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I love making this soup during the fall and winter months because pumpkin is in season!  But it’s equally good substituting the pumpkin for another type of squash.  I’ve tried butternut squash in place of pumpkin and it’s still delicious.    I also love that this is all done in the crockpot so it’s pretty easy to prepare!

Here’s what you need and what to do:

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning
1 cup water
2 cups chicken broth
1.5 cups diced pumpkin (or favorite squash)
1 zucchini cut into bite sized pieces
salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh squeezed lime juice (from one lime)
1 can black beans
crushed corn tortilla chips
shredded cheddar cheese for topping
green onions sliced for topping
avocado diced for topping

Add chicken, pumpkin, taco seasoning, water, and chicken broth to the crockpot set to high.  Cook for about 3 hours until chicken is tender and shreds easily with a fork.   Before shredding, remove chicken breast and use an emulsion blender to blend pumpkin into broth.   Shred chicken and return to crockpot.    Add zucchini and black beans and cook for another hour or until zucchini is tender.  Squeeze lime juice into soup and stir.     To serve,  place a handful of crushed tortilla chips in bowl first and then spoon soup into bowl.   Top with cheese, avocado, and green onions.

Buen provecho!



I finally made paella recently and it turned out wonderfully.  What is paella?  It’s a rice dish from Spain.  Valencia, Spain to be specific.  Paella reminds me of jambalaya and gumbo, even though the textures are different, because all three of them seem to have their origins stem from the idea of  ”throwing in whatever you’ve got”.

I ended up combining ideas from several recipes with the basis of my final recipe for mixed paella (a combination of meat & seafood) being taken from Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Paella recipe.

Tyler’s recipe just calls for “Spanish rice”. Since the rice is the star of the dish, I researched what kind of rice to use. Rice grown in the Valencia region of Spain is short grained and highly absorbent.  This is the kind you’ll want to use for paella.   The types to look for are bomba or calasparra. If you can’t find those, you can also try arborio, which is an Italian short grained rice usually used to make risotto,  or calrose.   Calrose is what I used, and it absorbs less liquid than the Spanish varieties but the texture still turned out great.  If using brown rice, remember that brown rice takes about twice as long to cook.

Here’s the list of ingredients and what to do:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound chorizo sausage
3/4 pound chicken breast tenders cut into bite sized pices
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
4 cups short grain rice
6 cups broth (Use either seafood stock, water, or chicken broth)
1 four oz jar roasted pimentos in juice
1 pinch saffron threads (infused in hot water)
1 pound large uncooked shrimp peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 lobster tails
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
salt & fresh pepper

Combine paprika, oregano, and salt & pepper to taste in bowl. Rub the spice mix over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a paella pan (or shallow, wide skillet) over medium-high heat. Cook the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken to the pan and brown on all sides.  Remove from pan and reserve.

In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook until the mixture caramelizes.  Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in broth and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Do not stir.  Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer uncovered, without stirring, for about 10 minutes.  Add the lobster tails and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom.  This is called soccarat and this ‘burned bottom’ is actually desired!

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Add peas to the top of the paella.  Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

This a great meal to put in the middle of the table and eat family style with a little white wine and a salad on the side.

Let me know how yours turns out!

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