Chicken Soup & Chicken Dinner

Around this time of year, I just can’t help but think about comfort food–foods that warm you from the inside out.  I read novels about food; I read my cookbooks; I scour the internet for new recipes to try.  I’m also a firm believer that comfort foods don’t need to be unhealthy.  In fact, they can be some of the healthiest recipes of all.  I’d like to share two recipes that I’ve made in the past few days.  One is a delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup (special thanks to my mother-in-law for this fantastic recipe) as well as an easy weeknight chicken dish taken from Cooking Light’s Fresh Food Fast cookbook.  Both recipes are fast, healthy and yummy!

Please note, the Smothered Green Chili Pepper Chicken recipe calls for reduced-sodium taco seasoning.  I am definitely not a fan of those little packets of taco seasoning mix.  They are loaded with unhealthy ingredients like sugar and MSG.  Instead, I make my own taco seasoning with ingredients I always have on hand in my spice cabinet.  You can mix it up in just a minute or two and save your dinner from the perils of those little packets!  This is the recipe I use:  Just a note, if you’re using it for making tacos or burritos, you may want to add a few tablespoons of water to your meat with the spices.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 t. olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 T. lime juice
2 cans (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 cup of salsa
1 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans or hominy

Cut chicken into bite size pieces (thin)
Heat oil and brown chicken.
Add onion, spices, and lime juice.

Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes

Ladle soup and serve with tortilla chips and avocado slices.

*Control the spiciness of the soup by your choice of salsa.

Note: I don’t measure the onion.  I just use one medium onion and chop the whole thing up.  I use the whole pack of chicken breasts instead of just two.  My husband never seems to mind when I cook with more meat.  🙂  Also, I serve the soup with a dollop of plain, greek yogurt and grated sharp cheddar cheese in lieu of the tortilla chips.  Sometimes I sprinkle it with fresh cilantro and add the avocado slices on top, too.

Smothered Green Chili Pepper Chicken

8 (3-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium taco seasoning
8 canned whole green chiles, drained
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Arrange chicken in an 8-inch square baking dish; squeeze lime juice evenly over chicken.  Sprinkle evenly with taco seasoning.
3.  Slice chiles lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side; open flat.  Place 1 chile over each chicken thigh.  Cover dish with foil; bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over chiles and chicken; bake, uncovered, an additional 5 minutes or until cheese melts.  Yield: 4 servings.

Note: Every pack of chicken thighs I’ve ever seen only has six thighs.  Every can of whole green chiles I’ve ever bought has three peppers in it.  So, one packet of thighs and two cans of chiles gives you three servings.  Just something to keep in mind if you’re feeding more than that!  Also, this is a great meal to make when you’ve got other things to do.  Throw the chicken in, do the laundry or even do a quick workout.  Then, in the last five minutes of cooking, while the cheese is melting, make a quick salad to serve with the chicken.



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