Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup with Chips, fresh lime and spoon on Rustic Wood Ba

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

I first posted a recipe with the same name five years ago.  This new version boasts bigger flavor with a few additional ingredients and new sauté procedure.  Slow cooking is perfect for this busy spring season. Simply start this in the morning to cook on low for 7-8 hours or at lunchtime, to cook on high for 5-6 hours.  If your slow cooker does not have a sauté function, simply prepare the first part of this recipe in  a skillet on the stove top and transfer to the slow cooker when ready.

If you are not familiar with Chihuahua cheese, please try it.  It is wonderfully creamy and is often used in quesadillas, too.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (serves 6)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon chili powder

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced

1 onion, cut into eighths

1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1-1/2 cups corn from cob (or 1 can sweet corn)

1 can fire roasted (15 ounce) canned tomatoes

4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon oregano

2 corn tortillas, torn into 1-inch pieces

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

Salt to taste

Garnishes: non fat plain Greek yogurt (or light sour cream), shredded Chihuahua cheese, sliced avocado, fresh lime.

Heat oil in slow cooker set at 400 degrees on ‘Sauté’. Add pepper, onions, garlic and corn, sauté for a few minutes. Add chili powder and stir to coat vegetables and heat until chili powder is fragrant. Place chicken on top of veggie. Add tomatoes, broth, oregano and tortillas. Adjust slow cooker setting to low,  cover and cook for 7-8 hours. (Or set on high for 5-6 hours). At the end of cooking, remove chicken breast to a plate. Add black beans to the slow cooker to heat while shredding the chicken with two forks. Add shredded chicken back to pan. Serve soup in bowls topped with garnishes. Enjoy!

 

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY

Earth

It is Earth Day.  I want to celebrate by getting the word out about about an important issue:  food waste.  Did you know that about 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is never eaten?  UGH! That uneaten food is a drain on the earth. The resources used to produce this uneaten food includes 31% cropland, 25% of total fresh water consumption and 2% total energy.  Think of all the waste in planting, growing, transporting, storing, preparing, and serving this uneaten food.  To make bad things worse, this uneaten food accounts for a significant use of landfills (about 18 percent of all municipal solid waste [MSW] is uneaten food- the second largest category of MSW).  UGH!

These facts are sobering, but let’s use them as motivation for action!  There are many things we can all do.  Discarded food in homes and foodservice accounts for 60 percent of food loss and is mostly avoidable.  I’m pledging to make a commitment to reduce my own personal food waste… here’s how:

  • Being mindful of quantity while shopping for and ordering food
  • Paying attention to ‘use by’ and expiration dates on food
  • Taking restaurant leftovers home
  • Freezing food before it spoils
  • Being creative with leftovers (look for future Myplate2yours recipes!)

Please share what YOU do to reduce food waste, we can all learn from each other! By challenging ourselves to personally reduce food waste, we may spur others around us to do the same.  Now that would be great for this planet we share!  Happy Earth Day 2016!

The facts in this article are from “Smart Choices for a Healthy Planet”, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, Future of Food Initiative, 2015.

 

 

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl

IMG_4277

Sometimes I want a meal that boasts big flavor.  This one does!  If you have ever cooked with Chinese Five Spice (typically a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns), you know it is a culinary treat.  I learned that a few years ago with one of my slow cooker recipes, Chinese Five Spice Pork.  This will be a great recipe to reference if you like the flavor of 5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl.  The ingredient list may look long in this new recipe, but I’ve bolded the ones that get repeated in both the marinade and the glaze.  It’s really very manageable… I made it again for dinner this past weekend!  Enjoy!

5-Spice Glazed Chicken and Rice Bowl (serves 4)

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (at least 4 pieces)

Marinade ingredients:

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon mirin*

1 teaspoon GF soy sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

Glaze ingredients:

1/4 cup mirin*

1/2 cup GF soy sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice

 

2 cups cooked brown rice

1 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup shredded scallions

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed

Sesame seeds, for garnish

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, mix the marinade ingredients. Place chicken in a ziplock bag and coat with the marinade. Place in fridge to marinade for 15 minutes, up to one hour.

To make the glaze, combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan. Gently heat to dissolve the sugar. Mix cornstarch with 3 tablespoons water. Add to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer. Add the rice vinegar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon 5-spice and cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.

In a 10 inch skillet with medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Pan fry the chicken, 5 minutes on both sides. Baste chicken with sauce before turning and again on other side. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

To assemble bowls, spoon rice into the bottom of each serving bowl and drizzle sauce on top. Stripe with shredded carrots, green onion and edamame. Slice chicken and place on top and drizzle with more sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.  YUMMY!!!

*Mirin is a Japanese rice wine that provides a mildly sweet acidity to a recipe. It’s used in many Asian-inspired dishes. Mirin is easy to find in the Asian food section of conventional grocery stores.  But if you need a substitute, you can use dry sherry, dry white wine, and rice vinegar by adding 1/2 teaspoon sugar for every tablespoon needed.

Pork Medallions with Mushrooms

IMG_3189Today’s recipe is simple enough for any weeknight dinner but it’s presentation and wine glaze is fancy enough for a dinner party.  And, I’ve paired this deliciousness with Parsnip Mash.

Parsnips are root vegetables resembling cream colored carrots.  They are available year round but their growing season is fall to spring.  When cooked and ‘mashed’, they develop a creamy, sweet flavor and deliver a good source of fiber, vitamin C and some B-vitamins.  Savor the flavor of eating right!  Enjoy!

Pork Medallions with Mushrooms and Madeira Glaze (serves 6)

1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

1 pound white mushrooms, sliced

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup Madeira wine (dry port, sherry or Marsala wines can be substituted)

1 cup chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Parsley, for garnish

Cut tenderloin into generous1 inch medallions. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large sauce pan over high heat. Sear meat until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and repeat browning on other side. Transfer pork to a plate.

Add remaining oil to pan and heat. Add shallots and sauté until golden while scraping any browned bits from pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until most of liquid evaporates. Sprinkle with flour and add the Madeira. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Add pork and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook in simmering sauce for 5-8 minutes, flipping once, until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Serve medallions on top of parsnip mash* and garnish with parsley.

*Parsnip Mash

3 pounds* parsnips, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

Salt and ground white pepper

2 teaspoons butter or Earth Balance

2 tablespoons milk (more, if needed, for desired consistency)

Place parsnips in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat to a gentle boil until parsnips are easily pierced with a fork, about 8-10 minutes. Drain well.

Put parsnips in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add butter and milk.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

*If purchasing young parsnips, only 2 pounds needed since they have tender cores and do not need to be cored.

Spring Calendar Update

Calendar

Happy Spring!!  I am excited to share this new class schedule with you. These are all taught at Marcel’s Culinary Experience in downtown Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  I hope you can cook with me soon!

April 

13-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- Celebrating Maple Syrup Season: Bruschetta with Ricotta and Maple Roasted Rhubarb, Maple Glazed Pork Medallions with Apples, Chewy Maple Nut Cookies. Demo/$35 Register HERE

21-(9:30-11am) Morning at Marcel’s- Breakfast for DinnerSpinach & Artichoke Egg Casserole, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Pancakes with Cilantro Cream, Baked Banana with Dark Chocolate and Almonds. Demo/$35  Register HERE

May 

11-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- To Market Spring Has Sprung : Sugar Snap Peas Salad with Tarragon and Pea Shoots, Seared Scallops with Parsley and Scallion Pesto, Sweet Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze. Demo/$35  Register HERE

19-(9:30-11am) Morning at Marcel’s- Cooking Smart (1 protein, 2 meals): Edamame, Carrots and Honey Chicken Rice Bowls and Key West Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Mango and Jicama; Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Crisps. Demo/$35  Register HERE  

June                                                         

1-(12:30-2pm) Midday at Marcel’s- Prep for Summer – Lean & Luscious: Roasted Asparagus with Chive Yogurt Ranch Dressing, Chicken and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, Light Lime Cheesecakes. Demo/$35  Register HERE

7-(6:30-9pm) Road Trip: Nashville: Southern Sweet Fruit Tea; Warm Tomato, Corn and Jalapeño Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette; Skillet Roasted Hot Chicken with Red Potatoes and Fennel; Peaches and Dumplings with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Hand’s On/$80 Register HERE

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right!

IMG_4193

March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is ‘Savor the Flavor of Eating Right’.  I believe that’s what we do everyday at Myplate2yours and it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Start with real, whole food.
  2. Create a dish that suits your palate.
  3. Slow down to enjoy your meal and the people you are eating with!

What I love about eating right is the array of colors and the sheer beauty of many of these dishes … and this one is no exception!  This is the salad I made for a family birthday celebration this weekend.  I searched for the recipe on my blog, but I was surprised to find I have never shared it with you.  Well, here it is today….enjoy!!

Citrus Salad with Baby Greens, Cucumber and Avocado (serves 6)

4 cups baby arugula, spinach and/or romaine

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 cup (about 1 large) English cucumber, diced

3 clementine oranges, sectioned

1 pink grapefruit, sectioned with knife

1 ripe avocado, diced

2 tablespoons roasted, salted sunflower seeds

Dressing: Mix together 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons honey. Whisk in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Season with dash cayenne pepper; salt and pepper to taste.

Spread greens on a serving platter. Top with cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado. Arrange orange and grapefruit sections on top.   When ready to serve, toss salad with dressing and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

Chicken Fricassée with Fennel and Artichoke

Chicken Fricassee

FRANCE!!!! Ever since my time in Paris and the west of France this past autumn, my cooking has been influenced by the flavors of this luscious cuisine.  I even worked on a chocolate soufflé recipe I’ll have to share with you very soon!

And FENNEL!!!!! This fragrant vegetable has many culinary uses from the seeds to the bulb.  This recipe uses the bulb, sliced thin and sautéed with onions until soft.  Please don’t let the fancy name of this recipe hinder you from trying it!  It is basically a one-pot meal with straightforward prep.  And it’s OH, SO DELICIOUS!  ENJOY!

Chicken Fricassée with Fennel and Artichoke (serves 6)

6-8 pieces from a 2-3 pound chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, halved and sliced thin

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and sliced thin

1 cup dry white wine

1, 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

1-1/2 cups pitted mixed, green and black olives (in the original recipe, Picholine is the recommended green olive as is brine-cured black olives)

1/4 cup capers in vinegar, drained

12 artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil, drained

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Cooked thin pasta or rice, for serving

Generously season chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large skillet (with a lid) or Dutch oven, heat olive oil. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and brown until they are golden in color, about 5 minutes. Flip carefully with tongs and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Reduce heat to low, add the onions and fennel. Cook, covered until softened but not browned, about 10 minutes. Return the chicken to pan. Add the wine, tomatoes, olives, capers and artichokes. Cover and simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust, as needed. Serve over hot cooked pasta or rice. Bon Apetit!

Adapted from Patricia Wells, The French Kitchen Cookbook

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup

Overnight Oats

A hot breakfast is a welcome start to any day this winter in Chicago!  This recipe is a breeze since it cooks overnight and is ready as soon as you are in the morning.  Simply prep the ingredients in the slow cooker at night and set on low for 7-10 hours.  You’ll be happy to have this hot breakfast waiting for you the next morning!  And any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated for breakfast or snack time throughout the week.

Overnight Oatmeal with Apples and Maple Syrup (serves 6)

2 apples, sliced and cut into ½ pieces

1-½ cups low fat milkOvernight oats 3

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked steel-oats

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground flax seed

Optional toppings: Chopped nuts, maple syrup, additional milk

If needed, coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray. Add all ingredients (except toppings) to slow cooker. Stir, cover and cook on low for 7-10 hours

Serve oatmeal into bowls. Add optional toppings. Enjoy!

NEW Dietary Guidelines for Americans

2015DietaryGuidelines_0

Last month, the Obama administration released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These guidelines are revised every 5 years with the purpose of helping us make healthy food and beverage choices and to serve as the foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs throughout the U.S. If you are interested in learning more, here is a link to the Executive Summary http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/executive-summary/

After sifting through the report, I have prepared some noteworthy points to highlight. Let’s start with how healthy eating is defined by the Guidelines:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the color groups–dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and others.
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits
  • Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
  • Dairy foods (milk, yogurt, cheese and or fortified soy beverages), fat free or low fat
  • A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds and soy products
  • Oils

This healthy eating plan is nothing new, it models the USDA MyPlate.  But keep in mind, many people with a goal of ‘healthy eating’ may have cut dairy foods from their diets.  These dairy foods are recommended to help meet the calcium, vitamin D and potassium needs for everyone— these are the nutrients we are not getting enough of. The Guidelines recommend 3 servings of dairy daily for everyone 9 years and older. One serving equals 1 cup milk or yogurt and 1-1/2 ounce of cheese.

Next, let’s look at what the guidelines suggest we limit in our eating. You may have already heard the big news: cut down on sugar and sodium and keep saturated fat intake ‘in check’. Saturated fat is found mostly in animal protein foods. By purchasing and preparing lean cuts of meat and varying your protein choices to include legumes and fish, this recommendation is manageable.

The sugar recommendation includes any sugar added to foods but does not include the natural sugar found in foods like fruit and dairy. The recommendation is to cap added sugar to about 12-1/2 teaspoons (50 grams) daily (that is, 10% of calories for a 2,000 calorie diet). This can add up quickly if you enjoy sweet desserts and sugared beverages. But please know that hidden sugar counts, too. Common sources include jarred pasta sauces, energy drinks, canned fruit, and breakfast cereals. Food labels are a valuable resource to determine the sugar content of packaged foods.

For sodium, the cap is 2,300 mg daily. This amount of sodium is found in a teaspoon of salt. To meet these guidelines, it does help to avoid the salt shaker at the table, but unfortunately a major part of the sodium in American diets (80%) comes from processed and packaged foods. These foods include: frozen meals, canned or pickled foods, snack foods, condiments, and soda. Cutting sodium from your diet may make foods suddenly taste bland. But over time, your taste for salt will adapt and you will be able to use less for the same flavor. It will also be important to rely on herbs and other seasonings to bring more flavor to your palette. That is how many recipes on this blog are seasoned!

Reading labels for both sodium and sugar content is the only way to know what you’re eating. However, eating foods without labels is the best kind of eating! The less processed, the better. Making small changes that stick with you over time is the best strategy for tackling these latest recommendations. As stated in the Guidelines, “A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes… it is one of the most powerful tools we have”.

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding

IMG_4098

Chia seeds are a new ingredient in my kitchen.  What first intrigued me was their unique  nutritional profile.  Just 2 tablespoons provide 5 grams of fiber and 4500 mg of alpha-linoileic acid (omega 3’s) along with protein, calcium, vitamins and other minerals.  When these seeds are hydrated in liquid, they form a gel and suspend in that liquid.  They add texture to smoothies and are the gelling agent in this pudding recipe.  If you are a veteran user of chia seeds, please share your favorite way to use them.  If you are new to them, this recipe is a great place to start!

Sweet Orange Chia Seed Pudding (serves 4)

1 cup of low fat milk

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Zest of 1/2 orange

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup Chia seeds

Toppings: orange sections and shredded coconut

In a small bowl, mix together milk and maple syrup. Add Chia seeds and mix well. Let sit for 5 minutes and stir again. Refrigerate for 2 hours (or overnight), stirring again after first hour. When ready to serve, stir in orange juice, zest and yogurt, and thoroughly combine.

Pour into individual serving bowls and top with orange sections and shredded coconut. Enjoy!