chicken in a jarI’m all for convenience foods … really, who isn’t? I love the ability to get dinner on the table as quickly as possible on some nights. These days we are all over Texas – house hunting, delivering honey, meeting clients near and far, and then going to Krav Maga twice a week. Yes … we’re like normal households across America.

What I don’t like about most convenience foods is that they are chock full of nasty ingredients I can’t even pronounce…not exactly what I would consider a nutritious addition to our dinner.

So, when I have time I like to make our own convenience foods. For example, during the summer I can our tomatoes into salsa, marinara, tomato sauce, etc. When chicken goes on sale I’ll grab as many as I can and take them home and can them. Yes, I can meat (beef, chicken, venison, etc.). ¬†We don’t have a large freezer so when we don’t have room, I simply can any excess meat. I create my own little “convenience food” section in the pantry when we are short on time and our stomachs are complaining of hunger.

Today we were out much of the day and I forgot to thaw anything. Actually, I have a turkey thawing in the refrigerator and it’s just not ready yet to cook. So, what do I do for dinner TONIGHT?! A semi-thawed turkey does not help me now.

With the canned items I have on the shelf, dinner can be put together in a jiffy with little fuss from me. Win win for me! By checking our pantry, I was able to pull out 2 quarts of canned chicken breast meat (in its own chicken stock) and a pint of our canned salsa (from our tomato harvest this past summer). Voila! We now have the makings of a delicious Mexican dinner.

With these two items, I prepared Chicken Tortilla Soup. Here’s the recipe:

2 quarts canned chicken
1 pint homemade canned salsa
Mashed potatoes (from dinner last night)
2 cups of baby carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
Onion powder
Chili powder
Cumin powder
Garlic powder
Pinch of dried chili pequins (from our garden)
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Open the jars of chicken and salsa. Pour them into a Dutch oven. Add the mashed potatoes, carrots, and celery stalks. Add as little or as much of the dried spices as you like. You might start out with a teaspoon or tablespoon of each and adjust to your family’s liking. Go easy on the hot peppers unless your family likes it spicy.

Bring to a boil on the stove, turn heat down to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve in bowls with a side of tortilla chips with a sprinkle of cheese on top, if desired.

Note: Add whatever vegetables you have on hand (green beans, corn, canned or cooked beans, etc.). The sky’s the limit.