Thursday Tip: Spinach Salsa Queso Dip

I don’t know about you, but with it being the holiday season, I have a series of potlucks on my calendar. I’m always looking for something quick and easy but also tasty to bring in.  In case you hadn’t figured out from previous posts, I LOVE my slow cooker (see here, here, and here), so when my office was having a dip contest, I once again turned to my trusty slow cooker.  This recipe only has a few ingredients, is super easy to make, and I don’t mean to brag (okay, maybe I do), but I won the dip contest, so I can assure you it’s quite tasty.

Spinach Salsa Queso Dip


10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb reduced fat Velveeta cheese
8 oz light cream cheese
12 oz salsa
cilantro, optional


Cut Velveeta and cream cheese into smallish cubes.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for approximately one hour, stirring occasionally.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Note: You can also heat using the oven or microwave.  For other cooking options, see original post here.

Thursday Tip- Slow Cooker Holiday Recipes- Mac N Cheese and Mashed Potatoes

Just enough time this week to pop in with an early Thursday Tip.  Here are a few favorite slow cooker holiday recipes, perfect to take to a potluck or host a large group at home.

First up is a favorite at the office (I’ve taken a double batch in for several work potlucks now), Paula Deen’s Slow Cooker Mac N Cheese.  Okay, I admit 1. I’m not a huge fan of Paula Deen (not even before the whole “racist” shenanigans) and 2. This is ridiculously unhealthy for you.  The thing is, it’s outrageously delicious, serves a large group, and is super easy to make.  Sold.

I’ve made a few of my own tweaks to the recipe, but you can find the original here.

Slow Cooker Mac N Cheese
(Serves 12)


2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.  Cook on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Yes, that’s truly it.  Paula has you melting the cheese and butter ahead of time and adding 3 eggs.  I don’t have time for that shiz.  Plus, if you haven’t already gathered, I’m an incredibly lazy cook.  So I was like “screw you Paula, your pre-melted sauce, and your eggs.”  Guess what?  Came out the same as when I followed the directions.  When I take this one in for a potluck, I cook the macaroni the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, I grab all my ingredients and go, then throw everything in there and start cooking it at work.  Don’t panic if your cheese looks clumpy when it first starts to cook.  It all melts together beautifully over time (just be sure to stir it every once in a while).

Next up?  Another classic holiday side dish.  Mashed potatoes- in the slow cooker- and you don’t have to peel them!  Mind blown, right?  Mashed potatoes are tricky as a potluck food, so I was super excited when I found this recipe and could bring mashed potatoes to our holiday potluck last year.

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
(Serves 12)


5 lbs red potatoes (or sierra gold), diced and unpeeled
1 cup water
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/3 cup milk


Combine all ingredients except milk in slow cooker.  Cook on high for 4 hours.  After 4 hours, mash potatoes by hand or with a mixer.  Add as much milk as needed till you achieve the right consistency.

Yes, that’s it.  For the potluck I just did the same kind of thing as I did for the mac n cheese- I cut up the potatoes the night before and took all ingredients into work with me so it could cook.  Yes, I also took a potato masher (the potatoes get so soft that mashing is no biggie).

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Help Me! Working Moms Don’t Cook

Neither JD nor I like to cook.  Actually, JD claims he “doesn’t mind” cooking, to which I usually reply “then why don’t you do it more often?”


The point is, finding energy to cook in our house is hard, especially now that we have a baby.  I used to be able to easily cook dinner before JD got home from a day shift at 7:30pm.  On his days off, we’d either cook together or he’d make something.  Before night shifts, I’d usually whip up some omelets for us so we could grab a quick meal together before he was off to work.


But now… we’re both preoccupied with L and dinner is usually an afterthought.  We’re good about not ordering takeout all the time or anything, but these days, it seems rare that have a full-fledged meal together.  By the time dinner rolls around, we’re usually digging through the freezer and pantry trying to piece together something substantial.


For the first time in my life, I kind of miss cooking.  Okay, not really miss it, but I would like to be eating a more well-rounded, satisfying diet.  So I guess what I really miss is the end result of cooking.


I think it’s time to get creative.  We utilize the slow cooker a lot and I’ve tried a few freezer meals that I prepped, froze, and heated up later, though none really impressed us.  It’s also hard because I’m trying to stick to the vegetarian thing and that’s not really conducive to slow cooker meals.  Last week I just gave up and had my delicious, beefy French Dip sandwiches.  No, I’m not sorry.  They were quite filling (and tasty).


Anyone out there have any recipes that might come in handy? Quick? Easy? Or can be prepped ahead of time? Preferably vegetarian, but I’m open to all suggestions!

Thursday Tip- Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

Happy football season!  This is one of my Pinterest faves (original recipe here).  It’s perfect for having people over to watch a game since it doesn’t require a ton of work (especially after I cut out a few steps… I’m lazy like that).

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches
(Serves 4-6 people)

3.5lbs of beef chuck roast

I.5 cans (16 oz) beef broth

1 can (10.5 oz) french onion soup

6 oz red wine

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper, to taste

6 french rolls

6 (or more) slices of provolone cheese

Trim excess fat off of beef roast and season meat with salt and pepper.

Pour beef broth, soup, red wine and garlic powder into slow cooker with beef roast.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Slice or shred beef

Lightly toast the bread.  The easiest way to toast the buns is to set your oven to broil, spread the buns out on a baking sheet, and broil for a few minutes.  Seriously, only 2-3 minutes, though.  They toast FAST.  I nearly burned down my kitchen toasting buns one time.

Serve beef on rolls with cheese and spoon beef juice into individual bowls so each person has their own dip.

If you’re serving it to a group, you can just do chips or something easy like that as a side, but when I make it for JD, I like to make homemade sweet potato fries.  To do those, just preheat your oven to 425 and cut an uncooked sweet potato into individual fries, then  place in a lidded container with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil (another thing about me- I generally just eyeball things when I cook instead of measuring things out exactly) and seasoning of your choice, to taste (I like McCormick’s Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning).  Shake the container (make sure the lid is sealed tightly!) to coat the fries in the olive oil and seasoning.  Spread out on a baking pan and bake for at least 20 minutes, flipping once (cooking time will vary based on the size of fries you cut).

P.S.  The original plan was to have pictures of this recipe by the time I posted it.  Obviously, that didn’t happen.  I did my shopping at Target instead of my usual grocery store, so the selection was limited and our meal plan for the week changed.  Anyway, it looks like beef on a bun with melted cheese, if that helps 🙂

Thursday Tip- Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

So, I decided that I’d like to use each Thursday to post something I recommend, whether it be a recipe, baby product, or mommy product.

For my first Thursday Tip, I’d like to share an awesome recipe for vegetarian chili, made in the slow cooker.  With football season right around the corner, this is the perfect time to start thinking about some chili!!

Side note: I should probably take a moment to share that I’m actually a vegetarian (aka hippie, as JD likes to call me).  Not all recipes I post will be vegetarian (while I was pregnant with L, I craved meat like it was the only acceptable food for baby-growing), but this one just happens to be.

Reasons why I adore this recipe:

  1. It’s hippie-friendly, but even my hard-core carnivore hubby loves it
  2. It requires minimal effort (I really don’t like cooking)
  3. It’s cheap, but makes a lot
  4. It’s healthy
  5. It’s perfect for a cool fall or winter day
  6. It’s easy to alter and make your own; the way we make it is slightly different than the original recipe


1 can black bean soup (19oz)
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz)
1 can vegetarian baked beans (16oz)
1 can chopped tomatoes in puree (14.5 oz)
1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15 oz)
1 can green beans, drained (15oz)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon parsley
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil


Throw everything into the slow cooker and cook for at least 2 hours on high (although we usually cook ours for 4 hours or so).


Serve however you like your chili.  JD likes his over rice, sometimes I’ll put crushed tortilla chips in mine, and there’s always, ALWAYS cheese involved.


Since we’re really only cooking for the 2 of us (L doesn’t count yet), we always have plenty of leftovers, so I’ll put enough in the fridge to have leftovers the next day and freeze the rest for a rainy day.