Chicken Tortilla Soup! By Nikki

it smells so good when cooking...

it smells so good when cooking…

When I was in university, I would often meet my mother on a Sunday afternoon at the club. Yes, we are the type of people who belonged to the local sports club which is just a fancy way of saying we belonged to the nice gym in our town! Mama and I would strap on our goggles, put on our swim caps and get into the pool in the unflattering, uncomfortable speedo swim suit! We would then swim laps side-by-side for 30-60 minutes. After a dip in the jacuzzi to relax our muscles, we would shower and meet in the cafe for a bowl of hot, chicken tortilla soup. The workout always felt great but the soup was the best part of these swimming sessions… and just as healthy for our bodies!

Since my days at the club, I have taken up other sports such as cycling on weekends and floorball on Friday afternoon. I have also continued my love of running! There is nothing like hitting the pavement and letting all the worries and business of life take a back seat for an hour. It is my therapy! And of course, I still love chicken tortilla soup. This soup takes preparation so for me, it has become a weekend soup. But rest assured, that is does reheat well during the week.

So here we go…

Chicken Tortilla soup

so yummy

Chicken Tortilla Soup

If you don’t already know this about me, I prefer to make my own chicken stock. This adds an extra step to my soup preparation. You don’t have to do this, as you can make your chicken tortilla soup with your preferred, already prepared stock. (In Prague, Marks & Spencer sells liquid chicken stock!)  Use enough stock to fill a large soup pot 1/2 full.

roast a chicken, boil the bones for 2 hours with chopped onion, celery, carrot and dried sage, salt and pepper

homemade stock: roast a chicken, boil the bones for 2 hours on medium heat with 1 onion, 2 celery stalks , 1-2 carrots all chopped, dried sage, salt and pepper, then strain and use the stock for your favorite soup

I like this soup to have a slightly spicy, kick so I add jalapeno to the broth while it is coming to a boil. (Prague people, I use the Albert brand that comes in a jar, but you can also get fresh jalapeno at Tesco.) I prefer to use fresh kernels of corn, that I cut off the corn cob. After summer is over corn season is over as well. So in the winter months, I use a small jar of corn from my local bio store. My local potraviny is usually reliable for stocking fresh herbs all year round. This is important because fresh coriander (cilantro) is very necessary for the flavor combinations in this soup. Dice up two or three fresh tomatoes and you are set!

fresh koriander and tomatoes meet jalapenos

fresh coriander and tomatoes and diced jalapenos

As for the chicken, well you either have to boil or bake 2 breasts, shred when cooked and toss into your soup OR like I said earlier, roast a chicken one evening and before you boil the bones for stock, pick off the extra chicken meat and save for your soup.

Let's make soup!

Let’s make soup!

Once you have all the ingredients ready, throw it all in the soup pot and heat on low for 20-30 minutes.  Let the flavors simmer and make your home smell lovely. When you are ready to eat, cut a flour (or corn!) tortilla into strips and plop them into your bowl or cup of soup… Enjoy!

Pumpkins in Prague by L

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A few weekends ago, the family and I took a ride out to Bykos farm. Just a 45 minute drive outside of the city and you are in pumpkin heaven. For me, autumn isn’t autumn without a visit to the pumpkin farm and celebrating Halloween. Happily, we accomplished both this year.

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Kabocha, acorn and butternut squash, along with jumbo size pumpkins waiting to be carved into Jack o’ Lanterns were everywhere. We came home with variety of pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors. Besides picking out pumpkins at the farm, one could also enjoy a bowl of homemade pumpkin soup, with a klobasa and top it all off with some pumpkin cake. The owners of the farm also sold jars of homemade pumpkin jam to take home. It was a festival of pumpkins.

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Instead of sharing a sweet pumpkin recipe with you, I decided to share one I recently tried from the cookbook, Vegetables from an Italian Garden, published by Phaidon. This dish is easy to prepare and makes a great side addition to any entrée. However, it can even be enjoyed as a main dish along with some delicious bread. It was an attempt to enjoy pumpkin in a less fattening manner.  Although, I’m really not one to ever pass up a delicious slice of pumpkin pie. Bring it all on!

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Baked Pumpkin with Potatoes and Rosemary (adapted from Vegetables from an Italian Garden)

Olive Oil, for brushing and drizzling

1lb of pumpkin, peeled and de-seeded

4 potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 onion, sliced into rings

4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

few sprigs of fresh rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F

Brush a roasting pan with olive oil.

Cut the pumpkin into thin slices.

Alternate layers of potato, onion, pumpkin and sprinkle some rosemary here and there.

Add the diced tomatoes to the top, drizzle with oil, season with salt, pepper and some more rosemary.

Bake for 1 hour or until all the vegetables are tender.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

GF Jalapeno Egg Bake by Allison

Let’s be honest. There’s nothing quite like brunch. Brunch is what you like, some like mainly sweets while others like mainly savory but the great thing is you can decide. There seems to be no rules for brunch, well at least in my book. A very dear friend of mine C made this for me  while I was home for a family gathering awhile back and it was absolutely delicious. My family enjoyed brunch together and they had to try what I was raving about! One of the things I like about brunch as it seems to be more leisurely. I tend to sip my almond milk latte versus gulp it down for breakfast on the way to work. I might even think about juicing fresh pomegranates and adding a bit of champagne or making stuffed mushrooms and pumpkin scones. Rules are made to be broken during brunch and it is fun to break the rules sometimes.
 It is one of my “go-to” dishes when I have visitors and many people have enjoyed this dish in my home. Make it and enjoy a long leisurely brunch over great conversation with friends and family. Enjoy!
GF Jalapeno Egg Bake

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adapted from Parade magazine 
Ingredients
10-11 eggs (best if from the farmer’s market)
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 pint small curd cottage cheese
200 grams  cheddar cheese shredded (about one and a half to two cups)
½ c. butter, melted
8 oz. can green chilies or 8 oz jar of jalapenos (use less if you want it less spicy)
½ c. gluten free flour ( I like to use Mix C Schar brand)
½ tsp. salt
In a bowl beat eggs until lemon-colored. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, jack cheese, green chilies and butter. Stir gently to mix all ingredients. (I do not use an electric mixer.)
Pour mixture into a well-buttered/greased 9 x 13 pan.
My dear friend CW likes to add sliced tomatoes to the top before baking with a slice of sharp white cheese under the tomatoes. YUM!  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until top is lightly browned. Serve with sour cream and salsa if you’d like but it delicious just plain as well! Enjoy!