Tag Archives: Monterey Jack

BZ’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Brenda, one of our art directors whose last name starts with a “Z,” is also known around the office as BZ. She gave me this recipe, adapted from Food.com, so I thought I’d call it BZ’s Chicken Tortilla Soup! It’s a creamy, mildly spicy, cheesy soup that really warms you up and fills you up!

Brenda has said she likes to throw in extra garlic sometimes when she cooks, so I thought I’d add a little more garlic to this soup. I also used olive oil instead of corn oil and Half & Half (light cream) instead of milk. If you want to try a vegetarian version, another friend, Mary, said she likes to substitute firm tofu for the chicken, cut into small chunks and browned in a skillet with olive oil.

The directions below are for making the soup on your stove top, but you can also make it in a slow cooker–see the end of the recipe for how to do that! If you have a large nonstick stock pot, that would well, too. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Brenda!

BZ’S CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP adapted from Food.com

Makes 8 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 to 2 fresh minced garlic cloves
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans chicken broth (or use vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (10-ounce) can Rotel diced tomatoes and chilies, drained
  • 1 to 2 (1 1/2-ounce) packet(s) taco seasoning mix (start with one packet and use another packet or part of another packet if you want a stronger seasoning flavor)
  • 12 ounces chicken meat, poached and diced (or substitute pre-cooked grilled chicken strips, cut up into small chunks; or substitute rotisserie chicken); to make this vegetarian, substitute firm tofu, cut into small chunks and browned in olive oil in a skillet)
  • 1 (10-count) package corn tortillas, cut into small pieces (or substitute 1 cup of Masa Harina (Masa Flour)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Half & Half (light cream) or milk (I just used 1/2 cup)
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack or Fiesta/Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • Corn Tortilla chips, crushed into small pieces, for garnish

In large stockpot, on low heat, add olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic powder or fresh garlic, and saute until tender.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes, Rotel, taco seasoning, and chicken. Cut corn tortillas into small pieces and add to broth mixture. Let boil for 20  minutes or until tortillas are thoroughly incorporated into soup, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.

Reduce heat and add 8 ounces of the cheese to the soup mixture. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

Add light cream or milk and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with remaining shredded cheese and some crushed tortilla chips.

Note: I thought the thickness of the soup was just right, but if you’d like it thicker, you can add a few more cut up corn tortillas to the soup while it’s cooking (or if using Masa Flour, add a little more flour to the soup).

You can also make this soup in a slow cooker–that’s actually how Brenda makes it. She puts all the ingredients except the milk and cheese into a crock pot on the LOW setting (she doesn’t cook her chicken beforehand, letting the chicken cook in the crock pot). Stir ingredients several different times the first hour of cooking, then cook on low for another 3 to 4 hours, or until chicken is done. Shred the chicken right in the crock pot with a fork. The last hour of cooking, stir all ingredients well and then add the cheese and milk (or light cream). Stir occasionally that last hour, until cheese is well-blended. Total cooking time  in your crock pot is 5 to 6 hours on the LOW setting.

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This was my first time making homemade chicken tortilla soup, and I’ll probably be making it many times during the fall and winter! Have you made it before?

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Cheesy Spinach Bake

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This cheesy casserole is a great way to enjoy spinach! I like it because it’s made with fresh baby spinach, not frozen, and two kinds of cheese–Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack. I found this recipe at Myrecipes and changed it a little by using spicy mustard instead of Dijon mustard, and adding extra cheese, like I usually do! 🙂 I also used real eggs instead of egg substitute, so my version is not quite as healthy as the original.

I really liked this! When it comes out of the oven, it’s puffy, and the puffiness settles down after a few minutes… and then you have this tender spinach filling with a cheesy crust-like layer on top. Very yummy. Great for brunch or as a side dish for lunch or dinner. If you like spinach and cheese, you’ll want to try this recipe!

CHEESY SPINACH BAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Myrecipes.com

Makes 12 servings in a 9 x 13 pan or baking dish

  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese (regular or reduced-fat)
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (whole, low-fat, or fat-free)
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten (or 1 cup egg substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons spicy mustard (or Dijon mustard)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Pour melted butter into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish or pan coated with cooking spray; tilt dish or pan to coat. Place spinach evenly in bottom of dish or pan and sprinkle evenly with the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.

ncChSpinBk2In a medium size bowl, combine flour and remaining ingredients, stirring with a whisk until blended. Pour this mixture over spinach and cheese in pan. (Note: As you are making this, it may seem like there’s too much spinach and cheese, because it definitely fills up the pan–but put all of it in there! Because when you mix the egg-milk mixture and pour it over the spinach and cheese, that will weigh it down. Before you put this Cheesy Spinach bake in the oven, it will look like what is shown in the small picture.)

Bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Let set for about 5 minutes, then cut and serve.

Here’s what it looks like after it’s been out of the oven and settled for a few minutes…

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It’s always nice to find great-tasting recipes with veggies–do you have a favorite veggie side dish recipe that’s really yummy?

Sharing this recipe at Meal Plan Monday.

Stuffed Cheeseburgers

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Father’s Day just seems like a good day to post a burger recipe, since lots of dads love grilling burgers in the summer months! This Stuffed Cheeseburger is healthier logothan most because it’s made with Laura’s Lean Beef, which is low in fat and cholesterol, and free of hormones and antibiotics. It’s available at most Wal-Mart Supercenters, Super Target, Krogers, Safeway, and other national grocery chains.

I received some complimentary beef to make this recipe from Laura’s Lean Beef, and I thought they were great-tasting burgers! I liked the freshness and quality of the Laura’s Lean Beef brand, so I would definitely cook with this beef again. For this burger recipe, fresh parsley and minced onion are mixed into the ground beef and they’re stuffed with reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese. The original recipe says to serve the burgers on a slice of reduced-calorie oatmeal bread, which is a great idea, but I decided to use hard rolls as my burger buns. I also added a little extra minced onion. The next time you’re in the mood for a burger, keep this recipe in mind!

STUFFED CHEESEBURGERS adapted from Laura’s Lean Beef

Makes 4 burgers

  • 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef (96% Lean Ground Sirloin)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup finely minced onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 ounces reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 4 even 1/2-ounce pieces
  • 4 slices reduced calorie oatmeal bread (or 4 of your favorite burger buns)
  • 4 large tomato slices (1 large tomato should be enough)
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • Optional: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, pickles

Mix beef with onion and parsley and divide beef into 4 equal portions. Divide each individual portion in half, so you have 8 equal portions.

Flatten 4 portions into rounds. Place a 1/2-ounce piece of cheese on top of each round. Flatten the remaining 4 portions of beef into rounds, place on top of cheese, and then seal the edges of the rounds together, sealing the cheese in (be sure to seal the edges well, or the cheese may ooze out when the burger is cooking).

Grill (covered with grill lid) at 400-450˚F for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or to desired degree of doneness (you can also cook these in a frying pan on your stove if you don’t have a grill.)

To serve, place each burger on top of a slice of bread–or on the bottom bun, if you’re using buns. Top each burger with lettuce and sliced tomatoes (and mayo, ketchup, mustard, and pickles, if desired). If using a bun, cover with the top bun and serve immediately.

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Note: If you make this cheeseburger served on one slice of reduced-calorie bread and just top with a lettuce leaf and tomato slice, it just comes to about 244 calories, which isn’t bad for a cheeseburger!

Do you grill often, and did you happen to grill any burgers today for Father’s Day?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.