PORK = YUM.  I can't believe that there are people in this world that don't eat pork. I can't imagine life without bacon, and not that turkey crap either.  Never eating a fried pork chop?  OMGoodnes!  Never having a pulled pork sandwich - the tragedy!   I know some people think the pig is a dirty, nasty little creature, but dude so are my kids and I still love them! 

When I make pork carnitas I always make extra.  We LOVE left over pork carnitas.  (Thanks again Tracy for sharing your recipe.)  I've used the leftovers for many different things, canrnita flautas (I THOUGHT I had logged my recipe for flautas, BUT when I went to find it to connect the link I can't find it ANYWHERE!!  Did I not give you that recipe?  Really?), burritos, salads and Boy 1 just eats the meat straight without even heating it up. So the other day when I was talking CARNITA talk with Tracy she told me she makes a soup with her leftovers.  GENIUS!  So once again I followed her lead and threw together a pot of soup.   I LOVED it, the kids didn't eat much, but that could have had more to do with the fact that I let them each buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies (with their own money) when a cute little girl scout came around the neighborhood with a wagon full of cookies.  And yes, I let them eat the cookies BEFORE dinner. Not the smartest thing I have even done, but hey, I'm in the business of creating good childhood memories right?  

This is what I threw together and it took all of about 15 minutes!

8 cups chicken broth
3-4 pounds left  over pork carnitas
small onion - diced
juice of 2 limes
3 garlic clove
1 bunch of cilantro
left over black beans
1 can sweet corn
1 TBL Cumin (or more to taste)
1-2 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce - chopped
salt to taste

Combine chicken broth and onions, bring to a boil, add all other ingredients, cook for about 15 minutes.  Dinner is DONE!

Toss a few diced fresh tomatoes and some queso fresco cheese on top and you are all set to dig in!  (A little avocado would be good too, I just didn't have any.)

***If you don't have leftover black beans just use:
1 can black beans
1 can chopped green chilis
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you....
I hear this song EVERY time I make beans.  And no, not from my children. 
1 package pinto beans - rinsed off
1 package of salt pork
2 cans stewed tomatoes - cut up with kitchen scissor while still in the can (really, I'm not joking)
5-7 fresh roasted green chilis - chopped
(or 2 cans if you can't find fresh)
1 bunch cilantro - chopped

Some people believe you need to soak beans overnight...blah, blah, blah.  Not me.  Toss your beans and salt pork in a Dutch oven, fill with water. Cook on high heat and boil for the 1st hour.  You will need to refill the water a couple of times. After an hour of boiling reduce heat.  Put lid on and continue cooking for 6-7 more hours, adding water as necessary.  Just before serving add stewed tomatoes, green chilis and cilantro.

They really are that easy.

OK maybe not flambé, but you will get the joke once read the rest.....

It’s winter and even though it is a “Texas” winter, it is still winter and winter is soup season in our house (if you haven’t already noticed).  I love French Onion Soup & thought I would try a new recipe, well I didn’t find one recipe I liked, so I combined a few recipes together to get this – I was a little worried about the chick/beef broth combo, but thought I would give it a whirl anyway.   This turned out to be a ‘light’ tasting French Onion Soup.  Hubby loved it, but I’m thinking he would have loved just about anything at this point since dinner was close to 2 hours late!  I thought it was GOOD.  I think it would have been better if I had left out the chicken broth and just used beef broth.  Next time I will.  OK, so let’s get cookin’!


1 stick butter
6 yellow onions sliced about ¼ of inch thick
1 ¼ cup white wine, I used a Saviong Blanc, but a chardonnay would work great as well
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups beef broth
4 minced garlic cloves
1 TBL Worcestershire sauce
Sourdough bread, sliced
Thick sliced Swiss cheese (I use Tillamook)

Melt butter in dutch oven over med heat. Add onions and cook for 20 minutes, stirring to make sure they are all getting nice and soggy. 
After 20 minutes put the lid on slightly ajar & cook for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add wine & cook for about 5 minutes.  Add broths, Worcestershire & garlic and reduce to heat to low.  Simmer for another 30-45 minutes.

While soup is simmering prepare your bread - place them on a cookie sheet  and broil on low heat, allowing bread to brown and become crispy. 

I put the bread in for 2 minutes, checked it, it wasn’t ready, put it back in for another 2 minutes.  While I was waiting those 2 minutes I had 5 kids come in the house to play.  Another one came in and asks if he could go to the shoppette & if he could have money.   The timer went off and the doorbell rang- another kid here to play.  I took the toasted sourdough bread out of the oven.  I got money.   My Skype rang; it was a friend in California call to have a celebratory glass of wine with me after receiving some super good news.  We toast – all is good.  I’m still cooking (cutting veggies for steak sandwiches now) and talking.  My house is getting loud.  The doorbell rings, I get off Skype, my neighbors is picking up her son.  We chat.  She leaves, I chop.  I notice smoke in the house and I think it is odd – I mean I’m just cooking soup.   I turn on the vent.  Kids are hungry.  I toss some popcorn shrimp in the toaster oven for a small snack.  Another kid comes over.  JZ starts playing on the radio, I CRANK it.  I’m singing & cooking – the smoke alarms start SCREAMING. The kids start SCREAMING.  Smoke is EVERYWHERE!  I open doors , kids are running outside. I’m looking all over for a fire.  I can’t find one.  All doors are open, JZ is playing, kids and fire alarm are both screaming, SKYPE RINGS again.  I have a gang of about 15 kids outside my house making sure we are ok (no adult neighbors came to our rescue, but all the kids that were outside playing were there….) I take one last look around…and I notice my toasted bread is NOT on top of my stove.  I open the stove to find bread – not burnt, but ON FIRE!!  What do I do?  Grab the cookie sheet, put it on the sink and grab my camera:


Don't toast your bread under a broiler for 30 minutes (or more) or this will happen. On the upside, that cookie sheet is toast   (HAHA - there no pun intended!) and I had to throw it out...one more item for my decluttering list!! Yeah me!

Have a glass of wine. Relax, recoup, try again with toast, this time only cook for 4 minutes.

When soup is ready, ladle it into bowl or ramekin. Place crispy bread on top,  and then top with a slice of cheese. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.

I used two different size ramekins, larger ones for big people and smaller ones for little people - I'm not sure why I bother with the little people, I mean this is French Onion Soup.....I haven't met many kids that actually like this stuff.  My kids did eat the cheese off the top but that is about it....
Previously in the Potato Soup post that I wrote a while back I stated that Potato Soup was Boy 1’s favorite.  I misspoke.  His favorite soup is Chicken Tortilla.  Boy 1 likes to eat (he is 14 years old, 5’10”, size 11 shoe and still growing – God help me).  He has lots of favorites, but I think he would choose Chicken Tortilla over Potato Soup, although it would be a close call. 

With that being said, Chicken Tortilla Soup is a household favorite & it is on my menu for this week so I thought I would share it a little early with you guys.  I’ve made it many times before and I’ve even posted it before (in Six in Seoul) but since posting it there I have tweaked it even more.   Each time I make this for people it gets RAVE reviews! So don't be scared, dive in, it is super easy to make especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermaket and you buy store bought chips.  

This recipe comes from my friend Lara at Feed Your Kids.  I have changed it a bit to accommodate our family & so we can have a little left over for lunch the next day!  The original recipe is

1 whole chicken – about 3 pounds (sometimes when I am in a crunch for time I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
9 cups chicken broth
about 1 Tbsp oil (canola or olive)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and run through a garlic press
3/4 cup finely chopped white onion
4 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp of ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
½ tsp of pimenton (smoked paprika)
2 cups tomato sauce
1 (15oz) can corn
1 (15oz) canned black beans, drained and rinsed
½  cup masa harina flour (check the Hispanic foods aisle at your supermarket)
½ bunch of finely chopped cilantro
one small can of chopped green chiles (unless you have access to fresh – then use those!  I have some my MIL sent to me from Colorado!  I’m so excited!)

For garnish:

Corn tortilla chips  (I make my own, but you can buy the bag if you would like) 
Grated cheese (a blend of jack and cheddar, or whatever you have on hand)
sour cream

Find a pot big enough to fit your chicken then fill pot with broth.  Bring chicken to a boil on high heat, once you have a good boil going reduce heat to a gentle boil, cover and cook for about 75-90 – check the chicken, if the meat is falling off the bone the chicken is done, if not boil a little longer.

Remove chicken from water, reserving chicken broth.  When chicken is cool enough debone and cut into bite size pieces.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until softened and translucent. Add 8 cups of the chicken stock, tomato sauce and spices and bring to a gentle boil. Lower heat and simmer while adding chopped chicken. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove about 1 cup of the broth and place in a bowl with the masa, whisking or stirring to blend completely (this will be thick). Pour masa-broth mixture back into the simmering soup and allow to simmer for a few more minutes stirring occasionally, until soup is beginning to reach desired (slightly thickened) consistency. Add more broth, if necessary. Add beans, corn, chiles and cilantro. Stir gently until beans & corn are warmed and all ingredients are well incorporated and then serve!

When serving the soup, top with some grated cheese, cilantro, tortilla strips (or chips) and a dollop of guacamole and or sour cream.
Growing up one of my favorite meals was chicken and dumplings.  My mom made the BEST chicken and dumplings, WITHOUT a recipe.   This is as close as I can get to my mom's Chicken and Dumpling:

Old-Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

1 3-pound chicken
2 quarts of water 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBL shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil chicken in 2 quarts of water.  Once boiling reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, our till tender and chicken is easily coming off the bone. Remove chicken from broth to cool, de-bone chicken and cut or shred into bite size pieces. Put chicken back in the broth, and bring broth to a boil. 

While waiting for broth to boil, combine flour, baking soda & salt.  Cut in the shortening.  Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until moistened.  Knead the dough 4 or 5 times then flatten till about 1/2 inch thick.  Pinch off dough into 1 1/2-inch pieces and drop into boiling broth.  Reduce to medium heat and cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

***On a side note, my sister said my mom always adds milk to her broth once everything is ready to go...I haven't done this yet, but I am willing to give it a try next time. I'll let you all know how it turns out.  Oh, and sometimes I add a little chicken base to my soup, just to give the broth a little boost.
I've been waiting a L O N G time for it to get cold enough here in Texas to start making soups.  Finally it is dipping below 50 and I'm taking full advantage of this 'cold' weather.   This potato soup is Boy 1's FAVORITE soup!  He loves this stuff so much I saw him 'drinking' the leftovers the other day, that's right, no spoon or anything, drinking it right out of the container.  I'm raisin' 'em right.  ;o)

Potato Soup
5 pound bag of potatoes, peeled and dice
small bag of baby carrots, chopped fine
small onion, dice
3 celery stalks chopped fine
3 quarts chicken broth (I use chicken base - you can find it by the chicken bouillon cubes)
1 cup heavy cream
1TBL butter
2 TBL flour
Chop your potatoes to about this size.
And your carrots about like this.I chop the celery even smaller than this and the onions, I try to make them invisible...you know so the little ones won't pick the out.
After you have chopped everything, combine chicken broth & veggies (but not potatoes) and boil till soft - maybe 15 minutes or so.
Add potatoes, boil till soft, maybe 20 -25 more minutes
Turn heat down
Add heavy cream

In small bowl melt butter, then combine butter & flour together to form a paste, add about 1/2 cup of broth from soup to paste, mix well (till all lumps are gone), then add to butter/flour combo to soup. Let simmer for a couple of minutes

Top with cheddar cheese, chives, bacon bits, sour cream.....

and enjoy the yummy goodness you just created!
A special thanks to my friend Teri for sharing this recipe with me!!