Category Archives: Main Dish

Easy Baked Tostadas

Crispy baked tostadas piled on a napkin

Anyone else have a family that’s a huge fan of Tex Mex? These easy baked tostadas are a great way to switch things up.

Now, you can go to the store and purchase a package of fried tostada shells, or you could simply get a bag of corn tortillas and crisp them up by baking them in your oven.

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Why You Should Bake Your Own Tostada Shells

I always choose the latter option. Why?

  • You will save money. You can get a big pack of 80 corn tortillas for just a few dollars. I store the leftovers in the fridge to use for more tostadas, enchiladas, tacos etc.
  • It’s better for you because they aren’t fried in vegetable or soy oil. I’ve even seen a brand that added yellow dye to their tostadas.
  • Baking them is so simple. It really adds barely any extra work to your dinner prep. If your house is like mine, time is a precious commodity and fast meals are so helpful.

This is one of those recipes that you feel silly writing out. It’s a semi-homemade recipe for baked tostada shells, after all. But sometimes it’s helpful to just know that it is even possible.

upbaked corn tortillas on a baking sheet

How to Bake Tostada Shells

You have to choices for these baked tostadas. Both work great, one will taste just slightly better than the other. 😉

Option 1: You can bake the tostada shells dry, just as they are. You will place them on a large cookie sheet or you even can lay them directly on your oven rack.

For the cookie sheet, I use the large basic half sheet pan or jelly roll pan I have. I think these USA sheet pans would be amazing though!

If directly on your oven rack you will want to be sure to flip them every 5 minutes so they don’t end up curling around the rack. It’s not fun having to break them to get them out of the oven. 😉 The benefit of having them directly on the rack is that you can do a lot more at one time.

So which way to go is a toss off. The pan is more hands off with only 1 flip needed but you are limited as to quantity.

Option 2: With this option you lightly brush the corn tortillas, on both sides, with an oil of your choice. You can also just use your hands and rub the oil on each tortilla. Then you can sprinkle the tortillas lightly with salt. This method you will want to be sure to put on a large sheet pan. Flip once part way through the cooking process.

LEFTOVERS:

Make sure the leftover tostadas (plain, untopped) are cooled completely. Store in a zipped storage bag for up to a week. Please note, if the humidity at your house is high they might lose their crispness sooner.

Baked tostadas on a napkinTostadas baked on the rack are on the left and baked on a pan on the right.

How to Use Baked Tostadas

If you’ve never bought tostada shells before, you might be wondering what all you can do with them. These are great to have on hand for any simple lunch or supper. It’s easy to always have the ingredients on hand for some type of tostada.

  • Top just like you would fill a taco.
  • Mexican Pizza. This was an option on the kids’ menu of the Tex Mex restaurant I used to work it. All you do is top a tostada shell with taco meat and cheddar cheese and place in oven to melt. You can make it fancier by throwing some other topping on it.
  • Crunch them up to serve on top of soup.
  • Bean Tostadas. I have a basic “recipe” for these here. Spread with refried beans (that’s the link to how I make my own) and cheese. Melt. Top with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, etc.
  • Beef Tostadas. These next three are the same as the bean tostadas, just start with a different base. I think shredded cabbage makes a great topping as well.
  • Chicken Tostadas
  • Fish Tostadas

Don’t forget you can also make your own salsa (using canned tomatoes makes it so easy) and guacamole to use with your baked tostadas!

I’m sure you already know this, but I feel like I have to remind you that tostada shells that have toppings on them will not keep as leftovers. The shell will become soggy. 🙂

Overhead shot of baked tostadas on a white napkin

Baked Tostadas

3.0 from 2 reviews
Baked Tostada Shells
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Easy baked tostada shells made from corn tortillas! Perfect for an easy dinner.
Ingredients
  • 12 Corn Tortillas
  • Oil, optional
  • Salt, optional
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Two Methods:
Method One - No Oil
  1. Spread tortillas out on a large sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 5 minutes. Check and bake up to 2-3 minutes longer, if needed.
  2. OR place directly on oven rack. Bake for 15 minutes flipping every 5 minutes to help keep the tortillas from curling quite as much. After 15 minutes, bake 2-3 minutes longer checking every minute, if needed.
  3. Cool and store leftovers in a zipped storage bag.
Method Two - With Oil
  1. Brush or rub oil on both sides of the tortillas. Lightly sprinkle with salt if desired. Place tortillas on a large sheet pan, no overlapping. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 5 minutes. Check and bake an additional 2-3 minutes if needed.
  2. Cool and store leftovers in a zipped storage bag.

Originally published July 22, 2014. Updated July 24, 2020.

Baked Tostada Shells. The easiest thing in the world! Avoid yucky oils and other ingredients by baking them!

Easy Mexican Haystacks Recipe

mexican haystacks ready to eat on a place

This Mexican Haystacks recipe is the perfect easy, cheap, and customizable supper! I even make this vegetarian so it’s the perfect meal for meatless Monday. But if you want to add meat, you can easily do so!

My kids already love tacos, taco salad, and quesadillas so this is sure to be a kid friendly meal idea. They will love being able to build their own haystack with their favorite toppings! Build it yourself suppers are always the most fun for kiddos.

If you’ve never had these before, you simply start with a bed of rice, add some ranch style beans, and then finish with crushed chips and whatever toppings you’d like.

The ingredients for Mexican Haystacks on a table

Here are some ideas for your Mexican Haystacks:

  • cooked rice (brown or white)
  • ranch style beans
  • chips
  • shredded lettuce
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • cheese
  • olives
  • cilantro
  • tomatoes

If your family needs meat to make it a meal, brown up some ground beef and add it to the beans. You could also shred or dice some chicken cooked with taco seasoning or salsa. Like I said, this recipe is so easy to make fit the needs of your crew.

You can purchase a can of ranch style beans or you can do what I did and make your own! I’ll share how I made them in a post soon. Very easy and flavorful and you get to control the ingredients.

If you want to use salsa, be sure to check out this super easy and delicious recipe! It takes seconds to come together.

Plate and ingredients for Mexican Haystacks

Tortilla chips are my go to, but you could also use a Frito like chips. To make it healthier you could take corn tortillas and brush them with some oil, cut them into wedges, and bake until crispy. Whatever you prefer.

One more tip, I love using my rice cooker to make rice. It makes it easy and hands off. While the rice is cooking you will be able to get all your other ingredients ready. This is a 30 minute meal, so perfect for even busy weeknights.

Another great thing about this Mexican Haystacks recipe is that the leftovers are great. In fact, I always cook enough rice and beans and chop enough toppings that so that we can have it again the next night. Just store everything in separate small containers.

Now, on to the “recipe”!

Mexican Haystacks on a plate with a white text box and words

Yummy Mexican Haystacks Recipe

Easy Mexican Haystacks Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Tex Mex
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 4.5-6 cups cooked rice (approx 1.5-2 cup dry)
  • 3 cups ranch style beans (1 large can or use homemade)
Toppings
  • Chips
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Cheese, shredded
  • Olives, sliced
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Onions, diced
  • Avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Warm the beans and make sure the rice is cooking.
  2. Chop the toppings you want to use and put in individual dishes.
  3. Put rice on plate. Scoop beans over rice and finishing with desired toppings.
  4. Enjoy!
Notes
You will want between ¾ and 1 cup cooked rice per person!

 

What other easy Tex Mex recipes does your family enjoy? Any toppings you love to put on your Mexican Haystacks that I need to know about?

 

Easy Butter Chicken

Bowl off easy butter chicken on a wooden board

This easy butter chicken recipe is so delicious! It’s my husband’s favorite Indian dish. Indian should probably be in quotation marks, because I’m sure this is a thoroughly Americanized version. But that’s okay, because everyone enjoys it!

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Another plus is that except for one ingredients, you probably already have everything in your kitchen or can grab it inexpensively at your local grocery store. So don’t the list of ingredients scare you! This easy butter chicken recipe is so simple and comes together quickly.

Plate with spices on it

Garam masala, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and bay leaves.

What’s the one special ingredient? Garam masala. This spice mixture smells amazing. You can find it at an Indian store or even try to make your own blend. You’ll find flavors like cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon in the blend along with others! Doesn’t it sound intriguing?! Of course, it’s also available on Amazon!

You can also use garam masala in this delish appetizer: Indian Layer Dip.

Butter Chicken is a favorite in our house. It is even one of our go to options for company. Most of our guests haven’t had it before but this dish is loved by everyone.

Serve over rice (or cauliflower rice if you prefer). Of course it’s amazing with naan or you can simply have a salad or roasted broccoli to round out the meal.

pot of butter chicken on the stove

The leftovers taste just as amazing as the first day, so this is a meal you could prepare the night before and pull out and gently reheat on the stove while the rice is cooking on a Sunday after church.

Aren’t those types of meals the best?

You will want to be sure to check out this recipe for homemade naan, as well! The prepackaged super market variety doesn’t compare. My kids love it.

Easy Butter Chicken Recipe

A plate of easy butter chicken served over rice

4.5 from 2 reviews
Butter Chicken
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
Sauce
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 T. finely minced garlic or garlic paste
  • 1 T. finely minced ginger or ginger paste
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 t. garam masala
  • 1½ t. cumin
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • ¼ cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups tomato puree
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 t. salt
  • pepper
Chicken
  • oil
  • 1½ pounds chicken cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 t. garam masala
  • ⅛ t. cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • 1 T. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Cooked rice for serving
Instructions
Sauce
  1. In a large pan saute onions until tender. Add in ginger, garlic, butter, lemon juice, garam masala, cayenne, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaf.
  2. Cook until ginger and garlic are done.
  3. Add tomato puree and stir and heat through.
  4. Add in half and half and yogurt. Let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust other seasonings if needed.
Chicken
  1. In a skillet heat a small amount of oil and brown chicken.
  2. Add garam masala, cayenne pepper, and a little salt
  3. Add a few spoonfuls of cooked sauce and let the chicken finish cooking.
  4. Add cooked chicken to the sauce mixture.
Finish
  1. Combine and arrowroot powder and water and add to the butter chicken. Cook until the mixture thickens and is heated through.
  2. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Bowl of butter chicken with a gray dish towel in the background

The Best Healthy Chicken Spaghetti

A glass pan with healthy chicken spaghetti in it

Healthy chicken spaghetti? Is it even possible? If you grew up eating the classic version of this dish, you might find yourself wondering.

Honestly, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I first ate this dish. My siblings were in town visiting and a friend had us over for supper. My brother loved the chicken spaghetti they made. Of course we got the recipe. Her recipe (and I discovered all the typical chicken spaghetti recipes) contains Velveeta and cream of chicken soup.

Cream soups were something my mom never had in the house growing up. In fact, the only time I remember her using cream soup was for beef stroganoff. Velveeta cheese my mom bought once a year to make cheese dip. So neither ingredient have ever been a part of my pantry either.

I decided to try and make this Mexican Spaghetti using ingredients I keep on hand while keeping the recipe almost as simple as the original.

The experiment was a success! This is my recipe for healthy chicken spaghetti without using any velveeta or canned cream soup. Score.

Such a easy meal and it makes a ton – perfect for eating again a day or two later. This would also be a great dish to bring to a church potluck. Serve with salad or veggies of your choice. The most recent time we had it with sauteed zucchini and carrot & celery sticks.

close up of a glass pan filled with baked healthy chicken spaghetti

A couple of comments:

  • Use whatever type of noodles you like – spelt, wheat, brown rice, or gluten free. (These pictures are with brown rice pasta)
  • If you don’t have access to Rotel (a can of diced tomatoes and green chilis), you can make your own! I’ve done it a couple of times. The Humbled Homemaker has instructions here. I like to use some jalapenos and to roast and peel the peppers before I chop them. (I also de-seed the jalapenos)
  • If you or someone in your house doesn’t care for cream cheese, you can’t even tell it’s in the recipe. It just adds a little extra creaminess and depth of flavor. My husband doesn’t like cream cheese and he doesn’t even know it’s in this dish. So be sure to add it!
  • If you don’t have half and half or cream, you can use milk. In these pictures I used 2 cups of whole milk and decreased the stock to 1 cup.
  • Arrowroot. If that’s something that you don’t have on hand, you can substitute cornstarch or try using flour. I’ve even made this with tapioca flour (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons).

Horizontal picture of a pan of baked healthy chicken spaghetti

Healthy Chicken Spaghetti

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chicken Spaghetti (without Velveeta and Canned Soup)
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces noodles
  • 1-2 cups diced onion (I used two)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can Rotel or 1 cup homemade (regular or mild)
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 cup cream or half and half
  • 1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cup diced cooked chicken
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar (can use more)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook noodles to al dente. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or a soup pot, saute the onions. Add garlic and cook until tender.
  3. Add Rotel, chicken broth, and salt and bring to a simmer.
  4. Mix the arrowroot powder in the cream and stir into mixture in the pan.
  5. Add the cream cheese and gently heat the mixture and stir to melt the cream cheese and let the arrowroot powder thicken.
  6. After thickened, stir in 1 cup of shredded cheese and the chicken.
  7. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Add the cooked noodles to the pot and stir to combine.
  9. Pour into a 9x13 pan (it will be full) and top with the remainder of the cheese.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

This recipe was originally published May 15, 2014. Updated comments and pictures May 2, 2019.

 

A spoon of healthy chicken spaghetti being taking from the baking dishtwo pictures are healthy chicken spaghetti in a 9x13 panscoop of mexican spaghetti being taken from the baking dishChicken Spaghetti without Velveeta or cream of chicken soup! Yay! We love this and the leftovers are awesome.

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

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During our recent Whole30 we made this recipe three times. We also served it with brown rice for the reintroduction phase. All that to say, we are fans of this easy, healthy broccoli chicken stir fry! My husband proclaimed it his favorite way to eat broccoli.

Most days I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen so fast recipes are my favorites. This one is really so simple!

If you are gluten free or on Whole30 soy sauce is a no no, however coconut aminos is an option, but I couldn’t find it in our Wal-Mart and didn’t want to spend a fortune on a small bottle so we did without. Even without soy sauce or coconut aminos this recipe had great flavor.

I recommend that you make this broccoli chicken stir fry without the soy or aminos and instead have the bottle of coconut aminos or soy sauce at the table to use to taste.

If you like an extra kick, I highly recommend serving this with Sambal Oelek chili paste! It’s how I had mine and it was so good. I love the spice and depth of flavor the paste adds. (I also always add it to my serving of fried rice.)

We loved this served with either cauliflower rice or brown rice! Both ways made a delicious meal.

Ingredients:

Chicken. I used boneless chicken breasts each time, but boneless thighs would work as well.
Broccoli. Fresh broccoli is the best for this recipe! I buy a head and wash and cut it myself.
Onion. Half of a fresh onion, diced!
Garlic. Don’t skimp! Get two large cloves of fresh garlic. I love to use a microplane to grate it.
Ginger. Buy a knob of fresh ginger. Keep what you don’t use in the freezer for later. Again, the microplane is perfect for grating the ginger.
Chicken broth. Because this recipe doesn’t use soy sauce, you need broth instead of water to get a good depth of flavor.
Arrowroot PowderYou could also use cornstarch. You just need a little to thicken the liquid slightly.
Rice Vinegar. Rice vinegar is so good! I love using it in pretty much all stir fry type dishes.
Sesame Oil. Another of my favorite ingredients for this type of food (and for Asian style salad dressings)
Coconut Aminos or Soy Sauce. Totally optional. We did without during Whole30.
Sambal Oelek. I love adding this chili paste for an extra kick!
Cooked Rice or Cauliflower Rice. Choice one to serve the broccoli chicken stir fry on. Both are amazing!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry

How many does this serve? My family of 2 adults and 3 kids got one meal out of this recipe. It would depend, also, on how much caulirice or brown rice you served it on and if you had any sides.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did!

P.S. The other recipe we ate weekly on our Whole30 were these amazing baked crispy chicken thighs!

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

Healthy Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • oil for sauteing
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooked brown rice or cauliflower rice
  • soy sauce or coconut aminos, optional, for serving
  • sambal oelek, optional, for serving
Instructions
  1. Cut and wash the broccoli.
  2. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the chicken and diced onion in the hot pan. Cook a few minutes and then add the garlic and ginger. Continue cooking until the onion is tender and chicken almost cooked through.
  3. Add the broccoli and continue to cook.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth, arrowroot power, and rice vinegar. Pour over the broccoli chicken mixture. Cover the pan and cook until broccoli reaches desired tenderness.
  5. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve over prepared brown rice or cauliflower rice with soy sauce, coconut aminos, or sambal oelek if desired!

plate with broccoli chicken stir fry