One thing you may not know about Robert is the man loves his soup! It doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold outside, few things make his heart go pitter pat quite like coming home from class to discover I cooked a big ol’ pot of soup for dinner. For me, while I have been known to have a cup of soup in the summer, soup is really more of a cold weather meal. Unfortunately for Robert, this typically means that I only cook soups during the months of October-March when I can comfortably spend lengthy periods of time over the stove top and not melt.

Lately, the weather in Dallas has been perfect for cooking and eating nice, big bowls of soups, chilis and stews. Needless to say, if Robert’s and my New Years resolution was to eat more of these meals we would be well on our way to meeting our goal! In past winters, I’ve stuck to the same tried and true soup recipes that my or Robert’s mothers cooked to warm our stomachs and souls. This year, however, I decided to try something new.

For over a year now, I’ve heard people talk about how great the Pioneer Woman’s blog was, and it wasn’t until recently that I started reading her posts daily. This was the first of her recipes that I tried, and I am sold. I’ve made a few modifications to meet our tastes, mainly reducing the volume as the first batch I made was way more than even my soup-crazed husband could stomach in a given week.

Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups hot water
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp cornmeal, mixed with equal amounts of water
Sour cream, diced avocado, monterrey jack cheese and tortilla chips for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cumin, chili pepper, garlic powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then sprinkle a small amount of spice mix on both sides. Toss to coat. Set aside the rest of the spice mix.

Place chicken breasts on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, green pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced avocado, and grated cheese and serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Modified from the Pioneer Woman

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Happy Birthday Robert!

January 20, 2011

 

As usual, I’m a little behind on my posting but please bear with me. Yesterday, January 19, my beloved husband turned 28 years of age. Yes, he is now officially in his late-twenties and one year closer to 30, although I’m sure he’d rather not be reminded of that little fact just yet.

There are so many things I love about Robert. I thought I’d take a minute and highlight a few of them.

He’s smart, maybe even smarter than me but you’ll never hear me admit it!

He loves the outdoors including fishing and hiking and I’m sure one day hunting.

He loves to ski and not only can hang in with my dad and me but keeps us on our toes on the slopes!

He’s always willing to lend a hand in the kitchen when I look like I’ve got too many irons in the fire.

He’s not afraid to let loose and be a bit silly from time to time.

He’s my partner in crime.

But most of all, I love the way he shows me his love day in and day out through word and in action.

Happy birthday Robert! Here’s to one more year of life together!

Living In Community

January 13, 2011

I’ve heard it said many times in church and in Christian circles that we humans were created to live in community with one another. Inherent in the very fabric of our souls is a need to share our life with others. That’s why God created Eve for Adam, because He saw that it was not good for man to live alone.

Living in community is a great and glorious thing, yet it can also be messy. Living life with other people means that you are exposed to their faults, sins and trials just as you are also exposed to their successes, joys and strengths. In times of abundance, it’s fun spending time with your community, delighting in one another’s experiences. And it’s in the seasons of trials and despair that the strength of one’s community is tested.

Seeing a member of your community, someone you love, grapple with loss and pain is hard. It’s different from watching a coworker or acquaintance or casual friend go through it. This person is living life with you, and in a sense they are very much apart of who you are and who you will become. As they hurt, you hurt. As the weep and mourn, so do you. If you’re not used to living in such community, such emotions can be jarring. How can the pain of another person feel so real to you? How is it that you find yourself on the verge of tears when you are not the one who lost or is in pain?

The more I think about this occurrence in human interaction, the more beautiful I think it is. It’s a big world out there and I like knowing that when trials come my way I have a community to fall back on.

Right now a member of my community is hurting. I’ve wept and prayed for my dear friend so many times in the past week that I am amazed. You see, I’m not a big crier especially not when it comes to other people’s hurts and pains. But this, I am learning, is different. This isn’t just anybody who’s hurting, this is a member of my community, my sister and brother who are hurting and that cuts deeper in my soul than I ever imagined.

And you know what, I’m not the only one. The other members of our community are experiencing the same emotions I am as we try to stand together in support of our friends. Together we are stronger and our prayers are louder. As a community we will weather this storm.

And so here we are, learning what living lives together in community is all about. And even though right now it’s messy, it hurts and causes me to mess up my make up due to tears, I wouldn’t have it any other way.