Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Warm Winter Recipe!

This is my last day of vacation from work. I'm going to be busy finishing up some things around here. So today I thought I would share a yummy easy recipe that I've been meaning to share for some time. The recipe is for Taco Soup and I make this in my slow cooker. It really is so fast and easy.

The participants: 1 pound ground beef, a small onion or dried minced onions, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of whole kernal corn, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 small can (8 oz. I think) tomato sauce, 1 small can of diced green chiles, and one packet of your favorite taco seasoning mix. The heat of the taco mix is up to you. I use mild because of Miss Allison.

First take your pound of ground beef and place it in your pan. You could use ground turkey or chicken if you want but I like it with ground beef. By the way, if you are thinking that I stole the ground beef because the package says "NOT FOR SALE" or that I bought it on the black market, think again! My Dad raises beef cattle and generously supplies all of his kids with beef. Yes, I know I'm a lucky girl! I use my deep Cook's Essentials pan from QVC. I love that pan because it's deep and helps me keep my stove clean when browning meat. I HATE cleaning the stove top! Okay, getting back to the recipe. Add the onions to the pan. As you can see, I use dried minced onions and don't ask me how much. I just dump! You can use 1 small fresh onion diced if you like. Me? I'll stick to the dried onions for speed of preparation! Speaking of speed. I also pre-brown the ground beef most times. I'll brown up 3 or so pounds of ground beef on a day off from work, let it cool and then portion it out in my Seal-a-Meal bags and freeze it for later. Then it's ready to go for me to make meat sauce for spaghetti or pasta, taco soup, tacos (I'll add the taco seasoning to this one before freezing), lasagna (I use half beef and half sausage so I brown those together and label it "lasagna meat") and any other casserole or recipe I might need it for.

Almost done here!

Drain your beef and onion mixture. Look how little grease I end up with using the beef from my Dad's cows! After you drain the grease from the beef, put it in your slow cooker. TIP: I spray the inside of my slow cooker with a non-stick spray like Pam or something every time I use it. It helps with clean up. I'll be honest here. I'm frugal so I use the store brand spray. Unless of course I have a coupon (which my store doubles up to $0.99) for the name brand and it's on sale!
Now let's go and open all of those cans! Drain and give the black beans a water bath. Make sure you drain them well or your soup will be too watery.
Drain the corn. No need for a bath here; they drain from their own juice nicely.
Okay, now go and add everything to the slow cooker. You do not need to drain the kidney beans, diced tomatoes or chiles. Their jummy juices add to the flavor of the soup! As you can see I made mine pretty for all of you. Usually I just dump everything on top of each other!
Now stir it well! Marry all those yummy flavors together!
Now you have a choice here. You can either cook it for 8-9 hours on low or 4 or so on high. I cook everything on low because I use my Crock Pot on days I go to work. This is when the pre-browned ground beef comes in handy. Just dump, stir and cook!
Ta Da! The finished product! As you can see, it's a thicker soup or stewlike meal. Rachael Ray would call it a "Stewp" and that probably describes it perfectly. If you want it thinner and more of a soup, use the big can of tomato sauce. I personally like it this way. I serve it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced green onions and those scoopable tortilla chips. Okay, okay, I don't usually use the green onions unless I happen to have them in the fridge. I bought them special here because...."no green is obscene" when plating a meal. It just helps to make it visually yummy!

Have Fun!
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