Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Taco Soup and Cornbread Wars

Well, apparently winter has no desire to leave any time soon. Sunday, north Texas was hit with another round of ice and even thunder sleet. You've heard of thunder snow. Well, we had thunder sleet. Considering temps had been 80+ the two days before the storm hit, it's no wonder. Just another phenomena of nature.

This is a video my son made. You can't see the sleet, but you sure can hear it. Along with some weird breathing. That is not me.

This storm was merely a drop in the bucket compared to the ice storm we had back in December. But boy did the temps plummet. We saw a 50+ degree drop in less than 24 hours and bottomed out somewhere in the mid-teens Monday morning. 

I know this is nothing compared to what much of the nation has endured, but weather like this calls for a steaming hot bowl of something. So I'm going to revisit a recipe I shared on Simple Saturdays, long before I was an official member of the cafe. 

Taco Soup is so easy I could make it with my eyes closed. Although, that might make dicing the onion a bit dangerous. Still...even if you can't cook, you can make taco soup.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef (I sometimes use ground venison. You could also use ground turkey or bison
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 – 4 oz. cans diced green chilies (I cheat and use 1 – 7 oz. can)
  • 3 – 15 oz. cans pinto beans (my personal preference is Ranch Style Beans, but if you can’t find them where you live, plain pintos are fine. If you like variety, add two cans of pintos and one of kidney beans)
  • 2 – 14 ½  oz. cans golden hominy
  • 3 – 14 ½ oz. cans stewed tomatoes (Since my boys don’t like big chunks of tomato I use the petite-cut diced tomatoes, usually one 29 oz. can plus one 14 ½ oz.)
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing powder mix (If you buy this in the bulk containers like I do, add three tablespoons)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Brown ground meat and onion in a large Dutch oven or stock pot and drain off fat.

Add remaining ingredients. No draining, just open, dump and stir.
Can it get much easier?

Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for one hour.

There are two things that go very well with taco soup. Tortilla chips is one, the other is cornbread. My favorite. And since Jan shared her cornbread recipe yesterday, I thought I'd post my no-sugar-added cornbread recipe. The way cornbread ought to be, IMHO. :)

My daughters' great-grandmother taught me how to make this when I was a young bride, and I will be eternally grateful.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place pan in oven while preheating. You can use a cast iron skillet, but I'm making a small batch this time, so I used my ancient blackened metal oblong pan.

In a bowl, mix 1 cup of yellow corn meal (no, I did not grind my own :), ¾ cup of flour, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. 

Add 1 egg and 2 cups buttermilk. Stir well. 

If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, don't worry. You can use regular milk and the bread will be just as tasty and fluffy, thanks to the baking powder. Simply start with 1½ cups and add more, if needed, until mixture is just a little thinner than cake batter.

Remove hot pan from preheated oven and IMMEDIATELY pour in batter. This will “fry” the bottom, giving it a nice crispy texture. (the corner pieces are my favorite!) Return pan to oven and bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. 

I like to flip mine over in the pan as soon as it comes out so the bottom will retain that crispiness I worked so hard to achieve.

On a cold day, this meal is hard to beat. Even if it's a cold day and you're short on time. It's that easy. 
You could even brown your ground beef, mix everything together in the CrockPot and let it go on low all day. Boy would your house smell good.

Now for a couple gratuitous puppy pix.

Maddie wasn't quite sure what to think about the sleet.
She'd paw at it. Dig a little bit, then jump back before pouncing on it again.

Yet for as much as she liked the sleet, she was just as happy to come inside where it was nice and warm.
(especially when there was a bowl of food waiting)

Okay, now that the Polar Vortex is paying us another visit, how cold is it at your house?


  1. we're getting the sleet in Houston tonight- supposed to work tomorrow night so it better not be icy or I'm calling in :-(

    I like taco soup but make it different - I use kidney beans and pintos with jalapenos and rotels tomatoes :-) not a fan of cornbread but your recipe sounds kinda like the one my mom made when she wasn't using the mix in the package..but has to be in a round pan LOL! round pan or that neat one with the stick shape....can't have squares of cornbread! ;-)


    1. Susanna, it looks like you got a good bit of rain, too. Been watching the weather at the ranch. Pretty sure they got the same mess.

      And what do you mean no squares? The best crunch lurks in the corners. I've been known to battle my kids for the corner pieces. :)

    2. Makes sense but my family always made round cornbread so it made triangles. Squares make more sense but just aren't what I'm used to lol

  2. "Along with some weird breathing. That is not me."

    DYING!! I had to click, just to hear the breathing! And it made me laugh so hard! Sooooo funny.

    Anyway, now I want taco soup (which I've never made but I want to) and cornbread. MMMM.

    1. I watched for the breathing too! Could walk outside and hear my own sleet :-( yucky

    2. Virginia, you could whip this up lickety split and feed your family for two days. I love having the leftovers because it's even better the next day!

      Yeah, don't know what was up with the breathing. Unless he was, like, blowing on free hand to keep it warm. Who knows?

  3. Okay, now even I want cornbread. Taco soup. OMG. YUM!!!

    1. Tina, I think you're the only one who hasn't been visited by the polar vortex. Little miss citrus-growing-in-the-backyard. :P

  4. That taco soup looks yummy! Even the cornbread looks good :)

    We had our share of the polar vortex over the weekend - negative temperatures, snow, wind.... But it's all supposed to change. We had a big temperature inversion yesterday. Here we stayed cold - got up to 20°, but up at Mt. Rushmore (twenty miles away) it was 52° when we were 13°. Crazy.

    It must be spring :)

    1. That is crazy, Jan. Guess it was that warm air aloft thing. Go figure.

  5. Sigh...I don't want to talk weather any more. And polar vortex is a bad word in my vocab. We're having another week of indoor recesses it's that cold! I'm so tired of indoor recesses that when half a grade two class decided to trick me by hiding in the cloakroom behind their coats I let them stay there because they were as still as statues and quiet to boot. (I patrol the primary hall during inclement weather. It's brutal.)


    Loved the Maddie sightings. She's that cute with her hair all sticky-uppy like she stuck her paw in a socket. What a fuzz ball.

    Between you and Jan I think I have to try cornbread -- but do I make it the southern way or the northern way? Ack! Decisions, decisions.

    1. Maddie is a mess, Kav. And it's funny, if you smooth down her fur, the first thing she does is shake to fluff it all out again. She's asleep at my feet right now. So sweet. :)

      LOL! I don't blame you for letting them stay in the closet. I mean, it was the warmest place for them, right? Will try not to mention the PV anymore.

  6. I LOVE hominy and never think to cook with it. I'll definitely give this a try! Thanks for sharing, Mindy.

    LOVE LITTLE MADDIE! I just sent the photo to my daughter whose best friend is named Maddie. :)

    You know, we had that same crazy sleet sound last month. I video taped it too since it was so unique (minus the heavy breathing LOL). :)

    1. I remember watching your video, Missy. Back in December when we had that big ice storm, it was kind of eerie being outside and hearing the trees (leaves, limbs and all) creak and crackle. Made me want to stay inside.

      I love hominy, too. It lends that corn flavor without all the sweetness you get from corn. When I scoop out my bowl, I always pick out extra hominy.

  7. Tex, this looks WARM to counteract this long stretch of C-o-l-d!!!!! I bet my family would love this with a capital L, but I was too enchanted by the puppy to get as much out of it as I should!!!!

    I don't do cornbread often, the peeps up here aren't as keen on it as I am, and I like mine sweet, so that just like quadruples the carb factor, but fresh, sweet cornbread, with butter???? Oh, there's a reason that goes straight to the hips, so amazingly good.

    Our dogs are loving the snow..... and it's easier than the mud that's sure to follow in our construction zone back yard, but I'm ready to be not quite so cold... the other day it was 23° and we considered it sweater-weather.... You know it's been cold when 23 is sweater weather!
    So Stinkin' Cute!!!!

    And soup and bread are a coupling, aren't they? Just perfect.

  8. Bread and soup are one of my favorite couples.

    This is warm, Ruthy. And makes a huge batch, enough to feed all your peeps. Perfect for 23 degree days. Even minus 3 days.

    Mud and dogs go hand in hand. And when they're in and out, that mud always makes it into the house. Which is why my back door is always lined with towels. Much easier to wash towels than mop the floor. :)