Monthly Archives: February 2013

Skinny Tortilla Soup…A Hominy Story

1 cup is less than 2 Weight Watcher points but you don't need to be watching your calories to appreciate a yummy bowl...or two!

1 cup is 2 Weight Watcher points but you don’t need to be watching your calories to appreciate a yummy bowl…or two!

I’m a soup girl. I could devote an entire blog to my soup creations. I could eat a bowl of any soup any time of day. There is something comforting to me while I have a large pot steaming away all day while I go about other chores, visiting the pot to add an ingredient, give it a stir or to simply taste its progress.

Though a mystery to my Mom, as I was not a fan as a child. I would turn my nose up to anything considered a soup or stew opting for a PB&J instead. I’d pout, make terrible faces and whine until she would cave and excuse me from my bowl.

Despite that I deserve paybacks from my own children, to my pleasure, they too, share my (Now as an adult) love for bowls of anything soupy.

This recipe really got its inspiration from a blog called http://www.skinnykitchen.com/recipes/youll-love-our-heavenly-chicken-tortilla-soup/ I of course added my own twist, but truly, this was the base recipe I used for my own

First, before I continue onto my recipe, let’s get a little lesson on Hominy. These corny nuggets are what really make this the BEST Tortilla Soup ever!

Why Hello, Hominy, welcome to my kitchen.

Why Hello, Hominy, welcome to my kitchen.

According to Wikipedia, Hominy consists of dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization….okay, lesson over…just know this stuff is really cool…indians used it too…so it must be magic!

Here it is, the healthy, yummy, lick your bowl clean recipe:

Ingredients for Skinny Tortilla Soup

1 large or 2 small chopped onions

2 stalks celery sliced

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

2 corn tortillas chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon quality cumin (more to taste)

1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder (regular is fine too)

1/2 teaspoon smoked spicy paprika (offers a really nice smokey spicy flavor, I found mine at Penzy’s)

3 TBS tomato past (save the rest of the can in a ziplock baggie in your freezer for later use)

1 15oz can Fire Roasted Tomatoes juice and all

1 Can green chilis, drained

1 15oz can black beans drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can Yellow hominy drained and rinsed

2 cups of cooked lean chicken

Juice and zest of 1 lime plus more for garnish

In a large stockpot sweat your onions and celery in a bit of EVOO for a couple of minutes. Add garlic and chopped corn tortillas. Sweat for another couple of minutes. Add spices, tomato paste, broth, tomatoes, beans, chilis and bring to a slow bubble. Turn back heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Add hominy, and chicken. Simmer for another 10 minutes taste and adjust seasonings. I believe I ended up adding more chili powder and cumin. Just before serving, add the zest 1/2 lime into soup and juice of whole lime.

Garnish with cilantro, baked corn tortilla strips and a wedge of lime

Baked Corn Tortilla Strips

Simply cut 2 corn tortillas into strips, spray sheet pan with cooking spray, lightly spray tops of tortillas and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350 degrees until edges begin turning golden, about 10 minutes or less.

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An Itallian Birthday

I even made menu's for the Birthday Party, Using my Dads name, Jerry, in Italian to create his own resteraunt.

I even made menu’s for the Birthday Party, Using my Dads name, Jerry, in Italian to create his own restaurant.

No, we are not Italian, but my Dad’s favorite place to eat is Olive Garden, so I wanted to create his own Italian restaurant for his birthday, complete with Menus. These were fun to make and each guest had one. Since I, of course, do not know a lick of Italian I found this groovy site on the internet that helped me change my English words to the language of love.

My inspiration for the recipes came from an old hardcover Italian cookbook my mom picked up for me from an estate sale. Inside is a handwritten message from the original purchaser to his mother

“To My perpetually chubby Mom. Christmas 1958. From your always hungry son.”

I bet she couldn’t hold back the tears when she opened up this very thoughtful gift from her son on that Christmas morning. I imagine that the whole family gathered that year and enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by Mom.

In the same spirit, I wanted to make a meal that would let my Dad know just how much he is loved by his family. I even talked my teen into playing the very important role of our Waiter.

My bashful teen was a very helpful and convincing waiter

My bashful teen was a very helpful and convincing waiter

There was a nice spread of appetizers, Bruschetta on toast

Stewed tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, EVOO and quality Parmesan Cheese made this a very simple appetizer

Stewed tomatoes, Balsamic Vinegar, EVOO and quality Parmesan Cheese made this a very simple appetizer

An Italian Deviled egg recipe from the Pudgy Mom’s cookbook that included anchovy and cocktail sauce. I found that a lot of the authentic recipes included anchovy’s.

Italian Deviled Eggs. On a plate of fresh lettuce leaves straight from Ma's Garden

Italian Deviled Eggs. On a plate of fresh lettuce leaves straight from Ma’s Garden

I couldn’t forget the stuffed mushrooms at Dad’s party as these are a favorite of his. Good thing I had a whole other 9X13 pan because these buggers disappeared fast!

Stuffed mushrooms with italian sausage, cream cheese, parmesan cheese topped with bread crumbs

Stuffed mushrooms with italian sausage, cream cheese, parmesan cheese topped with bread crumbs

Of course we had to have these colorful Caprese Skewers. I loved how they looked on my antique cake plate

Pretty Caprese Skewers. Simply cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozerella balls

Pretty Caprese Skewers. Simply cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella balls

How lovely it all looked on the table. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself!

All apps

We could have stopped there, but I had a main course planned. Veal Picatta. I’ve never even eaten this dish before, but when I read the recipe I knew It had to make an appearance at our event. It was served with a side of my Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe. I even made the Pesto!

Dad is testing my batch of homemade Pesto. With his complete approval, it made it's way to the Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe

Dad is testing my batch of homemade Pesto. With his complete approval, it made its way to the Creamy Pesto Pasta recipe

I had assumed that I would be able to find veal at my local grocery store…NOT! I have to order it from a meat market…$60.00 later, we would all have a 40z serving. I’d never made it before and the pressure of making sure I didn’t make a mistake at that price almost broke me, but I stayed focused and this was the final result.

Veal Picatta and Creamy Pesto Pasta

Veal Picatta and Creamy Pesto Pasta

Everyone seemed to enjoy this dish, but to be honest, I’m pretty sure I used too much lemon and chicken could have easily replaced the veal for a less expensive and just as tasty dish. My lovely family, though, only offered compliments.

Whew, success! We all had a great time and I know that this is an Italian Birthday that my Dad will remember for years to come.

Look, Dad has gotten so caught up in the theme, he's talking with his hands like a real Italian

Look, Dad has gotten so caught up in the theme, he’s talking with his hands like a real Italian

After all the clean up was done, I had to give props to my little guy as he was so good and stayed out of mommy’s way while I was busy in the kitchen.

My little guy, not a fan of the veal, but a great sport anyways

My little guy, not a fan of the veal, but a great sport anyways

The day was a lot of planning and work, but it truly was labor of love. The best part was having my boys, Mom, Dad, Grandma Marvetta and Uncle Doug together to celebrate a very special man, our Figlio, Marito, Papa and Poppi (son, husband, father and grandfather)

Boun Compleanno!