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Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 Dec

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I love soup! The warmth and comfort you can get from a bowl of soup is unsurpassed. Making soup for a crowd is a great way of showing the love too! This is a super easy brothy flavor packed meal. If you have a pressure cooker then you know the ease and speed at which you can pump out meals. If you are making this on the stove top is will be just as easy but takes a bit longer. Either way, enjoy.

Chicken and Butternut Squash Tortilla Soup Under Pressure

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 very large ripe tomato, diced
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn
6 cups chicken broth (homemade is best)
2 tsp. chili powder more to taste
2 tsp. ground cumin more to taste
2 tbs oregano
1 bay leaf
2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups diced peeled butternut squash
Limes

To serve:
Crushed tortilla chips
fresh cilantro
Green onion
Fresh avocado
fresh lime juice
Lactose free sour cream

Instructions:
Add broth and all ingredients to pressure cooker except the beans. Cover Pressure cooker and set to sealing position. Select Soup Mode and manually adjust the time to 15 minutes.
Do natural release when soup is finished.

Remove the chicken breasts to a plate cut in half and and use two forks to shred the meat apart. Return the shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Add the drained beans. Check for seasoning, add more chili powder or salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and the crisp tortilla and avocado.
(To cook on the stove top, follow directions, cover and simmer on medium low for 45 minutes.)

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Big Salad

6 Mar

20130306-164515.jpgMost of the time I work from home, with the exception of occasional travel or being at our Art Gallery. My husband also works at home and we try not to eat lunch out too much.   I am always in need fast easy and lunches, and it’s usually some form of leftovers magically disguised as a new dish. We love big salads at our house especially as the weather gets warmer.  If you keep clean chopped veggies on hand you will be more likely to choose a healthier alternative like a salad to take out.

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode in the with the “big salad?” This reminded me of that, it’s never ending, full of crunchy veggies, sweet and soft potatoes and creamy dressing. Just make sure if you make it, your lunch date knows YOU made it! (make sure you watch the Seinfeld link)  I suggest sharing because it isn’t exactly a low cal salad and you wouldn’t want to hog the whole thing, would you?

I used gluten free soy sauce and organic peanut butter but you use what ever you have on hand.
Kids may also like this salad, it’s not to tangy and they tend to love peanut butter. You can substitute almond or sunflower butter easily, adjusting the water may be necessary. You could serve some toasty flat bread with this salad but the crunchy veggies were enough for me.
The sauce can work over rice as a hot dish too, just heat it up, add a few more dashes of soy sauce and off you go….

 

Here is a tip for grating ginger. Peel fresh ginger and keep it in the freezer. When needed for soups, sauces or tea just use a micro grater and grate directly into your recipe. I reach for my ginger all the time!

Big Salad

Serves 2 large  or 4 smaller servings

Creamy Peanut Butter Dressing

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons honey or agave

2 Tbs rice wine vinegar

Grated fresh ginger or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

pinch of ground pepper

1/4 cup hot water

Pinch of red pepper flakes

In a heat proof glass measuring cup or mug add all ingredients except water. Put in microwave for 30 seconds or less.   Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Add hot water slowly until, your desired consistency, add red pepper flakes.

Salad

Use any veggies you have on hand, this is what I used.

2 small sweet potatoes, cooked and chopped (see recipe)
Baby spinach
Kale, raw, shredded
cauliflower, chopped into bite size pieces
broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
red onions, sliced in to half moons
scallions, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
cherry tomatoes, halved
carrots diced
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wash and pierce potatoes, toss in microwave and cook about 5-6 minutes on high or until very soft. Remove from microwave and let cool for 10 minutes. Strip the peel off with your fingers, it should be easy to remove. If it gives you trouble, scoop out flesh with a spoon. Chop in to small bite size chunks, set aside.

Assemble a crisp salad: Add everything except the sweet potato to a large bowl, toss with dressing (start with a small amount, you can always add but can’t remove too much dressing)
Add sweet potato on top and drizzle a bit of dressing on it. Serve! You can top with chopped peanuts if desired.

How to Avoid "Sugar and Stress"

8 Jun


School is out and summer is here as far as I am concerned. Today we got the chance to walk downtown and see one of my favorite bands, The English Beat. What the heck is the English Beat doing in Novato anyway??

I discovered them in High School, my older brother was into them and I wanted to be cool too. Now let’s get real, the last time I really danced to their music was probably in college and we can all guess how many years ago that was. Now things are different, we have a 5 year old in tow and showing up at the concert with a red wagon and sun screen is the norm.

The thing that doesn’t have to be is eating really bad food, and spending 5 dollars on a cup of shaved ice doused with sugar syrup.
I knew my daughter would want a hot dog, to avoid that and keep dollars from flying out of our wallet we opted for a movable dinner. There is a time and place for hot dogs but we have such a variety of foods to choose from in the grocery store why not stock up. You can stock up on healthier versions of the standards like, tofu pups, turkey or chicken dogs, what ever you like that resembles the fair food.
We had a light snack before we left, so I was able to keep our dinner to go on the simple side.
We packed up the wagon with the essentials, sunscreen, blanket for later, water, Margaritas (for us silly, not the kid) and a bag of homemade fair food.I threw together turkey hot dogs wrapped in crustless wheat bread, with a squirt of ketchup. I wrapped them in foil and they stayed nice and warm.
We always pack nuts for a quick energy boost to avoid the low blood sugar tantrum. Too much sugar, too little sugar, how is one to keep track, just have snacks to avoid the whole thing.
We all danced like fools, ate our dinner, watched the sun set and got home without spending a dime and we were just as happy as if we had. We had a ball and I am sure there will be a lot of really sore middle aged people in

Novato in the morning!
Now our daughter knows all about the English Beat and we avoided “Sugar and Stress.”
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