by Ashley Fagan
When Winter approaches, my cooking style instantly shifts to warm, homey, comforting dishes that will warm your belly and your soul. I started making this soup for my Mom about 10 years ago. She is obsessed with Mexican food, but doesn't like to fuss in the kitchen. This entire dish comes together with little hands on time and can be made with mostly pantry staples you already have on hand! It’s a family favorite in our home and I hope it will become one of yours as well!
For the Spice Blend
For the Soup
In a small bowl mix the spice blend together.
In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute, until fragrant. Now, add the can of diced chili and the spice blend and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the Tomatoes and sauté for another minute or two until everything comes together and smells wonderful! Add the chicken stock and hominy and bring the soup to a simmer (slight boil). Lower the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pot with the lid. Let it cook for about 30 minutes until the flavors combine and your house smells amazing. While the soup cooks you can shred the meat from the rotisserie chicken. I find it's easiest to use my hands to pick the meat from the bird.
Once the soup has simmered away, add the chicken. Stir and taste for seasoning but, be careful not to burn your mouth... it will ruin your soup eating experience haha! Adjust the seasoning, maybe a touch more salt, maybe more chili pepper if you like it spicy, cumin if you like more zing! It’s up to you!
Serve in big bowls and top with a big squeeze of lime, a sprinkle of cilantro, some shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a big handful of tortilla chips! My husband likes to add sliced radishes as well! It’s totally up to you! Add as much or as little as you want! I love mine with lime, sour cream and cilantro! Yum!
Congee is most commonly known as an Asian rice porridge. Rice is cooked in a lot of liquid until it breaks down and turns velvety and thick. It’s the ultimate comfort food when you feel a cold coming on or if you want something to warm you up on a cold winter night. The addition of chicken turns it into a heartier meal and the scallion gremolata adds a little zing to brighten the Asian inspired flavors.
I will be the first to admit that homemade Mexican food has always been a bit intimidating for me. Not because I didn't feel up for a challenge but more so for the fact that I just don’t have the time to immerse myself in a day long cooking extravaganza just to put a plate of food on the table! Most Mexican style recipes I’ve come across are accompanied by a large list of hard to find ingredients and recipes for sauces and add ins that are required to make the original recipe! I’d find myself halfway through reading the directions before I closed the book and focused my attention on a task less daunting. I created this recipe in hopes of limiting the amount of Mexican take out my family was ordering while still being able to create something delicious and satisfying for my family to enjoy on a weeknight. I will admit that this recipe comes with a long list of ingredients, most of which you probably already have on hand, and quite a few steps but if you follow the order they are written, you can have this ready to serve in about 40 minutes. Not too shabby for a hearty weeknight dinner!
For the Chicken
1 lb. Skinless Boneless Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T. Olive Oil or Canola Oil
2 tsp. Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Coriander
1 tsp. Dried Oregano
1 tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder (1 tsp if you like a bit more spice)
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
For the Rice
1 Cup Basmati Rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 T Tomato Pasta
1 T Butter
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Red Bell Pepper, medium dice
1 Onion, medium dice
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro
3 T Olive Oil or Canola Oil, separated
Cilantro, Avocado, Lime and Sour Cream (for Serving)
In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder through cinnamon to create the spice mixture. Add the chopped chicken, olive oil and spice mixture to a medium size bowl and toss well until the chicken is completely coated. Set aside on the counter and start the rice.
For the rice, add the rice, chicken broth, tomato paste, butter and salt to a medium size sauce pan. Bring the rice to a boil and then cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce to a simmer. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat after 20 minutes (if using an electric burner, move the pot to a cool spot on your stove top) and let sit in the pot for an additional 10 minutes without lifting the lid. After 10 minutes, fluff the rice with a fork.
While the rice cooks, heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat with 2 T olive oil. Once the oil is hot and shimmering add the chopped onion. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the onions begins to appear translucent then add the bell pepper. Continue to sauté for another 5 minutes until the vegetable start to take on a bit of color and become soft. Be careful not to let them get too dark, stir them frequently as they cook (hence the word sauté!) Next, add the minced garlic and continue to stir until the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the onion and pepper mixture to a separate bowl and add the remaining 1 T of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add the spiced chicken in an even layer to the bottom of the Dutch oven and let in sit for a few minutes before stirring. This allows the chicken to develop a bit of a crust. After a few minutes stir the chicken to allow the other side to crisp up a bit. Once the chicken is fully cooked, about 5 minutes in total, return the onion mixture to the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to get up those tasty little charred bits. Add the black beans and simmer the whole mixture on medium low heat for about 3 minutes, until the chicken broth has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked rice and chopped cilantro. Fill a few bowls with heaping spoonfuls of the rice mixture and top with a big squeeze of fresh lime juice (try not to skip the lime as it brightens the dish and adds a ton of flavor), additional fresh cilantro, avocado and sour cream! Delish!
There is something so incredibly satisfying about throwing dinner in a pan, popping it in the oven, and less than an hour later you have something so perfectly cooked and flavorful that it just so briefly makes you forget you still haven’t made it to Friday. That’s why I love this dinner so much. It makes creating a weeknight meal seem so simple, you have a hard time finding reasons not to cook at home. This dish is salty, juicy, crispy and will satisfy the veggie and meat and potato lovers alike. I hope this one becomes a staple in your home just as it has in mine!
4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
1/2 lb yukon gold potatoes chopped in large chunks
1 head of cauliflower broken into florets
1 onion cut into thick slices
1 T capers, drained
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup plus 2 T olive oil (2 T reserved)
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh Ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the potatoes, cauliflower, and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet where everything can lay in a single layer. You want the vegetables to have room to breathe so they can brown rather than steam. Sprinkle everything with the capers, thyme leaves, garlic salt, salt, pepper, and 1/4 cup of olive oil (reserving about 2 T). Toss it all together with your hands so everything is coated in oil and seasoned. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on top of all the vegetables and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
Pop it in the oven and roast for 40 minutes, toss everything around halfway through the cook time but make sure the chicken ends up back on top, skin side up. Once the 40 minutes is up, remove the tray from the oven, toss everything around one more time, placing the breasts back on top of the veggies and sprinkle everything with the grated Parmesan. Pop it back in the oven to cook for 10 more minutes until the cheese starts to melt and crisp up a bit. Everything should be golden brown and a bit crispy. If the veggies aren't browned enough, set the chicken breasts aside to rest and throw the tray of veggies under a broiler for a few minutes, but watch it carefully! You don't want it to burn!
Serve the chicken alongside of the roasted veggies and enjoy!
I don't know why but I have always been intimidated by cooking an entire bird. I don't know if its because I haven't had many good experiences with eating roasted chicken or if the idea of prepping and cooking a bird just sounds exhausting, but the idea has never appealed to me. I was on a mission to change that perception, so after a few attempts I think I can finally say A. that cooking a whole chicken is so stinking easy! and B. roast chicken can be soooo freaking delicious!
1 roaster chicken 4-5lbs
2 T honey
2 T olive oil
1 lemon zested and then quartered
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 onion cut in large chunks
Preheat your oven to 450 degree and center the baking rack.
Take your chicken out of the packaging and discard the packet that is stuffed inside the bird.
Place the bird breast side up in a roasting pan or in my case, I used a cast iron skillet that was large enough to accommodate my roaster chicken. Pat the bird dry with some paper towels and insert the lemon quarters and onion chunks into the cavity of the bird.
In a small mixing bowl combine the honey, olive oil, lemon zest, sumac, salt, pepper and garlic. It should come together as a thick marinade. Rub the marinade all over the bird. Place the bird in the oven and cook for ten minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue to cook for 15 minutes then baste the chicken (I use a pastry brush) with the sauce and juices forming in the bottom of the pan. Put the chicken back in the oven and continue to cook another 15 minutes or until a digital thermometer inserted between the thigh and breast registers 165 degrees. Total cook time should be about 40 - 50 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Then Dig In! My family always fights over the legs!