Black Bean Chicken Soup w/ Cilantro

I know, I literally haven’t posted in FOREVER. I’m so sorry! Here are my excuses:

  1. The holidays.
  2. WEDDINGS!
  3. I started grad school.

That is pretty much it. All of my spare times seems to revolve around exercise and/or studying now a days, BUT this recipe needs to be shared! This has been my savior the past couple of weekends because it is so easy, so delicious, and very filling. It is packed with protein, so one bowl and I am typically set for the evening. Add a side of veggies and you have a well balanced meal for lunch or for dinner (I have some packed today for lunch at work!).

I am a big black bean person (as you all know!). I really find them to be a necessary staple in my diet. They are easy, versatile, filling, and so yummy! My husband absolutely loves this recipe, so for the past 3 weeks it has been my Sunday “sit on the stove while I study” meal. It also lasts me a few days so I am able to use it for lunches or leftover dinner the next day or 2!


I will say, don’t skip the cilantro. It adds a fresh element to this soup and really brightens something that can be very heavy. It is perfect to feed a small crowed and really utilizes a lot off foods that we typically have in our pantry or refrigerator. I hope you try this delicious, yummy Black Bean Chicken Soup!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small red bell pepper
  • 1, 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, no added-salt or low-sodium
  • 2, 15 oz cans of black beans, rinsed
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs chicken breast (about 2 large breasts should work)
  • Fresh cilantro to taste (about 2 Tbsp for the actual soup, and some left over for garnish)
  • Canola or olive oil spray
  • Seasonings: cumin (~1-1 1/2 Tbsp), chili powder (~1 Tbsp), black pepper (~1/2 Tbsp), garlic powder (~1/2 Tbsp), paprika (~1 Tbsp), sea salt (~1/2 tsp)
  • Other optional garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocado

Black Bean Chicken Soup: serves 4-6

In a large soup pot, saute your onions and red pepper in a little cooking spray until your onions start to become translucent (about 5-8 minutes). Season with a pinch of your seasonings (black pepper, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika) just to start the seasoning process.

Add your rinsed black beans, chicken stock and diced tomatoes with your remaining seasonings (I don’t really measure, I more season to taste. Estimations of measurements found in ingredients!). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for at least 1 hour uncovered. At your 1 hour mark, if liquid has reduced significantly, you may add a lid and turn to low for another half hour to an hour. Once your soup has cooked and reduced down by at least 1/3, turn off the heat and let cool.

In the mean time, cook your chicken breasts in the oven for 30 minutes. If using extra thick breasts, put heat on 375 degrees. If the breasts are a little thinner or you are using multiple tenderloins instead, your heat can be on 350 degrees. Season breasts with a little black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Once cooked, let sit until fully cooled before shredding (you can even do this the day before to speed up your process!).

Once your soup has cooled, put about 2/3 into a blender or food processor. Blend the soup until it is fairly smooth with a few little chunks. Add your blended mixture back into the pot with the remaining soup and bring back to a simmer. Add in your shredded chicken into the pot and allow it to simmer for ~20-30 minutes. Finish your soup with a little cilantro mixed in at the very end.

Serve with whatever garnishes you may desire and a little extra fresh cilantro! Enjoy!



Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Another week, another Sunday. Little change up with this Sunday… instead of cooking food i’m dreaming of food. This morning I had the pleasure of getting my wisdom teeth out. For someone who loves to cook and loves to eat, this is definitely not fun. Protein shakes and yogurt just aren’t quite doing the trick.

Since my mouth still won’t open past an inch, I can’t help but think of everything I’d like to eat right now. While this stinks, it brought me back to a recipe that I meant to share a few weeks ago, but never quite got around to it. The recipe was for my Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

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Perfectly cheesy, yet a little milder in heat, these enchiladas are simple, delicious, and so so satisfying. My husband was a big fan (he always looks forward to my Mexican-inspired dishes), and I was happy to have leftovers for lunch the next day. These enchiladas are a little lighter, made with a green enchilada sauce and filled with veggies, shredded chicken, and wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla.

I hope you try my yummy enchiladas!

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 5 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 small can diced greed chiles (it is around 1/4 cup serving)
  • 3/4 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 3 medium-sized chicken breasts
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion
  • 4 handfuls fresh spinach (or ~4 cups)
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (use what you prefer; I actually used a whole milk mozzarella cheese to give the dish a rich element, but if you are really looking to take it light you may sub for low-fat moz cheese)
  • 3/4 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
  • Seasonings: paprika, ground red pepper, black pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, slice and sauté your chicken in a little cooking spray or olive oil. Season with paprika, ground red pepper, black pepper, and garlic powder. If you want your enchiladas to have some heat, you can be a little more generous with your red pepper; if not, use sparingly.

While your chicken is cooking, dice your onion and begin to sauté in a separate skillet on medium, also in a little cooking spray. As your onions begin to soften and turn slightly translucent, add your spinach and a splash of water (literally just a splash to add some moisture to the pan) Season with the same seasonings you use on your chicken. Let your spinach and onions sauté until the spinach begins to wilt. Add your frozen corn. Go ahead and add a little more water if you feel your veggies are starting to stick (this is how i typically avoid adding more oil or fat to a dish; the water doesn’t add flavor, but the moisture typically is enough to prevent your food from sticking!).

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After about 8-10 minutes, lower your heat to medium-low. Remove your chicken from the heat (it should be finished). Add your green chiles as well as a hefty dollop of plain Greek yogurt to your veggies (~1/2 cup) and stir until smooth. Don’t let the yogurt sit for too long or keep your heat too high; this can cause it to curdle.  Transfer your chicken to your veggie skillet and add another small spoonful (~1/4 cup). Stir until the yogurt is melted and well incorporated. You may also add a little extra seasoning, a small sprinkle of cheese, or a small spoonful of enchilada sauce to your filling mix at this time. Don’t forget, you will be adding cheese once you begin layering, so if you do choose to add a little more to the mix, don’t over-do it!

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In the bottom of a square baking dish, add a little cooking spray to prevent sticking, then a spoonful of your enchilada sauce. Place 2 tortillas onto the sauce, and add a spoonful of your filling as well as a handful of shredded cheese. Cover your filling with more tortillas (you will have to tear one tortilla to evenly cover the top) and complete the layering process again.

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Add a final layer tortillas and top with enchilada sauce and a final sprinkle of cheese. Place in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and starting to turn a golden-brown color on top. Let your enchiladas rest about 8-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with a side of salsa, avocado, or any of your other favorite toppings! Enjoy 🙂

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Easy Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken

BOY HAS LIFE BEEN BORING. My food life that is…

Between a broken refrigerator and an upset tummy, my foods have been bland, boring, and cooking just hasn’t really existed in my house. Toast, bananas, and soups have been the base of my diet this week, so as you can probably guess, I haven’t been a happy camper!

Last night, I had finally had it and stopped at the store on my way home. I wasn’t feeling too brave just yet, but I figured my stomach could definitely handle chicken and potatoes. I am a big fan of herbed chicken, so that was where I started for the evening.

When picking out seasoning blends, I always look for salt-free versions. No need for added salt when you’re adding other flavors! Another basic rule of thumb for me when it comes to seasoning, taste first before you salt! Sprouts, a local farmer’s market in Arizona which I frequently mention, is one of my favorite places to pick up spices or seasonings. While there pre-made seasoning mixes are a little pricey, they are always delicious and have a wide variety of salt-free blends available. For this simple and easy dish, I used their Lemon Pepper Seasoning Mix which is potent, flavorful, and adds the perfect bit of lemon taste and aroma.

Sweet potatoes are a go-to side for me. I tend to mix sweet potatoes and red potatoes because my husband isn’t a huge sweet potato fan, so our side last night was homemade baked mixed fries (which looked more like hash browns but had the crispy, browned tasted of homemade fries). Combined, this is the perfect easy 30 minute meal (including cooking time) which added a little flare to our otherwise boring food week! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  

Lemon Herbed Baked Chicken:

Seasoning blend: salt-free lemon pepper seasoning, dried basil, garlic powder, black pepper

Other ingredients: 2 large chicken breasts or 4 thin-cut breasts or cutlets, olive or canola oil spray, 1/4-1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

For this meal, I used 2 large chicken breasts which I cut in half to have 4 thinner pieces of chicken.

Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray and lay your chicken out evenly. Season with a heavy amount of lemon-pepper seasoning and basil. Add a dusting of garlic powder and black pepper. Flip your chicken over and season the other side. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has past, sprinkle your feta cheese over your chicken breasts and cook for an additional 5-8 minutes. Finish the chicken off with a quick broil to lightly brown your feta cheese for about 2-3 minutes on high.

Easy Baked Potato Fries:

For our side, I used 2 small sweet potatoes and 4 small red potatoes. I cut each potato into smaller pieces, about 1/2 in thick, 3/4 in wide. You can change the size of the potatoes, or cut into simple rounds, but this may change the cooking time a bit. On a large baking sheet, I added a little olive oil spray, then spread the potatoes out evenly. I sprayed the top of the potatoes lightly then seasoned with my go-to potato seasoning blend:

  • paprika
  • ground red pepper
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt to finish them off (immediately once they leave the oven)

  
 As I’ve said before, I never measure spices or herbs unless I’m baking, so use quantities that you enjoy. Red pepper flakes and ground red pepper can become very spicy very quickly, so use with caution until you find a spice level that works for you!

Bake your potatoes on 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. be sure to flip your potatoes about halfway through the baking process to assure both sides get golden and crisp!

Finish off your dish with whatever dipping sauces you may like or a side of extra veggies! Enjoy!
 


Easy Peasy Crockpot Chicken Stew

Oh my goodness it feels like ages since I have written anything. I wish I had a more exciting excuse, but nothing has really changed! Just let time slip away from me I guess!

I figured I would leave a simple, easy recipe that can be made with common household ingredients for todays post. This 1 pot meal is perfectly simple, yet delicious and flavorful. Throw all the ingredients into a crockpot and let simmer on low for 7-8 hours. Don’t forget a little cooking spray on the bottom of the pot to assure your meal end up in your belly and not stuck in the crockpot! Enjoy this Easy Peasy Crockpot Chicken Stew and also… happy Mother’s Day to any fabulous mom’s reading!

Ingredients: (feeds 3-4)

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 purple carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 medium sized white onion, chopped
  • 1 small garlic clove, coarsely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • paprika
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • chili powder
  • topping of your choice

Cook time: ~7-8hrs

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Lightly spray your crockpot with a little olive oil spray before adding chicken, carrot, sweet potato, beans, onion, garlic, and seasonings. Add 1 cup of water and seal with lid. Allow ingredients to simmer for ~6 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally.

At the 6 1/2 hour mark, add 1/2 cup quinoa and allow to simmer with the lid on for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, add remaining 1/2 cup water and more seasoning if desired. Allow to cook for another 15-30 minutes or until quinoa is fully cooked. Top with various toppings of your choice such as salsa, avocado, cheddar cheese, cilantro, etc. Enjoy!


Easy Roasted Vegetable Fall Salad

I’m back!!!!!!! Sheesh, I hope I do not move for at least another 5 years, because that move completely wore me out. Don’t get me wrong; the sunshine, having my own bathroom, and amazing beautiful new kitchen are great consolations for the grueling 3 days it took to get it all situated. Oh, and did I mention I haven’t had internet or cable for a week? Hense why I have been missing!

Now that I am back, let me tell you about the fantastic salad that I made the other night. I know what your probably thinking… another salad. How exciting could it be? Well, I think it was fantastic, and it encompassed a few of my favorite foods which I typically don’t mix together: sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and feta cheese (everything is better with a little feta!).

One of my favorite things about fall is roasting vegetables. I eat sweet potatoes all year long, but there is something about a warm oven roasting a pan of veggies and combining them with other cool, fresh ingredients that is comforting, warming, and puts a smile on my face. I love mixing temperature when preparing a dish as well as textures. I think a little crunch can add an extra something to a dish that would otherwise be bland or a shocking hot vegetable on a bed of cool greens can intrigue your taste buds.

For this salad, I combined sweet potato with fresh brussel sprouts in a roasting pan on 375 degrees. I prefer roasting at a lower temperature, rather that upwards of 400 or 425. I think the vegetables cook through better and brown at a slower rate, giving the inside plenty of time to soften. The sweet potatoes turned a light golden brown, and the brussels got crispy on the edges of the leaves.

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My protein of choices was a lean chicken breast, which I seasoned with garlic powder, dried thyme, basil, and oregano.

I chose feta cheese due to its salty, strong flavor. I don’t typically use salt when I cook, so choosing a salty cheese still allows the flavor without adding the seasoning.

I hope that you try a roasted vegetable salad as the weather turns cool and enjoy and the flavors that fall has to offer! Choose vegetables that you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to combine things that you may not normally combine. Enjoy, and happy cooking!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato; diced into about 1/2 x 1/2in. cubes
  • 1/2-3/4 cup fresh brussel sprouts, whole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • veg seasonings: garlic poder, chili powder, paprika, a pinch of dried thyme
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 3oz chicken breast
  • chicken seasonings: garlic powder, dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano (be careful with the oregano; it can be overpowering!)
  • 2 Tbsp of your favorite light dressing (I used a light roasted red pepper)

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Toss your cubed sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts in about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and seasonings. If you prefer a different seasoning blend, feel free to switch it up. Also prepare your chicken breast at this time by spraying it with a little cooking spray on each side and seasoning the face up side. You can cook both the veg and the chicken at the same time, just make sure to use separate trays. Cook your veg for about 25 minutes, flipping the vegetables 1-2 times in between cooking. Check your chicken at 25 minutes; if cooked through, remove from the heat. If not, cook for about 5 more minutes. Once your chicken and vegetables have been removed from the oven, allow the chicken to rest while you prepare your greens, feta, and place your vegetables atop the greens. Slice your chicken into thin strips and place on top of the vegetables. Lastly, dress with a light dressing of your choice. Enjoy!