Restaraunt Quality Food at Home

CrockpotS.A.B.L.E-Please contact me this weekend with your address or I will have to draw another winner for the Sanyo batteries and charger!


There hasn’t been a whole lot to do around The Little House since winter socked it to us in the form of a 12-inch snowstorm last week. Although the weather was a bit warmer and some of the snow melted off, another storm hit us yesterday which is taking the form between rain, freezing rain and they say, snow later this afternoon.

This is where working (writing), reading, gathering stuff for taxes and cooking comes in.

Last Saturday, on the second day of being snowed in, we watched a couple of favorite movies from our collection, which brought up the topic of our old lives in the city. We decided if we were still there on a cold wintry day, we would probably would have been sitting at our favorite Mexican restaurant with our friends and neighbors who lived across the street from us, enjoying a pitcher of beer or margaritas.

Dale and I both love food and when we were in the city, eating out was one of our hobbies.

There’s nothing like not having restaurants (or being snowed in from the few we have) that has made us learn how to prepare some restaurant quality food of our own.

We’ve probably cooked at home more in these past 2.5 years of living in our little house than we had in all of the previous years of our marriage combined!

That’s a good thing and it’s definitely an advantage of living in the country and cutting out some of the unnecessary spending. While going out every once in awhile is nice, we’ve learned a few lessons by cooking our own meals.

  • We can control the portions, which are way too huge in restaurants.
  • We can also control the ingredients, the biggest of which is salt. Sometimes when we do get something out now, it just tastes way too salty for our new tastes. This is definitely also healthier.
  • We can make our own combo platters! No more disliking a portion (and wasting) the meal.

Still, when our former neighbors called us last Sunday, and said they had, in fact, been at our Mexican restaurant on Saturday afternoon, we were a little envious – and hungry for one of their combo platters!

If you’ve cut out or cut down on dining out, what are some of the advantages you’re seeing?

Dale and I love this recipe and yesterday was a great day to have something cooking in the crockpot.

This chicken tortilla soup recipe is a variation of a recipe I found in my favorite crockpot recipe book: page 47 of “The Fix it and Forget it Crockpot Cookbook.” It’s a bit spicy, but oh, so good. Enjoy!

4 chicken breast halves (we’ve also used ½ pork tenderloin cubed)

2 – 15 oz. Cans black beans with juice

2 15 oz. Cans Mexican stewed tomatoes or mild Rotel

1 cup of salsa (we use mild)

4 oz. Can of chopped green chilies

1- 14 oz. Can of tomato sauce

1 diced onion

1 tbspn. Cilantro

2 – 14 oz. Cans of hominy

tortilla strips

grated sharp cheddar cheese

sour cream

Put about 1 tblsp. Oil into a hot skillet and brown whatever meat you choose to use. Brown the diced onions and add meat and onions to crockpot. Combine all of the rest of the ingredients in the crock pot except the hominy, tortilla strips, grated cheese and sour cream. Cook on low for 8 hours. ½ hour before serving, drain the hominy and add to the mixture. Put the soup into bowls (we let it cool for about 15 minutes). When ready to eat, put some tortilla strips along the side of the bowl and add a handful of shredded cheese and a dollop of sour cream to the top.

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20 Responses

  1. Cindyt says:

    I am a huge tortilla soup fan!!! a friend intoduced me to it at pot luck Christmas party way back in the 80’s. It has become one of my family and friends fav’s. Somehow had some left over the last time I made it and it is in the Freezer for a quick pick me up with no fuss for the near future. Being a single person, I don’t eat out that much…but friends and I get together at least 2x a month. When we do..I always take 1/2 or more home and have a yummy lunch and dinner the next day! Sometimes, by the time we get through the appetizer, bread and salad courses I am so full I just wrap the whole entree up to come home with me.

    On another note, getting ready to close on the new Lake Cabin next week and getting excited to be moving to my little country place. Have been frantically, sifting and sorting and giving away stuff….but I fear I still have WAY too much stuff. Back to sifting/sorting for me today! Maybe need to heat up that Tortilla Soup for later. Thanks, For reminding me I had it. Cindyt

  2. Jen Haupt says:

    I love the Fit it and Forget it Crockpot cookbook — it’s my best friend when I need a quick and easy meal.

  3. We have been balancing home-made Thai (Panag Curry Red Chili) with home-made pizza. For the Pizza the simple Jiffy mix….some sauce, moz, and sometime Italian sausage and Artichoke hearts….is it time to eat yet?

  4. Susan says:

    Love banana nut bread…I make it often as well. I sugar coat my pans instead of flour.
    We eat a lot of soups, my husband and mom love my chicken noodle, make my own noodles. Make a lot of Minnestrone, Lentil, potato,split pea, bean soups. Old favorites. I think the simplier the cooking the better.

  5. Sandra says:

    We did not get the snow you got. But kept calling family in Branson. We are usually on same weather pattern. This weekend rain only so far. Hoping blizzard passes us by. Just in case I made 3 loafs of banana nut bread. Greek Pasta salad. Even if it snows we are have smoked mussels and clams in a white wine sauce on the grill for super bowl! Easy recipe. We never eat out anymore we can cook better than restaurants here.

  6. Susan says:

    Changing the subject…but wanted to tell you I have been enjoying reading your Going Green in the Ozarks.
    We had spaghetti tonight…. Love Mexcian food but sure is fatting…around every corner here in San Antonio you will find a Mexican restuarant. Our favorite is Henry’s Puffy Tacos…yummy

    • Yesterday ended up not being bad. The ice melted and snow didn’t stick. By afternoon, it was just a very cold rain. Now we’re hoping we’ll get as lucky come the first of the week when the next storm comes. Will winter EVER end!?
      I like spaghetti, but can only get away with it once a month or so. Dale doesn’t like it.

  7. Alexandra says:

    I always tell my husband there’s no point in going out where we live on Cape Cod because I can cook food that is just as appetizing. However, the city is indeed a different matter. I was in Boston yesterday and drool whenever I pass an ethnic restaurant. We like a particular Chinese restaurant which serves such big portions that we always take half of the food home.

  8. V Schoenwald says:

    I may be late…the roads are slick here
    Can you Fed Ex a pizza slice :–)

  9. Kathleen Winn says:

    I was wondering what to fix for a superbowl party on Sunday- I think I’ll make this soup and take it in my crockpot! Thanks for sharing Kerri! One of the rules I made for myself a few years ago, with regard to eating out, is to always bring half of my entree home in a carry out box, or to ask if the restaurant serves half orders. Servings in restaurants are just too big these days!

    Like you, I love Mexican food, but our favorite Mexican restaurant serves portions large enough to eat off of for a week! It’s more food than is healthy to eat at one sitting, and when I bring half of it home, I get to have a nice lunch the next day. Having that rule for myself, keeps me from eating way more than I need to when dining out.

    • This would be great for a party, Kathy. I have one of those crockpots that lock and are made to take to parties. I hope you have one, they’re awesome!
      Let me know how it turns out.
      Good advice on the leftovers. We frequently have them too when we do get to go out, but we’re not a disciplined as you! 🙂

  10. kerri says:

    We’re not doing anything fancy tonight, pizza. But probably 8:30! 🙂

  11. V Schoenwald says:

    What time is dinner tonight** I’ll be right down.