Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Brown And Wild Rice Medley

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Taking help from your local grocery store is not something you should ever feel guilty about. For weeknight meals, I’ll use the grocery store as my sous chef.  I take advantage of what I call “short cuts”. There’s nothing better than adding a few great ingredients to quick-cooking rice to make it into something special. This is my Brown And Wild Rice Medley.

I found, “Minute Rice” has come out with a brown and wild rice variety, in cups. Basically, the rice is ready to serve in sealed cups.

For this dish, I’m using a store-bought fresh Cantina-style salsa. I absolutely love this variety of salsa so it’s a staple in my house. This is a side dish that pairs well with chicken, pork, or fish.

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Equipment: 12-inch sauté pan, serving bowl, chef’s knife

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 4.4-ounce cups of ready-to-serve Brown and Wild Rice
1 15-ounce can of black beans, reduced sodium, drained and rinsed
1 11-ounce can of shoepeg corn, drained and rinsed
1 plum tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 a green bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 a white Spanish onion, diced
1 teaspoon of  Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh Cantina-style salsa (14-ounce container available in most produce departments)
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves

Start by cooking the Minute Brown and Wild Rice. Pull or cut the film to remove from cup. Place the cup in the microwave and heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes (cooking time for 2 cups). Important: remove cups carefully from the microwave taking hold of cup from the side using an oven mitt or potholder.

Prep the vegetables, drain and rinse the black beans and shoepeg corn, and chop the cilantro.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, diced onions, and green peppers. Sprinkle with the Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir through. Once they’ve started softening, about 3 to 5 minutes, add the cooked ready-to-serve Brown and Wild rice and stir. Next, add the drained and rinsed, shoepeg corn and black beans. Continue stirring and let the black beans and shoepeg corn warm through another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the salsa stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, add in the chopped cilantro.

Serve my Brown And Wild Rice Medley warm or at room temperature.

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Guacamole, Chunky Style

Guacamole (7)


Tex-Mex wouldn’t be the same without some great Guacamole. My recipe has a secret ingredient that will make your Guacamole pop! I tell you about that in a minute.

I’m a fan of a Chunky Style Guacamole with rather than one that looks like it been purèed. I like it to have lots of texture. As the Guacamole sits, the lime juice starts to break down the chunks of avocado giving the Guacamole a mixture of textures, but it’s never completely smooth.

I have a some diced red onion, a minced Fresno chili, diced and seeded plum tomatoes, the juice of a lime, and a container of store-bought fresh salsa. Yep, that’s my secret ingredient. You can find this salsa in the refrigerated section of the produce department, at your local grocery store. I like the medium, it’s not too hot but still has a slight kick.

Salsa is really close to being a Pico de Gallo in the sense that it has small diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos, except that it also contains lime juice. I love to use fresh salsa as an ingredient, especially in guacamole. I also prefer my guacamole to be on the chunky side rather than completely smooth.

I prefer Haas avocados. They are super buttery in flavor. When I’m buying avocados, I hold them in the palm of my and squeeze gently. A ripe avocado should yield to, a firm, gentle pressure, but shouldn’t be overly soft or mushy. I look for ones where the skins have just turned brown in color, still pretty firm, yet have a slight give when you press on them.

Guacamole (6)

Guacamole (1)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

4 ripe Haas avocados, halved and pit removed (large dice)
1 seeded and minced Fresno chili (substitute jalapeno)
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup of fresh salsa (mild, medium, or hot), (substitute 1/3 cup seeded plum tomatoes, fine dice)
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper

Using a paring knife make slits in the flesh making sure not to go the way through the skin. I make a crisscross pattern and then scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Toss the chunks of avocado into a large mixing bowl. Add Kosher salt and black pepper. Next, add the diced onion, minced Fresno chili, cilantro, and lime juice. Using a hand-held sieve, drain the juice, as much as possible, from the salsa. Add the salsa to the rest of the ingredients. Mix gently to combine.

Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the guacamole. This will prevent air from getting to the avocados and causing the guacamole to turn brown.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Whenever is a gloomy day. I always reach for a hot bowl of soup. Not just any soup, but my chicken tortilla soup with all its wonderful toppings. The crispy corn tortillas on the top just give that extra POW ! Let me tell you how I made the crispy tortilla strip for the top.

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First set the oven at  375 degrees. I just take some corn tortillas, spray both sides with a non- stick cooking spray. I stack them all up on top of each other, and cut them into strips. Next I place them on a couple of baking sheets. I toss them through with my hands before spreading them out in one layer. I sprinkle a little salt all over the top of the strips and bake them off. When they come out, set them aside to cool. Once cooled, I place them into a large resealable bag.

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My recipe for roasting chicken has not changed.  I set the oven for 350 degrees. Add a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkling of salt and pepper, and roast for 35-40 minutes. I let the chicken cool for a bit before removing it from the bone, and shredding all the chicken. I like the chicken shredded in the particular dish, I don’t know, for soups I just think it looks better. Now while the chicken was roasting in the oven, I prep all my veggies for the soup. I try to always have my prep done ahead of time or, at the very least, work on it while another ingredient is cooking. This way, when I need them, they’re ready. Plus it just makes things run smoother for me.

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While the chicken was roasting away, I prepare all the veggies for the soup and got all my ingredients together. I’m using a red and green bell pepper, for this recipe, and all the other ingredients you see. I’ll tell you about it as we go.

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To start I have a heavy bottom pot that I add in vegetable oil. I’m using this oil instead of olive oil because, it’s neutral in flavor. To the oil I add in the tomato paste and dried oregano to start blooming. Next, I throw in the onions, let them start softening. To that, the bell peppers, minced garlic,a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Stir all the ingredients around and let them cook for about 5-7 minutes giving everything a chance to marry. Going forward, I add in a can of tomatoes with green chilis  fire roasted tomatoes, and finally the drained and rinsed black beans and corn. I stir that around for just a minute before adding in the low sodium chicken broth and water. I bring all this up to a boil, reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 35-40 minutes. About this time the chicken is just about ready to come out of the oven. As shown in the top pictures, I remove the chicken from the bone and shred it. After all the chicken is shredded I add it into the pot with all the other ingredients. I give it a gently stir and let everything continue to simmer.

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At this point, the soup has been simmering away and the chicken has been added. I want to bring home the corn tortilla flavor, and to give the soup a little body, This is what I do.

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During the last 15 minutes of cooking, I add 3 tablespoons of corn meal to 1/2 a cup of water, stir it together, and add it into the hot simmering soup.

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After the soup is done I add in some fresh chopped cilantro, remove the bay leaf, and add in my favorite toppings. I served the soup with a lime wedge, a handful of shredded cheddar, a few cilantro leaves, some finely diced red onion, and of course the crispy tortilla strips.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes (this includes cutting up all the veggies and getting all the topping ready)
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients for the chicken;
2 large bone in, skin on, chicken breasts
2 tablespoons of olive oil for the chicken
1 tablespoons of Kosher salt for the  chicken
1 teaspoon of black pepper for the chicken

Ingredients for tortilla strips:
1 package of corn tortillas
some non- stick cooking spray
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt

Ingredients for soup:
2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups of water ( 1/2 a cup reserved for corn meal)
1 each red and green bell pepper large dice
1 diced onion
3 cloves on minced garlic
1 -11 ounce can of Ro*Tel ( if you want it spicier, add in some fresh chopped jalapenos too)
1-15 ounce  can of fire roasted tomatoes
1-15 ounce can of low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
1-11 can of white shoe peg corn, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of corn meal
2 tablespoons of dried oregano
1-1/2 tablespoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 lime
1 package of shredded cheddar

Start out by having the oven set at 375 degrees and bake off the tortilla strips. This will take 12-15 minutes. Turn down the oven to 350 degrees an get the chicken into the oven. While the chicken is cooking. prep all the veggies and ingredients for the soup and the toppings. Once you’ve done this start the soup as explained above. Next pull the chicken out of the oven,( when it’s cool enough to handle) remove the skin and chicken from the bone and shred it. Add the chicken to the soup, let simmer for 40 minutes, Fifteen minutes before the soup is done, remove the bay leaf, add in the corn meal and water mixture. Finish with some fresh chopped cilantro and give a big stir. Ladle a bowl full, and then top with your favorite toppings, a wedge of lime, and some of those crispy tortilla strips.

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