Week 4 – Mexican Tortilla Casserole

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Another great and eventful week.  This weekend we were in Chicago for a friend’s wedding.  It was pretty cool because I had know both of them before they started dating and got to see the relationship develop from the beginning.  It was the first wedding I’ve been to that I didn’t know if I should go to the bride or groom’s side, but thankfully another friend was an usher and picked for us when he led us to our seats.  We had SO much fun.  The wedding ceremony was Friday at the church I went to in Chicago and then the reception was at a restaurant downtown and on the river.  It was a gorgeous day and it was so fun to catch up with old friends from my gospel community (small group) in Chicago.  And it was our first wedding attending where I couldn’t catch the bouquet and introduced Matt to people as “my husband, Matt.”  Weird.  In a good way.

We also had the chance to catch up with a bunch of other friends.  On Friday we had lunch with a few of my old coworkers.  I haven’t seen a lot of them since moving so that was fun.  Also, a friend from high school is living in Chicago for the summer so we had dinner with her on Saturday.  And there were a couple other people from my GC who had also moved away, but also happened to be in Chicago this weekend so we got to catch up with them at church.  We did a lot of eating our Chicago favorite foods and spent a lot of time walking through my old neighborhood and favorite places.  It’s crazy how much changes in a year.  I kept saying “that place wasn’t here before” and “That’s new!”  We finished the weekend with a cubs game after church, grabbed some DQ with my old roommate (an old Sunday tradition) and saw another friends new condo.  So much fun, I love Chicago so much.

Now we’re at the airport waiting for our late flight out.  Waking up tomorrow is not going to be fun, but I get to take the silver line to work for the first time ever (it opened yesterday) so I’m pretty sure that excitement will carry me through.

Our new recipe for this week was another keeper.  I’d do a couple things differently when we make it again, it was a little more watery than expected.  But that also could be because I have extra tomatoes that I chopped up and added in addition to the can of tomatoes the recipe calls for.  We were going out of town and I didn’t want them to go to waste!  And I might not have drained the diced tomatoes.  We also tried a couple other recipes that came in the newsletter from fresh stop – scalloped potatoes and pear crisp.  They were fine but nothing remarkable so recipes are not included, just pictures!

Skinny Mexican Tortilla Casserole (recipe adapted from here)


  • ½ lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • ½ tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 10 oz can Diced Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • ½ cup yellow corn, if canned, drain + rinse
  • ¼ cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 4 – 9″ Tortillas
  • 10 oz can red enchilada sauce
  • ½ – 1 cup reduced-fat, shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat a 9 inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large nonstick pan, cook the ground turkey, onions, garlic, chili powder and cumin over medium-high heat until onions are tender and turkey is no longer pink.
  4. Stir in black beans and Rotel® and mix well. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, corn, cottage cheese and garlic powder.
  6. Place 2 tortillas overlapping on the bottom of pan.
  7. Top with half the turkey mixture, half the sour cream mixture and half the enchilada sauce. Repeat layers.
  8. Bake covered for 30-35 minutes until heated through.
  9. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
  10. Bake uncovered for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  11. Remove from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes to set.

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Potatoes and Cobbler:

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Mid-Week 4 Bonus Recipes – Ice Cream!!

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It’s national ice cream month, in case you hadn’t heard.  And if you know me, you know that I LOVE ice cream.  It’s really a problem how much I love it.  Our favorite Ice Cream place ins DC (Thomas Sweet) is a mile and a half away, so we justify the trips by walking there and back.  The 3 mile walk totally cancels out the two scoops of ice cream, right? Right.

Anyway, Sunday was National Ice Cream day, and we decided to celebrate by putting our ice cream maker to work!  We tried two different recipes.  They are both amazing and we will for sure be making them again.  The chocolate decadence was fussier – involved cooking on the stove, a lot of constant stirring, and then it had to sit in the fridge for 16 or more hours.  But all the fuss was SO worth it.  The Mocha Madness is also delicious, and wayyyy easier.  The taste reminds me of the starbucks java chip ice cream that they use to sell at grocery stores but discontinued because apparently they like breaking hearts.  My heart is sad but my waistline thanks them.  We had a little issue with the mocha madness this first time.  It was still delicious, but we got impatient with our ice cream maker and the fact that the container has to be fully frozen before making ice cream.  So the texture didn’t turn out as great as we’d like.  I don’t even care, it’s still amazing.

James came over on Sunday to help us eat the first batches of ice cream, but we still have a bunch left and have had it every day.  Except Monday, we were too busy sitting at the PwC VIP Dream Suite table at the Washington Kastles match.  The Kastles are DC’s tennis team.  Yes, it’s a real thing but their season is super short so a lot of people don’t know about it.  But they’ve won the title 4 of the past 5 years and hold the record for the longest winning streak in sports (34 matches, no the streak isn’t still going).  One of the partners in my office buys season tickets at a fancy table and when he can’t go he puts the tickets up for grabs.  Matt and I were lucky enough to get a pair for this week.  However we weren’t lucky enough to be attending the same night as the Obamas.  Apparently they sit at the VIP dream suite tables too.  Obamas or no Obamas, it was pretty cool, and we’re not tennis people so that should mean something.  If you live in DC check them out next summer (this season’s championship matches start tomorrow).  They play in foggy bottom, so get on it.

Anyway, the recipes…

Chocolate Decadence link to source


1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons Instant ClearJel or cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vanilla/1 tablespoon espresso powder/1 teaspoon cinnamon, all optional

2 cups (1 pint) whole milk

1 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or chocolate chips

1/4 cup coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlua) or the liqueur of your choice, optional


1) In a medium saucepan, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, ClearJel or cornstarch, and salt.

2) Slowly whisk in the water, then the flavor of your choice and the milk or cream.

3) Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently as the mixture warms, then almost constantly as it becomes hot; you don’t want the mixture to stick to the bottom of the pan.

4) Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate or chocolate chips, whisking until chocolate melts.

5) Pour into a bowl, and stir occasionally as it cools, to prevent a skin from forming.

6) Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the chocolate, again to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate until it’s well chilled; overnight is good. Make sure the canister for your ice cream maker is in the freezer, too; it needs to be as cold as it can be.

7) Next day, pour the chocolate into the ice cream maker, and freeze for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s quite stiff.

8) Scoop the ice cream into a bowl. For best texture, stir in 1/4 cup coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlua), or the liqueur of your choice. This will keep the ice cream soft and scoopable indefinitely in the freezer.

9) Serve the ice cream immediately, if desired; it will be very soft. For harder ice cream, store in the freezer. Ice cream without liqueur will become nicely hard in 3 hours. With the addition of liqueur, it will take 6 hours or more to become quite solid. Ice cream without liqueur will become unpleasantly hard within 5 hours or so; to soften, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes or so before serving.

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Mocha Madness (recipe from here)


1 cup cold whole milk

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons espresso powder

2 tablespoons cocoa powder, Dutch-process preferred

2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream or whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 Oreo cookies, broken into small pieces


  1. Whisk or mix together the milk, sugar, espresso powder, and cocoa till the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
  4. Stir cookie bits into soft ice cream, and serve immediately.

For firmer ice cream, place in a covered container. Place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours, until ice cream is as hard as you like it. We also added so Kahlua to this one to make it not as rock hard.  It works nicely.  Note: Freezing longer than 2-3 hours without Kahlua will make the ice cream rock hard; plan on softening at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or so before serving if the ice cream has been in the freezer longer than a few hours.

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Also, shout out to my Uncle David for the sweet wood cutting board – he made it!

Week Three – Creamy Chicken Pasta

Wow, the craziness continued this week!  One more trip next weekend and then we’re home for good for a few months.  Travelling is wonderful but I can’t wait to just stay put and finish settling in.

But anyway, for those who don’t know – I was in Belize this past week for work.  PwC has this amazing corporate responsibility initiative called ‘Project Belize.’  Since 2008 they have been sending teams down to teach financial literacy in the Belizean schools.  They’re been sending their people down for 6 years and after going down there it is clear that we are making a sustainable impact.  This is not the type of ‘voluntourism’ that has been getting a lot of crap lately.  It’s PwC sending their people who have this expertise (like me!) to teach the students and educators in Belize.  It’s really quite amazing and beyond the amount of words I could type on this page.  If you want to hear more, let’s get coffee.  And in the meantime, visit PwC’s website or watch this video.

After an almost week of being in the blazing Belizean heat and teaching kids in a classroom all day, I decided to take Friday off.  After being gone for so long, getting home late, and having my luggage lost, I needed the day to recoup.  Which also left me time to make this week’s new recipe!!  It ended up being delicious after we made a couple tweaks to the original recipe.  We will definitely be making this again and were super excited for the leftovers!

Shout out to one last cool thing we did this weekend – Mosaic Church’s Fresh Stop.  This program is seriously cool – you order your share of locally grown produce for pick up on a Saturday (they do the 3rd Sat of every month) and the price for your share is based on family size and income.  Price ranges from $12-30 depending on family size and income level, but the cool thing is that it allows lower income families to enjoy fresh produce, while still providing the higher income families reasonably priced goods.  Watch this video for more info if you live in DC and are interested!  And if all that isn’t enough to convince you, this picture is all the stuff that Matt and I got for our $30 share!!

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Creamy Chicken Pasta

Makes about 4 servings, if having as a main dish.


  • 2-3 grilled chicken breasts, cut into strips
  • 8oz fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 small carrot, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 rib celery, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 small shallot or 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 3-6 Garlic Cloves, depending on how you like it (I LOVE garlic!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • ¼-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley


  1. Break fettuccine into sixths (I broke chunks of noodles in half then each half into thirds.) Cook pasta in a big pot of salted, boiling water until just under al dente – it will continue cooking in the sauce. Drain then set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat then add carrot, celery, shallot/onion, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper then saute until tender, 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle in flour then whisk and cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth and milk while whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Add in parmesan cheese and continue whisking to avoid chunks. Turn heat up to medium-high until bubbling then turn heat back down to medium, add parsley and more salt and pepper then cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and bubbly, 5ish minutes.
  3. Add pasta to the sauce then stir to combine and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  4. Top with grilled Chicken and enjoy!


Recipe was adapted from here , she didn’t have garlic or parm in the original recipe.  Glad that I love garlic and Matt loves cheese or this dish would not be in the ‘let’s have this again sometime’ pile.  But we added garlic and parm and I can’t wait to make this again!  It was pretty easy and the chicken broth makes is healthier than a lot of the other cream sauce recipes I’ve seen.  Here are some pictures, I failed at taking a bunch while cooking, woops!

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Week Two – Lemon Basil Chicken & Pasta

Another busy week! We go home from our long weekend with Matt’s friends on Sunday night and it seems like the week flew by! When you’re in and out of work for the better part of a month, it’s pretty busy when you are there.

Friday afternoon we drove up to Syracuse for my sisters high school graduation party, which was on Saturday. And then basically right after the party we drove back to DC because now (Sunday at 7:45AM) I’m en route to Belize.

Good news is that I did have a chance to try a new recipe this week, something from my Pinterest recipes board. I left work at a normal person time (5:15) on Wednesday so I could get home and cook this up. It did not disappoint, we will definitely be having this again!

Lemon Basil Chicken and Pasta


To Marinate the Chicken: 
4 chicken breasts
Olive oil
Juice of four lemons
A tiny bit of honey
A dash of salt

For cooking:
4 whole Grilled Chicken Breasts, Sliced (from above)
1 pound Pasta, Cooked
1/2 stick Butter
3 whole Lemons, Juiced
3/4 cups Heavy Cream
1/4 cup Half-and-half
1-1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (or Romano)
Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
20 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped


1. The night before, pound chicken breasts to uniform thickness and marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, honey, and salt*
2. Cook pasta, reserving 1 cup of hot pasta water when you drain. Set pasta aside in a colander.
3. In the same pot, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of 3 to 4 lemons. Whisk together. Pour in cream and half-and-heat. Whisk until hot. 
4. Dump in cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt, pepper, and some chopped basil (reserve some for topping). Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.
5. Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts. Serve immediately!
*for marinating I modified a bit, it was only juice of about 2 lemons, and we didn’t have Dijon so I used some honey Dijon mustard that we had and skipped the honey. There aren’t any exact proportions so just eyeball it
Also, if you can find colorful pasta I’d recommend using that. We used wheat spirals and although it was delicious, the dish didn’t have much color.

Recipe adapted from: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/07/grilled-chicken-with-lemon-basil-pasta/

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Bon Appetit!

Week One – “A Light Dessert” and Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole

Gosh our lives have been so crazy! In a good way, but seriously. Not the best way to start off the blog. Time to empty some of the cooking pictures from my phone and onto here…

Our first week back from the honeymoon included 3 new recipes. A dinner one, homemade Popsicles, and a delicious dessert! The dessert was definitely my favorite. For the 4th we went to Deep Creek, MD (almost to West Virginia) and rented a house with 9 other of Matt’s college friends. It was really fun! Each person had to sign up for a meal or snacks or something to bring so Matt and I brought a bunch of beer (we found Leinenkugel’s summer shandy in cans, the next best thing to be discovering it on tap at Nats stadium) and did lunch one day – grilled spiedies and veggies and this wonderful, festive looking dessert. The new dessert recipe was a hit! The recipe came from my friend Kristen at the bridal shower where everyone broughte a recipe for my cookbook. (such a good idea, btw)

“A Light Dessert”
1 box of angel food cake, prepared
2 pints (or more) Strawberries, tops off and chopped up
2 pints (or more) Blueberries
1 small can of fat free sweetened condensed milk
1 package of sugar free instant pudding, white chocolate flavored
1 12 oz. container of cool whip

1. Mix together 1/2 package of pudding, milk, and cool whip
2. Cut cake up into squares
3. Layer cake on the bottom of the bowl
4. Add cool whip mixture
5. Add berries
6. Repeat steps 3-5
(I sprinkled raspberries on top too for added variety of berries, make it your own!)

If you’ve never made angel food cake (like I hadn’t), use caution, it’s rises a lot. My cake overflowed quite a bit in the oven, not fun to clean up.

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Our new dinner recipe from the week was a Mexican chicken and rice dish. Not too difficult to make, and really easy to modify and make your own. WARNING: This makes a TON of food, a full 9×13 pan. The night after we had it I heated up leftovers because my dear friend Anna and her husband came over for lunch, and it didn’t even look like we had eaten out of it!

Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole
1 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
1 old el paso sauce packet (I used the taco flavor because it’s what we had)
water, as indicated on rice cooking instructions
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups shredded chicken, seasoned as desired (I seasoned ours with Dinosaur BBQ Foreplay rub before grilling)
1 can black beans, drained
1 can yellow corn, drained
1 can diced tomatoes (I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted and diced for a little extra flavor)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
optional toppings:
sour cream
chopped lettuce

1. In a rice cooker or sauce pan, add the water, sauce packet, rice and brown sugar. Cook rice according to the instructions in your package of rice.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Toast chicken, rice, corn, at least 1 cup of salsa*, and beans and cover with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.
*when reheating in the oven for lunch the next day I mixed in most of a jar of salsa, it tasted phenomenal so if/when I make this again I’ll be doing that from the beginning

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Back in January a company I follow was asking people what their food-related New Year’s Resolutions were.  One person said that they were committing to making at least one new recipe per week.  I loved the idea and vowed to some day do the same, when life got a little less crazy.

Now that the wedding planning is over and the marriage has begun I decided what a better way to make sure that all of our wedding gifts get put to use than to start up this new recipe a week trend?  Matt and I love cooking already and for one of my bridal shower’s everyone brought (at least) one of their favorite recipes to compile a nice little cookbook for me.  This, on top of the cookbooks we received as wedding gifts (and my “recipes” pinterest board), give us a lot to work with.  I decided to put it all on a blog, and there will likely be some life tidbits sprinkled in each week as I have also vowed to share less on facebook, I waste a lot of time on that site…

Hopefully you (whoever “you” may be) enjoy this as much as I do! Advanced apologies for spelling or grammar issues, I’m an accountant not an English major.  Also advance apologies for delayed posts during busy season (which is looming in the not far enough away distance), I may not be posting but I promise to be cooking!

(Also, three posts at once!  Don’t get use to it, I had originally started this on another blogging site but moved it over to wordpress after some frustration and google searching.)