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Thursday, January 13, 2011

The easiest soup evah...

I'm really cheating here with this one, but I just couldn't not post this. You'll see why. This is, most definitely, the easiest soup (and one of the most delicious) I've ever made. I wish I could take the credit for it, but it's not my genius behind it. It's the good folks at Trader Joes. This is what they were demo-ing the last time I was there.

For years I've made chicken tortilla soup with painstaking detail. My tried and true recipe is no doubt delicious, but time consuming. After having this one here, I don't see going to the trouble of making it the other way for awhile.
It could not be easier...

Trader Joe's Captain Mark's Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 large can chicken
1 jar garlic chipotle salsa
1 carton chicken broth

Optional items that I like:
frozen corn
cooked brown rice

shredded cheese
sour cream
tortilla chips
Trader Joe's green salsa verde (refrigerated section)
hot sauce

In a heavy pot, heat the chicken, salsa, and broth. Add any optional items and heat through. Ladle out into bowls and top with desired toppings and hot sauce.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mango Chicken

During the Summer of 2009 I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Europe with my husband. My boys still haven't forgiven me for leaving them for the trip, but I have to say that it was a highlight of the entire year. London, Scotland, and Ireland were the places we visited, and like a good girl, I cleaned many a plate in each locale. While in Ireland, we stayed with my good friend Judith's sister and her family, the Robinsons. Judith is an amazing chef herself, and has a cookbook coming out soon, so be sure to check her out. Good cooking runs in her family apparently because we had a nice little dish at the Robinson's house that Jayne, the sister, swears is easy as pie. I've made it a few times myself, and while it's still very yummy, easy and even passes the little picky eater's test, it's still not as good as Jayne's. I believe this is because Irish chutney must be different from our chutneys found here in the States. Maybe a trip to Whole Foods is in order for a better chutney, although Trader Joe's does have a nice one. Anyhow, here is the recipe for Mango Chicken...great for a quick and impressive weeknight meal.

Mango Chicken

What you need:
boneless skinless chicken breasts
Jar of good mango chutney
Heavy cream or plain yogurt or mixture of both both
cooked white or brown rice


Take a good jar of mango chutney, mix together with heavy cream or plain yogurt (or a mixture of both) until you have a thick, but pourable consistency and pour into a baking dish.
Throw in a few raw chicken breasts and bake, uncovered at 350, until nice and caramelized. Serve over rice.
For a different twist, use a spicy chutney, toss in some mushrooms and wrap the chicken in bacon. Garnish with fresh mango slices. That will impress people!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Red Beans and Rice

Have I ever mentioned I have a cajun mother in law? My husband laughs when I say this and tells me that she's really Creole, not cajun. Maybe that's a fact, given her french heritage, however, the woman has some cajun tendencies. Ever seen The Waterboy? The mom in that, Kathy Bates, eats just about anything, including snake. While my mother in law may not eat snake, she's not afraid to try just about anything. There's nothing that scares her in the way of food. I love that about her. She's always willing to try something different, new, and unexpected. She's been known to suck the marrow out of chicken bones. She grew up on the bayou in south Mississippi and Louisiana. And she makes delicious cajun food. I didn't know so many spices existed until I started dating David and eating dinner with his parents. I loved having steak on Sunday nights, always complete with twice baked potatoes, rice and french bread. Her oyster stew on Christmas Eve was a hit with me, as were her griods on Christmas day. I certainly owe a lot of my cooking knowledge to her.
She makes a mean red beans and rice dish, and she made it for us recently. I jotted down her recipe, which she says is the way Maria, The Help, made it for her family growing up. The ingredient that makes it stand out from the others is cloves. Let me preface this recipe by saying I have not made this myself yet, but wanted to post it so I'll remember to make it. I'll revisit the recipe if I need to make changes. It can be made either in the crock pot or simmered on the stove on low heat for hours. So, here's Red Beans and Rice Maria's way:

Red Beans and Rice

1 pkg. dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight according to pkg. directions.
diced bell pepper, onions, and garlic sautéed in oil or bacon fat
ham hock or ham bone
5 bay leaves
Italian seasonings
ground clove (1 tsp. or more according to taste)
worcestershire sauce

Add the soaked beans to a crock pot or dutch oven. Add the sautéed mixture of pepper, onion and garlic. Cover the beans with water. Toss in the bay leaves, salt, Italian seasonings, clove and worcestershire sauce (all to taste). Let simmer on low heat until tender.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tortellini Soup

It's a new year, and time to breathe some new life into this forgotten blog of mine. I'm ready to post a few recipes and inspiration. I'll get right down to business.

This here recipe is an old one for me, actually. I started making it as a newlywed 14 years ago, so I can tell you it's quite simple. I originally found this recipe in a Betty Crocker cookbook and have made a few tweaks of my own. It's a versatile soup and can be used for lunch or dinner. Since my oldest and I are a bit under the weather, we're having it for dinner. I'm hoping that the little picky eater will eat it as well since it's got pasta in it. I consider it a twist to classic chicken noodle, even though there's no chicken in it. It wouldn't be a bad idea to throw some in!

Tortellini Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 cup)
3-4 medium carrots, chopped or sliced
1 small onion, chopped
White wine
2 cartons (32 oz each) chicken broth
4 cups water
2 packages (9 oz each) dried cheese-filled tortellini or refrigerated tortellini
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg, or more to taste (the nutmeg makes this soup, IMO)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and olive oil in 6-quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Saute garlic, celery, carrot and onion until fragrant and onions are translucent. Deglaze the pan with a few glugs of white wine.
Stir in broth and water. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Stir in tortellini. Stir in parsley, pepper and nutmeg and any other seasons you desire (I like Italian seasonings). Cover and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tortellini are tender. This may take less time if using refrigerated pasta. Top each serving with cheese.

*This makes a large amount. I don't know how well it would freeze because of the pasta. Once it's refrigerated, the pasta tends to soak up more of the broth so you may need to add more water when reheating. Or, you may just use 1 pkg. of pasta to begin with. Just depends on how much broth you want.