Crack Chicken Casserole in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker

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This post was created in partnership with Ninja and I received a complimentary product but all opinions within are my own.

You know those nights that you walk into the kitchen and suddenly realize that you forgot to defrost the meat for dinner. Yeah, sometimes those nights are great because hello take out pizza but 99% of the time I really want what I had in mind to cook. And with three kids, a business I run from home with said kids, soccer practice schedules, homework, rebuilding, and everything else on my plate, forgetting to take out the meat to defrost happens way more often than I’d like.

I’ve been dying to get a pressure cooker for awhile. At first I didn’t really know what the big difference was between a crock pot and a pressure cooker, so when I went to replace my crock pot after Harvey I looked at the price difference and just went for what I knew. Amateur move.

I quickly realized that I should have done my research before I went to Target. So, learn from my mistake people.

Here is the quick and dirty rundown of why you want a

pressure cooker vs a crock pot!

Crock Pot:

Only effective if you want to cook low and slow or keep something warm. While you can set it and forget it, you also have to plan ahead because they take so much time to cook.

If you want your meal to be crisp or seared on the outside, you have do that on the stove before putting it in the crock pot.

Pressure Cooker:

These are fantastic when you don’t have 10 hours to wait for your food to be done, and if you don’t want a bunch of extra steps involved. With the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, there is a TenderCrisp™ Cooking Technology that others don’t have. It allows your food to be tender and juicy, while crispy on the outside - all in one appliance without extra hassle! (A busy mom’s dream!)

While you could slum it and get a different pressure cooker, I highly recommend the Ninja Foodi because of all of the extra features it includes making it truly stand apart. If you’re looking to stay healthy, you can use the Air Fryer air crisp, bake/roast, broil, dehydrate - and using up to 75% less fat than other traditional frying methods. This is a deal maker for me - I’m trying to live healthier and this helps me be able to still enjoy some of my favorites!

You also have the option to sear and saute items, create one dish casseroles, bake cakes, hard boil eggs, make rice, and about 500 other things. When you get your pressure cooker there is an awesome recipe book that’s included, but in the mean time I’ve created a recipe to get your ideas flowing!

Opps, Crack Chicken Casserole

Okay so remember how a few paragraphs back I mentioned that I tend to forget to defrost the meat. Yeah, well, that’s how this recipe came to be. Except instead of forgetting to defrost the meat, I forgot to buy bread. I wanted to test out my pressure cookers features before reviewing it for you, and I figured why not try a spin on the internet sensation - Crack Chicken. That baby is all over Pinterest. Normally, it’s some variation of shredded chicken, cream cheese, and hot sauce - give or take a few ingredients - and then you put the mixture in some delicious bread and have a happy sandwich.

Since I can’t eat anything spicy, I was going to go with a bacon and tomato version. And then I forgot the bread. Not one to be deterred easily (jk, I’m deterred way too easily I just didn’t know what else to make), I decided to wing it. Crack Chicken Casserole it is! I also decided to nix the bacon this time around to ensure the recipe could all be one pot and no additional dishes.

Like with most first experiments, there are a few things I would tweak. Like I could have gotten away with a little less water for the rice, so I’ve adjusted the recipe for you. This isn’t the prettiest dinner I’ve ever made, but I can tell you my extremely picky teenager had three bowls of it and asked for more the next day. So I’m landing on a mom win for this dish.

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The Recipe

Serves approx. 4

Ingredients

3-4 Chicken Breasts

1 block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 cup Cherry tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon Minced Garlic (can be adjusted to personal taste)

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 onion chopped

3 cups of water

2 cups of jasmine rice

Optional: green onions for topping + arugula salad as a side

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Instructions

  1. Pour 3 cups of water, 2 cups of rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt into cooking pot of the Ninja Foodi. Place wire rack into cooking pot.

  2. Season chicken and place on top of wire rack.

  3. Close pressure lid, turn on Ninja Foodi, and set to pressure. Make sure the pressure valve is set to sealed. Then set to high for 9 minutes.

  4. Once the timer goes off, release the pressure valve and let steam slowly release. Once it is ready to open, take out chicken and the wire rack. Add cream cheese ( I like to cut it in six pieces so it melts easier). Shut lid to keep warm.

  5. While that sits, shred the chicken and then add back to cooking pot. Mix everything together and serve.

  6. Optional: Top with chopped up green onions and a side salad.

I’d love to hear how you like the recipe! Leave me feedback in the comments below!

xx, Leslie

15 Thanksgiving Recipes to Try This Year

It’s going to sound super cliche but this is my favorite time of year. There is just something so nostalgic about the crisp fall air, the constant rotation of baked goods making your house smell like a bakery, and the traditions you get to create with your family.

In my family, we have one solid rule about Thanksgiving, and that’s that there better be some green bean casserole on the table and it better be enough to feed us for a week. You can forget the turkey if you must, but the green bean casserole is a deal-breaker. It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. That said, I know that most people - normal people - want all the yummies on Thanksgiving so here is my list of recipes you must try this year!

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I mean, do I even have to say why? I’m a sucker for this everything on toast trend, but even if you aren’t, this dish is the perfect hold you over starter. The combination of mushroom and goat cheese will have you saying, “What turkey?”

Find the recipe for Wild Mushroom Toasts here.

Is it really even an appetizer if it doesn’t include cheese? Not any appetizer I would want. These charcuterie boards have become increasingly popular for a reason, friends. They are crowd pleasers, super versatile, and always delicious.

Get tips on making your own charcuterie board here.

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Obviously with the introduction I gave, the green bean casserole had to be first on my list of side dishes. This recipe doesn’t use any “cans of cream anything” and all fresh ingredients. This year I plan to try it out!

Give it a try with me here.

If you were to ask 10 year old Leslie if she’d be one day blogging about her love for Brussels sprouts, she would think you were off your rocker. But times have changed, and along with it, my taste buds have too. Then again, as a kid, I was never given brussels sprouts with bacon… that is a game changer.

Get the recipe here.


Okay, I know mashed potatoes are a pretty self-explanatory dish, but I always, always, always, add cream cheese to mine to make them extra tasty and smooth. I found a similar recipe that I wanted to share with you. Something I’ve also found that I love are cauliflower “mashed potatoes” which actually are delicious (this coming from a carb fanatic), and a great alternative if you’re wanting to indulge without going overboard.

For the traditional spin on mashed potatoes go here.

For the low carb, equally delicious alternative go here.

For many, cranberry sauce is considered a staple on Thanksgiving. And I admit, I do want to like it, but it’s always just too tart for my taste buds. I was really excited when I came across this adaptation of it, because I think the extra ingredients in this Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce will help cut the tartness and give it just the right bite. I can’t wait to try it this year.

Find the recipe for the Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce here.

If you hear us say we live in a divided house, we aren’t referencing football. (Maybe basketball, my San Antonio Spurs to his Houston Rockets.) But for the purposes of Thanksgiving, I can only mean one thing - the sweet potatoes. I like mine soft, creamy, and covered in melty, gooey marshmallows. He likes his sliced up with a garlic lemon sauce. The two preferences could not be more different. If we were with our families, we’d make both like we do most years, but this year it’s just us and the kids. Because of that, I don’t want to overdo it. I found this recipe and I think by some miracle it’s actually somewhere in between our two preferences - at least the closest we are going to come to it. I’m excited to try these Sweet Potatoes topped with Goat Cheese and honey.

You can find the recipe here.

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If you’re looking to try something a little different while still honoring to traditional flavors, I found another great recipe on A Family Feast for a Maple Cider Glazed Turkey. I think this will be the one I tackle this year, it looks too good to pass up.

You can find the recipe here.

I’ve never been a huge fan of pie. I know, I know… pumpkin pie is king. But over here, I much prefer cake. I’m literally beside myself with excitement at making this Maple Caramel Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, and I can almost promise you I won’t end up being able to wait until Thanksgiving to whip one up.

For all you cake lovers, here is the recipe.

We are away from my family this year and that’s always hard for me. My sister is a wonderful baker and always creates the best treats. One of my absolute favorites is her pear tart. It’s perfect for the season and it’s light enough that you can enjoy it after a big meal. This isn’t her recipe, but since she doesn’t have a food blog, I am going with this one from the amazing Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Get the recipe here.

Last on my dessert list is the pumpkin roll! Just because I don’t like pie doesn’t mean I want to leave out the number one staple flavor of the season. I just prefer my pumpkin rolled up with it’s soul mate cream cheese. I’ve always been a little intimidated by the idea of making any kind of “roll” but this post makes it look easy and like something I want to try to tackle this year!

Take your chance on it too, here.

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While I’ve never been much of a drinker, Mulled Wine will always have a special place in my heart because it takes me back to the days of Daniel and I just dating and in Germany at Christmas time drinking mulled wine and walking around the markets. It was amazing, and something I never want to forget. Since we haven’t made it back to Germany since 2010, I’m going to bring a little Germany home to us this year.

Get boozy over here.

Since it’s a family affair over here, we want the kids to have something fun and different to enjoy too. My dad used to always make me Shirley Temples when I was a little girl and I felt so special each time. It’s such an easy drink, but so fun for kids.

Get the recipe here.

Well there you have it, friends! There is my list of what makes a perfect Thanksgiving Feast! I hope you’re able to try at least one new recipe this year! If you do, please let me know what your favorite was!

Happy holidays!

Leslie

24 Things To Transform Your Living Room in Two Days

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I’d like to say I’m really good at saving money, but I’d be lying to you and to me, and I don’t like to lie. What I can say I’m really good at is finding a lot of cool things to spend my money on… much to my husbands dismay. Sorry babe.

So, as I was perusing Amazon like I usually do when I’m bored, I decided to share all my lovely finds that I just know you’ll love as much as me. In fact, I had so much fun with it, I think I’m going to make this into a series and do different styles and rooms in your house.

So as the title of this post says, these are 24 items you can buy from Amazon to transform your living room in two days! I say two days because PRIME. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you obviously don’t love yourself. And no this isn’t sponsored in any way. This is the God given truth and you deserve to hear it.

For this first space, I decided to do a modern living room, inspired by boho and mid century modern patterns. This is very close to how I am decorating my own living room, therefore it’s my favorite.

The great thing about this style is that it’s so versatile. You can change out the photos to incorporate something you love, or use these because they are aesthetically pleasing and calming. You can switch out colors as well, but I personally love the burnt orange and muted reds as an accent to a black and white background.

I hope you have as much fun shopping this post, as I did creating it!

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

So let's talk goodies. If you know me, you know I love to bake. Some people say I do it well, and I really like them because they give me nice compliments. But if I do bake well, it's because I've spent years practicing baking and failing more times than I can count. 

I started baking with my mom as a very young toddler. She was a stay at home mom and made everything from scratch. Something must have inherently stuck because even though my parents got a divorce when I was five, and I have no actual memories of her being a stay at home mom, the love for baking did stick around.  

Baking is cathartic for me; aside from writing, it's the one thing I know I can go do to relieve stress. I can loose myself in the rhythmic motions and only focus on making something good, rather than whatever is plaguing my psyche. The only problem with this is that along with being a stress reliever, it tends to help put on the pounds. That is not my favorite thing about baking, if I'm being honest.

I've been trying to live healthier, and with that progression, I had to step away from baking for a little while. The temptation to make sugary goodness was too great. But now that we've had some time apart, I've been excited to get back in my apron and make some healthier versions of my favorite recipes. 

Which brings me to these healthy blueberry muffins that Amelia and I whipped up the other morning. I was a little apprehensive, I'm not going to lie; because not only was I baking with new ingredients, but I was not going off of a recipe. 

I went off what I knew though. I would need to double the amount of almond flour I would be substituting the regular flour for. It's not an exact science, but that's a pretty accurate conversion. And I also knew that almond flour being gluten free would mean that it wouldn't hold together as well, so I added two eggs instead of just one. Another thing you should note about the difference between these muffins and regular muffins is that they will stay moist longer but need to be in an air tight container so they don't mold. Other than than, you're good to go.

So, with our matching aprons on, we got to work and crossed our fingers. Then we uncrossed them because it's hard to work with your fingers crossed. This was actually the first time I really let Amelia bake with me and every day since she's woken up saying "I make muffins." Needless to say, I think it will be an inherent love for her too. 

The moment of truth. Amelia and I sat in front of the oven impatiently waiting for our healthy treat. Color me happy when these bad boys came out of the oven tasting as good as they smelled. Amelia gobbled up two of them before I had even finished taking the after photos. 

Goat Cheese + Red Pepper Burgers

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So, about a week ago my sister called me up and asked if we wanted to join her for dinner at The Cove. Um, no dishes AND eating at one of my favorite local spots. Yes, please. We couldn't decide what to order, so we decided to split two different dishes. One of them was a burger that had goat cheese and red peppers on it. I've been day dreaming about that burger for a week, y'all. A week. 

I've been trying to reign in my spending and also the amount of carbs I've been eating, so I decided to take a crack at this burger myself at home, rather than going back to The Cove again this soon. 

I have to say, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. I was able to serve mine over salad and put Daniel's on an onion bun. I was apprehensive about eating it over a salad, mainly because the fresh onion bun I picked up for him in the bakery smelled amazing... and well, I don't like salads. But never the less, I committed to my salad and making healthier choices and I was pleasantly surprised. 

The process for making these bad boys was actually really simple, because I bought a lot of pre-made ingredients. Hey, sometimes being a wannabe chef gets impeded by the realities of being a real life mom of a toddler. 

How To Make Goat Cheese + Red Pepper Burgers 

Ingredients: preformed ground beef patties, goat cheese medallions, avocado, roasted red pepper tapenade, onion buns, spring mix, balsamic vinaigrette, extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt

Directions: I sprinkled the burger patties with the garlic powder, onion powder and salt. After letting a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil heat up over medium heat, I put the burgers in the skillet to cook. 

While those cooked up, I sliced up the avocado and arranged pieces on a bed of spring mix. Then I sliced the onion buns in half, and I toasted them on a flat skillet. Then it was time to flip the burgers. 

I tried not to burn my house down, which was accomplished; although I did at this point have to run and open my patio door to let the smoke out. Skip this step if at all possible. 

Once the burgers were done, let them rest for about five minutes. Then assemble them on your salad or onion bun; first placing a heaping spoonful of roasted red peppers on top. Then place your goat cheese medallion in the center. Voila. 

See, I told you, crazy simple! I hope you enjoy these as much as we did! While this isn't a food blog, I absolutely love to cook and try new things; so don't be surprised if you get a fair share of food posts thrown your way!