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!


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!

Savvy Slow Cooking Class


Savvy Slow Cooking with Dina Bair on WGN Midday News!

The quickest cooking class I’ve ever taught was this past Friday on WGN Midday News.  In less than 5 minutes I demonstrated two of my favorite slow cooker recipes.  That’s funny, isn’t it?  A quick class of slow cooker recipes?  Anyway, if you want to watch Friday’s segment, here’s the link.  And here are the links to my featured recipes: White Chicken Chili and Jalapeño and Portobello Braised Beef.

The real purpose of the WGN segment was to promote my upcoming Savvy Slow Cooking classes.  The first one scheduled on Thursday, February 4th is sold out but a second one has been added on Friday, February 5th at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn.  In this class scheduled from 9:30-11am, I will demo three different recipes:  Maple Brown Sugar Steel Cut Oatmeal with Apples, Fiesta Chicken Tortilla Soup, and Asian Moo Shu Pork.

Slow cooking answers the 5pm question, ‘What’s for Dinner?’.  My own slow cooker stays on my counter most of the winter and I use it weekly to make flavorful and healthy family meals.  With these upcoming classes, I hope to encourage you to dust off your own slow cooker so that you will have an answer to the ‘Whats for Dinner’ question at your house!

Will you join me for a morning in the kitchen tasting, learning, and sharing?  I hope so!  To register and for more information, click here!

Slow Cooker Moroccan Beef Stew

Moroccan Beef Stew

It’s not time yet to put away your slow cooker for the season.  Here are the top 4 reasons:

#1 It’s still cold and wet outside  (at least here in the Midwest, ugh!!).

#2 The crazy Spring family schedule leaves no time to cook.

#3 There’s nothing better than coming home to the smell of something delicious cooking!

#4 You haven’t tried Moroccan Beef Stew!!!

Today’s Moroccan Beef Stew is a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine a few years ago.  Formerly called ‘Spicy Braised Beef with Sweet Potatoes’, the only thing I changed was the title and removing the added salt.  It is absolutely delicious thanks to the slow cooked flavors from common tangine spices like cumin, ginger and cinnamon.  And, the color of this meal is stunning:  orange sweet potatoes, green spinach, and red tomatoes.  Color is a great indicator of a nutritionally dense meal (when colors come from fruits and vegetables and not from Starbursts or Skittles).  There are already many yummy Myplate2yours slow cooker recipes to try, but this is one of my favorites.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Moroccan Beef Stew (serves 6)

1 pound beef chuck/stew meat, cut into chunks

2 sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1, 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes

1 large red onion, cut into wedges

½ cup dried apricots

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

1, 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

2 cups baby spinach

1 1/2 cups dry whole wheat couscous

Prepare slow cooker with cooking spray.  Combine beef, potatoes, tomatoes (and juices), onion, apricots, 1/2 cup water and four spices.  Cook on high until meat is tender, 4-5 hours or on low 6-8 hours.  Ten minutes before serving, prepare couscous according to package directions for 6 servings.  When ready to serve, stir in chickpeas and spinach.  Serve with couscous.  YUM!!!!!!

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken

Slow cooking is my strategy for home-cooked meals on busy fall days and nights.   I’ve already used my slow cooker several times this fall.  There are many favorite Myplate2yours slow cooker recipes, and here’s a new one to try.  Serve it with crusty Italian bread and a green salad.  Even if you haven’t yet pulled out the slow cooker for these cooler months ahead, this is a great time to start!  This recipe was adapted from one in Parents magazine, September 2012.

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Chicken (serves 6)

4 red potatoes, sliced

½ cup pitted kalamata olives

1-15 ounce can diced tomatoes, partially drained

1-15 ounce can garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt and pepper

¼ cup red wine

1 lemon, halved

chopped parsley for garnish

Coat slow cooker with cooking spray.  Layer potatoes, olives, tomatoes, and beans in the cooker.  Pour wine over veggies.  Add chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook covered high (4 hours) or low (6-8 hours).

To serve, place veggies on platter and top with chicken.  Squeeze lemon juice on top and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!!

Slow Cooker Sunday: Jalapeño & Portobello Braised Beef

This is another fully flavored slow cooker meal for our busy spring season.  It is adapted from a Better Homes and Gardens’ Creative Slow Cooker magazine:

Slow Cooker Jalapeno & Portobello Braised Beef

2 pounds lean stew meat

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup each:  reduced sodium soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced thin

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 large Portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 medium onion, sliced

Trim fat from meat.  Place pieces in a slow cooker.  In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire, jalapeno, vinegar, tapioca and garlic.  Stir in cilantro.  Pour mixture over meat in cooker.  Top with mushrooms and onion.

Cover and cook for 6-8 hours.  Serve over cooked egg noodles, polenta, or mashed white or sweet potatoes.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chinese Five-Spice Pork

I was working at home the first day I made this dish.  The aroma was so enticing, I couldn’t wait to try it and ate my dinner before anyone else arrived home!  Please know that I did leave enough for the rest of the family and they have all asked for me to make it again.  I’ve definitely learned not to make it on a work-at-home day!

Chinese five-spice is an unique blend of flavors, most commonly:  fennel, cinnamon, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, and cloves.  This recipe was adapted from one in a recent issue of Family Circle magazine:

¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped ginger

1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder

2 pounds pork tenderloin (or boneless, center-cut pork roast)

1 cup chicken broth

1-1/2 cup shredded carrots

3 scallions, thinly sliced

3 cups steamed brown rice

In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, hoisin, garlic, ginger, and five-spice powder.  Coat slow cooker with cooking spray (I use Pam).  Place pork in bowl and top with sauce.  Pour the chicken broth around the pork, trying not to disturb the sauce on top.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  (The meat will shred easily with a fork when done.)  Shred the meat in the bowl with two large forks and mix shredded meat with sauce.  (I did add about ½ cup more of chicken broth to the finished dish).  Serve on top of rice and garnish generously with carrots and scallions.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Beef & Barley Vegetable Soup

Barley is a versatile whole grain.  It’s nutty flavor and chewy texture work great not only in soup but as a pilaf, salad, or hot breakfast cereal.  Barley is also high in fiber with 3 grams in each cooked 1/2 cup.  Barley’s fiber content is rich in the same soluble fiber as oats which helps lower blood cholesterol levels. More Myplate2yours barley recipes coming soon!

Here is another slow cooker recipe that your family will enjoy.  In my house, it’s picky eater approved!!

1 pound stew meat, cut into bite size pieces

3 carrots, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

2 small potatoes, cubed (peeled or unpeeled)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can corn

1 quart (4 cups) beef or vegetable broth

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pearled barley (uncooked)

1/4-1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

freshly ground pepper

Place the carrots, garlic, onions and potatoes into a 5-6 quart slow cooker.  Add the stew meat, tomatoes, and corn.  Sprinkle with basil and salt.  Pour broth over top.  Cook for 6-8 hours.  At final hour, turn heat to high and add barley*.  When complete, season with hot sauce and freshly ground pepper.

*An alternative to pearled barley is quick-cooking barley that takes 10 minutes to cook.  You can use this faster cooking barley in this recipe, just add it 10-20 minutes before the soup is ready.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Braised Beef with Polenta

This tasty dish works well on top of polenta.  Polenta is super easy to make (add the cornmeal to boiling water, turn heat to low, and stir for 5 minutes until thick).  I added 2/3 cup of shredded sharp Spanish cheese to the polenta for additional flavor. 

1-1/2 pounds lean beef steak (I used a top round steak.  You can use another cut of lean beef.  There are 29 different cuts of beef that are considered lean and fall within the fat range of a skinless chicken breast and a skinless thigh.  Check out Get the Skinny on Beef and get a downloadable list).

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 bell pepper, diced

2 large carrots, sliced

½ cup ketchup

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Spray slow cooker with Pam spray.  Add mushrooms, peppers, and carrots.  Place beef on top of veggies.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix ketchup, water and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.  Pour over beef.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  When done, remove any fat from the surface of the sauce.  Pour remaining sauce into a gravy boat.  Serve the meat on polenta and top with the vegetables and ‘gravy’.  Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Sunday: White Chicken Chili

Chili is a welcomed dish this time of year.  This is a delicious slow cooker White Chicken Chili, found originally in a Family Circle magazine.  Please don’t let the extra step of first sauteing the peppers and onions stop you from trying the recipe.  This little extra effort is well worth it for the tasty outcome.

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped

1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (be careful not to rub your eyes even after you wash your hands…. I did and they were burning for a while)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus reserved 1/2 tablespoon

1 teaspoon ground coriander, plus reserved 1/2 teaspoon (I didn’t have any ground coriander when I first made this recipe, but did go and get some.  There is not a good substitute.  Coriander seed is different from coriander, a.k.a. cilantro.  It’s a little like cumin, fennel, and carraway seeds.)

1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup light sour cream (optional)

1/4 cup cilantro leaves (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Place peppers, onion, garlic, 1 tablespoon cumin and 1 teaspoon coriander in skillet.  Cover and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Transfer veggies to slow cooker; add chicken, beans and broth.  Cover; cook on High for 4-6 hours or Low for 8-10.

At the end of cooking, shred chicken with a fork and stir in the reserved cumin and coriander, the lime juice and salt.  The chili is now ready to be served (with sour cream and cilantro, if desired) and ENJOYED!