Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup As promised, welcome to my tortilla soup.

OK.  So, like most of ya’ll, we have some family traditions this time of year.  Besides the more-people-than-places-to-sit type celebration which is the only way I know how to give thanks in November, one of my favorite traditions is making tortilla soup with the turkey leftovers.

Now my dad is Mexican and nothing would please me more than to say that I will soon be revealing my Grandmother’s family recipe from the hills of Tabasco.  Unfortunately that is not the case.  Nope.  This is because like in most homes, it was my mother’s culture that influenced our meals.  I think my mom–Michigander of German descent–found her tortilla soup recipe in a magzine years ago.  I will say this: we have altered and, dare I say, perfected the recipe.  (Yes.  I dare.)

You can go to 20 Mexican restaurants and have tortilla soup served 20 different ways.  I actually don’t order it out any more because, well, I like my Michigander-German-descent-from-a-magazine-but-now-doctored-up-just-right concoction just fine.  Before reading on, don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients.  There’s nothing too exotic in here, which is yet another reason to love it.

Michelle’s Tortilla Soup

Soup Ingredients: 1-2 lbs chopped chicken, turkey or beef, 3 tbsp. olive oil, small can diced chilis, 2 medium chopped onions, 2 diced red bell peppers, 2 cans drained black beans, 28 oz. can chopped tomato w/juice or a few diced fresh tomatoes, 6 cups chicken/turkey/or beef broth/or a combination of meat broths, 1 can tomato sauce, 1-3 tbsp. cumin, 1-2 tbsp. chili powder, 2 tbsp. worchestershire, 3 cloves garlic, salt and pepper to taste. 

Toppings: diced green onion, diced fresh cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, corn tortillas cut into squares, tortilla chips

Directions: If the meat is raw, cook it in the oil with the onion, bell peppers and garlic.  If meat is cooked, put it aside while cooking onions, peppers and garlic.  Then add all other soup ingredients (including the meat), bring to a boil and then let simmer on low for about 45 minutes.  If possible, make this a day ahead of time, refrigerate and then reheat.  Chilling the soup and then warming it back up helps all the yumola flavors really get to know one another.  That said, it can be really hard to wait to eat this soup!

Regarding the toppings, Mike loves his tortillas to get heated up with the soup so they get sort of melded into his steamy bowl.  I actually just like a few crunchy tortilla chips on top with the cilantro and onion.  You do what works for you. K?

Tips: I made this batch of soup with a bone broth I made for 36 hours in the crock pot after Thanksgiving.  It. Is. So. Good. Oh; this recipe is pretty mild so my kids and mother can eat it.  You can also add diced jalapenos to the soup and/or include some spicy salsa on your list of toppings.  Final tip = don’t worry about quantities in this here recipe too much.  If your soup is too thin, add more toppings.  Done. 

 

 

Advertisements

Quinoa Love

Couscous w cumin Pronounced “Keen-wah” (I’ve heard a few variations…!)

I have been loving my quinoa situation recently.  Quinoa seeds are referred to as “grains” (even on the package!) which pretty ridiculous.  They are technically a seed.

With one child gluten free, a house full of hungry people who, like, wanna eat three meals a day plus snacks (what the?) and a mama who doesn’t like to reach for prepackaged junk on a regular basis, salads like this have become a necessary staple.  For example, when my 6 year old son eats snacks like many kids his age eat a full meal, I gotta be prepared.  I just don’t like to see him motoring through an entire sleeve of crackers. “Yes my love.  You can have a few crackers.  But first eat this bowl of something actually healthy if you don’t mind.  Thanks!” (and then, when you’re done and feel full you may forget about the crackers which is fine too…)

Quinoa is a very malleable ingredient, and likes to take on the flavors of whatever else you put with it.  It is high in protein, and tastes super yummy if you ask me.  I created this recipe after finding a few quinoa salad options online.

Michelle’s Cumin Quinoa Salad

Ingredients: 2 cups quinoa, 3 1/2 cups chicken or veg. broth, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 can drained black beans, 1 cup of corn, 1/2 bunch chopped cilantro, 1-3 tbsp. cumin, juice of 1-2 fresh limes, 4 or so tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Directions: Cook onion with a little olive oil until onions turn translucent (5 mins or so.)  Then toss in quinoa and stir with onions for a few minutes before adding broth.  Then follow package instructions but modify the liquid quantity (they always call for 2 parts water per 1 part quinoa but this will be mushy.)  After quinoa chills add the other ingredients.  Serve with tortilla chips if you like.  Oh!  We sometimes add fresh avocado too… delish!

Tips:  If you make a large amount, just add the avocado when served or it will turn brown and you will make a bad face when you see it later.  Some of the ingredient quantities are broad, above.  This is because it really can vary depending on how much juice you get from a lime or how much you like cumin.  I love the cumin/lime combo, so I go heavy on it.  But you do what you like and I won’t judge.

Final tip: My kids don’t all love this salad.  They like it OK, but it’s not really offered as an—ahem–option.  When they’re hungry (and eyeing the crackers they really want or whatever) they are motivated.  If you are still scratching your head as to how to get your kids to eat something like this, I can recommend a really great workshop…

Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Kitty Purgason's Chili

I met this chili, and Kitty Purgason, at the Pasadena Covenant Church meal contest last fall.  This church provides shelter and meals to homeless folks on cold, wet winter nights..  Roughly 12 members of the congregation volunteered to whip up their favorite home-cooked recipes, provide a “taste off,” and use a vote to choose the upcoming menu.

People, this is my kind of church experience–it’s got “Midwest” written all over it.

My Michigander transplant girlfriend, Lisa, is a Covenant Church member and she lets me tag along when I’m in the mood.  As a native Minnesotan raised in a Methodist home and church, from the first time I popped my eclectically-spiritual face onto the Covenant scene I felt right at home.   Throw in a pot-luck taste test with a recipe made by the you-can’t-get-more-Midwestern-than-this: Kitty Purgason… Girlfriend, that is a taste of Michelle’s heaven.

The Midwestern United States isn’t exactly known for its gourmet approach to food.  Common references to “casseroles” and questions regarding the usage of cream of mushroom soup have arisen.  And while, yes, casseroles (actually, the correct term is “hot-dish,”) and cream of mushroom soup are something with which we Mid-westerners are familiar, we offer much more to the culinary world.

The Midwestern philosophy to cooking is actually quite a hat-tip to the modern mama.  Savory.  Efficient.  Satisfying.  Wholesome.  These are words that, when used to describe dinner, are often met with smiles.  I said SMILES.  Who couldn’t use more of those at the table?

I love Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili for three reasons.  First of all, it’s easy-tasty-healthy. Second, the ingredients can be kept on hand (most in the pantry) for easy whip-up’ed-ness. Also, you can totally fudge the quantities on pretty much everything (just throw in extra this if you are missing a can of that) and still present a delicious meal for your family.  Now you can smile too!

Finally, the name Kitty Purgason makes my heart smile.  Back in Rochester, Minnesota I had a classmate named Kitty who, in the third grade, helped me with fractions and taught me how to draw trees that didn’t resemble lollipops.  My childhood friend, Kitty, was friendly and generous, much like the Covenant-Church-Kitty I recently met.

Besides “Calva,” my elementary classroom rosters had a list of surnames including Torgrimson, Olson and Thompson.  So, when kind hand of someone named Kitty Purgason was extended to me over my chili sample that fall day, I just knew this recipe would join my life and table.

Now it can join yours too.

Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Chili Ingredients: 1 chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, couple three cans chicken broth (0r approximate equivalent), leftover diced cooked chicken, 1 can drained white or pinto beans, 1 can corn (drain but save liquid in case you need it), 1 can chopped tomatoes with liquid, 1 (or 2) small can mild green chilis, optional: chopped fresh tomatillos if available.  See toppings ingredients below…

Definitely serve with: fresh lime, tortilla chip crumbles Optionally serve with (unless you’re at my house, then this is definite too!): sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro, diced green onion, hot sauce

Directions: Saute onion and garlic with a few splashes of olive oil.  Add everything else and bring to a simmer.  Um… you’re done and it likely took all of 12 minutes.

Notes: This is a very mild chili, which works great for my kids.  We all love the lime and chips on top and I put the rest of the accoutrements on the table and we sprinkle as desired.  Mike and I add hot sauce, but of course…  Doctoring your bowl of yum up with all the fixin’s is really half the fun.  Also, even though I live a stone’s throw from a Latino super market and could get tomatillos in a second, I have never gone to the trouble when making this recipe and and it still tastes stellar.

Final Note (still with me?): Feel free to use fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, etc… if you have them on hand, of course.  But isn’t it nice to know you don’t have to?

Pre-Summer Quinoa Salad!!

Lisa's salad

There are three things you should know about this salad.  First of all, I’ve never actually made it myself.  It’s not my fault though!  Lisa keeps making and making it and bringing it over…  When or why would I go to the trouble?

The second thing you should know is that this recipe comes from another blogger, Once Upon a Chef that Lisa says “is a lot like me.” (Sounds like a cool lady, huh?)

The third thing you should know is that not only do I love this salad soooo much, I love tons of salads like this.  This, friends, is my kinda bowl of yum to have in the fridge.  It’s a pretty complete meal, it’s de-lish, you can prep large quantities at a time and then grab a spoon for days… I’m smiling already.

So I’m telling you all this to tantalize your taste buds.  There will be more salady-posts coming your way as summer (SUMMER!!!) approaches.  Aren’t you excited now?  Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy!

Quinoa Corn/Tomato/Lime Salad (you can read the recipe here, on my recipe page or you can check out the blog from whence it came–nothin’ like options!)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, from one small onion
  • 1 cup pre-washed quinoa (if not washed, follow package instructions for rinsing)
  • 1-2/3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, from 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh cut cooked corn, from 2 cobs
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, from 1 large lime
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add quinoa to onions and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add vegetable broth and stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover pan tightly with lid, turn heat down to low and simmer for 17-20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Transfer cooked quinoa to mixing bowl and chill in refrigerator.
  3. When quinoa is cool, add remaining tablespoon olive oil, tomatoes, corn, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Right before serving, scatter avocado chunks over top.

Tip: So far, every time Lisa has made this we get so distracted with the kids (gossip, whatever) she has forgotten to put the avocado in–but it still tasted heavenly.

Tip #2 (unrelated to quinoa salad, but still good to know…): If you’d like to check me out all week on Hometown Pasadena, well, go right ahead.  My featured March recipe is fajitas !!!

Beautiful Sister/Ugly Dip

bean dip

I, personally, don’t think this bowl of dip is particularly visually appealing.  The first time my gorgeous sister, Sarah, whipped it up I didn’t get my hopes up too high… And then I tasted it.

Super Bowl of yum.  In fact, yes, I took this dip to a Super Bowl Party yesterday and, as is always the case, it was a huge hit.  The kids who have had it before actually squealed when I took the lid off the top and they saw this stuff ‘cuz they know it’s so tasty.

Beautiful Sarah’s Ugly Bean Dip:

Ingredients: 3 cans of black beans, drained; approximately 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, some chopped cilantro, approximately 12 oz. mild salsa (my kids don’t care for spicy)

Directions: Mix and serve.

Tips: The ingredient list above is a bit vague.  I have really found, though that the measurements can vary and you can still get a great dip.  Sometimes I don’t have cilantro on hand but if I can scrounge a few sprigs from my mom or another neighbor, I can make it work.  Cheese is the same story.  If you’re a bit short, you can still go for it.

Here’s a photo of the beans, cheese and cilantro before I mixed it so you can see about how much I used:

pre-bean dip

After this I just added the salsa and stirred it all up.  Dip some tortilla chips in that stuff and yummm-oh!

I make this dip on a semi regular basis.  It’s a nice hearty snack and packs some nutrition into the punch.  It’ll keep well in the fridge for a few days and we even take it on picnics and to the beach in the summer.  Enjoy!