Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Want some tacos, but want a slightly healthier twist on the sometimes fat laden classic?  Why not make some taco soup?  This soup has all the elements of your basic taco, minus the corn shell, but with corn thrown in to give it that same taste.  Top it with a little light sour cream and light cheese and your taste buds will be convinced you’re eating a taco!

What You’ll Need:

Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound of lean ground beef or turkey (Note: If you want you can leave out the meat all together.  You could add in textured vegetable protein, soy crumbles or even just add some beans.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans
1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce

In a large pot saute onion and bell pepper until just tender with a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  (Note: You can add more cayenne or less depending on how hot you like things.  This is the same with the chili powder as well.)  Add ground beef or turkey when the onions and peppers are about halfway done and cook until it is browned.  (Note: The light ground beef/turkey has little fat in it and usually doesn’t have to be drained.  If the meat you are using has a higher fat content then add the spices AFTER the meat is finished and drained.)  Stir in red beans, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the flavors meld.  Serve warm.

Taco Soup

Notes: You could add in different types of beans if you want.  Black beans would be really good in this mix.  You could also add in some jalapenos if you like them or even cilantro, though I wouldn’t because I’m not a fan.

Vegetable Enchiladas

Enchiladas

My sister and Nelson came over to play in the dirt last Thursday (You’ve gotta love spring…It’s time to plant things again!) and we decided to whip up some dinner. My sister suggested enchiladas and I thought that sounded heavenly! We whipped up this dish and it’s not something you’d want to eat every night (lots of cheese, and thus calories), but it most definitely is worth making now and then! 😉

What You’ll Need For The Enchiladas:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 a large onion, chopped
4 large or 6 small mushrooms, chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 – 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 – 8 ounce block of cheddar, shredded
1 – 8 ounce block of Colby cheese, shredded
1 cup of milk

What You’ll Need For Toppings:
Guacamole
Salsa
Sour Cream
Tomatoes
Green onions
Etc.

Enchiladas

Mix cheeses together and set aside.

In a large skillet saute bell pepper, onion and mushrooms until tender with a little salt and pepper. Stir in cream cheese and half of the cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray a 13 X 9 inch dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon cream cheese/veggie mixture into the middle of corn tortillas and fold over. Place seam side down in the baking dish and repeat until all the filling is gone. Top with remaining cheese and milk and bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Enchiladas

Top with toppings of your choice after serving.

Notes: You can add whatever you like in the filling. Next time I think I’m going to try some crayfish and shrimp! You could also add some green chilies, or jalapenos, or even a little salsa. Whatever strikes your fancy go for it! 😉

Lentil Taco Soup

Lentil Taco Soup

This soup is a vegetarian version of your standard taco soup. It’s warm, hearty, and trust me…You won’t miss the meat!

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
4 large button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of lentils
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 pinch of sea salt
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 of a 2 pound box of vegetable stock
1 – 16 ounce jar of medium salsa

Saute onion, celery and mushroom until tender.

Add lentils through vegetable stock and cook for about 50 minutes until lentils are plumped.

Stir in salsa and cook for an additional ten minutes.

Serve warm. You can eat it plain, or top it with a sprinkle of cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.

Notes: Sometimes I add green pepper into this soup and/or textured vegetable protein, but last night was out of both. If you like things a little less spicy then use less chili powder and mild salsa.

“Refried” Beans

Piping Hot Refried Beans

This version of Refried Beans is a very basic rendition. They aren’t as unhealthy as some varieties, but every bit as delicious. There’s no lard, or pork, making this variety vegan as written. It’s also made in a slow cooker, so you can set it in the morning and make them right before dinner. “Refried” Beans are very easy to make and much better for you if you do! Try them! You’ll love them!

What You’ll Need:
1 small package of dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 1/2 red onions, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of black pepper

Beans

Cover beans with water until just covered and bring to a boil Reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally. Half way through cooking time stir in chopped onions. Cook for several hours (4-6 hours) until beans start falling apart.

Remove from heat and mash beans with a potato masher until pasty. Stir in seasonings and serve.

Notes: You can add in a chopped red onion when cooking if you like.

Cheesy Salsa Dip

Cheesy Salsa Dip

Back in the day we used to make dips with Velveeta, but I don’t use it that much these days. I do get some occasionally, but I thought it would be interesting to see if you could adapt the recipe for a cheesy salsa dip with other alternatives. This dip is tasty and just as good as the stuff with the Velveeta.

What You’ll Need:
1 – 8 ounce block of cream cheese
1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 – 16 ounce jar of salsa

Dump ingredients into a large glass Pyrex bowl and microwave for 2-5 minutes until completely melted.

Serve with tortilla chips or crudités .

Isn’t that easy??

Note: I do not use preshredded cheese. They put weird stabilizers in them and they don’t melt properly.

Mexican Rice

Mexican Rice

I used to take the RiceARoni Mexican rice mix and then add tomatoes, peppers and onion, but that mix is full of sodium! One servings has over a thousand milligrams of sodium! Yikes! So today I decided it would be easy to make my own, and you know what? It was! Fresh is always better than boxed anyway. 😉

What You’ll Need:
1 cup of long grain rice
1 – 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (Or you can use 2 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (Most bunches have 8 or 9 scallions in them. You can also use 1 small onion, chopped.)
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of water

Dump all the ingredients in a covered dish and microwave for 20 minutes. When finished stir and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: You could vary this by adding 1 cup of frozen corn or a can of black or red beans.

Dianne’s Fresh Salsa

Dianne's Fresh Salsa

I like to make this little “salsa” from time to time when I’m in the mood for something fresh. It’s basically a kicked up pico de gallo, but it always gets raves!

What You’ll Need:
4-6 Roma tomatoes, seeded (4 if they are large, 6 if they are smaller)
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 of a red or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of scallions, chopped (There are usually 8 or 9 scallions in a bunch)
The juice of one lime
A pinch of black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of sea salt

First Step:

Seed your tomatoes. (I always freeze the pulp for soup or chili later.)

Seeded Tomatoes

Cut seeded tomatoes into strips.

Tomato Strips

Dice tomato strips and place in a medium sized bowl.

Diced Tomatoes

Second Step:

Cut Bell Pepper Into Strips.

Bell Pepper Strips

Dice pepper and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Tomatoes And Peppers

Step Three:

Chop scallions and add to tomato/pepper mixture.

Step Four:

Add lime juice and seasonings. Stir to mix. Chill at least 1 before serving hour.

Notes: This “salsa” breaks down quickly due to the citrus juice. Make it the day you plan on eating it and if you have any left overs you can freeze them and use it in chili or tortilla soup later.

Red onion is a nice addition, as is freshly chopped parsley. Cilantro tastes like soap to me, so I wouldn’t advise it, but if you like the stuff, add away!