Let's Just Try It

a compilation of inspiration and creative endeavors of a mom and daughter duo

Category Archives: Quick Dinners

Zesty Mexican Chicken Soup

There is such a warm fuzzy feeling when the spices of Mexico meet a steamy broth filled with chunky vegetables and chicken.  Topped with a dollap of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and a few sliced olives, it will warm you down to your toes!

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Zesty Mexican Soup – serves 6 

Homemade

1 small chicken, cut into pieces (or 1 package of chicken pieces)

1 Tbl olive oil

1 onion – rough chop

1 celery – rough chop

2 carrots – rough chop

8 cups water

bay leaf

1/2 tsp oregano

salt and pepper

2 stalks chopped celery

1/2 c chopped green pepper

1/4 c chopped onion

1 clove garlic, chopped fine

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 cup frozen corn

1/2 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

In a stock pot, or large saucepan, brown chicken back, legs and wings in 1 tbl oil.

Add rough cut vegetables and brown slightly.  Add water, salt, pepper, oregano and bay leaf and remaining chicken

Simmer for 30-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Remove chicken from broth and set aside.

Strain broth into a colander to remove the rough cut vegetables.  Reserve 2 cups of broth for soup, and freeze the rest for another day!

Remove chicken meat from bones and break into chunks (bones can be used again for more broth making goodness!)

Saute celery, green pepper, garlic and onion in 2 tsp olive oil until just softened.  Add spices, tomatoes, chicken chunks, frozen corn and kidney beans as well as the 2 cups of chicken broth.

Simmer for 20 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of sliced olives and shredded cheese.  For an extra bit of yum, fry stripes of tortilla in oil and sprinkle with salt and serve sprinkled on the top of the soup.  Mmmm Good!

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Quick Quick Version

3 chicken breasts (or 2 large ones)

2-3 cups of water

Salt, Pepper and 1/2 tsp each of oregano, parsley and chopped garlic

1 jar chunky mild salsa

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn

1/2 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

Poach chicken breasts in water with salt, pepper, oregano, parsley and chopped garlic for approximently 15 minutes or until cooked through.  Watch carefully that the meat does not overcook or it will be tough.

Remove from broth and set aside to cool

In a large saucepan, add poaching liquid, salsa, kidney beans, sweet corn, oregano, cumin.  Bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, chunk chicken into bite size pieces

Add chicken to sauce and bring to simmer.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Enjoy with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of cheese and delicious fried tortilla strips for an extra treat.

Easy Tamale Pie – Made Healthy


One thing we have missed since living in South Africa is South American food. Our home town in the States had a population of people from south of the border, and the cuisine readily available was “muy bueno”. I am always on the look out for food that we can make with ingredients we have available, but it’s not always easy.

Tonight’s dinner was a first time shot at a recipe in my new Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook that I was given as a gift this year (imported from the US, of course). It was a huge hit. Conversation around dinner was “You haven’t made this before…. please don’t stop”.

A few alterations made it a little more nutritious and didn’t take away from the flavour or texture of the dish. Next time I will add more green peppers and maybe sneak in some extra grated veggies on the sly such as zucchini (marrows) and carrot. I am sure that corn would also be a nice addition.

Ingredients:

■1 onion, chopped
■1 green pepper, chopped
■3 cloves garlic, chopped
■1 Tb. olive oil
■1 lb minced chicken breast (leave out for a vegetarian dish)
■1 1/2 tsp chili powder (more if you want extra zip)
■3/4 tsp cumin
■Salt and Pepper for seasoning
■1 can kidney beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
■1 can cannelleni beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed (substitute black beans if available)
■1 can pinto beans – drained, rinsed and slightly mashed
■2 c. tomato juice (or V8 style juice if available)
■1 can green chilies (I substituted one-seeded fresh green “Thai” chili, chopped fine)
Cook the onion, green pepper and garlic in the oil until softened. Add the optional minced chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink. Add tomato juice, cumin and chili powder and the undrained tin of green chilies (or fresh chopped chili as preferred) Heat through.

Transfer into a 3 qt casserole, or 9×13 pan. Heat oven to 400 F or 200 C.

For the topping

In a medium bowl mix the following:

■1 cup cornmeal
■1 cup whole wheat flour
■1/2 tsp salt
■2 tsp baking powder
Add to the above ingredients

■1/4 cup canola oil
■1 1/2 c. milk
■1 egg
Stir until just moistened.

Grate in 2 oz cheddar cheese and 2 Tb chopped flat leaf parsley or fresh coriander leaves

Spoon over the top of the bean mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of spicy salsa for some zip.

Finish as a meal with a nice side salad and you’ve got it made! Enjoy!

Easy Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Tomato for a Crowd

 

The first time I tasted the food combination of pesto and tomatoes, I immediately ranked it as one of my favorite flavor combos. There is something about the sweetness of a tomato and the freshness and fragrance of basil that makes me smile.

My latest cooking challenge has been to come up with healthy (ish) dishes to feed to my staff of nearly 30 people twice a week. To add to the challenge is the lack of any cooking facilities at the office – other than a small microwave and a small fridge.  My (and Elizabeth’s) crockpots have become my tool of choice, if for no other reason than to heat the food through.  Our new offices will have more to offer, but for now it’s all about invention 🙂

While this is in no way a great inventive recipe, it worked really well for my purposes, but would also make a great meal for two.

Yield: 30+ servings

Ingredients :

            2 kg Spiral Pasta                         

     12 large chicken breasts, cut into pieces

            250 grams prepared pesto   

     500 grams cocktail sized tomatoes                    

             1 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

           Fresh basil, torn into small pieces  

Step One: Cook spiral pasta in boiling water until just tender – drain and set aside

Step Two: While pasta cooks, cook chicken in a skillet with a drizzle of olive oil – season with pepper, salt and garlic powder

Step Three: Mix chicken and pasta together, including cooking fluid from chicken for flavor

Step Four: Add pesto a large spoonful at a time, mixing well each time

Step Five: Quarter plum tomatoes and toss into pasta mixture. Season with salt and pepper if needed

Step Six: Add grated parmesan and fresh torn basil

Easy Peasy as they say – and healthy too! Served with some french bread and it is a great meal – hot or cold.