Our Picnic Dinner with Stouffer’s Satisfying Skillets

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As you all know, we just moved. Needless to say, there have been a lot of pizza and fast food dinners going on in our house recently. It’s so hard to prepare meals when you don’t have anything unpacked. I barely got the kitchen boxes emptied and our dining room table set up yesterday!

I missed not having a WalMart nearby when we lived in Santa Cruz. Three years ago, I never would have dreamed that I would say those words! But it’s true, I missed it. The Santa Maria WalMart has a new grocery addition, where Linens-n-Things used to be. It is so bright and new, and was empty when I went shopping at 8 PM! #Dinner4Two #shopMatt & I put the girls down to bed and decided to have our own little picnic dinner in our new house. We got crazy and even busted out some sparkling cider! It was fun to toast to this new chapter in our lives, talk, laugh, & eat a simple meal uninterrupted.#Dinner4Two #shop#Dinner4Two #shopI was impressed with the food! When I thought of Stouffer’s before, I thought of squishy lasagna and single-serve freezer meals. These are different. They are in the frozen section, but in a bag. You just have to place it in the pan on medium for 8 minutes then stir, then cook 10 more minutes stirring frequently (there is also a microwave option). I thought they tasted fresh and flavorful, and were perfect for us. Each package serves 2, so we had more than enough food with leftovers for lunch. These would be a welcome meal for a new mom, busy family, or new neighbors! #Dinner4Two #shop

Chicken Salad Endive Cups

On Valentine’s Day, this beautiful bouquet of endives arrived at my door! California Endive Growers sent them to me, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Thank you so much!! I made this salad with some them, and decided that I’d make a chicken salad to eat the rest of them with. It was a fabulous idea…you should definitely try it!Chicken Salad Endive Cups
The endives are already the perfect little utensil. Just scoop some salad in, and eat the whole thing! You can be like Gene Wilder in Charlie & The Chocolate Factory when he drinks the tea and then eats the dandelion cup and saucer :)Chicken Salad Endive Cups

Chicken Salad Endive Cups
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Serves: 12
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons grated onion
  • 1 cup seedless red grapes, sliced in half
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ⅔ cup mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • Juice of half a lemon (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine chicken, celery, onion, grapes, and almonds in a large bowl. In a separate, small bowl, whisk together the mayo, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing mixture over the salad and fold in until all of the ingredients are coated. Spoon chicken salad into individual endive leaves and arrange on platter. Serve & enjoy!

Chicken Salad Endive Cups

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Pesto Pasta Chicken Salad

My aunt and uncle came up to visit us a few weekends ago, it was such a fun time! We went to the Boardwalk & walked along the wharf. Aunt Lizzie with Lola & I:

On their way up, I texted and asked if they wanted to grab lunch somewhere when they arrived. My uncle responded with, “What, you don’t have a gourmet meal waiting for us?” I knew he was kidding, but then realized that I had this awesome pasta salad sitting in the fridge! So we had a good laugh and ate it when they got here.

This salad tastes wonderful warmed up, or cold straight out of the fridge. I love a versatile dish!

As I was slicing the mozzarella, Ada walked up behind me and said, “Oooooohhhhhh! CHEESE! That’s good for me, right?” Right, little one. You are so completely right :)

Pesto Pasta Chicken Salad Recipe

adapted from Real Simple

1 lb. whole wheat penne pasta

4  boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3/4 pound)

1  tablespoon  olive oil

kosher salt and black pepper

1/2  cup  chopped pitted kalamata olives

1  cup  halved bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)

3/4  cup  walnut pesto

Walnut Pesto Recipe:

1 cup walnuts

1 garlic clove

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

2 cups fresh basil leaves

Toss walnuts, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, cheese, and basil into food processor. Pulse while adding olive oil in a stream.

Once desired consistency is achieved, taste and add salt if needed.

Pasta Salad Directions:

Cook  pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain and return to pot to let cool.

Heat oven to 400° F. Rub the chicken with the oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes; shred. (You could sub any chicken

here. I took the time to cook the thighs and could taste a difference; my husband said he thought he was eating a

rotisserie chicken the whole time! So I’ll be saving myself the work and using easier chicken from now on).

Toss the pasta, shredded chicken, olives, and bocconcini with the pesto and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Top with seasonings to taste and freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy!

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Three Bean Chicken Chili

My husband is a college grad! I am so proud of him. The week of his finals, I took the girls down to visit family while my sister was visiting from Texas. These girls love their Auntie Linds!

It’s better for Matt when we’re gone so that he can live at the library and not worry about coming home. In past finals weeks, he’d always call around dinner time and ask what I’d made. It was sad. So, I took the girls down south, let him get some uninterrupted sleep, and left him a big pot of chili to live off while we were gone.

I made this recipe up unintentionally. I thought I had all of the ingredients on hand for this chili, but I was wrong. And, on a rainy evening before leaving town, there was no way I was dragging two little girls and myself to the grocery store. So I winged it! The result was this hearty, satisfying, husband & toddler approved dish.

Three Bean Chicken Chili Recipe

3 large chicken breasts, cooked and sliced or shredded

1 Tablespoon dried, minced onion

1 package taco seasoning

1 package Ranch dressing mix

1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans

1 (15 oz.) white kidney beans

2 (16 oz.) cans dark red kidney beans

1 (14.5 oz.) can sliced stewed tomatoes

2 (14.5 oz.) cans diced peeled tomatoes

1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained

Throw all ingredients into a pot. Stir to combine ingredients. Cover with lid and let simmer over medium-high heat for an hour.

Serve with ranch dressing or sour cream, and grated cheese. Enjoy!

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Santa Rosa Chicken Salad


A couple of weeks ago, we had our friends over for FHE. I made this salad and this one…both delicious and filling! We love, love, LOVE this salad and it’s always a hit whenever I bring it anywhere. Hope you like it!



Santa Rosa Chicken Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 1 box Uncle Ben's long-grain wild rice
  • Rotisserie chicken, cubed
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1 yellow or green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of cooked asparagus, chopped
  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Dressing:
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  1. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside. Cook rice according to package directions (I don't use the seasoning packet) & cool.
  2. Toss rice together with all salad ingredients and add dressing. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving to let flavors marinate. (I thought it tasted better for lunch the next day!) Serve and enjoy.

Barbecue Bacon Chicken

Yet another winning recipe from The Worldwide Ward Cookbook! This was so impressive and perfect to make when you have company over. Although we didn’t when I made it…it is one of those dishes that is so easy to prepare and seems fancier than it really is.

3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 bottle barbecue sauce

Cooked bacon – 2 pieces for each breast

Colby cheese, sliced (I only had shredded cheese & used that)

2 tomatoes diced (I used cherry tomatoes, yum!)

2 avocados, diced

Sour cream

Remove any fat from chicken, and lay breasts in 9×13 pan. Cover with barbecue sauce and bake at 300 degrees for an hour or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from oven and top each breast with cheese and bacon. Return to oven just until cheese is melted. Serve topped with tomatoes, sour cream, and avocados. Enjoy!

Taquitos & Mango Quinoa Salad

These taquitos are easy to make and so delicious! My mom made them for us while she was here for Lola’s birth, along with the mango quinoa salad. Thanks Mommy!! I found the recipes on Our Best Bites & made them again when we had the missionaries over for dinner this week.

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos

1/3 C (3 oz) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1 T fresh lime juice
1/2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1/4 t granulated garlic
3 T chopped cilantro
2 T sliced green onions
2 C shredded cooked chicken
1 C grated cheddar or pepperjack cheese

small corn tortillas (I used whole wheat flour ones)
kosher salt
cooking spray

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds so it’s soft and easy to stir. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion powder and granulated garlic. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well.

You can prepare up to this step ahead of time. Just keep the mixture in the fridge.

Place 2-3 T of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges.

Then roll it up as tight as you can.

Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other. Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray or an oil mister and sprinkle some kosher salt on top.

Place pan in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends start to get golden brown.

Serve with ranch dressing (my favorite dip of choice), guacamole, or salsa.

Now for the quinoa salad. It’s been floating around the internets for a while and now I see why it’s so popular. It is tasty & beautiful, look at how colorful it is. Bonus –  it’s really good for you!

2 cups cooked quinoa at room temperature, or chilled (cooking it in a saucepan with 4 c. chicken broth is perfect)
1 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium mango, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful chopped cilantro (or two or three…)
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Place cooked quinoa in a large bowl.  Add mango, red pepper, green onion, black beans, and cilantro.  In a small bowl combine vinegar, olive oil, and lime juice.  Whisk until smooth and pour on top of salad.  Toss to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  Chill for at least one hour before serving. The longer the flavors meld in the fridge the better; I like it even more for lunch the next day. Enjoy!

Italian Slow Cooker Chicken

Want to know about a savory chicken dish that is so simple you won’t believe it?

Good! Here it is.

Throw some chicken breasts in your crock pot, dump a bottle of Italian salad dressing over it, and cook for 6-8 hours on low.

That’s it!

I used 4 chicken breasts and removed them around 4 hours to chop into chunks. They came out at the end of the cooking time juicy & flavorful.

Serve over pasta or rice & sprinkle with cheese.

Matt added some sour cream to his and it tasted great while adding a creaminess to the sauce.


Ranch Chicken

I love Ranch dressing, so it’s no surprise that I loved this! I saw the recipe over at Krazy Coupon Lady.

It’s very flavorful and the corn flakes give it a nice crunch on the outside. I cooked mine on top of a baking rack so that the bottom didn’t get soggy. You could also sub the butter for egg and it would be great.

6-8 Chicken breasts
1 cup Corn Flakes
1 cup Shredded Parmesan
1 cube butter (melted)
1 packet of Ranch Dressing Mix

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together Corn Flakes, Parmesan and Ranch packet. Cut the chicken in half, dip the chicken in the melted butter then in the corn flake mixture and place into baking dish. Pour the remaining butter on top and bake for 45-50 minutes uncovered. Enjoy!

Hawaiian Chicken

This is a dish I made up and will be making again! I had all of the ingredients on hand and they needed to be used up…so they married each other in what I have deemed Hawaiian Chicken. It seriously tastes like you’re eating a mixed plate in Hawaii. Mmm!

2 chicken breasts, cooked & shredded

1/2 bottle Soyaki sauce

1-2 T. soy sauce

1 cup pineapple

Green onions (optional)

Cooked rice

If cooking frozen chicken breasts, lay in slow cooker and pour 1-2 cups chicken broth over to cover. Cook on low for 5-6 hours until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. (I love doing this, then freezing to have cooked chicken on hand to grab for quick meal prep later!)

Remove liquid and return shredded chicken to slow cooker. (Or if using rotisserie chicken, shred and begin here). Pour Soyaki sauce over and mix to coat. Add pineapple on top. Cook on low for another 2-3 hours, until sauce is absorbed and you want to eat the whole pot. Add 1-2 T. soy sauce depending on your tastes and mix. Meanwhile, have rice cooking.

Serve over or next to rice and have soy sauce on the table to pass. Garnish with green onions if desired. I didn’t have any on hand but thought they’d be perfect. Enjoy!