This is post #101. Not that you are counting. But I am. Well, WordPress counts for me…so I have watched the number steadily climb week by week. And still the number took me by surprise. Not surprised in that 101 comes after 100, which in turn comes after 99, but that the number came up so quickly. That I have written 100, almost 101 posts. Who knew I had so much to share or that I am still loving it as much today as that first week. Maybe more. No, most definitely more. I feel much more comfortable behind the camera, in the kitchen, and on paper. And by paper, I mean on the computer. From figuring out how to maneuver myself around the behind the scenes action of a blog to actually typing words on the screen…finding my voice, if you will – however silly that may sound, it is true. Actually making sense of my own thoughts and putting them down on paper. To have others relate to my entries. All of it, it has been great! And thus, I begin the journey to post #200….one at a time, lets not rush this. I am having too much fun!
What is on the docket for post 101?
It is winter and I am getting my fill of soup. Because, even though I sort of dread the cold and haven’t truly stopped shivering since Halloween, spring will be here before I know it. Winter will be gone and with it will go the comforting steamy hot bowls of soup. I can not eat soup beyond April…maybe May since I do live in Cleveland and it might still snow….Let’s not think about that. OK? OK.
Spicy Mexican Chicken Soup.
I have made this soup a million times over. Well, maybe just like ten times or so but, never have I made it the same twice. Mainly because I have never taken the time to write down the recipe, but also because there are so many different variations. You are lucky though, I have gotten into the habit of keeping pen and paper in the kitchen along side the cutting board and measuring spoons. Kinda like a kitchen diary….or is it journal since I am no longer 12?
I prefer my soup to be hearty and chunky. To have some body. To be a meal in a bowl. I don’t like thin brothy soups…maybe when I am sick, but not when I am healthy and happy. Stoup would be more accurate a term…Thank you Rachel Ray. I will however never say EVOO. Ever. But stoup, that I can get behind.
My stoup has tons of chicken – which you can decrease if you like, but I love lots of chicken in my chicken soup. There are beans and tomatoes and peppers and spices – all of which you can increase or decrease depending on your likes and dislikes. See why I have never made this soup the same twice? The variations are endless. So, tonight this is my version. Next time around the version may be tweaked a bit depending, well depending on my mood and what is in my pantry.
Mexican Chicken Soup
4 Split Chicken Breasts, bone-in with skin (about 4 cups total shredded meat; decrease if you prefer less chicken)
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
1 Jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced
1 medium Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, seeded and diced
2+1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1+1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Oregeno
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Can Diced Tomatoes - 28 ounces
1 Can Green Chilies – 4 ounces
1 Can Black Beans – 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Chicken Broth
4 Tablespoons Corn Meal
1/3 Cup Warm Water
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil and place chicken breasts, skin side up, on the sheet. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons olive oil over chicken and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake/roast for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices run clear or the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Shred into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Warm remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in large pan or dutch oven, and place over medium heat. Add diced onion, jalapeno, red bell pepper, garlic and begin to saute. Stirring occasionally. Once the vegetables begin to soften (about 5 minutes) add the chili powder, garlic powder, oregeno, cumin, and the salt and pepper (to taste – you can always add more at the end!) Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken.
Add canned tomatoes (with juices), green chilies, black beans, and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.
30 minutes into the simmering, mix together the corn meal and warm water. Let sit for the remaining 15 minutes. Once the 45 minutes is up, stir in the corn meal/water mixture and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Give it a taste test here and adjust seasonings to your tastebuds.
Serve immediately with your favorite toppings.
I prefer sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh jalapenos. With a side of tortilla chips!
P.S. This holds up very well in the freezer!
p.s.s. If you do not have time to roast chicken breasts or just don’t want to, go ahead and use leftover chicken or a ready made rotisserie chicken from the grocery – those things are mighty handy!Read More
I like foods that are crunchy. OK, it is more like LOVE. I LOVE crunchy foods. Yep, that’s more like it. Love.
Anything and everything from tortilla chips to carrot sticks. Toast to crisp apples. It doesn’t really matter. If it is crunchy, I will probably enjoy it. I even like the corners of lasagna and the edges of stuffing because it is crunchy. Rice cakes anyone? Crunchy, crunchy, crunchy. So when I ran across recipes for roasted chickpeas and the claim that they were crunchy and healthy…I had to give them a try.
And I am so very glad that I did. They are quite tasty and crunchy. And guess what? They don’t taste like chickpeas. Phew, what a relief. I am not a huge fan of chickpeas – which would be a surprise if you glanced in my cupboards. I found about ten cans of chickpeas…I apparently think that I like them or at one time was going to try my hand at hummus? ( which I don’t like either). Who knows…
I tossed the beans with onion and garlic powder, a bit of paprika and cayenne pepper, and a touch of salt. A spicy snack fit for any afternoon hunger attack. So I have spicy down and a million other combos to go. A simple salt and pepper mix would be good – who doesn’t love salt and pepper chips? Cinnamon and sugar? Why not? Oh the possibilities are endless!
4 to 6 servings
2 Can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) 15 ounces cans, drained and rinsed well.
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil.
Drain and rinse chickpeas in a colander and rinse until water is no longer foamy. Transfer chickpeas to paper towel lined counter top and gently pat dry.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together olive oil and all of the spices. Add the chickpeas and with a wooden spoon or spatula toss the chickpeas in the olive oil/spice mixture to coat.
Pour chickpeas out onto prepared baking sheet in a single layer and place in preheated oven for 40-50 minutes. Half way through baking time, gently stir/toss chickpeas and place back in oven to finish roasting.
Remove from oven and season with a bit of extra salt (optional). Serve!
Store in airtight container.
Up until today, I had never tasted pumpkin soup. So what possessed me to make pumpkin soup? I think it has something to do with the crisp fall air. Let me tell you, it has gone straight to my head. So much so, that the other day I walked into the grocery, saw these cute little pie pumpkins, and thought…I can make pumpkin soup. Not pie, but soup. Fall air, straight to brain. They were also pretty cute pumpkins. I think that factored into their purchase as well. I am a sucker.
Since I have never slurped one spoonful of pumpkin soup, I hadn’t a clue of what flavor to expect. I don’t know what I was thinking it would taste like. OK, I lie. I thought it would taste like pumpkin pie filling. No lie. I did. I knew it wouldn’t, but I wanted it to. So, I was only slightly disappointed when it didn’t taste like a liquid pie. But doesn’t that sound wonderful? Dessert soup. Pumpkin pie soup with whipped cream stirred in. Good thing fall is just beginning.
So, since it didn’t taste like pie, what did it taste like? Pumpkin, you know, squash like. Apples and carrots provided a touch of sweetness. A touch of warmth and spiciness from the hot pepper flakes and cinnamon. Oh, and coconut milk made it all creamy and good. Body and depth I think are the correct terms, but I like creamy and good.
Besides learning how to make pumpkin soup, I also learned that I prefer my pumpkin sweet. I enjoyed this soup and it hit the spot when lunch rolled around, but I still prefer pie to soup. No big surprise. I am still curious and will be searching for pumpkin soup on every menu I come in contact with, now until … well, until I find it.
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4 to 6
1 Pumpkin (about 2-3 lbs), seeds and the stringy innards removed (about 5 to 6 cups of pumpkin puree)
1 Apple, peeled and diced
1 Onion, Diced
3 Carrots, peeled and diced
2 Garlic Cloves, diced
3 Tbsp Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon, plus extra for roasting
1 tsp Salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 Cup Apple Cider
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Cup Coconut Milk
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Once pumpkin is cut into half, seeds, and stringy stuff removed, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Place flesh side down onto a baking sheet, cover loosely with tinfoil. Roast for 45 to 60 minutes or until the flesh is soft. When done, remove from oven and let cool. Scoop out flesh once cool, set aside.
Melt butter in large dutch oven/pan. Place apple, onion, carrots, garlic, cinnamon, and hot pepper flakes into pan. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are soft. Stir frequently. About 10 to 15 minutes.
Add apple cider to pan and stir to combine. Scrape the bottom of the pan to dissolve any browned tidbits. Cook for about 5 – 7 minutes. Add pumpkin flesh and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.
In batches, place soup in a blender and puree. Be careful, soup is hot! Place back into dutch oven over low heat. Stir in coconut milk. Serve. Garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.
Tip: You can freeze soup once it is pureed, before the coconut milk is added. You can substitute canned pumpkin puree, no biggy. Half and half or heavy cream in place of coconut cream. Give it a try.
You know what’s scary? Hummingbirds.
Yeah, those little birds whose wings never stop beating and they beat at like a million miles a second.
That little thing scared the bejesus outta me. Alfred Hitchcock like.
I was sitting on my patio, minding my own business, and this hummingbird does a Topgun fly by, Maverick style. I literally felt the breeze from his wings as he darted by - it was a dude bird. Dude birds are reckless like that.
Did he not see me? An inch to the left and I would have had a bird implanted on my forehead! Ouch. I am not a fan of birds to begin with and this did not earn them any points in my book.
So I left my post on the patio, once the sight was clear, and made this here chicken salad. It was lunch time and I was procrastinating at getting to work in the kitchen, but I normally don’t need a bird attack to get me moving….
Birds…Never met a nice one.
OK, so this chicken salad is chunky, chock-full of moist and tender chicken, sweet fruit, and crunchy veggies. Oh and walnuts too! It might be easier to eat with a fork than between two slices of bread. Personally, I don’t care how you eat it, just that you do, ya know…eat it.
Side note…I roasted chicken breasts for this here recipe, but if you are short on time, go ahead and grab one of those handy-dandy rotisserie chickens from the market and shred that bad boy up…because guess what? When you buy chicken salad from the deli, guess what chicken they are using? Yep.
Lets whip up some salad.
Chicken, diced into nice bite sized pieces.
Broccoli…you will blanch this. I don’t like raw broccoli. Gross.
A bit of celery.
An apple, diced. My apple obsession of late is with Pink Lady apples. If Frenchie, from Grease, ate apples, I would think she would eat Pink Ladies. Its what I think of when I purchase them. John Travolta.
Walnuts … Pecans would be good here too, but did you know that they cost a gazillion dollars a pound? Thanksgiving is going to be pricey.
Don’t foget the dried cranberries. They add a nice sweet bite to the dish. However, the thought of Cape Cod makes me hungry for a lobster roll, not chicken salad. Sigh…
This wouldn’t be a salad without a creamy dressing. This bowl contains, mayo, Dijon mustard, apple juice, salt, pepper. Its good.
Buttery, flaky, savory croissants are a popular delivery system of chicken salad, but if you are like me, and love your skinny jeans, then a whole wheat pita is a great substitute.
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
2 Split Chicken Breasts, skin ON
2 Cups Broccoli Florets, bite sized
1 Apple, diced
1/2 Cup Celery (about 1 stalk), diced
1 Cup Walnuts, Chopped
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 tsp Salt, plus extra for blanching and dressing
Pepper to taste
1 Cup Mayo ( I used light)
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Apple Juice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place chicken breasts on tinfoil lined baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and 1 tsp salt per split breast. Roast in oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until done ( juices will run clear and internal temperature 165°F). Remove from oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove skin and dice into bite sized chunks when ready.
While chicken is resting, blanch the broccoli. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Place broccoli in boiling water for one minute. Remove from water and place directly in ice bath. – this stops the cooking. Leave in water until cool. Drain.
In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, Dijon mustard, apple juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss together chicken, celery, apple, lemon juice, cranberry, walnuts, and broccoli. Pour dressing over and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, letting the flavors meld.
Disclaimer: I did not take the hummingbird picture…I was too busy taking cover.Read More
Is it weird that I can watch Trauma:Life in the ER on the Discovery Channel while
stuffing my face daintily eating my dinner/breakfast?
The show is seriously addicting and for some reason it makes me giggle – I know, I know the situations are horrific, however the hospital staffs are great. The other day a dude came in who had shot himself and the doctor asked him if he had ever shot himself before. REally? Is that a question you have to ask? Do people shoot themselves multiple times on a regular basis? And live to tell about it??? Kelly or Carla, if you are reading this…some feedback please
Maybe I like watching it because I generally only see the discharged part of the whole fiasco. I set them up with the pain meds and antibiotics and send them home at 3am, however I have no clue what happened before hand. And I get curiouis. Very curious. This show helps cease the curiosity. Or at least gives my imagination fuel…
All in all, its a good show…for the strong stomached that is
So, what was I
scarfing picking at while glued to the tube? A quesadilla of course…
Not just any quesadilla though…this one was stuffed with mushrooms, red onion, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese. I have been stuck in a mushroom and onion state of mind lately. It has been delicious! And you haven’t lived until you have tried the trio of goat cheese, mushrooms and onions…wowza!
I tried making these with a healther whole wheat version of a tortilla…though good, it didn’t have the texture I was hoping for. It never got exactly crispy/flaky like a quesadilla should be. Also, I used my George Forman fat grilling machine to make mine…it provided a nonstick surface, no flipping required, and well all my skillets were dirty….
Lets get to it!
Here is basically everything you will need to assemble your quesadilla…From the left…monteray jack cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, goat cheese, tortilla, roasted red pepper, oh and a bit of butter
Butter one side of the tortilla…the side that will go face down on the hot surface.
Layer on the ingredients on half of the tortilla…
Fold it on over …
And after a few minutes with George…it looks something like this…
Cheesy, crispy, savory…glorious.
Slice into wedges, enjoy!
Mushroom and Onion Quesadillas
Serves 2, maybe 3.
2 Flour Tortilla
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Red Onion – thinly sliced
10 ounces Mushrooms – sliced
3 ounces Goat Cheese
1/2 Cup Monteray Jack Cheese – shredded
1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper – sliced
Extra Butter, for tortillas
Prepare vegetables. Preheat broiler, and place red bell pepper on a sheet pan and place under the boiler. Broil until skin blackens, turning every so often. About 10 minutes or so. Once sufficiently blackened, remove from oven and let cool (cool enough to handle). Remove skin and cut into thin slices.
In a medium skillet over medium – high heat, place 1 Tablespoon butter, mushrooms, and red onion. Cook until tender and slightly browned, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes.
Assemble quesadillas. Lightly butter one side of tortilla. Place buttered side down and on one half of tortilla sprinkle monteray jack cheese, roasted red bell peppers slices, and mushrooms and onions. Dot evenly with goat cheese. Fold tortilla in half and place in skillet/George Forman Grill and grill until browned on both sides. Just a few minutes.
Remove from heat source and with sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into wedges. Enjoy!
Tips: The filling for these quesadillas can be increased or decreased to feed any quantity of people. Do not stuff these too full, stuff falls out!