Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I had been on the hunt for a delicious (and easy) chicken tortilla soup, and with the weather we’ve been having lately it was much needed.  I finally found a soup on Pinterest (my insomniac cure) and modified it my way.  Low and behold a delicious, quick and easy soup was born!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 can Herdez salsa casera
  • 1 can green chiles
  • 1 can black beans, drained 
  • 2 ears of corn or 1 can
  • 6-10 cilantro stems
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped (optional)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • Garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Cumin (about 1 tsp)
  • Chipotle chile pepper (optional)
  • 4 corn tortillas, chopped

Chicken Tortilla Soup

DIRECTIONS:

Drizzle olive oil on bottom of crock pot add Chicken and all ingredients cook on low for 6-8hrs.  Add cilantro & 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

I added about 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to mine the last hour because I wanted a richer creamier soup, this is totally optional.

Once ready, shred the chicken, give it a good stir.  Serve this delicious bowl of soup with cheese, tortilla strips, avocado & fresh lime juice.

As always, Buen Provecho!

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Marinade Prep

I’m always looking for shortcuts to meals during the week.  A few years back I started marinating meats and chicken when I purchased them.  This was incredibly helpful after a long day of work not to mention it infused the meat/chicken with so much flavor!  For some reason I stopped doing this, but now with twins in tow and going back to work soon I must find a way to simplify our weeknight meals without sacrificing flavor.  Give yourself a hand during the week, once you purchase your meats simply season and separate them; place in freezer bags, label each bag with the meat and marinade and freeze.  Be creative, Italian, BBQ, garlic, teriyaki, etc… Each flavor will encourage a different meal and best of all you simply defrost and cook!  The hard part is done, not to mention the meat will be full of flavor since it has been marinating for a while!  A great benefit is being able to portion out your meats especially if you buy in bulk.  This is helpful if you’re cooking for one or ten.

Buen Provecho!

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz Con Pollo.

Arroz Con Pollo

Arroz con pollo is a traditional Panamanian dish; we serve it often at parties and gatherings.  The combination is great and it serves a lot!  There are many variations to the dish and once you begin making it, you can tweak it to your preferenc and find which works for you.  My method is quick and still brings a ton of flavor and most importantly; serves a crowd!  Adjust the seasonings as you go by adding more or less of what ingredients you prefer.  Remember recipes are a base for something great; allow your imagination to flow!

Arroz con pollo1

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups white rice (long grain)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • Adobo seasoning
  • Garlic powder
  • Sazon Goya with achiote
  • 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • 3 Tbsp. sofrito (recipe on previous post)
  • ½ cup onions, chopped
  • ½ cup bell peppers, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, finely grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • Salt & Pepper  
  • Banana leaves (optional)
  • *Annatto seed oil (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add about 3 cups of water (more or less depending on the size of your chicken breasts) to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add adobo, garlic powder and sazon Goya and add the chicken breasts allow the chicken to cook about 10-15 minutes.  Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, remove from the water, let cool and begin shredding.  Save the water, you will use it to make the rice.

Place your caldera or preferred pot for making rice over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp. of annatto oil (or regular olive oil) along with the onion, bell pepper, carrots, garlic and sofrito.  Add a tablespoon or so of Adobo seasoning along with salt and pepper; sauté for 3-4 minutes. 

Add the shredded chicken and stir for 2-3 minutes.  If you need to add another tablespoon of oil do so at this point.  Add the rice, garlic powder and the reserved water, just to cover the rice and chicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the sazon Goya (for color).  Add the capers and cilantro.  This is a good point to taste the water and see if you need additional seasonings.  Allow the rice and chicken to boil until the water is almost evaporated then cover with the banana leave(s) and cover tightly with lid.  Cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes, timing will depend on how much you’re cooking.

Arroz con pollo2

This dish can be made as flavorful as you like, adjust the seasonings to your preference.  I prefer to add whole cilantro sprigs, this way I can remove them once the rice is cooked.   The banana leaves are completely optional however, they add amazing flavor and moisture to the rice. 

Serve with a yummy veggie salad and fried plantains (recipe on previous post).  Buen Provecho!

*Side Note:  Annatto Seed Oil: Take 8-12 annatto seeds and cook them briefly in 2 tbsp olive oil until the color is released.  Then remove the seed and use the oil to sauté the veggies.  This creates another dimension of flavor in the rice.

Greek Chicken Pasta

Need a little inspiration for a flavorful, hearty and healthy weeknight meal?  You’ve come to the right place.  I’m still in summer mode with some of my dishes although we’re in the middle of September (the weather would say otherwise).  Given that I’m still finding heirloom tomatoes, I figured I may as well put them to use.  They add bounty of colors to any dish along with the healthy aspect.  I was looking for a different meal for our “Girls Night In” and this dish delivered!  The ladies had nothing but positive reviews for this dish, music to my ears!  Go ahead and get cooking!

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb uncooked pasta (bow-tie or penne)
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ Cup red onion, chopped
  • 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ Cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 Cups chopped cucumber
  • 1 large tomato (chopped)
  • 1 Cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

DIRECTIONS:

Marinate chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours in the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You may add a sprinkle of fresh squeezed lemon juice for additional flavor. 

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Ready to begin cooking?  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, adding a tablespoon or so of salt.  Since the pasta will have feta cheese, which is salty you don’t have to worry about adding full flavor to your pasta all at once.  Cook pasta in boiling water for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain. 

Meanwhile, heat an indoor grill pan or a large skillet, over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook until chicken is cooked, about 10-12 minutes (depending on size of chicken).  Allow the cooked chicken to rest for about 3-5 minutes then chop into cubes. 

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Add the pasta to a large bowl and add the tomato, cucumber, onion, oregano, artichoke hearts and chopped chicken.  You will need to add another tablespoon or two of olive oil (you may add the oil from the artichoke hearts).  At this point you can begin adding salt and pepper to taste.  Stir until the ingredients are well combined.  When ready to serve add feta & olives and one more sprinkle of oregano.  This is a room temperature meal, which is great when you’re entertaning!  You may garnish with lemon wedges if desired.

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Add grilled pita wedges & tzatziki on the side to compliment your meal.  This dish makes wonderful leftovers (as shown below) . 

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Sinatra – Las Vegas

Sinatra – Las Vegas.

Grilled Asian Wings

Grilled Asian Wings.

Sinatra – Las Vegas

Nestled between the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas is the fabulous and decadent Sinatra Restaurant.  I wanted to surprise my husband with an amazing meal for his birthday and after extensive research, I stumbled upon what may now be my favorite restaurant on the strip; Sinatra!  I’m completely baffled by the notion that I had never heard and or been to Sinatra on one of our many visits to Las Vegas.  How could this be? We both love Italian food, Frank Sinatra and fine dining…so where have we been?  Needless to say, we have found it and will unquestionably add Sinatra to our “must” list every time we are in Vegas. 

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Sinatra of course, pays tribute to “Old Blue Eyes” in a classic and timeless way.  The music plays in the background and memorabilia is displayed throughout, however nothing feels overwhelming.  It’s almost as if there are “hints” of Frank Sinatra speckled throughout, yet you feel as if he’s there with you.  Sinatra feels comfortable and inviting, you do not feel as if you are in a stuffy pretentious restaurant.  It is on the higher end of the price scale, it isn’t called “fine dining” for nothing and you are in for an absolutely delicious and memorable meal.

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From the moment I made the reservation I knew we were in for something special.  I informed the hostess we were celebrating a birthday when I made our reservation and requested outdoor dining.  Due to weather we were unable to sit outside, if you have the opportunity go for it.  There are 3-4 tables outdoors which are set it the cutest most fairytale type patio.  There’s a fire place which makes you feel as if you’re indoors.

Sinatra1

As we were escorted to our table, the hostess very discretely made eye contact with me in order to single out the birthday boy and kindly sat him in front of the birthday card which had been placed on the table.  First impressions are the most important for me, so far we were off to a good start. 

After our sommelier presented his recommendations for a bottle of red; our celebration had officially started!  Our waiter recommended several appetizers and went over the specials, everything sounded exquisite.  We began with the Polpettine; housemade meatballs and polenta fries, delicious! The meatballs truly taste homemade, moist, tender and flavorful.  The polenta fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, perfect.  Our second appetizer was the Caprese; mozzarella di bufala, heirloom tomatoes, red onion and basil; how can you go wrong.  It’s light, refreshing and all the flavors blend well.  Everyone at the table enjoyed the appetizers, and it was onto the main course.  The birthday boy ordered the Veal Parmigiana; thinly pounded veal chop, melted mozzarella, pomodoro sauce and a side of penne pasta…WOW!  The veal was incredibly tender and moist.  It was an enormous piece of meat which practically took up the entire plate, trust me you will eat it all.  I ordered the Ossobuco “My Way;” braised veal ossobuco, risotto Milanese and gremolata.  I was in heaven…that’s all I can say.  The ossobuco was incredibly tender, moist, flavorful and simply decadent.  The bone marrow was amazing, the risotto was delectable.  I will say; it is a heavy dish and if you plan on painting the town red afterwards your plans may need adjusting.  I honestly cannot recall what our two friends ordered, but I do recall they both said their food was delicious and definitely well worth it.  The food tastes homemade, the Chef’s love radiates in each dish. (Don’t mind the bite taken from each dish, we couldn’t resist)!

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Upon devouring our meals the table was cleaned off and our waiter brought the birthday boy a special treat; tiramisu with a candle and “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate; molto adorable!  Tiramisu is one of my favorite Italian desserts, it was delicate and wonderful.  We also ordered the cheesecake which was topped with a raspberry sherbert, the presentation was delightful and the sherbert complimented the cheesecake very well.   

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http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/Restaurants/FineDining/Sinatra

Panko Crusted Fried Chicken

Are you looking for a tasty and juicy fried chicken?  A very good friend of mine mentioned she had fried chicken at a restaurant which had been marinated in Tapatillo.  Who wouldn’t love kicked up fried chicken? Hearing that caused my wheels to spin and I decided to put together these few ingredients to create a simple yet flavorful chicken.  You’ll be amazed by how such few ingredients can create such a tasty dish.     

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup Tapatillo hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Montreal chicken seasoning (low sodium)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Dried parsley (optional)
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Sea salt

 

DIRECTIONS:

Wash and pat dry the chicken.   Utilize a container that has a lid and place the chicken breasts inside.  Sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder, montreal chicken seasoning (or your preferred chicken seasoning), oregano, salt and pepper.  Pour in the hot sauce and buttermilk and blend until well mixed.  Sprinkle with a dash of parsley, cover and place in refrigerator overnight.   You can marinate for less time, however overnight really does create a more flavorful chicken.

Buttermilk-Chicken

In a frying pan, pre-heat grapeseed oil (or your preferred cooking oil).  In a shallow plate place about half the bag of panko crumbs.  Sprinkle the panko with a tablespoon (or less) of paprika and mix around.  Lift a piece of chicken out of the buttermilk marinade and gently shake to remove any excess marinade.  Place the chicken in the middle of the crumbs and begin covering with the panko.  Press down to ensure the crumbs form a nice layer.  Gently place the chicken in the frying pan.  Repeat, until all pieces are cooked.  When you’re frying the chicken you want to make sure you only turn the chicken once, you don’t want to lose the panko along the way.  Wait until browned on one side before flipping over. 

Panko

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Place the cooked chicken on a shallow plate on top of a paper towel (helps absorb excess oil).  I like to finish the cooked chicken with a sprinkle of sea salt; it gives the chicken an added zing!  Garnish with another sprinkle of parsley. 

Fried_Chicken2

Enjoy with buttermilk mashed potatoes and a crisp green salad on the side.  This chicken actually keeps well as leftovers.

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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenderloins

 

As the saying goes…“everything’s better with bacon!” For the most part, I have found this to be a true statement. I was staring into my fridge looking for a quick and tasty weeknight meal when it dawned on me; wrap some bacon around chicken! Voila mission accomplished. You can truly use any seasoning you prefer on your chicken, the bacon will add tons more flavor. I normally buy center cut bacon as I prefer more meat than fat on my bacon. Feel free to use maple, thick cut, etc…the choice is yours and the options are endless!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 boneless/skinless chicken tenderloins (or thighs/breast whichever you prefer)
  • 8 bacon slices
  • 4 tbsp Chicken seasoning (your preference)
  • 1 tbsp Onion & Herb blend (I use Mrs. Dash)
  • Toothpicks

DIRECTIONS:

Season chicken with listed ingredients (or your choice of seasonings) and let marinade for 20-30minutes. Preheat a grill pan on medium heat. Wrap each piece with a whole piece of bacon, unless it’s a small piece of chicken, you can cut the bacon in half. Secure the ends with a toothpick or two, depending on the chicken size.  Place each piece of bacon wrapped chicken on the pan and cook until done. Times will vary greatly depending on the size of chicken you use. Once done I placed the tenders in the over on the broil setting for about 3-5 minutes so the bacon could crisp a tad. Personally I like my bacon on the softer side, but hey…you’re eating the meal so cook it your way!

 

Bacon Chicken