Easy Semi-Homemade Chicken Soup

I don’t know about you, but as soon as I see a recipe for “real” chicken noodle soup that calls for boiling a carcass, I just can’t.

I’m by no means a vegetarian, but I’ve always had an issue with bones. I won’t eat a chicken wing (without a fork!) and never a steak or chop on a bone.

Anyway, this version of Chicken Noodle Soup is really easy to make (especially on a weeknight) – without hours of boiling – thanks to the addition of a rotisserie chicken, and offers the roasty, slow-cooked taste of a hearty soup thanks to a quick sauté of the veggies.

What I did differently this time (that I really loved) was add some fresh lemon slices at the end to give it a little fresh vitamin C boost and more flavor. Follow my how-to below and let me know what you think!

Semi-Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:
• One cooked rotisserie chicken
• 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
• 2 stalks celery, sliced
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cartons (32oz each) chicken stock
• Fine egg noodles (I use about a half a bag)
• 3-4 slices of fresh lemon, seeds removed
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1tsp dried parsley
• Salt & pepper to taste

How To:
1. In a stockpot (or large Dutch oven), add olive oil and get hot. Gently sauté carrots, celery, and onion until onions are soft and translucent. Add thyme, parsley, salt and pepper and stir.

2. Add chicken stock to pot and stir, scraping cooked bits off the bottom. While waiting for the stock to boil, remove chicken meat from bones and chop into bite-sized pieces.

3. Once stock is boiling, add chicken, egg noodles and lemon slices and boil for 8 minutes. Cool slightly and enjoy with bread or crackers.

TIP: This soup reheats well for lunches – double the batch and have it ready to go!

Brunch, anyone?

Wikipedia says: “Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, and regularly has some form of alcoholic drink served with it. It is usually served anytime before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch.”

I’ll just say that a weekend brunch is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun to mix it up a bit and get family and friends together to enjoy a meal during the day, rather than a later dinner.

This recipe is my version of a pretty basic breakfast casserole that my Mom used to make. It’s eggy, bready, cheesy and the best part is, you can pretty much throw as many add-ins as you want and it still turns out delicious!

Breakfast Casserole | Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf white bread, chopped
  • 9 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups milk (I used 1%)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package frozen Brown & Serve breakfast sausages
  • Additional add-ins (if desired): frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), cooked sliced mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, or cooked chopped bacon or ham.
  • Serve with maple syrup or ketchup.

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix up eggs, milk, salt, pepper and melted butter in a bowl.
  3. Place a layer of chopped bread into your baking dish. Top with meat and cheese, repeat until your ingredients are used up and your casserole is piled high.
  4. Gently pour egg mixture over bread/cheese/meat. Let sit 15 mins to soak in.
  5. Bake for 45-55 mins or until casserole is golden brown and puffed.
  6. Top with maple syrup or ketchup and serve.

Easy Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Once your Instant Pot comes to pressure, you are only 3 minutes away from delicious Mac & Cheese!

What I love most about this quick and easy recipe is that you’re only dirtying one pot, and there’s plenty of flexibility to upgrade this Mac & Cheese with things like fancier cheeses (think gruyere), and add-ins at the end like chopped cooked bacon, or veggies (I topped this batch with Tyson’s Buffalo Chicken Strips)!

Ingredients
Serves 4 as a meal; 8 as a side dish
• 1lb uncooked elbow pasta (I used Barilla Pipette)
• 4 cups cold water
• 3 Tbs unsalted butter
• Pinch salt
• Pinch black pepper
• 3 Cups shredded cheese (I used half sharp cheddar and half cheddar monterey jack blend)
• 1/2 cup milk (whole or 1%)

How To:
1. Place water, salt and pasta into Instant Pot (mine is a 6qt). Stir. Close lid and set to high pressure for 3 minutes. Be sure valve is on “sealing”.
2. Once done, do a quick release and remove lid. Add butter and stir until melted. Add cheese, pepper and milk and stir until creamy.
3. Top with your favorite toppings, or nothing at all!

Oven (or grill!) Potato Pouches 🥔

This is one of those throw-it-in-and-forget-about-it kind of sides! The end result is a creamy/crispy/flavorful side dish that goes with just about anything (we had ours with steaks). Feel free to experiment with the spices and pouch contents! Some ideas using the same process:

  • Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon & brown sugar
  • Yukon gold potatoes with parsley
  • Russets with bacon in the pouch!

Potato Pouches – serves 4

  • 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each dried herbs – rosemary, thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • How to:
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Slice potatoes about 1/4″ thick.
    3. Line a sheet pan with a full sheet of foil, spray with cooking spray.
    4. Place potatoes and garlic in the center of the foil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.
    5. Cut up butter and place on top of potatoes.
    6. Tear a second piece of foil and place on top of potatoes. Bring up sides and cinch together to make a sealed pouch.
    7. Bake for 35 minutes (or 20-30 mins, flipping every 15 mins, on a hot grill).

    Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries

    It doesn’t get easier than this! 🍠

    Serves 3-4 • 20 minute cook time

    What you’ll need:

    • 2-3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed with skins on
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons Trader Joes Everyday Seasoning (or any other seasoning blend you like)

    How to:

    1. Preheat air fryer to 380° F for 5 minutes.
    2. Cut sweet potatoes into strips as shown above. Make sure they’re as close to the same size as possible so they cook evenly.
    3. Toss sliced potatoes with olive oil and seasonings and add to air fryer basket.
    4. Set timer for 10 minutes, shake basket, then set for another 10 minutes at 380°.

    Burrito Casserole

    If you’re tired of taco Tuesdays and want to mix it up a bit, this Burrito Casserole gives you the same flavor – and it’s great for feeding a crowd (think that big Football Party…). What I love most is that you can sneak lots of veggies in for some extra nutrition and they’re disguised by that great taco flavor (the kids won’t suspect a thing!).

    Basically this recipe contains all the same elements of a burrito, without the mess of wrapping and rolling. I served mine with tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado and everyone loved it!


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    Burrito Casserole
    Serves 4-6
    Start to finish: about 30 mins

    What you’ll need:

    • 1lb ground turkey (or beef, or chicken)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 packet taco seasoning
    • 3/4 Cup water
    • 1 Can Rotel (8oz, or 1 Cup of your favorite pre-made salsa)
    • 1 Cup frozen corn
    • 1 Can (8oz) Black Beans
    • 4 Cups of cooked white or brown rice
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Sour Cream, Avocado, and Tortilla Chips for serving (optional, but YUMMY!)

    How To:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick spray.
    2. Prepare rice as directed on package. While rice is cooking, brown your ground meat with the chopped onion.
    3. Once meat is browned, add in: taco seasoning, water, Rotel, black beans, and corn.
    4. Stir all together until combined.
    5. Layer in baking dish: rice, then meat mixture, top with shredded cheese.
    6. Bake in oven for about 15 mins or until cheese is melted.
    7. Serve with sour cream, avocado, chips, etc.

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    Crispy Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    Getting right to the recipe with this one because you need to add these drumsticks to your meal rotation stat! Super easy, and all done in about 30 mins. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside!

    Crispy Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks

    Serves: 3-4

    Start to finish: 35 mins

    What you’ll need:

    • 6 chicken drumsticks
    • Seasoning of choice (I use Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning on everything)
    • Nonstick spray

    How to:

    1. Spray fryer basket with nonstick spray.
    2. Place chicken in basket, season, and cook at 400°F for 15 minutes (I also hit the chicken button on my Cosori air fryer).
    3. Flip and cook another 15 minutes or until crispy and internal temp reaches 165°F.
    4. Remove at coat with with your favorite sauce – we did buffalo and bbq!

    Air Fried (Fresh) Chicken Breast Strips

    While I do love the occasional air fried batch of processed/frozen, super-breaded chicken strips and nuggets, the whole purpose of this air fryer craze is to try and cook at least a little bit healthier, right?

    I made some chicken strips for dinner last night that turned out really good! Super simple – just 3 ingredients – a quick prep, and they came out fully cooked and moist inside and really crispy outside. My breadcrumb of choice is always Panko (here’s a great article about what Panko is from Chowhound) when I want my coating to be crunchy. The little flakes crisp up so much more nicely than standard breadcrumbs, and it’s available everywhere now. I buy the seasoned store brand for 99 cents!

    Follow along and try these for yourself, they’re pretty hard to mess up! 🙂

    IMG_4745    IMG_4746
    Pro tip #1: I never flour my chicken when breading – just pull out of the package and dry with a paper towel – it helps the egg stick better! 
    Pro tip #2: Use tongs to do your dipping and breading process – keeps your fingers clean!

     

    Easy Air Fried Fresh Chicken Breast Strips
    Serves: 3-4 with sides
    (we had peas and rice!)
    Start to Finish: about 30 minutes

    Here’s what you’ll need, and note the cooking time can be altered depending on your preferred crispness and how many you’re making at once:

    • 1 – 1.5 lb of fresh chicken breast strips
    • 4 eggs
    • 2-1/2 cups Seasoned Panko breadcrumbs (I did not test with regular breadcrumbs, so if you do, let me know how they come out!)
    • Salt and pepper to taste; cooking spray

    How To:

    1. Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees F for 5 minutes.
    2. Remove chicken strips from package and pat dry; set up two bowls and one plate.
    3. In one bowl add 4 eggs and whisk to combine. In second bowl, add bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
    4. One by one, dip chicken strips into beaten egg and then drop into bread crumbs, pressing in as needed and shaking off any excess. Transfer to plate and pile up.
    5. Open air fryer and spray bottom of basket with nonstick cooking spray (I use Olive Oil Pam). Place chicken strips in but do not over crowd or layer on top of each other. I fit almost the whole 1.5lb pack in mine.
    6. Spray tops of chicken lightly with nonstick spray (this helps the browning!) and close air fryer.
    7. Cook at 360 degrees for 17 minutes. No need to shake or turn over chicken – just set it, make your sides, and enjoy! Increase time if you like it crispier.

    IMG_4748    IMG_4751
    I use the Cosori 5.8qt Air Fryer, and love it!

    Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

    This is literally a “set it and forget it” meal! What’s better than cooking an entire meal all at once and having it ready before you even get home??

    The best part about beef stew in the slow cooker is that it’s very forgiving. You can add more or less of the meat and veggies, and even throw in some extras like mushrooms or celery. Follow my steps below for a great beef stew.

    This little packet is my go-to secret when I make beef stew or pot roast. I use the same flavor pack for both because the pot roast version just has a great meaty, savory flavor that I haven’t been able to replicate with my own blend of herbs and broth, so don’t judge! 

    Prep veggies and place into the pot. Add the meat and mix together. Then, pour seasoning mix over the top – that’s seriously it!

    Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

    Serves 4-6 (more if you serve a side like egg noodles or bread. To make less, just cut down on the quantity of ingredients, same cooking time).

    Start to Finish: 8.5 hours

    What you’ll need:

    • 2-3 lbs stew beef
    • 2 large russet potatoes (or 3-4 red potatoes), chopped into even chunks
    • 3-4 carrots peeled and chopped
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 1 cup water
    • Crock Pot seasoning (or herbs/spices of choice)

    How to:

    1. Clean and prep veggies, place in empty slow cooker.
    2. Add stew meat to the slow cooker.
    3. Pour water/herb/spice mixture over meat and veggies, stir well.
    4. Set slow cooker to 8 hours on low and give it a good stir when done. Enjoy!

    Air Fried French Fries!

    “They won’t be the same!”, they said.
    “They won’t be as crunchy!”, they said.

    Well “they’ were wrong! French Fries are a favorite in our house and I’m always looking for healthier ways to cook them. While I never truly “fried” them in a vat of oil, I did bake my fries in the past and they always came out not quite right – either overcooked or undercooked and I never got that crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside like a good, satisfying fry should be.

    When I got my air fryer, I really didn’t expect anything spectacular, but I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised! One of the most common misconceptions about air frying is that there’s no oil involved. Lies! Some recipes do call for oil, but the quantity is so minute, especially in this recipe, that it’s truly just there for crisping purposes and a bit of flavor.

    Follow my tips below and comment if you try my recipe!

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    The most important step! Do not skip soaking your fries – it makes all the difference!

    Perfect Air-Fried French Fries
    Serves 2-3
    Start to Finish: about 45 minutes

    • 2-3 large russet (baking) potatoes
    • Cold water for soaking potatoes
    • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
    • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
    • Salt and pepper to taste

    IMG_4421

    How To:

    • Clean and dry potatoes; cut into 1/2 inch strips
    • Place potato strips into a bowl and soak in cold water for 10 minutes (NOTE: this is possibly the most important part of the how-to! Soaking will make the potatoes “less slimy” and aids in the crisping process, don’t skip this step!)
    • After 15 minutes, rinse potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel
    • Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees F
    • Place potatoes in a bowl and toss with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper until evenly coated
    • When fryer is ready, place potatoes in basket gently piling but not packing them in and cook* at 380 degrees for about 28 minutes, shaking the basket half way through cooking.
    • For crispier fries, cook a little longer!

    *If you’re using the Cosori Air Fryer 5.8qt (my fryer!) – once preheated, add potatoes to basket and hit the “french fry” button and set for 28 minutes. It will automatically pause and remind you to shake half way through.