Smoking has always made me so tired. One of my regular smoking moments is when I am driving home from work. I think most people know that feeling; you've had a long day and now you're stuck in 5 o'clock traffic...need a smoke. One side effect of this daily ritual was that I was so exhausted by the time I got home that I had no desire to cook for myself, and certainly had no desire to cook for anyone else. Fast food became my best friend, and my waistline's worst enemy.
I have gained 20 pounds since I first started smoking. 20 pounds of pure laziness. A friend of mine is a vegetarian, and I've always admired the way she eats. She cooks her meals in large portions and freezes them in individual containers so they are easy to bring to work or throw in the microwave after a long day. Most of all, her meals were DELICIOUS. Full of vegetables and healthy proteins. I always had so much more energy after eating something she made, as opposed to pizza or hamburgers or any other number of disgusting fast food delights I ordered on a regular basis.
One day I decided enough was enough. I was going to make the effort to make a meal that night. I scoured the internet for recipes, and finally found a collection of soup recipes that looked pretty simple and affordable. After work I hit up the grocery store, and spent about $30.00 on the fixings for chicken tortilla soup (I will post the recipe below). It took me about an hour to make, and I was testing it not only on myself, but on my boyfriend and roommates...eek.
After the first bite, everyone looked contemplative, and then smiles slowly spread across their faces! As I took my first taste, the soup tasted good, REALLY good. I hadn't had a home cooked meal in quite a while, and forgot how much better it tastes. Long story short (well, kind of), the meal was delicious, and I had enough left over to eat for about a week (I was interspercing other meals in between of course).
The point is, making that first good dish, and realizing how much cheaper it was (I would have spent around $20.00 on a fast food dinner for my boyfriend and I that would have lasted about 5 minutes, not 1 week) was such a positive feeling, that I have made a solid effort to make at least 3 meals a week ever since. Sometimes I make more, sometimes I make less, and sometimes I do still stop at McDonald's when I'm feeling drained, but I am confident in my ability to make good food, and look forward to finding new recipes and methods for feeding my body and soul!
Sara's Chicken Tortilla Soup - Total Time: 1 hour
2 lbs chicken breasts, diced (I like to boil them so they're cooked but not seasoned. It helps them soak up the seasoning in the soup)
2 large cans chicken stock (or chicken bouillon, whichever you prefer)
1 large yellow onion
1 can corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 cans hominy
2 cans roasted green chiles (substitute for fresh if they're available, but the cans are usually easier to find. Also, I use 2 cans, but you can use less if you don't like your soup too spicy)
1 package of shredded Mexican-Style cheese
You can also use any other variety of vegetables you might like, such as potatoes or beans!
BOIL chicken breasts in a large pot with water. Cook until white all the way through.
While the chicken breasts are boiling, fill a soup pot with chicken stock and about 10 cups of water (more or less depending on your preference, I just like to make a lot of soup!). Set to high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt/pepper (I add a lot of pepper because it spices it up), green chile, hominy, and chopped onion. Lower to medium heat.
Once chicken is boiled all the way through, chop it up and add it to the boiling mixture. Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Add corn and diced tomatoes. Covere again and heat for another 20 minutes.
At this point the soup should be ready, but remember, the longer you cook it, the more the flavor soaks in to the chicken!
Server with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. You can also make your own tortilla strips, but frying strips of tortilla in some vegetable oil until browned and tossing them in salt!