Let’s Taco-bout Soup

Taco (type) food-2

Kristy-0

What in the world is up with taco related food in this house?! The last time I decided to make tacos, I realized I was out of cumin for the seasoning mix and crushed the dreams of my poor children by my failure to produce tacos for them.

Somewhere between my craving for taco soup and the grocery list I made for my husband, I completely and utterly forgot cumin. I could have gotten taco seasoning in a packet, but no…I forgot that as well.

As per the usual, I was midway into making dinner for my hangry little brood before I realized I HAD NO TACO SEASONING OR THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE HOMEMADE VERSION. What. The. Crap. WHY does this keep happening?!

You know what, that’s a rhetorical question. Moving on…

I was in a particularly salty mood so I proclaimed we were having Sort-Of-Taco-Soup. My husband and the kids were (less than) enthused, but complied as they know my sanity is thin some days. I will spare you the recipe I used, and instead post the REAL one below the pictures. The real recipe is actually really good and easy- just remember the seasoning (or homemade) mix! ūüėČ

The onions are totally optional. I didn’t have an actual onion so I used the minced version to add to the ground beef. Also, I usually use plain, petite diced tomatoes, but my husband went to Publix, took a child (the oldest one was the tribute), in a monsoon rainstorm (Irma) so he was practically a saint in my eyes. He could of brought home whole tomatoes and I wouldn’t have said a word!

Picture of the meat and onions. Eh…let’s face it. There’s nothing attractive about a picture of raw meat….

The cans can be thrown in any way you want, but for blog picture and OCD purposes, this is how they ended up. We aren’t going to talk about those two corn kernels in the black beans…

Also, be sure to fill up two of the cans with water and add it to the mixture! This is so important because it will definitely give you the little “oomph” of liquid needed for this soup. This is also the step where you would add the seasoning mix.

Once the meat is browned and drained, it can be added to the veggie and taco seasoning mixture. Stir well and then pop on a lid, set the burner to low/medium heat, put the timer on ten minutes, and you’re done.

We like to put cheese on top and eat it with tortilla chips.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!

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Taco Soup- Updated Version!`
A few years ago I posted a taco soup recipe. It took a while, but we have found a version we prefer much more than the one I originally posted. It's simple, quick, and cost effective. The best recipes usually are!
Course Main Dish
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
bowls/people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
bowls/people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet (can also throw in a diced onion, but not necessary). Drain well.
  2. In a separate large pot, mix tomatoes, corn, black beans, and taco seasoning packet. Stir well.
  3. Take two of the empty cans, fill with water, and add to the pot.
  4. Add browned ground beef and stir well.
  5. Cover and heat on low-medium for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with cheese and tortilla chips. Enjoy!
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A Break and Easy Chili

I took a break. I had intended for it to be a short break that only lasted a few days. A few days turned into a few weeks.

Homeschooling is no joke.

Actually, let me backtrack. My children are in a blended program which means they attend school two days a week and their curriculum follows the local schools, but the other five days a week they are home and I am in charge of making sure all their schoolwork/testing is completed and answering any questions that may arise. Even though I’m not making up the entire lessons, it is still a chore. It’s a learning process for sure.

Also, I became really focused on monetizing the blog. I started this little blog/journey years ago as I love to write and I like to pretend to know how to cook. I’m not sure I do either particularly well, but they are a great way for me to unwind and let go of stress. When I rebooted my blog, I joined a few Facebook groups and the members were very focused on numbers, traffic, monetizing, etc. I got a little too wrapped up in that mindset and got burned out extremely quickly. I needed to take a step back and remember this blog is about my kitchen experiences. It is for me and my friends that choose to follow. Anyone else that wants to stop by, read about the craziness, and use the recipes are welcome and I enjoy having the guests, but if this blog only has ten readers per post, that is okay as well.

So now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to the food!

My husband and I are HUGE NCAA football fans (ROLL TIDE!) and one of our “traditions” is to make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili on game nights. Unfortunately, we were camping when Alabama played their first game, so we settled for making our regular pot of chili when Tennessee played this past Monday. (On a side note, GO VOLS!- I grew up in a family of TN fans)

The beauty of this chili is that it is SUPER versatile! You can add or subtract anything and it still works! I’ve made it with and without beans. I’ve made it without the tomato sauce. I’ve made it with a lot more chili powder. I’ve made it with and without cheese. It is just so. incredibly. simple.

I’m including the recipe I used Monday. If you change it up, post below and let me know how you made it! I’m always up for trying new things! ūüėČ

To begin, I diced a medium sized onion and a medium sized green bell pepper. I threw them into a large pan with a pound of ground beef and let it brown.

I drained the fat and then added the following into the meat mixture:

  • one can of tomato sauce
  • one can of petite diced tomatoes
  • two cans of chili beans (pintos) *I like to add one medium and one mild can*

I mixed the canned products in thoroughly and then added in the chili powder and garlic powder.

 

I made sure the spices were also mixed in well and added the lid to the pan, turned to simmer, set the timer to twenty minutes, and relaxed. An occasional stir here and there and we had a fantastic dinner.

Easy. Fast. Yummy.

Does it get any better?

Print Recipe
Easy Chili
This simple recipe is great for those cold fall nights. It's very easy to change up and make it fit your diet and/or personal taste. Hope you enjoy! *This is not a spicy recipe at all as my children do not like spicy foods. I just want to make sure that if you are wanting a "kick", you know to add some spice! ūüėČ
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large pan. (Drain fat)
  2. Once browned and drained, add in tomato sauce, tomatoes, and beans.
  3. Add chili powder and garlic powder and stir well.
  4. Place lid on the pan and turn the stove eye (or burner... whatever you prefer to call it) down to simmer.
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. After 20 minutes, remove lid and serve topped with cheese. Enjoy!
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So-So Stew

Budget Stew. This recipe was listed online as something named similar, but I’m pretty positive the pictures and the recipe DID NOT go together. Not even remotely. Plus, I had to change it slightly to keep it from burning. So, this is it’s new name…I guess.

Budget Stew is exactly what it sounds like-stew on a budget. It’s cheap to make and my husband and two of my children liked it. My three year old (that hates all non-fried foods) didn’t care much for it and, surprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan myself. I think I was going for something “beefier” and came out with something “tomato-y”. Those are words, right?

To begin, I need to clarify something that’s noticeable in this picture. The ground beef looks old. It looks terribly disgusting. It was not old or disgusting. It was fresh and was vacuum packed immediately after being purchased (I buy in bulk and then separate and freeze). When ground beef is packaged in this way (vacuumed), it turns brown. Something to do with oxidation or something. I don’t really know. I glazed over reading about it. I just know that turned brown (but was still edible) and no one was sick. WIN!

I had intended on presenting an easy Crock-Pot meal with little to no prep. I am about to fail….

To begin, the meat needs to be browned. I didn’t realize this until I had already peeled the carrots which leads me to the next step. The carrots need to be peeled AND the potatoes. But oh wait, the potatoes do not have to be peeled and I’m just illiterate. GRRR.

Once the meat is browned, drain it and then put it in the Crock-Pot with all of the vegetables that you have peeled, sliced, and diced. Arrange all the vegetables and meat and take a picture and post it on social media. Tell everyone that they just fell in that way. Kidding…sort of.

Next, it’s time to put the sauce in. I used garlic powder (you know my love for this stuff if you’ve read any earlier blogs) instead of real garlic and mixed it with the other spices in a small glass bowl. Then, I dumped the spice mixture and a can of tomato paste into HOT water to help the paste “melt”.¬†Can I insert here that I despise tomato paste? I think it is the nastiest thing ever. I’m not even sure why, but I can’t stand it. I may have gagged a little while scraping the can…. Anyhow, pour the liquid on top of the meat/vegetable “art” and stir everything around.

Put the lid on the Crock-Pot and cook on low 6-7 hours or high 4-5 hours.

On a side note, I chose to cook on high (actually I just forgot to start dinner so I didn’t have an option) and 3.5 hours in, I had to add about 3/4 cup of water. The stew was so very dry that it began to stick to the side of the Crock-Pot so I had to add water. I’m adding this to the recipe at the bottom, but it may or may not be needed. Use your best judgement.

Also, I made cornbread because I felt like the stew needed a bread with it. I’ve included the recipe. It has been posted before, but it’s buried somewhere in archives.

By the way, I didn’t have any at the time, but Crock-Pot bags are seriously the greatest thing since sliced bread. They make clean-up a BREEZE!

Budget Stew

  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
  • 5-6 potates (peeled or un-peeled) diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. After browning the ground beef, add it to the Crock-Pot along with the potatoes, carrots, and onions.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and oregano.
  3. Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. (If preparing on High, may need to check water levels around the 3 hour mark. If low, add another 3/4 Cup of water.
  5. Serve and enjoy

Idiot-Proof Cornbread (a.k.a. Southern Cornbread)
from the backside of Martha White Cornmeal bags

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/3 cups milk (or 1 3/4 cups buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups self-rising enriched white corn meal mix
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Coat 8 or 9 inch pan skillet or baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place skillet or pan in oven 7-8 minutes or until hot.
  3. Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk.
  4. Pour into prepared skillet or pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.
    **Note: I use the 9 inch round pan. The 8 X 8- inch pan makes cornbread that’s a little thicker than we like. **

Archives- That Was Almost a Hospital Trip

Original post- June 27, 2013

Last night, I decided to try something new. My family has always made a beef stew that is really good. It’s plain, but good. My mother and grandmother have always prepared the stew in a pressure cooker. I didn’t have one, so I figured out a way to make it in¬†my trusty¬†crock-pot.

Last year, my husband’s grandmother “broke-up housekeeping” and we inherited some goodies from her extensive kitchen collection. Somehow, I ended up with two pressure cookers. I decided to try stew in a pressure cooker this time for a little different approach and¬†because I need to learn to use one as I have a few recipes in mind to try in the future.¬†I really should have done my research a little more on the safety concerns of pressure cookers!

My mom laid out step by step¬†instructions of how to use a pressure cooker. I got home, pulled the pressure cooker out of the cabinet, opened the lid, ¬†and there was some funny, holey flat part of the pan that was just lying in the bottom. I had to call and ask her what to do with it. Then, the little “jiggly” thing that goes on top had three different holes. I just stuck it on top. I probably didn’t do it right and I’m still curious as to why it has three holes…

Once¬†the “jiggly” thing¬†started making noise and dancing around¬†I turned down the heat and let it cook for an hour. Then, I took the pan off the stove and freaked out because the “jiggly” thing on top went crazy. I ran the pot to the sink, turned on the cold water, stuck the pressure cooker underneath (that was the instructions!), and the jiggling finally stopped. My mom told me that there should be something on top that would go down and once it did, I could open the top. I discovered we must have very different pressure cookers. My pot had nothing of the sort. I took it to the side and tried opening it. I was pushing the handle as hard as I could and it wouldn’t budge. I picked up the oven mitt and threw it on top of the pot lid and admitted defeat. I figured my husband could figure it out when he got home.

When the oven mitt landed on the lid it hit the “jiggly thing”and I heard the pressure release a little. I pushed the “jiggly” thing to the side and a huge gust of air came out and the top popped off with very little force. I added the potatoes, cooked for 20 minutes or so and repeated the same process (I just didn’t waste time trying to force it the second time).

Russ got home and we ate dinner and I was laughing about it and telling him the story of how it wouldn’t open. I couldn’t figure out why he was looking at me like I was crazy. He said, “Kristy, do you realize that if that lid would have opened, it would have been a hospital trip? You have to release the pressure to open the lid.” That’s when the light bulb clicked on. I swear my brain is on vacation this week or something. I’m not normally this dense.¬† I’m always horrible at cooking, but I usually know when something is safe or not. So, thank the good Lord above the lid did not¬†open. If you aren’t sure how to use a pressure cooker, I can’t really help because I still don’t know what I did, but I know to release the pressure before you open the lid!!!

I took a picture of the leftover stew. I have been experimenting by adding carrots to it, but¬†I ran out the night before and I haven’t been grocery shopping yet. I want to try onion as well, but I didn’t think about it last night. I will include my usual crock-pot¬†recipe below as well as the instructions my mom gave me for the pressure cooker. Like I mentioned above, it is a very plain recipe, but it is a good filling dinner that isn’t too bad on the wallet!

 

 

Beef Stew

1 lb of stew meat

5-6 medium to large potatoes (cut in cubes)

 

Crock-Pot: Put stew meat and potatoes into the crock pot with 1 1/2 C water. Cook on low 6 hours. Use a potato masher to mash meat and stew together. Serve. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Pressure Cooker: Put meat into pot. Fill the pot about halfway with water. (Some crock-pots have a line in them that tells how much water to put in.)¬†Cook on high until the “jiggly” thing starts shaking. Turn down to medium heat. Let cook for 60-90 minutes. Remove from heat and put pot under running cold water. Once pressure is released, open the lid and put in the potatoes. (If the water is really low, add a little more, but there should be enough left.) Secure lid and cook on high again until the thing on top starts shaking. Turn to medium and continue cooking for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and put pot under cold running water again. Release pressure and open lid. Use a potato masher to mash meat and stew together. Serve. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

Archives- I’m Back! Taco Soup

Original post- March 22, 2013

Ah…It’s been¬†WAY¬†too long since I have posted. I’m back to my old cooking ways. I have a few tricks now and I have come to love cooking! We still eat out occasionally, but it is mainly on the nights when Andrea has soccer right smack in the middle of dinner time and cooking afterward would be fruitless.

The recipe I am sharing tonight is one that my mom gave me.¬†The first time I tried it, I hated it. The person that cooked it the first time was a family friend and I’m not really sure what they put in it that made it taste so dramatically different, but I was not a fan at all. My mom got a new version of the recipe from another family friend and started making it at her house. I tasted hers, liked it, made it at home, and we instantly had a family favorite in my house.

This recipe is¬†incredibly simple and it’s a soup which is perfect for this time of year with all the cold weather! I don’t have any of the nutritional information and since a lot of the recipes I will be posting are not from cookbooks, I probably won’t have it most of the time anymore. If you really want to look up all the information, I’m sure you could, but I’ll leave that to you. I don’t have any pictures as I no longer have a smart phone (budgeting is another new thing in our house and we chose to give up the smart phones) so the pictures may be less frequent as well. We shall see over time.

Below is the¬†recipe for Taco Soup. We actually had it tonight and will have it again tomorrow night. My kids pretended not to like it, but then sucked it down faster than the speed of light so they could eat the tortilla chips. Oh well, at least they ate their food. We had only one little struggle with the redhead tonight. I believe that may be a dinner first. We usually have at least two or three dinner fights on a good night. He’s a picky eater and his mother is not a compassionate cook. I cook it, he¬†eats it. End of discussion.

Anyhow, back to taco soup- It is fantastic and easy and you will have a lot of leftovers! We eat it with tortilla chips. For a healthier version, the store now carries whole wheat tortilla chips. No one in my house was a huge fan though so we switched back to the regular version.

Enjoy & Happy Cooking!

TACO SOUP
1 lb ground beef (lean is what we use)
1 small onion, chopped
1 can of pinto beans (15 oz)
1 can of kidney beans (15 oz)
1 can of whole corn (15 oz)
1 can of mexican tomatoes (14.5 oz- These are tricky to find so look carefully!!!)
1 can of stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 small pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. taco seasoning

Cook the meat and Onions then drain excess fat. Combine all ingredients and simmer about 15 minutes.

We always add shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top!

There is a side note that this is¬†2 points for 1 cup according to Weight Watchers…so yeah I guess I have a little nutritional info. haha

***I¬†have trouble finding the Mexican tomatoes sometimes so I just buy regular diced tomatoes. It doesn’t have that “mexican” flavor, but you really, honestly cannot tell the difference.***