Taco Soup

35068085784_ad12605a7c_k

This is my planned sequel to taco night. I make this soup about once a month. It’s one of those mixtures that improves in flavor as a leftover. Like its second cousin chili, it tastes better after resting for a day or two in the fridge before reheating.

I usually use leftover ground beef taco filling in this soup, but other taco-seasoned meats could work in this recipe, too.

Taco Soup

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 lb leftover taco meat
  • 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 1 quart reduced sodium beef broth
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15.25 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook sliced mushrooms in a dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heart until mushrooms are golden brown in spots. Add leftover taco meat, breaking up the meat until it is heated through and well combined with the mushrooms. Add broth, beans, and corn. Heat to a gentle boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Stir in hot sauce and black pepper to taste.

Diced tomatoes and shredded cheese are good toppings for this soup.

Advertisements

Quick Johnny Marzetti

2dd6b01a-db95-4b99-a41f-11cccd8e687f

This is not the first time I’ve posted a recipe for Johnny Marzetti on this blog. Today I had neither the time nor the need to whip together a dinner so large, so I tried to make this as simply as possible with some convenient ingredients.

By the time I started making dinner today, I’d already walked 15,000+ steps, so I was more than willing to toss aside any culinary aspirations. I admit that I used a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce in tonight’s dinner. Yes, it possible to buy a can filled with nothing but the same sauce that blankets the famous ravioli of that same brand. Strangely enough, whenever I use this spaghetti sauce, the resulting dish does not scream of canned ravioli. Instead, the sauce lends a bit of complexity with its hints of Romano and fennel.

My husband was the one who introduced me to the Chef Boyardee spaghetti sauce. It’s one of those tips that have been surprisingly useful in the kitchen, like his suggestion to cook hamburgers “low and slow” on the stovetop (which actually makes delightful burgers, by the way).

Quick Johnny Marzetti

Serves 4

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 8 oz sliced white mushrooms
  • 1/2 t seasoned salt
  • 1 15 oz can spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups cooked pasta, such as macaroni or small shells
  • 1 medium tomato, diced

Season beef and mushroom with seasoned salt in a 10″ or 12″ skillet. Cook and crumble over medium heat until beef is well-browned and mushrooms are soft. Drain fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce and diced tomatoes. Heat until bubbling. Add pasta to skillet, tossing gently until it is covered in sauce. Sprinkle cheese over mixture and stir until cheese is melted.

This recipe goes well with sweet peas and Texas toast on the side.

Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie

35087966790_8e18963f65_k

Here’s a comfort food recipe that is ideal for summer. The entire recipe may be cooked on the stove top, but I usually finish it in a glass casserole dish in the microwave. It has the bright flavor of this season’s savory fare, but the potato topping mellows the recipe just enough to give it staying power over the appetite.

Sometimes I make this recipe in the cold of winter to remind me that everything will thaw and rebound again.

Cheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • dash seasoned salt
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 yellow mustard
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 T ketchup
  • Dash hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t dried thyme
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1 15.25 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups warm mashed potatoes, can be leftovers or the store-ready kind
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles, for topping

Brown and crumble ground beef with chopped onion and seasoned salt over medium heat in a 10″ or 12″ skillet. Drain fat. Pour in beef broth and bring to a simmer. Mix in mustard, tomato paste, ketchup, hot sauce, garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. When all is well combined and bubbling, stir in the corn. Next add 1/2 cup cheese and stir until melted.

To finish on stove top:

Turn down heat to medium low. Spread mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the green onions. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until all is heated through and cheese is melted.

To finish in microwave:

Empty ground beef mixture into 2 quart microwave-safe casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes over mixture and sprinkle with the remaining half cup cheese and the green onions. Heat in microwave for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

Both versions are good served with pickles. I’ve made this dish with a bit of crumbled, cooked bacon on top, too. Just about any cheeseburger topping is a festive addition to this recipe at the dinner table.
 

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and GardensCheeseburger Shepherd’s Pie. I tried that recipe three years ago, and I’ve simplified it a bit more every time I make it. In this house, it has evolved into the version I offer here.

We made a peanut butter cake.

e7d5ffec-5512-47a1-87cd-f560b646bfd3

Yesterday my daughter and I made a peanut butter cake for Father’s Day. My dad’s love of peanut butter is a bit legendary. When he was a child, he sliced his tongue in two by licking peanut butter off a knife. This incident did not slow down his preference for peanut butter. At all times, there is a jar of Jif in my parent’s refrigerator that is just for him. It is the only luxury he keeps for himself. He eats it by the tablespoonful.

Last year I made this cake, but its contour looked less like a cake and more like an Appalachian foothill. I’ve been baking cakes and making homemade icing for a long time, but I was somewhat hopeless in leveling and decorating these cakes. The beginner’s cake decorating class that my daughter and I are taking has helped a lot.

Before I close this post in time to bring this cake to my dad, I will share my recipe for peanut butter buttercream.

Peanut Butter Buttercream Icing

Makes enough to ice a 2 layer 8-inch cake, or 18 cupcakes

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup liquid vanilla coffee creamer
  • dash salt

Cream butter and peanut butter with a mixer. Sprinkle in salt. Add powdered sugar by the cup, blending well after each addition. Pour in coffee creamer slowly and blend on medium speed until the icing reaches spreading consistency. I’ve found that the amount of liquid or powdered sugar I use in an icing varies by the heat and humidity of the season. During the winter, I usually add a bit more liquid, and summer leads toward the opposite, more powdered sugar.

No Bake Berry Pie

IMG_20170612_201505

We’re in the midst of a minor heat wave here in Ohio. Today I was craving some berry pie but didn’t want to heat up my kitchen baking a traditional one. I whipped up some quick no-sugar added pie filling in my microwave and spread it in a graham cracker crust. This pie can also be made with sugar. I used stevia that measures cup for cup like sugar. If stevia is used, this pie has just 5 grams of added sugar per slice from the graham cracker crust.

I used frozen mixed berries because I had some on hand. This pie can also be made with all blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries.

This recipe has instructions for the microwave. The pie filling step can also be prepared on the stove top by stirring the mixture over medium until the sauce is transparent and bubbling.

No Bake Berry Pie

8 servings

  • 6 cups fresh or frozen mixed berries
  • 1 cup stevia for baking (the type that measures like sugar; sugar can be used instead in the same amount)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • dash salt
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 9 in graham cracker pie crust

Toss berries, sweetener, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl that is microwave safe. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until transparent and bubbling, stopping every two minutes to stir the mixture. Stir in lemon juice and pour into graham cracker crust. Chill for an hour or until firm enough to slice.

Simple Hummus

93cb2c0c-bdaa-4256-9bca-d5efa38f5f63

Hummus is easy to make at home. When I whip up a batch in my blender, I skip the olive oil to cut down on fat. Oil does lend that divinely smooth mouth feel to traditional hummus, but I don’t miss its flavor in my homemade batches.

By the way, in my first little draft of this recipe, I accidentally typed “1 glove garlic.” What could be made with a glove of garlic, and it could it double as eternal insurance against vampires?

Simple Hummus

Yield: 1.5 cups, or 12 2 Tbsp servings

  • 1 16 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 4 T tahini
  • 4 T lemon juice
  • 5 T water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients into blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Serve with cut vegetables and crackers.

Easy Root Beer Ice Cream

35f0cb26-6ed9-4952-9e95-eaf975b85675

Today I discovered that simple ice cream can be made from a combination of milk, sweetener, and flavorings. This version is root beer and vanilla flavored. My daughter thinks this treat tastes very much like a root beer float.

Easy Root Beer Ice Cream

Makes 6 1/2 cup servings

3 cups 2% milk (lactose free milk may be used instead)

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 t root beer flavoring (I used LorAnn brand, available in craft stores)

3/4 t vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Since this ice cream is low fat without thickeners, I recommend enjoying it soft-serve style, right after churning is done.