4-Ingredient Crockpot Salsa Chicken

salsa chicken 1

There are two things my husband and I love — lazy simple cooking and Mexican food. It’s usually our fall back when we’ve had long days and just want some warm food. The funny thing is is that we’re always thrilled with it’s deliciousness and come back for seconds… so maybe we should be practicing “simple” cooking more often? Nah, that’s just crazy.

Then I was thinking… can we simplify this even more? Have delicious, mouth-watering, perfect-for-leftovers Mexican food and make it just incredibly easy to make? And that’s how 4-Ingredient Crockpot Salsa Chicken came to be.

Is it incredibly obvious? Maybe, but it didn’t hit me till just now so don’t judge.

I want to say “let’s get cooking” but, come on, lets be real. Let’s start throwing ingredients in a crockpot, not worry about it all darn day and enjoy it’s flavorful goodness later tonight! HOORAY!

salsa chicken 2


Ingredients 

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups of your favorite salsa
  • Red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers julienned
  • 1/2 packet of taco seasoning

Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crockpot and spread the bell peppers around them and on top of them. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the chicken and bell peppers. Pour the salsa over everything and make sure to cover the chicken well. Cook on low for 7 hours. When you come home, shred up that gorgeous chicken and mix it up with the salsa and peppers.

Serve over rice or in a tortilla- I love either option! Seriously, the version of you that comes home after work and stares at the “empty” fridge will thank you for this one 😉 Enjoy!

salsa chicken

 

DIY Garden: Landscaping on a Budget

garden 6

So let’s start off by saying I probably shouldn’t get into concrete writing as a career (the above picture says Ryan ’16). Give me a break though, I was using a tree branch as my writing utensil.

Anyway, we finally built our garden! After lots of googling, pinteresting and asking for gardeners’ opinions, we finally settled on an affordable and functional garden.

I’ll break everything down: plans, cost/supplies and elbow grease.

Our garden is specific to our backyard layout–we wanted to save money on fencing by using our already existing chain link fence and also have it close to our hose. We settled on a 18 feet x 4 feet garden area. After doing a little bit of research I figured out that we needed 1 cubic yard of soil (use this handy calculator here to figure out how much soil you need). We also decided on using concrete blocks to build the raised garden bed. Turned out to be cheaper than treated wood, allowed us to secure our “fence” posts without digging big holes into the ground and I LOVE that I can use the spaces in them to plant some side plants–more on that later. The fence was built using wooden garden stakes, quick dry concrete and chicken wire. It’s a pretty simple build, but I say that as the one who didn’t have to put in much elbow grease…

So, supplies:

  • (34) concrete blocks (.92 p/block! $32)
  • 3 ft. x 50 ft. weed barrier landscape fabric ($8)
  • (3) 8ft 1×1 pieces of lumber, cut in half to make 4 foot stakes ($2 each, $6)
  • 50 lbs of quick dry concrete ($7)
  • (1) 4ft x 25ft chicken wire ($9)
  • 1 cubic yard of garden soil mix plus delivery ($85)
  • TOTAL: $147! Much less than I thought it would be!

We already had our seeds started (got ahead of ourselves by a few weeks… whoops). So the supplies for that and the weed killer, the staple gun plus staples weren’t included in the supplies list since we already had those items. Also, we’ll need to buy more supplies later when we figure out how we want to construct a permanent garden gate. To be continued on that part…

This is the part where I need to thank my husband for all of his hard work. I seriously underestimated how much manual labor it would take to complete and I seriously overestimated how much my pregnant body could do. For two weekends in a row Jon built this garden… as I watched. This was phase one of the garden build; I swear I didn’t feel good about how lazy I was being and how hard Jon was working. In my defense the sun was really coming down on me…

garden 9 milo

So anyways, that was my role with garden building the first weekend. Jon, on the other hand, was a landscaping pro. He’s a very precise person and doesn’t do things with minimal effort. If he’s going to make a garden, you best believe that garden will be level. So he mapped out where the garden would go with stakes and string and proceeded to dig up the ground within that space. He dug the perimeter deeper to accommodate the concrete blocks so they were snug in the ground just a tad, leveling as he went.garden 10

Once the ground was dug up and level, he sprayed a weed killer and put down landscape fabric to hopefully decrease the amount of weeds we get in our garden. He then placed the concrete blocks down around the perimeter. Typing this is a heck of a lot easier than doing it; my guilty conscience is strong. Again… thank you Jon!

garden 11

The next weekend was phase 2: soil and fencing. We had the soil delivered Saturday and Jon shoveled it all in on Sunday. While he took a water break I started on planting our garden! FINALLY! I seriously started our seeds too early so they were desperately needing to get in the ground. Before planting I moved aside the soil and created an X with a knife in the landscaping fabric where the plant would be. This ensures that the roots have more space to grow and are not limited to the raised garden area. So far we’ve got tomatoes, bibb lettuce, spinach, green beans and zucchini squash! There’s some space for more so we’ll see what we go with 🙂

garden 9                        garden 8garden 7

I then filled the side concrete blocks that were not going to be used as post anchors with soil. On the short ends (3 on each end) I planted rosemary while on one long edge I planted lavender and poppies, alternating as I went. The reason why I only planted along 1 long edge instead of both was so that I could still access the garden bed instead of wading my way through plants. That’s about it–my gardening work was fairly easy compared to Jon’s. Again, thank you baaaaaaabe.

garden

When I was done planting, Jon started on the fence. He poured concrete into every 3 or 4 blocks around a wooden garden stake to support the weight of the fence. They’re not kidding when they say “fast drying” concrete. Also, word to the wise, wear protective gloves when working with this concrete–it can burn. Luckily Jon didn’t get burned but he didn’t realize this was possible till half way through the project… whoops.

garden 5

garden 4

Once the concrete was set and dry, he started on the chicken wire. We wanted to utilize the space within the remaining concrete blocks for small plants, so the chicken wire was contoured around the blocks instead of over them. He used a staple gun to the secure the chicken wire to the posts, making sure the wire was taut as he went. For now the chicken wire is extended to the fence and is being used as a temporary gate, but Jon has some plans to create a more permanent solution later.

garden 3

So now, the only thing we can do is wait to see if we actually have some veggies growing! To be honest, we may have already experienced a casualty–we had an intense spring storm come through today and it looks like we may have lost our beautiful zucchini squash that had its first bud forming. We’re amateurs though, so even if we don’t get an impressive yield from our garden I’m still really proud of how this turned out!

garden 2

So this is our garden, plans and all! Everyone’s garden will need to be different to suit their needs and space, and I think we were able to make the most with what we had (finances, time and yard space).

If you have any questions, comments or ADVICE please feel free to leave a message below!

Happy gardening 🙂

Shrimp & Morel Mushroom Pasta in a Black Truffle Oil Cream Sauce

morel cream sauce 2

May I introduce to you, my all-time favorite pasta dish.

For real, I’m not even kidding. During our trip to Italy is when I discovered the gorgeous combination of cream and black truffle oil. Throw in some prawns and mushrooms and it’s the most perfectly well-balanced pasta dish. The flavors work beautifully together. Don’t be scared off by the black truffle oil, though. It’s so delicious, you’ll want to use it in all your cooking! You can find it at your local specialty cooking store, such as Sur La Table.

Unfortunately, we don’t have great access to good prawns here in Missouri so I settled for some healthy looking shrimp. To make up for the lack of prawns, I got the king of mushrooms to truly star in this dish: morel mushrooms.

If you’re not familiar with Morel mushrooms, then you probably haven’t grown up in the Midwest. Morel mushrooms are pretty much a tradition for our family. I was named after my great great aunt Libby, who was gifted a picture of herself carrying a tackle box with a sign in the background saying “Mushroom land” pointing in the direction she was walking. My father’s side of the family has always gone mushroom hunting during the spring, and so has Jon’s. Jon’s dad has asked us for the past two years if we’ve gone mushrooms hunting– sadly we have not. We’ve tried, but have been unsuccessful. Luckily I came across a woman who was selling them for $10 per pound, which is just ridiculous since they are typically higher ($20 per pound -$40 per pound). Anyway, of course I bought some. Had just enough for frying some the good ol’ fashioned way like our families taught us and for this recipe!

You can use any type of mushroom that’s in season for this recipe; I just really love the morels 🙂

I love this recipe since it incorporates parts of our family tradition with my newfound culinary favorites. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do 🙂

morel cream sauce 3


First things first, let’s get this dish started with some butter! In a large pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of unsalted butter. Next, add in 1/3 cup of sliced shallots and allow to cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent (If you want to leave the shallots in, I suggest mincing them). Make sure not to have the heat up too high, we don’t want the butter to burn.

Remove the shallots from the butter. I think the shallots give off a great deal of flavor to the butter without taking away from the smooth cream sauce that we’re left with. If you’re a big onion person then by all means you can leave the shallots in there for extra flavor, but trust me plenty of flavor is coming soon to this dish!

Whisk in 1 tablespoon of flour to the butter until it’s well incorporated. Next, add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Whisk together until smooth and turn the heat down to low. Let this cook down a little for about 7-10 minutes. Is there anything as good as smelling wine being cooked in a dish? Oh wait, yes, smelling wine while you’re drinking it is better.

Once that’s done, add in a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream slowly. Time to throw in the shrimp! Add in about 1/2 pound of shrimp, peeled and cleaned. Keep stirring while this cooks down for another 7-10 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

Now for the final touches. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add in the 1/2 pound of morel mushrooms cut lengthwise and about 1/4 of a cup of freshly snipped parsley. Stir this all together for about 1 minute and remove from the heat. For the final touch, add in 1/2 teaspoon of black truffle oil. You can add in more if you like! Whisk it in until well incorporated.

I served this over my homemade pasta, which I’ll post my recipe and experience making pasta at a later time! I think fettuccine works perfectly with this dish.

Viola! My all-time favorite pasta is ready for you to enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments below. Bon appétite!

morel cream sauce 5

Ingredients 

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1/2 pound morel mushrooms, cleaned and sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon black truffle oil

In a large pan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of unsalted butter. Add in shallots and cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Remove the shallots from the butter. Whisk in flour to the butter until it’s well incorporated. Next, add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth and 1/2 cup of dry white wine. Whisk together until smooth and turn the heat down to low. Cook down for about 7-10 minutes. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper and whisk in 1 cup of heavy whipping cream slowly. Add shrimp. Keep stirring while this cooks down for another 7-10 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and add morel mushrooms and parsley. Stir this all together for about 1 minute and remove from the heat. Whisk in black truffle oil until well combined. Serve over fettuccine. Enjoy!