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Chicken Quesadilla Soup March 6, 2012

Filed under: cooking,Martha Wannabe,soup — bvanetten @ 4:10 am

I was scanning my Pinterest board for a new recipe to try for dinner, and I came across this:

Mexican Chicken Lime Soup from

Since I left California I have been trying to recreate Islands restaurant’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, so far unsuccessfully. Normally tortilla soup is very thick like chili or creamy, but Islands’ is a thin broth. This picture had the right look, so I decided to try it.

Rachel’s ingredient list reads as such:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 hass avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces
  • Crushed tortilla chips

Looking at the list, I decided to make a little change regarding the chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. I like the chipotle flavor, but the chilies themselves are kindof gross. Also, looking at the can at the store, I realized I have no idea what adobo sauce tastes like. After my Mexican heritage shame passed, I decided I didn’t want to put it in my soup. (Having done some research, adobo has a smoky flavor, if that appeals to you). Furthermore, Mexican food without tomatoes is weird and possibly unethical, in my opinion. So I bought a can of chunky salsa that has tomatoes, onions and green chilies, with little juice. Same goes for cheese. Come on, Rachel. Also, even though I’m from California, I don’t like avocados, so I ditched them too.

So I cut up some onion and threw it in the dutch oven with some minced garlic and olive oil:

Then I discovered something. Chicken thigh meat is gross. It took me forever to cut it up and remove the fat. So next time, I am sticking to breast meat. But for today, in the chicken went with the vegetables. I seasoned it with some chipotle garlic seasoning and the Big Three (garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt).

While the chicken was cooking, I cut up the cilantro with kitchen shears and prepared the limes. A trick for getting the most out of juicing limes I learned from my college roommate is to roll the lime on a hard surface. This softens the interior of the fruit and makes it easier to crush. You can achieve the same thing by microwaving the whole lime for 10-20 seconds before cutting it.

I can’t wait until summer and I can rejuvenate the herb garden planter LL made for me last year (I do not have her green thumb, but I can grow basil). I am tired of being at Giant Eagle’s mercy for fresh herbs.

Once the chicken was cooked, I added the salsa to the chicken. I started with half a can, but ended up dumping in the whole can.

So I stirred it in and let it simmer a minute to let the flavors mix (Remember that if you are using a ceramic dutch over, you always want the heat to be on low).

While that was simmering, I prepared the chicken broth.

Now, I have to say that I am OBSESSED with WIlliams-Sonoma’s concentrated stocks. I am so tired of throwing away half-used cartons of broth when I make a recipe that calls for it. I just don’t use broth enough to use the leftovers before they expire. These concentrated broths mix with water to make stock and the plus side is, you can add more to make a stronger flavor if you want. I always have it on hand, and you have exactly as much as you need.

For the soup, I combined 6 cups filtered water (1 1/2 quarts) with 4 tablespoons of the stock broth. I then added a teaspoon of ground chipotle to the soup to maintain that distinctive flavor.

I added the broth to the pot and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Then I added the lime juice and cilantro.

Whenever I’m making a soup or sauce that calls for seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, I add a tablespoon on Demi-Glace. It’s a rich concentrated sauce base that adds more complex and intense flavoring than salt and pepper. It brings out the flavors in the sauce, rather than makes the flavor more salty. I highly recommend having it on-hand in your kitchen.

When the soup was finished, I topped it with colby-jack cheese and some tortilla chips. Admittedly, it doesn’t look that stunning in the bowl, but it tasted AMAZING. FAB approved.

You can definitely taste the lime, and it has a nice heat to it. It didn’t exactly taste like Islands’ soup, but it does taste just like LL’s famous (among her children) chicken quesadillas, which are one of my favorite things she makes. When I was in college I think I ate it for dinner once a week.

So, here is my recipe for

LL’s Chicken Quesadilla Soup (adapted from Rachel Ray Everyday’s Mexican Chicken Lime Soup):


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 can Embassa Salsa Mexicana (even Pittsburgh grocery stores carry it)
  • 1 1/2 qt (6 cups) filtered water, 4 tablespoons Williams-Sonoma Concentrated Chicken Stock (6 cups chicken stock)
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, to taste
  • Chicken Demi-Glace, to taste
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 pieces (optional, for serving)
  • Colby-Jack cheese blend (for topping)
  • tortilla strips (for topping)

To Make:

In a 3.5 qt dutch oven, brown garlic and onion in olive oil over medium heat (you never want to go above medium heat in a dutch oven). Add chicken pieces and season with garlic powder, onion powder and seasoned salt, as well as a pinch of chipotle. Cook through. Add can of salsa and stir to combine; cook 5 minutes to let flavors combine. Add broth and tsp. chipotle; lower heat. Simmer 15 minutes. While soup simmers, cut up cilantro and prepare limes to be juiced. Add cilantro and lime juice to broth.

If you prefer a thicker soup, you can add a dollop of sour cream or a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to thicken without compromising the flavor.

To serve, top with cheese and tortilla chips or avocado. Enjoy quesadillas in a bowl!


New Year’s Resolutions February 20, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Martha Wannabe — bvanetten @ 5:08 am

I had like a million New Year’s Resolutions this year.

One was to work out 3 times a week. That’s a work in progress.

Another was to enter more contests. I mean, someone has to win them, right?

Another was to make dinner (not thaw and hear dinner) 3 times a week. That has been an epic fail so far.

The last was to try at least one new recipe a week.

So tonight, while I was working on the blog post about bib cards I decided to make Snickerdoodle Bread.I found the recipe on Lil’ Luna’s website via Pinterest:

  • 2 1/2 c. – all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 1 pkg. Hershey’s cinnamon chips

The only problem was that Hershey’s cinnamon chips don’t appear to be readily available anywhere. So when my boyfriend called from the baking aisle to tell me there was no such thing, I told him to bring me a bag of Heath English Toffee Bits. I figured toffee was a complimentary flavor to cinnamon and sugar.

Besides the chips, the only other adaptation I made was to add a little more cinnamon, because I believe there can never be too much cinnamon.


  1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
  3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
  4. Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
  5. Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full.*
  6. Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan.

Love pink mixer


* I enjoy muffins, myself, so I made one large loaf and a half-dozen bakery-sized muffins. Of course I ran out of papers so two don’t have them and they look a little lame, but they taste the same, so I’ll get over it. I used Baklene spray on the loaf pan and on the paperless wells. It doesn’t corrode pans and it’s less greasy than Pam.

I (and Martha, recently saw on her show) recommend using a large-sized cookie/ice cream scoop to fill the muffin tins. Two scoops per well works out about perfectly for the larger muffin tins, and it is the least messy way I have found to fill muffin cups. I know you can find them at Williams-Sonoma. They make smaller sizes too, which are good for recipes that call for 1-in size scoops of dough. LL uses them to fill stuffed shells, which is pretty ingenious too.

Here’s another Martha/LL tip for you. When you have several small pans in the over at once, put them on a cookie sheet. It makes them easier to turn half-way through the bake time, and for transferring them to/from the oven easily.

I was delighted that for once I followed the instruction exactly from a website and it actually came out as promised. I feel like I usually have to make a lot of adaptations. After trying the finished product, I can say the toffee bits worked just fine in this recipe, although I can’t say that they really add anything. I am thinking that I might just omit them altogether next time if I still can’t find cinnamon chips. That would cut down on the amount of sugar in the recipe.

The recipe came out great and was not particularly time-consuming. I wrote a blog post in the time it took to bake, and in the time it took me to write THIS post, FAB has eaten half the pan, so I gotta go before all that’s left is crumbs!