Cheesy Tortilla Soup

This is the perfect cool-weather soup. We’re having this tonight while watching the football games. This is very similar to the Tortilla Soup served at Max & Erma’s.

Cheesy Tortilla Soup

Serves: 8

1 envelope fajita marinade mix
4 boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cans chicken broth
1/3 cup Rotel tomatoes w/ green chiles
1 cup Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Prepare fajita mix according to package directions; add chicken and marinate as directed. In a large skillet, cook chicken in oil until juices run clear; set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually stir in broth. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes until thickened and bubbly. Add tomatoes, Velveeta and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese; cook and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in cream and chicken; heat through (do not boil). Spoon into bowls. Garnish with guacamole, cheddar cheese and remaining Monterey Jack cheese; add tortilla chips.


Loose Meat Sandwiches

A new favorite for my younger children. They seem to like this better than my “sloppy joes”. This is an adaptation of a recipe I saw on TV (probably the Food Network), but I cannot remember what show I was watching. The chicken broth is the key to this one. It doesn’t make sense, but this recipe is just not as good if made with beef broth.

Loose Meat Sandwiches

1 pound ground beef
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 cup chicken broth

Brown the ground beef and drain. Add the seasonings and chicken broth. Simmer until the chicken broth has reduced until almost gone, continuing to crumble the ground beef in the liquid. In the end, you ground beef will be finely crumbled and the mixture moist. Serve on buns. Yields approx 4 sandwiches.

Cream of Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

As I’ve said before, I’m not normally a broccoli fan. But this soup is rather delicious. Of course the cheese is what redeems the broccoli!

Cream of Broccoli & Cheddar Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bag frozen chopped broccoli
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon flour, or more if needed
1 bay leaf
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste

In a soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook onion. When onion is translucent, add broccoli and bay leaf and stir to combine. Sprinkle vegetables with flour and stir quickly to combine. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Continue to stir and gradually add the milk and chicken broth. Cook, stirring constantly, till broccoli is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes or so. Remove and discard bay leaf. Transfer soup to blender and process at low speed until smooth. Add Cheddar cheese and stir; salt and pepper to taste. Reheat if needed. Serve.

L’il Cheddar Meat Loaves

I think the following recipe has made the rounds of many recipe exchange lists for the past several years. It was originally published in my favorite foodie magazine Taste of Home in 2000. The author of this recipe is Katy Bowron. The only thing I’ve changed from her origina recipe is to use bread crumbs instead of Katy’s suggestion of quick oats as a binder. My kids didn’t like to “see” the oats.  Teamed with my Parsley Potatoes and a green veggie, this is what I call a “comfort” meal.

Li’l Cheddar Meat Loaves
Serves: 8

1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard

In  a bowl, beat the egg and milk. Stir in cheese, bread crumbs, onion and salt. Add beef and mix well. Shape into eight loaves; place in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard; spoon over loaves. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 45  minutes or until meat is no longer pink  and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

These can be made ahead of time and frozen. Prepare the meatloaves as directed, but don’t add the ketchup sauce. Place the formed meatloaves on a tray and place in the freezer for a few hours. When the loaves are frozen, place them into a freezer bag or container, label and date and return to the freezer. When you want to prepare them for dinner, take out as many as you want, place on a tray and bake as directed. You can bake from the frozen state, just add about 15-20 minutes to your cooking time and check the internal temperature often to make sure that you have cooked the meat completely. Add the ketchup sauce in the last 30 minutes so it doesn’t burn.

Chicken Quesadillas

One of Melinda’s favorite meals. Of course it has chicken in it!
Chicken Quesadillas
Serves 6
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken — shredded
2/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 teaspoon ground cumin — or less
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 8-inch flour tortilla
1/4 cup butter or margarine — melted
2 cups Monterey jack cheese — shredded
sour cream — as desired
guacamole — as desired

In  a skillet, combine the first 6 ingredients. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Brush one side of tortillas with butter. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture over half of unbuttered side of each tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese; fold plain side of tortilla. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese; fold plain side of tortilla over cheese. Place on a lightly greased baking Bake at 475 degrees for 10 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Cut into wedges; serve with sour cream and guacamole.