with some creative ways to cook healthy meals that even the non-dieter in the house will enjoy.

Here are some of the meals I have been relying on to get through this challenge so far:

Roasted chicken breast with green beans – I love bone-in chicken for roasting. Wash the chicken breasts and place on a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and parsley flakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the chicken (these breasts were HUGE, so I had to cook mine for an hour).

Most of the time, my breakfast and lunch look like this. I try to stick to something easy to pack, so I take Sundays to prep all my veggies so I can just toss some in a bowl at night before bed and they’re ready to go in the morning. I also include some slices of deli turkey for protein.

I just found out about these AMAZING little snack bars and they are a game changer! I was really missing my granola bar for breakfast every morning, and these little bars satisfy that craving without any of the bad for you ingredients that are in my typical bar.

Jeff has been working hard on the grill since we started this challenge. He grilled burgers for us a couple times (I ate mine without a bun), and last week I found these awesome steaks on sale at Publix and couldn’t pass them up.

Jeff said he has eaten more fruits and veggies in the last week than he has all year leading up to this challenge. I think he’s sick of broccoli…haha.

Besides the Whole 30, I’ve been super busy at school. We’ve just started a new nine-weeks. My 11th grade students are about to start reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. To kick off the unit, I am hosting a Gatsby Soirée in my classroom next Friday featuring all things inspired by the 1920s. There will be 1920s food, 1920s music, 1920s fashion, and 1920s dancing. I am still researching the food that I’m going to make for my students, and I can’t wait to share the recipes I find with you guys next week.

On Sunday, we gained a new member of the family!  Meet Hemingway, our new kitten!

He is a feisty little guy who loves jumping all over the couch, hiding under the furniture, and attacking the cords on our blinds. George is NOT happy at all about this new addition, but we read that it is actually pretty normal for an older cat to resist adding a new cat to the family at first and we’re hoping he will come around. Does anyone have any suggestions for making the transition smoother? George has been extremely ticked off at us since we brought Hemingway home and has decided that he’s going to just camp out in the basement and ignore all of us. Hopefully he’ll get over it soon.
 

Chicken Pot Pie

This is the ultimate comfort food recipe. When Jeff and I were dating, he asked me if I could make him a chicken pot pie. I flipped my hair and said, “of course!” even though I had never made one in my life. I was certain that it couldn’t really be that hard. I tried a few different recipes before I settled on this super easy creation.

Tonight, I added a little extra to my normal recipe by adding bacon to the pie. It’s totally optional, but who wouldn’t want bacon in their chicken pie???

Here’s what you need for my super easy Bacon Chicken Pot Pie:


2 chicken breasts

4 slices of bacon

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can chicken broth

Small bag mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, and peas)

2 refrigerated pie crusts

Salt and pepper to taste

Start by boiling the chicken breasts. When they are done, shred and set aside.

Dice the bacon into small pieces. Spray a medium sized pot (I love my enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven for this!) with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until done. 


When the bacon is done, remove and drain on a paper towel. Turn the heat down to low. Deglaze the pot with a splash of chicken broth. Add the cream of chicken soup and about half the can of chicken broth. Stir until well mixed. Stir in the frozen mixed vegetables. Cover and let cook on low for about 10 minutes. 


Next, add the shredded chicken and bacon to the mixture. 


Stir until mixed well. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.


Cover this mixture and remove from heat.

Roll out one pre-made pie crust into the bottom of a pie pan. 


Poke the crust with a fork to allow it to vent. Pour the chicken mixture into the bottom crust. 


Roll out the second pie crust and place on top of the pie. Use a fork to press the edges together. 

Cut vent slits in the top of the pie. I usually cut three large ones in the middle and a few tiny ones around the edges. 


You can bake it just like this, OR if you want a really pretty, crispy crust, coat the top of the pie with an egg wash (one egg and some water whisked together and brushed onto the dough). This will give you a beautiful, golden brown crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Watch the crust carefully. You may need to cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent them from burning (the edges cook faster than the rest of the pie). 


Allow the pie about 10 minutes to rest/cool before serving.


Jeff has been raving about this pie all night. He said it is my best one ever. I think the bacon is definitely here to stay. 


If you want a happy tummy and a happy husband, go make this. You won’t regret it. 

Chicken Noodle Soup

I am so ready for fall! The pumpkins and decorations in all the stores around here are just teasing me, because it still feels like summer in Alabama.

This afternoon, when I got home, I turned on the fan, put a fall fragrance in my Scentsy warmer, and started a big pot of my favorite chicken soup. I’m just going to pretend it’s fall until the cool weather gets here.

Here’s what you need to make my chicken noodle soup:

2 large chicken breasts (or 6 boneless, skinless chicken tenders)

Salt to taste

10 peppercorns

3 bay leaves

1/2 medium onion, quartered

1 tsp. cilantro

1 tbsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 tsp. parsley flakes 

1 bag frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 box pasta (I used farfalle tonight, but you can use any kind you like. Egg noodles work really well.) 


Place chicken, onion, and spices in a large stock pot and cover with water until pot is almost full. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer with lid on for 30 minutes.


Remove chicken from the broth and shred. Strain broth to remove onions, peppercorns, and bay leaves.


Taste broth and add more salt and pepper if needed. Put shredded chicken back into the broth and add 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables. 


Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes.


Add noodles and bring mixture to a boil. Boil as long as needed to cook noodles (follow directions on box). 

When noodles are cooked, reduce to low heat. Taste broth and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with saltine crackers or toast.