The Simple Meal I’m Almost Embarrassed to Tell You About

It happened the day we were putting up the Christmas tree. I was also trying to help guide Justus, our 16-year old, as he was finishing a big research paper for his college class. Decorations had exploded all over the living room, and I’d just discovered that not one, but two of our strings of lights for the tree weren’t working.

Such is life. Tis the season. No big deal. But it was almost lunch time and not only was food not prepared, I hadn’t even found a moment to figure out what lunch was yet. “Help me with a quick idea for lunch, Malachi, then we’ll run to the store and get more lights for the tree.”

Malachi’s solution to every lunch would be hot dogs if I would allow it. So it was no surprise when that was his suggestion this day too.

Aha! That gave me an idea. I said, “Malachi, go grab a package of hotdogs from the freezer and get two cans of baked beans. We’ll make Beanie Weanies when we get home.” And there was much rejoicing by all.

This is where I pause to tell you how silly I feel right now. I’m actually writing a post to tell you this:

When you’re in a hurry and you don’t have anything planned for your meal, make Beanie Weanies.

I know this isn’t a typical recipe idea you’re used to hearing about from me. But there really is something about a pot of bubbly baked beans with bites of hotdogs that is comforting, am I right? Plus, this meal doesn’t have to be unhealthy if you use the right ingredients. Even the most health conscious among us need a fall back meal sometimes. Beanie Weanies it is. Rock on.

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Best tip of the day: Keep a supply of canned of baked beans in your pantry. Keep a supply of better-than hot dogs in your freezer. When you’re in a hurry and need a fast meal, mix them together and lunch is served.

You’re welcome, I guess.

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Not only did we manage to finish Justus’ big research paper that morning and put (working) lights on our Christmas tree, we had a fantastically satisfying meal that only took about ten minutes to make.

Am I weird? Is my whole family weird? What can we say? We all really love this meal. The Beanie Weanies tasted great along with a mixed green salad, clementines, sweet peppers, and slice pears. The sides took hardly any effort to prepare so I’m not kidding when I say that this meal really only takes about ten minutes to make.

simple-last-minute-beanie-weanies

Other Simple Recipes that are a little more “normal”

‘Fess up! Who’s a Beanie Weanie fan? 

Let Simple Meals save you money, time, and energy so you can enjoy your family! (Remember, the plans will be extra simple this holiday season. Sweet!)

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Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless Cheesecake Recipe (and an amazing Blendtec Giveaway!!)

This has got to be one of my most exciting giveaways to share with you! Why? Because ever since I invested in a Blendtec my kitchen life has become soooo much simpler! I wish I could give one to every person reading this.

I haven’t splattered cream all over my countertops and walls in months. Why? Because I don’t have to whip cream using my hand mixer anymore. Instead, I pour cream into my Blendtec and it whips it for me in less than 30 seconds. It is so, so easy.

I use my Blendtec for homemade applesauce now, throwing cooked apples in peel and all, and it makes beautifully smooth sauce. I use my Blendtec to mix muffin batters, cake batters, cheesecake, and so much more. Of course I use it for smoothies and all the normal blender needs. I use it at least once every day if not three times.

But about the cheesecake! Please allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite new recipes to make:

easy-mini-crustless-baked-cheesecake

I throw the five ingredients into my Blendtec, whip it for a few seconds until it is smooth, pour it into muffin cups, and bake. The stevia sweetens it, the small amount of maple syrup takes away any stevia aftertaste, and I’m left with the most delicious treat!

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Here’s the recipe, and check out the wonderful giveaway below!

Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless CheesecakeYum

5.0 from 12 reviews
Easy, Low Sugar, Mini Crustless Cheesecake Recipe (and an amazing Blendtec Giveaway!!)
 
Author:
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 full droppers of liquid stevia
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Pour into 12 muffin cups.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, open the oven door, and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for an additional 20 minutes. (Cheesecakes will puff up during baking but deflate while continuing to sit in the oven.)
  5. Transfer cheesecakes to the fridge and chill for at least two hours before serving.

easy-low-sugar-mini-crustless-cheesecakes

My family likes pouring homemade fruit sauces over the cheesecakes!

So you say you’d like to win a free Blendtec?

They are certainly amazing. I’m definitely using mine frequently as I prepare for Thanksgiving!

The Blendtec folks took my very own Oh Good Gravy recipe and adapted it to make in the Blendtec! They created a downloadable recipe card for everyone to have for free!

blendtec-recipe-cards-vectors_gravyDownload the Blendtec Oh Good Gravy Recipe Card Here

Now the fun really begins!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win your very own Blendtec! You want this on your Christmas list!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Huge thanks goes to Blendtec for providing a Blender for me and also one for you!

Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili

Raise your hand if you’re busy this week. (Unless, of course, your hands are in the middle of de-boning a turkey. You can just give me a nod.)

Our oldest son is home from college right now, so we are a family of six again. So what if he’s been “away,” living in his college dorm only 8 blocks from home? We don’t see him much and we miss him. Having him home for longer than five minutes has been a joy.

I would say that we’re taking life easy while we prepare for Thanksgiving, but would you believe our son #2 has two huge projects due for his online college history class on Thanksgiving day? What? And yes, he would have had them done ahead of time except that it wasn’t possible because of all the other projects he had due before these.

I’m telling you, these online classes my kids take are threatening to kill us all with a long slow death. (The on-campus classes are much more managable.) Well, anyway.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year for 15-20 people from town. Then we’ll head to Kansas to celebrate “Thanksmas” with my side of the family. I baked the turkeys over the weekend. The green bean casserole is in the freezer. Slowly but surely I’m pulling the meal together so that come Thursday, I can actually enjoy the day instead of cooking and cleaning for hours!

In the meantime, the six of us still need to eat regular meals. (They didn’t like the idea of fasting in preparation for Thanksgiving. Whatever.)

Meals like this Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili are amazing for weeks like this! Thaw no meat. Soak no beans. Just go to the stove and put this soup together.

Truth: I didn’t think I would like chili that didn’t have meat in it.

I am such a meat loving girl! We are a meat loving family.

But in fact: My family didn’t even notice this didn’t have meat in it until I told them an hour after they ate it. “Really?” they said, “It tasted like it did!”

Score.

lentil-chili

Simple Last Minute Lentil ChiliYum

Simple Lentil Chili
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 16 ounces dry lentils
  • 32 ounces tomato sauce
  • 32 ounces vegetable or chicken broth*
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat and stir olive oil with minced onion, garlic, and red pepper.
  2. Add chili powder, lentils, tomato sauce, and broth.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  5. Serve with cheese and/or sour cream if desired.

last-minute-lentil-chili

Let this chili recipe save you some evening this week while you’re busy preparing to host or travel!

More Simple Recipes

Don’t do all the work yourself! Let Simple Meals save your family time!

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Do you have big plans for Thanksgiving?

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick (naturally gluten free)

I experimented with these Chicken Cheeseballs on a whim. It was a simple recipe and I figured chicken and cheese – sure, they’ll probably be pretty good. Pretty good? I should say so! I turned right around (did the hokey-pokey) and made these again three days later. These cheesy little meatballs are incredible!

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The first night I pulled a batch of these out of the oven, one by one my men came into the kitchen, took a look at the meatballs, and popped one into his mouth. I think each one, in turn, said the same thing, “Whoa. What are these? These are amazing! You can make these again!” (Don’t mind if I do.) I wouldn’t say my family is very picky, and yet, when every single person in the family likes a recipe, this is a huge score.

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You might be wondering, like I did, “What holds these meatballs together? Don’t we need flour or bread crumbs or a bisquik type baking mix to make this recipe work? Nope. They stay together just fine even though they are made with only ground meat, cheese, and a few spices. They take only a few minutes to mix up and scoop into a pan. You can make the side dishes for your meal while they bake. AND, if you have time, you can make a double or triple batch to freeze so that all you have to do at mealtime is grab out the amount you need and bake them!

I used a scoop like this one to make these meatballs. Whoa, does that little kitchen gadget come in handy!

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs with a Kick

Simple Chicken Cheeseballs With a Kick
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce (I use Cholula)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Scoop mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until balls are nice and brown.
  4. Pour off excess grease that has accumulated before serving.

simple-chicken-cheeseballs

Use ground sausage or ground beef if you prefer in this recipe. You can use these Chicken Cheeseballs on a holiday snack buffet table, serve them for breakfast, or serve them as a main dish at dinner – they are perfectly versatile. I’m looking forward to keeping these in my freezer for quick, simple meals in the future!

More Simple RecipesYum

Simple Meals is where it’s at.

Let us do your planning for you, and don’t worry, we’ll keep it simple!

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Simple Last-Minute Nacho Plate

This Simple Last-Minute Nacho Plate comes together very quickly and is a huge crowd-pleaser at my house!

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It’s almost embarrassing the amount of salsa we have been going through lately. Though I suppose our family goes through an embarrassing amount of pretty much everything, so never mind.

I was at Aldi a few weeks ago and put two cases of their organic salsa in my cart. Why get 1 jar when you can get 24, right? While in the check-out line, the lady behind me asked, “Oh! Did I miss a sale on salsa?” Nope. It’s a “we eat massive amounts of food at our house because of all the teenage boys” situation. That and I don’t live close to an Aldi and don’t get to shop there very often.

The great thing about any of the recipes I share that involve salsa is that you can use your favorite brand and your preferred mild-to-hot level.

Here are the latest Simple Recipes I’ve shared that involve salsa:

Other recipes you can find on my site that include salsa:

With all these recipes being so tasty and easy, it any wonder that I bought 24 jars of salsa at once?

This newest recipe idea, Simple Last-Minute Nacho Plate, is the result of what happened when I made a big batch of Meat and Cheese Burritos and had leftover filling. I didn’t have time (or desire) to make more tortillas, so I put the leftover meat/cheese/salsa mixture in the fridge. The next day we warmed up the mixture for lunch. We threw the delicious meaty goodness on top of tortilla chips with a few greens and whatever other toppings (olives, tomatoes, etc) that each person wanted.

It was then that I said to myself, “Why have I not done this before?” And a new Simple Recipe was born.

Now, take note that while this is called a “Last-Minute” recipe, you most certainly do not have to wait until the last minute to make it. Sure, it’s a recipe that can save your neck if you didn’t plan ahead and you need a meal on the fly. But the meat mixture stays good in the fridge for several days so you can make it ahead of time and pull it out to warm up as needed. It also freezes well, so you can make a double or triple batch and freeze it in meal-sized portions for your family to thaw and re-heat on busy days.

Simple Last-Minute Nacho PlateYum

Simple Last-Minute Nacho Plate
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 15-ounces salsa
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Tortilla chips and your favorite nacho fixin's
Instructions
  1. Brown hamburger meat until it is no longer pink.
  2. Stir in salsa and cheese.
  3. Serve on a plate of tortilla chips with your favorite nacho fixin's.

simple-last-minute-nacho-plate

Here are more Simple Recipes you will love:

Those simple recipes are just the beginning. We’re taking it all to the next level so that not only are our recipes easy and nourishing – you don’t even have to think about what to prepare or purchase! Jump in with all the others who have joined…

Simple Meals

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Here’s what Michelle said about Simple Meals: YAY. I love it. I am very thankful you are doing the “work” part of meals for me.

Hey, our pleasure. We love it too. :)

Question: How much do you love salsa at your house?

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven, Freeze, and Warm up Fast!

Recently I have discovered the amazingness of baking several pounds of bacon, freezing it for later use, then pulling it out to reheat and serve in about 2 minutes.

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Where has this tip been all my life?

I already knew how to make Bacon Bits ahead of time for ease in making salads and bacon-cheesy eggs. But strips of bacon? Well, I’d never tried making it ahead before. I will make bacon this way from now on because it is an incredible time saver!

Also, it keeps my hair from frequently smelling like bacon, so I think we can all be grateful for this delightful bonus.

How to Cook Bacon Ahead, Freeze, and Warm Up Fast

  1. Lay bacon on a a broiling rack in a single layer.
  2. Place the rack of bacon on a baking sheet to catch the grease as it bakes.
  3. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-30 minutes (time varies based on thickness of bacon).
  4. Pull bacon out of oven just before it has reached the crispiness level you prefer.
  5. Allow bacon to cool on paper towels.
  6. Transfer cooked and cooled bacon to a gallon-sized freezer bag. (I leave the cooked bacon on the paper towels when putting it in the freezer bags. That way I can do two-pounds at once with a paper towel in between layers of bacon.)
  7. Freeze up to three months.
  8. Rewarm bacon by taking desired amount of cooked bacon slices directly from freezer and heating them in a skillet for about 1 minute on each side.

Can you believe how easy this is?

how-to-cook-bacon-in-the-oven-and-freeze-it-for-quick-reheating

I recommend that you lay the bacon on a broiling rack like this and place it on a baking sheet like this. This will allow the bacon grease to drip into the pan and prevent a mess.

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Once the grease has cooled and thickened, I recommend transferring it to a jar in your fridge. Bacon grease stirred into green beans or other veggies makes for a super flavorful side dish!

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Being able to offer my family bacon with zero effort on a busy morning has been a life saver. After all, as my men will tell you, bacon is a necessity of life.

Do you usually cook bacon on the stove or in the oven? Ever tried making it ahead of time and freezing it as described above?

More Bacon Posts You’ll Want to Check Out

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Hey, what’s for dinner?

It’s the question of the day, right? The frustrating part is when I’m asked this question while in the middle of five other tasks…and I haven’t yet figured out the dinner plan. Ugh, sorry kids. Dinner is…something. I’ll have to get back to you on the specifics.

Enter: Simple Meals. It’s saving my brain (and many of yours too!). If you haven’t joined yet, now’s the time. Get all the details here!

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Simple Taco Rice Dinner (with a dairy free option)

You know the tried and true recipes you always fall back on? Those are the best, right? Those are the dishes you can make without even thinking. Those are the recipes you always have ingredients on hand for. Those are the recipes that keep us sane and our families fed.

Suddenly I’m finding that my list of such go-to recipes is growing! I love it that there are so many recipes that don’t require much thought or effort to put together. I love it that my family keeps raving about all of these.

And I love it that I’m not compromising one bit with these recipes when it comes to nutrition. I’m certainly not compromising on taste, and not even on the budget. These are happy, happy, happy simple recipes!

Other Simple Recipes I’ve Shared Recently:

Today’s Simple Recipe is Taco Rice Dinner. This goes together very quickly, can be tweaked according to your preferences and food sensitivities. Plus it is absolutely yummy. (My kids don’t care much about the rest of it, as long as it tastes great!) We all love the flavor of this dish.

taco-rice-dinner

Simple Taco Rice DinnerYum

Simple Taco Rice Dinner
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 15-ounces (give or take) salsa
  • 15-ounces cooked black beans
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Boil two cups of water, add rice, turn down to very low heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes until rice is cooked.
  2. In the meantime, brown ground beef in a separate skillet until no longer pink.
  3. Add chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.
  4. Stir together cooked rice, cooked meat, salsa, and black beans.
  5. Serve as-is if you need to avoid dairy. Or sprinkle cheese on top and serve!

simple-taco-rice-dinner

Just like with all the other Simple Recipes, all you have to do is throw out salad fixin’s and some fruit to go with this dish.

TIP: If you didn’t plan ahead to thaw hamburger meat (story of my life!) just do this. It’ll quickly thaw you’re meat and you’ll be on your way!

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Join the fun! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

You will love this!

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Simple Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken

I don’t know one person who can do all things well, all the time. Do you? Here’s what I experience and have come to recognize as my normal:

Some days I can work on my website for many hours, edit several photos of food, write three blog posts, and answer 40 waiting emails. I end the day feeling incredibly productive after all I’ve accomplished. But you should (not) see my house at the end of the day. Nothing got cleaned. Our meals were what we would probably lovingly label as “miscellaneous.” And it’s very likely I never got out of my pajamas from the night before.

Then there are the days I get dressed right away, fix a big breakfast for my family, clean up right away afterward, and spend an hour making freezer foods. I’ll spend extra time on history lessons with my youngest, sweep the nasty floor in my kitchen, and help my 16-year old edit an English paper. Dinner will be a favorite. The dishes will be done right after. I’ll figure out what’s for breakfast tomorrow. Great right? Yes. These are great days. They are also the days I completely neglect my website work, answer zero emails, and fall quickly behind on all online duties that need to be done. In addition, those are the days I probably never made it back upstairs to even see the washing machine or remember that laundry needs to be done.

Actually, can we please not talk about laundry on any day ever? Okay.

My point? I can do a lot of things well, but I cannot do them all on the same day. I’ve realized that “getting everything done” is not a thing that ever happens. And I’ve almost come to terms with the fact that “getting everything done” doesn’t actually matter. Almost. (It’s just that the laundry piles and gross floors do get to me, you know?)

I’m assuming you can relate. If not, you can pray for pitiful people like me who find themselves coming, going, and forgetting to come back. The struggle is real.

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It’s recipes like the one I’m sharing today that can make all of us feel accomplished on any day no matter what got done and what didn’t. Meals like this Simple Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken take no effort, but you’ll still sit down at the end of the day and be like, “Wow. I made an awesome dinner. Yay me.”

This chicken recipe has your back. It’s ridiculously easy, but tastes like you worked some sort of kitchen magic.

Simple Hawaiian Crock Pot ChickenYum

Simple Hawaiian Crock Pot Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 8 ounces crushed or chunk pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce*
Instructions
  1. Place chicken (frozen or thawed) in the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Top with pineapple and barbecue sauce.
  3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Shred chicken before serving.
  5. Serve over rice if you like.

*Here’s my  easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce recipe if you’d like to try it!

simple-crock-pot-hawaiian-chicken

Did you see in the recipe how it doesn’t matter if you start with frozen chicken or thawed chicken? I almost always start with frozen chicken, because thinking ahead to thaw chicken is just about more than I can handle. After all, I’m way too busy not getting everything done.

More Simple Recipes

How are your days? Do you often end a day feeling like you didn’t get everything done? Join the club! (And also remember to recognize all you DID get done!)

It’s here! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

You will love this!

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Simple Bacon Ranch Chicken

You probably saw the title “Simple Bacon Ranch Chicken” and thought to yourself, “Well, with ingredients like that, you can’t go wrong.” Right? Is that what you were thinking?

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Indeed. With ingredients like bacon, ranch, and chicken you know it’ll be a great combination of flavors. And did I mention you top it all with cheese? Mmmhmm!

Now let me get you even more excited by letting you know that these four ingredients can be put together in a dish with about 5 minutes of effort. You know that’s my favorite way to cook right now. The simpler the better – healthy whole foods with plenty of time to enjoy family time.

The last time I made this chicken dish, I let it bake while I steamed some green beans, stir-fried some asparagus, and cut up a cantaloupe. Clean up was minimal. The combination of flavors was wonderful.

TIP: If needed, put this together quickly in the morning, cover, and put it in the fridge. In the evening, slide it into the oven for an effortless meal!

Simple Bacon Ranch ChickenYum

Simple Bacon Ranch Chicken
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 4-6 chicken boneless breasts or thighs
  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ cup ranch dressing*
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Lay chicken pieces in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Spread ranch dressing over the chicken.
  3. Lay strips of uncooked bacon over the ranch-covered chicken.
  4. Sprinkle cheese over the top.
  5. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 25-45 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.

*Find my Ranch Dressing recipe here.

simple-bacon-ranch-chicken

Want some more Simple Recipes? Here are others I’ve shared recently:

Those simple recipes are just the beginning. We’re taking it all to the next level so that not only are our recipes easy and nourishing – you don’t even have to think about what to prepare or purchase! Jump in with all the others who have joined…

Simple Meals

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Here’s what Chelsea said about Simple Meals: I signed up for this and I’m very excited about it. It takes me about 4 hours each time I menu plan and make my list but for .81 per week, you do it for me. It’s a small price to pay for my busy family to eat well thought out, whole foods. I compared prices and recipes to other services before signing up and this was the best fit by far. Thank you!!

That is exactly what I was going for when the idea of Simple Meals came to be!

Check out Simple Meals, take advantage of the lovely coupon savings, then promote it yourself so you can earn some great referral money!

Simple Creamy Chicken Stew in the Crock Pot

If you want something that meets all the criteria for nourishing comfort food, this Simple Creamy Chicken Stew is what you’re looking for.

I love that the ingredients for this recipe can be quickly put in the crock pot in the morning. Of course, since we are home most of the day, the delicious smell of this cooking stew almost kill us. (Life is so hard.)

chicken-stew

Probably one of my favorite aspects of this stew is the creaminess. The ranch dressing mix gives it wonderful flavor, and of course, the potatoes and carrots make this meal filling and nourishing. I love this stew! Whenever there are leftovers (rare, but hey, it does happen sometimes), I am so happy. Warming this up on the day after I’ve made it makes for such a happy lunch.

Simple Creamy Chicken Stew in the Crock PotYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Creamy Chicken Stew in the Crock Pot
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 4-5 small potatoes (I prefer red or gold)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix*
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken, potatoes, and carrots into bite-sized pieces and stir together in a crock pot.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. In a bowl combine cream, sour cream, chicken broth, and ranch dressing mix.
  4. Pour mixture over the chicken and veggies.
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 5-7 hours.
*I highly recommend this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix.
simple-creamy-chicken-stew-in-the-crock-pot

You’ve been trying all the new Simple Recipes, right?