Chicken Tortilla Soup


You’re looking for an easy and delicious soup recipe, aren’t you? I knew it. This one is quickly becoming a staple around here, probably because I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand. Basic ingredients shortly turn into a not-at-all-basic meal that is bursting with flavor and color.

Shredded pork works just as well as chicken or you could sub in vegetable broth and more beans for a vegetarian option. I used Tostitos restaurant-style salsa, medium heat for some spice, but just use your favorite salsa, bonus points if it’s homemade. You may want to double the recipe just so you have plenty of leftovers!


Chicken Tortilla Soup

serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 each red and green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 jar (15.5 oz.) salsa, any variety
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • toppings : crispy tortilla strips, avocado slices, sour cream, pickled jalapeno slices, cilantro, fresh lime juice, or all of the above

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell peppers, and tomato until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the salsa,chicken stock, shredded chicken, and black beans (if using). Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce to low. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Dish up and garnish as desired.

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Lunch on Tuesday | Celebrating Friendship


A few friends and I have been getting together for lunch once a week for a couple months now, a short-lived tradition that I wish we had started long ago. We’ve gone out once but the other weeks I’ve hosted the luncheon. It’s a bit selfish on my part, really. This is my element. I get to be a little creative in the kitchen, try out new recipes and get some honest feedback. I can spend a little extra time setting the table, folding napkins just so, and making things feel special. Just Google ‘napkin folding’ if you want to waste an hour or three of your life, I dare you. I went with the ‘French pleat’.


Most of my belongings are in Minnesota so I have to make due with the few things I kept with me. Only some of the dishes match, the drinking glasses are borrowed from my sister, and the ‘linens’ are tea towels and scraps of fabric. But the food doesn’t mind…and we don’t either. We linger over the meal, and then coffee and dessert, chatting the afternoon away. These girls are awesome…hilarious, smart, creative, wise, beautiful, Godly women. I’m really going to miss them.

Now, on to the food.


                                                        the menu

                 braised short ribs | creamy polenta | roasted asparagus

                                 chocolate peanut butter cheesecake


I originally planned to glaze the short ribs with an Asian barbecue sauce but decided that the meal wouldn’t really be cohesive. Tuesday morning I came up with a different recipe on the fly and it turned out quite well! It was inspired by beef bourguignon and the beef ribs, along with carrots, onion, and celery, were slowly braised in a beef stock and red wine mixture. They were served on top of creamy polenta (I’m obsessed) with a side of simply roasted asparagus.

We were celebrating Kristina’s birthday so I made a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for dessert. A sweeter dessert does not exist, I can assure you. A chocolate cookie crumb crust, a thick layer of chocolate ganache, silky peanut butter cheesecake, and another thin layer of chocolate ganache to top it off, just in case you weren’t in a sugar coma yet. It was good but the crust didn’t set up completely so it was a little messy. And I’m just realizing I never took any pictures of it! You’ll have to use your imagination…

Minnesota, you have some big shoes to fill! I hope you are kind to us…my plants and I are heading your way shortly.


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Black Pepper Polenta


I saw this recipe for polenta with chard and mushrooms on Pinterest a couple weeks ago and have been thinking about it ever since. I also had this recipe for spiced greens in the back of my head and thought I would marry the two. It was great in theory but the end result was just alright. The kale and mushrooms didn’t have a ton of flavor and sort of fell flat against the creamy polenta. I used garlic, thyme, and black peppercorns to spice the brown butter for the greens but perhaps I didn’t use enough.


Now, the polenta, on the other hand, was amazing. I may rework the greens recipe at a later date but I just needed to share this part now, because you can’t go another minute without this polenta in your life. It’s so easy, creamy, and dreamy. Too much? Alright, but just give it a shot and you’ll see what I’m talking about. I love this slow-cooker version but this recipe cuts the prep and cook time down to about 20 minutes, perfect for a weekday meal.

Serve with: sautéed vegetables | roasted tomatoes | pork chops | chicken with mushroom sauce


Black Pepper Polenta

serves 4 (as a side dish)

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (half and half or light would work too)
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan or cheddar
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Combine milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, cornmeal, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce to low and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, cream, parmesan (or cheddar), and pepper. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Source: Adapted from Melissa D’Arabian


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