Chicken Enchilada Soup: A 2 Cats Recipe

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Chicken Enchilada Soup

My kitty sicknurses....hard at work

My kitty sicknurses….hard at work

The end of January has brought cold, nasty weather and a gnarly case of the sniffles to North Carolina. Yep, that’s right; this blogger is getting over a cold.  I took a few days off this week to rest and recover under the direct supervision of my two favorite sick nurses. The first night my wonderful fiancée made my guilty pleasure for dinner, blue box macaroni and cheese. The second night I was starting to feel better so I decided to get up, stop being a slug, and make Chris and myself soup.

A drained portion of the canned veggies for the soup

A drained portion of the canned veggies for the soup

Chicken, chilies, tomatoes and enchilada sauce all in a pot

Chicken, chilies, tomatoes and enchilada sauce all in a pot

I chose to make my hearty and fufilling chicken enchilada soup. It’s perfect for a wintry day or when you don’t feel like exerting a lot of effort…or both in this case. This recipe is more about ingredient assembly than cooking and all it takes is 15 minutes of effort, a can opener, and a slow cooker. The soup simmers away in the pot for 6-8 hours, making it an easy dish to start one morning before you get to work (or around noon if you’re deeply involved in a “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” marathon).  This recipe is a crowd pleaser and has something for everyone; heaps of shredded chicken breast, hearty black beans, sweet corn, plump tomatoes, and a perfectly flavored soup base of broth, enchilada sauce and cumin.  I adore cumin; it’s nutty and warm and gives everything a wonderful depth of flavor. It’s the most used spice in my drawer, the soup wouldn’t be as stellar without it.

Soup pre-slow cooking

Soup pre-slow cooking

After 6 hours (and some chicken shredding) yummy warming soup!

After 6 hours (and some chicken shredding) yummy warming soup!

Once the chicken enchilada soup is completed, I’ve got a meal that stuffs Chris and I both, but also supplies leftovers for the next few days. The soup gets better the longer it sits and can be topped with all sorts of goodies. My favorite combination is cheddar, sour cream, and a little bit of Thai chili paste. This soup is really great for weeknight entertaining as well; just serve it with some tortilla chips and a toppings bar and you’re set. My favorite way to eat this soup however, is sitting under a fuzzy blanket, watching television with my two favorite space heaters.

Who ya calling a heater? I'm a supportive loving feline.

Who ya calling a heater? I’m a supportive loving feline.

Go away, you're interrupting my 20 hours of beauty sleep

Go away, you’re interrupting my 20 hours of beauty sleep

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup Ingredients

Chicken Enchilada Soup Ingredients

2 pounds chicken breast

1.5 cups chicken broth

1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 ounce) corn, drained

1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies

1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 heaping tsp. cumin

¼ tsp kosher salt

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 (16 ounce) can refried beans

 

Add chicken to slow cooker. Cover with the broth, beans, corn, chilies, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir everything until mixed. Cover and cook on low for about 6-8 hours. Remove the chicken and shred.  Stir refried beans into the hot soup until creamy.  Add chicken back into the slow cooker and ladle the soup into bowls. Top with your favorite things.

A bowl of the good stuff

A bowl of the good stuff

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Recipe Review: Lime and Coconut Chicken

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Lime and Coconut Chicken

Recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen

Hey Mom, whatcha doin?

Hey Mom, whatcha doin?

I find it really challenging to consistently cook complete healthy meals on weeknights. With busy work schedules and everyday stressers it’s tempting to open up a bag of pre-cooked dumplings or call for take-out. But now, as I’m getting closer to my wedding date, I feel a renewed sense of dedication to cook a healthy weeknight meal. Chris is supportive of this, but, as I’ve stated before, he’s quite a picky eater. So not only should our weeknight meals be fast, simple, and healthy, but they also have to be “fiancée approved”.

All of the marinade ingredients

All of the marinade ingredients

One of my new favorites that has recieved Chris’s approval is lime and coconut chicken from the website Chaos in the Kitchen. It’s a great weeknight dish because it can be prepared in stages throughout the afternoon/evening. I can swing by the grocery store on my way home for chicken and whatever else I need, prep the meat and sauce in 20 minutes, let it marinate the 2 or 3 hours I’m teaching lessons, and then complete the whole dish in the time it takes me to boil some white rice. The flavors are also fantastic. It has sweetness from the coconut milk, a spicy nudge from the pepper and just the perfect tang from the limes.

The marinade before the chicken goes in

The marinade before the chicken goes in

All of the ingredients can be easily procured at any local grocery store. I use a generic curry powder and my very own homegrown cayenne peppers in the marinade. (Side note: Can I just take a second to say how awesome it is to grow your own ingredients? It makes you feel like you can accomplish anything!) The recipe doesn’t specify the kind of oil used for the marinade. I’ve made this successfully with both olive and vegetable oil, so I think it’s up to your preference and/or what’s on hand. I tweak the recipe by juicing the zested lime and tossing it into the marinade bag to add more citrus flavor, it’s a small thing but it really makes a difference.  I also don’t use cilantro….Chris is not a fan.

After 2-3 hours the little lime peak through the marinade, letting you know its done :-) (just kidding!)

After 2-3 hours the little lime peak through the marinade, letting you know its done 🙂 (just kidding!)

The smell of the marinade is one of the highlights of the meal. The curry, coconut, and lime are so deliciously fragrant; it gives me the urge to relax on a beach somewhere with one of those tropical umbrella drinks. I serve the chicken with white rice and a spoonful of reduced marinade on top of everything. The meal is gone within minutes of being put upon our dining room table. The leftovers are fabulous too; I make little rice bowls for lunch and pour any remaining sauce on top of dish before reheating.

The chicken cooking off in the skillet. Smells so good!

The chicken cooking off in the skillet. Smells so good!

In conclusion, this Lime and Coconut chicken is exotic, scrumptious, easy enough to do on a weeknight, and picky eater approved.

Recipe Review: Croque Monsieur

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Croque Monsieurs 

Recipe for the Barefoot Contessa

While Chris and I were in Georgia for the holidays I got a huge craving for French food. I decided that I absolutely had to make some croque monsieurs as soon as we got home. For those of you who don’t know, a croque monsieur is the French version of a ham and cheese sandwich, but it’s topped with a cheesy béchamel sauce and broiled. I adore these sandwiches even though I don’t like ham at all (I’m not sure why, just have always found it unappealing)! Chris is also a big fan of this meal and we agreed that we’d make the sandwiches soon after we got back to North Carolina.

Unfortunately, we returned home to find a dying refrigerator.  Want to know how to drive a food blogger crazy? Take away her fridge for 6 days. I had been thinking about these croque monsieurs for a whole week and as much as I enjoy take out (and not doing the dishes) it was torture not being able to scratch my foodie itch. After 3 delivery attempts and a 24 hour cooling period, I was able to stock my new refrigerator with the cold cuts and dairy needed to proceed.

Croque Monsieur Ingredients

Croque Monsieur Ingredients

I used the croque monsieur recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot in Paris.  Since these sandwiches were just for me and Chris, I halved the recipe. It usually makes enough for 4 people. Ina’s recipe calls for white sandwich bread, but I used the whole wheat bread we had in the house. I like that the recipe instructs the cook to cut the crusts off the bread. It makes the sandwiches feel fancy and well, French. You can leave them on if you prefer but I actually think that the overly toasted crust takes away from the other textures in the sandwich.

Yay Toast!

Yay Toast!

mmmm Gruyere Cheese....

mmmm Gruyere Cheese….

I’ve made the recipe with regular Swiss cheese before and it’s OK, but if you can get your hands on some gruyere cheese, do so. It has a sensual deep swiss flavor that you can’t find in anything else. It makes the béchamel sauce indulgent and luxurious. Speaking of that, the béchamel sauce is the only part of this recipe that’s labor intensive and is the key to this sandwich. It only took fifteen minutes to whisk the sauce together. While you’re whisking away on the béchamel you can be toasting the bread in the oven or keeping your kitty away from the ham.

the bechamel sauce pre-cheese

the bechamel sauce pre-cheese

Mommy, can I have some ham? Or Cheese? Pleeeeeese

Mommy, can I have some ham? Or Cheese? Pleeeeease

Rosalind and I have a "discussion" about how she can't have any sandwich

Rosalind and I have a “discussion” about how she can’t have any sandwich

The croque monsieurs are really just a quick assembly job once the béchamel is ready. They then go into the broiler for 5-7 minutes and come out bubbly and toasted. These sandwiches are little pieces of heaven, I find it so hard not to just gobble them down in 10 seconds flat. The balance is perfect: the tang from the Dijon mustard, the salty ham, the bubbly cheese sauce running over the toasty bread…I mean, as Ina says “how bad can that be”? My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Assembling the sandwiches

Assembling the sandwiches

Toasted Yumminess

Toasted Yumminess

The croque monsieur is kind of like a nice pair of jeans; you can dress them up with a nice green salad, or dress them down with a side of potato chips. They can be served for a nice romantic dinner with wine or with a few sodas while you watch the T.V. in your pajamas (don’t judge).  Anyway you choose, you’ll be happy with this marvelous melty sandwich on your plate. As the French would say; Bon appetit!

A plate of Croque Monsieur and chips

           A plate of Croque Monsieur and chips

Roz says "humpf. I just wanted a sandwich"

                  Roz says “humpf. I just wanted a sandwich”