Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hubby started a new shift last week, and we've been struggling. We went from graveyard to swing, so we're missing a lot of our family time in the afternoon. And I'm missing the time I got to plan and cook dinner every day. Now, I have to decide what we're going to eat the day before and have to do prep work before bed so that it is ready in time for him to go to work. I'm not loving it, but that's the life, and we're hoping it's only temporary.
Yay for Instagram! This was after we ate-not enough left over!

This recipe wasn't really an option as is, since we don't have time for slow cooker meals, unless I'm going to get up at 4am to make them. No thanks. But the soup looked so good that I decided to adapt the recipe for my Dutch oven, which just happens to be my favorite kitchen tool ever. Other than cooking the chicken the night before, this came together really quickly and was amazingly delicious. Hubby claims it's his new favorite soup-he liked it even more than my chicken noodle soup-and that's really saying something! The only change I will make next time is doubling the recipe. There just wasn't enough left over!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
*Adapted from Baked by Rachel (see the link for the slow cooker instructions)

3 chicken breasts, cooked with homemade taco seasoning, salt and pepper, and shredded**
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
15oz can sweet corn, drained
15oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup yellow onion, finely diced (about half a medium onion)
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 serrano pepper, ribs and seeds removed and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 heaping teaspoon chili powder
Kosher salt and pepper
Tiny pinch of sugar
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
Seasoned tortilla strips
Sour cream
Green onions, chopped

Melt butter and olive oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add diced onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add diced bell pepper and cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season lightly with salt and pepper. 

Add minced garlic and serrano pepper and cook for 1 minute. Pour in 5 cups of chicken broth. Add cooked shredded chicken, corn, and diced tomatoes. Season again with salt and pepper, then add chili powder and a pinch of sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 20 minutes at medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream mixed in, then top with cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro, and chopped green onions. Enjoy!
**How to cook the chicken: I start with frozen chicken breasts. Place each one in a foil packet and top with a small drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of taco seasoning and salt and pepper. Close up the packets and bake at 375º for 45-65 minutes (for frozen chicken), or until the juices run clear. Shred in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.

Cinnamon Churro Chex

Nothing like a cup of Cinnamon Churro Chex in the morning!
I have a small (read: huge!) obsession with cinnamon chips. I'm always looking for new ways to use them because those little chips are so good. My cinnamon chip oatmeal cookies are a family favorite; I make them all the time as my go-to cookie. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I called Hubby at work to tell him about it, which I never do. In our world, calling Hubby while he's on duty isn't a good idea, unless it's an emergency. I don't want to distract my favorite deputy. However, this was too good to keep to myself and he was ecstatic to try these. They didn't disappoint either! Easy, yummy, and cinnamon-y. Oh yes!

Cinnamon Churro Chex
*Slightly adapted from The Family Kitchen

9 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Microwave cinnamon chips and butter in a small bowl for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Stir and microwave 30 seconds longer, or until completely melted and smooth. Drizzle mixture over cereal and toss (your hands are the best tools here). In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Toss the coated Chex with the mixture and spread on parchment paper until cooled.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Asian Chicken Salad

This salad was absolutely delicious! We try a lot of new recipes and some are great, but only a few make it into the regular rotation. This is one of those special dishes that we both love. Full of fresh ingredients, flavorful chicken, and crunchy chow mein noodles, Asian chicken salad is a bright, yummy, and easy dish to throw together any night of the week. While we loved all the flavors, we might try to give it a Thai spin next time by changing up the marinade just a little with the addition of red pepper flakes and peanut butter instead of Chinese 5-Spice seasoning, which has a licorice-y flavor. That's another nice thing about this dish-you can change it up to fit your taste very easily. Again though, we loved this one!

Asian Chicken Salad
*Adapted from Pinch of Yum

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger (or 1 tablespoon minced ginger)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Chinese 5-Spice seasoning

1/4 cup chopped green onions
2-3 cups coleslaw or shredded lettuce
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1-2 cups shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups cooked, shelled edamame (it's called mukimame when you buy it pre-shelled and is much more convenient in steam bags for easy cooking)
2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Salad dressing of your choice (I used Litehouse toasted sesame ginger)

Whisk together the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, and 5-spice seasoning. Marinate the chicken in the sauce for at least 1 hour. Bake chicken with the sauce at 400º for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through. Let cool and shred.

Toss chicken, green onions, coleslaw, almonds, carrots, cilantro, edamame, and sesame seeds together.

Serve tossed with salad dressing and top with crunchy chow mein noodles. Enjoy!

Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes

I used to hate Nutella. It's a sad, sad fact, but it's true. While we were in France, I had a bite of a particularly delicious crepe smothered in Nutella. Every hotel we stayed at served little cups of Nutella with baguettes and croissants. I became obsessed. Now it goes on everything: waffles, bread, fruit, and now cupcakes. These were very good, but the cupcake itself was just a little dry, so I will probably use all butter next time or make smaller muffins to shorten the cooking time. Smaller muffins would have helped the overflow problem I had as well. Lesson learned: don't overfill your muffin tin!

Self-Frosting Nutella Cupcakes
*From The Family Kitchen

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk or half and half
1/2-2/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350º.

Beat the oil, butter, and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of the mixture to the batter and beat on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and mix until just combined, then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between 12 paper-lined muffin cups (I will do 15-18 muffins next time). Spoon the Nutella into a dish and microwave for 15-30 seconds, until soft. Drop a spoonful of Nutella into each muffin cup on top of the batter and swirl with a knife.

Bake 20-30 minutes or until springy to the touch. Enjoy!