Lunch and Dinner

I Need A Hug From My Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a crazy time in my life. There’s so much going on that it’s a little too much to take in at times. I put in my notice at work last week. While I still have two months to go, I am starting to pack up everything I’ve acquired in my ten years in New York City to return to a faraway city I haven’t lived in since I was a teenager. I’m talking opposite-side-of-the-earth far. I’m ready to start a new chapter but I’m not ready to leave all the people I love, even if it ends up being temporary. It’s bittersweet.

I’m not doing the best job of processing all my different emotions, the change, and my never-ending to-do list. Or how to balance productivity with spending time with the ones I will miss the most. All I can do is try. Sometimes I just need a hug. May it be in the form of a physical cuddle, encouraging words, or a box of cookies warm bowl of soup.

I’ve actually only had chicken tortilla soup once but it was the most delicious, comforting thing I could have eaten on a cold winter’s night. I’ve been craving it ever since. And while I don’t make as good a version as La Esquina, this is exactly what I’ve needed the past few days.

chicken tortilla soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Makes about 6 servings

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (remove seeds if you don’t deal well with heat)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon salt
6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

For serving:
corn tortillas, cut into strips
a squeeze of lime juice
a few chunks of avocado
chopped cilantro

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for about 20 minutes, until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. Then chop into cube-sized pieces.

Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Once hot, add the diced onion and jalapeno and cook for five minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the chili powder and cumin and mix until well combined.

Pour in the chicken stock and add the diced tomatoes, black beans, diced cooked chicken and salt. Bring to a boil for a couple of minutes. To serve, ladle out your desired portions and add tortilla strips into each serving. Lightly stir each so that the tortilla can start to soften in the hot soup. Top each serving with lime juice, avocado, and chopped cilantro.

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Lunch and Dinner

A Creamy, Cheesy One-Pot Meal

One of my favorite blogs, Big Girls Small Kitchen, posted this gorgeous recipe for a Tex-Mex skillet Creamy Chorizo-Chicken Casserole last year as an April Fool’s joke, saying it was only 100 calories per serving (I wish). This recipe, however, is no joke. It is seriously delicious.

There’s nothing inherently unhealthy about this casserole per se. I did feel slightly guilty every time I had a serving of this amazing creamy, cheesy casserole, though. You know me, I’m pretty liberal about what I consider clean eating. I eat meat, cheese, butter–all that stuff “health-conscious” people don’t get down with. But I just don’t feel like a meal is complete without vegetables. The point of one-pot dinners is having everything you need  in one pot, right? I know I shouldn’t mess with genius, but I thought I’d give it a tiny makeover, just to make it a little more nutritionally balanced. I swapped out a bit of the meat, cheese, rice, and cream for some tasty veggies. I promise–it tastes just as ridiculously good.

Chicken and Chorizo Casserole with Tomato and Bell Pepper
Makes 4 servings
About 690 calories

Adapted from Big Girls Small Kitchen

1/2 pound fresh chorizo
1/2 pound boneless chicken thighs or breast
3 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced removing seeds and water
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 lime, juiced
1 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 cup coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Season the chicken with salt and 1 teaspoon of the ancho chili powder. In a large cast iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken in the skillet on both sides until browned and cook through, about 15 minutes. In the same skillet, brown the chorizo until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the chorizo and chicken to a plate and set aside.

Melt the last tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic, remaining chili powder, cumin, salt, and flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the broth. Simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened.

Stir in the cream, sour cream, and lime juice. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. During this step, you can roughly cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and slice up the chorizo when not busy stirring.

Remove the skillet from heat. Fold in the meats, cooked rice, and most of the cilantro. Set aside the leftover cilantro for the end. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven and garnish with remaining cilantro leaves.

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Lunch and Dinner

Making Kung Pao Chicken at Home: A GrubKit Review

I took a dumplings and wontons class with Diana Kaun from Appetite for China a couple of weeks ago. She told us she was putting together a Kung Pao Chicken Kit for a new service called GrubKit. Basically, you order a kit that consists of pre-measured non-perishable ingredients in just the right amounts, and a simple recipe. All you need to do is shop for a few fresh ingredients and whip up the meal in your kitchen. GrubKit basically meets you halfway–you’re still cooking your own food but they do some of the prep work. It sounded similar to a company that I’ve always wanted to try out from my hometown called Secret Ingredient, so I ordered Diana’s Kung Pao Chicken GrubKit.

My GrubKit arrived within a day or two in nice packaging.

As promised, all non-perishable ingredients were provided, measured-out and individually packaged.

The recipe is printed on a card along with cooking tips and your shopping list (in this case, just chicken, scallions, garlic, and ginger).

OK, confession. I’ve never actually had Kung Pao Chicken, ever. I really only know Cantonese cuisine and when I moved to the Sates, I kind of just assumed Kung Pao Chicken was some Chinese American take-out dish, like General Tso’s. But turns out this is indeed a classic dish in Sichuan cuisine. I may have nothing to compare my results with, but my guests and I found it to be delicious!

I enjoyed my GrubKit experience and am definitely open to trying it again. I think it’s a fantastic idea but definitely a little pricier than buying ingredients in bulk (duh). I paid a little over $20 including shipping, but still had to shop for fresh ingredients. Therefore, I think GrubKit is best in these two situations:

  1. If you don’t cook from scratch often, and hence really appreciate GrubKit’s prep work so you can save time and effort (not going to lie, it was pretty awesome not having to measure things out).
  2. If there’s a recipe you want to make and you can’t imagine using the ingredients often or don’t know where to find them. I happen to make Chinese food now and then so it probably would have been cheaper for me to make Kung Pao Chicken on my own, but for someone who wants to make it once but doesn’t want to buy bottles of peanut oil, hoisin sauce, etc that they will never use again, GrubKit really comes in handy.

Quick Notes

  • $3.95 flat shipping rate in the US, free shipping on 3 or more kits
  • Eco-friendly packaging
  • Ingredients are hand-selected with a focus on healthy and organic choices
  • It’s a small husband and wife operation in Brooklyn, NY. The wife is a food blogger.

GrubKit
http://www.grubkit.com
hello@grubkit.com
(347) 469-1290

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