Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

Ignore my horrible photo… I promise this is a delicious recipe.  And yes… that is half of an avocado.  Don’t judge.  I was just so hungry by the time I was able to eat the dinner I prepared at 8:30 pm that I snapped the quickest photo I could.  Anyway, enough with the reasoning for my horribly unappetizing photo…

This black bean soup is both delicious and healthy.  I will warn you that it might not make a great main course, since it is basically, well… beans.  It’s enough for me, but most people might like something a little heavier to go with it.  Don’t let the “Instant Pot” title fool you-it is definitely anything but instant.  This recipe requires the pressure cooker to naturally release, which takes a little longer than a manual release would.  It took well over an hour and a half for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, cook on high, then naturally release, so be aware before you make this for the evening!  If you want to see the original recipe, check it out at A Pinch of Healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced (save some time and use frozen chopped onion!)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (14.5 ounce)
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 pound dry black beans, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used a little less… tiny people in the house)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder (again… a little less for us-tiny people)
  • 2 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • Toppings: avocado, sour cream, lime, green onion, tortilla chips

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to the Instant Pot, and place the lid on top, with the vent set to “sealing.”
  2. Cook the soup on manual high pressure for 40 minutes, and let the pressure naturally release.
  3. After the pot is depressurized, remove the lid, and carefully remove the bay leaves.  Soup will thicken after sitting.
  4. Serve with desired toppings.
Easy Air Fryer Cinnamon and Sugar Donut Sticks

Easy Air Fryer Cinnamon and Sugar Donut Sticks

Well, I have fallen into the abyss of the air fryer world. So. Many. Options. If you have a can of crescent rolls, cinnamon, sugar, and butter, you can have fresh donut sticks in 4 minutes. Yes, 4 minutes! I adapted my recipe from allrecipes.

The flavor of these “donuts” remind me of Taco Bell Cinnamon Twists. They’re light, but absolutely delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 (8 ounce) package refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup any flavor fruit jam, chocolate sauce, or cream cheese for dipping (optional)

Directions

  1. Unroll crescent roll dough sheet and pat out to an 8×12-inch rectangle. Cut dough in half lengthwise with a pizza cutter and cut each piece crosswise into 1/2-inch wide “sticks.” Dip doughnut sticks in melted butter and place in a single later in the air fryer basket.
  1. Cook in the air fryer at 375 degrees F until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir together sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Remove doughnut sticks from the air fryer and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Repeat with remaining dough.
  1. Serve doughnut sticks with jam, chocolate sauce, or cream cheese,
Copycat Moe’s Queso

Copycat Moe’s Queso

Moe’s was my favorite place for queso and loaded nachos for years until they sadly closed their doors in our area. This copycat recipe comes close, so finally you can get your Moe’s fix!

Ingredients

  • 2-8 oz blocks blocks of Pepper Jack Cheese, cubed
  • 1 lb white American cheese (I used sliced from the deli and it seemed to melt much better)
  • 1-4 oz can diced green chiles (I prefer mild since kids will be eating this, but you can use any heat you like!)
  • 2-12 oz cans evaporated milk
  • tortilla chips, for serving

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker. I like to layer the ingredients so they melt together well.
  2. Cook on low for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Stir well after one our and continue to cook on low for another hour, stirring occasionally. Stir well until well incorporated.
  3. Keep slow cooker on low to avoid burning or bubbling.

**Note: Make sure to watch the queso carefully as it melts as heating the evaporated milk too quickly could cause curdling. Make sure to stir the dip frequently to monitor how quickly the queso heats. If it begins to heat too quickly, turn the temperature down to low for the remainder of the cooking.

Easy Sweet Potato Fries

Easy Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potatoes and I love fries. Combine them and you get an amazing, filling, and healthy snack, side, or lunch if you’re like me and eat them all in one sitting. No judgement here… they’re healthy, so stuff your face!

Ingredients

  • sweet potato (how many you use depends on how many fries you’d like)
  • olive oil
  • granulated sugar (optional)
  • cinnamon (optional)
  • salt (optional)
  • garlic powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes length wise into thin, fry slices (about 1/4″ thick).
  1. Toss sweet potato fries with olive oil and desired amount of seasoning. I like to use a bit of sugar and cinnamon, but garlic powder and salt are also great seasonings for sweet potato fries.
  1. Place sweet potato fries in a single layer evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10-18 minutes until potatoes are cooked through and begin to brown. Serve immediately.
Easy Mexican Pizzas

Easy Mexican Pizzas

Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza is back, people! As happy as I am about its return, I always have to customize… it’s what I do! Here is a super simple weeknight meal idea that’s a crowd pleaser for even picky eaters since it can be tailored to everyone’s individual tastes. Ground turkey, ground beef, diced chicken, whatever your family prefers this can be customized accordingly. Grab your favorite taco toppings and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Corn tostadas
  • 1 lb ground beef, ground turkey, diced chicken, whatever protein happens to be your favorite
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 can refried beans (I prefer vegetarian, but any variety will do!)
  • taco sauce
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese

Toppings

  • chopped cilantro
  • diced green onion
  • diced tomato
  • sliced black olives
  • sour cream
  • black beans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. While oven preheats, brown ground beef, ground turkey, chicken, or whatever protein you prefer until fully cooked through. Add one packet of taco seasoning to the fully cooked protein.
  1. Place tostadas on a large baking sheet. Spread refried beans, protein, and taco sauce onto each tostada evenly. Sprinkle with cheese.
  2. Place tostadas in the oven for 2-4 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with remaining desired toppings and serve immediately.
Easy Slow Cooker Artichoke and Mushroom Chicken

Easy Slow Cooker Artichoke and Mushroom Chicken

I love artichoke anything. This recipe is no exception. I found this recipe from The Magical Slow Cooker and it is amazing paired with a vegetable, over noodles, pasta, or rice. Set it and forget meals are my go to on a busy weekday and this one definitely delivers!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can artichoke quarters, drained
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • noodles or rice, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Add the chicken breasts to the slow cooker.
  1. Sprinkle over the salt, pepper, basil and garlic.
  1. Add the artichokes, mushrooms, and onions over the chicken.
  2. Pour over the chicken broth.
  1. Add the 2 blocks of cream cheese on top of everything.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  3. Shred the chicken breasts with two forks, and then stir the cream cheese and chicken together.
  4. Serve over cooked noodles or steamed rice.
Grinch Cookies

Grinch Cookies

I’ve made these cookies for several years now after finding them from In Katrina’s Kitchen (see her original recipe here!). They were so cute I couldn’t resist trying them myself. These are made from boxed cake mix, so if you love cake cookies, these are for you! I’ve had trouble finding the heart shaped sprinkle candies in the past, but Michael’s or Hobby Lobby seem to always have something in stock that will work for these cookies. I’ll include the link to the ones I used in the ingredient list. Be sure to leave yourself enough time for prep for these as they must be rolled then refrigerated for 20 minutes prior to baking. Keep a close eye on them because they have a very short window to cook to perfectly cakey without burning or being raw in the middle. Most importantly, HAVE FUN making them! This recipe says that it makes 2 dozen cookies, but if you truly use only 1 tablespoon you will have many more than 2 dozen.

Ingredients

  • 1 box french vanilla cake mix, dry mix only
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • green gel food coloring (regular will work as well-if using regular use only one drop and add from there)
  • 1/2 cup Powdered sugar, or more for dusting
  • heart-shaped sprinkles or candies

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  1. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together cake mix, food coloring, oil, and eggs.
  1. Drop by tablespoon into confectioners sugar and roll the dough covering the entire dough ball.
  2. Chill dough balls for 20 minutes before transferring to a baking sheet to bake.
  1. Place on baking sheet and press 1 large heart candy/sprinkle. Some people love them in the center and others love them off to the right like the Grinch’s heart. Be creative!
  2. Bake for 8-10 minutes until just set.
  3. Cool 3-4 minutes on pan before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar if desired.
Easy and Healthy Turkey Avocado Burgers

Easy and Healthy Turkey Avocado Burgers

This recipe has been adapted from a Chicken Avocado Burger recipe from the Laughing Spatula.  It’s a pretty simple recipe and great for a quick weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large ripe avocado (cut into chunks)
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup Panko crumbs
  • 1 minced poblano or jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss gently.
  1. Shape into desired size patties and grill.

I normally don’t include the peppers, but this recipe is great with our without!  I also keep a jar of chopped garlic in the fridge to make recipes like this even easier on a busy weeknight.  Enjoy!

Easy Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Easy Slow Cooker Jambalaya

Jambalaya is definitely one of my favorite foods-full of flavor, full of protein, and goes well with rice. I’ve always been a Zataran’s boxed jambalaya girl, but I was tired of adding bland smoked turkey sausage to a packet of seasoned rice (yes, it’s great in a pinch and the kids love it, but I wanted a more grown up jambalaya). I found what seemed like a great recipe from The Recipe Critic and made it my own. I love this recipe because it’s so customizable. Not a fan of spicy? No problem! Use smoked turkey sausage and less cayenne pepper. Don’t like shrimp? Don’t add it! Want chicken and no sausage? Just use chicken as the protein. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced (or any other link sausage)
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 lb shrimp, frozen (fresh or thawed may be used as well, but add much closer to the end of cooking time as shrimp can overcook very quickly)
  • rice, cooked per package instructions (optional for serving)

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients, except shrimp and rice and stir to combine all ingredients well.
  1. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Add frozen shrimp the last hour of cooking on low or last 30 minutes on high. Add shrimp the last 15 minutes if thawed.
  2. Serve over rice if desired.
Easy Orange Slice Garland DIY

Easy Orange Slice Garland DIY

I had to jump on the orange garland trend this year and I’m so glad I did! This DIY is so easy that you only need one ingredient: oranges. That’s it! The kids and I had so much fun making these and the house smelled amazing while the oranges were drying in the oven. Merry Christmas and enjoy your new orange scented decor!

Materials

  • 4-5 oranges
  • parchment paper (for easy cleanup and moisture absorption)
  • baking pans
  • string, twine, or wire to hang orange slice garland

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  1. Slice oranges very thin (the thinner and more even the better!) and place oranges in a single layer on the parchment paper.
  2. Bake approximately 2 hours. If some slices are thicker they may need more time and if some are thinner, they may need less time, so keep an eye on them while they’re baking.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to fully cool and dry.
  1. Add twine, fishing wire, or any other decorative item to string or hang your new garland.
Cast Iron Skillet Savory Southern Cornbread

Cast Iron Skillet Savory Southern Cornbread

Two words: bacon grease. Any southerner knows that these two words are the heart of any good recipe, right? Anyone ever had Southern Wilted Lettuce salad? Ok… you can stop drooling now. If you’ve never had Southern cornbread, you’ve been missing out! I’m here to show you the ways of bacon grease for this savory (and easy!) cornbread recipe. Aunt Jemima does all of the work here, but bacon grease lends a hand to provide flavor in a crumbly cornbread fit for black eyed peas or soup beans. So, after cooking bacon, save the grease in a glass jar and refrigerate until you’re ready for some savory cornbread. This cornbread recipe is also great to customize with soups like white chicken chili by adding chopped jalapeno to the recipe for some extra heat and flavor.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Add bacon grease to a 10-inch cast iron skillet and place in the oven to soften. Remove skillet often as bacon grease melts to evenly coat the skillet.
  2. Combine dry ingredients with egg and milk in a mixing bowl until well combined.
  3. Remove the cast iron skillet from the preheating oven and tilt the skillet until the grease evenly coats the skillet. Pour the liquified bacon grease into the mixing bowl with the rest of the combined ingredients and mix until well combined.
  4. When the oven is finished preheating, pour the cornbread batter into the greased and preheated cast iron skillet.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until edges turn golden brown.
  6. Allow cornbread to fully cool before removing from skillet.