Weekly Dish: Tortilla Soup with Chipotle

I got a Vitamix for Christmas! A professional Vitamix, complete with a dry container for grinding grains! I am ecstatic about this and though I have been excitedly and passionately making smoothies for a few days now, this is my first meal made in the Vitamix. Or at least part of it was made in it.

Tortilla Soup varies and can house a variety of ingredients. I love this one oh so much because of the addition of chipotle and also the inclusion of a few different vegetables which makes this a super-soup! Not one ounce of guilt involved. This is the combination of a few different recipes and it works wonderfully. If you like chipotle, you will love this…


Tortilla Soup with Chipotle


Place the following in a large saucepan or dutch oven:

2 bone-in Chicken breasts
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 large yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
handful cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon Real Salt

Meanwhile, place the following in a blender:
5 Roma tomatoes, cored
1/2 large white or yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1/4 of a red or yellow pepper
small chunk of cabbage
2 small slices of yellow squash
1/2-1 jalapeno, depending on desired heat level
1-2 chipotle chiles, plus 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce, depending on desired heat level
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Garnishes:
Lime wedges
Avocado, diced
Cotija cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro
Minced jalapeno
Crema Mexicana or Sour Cream

Bring the broth, onion, chicken, garlic, cilantro and salt to boil over medium-high heat; reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, let cool, and shred or dice into small pieces. Discard the bones. Pour the broth through a strainer; discard the solids.

Puree the vegetable mixture until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering; add the tomato-onion puree and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until it is darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir the strained broth into the tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust any seasonings or add more adobo sauce for more heat. Add the chicken until heated through, about 5 minutes more. (Or place it all in a crockpot on low until ready to serve, which is what I do!)

To serve: put homemade tortilla strips* on bottom of individual bowls and ladle the soup into the bowls; pass the garnishes separately.

*Chips, unless baked, are not good for you and can wreak havoc on your health, as they are deep fried. Here is a baked tortilla chip/strip recipe:

Preheat oven to 425. Cut 8 6-inch corn tortillas into 1/2-inch-wide strips. Spread strips on a rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until the strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating the pain and shaking the strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels.

Optional ingredients: Also can add corn and any kind of beans to the soup!

 

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Weekly Dish: Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Here’s a seriously delicious Real Food appetizer for parties and gatherings this Christmas. It makes a lot, so you may want to cut the recipe in half the recipe for a smaller crowd.

Spinach Artichoke Dip 

1/4 cup grass-fed butter (ie: Kerrygold brand)
1 10-ounce frozen chopped spinach (still partly frozen)
14-ounces jarred artichoke hearts, drained
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese (softened)
2 16-ounce containers of sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
garlic powder to taste
real salt or celtic salt to taste

Melt butter. Add spinach and drained artichoke hearts. Add cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and real salt.
Heat for 10-15 minutes over Medium heat.

Serve warm with raw veggies and/or  sprouted/soaked bread.
(If it cools, you can heat back if up needed)

I am sharing this recipe at Real Food Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Weekly Dish: Green Rice

A few of the new recipes I have made recently and that have been on my Weekly Menus have turned out to be duds. Or at least less than blog-worthy. Some will be okay with a little tweaking. But I obviously can’t post until it’s perfect. SO, here’s one from the recipe book archives:

This is a “real food” adaptation of my Nana’s recipe and a family favorite. She’s gone now, but would be proud to have one of her recipes on the Internet!  It is actually a Rice Pilaf recipe, but when I was little, I am told that I re-named it Green Rice and it stuck.

Green Rice

1 C long-grain brown rice
2 T butter
2 C homemade chicken stock
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 Tablespoons butter
1 10-oz package chopped spinach
salt & pepper, to taste
Melt butter, add onion and rice and cook until onions are limp. Add chicken stock and heat.
Put in casserole dish and add salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme on top and drop in bay leaf.
Cover and bake in oven 400 degrees for 30 minutes-1 hour or until liquid is absorbed.
Melt butter, add defrosted spinach and toss in skillet just until heated well.
Remove bay leaf and lightly toss spinach and rice together.
Do not stir as rice will get gummy.

Weekly Dish: Hot ‘N Sour Soup

This is an incredibly nourishing soup when made using the proper techniques and ingredients.

[One caveat: Soybeans are a SOMETIMES food. We avoid them almost entirely, in any form (soy milk, soy “meat”, tofu, etc… Although, I haven’t ever tried Tempeh, which is fermented soybeans and would be okay also as a sometimes food.) This soup is our soybean exception. And only because the soybeans are sprouted. All the anti-nutrients in the soybean itself have been removed, but the phyto-estrogen (plant hormones) still remain. Phyto-estrogen can wreak havoc on a body, especially on young children, teens, men, and women in their childbearing and menopausal years. So, basically everyone at all times. Limit soy and make sure it is sprouted or fermented!]

This recipe is my Nana’s creation. She was notorious for doing this.  She went home and figured out the ingredients for this recipe after liking it so much at a local Chinese restaurant. (This was before the internet.) She has been gone for a few years now, but I still give all credit to her whenever it is due, which is often. I quadruple this recipe and add a tad more vinegar and a tad less sesame oil. I also omit the cornstarch and I just have a thin brothy soup. Just taste preference and my husbands current food limitations/allergies.  It’s a very versatile recipe and a staple in our home.

All of the ingredients should be able to be purchased at your grocery store or local health food store.

Hot ‘N Sour Soup

4 cups homemade chicken stock
1 teaspoon Real Salt
1 Tablespoon naturally fermented soy sauce or Liquid Aminos
1/4 cup pork or chicken, julienned  (I use chicken but pork does give a little more flavor because of the added fat)
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, julienned
4 shiitake mushrooms, dried and reconstituted* or fresh
1 square (1 package) sprouted** tofu, firm or extra firm
1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste (Sambal Oelek brand)
2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder or Cornstarch
1 beaten egg
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 sliced green onions
Bring chicken stock, salt, soy sauce, pork/chicken, bamboo shoots and mushrooms to boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
Drop in Tofu and add chili paste and white vinegar. Bring to boil again.
Stir in arrowroot powder/cornstarch. Stir until soup thickens. Adjust cornstarch to adjust the thickness of the soup. Turn off heat and slowly pour in the beaten egg. Let stand for a few seconds, then stir to break up egg into soup.
Stir in sesame oil and garnish with green onions.
*Reconstitute dried mushrooms in hot water for at least half an hour.
**I found this at our local health food store (Whole Foods) next to the other tofu and soy products.

 

I am  sharing this at Real Food Wednesday.

Weekly Dish: Smoky Chicken Saltimbocca

I forgot to get prosciutto from the store on my last trip and Chicken Saltimbocca was on my menu. I needed something to use up the leftover sage from Thanksgiving, still, so improvising here we come. Plus, I’ve been watching a lot of “Master Chef” lately so I felt it necessary to mix it up.  And it was a hit.  Even my chicken hating 4-year-old loved this!

I termed it ‘smoky’ because of the addition of smoked bacon in exchange for the non-smoked prosciutto.

SMOKY CHICKEN SALTIMBOCCA

4 organic, boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon real salt or celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 slices nitrate-free, uncured bacon
12 sage leaves
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon organic, grass-fed butter (Kerrygold)

Dry chicken with paper towel. sprinkle spices onto both sides of the breasts. Wrap bacon around each slice, with the ends of the bacon ending up on the same side, ideally. Tuck 4 sage leaves into each breast, underneath the slices of bacon.

Heat olive oil and butter to Medium-High heat. Place 2 chicken breasts at a time into the pan, frying for 4-5 minutes on each side or until done, depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. You want the bacon and sage to be crispy, not limp, so adjust the heat accordingly.

Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes to let juices redistribute before serving.

Kombucha @ Home

Affectionately termed “rotten mushroom tea” by my father, this tea admittedly seems like a strange thing to voluntarily ingest.But when you learn of its incredible health benefits, and discover its surprisingly zippy and refreshing taste (think along the lines of hard apple cider), you, too will want to grow rotten mushroom tea on your kitchen counter. Warning: it will gross everyone out and make you a target to all those around. It will also delve you further into the “hippie” lifestyle and further away from the normalcy of all of your American friends. But it’s worth it.

The History
Kombucha originated in Russia. There it is called “mushroom tea” or “tea kvass” or just “kvass.” Though, it is unlike traditional kvass in that it is not made with bread at all.

The Basics
A mushroom really has nothing to do with it; it is called a SCOBY (“symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”). The tea is basically black tea (or another variety), white sugar and this SCOBY. Some call it a mushroom, some call it a culture. Most call it disgusting. As the tea sits on your countertop (or in a cupboard, etc…), the SCOBY will begin to feed on the sugar (yeast and bacteria Looooooove white sugar), removing all of the sugar from the tea and trading it for beneficial bacteria, live cultures, enzymes, acids. Each batch of Kombucha will produce an additional layer  or “baby”  SCOBY on the top of the original “mother” SCOBY. Separate them like you would separate two pancakes. These may be discarded, shared with friends, sold, or used for additional batches of Kombucha.

You wouldn’t think that white sugar and caffeinated tea could produce anything that would benefit health, but it is a curing drink, complete with toxic neutralizing qualities. It aids the immune system and assists the body in cleansing itself, not to mention being a cancer (and other degenerative disease) preventer!

(The culture eats up all of the white sugar so don’t let that concern you at all.)

Why Ferment?
When fermentation happens, there is an introduction of live organisms. You have approximately 3-5 pounds of live organisms inside your body at this very moment. Don’t get too grossed out; they are supposed to be there. There are bad organisms (pathogens) and good organisms (beneficial bacteria). You should have more good than bad. Pathogens, when out of control, cause disease and sickness. Good bacteria’s job is to keep the bad bacteria under control and in check, flushing them out of our system along with toxins and harmful substances we ingest or breathe in every day. Fermentation adds to the colonization of good bacteria, keeping our body healthy and able to fight off infection, pathogens, toxins, etc…

Traditional cultures, going back to probably the beginning of time, have fermented their foods and drinks. Some examples of this: Fermented Cod Liver oil, yogurt, kefir, and many vegetables and fruits. We are unaccustomed to this taste and it is a bit foreign to our palates. But give it a chance! Let it grow on you (or in you. I had to…). Let yourself develop a taste for something that can impart such benefits to your immune system as a whole.

People spend loads of money on quality probiotics. You can make Kombucha (and yogurt, and fermented vegetables, etc…) for literally pennies.

Because of the fermentation, there is approximately .5% or less alcohol in this tea, which means that it is technically a non-alcoholic beverage. The longer fermentation goes and the less sweet the tea becomes, the more alcohol it will have in it.

There are variations of flavors and teas for Kombucha. You may use other teas, but black tea has the highest amount of glucuronic acid, which is the detoxifying agent in the tea. Other teas impart drastically different flavors, but you can also achieve this by adding fruit, fruit juices, or ginger at the end of fermentation, after you have removed the SCOBY.

Now for the recipe:

KOMBUCHA

3 quarts filtered water
1 Cup white sugar
4 tea bags of organic black tea
1/2 cup Kombucha from a previous batch
1 Kombucha SCOBY

Boil 3 quarts water. Pour boiling water over the sugar and tea bags in a glass jar/pitcher. Let tea cool to room temperature. Remove tea bags with a very clean spoon or hands washed with soap and rinsed with vinegar. Add the 1/2 cup Kombucha and the SCOBY pancake into the jar. Cover the jar loosely with a cloth so that the tea can breathe and transfer to a warm, dark place. Depending on the temperature of the space you have chosen to let it culture, it could take anywhere from 7-14 days for the tea to be ready. Taste the Kombucha. It should not be too sweet but shouldn’t taste too acidic, like vinegar, either.

Notes:

  • It is important to use white sugar as this is what feeds the yeast. Do not substitute with brown sugar, honey, stevia, sucanat/rapadura, maple syrup, etc…)
  • It is important to use organic tea. Non-organic tea is often high in flouride.
  • Black tea gives the highest amounts of detoxifying glucuronic acid.
  • Store mushrooms in a glass dish in the refrigerator when not in use. Do not ever store it in plastic.

I am sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday.

Weekly Dish: Fuzzy Caterpillars

 

This one’s for the kids! My 4-year old couldn’t wait to bite the heads off of them. Yes, he is a boy.

Fuzzy Caterpillars

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 8 raisins/dark chocolate/carob chips
  • 4 cashews

Peel bananas. Spread almond butter over the entire banana and roll in the coconut. Cut in half to make 4 caterpillars. Add 2 raisin “eyes” and one cashew “smile” to each one.