Fiesta Chicken Mac & Cheese

Every now and then I like to pretend I’m Rachael Ray and invent my own recipes. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out so great. But sometimes the planets align and I come up with a total winner. Last night was one of those special, special times. Everyone cleaned their plates and nobody complained when I served the leftovers for lunch today. Write this one down and throw it in the recipe box…er…your Pinterest board!

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Fiesta Chicken Mac & Cheese

3 cups macaroni

2 chicken breasts, chopped

¼ cup Italian dressing

1 Tbsp Chili powder

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup corn

1 cup salsa

½ cup green pepper

4 oz cream cheese, cubed

1 cup (or more) cheddar, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13×9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Boil noodles according to package directions, drain. While pasta is cooking, in large pan, cook chicken in a little bit of oil. Add green pepper and dressing, cook 3 minutes more. Add chili powder, beans, corn, cream cheese, and salsa. Stir until cream cheese melts. Toss in macaroni*. Stir in half the cheddar and pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheddar on top and bake 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

*You can stop at this point and sprinkle with cheese, serving it as a skillet meal, if desired.

Serves 6

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Thanksgiving Traditions

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Photo by Brian Tuttle (www.brianrtuttle.com)

I truly appreciate Thanksgiving and all the warmth, happiness, and blessings that it brings. What better way to realize how amazing life is than by counting your blessings and feeling satisfaction with all that you have? But it wasn’t always that way. Growing up, Thanksgiving wasn’t my favorite. It was sandwiched between two of the greats: Halloween and Christmas, and I really didn’t like turkey (call me crazy). So I’m trying to make it a fun and memorable holiday for my children. One that they will look forward to, not just one that we have to pass through to get to Christmas. Here are some of my family’s traditions, and some that I’ve rounded up from the interwebs.

Thanksgiving Plates

I’m super proud of this one because it sprang from my very own brain. It’s so cheap and so very easy, but it’s probably the one tradition that I will cherish the most. Record the things your family is most grateful for on a dinner plate. The next year, use the plate at Thanksgiving dinner. After a few years, you’ll have a good set of special plates to eat your holiday meal off of, as well as a record of Thanksgivings past. Boom. For full instructions click here.

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Tree of Blessings

Simply make a tree trunk from paper, cut leaves from colored paper or trace the little hands in your family and use those as leaves. Each day during November, write down one of your many blessings on the leaf/hand and stick it to the tree. By Thanksgiving you will have a full and beautiful tree of blessings! There are lots of variations of this activity like this garland, and this jar.

 thankfultreephoto credit OurGoodwinJourney.com

Service Project

What better way to show you are grateful than by serving someone else? The possibilities are endless on this one: make cookies for a neighbor, rake someone’s leaves, deliver a meal to someone in need, donate warm clothes to a local coat drive, provide Thanksgiving dinner for a needy family (or give them cash to help them provide their own), volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Find some way to bless someone else’s life in any way, large or small.

Write Thank You Notes

Express your gratitude to those you love by writing down your thoughts and feelings and sharing it with them. It’ll make their day, and yours too! Help your children with this activity and teach them the importance of a genuinely saying “thank you” regularly.

Gratitude Rolls

I’ve never actually tried this one but I think it looks fun and a little quirky (which translates to fun). I found it here. Basically, you write down what you’re thankful for on a little strip of paper and bake it into a dinner roll. Read them around the Thanksgiving table. It’s kind of like a weird fortune cookie of gratitude. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

Festive Cookies

There are so many cute ideas for Thanksgiving cookies out there. Here are some of my favorites (thank you Pinterest!): Pilgrim hat cookies, acorn cookies , turkey cookies (and a few other snacks), pumpkin snickerdoodles. Yum!

Story of the First Thanksgiving

I know this story isn’t really all that historically correct, but it’s traditional and nice. Gather the kids around and tell them about the pilgrims and the Indians, or better yet, don your best costumes and act it out with them! Finish up with a feast of your own!

Thanksgiving Books

You guys know this is one of my favorites. There are so many sweet little stories about blessings and gratitude, Pilgrims and Indians, turkeys and family dinners out there! Go get them! The Library has tons to offer and your little kiddies will love the time you spend reading to them!

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Turkey Crafts/Decorations

My kids love to make things, whether it’s drawing and coloring, or popsicle stick crafts, or art from construction paper. And I love it because I get to display it and show them how proud of them I am. Win win. Here are some ideas to get them going if they aren’t already bringing home a million pieces of artwork from school. This candy corn turkey is easy. Here is a whole slew of ideas including wreaths, hand print turkeys, and trees. And this one is just a fun fall tree if you’re all turkied (that’s not a real word is it…) out. I’m not sure where this collections of printables fits but it just seems helpful.

I hope these traditions help to make your Thanksgiving special and memorable! And I would love to add some new ones to the list. What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Please leave a comment!

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Navajo Tacos

 

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We love Navajo Tacos because of how versatile they are. Put on whatever toppings you like. Fry them if you’re into that, or bake them if you’re not. Use ground beef or save some money and leave it out! Make them how you like them! Here’s how we do ours…

Navajo Tacos

Ingredients:

12 frozen rolls (I use Rhodes), thawed and risen

2 cans (15 oz each) chili

salsa

sour cream

guacamole or chopped avacado

olives

cheddar, grated

lettuce, shredded

green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Flatten each roll with your hands, working the dough into 4 or 5-inch circles (At this point you could fry the dough if you’d prefer). Place on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes. Top with remaining ingredients.

Serves 6

 

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Crock Pot Sunday Chicken

sundaychicken

This is one of my favorite chicken recipes ever because A: Yum! and B: It’s only four ingredients and the crock pot does all the work (hello, easy!!). You won’t want to save it just for Sunday. We should change the name to Any-Night-of-the-Week-You-Want Chicken. Yum. It’ll also make your house smell amazing. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Sunday Chicken

Ingredients:

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

1 cup sour cream

Directions:

Place chicken in greased crock pot. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients except for the sour cream. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. One hour before serving, stir in sour cream.

Serve over rice, or even egg noodles. Shred the chicken or don’t…it doesn’t matter. It’s going to please the people, no matter what!

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Meatless Meal Ideas

meatless-threelittlemommies.comAfter sharing my tips for saving money on groceries, I got lots of interest in one tip in particular: going meatless. Eating less meat has really saved us some dough. These are my family’s favorite meatless meals. Some of these meal ideas really don’t need an explanation, so I’ll link recipes to the ones that do. Serve these along side veggies and you won’t miss the meat! (These are not meant to be vegetarian meals as some contain chili with meat, or canned soups with meat. And you could easily add meat to any one of these recipes, if you’d like!)

Cheese Mannicotti

Navajo Tacos

Three Cheese Baked Ziti

Breakfast for Dinner- make sure you include eggs and fresh fruit.

Foil Dinners

Cheesy Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Veggie Pot Pie

Quesadillas- make them with black beans for protein, serve them with salsa and guacamole.

Ravioli Bake

Veggie Spaghetti- use chopped veggies like carrots, zuchinni, squash, mushrooms, and peppers in place of the ground beef.

Potato Bar- baked potato topped with canned chili, cheese, broccoli, and sour cream.

Cheesy Potato and Vegetable Soup

I hope these recipes give you some ideas of how to cut back on meat. I’m always on the look-out for meals like these, so if you have a favorite, please share! Please subscribe to Three Little Mommies and get more things like this right in your inbox!  You can also find us on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram!

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Cheesy Potato and Vegetable Soup

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A few years ago (cough cough, ten), at the bridal shower given to me by my family, I was given a gift that I have used more than any other wedding gift. Every guest was asked to bring a recipe to help get me started on my own recipe box. Seriously, this was such a perfect gift! Well, over the years these recipe cards have gotten worn from use, but none as much as this one! This recipe is from my cousin’s wife, and I’ve modified it to fit my family’s taste. I add and substitute ingredients depending on what I have on hand (in this photo I’ve added broccoli). This soup is the definition of comfort food. It’s amazing in a bread bowl, too. Try it.

Ingredients:

7 1/2 cups water

5 carrots, peeled and chopped

5 celery stalks, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

4 or 5 large potatoes, peeled and diced

5 chicken bouillon cubes

1/2 cup butter, cubed

2 cups  extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (please grate your own cheese. If you try to use bagged shredded cheese this whole soup will fail. Bad.)

1 cup flour

Fill a large soup pot with 7 1/2 cups of water. Add vegetables and bouillon cubes. Cook until tender. Add butter and cheese, stirring constantly until both are melted and soup is smooth. To thicken, in separate bowl, mix flour with enough water to make it smooth. Gradually add it to the soup and stir until soup is smooth.

**Makes A LOT!

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