Whole30/Paleo Mexican Chicken Soup

In August, hubby and I decided to start eating better.  We did the Whole30 (actually we stopped a few days short of 30 if I’m being honest, but we are still sticking with the program for the most part).  We learned a few things while we did the program, including the importance of prepping your food ahead of time, and that it can get expensive!  This soup was great because it made a TON!  We did the full recipe and ate for most of a week on it.

Don’t let the fact that it’s “diet” get you down.  Husband said that he would eat it even if he wasn’t on a diet, it was that good!  I was even a daredevil and took a trip out of state to visit friends and brought some with me since I didn’t expect them to cook Whole30 style for me.  My friend tasted the soup and she loved it too!  It’s a winner!

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup
Recipe adapted from Framing Cali

Ingredients:
2 whole chickens
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 bell peppers (I had a mix of red, green and yellow in the freezer), cut into strips
1-2 zucchini, diced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp minced garlic
Avocado (for topping)
red onion (for topping)
1.5 tbsp onion Salt
1.5 tbsp garlic powder
1.5 tbsp curry powder
1.5 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1.5 tbsp dried cilantro

In a large stock pot, place your chickens (with the innards removed) and fill with water until just covered.  Add half the yellow onion, minced garlic, and a handful of fresh cilantro and boil for about 45 minutes.  Season to taste (I used salt and Cajun seasoning blend).

While that’s boiling, saute the rest of the yellow onion, bell peppers and zucchini.  Set aside.  Remove the chickens (this can be complicated!) and set aside in a large casserole to cool off a little bit.  Add the diced sweet potatoes to the broth made from the chickens cooking.  Boil until tender, about 15 minutes.

Once cool enough to touch, peel and discard the chicken skin and shred the meat into bite sized chunks.  Add the chicken, sauteed vegetables, and spices to the broth.  Simmer on low at least 20 more minutes.  Serve topped with diced avocado and red onion.

Mexican Chicken Soup

Mexican Chicken Soup

 

Whole30 Basil Cashew Chicken Salad

My husband and I recently started our first Whole30 diet.  I’m kind of behind in doing some posts, as today we are wrapping up day 17!  More than halfway there!  The first few days were a little rough, but we’ve adjusted pretty well.  My husband has been a rock star, he has given up tobacco as well.  We’ve had a good time experimenting with different recipes, and this is one of the first ones I made.

First I made some compliant mayonnaise (recipe to come soon!), then just started throwing things in!  So easy and so delicious!  I loosely based it on a favorite wrap of ours at Roly Poly.  This can be a eaten on a salad, using lettuce as a wrap, or just on its’ own.

Tip:  Do not add your cashews until you are ready to eat.  Otherwise, they get a little weird.

Basil Cashew Chicken Salad

Basil Cashew Chicken Salad

Whole30 Basil Cashew Chicken Salad
Source:  A Cooking With Christen original recipe

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, roasted, deboned, and shredded
compliant mayonnaise, to taste
2-3 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, etc.)
cashews for garnish

Method:

Mix all ingredients except for the cashews.  Taste for seasonings and refrigerate at least a few hours, or overnight for the flavors to blend together.  When ready to serve, top with cashews.

Basil Cashew Chicken Salad

Basil Cashew Chicken Salad

Easy Oven Jambalaya

A while back my coworker Kim had the misfortune of her freezer messing up.  She had to quickly cook a lot of the meat she had frozen and one of the things she cooked was this easy oven jambalaya.  She brought some to work for our lunch the next day and it was SO good!  She gave me the recipe and I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve made it since.  My husband is always asking for it, even my picky daughter loves it!

The recipe calls for Uncle Ben’s original rice.  Make sure to get that, Kim said that it does make a difference!  The ingredients do sound a bit strange for a jambalaya but trust me, this is one of the best jambalayas I’ve ever had!  You can be creative with your proteins also.  While jambalaya does typically contain chicken and sausage, shrimp would be delicious and so would crawfish (I know because I did it!).

Easy Oven Jambalaya

Easy Oven Jambalaya

Easy Oven Jambalaya
Recipe from the Barth/Cutrera Family

Ingredients:
1 can French Onion Soup
1 can beef broth
1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup green onions
2 cups Uncle Ben’s Original uncooked rice
1 tbsp minced garlic
Tony’s Creole seasoning and thyme to taste
1 lb. boneless diced chicken and sliced smoked sausage (or shrimp, or crawfish)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients.  Pour into an oven-safe casserole that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Cover with foil and bake for an hour and a half.

Easy Oven Jambalaya

Easy Oven Jambalaya

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

I love salads with fresh homemade dressing.  I’m not big on store-bought dressing, though I will occasionally buy the ones in the produce section because they taste a bit more like homemade.  I had no plans on making salad dressing, in fact I was just going to throw together a simple tomato, cucumber and onion salad with Italian dressing (the only one that I do buy at the grocer) when I noticed that my farmer’s market had their salad mix in stock.

Their salad mix is so delicious and it seems like it stays fresh forever.  I was a bit burnt out on our ranch dressing that I make, so I took to Pinterest to look for something new.  I landed on this yummy sounding Vidalia onion dressing, mostly because it called for primarily all things you would keep in your pantry.  Vidalia onions (they come from Georgia, not Louisiana, did you know that?) are sweet onions, if you were not aware.  I couldn’t find Vidalia’s at our grocery store so I just bought a sweet onion and it worked.  Boy did it work.  Now let me tell you, you’ll get it all blended and mixed up.  Don’t taste it yet.  Seriously, just don’t.  It’s nothing good.  Those flavors need to chill together overnight.  After it’s been in the fridge overnight, shake it up well before drizzling over a salad (lightly).  And sigh in pleasure.

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing

Sweet Vidalia Onion Salad Dressing
Recipe from One Perfect Bite

Ingredients:
1/2 large Vidalia onion (I used 1 regular sweet onion)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 tbsp white vinegar
8 tbsp white granulated sugar (shhhh!)
1.5 tsp dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery seed (I used celery flakes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Method:

Slice off the ends of the onion on each side, pierce the onion skin with the knife several times all around it.  Place in a microwave-safe bowl with about a tablespoon water and microwave for 4 minutes.  Remove, drain the water and as soon as you are able (it will be hot!), remove the outer papery skin and discard it.  Roughly cut the softened onion into pieces that will fit into your food processor (mine is small), pulse until smooth.  Add the remainder of the ingredients and process until smooth and mixed through.  Pour into a jar or bottle and chill overnight.  Shake well before using.

 

Roasted Garlic Glazed Pork Loin

A while back we had a teachers appreciation lunch at my school. They served a pork tenderloin that was so good, I got the recipe for it. Then not long afterwards, a friend gave me a jar of roasted garlic pepper jelly. The recipe called for preserves, so I knew what the jar of pepper jelly was going to go to!

This recipe is really easy and it does not disappoint. Below is the information where you can get your own jar of Bulldog Pepper Jelly Brand Roasted Garlic Pepper Jelly. But you could use this recipe with whatever jelly/preserves makes your taste buds go “mmmm”! At the lunch, they used orange marmalade, but said that apricot preserves are even better.

Bulldog Pepper Jelly – “The jelly with a BITE!”
bulldogpepperjelly@gmail.com 337-540-7259

Bulldog Pepper Jelly Roasted Garlic Pepper Jelly

Bulldog Pepper Jelly
Roasted Garlic Pepper Jelly

Roasted Garlic Glazed Pork Loin

Ingredients:
1 pork tenderloin
Tony’s Creole Seasoning, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Kitchen Bouquet (Browning liquid)
1/2 jar Roasted Garlic Pepper Jelly (about 1 cup)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season tenderloin generously with Tony’s, set aside.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Brown the tenderloin on both sides, adding a little Kitchen Bouquet for added color.

In a small bowl, mix the jelly, mustard and Worcestershire.  Brush the browned pork with the glaze, then put in the oven for 30 minutes.  Check for doneness using a meat thermometer.  Add more glaze then cook longer if needed.

Once done, remove from the oven and allow it to sit for at least ten minutes before slicing, to retain juices.  Spoon more glaze over the top when serving.

Roasted Garlic Pork Loin

Roasted Garlic Pork Loin

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I do have excuses, and they are valid. One is that I’ve started working full-time. I’ve been having trouble finding the balance between work life and family/home life. Another thing was daylight savings time. When I work and then go run my errands, come home and help the kiddo with homework then start cooking, we don’t eat until later and pictures really do NOT look good in artificial light. But I’m going to try to do better, I promise.

Today’s recipe was definitely a keeper. I realize it’s starting to get warmer out but some people like me enjoy a good soup anyway. I did take a few shortcuts, but we were really impressed with the depth of flavor. I’ve tinkered with a few different chicken tortilla soups and this is the first that I’ve really liked. And it reheated well too. :)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp. olive oil (another one)
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Rotel
32 oz. chicken stock
3 tbsp. tomato paste
4 cups hot water
2 cans black beans, rinsed well and drained
3 tbsp. cornmeal
1 bag tortilla strips (usually in the salad topping section)
desired garnishes: sour cream, diced avocado, diced red onion, salsa, cheese, cilantro

Method:
Preheat oven to 375. Mix the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil on the chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small bit of the mixed seasonings over the chicken, reserving the rest for later. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then shred using two forks. Set the shredded chicken aside.

In a large pot, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil. Add the vegetables, stirring to combine. Cook until tender, adding the rest of the seasoning mix. Add the shredded chicken and stir. Add the can of Rotel, chicken stock, water, tomato paste an beans. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a low simmer. Cook 45 minutes, uncovered.

In a small dish, mix the cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup and stir well, simmer another 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve with the tortilla strips and desired garnishes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake

I’ve been tinkering around with different versions of king cakes for a few years now and I’ve finally got it. It is a mix of several different recipes.

It is slightly labor intensive since it involves letting the dough rise a couple of times but trust me, it is well worth it. I’ve actually had several people order them from me but now that I work full-time I just don’t always have time.

So here it is, get your aprons on!

This makes two king cakes.

Praline Pecan Cream Cheese King Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour

For the Cream Cheese Filling
2 (8 oz) blocks Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Praline Pecan Filling
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 cups of chopped pecans
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

For the Glaze
Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar, get the sifted 10x one
small splash of almond extract
small splash of butter extract
5 tbsp water

Method

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until thoroughly mixed. Set aside, and cool mixture.

Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a glass bowl, let stand 5 minutes.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.
Attach the dough hook and let it knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk (I put it in my slightly warmed oven).

While that is rising, beat together the cream cheese mixture ingredients until smooth and well blended. In another bowl, mix together the praline pecan ingredients.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture over each rectangle then sprinkle half of the pecan mixture on each half. Spread it evenly over the cream cheese.

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat Bring ends of roll together to form a ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the ingredients until smooth but still a little thick. You may add more water but be careful not to make it too thin.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 16 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before spooning the glaze over and topping with purple, yellow and green sprinkles or colored sugar.

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