Simple Cheesy Baked Chicken

This Cheesy Baked Chicken recipe is unbelievably simple!

I was skeptical at first. I thought it might turn out boring or dull, dry or flavorless. Turns out, the flavor is perfect, the chicken is juicy, and then there’s the cheese. Cheese makes everything better.



In keeping with the Simple Recipes theme we have going on here, this recipe can be made with about five minutes of effort. While the chicken is baking, you can quickly make some veggie side dishes. We first enjoyed this chicken with fried sweet potatoes, tossed salad, and buttered peas. It was crazy easy and so, so delicous.

Simple Cheesy Baked ChickenYum

Simple Cheesy Baked Chicken
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Colby jack recommended)
  1. Place chicken in a baking dish.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt.
  3. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle cheese over the chicken and bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese has melted.


Allow me to put in a word again for using boneless chicken thighs instead of boneless chicken breasts. The thighs have more fat in them, so they are always juicier and more flavorful. I’ve found the price for thighs to be about the same, if not better than what I’ve found for breasts. I’m also enjoying the fact that I continue to find a natural brand of chicken marked down for quick sale at the store. I know it’s not the best of the best when it comes to chicken, but it is at least better than the worst. (You like my logic, there?) I grab all the marked down packages I find, often getting 2-pound packages for about $3.00, and freeze them for when I need them. What a huge money saver!

Have you been enjoying all the new Simple Recipes I’ve shared here lately? They’ll keep coming, because I’m on a roll and this is fun! Here’s the list of what I’ve shared so far:

Details of our amazing new Simple Meals program coming up next week!


20-Minute Taco Soup Your Family Will Love

I’m going to start this post off by saying that this soup can be made from start to finish in about 20 minutes, but it actually only takes about 5 minutes of effort on your part, so you can be even happier about this Taco Soup than you were when you first saw the title.


The Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick recipe I shared a couple weeks ago has been such a hit that I decided to try the same idea, subbing hamburger meat for the chicken. You know me. I love me some beef.

You guys, adding beef to this soup was a very, very good idea. The soup came together very quickly and my family loved it like crazy. I served it with homemade applesauce (because applesauce is what October is made of) and carrot sticks (because I needed to quickly throw out a veggie to compliment this meal before we left for a soccer game).

The very next day, I made this soup again because at the last minute it was decided that our oldest son, Asa, and a couple of his college buddies were going to come have dinner with us. I quickly thawed some hamburger in hot water like this (best trick ever!), made the soup, sliced some peaches and strawberries, cut up some sweet peppers, and set out a buffet.

Everyone who has tried this Taco Soup loves it, and seeing as it only takes a few minutes to make, I see myself falling back on this recipe often this winter!

Why shouldn’t you make this soup in the crock pot like the chicken version? Because it’s not necessary and will not save you time. The chicken soup does best in a crock pot because you can dump the chicken in while frozen and the crock pot will thaw and cook it and after a few hours you’ll have soup. For this hamburger version, you simply need to brown the meat, stir in the other ingredients, let the cheese melt, and serve it right away.

This soup and the Chicken Version are about to become your frequent dinner guests.

20-Minute Taco SoupYum

5.0 from 3 reviews
20-Minute Taco Soup Your Family Will Love
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 16-ounces salsa (more or less is fine; mild to hot is fine - your preference)
  • 32-ounces (1 quart) chicken or beef broth
  • 8-ounces cheese (Colby jack or cheddar)
  1. In a medium to large sized pot, brown the hamburger meat until no longer pink.
  2. Stir in salsa and broth and heat with the meat.
  3. Cut cheese into small chunks and stir into the soup, whisking until melted.

What to serve with this 20-Minute Taco Soup:

  • Tossed salad
  • Fresh fruit
  • Applesauce
  • Raw veggies

Consider adding to your bowl of 20-Minute Taco Soup:

  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Sour Cream
  • Sliced Olives
  • Black Beans
  • Corn


Don’t miss our other Simple Recipe ideas shared here so far:

This series has been so much fun so far and I’m excited about more new simple recipes I’ve been playing with to share. More to come!

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs

Everybody come get yourselves some Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs.


A meal like this is one of my favorite to prepare. It goes something like this:

  1. Plop some chicken in a dish.
  2. Mix up 5 ingredients to spread over chicken.
  3. Put the chicken in the oven and walk away.
  4. Just before dinnertime, throw frozen veggies in a pot to steam.
  5. Get out salad stuff.
  6. Ring the cow bell.

If you don’t have a cow bell, I guess you can still make this chicken.

Ringing the cow bell (to alert the men in the field that dinner was ready) was one of my favorite things to do at Grandma’s house. I’ve decided that I need one for my house. My men aren’t out in the field, but they are often wearing headphones. Perhaps they could hear a cow bell better than they hear my sweet (but wimpy) voice calling them for dinner?

Either way, check out how easy this new recipe is:

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken LegsYum

Simple Sweet and Sour Baked Chicken Legs
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 pounds chicken legs (other pieces work fine too but may require more baking time)
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. Lay chicken legs in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Mix honey, soy sauce, ketchup, and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat briefly to melt honey and to make sure ingredients are well combined.
  3. Spread mixture over chicken legs.
  4. Cover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Turn chicken over in the sauce, cover, and cook for 15 minutes more.

Be sure the soy sauce is gluten free if this is a need for you!


You will love this simple main dish!

Don’t miss our other Simple Recipe ideas shared here so far:

Get ready because the details of our Simple Meals project are about to be revealed! (We’re shooting for next week. Maybe? Phew!)


Simple Skillet Taco Pasta

Today I have for you: comfort food in a cast iron skillet. It’s simple, it’s quick, it’s delicious. It’s Simple Skillet Taco Pasta.


First, a word about Cast Iron Skillets. I highly recommend that we all have one (or two). Mine takes the place of what used to be Teflon in my kitchen. Cast iron is crazy healthier to cook with and when oiled or buttered well, it is delightfully non-stick. I use mine at least twice every day – for eggs, for meat, for dishes like this Skillet Taco Pasta. (This one is the Cast Iron Skillet I recommend.)

So back to this new, simple recipe. (More Simple Recipes here.)

How nice is it that this entire dish can be made in one big skillet? Obviously, you will get out salad makings and steam a vegetable to go with this. Obviously. But that will be easy and take a look at how easy this main dish recipe is:

Simple Skillet Taco PastaYum

4.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Skillet Taco Pasta
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 16-ounces salsa
  • 1½ cups water
  • 8-ounces whole grain pasta, any shape (gluten free works great too!)
  • 8-ounces shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  1. In a large skillet, brown hamburger meat until no longer pink.
  2. Drain excess grease if necessary.
  3. Season meat with salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder.
  4. Stir in salsa, water, and pasta. Bring to a boil.
  5. Turn down heat to simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until pasta is tender.
  6. Turn off heat, sprinkle cheese over the mixture in the skillet, and put the lid on for 2 minutes to melt the cheese.


This recipe has been a huge hit with my family. Leftovers (if there are any) taste even better because of all the yummy flavors settling in to the pasta and meat.

This meal is practically effortless. Clean-up is a piece of cake (though not literally, bummer for that). And if you need this dish to be gluten free, simply use your favorite GF pasta.

Tell me how much you love cast iron. Do you use it often at your house? Need a Cast Iron Skillet?

This post contains affiliate links.

Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick – 4 Ingredients!

It’s as if this soup knew we needed it in our lives. As if somehow, in the mysterious ways only known to soup, it recognized that many days of the week are busy, and our time in the kitchen is limited, but we still want a hearty meal as the sun goes down. Therefore, on the day we needed it most, this soup arrived, begging us to make it on a morning we are still half-asleep and thinking about the other items on our agenda for the day.crock-pot-chicken-soup-with-a-kickThis soup! I don’t think I’ve ever made one that takes less effort or energy. I didn’t even thaw the chicken ahead of time. I had all four ingredients already in my home because I almost always have:

  • boneless chicken
  • salsa
  • chicken broth
  • cheese

I didn’t have to chop, stir, measure, or think. I put the ingredients into my crock pot, plugged it in (always recommended), turned it on, and walked away. Six hours later we sat down and ate soup.

If all of life was as easy as this soup, we would all turn into lazy, squishy people. Seeing as most days we are going-going-going, I don’t think we need to fear the squish. But this soup? It’s got our back at the end of a busy day, because it recognizes all we do and it’s here to say, “Dinner? No problem. I’m here for you. Sit down with your family. Eat. Enjoy.”


Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a KickYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick - 4 Ingredients!
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 16-ounces salsa (more or less is fine)
  • 32 ounces (1 quart) chicken broth
  • 8 ounces cheese (cheddar, Colby jack, Monterrey, Pepper jack - whichever you prefer)
  1. Put all ingredients into a crock pot.
  2. Cook on hi for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8.
  3. Shred chicken and serve.

What to serve with this Chicken Soup with a Kick:

  • Tossed salad
  • Fresh fruit

Consider adding to your bowl of Chicken Soup with a Kick:

  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Sour Cream
  • Sliced Olives
  • Black Beans
  • Corn

This soup will work wonderfully to serve to guests. It is seriously delicious and need I remind you? You don’t have to thaw the chicken ahead of time. I mean, you can if you want. But why plan ahead when this soup doesn’t require it?

This recipe, for sure, will be one of my go-to recipes this fall and winter.

Hopefully you also saw the Simple Baked Salmon and Asparagus recipe I posted earlier this week. If you’re wondering if there’s some kind of theme going on – perhaps a conspiracy to force us put healthy meals on the table with very little effort – you are right on track. Meals that take just a few minutes to prepare. Healthy food ideas and guides that prevent us from spending hours in the kitchen. Plans to save our family time. Oh yes. This is definitely in the works.


Our Simple Meals project is coming along nicely. Details coming soon! I really cannot wait to share. In the meantime, more Simple Recipes are on the way. Hope you’re hungry. :)

Simple Baked Salmon and Asparagus

Some of you live in the land of fresh fish. Me? I live in Nebraska.

Now, Nebraska is wonderful and beautiful and I love it here (winters notwithstanding). We have beautiful farm land and vast fields and wonderful fruit trees and orchards, but we are missing one thing. We don’t have an ocean. Not even a little one.

So fresh fish? I see (and smell it) it sometimes at the store when I go to the city. But I know it didn’t come from our local oceans and I’m not sure how far it had to swim to get here.

All of this has caused me to shy away from buying fish very often.

Fish though. It’s a great healthy food option. So I’m trying. Even if I buy it frozen, at least I’m buying it. After all – what do I know? I have nothing to compare it with. Frozen fish tastes okay to me. (I mean. I do thaw it and cook it.)

Seeing as this Baked Salmon and Asparagus recipe tastes amazing – even with my pitiful frozen salmon (from shhhh…Wal-mart) – I can only imagine that those of you with a fresh fish source will cry happy tears of joy when you bite into this because your version will taste even better than what I experience.

Someday I’m going to visit my auntie on the east coast and eat some actual fish. Someday.

How Simple is This Meal?

  1. Put asparagus in a dish.
  2. Put salmon on top.
  3. Drizzle it with lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Toss on some onion slices.
  5. Bake.

I sat in my chair working while I walked my 14-year old through the process of making this. It took him 5 minutes. You guys – it takes longer than that to make a sandwich! I am so sold on this recipe I think I’ll make it have my 14-year old make it every single week.


Simple Baked Salmon and AsparagusYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Simple Baked Salmon and Asparagus
Serves: 4-6
  • 4-5 salmon fillets
  • 1 pound (give or take) fresh asparagus
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 medium onion
  1. Lay asparagus along the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Place salmon fillets over the asparagus.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over salmon and asparagus, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Slice onion, then lay the slices over the salmon.
  5. Cover and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Don’t like asparagus? (Why? Why don’t you like asparagus??!) You can use any veggie you do like. Or use a combination of veggies. Green beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower – anything should work deliciously.

Now tell me. Do you have a source for fresh fish? I promise not to get jealous if you say yes.

How to Make Healthier Corndogs for the Freezer

Of all the recipes I share, this one is not the healthiest. Just whatever though, because corndogs taste amazing. (With a salad. And fruit. And digestive enzymes.) I’m providing a homemade option so that at least we’ll know these are better than store-bought.

Homemade Corndogs

First – try to find hotdogs that are nitrite free. Also, beef. Always beef hotdogs. Fine, turkey is okay too. Just try to avoid the hotdogs that are only pretending to be meat. I can’t even believe I’m still trying to convince myself that any form of a hotdog is healthy. But for real, at least try to find some that aren’t terrible. Why I like hotdogs is beyond me.

Now that we’ve covered the sacred topic of the hotdogs, allow me to share another compromise I make. This. We bought this fun corndog maker for one of our sons a few years ago as a gift because he is the ultimate corndog lover. (I have no idea where he gets this.) I think having dozens of appliances that only do one task each is fairly ridiculous. But shucks if having a corndog maker isn’t a lot of fun, so there. We’ve used it for more than just corndogs (like muffins and cookies – who knew?!) so hallelujah for an appliance that is actually multi-functional.

I will tell you that this machine makes the effort of creating homemade corndogs so easy and mess free that a few days ago, I made 48 corndogs in less than an hour – while I was making tomato sauce, French toast, and frozen yogurt. The corndog maker allows me to multitask while making food for my freezer. And here you thought that appliance was pointless.


The long and short of making homemade corndogs is that you simply use your favorite cornbread recipe, add a bit of extra milk so the batter will coat the dogs, then you either fry them in oil or bake them in the above mentioned corndog maker.

What about sticks?

Life is too short to poke sticks into hotdogs. Do the stick poking if you must, but as for me and my house, we will skip the sticks and just eat the dogs.

How to Make Healthier Corndogs (in Bulk) for the Freezer

How to Make Healthier Corndogs for the Freezer
Serves: 24-48
  • 2⅔ cup Homemade Jiffy Cornbread Mix*
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 24 hot dogs
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cornbread mix, eggs, milk, and butter.
  2. If using a corndog maker, cut hotdogs in half.
  3. Dip hotdogs in batter to coat thoroughly.
  4. Fry until golden brown, or cook in a Corndog Maker**
  5. Serve right away, or cool and freeze in freezer bags.
  6. Rewarm corndogs by placing them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

*Homemade Jiffy Cornbread Mix recipe

I put these homemade cornbread mixes together and have them on hand for convenience. I highly recommend this!

** I cut my hotdogs in half, then cook my corndogs in this fun Corndog Maker. It saves a lot of time and mess!

Homemade Corndogs for the Freezer

If you make these to freeze, all you have to do at mealtime is pull them out and warm them up while you’re getting out all the actual nutritious parts of the meal (fruits, veggies, and more veggies with a side of another vegetable).

‘Fess up. Do ya like hotdogs?

How to Make Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches (Freezable!)

You want to know one of my favorite convenience foods I miss the most since switching to real food? Processed chicken patties for chicken sandwiches. (Bet you never would have guessed that, since that’s what this post is about.)

chicken patties9

I grew up microwaving Schwan’s chicken patties and slapping them on white buns for a quick meal or snack after a sports practice. They were yummy and easy and while I couldn’t care less about many other processed convenience items (I gave up boxed pizza rolls several years ago and never looked back) – I do miss the taste and handiness of chicken patties.

So why it’s taken me this long to figure out a recipe that resembles the beloved frozen chicken patties, I do not know. But here I am, finally learning a way to make breaded chicken patties for sandwiches. The best news is that you can make these in bulk and freeze them for a fast, convenient, ready-made meal on a busy day.

Homemade Chicken Patties for SandwichesYum

How to Make Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches (Freezable!)
Serves: 15-20 patties
  • 3 pounds ground chicken
  • 4 teaspoons onion powder, divided
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups whole grain flour (I used whole wheat, but if you need these to be gluten free, use your favorite flour choice)
  • Palm shortening or oil of choice
  1. In a large bowl mix ground chicken, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  2. Shape meat mixture into 15-20 patties (make them larger or smaller depending on your family's portion size needs)
  3. Beat eggs into a bowl.
  4. Pour milk into a separate bowl.
  5. In a third bowl, mix flour, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and ½ teaspoon sea salt.
  6. Heat palm shortening or oil on a griddle.
  7. Dip prepared meat patties in egg, then flour mixture, then milk, then flour mixture again.
  8. Place battered chicken patty into oil on the griddle.
  9. Repeat process with each chicken patty.
  10. Cook for 7-10 minutes on each side, mashing down lightly as needed.
  11. Serve right away, or cool and freeze for future use, then rewarm in a 350 degree oven until heated through.

Are you ready to see some ugly chicken patty pictures? This isn’t pretty, friends. Raw meat pressed into patties – well there’s a reason we call stuff like this “processed food.” But take great comfort in the fact that this is all made from real food and wholesome ingredients and ignore the fact that naked ground chicken pressed into a patty really just ain’t purty.

chicken patties2

See the patty breading process? First the egg.

chicken patties3

Then the flour.

chicken patties4

Then the milk.

chicken patties5

Then the flour again.

chicken patties6

Then comes the part where we fry the patties in oil.

chicken patties7

We watch in amazement as they turn into beautiful chicken patties we can’t wait to put on a bun or between two big leaves of lettuce.

chicken patties8
Sure, it’s thicker than the patties we grew up eating. We like it that way. That means there’s double the meat.

Homemade Chicken Patties for Sandwiches - Freezable

One of the biggest perks is that you can form your chicken patties into any size you need for your family. Have small children? Make small patties. Have teenage boys? Make the patties nice and big. Have some big eaters and small eaters? Make a variety.

The biggest win is that if you make a bunch, you’ll have yummy chicken patties ready to warm up for sandwiches on a day you don’t have time to cook!

Did you grow up eating and loving processed chicken sandwiches? 

Easy BBQ Chicken Marinade

Once upon a time I went to visit two of my sisters-in-law in California for a few days. (Actually, we try to do this every two years, so there have been several once upon a times in which I got to go visit my sisters.)

sisters at the beach

Fun facts: I get along amazingly well with my sisters-in-law. This trip we went to the beach, went shopping, ate leisurely brunches and dinners, and talked for hours. It was fantastic. Oh, and we also went to Disneyland, for free, for an entire day. What did three moms do at Disneyland without kids? We rode all the rides we wanted and screamed like little girls on Hyperspace Mountain. Three times. Talk about exhilarating! (And yes, now I need a chiropractor.)

When I got home from this trip, I kept noticing things. Things like a new exhaust fan installed above my “new” stove. All my spices put back and organized over the stove after the exhaust fan was installed. A cute shelf put in place behind the stove. In short, everywhere I turned, I kept seeing more projects that Matt and Malachi had worked on to surprise me when I got back from my trip. My husband is dear and I’m so thankful for him.

This has to do with bbq chicken how?

Well, a day and a half after I got back from visiting my sisters in California, I had to turn right around and go out of town for a doctor appointment. Phew. Matt was left at home to hold down the fort again. It was while I was there that Matt called to say he was getting the chicken ready to marinate for dinner but, “Where is the bbq sauce?”

Oh that. I don’t have any. I was going to make some but ran out of time. Maybe look up the recipe on my site? Sorry I didn’t get it done before I left.

That’s when he took it upon himself to mix up a little of this and a little of that and create a super fun sauce that I now need to tell you about. Why make normal bbq sauce when you can make it fun?

Easy BBQ Chicken MarinadeYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Easy BBQ Marinade for Chicken
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 Tablespoon mustard
  1. Mix ingredients and spread over chicken for at least 2 hours before grilling.
  2. Add a chopped onion to the mix for extra flavor while the chicken is marinating.
  3. This makes enough sauce for 2-3 pounds of chicken.

Matt's BBQ Marinade

Remember my biggest chicken grilling tip? Read the details here, but to sum it up, we much prefer to grill boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of breasts. That’s what I highly recommend for this marinade and grilling recipe! You’ll have yourself some super moist and flavorful chicken this way!

What special ingredients do you like stirring into your barbecue sauces and marinades?

Easy Taco Salad Recipe

I sort of shared this “recipe” back in 2010 when I first posted my Homemade French Dressing recipe. Since then I’ve had several people tell me that they’d prefer me to write out an actual recipe. It’s only taken me 6 years to do it. Therefore, if you have any requests, ask now. First come, first served – I shall answer your requests by 2022.

I hope I’m kidding.

taco salad1

A key player in this salad is the French Dressing. I used to toss this with bottled Catalina Dressing, but the homemade variety is easy and better for us. If I don’t happen to have time to make the French Dressing, we just dump in a little salsa. It changes the taste of this salad, but it’s still a great meal!

I shall now attempt to write down measurable quantities of salad fixin’s to provide an actual Taco Salad recipe. If in fact you don’t follow this recipe precisely, you will still turn out a fabulous Taco Salad. For that matter, since everyone in my family has specific preferences (some like tomatoes, some don’t; some like beans, some don’t) I often lay out all the salad makings and let everyone build their own bowl however they like!

Easy Taco SaladYum

Easy Taco Salad Recipe
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • 1 head lettuce, any variety (we prefer red leaf, green leaf or romaine)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 15 ounces (or 2 cups) of pinto, chili, or black beans
  • 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 cup French Dressing (give or take)
  1. Brown hamburger meat and season with taco seasoning mix (recipe link below)
  2. Chop or tear lettuce into a large serving bowl.
  3. Add cooked meat (cooled), shredded cheese, beans, tomatoes, and chips.
  4. Toss with French Dressing.
  5. Serve.

Other fun Taco Salad toss-in options are:

  • Black olives
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Onions
  • Peppers

I recommend making this Taco Seasoning Mix to have on hand for recipes like this. Easy and delicious!

Easy Taco Salad

We will likely enjoy this Taco Salad every week until the end of summer. How about you? Are you a Taco Salad fan?