Lightened Up Chicken Enchiladas


In my job as a hotel sales manager, I used to work with brides to coordinate their wedding hotel room blocks. And though I no longer handle the wedding blocks, I often hear the many “bridezilla” stories that my colleagues share. We recently had a bride have a complete meltdown over the brand of Kleenex we offered to place in her guests’ wedding welcome bags. Part of me wanted to laugh, and part of me wanted to call this poor girl up and tell her to take a deep breath, slow down, and remember why she was planning this big party in the first place. Nowadays, with all of the wedding blogs and constant wedding Facebook posts, I can see how so many brides can get caught up in making everything “Pinterest perfect.” And it makes me so sad. Planning the celebration of such a big step in life should be an enjoyable, exciting time. And on your big day, the last thing you should be worrying about are those tiny details that no one will remember. The comment I get the most from guests at my own wedding is “You were the happiest bride I’ve ever seen.” That happiness did not come from wearing a perfect dress, or seeing perfect flowers everywhere. The happiness came from getting to marry my best friend. A year and half later, I’m sure very few people remember what our centerpieces looked like, or what our wedding favor was, but they remember how happy we were on that day. And I hope some of our future brides can share that happiness without getting caught up in the details.

As fun as our wedding day was, having all the attention on me was a bit overwhelming. Being a little shy, the role of “the bride” was a bit strange for me. But taking on the role of “the wife” has been absolutely the best. Eric does all the outdoor work, and I get to cook all of our dinners. And this easy dinner recipe got a big thumbs up. I like to make this recipe for chicken enchiladas on a Sunday when I have a bit more time. Typically I eat one enchilada for dinner, and Eric will eat two. I typically let the leftover enchiladas cool completely before placing in a tupperware and freezing. When you are ready to heat up the remaining portions, just place them in a baking dish and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.

Ingredients: Makes 8 enchiladas

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 3 cups shredded chicken
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese

2.  Stack tortillas; wrap stack in damp paper towels and microwave at HIGH for 25 seconds. Spoon about 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with reserved sauce and cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and sauce is bubbly.


Chinese Cabbage Salad

A little over four years ago, Eric brought me along to a family party. We had only been dating a few months at that point, and it was my first big event with the Jones clan. I remember being a little nervous, but it didn’t take long to realize I had no reason to be. Eric’s family was so welcoming and wonderful and I felt at home right away. Plus, Eric’s Aunt Nancy is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. She has about a million recipes that are to die for. Baked Beans, Apple Crisp, and this very delicious Chinese Cabbage Salad that she served at my bridal shower. It is crisp, full of flavor and a perfect side dish for your next barbeque or tailgate. She was sweet enough to share the recipe with me and I brought it along to a barbeque a few weeks ago. It didn’t take long for the whole bowl to disappear. Enjoy!
1package precut cole slaw (1 pound size)
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup toasted sliced or slivered almonds
1 3-oz package Ramen Noodles, oriental flavor
1-2 cups cooked, cubed chicken or shrimp. (Optional)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar ( any kind you like)
1/4 cup sugar
Dry seasoning packet from ramen noodles
1.  Break up the ramen noodles into small pieces.
2.  Mix up the dressing.  Shake all ingredients together.
3.  Combine cole slaw, onions, seeds and nuts.
4.  Just before serving, add noodles, dressing and chicken or shrimp and combine.


Healthy Chicken Pot Pie


Anyone living in the Midwest or Northeast is probably well aware of the crazy winter weather we’ve been experiencing. The weather men have even banded together to name this winter storm Hercules.  And seeing as we received a little over a foot of snow in 24 hours, I think that name fits this storm just right. And these chilly winter temps typically makes us all want to stay inside, warm and cozy, wrapped in a blanket or two. Or maybe that’s just me. Yesterday, while I was watching all of those big white snow flakes float gently to the ground, I had the urge to whip up some old fashioned comfort food. However, I’m not a fan of cooking up a meal that is heavy enough to weigh you down. So I went in search for a recipe that satisfied that craving for comfort food while still feeling a little light. And this recipe does the trick. It has all the flavor you expect from classic chicken pot pie but is much lighter and healthier than those pies you find in the frozen food aisle. And with a little help from Pillsbury Crescent rolls, you can enjoy a small taste of that delightful pot pie crust with almost zero work.

Ingredients: Makes 3 individual pot pies, Adapted slightly from MarthaStewart

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Crescent roll dough, 1 individual roll per pot pie


  1. To prepare chicken, place chicken breasts and chicken broth in a slow cooker and cook on high for 6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and tender enough to shred. ( I cooked 6 chicken breasts, and used 2 whole chicken breasts for this recipe and saved the remaining chicken to use in recipes throughout the week.)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  3. Add chopped carrots, onions, thyme and herbs de provence and cook until carrots are just tender (about 10 minutes)
  4. Add flour and stir until well incorporated
  5. Slowly stir in milk until mixture is thick and creamy
  6. Stir in peas, lemon juice and shredded chicken
  7. Once mixture is well combined, scoop 1 to 1 1/2 cups of mixture into greased ramekins (the amount of pot pie mixture you use per serving will vary based on how large your ramekins are)
  8. Place the dough from 1 crescent roll over the top of each pot pie
  9. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes, are until crescent roll mixture is lightly browned

Tomato Basil Soup with Caprese Grilled Cheese

Winter often signifies the time we all want nothing more than to cozy up inside and indulge in heavier, comforting meals. Yet a wintertime diet of comfort food, often doesn’t bode well for those new year’s resolutions and fitness pledges we made earlier this month. So why can’t we have both? Warm, homemade comfort foods that consist of fresh, healthy ingredients. Ingredients that won’t cause a jump in the number on the scale. One that we often rationalize as a mere side effect of those heavier sweaters that appear in our wardrobe in the colder months. Sweaters don’t weigh five pounds, friends. I think we can all admit that. But I have a solution. Why not use all that produce and fresh herbs that we adored in the summertime to create a meal that satisfies those winter cravings. And here we have it. The classic tomato soup dressed up with fresh basil and roasted red peppers. This soup is a perfect Sunday afternoon recipe that will last all week long, and only get better as the flavors settle in. And what better way to complement tomato soup than with its classic counterpart, the grilled cheese. Yet this grilled cheese is a bit fancier than its Kraft cheese relative. Taking inspiration from a caprese salad, this sandwich features fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and homemade pesto. It’s great for dipping in your homemade soup, but it’s also great on its own. So enjoy your snowy afternoon in with some comfort food …without the guilt.


Tomato Soup:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped finely
  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup roasted red peppers
  • 1 14oz  can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cups fat free chicken broth
  • 1 14 oz can diced stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons 2% milk
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 fresh parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5-6 tablespoons olive oil
Sandwiches: for 1 sandwich (can be duplicated for multiple servings)
  • 2 slices Whole Grain bread
  • 1-2 slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 slice tomato
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine


For the Soup:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium low heat
  2. Add minced garlic and let cook for 1 minute
  3. Add chopped onion and let cook until onions are tender
  4. Add cherry tomatoes and let cook until tomatoes are soft, mash tomatoes with a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon
  5. Transfer tomato mixture into food processor and process until smooth, transfer mixture back into pot and simmer over medium low heat
  6. Place roasted red peppers & fire roasted tomatoes in food processor and process until smooth, but let a few chunks remain in order to add texture to the soup
  7. Pour red peppers & tomatoes into pot
  8. Stir in chicken broth and let mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  9. In the meantime, drain stewed tomatoes until no liquid remains, and add to pot
  10. Stir in milk and sprinkle in fresh basil; add salt & pepper to taste

For the pesto sandwiches:

  1. In a food processor, grind all pesto ingredients together until mixture resembles a thick paste; add more olive oil as needed
  2. Take two pieces of whole grain bread and spread inside with pesto
  3. Layer tomato and fresh mozzarella on bread and spread outside with vegan butter or margarine
  4. Grill sandwiches for 2-3 minutes on each side, until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown

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