Chicken Pot Pie Soup and New Job!

Good morning!

So exciting news on the horizon – I have a full time salary job again!  Well, it was a little sooner than I expected… but I have been taking classes to be certified in Gifted Education.  And a full time Gifted Education teaching position opened up in the adjoining school district.  So I took it!  It will be so exciting to be working with students every day and I am so overjoyed to be working with this special population.

Books: I finished “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen this week.  It is a Newberry winner and quick read if you want to beef up your Young Adult Fiction list.  The reviews on Good Reads range from “I hate this book!” to “A must read for young readers.”  Hmmm.  I’m in the middle of the camp.  I did not hate the book.  I think perhaps there weren’t a whole lot of Newberry nominees that year?  There is obvious symbolism and a great character study.    My theory why people don’t like it is that all of the action and excitement happen in the first few pages of the book and then it moves slowly when Brian is trying to survive in the wild.


On with the show and recipe….  one of my favorite meals is chicken pot pie.  If mom asks what to make on my birthday it’s chicken pot pie.  But this is a soup version – and just as quick, easy and tasty!

Why is this recipe great?

-It is filling.
-You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.
-You can use chicken leftovers from another meal.
-It is inexpensive to make.
-Without a crust, it is much healthier.  But still tastes like pot pie!
-Freezer friendly!
-Great on a cold winter day with some crusty bread or beer bread

Chicken Pot Pie Soup and New Job!
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 4 cups milk (1%, skim or 2% work fine)
  • 2 teaspoons better than bullion or chicken bullion (or use 2 cups chicken stock instead of water)
  • ¼ tsp. ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • 10 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (or chopped carrots, frozen corn, peas and green beans)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour, AP flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cooked and cut into ½"
  • kosher or regular salt
  1. In a Dutch oven or large pot, add olive oil, celery and onion. Saute over medium to medium high for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add 1 and ½ cups water (or chicken broth) and milk. Bring this to a boil. Add bullion, pepper, thyme and frozen vegetables. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover and simmer cook about 15-20 minutes or vegetables are cooked.
  3. In a measuring cup, mix the remaining ½ cup water (or chicken broth) with flour. Whisk together.
  4. Add flour mixture with the chicken into the pot. Heat through. Salt to taste.
  5. Serve while hot. Crusty bread or beer bread is great with this as well.
Recipe adapted from Skinnytaste


White Chicken Chili | Instant Pot

Hey Everyone!  I’m still alive 🙂  Just took a long pause to continue my photography and teach 4th grade full-time for a few months.  Next month I will be a full-time student at the University of Missouri and possibly part or full-time teacher as well… we’ll see how this goes.  🙂

But hey, we are here for the recipes, not my opinion on the last presidential election that we missed on the blog.  Whew!  Maybe that’s a good thing we missed it….

Book Review: 

Rosalind Wiseman has written a comprehensive guide to helping girls through the teenage years and even the tweens. This is a must read for any parent that has a daughter! The author delivers in a conversational tone a plethora of advice from years of clinical experience. Quotations from teenage girls are scattered throughout the book giving firsthand knowledge of the world of “queen bees.”

The first section is about friendships, groups of friends and the roles friends play. Next, parents and parenting styles are discussed. Then, anger management and what to do about parties. Online communication and boys are included in the chapters as well. The book is lengthy… which is a blessing and a curse. “Queen Bees and Wannabes” has so many scenarios that it will probably have what you are dealing with or what you will be dealing with in years to come. All 412 pages will not apply to everyone. But I can guarantee that some of this book will apply to all parents and help them – and their daughters – through whatever physical or emotional hurdles they may have to face and guide them through facing it together.

I received a sample of this book to read from Blogging for books so i can give my honest and unbiased opinion/review.


My Instant Pot is still my new favorite toy!   Check out this blog post with more things to do with the Instant Pot like:  make yogurt from just milk, make a 10 hour roast in 1 hour, cook chicken without drying it out, make chili in 10 minutes, hard-boiled eggs where the shell comes off in one piece, make perfectly cooked brown or white rice.

Now to the chili… we have tons of deer meat and been eating chili like crazy the past few months.  To shake things up a bit, I made white chicken chili.  I have tried several ways and finally came across some ingredients that help a lot:  Trader Joe’s fire roasted diced green chiles.  YUM!  Try to find them if you can.  If not, that’s okay and find the Mexican food aisle in your store and they will have canned green chilies.

*If you want to use dried beans – that works too!  1/2 cup dried beans = 1 can of beans.  So, I used my Instant Pot the previous day to pressure cook the soaked beans.  They were done in 12 minutes on high pressure using natural release.

White Chicken Chili (and Instant Pot Option)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 and ½ cups diced chicken breasts or tenderloin (with tendon removed)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tb. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • 4 cups chicken broth (reduced sodium preferred)
  • 2 cans (3 cups) Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 ounces canned green chiles, diced
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  1. For regular pot: Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink - about 8 minutes. Add garlic with the spices and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Once the garlic and spices are fragrant, add the broth, beans, chiles and tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste
  3. For Instant Pot: Turn on the Instant Pot to "Saute" on Normal/Medium. Add oil and once hot add the chicken and onion. Cook until no longer pink - about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook those another 30 seconds. Turn Instant Pot off.
  4. Add the rest of the ingredients. Turn the Instant Pot back on to Manual mode and set for 10 minutes. Or press "Chili" and reduce the cooking time to 10 minutes. Make sure the vent is sealed of course!
  5. Release the pressure and your chili is finished! If you want it thicker, put the Instant Pot on saute with the lid off to reduce the chili.



Chicken Melts

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat

Good morning everyone!  It has been for- EV- UH!  I wish I could post more 🙁

I have been working 50-60 hours per week between substitute teaching and photography while the hubby looks for a new job.  The cleaning and cooking still need done… so the blog was put on the back burner.  Currently, I will be working toward applying for a full-time job when the new school year 2017-2018 opens up.

I am still reading Ron Chernow’s Washington and it is STILL one of the best biographies.  Which probably explains that little Pulitzer Prize that it won.  The most recent tidbit I did not know is that Washington really wanted to go back to Mount Vernon and be home after the Revolutionary War.  He was happy to help with the Constitutional Convention and get the new government on its feet.  From his personal letters, it can be deduced that he only really expected to be president a couple of years.  He was there to get the ball rolling so to speak.  If Washington had known he was going to remain president for 8 years, he may never have volunteered in the first place.

chicken melts recipe, homemade, copycat


This recipe has a short story!  So, about 6 months ago the kids and I discovered these delicious Chicken Melts at Costco.  “Really….Really Tasty Sandwiches” is their motto and they are right!  For the price and time, they are really good and really tasty.  There are 15 chicken melts in one box and all 4 of us really like them.  Plus, they are so tasty and low in calories that we want to eat one or two!!  A box of 15 of them goes super fast!

So – I decided to try and make a copycat recipe.  It would taste almost exactly the same, but perhaps have more chicken so that it felt more like a meal than a snack.

The kids gave them 4 thumbs up!!

Woo hoo!  Eureka!

What do we do with this recipe??

  1.  You can freeze them like the Sandwich Bros. do!  Just seal in plastic and reheat in the microwave (out of the plastic bag of course!).  Start at 60 seconds per sandwich and wrap in a paper towel first with the cheese side UP.  Or you will have a cheesy microwave!
  2. Eat them for lunch!  The kids are in school and cannot heat up their own meal.  So, I send the sandwich cold to school and they still love it.  More like a deli type feel.
  3. Eat them for dinner!  Yum!
  4. Have the fixin’s stashed in the fridge for any time.  I make a large batch and then keep the chicken with cheese in a large container in the fridge.  If someone wants to make a chicken melt, they just have to add the cooked chicken to the pita pocket.
  5. Easy and cheap and tasty!  My favorite triad 🙂

Here is a photo of the whole wheat pita pockets that I purchased for making the chicken melts.  You can purchase pita pockets almost everywhere now!  Since Trader Joe’s avoids preservatives and such, I try there first.  **IMPORTANT** When opening up their pita pockets, heat them first a little.  I store my bread in the fridge and the pockets would tear when I opened them up.  BUT, they won’t tear if you heat them up for like 15 seconds in the microwave!


This recipe is a new staple in our household and I hope you enjoy it!

Chicken Melts
Serves: 16 sandwiches
  • 1-2 Tb. olive oil
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
  • (about) 1 tsp. garlic powder (add to taste, we like it and I cover the flour with a layer of garlic powder)
  • (about) 1 Tb. paprika (I used smoked paprika and increase or decrease based on how fresh it is)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices of American Cheese
  • 8 round pita pockets
  1. To start, I heat up my large 12" cast iron skillet on medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil. I add more if it doesn't cover the bottom of the skillet.
  2. While that heats up, slice the chicken in half LENGTHwise. You now have 8 chicken breasts. Now, cut those to fit you pita pocket. I cut mine in half again the other way to fit into the pita pocket. Now, I have 16 pieces of chicken.
  3. In a shallow bowl or baking dish, mix the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken through the flour mixture on both sides until coated. Repeat on all the chicken.
  4. Add chicken to the skillet one layer at a time. Mine holds 4-5 pieces of chicken. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Flip. Cook another 3 minutes and make sure the chicken is cooking nicely. About 2 minutes before it is done, add the cheese. Melt the cheese for 2-3 minutes and remove the chicken from the skillet onto a wire cooling rack over paper towels. This will keep the chicken crispy on the bottom and the top.
  5. Repeat by adding a little more oil to the skillet if necessary and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  6. Heat up the pita pockets for about 15 seconds in the microwave. This will allow them to open easier.
  7. Slice the pita pocket circle in half to get two half circles. Fill the pita pocket with the cooked chicken and eat while hot!
  8. Or assemble and freeze in the freezer. To reheat from frozen, wrap in a paper towel and place in the microwave with the cheese side on top. Heat for 60 seconds and check to see if it is done. If not, add a few more seconds until heated thoroughly.
  9. Or keep separated in the fridge and assemble any time you are hungry.



Oh Yeah – Fried Chicken … Don’t Be Scared

fried chicken breast recipe with olive oil

In five years with this blog, I don’t think I have EVER fried anything.  But these chicken breast on sale were just screaming to be fried.  I’m not sure how dead chicken breast can scream, but they can.  So without further ado – here is one pansy who never EVER fries anything.  And lived to tell the tale.  So you can too.

This is better than KFC guys!!  And cheaper. And healthier. Faster?  Well by the time you get into your car, drive over to KFC, pay your bill and drive home you could have some nice juicy chicken at home.

Have a lot of chicken and can’t eat it all?  Well I will eat it!  Oh well… or you could freeze it.  Then just reheat in an oven for a quick and easy meal.  You don’t want to microwave it unless you want soggy fried chicken and… what’s the point of that?  Or cold.  I love it cold too.

fried chicken recipe with olive oil

Here are just some quick tips for non-greasy and yummy chicken:

  1.  Use a Dutch oven.  You can use a 12″ cast iron skillet.  It just splatters more.  I had almost no splatter with my Dutch oven.
  2.  Olive oil is healthy-er and that is what I used.  You could use any oil you like.  Traditional fried chicken in the south is fried in Crisco.  But I had olive oil and did just fine.
  3. For non-greasy chicken, pull it when it is done.  Don’t let it sit in the oil past that.
  4. How you put the cooked chicken down is important!  I put a cookie sheet covered in paper towels on my counter.  Cover that with a wire rack.  Put the cooked chicken on the wire rack.  This way the bottom won’t get soggy.  This is what you see at KFC as well -a wire rack to hold the chicken.
  5. I didn’t marinade my chicken.  Nope.  No buttermilk no nothing.  Because well … I’m lazy and forgot!  I’m sure it is tasty and we could do a taste test on marinaded and non-marinaded.
  6. Yup just 5 tips

fried chicken recipe with olive oil

Oh Yeah - Fried Chicken ... Don't Be Scared
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 cup whole wheat or AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (omit if you don't like spicy!!)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup olive oil (extra virgin if you have it)
  • about 3 pounds chicken breast (4 large chicken breast)
  1. Mix together in a shallow bowl: flour, salt, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne. Add some black pepper if that floats your boat.
  2. In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs.
  3. Put a large Dutch oven on the stove or 12" cast iron skillet and fill ½" high with olive oil. Heat on medium heat.
  4. If your chicken breasts are thick - like 1" or more at the large end, take a knife and slice them in half horizontal to create two thinner chicken breast. You want them about ½" thick.
  5. Now have your assembly line going: first chicken, then flour, then egg mixture, then plate.
  6. Dredge chicken in the flour, then egg, then back in the flour mixture again. Set on the plate. Repeat until all the chicken are ready to go.
  7. Using tongs, add the chicken breast into the oil one layer at a time. Mine could hold 2-3 pieces at once. Cook 5 minutes. Flip. Cook another 5 minutes.
  8. Set the chicken down on a wire rack over a cookie sheet and/or paper towels. Repeat with all the chicken. If you are worried about them getting too cold, then place into an oven at 170 degrees to keep warm.
  9. Serve warm with your favorite fixings. Mine are mashed potatoes, coleslaw and green beans.
If the chicken is not cooked through the middle, place in an oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or so.


Super Fast (NO Forks!) Shredded Chicken | Instant Pot

Shredded Chicken 2 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Good morning!  This weekend we attended the 2016 St. Louis Air Show.  It was quite a show!!!  Wow!  All the planes, helicopters and jets you could want.  Here are some of my favorite photographs I took at the show.   I shot these with a Nikon D7100 55-200mm lens.  Why use that camera?  It isn’t full frame.  This cropped sensor camera makes my 200mm lens now 300mm lens.  Woo hoo!  It’s just the regular old lens that comes with the camera.  Nothing special about it.


Air Show 2 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 3 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 4 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 5 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 6 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 7 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show 8 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri


Air Show Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri



Shredded Chicken 4 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Great for all those upcoming Graduation Parties!!!  This is the BESTEST, FASTEST, EASIEST way to ever make shredded chicken.  I don’t know about you, but boneless skinless chicken breast does not fall apart in the crockpot.  No matter how long you slow cook it.  That stuff is so lean that it takes me half an hour to shred and even still – the shreds are big and chunky and uneven.  But no more!

Shredded Chicken Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Today we make any kind of shredded chicken we want!  I used this chicken for:

Freezer Meals…


Taco Filling….

add per pound of chicken:  1.5 Tb. chili powder, 3/4 tsp. coriander, 3/4 tsp. cumin, 3/4 tsp. oregano, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chicken broth, after cooking: 2 tsp. cider vinegar and 1 tsp. brown sugar with salt and pepper to taste



BBQ Chicken Sandwiches…

add 1/2 cup chicken broth and BBQ sauce to taste

BBQ Pulled Chicken-2253 on Whisk Together

Chicken salad….

Whatever you like!

The recipe is based on the sale packages of chicken at our store.  The sales are usually packaged in 4 pound packages, so that is what I make and then freeze.

Shredded Chicken 3 Mary Riley Photography Wentzville Missouri

Super Fast (NO Forks!) Shredded Chicken
Serves: 16 servings
  • 4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ½ cup water
  • 1-2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. For pressure cooker: add ingredients. Turn on for 15 minutes on high pressure.
  2. For slow cooker: add ingredients. Turn on LOW for 3 hours.
  3. For oven: add ingredients to casserole dishes in one layer. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees 40 minutes or until clear.
  4. Now the magic: add half the chicken to a mixing bowl. Turn on your mixer to low. Mix until shredded - about 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat as necessary. Add some of the broth made in the pan back to the chicken for freezing, tacos or BBQ filling.
  5. For taco meat and BBQ meat, I removed the chicken stock from the pot. I added about ½ cup of stock back into the pot. I added my taco or bbq seasonings and cooked on saute for about 10 minutes.


Simple Chicken Enchiladas and Pressure Cookers | Instant Pot

Chicken Enchiladas-6119 copy

My friend and old neighbor Hilary posted on her Facebook page about a new Instant Pot appliance.  It could cook beans in 12 minutes!  Chicken soup – from frozen chicken – in 30 minutes!  So, yes I had to buy one.  The slow cooker is great and all.  But you know.  It’s slow.  We like fast 🙂  Ha ha.  Well, more like we want options.  I like the options and freedom to make an entire pot roast in 35 minutes.


So how does this pot work in the real world with kids and errands, food and budgets?

  1. My #1 reason and I think the machine will pay for itself:  dried beans.  Dried beans are super cheap.  Plus they have no added salt.  For years, I tried different methods to cook dried beans.  They never turned out right.  They never tasted as good as the canned beans.  Why?  Because canned beans are pressured cooked at the factory.  Resistance is futile.  I have been assimilated.  Chicken and beans cooked in 25 minutes.  Just plain black beans cooked in 12.
  2.  You can make your own yogurt!  I have not personally done it myself.  I cannot go through a gallon or even half gallon that fast.  But it has a yogurt setting and does everything automatically.  I did research it and the pot hibernates the yogurt for 8 hours – people suggest 9 hours for thicker yogurt.  Just push the + button and you’re all set.
  3. Why do I like this better than a stove top model?  The warm function.  The pot automatically stops and switches to “warm” to keep your food hot and avoid overcooking.  If you have a stove top pressure cooker, then you must turn it off yourself.  Or some people use two burners – one to heat the pot to pressure and move it to another to keep the pressure going on a lower setting.
  4. Why would you buy a stove top model instead?  If I had 5 or 6 kids, I would need the stove top model.  This instant pot holds 6 quarts.  But it is a pressure cooker.  And just like a slow cooker as well, you cannot fill it to the top.  So, larger families may want a 8 qt. stove top pressure cooker instead.
  5. You can make rice!  No more rice cooker or sticky rice or undercooked/overcooked rice.  Cooks rice perfectly.  Automatically.
  6. Healthier food:  Pressure cooking cooks food faster. The faster it cooks, the more nutritional value it can retain.  Also, the less water you need the less vitamins and minerals will go into the water and out of the food.
  7. You can make porridge! From my research, the porridge function is very popular outside the USA.  But hey, you have the option.
  8. You can steam vegetables.  Well, I usually make mine in the microwave.  But if you like your vegetables steamed, this device will do it for you automatically.
  9. The one thing I have always liked about the expensive Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker is that you can brown your meat in the same device.  The Instant Pot lets you brown your meat as well on the Saute Setting.
  10. After the cooking is finished, you can press the saute button to thicken your sauce or gravy or soup by letting it boil just like if you were using the stove.

Here is a link to the manual if you are still curious.  Instant Pot Manual.


Instant Pot

Now, once you have a pot.   How do you cook with it?  I found a lot of books on Amazon.  The #1 book had a lot of reviews complaining that the author uses a lot of pre-made mixes, cream of somethings, etc.  So I skipped that one and found “The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Pressure Cooker Book

A ton of recipes including the one on this blog post.  My one comment would be that the cooking times seem long.  The corned beef was finished cooking in 35 minutes.  The book recommended 80 minutes.  My corned beef was a little smaller than the recipe, but still.  I like their recipes and kitchen testing notes on every recipe.  The only thing I do differently is make sure that the cooking time is closer to what the Instant Pot recommends instead of the book.

*Note any and all links are not affiliated.  I live in Missouri and cannot have them.  So enjoy no strings attached 🙂

Chicken Enchiladas-6116 copy


Pressure Cooked Chicken Enchiladas
  • 1 tsp. dark brown sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 - (6-8 oz.) chicken breasts
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 1 cup (8 oz. can) tomato sauce
  • ½ cup light colored beer or chicken broth
  • 2 Tb. chili powder
  • 2 Tb. fresh lime juice
  • tortillas, tortilla chips, salsa, cheddar cheese (optional add ins)
  1. In a small bowl, mix the spices together (from brown sugar to garlic powder). Sprinkle onto the chicken and pat down.
  2. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker on the saute setting. Brown the chicken on all sides for about 5 minutes.
  3. Now add the tomato sauce, beer/broth and chili powder. Cook for 14 minutes on high pressure.
  4. Once finished, use the valve to quickly release the steam.
  5. Stir in the lime juice and shred the chicken apart. Or eat the chicken as is with the sauce. Or add the chicken to some tortillas with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or so in the oven.
  6. To make this in the slow cooker: Add all ingredients except the lime juice. Cook on high 3-4 hours. Shred and eat.
  7. To make this in the oven: Add the spiced chicken to a 9x13 pan. Mix the sauce and pour on top. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Recipe adapted from The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book


White Chicken Chili & Book Review

White Chicken Chili on Whisk Together-5475


This Fall I received a super awesome book that you may want to add to your cookbook collection:  The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh.

Chili Book on Whisk Together-5514


If you want to learn about making chili, this is THE book for you.  Mr. Walsh has included every single chili recipe category in the book along with a narrative of where chili originated.  The stories behind how chili has evolved and the Chili Queens are fun to read.  Chili Queens were businesswomen back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s who made and served chili.

Being from St. Louis, I do not have a lot of experience with chilis.  This book goes through each one step by step.  The grocery stores near me – even Walmart – are including dried chili sections that are included in the book.  For example, a homemade chili powder recipe is included using 2 ounces of dried ancho chiles, cumin, oregano and garlic powder.

Every single chili recipe category you can imagine is in this book from lobster chili to goulash, from Cincinnati chili to four-alarm chili, from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Championship Chili to short rib chili, from chili queen chili to chipotle chili, from tofu chili to pork vindaloo.  The St. Louis Slinger recipe is also included!  So for those of us natives who want a copycat recipe or never had one – the South King’s Highway Diner recipe is included in here.  There is a photograph with most of the recipes, so the cook will know what the result should look like.  Side item recipes are also included like fresh corn tortillas, cornbread and chili con queso.

Want to throw a chili party?  The author included a few steps to throw one of those which sounds awfully delicious right now since it is 49 degrees outside.

*I received a complimentary copy of The Chili Cookbook from Blogging For Books for my honest review*

White Chicken Chili on Whisk Together-5472


The #1 thing I learned from The Chili Cookbook is never add your canned beans in the beginning.  Many recipe call for the dump and walk away method – adding cans of beans to the slow cooker or large pot of chili.  But…. they are already cooked.  And cooking already cooked items usually doesn’t end well.

Therefore, even if you do not use this recipe – think about when you add your canned goods and if you are cooking something already cooked.  When do you add them?  About 10 minutes prior to serving the food.  This way the beans stay plump and not mushy.

White Chicken Chili on Whisk Together-5468


White Chicken Chili
  • 1 Tb. olive oil or butter
  • 1 - 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, ½-1" pieces (or more if want meatier chili)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies
  • 1-2 jalapeno chili, chopped (optional; I did not use because of the kids)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground paprika (I like smoked)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (or omit if need mild)
  • 30 ounces (2 - 14.5 oz cans or about 4 cups) chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
  • 2 - 15 oz. cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (cannellini beans, Great Northern, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz. Neufchatel cheese (cream cheese) or substitute plain Greek Yogurt (optional, but tasty)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn (optional)
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Toppings: cilantro, Monterey or Pepper Jack cheese, tortilla chips, chopped scallions
  1. On the stovetop, heat the olive oil or butter over medium heat in a Dutch Oven. Once melted, add chicken and onion to the pot. Continue to saute until cooked through. Remove the chicken mixture and set aside.
  2. Add garlic, chilies and spices. Cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chicken broth and beans. Increase the heat to medium high and bring chili to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  5. Add the neufchatel cheese in sections and allow to melt. If using Greek yogurt, temper it first by adding a little bit of the hot liquid to the yogurt. Mix and then add to the chili.
  6. Using an immersion blender or blender, take half or all of the chili in the pot and blend until creamy. This step is optional and simply makes the chili smoother and more creamy.
  7. Once you have processed the chili, add the chicken and onion back to the pot. Heat through about 15 minutes.
  8. Squeeze lime juice on top. Sprinkle with salt and white pepper (or black pepper).
  9. Serve with chips, cilantro, cheese and/or scallions.
Recipe adapted from The Chili Cookbook and Cooking Classy


Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4521 on Whisk Together Label

I made these on homemade baguettes.  That recipe will be next!  Why homemade baguettes?  Because I’m too lazy to run to the store when I can dump the ingredients into my bread machine.

Quick Baguette-4528 on Whisk Together

These sandwiches are awesome and you DON’T need to make your own baguettes!  You DO need to make these sandwiches.  Please, pretty please.  They are delicious, and easy and great for leftovers.  Add the chicken to soup, or a tortilla or keep making sandwiches!  Freeze the contents and always have sandwich fixin’s on hand.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak-4522 on Whisk Together
(I forgot to add the cheese before taking the photo!)

This recipe will easily feed a crowd as well – just increase the cooking time and add more of everything.  Slow cookers are great to serve from since they keep things hot.  Serve with fries, slaw, chips, veggie sticks, salad or with a soup.

Slow Cooker Chicken Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
  • 1 tsp. paprika (regular or smoked, I like smoked)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. coriander
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy)
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 bell peppers (any color), sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow or white onion, sliced into strips
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs
  • ½ cup water or chicken broth
  • sliced provolone
  • baguettes or hoagie buns
  1. In a small bowl, combine the spices.
  2. Add the peppers and onion to the slow cooker. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture on top.
  3. Add the chicken onto the peppers and onion. Sprinkle the rest of the spices on top.
  4. Pour the water or broth into the slow cooker on the side so that the spices don't come off the chicken.
  5. Cook chicken breasts for 3-4 hours on low. Cook chicken thighs for 4-5 hours on low.
  6. Towards the end of cooking time, slice the buns or baguette in half lengthwise. Shred the chicken in the slow cooker with some tongs and place on top of the bun. Add cheese. Top with a bun, or broil it with the cheese and then place the top on.
Recipe slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe




Healthier Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan-3599 on Whisk Together

Book:  I started reading “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarity.  Someone had posted it on my Facebook feed.  It is fiction, and it is hilarious!  The book is PERFECT for this time of year, too!  The moms are all at the school for the first day of kindergarten.  I’m not a huge fiction fan, but this is really funny.  Great beach book and great reviews on GoodReads.

In other news, here are the cookies I made for our Vacation Bible School party.  The theme was related to Mount Everest, so I made 48 of these mountain cookies!

Mountain Cookies on Whisk Together

Recipe: We love a lot of Italian style dishes and this is one that we made to be a little healthier.  Olive Garden’s Chicken Parmesan has 1,050 calories, 52 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat and 3000 mg of sodium!

This version well… doesn’t have all that.  🙂  This version has 251 calories, 9.5 grams of fat, and 31.5 grams of protein.

Feel free to make your own breadcrumbs from leftover bread.  I toast my bread in the oven, remove the crusts and throw it into the food processor.  Instant breadcrumbs!  Or purchase them.  Whole Wheat, panko or seasoned breadcrumbs will work.  If you use your own homemade breadcrumbs or panko crumbs, then be sure to add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning to the crumbs.

Chicken Parmesan-3596 on Whisk Together


Freezer Friendly?  You bet!  Simply dip the chicken in the breading and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet or in a foil 9×13 pan.  Once frozen – about 1 hour later – put into a plastic freezer bag or cover with foil and plastic wrap.  When you want dinner, pop into the oven from frozen or thawed out!

Healthier Chicken Parmesan
Serves: 8 servings
  • 4 chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise for 8 breasts
  • ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or as noted make your own and add 1 tsp. Italian seasoning)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • ¾ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup marinara or homemade sauce
  • fresh basil, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prep a rimmed cookie sheet or large bar pan with baking spray or parchment paper.
  3. In a shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together.
  4. Brush olive oil on both sides of chicken breast and dip into breadcrumbs.
  5. Bake 20 minutes.
  6. Flip chicken over and bake another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Add 1 T of sauce (or more) and 1.5 T of mozzarella cheese to each chicken.
  8. Put back into the oven until cheese has melted - about 5 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with basil and serve over spaghetti, spaghetti squash, brown rice pasta or zoodles.
When dipping raw chicken or anything raw, I find it easiest to make sure to use my left hand (non-dominant) to handle the raw meat. This way my dominant hand (right hand) can go about sprinkling salt, turning on the oven, etc. Usually dipping or trimming meat requires dexterity in the dominant hand and I leave the other hand to handle the messy stuff.

Recipe from Skinnytaste


Copyright © 2011 - 2018 Mary Ellen Riley All Rights Reserved. WP Plugins