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Best Laid Plans….

So the discussion regarding “What’s for dinner?” usually starts wayyyyyy before noon in our lives…. I am fully aware I have a problem with this… however it doesn’t really bother me or David… Sometimes one of us has a craving… sometimes we have no idea… sometimes a random video or post on social media will set my belly a rumbling and my tastebuds a tingling. And sometimes… you guessed it… SQUIRREL… something surfaces outta nowhere. Yesterday was one of those days….

We spent the weekend at the lease (aka deer camp… happy place) and Sunday evening the hubs smoked the most AHMAZING chicken over a wood fire….. soooo the plan was to use the remaining chicken to make chicken enchiladas for dinner. But then you know… life. Due to a small snafu with a low battery on our generator (Shout out to Genny – I love that girl) my hubs came to pick me up for lunch on his quest for a new battery. Ended up at Mc Alister’s Deli….. with full intentions of a healthy lunch…. again…..SQUIRREL – fat hungry squirrel to be exact. So my good intentions went from salad to tortilla soup AND a french dip…. with a side of herb mayo (which is addictive and should be added to EVERYTHING). Hubs was somewhat better – he at least included a salad in his lunch…. Of course we taste everything the other eats and once he tasted that tortilla soup…. a plan was hatched. Sooooo…. once home the research began in zest. Narrowed it down to a couple of recipes… one of which included creamed corn (ewww). Sooo I took the best “parts” of both… smooshed em together…. added a few twists and man it did NOT disappoint. I think think it’s better than Mc Alister’s… more flavor but less heat…. Some day’s Mc Alister’s can be muy caliente….

There are many shortcuts and ways to make this quicker, spicier, creamier – you can tailor it to whatever your proverbial squirrel is hungry for…. I’ve included the basic recipe I used below plus ways you can change it up anddd all the yummy toppings to pile on it…. It made enough for dinner for us plus lunch the next day…. SO if you’re feeding a herd then you might want to double it up.

So lets get to it. Gather up your ingredients…. it is so much easier to cook when you aren’t running all over hunting ingredients.

Again… crummy pictures…. but you gotta go with what you have. IF you are boiling that chicken, get it going NOW. I used three bone in breasts for this…well I cooked four…. doggos gotta eat too right? Chop up your onion and get that a sizzling….

Add in garlic, cook a bit… then follow with seasonings and maters and stock. And puhleaseee taste it…

Ya’ll excuse the stove… promise I’ll give her a once over this weekend.. But hey we live in this house and this ol girl here gets a workout. Bring to a boil, mix up your slurry and thicken it up. Add in your chicken, cheese, cilantro and simmer for a bit then serve it up. Don’t skimp on them toppings either!!

Mc Andrepont’s Tortilla Soup

Soup:

  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken (see novel below)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 packet Sazon seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock/broth/water
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 can green chilies
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup grated cheese

Directions:

Heat some olive oil – one or two tablespoons over medium heat.  Add onion, season with salt and sauté until soft but not browned.  Add in your garlic, saute for another 30-45 seconds… don’t let it brown or burn… burned garlic is just blechh….Stir in seasonings….. chili powder, oregano, Sazon and cumin.  Toast your seasonings a minute, add the tomatoes to the party and follow with your liquid, whatever you may be using.  Bring this to a boil for a few minutes…. Now taste it!  And season as needed…  Mix your cornstarch and water to form a slurry (love that word… lol)  So grab your spoon and turn that soup pot into a whirlpool and slowly drizzle in your slurrrryyyyy… while you are stirring away…. This is going to get it nice and thick.  Reduce your heat and simmer slowly and taste again.  Once the soup is thick and bubbly, stir in your chick chick, cheese and cilantro.  Simmer for another 10 minutes or so and serve it up!

Toppings:

You can use any, all or whatever you prefer… These are just some ideas and favs of ours.  The hubs is a purist, a bit of cheese and green onion and he’s good… Me on the other hand… I like to pile it high…

  • Tortilla Chips… out the bag is good….. fresh fried is better….
  • Grated cheese… cheddar, pepper jack, queso fresco, etc.
  • Pico de Gallo….  Store bought or homemade….
  • Avocado/guacamole…. Again… store bought or homemade
  • Sour Cream
  • Diced jalapenos… fresh or pickled
  • Sliced green onions
  • Pickled onions

Tips and Tricks

Chicken:

So you have many options… I’m an old school girl.  I prefer to boil my own, think it has more flavor and plus I strain and freeze the stock…. Which is much better than store bought… but I’m not hating on the box o’ stock either.   Boiling your own will add to the cooking time but I think it’s worth it.  Just throw your chicken in a large stock pot, add a ¼ cup of salt, a quartered onion,  a few cloves of garlic, few shakes of pepper, some celery, cover with water and boil away…. Generally at least an hour depending on what parts you are boiling, 30-40 minutes if it is off the bone….  Boiled chicken/making stock step by step post to follow soon….

ANYWAY…. You can use sautéed chicken,  baked chicken, grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken…. I hear you can buy cooked, shredded chicken at the H-E-B.   WHATEVER tickles your feathers… HA.   But NO CANNED CHICKEN.  EVER.  Yuck.

Seasoning:  I started with 1 teaspoon chili powder but ended up adding an additional teaspoon.  Also found it needed salt, even after using stock.  Oregano…. Did you know there are different types? Italian, Greek, Mexican… all with different levels of yummy.  Fiesta makes a good, cheap Mexican oregano (see the shady Ziploc bag in the picture above)… but plain ol Oregano will do just fine.  And the Sazon…. SAZOOOONNNNNN… makes me wanna sing it’s so good.  Wildly available in any grocery store.  It just sneaks up and slaps you in your flavor sack.   I use it in quite a few dishes… Behold the beauty below.

Now heat… we decided that the green chilis were enough… but you could always spice it up by sauteing jalapeno with your onions, adding cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes.

For the liquid, water will do, broth will do, but stock adds a ton of flavor.  I use the box a lot… and when out of the box,  I looovvee the Better than Bouillon as well.  Just mix and use as directed. Watch the salt with this tho.

Hope ya’ll love this as much as we did! Drop your comments and questions below!

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