Taco Soup

The weather in Michigan has been completely insane this spring.  And when I say insane — I mean INSANE!  This past weekend we have snow!  Not just a light dusting of snow that melted once it hit the ground, we had snow that stuck to the ground until at least the next afternoon.  I cannot remember a time where it was the end of April and we have to have our heat cranked as high as we do in the beginning of January.  I can truly say I am ready to skip spring and move right into summer!!

Since our “winter” is lasting longer than expected it has given me some extra time to enjoy the foods I normally only make during the cold months here in Michigan. I know, I know — there is nothing good about this weather but at least I am trying to find the positive side of it!!  

One of my favorite winter dishes is Taco Soup.  This dish reminds me of some of my greatest childhood memories each and every time I make it. This recipe comes from my Grandma Shrader, which I have adapted to cooking style — a little more hearty with much more meat. Every winter break when my sister and I would go stay with my Grandparents when we walked in the door Grandma always had a large-steaming pot of Taco Soup there waiting for us.   

This soup is what I call a “Mexican” like chili.  I top it with some shredded cheese and sour cream right when serving it, and it goes great with tortilla chips.  So, if you are experiencing cold weather longer you thought you would and are looking for a warm-hearty dish — give this Taco Soup a try!! 

Taco Soup

Taco Soup
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Ingredients:
2 pounds Ground Beef
2 Medium Onions, chopped
2 (28 ounce) cans Diced Tomatoes
1 can Garbanzo Beans, drained
1 can Light Red Kidney Beans, drained
1 (46 ounce) can Tomato Juice
3 packages McCormick’s Taco Seasoning
1 bag Frozen Corn

Directions:
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, over medium heat cook the ground beef and onions until the beef is browned. Once the ground beef is cooked and in one package of the taco seasoning and mix well.

Add the diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, kidney beans and the remaining packages of taco seasoning to the pot. Stir well to combine. Depending on how hearty you want your soup add 1/2-1 can of the tomato juice (I add the whole can). Over medium heat bring the mixture to a light simmer and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Serve warm with shredded cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips if desired!

Note: If you like your soup a little on the spicy side feel free to add 1 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper.

Source: adapted from My Grandma Shrader!

Gumbo-laya

I love southern foods!  Gumbos, Jambalaya’s, Fried Chicken, Biscuits n’ Gravy, Creamed Corn — you name it and I love it!!!  There is nothing better than a rich n’ hearty flavors you find in southern cooking!  Anytime I heard the word “creole” I immediately begin to think of the deep south and begin to think of gumbo!  My mouth starts to water and my stomach begins to grumble!  I am sure everyone has had their fair share of gumbo and if you are like me you will find that you crave a thicker and heartier gumbo.

This is my favorite gumbo recipe that is sure to make even the largest gumbo-opposer quickly switch sides! This recipe, does not use tomatoes.

Since it is already the end of March I figured we would be over the winter cooking favorites like stews and gumbos but sadly we aren’t!  Looking forward in the forecast, I am not sure when we will even begin to see temperatures in the 60’s let alone 70’s.  Let me telling you — it’s depressing!  However, it has given me a great opportunity to make some of my favorite winter meals a few last times.

This recipe is a mix between a gumbo and a jambalaya — and is one of my favorite gumbo recipes.  It is light and refreshing while also has a depth of rich flavor which you expect from creole cooking.  You can make this gumbo as spicy as you like or as mild as you wish.  The recipe below is for a more mild flavor but you can always spice it up by adding some red pepper flakes, hot sauce, or additional cayenne pepper.

This gumbo also tastes amazing a few days after making it — after the flavors have had time to meld together — so it makes amazing leftovers!  

Gumbo-laya | A Taste of Meghan's Kitchen

Gumbo-laya
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Ingredients:
4 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 pound Spicy Andouille Sausage, sliced
1 pound Chicken Tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
3 Celery Stalks, diced
1 Large Onion, diced
1 Large Green Pepper, diced
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
4 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoon Tomato Paste
½ pound Okra, sliced into ¼” think slices
1 (28 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes with juice
2 cups Chicken Stock, hot
½ pound Shrimp, medium sized, peeled and deveined
Salt
Pepper

Directions:
In a large stock pot or a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the Olive Oil over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Once the oil is hot add in the sliced Andouille sausage and it to brown, stirring frequently. Once the sausage is well browned, which will take approximately 5-8 minutes, remove the sausage from the pot and set it aside.

Immediately and the chicken pieces into the pot and lightly sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to brown in the oil for about 3-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, adding them to the bowl with the sausage and set back aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the diced celery, onion and bell pepper. Allow the vegetables to sautee for about 5-8 minutes until they become soft and tender. Once the vegetables are tender add in the bay leaves, Creole seasoning, cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Stir the vegetables to combine. Add in the chopped garlic and allow the mixture to cook for 2-3 minutes until you can begin to smell the garlic. Add in the tomato paste and allow the mixture to cook for two minutes in order to cook the “raw” tomato flavor out of the paste.

Once the tomato paste has cooked, add in the sliced okra, the diced tomatoes along with the juice, the hot chicken stock, browned sausage and the chicken. Stir well to combine. Over medium heat allow the mixture to come to a gentle simmer; and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes has elapsed, lightly sprinkle the shrimp with some salt and pepper and add the shrimp into the pot. Simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes longer in order to cook the shrimp.

Serve over rice!

Source: adapted from The Cozy Apron.

Cheeseburger Soup

Winter is official here and that means it is time to break out all of the soup dishes I have been dying to make all year long! This past week we have been experiencing temperatures of the subzero kind. Talk about freezing! Our poor little pugs get this sad look on their face every time we tell them it is time to go outside, poor dogs!!!!

When I think of weather this cold I instantly think of soup, and not just any soup – comfort soup! Comfort soup to me means a think and hearty soup, not a broth based chicken noodle! Nothing makes me feel better on a cold winter night than eating a hearty bowl of stick to your ribs soup!

This is definitely what I would call comfort soup! It takes one of Mark and I’s favorite food, Cheeseburgers, and transforms it into a creamy, cheesy, flavor-packed soup which warms your entire body and leaves you craving more. It is AMAZING and has become a favorite around our house!

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Cheeseburger Soup
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Ingredients:
2 pounds Ground Beef
1 cup White Onion, chopped
3 cups Potatoes, peeled & diced into 1/4″ cubes
2 teaspoons Basil
1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
3 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
1 block (32 ounces) Velveeta Cheese, cubed into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups Milk
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
In a large stock pot, brown the ground beef and onions together until meat is cooked and the onions are tender, then drain the grease out of the pot. Stir in the basil and the parsley. Add the potatoes and chicken broth into the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the pot down to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are soft.

Once the potatoes are soft, add the Velveeta cheese, milk and salt/pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to low and stir until the cheese is all melted. Once the cheese is melted allow the soup to cook on low for 5 minutes before serving!

Source: adapted from She Who Makes.