Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup: Reduced Carb Version





Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup: Reduced Carb Version

I was obsessed with Chicken Tortilla Soup a number of years ago but kind of got out of the habit of making this recipe.  The other day, it occurred to me that I had all of the soup ingredients on hand, so I had this soup in the Crock Pot in just a few minutes.  The original recipe calls for more corn tortillas (the floppy kind... not the crunchy kind), canned corn, and canned black beans.  All of those items have a lot of carbs in them so I simply left out or reduced the amounts of these ingredients to make a lower carb version of this soup.  Specifically, I left out the corn and the black beans and I used fewer corn tortillas.  I opted to use very hot Rotel and very hot green chilies in my soup but feel free to use what you prefer.  I do add a dollop of Greek yogurt to each bowl of soup to cool things off a bit.  It's delicious to add in a lot of other goodies when you eat this soup... crunchy tortilla chips, diced avocado, grated cheese, cilantro, fresh lime juice... whatever you have on hand that sounds good.  As for me, a little yogurt is perfect.

Here is the original recipe/original post:
http://kimscookingfrenzy.blogspot.com/2011/04/slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup-spicy.html

Here is the modified Reduced Carb Version of this soup:

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (Reduced Carb Version)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast or chicken tenderloins, skinless, boneless, trimmed of fat
1 cans (14 ounce) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can (4 ounce) green chiles (I used fire roasted green chiles & drained them a bit first)
1 medium onion or 1/2 of a really large onion (I used a sweet onion)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch thin strips 
Plain, low fat Greek yogurt, for serving (or sour cream)

1. To the slow cooker, add chicken, broth, water, Rotel, green chiles, onion, all the spices, sugar, salt & pepper, and the tortilla strips. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. (Note: I used 4 chicken tenderloins that were frozen solid when I added them to the slow cooker along with the other ingredients… they were perfectly shred-able after cooking on low for about 4 1/2 hours).

2. Use two forks to shred the chicken, right in the pot or on a cutting board; return chicken to the pot.  Allow to cook for about 30 minutes more.

3. Serve garnished with yogurt (or sour cream). Other garnishes would be great such as grated cheese, diced avocado, crushed up corn tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies (Vegan and Gluten Free)





Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies



I've been eyeing this recipe for quite some time.  It's another great recipe from a blog called "Ambitious Kitchen".  I told myself that if there was a can of chickpeas in the cupboard, then I could make this recipe.  Otherwise, it was the Universe's way of telling me I did not need to bake ANYTHING!

As luck would have it, I had a can of chickpeas (a dented can marked down to $0.69, Organic Chickpeas from WalMart... Woo Hoo!).  I had the batter whipped up and the oven pre-heated in no time at all.  The house smelled HEAVENLY as these baked and cooled on the counter top.

When I make these again, I'll bake them a bit longer. The recipe calls for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven. I took mine out at about 22 minutes and, when I finally cut into them, they seemed a bit under done. The other change I would make is to reduce the salt a bit.  The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher salt) and they seem a bit salty to me.   As you can see, I used mini-chocolate chips in my blondies. I used only 1/4 cup and sprinkled a few more on top.  The recipe calls for more but I find that just a few mini-chocolate chips goes a long way.




Above:  out of the oven and looking delicious....



Before baking... the batter can be eaten raw since there are no eggs in the recipe.  The batter is also very tasty.  Of course I had to try it!

To see the recipe on the "Ambitious Kitchen" blog, click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Super Easy Broccoli Slaw



Super Easy Broccoli Slaw



I really did not intend to make Broccoli Slaw this week; it just sort of happened.  I bought a 10 ounce container of broccoli slaw from the produce section of my grocery store; I was going to make an Asian-inspired stir fry with it.  I had some of my favorite homemade salad dressing in the refrigerator and I got to thinking that the dressing might be good on the broccoli slaw.  I toasted up some finely sliced almonds in a dry skillet to make them a bit crunchier and I added in some dried cranberries.  This broccoli slaw is really good and I love having this sort of thing on a hot day.  It's barely June, but it's been ridiculously hot and dry here in Southern Colorado.

This is not much of a recipe; it's more about assembling ingredients.  I think I got 3 or 4 salads out of one 10 ounce container of broccoli slaw.  I learned that it's a good idea to place the broccoli slaw on a large cutting board and chop it up a bit with a large knife to make it a bit easier to eat.

Super Easy Broccoli Slaw

Makes 3 to 4 salads

1 ten-ounce container broccoli slaw (with shredded broccoli stalks and shredded carrots)
Tangy salad dressing [See recipe below] (about 8 tablespoons total, more or less as desired)
about 1/3 cup finely sliced almonds, toasted in a dry skillet for a few minutes until lightly browned
about 1/3 cup dried cranberries

Combine the above ingredients for your super easy broccoli slaw.  Toss to combine ingredients.

Here is the Tangy Salad Dressing Recipe

5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons raw honey
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
a few pinches of dry Italian flat leaf parsley
a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar; cover with tight fitting lid and shake! shake! SHAKE!

In the photo at the very top, you can see I topped my Super Easy Broccoli Slaw with some grilled chicken. Here is the chicken recipe (It's from The Whole30 Cookbook):  Harvest Grilled Chicken

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Spiced Yogurt Marinated Chicken




Spiced Yogurt Marinated Chicken

This recipe comes from a blog called "Once Upon a Chef".  I made a few changes.  I used boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins instead of chicken thighs. I added turmeric and I used reduced fat Greek yogurt (instead of full fat yogurt). I eliminated the olive oil from the marinade (I forgot it).  I also grilled my chicken indoors on my grill pan and did not make this into kebabs. I LOVE this chicken. I can't stop eating it.  It's good hot or cold.

SPICED YOGURT MARINATED CHICKEN

Adapted from "Once Upon a Chef"
Original recipe link is here: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/middle-eastern-chicken-kebabs.html

  • 1/2 cup plain 2% Fage Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/16 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (reduce to 1/4 teaspoon if you don't like heat)
  • finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 of one lemon) 
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 of one lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless raw chicken tenderloins

Place all ingredients (EXCEPT for the chicken) in a gallon size plastic bag with a zip closure; zip the bag closed.  Mash ingredients around with your hands to combine.  Add in the chicken tenderloins, zip bag closed, and mash around ingredients until all the chicken pieces are coated in the spiced yogurt.  Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours, longer if desired (I allowed mine to marinate overnight).

This can be grilled indoors or outdoors. I grilled my chicken on my grill pan over medium to medium high heat on my stove top.  I start off with medium high heat but then reduce the temperature to medium after a few minutes so the outside does not brown too much before the inside is cooked through.  Flip once.  Cook until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bob's Red Mill: Tasty Vegi Soup





Bob's Red Mill: Tasty Vegi Soup



I got this Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix in Milwaukie, Oregon, when I visited Bob's Red Mill Store and Restaurant back in May.  The soup was super easy to make.  There are two recipes on the back of the soup and I sort of combined ideas from both recipes.  I was going to make a version of the soup where you puree the soup in a blender and add milk at the end, but when I sampled the soup before blending, I decided I liked the texture of all the legumes and grains.



Vegi Soup

1 cup Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix
3 cups chicken broth
about 1 1/2 cups diced baby carrots
about 4 stalks of celery, diced
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 1/2 to 2 cups water

Simmer the Bob's Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix and 3 cups broth for 30 minutes (keep lid on the pot while simmering but stir occasionally).  Add in the diced veggies and about 1 1/2 to 2 cups water.  Simmer for an additional 30 minutes or until all ingredients are soft.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.  Since I used chicken broth which was not reduced sodium, I did not feel the need to add any additional salt.



Here are some photos of the Bob's Red Mill Store and Restaurant.  If I lived near this store, I would shop here a lot. We also had brunch at the restaurant.  My mom and I both had quinoa bowls and my dad had a breakfast burrito.

I do find a lot of Bob's Red Mill brand products at stores in Colorado, but it's also good to know you can buy so many of their products on line.  I enjoyed trying out this soup mix; I would have probably never stumbled across this particular product unless I had seen it at the Bob's Red Mill store.  I will probably be able to make this soup two or three more times from the package I have.  That's great because I really like it and it's so easy to make!




















Saturday, May 26, 2018

Crockpot Chicken "Cool Ranch"



Crockpot Chicken "Cool Ranch"

This is absolutely the easiest crockpot recipe EVER.  I had this in the crockpot within five minutes of bringing in the groceries yesterday and everyone loved it when we sampled it about four hours later.

I have been trying out some new recipes this week while Zach and his girlfriend Sylvia are visiting. Zach will be living in an apartment next year and will need to cook. I am hoping I can convince him to take one of my crockpots with him since there are so many great and easy crockpot meals.

This recipe comes from "Family Fresh Meals".  Many of the meals on this cooking blog are easy with just a few ingredients; just the kind of a recipe a busy college student may be inclined to make.  For this recipe you need a few pounds of chicken breasts, a packet of taco seasoning, a packet of Ranch dressing mix, and a 14 ounce can of chicken broth. Since all of these items have a lot of sodium in them, I opted for low sodium chicken broth as well as low sodium taco seasoning.  I don't know if you can purchase low sodium Ranch dressing mix or not, but I do know you can find recipes to make your own Ranch dressing mix on the Internet.  You just need items such as buttermilk powder and a bunch of dried herbs.  Anyway... I am glad I opted for the low sodium products; the chicken was very flavorful and plenty salty.  You can use this shredded chicken in tacos, on tostadas, in burritos, on salads.  When this was done cooking yesterday, we all just ate a little bit of the shredded chicken with a fork.  We all liked it!  I will definitely be making this recipe again.  One note about the recipe:  the recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts; I think I used about 2 1/3 pounds of chicken breasts and it still was very flavorful.  Also, the recipe calls for cooking the chicken for 5 to 5 1/2 hours, but my chicken breasts shredded easily after just 4 hours in the crockpot.

Here is the recipe link on the Family Fresh Meals blog:

https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2012/05/cool-ranch-crockpot-chicken-tacos-or-tostadas.html



Lemon Parmesan Pasta with Shrimp



This is a recipe from a really nice cooking blog called "Family Fresh Meals".  My son and his girlfriend are both staying with us for a few weeks and this was a meal I thought they would like. Zach and Sylvia made this recipe with me so that was a lot of fun.  Zach will be living in an apartment next school year (Senior year of college!) and he needs to learn some recipes and some more cooking skills.  I happened to have a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer so we made the recipe as written but I told the kids how they could easily alter this recipe to use chicken instead so it would be a bit more budget friendly.  When we made this recipe I encouraged the kids to add in the garlic when the shrimp was basically cooked through so the garlic only cooked for about one minute.  Garlic can burn easily and I notice when new cooks are cooking they tend to not have a feel for when to turn the heat up or down based on what's going on in the pan.  I imagine that's something you get a knack for once you have been cooking longer.

Here is the recipe link:

https://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2017/03/one-pot-lemon-parmesan-shrimp-pasta.html

The Family Fresh Meals cooking blog has a lot of really great looking recipes on the site. I encourage you to check it out. I have a few more recipes from that blog that I think will be a hit with the kids. I'll be sure to let you know what recipes we try.
LEMON PARMESAN SHRIMP PASTA
Ingredients
  • 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, uncooked
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Juice of ½ lemon, approx. 1Tablespoon (we used all the juice from one whole lemon)
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • 8oz pasta of choice, cooked

Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the shrimp and saute, until the shrimp has turned pink and is cooked throughout, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook one additional minute.
  2. Remove the shrimp to a small bowl, and set aside.
  3. Add whole milk to the skillet and whisk occasionally, bringing to a simmer. Whisk in cornstarch. Next, Stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Simmer until sauce thickens slightly, 2- 4mins. Add in the pasta and shrimp, stirring to coat.
  4. Right before serving, drizzle the lemon juice over the whole skillet. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley.