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: Chicken and Dumplings

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Chicken and Dumplings

From Eat at Home

http://eatathomecooks.com/2009/07/homemade-chicken-and-dumplings-its-easy-really.html

chicken and dumplings served up

chicken and dumplings served up

When I’m blogging I usually let the occasion or what sounds yummy dictate the recipe I choose. This time, I was a little stumped on which direction to go. I asked Chris for his opinion on what I should make for the blog. “Something good”, he replied. When I pressed him to elaborate, he shrugged. “I don’t know…comfort food, something Southern and something I’d like”.

What Chris and I find comforting are two totally different things. I like things such as fettuccine alfredo, pad thai, and chicken tikka masala. Chris finds comfort in Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, meatloaf, and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. We both can (for the most part) appreciate the other’s comfort cravings, but what speaks to the soul for one doesn’t translate for the other. One of the things I know that soothes Chris is the very southern chicken and dumplings, so I decided I would make it for him.

The ingredients for the comfort food extravaganza

The ingredients for the comfort food extravaganza

This chicken and dumplings recipe from the blog Eat at Home is very straight forward. I suggest using leftover cooked chicken if you have it. Otherwise save yourself the hassle and buy a rotisserie bird to shred. To me part of this recipe’s appeal is the simplicity (AKA: quick cooking time). If you really want to roast your own bird and let it cool, go right ahead. Just be prepared to add a few hours to your prep-time.

shredded rotisserie chicken

shredded rotisserie chicken

the rolled out dumplings, before they go into the pot

the rolled out dumplings, before they go into the pot

The dumplings themselves couldn’t be easier. They’re flour, baking powder, milk, and salt. I added ground pepper to the dough because I find the dumplings too bland without it. Actually, I season the recipe the whole way through. This includes the dumplings, cooking liquid, and one final time before I serve. I also think a dash or two of hot sauce would be fantastic, though I’ve yet to try it.

the dumplings starting to simmer

the dumplings starting to simmer

The recipe states that the dumplings cook in 15-20 minutes. I’ve found that getting them fully cooked actually takes about 25-30 minutes plus it gives the sauce more time to thicken. I mix in my shredded chicken three minutes before I serve so that everything can get all saucy together.

the dumplings just before serving

the dumplings just before serving

Once completed and bowled out, I think chicken and dumplings resembles mod-podge or clumpy grade school glue; but don’t be alarmed by its unappealing appearance. This recipe is meaty, silky, creamy and comforting.  Chris loved it; he had two bowls that night and asked to take it for lunch the next day. When he requests leftovers from the night before, I know it’s a success.

Yes, I needed to add some green

Yes, I needed to add some green

I don’t have cravings for Chicken and dumplings like Chris does but I do enjoy a bowl from time to time. It’s the kind of meal that suits a rainy movie night or a weekend where you’re recovering from a cold. I’d also recommend this recipe for college students who need a good southern meal, cold or not. I also think it’s good for those times when you need to comfort a boyfriend from North Carolina… and it’s a lot nicer than heating up a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle.

This is so much better than Campbells

This is so much better than Campbells