Saturday, February 20, 2010

Creamy Bean Soup

1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
4 cloves garlic
3 1/2 cups refried beans (two 1-pound cans)
1 3/4 cups thick & chunky salsa (16-ounce jar)
1 3/4 cups chicken broth (14 1/2-ounce can)
1 Tbs lime juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese(optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro(optional)

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in beans, salsa, broth, lime juice, cumin and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro before serving.

Notes: We got this recipe here. It was good but nothing special - it tasted like refried beans and salsa.


Beef top sirloin steak (or any cut of beef you want. Leftover roast beef works great!)
Onion soup mix OR onion, garlic, salt, and pepper
Beef or chicken bullion or broth
Sour cream or plain yogurt

1. Place beef, a small amount of water, and seasonings in slow cooker. Cook until tender. I used 1 lb. of top sirloin steak and cooked it in our 1.5-quart slow cooker with about 1/2-3/4 c. water. My meat was frozen, so I set the slow cooker on high for about 2 hours, then turned it to low for about 3 hours. It would work to cook it on low all day, as well. I used 1/2 packet of onion soup mix, but you can also season it to your own liking.
2. When meat is done, remove from slow cooker and cut into small pieces. Set aside.
3. Skim about 1/4 cup of the fat from drippings (the oily liquid on top) and place in a saucepan. Add about 1/4 cup of flour and combine well. Add remaining drippings and any additional broth or water until you have the amount of sauce you want. If just adding water, be sure to add beef or chicken flavoring if needed. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened. If the sauce needs to be thicker, combine more flour in a little bit of cold water, then add it to the sauce. Be sure to do a "taste test" and add any seasonings or flavoring if needed.
4. Turn heat to low. Add a small amount of sour cream or yogurt (maybe 1/4-1/2 cup, or however you like it). Yogurt is a healthier alternative and adds a nice little tang, but I used whatever I have on hand.
5. Add meat to sauce and serve over noodles or rice.

Chicken Breasts with Tomatillo Salsa

2 Tbsp yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp cooking oil

Tomatillo Salsa
1 13-oz can tomatillos
3 Tbsp snipped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1. In a plastic bag combine cornmeal, flour, chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Add chicken pieces, a few at a time, shaking to coat.
2. In a large skillet cook chicken in hot oil for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken in no longer pink (170 degrees F), turning once.
3. Meanwhile, for salsa, drain, rinse, and coarsely chop tomatillos (you should have about 1 cup). In a small bowl combine tomatillos, cilantro, onion, lime juice, and jalapeno pepper. Serve salsa over chicken.

Notes: From Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 12th Edition. Our grocery store didn't carry tomatillos, so we just bought the pre-made green salsa (made from tomatillos) and used that instead of making our own. We also chopped the chicken up into smaller pieces to cook faster, but I think it might have been better if we hadn't. I thought the flavor was okay, but nothing special.