CHICKEN ENCHILADA CHOWDER

I love crock pot soups and they are great meals for fall and winter. I have a lot of these types of recipes that are my staples, because they are so easy to throw together and they taste delicious. Most taste even better the next day, so I  usually put the leftovers in several small tupperware containers and take them to work for lunch.

When my mom told me about this crock pot soup recipe, I knew I needed to try it. It was super easy to make and the family really liked it. It tastes just like chicken enchiladas! I will definitely add this one to my crock pot soup rotation. If you use the Mexican tomato sauce and the pepper jack cheese, it’s a bit spicy, so if you want to tone it down a little, you can use mild enchilada sauce and/or plain jack cheese instead.

Chicken Enchilada Chowder

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
I small onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
2 small cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce or 1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
4 chicken breasts (can still be frozen)

In a crock pot, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Top with chicken breasts. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce or Mexican tomato sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.

Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Remove chicken from crock pot and shred. Add chicken back into soup. Stir in shredded cheeses until melted just before serving. Serve with crushed tortilla chips and avocado or sour cream, if desired.

Source: Adapted from Taste and Tell

SLOPPY JOE, SLOPPY, SLOPPY JOE!

I wonder how much money we could all save if we made a lot of those things that we buy in a packet, jar or can from scratch? I’ve tried lately to make a few of those things that I buy pre-made from scratch. Sometimes it’s cheaper and sometimes it’s not, but it’s amazing how much better things taste when they are made at home. It doesn’t take that much more work; measure, mix and done. It might take a couple more minutes than tearing open a bag or opening a can, but the final outcome is worth it. These sloppy joes are a great example of a little extra time for a huge payout. These are fantastic! I don’t know if I’ll ever use the canned stuff again.

Again, for those of you who like to cook once a month, or make double batches so you can put one in the freezer for another time, this is a great freezer meal. Put it in a large freezer bag and freeze, and when you’re ready to serve, thaw and reheat. Also, a great tip is to buy hamburger meat on sale in large quantities and then come home and brown it all. Separate it into approximately one pound portions and freeze each in a freezer bag or tupperware container. You can either put the meat in the fridge the night before to thaw, or thaw it enough in the microwave to where you can break it up and then finish thawing and reheating it on the stove. Having the already cooked meat in your freezer saves so much time. If you meal plan, you’ll know to thaw it beforehand and then half the job will already be done when you get ready to cook dinner.

To make these sloppy joes in the crock pot, either brown your meat or use your already thawed pre-cooked meat and add the other ingredients together with it in a crock pot. Cook it on low for at least four hours or all day. I think cooking it slow in the crock pot will allow the flavors to blend even more, and might even make for a tastier sloppy joe!

Sloppy Joes

2 ½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained

½ large onion, diced

1 or 2 bell peppers (any color), diced

5 cloves minced garlic

1 ½ cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 T. brown sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. dry mustard

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

1 T. worcestershire sauce

2 T. tomato paste

salt and pepper, to taste

Brown and drain ground beef. Add onions, green pepper, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes, or until vegetables begin to get soft. Stir together ketchup, brown sugar, chili pepper, dry mustard, tomato paste and worcestershire until smooth. Add this along with the water to ground meat and stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve on warmed or toasted hamburger buns.

Source: Adapted from The Pioneer Woman