An “Egg”cellente Kind of Week

Between our holiday Monday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and then two consecutive  “Snow Days”, this week has included a lot more play than work. On our snow days, the boys and I lounged around the house in our pajamas without a care in the world. I got so caught up in the ease of no makeup and messy hair that I had to mentally psyche myself back into the idea of going back to work last night.

Another highlight of my week was plated and served the last three nights for dinner. Let me just say each of these recipes was incredibly fresh, easy, and simple to orchestrate from start to finish. With the wintry conditions, I didn’t venture out for my typical midweek grocery store run. Grateful for my standby kitchen staples, I whipped up three amazing egg dishes I highly recommend. Every single one of them was vegetarian friendly too. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy!

HUEVOS RANCHEROS

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground comino
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • cherry tomatoes (not pictured), quartered
  • eggs, # depends on how many you’re serving
  • corn tortillas, again the quantity depends on the # of people at your table
  • sea salt & pepper to taste
  • salsa

Directions:

In a skillet on medium high heat, sauté the garlic in one teaspoon of olive oil until fragrant. Add the black beans and ground comino and stir until well blended. Allow the beans to warm through. While the beans are warming, in a separate skillet fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. As the egg is frying, warm the tortillas on a comal until slightly charred. To assemble, place the tortilla on a plate, top with a fried egg, black beans, tomatoes, avocado, and salsa. Continue frying eggs and assembling until everyone at your table is served.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was fresh cilantro. Next time, I’ll make sure to have an extra bunch in my fridge to enhance the flavor of this dish even more.

This recipe is truly a simple, delicious, and healthy option that is ready in no time flat. The only skill required is the ability to multi-task in the kitchen!

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AVOCADO TOAST

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 grain bread, # depends on your dinner party and/or how hungry your guests are
  • fresh spinach
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • eggs, again this will vary
  • sea salt & pepper
  • avocado (not pictured), smashed to create a spread
  • hot sauce- our new favorite is Yellowbird Sauce Jalapeno Condiment

Directions:

In a toaster, toast the bread to your preference. Set the toast aside.

Cut an avocado in half, squeeze into a bowl, and smash with a fork. Spread evenly on each slice of toast. Then evenly layer the spinach leaves on top of the avocado.

In a skillet on medium high heat, fry an egg in one teaspoon of olive oil. Place the fried egg on top of the spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste. Add the tomatoes and top with hot sauce.

My brother and sister-in-law gave us this amazing new hot sauce for Christmas. It’s made and bottled in Austin and apparently is in high demand in all of the local restaurants there. My brother said Austinites have dubbed it their local Siracha. The flavor and heat bring a lot to the palate, and it definitely harmonizes well with eggs.

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BAKED EGGS IN TOMATO SAUCE

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I discovered this recipe while perusing the internet. A blogger after my own heart Recipe Runner (reciperunner.com) encourages her readers to “eat well and run happy.” A mantra I’ve been living by for years. This recipe is hands down the easiest thing you could make on a weeknight. I was blown away by the combination of flavors and will definitely be serving this one again very soon.

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar of tomato sauce
  •  6 eggs
  • parmesan cheese (not pictured), grated
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • sea salt & pepper

Directions:

In a large cast iron skillet, pour a jar of tomato sauce and spread evenly with a spatula. I used a jar of H-E-B’s Tomato & Basil. Feel free to use whatever sauce you have on hand. Next evenly layer the grated parmesan cheese over the sauce. Then carefully break six eggs over the cheese. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.

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Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. You will know when the dish is ready when the tomato sauce starts to bubble and the whites of the eggs set. Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh basil. Serve warm with fresh bread.

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Seriously, “egg”cellente!

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10 Days Later

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Sean and I just completed a 10 Green Smoothie Cleanse. This isn’t the first time we’ve embarked on this exercise of self-control, but it proved to be the most meaningful. The holidays are a time of joy, merriment, and indulging. Great wine, amazing cheeses, authentic tamales, and delectable desserts definitely put the merry in Christmas.

With the new year, new beginnings and resolutions motivate us to reevaluate areas of our life that require personal growth and self-regulation. The intention of our cleanse was to flush out toxins, recalibrate our food cravings, and kick off the new year by putting our healthiest foot forward.

In preparing for this cleanse, it is easy to see why so many people gravitate towards pre-made, processed food. Aside from it tasting delicious, it’s easy to plate dinner for the entire family in no time flat when Domino’s or Chinese take-out can be delivered to your door in a matter of minutes.

Having all of the ingredients on hand and making sure healthy snacks were always within reach proved key to making it through the ten day cleanse without losing stamina or breaking the cleanse rules. We completed the modified cleanse that included two green smoothies a day along with one clean meal. We opted for a breakfast and dinner smoothie and had soup or fresh fish or poultry for lunch. Healthy snacking helped curb cravings and helped keep our metabolism working overtime. Approved snacks included crunchy vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers, apples, hard boiled eggs, a scoop of unsweetened peanut butter, and a handful of nuts. Drinking water and abstaining from alcohol were two important aspects of the cleanse. All of these components together proved to be integral to the cleanse’s success.

Meal planning was a critical part of our 10 day cleanse too. I found a great recipe for Detox Chicken Soup from A Spicy Perspective (www.aspicyperspective.com/chicken-detox-soup/). I adapted the recipe to better suit our likes including subbing cilantro for parsley and adding fresh jalapenos to add an extra layer of heat. We also enjoyed delicious lemon rosemary salmon and lemon pepper chicken. Both of these dishes packed a high dose of protein and flavor for a satisfying and savory clean meal.

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CHICKEN DETOX SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 natural rotisserie chicken, skin removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded if you like a little less heat
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems removed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger until soft. Add the chicken, broth, carrots, apple cider vinegar, and spices and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and add the broccoli, peas, and cilantro. Simmer until the broccoli softens and is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm and enjoy!

Ten days later, I feel energized, healthy, and proud of myself for the exercise in self-control. I failed to recognize how much sugar I consumed prior to this cleanse. I found myself craving whole foods like fresh salmon, produce, and poultry. Going forward I want to continue having a green smoothie daily for breakfast to jumpstart my morning with a healthy dose of greens, fruit, and fiber. If you’re interested, I highly recommend J.J. Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. Her book offers step by step recipes, the science behind the cleanse, and a wealth of other information about its health benefits.

I won’t lie, there were times I wanted to cheat. Who wouldn’t when the scent of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies fills your office? At my lowest points, I felt ready to chew my own arm off. But anyone can do this for ten days if you set your mind to it. I promise you’ll feel amazing after you get past the first two to three day hump. This is when your energy level skyrockets and you really start to feel better than ever. I strongly recommend having a cheerleader to encourage and motivate you to stay on track. Knowing Sean was encountering some of the same challenges made it easier to keep on trucking. The end results are truly worth the sacrifice that comes from doing it. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger!

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A Tortilla Soup State of Mind

This afternoon heavy rain and strong winds blew in a cold front. On my drive home from work, I was awed by an unbelievable, beautiful double rainbow. As the sun set and the winds continued to howl, the temperature plummeted quickly. This evening prepping for my run required an extensive amount of apparel- gloves, a long sleeve tech shirt, athletic tights, a down vest, and a ski hat.

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Most of the time as I run, I reflect on my day or formulate a blog post in my head; using the miles for inspiration. With the wind chill, tonight’s 43 degree temperature felt about ten degrees lower. My thoughts drifted to warm sandy beaches, extra hot chai lattes, and a boiling pot of homemade soup. Warm thoughts propelled me through the miles and windy conditions I encountered on tonight’s run.

What better way to kick off the weekend than with a pot of tortilla soup that warms the core and soothes the soul. On Christmas Eve my family shared bowls of savory soup and stories about life. A few days later, my friend Jenny hosted a soup exchange party and again a pot of homemade tortilla soup brought friends and family together. Then for New Year’s Eve, I made another batch of soup to share with our NYE guests. 2017 ended and the new year began with this simple and delicious recipe that I now share with you.

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INGREDIENTS:

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  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cartons of chicken broth; sub with vegetable broth to make it vegetarian
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, stems trimmed
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 store bought rotisserie chicken, remove the skin and roughly chop; nix the chicken if you’re a vegetarian and consider adding zucchini or yellow squash in its place
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped; remove the seeds if you want to tame down the heat
  • 2 bags of frozen corn
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground comino
  • 1 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

GARNISHES:

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  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Grated cheese; my favorite is the Mexican blend
  • Cojita cheese
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced avocado
  • Tortilla chips; I love Julio’s because the seasoning adds another layer of flavor to the soup

DIRECTIONS:

On medium high heat, sauté the garlic and onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the chicken, jalapenos, canned tomatoes, and spices and bring to a boil. Then allow the soup to simmer for several hours until you are ready to serve. About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve the soup, add the frozen corn and bunch of cilantro. Garnish with grated cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro, and tortilla chips. Serve with warm flour or corn tortillas and a side of Mexican rice.

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Savor and enjoy your tortilla soup state of mind. Buen provecho!

Standout Side Dishes

*** A quick aside before I delve into today’s post. Because life is a delicate balancing act, I’m moving towards posting three quality blog posts per week. Ideally I will post on Tuesdays, Thursday, and Sundays going forward. When I first started writing this blog, I had grandiose visions of posting daily and for awhile I was able to deliver. The quality of writing is very important to me and so sometimes creating a post truly evolves into a labor of love. To stay true to my writing and true to myself, three days a week of blog posts seems like the most ideal way to share my stories and also balance all of the other complex tasks of keeping things in my life in order.

And on that note, let’s move on to standout side dishes that truly could stand alone on your table and have everyone reaching for the serving spoon for seconds.

As long back as I can remember, cabbage and black eyed peas were a central theme of all New Year’s meals my mother prepared for us growing up. Indulging in black eyed peas guaranteed good luck in the new year, and chowing down on cabbage ensured wealth. Traditionally preparation methods usually include boiling the cabbage and seasoning with salt and pepper. Black eyed peas follow a similar method or might be thrown into a ham soup for good measure. Truth be told, both dishes have rarely wowed me until this year, but I always made sure to put a few of each on my plate for good measure.

I adapted the recipes below from several different websites and added my own flair to create two side dishes that stole the show at our New Year’s Eve dinner. We also enjoyed a low key, kid centered New Year’s Eve that included fireworks, noise makers, and bunuelos. An easy dessert made with flour tortillas, butter, and a blend of cinnamon and sugar. Enjoying bunuelos is another traditional New Year’s food I’ve enjoyed since childhood. It is also eaten to ensure good luck in the new year. Between the bunuelos and black eyed peas, I’d say we’re set for a year of absolute good fortune!

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SOUTHERN FRIED CABBAGE

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cabbage, thinly cut in narrow slices
  • 6 slices of thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste

This dish highlights southern cooking and comfort with the savory flavor of bacon. As an aside, I used a soup pot for this dish because of the volume of cabbage. Sauté the bacon on medium heat until browned. Remove the bacon pieces and set aside. Add the diced onion and sauté in the bacon grease. Then add half of the cabbage and continue sautéing. When the cabbage starts to cook down, add the remaining cabbage and the cooked bacon. Stir frequently to evenly distribute the heat. Cook until the cabbage is softened. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm!

Recipe reference: http://www.4theloveoffoodblog.com

BLACK EYED PEA & SWEET POTATO HASH

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled & grated
  • 1 fire roasted red pepper (jarred), diced
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp harissa spice blend (see recipe below)
  • 1 to 2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, stems removed & roughly chopped

This vegetarian dish is ready to enjoy in just a few simple steps. In a large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Then add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent. Add the grated sweet potato and cook until softened. Then add the red bell pepper and spice blend and stir until the mixture is evenly coated. Finally add the black eyed peas and cilantro and cook until the peas are warmed through. And viola, enjoy!

This dish would be exceptional served atop Naan or with a side of scrambled eggs. Consider substituting the black eyed peas with black beans and stuff in flour or corn tortillas for delectable tacos.

Recipe reference: http://www.veganricha.com

HARISSA SPICE BLEND

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After a little online research compliments of Google, I discovered that harissa is is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper paste or rub derived from a variety of peppers. Because I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand when I happened upon this recipe, I adapted the recipe and created my own version below. I stored the remaining spice blend in an air tight container and will consider integrating it into some new recipes soon. I’ll be sure to share my results in a future post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, dry roasted on medium heat briefly until browned
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup of ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Mix all spices in a small container and blend evenly.

Recipe reference: thereapeuticcuisine.tv

 

 

Baby Bears under the Weather

Things at Casa Mulroony the last few days have been rather stressful. Liam came down with the flu on Thursday afternoon. Then Atticus threw up at daycare on Friday afternoon. Since then, Sean and I have been pulling double duty to tend to the boys and also keep them isolated from one another so that Atticus doesn’t get the flu. This has undoubtedly proven to be a rather difficult task.

Poor Liam definitely was hit the hardest. Lethargy, a high fever, aches, and general discomfort proved to be a recipe for a patient in distress. Tender loving care and some incredibly expensive Tamiflu worked wonders, and Liam is slowly starting to return to normal. Thankfully just in time for his 6th birthday tomorrow! The picture below is of Liam with a sunnier disposition at The Thinkery in Austin. I’m confident he’ll be his sunshiny self in no time!

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Atticus threw up again this morning and had a few explosive diapers but otherwise seems to be doing okay. Thankfully he isn’t running a fever and his general disposition has been cheerful and jubilant. His stomach woes may have taken somewhat of a toll on his little body, however, because he enjoyed a three plus hour nap in the middle of the day.

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With sick baby bears in the house, a simple chicken soup seemed like the perfect way to soothe and comfort the boys. Easy, healthy, and just what the doctor ordered, I highly recommend making a pot when you have a loved one who’s under the weather.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders or breasts, chopped evenly into bite size pieces
  • 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped evenly
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Russet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 5-6 cups chicken broth, depending on how much broth you prefer in your soups
  • Sea salt, pepper, and dried thyme, seasoned to your preference

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DIRECTIONS:

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic on medium high until fragrant. Add the chicken and carrots and sauté until the chicken is lightly browned.
  2. Next add the salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour in the broth and turn the heat up to high. Add the canned tomatoes and cover until the soup comes to an boil.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer at least an hour.
  4. Serve hot with fresh bread!

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Taco Nights aren’t just for Tuesdays

During the work week, I don’t have time to for a complicated dinner. I prefer to focus on quality time with the boys in lieu of prepping, chopping, and sautéing. Despite being pressed for time, I don’t like to skimp on flavor or quality. I usually like to pull in fresh produce to round out the meal and ensure the boys get their fill of fruits and vegetables.

One of the simplest dinners that’s ready in under 15 minutes are pork carnitas tacos with Mexican rice. This meal would not come together this quickly without a little help from my friends- most notably H-E-B. Their fully cooked pork carnitas are a godsend and are microwave ready in 4 1/2 minutes. Tilda’s Mexican Style Chili & Bean Basmati Rice seals the deal for a savory side ready in under 5 minutes. The only prep work this meal requires is slicing an onion and an avocado.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • H-E-B Fully Cooked Pork Carnitas
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Avocado, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

In a skillet on medium heat, sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. While the onions are on the stove, heat the pork carnitas in the microwave according to the directions on the package. Remove a third of the onions and add to a second skillet to sauté with the rice. Then add the heated carnitas to the remaining onions on the stove, stir until mixed, and turn the heat down to low.

In a separate skillet, sauté the rice, onions, and frozen veggies you have on hand. I usually toss in peas and corn. This week, I realized I was out of corn, so I just opted for the peas. You can also add a can of drained fire roasted tomatoes to stretch the rice and have more for leftovers.

As the rice is warming, use a comal or a third skillet to warm the tortillas on medium. Assemble your tacos and top with salsa and fresh avocado. Sean usually likes to add sour cream to his tacos as well. This dish can easily be made low carb by skipping on the tortillas and rice. Instead top the carnitas and onions with shredded cheese, fresh avocado, and sour cream.

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Make your next taco night come together in no time flat with this quick and easy recipe! It’s definitely always a hit with the bears in my den.

 

Soup on a Sick Day

Sometimes trying to carry the weight of the world comes at a price. I put so much energy into transitioning into a new job and jumping into it with great gusto. Then Atticus got sick and again I expended more energy on worrying, doting, and offering extra TLC to comfort him in his time of need. In the midst of all of this, I let work and personal stress get the best of me. Burning the candle at both ends typically doesn’t end well for me.

So yesterday when I woke up with a sore throat, I knew I might be in trouble. Unfortunately as the day progressed, I started to feel feverish, achy, and downright puny. When Atticus went down for his afternoon nap and Liam started his quiet time, I knew I needed to see a doctor to make sure I wasn’t coming down with something more serious than a cold.

It’s rare that I get sick, but when I do, it usually knocks me flat on my you know what. As I waited to see the doctor, I feel asleep on the table; a sign I was really in for it. The doctor walked in, awaking me from my feverish slumber, and delivered the bad news. My lab results confirmed strep throat.

I’d already missed two days of work only a week and a half into my new job because Atticus was too sick for daycare. Now I faced calling in again, this time to report I was too sick to work. This, of course, sent me into a bit of a tizzy because I worried immensely about what my new administrators would think about me missing another day of work. In the end, I accepted my fate, although rather begrudgingly, because I didn’t have any other alternatives.

Today’s sick day has been restful with lots of napping, lying in bed, and catching up on Hallmark movies. The antibiotics, fluids, and rest seem to be working their magic. I’ll be back at work tomorrow and will slowly ease back into it so that I can ensure a speedy recovery.

When I’m under the weather, there’s nothing better than homemade soup to ease my symptoms. Perhaps fate worked in my favor when it came to weekly meal planning because Saturday morning I’d purchased all of the necessary ingredients for chicken tortilla soup. I prepped, diced, chopped, minced, and gathered all of the items early on Sunday morning before I started to feel terrible. After my doctor’s visit and a trip to the pharmacy, I whipped it together in under 20 minutes. This soup was savory, spicy, and exactly what the doctor ordered! The leftovers were perfect for lunch today too.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (Remove the seeds if you want to take the heat down a few notches)
  • 1 pound chicken tenders, chopped
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon of chipotle chili pepper (It depends on how much heat you like!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro, large handful
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn

GARNISHES:

  • Mexican cheese blend, grated
  • fresh limes, quartered
  • cilantro for topping
  • tortilla chips, crushed or in strips
  • fresh avocado, sliced

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot on high heat, sauté the onions, garlic, and jalapeno in olive oil until fragrant. Add the chicken and cook until brown. Next add the tomatoes, corn, and the handful of cilantro. Top with salt, pepper, and chipotle chili pepper. Bring to a boil to warm everything through. When the soup is ready, serve with your favorite garnishes.

To stretch this soup, consider adding black beans.