Chicken Taco Soup

Shredded chicken (~1.5 chicken breasts)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning
4 cups chicken stock or water

I had leftover chicken from the Chicken Pockets (I just poached it in the crockpot overnight -- so moist and easy to shred :) - definitely a good way to cook chicken).  I combined the chicken, beans, corn, tomatoes, taco seasoning, and stock.  I brought them to a boil and let them simmer for a while before serving.  Had I gotten the day started earlier I would have just used my BFF, the crock pot, to heat them up.

This made the cut, especially with cheese to garnish.  For a simple soup it was good and filled my need for soup of the week.  I ate it with a cheese quesadilla, sort of a southwestern style grilled cheese and tomato soup.  I plan to eat it a la qdoba mexican gumbo over rice the rest of the week for lunch. :)

Chicken Pockets

Some history....  I used to go to Washington DC every year for a conference in January.  A couple of years ago I had a club sandwich at the restaurant/coffee shop up the street from our hotel, except it was a club sandwich made using puff pastry.  Absolutely Amazing. We talk about it to this day, 2 years later.  Kate was there for that amazing meal, so she fell in love with the concept -- she started making puff pastry roast beef sandwiches.  It was fabulous.  I saw a recipe for cooking a chicken breast in puff pastry, which reminded me of "the sandwich".  I had to modify it and try my hand at "the sandwich"

Shredded cooked chicken (~ 1.5 chicken breasts)
1 sheet puff pastry dough, defrosted
Vermont white cheddar, shredded or in chunks
1 apple, chopped
Ranch sauce for dipping

We started out with David cooking several slices of bacon.  Once cooked I chopped it up into pieces.

Meanwhile, I took the puff pasty dough and cut it into four square pieces and rolled each one out to make a larger square.  One one half of each pastry square I mixed together chicken, bacon, cheese chunks, and apples (for mine). I wrapped the other end of the pastry over to form a turnover pocket and brushed the top with a little Oil.  I cooked the pockets for about 20 min at 350 until the middle was warm and the pastry was cooked and golden brown.

I served with Ranch sauce for dipping for David.

In terms of thoughts... it was good, seemed to pass everyone's tests.   I would think about using a semisoft cheese that was better for melting, or just more of the cheddar next time. 


Green Beans and Tomatoes

David volunteered me for Green Bean Casserole for Christmas Dinner at his Aunts.  I had slight issue with this since I don't really do Green Bean Casserole.  Turns out he just said that I made Green Bean Casserole at Thanksgiving.  I had seen this other recipe in Ambrosia, the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary cookbook I received as a going away present so I decided to give it a try instead.  It was a success.  Big win, I enjoyed it!! The vegetable eaters all seemed to really like it... and David's father's comment was "This isn't your mother's green be casserole". :)

Green Beans and Tomatoes
adapted from Ambrosia, by the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary

2 lbs fresh green beans
1/4 cup butter (I would look at oil for next time I make this)
2 tbl sugar
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
several fresh basil leaves torn and chopped
1-1.5 pints grape tomatoes chopped

Trim the ends of the green beans and remove strings.  Boil in a large saucepan for about 20 minutes and drain.

melt the butter (or oil) in a skillet.  Add the minced garlic and begin to saute to infuse the garlic taste.  Stir in the sugar, salt, pepper, and basil.  Add tomatoes and cook until slightly softened.  Toss the green beans and tomato sauce.

Squash Soup

Squash Soup adapted from the Barefoot Contessa, Barefoot in Paris

3 tbl olive oil
1 chopped yellow onions
3/4 -28 oz can pumpkin puree
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
32 oz chicken stock or broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup half and half

Heat the butter and oil in your stockpot or dutch oven. Add the onions/garlic and cook over medium low until translucent ~10 min or so.

Add the pumpkin puree, squash, chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes until the butternut squash is very tender.

Process the mixture using your immersion blender. Add the half and half and heat slowly. If the soup needs more flavor add another tsp of salt. For a thicker soup reduce the amount of chicken stock.. For a thinner soup, increase stock.

Delicious! As always!  I always enjoy pumpkin and squash soups.  I definitely enjoy anytime I get to use my immersion blender too :)  So this was a win.  I love having a pot of soup to eat for lunch :)