Swiss Steak

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Growing up, my grandparents lived in Temple, Texas.  Every summer my sister, Laura, and I would take the 7 1/2 hour car ride from Weslaco to spend some extended amount of time in Temple. Sometimes we went together, sometimes we got alone time with the grandparents.  Regardless of the setup, every time we were there my Grandma McGee, or Mamoo as we lovingly called her, would make a point to cook a special meal for each of us.  Laura and I got to pick the menu for dinner one night, whatever we wanted, and Mamoo would come through.  She was an amazing cook.

I had a favorite (we’ll talk about that one later) but sometimes changed my menu up. Laura’s favorite dish, hands down, was Swiss Steak. She would ask for it every time… and I can’t blame her.  It’s a good one!

I’m gonna admit, I had to look up why it is called Swiss Steak.  Turns out, Swiss describes the meat being “swissed”, or a process called “swissing” in order to make it tender. Braising meat does this as well, but by tenderizing the steak you are giving it a chance to break down a little faster to make this an easy, manageable weeknight meal. When making this recipe, I use the cube steak already tenderized as it would be when making chicken fried steak.  Win!

I’ve got to hand it to Laura, this is a good choice.  I sometimes forget just how tasty and simple Swiss Steak is and making this for dinner brought back a flood of warm memories of Mamoo’s special dinners.

What would Mamoo make for you?


Swiss Steak

  • 1-2 lbs round steak or cube steak
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, or 5-6 mini bell peppers, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Oregano, basil and red pepper flakes

Heat a couple tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat. 

Sprinkle a little flour, salt and pepper on both sides of each steak and then brown the steaks for a couple minutes on each side.  You’re not worried about cooking the steaks through, they are going to braise and get super tender a little later.  Don’t skip this step though – browned food is flavored food!

Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the onions and peppers, adding a little more EVOO if needed. Saute the onions and peppers 2-3 minutes until the begin to soften.

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Add garlic and saute a few more minutes.

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Deglaze the pan with the red wine.  So remember that “deglaze” just means “pour some liquid in the hot pan and gently scrape all the delicious browned bits off the bottom”.  Very technical term.

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Remember how we always say to cook with wine you would drink in a glass?  I went all out on this one, using a bottle from one of my very favorite wineries – J Vineyards.  Check them out if you travel to California Wine Country!  They have a fabulous wine and cheese tasting option at the winery.

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Add the steaks back in, then the stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Many times when using stewed tomatoes the recipe suggested mashing or tearing up the tomatoes.  In this case, I like to leave them sliced. I am notorious for grabbing the not-quite-right version of a grocery list item, like getting a can of whole tomatoes instead of sliced, or the chunky peanut butter that’s right next to the creamy.  If you have a can of whole tomatoes on hand, use them!  Just don’t break them down too much – the chunks of tomatoes get nice and sweet as they braise. 

Add a couple tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and taste, adding more if desired.

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Stir in a couple teaspoons of basil and oregano and red pepper flakes as desired.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.  If the gravy seems a little thick, or is not covering the steaks and veggies, add a little water.

Cover and let the pan simmer until the meat is tender, about 45-60 minutes.  

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

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What do you think, Laura?  I’m pretty sure Mamoo would be proud 😉


Full Recipe

Swiss Steak

  • 1-2 lbs round steak or cube steak
  • Flour, salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, or 5-6 mini bell peppers, sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Oregano, basil and red pepper flakes

Heat a couple tablespoons EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle a little flour, salt and pepper on both sides of each steak.

Brown the steaks for a couple minutes on each side.

Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the onions and peppers, adding a little more EVOO if needed.

Saute the onions and peppers 2-3 minutes until the begin to soften.

Add garlic and saute a few more minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Add the steaks back in, then the stewed tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Add a couple tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and taste, adding more if desired.

Stir in a couple teaspoons of basil and oregano and red pepper flakes as desired.

Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

If the gravy seems a little thick, or is not covering the steaks and veggies, add a little water.  

Cover and let simmer until the meat is tender, about 45-60 minutes.  

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

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This dish has quickly become one of my favorite easy summer dinners.  Who doesn’t love a one-pan-wonder?!  As a bonus, this dish can easily be a vegetarian option or a side dish by omitting the chicken and using veggie stock in place of the chicken broth.

What are some of your favorite summer dinners?  Leave me a comment with your thoughts!


Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

  • 1 pound chicken, cubed (omit for vegetarian, side dish)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 oz can black beans , rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 T lime juice , freshly squeezed

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large saucepan, saute the chicken in EVOO over medium heat until browned.

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Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

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If you are going for the vegetarian or side dish options, start here!  It helps if you have a couple serious sous chefs to prep for you 😉

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In the same pan, add more EVOO if necessary and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for a couple minutes, just so it starts to toast a bit. Add the rice and do the same, stirring it around and toasting it a bit.  Look at the grains, when the outside “coat” starts to become more transparent and you can see the inner germ a bit, you are good to go!  I use this same method when making Spanish rice, it just preps the rice a bit and gives it just a bit more of a nutty flavor.

Stir in the chicken/veggie broth and bring to a boil.

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Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is cooked through.

Remove the skillet from heat and toss in the chicken (if using), black beans, cilantro and lime juice.

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Taste, adding more salt/lime juice as needed, and serve!

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Try this one out this summer – I promise it will make your menu rotation!


Full Recipe

Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

  • 1 pound chicken, cubed (omit for vegetarian, side dish)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 15 oz can black beans , rinsed & drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2 T lime juice , freshly squeezed

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, saute the chicken in EVOO over medium heat until browned.

Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add more EVOO if necessary and add the garlic.

Saute 1-2 minutes.

Add the rice and toast for a couple minutes.

Stir in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is cooked through.

Remove the skillet from heat.

Toss in the chicken, black beans, cilantro and lime juice.

Taste, adding more salt/lime juice as needed, and serve!

Chicken in Lime-Mustard Sauce

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Raise your hand if you are in the midst of a very busy May! 🙋

This recipe is one of my absolute favorite go-to dinners when things are rushed and there’s not a lot of time to stand in the kitchen making dinner. It’s a simple, one-pan entree that works for weeknights but, let me tell you, that lime-mustard pan sauce is so silky and delicious that it stands up for an impressive invite-some-company-over meal just as well.

Try this classic chicken dish out soon and let me know what you think!


Chicken in Lime-Mustard Sauce

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, or thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 3 T lime juice, divided
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 T water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 T butter

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. I did say this recipe was quick and easy, right?  Here’s how I make it even more so: I used store bought thin-sliced chicken breasts to start.  Chicken tenders also work great in this recipe!

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

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Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and  cook about 4 minutes on each side, or until browned.

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Remove the chicken from the pan; keep warm.

Look at all that delicious flavor left in the pan!  Get ready to use that!

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Add the chicken broth, sugar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and mustard to pan.  Whisk the sauce over medium heat, lightly scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen those tasty browned bits.

Whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch mixture to pan; whisking well into the pan sauce.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to whisk and cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly. The chicken will be placed back in the pan sauce at the so you just want it to be just thick enough to hang on and coat the chicken nicely.

Whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and butter, stirring until butter melts.  Don’t skip out on that little pat of butter – it’s what gives the pan sauce its silky sheen.  Check the seasoning of the sauce, adding lime juice, salt or pepper as desired.

Return the chicken to the pan, turning the chicken to coat it in the sauce. Simmer just a couple of minutes more, or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

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That’s it! I think you’ll truly love this easy weeknight meal.  What’s one of your go-to weeknight dinners?

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Full Recipe

Chicken in Lime-Mustard Sauce

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, or thin-sliced chicken breasts
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 3 T lime juice, divided
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 T water
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 T butter

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. (Skip if using thin-sliced chicken breasts)

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.

Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add chicken broth, sugar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and mustard to pan.

Whisk over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Add cornstarch mixture to pan; stir well with a whisk.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly.

Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and butter, stirring until butter melts.

Return chicken to pan; simmer 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Red Sauce (aka Meatball Subs)

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Dad jokes.  They are a staple in my life.

My dad is one of the punniest guys around.  You know the jokes – “I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger.  Then it hit me.” or “Have you ever tried to eat a clock?  It’s very time consuming.”.  (insert eye roll followed by a little giggle)  Any member of the Weslaco youth group during the 80’s or 90’s that travelled in the church van with my dad would most likely remember the pun that follows him pointing to a round bale of hay.

Before my husband calls me out I must admit – I get my humor from my dad. Texting between the two of us generally consists of memes, jokes and snapshots of the best church signs around town. You could say we have a punstoppable bond.

I know.  Groan.

I recently made this dish for my dad when he came into town.  I don’t want to brag… but he did say it was “the best meatball sub he’d had all day” (insert eye roll followed by a little giggle) ♥


Meatball Subs

  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef, or combo of beef/pork
  • 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 jar (28 oz) tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • Sub rolls
  • Parmesan, provolone cheese for topping

This one couldn’t be more simple, y’all.

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef/pork, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion and egg.  I prefer the mixture of ground beef and pork when making meatballs, as you can see I chose here.  Save the all-beef for meatloaf 😉

Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.  I just eyeball the measuring part here, but I end up with somewhere around 2 dozen meatballs.

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In the bowl of a slow cooker, mix the pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.  You can use any ‘flavor’ of pasta sauce here, whatever you have on hand.

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Side note: Sadie is ever-so hopeful.  At least she has that “kitchen spot” down!

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Place the meatballs into the sauce mixture.  You may have to stack them up a little, just try to wiggle all the meatballs down into the sauce a bit.  You can always give them a stir about halfway through cooking to move them around in the sauce.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve the meatballs up on the sub rolls according to your preference.  I detest soggy bread so my favorite method is to hollow out the sub roll a bit, place a few meatballs on top, cover with provolone cheese and broil it a bit.  I then serve it with a side of extra sauce for dipping.   

However you serve it up, these meatballs are an easy, delicious addition to your dinner rotation!

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Full Recipe

Slow Cooker Meatballs in Red Sauce

aka Meatball Subs

  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef, or combo of beef/pork
  • 1 ¼ cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 jar (28 oz) tomato and basil pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • Sub rolls
  • Parmesan, provolone cheese for topping

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, onion and egg.

Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs.

In a slow cooker, mix the pasta sauce, crushed tomatoes, and tomato sauce.

Place the meatballs into the sauce mixture.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve on sub rolls, topped with with cheese.

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

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I’m a sucker for pasta.

In my opinion, a pasta dish doesn’t have to have a ton of ingredients, mix-ins or additional items across the top to be amazing.  Give me a great noodle, a simple sauce and some cheese and I’m in.

Case in point – this amazingly tasty, easy to pull together fettuccine alfredo dish. By using roasted peppers and garlic you get such deep, bold flavors.  Alfredo sauces can be heavily loaded with butter, cream and cheese and while this one definitely has all those elements, it’s not overwhelming.  The peppers and garlic truly are the star of the dish. Using the blender or food processor makes it an attainable dish for any night of the week.  So attainable that I may be guilty of making this nearly every week.

Like I said… I’m a sucker for pasta 🙂


Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted and mashed (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 16 ounces Fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Let’s start by talking about roasting garlic and peppers.  Don’t let this intimidate you – it’s a simple process that greatly boosts the flavor in your recipe.

For the peppers: rub a little olive oil all over the outside of the peppers and place them on a parchment paper- or foil-lined baking sheet.  That will save you from scrubbing those sheet trays later!  Turn your broiler on high and place the tray of peppers directly below the coils.  Let the peppers char and get completely black on the top side, then turn them over allowing each side to blacken and blister. Once they are completely charred, place the peppers in a bowl and cover them up with some foil.  You want them to steam so that the skins start to loosen from the meat of the pepper.  After about 20-30 minutes, take the peppers and using either a paper towel or your fingers, rub the blistered skin off of the meat.  Pull the meat away from the stem and remove all the seeds inside.  You’ll be left with soft, delicious roasted peppers!

For the garlic: Take a head of garlic and carefully slice off the upper portion of the head  – you want to expose the tops of most of the garlic cloves.  Using a serrated knife works the best here. Make a little pouch out of foil and place the head of garlic in the middle.  Drizzle some olive oil over the top and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Bunch the foil up over the top of the garlic, leaving it open to vent just a little.  It’s a good idea to set the pouch on a sheet tray just in case there are any leaks.  Roast the garlic in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  The garlic will be a nutty brown color and so soft that it will easily press out of the pods after cooling a bit.

Alright!  Let’s make the pasta!

Cook the fettuccine in salted, boiling water until al dente.  Drain the pasta and set it aside.

While the pasta is cooking, grab a large pot or a skillet with sides to it and heat up the tablespoon of olive oil.  You’ll appreciate the sides to the pan you are using when we toss the pasta into the sauce at the end of this recipe.  Cook the onions in the olive oil until they are soft.

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Place the roasted red peppers, the roasted garlic and the cooked onions in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Isn’t it such a beautiful color?!

Go back to the pan you used for the onions and melt the butter over medium heat. Pour in the red pepper puree.

Add your choice of broth, the half-and-half and  a little salt and pepper.  This is a good time to check for seasoning – but keep in mind that you’ll be adding parmesan in a bit and cheese = salt.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan and fresh parsley.

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Add about half of the cooked fettuccine and toss the pasta until it is well-coated.  Add the rest of the pasta and toss again – doing this in two steps makes the tossing just a bit easier.

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You can easily bulk up this dinner by adding any protein to it, chicken or Italian sausage being our go-to options.  This dinner, we went for the Italian sausage option.  We browned the sausage with a little bell pepper and tossed it in with the cooked pasta here.  Grilled or sauteed chicken would also look lovely across the top of the dish!

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However you serve it up, garnish the dish with a little more grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley.

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Try this one out sometime soon!  If you’d like an even quicker weeknight dinner option, you can find roasted pepper and roasted garlic prepared at your grocery store.  I typically find them both in the veggie/tomato aisle.

What’s your favorite pasta dish?


Full Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Fettuccine Alfredo

  • 3 large red bell peppers, roasted, skins and seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic, roasted and mashed (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 16 ounces Fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in heavily salted water to al dente.

Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large pot or skillet with sides, heat olive oil over medium heat and cook onions until soft; about 5 minutes.

Place roasted red peppers, garlic and onions to a blender or food processor and puree.

Add butter to the pan the onions were cooked in and melt over medium heat.

Pour in the red pepper puree.

Add broth, half-and-half and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir to combine, taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper as desired.

Remove the pan from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Add half of the pasta and gently toss to coat. Add remaining pasta and toss.

Garnish with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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A few years back, Will and I had the opportunity to attend a cooking demonstration hosted by my chef-BFF, Pati Jinich.  I love her simple, classic style of cooking and have enjoyed cooking many of her recipes. They are full of great techniques and easy to follow.  She may or may not know that she is my BFF… but that’s beside the point.

Chef Pati demonstrated an entire menu from her cookbook, Mexican Today, and we got a signed copy of the book at the end.  Will and I have been through this cookbook several times, finding our favorites throughout. The To Die For Ceviche is, well, to die for. The Mango Pecan Tart will be in my kitchen soon. One of the true highlights though is the section devoted to sauces. We love to make enchiladas and we have played with a few of them.  We ultimately landed on this version of a traditional red sauce – you can stuff the enchilada with any filling and they are always delicious. While it may look complicated, it can all come together pretty quickly once you have the basic technique of creating a puree from dried peppers down.  As a bonus, any extra sauce freezes nicely for another use.  It’s been fun adapting such a tasty recipe to our kitchen!

I’d like to think my BFF would be proud.


Enchiladas with Red Sauce

  • 15 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese

Preheat your oven to 350.

In a hot skillet set over medium-low heat, toast the chiles.  You’re looking for the outer skin to crisp and blacken. 

Place the toasted peppers in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and set over medium-high heat. Let them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until they plump back up a bit.

Screenshot 2019-03-14 at 3.18.22 PM

In the jar of a blender, place chiles along with 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid, the onion, garlic, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Side note: that soaking liquid also makes a great broth for a side dish of rice!

Puree until completely smooth.

Taste again for seasoning.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add a couple tablespoons oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the chile sauce and quickly cover with a lid ajar, as the sauce will be jumping.  Be ready!  That sauce will jump and quickly splatter everywhere!

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Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the broth and cook a couple minutes more. Turn off the heat and keep covered.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of red sauce.

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In a skillet set over medium-heat heat, add a couple tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, “pass” the tortillas through the oil to soften them. You basically want to drag both sides of the tortillas through the hot oil until you see the tortillas start to bubble up just a bit. It should only take a few seconds. Don’t skip this step – if you try to roll the corn tortillas without softening them they will crack and tear as you stuff and roll them.

“Pass” the warmed tortillas through the red sauce to coat them.

Line the center of the tortillas with your choice filling and roll into enchiladas.  Tonight, we went with a beef filling – ground beef browned up with onions, peppers and pinto beans.  This red sauce would also be fantastic with shredded chicken or a straight cheese filling!

Line the rolled enchiladas in the prepared baking dish. Top with more sauce, any leftover filling, and cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

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What filling will be in your version of Enchiladas with Red Sauce?


Full Recipe

Enchiladas with Red Sauce

  • 15 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

In a hot skillet set over medium-low heat, toast the chiles until the skins are crisp and blackened.

Place the peppers in a medium saucepan, cover with hot water and set over medium-high heat.

Let them simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until they rehydrate, soften and plump up.

In the jar of a blender, place chiles along with 1 1/2 cups of their soaking liquid, the onion, garlic, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Puree until completely smooth.

Taste again for seasoning.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, add a couple tablespoons oil.

Once hot, but not smoking, add the chile sauce and quickly cover with a lid ajar, as the sauce will be jumping.

Cook for 3-4 minutes, add the broth and cook a couple minutes more.

Turn off the heat and keep covered.

Cover the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with a thin layer of red sauce.

In a skillet set over medium-heat heat, add a couple tablespoons oil.

When the oil is hot, pass the tortillas through the oil to soften them.

Pass the warmed tortillas through the red sauce to coat them.

Line the center of the tortillas with your choice filling and roll into enchiladas.

Top with more sauce, any leftover filling, and cheese.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Tortilla Soup

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As promised, here’s one for my Weslaco friends – taking you all the way back to Yogurt Kountry.

My dad is a minister.  We lived in Weslaco, where he served as Associate Pastor and Music Minister at First Baptist Church, for nearly 20 years. We spent a lot of time at the church and knew our small town pretty well.  Sharing the alley with First Baptist was a small strip center which housed Yogurt Kountry, facing Texas Blvd, the “main drag” of Weslaco.  Yogurt Kountry was easy access from the church and as such we had many lunches there. They had a variety of sandwiches to choose from and as the name implies, frozen yogurt with several flavors and mix-ins as a end-of-meal treat.  The star of the menu however was, by far, the Tortilla Soup.

I imagine Yogurt Kountry employees making vats of this soup each day.  I know that the recipe was highly coveted back in the day and it was a well-guarded secret for the fans asking to recreate it at home.  I believe that the restaurant changed locations around the time I packed up and moved to Waco but the menu remained unchanged, showcasing this chunky, homey soup.

I’m not sure if Yogurt Kountry is still in business or if it, like myself and my family, has moved on to other adventures.  Lucky for us though – we were finally able to get our hands on the formula and ensure that the small sandwich shop from Weslaco, Texas lives on forever through our warm bowls of Tortilla Soup.

What food memories of your hometown do you have?  Comment below!


Tortilla Soup

  • 6 pieces of chicken, or 3 leg quarters
  • 2-3 celery sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 (1 pound) bag frozen corn (I tend to use half a bag)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T caldo de pollo
  • 1 T caldo de tomate
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded American cheese

To start, we are going to boil the chicken and create a nice broth in the process as the base of the soup. Place the chicken, celery and half of the onion in a large stock pot and fill it with water to about an inch from top of the pot.  Add the garlic salt and pepper, bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is done, about 20 minutes.

I went for three leg quarters in this recipe –  I think chicken thighs are extremely flavorful and lend themselves well to this soup.

***You can definitely speed this recipe up a bit by starting with chicken stock and pre-cooked chicken.  To do so, fill your stock pot up with chicken stock, add the celery (this time chopped celery) and onion, bring to a boil and then pick up the recipe at the point of adding the rice.  You can also  make this soup vegetarian – simply swap the chicken stock out for vegetable stock, swap the caldo de pollo for another tablespoon of caldo de tomate and omit the shredded chicken.  I may also bulk up on the green pepper and tomatoes for a heartier soup.***

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and celery sticks, leaving the broth and onion in the pot. If you’d like to increase the amount of soup, add another cup or two of water.

Chop the celery and shred the chicken; set aside.

Add the rice to the pot and continue to cook until rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

4

Add the cooked chicken and celery along with the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the other half of the chopped onion.  Just a note – I usually only add about half of the bag of corn.  This is a fairly chunky soup so I back off on the corn just a touch.

A quick note about two ingredients that I love – caldo de pollo and caldo de tomate.  Essentially, these are chicken and tomato bullion.  In our house, we lovingly call them “chicken powder” and “tomato powder”. They pack a punch of concentrated flavor and are super handy to have in your spice drawer.  Taste them before using for the first time to get a feel for the salt level and then I think you’ll find a new friend in your everyday cooking!  I often add a little caldo de pollo or caldo de tomate to the water when boiling rice for an added boost of flavor.

7

Check the seasoning of your broth, adding more salt, pepper or “powders” as desired.

Cook 15-20 more minutes, or until the onion is clear.

11

Stir in some chopped cilantro, reserving a little top the soup with.

To serve: ladle the soup into a bowl and top with tortilla chips and shredded American cheese.

15


Full Recipe

Tortilla Soup

  • 6 pieces of chicken, or 3 leg quarters
  • 2-3 celery sticks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 1 (1 pound) bag frozen corn (I tend to use half a bag)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, or 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 T caldo de pollo
  • 1 T caldo de tomate
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded American cheese

Put chicken, celery and half of the onion in a large pot.

Fill to about one inch from top with water.

Add garlic salt and pepper.

Boil until chicken is done.

When chicken is done, remove the chicken and celery sticks, leaving the broth in the pot.

If needed, add another cup or two of water.

Chop the celery and shred the chicken; set aside.

Add the rice to the pot and continue to cook until rice is almost done, about 15 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken and celery along with the rest of the ingredients to the pot, including the other half of the chopped onion.

Check the seasoning, adding more salt, pepper or caldo de pollo/tomate as desired.

Cook 15-20 more minutes, or until the onion is clear.

Add chopped cilantro.

To serve: ladle the soup into a bowl and top with tortilla chips,shredded American cheese and chopped cilantro