Zuppa Del Sol.

Yesterday, I wrote an email to Summer.

Dear Summer, please come quick.

I need a snow cone and a sunbathing session like yesterday.

I am sick and tired of the days of gloves and layers.

I need to see my legs and wear flip-flops that show off my freshly painted toes.

Did I mention I need a snow cone?

Yea.

Let’s talk Mexican food. Tex-Mex is the stuff I grew up on.

Buuuuut I was also privileged to grow up around many authentic Mexican restaurants down here in Houston.

Taqueria’s run rampant here. No joke.

Sometimes all I want is to take a trip to my childhood Taqueria Del Sol. I grew up 5 minutes from this place and it was a treat on weekday/weekend nights for my parents to take seester and I out for an authentic Mexican meal.

Now, I’m talking enchiladas with homemade red sauce, smothered in Mexican cheeses, and rolled between corn tortillas that you know your abuela is back there pounding out with her hands.

Did I mention this place has a bakery? My fave are the “pig” cookies.

Google it.

The best part of this experience for me was the check-out line and a frozen cooler that carried a variety of “La Brisa” Mexican popsicle flavors.

You haven’t lived unless you have tried a coconut or a chocolate La Brisa.

This past Sunday my parents called me from a little Mexican market that they found a couple of blocks away from my house.

La Brisa jackpot!

They were like kids in a candy store.

Spring/summer is on the way, but let’s make the most of it.

Chicken Enchilada Soup.

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Take that winter!

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And by “winter” I mean it’s 70 degrees here and it’s freezing.

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This stuff is legit. Heartwarming, ooey, gooey, crispy with crushed tortillas on top, “Did I really just eat a bowl of enchilada filling?” soup.

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Today, I am your abuela.

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Chicken Enchilada Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Gluten-free, Paleo
Ingredients
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling the pan
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeds discarded, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 large stalks of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground paprika
  • 1 t. ground New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 t. granulated garlic
  • 1 t. granulated onion
  • freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt, to taste
  • 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 2½ c. low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 plain, rotisserie or smoked chicken, shredded
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • crushed corn tortilla chips, optional garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat a large dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.
  2. Add the poblano pepper, garlic, onion, carrots, and celery and saute until the vegetables become tender and break down. About 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin, paprika, chile powder, granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt and pepper and stir well, coating the veggies evenly.
  4. Saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, reduce the temperature to low and allow the mixture to simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  7. Add the shredded chicken to the pot and mix well. I divided the shredded chicken in half, pureeing some of it, and leaving a few chunkier pieces. 🙂
  8. Using an immersion blender, gently puree the soup until you reach your desired texture. I love my soup slightly chunky. You can also do this using a high powered blender or food processor.
  9. Add the chopped cilantro to the soup last and stir well.
  10. Check the seasonings and season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  11. Serve warm with crushed tortilla chips, a dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt), warm corn tortillas, fresh garnish of cilantro, and/or Mexican cheese.

MANGIA!!!

Simmer Down Now.

Okay people, 2013 is starting to get really….real. Super real. So real that I’m kind of frightened to as what this new year will bring for me. Yikes. How is that even possible? “Calm down Chels, let God guide the way.” Oh, sorry I’m supposed to be having a conversation with you lovely people, not engaging in a self chat therapy session. Whoa, lightening just struck the sky here. I love thunderstorms!
I do know that one thing is for sure 2013 is going to be the year to try new ethnic cuisines. Lawd hawwwlp me. Seriously, I have 3 go to ethnic cuisines…Mexican, Italian (from my kitchen of course), oh, and Mediterranean, which is basically Italian with all the olives and eggplants and tomatoes and such (right up to the baklava). 
Let’s talk Indian cuisine (or more specifically, cuisine from the Western hemisphere). Even more specifically, curry. Now, I have a deep affection for the curry spice. I did not have a deep connection with the Thai restaurant where I experienced my first encounter with a chicken curry. Hello, sicky icky stomach problems from something that looked like a gloppy tomato curry explosion. However, I didn’t want to kick curry to the curb just yet, so I decided to create my own version.
Only good things can come from chopped onions and garlic. 
That is where this dish speaks my language. 

Oh, and yummy spices!
Then, we simmer everything together on the stove. 
This is a one-pot meal people. 
 Can’t stop. Won’t stop. 

The flavor is magical and the chicken is oh so tender!
Did I mention it’s paleo and gluten-free?
Get some
ASAP!

Chicken Almond Curry (GF/P):

Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil, for sauteing 
1.5 yellow onions, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 T. curry powder
1 t. ground ginger
2 t. fine sea salt
1 t. ground cumin
pinch of ground cayenne pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 15 oz. can no-salt-added tomato puree
1 c. unsweetened, plain, almond milk
1 T. coconut flour ( or almond flour)
chopped fresh herbs (i.e. cilantro, parsley), optional
Instructions:
1. Heat the evoo in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.
2. Mix in the curry powder, ginger, sea salt, cumin, and cayenne, stirring constantly so that the spices don’t stick to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and tomato puree, toss to coat. 
4. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
5. When the chicken is finished, stir in the almond milk and coconut flour. 
6. Simmer the curry, uncovered for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. 
7. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped fresh herbs. 
Serves 6.
MANGIA!!!

Hu are You?

Happy Wednesday y’all!
Well, the first day of 2013 was definitely a success for my family and I. By success I mean that mom and I set out to run a few much needed errands which ended in her purchasing a new rug for the floors. You see, my dad decided to rip up the carpet in the living room yesterday morning only because my parents are deciding between getting hardwoods or tile in the house. Oh, and this all started because I couldn’t fit a pan into the oven in our kitchen. Somehow the small oven translated into new kitchen, which translated into new floors. I see a pattern here. Anyway, if you have thoughts on tile or hardwood floors, throw them my way! Let’s talk about food. Duh.

I can’t even begin to remember when the last time it was that I ate meatloaf. When I was little I developed an adverse relationship towards this mystery meat. Mystery meat meaning God only knew what was in there and it gave me anxiety trying to figure it out. Mystery meat be gone!

A couple of weeks ago my older cousin mentioned to me that he had eaten the best Paleo meatloaf at one of his new fave Paleo restaurants in New York, Hu Kitchen. After checking out the Hu Kitchen website, not only was I jealous that I didn’t have one here, but I felt the need to create my own version of each item on the menu. It all just looked so good! Yesterday, I got to work on this meatloaf.

You start with a good saute of red and orange bell pepper along with some yellow onion and garlic.

We are going Italian-style on this meatloaf yo. 

Bada-bing!

I spooned some of my dad’s leftover homemade slow roasted tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf mid-way through the baking process. 

Ummmm…not the prettiest meatloaf (mainly because I didn’t have the patience to allow it to cool completely) but for sure the tastiest!

The bell peppers add a hint of sweetness that balances the savory quality of the tomato sauce. 

Paleo Italian Turkey Meatloaf. Boo-yah Jack!
Paleo Italian Turkey Meatloaf (GF):
Ingredients:
extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
half of 1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. of ground turkey (I used about 80/20)
2 T. Italian spice blend (recipe follows)
1 egg, whisked
1/3 c. fresh homemade tomato sauce (try my Garlic-Herb Tomato Sauce)
Italian Spice Blend:
1 t. sea salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 T. granulated garlic
1 T. granulated onion
1 T. ground sage
1 T. ground fennel seeds
2 t. dried parsley
2 t. dried basil
2 t. dried oregano
Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with evoo. Combine all of the ingredients for the Italian spice blend in a small jam jar and shake until evenly distributed. Set aside. 
2. Heat a drizzle of evoo in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic and saute until the onions become translucent about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Place the mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. 
4. Add the ground turkey, spice blend, and egg. Mix using your hands until well combined.
5. Spread the meat mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven, and spread the tomato sauce out over the top of the meatloaf.
6. Put the meatloaf back into the oven and bake for an additional 40-45 minutes.
7. Let the meatloaf rest until slightly room temperature. 
8. Slice and serve.
Makes 6 slices of meatloaf.
MANGIA!!!

Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Happy Monday y’all!
Let’s get down to business. Yesterday was the first day of fall weather round’ these here parts. I woke up to chilly temps in the 50’s (omg), with the wind fiercely whipping through the trees in my back yard.  All I did was grab a cup of hot coffee and listen to live acoustic music on one of the local radio stations. It’s called acoustic sunrise, and they play it every Sunday (think you fave music…just live, in the acoustic version). 
Now, I wanted to bake, like seriously. I was craving some mad pancakes drenched in syrup, but it was just sooooo peaceful to sit and do absolutely nothing. So, I held off. Then, later in the day, it dawned on me…it was the perfect (and I mean really, really, ridiculously perfect) day for chicken soup. Now, let’s get this straight…this is not chicken noodle soup (although you could add noodles if you are in to that sort of thing). This is real deal, chock full of veggies and shredded roasted chicken soup. The kind that is perfect for a cold day, or a sick day, the kind of chicken soup that sticks to your ribs…but in a light, and healthy sort of way. 
This recipe or technique (I should say) was taught to me by my grandmother. Now, when I say taught, what I really mean is that when I was around 12 years old, I asked her how to make it and she proceeded to throw a handful of things into a large pot, blink…and bada-bing…magic! She’s real specific about her recipes…not! Anyway, my mom mastered the recipe over the years and can practically make it in her sleep. I have made it a few times, but it was never THIS good. I mean, seriously.
The only bad part about this soup is chopping onions. 
Ahhhh…tears!

Then everything gets really, really, ridiculously simple. 

This is a one pot meal.

Add some fresh herbs. 

Le chicken.
Really classy store-bought rotisserie chicken. I know, I know…but, it will change your life by making this dish more simple. Feel free to go all Julia Child on me and roast your own chicken. 
The only chicken soup recipe you will ever need.

I mean, seriously….gahhhh…just look at those tender veggies and that juicy shredded chicken.

Flavor x’s 10!!!
This is important: add a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese (the fake boxed stuff will do the trick) to your bowl of soup.
Trust me on this one. 
Roasted Chicken Soup (GF):
Ingredients:
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
5 large carrots, sliced into quarter sized rounds
5 stalks of celery, chopped
freshly ground black pepper, as needed
5-6 c. low-sodium chicken broth (you can also use water or vegetable broth)
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 c. fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 large rotisserie chicken, shredded
handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of cracked red pepper flakes, optional toppings
Instructions:
1. Heat a dutch oven (or a large soup pot) over medium heat on the stove.
2. Drizzle with the evoo.
3. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are just translucent, stirring ever so often. About 5 minutes.
4. Add the carrots and celery, turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables just start to tenderize. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add the chicken broth, basil, and parsley. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat to low.
6. Add the shredded chicken, cover the soup, and let simmer for 30 minutes to an hour.
7. Serve warm with a bit of Parmesan cheese and a hint of red pepper flakes.
Serves about 10-12 people.
MANGIA!!!

Bacon.

I really, really, ridiculously don’t know how this happened. One, I haven’t eaten bacon since I was probably ten years old. Second, I only ate bacon cooked by my father, or Ronald McDonald, who served it with a side of kiddie cakes. What have I been missing? Apparently, a lot. 
This past Saturday I took a trip to my local health food store and for some reason, all I had was bacon on the brain. The weekend will do that to you, right? Anyway, I bought some hormone free pork bacon, not even glancing at the price, because I am sure it was something like $5 dollars for four slices…o mah gawd. However, it was the tastiest bacon ever. 
So, now I’m on this bacon train and I won’t ever get off. My dad also had an epiphany last week and decided to revamp his diet…somehow my seester convinced him to go Paleo. Luckily, for my dad, bacon is food of the Paleo God’s. So, last night for dinner I got creative. That is if you want to call…
turkey burgers over a bed of spinach creative.
Wait for it…
Then I add some juicy, sweet, sliced white flesh peaches all up on it

wait for it…
B-A-C-O-N
 
Now, obviously I don’t even know what to call this…it’s like a burger, but a salad, and a leaning tower of sweet, salty, crispy, goodness all in one!

Now, all I need to do is find someway to incorporate bacon into my morning smoothie this week…

yep.
Paleo Peach and Bacon Burgers (G/F):
Ingredients:
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. of ground turkey (I used about 90/10 fat content)
salt and pepper, to taste (or your choice of burger seasoning)
1 large white flesh peach, pitted, and sliced lengthwise into thin slices
8 strips of full-fat pork bacon 
fresh spinach leaves, optional
Instructions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. 
2. Form the turkey meat into 4 patties, season both sides of each turkey patty.
3. Cook the turkey burgers for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until slightly golden and slightly firm to the touch on top. Once finished, transfer the patties to a plate to rest. 
4. Slice the peach and set aside.
5. Place the bacon in a large non-stick skillet over low-medium heat, cook the bacon for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until slightly crispy. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel to drain.
6. Place each turkey burger over a bed of fresh spinach leaves, top with about 2-3 slices of peach, 2 slices of crispy bacon and stuff!
Makes 4 turkey burgers.
MANGIA!!!