Monday, October 3, 2011

Simplify Your Life: Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup!


Today, girls and boys, we are going to talk about simplification.  One of the reasons that people buy lunch during their work day or grab food on their way home is because they think they are taking the "easy" way out.  Cooking may seem daunting and time consuming but I am here to tell you that's just not so.  So listen up, and learn how to simplify...your...life!  (Thunderous clapping from a studio audience.)

First of all: the dreaded work lunch. Dreaded because the last thing you want to do after a long day at work is come home and plan for the next one.  Eww.  A salad is your simple solution, especially if the thought of cooking makes you uneasy.  Salads are stirring, no cooking necessary!

For the base of this salad, I used spinach and arugula.  Anything leafy and green could work: spring mix, lettuce, etc.  I also added wee tomatoes (grape, cherry, whatev) and shredded rotisserie chicken.  Note: this salad isn't earth-shattering: I'm a bit of a salad purist.  For most of my life, I was a basic lettuce, tomato, dressing sort of gal, but I'm now livening things up with CRAZINESS like chicken...and arugula!  (My salad growth is a slow process.)  

The key to making your super easy take-to-work lunch healthy is the dressing.  If you have a fatty, mayonnaise laden dressing, you might as well be having a burger.  Most store-bought creamy dressings (ranch, bleu cheese, thousand island) are delicious, but unhealthy, so my solution to my homemade version is to swipe out the mayo and swipe in fat free greek yogurt.  You get the same creamy texture and tang without the fat/cholesterol.  For my homemade honey mustard dressing, use equal parts honey and mustard and enough yogurt to pull it all together.  Taste and adjust as necessary.

And now...dinner.  Crock-pots are the best because the cooking is done in your absence.  Thanks, technology!  This slow cooker chicken taco soup from allrecipes.com is one of my favorites, both for simplicity and crowd-pleasing, lip-smacking deliciousness.  The only additional step is that midway through cooking,  you take the chicken out, shred it, and return it to the pot.

When I serve, I add cilantro, throw in some corn chips, and use low fat yogurt in place of sour cream.  (I'm a bit fond of yogurt, if you hadn't guessed).  For other toppings you could use cheese, avocado, or fresh onion.  This recipe makes 8 servings, so you'll be set for a few days, or can freeze and eat later.  For a vegetarian option, just leave out the chicken.

The most important thing is to use good seasoning mix to pull it all together.  Here's mine: 1 tbsp chili powder, 1/3 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/3 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper.
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

    Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped                            1 (16 ounce) can chili beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans          1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce          1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer or water
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans rotel, undrained  3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Seasoning Mix

Directions
  1. Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add seasoning mix, and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.
  2. Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and allow to cool long enough to be handled. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Serve with toppings as desired.

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