Grandma Lil’s Famous Chicken Soup

7 Nov


What could possibly be more cozy than a big bowl of chicken soup on a chilly fall afternoon? My thoughts exactly, which is why I decided to make my Grandma’s “famous” chicken soup this weekend. Why is it famous, you ask? Because when we were kids, my cousins, brother, sister and I loved this soup so much that we thought she should sell it and make millions of dollars and become famous. Like, more famous than the Campbell’s people. Grandma never sold her recipe, but we  still always referred to it as “Grandma’s Famous Soup.” Nothing evokes stronger memories of childhood than the smell of this soup simmering away on the stove. She even used these special noodles which were really like teeny tiny dumplings that I’m sure were made by hand by the little old Hungarian ladies at her church and you can’t find in any store. Thanks to a little searching, I found some! Thank you, internet!! I did not have these on hand when I made the soup this weekend, but will definitely be making it with these noodles in the future. So, if you want the full “Grandma’s Famous Soup” experience, you can buy them online here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000LRFZYI/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A10LQTPLUW9LRL  *One of these days I will figure out how to insert a hyperlink into my post!

Clearly I need a bigger pot! Chicken and veggies are working their magic. See all that foam? That’s the fat that you want to skim away every now and then.

I skimmed off the fat and added carrots and parsley. Let simmer on medium-low heat for 5 hours or more. I flipped the chicken over halfway through because my water didn’t exactly cover the chicken and I wanted to make sure that the whole chicken was cooked through. (Tip:  if you buy carrots with the tops still on them, just throw those greens in. They are very similar to parsley, and you don’t have to make an extra purchase!)

The hubs is helping shred the chicken to put back in the soup and Bella is very interested in getting her paws on some! She’s a greedy kitty.

After taking out the peppers, onion, kohlrabi, tomato, cabbage, and parsley, I put it in a strainer over a measuring cup or directly over the soup so I can pour the liquid back in the soup. Don’t throw it away before doing this! It adds so much flavor back in the soup!

Obviously nothing can compare to my Grandma’s soup, but I’m proud to say that I came pretty darn close! Enjoy! 🙂

My Grandma Lillian’s Famous Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 3-4 quarts of water (depending on the size of the pot you have. Use the biggest you’ve got!)
  • 5-6 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Parsley greens
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • wedge of cabbage
  • 1 green pepper, cut in half
  • 2-3 pieces of chopped celery
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 Kohlrabi bulb (when in season)
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb of noodles (any kind you like! I used an egg noodle called Kluska noodles.)

Directions

  1. Put chicken in pot and cover with water. Skim the fat off the top 2-3 times when starting to boil.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and veggies. My grandma doesn’t add the parsley and carrots until the end so they aren’t too mushy, but I threw it all in and thought it was fine.
  3. Simmer the soup on medium-low heat for about 5 hours, or as long as you can stand it. The longer it cooks, the better it will be!
  4. Continue to skim the fat off the top of the soup occasionally.
  5. After about 5 hours, using a slotted spoon, take all of the veggies out of the soup except the carrots and celery and set aside. Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Take off the skin, and shred the white meat into bite size pieces and put back into the soup. I only use the white meat, but feel free to add the dark if you want.
  6. Put the veggies in a strainer over the soup and get the remaining liquid back into the pot. You don’t want to lose any of that flavor! Taste the broth with a spoon at this point for seasoning.
  7. Cook your noodles separately and don’t add them to the pot or else the noodles will soak up all the liquid like a sponge. (Learned that one the hard way!)
  8. Ladle yourself a big bowl and enjoy! 🙂

Green Eggs and Ham Cups

1 Nov

Oh Pinterest. You got me good again. If those of you aren’t on Pinterest, you are seriously missing out. It is a virtual pinboard that allows you to share and organize things that you find on the internet. I have found so many amazing recipes, crafts, style and home ideas on Pinterest and have become aware of a ton of great blogs! It has armed me with an arsenal of new recipes to try every week! My poor cookbooks are totally collecting dust now that Pinterest has come into my life. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterst, click on the link under my Blogroll and check it out! Be aware that it is seriously addicting!

I found this recipe which I’m calling “Green Eggs and Ham Cups” on Pinterest. I pinned it awhile ago, and when I went back to find it under my “Good Eats” board, it wasn’t there anymore! I was seriously bummed, because now I have no idea who to give credit to for this recipe. I googled “Ham cup recipes” and found a few others out there so that I would know how long to bake them. Luckily, I remembered the basic ingredients so I was able to recreate them as best as I could remember.

I am planning on making these for dinner for Matt and I something this week, but since I didn’t get a subbing job today, I decided to do a little test run. I think it’s safe to say Matt is going to love them. They. are. so. easy. Easy enough to make for a quick weeknight meal, an elegant Sunday brunch, or anytime you want!

What’s awesome about these is that you can virtually make them anyway you like. I made mine with pesto, grape tomatoes, and mozzerella cheese. Next time, I might add some chopped chives on top for a burst of green color and slight oniony flavor. No matter how you decide to make them, these ham cups are going to impress anyone you make them for, including yourself!

Green Eggs and Ham Cups

Ingredients

  • Deli ham (you want it to be on the thicker side to hold all the ingredients. If you have thin ham slices, I would double up.)
  • Pesto
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Cheese (any type! I used Mozzarella because we had some on hand. Gruyere would also be amazing in this!)
  • Eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped chives, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray a nonstick muffin pan with cooking spray.
  3. Place ham in the muffin cups. Add about a teaspoon of pesto in the bottom of the ham cup. Place 1-2 grape tomatoes on top. Add a small amount of cheese on top. Crack an egg on top of that. You may need to move the ham around a little so that the egg stays in the cup. Add a little salt (the ham is salty enough, so I added just a slight amount) and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until eggs are set.
  5. Sprinkle some chopped chives on top and enjoy by itself or with some toast to sop up all of the yolky goodness!

Ingredients

Press ham into muffin cups. Try to do this gently so it doesn’t tear. I did have a small tear in the bottom of one of the cups, and it turned out fine. The pesto will act as a glue so the egg doesn’t seep through.

Add the pesto, cheese, and tomato into the cups. Side note: next time, I will add another tomato. I didn’t want to overcrowd the cup my first time making it.

Crack your egg on top of the tomato, cheese, and pesto.

Add a little salt and cracked black pepper and put into a 400 degree oven to bake for about 12 minutes.

When the egg is set and the whites are firm, they are done!

2 Green Eggs and Ham cups were the perfect amount for me. I’m sure I’ll have to make Matt at least 4 when I make this again later this week. Make as many as you think you will need!

Absolute heaven on a plate.

Go make this and let me know how you like it! If you have any suggestions of things you would add to your ham cups, what would they be??

The best pot roast EVER

26 Oct

I am the first to admit that I have been seriously slacking on maintaining this blog. I start getting sassy Facebook messages from friends and then I know that I need to get my act together! Part of the reason that I’ve been slacking is because I hate the way that my photos turn out with my old Nikon Coolpix. Great for an everyday camera, but not so great in the food photography department.  Notice I said, “old camera?” Thanks to my awesome sister Lauren, I am the proud new owner of a new digital SLR camera. Lauren never used hers and she just let me have it. For free. Thanks Lauren!!

The pot roast pictures below are some of my last with my Nikon camera. As fate would have it, halfway through the cooking process my battery died so I won’t be posting a step-by-step as usual, but I still think the pictures turned out pretty decent, but in no way do the deliciousness of this pot roast justice.

Now onto the pot roast. This thing is seriously amazing. The hubs declared it “The best roast he’s ever had.” And he didn’t even douse it in barbeque sauce, which lets me know he was telling the truth. I got the recipe from The Pioneer Woman’s blog, but adapted it just a bit. I made this in a dutch oven, but it could be easily made using a crockpot. Just dump all of the meat, veggies, and beef stock in the crock pot and heat on low for 8 hours. I haven’t tried this so I can’t speak for how it will turn out, but if you have the time (think Sunday dinner), seriously try it this way. You won’t be sorry.

The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 whole (3-4 Pounds) Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 whole Onions
  • 6 whole Carrots (Up To 8 Carrots)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 container of Button Mushrooms
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste
  • 1 cup Red Wine (optional, You Can Use Beef Broth Instead)**I didn’t have red wine on hand, so I used more stock.
  • 2 cups To 3 Cups Beef Stock
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme, or more to taste
  • 3 sprigs Fresh Rosemary, or more to taste (**I didn’t have fresh rosemary and didn’t miss it!)

Directions

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Remove the carrots to the plate and add the mushrooms and garlic.

If needed, add a bit more olive oil to the very hot pan. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use either red wine or beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion, carrots, and mushrooms, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275F oven for 3 hours (for a 3-pound roast). For a 4 to 5-pound roast, plan on 4 hours.

(Recipe courtesy of http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/09/2008_the_year_of_the_pot_roast/)

Carrots and onion browned and transferred to plate. *Note, the point is not to cook these veggies, just to brown them. Only have them in there for a couple minutes or so. They will get plenty of time to cook when they get transferred to the oven.

Mushrooms and garlic browning in pot.

I added another 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and put the chuck roast in the pot to sear.

Let sear on all sides, then remove to a separate plate.

See all the garlic and brown bits on the bottom? That is flavor that you want back in your sauce! This is the point where you will add 1 cup of red wine or beef stock and deglaze the pot. This is also the part where my camera died. 😦 After you deglaze the pot, add the chuck roast back in (make sure to put all the drippings from the plate back in, too!) Put the veggies on top of the roast and pour the remaining 2-3 cups of beef stock and sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the pot. Put the lid on the pot and put it in the oven at 275 for 3-4 hours (depending on size of roast.)

About 45 minutes before the roast is done, start making the mashed potatoes!

Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Light Buttery Spread (I use Brummel & Brown)
  • 1/2 container (4 oz.) Light Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper

Preparation Instructions

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 2-3 Tbsp. of butter, 4 oz. of light cream cheese and about 1/4 cup of milk. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper. You may need to add a little more butter, milk, or Lawry’s salt depending on the taste/consistency you are looking for.

I adapted this recipe from the Pioneer Woman, as well. Her recipe called for real butter, cream cheese, and half & half. She also puts hers in the oven and warms them through. I didn’t see the need, so I skipped that step. This was my attempt to “lighten” the mashed potatoes and they were seriously delicious. The Lawry’s seasoning was the secret ingredient that made them over the top amazing.

Recipe adapted from: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/11/delicious_creamy_mashed_potatoes/

To make a quick pan gravy: pour some of the broth into a pan over medium heat and whisk a teaspoon of flour into the liquid. Make sure there are no lumps! Add pepper to taste. This makes an excellent gravy on top of the meat/potatoes!

3-4 hours later, you have perfection.

This would be a great meal to make for company. Since it’s just Matt and I, we dined on this for 2 nights. It was even better the next day. Again, no BBQ sauce in sight…SUCCESS!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

3 Oct

I have a love for all things spicy. The first time I tried something that was both sweet and spicy, my mind was officially blown. Enter, Queen City Cayenne by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio. It’s rich, chocolatey, and has quite the kick. I’ve been thinking about making a cookie version for awhile but couldn’t find a recipe that I loved. I ended up using a Martha Stewart recipe and tweaked it a little. The result, quite possibly one of the best cookies I’ve ever had. This cookie is moist, super chocolatey and full of spice. These are by no means “burn your mouth” spicy, but a “warm, tingly in the back of your throat” spicy. Do not be weary of the spice! I wouldn’t change a thing about these cookies. If anything, I will add more chocolate chips to my recipe next time I make them (and it reflects that below.) I can’t wait to find an excuse to make these again and I can’t wait for you to try them!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 3/4 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Chill dough in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps set the dough and they always turn out yummier somehow.
  3. Using a cookie dough scoop or heaping teaspoons, roll dough into a ball. Flatten slightly with your fingers. Place, about 3 inches apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center about 10-12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. (Store in an airtight container, up to 1 week.)

(Recipe courtesy of http://www.marthastewart.com/336516/mexican-hot-chocolate-cookies)

I wanted to add more pictures of the baking process, but my camera stinks in terms of photographing food. Who wants to buy me a Digital SLR camera for Christmas? (*cough, Matt, cough*)
If you need any more convincing of how delicious these cookies are, just check out the proof below:
   
Need I say more? Make these and let me know if they are as life changing as I believe them to be!
I entered these cookies into a Holiday Recipe Swap!
Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Scharffen Berger.

Salmon with lemon-cilantro vinaigrette and couscous

23 Sep

I found this recipe in an issue of Real Simple magazine last year and I just had to try it. For some reason, I was really intimidated at the thought of making fish at home. I don’t know why, because it really couldn’t be easier and we now make it often. This recipe has become one of our go-to meals. We eat it probably every other week. It’s simple, delicious, and an easy meal to make on a weeknight. It also looks really beautiful on a plate, so it would be a great meal to make for guests. (They don’t need to know how easy it was to make!)

Ingredients

  • 1  box couscous (5-10 oz. depending on how many people you are cooking for.)
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-3 salmon filets (sometimes I buy it with the skin on the bottom…Matt likes it.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of chopped, seeded tomatoes (or use grape tomatoes cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, scallions, cilantro, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Cook the couscous according to the package directions.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Season the salmon with the paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  5. Place salmon filet on a bed of couscous and spoon the lemon-cilantro vinaigrette over the salmon. Enjoy!
(Recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine, October 2009)
Ingredients for lemon-cilantro vinaigrette

It’s really more of a salsa than a vinaigrette, isn’t it?

Cooks in 5 minutes! Woohoo!

Boil water, olive oil, and flavor packet (optional) according to package directions. Add dry couscous, stir, remove from heat and place cover on top. In 5 minutes it will be ready.

Fluff with a fork and set aside!

Season both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika.

I make 3 pieces of salmon when making this dish because Matt will eat 2 pieces.

Over medium-high heat, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and place salmon filets presentation side down. Don’t be tempted to move the salmon around once you lay it in the pan. It needs time to sear and get golden brown. If you try to flip it before it’s ready, you will have a layer of salmon stuck to the pan. Not good.

While this is cooking, I take this time to clean up any mess I’ve made in the kitchen. My mom always told me to clean the kitchen as I go whenever I’m cooking or baking so that I don’t have a huge mess to clean up when everything is said and done. It really does make a huge difference! Thanks mom! 🙂

After 3-4 minutes, salmon should be ready to flip to the bottom side. Give it another 3-4 minutes and it’s done. You won’t want to cook it too much longer or the salmon could be dry. If the salmon flakes with a fork and is light pink in color, it’s ready!

Serve over a bed of couscous and spoon tomato mixture on top. Yum! In less than 30 minutes, you have a healthy, delicious meal that is super easy to make. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do! 🙂

Tailgate Favorites

18 Sep

Football season is upon us and in our house this means tailgating, get-togethers with friends, and screaming at the Browns on TV every Sunday. When getting together with friends to watch the big game, it almost always means bringing over an appetizer of some kind for everyone at the party to enjoy. I don’t know about you, but I love to graze on lots of different dips and some aren’t always so healthy. I love buffalo chicken dip, but I’ve have had a lot of versions which have been greasy and way too cheesy. I found a healthier version that I’ve been making for a few years now and it is so good that nobody will even know that it is low fat unless you tell them. Another dip that I love to make is Mediterranean Dip. It is full of hummus and veggies and tastes like a greek salad in dip form. Yum. I originally got this recipe from a teacher friend of mine at a school potluck. I love bringing this to parties and I always get requests for the recipe.

Mediterranean Dip

Ingredients

1 (8oz) container of reduced fat garden vegetable or chive & onion cream cheese, at room temperature

1 (16 oz) container of hummus

3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

½ English cucumber, diced

¼ cup chopped Kalamata or black olives

1/3 cup feta cheese

1 tbsp. lemon zest (optional)

Directions

Spread room temperature cream cheese on the bottom of a baking dish. Spread the hummus evenly on top of the cream cheese. Scatter the diced tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and feta cheese on top of the hummus. Sprinkle the zest of one lemon over top of the veggies and feta. Serve with baked pita chips.

Recipe courtesy of Angie Baumgartner

 

Layer of cream cheese

Layer of hummus

Layer of tomatoes, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, lemon zest. Super easy!

I usually use Kalamata olives when I make this, but we already had a can of black olives so I used what we had.

Side note: How cute are my hurricanes with candy corn? I got the idea from Pinterest. Love.

YUM!!

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients

Two 9.75-oz. (or 10-oz.) cans 98% fat-free chunk white chicken breast in water, drained or 2 cups regular shredded chicken.
One 8-oz. tub fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup fat-free bleu cheese dressing
1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream.

Note: I often double this recipe if I am serving to a big crowd!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place cream cheese in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Mix in Frank’s Red Hot, mozzarella cheese, ranch dressing, and yogurt. Stir in chicken until thoroughly combined. Spoon mixture evenly into a deep 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish, or larger baking dish if you are doubling the recipe. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Stir well and enjoy with tortilla chips and celery sticks!
*Recipe courtesy of http://www.hungry-girl.com/newsletters/raw/1214

These are dips you can graze on all day and not feel guilty about later. They are easy to make, healthy and delicious! These recipes are sure to be a hit at your next tailgate or party!!

Aztec Cake (Mexican Lasagna)

14 Sep

I first had a version of this dish on my honeymoon in Mexico. I had never even heard of Aztec Cake before, but it looked like a yummy, cheesy casserole, so of course I had to try it. (Did I mention that this was at the breakfast buffet?) Anywayyy, it ended up being the thing that I looked forward to eating every day on our trip. This version was layered with corn tortillas, ham, cheese, refried beans, fresh salsa, cheese, cheese and more cheese. Definitely not the wisest choice to eat in the morning before laying on the beach all day, but you only live once, right? I couldn’t wait to come home and try to recreate a healthy version of this recipe. Turns out, it was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. This past week, Matt and I made fish tacos (which I will save for a later blog post) and we had a bunch of leftover corn tortillas. I became determined to find a recipe for Aztec Cake. I finally found one that I liked and made a few tweaks. If you are doing a google search, it is also sometimes called “Mexican Lasagna.” It turned out even better than we expected. This will definitely become a “make again” recipe in the Engler household!

Aztec Cake serves 4-6, or if your last name ends with Engler, 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound plum tomatoes (appx.5)
  • 1/4 white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • corn tortillas (don’t even think about using flour…it won’t be the same!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • corn tortillas (about 12-15)
  • 2 chicken breasts, shredded (I used a rotisserie chicken)
  • 3/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, drained
  • 2 cups reduced fat mexican shredded cheese
  • 1 cup light sour cream

Forgot to include the onion in the picture, but you get the idea.

Directions

  1. Blend the tomatoes, onion, garlic with a little bit of water (about 3 tablespoons)
    until smooth in a blender.**
  2. In a saucepan, over medium high heat, pour in the blended mixture, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until it changes its color to a darker one, about 10-12 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375ºF
  4. Heat the corn tortillas in the microwave by placing the tortillas on top of a plate with a damp paper towel. Place another damp paper towel on top. Microwave for 1-2 minutes until tortillas are soft. This will keep them from drying out and breaking while they bake.
  5. In a baking pan, put some sauce and then cover with a layer of tortillas. Then put some of the chicken, black beans, corn and cheese and drizzle with sour cream. (I microwaved the sour cream for about 20 seconds to make it drizzle-able. (Not a real word, I know.) Repeat 2-3 times and end up with sauce and cheese.
  6. Bake until cheese melts, about 15 minutes. I let it stand for about 5 minutes so that everything will come together nicely when you slice into it.

**Note, if you don’t have a blender, food processor, or magic bullet to blend the tomato mixture, you can substitute 2 cups of really fresh tomato salsa in this recipe. If you do this, try to get the best quality salsa you can find. Because this recipe is relatively simple and includes few ingredients, you want the flavors to shine through.

(Recipe adapted from http://www.flamingtortillas.com/recipes/chicken/aztec_cakelasagna)

Meet Bella, my sous chef.

Just a side note, I strained the sauce after I blended it to remove extra pulp from the tomatoes.

Spices added, things starting to simmer

After 10 minutes, it will look like this! Warm, fresh salsa goodness. This is the point where you really want to taste it to see if you need to add extra salt and pepper. This is the only part of the recipe where I add salt, so you want it to be well-seasoned.

All the fillings

Layer 2-3 times with sauce, tortillas, chicken, beans/corn, cheese, sour cream. Final layer should have tortillas on top with sauce and cheese. I forgot to do that. It still turned out great.

TA DA!! Like I said, I should have placed more tortillas on top and then put sauce and cheese on top of that. It definitely doesn’t look as pretty as it tastes.

This was heaven on a plate. I had at least 2 servings and Matt ate almost the rest of the pan. I have one square left for lunch tomorrow.

This is seriously insanely good. The sauce and tortillas become melt in your mouth delicious together. If anyone tries this, let me know what you think!