Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is one of our fav meals. It DOES make a ton of soup, so you might want to plan on sharing some or freezing some (or both!). It looks like a lot of ingredients, but all you really do is dump stuff into a crockpot and let it cook. Also, I often dump 'extra' chicken in to cook it for the week ahead - since it's already been cooked in a "marinade" it tastes GREAT in tacos or enchiladas, etc.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb. boneles, skinless chicken (2-3 lbs. if cooking extra)
1 15 oz. can tomatoes (diced/crushed work best)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes & chilis
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1.5-2 cups chicken broth (or 1 can)
1-2 cups frozen corn (or 10 oz. frozen pkg)
1 can black beans - rinsed & drained (pinto or kidney beans would also work)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1-2 TB cilantro

Tortilla chips
Optional: cheese, sour cream, taco garnishes

1. Dump chicken, tomatoes, ro-tel, veggies and beans into pot.
2. Stir spices into chicken broth until well incorporated, then dump in.
3. Add up to 2 cups water to pot until at least 3/4 way full.
4. Put lid on and cook on low 6-8 hours, or on high around 4 hours.
5. Before serving, remove chicken and shred on a dish, then return to the soup. (If you made extra chicken try to take it out as whole as possible and let it cool while you eat dinner).
6. Top soup with crushed tortilla chips, cheese and other toppings.

Penne with Vodka and Spicy Tomato-Cream Sauce

This is my perennial favorite. I come back to this all the time. It is quick and easy and hearty enough to stand alone, but also good paired with a nice salad. It is from my absolute favorite cookbook, Patricia Wells' Trattoria. The spice is not very strong, but you can cut down the red pepper if you are sensitive to it.

Yields 6-8 servings

1/4 cup olive oil
4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
sea salt
One 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes or one 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree (I always use the latter)
1 pound dried tubular pasta, such as penne
2 tbsp. vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, lightly chopped

In a large skillet combine oil, garlic, pepper and salt, stirring to coat with oil.
Cook over moderate heat just until garlic turns fragrant and golden, but not brown.
(if using whole tomatoes, blend or crush before adding to skillet) Add tomato puree to skillet.
Stir and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Bring pasta to boil in separate pot.
Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss. Add vodka and toss again, then and add cream and toss. Cover, reduxe heat to low and let rest for 1-2 min.
Add the parsley and mix in.
Transfer to warm, shallow dishes and serve immediately. Traditionally cheese is not served over this dish.

Wine pairing: good quality red that stands up to the spice: Chianti Classico or California Zinfandel

Welcome Chefs!

I hope you will feel free to post any great recipes that you and your family come back to time and again, as well as new stuff you're just trying out. Bon appetit!