Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chicken and Lime Soup

Sometimes I feel like the weather dictates what I cook for dinner.  Hot days might be a salad or something grilled outside, cold days may be something comforting like pasta, or on rainy days I'll make a batch of soup.

Yesterday was rainy. I made soup.

I saw a great recipe for chicken and lime soup on this awesome blog called Budget Bytes.  The author has really awesome recipes that I make often! They're easy and the ingredients are things that you probably already have at home, which is always fantastic.

This soup is full of yummy goodness and hit the spot on a rainy, lazy night.  A saute, shred, boil, and simmer away, dinner was cooked!

Chicken and Lime Soup (serves 6)

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 tbs olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeño, diced
2 tbs garlic
2 cans diced tomatoes with chilies
1 can whole kernel corn, unsalted, drained
6 cups chicken broth (I used chili lime broth)
hot sauce
1 tbs cumin
1 tbs paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
sea salt
black pepper
1 lime, to squeeze in soup
1 lime, sliced, for garnish
cilantro, chopped
avocado, sliced
shredded cheese

Saute celery, onion, garlic, and jalapeño in olive oil until soft.  Add diced tomatoes, broth, corn, a few splashes of hot sauce and all the spices.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes on low.  Add the shredded chicken and and squeeze in one lime.  Continue simmering for 30-40 min with the lid on.

Right before serving, throw in a handful of chopped cilantro, stir, and serve.  Garnish with sliced avocados, shredded cheese, and extra cilantro.  Serve with sliced limes.

We had our soup with a slice of jalapeno cheese bread.  Enjoy!

Pho-tastic Pho and Shrimp Summer Rolls

Thank you Houston for your bipolar weather ways.  One day it'll be a cool, boots and tights kind of day, and the next it'll be a steamy, frizzy haired, hot as hades kind of day.  You never know in Houston.

On these WARM/HOT fall weather days, I pretend it's nice and cool outside, and begin craving pho.  One of my ultimate comfort foods, after mac n' cheese, but before chicken pot pie.

For those of you who are pho virgins, you are missing out big time.  Pho is a Vietnamese noodle soup made with a slow simmered, flavorful, usually beef, broth, topped with rice noodles, and meat.  I always get mine with the lean uncooked beef that is dropped into my bowl at the last moment and cooked in the broth. You an also get it with cooked beef, beef tendon, meatballs, chicken, and other various meats.  Then you get a heaping plate of condiments, usually basil, mint, cilantro, jalapenos, limes, bean sprouts, hoisin, and sriracha (i put this s**t on everything).

I haven't had the time to experiment making pho the real way, simmering beef bones and spices for hours.  Instead, I ran across an organic pho soup starter at Fiesta, and decided to give it a go.  But before diving into a big bowl of pho, shrimp summer/spring rolls are. a. must.

Honestly though, you can get a good bowl of pho and a summer roll for under $7 at any vietnamese restaurant if you don't feel like cooking it.  But I love to try things that seem challenging and make it at home, which I hope you do too.  Plus, I control what goes into it.  Give it a try!

Many of the ingredients can be found in the Asian Market of your choice.  However, I found the pho starter at Fiesta.

Summer Rolls: (makes 4 small)

4 medium rice paper
6 cooked shrimp, sliced where the vein is
thin slices of cucumber
shredded cabbage
shredded carrot
bean sprouts

Dipping Sauce:

2 tbs. honey
1 tbs. rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbs. chili garlic paste

Working on one roll at a time, take one sheet of rice paper, run under warm water until pliable.  Lay out on a cutting board or plate and lay down 3 shrimp, then lay on some cucumber, cabbage, carrot, and top with mint and basil.  Fold the two smaller sides in and then roll like a burrito.  It's okay if some carrot or cucumber sticks out on one of the ends, I think it looks pretty.

For the dipping sauce, whisk together honey, rice wine vinegar, and the chili garlic paste.

Easy Pho: (serves 2-4)

1 container organic Pho Starter (I got mine at Fiesta)
2 cups beef broth
1 small thinly sliced onion
slices of thinly sliced beef (bought "pho" beef at the Asian Market)
fresh rice noodles (Asian Market), run under warm water for a few minutes for easier handling


sliced Jalapenos
sliced Limes
bean Sprouts
hoisin sauce

Pour pho starter and beef broth into a deep pot along with the sliced onion.  Cover pot and bring to a boil for 2 minutes.  Bring down to a simmer.  At this point, you can add your beef to cook for a minute, and then add your noodles.  They'll soften in a matter of seconds.  Your pho is ready to eat!  Now wasn't that crazy easy to do??  Just make sure to use tongs to get the noodles out into your bowl and then ladle in your broth.  Eat hot with plenty of fixin's.  Enjoy!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes

breezy weather-fall festivals-pumpkin spice lattes-cardigans-boots-Halloween-Thanksgiving-pho

Those are just a few of the things that make me happy during this time of year.  Although the beginning of fall was a couple weeks ago, fall appropriate weather was today!  It made me forget today was a Monday and put me in such a fantastic mood all day!  All kinds of excited for fall funsies :)

Tonight I made a meal that is great eats for this beautiful weather, flavorful and juicy chicken thighs that are seared and roasted along with cauliflower and sweet potatoes.  Perfect weather calls for a perfect meal.

Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes: (serves 4)

- 4 skinless chicken thighs
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1/2 large sweet potato, cut into chunks
- olive oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- paprika
- cumin
- garlic powder
- minced garlic

Preheat oven to 475.  Clean the chicken thighs and pat dry (dry chicken gives you a pretty caramel color when seared). Season both sides with salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, and garlic powder. I like extra black pepper on mine.

Heat up a skillet to medium-high heat with 1 tbs olive oil.  Once hot, add the chicken thighs and sear both sides for 5 min on each side.  As chicken is searing, toss the cauliflower and sweet potatoes with olive oil, minced garlic, sea salt, paprika, and black pepper.

Once chicken is seared, place in a large baking dish that will fit the chicken and vegetables.  In the same skillet, throw in the vegetables and toss for a few minutes til vegetables begin to brown.  Add the vegetables to the baking dish.

Roast the chicken and vegetables for 30 minutes until sweet potatoes have softened.

Wait 5 minutes before serving.  Garnish with chopped parsley. Enjoy and cuddle up :)