Taco Soup Recipe

As the temperature begins to drop one of our go-to dishes for a quick, tasty meal has become taco soup. It's one of those 1 pot meals that really warms you up and only take about 45 minutes from start to finish. This recipe feeds 10, but we typically scale it back a little.

  • 2lbs ground sirloin, browned and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 package Taco seasoning
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes (I like at least 1 can of fire-roasted tomatoes)
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can hot chili beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups of water

Mix all the ingredients together and simmer for about 30 minutes or until you can no longer resist the aroma emanating from the kitchen.

It doesn't get much simpler than that!

Even though this recipe includes green chilies and chili beans, it's pretty mild. So, here's some suggestions to take care of that:

  • Use "hot" taco seasoning (really, this should be a given)
  • just like when making chili, adding a diced chili pepper or 3 is never a bad thing
  • add some red pepper flakes
  • a dash of Sriracha sauce (ok maybe 2 dashes)
  • a couple tablespoons of hot salsa

I like my bowl with a plate of tortilla chips and a cold beer.

It's the 80's baby!

I don't remember where I first heard about it. But nearly every Friday for the past year I have tuned into The 80's Rewind Show on Codebass Radio. As the name implies, it's a flashback to the music, movies, and tv of that great decade: the 80's.

Counting "down" from 1980 to 1989, the DJ, James Allen, plays a couple of tunes from that year selected from the US Top 1000 charts and listener-requests. Interspersed with soundbytes from movies, tv-shows and commercials it's a great way to end the work-week. Tune in and check it out.Also, if you can, check out the live webcam during the show.

Did I mention the show is (usually) LIVE?!

Sublime Text 2

I had been using Dreamweaver for development as long as I can remember; 10 years at least. When I started my new job 6 months ago I was told that nearly all the ColdFusion developers used it and it was no big deal to get a license. However, not too much later I got the itch to try a new editor. I saw some tweets concerning Package Control – once you have this installed, you have a resource within ST2 to install and manage a vast array of plugins.

From with the package manager I installed: ColdFusion for CF syntax functionality.

Automatic Backups. This is awesome. When you save a file, a backup will be saved to a local folder. It's almost like having a built in versioning system. This works great for me at work because all our development files are stored on the network. Recently a snafu occurred and an important folder was deleted. Backups were restored from the night before, but because of automatic backups I had a backup of all my work from up to a few minutes ago.

BracketHighlighter can be good for keeping your sanity. When you highlight an opening brace, bracket or parenthesis, it will highlight the closing match for it. If you do work in javascript or jquery, I would consider this a must have!

TrailingSpaces is something small with a big impact, for me. All it does is highlight any time a line ends in a space. This may seem like nothing, but we have a standard that specifically addresses this. If a line of code ends with a space, you will fail your code review. So this is a great frustation saver.

If you are frustrated with your current IDE/editor or just looking for something different give Sublime Text 2 a shot. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Resolutions for 2013

2012 certainly flew by. After reviewing my resolutions and seeing that I was pretty successful I have decided to write down a few for the coming year. In no particular order I give you: Scott's 2013 New Year's Resolutions.

[More]

Furniture Shopping

We went furniture shopping this weekend. It started out as more of a lark than a planned excursion. For the last several years the only real furniture I had to sit on was a couch left over from a living room suite I bought 10 years ago. Sure, I had an office chair for my desk and after my Dad gave us a kitchen table, we had a couple more chairs. But for the most part, when Ashley and I sat down for the evening, we sat side-by-side with the 3 dogs taking up the remaining 1/3 of the couch. Although this is cozy, it gets annoying too. For example, if one of us wants to take a nap, the other has nowhere to sit! So we really needed to expand our seating options.

[More]

New Years 2013

As 2012 winds down, I'm sitting here thinking about last year's resolutions. I honestly can't remember what a single one was! Thankfully, I wrote them down on this very site. I thought it would be a good exercise to list them here and comment on whether or not I was successful. Given that I don't even remember what they are, I am not feeling too optimistic. Maybe at the end, I will have some thoughts on the coming year.

[More]

New Server

If you are seeing this entry, then this site has successfully moved to its new server! Woohoo!

Chili Time!

It's starting to get cooler and football season has begun. Just like simple math everyone knows those two things add up to equal CHILI. I made my first batch last weekend and promised a friend I would share my recipe. Being a man of my word, here it is.

Of course, there is no end to the ways to make chili. Some people have a no beans policy. Some use a ketchup base. Some insist on adding spaghetti. The good thing is there is no wrong way to make chili, only better ways. So, let define MY chili so that we are on the same page from the outset:

  • MY Chili must have beans and ground beef.
  • MY Chili must have some peppers in it.
  • MY Chili must be thick and hearty, not watery like soup.
  • MY Chili must have some kick. It doesn't have to be able to peel paint, but it should certainly let my tongue know it is there.

With that established, let's make with the cookin'!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages of McCormick Chili mix (I prefer hot, but mild is available)
  • 1 lb ground Chuck (80/20)
  • 1 32oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can light kidney beans
  • 1 can chili beans (I like Bush's in hot sauce)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper
  • mix of spicy peppers depending on your own preference
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • red cayenne pepper
  • cumin

This chili could not be simpler. Start by browning the ground beef over a medium heat. I like a good angus chuck (80/20). You want some fat to bring out the flavor. While the beef is browning, let's get the base simmering.

Into a large pot (I use a 6 quart stock pot) over a low-medium heat pour a 32oz can of plain tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce). Fill the can just under half-full with water and add it. This sauce will thicken quite a bit as it cooks. This is good as it will help concentrate the flavors. If the chili is too thick for your liking, you can always add a little water AFTER it is finished to thin it out.

Now I add the 3 cans of beans, including the liquid.

Now come the spices. Honestly, I eyeball it, but you want at least a tablespoon of the onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and chili powder. Also add both packets of McCormick's chili mix. Don't forget a hefty pinch of kosher salt and some fresh cracked pepper. Give it a good stir and get it will mixed.

Now for the veggies. Wash and finely chop all the peppers and onion and add them to the pot. If you opted to include spicier peppers or chilis, take the necessary precautions! If you end up in the hospital because you rubbed your eye with habanero juice on your fingers you will miss out on the chili! I typically use a couple of habeneros, a couple of jalepenos, a couple of serranos, a couple of anaheims and a couple of poblanos. They not only provide a nice flavor and kick but all the green makes for a better looking bowl! If you are one of those people that likes tomatoes in their chili, now would be the time to add your tomato chunks.

Once you beef is cooked through add it into the pot as well.

Now comes the hardest part. For the next 3 hours, let it simmer but not boil with the lid mostly covering the pot, and stir it every few minutes to keep it from burning to the bottom of the pot. I leave the lid off enough to let some steam escape, thus reducing the water and concentrating the flavors. When that 3 hour bell dings, your chili is ready.

Like I said, if it is too thick for your liking, you can through a cup of water into the microwave for a couple of minutes and then pour it in slowly, while stirring, to loosen it up. Don't pour a cup of cold water in! It won't mix right and will bring down the temperature of your fresh chili.

I always serve my chili with oyster crackers and a shredded "mexican" cheese blend on top. They act as a cooling agent so you get the heat, but you won't die from it.

Now that my secret is out, if you try it, let me know what you think!

Just an idea

I have an "out of the box" idea for economic recovery:

Raise the tax rate on anyone making over $2 million a year to 30%. This is only a 2% increase over the current rate. Then make any person with income under $30K (for single filers, $50K for couples) pursuing a first college degree, with a 8 hours minimum class load, exempt from federal taxes.

[More]

New favorite breakfast

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Still, I used to skip it regularly. Until I started making my ultimate breakfast sandwich. It's basically an egg mcmuffin, only healthier. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and I can even get it going and walk away for a couple of minutes without worrying.

What's in it: English muffin, split and toasted 1 egg 1 slice Swiss cheese 2 slices Canadian bacon

How simple is this? Fry the egg over medium heat to your personal preference of wellness. I usually prefer my yolks firm. While the egg is frying, slip the Canadian bacon into the same pan to heat. When you are ready to flip your egg, flip the meat.

Assemble by placing 1 slice of Canadian bacon on the bottom of the English muffin. Place the cheese slice on top, then the egg, then the other bacon slice and finally the toasted top. By sandwiching (pun intended) the cheese between the warm bacon and egg, it should start to melt on its own.

This version is healthier than the McVersion because the ingredients are fresh and contain no fillers or by-products. But also Swiss cheese is a healthier alternative to processed American cheese. A leaner version could use a turkey-based alternative like turkey-bacon in place of the Canadian bacon.

Here are a couple of alternative versions that would be just as delicious: -instead of Canadian bacon, use regular bacon or sausage -instead of a fried egg, use scrambled -add veggies to the scrambled egg, like an omelet -experiment with various cheeses

If you don't care about "healthier" double the meat and add a helping of Hollandaise sauce or gravy!

Whatever the variation, this breakfast will hit the spot. Oh, and the cost per sandwich is less than hitting the drive-thru.

More Entries