Sunday, January 29, 2012

National Soup Swap Day

It's a little known fact that I absolutely love soup. Ask my former college roommates and they will tell you, I could eat soup every single night and never get sick of it - even during the summer. So when I got an email last year telling me to save the date for National Soup Swap Day, you better believe I did!

When it was finally January 2012 and I saw National Soup Swap Day on my calendar, I wanted to try and participate. So I organized a swap with the ladies at work. We did it a little differently than the official guidelines which recommended bringing soups that have already been frozen and then swapping them.

I thought it would be more fun to bring the soups in crock pots so that we could all sample them during lunch. And fun it was. We had nine participants and I am embarrassed proud to say that I sampled all nine soups. Each person also brought their own storage containers and then packaged up whatever soups they wanted to take home with them - or in my case packaged and left at work to eat for the rest of the week. I already told you I could eat soup everyday, now I have proof. I ate soup for lunch and dinner on Monday and then for lunch every day the rest of the week. And no, I did not get sick of it.

Here are the different soups we had at the swap:

My Chicken Tortilla Soup (get recipe here)


Vegetarian Chili
Wonton Soup

Squash Soup

Mushroom Onion Soup
Garlic Chicken and Onion Soup
Pasta Fagioli Soup
Sweet Potatoe Mango Curry Soup
Italian Sausage Soup
 Everyone had a great time participating in the swap and I definitely enjoyed having my lunch already packed for the rest of the week. I encourage you to organize something fun like this at work. I'm already planning a Chili Cook Off at work for February. I will keep you posted!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Get in the kitchen and make: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

 (allrecipes.com)


Prep Time: 30 Min
Cook Time: 30 Min
Ready In: 1 Hr




Ingredients
  • 1-2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 3 10.75 ounce cans cream of chicken soup
  • 3 14.5 ounce cans chicken broth
  • 3 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1-3 4.25 ounce cans chilies, drained
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1-3 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Cumin to taste
  • Chili powder to taste 
  • Light sour cream (optional)
  • Shredded cheese - mexican or cheddar are good (optional)
  • Tortilla chips/strips (optional) 
Directions
  1. Cook and shred chicken
  2. Drain and rinse black beans, set aside
  3. Drain diced tomatoes and chilies, set aside
  4. Mix all ingredients (except garlic salt, cumin and chili powder) in large stock pot, bring to boil
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes
  6. Add garlic salt, cumin and chili powder to taste
  7. Garnish with tortilla chips, sour cream and cheese
  8. Makes 5-6 quarts of soup (or enough to fill a big crock pot)
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The original recipe for this "Six Can Chicken Tortilla Soup," comes from allrecipes.com and I actually blogged about it last year. When I originally made the soup last year, although it was super easy and very fast to make, my major critique was that I could taste the metal when eating the chicken. Since that time, I read a lot of the reviews of the original recipe and decided to modify it.

I didn't chunk or cube the chicken prior to cooking as I usually do because I thought shredded chicken would go better in this soup. So I cooked the breasts in a pan on medium until the center wasn't pink and then I used this tip I found on pinterest and put the hot chicken in my KitchenAid mixer and used the paddle attachment to shred it. I determined it was completely shredded before it actually was, so don't make this mistake. Fork through the chicken to make sure it's really separated enough before you mix it in the soup.

You can buy diced tomatoes that already come mixed with chilies but I chose not to so that I had more control over how spicy the soup was. If you are worried about the soup being too spicy, add the cans of chilies one by one, tasting as you go. I used all three cans and it definitely has a kick but the perfect amount for us. I should warn you, I made the soup the night before I was going to serve it and a lot of the spiciness went away. I'm not sure if the tomatoes watered the soup down over night or what, but if you like your soup with a kick and are going to be storing this soup over night, I would make it a little spicier than you think it should be.

Last year when I made this recipe I didn't use the black beans because I didn't think I liked them. I've become much more daring since then (chili beans in my chili, black beans in my soup - skydiving will be next). I think I'm growing up. The beans really do add an extra something to the soup.

Here is the soup garnished with cheddar cheese,
sour cream and crumbled tortilla chips. It really
adds an extra something to the soup.

I took this recipe to the soup swap I organized at work and the reviews were all good. Although, who is really going to look me in the eye and tell me my soup was gross? Don't worry, I watched to see if anyone gagged or darted for the trash can. I brought the extra soup home and Pat and I had it for dinner tonight. Not only did he give it a 10 out of 10 but he actually went on to say, and I quote, "this is restaurant quality." You heard it here first, folks.

Now get in the kitchen and make yourself some Chicken Tortilla Soup.  You won't regret it.

Happy cooking, friends.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

If life is a race, I am losing



It seems the only time it's cute for someone to be running around saying, "I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date," is when you're a fictional little white rabbit. Pat and I had very little going on this weekend and were able to be completely lazy both Saturday and Sunday. It was great. Except for the fact that the only two obligations we did have, I made us late to both. Pat does not find it cute or endearing and I don't blame him.

On Saturday night we had Pat's uncle's retirement party and I was providing the music. I wanted to get there about 15 minutes before it actually started so I could have the music going before people arrived. 15 minutes early turned in to 20 minutes late, all because I waited too long to get ready. I felt horrible.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a gymnastics meet for Pat's cousin Lia. We wanted to make sure we got there right on time so we didn't miss any of her events. We ended up getting there 15 minutes late (because I was late getting ready) and missed Lia on the balance beam - her best event - by exactly one minute. Again, I felt horrible.

This weekend was a huge wake up call for me. Why it took me until I was 28 1/2 to come to the realization, I have no idea. But the reality is, I'm a habitually late person (which I already knew) and I absolutely have to fix it (my new realization). I'm finally starting to understand how my lateness affects other people. Usually I am late because I am getting ready and I don't start the whole getting ready process early enough.

When I realized we had missed Lia's best event or that the party was full of people by the time we got there, I thought to myself, I would much rather be here with no makeup on or with 80s hair then to be late. And that's when the light bulb when off; neither of these events were about me or how I looked and I made them about me by being late. Ouch. That one stings.

I have been a habitually late person since birth. Literally. I was born a week past my due date and the people in my life have been waiting on me ever since. I have memories as early as three years old and throwing a fit about an outfit my mom picked out for me to wear to a party so I made her change my outfit and thus made us late (this is also my first memory of how sensitive I am and my first recollection of hurting someone's feelings - see, I do have some endearing qualities).

I remember in middle school I missed the bus for a choir contest so my dad had to drive me over an hour to where the contest was. Also in middle school, I missed the bus for a church trip and my mom literally chased the bus down the highway and had it pull over and then forced me to get on it. Just thinking about it now and how embarrassing it was seems like it should have been all the motivation I needed to change my ways. But it wasn't.

I could go on and on. My college roommates can tell you stories about how I made them late for class waiting for me and how I was pretty much late for every class I ever took in college. Pat can tell you stories about how I have made us late for pretty much every event we've ever gone to in the 6+ years we've been together.

My dad has always said that if I really felt bad about being late, I wouldn't be late anymore. I used to always disagree with him but today, I'm starting to think he's right (don't tell him I said that). I always feel bad when I'm late, but apparently I haven't felt bad enough to change my habits. Until today. When we missed Lia's best event at her only home gymnastics meet of the year.

The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem. My name is Emily and I am habitually late. There, that feels much better. Next step, explore ways to overcome my lateness and then make a conscious effort to fix it.

On that note, I am now late for bed. This is not a good start...