Friday, December 31, 2010

world peace chicken enchiladas verdes


     My eldest daughter and her friend concluded that my chicken enchiladas and the friend's mother's homemade fudge were SO good, that they could be used in brokering world peace, hence the name.
     The enchiladas, followed by a couple pieces of fudge would be served to heads of countries who don't get along. They would be SO happy and satisfied that they would become agreeable to almost anything. I've eaten the fudge... it could work! I'd be willing to give it a whirl.
     I really can't think of one bad to say about these enchiladas, except that they're addicting. They are super simple to make, using precooked chicken or even leftover turkey and take mere minutes to assemble.
     Another huge plus is that the filling freezes well, so only roll what you need for a meal, store the rest for another time. This recipe makes between 20 and 24 enchiladas, depending on how plump you fill them.
     IF you can't abide a tiny bit of spicy heat, use regular Monterrey Jack cheese or cheddar jack instead of pepper jack and only one can of the green chilies.  
Ingredients:
6 c. chicken, cooked and chopped
4 c. pepper jack cheese
1 c. reduced fat sour cream, divided in half
1 c. fat free Greek yogurt, divided in half
1 -2 cans, diced, mild green chilies
1 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
20-24 small flour tortillas
16 oz. jar Frontera Grill tomatilla salsa, (or any green salsa)
topping:
chopped fresh tomatoes
chopped fresh avocado
mixed greens
fresh cilantro
lime wedges
Directions
Blend together sour cream and yogurt. Divide in half and reserve the rest for the sauce. Finely chop the fresh cilantro, reserving half as garnish. Mix chicken, cheese, half of yogurt mixture, green chilies and half of cilantro together in a bowl.
Fill tortillas w/ mixture. Place in glass baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Spray top of tortillas in dish.
Bake @ 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. All of the ingredients are already cooked, so we're merely melting everything together into divine yummi-ness. The enchiladas will appear slightly crispy and lightly browned.
While the enchiladas are baking, prep toppings. My faves are diced, fresh tomatoes, fresh cilantro, chopped avocado dressed with salt, pepper and a little lime juice; and lime wedges to squeeze. I sometimes place mixed salad greens on the plate and place enchiladas on top.
Whisk together remaining yogurt/ sour cream mixture and green tomatilla salsa. I LOVE the salsa from Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill. The tomatillas have been fire-roasted, which gives it a slight smoky taste. (You could make your own, but this salsa is under three dollars, so the time saved is worth it to me.)
Spread blended sauce sparingly over warm enchiladas. (Don't drown them. There's enough for 20-something enchiladas.)
You can sprinkle a bit of additional grated cheese and a couple of pinches of fresh cilantro over the top to make it look nice, if you'd like. Scoop out and place on plate.
Pile the cool, fresh topping ingredients on the hot enchiladas. Oh. my. goodness... I'm getting weak in the knees just thinking about it!
Sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze a lime wedge over the whole thing. You're so smart and sneaky... you're serving a salad in disguise and these are so fresh and delicious, the anti-veggie whiners won't even notice!
Buena Apetit!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

is "love' or 'obsession' one step away from hoarding?

     I have been acutely aware lately of how much stuff I have to keep up with and how many places I have stuff. I live in a house full of stuff. I have an office and a large commercial kitchen at work... more stuff. I have a car, which often serves as a liaison office between home and work. I really should be cleaning it out right now, instead of blogging about it. I think George Carlin had a comedy bit about this very topic.
     While reading my friend the Housewife's blog about her visit, I noticed all the books in her pictures of my home. Cookbooks and food essays are in the most accessible spots throughout the house. Doing a fast inventory, I counted eighty-eight. In the dining room, huge floor to ceiling shelves flank the picture window. It is nicely organized by subject. Childrens' books are positioned on low shelves, ready for small hands to grab. Old college books live on the very highest shelf. Travel, history and biography are at MY eye level. Just seeing them makes me giddy. A large selection of Nancy Drew from various decades inhabits the older children's section and my favorites to reread are stacked on my dresser, my nightstand, under my computer desk, etc. In my mobile library, i.e. my car, at least one or two copies of something can be found... just in case.
     I am starting to see a pattern that could be considered hoarding. But they are BOOKS! My husband once cautiously inquired about my collection. Him: "How many books do four people need???" Me: "I'll let you know when I find out." He was not amused. My passion for the written word in paper form runs deep.
     A couple of months ago, my eldest daughter posted on her Facebook status that I had 24 jars of mustard in my pantry. Her friends were shocked and appalled, but curious. I have a very good explanation for this phenomenon. The mustard in question is an expensive Dijon import named Maille and sells for over $3 a jar. I am only slightly obsessed with mustard. I love them. Whole grain Dijon, sweet hot, horseradish, mustard with porter or caramelized onions, spicy brown, smooth Dijon and plain old yellow.
     I also love a bargain, so when stopping by the mustard aisle one morning, I spied the fancy Dijon on clearance for $1.05 each. To make the deal even sweeter, a manufacturer's coupon was tied around the neck for a dollar off. SO... what would you have done? Exactly! I bought them all for five cents apiece. My grocery total was somewhere in the $2.25 neighborhood... and you can imagine how excited the cashier was to scan all those $1 coupons individually. I bought 40-something jars and kept 24. The rest I took to the church's kitchen pantry.
     After all of those tee-ninetsy details, you want to know what I'm going to use it for, don't you? I posted a blog about the best (in my humble opinion,) vinaigrette. It contains Dijon mustard. I don't buy store bought dressing for salads, we eat quite a bit of it and there you have it! A short story long.
     My in laws, having succumbed to the economic downturn, lost their house to foreclosure in August. They moved in with us until they could get on their feet again. Before their arrival, I had to clean out several of my closets to make room for their stuff. Do you see a recurring theme? So, now that they are gone, I can spread my junk back out again... or just get rid of everything I haven't missed in five months!
     Hmmmm...

Friday, December 17, 2010

let's review: houlihan's savannah

     Thursday, belatedly celebrating my November birthday, I lunched with a friend at Houlihan's Restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.
It is located near the intersection of Georgia Highway 204 and I-95. In May of 2009, locals were deprived from eating there, due to a kitchen fire that shut the place down for six months. I have a bit of lost time to make up! As we studied the entertaining and extensive menu, we changed our minds frequently. It is deliciously descriptive and makes me hungry just reading it. After much mulling and a tiny bit of indecision, I chose the Wood-grilled Salmon, substituting the red bliss mashed potatoes for a creamy, Lemon-Asparagus Risotto. It also came with sauteed green beans. My lunch date chose the same thing. What we lacked in variety we made up for in enthusiasm.
     The fish was cooked to perfection, arriving hot off the grill. The outside was crispy and brown while the inside, tender and moist. The flavor of wood permeated the salmon giving it a smoky flavor. Our risotto, studded with fresh asparagus chunks, was light and fresh tasting. The chef included a half lemon garnish, which I squeezed over my entire plate. The beans were still crisp and bright, hinting of garlic and olive oil. We both were members of the Clean Plate Club that day. With sated appetites and coffee in hand, we managed to share a dish of their famous creme brulee. I definitely won't need any dinner!
On other occasions I have chosen the fish tacos. Tender chunks of white fish tossed in panko crumbs, served in flour tortillas and topped with Chipotle mayo and napa cabbage dressed in a honey-cumin dressing. (Pardon me, I drooled just a little. I will have to go back soon for those.) My girls love the Blackened Chicken Quesadillas and the three mini hamburgers.     
     The overall assessment of Houlihan's was again a positive one. The restaurant's consistency is good and originality great, a characteristic prized by chains everywhere. The eclectic menu ranges from a simple, but delicious soup and salad to rich pot roast. This inventive quality is one of the reasons I enjoy dining at Houlihan's.
So, next time you're in a quandry over where to eat in Savannah, give 'em a whirl... you won't be disappointed.

Houlihan's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

seasons greeting, eating and tweeting

     Last week was a fun week in my house. My good friend from Tennessee, the Housewife of Blogger fame was here for a visit.
     We began each of the six mornings with my customary double espresso followed by a huge helping of laughter, which really is the best medicine. We cooked, we ate, shopped and laughed even more.
     We wrote down the details to recount later in a blog and posted enough photos on Facebook to suitably annoy our friends. We sat by the fire each unseasonably cold night, discussing blogging and tweeting, the world's problems, respective families and our lives so far apart from each other.    
     We strolled through downtown Savannah and camped out in the Booklady Bookstore. We invited ourselves on a visit to Flannery O'Connor's childhood home with one daughter, ate pizza at Vinnie Van Go-Go's and shared decadent desserts at Lulu's Chocolate Bar with the other.  
     The Housewife and I lunched at Soho South Cafe, enjoying the view provided by Juan, our handsome server. This cheered the three study-weary girls who tagged along, on a much needed break from finals week. And I finally got to introduce her to one of my close Savannah friends.
     A few Christmas gifts were found at the Paris Market on Broughton Street and the Savannah Bee Company provided us with a taste of sweetness plus some apiary education. I had to pull the Housewife out of there. She has empty hives at home and is planning for bees in the spring of 2011. We both departed a little bit sticky from the samples of honeycomb, fruit and goat cheese.
     This week it is back to reality. I am cooking for my church family on Wednesday, for the last time in 2010. Where did this year go?
     I'm wrapping presents by the fire, while sipping homemade cocoa...Oooh, I forgot to tell you about the enormous, homemade marshmallows from Back in the Day Bakery.
     They make vanilla as well, but Peppermint remains my favorite! Make a big mug of hot chocolate and plop them in! They fill up the entire mug, so be careful!
Here is the recipe for cocoa. Serves two. (Forget that powdered artificial stuff):
2 c. milk
4 T. sugar, or less, to taste
2 T. cocoa
dash of vanilla
pinch of salt
pinch of instant coffee or espresso powder
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan to heat on the stove. Heat until piping hot, whisking to blend. Pour into mugs and top with sweetened whipped cream or homemade marshmallows. It will warm you all the way through!
      I am making lists, dreaming of sugarplums, stacking firewood and trying to avoid the Christmas rush. I remain in exile in Coastal Georgia, missing my far-away friend. 
     My house is a little too quiet since she flew away to the west... Well, until all three of the dogs begin to bark in unison at the arrival of my husband. Warm wishes! 

glut'tony, n. Excess in eating; extravagant indulgence of the appetite for food.

     I really don't understand the world's fascination with excess and gluttony. We as humans and as a nation are obsessed with having more. More food, larger portions and selections, a food court training us to need instant food gratification, and of course... the new terminology: upsize me! 
          I came across a wildly popular show the other night called Man vs. Food. Here is part of the Travel Channel's bio on the host:
     Food fanatic Adam Richman has held every job in the restaurant business, and now he's on a journey to explore the biggest and best eats our nation has to offer, including some of the craziest eating challenges around. In Man v. Food, Adam travels coast-to-coast from Richmond, VA, to San Diego, CA, and more.
     Adam will attempt to conquer a massive grilled cheese sandwich in Cleveland, OH, a 7-lb. seafood feast in Long Island, NY, and race to finish 50 wings in 30 minutes in Boulder, CO.
Whether it's a gigantic omelet packed with toppings, a diabolical plate of hot wings, or a monstrous mountain of nachos, Adam will square off against the best of the best.
     As I watched in horror while Adam consumed large amounts of fat laden food, a question popped into my head... Are the producers of the show making any long range plans for a replacement host? Adam Richman's impending death must worry them just a little. Will they be prepared? Will he die while filming the consumption of an enormous hunk of meat? Now that would be reality TV! As a female, I just want to set the record straight... this practice is not attractive to most women!
     The portions in restaurants have become so enormous, my husband and I usually share one meal. And as I was researching a recipe for work on a restaurant supply site, I was shocked to find a recipe for one person was made with a half of a pound of pasta. When I made it at home to see if I liked it, it fed three of us for dinner.
     I read somewhere that it takes your stomach 15 or 20 minutes to tell your brain it is full. Meanwhile we continue to shovel it in like it is the last meal we will ever have. Lest you think I am making judgements on society without any ownership, let me assure you that in this respect I am as guilty as anyone else. My love for food will never diminish. My cravings probably won't subside. I am making a resolution, however, to change my thought process. I haven't completely figured out HOW this will happen, but I'll let you know when I do.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

take thanksgiving leftovers from YUCK to yummm!

     On Sunday, I had in mind to make something with turkey... one more time. My family was not interested in the least. Then, as if by divine intervention, I walked into Publix at just the right time. I could smell something wonderful as I came through the door.
     The lovely Publix lady was making a budget friendly meal that literally takes no more time to complete and serve than it took to boil a box of corkscrew noodles.
     It calls for cooked chicken, but I had all of the ingredients at home except the grape tomatoes and crumbled Gorgonzola. After making it according to directions, I found a couple of things I would change.
     First, I doubled the amount of Gorgonzola cheese. The one in the store was creamy and gooey. She had just finished preparing it, so as far as I can tell, it did not have time to soak up all the sauce. When I made it, I called everyone to lunch, as usual, it took a few minutes for all to arrive. In that five or ten minute span, the sauce seemed to disappear.
     I also decided to forgo the expensive European garlic butter, using regular salted butter and sauteing garlic before starting the sauce. I tossed in a splash of white wine and added red pepper flakes to give it some zing. Italian parsley gave it a touch of green, but I wonder if some arugula or spinach would be good... Maybe next time.
     We enjoyed steamed veggies and fresh bread with this lunch. It took about 10 or 15 minutes from car to table. The Publix recipe card says that it costs less than $15 to feed a family of four. I submit that it costs less than that, providing you have leftover meat from your faithful Thanksgiving bird!
Ingredients
1 pound corkscrew pasta, prepared according to pkg. directions, reserving 1 c. pasta cooking liquid
4 T. salted butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
10 oz. cooked chicken or turkey
1/4 c. dry white wine
8 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
Italian parsley, finely chopped
black pepper
Directions
Prepare pasta, reserving liquid, just before draining. Preheat large saucepan. Melt butter, saute garlic and red pepper. Add chicken and tomatoes and cook until chicken is warmed through, about 2 minutes. Pour in wine, cheese and parlsey. Toss with pasta until cheese is melted. Add freshly ground black pepper. If pasta dish is dry, add a small amount of reserved pasta liquid, mixing well.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

old dogs, new blogs and continuing education


homeschool mom: a field guide

     The other evening I ran into a woman I knew in a previous life... my homeschool mom life. I hadn't seen her in years, even though we both reside in the same town. She told me she returned to college to get her Masters' degree, hoping to keep her aging brain active and healthy. Now that I am no longer reading textbooks on a daily basis, that thought has crossed my mind more than once.     
     For the past few days, I have been attempting to learn more about all of the things associated with blogging, like fixing the computer when it freezes up, or what to do when I tell it to download a program and it politely declines.
     One of my sisters-in-law is a web designer. She talked me into purchasing several domain names that go along with my blog, but now that I own them, I can't remember what she told me to do next. I have tried to lure her to Georgia for a weekend of relaxation, (while secretly plotting a private lesson,) but she is busy taking care of my brother, moving to the country and shopping for chickens. I guess I'm on my own.
     A while back, I casually mentioned my blog to my technology-free sister. Me: "I started a blog during the summer." Her: "What does that mean?"  My husband, who is only interested in possible monetary gain, is not following me at all. It is so nice to have the support of your family. My eldest daughter is following via Twitter, which still confuses me. I'm not sure what she sees when she's reading what I wrote. All the symbols and limitations on post size do not encourage me to tweet.

lulu, our resident 'old dog'
     So, I continue to plug along, celebrating loudly when I figure something new out. See the picture behind the title? A mere forty five minutes... after I read the Housewife's post on picasa web albums. At the rate things are changing, I'd better get busy. I have a lot to learn!
The lesson here is, you can teach an old dog new tricks... I'm so proud!

romancing the bird

     Well, my favorite of holidays is upon us and I have been scurrying around like a squirrel hiding acorns for winter. A warm, walnut coffee cake was the star of our holiday breakfast. Two pies, one homemade pecan and a small store-bought pumpkin, ready for the big day. My daughter, never tiring of dress-up materializes clothed in fur and feathers. We wait impatiently for the Pilgrims to arrive.
         


     Four kinds of cubed bread, baguette, challah, whole wheat and pumpernickel were dried on racks for the dressing. I made a pan of plain dressing with only celery, onion and sage, as well as a more adventurous one with added diced apples, mushrooms, raisins, dried cranberries and pecans. The adventurous one turned out to be the fave.
     A spinach and romaine salad with candied pecans, crumbled goat cheese, diced tart apples and dried cranberries await a toss with Bacon-Apple dressing. Rice was steamed for the rice lovers, baby sweet potatoes tossed with a small amount of olive oil, then sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and kosher salt and roasted in the oven. Sheet pans filled with croissants wait for a place in one of the ovens.
     Our formerly-feathered friend, Brother Tom as he's known in our house each year, is golden brown and waiting to be carved. He has been massaged with an herb-garlic butter paste scented with lemon zest and cooked in a brown-in bag. This is the only way I ever cook turkeys and they turn out perfect every time. He is stuffed with bunches of fresh rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley, plucked from my yard, plus an onion and a lemon. The house is filled with the most amazing aroma!    
     The Rowes, who are our Georgia family arrive with armloads of goodies. Green beans, squash casserole, mashed potatoes, two kinds of cranberry sauce, grandma's eight-layer chocolate cake and a pumpkin bread pudding with two sauces. Both sweet and unsweetend tea sit on the sideboard. I haven't even eaten and I can hardly breathe looking at the spread. None of us will need to cook for a week.
     It's Thanksgiving... gluttony is okay for one day, isn't it? Each takes turns saying what we are thankful for, then my husband thanks God for His love, patience and never-ending provision. We are truly blessed. As we got a late start, our dessert-only guests, in a progressive dinner of their own design, begin arriving with chocolate pecan brownie pie in hand and the din increases. Happy voices mingle with the mmm's and oohh's. Plates are scraped clean with a final bite of crescent roll. Coffee is brewing and desserts are plated. Have I mentioned how much I love Thanksgiving? I really think it should last a whole month! Don't you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

harvest salad & turkey day soup


     In my previous post, moms' night out, I regaled you with highlights of our fabulous evening. Lest you think I have forgotten the reason you are tuning in... the actual recipes, let me assure you that I did not.
Harvest Salad with Bacon-Apple Vinaigrette
Ingredients                                                                        
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn                                
1 bag, baby spinach leaves                                        
1 log goat cheese, sliced into rounds                          
1/2 cup dried cranberries                                           
3 granny smith apples, diced
crumbled bacon                                      
1/4 cup, candied pecans                                             
freshly ground black pepper                                       
for the dressing:
1 T. bacon drippings
2/3 c. salad oil
1 can frozen apple juice
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2/3 c. sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. pepper
Directions:
Mix together vinegar, apple juice concentrate, and sugar in small mixing bowl. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add garlic, salt, paprika and pepper. Whisk in bacon drippings and oil. Toss romaine and spinach leaves. Place on salad plates. Arrange goat cheese on top of greens. Grind some black pepper over cheese slices. Add cranberries, apples and pecans. Serve dressing on the side. Use it very sparingly... a little goes a long way.
Turkey Day Soup
Ingredients:
6 c. turkey stock, heated and divided in half
4 to 6 c. red skin potatoes, diced
1 stick unsalted butter
2 medium onions, diced
1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. turkey, cooked and chopped
salt and pepper
pinch of poultry seasoning
can of whole berry cranberry sauce
Directions
In medium saucepan, cook potatoes in 3 c. turkey stock until tender. Set aside undrained. Melt butter in deep stock pot. Saute onions until translucent. Sprinkle with flour and let brown a little. Slowly add the remaining hot turkey stock. Simmer 5 or 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Add potatoes with cooking liquid. Add meat, black pepper and pinch of poultry seasoning. Taste and season with salt. Simmer 15 minutes. Place soup in bowl, topping with a small scoop of whole berry cranberry sauce, just before serving.
     The idea to use the little disposable shot glasses as individual salad dressing cups came from a business lunch I attended with my husband last summer in Orlando. The hotel served us a huge salad and right in the center of the bowl was a slender little glass containing our dressing! Each cup is two ounces, so even the most ardent dressing-lover had plenty.

Friday, November 19, 2010

moms' night out


     For the ten years I have lived in Georgia, I have had the privilege to be part of a group of extraordinary women, with extraordinary families. FEFC, which stands for Family Education for Christ, is a multi-county, homeschool support group located in and around the Savannah area. As my last child graduated from high school in May, I now have the distinct title of Alumni Mom, as do many of my friends now retired from teaching. 
     In case you are uneducated on the subject of parent-led schooling, let me give you a little insight. Homeschooling is not for wimps or the faint of heart. It takes courage, stamina, love and patience, and is more successful when guided by the hand of God. It is difficult to do alone without a huge measure of Grace. 
     Tuesday night, I catered the annual FEFC Christmas Dinner, at which children, from toddlers to teens, are banished. This night is a lovely, low key affair meant to relax and recharge the batteries of these amazingly tireless women. I was asked to make a simple soup and salad menu. The ladies were bringing homemade desserts to share.
     I chose a fabulous soup that gave a little preview to the upcoming holidays. The recipe itself came, over fifteen years ago from a dear friend, Melodee. My family has come to expect it as an after-Thanksgiving tradition and like to cozy up to a bowl when the thermometer plummets.
     It has roast turkey, new potatoes and onion in a thick, hearty broth that resembles gravy. I place a small spoonful of cranberry sauce in the top of each steaming bowl just before serving. The salad compliments the soup, marrying the flavors of tart granny smith apples and dried cranberries, salty goat cheese and candied pecans with sweet and smoky Bacon-Apple Dressing.
     Smiling faces surrounded the dinner table on Tuesday, as tummies were filled and spirits lifted. The menu was simple, the homemade desserts lavish and tasty, a holiday craft table added a little fun, but the company of friends shined brighter than the brightest candle on the table.
     As we approach the week of Thanksgiving, I wish a meaningful holiday for each of you. That you will take a little time to be thankful for what you do have and completely forget to worry over what you don't have. A friend whose mother has terminal cancer told me that all the obsessing usually done over the perfect table setting, the napkins and name tags, the menu and party favors, has ceased to exist.
     The priority this year, is time. Time with her mom, with children and grandchildren, with close friends.  Time is a precious commodity, one that cannot be held in our hands. May your time with loved ones be blessed, may your stomachs be full and spirits overflowing.  Happy Thanksgiving! 



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

soup week blankets the world!

     Shortly after I declared it to be soup week here at nutritionista diaries, I noticed a post from The Church Cook's blog for a Leek and Potato soup recipe. If you would like to see The Church Cook's blog, go to: thechurchcook.blogspot.com. She is located right down the road from me in Savannah, Georgia and like me, spends much of her time feeding the faithful congregation of her church.


the housewife

     This morning, my friend, The Housewife, located in Tennessee, posted a recipe for Corn Tortilla soup. For a glimpse into her fascinating, but snarky world, go to: domesticemancipation.blogspot.com.
     Both soups sound fabulous! And these blogs are two of my favorites. I am excited to have others participating in this tiny little event being celebrated mainly in my own little blog-world. And I am happy to have more recipes to try.
So many recipes, so little time!

chickin lickin': four soups to crow about

     Now that we have learned how to make rich, delicious stock, what do we do with it? Well, it is autumn, the very best time of the year to me, a perfect time to make things that are comforting to your soul! I don't know if you have the same reaction, but when I smell the rich stock simmering, then taste the flavors of the vegetables and other ingredients together, I am reminded of my childhood. The feeling of coziness, being safe, happy, without a care in the world. With the crazy pace of our daily lives, it may only last a skinny minute, but I'll take what I can get.
     The following soup recipes, using homemade chicken stock, will get you started. Don't have homemade? Well, I'll let it slide this time. Use a good quality, canned stock, if you must. But next time the rotisserie chickens are on sale, get a few and throw them in the freezer. Then make your own... I promise, you'll be glad you did!
Chicken Chili-Stew
     This soup came into our family, like many other dishes, as a Weight Watcher recipe from one of my mom's friends. My mom, a lifetime member, prepared this frequently. Our family loves this soup and yours will as well. It is very easy to make and is great for a busy weeknight meal. I add cornbread and, you guessed it, a salad. My favorite go-to cornbread is still the economical Jiffy mix in the little blue and white box. I throw in a small, drained can of mexi-corn and bake it up. We rarely have leftovers.
Ingredients:
2 T. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, any color… yellow is sweetest, green is the strongest
1 pound cooked chicken (frozen, fajita-seasoned breast meat is a fast and delicious option.)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans, fat free, chicken broth or 4 cups, homemade stock
1 can pinto beans, drained
2/3 c. salsa
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
½ t. salt
Black pepper to taste
In large pot, saute onion, garlic and bell pepper until soft. Add all other ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes and serve.
Chicken Gumbo
     One of my favorite soups as a child was Chicken Gumbo. For some reason, you cannot talk me into eating slimy okra and tomatoes, but add chicken stock, rice and a few chunks of chicken and I'm all over it! We did eat the Campbell's canned version, but my mom also made homemade Chicken and Gumbo.
Ingredients:
1 quart chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1 pound cooked chicken
1 c. frozen green beans
1 c. sliced, fresh okra
2 cans stewed tomatoes
½ c. raw rice
salt and pepper
Directions:
In large pot, saute onion until soft. Add remaining ingredients, except for rice. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add rice, cooking until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Italian Bread Soup
Ingredients:
2 T. olive oil
2 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
½ t. red pepper flakes
2 c. day-old crusty bread, cut into large cubes
1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
6 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
Salt and fresh ground, black pepper to taste.
Pinch of sugar
Fresh basil leaves
Heat oil in large saucepan. Brown pancetta, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion. Add bread cubes and turn in oil until coated. (Bread also helps to thicken soup.) Add remaining ingredients. (The pinch of sugar neutralizes the acid in tomatoes.) Simmer for 20 minutes and serve. This soup is great as a first course, instead of a salad. You can also make it a meal by adding a salad, if you like. And if you are one of those 'Where's the Beef' kind of people, don't whine... just add a little meat to your salad.
Chicken Noodle
Ingredients:
1 t. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs, celery, diced
2 c. diced, cooked chicken
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 c. egg noodles
salt and pepper
pinch of poultry seasoning or sage.
Directions:
Place oil in deep stock pot. Heat, then add onion, carrots and celery. (You may have heard of this being used together frequently. The combination of onion, celery and carrots is a classic seasoning mix called by the French, miripoix. Pronounced, ‘mir-i-pwoh.’) Saute until translucent. Add Chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. After simmering, add chicken and ½ cup egg noodles. Cook until noodles are tender. Season with salt, pepper and sage. Congratulations, you have a winning bowl of chicken noodle soup!