Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy 4 Years of Blogging to Me



Four years ago I started this little blog on a Halloween afternoon after class one day in my little townhouse. I was engaged, and not a single one of my bridesmaids lived within even an hour of me. This was how I planned to communicate wedding ideas with them. By being a cheesy blogger.

Somehow on that journey to marriage others found my blog and began to read. By the time the wedding came to be friends were wondering what it would look like all pulled together, they had only seen bits and pieces on the blog. 

I remember taking pictures in my Mom's wedding dress and posting them. I also remember the struggles that go with wedding planning that didn't air. I sort of wish I had shared them back in the day when very few people read. 

It is funny how real you can be with hurting people's feelings isn't an issue. Needless to say everything I've wanted to say has not been posted. I've written a lot of draft posts. A lot. But in that this has been a diary for 4 years. 

After we were married friends encouraged me to keep the blog, I thought about changing the name, but never found the right one. So I've stayed Louisiana Bride through thick and thin, through blogging that made me happy, and blogging that I felt like I had to post to just get something out once a week. 

Now after 4 years and many changes I am still Louisiana Bride and I feel like I finally know who I am as a blogger. 

I'm not a mommy blogger.
I'm not a fashion blogger.
I'm not a big name blogger. 

I am a lifestyle blogger who shares recipes, clothing, and life. I'm real with y'all, and I am glad you have stuck around over the years. I'm also very happy about all my newbie blog friends:)

I feel so young in the blog world, but so old at the same time. Things have changed so much over the years in exciting ways. I feel like such a cheese ball saying that I blog, and I don't think that will ever change. 

Let's face it, I am just a cheese ball who has been sharing embarrassing moments for 4 years. You can't claim I am out to make myself look good. I just hope y'all don't think I rant too much.

Anyway, thanks for reading my little Louisiana Bride blog. It makes me oh so happy to see new friends and comment-ers around here:)

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 31 Taco Pasta

This is the last day of 31 Days! Can y'all believe it, I actually blogged on time for an entire month, and have an arsenal of meals to boot. We actually didn't repeat a single recipe this month, whoo hoo! I haven't made this recipe yet, but I will be making it next week, with just the two of us it has been hard to eat all these meals. I am still a few meals behind on the consumption front so we are covered through the first few weeks of November.

Taco Pasta





As per the usual this month my changes are in pink:

Ingredients 
  • 1 pound ground beef (lean or turkey)
  • 8-12 ounces medium pasta shells  (I used whole wheat—yum!)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (jarred, who wants to chop this stuff?)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained (I used Ro-tel mild)
  • 1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
  • 3 ounces cream cheese (fat free cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (fat free sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional) (on the side so J doesn't complain)
  • Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat and onions over medium-high heat. Add in the diced tomatoes, garlic and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and remaining pasta water. Continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Simmer for a few minutes over medium heat to reduce the sauce, if needed. 


Toss in the cilantro right before serving for some fresh color and flavor, if desired. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 30 Lasagna Soup

I just stumbled upon A Farmgirl's Dabbles through Pinterest this week and am in love. Enjoy this recipe, I know we will!

Lasagna Soup


Here is the original recipe with my changes in pink:

Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
    for the soup:
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage
  • 3 c. chopped onions
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. tomato paste (freeze the left over to use later)
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta (or whatever I find in Smart Taste)
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I'm using dried)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • for the cheesy yum:
  • 8 oz. ricotta (part skim ricotta)
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (using the cheap-o powdered can stuff bc it's cheap!)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • additional cheesy yum:
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preparation

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.



Monday, October 29, 2012

A Bullet Point Update & a Knockoff North Face Jacket

This blog has been so chock (is that how you spell it?) full of recipes this month I haven't shared much from daily life. Easy for me, then again I am never sure what people find interesting around here anyway. One of my most read posts is one that I deem highly uninteresting myself. To each their own:) 

- Thanks for 31 Days my little blog has seen massive growth lately. I've gained a few followers, but pages views are high, to me they are high. Thank y'all so much, it makes my little blogger heart very happy. By the way if you read I would love for you to follow on Google Friend Connect so I can follow you back, I always love to know who is reading. You don't have to have a Blogger account to follow, you can also sign in through your Google account and new posts will be delivered to your Dashboard. It has also recently been brought to my attention that you can follow with Google Friend Connect using your Twitter account, as well as many other accounts. 

- I have been freezing lately at school and my beloved jean jacket just isn't cutting it anymore these days. I have wanted a North Face forever, but the cost is just unbearable in this phase of life. Lucky for me other stores have started carrying them, for instance WalMart has a knockoff that very closely resembles North Face. I am hoping to get my monogram on it to make it even prettier! So today I broke down and paid a whopping $13 for a blue fleece jacket to save my poor freezing self during school hours. They absolutely refuse to turn the heat on at work and the kids and I spend the entire winter bundled up indoors. Not cool. 


- I've been taking Saffron Extract to help lose the 5-10lbs that is stuck to me for dear life. I'm about to start month three of it and have seen how it helps. I initially lost about 7 lbs over two months but gained almost 5 back in the past month due to stress. It has really helped to curb my appetite  which I have a huge problem with. I can eat for days and never feel full, it's a family problem. Initially I was sleeping better and I could tell it was elevating my mood but I think recent stress has caused that effect to diminish. I just bought another 3 months worth of it, so let's see if I can hit my goal weight by Christmas. My step-Grandmother-in-law lost 19 pounds between July and the end of September taking it. Saffron extract is completely vegan and a natural herb, so it is no at all causing the same damage I saw happen as a result of taking a certain diet pill years ago. My metabolism just never came back after taking that stupid Hydroxycut garbage. I wish I could have convinced college Emily that she didn't weigh enough to take that mess. 

- With that said, stress has been beating me in the face lately. Good an bad stress. I am currently categorizing work as bad stress and ministry as good stress. Either way it gets to you. I feel almost bi-polar bouncing between church and work. Being at church around our friends and the youth ministry make me almost elated happy, while teaching makes me cringe. I can't hardly stand it, the stuff the state is putting on public school teachers is absurd. I don't feel nearly as educated as the paper work claims I am. I seriously think of resume Emily and how Emily currently feels about teaching and view it as two separate people. I am just not enjoying it whatsoever and need to find a nice escape from the funk because like it or not I have 7 months left in this year and about 22 years until retirement. 

I had somewhere else I was going with this post but can't remember at all. Go figure. Blame the memory loss on stress. 

What causes you the most stress, and how do you cope? 

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 29 Taco Soup

I know I say I love every recipe I put up here this month, but honestly I do. I've only shared my favorite and one or two near misses. Misses because I didn't try them before posting!
Taco soup is another favorite here. When it is just me I tend to leave the meat out to save money and it is just as filling, that is probably due to the large quantity of beans though. This is a great slow cooker recipe for busy fall and winter days. I made it today and it will last through Wednesday. You can even add rice to make it go farther.

Taco Soup


Here is the original recipe fro Paula Deen with my changes in pink:

Ingredients

  • 1 pounds ground beef (lean beef or turkey)
  • 1 cups diced onions (I have some seasoning blend leftover that I am using)
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional (left out, Jeremy isn't a fan)
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional (sadly they've been left out)
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-ounce) package ranch salad dressing mix
  • Corn chips, for serving
  • Sour cream, for garnish
  • Grated cheese, for garnish
  • Chopped green onions, for garnish
  • Pickled jalapenos, for garnish (nope, not using)

Directions

Brown the ground beef and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned beef and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chiles, black olives, green olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 28 Mushroom Stroganoff

I feel like I'm running out of recipes, lucky for me there are only a few days left of frugal meals. I made this particular strognaff before 31 Days started and loved it. Jeremy even loved it! That says a lot for a healthier recipe. I made a few changes to make it a little cheaper, then again adding beef will add cost but quickly make it man friendly. 

Mushroom Stroganoff




Here is the original recipe from Skinny Taste with my changes in pink:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter (Brummel & Brown Yogurt Spread)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (just use the whole onion, it never killed anyone)
  • 2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups fat-free, less-sodium vegetable broth (or beef if you're a carnivore) 
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (buy canned and freeze the rest and use later on for other recipes)
  • 5 oz sliced Cremini mushrooms (just buy the 8oz white mushroom and use for Shiitake too)
  • 8 oz sliced baby Bella mushrooms
  • 3.5 oz Shiitake mushrooms (I just bought the plain white mushrooms, these are too pricy)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp white wine or sherry (I bought the small bottle of white cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream (fat free sour cream)
  • 8 oz uncooked noodles (Ronzoni Smart Taste, Healthy Harvest or No-Yolk)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish (I used dried)


Directions:

Cook noodles in a pot of salted water according to package directions, I like to under-cook them a bit so I can mix it with the sauce and let it finish cooking.

Meanwhile, while the water starts to boil for the noodles, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Melt butter over medium heat and add onions to the pan. Cook 2 - 3 minutes over medium-low heat.

Add flour; stir with a wooden spoon for 30 seconds. Gradually add broth, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt and pepper; stir and cook 4-5 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. 


Add wine; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Stir in sour cream; add noodles, mix well and garnish with parsley if desired.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 27 Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese

I made this for the guys not long ago an they loved it! Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese is super simple and really filling. With the cuts I made it is even cheaper to make.

Bacon, Ranch, and Chicken Mac and Cheese


Here is the original recipe with my changes in pink:


  • Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 slice applewood-smoked bacon (real bacon bits, cheaper than a whole pack of bacon and I usually have them on hand)
  • 8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free milk (almond milk, its what I have)
  • 1/3 cup condensed 45% reduced-sodium 98% fat-free cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded six-cheese Italian blend (such as Sargento) (I just bought one bag of colby jack to save $ and left the Italian cheese out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder (instead of the following 4 ingredients I use ranch dressing mix, I had some on hand.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (if you use the seasonings they include you can easily replace the fresh dill for dried, it is cheaper and lasts longer)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded colby-Jack cheese
  • 1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.
    2. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Finely chop bacon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken to drippings in pan; sauté 6 minutes or until done.
    3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat; sprinkle flour evenly into pan. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Combine milk and soup, stirring with a whisk; gradually add milk mixture to saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; let stand 4 minutes or until sauce cools to 155°. Add Italian cheese blend, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in pasta and chicken.
    4. Preheat broiler.
    5. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with reserved bacon and colby-Jack cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.


Friday, October 26, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 26 Pizza Bites

This is probably one of my favorite Sunday night recipes. It is way cheaper than regular pizza and I personally think it is a lot more fun to eat, Jeremy on the other hand is getting sick of it. I make these a lot of Sunday nights! A lot! I just love them, they're cheap, yummy, and super easy. Perfect meal in my book. Plus you can buy whole wheat canned pizza dough now so I don't have to make my own if I don't feel like doing it.

**I actually took my own photos of this recipe but they didn't come out right, bad lighting. I'll remake it another day and post it again then:) Pinterest has made this Frugal Meals series so much easier. I don't have to photograph every single recipe and it makes me sooo happy!

Pizza Bites


Here is the original recipe from Pennies on a Platter with what I use in pink:

1/2 batch Perfect Pizza Crust dough (canned whole wheat pizza dough)
mozzarella cheese, about 20 cubed pieces (sliced string cheese or shredded)
sliced pepperoni (mini turkey pepperoni)
For topping:
olive oil
Italian seasoning
grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400˚F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate or cake pan.  Divide the pizza dough into roughly 20 equal sized pieces.  Take one of the dough pieces and press in a cube of cheese and two slices of pepperoni.  Pull the edges of the dough down around the filling and seal.  Place in the pan, seam side down.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Each piece of dough should be touching each other in the pan. (It may seem crowded, but will be fine.)
Lightly brush the tops of the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle on Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with dipping sauce if desired.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 25 Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

This my friends is where the leftover chicken I have in the fridge and the tortillas from the taco soup are going. Didn't I tell y'all at the beginning of the month that saving ingredients for other recipes would occur? Yup, I did.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos is a Cooking Light recipe I found in this year's October issue when a friend of mine gave me a stack of magazines to thumb through. Food magazines are a problem for me. I use to love fashion mags, but now my allegiance is to food.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos
Source: myrecipes.com via Emily on Pinterest


As usual my changes are in pink.

What you need:
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch (not even 100% sure I have some)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp canola oil
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark sesame oil (I have light sesame oil)
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (it's an odd ingredient but I already have it)
1 large garlic clove
3 tbsp chopped dry roasted peanuts
3/4 c sliced celery (I guess we won't use this, I forgot to buy it)
8 6-inch corn tortillas
1/3 c sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper (green is cheaper)
4 lime wedges (1 - I bought 2 limes one for Tortilla Soup and one for this, we have to share)

What to do:
  1. 1. Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.
  2. 2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of coated chicken; sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and coated chicken.
  3. 3. Combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice. Stir in garlic. Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.
  4. 4. Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.
I actually wanted to take my own picture of this recipe, but we are having to take family beach pictures worship team pics on Wednesday and it is cutting out every inch of time I had to blog. Boo. Hello scheduled posts! You may be wondering why I said "family beach pictures", well our lovely worship leader whom I wish to kill dearly decided we should wear white. 

I'm tempted to show up in my wedding dress just to mess with him. 

I have never been one to match people. I refused to play ball as a kid because of the uniforms, and I must say that marching band was a very painful time of my life. 

You can bet your bottom dollar this girl is wearing a crazy scarf to counter act the white. 

(side note: if we weren't such good friends with the worship leader I probably wouldn't harass him this much)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 24 Spicy Chinese Noodles

Today's recipe came about when we were first married and Jeremy started doing P90X. He was seriously sticking to the diet and I couldn't stand the canned tuna smell, one day I broke out the recipe book and found the pasta love of my P90X dieting life. It took some serious playing around to perfect the recipe, they only gave the individual portion size in the book. I usually make my Stir Fry Cabbage when I make this, but today I didn't. I just grilled up some stir fry round steak and tossed it in the carb heavy protein dense pasta dish. 

The first time I saw this recipe I wasn't sure about the peanut butter, but trust me it is good. 

Spicy Chinese Noodles with Asian Beef 





























What you need:
14oz box of whole wheat linguini (I couldn't find linguini this time)
9 tbls of chunky peanut butter
9 tbls of low sodium soy sauce
9 tbls of rice vinegar
6 tbls honey
dash cayenne red pepper
green onions finely chopped

What to do:
Boil pasta according to box directions. Heat sauce in pan and whisk together till combined. Mix with pasta. Mix in beef or any veggies you choose. 

Asian Beef
-optional if you don't want it to be vegetarian
1 lb of round steak (or whatever you prefer, this is just cheap)
soy sauce to taste
rice vinegar to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
pepper
green onions chopped

Combine ingredients in a zip lock bag and let marinade for at least one hour. While preparing the pasta, grill the meat and slice. Then toss with pasta.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

31 Days of Frugal Meals // Day 23 Tortilla Soup

I've had Pioneer Woman's Tortilla Soup recipe saved in my blog feed for ages, but something about it just didn't have me convinced I should make it. Jeremy is weird about food, sometimes he is all for whatever I cook, others you'd think I was offering up tofu. Soup is one of those "tofu" foods. He is either totally game, or you'd think I laced it with arsenic. 

Last week Jeremy tormented our friend Emily with yet another of his assessments he is having to learn this semester. Lucky for us Em invited us to eat dinner with this before the tormenting began, needless to say I was quite excited. Emily is an awesome cook and happened to making up a batch of this Tortilla Soup I had not committed to just yet. 

Jeremy loved it, yay for me! On a funny note she served salsa with it, he loved her salsa just as much as the soup. 

He is not a fan of my salsa at all.

I make the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa. 

Guess what?

Emily makes the Pioneer Woman's Salsa too. 

You should have seen his face when he was informed it was the same recipe I use! That right there is the definition of chawed. 

[I am actually not making this today, I flip flopped recipes because of our schedule and what is easier to post when. I am making this when the MIL comes to town Friday]

Pioneer Woman Tortilla Soup

Here is PW's recipe with my changes in parentheses (it wouldn't let me change the color):
Side Note: It looks like a crazy long ingredient list, but I promise you probably have most of these things at home already. I am making something else this week so that the tortillas are not wasted. 

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • ¼ cups Diced Green Bell Pepper
  • ¼ cups Red Bell Pepper (I actually splurged on a red pepper, but using another green is fine)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies (use store brand it tastes the same)
  • 32 ounces, fluid Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste (I have some frozen from a recipe earlier this month)
  • 4 cups Hot Water
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. Can) Black Beans, Drained (left out entirely, Jeremy hates them, I may add pinto)
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornmeal Or Masa (use what you have I happen to have both)
  • 5 whole Corn Tortillas, Cut Into Uniform Strips Around 2 To 3 Inches (buy the smallest pack you can and use the rest in another recipe the same week)
  • _____
  • FOR THE GARNISHES:
  • Sour Cream (fat free)
  • Diced Avocado 
  • Diced Red Onion
  • Salsa Or Pico De Gallo (making PW's salsa and serving with chips)
  • Grated Monterey Jack Cheese 
  • Cilantro (using in salsa too to save $$)

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.
Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more if needed—add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, and grated cheese, if you have it! (The garnishes really make the soup delicious.)


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