Taco Soup

This is a tasty recipe that is good for you.

I started making this when I was on Weight Watchers.

It is low in points yet filling. It’s even lower in points when you make it vegetarian style, without the burger. I personally, like a bit of beef so that is how I’ve made it for you here.

Am I crazy when I say it felt good to cook a little again?

It’s just so much better than ordering out.

Unless you’re incredibly busy, as I’ve been (and honestly still am), but sometimes you just have to make time for things like a good home cooked meal and after ordering out so much, I need some seriously low-calorie meals like this.

1 lb (or less) of lean ground beef (optional)

1 medium yellow onion (chopped)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 cans diced tomatoes

1 Can Great Northern white beans undrained

1 can corn drained

1 package McCormick Taco seasoning

2 cups chicken broth

 

First if you are going to cook with beef, I recommend buying a pound or less of the leanest burger.

Brown your hamburger, drain the grease and add chopped onion & cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

Add all other ingredients.

 Make this recipe for your heart, it’ll thank you.

I know, I’m not right.

Don’t drain the beans, put the whole can in the pot.

 

Add the chicken broth. I state 2 cups in the recipe, use your judgement for your liking.

Stir ingredients until combined well.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 A filling, light, warm lunch. Yum.

If I recall correctly, 1 Cup of this soup (vegetarian style) is only 3 points, with the burger it’s approximately 5 points per cup.

A slightly higher calorie option is adding a little light sour cream to your individual serving, top with a little shredded cheddar.

I hope you enjoy!

 

Just a Big Drip…

This is starting my busiest time of the year. And so far my schedule is chock full of stuff to do! Between birthday’s of little ones, one of my BFF’s moving back ‘to the area’ from too far away, taking photos of the gorgeous autumn colors, taking people photos, art & craft shows, oh and that thing called my 40 + hour a week job, things are crazy busy…and I love it.

BUT did that stop me from goofing off about a two weeks ago? No! It’s hard to believe I know, ME goofing off, the embodiment of all things serious. BAWAHAHAHAHa…

Ok, enough of that.

I had been mentioning during my White Chicken Chili recipe how I don’t like to use flash as it can cause shadows, and just isn’t as natural looking as (duh) nautural light, yadda yadda yadda. THEN while making my Grape Salad recipe I announced that in having to use my flash in my kitchen due to the lack of natural light, I found that flash could be fun!?

 Ok, stay with me here folks, I have a point coming soon.

Well this is the result of my fun. Yes I’m entertained VERY easily. This is a good quality though I assure you.

It ends up when using the flash to take pictures of water it freezes that nano second in time and you see what is really coming out of your faucet.

Elegant simplicity….

Sparkling jewels…. 

 And on this one, after a little photo processing magic with the colors, something interesting…

And Bubbles, you can see the air bubbles in the water. Is it just me, or is this actually pretty?

With this post I hope to make a point, besides the fact that I can be entertained by dripping water. 

First, that beauty can be found in the most ordinary things. Things that we never even really see in our everyday lives. Partly because its so mundane, so, well, ordinary that we don’t really ‘see’ it. Its there, to wash our dishes, to wash our hands, to fill that glass of water & quench our thirst, or in my case, to wash the grapes that I later ate to nourish myself (and immerse myself in yummyness)!

Also to remind those of us with running water that in some parts of this gorgeous world we live in, running water is a luxury. I don’t think it was until the disaster in Haiti that I ever even thought of that. We get so busy with our computers, our kids, our jobs, the TV, the Iphones, Blackberries and our everyday busy-ness, we forget how lucky we are and how beautiful IT really is.

Today, take a moment to appreciate the ordinary things in your life.

Grape Salad Recipe

This recipe is a delicious escape from the norm. Well, for me it was anyway, before trying this for the first time a few years back, I’d never had grape salad. In fact, when my sister-in-law announced she was making this for a family gathering I apprehensively said “Um, O.K.?” But I’m oh so glad she did! I’ve taken this to work before on a “Everyone bring a dish” day, and copies of this recipe were requested by quite a few.

Ok, this recipe will fit into your standard 9×11 (or similarly sized) casserole dish.

In the pictures below, I made a half of a recipe because I just needed a smaller portion.

8oz package of light cream cheese, softened

1 C Light sour cream

1/4 C sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups EACH seedless red & seedless green grapes (total of 6 cups of grapes)

3/4 C Brown sugar

2 T butter, softened

1 C chopped pecans

First, wash your grapes.

Remember how I said in the Chicken Chili recipe that I didn’t like using flash but would have to in my kitchen due to an insufficient amount of natural lighting?  Well, I did. Then I took the picture below & discovered that the flash can cause you to see the water droplets in the stream of water. It freezes them, and I was intrigued. (Yes, I’m easily entertained!) So after the recipe was done, I played with, believe it or not, taking pictures of water, I’ll show them some other time, don’t worry, because I know you are on the edge of your seat…. 

 I digress….On with the recipe:

 

In my best Robet Dinero voice “Hey, who you lookin at? You lookin at ME?”

I know, I know, I’m not ‘right’, you don’t have to tell me, my awesome friends & family all ready do.

In a seperate bowl, combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar & vanilla. Mix until creamy.

THEN gently stir in the grapes.

Don’t do like I did below, trying to be cute and play with your food because trust me, its much more difficult to combine without squishing the grapes!

I know, momma said “Don’t play with your food!” but I’m a rebel that way!

 

So after you have sufficiently combined your creamy mixture with your grapes, you will need the rest of your ingredients. In a seperate bowl, combine brown sugar, butter & chopped pecans.

Spread out your grape mixture into your casserole dish.

Then top with brown sugar/pecan mixture.

Yum, Yum.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and others I know have. I would even venture so far as to recommend you take this to a football party! Maybe its not “manly” food, but I’ll almost guarentee they’ll love it and if there are any female football fans present, they’ll probably be thankful there’s something at least slightly lighter than hot dogs, chili & chips.

For those of you reading my blog for the recipes, I want to let you know that over the next few weeks, you may see a few less than normal. It is Autumn here in mid Missouri and I fully plan on being on the go with “G2” (my camera) capturing the beautiful autumn colors in the fleeting time they are here. I will also be attending some art & craft shows with my photography in hand so basically, I won’t be cooking that much until the leaves are all down. (Here that G1? Better start ordering that pizza for dinner!) I assure you though that there will be more recipes forthcoming as my busy season slows in a few weeks.

By the way, for those of you who do read my silly musings, Thanks! I love all ya’ll and I love hearing from you.

 

White Chicken Chili

This recipe is perfect for a football game.

This recipe is perfect for a party.

This recipe is good for your family, and for you.

Oh and did I mention, this chili won an award? I think I did here. And o.k., it wasn’t exactly an AWARD, but it was a prize.

This recipe is good for a chili cookoff contest at work, because I know. Thats where I won a prize! My 40 hour a week job held a chili cookoff and I won with this exact recipe. It was up against about 12 other red chili recipes and it took first place.

I was in Weight Watchers for a while & put the ingredients into their point calculator & IF I remember correctly, and IF you go easy on the cheese & sour cream, for one cup, its only about 5 points and pretty filling, not to mention deeelicious!

So here we go, this is what you will need: (In the photos, I halved the recipe because I didn’t need a full recipe, the below ingredients are a full recipe.)

8 chicken breast halves, boneless, skinless

4 cans Great Northern white beans, undrained (I actually prefer a little less beans so I only add 3 cans to a full recipe)

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp Olive oil

8 oz minced green chilis

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

1/2 tsp Pepper

3 cups chicken broth

3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Here we go:

Boil chicken for about 45 minutes. Remove from water and let cool.

While chicken is cooling, chop onions & saute with Olive oil & garlic in your empty pan (that you used to boil the chicken in).

Once  your chicken has cooled a bit chop or shred it while your onions are sauteing, don’t forget to stir your onions now and then so that they cook evenly.

 

Oh, and didn’t I just say to saute your onions & garlic in your big pot? Well, thats the efficient, less dishes way of doing it. For some reason I used a seperate skillet, but its ok, all the same outcome, only another dish to do. I don’t know why I did it.

Maybe it was aliens!

Oh and I know the above photo is a bit dark, but I don’t like to use flash. Flash causes shadows and its just not as purty looking.

BUT since my kitchen does not have a lot of natural lighting, I think I’ll (reluctantly) start using a flash sigh.

I apologize for all of you non photography buffs who just fell asleep. WAKE UP, I’m moving on.

After your onions & garlic are sauted until tender, add Chilies, oregano, Cayenne Pepper and Pepper into your cooking pot.

Now put in your chicken, undrained beans and chicken broth & stir.

 

 Simmer for 30 minutes, then turn off heat and add 1 1/2 cup of cheese. Stir in while hot so that cheese melts & blends in.

When you fix a bowl, put a dab of light sour cream & top with a little more cheese & jalapenos if desired, stir and enjoy!

Hope you like it! 

Help! My Melanin is Missing!

 

Ok, so I’ve never had much melanin, but.. 

 Its time to stand up and say something, for all of us Melanin lacking people!! I’m tired of being quiet!

To all of You who were blessed with a thing called Melanin, please read this….

From Dictionary.com

melanin  [( mel -uh-nin)]

A dark brown coloring found in the body, especially in the skin and hair. Produced by special skin cells that are sensitive to sunlight, melanin protects the body by absorbing ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Note : The amount of melanin present in the skin determines the color of a person’s complexion: people with a large amount have dark skin, whereas those with very little have fair skin. Melanin is also responsible for tanning.

So basically when I was created, someone forgot to dump in a generous helping of melanin to my genetic makeup. My mother, God love the melanin hogging woman, can be outside for 5 minutes and her skin glows with her melanin doused genes. My father however, passed on every single bit of his melanin lacking genes to my sister and I.  I don’t fault him, he didn’t have it to begin with. I blame mom for keeping so much for herself.   (Don’t worry mom, I’ve since forgiven you!)

 And before I begin the “awareness” part of this post, let me preface it by saying I’m not a terribly vain person. Yes I do bathe, and I do like to look nice, but thankfully, I don’t obsess over it, I am who I am, and I’m good with me.  

Having said that, I must now venture on to the awareness part:

For some reason, people think its ok, when you’re pale, to make public statements about it. Its usually when in the company of more than one person, better yet, a group of people, when someone decides its ok to exclaim, “Dang, you’re pale, why don’t you tan more?” For some reason  people don’t consider the rudeness of this type of statement before they speak. My theory is when they go in the sun Wha-la, they no longer look like the walking dead,  so they ASS-U-ME I can do the same thing. Well guess what Einstein, I can’t.

 Let me explain. First I’m going to repeat something from above:

 Melanin is also responsible for tanning.

 Its simple science, Melanin, or lack thereof, is responsible for my paleness.

 When you make your ‘pale’ comments or ask things like, “Are you a recluse? Don’t you ever leave the house?” you are, possibly unknowingly, bringing back all of the teasing in grade school, all of the self conscious memories of youth like a speeding freight train, to the present. Just because you can go from pale, to a more tanned state with a little exposure to the sun, does not automatically mean all of us can.

Think for a minute about your most self conscious issue with your body. What is it? NOW imagine if I point out your most self conconsious issue in a group of people and go on and on about it. Get the idea? It is very hurtful. I am surprised almost daily, by the amount of people who don’t consider this.

 Usually we all have something about ourselves we wish we could change and even if we’ve moved on, and in our wisdom & age accepted ourselves the way we are, whatever that issue was, that “thing” can still have stabbing effects on your psyche if someone points it out in a rude tone. So please remember this: Just because I’m pale as the moon does not mean I can help it.

Let me give you an example. I once joined a tanning salon, I would burn after 10 minutes, so I would go 8  minutes at a time, increasing the minutes a little at a time, 3 times a week, FOR 3 MONTHS. Oh I could tell a difference, every extremely pale person can tell when their skin shows an ever so slight, almost imperceptible glow! But after 3 months, and who knows how many minutes of my life, I would still be asked the same rude, pale questions.

Heres one more thought, if melanin protects you from the harmful effects of UV rays and a person has only a smidge of melanin, it not only means it would take  10 times as long to tan, but in the meantime, said person is 100 times more likely to get skin cancer than melanin blessed people. I have to say, in the long run, I think I’ll be glad I didn’t give in too  many times to the pressure of others saying “why don’t you tan more?” Why expose myself to those dangers if, in the end, I’m the only one who could tell? I gave up fake baking to hopefully save my future self from suffering from skin cancer, call me silly!

So the next rude question is, why don’t you go spend your hard earned money on the tanning sprays? Let me tell you, I tried it once, before a trip to Florida where I was afraid people would really gawk. Once in the tube, I HATED to not be able to breathe. Yep, that’s right, You’re enclosed in a space age tube and you can’t breathe lest you inhale tanning chemicals. When the gusts of paint stop, you turn around, and still enclosed in an airtight tube, you can “breathe” for a few seconds before the next gust of paint starts, only, you still have these paint particles floating everywhere so you’re still inhaling them. Not my idea of a good time. Oh and the result of this paint torture? One of the sprayers was clogged! I kid you not. I had streaks down the back of my leg! Being the positive person I normally am, I am truely thankful it wasn’t the sprayer that covered the face! 

Still, STREAKS….

down

my leg. 

Yep. That looked really nice!

 I can definitely accept my situation & I see the humorous side. 

Once, after watching the movie “Dances with Wolves” with my melanin blessed husband, G1, I decided to give us both American Indian names. I dubbed myself, “Glows in the Dark” and we laughed hysterically for a while. He still lovingly calls me by the name at times. I also volunteer myself  as a guage for my friends to compare their tans to, because like I said earlier, I’m me, this is who I am. 

It’s only when people ask previous stated pale questions with a tone in their voice that conveys they think you actually have a choice in the matter that it can come across as insulting. I find myself wanting to proclaim,

 “I’m not an animal!!!” 

 So all I ask of you is to think before you speak when talking to us Melanin challenged people of this world.

We have feelings too.

 

The Best Guacamole EVER

Ok, so when I spout off and say “The Best Guacamole EVER”, I guess you could say “Yeah, right!” or “I don’t think so!” or whatever you might say to that, but just so you know, this isn’t just a matter of MY opinion. This recipe has now been tried on several people. Some, including myself, former guacamole dis-likers. Yes, thats what I said, there have even been a few people, like me, who went from “Ew, guacamole!” to “Thats pretty darn good, and I don’t even LIKE guacamole”!!! With a few, like me, who Love this stuff!!!

 Now I’m not claiming that EVERYONE will like it, some people are just bound to never like certain things, I get that, but  I have only met one person, who dared try the “green slimy looking stuff” that said, “Meh, its ok.”

I have to give credit where credit is due. My husband, G1 taught me how to make this. Thanks Honey!

So here’s what you need:

2 ripe Avacados

1/3 medium yellow onion

1/2 tomato

1/4 Cup Pace Picante Salsa

Louisiana Hot Sauce

Garlic Salt

A few notes: Avacados are ripe when you can sqeeze them gently and feel them smoosh just a little. If they are real hard, they aren’t ready yet, if they smoosh too much, they may be too ripe.

Also, depending on your tolerance for hot & spicy should depend on whether you get Hot, Medium or Mild salsa. I can tell you I’m a hot & spicy wimp and I still use the Hot salsa, since there is not a huge amount added to this recipe, its really not all that hot but if you are afraid of “hot” then use a milder version of salsa.

Last: If you are not familiar with avacados, they are similar to bananas in the way that, after being peeled, they tend to “brown” quickly and taste does change. I highly suggest you make this recipe same day as you intend to eat it, for best outcome, immediately before serving. Remember: Fresher=better when it comes to this recipe.

Peel Avacados, de-pit (save one pit for later). Chop avacado with knife until it creates a chunky but slightly creamy mixture.

 

Chop onion & tomato into small, chunky pieces & add to avacado.

Add a few sprinkles of Garlic salt.

add 1/4 C salsa, a few squirts of the Louisanna Hot sauce & stir everything together.

Stir until a creamy yet chunky combo forms.

Keep one of the pits and put into mixture (obviously not to eat), this is said to keep it fresher a little longer, I still recommend serving right away, at the most, within a few hours.

The recipe size here will serve 2-3. If you are making this for more, you can easliy double it.

Serve with Tortilla chips or on crackers. Yum. I personally buy baked tortilla chips to cut down on the amount of calories. Avacados contain a lot of fat themselves, but by everything I’ve read, its the good fat. Its the type that helps build the ‘good’ choleterol. Everything in moderation, but this is one of your healthier choices and personally, my fav!

Lite Summer Jello Cake

This Jell-o cake is a lite, and cool, sweet treat for a hot summer day, or really any day.

You can make it with regular Jell-o and regular whipped cream but I have served it in it’s ‘lite’ version & nobody ever realized it. They gobbled it up like it was full-on sugar overload.

1-  box of white cake mix

1 – 12 oz can of diet 7-Up

2 – pkgs of Cherry Jell-o .30 oz

Note: When Jello-o is made make sure you hold out at least 1 to 1 1/2 cups or just make one pkg

 

1 – tub of lite or fat free whipped cream

Ok, for those of you who haven’t heard of soda cakes, this is the different part.

Pour the contents of your cake mix into the bowl & 12 oz of soda, no eggs, no oil. Just the soda. Don’t worry, it will cook & rise normally.

I have used other white sodas but prefer the flavor of 7Up for this recipe.

Mix well until blended. Poor batter into your baking dish, saving just a little at the bottom of the bowl for you to ‘clean up’ later <wink wink, nudge nudge>. Place your cake in the oven and while its cooking, go lick, I mean, clean the bowl.

Refer to the back of your cake box for baking times.

When cake is done, let cool for a few hours.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon or something of similar size (I used this fork) to poke holes in the cake. I poke about 3 – 4 holes across, in rows aprox 1 to 2 inches apart.

Prepare sugar free Jell-o as instructed on packet and then pour over cake making sure to douse generously. In preparing two .30 oz pkgs of jello, I usually leave about 2 or 3 cups out of the cake to pour in cups and snack on later. 

Ohhhh, see those beautiful vege’s behind the Jell-o, those my dear are for the Italian Sausage Stromboli recipe coming soon. My mouth is watering just thinking about its yummie-ness. 

Get out your lite or fat free cool whip and schmear it on top of your cake.

You can even decorate it on top with fruit, get all fancy & stuff.

I didn’t. I had too many other things to do that day. It was still de-licious.

 After you’ve schmeared on the whipped cream, refrigerate & serve when your kids (or spouse) are screaming, crying, or otherwise driving you nuts. It should quiet them down at least temporarily. Hopefully it will also put a smile on their faces & they will forget they were ever acting out in the first place.

Heres hoping!

Stromboli now posted —> https://mamarazzipages.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/italian-sausage-stromboli/