Moving Cows in Muck & Chicken Tortilla Soup

March 9, 2014

The sun is shining again today….hooray!!! It’s a vast improvement over Friday, which was overcast, gloomy, and cold. Of course, I spent the majority of the Friday trailing cows…..that’s just how things seem to work out here sometimes!

 

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, we live in the gumbo. If you don’t know what gumbo is count yourself lucky and never try to find out. If you do, then you know the difficulties we face every time any kind of moisture occurs out here. Calving will be starting anytime for us so we decided to bring our heifers in and then move our mama cows to where the heifers had been (our calving pasture). The heifers need to be watched so we brought them in two miles to our corrals where they will call home until they have had their babies. The mama cows (or old cows as we call them sometimes, which doesn’t make sense because our cows aren’t “old”) were brought from one of our far east pastures. It was about a 4 miles trek for them. That normally isn’t a great distance, but add the gumbo mud and it quadruples all efforts of physical movement. In all honesty, when it’s like this we normally leave our horses at home and jump onto our four wheelers or our Rhino. Don’t get me wrong….we could ride our horses, but we don’t have any young guns right now who need to be worn down so the point is mute. Plus, the endless running back and forth in this muck is not fun…..it can cripple a horse. Our horses mean to much to us to do that to them (yes, I baby them….it’s my prerogative). That philosophy may sound strange to some, but until you’ve lived out in this stuff…..don’t judge!  We use horses a lot, but we like to save them for the dry times of the year (and there are plenty of those coming up).

 

This is how my windshield looked most of the day….caked with mud and ice. It was a cold bugger out there and I’m truly thankful that I had the windshield to block the wind….even if it was hard to see through it.

 

My trusty steed for the day…..here it is:

 

Yep, and my trusty little side-kick sneaked into the picture too! He actually stay in the house with Grandma yesterday….I’m so thankful that we have that option when we need it. Stone loves his Grandma so his day was a great one….I think hers was too!

 

The run off from the melting snow is just crazy! Our creek is out of its banks in some places. We haven’t had this happen for several years now. We have a huge culvert between my folks’ place and ours. We drive over it every time we have to go to their house or if we have to go to town. It is smack dab in the middle of our places. Of course we had to trail the cows over it too. I didn’t know how that was going to go since it sounds like a freight train with all the raging water going through it. See what I mean:

 

It’s quite a sight….and sound to see that much water in a normally dormant creek. My dad was concerned that it might overflow and go over the road. When we finished last night there was about 2 inches of room left at the top of the culvert. I haven’t made it over there yet to see if it went above that or not yet. I will be venturing over there soon though because we will be putting out straw bedding in our heifer jugs (pens) in the shed. We also need to feed our heifers hay every day now that they are at the corral. It’s always exciting when the first baby is born….that should be happening before long. Here are the heifers on their final leg of the journey.

 

 

The weather stayed the same all day….foggy, misty, cold, and damp. There was mud everywhere…..and I’m afraid it will be this way for quite some time. I have kind of a love/hate relationship with moisture out here. Don’t get me wrong….I’m not so self-absorbed that I don’t realize that we need it….and lots of it….it’s just that we pay a high price for it. We endure this greasy, slimy stuff every time it happens…..we stay home….we don’t galavant off to down unless it’s absolutely necessary…..we don’t get to ride for the fun of it…..exercising horses or having fun in that fashion is out….for weeks sometimes. I know we need moisture, but………okay, complaint over…..our cows/horses need green grass so I’ll shut up.

 

Thursday night, I decided that I needed to use up some chicken breasts in my freezer. Perfect opportunity to make Chicken Tortilla Soup! My recipe is from The Pioneer Woman, but…..I’ve made it my own. Here is the link to her recipe and I’m posting my version below.

 

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Cheyenne’s Version)

  • 4 good-sized boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts

  • 1 -2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 2 tsp. Cumin

  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder

  • 2 tsp. Chili Powder

  • ½ tsp. Onion Salt

  • 1 tsp. Salt

  • 1 TB Olive Oil

  • 1 Red Onion, diced

  • 1 Green Pepper, diced

  • 1 Yellow Pepper, diced

  • 1 Red Pepper, diced

  • 4 cloves Garlic, Crushed or Minced

  • 1 10 oz. can Rotel Tomatoes and Green Chiles

  • 32 oz, Chicken Broth

  • 1 small can Tomato Paste

  • 1 TB Cilantro

  • 4 cups Hot Water

  • 2 – 15 oz. cans Black Beans, drained

  • 3 TB Cornmeal or Masa

  • 2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

  • Tortilla Chips, used when serving the soup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the chicken breasts into thinner pieces for quicker cooking. Mix cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt. Drizzle 1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil on chicken breasts (coating both sides), then sprinkle some of the spice mix on both sides. Set aside the rest of the spice mix. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish as I have.

 

Bake for 30 minutes, turning once until chicken is done. Use two forks to shred the chicken. Set aside.

 

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pot over medium high heat. Add onions, peppers, and minced garlic.

Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix.

Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Pour in Rotel, chicken broth, tomato paste, cilantro, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, covered.

 

Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water.

 

Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

 

Check seasonings, adding more if needed – add more chili powder if it needs more spice, and be sure not to undersalt. *I always seem to add more seasonings…..we like lots of taste at our house!* Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, stir in cheese.

 

Ladle into bowls that have tortilla chips crunched up in the bottom, top with a few more chips, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. You can also garnish the soup with diced red onion, diced avocado, pico de gallo, etc. The garnishes really make the soup delicious!

 

So, there you have it! Hope you give either version a whirl….they are both delicious…..similar, yet different. Well, the sun is shining…..I’d better get out there……have lots to do today. Enjoy! ~Cheyenne

 

 

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