Taco Stew…a beloved family favorite

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Taco Stew has been a family favorite since the girls were little tykes. They loved it and it was another way I could get them to eat vegetables. In a pinch, I have substituted different vegetables and cheeses with equally good results.  Typically I double or even triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers. You could easily make this without the beef (or turkey) and omit the cheese and have a vegan version of Taco Stew.

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This recipe appeared in the Denver Post many years ago as a recipe a young boy submitted for a recipe contest and won.  Brilliant!

TACO STEW

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
15 ounce cans whole kernel corn, drained
10 ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies
15 ounce can pinto beans in chili sauce (or black beans)
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Tortilla chips
Grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Brown beef, drain and rinse with hot water to remove excess fat. Combine all ingredients, except tortilla chips and cheese, in a Dutch oven. Simmer on low.

Taco Stew Taco Stew

To serve, crumble tortilla chips in a serving bowl and cover with a generous heaping of stew. Sprinkle with cheese.

Women’s Bean Project…and National Soup Month

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January in National Soup (who knew) and there is nothing better than tummy warming soup to take away the winter chill.  Good friend and neighbor, Maribeth, introduced me to Sarah’s Spicy Split Pea Soup and I was wowed.  The next day I went to my local King Soopers to buy it and made a batch that I’ve shared and frozen for future use.  It’s also great knowing that my purchase contributes to the great work of this non-profit organization. My soup was packaged by Jessica (great work, Jessica, and I hope things are going well for you!). And here’s a shout out to SARAH for this great recipe.

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Women’s Bean Project is Women’s Bean Project is a nationally recognized social enterprise that has created transitional employment in gourmet food and jewelry manufacturing for chronically unemployed and impoverished women for 25 years.

If you cannot find these great soup mixes in your area, you can purchase on their website.  I’m anxious to try their other soups soon.  To my Vegan and Gluten-Free friends, these soups would be a great addition to your pantry.

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SARAH’S SPICY SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 package Spicy Split Pea Soup Mix
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used ham stock and increased to 8 cups)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
1 medium diced onion
4 or 5 diced carrots
2 stalks celery diced (added per Maribeth’s suggestion
salt and pepper to taste
spice packet (included)
1 cup milk (optional and I did not add)
optional:  cubed ham

  • Remove spice packet. Wash and drain peas.
  • Assemble peas, broth and water in a 4 quart pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour uncovered, or until peas are almost tender.  Add more water as needed so that peas stay well covered.
  • While peas are simmering, saute carrots, celery, and onion in butter or oil until tender and add spice packet.
  • Stir veggie mixture into peas; add milk if desired, and simmer additional 20 minutes until peas are fully cooked.
  • OPTIONAL:  While the recipe does not include blending the soup mixture, I used a hand blender to bring the soup to a smooth consistency.  I then added the ham and simmered another 15 minutes until the ham was heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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Cold winter days and soup are the perfect pair.  I have such fond memories of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Panera and also from the little luncheonette at my work. With temperatures near and below zero this week, I was craving this savory gem especially after all of the sweets from the holidays.  It didn’t disappoint!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

CHICKEN AND WILD RICE SOUP

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or dry sherry)
minced parsley or chives

  • Melt butter in 6 quart kettle and saute onion until tender. Blend in flour, gradually add broth and continue stirring.
  • Cook, until mixture thickens slightly. Stir in rice, chicken and salt. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Blend in half and half and wine. Heat to serving temperature. Garnish with minced parsley or chives.

The Day After Christmas

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Christmas decorations in Braga, Portugal.

The vision of the holidays brings about fond memories, warmth and good cheer. Once they are here we all seem to hustle and bustle around, becoming too busy to really enjoy the season and remembering the ‘reason for the season’.

As I did my last minute shopping for groceries and gifts, it was easy to see the stress on the clerks faces as well as the faces of the shoppers.  It makes me sad. I, too, am guilty of being stressed over the holiday and it is all self-imposed.  The perfect Christmas newsletter must be produced (not so perfect this year!), cookies and candies to be made, gifts to be purchased and wrapped, menus planned, etc., etc ., etc.

As I look at the decorations in my house that will now need to come down and the beauty of the Christmas tree disappearing, I searched for a song about ‘after Christmas’ and discovered this great song by Matthew West.  It captures my sentiments and hope that you, too, will keep ‘The Light of the World’ in your heart all year long.

Advent wreath Русский: Рождественский венок Sl...

Advent wreath Русский: Рождественский венок Slovenčina: Adventný veniec (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew West – Day After Christmas Lyrics

Artist: Matthew West

Album: The Heart Of Christmas

DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Here comes the letdown Christmas is over
Here comes the meltdown, there goes the cheer
But before we have a breakdown, let us remember
The light of the world is still here

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here
The light of the world

Come January I’m ready for summer
The Super Bowl’s over and I’ll settle for spring
Sometimes we all need a change in the weather
But it won’t change the reason we sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world

So take down the stockings, take back the sweaters
Take down the lights and the star and the tree
But don’t let this world take your joy after Christmas
Take joy to the world and just sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/matthew-west/day-after-christmas-lyrics/#DfXc2tXWkIsX00G1.99

Chocolate Kolaches

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Chocolate Kolaches

Christmas morning without Kolaches is like the 4th of July without fireworks. Cherry Kolaches have always been my favorite and, until a few years ago, the only kind I ever made.  What to do when your new son-in-law doesn’t like cooked fruit? You can never go wrong with Chocolate.

Hershey's Chocolate Kisses

Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

The first year I was a bit doubtful about the results but I was pleasantly surprised. I took a piece of dough, as I would for the cherry kolaches, but flatten in slightly, pressing 1-2 chocolate kisses in the dough, then pinching the dough closed around the chocolate.

Allow the dough to rise, per the recipe, and bake.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar when removing from the oven (optional).

See the original recipe on my Cherry Kolaches post.

Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Apples Roasted with OJ

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Roasted Vegetables are my absolute favorite yet I didn’t discover this technique until a few years ago.  My carrot harvest this year was the best I’ve ever had, despite Joe’s (my 12 year old Golden Retriever) attempts to steal the carrots out of the basket.

I found this wonderful recipe which did not call for apples, but in later versions I added the apples and loved the added sweet/tart bites.

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Sweet Potatoes and Carrots with Apple Cider and Thyme

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1-2 apples, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.

In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.

Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.

Adapted from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/food/2014/10/13/sweet-potatoes-and-carrots-with-apple-cider-and-thyme/

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods

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There is something decadent about chocolate with something salty. Chocolate dipped pretzels are a favorite of mine and last Christmas I made Chocolate Dipped Pretzels Rods in white chocolate and with dark chocolate to give as gifts. Ahem…except for those that didn’t make it past my mouth!

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CHOCOLATE DIPPED PRETZEL RODS

  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Pretzel Rods
  • Sugars and Sprinkles

Spread waxed paper on cookie sheets.

Melt chocolate  per instructions in microwave and pour melted chocolate into cup for dipping (makes about the right depth on the pretzel rods).  Over a separate plate or bowl, sprinkle the pretzel rods with sugar or sprinkles and place on waxed paper to harden.

Place pretzel rods in pretty tin or cello bag to give as gifts.

 

Southwestern Deviled Eggs

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Quarterly book club review of the book, The Chile Queen by Sandra Dallas, was big hit.  She has become one of my favorite authors. Our book review is always preceded by our favorite part of the evening, the themed potluck.  This time the theme is Southwest and the main dish included four different versions of Chile with cornbread.  What to make to compliment chile? I found this recipe from Paula Deen, which I altered to suit my taste, and loved the results.  It has made me think there are even more creative ideas for for delicious deviled egg.

I love my Mother’s old fashioned deviled eggs but I’ll be branching out to find other versions!

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 SOUTHWESTERN DEVILED EGGS

12 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
1/3 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons salsa (I used home-made Salsa)
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped green onion, plus more for garnish, optional
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Halve eggs lengthwise. Remove yolks and add to a small bowl.  Mash the yolks with a fork and stir in the mayonnaise, cheese, salsa, sour cream, green onion, and cumin.  Add salt and pepper, to taste, and blend well.

Fill the egg whites evenly with yolk mixture and garnish with additional green onions, if desired. Arrange in a container and store, covered in the refrigerator, until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from Paul Deen/Food Network

Thanksgiving Favorites

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Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time of year with friends and family gathering together, sharing a meal, counting our blessings, and probably take in some football games.

This year I am sharing some of my Fork-Lore.com favorite Thanksgiving recipes that our family has enjoyed for many, many years.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving memories!

ROAST TURKEY AND DRESSINGroasting turkey

CRANBERRY RELISH

Cranberry Relish

Cranberry Relish

PUMPKIN (OR APPLESAUCE) BARS

Pumpkin Bars iced and cut

Pumpkin Bars iced and cut

GRANDMA SUSIE’S PUMPKIN PIE

The Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

The Best Ever Pumpkin Pie

PUMPKIN BREAD

Pumpkin Bread Loaf

Pumpkin Bread Loaf

SILKY SQUASH SOUP

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

Turkey Vegetable Soup

Turkey Vegetable Soup

This ‘n That

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Sometimes you just need a time out for a little R&R.  I needed a time out this year based on my last post.  On one hand, it made me sad to take a break because summer and fall are my favorite seasons to cook with fresh vegetables and fruit. On the other hand, if you’re not in the zone, it’s a worthless venture.

August and September are big birthday months in our family (yours too?).  In total, we have 13 birthdays.  ABC News reported in 2005 that more babies are born in July, August and September with no real reasoning.  Really? It seems so simple to me. Colder weather, holiday celebrations… Maybe I should have been a rocket scientist.

September, October and early November in Colorado were unseasonably warm and utterly beautiful. We all knew it wouldn’t last but we felt blessed for the beautiful fall colors accompanied by the warm sun and cool breezes.

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Our family traveled to Columbia, Missouri for Homecoming weekend and the dedication of Traditions Plaza and Legacy Circle, where Karl’s memorial was placed. We enjoyed family time and the festivities of the weekend.  Little did we know the NCAA recognizes the University of Missouri as the birthplace of homecoming.

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The Chihuly Exhibit was showcased at the Denver Botanic Gardens this Summer and Fall.  I saw the exhibit in Phoenix earlier this year and enjoyed two additional visits to the Denver exhibit.

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Temperatures in Colorado are now below freezing and time to make my favorite soups and comfort foods:

Chicken and Noodles
Beef Stew
Portuguese Kale Soup
Green Chile
Red Chili

I’m looking forward to being back, sharing recipes, stories and life.

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