Chicken Fajita Chowder

For someone like myself who lives and breathes by lists and schedules, the past week or two have felt very scattered. I can’t seem to get in a solid routine, but somehow I’m managing just fine. Turns out maybe an unorganized life is good for the soul every now and then.

My blog posting has been off for a couple of days and I’m quickly trying to play catch-up. I feel like I say that all the time, but…real life beats internet life when it’s all said and done. Hashtag sorry I’m not sorry.

My mom and step-dad were in town this past weekend, and I had the day off of work Monday for Presidents’ Day. My days are still thrown off from the long weekend, and with a few after-work events this week, it’s not about to slow down.

One of these events is a cook-off hosted by Food Lion tonight. This experience will be completely new to me and I’m fairly anxious about the whole idea of it. I’m trying not to think or worry too much right now and go with the flow of things when I arrive. I’ll be posting more about that after the competition though. Pray for my cooking skills and knowledge to shine as much as possible!

A lot of the ingredients and rules of the competition are still unknown, but if I get a chance to make this fajita chowder, you can bet I will. I would put money on this any day. 
Between the nutty brown rice, tender vegetables, chunks of chicken and crusty bread for scooping, a bowl of this will leave you, well, wanting another bowl. 
Fun fact – This was the first time I have cooked with chicken since I transitioned to a heavily plant-based diet almost two years ago. In case you’re wondering, I do still eat meat occasionally, but mostly only while eating out if the vegetarian options on a menu don’t appeal to me. I can’t handle meat in as large of portions as normally served though. It just doesn’t sit well with my stomach. A few chunks of chicken throughout these bowls was just enough. 

Chicken Fajita Chowder
(Adapted from Taste of Home, February-March 2011)

Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 pound chicken
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 medium yellow onion
1 jalapeno
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice
2 cups corn kernels
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
A few strong shakes of Tabasco
1 cup enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Directions:
1. Add olive oil to a large, deep skillet on a stovetop over medium-low heat.
2. Once hot, add chicken, bell peppers, onion and jalapeno. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Add vegetable broth, dry rice, corn, seasonings, hot sauce and enchilada sauce. Bring to a simmer, turn heat to low, cover and cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add about half of the shredded cheese and gently stir to incorporate. Spoon into serving bowls and top with additional shredded cheese as desired.

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Top 5 Vegetarian Super Bowl Party Foods

Although I don’t care about the football part of the Super Bowl this year, I’m always looking for an excuse to make party foods. I’ve got to have something to munch on while watching three or four hours of commercials…I mean…football.

Here’s a lineup of my menu ideas, all of which are vegetarian (or can easily be made vegetarian):

1. White Pizza with Spinach and Bacon. What’s a football party without pizza? I realize bacon doesn’t qualify as vegetarian, but you can simply leave that off.

2. Crispy Healthy Baked Zucchini Fries. I think a Jalapeno Yogurt Dip would be great with these.

3. Skillet Black Bean & Veggie Nachos. One of my personal game day favorites. Crunchy, cheesy, filling and down right delicious.

4. Spicy Corn and Potato Chowder. Nothing like a hot bowl of soup during these cold winter days.

5. Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream. I don’t know about you, but it’s been far too long since I’ve made cupcakes. These little gems are calling my name. Plus, after eating all these veggies, we deserve it!

What are you making for the Super Bowl?

Spicy Roasted Vegetable Soup

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This year I have really been into soup more than ever before. I admit, some of it has been from a can, but increasingly more of it has been homemade. Who knew it was so easy?! 
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Thinking back, it makes a lot of sense that I find so much joy in soup. Way back in the day, Ramen Noodles (the chicken flavor only!!) were one of the first foods I learned how to “cook.” I don’t know if I should be embarrassed to admit that, but it’s too late now. Now the whole world tiny group of people reading this knows my secret. Yes, I consider cooking Ramen Noodles my first cooking experience. You gotta start somewhere! 
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Even now when I see Ramen in the store, I am almost a little tempted to buy a few bags. I mean, seriously, they’re what, 29 cents each or something crazy like that. Such a good deal. 
With my newest soup creation, Ramen is straying farther and farther from my mind. Or is it “further and further?” I just don’t know. I try to be good with grammar. I’m a stickler for that sort of thing. But in this case I’m too lazy to look it up and what difference does it really make anyway? You’re probably also thinking I’m the biggest hypocrite ever with my last statement about being good with grammer considering I average about five incomplete sentences in every post I write and begin every other sentence with a conjunction. Sorry I’m not sorry.
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ANYWAY.

I could eat this stuff all day every day. Just make sure I have some cold water nearby, because this is HOT. Not just in temperature, but also in flavor. It’s one of the spiciest things I’ve ever made. That being said, I guess it’s probably best to keep this to a wintertime meal. We all might die of heat strokes if we try to eat this in the summer. It’s already March and spring is quickly coming upon us. So make this while you still can! In just a few weeks I’m hoping and praying to be laying on the beach, soaking in some sun preparing my wedding day tan!!

If you like spicy, you will love this. If you don’t, well then just cut back on some of the cayenne pepper and you’re set.

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Spicy Roasted Vegetable Soup
Makes 6-8 servings
Ingredients:
3 1/2 – 4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth works fine too)
1 1/2 bell pepper of choice, sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
1/2 of a whole yellow onion, sliced
20 baby carrots, sliced (or two large carrots)
1 cup cooked corn kernels
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 baby potatoes, quartered
10 grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat baking sheet with nonstick spray. Spread out the sliced and chopped vegetables in an even layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil across vegetables and use a spatula to gently toss until oil is evenly distributed. Roast in oven for about 25-30 minutes, flipping veggies about halfway through. Remove when veggies have developed a nice brown color. 
2. When veggies are finished roasting, add to a large saucepan with the vegetable broth and seasonings on the stovetop. Cook over high heat until soup begins to boil. Turn to low, cover and simmer about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. 
*Any leftovers can be stored in airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. I have also heard of freezing soup, but have never done it myself. 

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

There are officially less than three months until my wedding. WHAT?! That is insane. Most of the planning is done, just some little things here and there to finalize. But you know what is super annoying right now? Postage.

I really want and need to get the invites out like, yesterday. I sent Greg to the post office to get postcard stamps for the RSVP cards but they only had apples. I do love apples, but not on my wedding postage. On the bright side, at least Greg was smart enough to know this was not okay and didn’t buy them. So I’ve been looking online and I don’t think wedding postcard stamps exist. At least not for face value. I don’t want to spend $1 for each customized one. That is insane.

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Now that the wedding countdown begins with, “two months and ___ days,” it’s time to get serious about wedding body shape! More importantly, honeymoon shape. Did I mention we’re going to Maui?! Well, we are. We just about have everything booked for our Hawaiian getaway.

I like to think I do a pretty good job of eating a balanced diet on a regular basis, with the occasional weekend indulgences. But it’s easy to get a little too comfortable with the comfort foods during cold winter days.

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A hot, filling, and somewhat spicy soup like this does the trick of satisfying my belly, while keeping me on track and ready for Hawaii!

I’ll just be daydreaming about another cup of this soup and maybe the postcard stamps I need will magically appear.

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Because that makes sense.

Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
(Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, Jan/Feb 2013)

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about half of a medium squash)
1 sweet potato, diced
1/2 pound carrots, sliced (about 25 baby carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping, if desired (about 1 tablespoon per cup of soup)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay squash, sweet potato and carrots on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil and gently toss everything to evenly coat with oil. Roast about 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables begin to brown.
2. Add roasted vegetables to a large saucepan over high heat. Add water and vegetable broth. Bring to boil then turn heat to low. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes.
3. Pour contents of saucepan into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add to a clean saucepan over low heat. Stir in sage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Ladle soup into individual bowls and top with a tablespoon of crumbled goat cheese immediately before serving.

*Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.

~About 65 calories per cup~

Weekend Eats 2-4-13

Hello Monday. Off we go into another week…

First of all, thank you to everyone who gave me feedback yesterday on a rehearsal dinner dress. Y’all were so helpful and had great suggestions! I’ll be sure to let you know when I pick one.

Here’s a recap of the weekend:

I treated myself to Menchie’s during my lunchbreak on Friday to get myself through the afternoon. They just released their Red Velvet Royale yogurt. Oh my gosh this stuff is GOOD! I swirled it with cheesecake fro yo and topped it with sprinkles and cool whip. Simple and sweet.

I started my Saturday with a toasted english muffin topped spread with mashed avocado, and an apple on the side. Then later on, Greg and I were out car shopping for myself (Eeekkk! So excited about this, but trying not to get my hopes up yet!). He wanted Bojangles and thankfully there was a Panera right next door. Win-win! I had the You Pick Two with Black Bean Soup and the new Spinach Power Salad.

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Later on Saturday afternoon we went to an adorable baby boy’s 1st birthday party! It’s Greg’s boss’s baby and he is so precious. I wish I had a picture to share. They had a carnival themed party with popcorn, cotton candy, hot dogs and plenty of traditional carnival games for the kids. It was the cutest thing. 
I had a busy day in the kitchen on Sunday. I am so excited to show you what I was up to, but that will come later on this week (if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you already got a little preview).
Since I was busy preparing other things, I kept lunch easy by heating a bowl of creamy chicken noodle soup Greg and I bought from church as part of a fundraiser that morning. Now that’s a meal I can feel good about 😉 I mixed in some steamed broccoli too. 
We went to a friend’s house for a low-key Super Bowl get together. I made a giant bowl of guacamole to bring along and ate that with some chips along side of my salad creation from Harris Teeter. 
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I had a cupcake and bowl of strawberry fro yo to finish off the weekend. Not bad if I say so myself!
What was the tastiest part of your weekend?