Monday, February 17, 2014

Experimental Recipes :: Soccer Night Tortilla Soup

With our family recently beginning soccer, my entire way of cooking is in need of alterations! We have two boys both practicing on various days of week making dinner plans slightly difficult.While perusing through my pile of cookbooks on Friday, I came across a new recipe for tortilla soup, called Kickin' Chicken Soup.

While I used much of the same ingredients, I did add and adapt it to fit my needs and desires. I'll label my adaptions as optional, but I recommend using them as they are optionally delicious!

Let's Begin!


2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (optional: lightly coated in olive oil and garlic salt)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional: 2 Tablespoons minced garlic instead of cloves)
1 jalapeno, minced
1 15 oz. can black beans (I use Bush's)
1 32 oz. carton chicken broth (optional: I use two cartons as I prefer more broth)
1 pkg. frozen corn kernels
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground red pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 Cup minced cilantro
optional: 1 Teaspoon paprika, 1/4 Cup Chardonnay, 2 Tablespoons horseradish
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Tortilla chips


Broil chicken breasts on Hi for about 15 minutes, flipping only once. Saute onions, jalapeno, horseradish and garlic with olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.Cook until the onions are translucent. Add beans, broth, corn, spices, cilantro and chardonnay. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. When the chicken is done, slice, shred or chop into desired size and add to the soup. Allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls over crumbled tortilla chips and topped with cheese. Makes about 7-8 servings.

2013 :: Reflecting on a Year of Learning

2013 was a year of learning for me. Initially, I created fairly attainable goals for myself, yet, the majority remain unfinished, unlearned. Am I disappointed? Not a bit. For, this past year, I learned things not of my choosing, but of God's.

Life moves to quickly to let it pass unnoticed. I've worked to let more go and enjoy the days, each and every one. I struggled with moving at the speed of light instead of moving with the speed of life for three quarters of the year. And, then, life or the lack thereof, occurred and I met it head on.

Loss of life is loss of life, no matter how old, how young, or those who never breathed a breathe at all.  I watched as the pain seeped across their faces while etching itself upon mine. I never knew how hard it was to loose something/someone that you hoped and prayed for with all your might. I mourned for my sweet niece, Mattie Grace, as her brief time with us slipped away. I cried for the time we would not have together. I wept for her mother and father. My heart still aches today.

Spend time with those you love. My father's mother, my grandmother, passed away this year. She succumbed to dementia. She was a vibrant soul, who reminds me a lot of myself with all her past civic duties, her love of the theatre and her overly organizational abilities. Yet, I never got to truly know her. I never saw her more then 15 times throughout my life. The last time I saw her, we had dinner eight years ago. It was Shepherd's Pie. She was radiant.

Dreams do come true. My handsome husband fulfilled one of my childhood dreams; one I've held onto since the 6th grade. He took me to Australia, the land of wonder. I walked the city of Brisbane on my own as he worked. I let my feet guide me through shops, parklands, across bridges, through gardens and museums. I left worries behind and explored a world I had never known outside of books, pictures and second-hand stories. I had an adventure.

Bittersweet: "pleasant but marked with elements of pain; pleasure alloyed with pain." In life, bittersweet can take any form, but knowing the fate of one niece while awaiting the arrival of another is just that - bittersweet. Smiling and cooing over the birth of our precious niece, while knowing our family would grieve in the future was a new experience. Each time I see her, I smile and thank God for her. 

You get what you ask for. Before 2013 occurred, I declared it a year of learning. I've had small day to day lessons and in-your-face, earth-moving lessons; but, isn't that what we are here for? To learn, to bend, to mold to His will? To live, to care, to grow with each new day? If we are not learning, are we simply in a world moving too quickly, day in and day out, hoping just to make it through the week?

There are no coincidences. While I've always believed this to be valid, I've never seen it quite in action as I have in 2013. I had several instances this past year that I am certain were not by chance. I know divineness was present; that is the only explanation I need.

This year, I hope for a year of simplicity. I'm not focusing on yearly goals for 2014, but merely living and enjoying each and every day. Taking time to enjoy each moment and hoping to in part this way of life upon my boys.

I wanted to you let all know I wrote this post on December 31st, but couldn't bring myself to publish it then. Here it is, 48 days later, and I now feel I can share it. What life lessons did you learn last year and how can you make this year simple, yet fulfilling?

Happy belated New Year!

Cheers - Michelle