Happy January

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Happy January! No surprise – it’s freezing – literally – outside, and if no one in your family has a cold or the flu, well, I think you may be in the minority. If you haven’t made the annual New Year’s decision that it’s a good time to eat a more healthy diet, then you are probably in the minority as well. So that’s the debate when menu planning: hearty to warm up and beat those colds, or healthy for the New Year plan. Good news, I have a recipe for both, and beyond hearty and healthy, I’m going to throw out my most important adjective when discussing food – delicious.

Last night my son planned to stop by for dinner, and reminded me (several times) that he is avoiding some of our favorite high calorie treats after a holiday season of too many splurges. I’m all for that idea, but had an extremely busy day myself, so what could be better than letting the crockpot do the work. If ever you thought about hauling out that crockpot and just leaving it on the kitchen counter to use again and again, then this very cold January is your time! My son and most of his friends count Mexican food as a top favorite and with that in mind  (after a quick sweep of what was in the pantry) I decided to experiment with a favorite dish, Chicken Enchilada Soup.  

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I had chicken in the fridge and onions and garlic are always on hand. A red pepper was a happy addition. From the pantry I grabbed black beans, hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, and green chilies. I had hot Jalapenos too, but decided heat was a personal decision and that’s why we have Tabasco. The secret addition was a tiny piece of dark bittersweet chocolate. You don’t have to include this, but I think it adds a little something.

All of those ingredients went in the crockpot and I ran out the door to my class, the usual 10 minutes late!

When I came home yesterday afternoon, the fabulous scent of Enchiladas met me at the door. A quick stir and taste revealed an amazing fact – I DID NOT NEED TO ADD A THING! Wow. That had to be a first. A little pinch of this and that is practically a personal motto. But indeed, dinner was done!

With the crockpot turned down to low, I took a few minutes to invent toppings. Now this could be no more that chips and cheese, but I added green onions, cilantro, lime, avocado, and – on a whim – sliced radishes because they do that at my favorite Mexican restaurant. My husband would put sour cream on anything and call it dinner, so we included that as well. As my, mother would say – “What a beautiful dish.” This soup was hearty, filling, healthy, and delicious. Everyone had seconds and I can promise that this is a recipe that will have a lot of happy reruns in my house. Next week looks cold and rainy – this soup is just the thing!

Chicken Enchilada Soup In the Crockpot

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Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

1 can black beans, drained (or kidney or pinto)

1 can hominy, drained (or corn)

1 small can mild chilies – or hot jalapenos for the brave

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1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (Fire roasted would have been nice!)

30 oz Enchilada sauce, canned jarred or homemade

1 tsp cumin



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Optional: small pinch of dark bittersweet chocolate

Water if necessary to make sure chicken is covered in crockpot (I added ¼ cup)





Directions:

Add all ingredients to crockpot and stir. Cook on high for 5 hours or low about 8 hours.

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Remove chicken, shred or chop into bite-sized pieces and return to pot.

Optional for serving: Cheese, chips, sour cream, green onions, lime, cilantro, avocado, sliced radish – the sky is the limit!! 

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