Cilantro Lime Rice

The perfect side dish to any Mexican meal – this Cilantro Lime Rice really packs the punch with flavor. Many think of the traditional Spanish rice as the side dish of choice, but the Cilantro Lime is sure to become a new favorite. It has a fresh and exotic taste, with the cilantro and lime taking control of flavor, but not too over-powering. I paired it with some black beans for side dishes to my wonderful Chicken Tortilla Soup – what meal will you pair it with? πŸ™‚

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup – White Rice
  • 1 Tsp – Butter
  • 2 – Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 Can – Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Cup – Water
  • 2 Tsp – Lime Juice/ 1 Tbs – Lime Juice (Divided)
  • 2 Tsp – Sugar
  • 4 Tbs – Fresh Chopped Cilantro

Instructions:

  • In a medium sauce pan, combine rice, butter, garlic, water, lime juice and broth.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and cook on low or until rice is tender. Remove from heat.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cilantro, sugar and tablespoon of lime-juice.
  • Mix into rice..all done! What an easy side-dish with great flavor!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

In honor of this years Cinco de Mayo I cooked the amazing – Chicken Tortilla Soup. While this dish has always been a favorite of mine, I’ve never actually made it! You have to remember that I am still a cook in training (training myself ;), there is a lot of recipes I have not cooked! But to add another delicious creation to my list is what I am all about these days. This dish is not only one of my favorite soups, it is one of my favorite meals..period.

To properly make this recipe, was to use no short-cuts. I wanted a somewhat complex recipe that used a variety of ingredients; I wanted the best flavor. As a guideline, I somewhat followed the Pioneer Woman’s recipe (from The Cooking Channel), but with a few of my own variations.
Here is the link: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/01/chicken-tortilla-soup/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+pwcooks+%28The+Pioneer+Woman+Cooks!%29

I made absolutely no short-cuts with this recipe. I spend a good couple hours on my feet in the kitchen, doing what all those true domestic divas do around the world everyday. While my feet were aching and hands sore from chopping, I loved every minute of this long process in the kitchen.

I also had a little liquid assistance πŸ˜‰

While cooking this delicious recipe, I realized that cooking soups is probably one of my favorite types of dishes to make. I’m not sure why! Maybe it is the combination of various spices, herbs, and ingredients. Or maybe the smells that fill the household that just warm your soul and electrify your taste-buds. Or it could be the hearty warmth and taste..ya the savory taste of the soup could have a lot to do with it. Chicken Tortilla Soup does NOT disappoint on taste. Especially with this recipe!

Lets take a minute and talk about taste. Oh my. First off, it comes down to the spices. I will never buy another pre-mixture taco seasoning for the rest of my life. A combination of Cumin, Chili Powder, & Garlic Powder does the trick and packs a much better punch then whats in the packet (it’s also a much healthier option without all those added salts/sodium/& artificial flavors!). The heat and flavor that comes from this combination is so perfect.

Your chicken for the soup will love you when your rub them down with these spices!

As I make another soup I recognized that I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. For instance, ingredients like onion, garlic, or green pepper (fresh veggies ingredients) are like your foundation for flavor within a soup. Your spices and dry ingredients are your friends; use them when necessary and accordingly. Also, the lower the heat and slower the cooking..the better the taste!

Either way, my first effort at Chicken Tortilla Soup was a fantastic success. The mixture of spices, beans, herbs, veggies, and chicken bring a flavor that is really something. With this recipe I learned that with certain dishes..don’t make the shortcuts, taking the long way will bring the benefits (well, at least to your taste-buds!)

Oh, and P.S. Do not forget the toppings on this dish, they really add something to the flavor!

Ingredients:

  • 3 – Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 1/2 Tsp – Cumin
  • 1 Tsp – Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp – Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp – Salt
  • 1 Cup – Onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup – Green Pepper (chopped)
  • 3 – Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 Can – Tomatoes and Green Chilis
  • 3 can – Chicken Broth
  • 3 Tbs – Tomato Paste
  • 3 Cups – Hot Water
  • 2 Cans – Black Beans (drained)
  • 5 – Corn Tortillas (cut into strips)
  • Garnish with: Tortilla Chips, Sour Cream, Cheese, & Cilantro

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375, we gotta cook our chicken!
  • In a small bowl, mix together your cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt.
  • Season your chicken breasts with the mixture and drizzle them with vegetable oil on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Now, chop up your onion, green pepper, and garlic.
  • In a large pot, heat a tbs of vegetable oil over medium heat.
  • When your chicken is done, shred it with two forks.

  • Add your onion, green pepper, and garlic with your seasoning mixture to your pot.
  • Cook them up until your veggies are tender.
  • Add in your chicken.
  • Pour in your tomato & green chili, chicken broth, tomato paste, water, and black beans.
  • Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for a little over an hour.
  • Turn off your heat and allow your soup to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes. You want all those flavors to mix!
  • About 5 minutes before serving, add in your tortilla strips.

  • Let those tortillas soften up, then spoon your soup into bowls.
  • Like I said, don’t forget the toppings!

Served with Cilantro-Lime Rice and Refried Black Beans!

Fresh Lemon Pepper Chicken

I had originally made this dish with the Apple Gorgonzola Salad I previously posted. It was weird because I was trying to craft a main dish to go with my side dish or appetizer. Now, the Apple Gorgonzola Salad was beyond amazing in flavor and had a fresh taste and look. I needed a dish that mirrored those qualities. I need fresh with flavor..Lemon Pepper Chicken? Sounds great! I also thought I would go my own way with this dish, instead of following a recipe (which I usually tweak and twist anyway because it just makes it more fun!).

I had to add Fresh to the title of this recipe, because that is simply what you think of with every bite. I guess juicy, zesty, and delicious would be appropriate too! Another reason why I added Fresh to the title is because I actually use fresh lemon zest and juice as a marinade for the chicken..not only will these fresh ingredients come out great in the chicken but they will make your kitchen smell lemony fresh! The chicken turned out to be a fantastic success.

Simplicity + Amazing Taste = Great Recipe for me!

Fresh Lemon Pepper Chicken is the answer to the equation above..I’ve never been any good at math but this makes perfect sense to me!
Wow your guests with this amazing, flavorful dish, with little effort from you in the kitchen! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup – Vegetable Oil
  • 2 – Lemons
  • 3 to 4 – Garlic Cloves (Finely Chopped)
  • 1 Tsp – Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • 3 to 4 – Chicken Breasts

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees (or your grill).
  2. In a large bowl, mix your oil with the zest of your lemons and the juice of one (reserve the other).
  3. Mix in the chopped garlic and pepper. Whisk together well.
  4. Salt your chicken then toss into the bowl and marinade for at least 15 minutes (the longer the better!!).
  5. In a skillet heat about 2 tbs of oil over medium heat.
  6. Sear your chicken in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until it starts to brown.
  7. Place chicken onto a baking sheet and then into the oven and roast for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Do not overcook because you want to keep that juicyΒ  and lemony chicken flavor.
  9. If grilling, cook for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side.
  10. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon over the chicken (add a dash more of pepper), and then serve!

Served with Apple Gorgonzola Salad.

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni

A recipe inspired by rainy days while wandering the market – Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni will be the perfect remedy to your rainy day. While this has always been my favorite soup, the added ingredient of macaroni really does something wonderful to this dish. The cheesy goodness mixed with the flavorful broccoli & other ingredients will not only satisfy your taste buds, but warm you up on those cold & rainy days. Also, an added bonus of this recipe is the health benefits; it is very low in fat and calories and is also vegetarian friendly!

Broccoli & Cheddar Soup with Macaroni:

Ingredients:

  • 8 Oz – Dry Elbow Macaroni
  • 1 1/2 Cups – Onion (Chopped)
  • 2 – Carrots (Chopped)
  • 1 – Celery Stalk (Chopped)
  • 3 Cloves – Garlic (Chopped)
  • 1 Tbs – Butter (Melted)
  • 2 Tbs – Flour
  • 3 Cups – Vegetable Broth (You can also use Chicken Broth)
  • 1 Cup – Milk
  • 2 1/2 Cups – Broccoli Florets (Chopped)
  • 2 Cups – Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Tbs – Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, begin melting your butter.
  • Begin chopping up your celery, carrots, onion, & garlic.
  • Begin sauteing in pot over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • Boil your macaroni in salted water until tender; Drain, set aside.

  • Add in flour & pepper and stir until smooth.
  • Slowly add in your broth & milk while whisking constantly.
  • Set to medium-high heat until it comes to a boil then cover and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add in broccoli and parmesan cheese; stir well. Cook uncovered until broccoli is cooked & soft.

  • Add Cheddar mixing well until cheese melts, then immediately remove from heat.
  • Add in cooked macaroni and add salt & pepper.

Garnish with cheese & a side of cheese bread! Enjoy!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Now, I am not a vegetarian but I do cook a lot of vegan friendly recipes. I always find them as tasty and healthy alternatives. I also love me some black beans, so that is why you are seeing yet another post containing black beans. This Black Bean Chili recipe could not be more perfect and it’s a simple & healthy alternative to a regular chili recipe. It is simple, fast, healthy, cheap, & oh so tasty. It will only take you about 30 minutes total to make, but will have amazing flavor like you have slow-cooked this meal for hours. Literally, the flavors are explosive, mouthwatering, and delicious! Take my word for it! This recipe also includes easy ingredients you will commonly find are already inside your pantry. It is also perfect as a quick meal for those super busy days when you do not feel like cooking. Either way, I highly recommend it!

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup – Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 – Onion (Chopped)
  • 1 – Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
  • 5 – Garlic Cloves (Chopped)
  • 2 Tbs – Chili Powder
  • 2 Tsp – Dried Oregano
  • 1 1/2 Tsp – Cumin
  • 1 – Bay Leave
  • 2 Tsp – Hot Sauce (Or you can use 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper)
  • 3 Cans – Black Beans (Reserve 1/2 cup liquid)
  • 1 16 oz Can – Tomato Sauce

Instructions:

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, bell pepper, & garlic then saute for about 10 minutes (or until tender).
  • Mix in Cumin, Oregano, Chili Powder, Bay Leave, & Hot Sauce (or Cayenne Pepper). Stir for 2 minutes.

  • Add in beans, reserved liquid, & tomato sauce.
  • Bring Chili to boil while stirring occasionally. (This is all going to smell so good!!)
  • Reduce heat to medium low to simmer and to allow flavors to mix for about 15 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper. Top with cheese and other toppings of your choice!

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Here is a simple but also healthy meal that is inexpensive and completely vegetarian (I got this recipe from my good friend and room-mate CJ). These turned out so good, tasted better than regular burgers in my opinion. Enjoy πŸ˜‰

Black Bean Veggie Burgers:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can – Black Beans (Drained)
  • 1/2 – Green Bell Pepper (Finely Chopped)
  • 1/2 – Onion (Finely Chopped)
  • 3 Cloves – Garlic (Finely Chopped)
  • 1 tbs – Cumin
  • 1 tbs – Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp – Hot Sauce
  • 1 – Egg
  • 1/2 cup – Bread Crumbs

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 Degrees.
  • Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  • In medium bowl, mash beans until they are thick and pasty.
  • Add chopped veggies into beans, mix thoroughly.
  • In a small bowl mix together egg with Chili Powder, Cumin, & Hot Sauce.

  • Mix Egg Mixture into black beans.
  • Add in Bread Crumbs until mix can form into patties.
  • Form into patties, it should make about 4.
  • Cook patties for about 10 minutes on each side.

Tip: We used potato buns which made the burgers taste so much better.

Black Bean Soup

Two words for this recipe…So Good. The room-mates were feeling a little under the weather lately, so I thought I would make a good soup for everyone. So I skimmed through my cookbook until I stumbled upon – Black Bean Soup. Simple, easy and quick to make but also VERY good.

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 cans – Black Beans (drained)
  • 3 – Celery Ribs (chopped)
  • 1/2 – Onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 – Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
  • 1 – Jalapeno Pepper (chopped, seeded)
  • 2 tbs – Olive Oil
  • 4 – Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 2 cans – Chicken Broth
  • 1 can – Diced Tomatoes & Green Peppers
  • 3 tsp – Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp – Hot sauce of your choice
  • 1/4 tsp – Ground Pepper
  • 1 – Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp – Lime Juice

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl, mash 1 can of black beans.
  • In a large sauce pan, saute red pepper, celery, onion, & jalapeno.
  • Add garlic, cook 1 minute longer

  • Stir in broth, tomatoes, cumin, hot sauce, pepper, bay leaf, and remaining beans (also mashed beans).
  • Bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Discard bay leaf and add lime juice.

Enjoy!

The best veggie pizza you’ve ever had.

If you’re looking for a delicious but also healthy meal, I suggest a…Veggie Pizza. I got this recipe from my sisters and it is so good and of course easy to make.

Veggie Pizza:

Here's what you will need.

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages – Croissants
  • 2 packages – 8oz Cream Cheese
  • 3/4 package – Ranch Dressing Mix (powder)
  • 3/4 cup – Mayonnaise
  • 1 package – Grated Cheese
  • Vegetables of your choice (I used broccoli, cauliflower, green bell-pepper, radishes, cucumber, lettuce, jicama, and carrots)

Instructions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375
  • Spread croissants over casserole dish (cover completely, will be the crust)
  • Put in oven for 10 minutes

  • Chop up vegetables of your choice
  • Mix together cream cheese, ranch, and mayonnaise (until spreadable)
  • Let croissants cool, then spread sauce over (cover completely)
  • Add vegetables and cheese
  • You’re Done!!! πŸ™‚