Beer Braised Instant Pot Shredded Chicken

During the fall and winter months, it is so comforting at night to have a warm cooked meal on the table. The problem with that is we don’t always have the time to be in the kitchen for hours on the weeknight. This recipe helps bring both together by giving you a delicious meal that can be ready in less than 30 minutes. This is a fun Mexican spin on a traditional shredded chicken. The beer, limes, and dried chiles blend together for a tangy, citrusy chicken that has just a hint of heat. We love this recipes because there are endless options for how you can use this chicken. We put it in tacos, over salad, or even on a burger bun- you can truly incorporate this any way you would like. We have found through some trial and error that our favorite beer for this recipe is a lighter ale, specifically, Corona. The key to cooking with any alcohol is that if you like to drink it, you will likely enjoy eating it as well. So if you don’t like Corona, just swap it out for something that suits you.

Beer Braised Instant Pot Chicken

  • Servings: 6-8 for taco preparation
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A quick & easy recipe for shredded chicken that is perfect for tacos, enchiladas, and salads.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 tbs kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 dried guajillo chilis (these can be found in the Mexican section of most grocery stores)
  • 6 oz Corona Beer or another beer of your choosing
  • 1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (~6 chicken thighs)
  • 1 lime, cut into segments

Directions

  1. Put the Instant Pot on the sauté setting and add the olive oil and onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the salt, pepper cumin, chilis, beer, and limes to the pot and give everything a quick stir. Place the chicken breasts into the Instant Pot and try to submerge them in the liquid as much as possible. It’s ok if they are not fully submerged. Switch the Instant Pot setting to the Pressure Cook setting on High and set for 12 minutes.
  3. Use the quick release once the chicken has finished cooking. Use two large forks to shred the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve in tacos with rice and salad or in any other format you would like!


Heath Bar Brownies

Heath Bar Brownies

  • Servings: 16 brownies
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Everyone needs a good brownie recipe to have in their back pocket, and this is the one we have in ours. These brownies are fudgy, chocolatey, and contain that little bit of surprise when you bite into a piece of caramel Heath Bar. We love this recipe because it comes together really quickly- even with a quick trip to the grocery store for Heath Bars, we still have these on the table in less than an hour. We have shown them photographed in bite sized pieces because #portioncontrol, but we are known to scoop them hot out of the pan and top them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the ultimate sweet treat.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 2.25 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs coffee or 1 tsp coffee extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 oz Heath Bars, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 11 inch baking dish with parchment paper; spray the parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Add the butter and melt until it fully coats the bottom of the pan. Add the chocolate and melt completely. Remove from the heat immediately after the chocolate has melted.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and coffee together. When the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, add that into the mix as well, whisking as you go to evenly distribute any remaining heat so as not to scramble the eggs.
  4. Use a mesh strainer to sift the salt, baking powder, and flour into the chocolate mix. Use a rubber spatula to fold the mixture together, being careful not to over-mix. Add the Heath Bars to the brownie batter and gently fold them in.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. It will be quite thick, so use a spatula to make sure the batter is in an even layer and touches all sides of the pan.
  6. Bake the brownies for 20 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides. Remove the brownies from the oven and cool before slicing. If you are a rabid animal like we are, carefully eat them hot out of the pan with a spoon.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6
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We love to have a good pot of soup on the stove in the fall as the weather starts to get chilly. This Chicken Tortilla Soup has been in our recipe repertoire for many years now- it’s a go-to recipe that is the perfect mix of savory and spicy. It’s also very healthy and an easy way to get our veggies in when it’s cold out. If we are having friends over to watch a football game, we can up the ante and have lots of fun toppings to add over top. What starts out as a simple cup of soup can easily turn into a hearty meal with just a few toppings! We love to serve this soup with a batch of cornbread or crusty bread to dip into all of that spicy soup left at the bottom of the bowl.

Soup Ingredients

  • 1 package chicken breasts (about 1.3 lbs)
  • 1 tbs paprika
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed (we used a roasted corn from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1- 28 oz can roasted tomatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional Topping Ingredients

  • shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • tortilla strips
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced green onions
  • sliced avocado

Directions

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and let it get nice and hot. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper and the paprika. Add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until they are seared well. They will not be cooked through at this point, but remove from from the pan onto a plate.
  2. Add the yellow onion to the pan. If the pan is dry, go ahead and add an extra tbs of olive oil to prevent sticking. Saute for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion starts to caramelize. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and coriander to the pan, saute another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the black beans and corn to the pan. Toss to give it all a good coat. Add the roasted tomatoes, chicken broth, and chicken breasts back to the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and remove the chicken breasts from the pot. Keep the liquid cooking on a low simmer while you shred or chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken back to the pot, stir to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the soup hot with any additional toppings.


Chicken Caesar Salad Dip

Football is a big seasonal sport in our house. For some in our household, football season is about actually watching the games. For the rest of us it is about making snacks to eat during the game. We love to have some type of chips and dip combo and this week we decided to mix things up by making a Chicken Caesar Salad Dip. This dip is everything you love about creamy Caesar salad dressing combined with cheese and baked. It’s a gooey, melt-in-your-mouth kind of dip that we can snack on all game long.

Chicken Caesar Salad Dip
Makes: 2 cups of dip
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Caesar salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a pot to boil with approximately 3 cups of water. Once boiling, add the chicken breasts. Boil over high heat for 15 minutes or until the chicken breasts are cooked completely through. Remove from the water and set aside to cool.
  3. In a pot, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the cream cheese and milk and continuously stir until the cream cheese is melted and smooth.
  4. Add the Caesar salad dressing and mix to combine. Season the dip with salt and pepper to taste and pour the dip into an oven safe bowl. Top with the parmesan cheese and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with bread, crackers, veggies or any other dipping vessel of your choice!

Apple Pie Bars

We love apple desserts in the fall and are always seeking out variations of the traditional apple pie. Pies are great for holidays and have more of a show stopping presentation, but if we are craving a little weekday treat we don’t need to put in all that time decorating and rolling dough. We found this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction and modified a few things to make it our own. These Apple Pie Bars have everything we crave from an apple pie but require just a bit less work. A rich crust? Check. Lots of fresh cinnamon apples? Yep. A crumbly buttery streusel topping? Oh yeah. We go the extra mile by topping them with our Bourbon Salted Caramel for the ultimate fall treat. Our resident taste tester, Myles (15 months old), was screaming for more when he tried them – so we are confident these can please any audience.

Apple Pie Bars
Makes: 16 bars
Prep and Cooking Time: 1 hour Inactive Time: 6 hours to overnight

Ingredients For The Crust:

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour

Ingredients For The Apple Filling:

  • 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Ingredients For The Streusel Topping:

  • 3/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • Homemade salted caramel sauce for topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 x 11 Pyrex dish with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Make the crust. Stir the melted butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. The crust batter will seem wet and that’s okay. Press the mixture into the Pyrex using your hands to create an even surface. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  3. Make the apple filling. While the crust is baking, combine the apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Toss gently so that all of the ingredients are coated on the apples. Set aside.
  4. Make the streusel topping. Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and flour together in a medium bowl.  Take the chopped butter and knead it into the mixture with your hands to work the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture should be course and resemble crumbly wet sand.
  5. Assemble the bars. Lay the apples on top of the crust in as even of a layer as you can. Gently press the apples into the crust to help combine the layers. Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of the apples in an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove the bars from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes at room temperature, before lightly covering them with foil and refrigerating them at least 6 hours, up to overnight. Remove the bars from the pan when you are ready to cut by pulling on the excess parchment paper. Cut the apple pie into 2 inch x 2.75 inch bars; there will be 16 bars. Drizzle with some salted caramel and serve warm or room temperature.

Bourbon Salted Caramel

October is the month for spooky, scary festivities and lots of sweet treats! As an alternative to the bags candy you’re bound to have around the house over the next few weeks, we are taking things up a notch with some homemade dessert options. If you are overwhelmed by the thought of making caramel from scratch, don’t be! It is actually quite simple and takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. We have gussied this version up with bourbon and sea salt, but you can omit those ingredients if they aren’t for you.

Bourbon Salted Caramel

Makes: about 2 cups of caramel

Prep Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 4 tbs butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs of your favorite bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine the sugar and water a medium sauce pot. Stir to combine before putting onto the burner.
  2. Turn your burner onto medium-high heat. DO NOT STIR OR TOUCH THE PAN until the sugar has caramelized. This process will be tedious and you need to keep an eye on the sugar. It will go from being clear to champagne colored before turning light brown. Once it gets to light brown, it can go from light brown to burnt very very quickly. Remove the sugar from the heat and burner when the caramel is just lighter than the coppery color of a penny.
  3. Turn the burner on to medium-high heat.  Then — this is very important — do not stir or touch the pan until the sugar has caramelized.  The sugar mixture will go from being completely clear, to a champagne color, to a light golden color, and then to increasingly darker shades of amber.  (Keep a close eye on the sugar, as it darkens quickly once it begins to caramelize.) Once the sugar reaches a deep amber color (about the color of a copper penny), remove the saucepan from the heat and turn the burner off.
  4. Right away after removing the sugar from the heat, add the heavy cream to the sugar in a steady stream, whisking vigorously to incorporate the cream. Don’t be worried when the mixture bubbles like crazy- this is totally normal! When the heavy cream has been added, whisk in the butter until combined. Add in the bourbon, vanilla, and sea salt.
  5. From here, you can serve immediately hot from the stove or you can let the caramel cool and reserve for another time. The caramel will last up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, and will thicken quite a bit as it chills. If you are planning to refrigerate and use later, heat it for just a few seconds in the microwave to loosen so that you can drizzle easily over ice cream, brownies, or any other dessert of choice!

Post-Baby Breakfast Burritos

We have seen a number of requests for “post baby” frozen meals from our soon-to-be mama friends looking to get ahead in the kitchen before baby. When Tate’s human brother was born, these frozen breakfast burritos were a savior after sleepless nights. We make them in big batches and keep them in the freezer. All it takes is a quick pop in the oven and we have breakfast ready in no time.

Post-Baby Breakfast Burritos
Makes: 16 burritos
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Ingredients:

  • 16 burrito-sized tortillas
  • 24 eggs
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 package bacon
  • 1 package breakfast sausage
  • 1- 8 oz bag of shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 1 jar green salsa
  • salt and pepper to taste

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 roll of aluminum foil
  • 1 roll of parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and grate the sweet potatoes and place them on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Lay the sweet potatoes in an even layer on the cookie sheet and bake in the oven until lightly crispy, about 15 minutes.
  3. Place the bacon and sausage onto two additional small cookie sheets. Bake in the oven until the bacon is crispy and the sausage is cooked through- about 10 minutes for the sausage and 15 minutes + on the bacon. Remove the sweet potatoes, sausage, and bacon from the oven when they are finished and set on a countertop and cool. Chop each into small bite-sized pieces.
  4. While the ingredients are in the oven, cook the eggs. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisk well to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and melt; add the eggs. Slowly scramble the eggs until they are just cooked; remove from the heat immediately and cool.
  5. Create an assembly line for the burritos by laying 16 pieces of foil (about 8-10 inch squares) on a large counter space. Follow the foil with a similar size piece of parchment paper. Top each parchment paper with a tortilla.
  6. Assemble the tortillas by layering the following on the center of each tortilla: 1/2 cup of scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup potatoes, 1 heaping tablespoon shredded cheese, and 1 tbs green salsa. Distribute the chopped bacon and sausage to eight tortillas each. Roll the burritos, wrap in parchment paper, and then wrap in foil. Label each burrito as either bacon or sausage and place into gallon sized freezer bags. Freeze the burritos.
  7. To heat the burritos from frozen, cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes, or heat in the microwave (foil removed!!) for 5-6 minutes.

Butternut Squash Linguini

It is officially fall which means it is pasta galore in our kitchens. We have no shame posting two pasta recipes in one week, and you shouldn’t feel bad about cooking both of these recipes during a chilly week either! There is something so satisfying about a creamy, hot bowl of noodles on a cold evening. That being said, just because a dish is hearty does not mean that it has to pack on the calories. The sauce for this Butternut Squash Linguini is pretty much just that, pureed butternut squash. We add some decadence to the dish by mixing sautéed pancetta and fried sage, but those ingredients act like garnishes versus heavy handed ingredients. For those of you with kids at home, this is a great way to sneak in extra veggies during this winter.

Butternut Squash Linguini

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb linguini
  • 4 oz cubed pancetta
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 8 (approx) sage leaves
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 12 oz cubed butternut squash (thawed if using frozen)
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta. Heat a large stock pot full of water. Add about 2 tbs salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to package directions, about 12 minutes. When the pasta is ready, remove 1 cup of pasta water and drain the noodles.
  2. Make the butternut squash sauce. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and pancetta to the pan and fry for about 3 minutes, or until the pancetta is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta and set it aside. In the same olive oil, fry the sage leaves until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and again, keep the fat in the pan.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent. Add the butternut squash and cook another 3 minutes to lightly sauté. Season with salt and pepper. Add the thyme (keep the stems intact) and the vegetable stock. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the butternut squash is fork tender.
  4. When the butternut squash is fork tender, remove the pan from the heat and remove the thyme leaves from the pan. Place the rest of the butternut squash mix into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add the pasta water in 1/4 cup increments as necessary to get the sauce to a smooth consistency. The sauce should be a little thinner than a butternut squash bisque. Reserve any extra pasta water.
  5. Add the sauce, pasta, and pancetta back to the pot and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. If the pasta is starting to slurp up the sauce and it looks too thick, add more pasta water 1/4 cup at a time. If you don’t have any pasta water leftover you can use vegetable stock until you have the texture you are looking for. If you have added liquid back to the pasta, taste and season again. Serve the pasta in four bowls with the fried sage leaves (chopped) and a hearty serving of shaved Parmesan cheese.

Pesto & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

As the weather starts turning cooler, we find that we start craving warm and hearty meals. One of our favorite family meals is stuffed shells. There are so many different ways to customize a stuffed shells recipe; you can incorporate the protein of your choice or add vegetables to get your greens in. For this version, we have chosen to incorporate ground beef, pesto and ricotta. We love the flavor combination of pesto and ricotta. The pesto brings in an herby freshness and the ricotta adds creaminess and unctuousness to the dish. This recipe can be prepared in advance and baked just as your family or friends come over for dinner. Serve this with our Kale Salad: Autumn Edition and you have balanced, full dinner.

Pesto and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Makes: 8 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 60 minutes

Ingredients for the Sauce:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 2, 28oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbs salt

Ingredients for the Shells:

  • 1 package jumbo pasta shells
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup basil, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the sauce. In a large pot, sauté the ground beef until it is cooked through. Set aside in a bowl but do not drain the fat. Add the garlic and parsley and saute in the beef fat for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce, water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add the beef back into the sauce and keep on simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering, cook your shells according to package directions. When the shells are cooked to al dente, rinse them with cold water. You will want them to be cooled before stuff them.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Create the filling. Combine the ricotta, pesto, egg, basil and Parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper. Put the mixture in a large Ziploc bag and cut the tip off the corner of the bag. Use the bag to pipe the mixture into each shell.
  5. Coat the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of the sauce. Add the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in an even layer. Fill the rest of the dish with the sauce and top with the mozzarella. Place in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Oktoberfest Pumpkin Chili

We love experimenting with pumpkin recipes in the fall, and surprisingly have ended up liking the renditions of savory dishes more than the sweet ones! We have been making versions of this pumpkin chili for years now, and this latest is our favorite yet. We have combined all things “October” in this hearty chili- Oktoberfest beer, a can of pumpkin, and lots of warming spices. The beer gives the chili a little punch and helps give it a rich taste. The pumpkin is a great way to add creaminess but keep everything healthy. We suggest buying an Oktoberfest beer versus a pumpkin beer, as sometimes pumpkin beers can be ultra sweet which doesn’t mix well with the rest of the recipe. Serve with any and all of your favorite chili toppings for an ultra-fall cozy night in!

Octoberfest Pumpkin Chili

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients for the Chili

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stem removed, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 12 oz Octoberfest beer (we used a Bavarian lager)
  • salt, to taste

Optional Chili Toppings and Accompaniments:

  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stems removed, minced
  • Mexican cheese blend
  • roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • tortilla chips

Directions:

  1. Heat a large cast iron pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to the pan. Sauté 4-5 minutes, or until the onions start to become translucent.
  2. Add the jalapeno, paprika, cumin, and red chili flakes to the pot. Toast the spices in the pan for about 3 minutes before adding the tomato paste. Mix in the tomato paste and let everything cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the both cans of beans and the pumpkin to the chili. Add the beer and stir well to combine, but not so rough that you start to break up the beans. Season the chili with salt. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, and then cover and cook another 20-30 minutes. If the chili seems too thick before you are ready to serve, you can add water or stock to bring it to the consistency of your liking. Season again with salt to taste.
  4. Serve the chili hot out of the pan with any of your favorite chili toppings.