What a weekend… quite different from the norm I must say thanks to my not so good friend Irene!

Did you catch my post-Irene video from yesterday? 

And with over half of the Richmond area still without power, guess who has some new roomies?! 😛

Oh yes, you guessed it —>  Fanatic Mom & Dad have moved on in!

They are still without power going on two days now, but should find out more today.  Until then, we are just one big happy Fam at Casa de Fanatic 😉

My fridge is also stuffed to the gills.  Things I’ve learned this week:  Fanatic Mom has A LOT of condiments haha.  Kidding Mom.  Kind of.

Good thing we were able to rescue most of the food from her fridge/freezer after the storm though!

Plus a total win for me, because it meant I had double the ingredients to use for dinner last night.

Andddd I sure was craving me some Mexican food.  Not over-cheesed, over-sauced “Mexican” food.  But hearty, homecooked Mexican food.  A la Diana Kennedy —> remember this lil’ obsession?  😉

Time for a little fun in the kitchen!

Mexican Chicken Soup for a Crowd

Serves 7-8 

I started off with a quick throw-together chicken broth since I didn’t have any on hand.  Plus this is super easy and tastes way better than that outta the box stuff anyways 😀

Water, celery tops, red onion, salt and black pepper.  Enough to cover the 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts that were thrown in once the water came to a boil.

The meat was poached for 15 minutes (my chicken was partially frozen) until done.  Then shredded using the two-fork method and set aside.

I removed the celery tops and onions from the chicken cooking liquid and threw in a slew of vegetables: 

  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Fanatic Mom, best sous chef around!

I brought the mixture to a boil, covered and turned down to a simmer while I got the rest of the soup ready.

Dried chilis.  My first true love?  But really.

If you’ve never cooked with dried chilis before, they lend the most amazing flavor to a meal and are seriously nothing to be intimidated by!

When have I ever steered you wrong? 😉

I let the dried chilis (2 guallijo and 1 pasilla) rest in enough super hot water to cover for about 5-10 minutes.  This got them nice and soft and ready to be incorporated into the tomato sauce…

Which featured Pomi chopped tomatoes.  Of course my favorite!  Only ingredient:  tomatoes.  What’s not to love?

After chopping off the stems & removing some of the seeds from the soaked chilis, I used an immersion blender to combine half a box of the tomatoes with the chilis until a smooth sauce formed.

Check out the depth of color on this!  Gorgeous dawling, just gorgeous 😀

Then into the pot of simmering veggies the sauce went…

Fanatic Mom may have a career as a sous chef… ya think? 😉

I still can’t get over what a beautiful color this soup was, so rich and earthy!


Then the cooked & shredded chicken went into the pot…


And a can of drained, rinsed black beans.

Check out everything going on in there, mmmm mmmmm good!!!

I let the soup simmer, covered, for another 15 minutes then added the final touches…

Freshly diced jalapeno plus seeds. 


And fresh chopped cilantro & sliced lime to serve!

After a storm filled, somewhat stressful weekend, this Mexican chicken soup was just what the doctor ordered!

And if you know me well enough, you know that I tend to like to “play with fire”… so you know some extra chopped jalapeno and seeds topped my bowl!

Gotta love a lil’ kick 😉


What a great meal to share with others too.  That comforting feel of a homemade chicken soup but with just a lil’ twist!

Makes you realize that losing power is just a minor inconvenience to deal with after a storm like Irene, and can even bring people together 🙂 

Today I am sending prayers to those who lost alot more than just their electricity… 🙁

Here’s a link to some pictures from our local area.

Source:  Richmond Times Dispatch

As well as some from up and down the East Coast.

 Windham, NY. Image source .

Just goes to show that Mother Nature is nothing to mess with and every day is a blessing!

Tell me, are you a “soup person”?  If so, what’s your favorite type of soup?   

Have you seen the “Behind the Scenes Footage” from the Chobani commercial shoot yet?! 

Gotta love my “deer in headlights” comment (who says that haha??)

The extremely positive support just keeps on pouring in from you guys too… I still can’t believe how fabulous all of you are?!?! (duhhh of course I can :P)

Between facebook, twitter and the blog – I’d say that I’m definitely feelin’ the love 🙂

How did I ever get so lucky?! 

Okay so here’s your fun fact about the commercial for the day… ready for it?!

FUN FACT #2:  This was definitely a surprise to me, but shooting a 30 second commercial takes much, much longer than 30 seconds! We worked our booties off literally from sun up to sun down on this spot, from the clothing fitting to the very last scene, but I must say that every minute of it was amazing! 🙂

Now onto dinner… shall we?

This week I’m getting back to my Mexican cooking roots (??)… so I’m Polish, what of it 😉

With warmer weather comes warmer flavors, at least that’s what I think!

Right Sarah?!?!

On the menu:

  • Chicken baked in a tomato, garlic & chile sauce
  • Cilantro lime rice
  • Mexican inspired salad

As I’ve said before, I love love love cooking with dried chiles!  They may seem intimidating at first, but trust me you guys, they are definitely not and will add such a dimension to your cooking repertoire 🙂

Tomato sauce (1 box), guajillo chilis (3), Mexican oregano (1 tblsp) and garlic (2 large cloves). 

Simple, clean flavors.

Mexican oregano is not quite like your “average oregano” either, but I just adore the flavor.

And by the way, these Pomi tomatoes are top notch.  I prefer these much more than their canned counterparts not only bc they are BPA-free, but also for this:

Only ingredient = tomatoes.  Nothing else.  Keepin’ it real 😉

Making this sauce is so easy, just watch!

Heat up some water to a boil, then remove from stove and add your dried chilis.

Allow to soak for 15 minutes so they soften up.

Then throw everything into the blender (remove the chili stems first) and blend until smooth!

Glass of… chili tomato sauce?  Sure, why not 😛

Here’s the fun part… a technique that I discovered online a few weeks back and have been excited to try.

Each chicken breast (I used 2, bone-in for added flavor) is individually layered with sauce and wrapped in its own piece of foil, then placed into a baking dish and the oven to cook.

The original method actually showed these being cooked in a pot over the stovetop, but I was in the middle of a yoga session so the oven just seemed like a better choice 😉

These cooked for an hour, 300F for the first half and 350F the second half.  Where do I come up with these times?  Still not sure… but it turned out perfectly moist!

Juicy, tender chicken at your service.  A simple shred/chop and stir-through with the sauce had this ready to go in no time.

To serve with the chicken I cooked up some basmati rice using chicken broth for added flavor.

Then gave said rice a quick squeeze of lime plus a fresh cilantro topping.

Ahhh warm weather, I can taste you already!

Served together with some fresh onions and additional hot sauce topping.

Plus this Mexican inspired side salad… gotta get those veggies!

I’m so addicted to this lime vinaigrette:  lime juice, olive oil, white balsamic, agave nectar.

Paired with crisp veggies and fresh cilantro, it’s seriously so good!

The only one thing I’d say about this recipe is that it needed more spice!!!!  Yea, I have problems 😉

Next time around I’m adding some arbol chilis for heat… and then I think it’ll be spot ON.

Other than that… loved it.  Fresh, clean cilantro and tangy tomatoes w/ a hint of garlic & lime – yes please!

Hey, wait, who’s that?

Chocolate fondue & strawberries time!

Yes, he “made” a double boiler himself.  And yes, I am BEAMING from ear to ear.  What kind of monster have I created?!?! 😉

Have you ever cooked with dried chilis before?!  If not, would you give them a try?!