You know what’s better than a taco party? Nothing – because nothing in this entire world could be better than a taco party. Except, well maybe, a DIY Salsa Chicken Taco Bar.
Okay I promise I won’t say taco bar anymore. But in all reality, this is the ultimate summer party idea for literally any occasion – from new neighbor welcomes, 4th of July get togethers, best friends birthdays or a warm Friday night where all you have to worry about is just how many toppings is too many for your one (or 10) tacos.
Luckily, I knew the perfect party couldn’t happen without the help of the ultimate appliance – Braun’s Multiquick 7 hand blender and chopper. Now, we all know I’m a huge fan of Braun’s ultimate blender and knew the Multiquick 7 hand blender would be just as amazing. This item comes just in time for any summertime party or meal prep you have in mind, whether it’s chopping onions for this taco bar or preparing the fruit you need for the ultimate margarita.
News flash – IT IS. As much as I love my countertop food processor, this thing is even easier to use. You simply dump your ingredients and huzzah – you have perfectly chopped onions, cilantro, jalapeños and more for your fabulous taco party.
I’m not even embarrassed by how many taco nights E and I have every week. One of the first meals we ate together in college was tacos, adn without a doubt, when I get home from any trip, there are leftover taco fixings in the fridge and taco shells on the counter. Plus, to me, tacos just scream summer. Paried with a homemade margarita, crispy chips and homemade queso and you’ve got dinner, appetizers and cocktails taken care of.
Have you ever hosted a party where you had all three courses done in the span of just an hour? Plus, this taco bar really brings people together. It’s all hands on- there’s no need for fancy utensils, napkins or serving spoons. Just stack your taco as high as you want with as many toppings a pssobile, pour a few margaritas and just enjoy a party without the stress.
Isn’t that exactly what summer is all about? Meeting up with people you love, sharing a meal with your hands and not worrying about the clean up? Now that we’ve moved to the South, that’s exactly what summer means to me. Our parties are low-key, but beautiful, and we almost always eat withour hands outside, standing in the kitchen or on a homemade picnic blanket. These longer days, warmer nights and cicanda nightime symphonie aren’t going to last forever. The only thing that will are the memories you make throwing parties or dinner nights with easy to make dishes like this DIY Salsa Chicken Taco Bar.
So, put away the fancy cookbooks, put down the phone speed dialed to Papa Johns and enjoy some tacos outside. Don’t let another summer night slip away without enjoying every second of it.
DIY Salsa Chicken Taco Bar
Serves about 8 – 10.
Prep time: About 15 – 20 minutes
Cook time: 7 1/2 hours (for the chicken)
Total time: About 30 minutes + slow cook time
For the salsa chicken:
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 1/2 cups salsa
- 1/2 cup diced petite tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning
- Chopped cilantro
For the toppings:
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Mexican seasoning
- 1/2 cup queso
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup spicy red pepper sauce
- 3 avocados, seeded and sliced
- Chopped tortilla chips
- 10 – 12 flour tortillas
- Key limes
- Mix the salsa and the diced tomatoes together. Place 1 cup of salsa in the basin of a crock pot. Layer the chicken breasts over the salsa. Top with remaining salsa, chopped cilantro Mexican seasoning and salt and pepper. Set the crock pot to low and cook about 7 hours.
- After about 6 1/2 hours, shred the chicken with two forks. Cook another 30 minutes and remove from the crock pot.
- To assemble a taco bar, spread the toppings into separate bowls. Place the toppings, meat, tortillas and margaritas on a large tray and let the party begin!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Braun. The opinions and text are all mine.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SimplyAvocado #CollectiveBias These Mexican spiced mushroom caps are the ultimate football snack or easy weeknight dinner!
Tis the season for eating your body weight in cookies, butter and all things candy. My mom and her best friend are spending the entire weekend making cookies, and I’m actually a little worried about the amount of butter and sugar I’m going to consume in the span of 48 hours. Which is why I’m cutting the sugar and fat with things like these WHOLLY® SIMPLY AVOCADO™ Mexican spiced mushroom caps.
I mean, sure, there’s a hearty amount of cheese sitting atop these, but in my mind, it’s still healthier than spoon-feeding myself softened butter mixed with brown sugar. The problem with holidays for me is that I get so feverish trying to get all the cookies, sweets and breads baked (for holiday gifts and this little blog), that I completely forget to make actual dinner. By 4pm, I’m covered in flour and chocolate and haven’t eaten a vegetable or lean protein the entire day. As a healthy food blogger (and slightly functioning adult), that’s probably not the best plan of attack.
That’s why I love these cheesy, spiced and oh-so-delicious stuffed mushroom caps. For one, they take less than 40 minutes to make, start to finish. Two, they’re filled with good for you ingredients, like brown rice, fresh vegetables and this SIMPLY AVOCADO™ dip. Honestly, I love avocados but sometimes I love not having to pit, scoop and squash. Somedays (like this holiday season), I just want the dip to already been in dip form so I can stick my face, er spoon, directly into it. The easiest part? You can buy these at Walmart (while you holiday shop) and can sample both flavors – sea salt and garlic herb. I couldn’t be trusted with the sea salt, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
As much as I love to just snack on it, I have to say the addition of this avocado dip makes these mushrooms. It adds such a creamy taste and adds a good dose of healthy fat. Which is good considering there’s about a pound of cheese laying beneath it. But that’s neither here nor there.
Mexican Spiced Mushroom Caps
Serves about 8.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: About 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced and chopped
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 tablespoon Mexican seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 package SIMPLY AVOCADO™ dip
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking dish or two smaller ones with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- De-stem the mushroom caps and scoop out the gills and some of the insides of the mushrooms so you can stuff them. Rinse out the mushroom caps and dry.
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic, cooking until lightly softened. Add the pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the brown rice and mix with the Mexican seasoning and salt and pepper.
- Stuff the mushroom caps with the rice mixture. Top each cap with 1/4 cup cheese. Place in the prepared baking dishes and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Let cool slightly, top with pico de gallo, the avocado and garnish with cilantro. Serve with cracked black pepper.
Nutritional information per serving (1/2 mushroom cap)
Fat: 7.25 grams
Carbohydrates: 7.75 grams
Fiber: 2.1 grams
Protein: 4.25 grams
This easy entertaining fall cheese and charcuterie board is the perfect addition to any fall party, especially Thanksgiving!
Surprise, it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow! Not really, but you get the gist. That’s precisely why I’m sharing one of my favorite entertaining recipes with you today – a fancy a&# cheese and charcuterie board! Now, people ask me all the time why I bother making boards like this when I can’t eat half of the things on it (like the meat). My answer to them is really quite simple.
MORE CHEESE FOR ME. Jokes aside, there’s nothing I love more than preparing food for the people I care about. It just so happens that all of the people in this category are die-hard carnivores. So, even if I’m not going to be indulging in prosciutto, I know they’ll love it and that’s reason enough for me to want to add it to the plate.
Even though I love an nice cheeseboard, the was entirely my boyfriend’s idea. This particular day wasn’t just a regular one, it was the day he was going to meet my mother for the first time. So, knowing she has a penchant for fancy cheeses, cured meats and wine (like mother, like daughter), he suggested we make her a little board so she had something to enjoy when she got home from work.
I know, he’s the best. As we were unpacking the groceries and he was guzzling wine out of nerves, he suggested that we make the board beautiful enough for her and for the blog (#thatcontentlife). At that point, the rusty wheels in my brain started turning and, before you know it, I was cutting petals off the flowers he got me and was arranging pancetta and fig jam like a mad woman. After almost an hour of styling and photographing, my little brother got home and demolished half the tray. Luckily, I was able to snag a photo to send my mom so she saw the beauty it was before two hungry boys had their way with it.
She approved, by the way. Of both the tray and the boyfriend, which is the best we could have hoped for. Oh, and I haven’t had any cheese since because I might have eaten about 5 pounds in the form of soft camembert and raclette.
Quick and Easy Fall Cheese & Charcuterie Board
Serves about 4 – 6.
Prep time: About 15 minutes
Total time: 15 – 20 minutes
- 1 loaf crispy french bread, sliced into 1 – 2 inch slices
- 8 ounces your favorite crackers (I love these buttery table crackers)
- 8 ounces thinly sliced proscuitto
- 8 ounces thinly sliced pancetta
- 1 log of your favorite cured salami (we used this pepper crusted one from Boar’s Head)
- 4 – 6 ounces olives
- 1/4 cup fig jam or your favorite fruit preserves, divided
- 1 bunch grapes
- Fresh berries (about 2 cups)
- 6 ounces soft cheese (we used camembert)
- 5 ounces strong profiled hard cheese (we used raclette)
- 6 – 8 ounces mild cheese (we used this Cabot cheddar)
- 2 – 4 tablespoons dijon mustard
- Arrange the cheese and meats around a large wooden cutting board or serving platter. I like having the cheeses on separate ends of the board and the meat filling in around it.
- Then add the berries, olives, grapes, crackers and bread around the cheese and the meat. Make sure to save some spots on the board for the jam and other condiements.
- Place the jam and the mustard where there are some empty spots. You can either put them in small ramekins or directly on the board like I did. There’s really no rhyme or reason to how I decorate, just stack the ingredients high and add some fresh blooms and greenery for contrast.
*Note, because it’s hard to determine the serving size, we can’t really figure out the nutritional information. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience.
This creamy squash soup is perfect for fall evenings in! Plus, it makes a great Thanksgiving side dish!
A story about the soup:
If you want to hear a little bit about my life, scroll down. If you’re just here for soup, stay here. I found this recipe in a copy of Food Network Magazine and knew almost instantly I had to make it. For one, who doesn’t love creamy squash soup? Two, look at those garnishes! The roasted broccoli, the crunchy croutons, the salty pumpkin seeds? Not only are they beautiful, they add the perfect textural contrast to the velvety texture of the base. Soup has this incredible ability to warm you up, both figuratively and literally. It has this almost therapeutic power to it. Even on my worst days, a bowl of soup has the ability to take me back to a world and a life that wasn’t as scary, complicated or lonely. This soup is no different. I made it during a time of true uncertainty and I remember feeling a little better every time the spoon hit my lips. It may sound silly, and it probably is, but this soup helped me out of a pretty serious funk.
And a little bit about me:
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is two weeks away. I mean, in all honesty, it’s hard to believe the end of the year is just a month and a half away. While the rest of my friends are all “CHRISTMAS! SNOW! COOKIES!” I’m just trying desperately to keep my head afloat as I look for a job, wait for an offer to get accepted on a house and sort through where the next year of my life is going to take me.
I do know one thing, it’s going to involve a heck of a lot less traveling. Travel is my life and it fuels every single part of who I am. And as exciting as it was to pack up and leave for a new country and a new city every other week, it made a few other parts of my life nearly impossible to manage. From the outside, my life looked perfect. I was always somewhere different, experiencing an exotic place so many people only dream of going to. But peel back that wrapper and you’d see that my life was so far beyond perfection. It was a crumbling mess.
Without divulging too many personal details in a post about soup, I will say the decision to stay put in Chicago for the foreseeable future wasn’t an easy one. Even though I felt the world falling to pieces around me, I still loved travel. Partly because it was an escape. If my life at home was a mess, I knew in a day or two I’d be in Australia, China, Spain or Norway and wouldn’t have to face those issues for a few weeks. In a way, I was running away. I also truly love to travel. There’s nothing I love more than stepping off a plane and immersing myself almost immediately in a world so different than my own.
As life does, though, it all caught up and I found even the escape to be nearly overwhelming. I was focusing on everything I left at home when I was abroad, making it impossible to even enjoy the times I had wandering around a new country with new people. That’s why I’ve decided to tuck away my passport and plant my feet firmly on the ground. At least for the next few weeks. What next year will bring nobody knows, but I know one thing – Chicago has my heart and I’m enjoying every second exploring this incredibly vibrant and beautiful city of mine.
Creamy Squash & Carrot Soup
Serves 4 – 6. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
Prep time: 15 minutes.
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 butternut squash, chopped
- 1/2 acorn squash, chopped
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 scallion, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper**
- 5 carrots, shredded and chopped
- 15 ounce can chick peas, drained
- 1 can (14 ounce) low-fat coconut milk
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other nuts)
- French bread, cooked and cut into bite-size pieces
**optional. I added it for heat, but you can omit.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with foil. Place the squash and broccoli on the sheet (evenly distributed). Toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast for about 20 – 25 minutes, stopping to toss the vegetables after 10 minutes. You want the vegetables to be fork tender.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the shallots and scallions and cook for about a minute. Mix in the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper, heat for about another minute. Add in the carrots and cook until just softened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in the chick peas, coconut milk, vegetable broth and water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the 3/4 of the squash, saving about a one cup for the garnish. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until warm. Remove from heat. With either a tabletop blender or immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. Serve with a handful of broccoli florets, remaining squash, pumpkin seeds and crispy bread.
Nutritional information per serving:
Fat: 16 grams
Carbohydrates: 48.45 grams
Fiber: 13.4 grams
Protein: 10.5 grams
Welcome Autumn with a big batch of this warm and cozy spicy chicken, vegetable and noodle soup!
As I’m writing this, the ship I’m on is plunging to and fro in waves that roar over 3 meters above the surface of the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Although the movement is sporadic and ravenous, it’s also a little contrived. As soon as we rise above after hitting one, we plunder back into the icy waters. The rhythmic motions haven’t left me seasick, but instead feeling incredibly at peace. The solitude the ocean brings, even when you’re amongst 125 other people, is like therapy to a writer.
Don’t get me wrong, at first, the movements are jarring. You find yourself being thrown around and completely off-kilter. Something happens to you when you lose your balance. In a way, you lose your mind. However, when you let it kind of consume you, you fall into the movements of the waves and it all starts to feel normal, natural even.
There’s truly no place I’d rather be than on the water. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a lake as my playground. I’d spend every waking second I could at my cottages on Lake Erie. I’d swim, sail, boat, jet-ski – if it was on the water, you can believe I was there. I think that’s why I feel so at peace when I can see the glisten of the sun against a body of water.
However, that being said, the charms of rocking back and forth for 40+ hours are starting to fade. As my new British friend on board would say, it quickly sends you into a spiral of madness. As much as I love the water, not having my feet firmly planted on dry land for the better part of 3 days is a bit jarring, and I’m actually craving solid ground in a way I didn’t think I would. I always prided myself on having strong sea legs, but there’s even a limit to my love of water and I *might* just be reaching it. Thankfully land is on the horizon and a hike is calling my name this afternoon.
Sailing, boats and Fjords aside, let’s briefly talk about this bowl of cozy heaven in front of you. Chicken soup is an institution in my house, and even though I’m a vegetarian now, I’ll always remember the feelings of comfort it brought me whenever I was feeling sick, sad, down, blue or cold. Everyone has a version of this soup, and I’ve got quite a few (one with green tea, a classic and a kicked up Mexican version). This one, though, is a little different. It’s a blend of standard chicken noodle with hearty vegetable.
This is a real “stick to your guts” kind of soup without add any extra weight at all. The noodles, which are homemade, add energy boosting carbs, while the chicken and mushrooms give you a healthy dose of protein. The broth, which is kicked up with a bit of jalapeno, is made with heaps of herbs to help fight away seasonal colds. It’s a jack of all trades, much like myself.
The best part? It’s easy as sin, keeping with the theme of this week. The only laborious part, of course, are the noodles, but you can easily make those (with this rustic recipe or recipe with spinach) or buy them at the store. Whatever fits your schedule do it. Just know that after one spoonful of this healthy, delicious soup and you’ll too be transported to your happy place. Whether that’s on the water like me. on a beach, in front of a roaring fire or next to a mountain.
Spicy Chicken, Vegetable & Noodle Soup
Serves about 8. Pasta recipe from The Little Kitchen.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60+ minutes
Total time: About 80 minutes
For the soup:
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 12 ounces baby bell mushrooms, sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped & seeded
- 1 large zucchini, sliced and then quartered
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 cans (about 14 1/2 ounces each) low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (not drained)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 whole roasted chicken, cooked and shredded (can sub in rotisserie chicken if you’d like)
- Few sprigs of fresh thyme
- Few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Few springs of fresh sage
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bean sprouts for garnish
- Cilantro for garnish
For the noodles:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 – 4 tablespoons water
- To make the pasta, place the flours, salt, eggs and water into the bowl of a standing mixer. Turn on medium and start mixing until fully combined. Note, if the dough is too dry, add additional water, but in teaspoon increments. After about 2 – 3 minutes of mixing, attach the dough hook. Mix for about 2 minutes. Then remove the dough from the bowl and place on a very floured surface. Using your hands, knead until soft and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for about 5 – 10 minutes.
- Once rested, cut the dough into chunks. Fit your KitchenAid with a pasta making roller attachment. Using a rolling pin, roll out one chunk of dough at a time (careful to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out between use). Carefully push the rolled out dough through the roller. I did this about 3 times to get a very smooth and thin sheet of pasta. Once you’re happy with the thickness, attach the spaghetti and fettuccine attachment. Carefully push the rolled out pasta through that until you get strands.
- Using a pasta drying rack, dry the pasta noodles until ready to use.
- To make the soup, heat the olive oil over medium high head. Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for about one minute. Add the butter and stir in the mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, celery, jalapeno and bell pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until the vegetables start to tenderize.
- Gradually add in the broth, diced tomatoes and lime juice, stirring well. Mix in the fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 8 – 12 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add in the chicken and simmer another 2 – 4 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta in batches and cook until al-dente. Rinse in cold water and add to the large bowl of soup or serve separately. Add some bean sprouts & cilantro for garnish and enjoy!
Nutritional information per serving (about 1 cup of soup):
Fat: 3.8 grams
Carbohydrates: 12 grams
Fiber: .5 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams