Monday, October 25, 2010

Cream of Potato Soup

This soup has been a staple in my family for as long as I can remember. My grandma and mom used to make it for us to soothe an upset stomach or counter an oncoming cold. Now I make it as the ultimate comfort food. It's nothing like all of the Loaded Baked Potato soups out there. It's simple, quick and incredibly delicious. Enjoy!

Cream of Potato Soup

5-6 medium Russett potatoes, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup heavy cream, Half & Half or whole milk
1 Tbsp. butter
Garlic Salt
Onion Salt
Lemon Pepper
Mashed Potato Flakes (optional)

Place potatoes, celery and onions in a large pot and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and let simmer until the potatoes are tender enough to mash, about 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat and mash the potatoes with a potato masher. At this point, if the soup seems too runny, you can either add mashed potato flakes or return the pot to low heat and let the soup thicken. I usually let it thicken for another 5-10 minutes over med-low heat. Turn the heat to low and add the cream, butter, salts and lemon pepper. All of this is done to taste, so keep tasting until it's just right!

Serve warm with bread and butter. You feel better already, don't you?

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce

These enchiladas remind me of my Arizona home. The sauce is not red enchilada sauce, rather a mixture of taco and tomato sauces. It's a delicious combination and a simple meal to throw together. Serve it up with this Spanish Rice and lots of sour cream and guacamole. You won't want to miss out on this favorite of ours!

Chicken Enchiladas with Red Sauce
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 large carrots, coarsely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2-1/2 to 3 cups grated cheese (Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Cheddar all work great)
24 corn tortillas
1-2 cups vegetable oil
2 small cans tomato sauce
1 bottle La Victoria Red Taco Sauce (I know this is sold in Utah and Arizona. It is a tomato-based taco sauce, not a chunky salsa in any way. One bottle is 15 ounces, and I prefer the mild flavor.)

1. Boil chicken breasts with celery, carrots, and onion for 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.
2. Take chicken out of broth and put on a plate to cool. Do not discard broth, reserve at least 2 cups of it for later.
3. While chicken is cooling, fill sauce pot up with 1 inch of oil and heat. Dip one corn tortilla in the oil at a time, softening it by submerging it for only a few seconds. You still want it pliable and definitely NOT crispy. Drain softened tortillas on paper towels.
4. In a medium bowl, mix the 2 cans of tomato sauce with the entire bottle of taco sauce. Combine well and set aside.
5. Begin shredding chicken into small pieces, getting rid of any fat, veins or gristle.
6. Put freshly shredded chicken in a large mixing bowl and combine with 2 cups of the grated cheese. Add 1 cup (or more) of the reserved broth to the chicken/cheese mixture and mix well. The mixture should be held together well but not soupy.
7. Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
8. Spoon a little bit of chicken/cheese mixture into a tortilla. Roll up the tortilla and place it in the pan, edge down so the tortillas stay closed. Continue until the pan is full. If you have extra chicken/cheese, you can quickly make more tortillas or save it for tacos some other time!
9. Once the pan is full of enchiladas, pour the sauce over the tortillas, making sure to cover well.
10. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over the enchiladas and bake for 30 minutes, uncovered. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, cilantro and/or Spanish Rice for a complete meal.

This recipe can easily be halved, or you can make the full meal and freeze half of it before baking.

Spanish Rice

This is my very favorite version of Spanish Rice. It can stand on its own as a main meal or serve as a side to any Mexican dish. The flavor is unique and better than any restaurant rice that's out there!

Spanish Rice

4-5 slices of bacon, uncooked
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
2 cups water

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until just before it turns crispy. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Do not drain the grease! Over med-high heat, add the rice, bell pepper and onion to the bacon grease and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the tomato sauce, water, and bacon (crumbled or cut) and bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. Simmer 20-25 minutes over low heat until rice is done. 

We love to eat this with shredded cheese on top and sour cream on the side, or with Red Chicken Enchiladas. Delicious!