August 24, 2012

Be Brave, Or Keep Wasting Time

by Kathryn Baldwin


Why do we avoid tasks that seem above our capacity? When you were two years old, if someone told you to jump and touch the basketball hoop, you would have looked up, bent your knees, stretched your fingertips way up…. and “…ummff!” You were many feet away, and yet, you tried to reach the hoop anyways without judging whether or not it was in your capacity to really touch it! Why not?! At least you tried, and you probably learned an inkling of hand-eye-foot coordination from the moment of fearless leapage. Now, if someone tells us to jump and reach the basketball hoop, we look up and think, nah, that’s kinda far, I probably won’t make it.

(This will eventually connect to my culinary adventure-of-the-week; I promise.)
When I was living with my host family in Cuernavaca, dinners were more like mini snacks and tea before bed. My Mamá would warm up a small bowl of lentil soup, a concha with Mexican hot chocolate; sometimes all we craved was some papaya. Still, when I think of sun-down Mexico, I picture my tamal de elote with a drizzle of Mexican Crema.
After weeks of nights arriving at the table with a steaming, sweet, “corn tamale” on my mini plate, I finally asked: “Mamá, how do you make these!!!!!” (Well, I probably asked this in incorrect-grammar-Spanish, but we won’t go there…). Mamá swish, swish, swished her slippers across the tile floors to show me where the magical, sweet tamales came from. I was like a five-year-old asking where where babies come from; it was a mystery and I was unprepared for the answer.
She opened her mini fridge (how she fed a giant family out of two mini fridges, GOD KNOWS!) and pulled out a bag of frozen, pre-made corn tamales. The mysticism was a little faded after finding out that nobody I personally knew was making these by hand, but who says a family member has to slave away for me to be satisfied at the dinner table?!?! I’d always heard that making tamales was this huge ordeal. Why should anyone have to slave over my dinner?
For years (not kidding: from Spring 2010 to Summer 2012) I have been scouring freezer aisles for frozen corn tamales. Safeway, Nob Hill, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Diablo Foods, Lucky (personal favorite…NOT), Costco, Target, Sam’s Club, Andronico’s, even friggin’ Walmart and “Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Market” in Walnut Creek! If it sells frozen food, I’ve check the place. Pretty much every store’s helpers looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask if they have corn tamales. ….They’re face probably looks just like my face after someone orders a cheese quesadilla.Cheese quesadilla?! Are you for real?
When I heard that my Mexican Mamá wouldn’t make the corn tamales by hand, I immediately thought I wouldn’t be able to make them by hand either.
Well I’ve been craving these sweet corn pockets of love even more so lately with my severe Mexican Travel Bug buzzing in my ear all day. I even planned to make them last Sunday… and chickened out. Then, Monday I went to the grocery store for corn husks and when we returned to my boyfriend’s house, a family friend had dropped by and left some fresh, sweet corn tamales on the counter. “OK UNIVERSE!” I thought, “I CAN TAKE A HINT… YOU DON’T HAVE TO YELL!”
Then, on Wednesday, I finished my run at Trader Joe’s to buy three fresh corn husks. The girl that checked me out was like… “balanced meal huh… ?” I arrived home with my arm-band still attached and went for my maseca. Here’s my Tamales de Elote story:
It turns out that making corn tamales is a million times cleaner and easier than most other Mexican dishes that I have attempted. No oil-splattered stove, no pots on fire, no smoky kitchens, no chile-burned hands, no slimy meat-skin, and I didn’t feel like I had to drink three beers to get through the dishes. It turned out that mustering the courage and completing a seemingly scary task saves a ton of time, energy, and gas that I normally spend avoiding it. No more freezer aisle searches. Tamales de elote: I’m home!
(KGUAC AFTER-FACT: Did you know that tamal actually means “trap” in Spanish? Maybe this is why I was afraid to make them! Subconsciously, they were putting a vibe of “Hey, I’m an accident waiting to happen!” Still, the same word in Spanish can be used to mean “pile” or “bundle.” Let’s go with bundle. My sweet little bundles of love. ….
“I shall call him squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my squishy. Come here squishy. Come here little squishy… hey littledabuswishydebu-da-budah…. “)
August 17, 2012

Latin “Flavor”

by Kathryn Baldwin

Aside from a few of the derogatory terms thrown at immigrants, I sort of enjoy some of the stereotypical words used to describe Latin culture. For example: how Latin culture is “colorful,” “warm,” “flavorful,” “vivid,” and “lively!” (Someone in our class took this picture during our trip to Guanajuato, Mexico while studying abroad. “Vivid” and “colorful” things to buy huh?)

Really though, if you’re going to describe Latin culture as “flavorful,” at least call it spicy. Shoot, if you follow this plan, just plug “spicy” into your thesaurus. Possibly controversial… hmm. But truthfully, I wish U.S. culture could be described as “peppery, zesty, spirited, piquant, and saucy!”

I like to think I have a little spice in my personality; although some may find my particular form of spice on the overwhelming side. (If you can’t handle the heat… wipe your tears, blow your nose, and order some sour cream!) So, regardless of how much “Latin” I actually have in my blood, I love color, warmth, flavor (spice?), and liveliness. And, when I start to feel like I’m losing some of my “flavor,” I crave a Latin vacation like my personality depends on it.

In the interest of finding color and spice in my life, I seek recipes with these “LATIN?” characteristics.

When I saw this wall of peppers at Safeway, I was instantly reminded of another wall of “vivid” color in a “vibrant,” indoor, Guadalajaran market in Mexico. (You should have seen the glares I got after asking if I could take this picture. Haha. So worth it!).

This week, I found a recipe for mini stuffed peppers in my newest Giada book; it was the perfect way to use an entire bag (24 peppers!).

Here’s what to do:

Brown 3oz of chopped pancetta in 3 tablespoons of medium high, hot olive oil. (You could use bacon or chorizo instead!) Then spoon out the crispy flecks of smoky goodness to dry off the excess oil on a napkin. Add half of an onion, chopped, to the leftover grease in your hot pan.

While the onion softens and absorbs the smoky flavor of pig fat, grate your 1/3 cup of fresh parmesan cheese.

In a bowl, mix together:

3/4 of a cup of ricotta cheese,

1/3 of a cup of Parmesan cheese,

1/2 of a cup of frozen pees (thawed),

The cooked pancetta and onion,

And a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Prep the mini peppers by chopping off the stem side, slicing out the white ridges, and flicking the seeds out from the inside.

Using a cute, mini, sugar spoon (the opposite of an ugly, giant, soup spoon?), stuff the smoky, cheesy mixture into each vibrant casing.

Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet and pop them into the oven at 350 degrees for just under 20 minutes. You’ll see the peppers start to wilt and the edges of the cheese start to get brown. I wish I let mine brown a little more. I also wish I greased the pan a bit less!

My equally vibrant coworkers enjoyed this Italian version of “vibrant, Latin flavor.” It was a work-place, appetizer pick-me-up. Gotta love that Latin flavor to spice things up a bit….

July 27, 2012

Queso Fundido

by Kathryn Baldwin

Last week, my family said “see you soon” to our grandfather who passed away watching a Cubs game at age 85. Art Bonwell was the cofounder of the Save Mount Diablo Foundation and also built the foundation my father needed to raise his own healthy family.

This week, my boyfriend’s family said “hello” to four squeaking, new-born puppies. Nala, the yorkie-mix mother, gave birth Monday, right at her favorite part of the day (dinner time, duh), and has been tending to the wobbly crew ever since.

There is something so beautiful about life. Each Good-bye can be soothed by another Hello.

This week of contrasts that left me contemplating the wisdom of old age and the sweetness of youth, led me to the perfect culinary parallel: cheese! After all, what other food is beautiful fresh AND beautiful, if not more so, in old age?

So after the puppies were born, I had the crazy idea to try Marcella Vallodolid’s recipe and MAKE fresh cheese from milk. To make a long story short, I FAILED. Here is the sad story in picture form:

On the way home from work the next day, I went to a local Mexican grocery store (Las Montañas) to buy 5 ingredients from the gods: Oaxaca cheese, Mexican Chorizo, a white onion, fresh garlic, and a stack of tortillas. My mood soared the moment I dropped the ingredients in my basket.

The first time I ate “Queso Fundido” was with my boyfriend’s family in Guadalajara, Mexico. A mini, cast iron dish arrived at the table with steaming cheese, a fork, and warm, flour tortillas. I remember asking what it was called. I also remember immediately responding, “Queso Qué?!”  Queso means cheese, of course (and if you don’t know that, you’re name is Patrick Star and you live under a rock). I know now that the word “Fundido” means melted (although the same word can be used as “molten” or “ruined,” but this isn’t a linguistics blog…).

Mexican Mozzarella from the Oaxaca region:

After the cheese stops bubbling from it’s quick oven bake, you can stick a fork in it and twist the cheese like caramel or taffy. Pull the molten cheese from the hardening puddle and then squeeze the warm glob between a piece of soft tortilla.

Slide the cheese off, as though it’s a roasted marshmallow sliding off of a stick between two graham crackers. In another country, we may call this fondue; In Mexico, it’s Queso Fundido. And remember to indulge in the mess. It’s part of the Mexican way, after all!

Follow Marcella Valladolid’s recipe from “Mexican Made Easy.”

I used more onion because I like it better that way! If you want to make the appetizer a more fun experience for guests, have avocado slices, cilantro, lime, and salsa around to add to each bite. Lead the way: show the crowd how each bite can be just as unique and delicious as it is messy.

Tomorrow you can search for the wiser, aged cheeses of life to learn something new from. Today, we thank the universe for the fresh cheeses of life.

In Loving Memory of Art Bonwell. Thank you for being the link of wisdom that our family needed.

July 20, 2012

Birthday Break

by Kathryn Baldwin

The good news is:

I had a birthday this week.

The bad news is:

It didn’t quite go the way I planned.


Then again, what birthday does?


I think a week off every six months sounds natural. Don’t you? Stay tuned because I’ve done a good deal of research about Latin America this week and next week is bound to be scrumptious…



PS: My friends and I dared each other to have ZERO dessert for 21 days. I’m on day 3. Oh man this is difficult! You should do it with us!

July 13, 2012

Nothing-is-Random Gazpacho

by Kathryn Baldwin

A dolphin showed up in a skinny body of water just north of the San Francisco airport yesterday. Yesterday was the first day in years I wore my dolphin necklace that I bought in Gibraltar when I was 11. Random? Nothing is random.

I’ve been dreaming of water my whole life. As a child, I would dream my house was full of water. I would hover in the middle of the room and then leisurely swim from the kitchen up to my bedroom. Sometimes full scenes would take place where I’d never surface to breathe. Instead, I’d drag in huge breaths of air straight from the water itself, as though my mouth worked like gills. I also had a series of tsunami dreams where a huge wave would wipe out my town. I would let the wave whip me around uncontrollably. Then, I would be one of the only survivors, helping to rescue the rest of the town once the wave went back out to sea. The past few years, I’ve been dreaming of whales: orcas racing around me in water tubes; baluga whales sinking my ship mid sea.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking one of  3  things:

1) This bitch is crazy!


2) I wish I had dreams!


3) I’ve had dreams in water too! Sweet.


1)   Rude!

2)   Everyone dreams! You just have to practice remembering them. Plus, you have to WANT TO REMEMBER THEM REALLY REALLY BADLY!

3)   For me, water in dreams usually symbolizes emotion (BTW, I only know this because my Aunt, Karen Baldwin, is a dream interpreter.) It makes sense that I was always surrounded by water in my dreams when I was young: I was a bucket of endless emotion! (Get it? Water = Emotion.) Sometimes I can enjoy my emotions (water): swimming and breathing through the emotions (water) with leisure and awe. Other times, I get whipped around by my emotions (tidal wave) uncontrollably. Then, once my huge wave of emotion (water) subsides, I’m the only survivor to pick up the mess. (see the connection? And, in case you’re wondering: Yes, my zodiac sign is Cancer). Does water equate to emotion in your dreams?

Right about now, you’re probably thinking one of two things:

1)   Random! What the hell does this have to do with food?


2)   I was hungry, now I’m hungry AND thirsty. Great!


1)   Nothing is random. That stray dolphin reminded me of my whale dreams. My swimming dreams reminded me of summer. Summer is scorching hot. Scorching heat requires more liquids. See. It’s all connected!

2)  If you’re hot, hungry, and thirsty, you need to make gazpacho (cold soup).

Last weekend, I tested a recipe for my soon-to-be sister’s bridal shower evening …which my sister and I are hosting. I wanted something light, pretty, and easy for self-serve. Those three categories wipe out pretty much every real food imaginable other than raw fruit and veggies. Luckily, I found a recipe in Seriously Simple, by Diane Rossen Worthington, for a chilled soup. Chilled soup quenches thirst, cures heat and anger, and is delicious in the summer!

Chilled Summer Squash Soup with Basil:

-Saute 2 chopped leeks in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 5 minutes.

-Add 6, sliced zucchini squash (squashes?) and sauté with the leeks for 5 more minutes.

-Add 4 cups of chicken broth. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.


-Refrigerate this blended mixture for four hours or more.

-Add a squeeze of lemon, a cup of buttermilk, 2 tablespoons of chopped chives, and 6 tablespoons of chopped basil.

-Salt. Pepper.

Partition the soup out in cute, little mason jars. Pack the cute, little mason jars for lunch or put the cute, little mason jars in a pretty ice bucket for a sweet little party. Speaking of cute. That poor little stranded dolphin was so cute!

Soup. Liquid. Dolphins. Dreams…. I’m telling you, Nothing Is Random.

July 6, 2012

Summer: Play, Pie, Pacify

by Kathryn Baldwin

My summer laziness is severe. I leave the back door open so that I don’t have to let the dogs in and out. I’ve resorted to checking email only when I feel like it. (Don’t worry though…my motivation to publish KGuac is through the rooof–cough). When I have laundry to do, I visit my mom’s closet. When I’m hungry, I buy food. When I’m tired, I buy caffein.

In fact, I’m damn proud of myself for allowing this summer laziness. Just because we have jobs, car payments, and family event-planning doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tell each other to shut up and slow down!!!!!

Stop running around: let the heat remind you to sit down. Stop wasting gas on grocery runs: pick the apricots out of the tree in your yard. Cut something out of your schedule: construct a rustic pie for your family!

On that note:

My Grandma Charlene taught me how to make her famous pie crust one hot, summer week in Arkansas. I’ve made the crust many times and it never fails.


In a bowl gently combine four things until they join together in a lumpy glob:

1) 2 1/4 cups flour

2) a teaspoon of salt

3) 2/3 cup of vegetable oil

4) 1/3 cup of water

The less you mess with your dough, the flakier it will be. (Only the flaky crusts pass Grandpa’s taste test!) Break the glob in half: one half is the bottom crust; the other, the top crust. Place some wax paper on the counter and sprinkle flour on top. Put one of the dough globs onto the floured wax paper. Add a little flour to the top of the glob and put another sheet of wax paper on top.

Using a rolling pin, roll from the center outward, spinning the wax paper sandwich as you go so that creating a circle is easier. If you’re rushing and not careful, your crust will look overly rustic (hence my crazy, awkward-looking pie…). With the dough safe between the wax paper, you can hold the crust over your pie dish to check for size!

Pull one layer of wax paper off, flip it upside down on your pie dish, and then slowly remove the other layer of wax paper. After you position the crust in the pan, poke holes in the bottom so that steam is able to release. Add any summer fruit mixture you can find on the internet. (In a separate bowl, I mixed freshly picked apricot halves, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a tiny bit of flour. I then poured that fruit mixture on top of the bottom dough layer.) I guarantee if the mixture recipe you find sounds yummy, it will be yummy. Then, top it off with the other glob of dough (which you can roll out in the same way you rolled out the first). No matter how it looks, remember that any home-made pie is a million times better than a store-bought one… right? Haha:

Poke some holes in the top (Grandma Charlene makes a smiley face on the top) and put it in the oven at 475 degrees for 20 minutes. This higher temperature makes the bottom crust crispier!

Change the temperature to 375 degrees for 20 more minutes. If the crust starts to brown too early, cover the pie (or just the edges) with foil.

It’s really a simple, lazy process. If I can make this pie in the middle of a summer day, you can make it with your eyes closed (or after a few beers).

By the way. It’s too late to be writing. I’m exhausted…

June 29, 2012

Just add color… (Mexican flag snack!)

by Kathryn Baldwin

Black, White, Brown, Yellow, … I like to call myself peach…

In an effort to humor American culture’s obsession with colors, I will share a meal that was inspired by colors. Here’s the story:

It’s 8:15am, Wednesday morning. I have 45 minutes to make my way through East Bay traffic and settle in my desk at work before I’m officially late. I’ve already run up and down the stairs a million times since 7am: I forgot my ring; dang, I left the bathroom fan on, I forgot mascara; gosh, this shirts’ way too tight! (sound like a familiar morning?) I consider blowing through the front door without a packed lunch, but remember that being two minutes late is better than spending six bucks on a random, expensive, unmemorable lunch. (I know what you’re thinking: “wooord!”) My purse already on my shoulder, I yank on the fridge door. “Vegetables!” I think. “Find some vegetables!” I snatch cottage cheese from the shelf, a zucchini from the drawer, a tomato off of the bunch on the counter, and the cayenne out of the spice cabinet. Four hours later, I sit on the patio at work with a Mexican flag and a spoon…

When the juice of the tomato mixed with the cheese and cayenne, I felt like I was eating fluffy spoonfuls of chilled, pepper jack cheese. The zucchini added a crunch, making each bite unique. It was sweet and sour; bitter and spicy, Light and filling; simple and complex.

Most importantly, the meal was vibrant. I couldn’t help but think about how much the colors in my bowl changed my mood as I ate. I thought of cultures, of Latin flags, and of course, of Mexico.

What do you think of when you see certain colors? Does pink give you energy? Does black depress you? Does yellow make you hungry? Wearing blues, greens, and silvers can cool you down whereas reds, oranges, and golds can heat you up. When you see red, white, and blue do you think of the Fourth of July… or do you think of the Chivas?

Make a meal this week thinking of colors. Then, look around at who’s sitting with you at the table: what colors do you see? Is your friend really black?… or is he or she closer to cappuccino, peanut butter, or cumin? Is your cousin really white?… or is he or she closer to wheat, a pealed almond, or cous cous? What beautiful colors we have. I am so lucky to live in a place where I get to see laughing, and loving rainbows of color at every turn.

Black, White, Brown, Yellow, … I like to call myself peach…

…and you can call yourself purple if you so please.

June 22, 2012

American Capirotada

by Kathryn Baldwin

What do you think about when you dredge a slice of bread in whipped eggs, milk, cinnamon, and sugar? Do you think of French Toast? Well, I would like to propose a recipe that will alter your vision of French Toast forever.

Here’s the story:

It all began when I realized that my aunt’s famous “French Toast Casserole” is an American version of the Capirotada. According to my Mexican cuisine cookbook, the Capirotada was designed as a delicious way to use up last night’s leftovers:  cinnamon syrup is made over the stove and poured in a casserole dish that’s already filled with stale bread slices, raisins, almonds, and some cream. The bread and parched toppings soak up the syrup and, voila, leftovers never screamed “EAT ME!” so loud in their lives! Casseroles in the U.S. have a similar history: wilted green beans don’t look half-bad once they’ve been baking in cream of mushroom soup for an hour (hence the green bean casserole…).

Thus, inspired by the blending of cultures, I decided to try making my aunt’s American Capirotada. At about 9pm the night before, I sliced up a loaf of French bread and staggered the slices in a buttered casserole dish. In a separate bowl, I whisked together 8 eggs, 1 cup of half and half, a cup of sugar, about a tablespoon of cinnamon, and a couple dashes of nutmeg. After pouring the egg mixture over the staggered bread, I put the soaking bread in the fridge and climbed in bed…

Lying in bed, I thought about that dry bread soaking up its flavor. “Lucky bread…” I thought. But hey! Why can’t we all be like that French bread before bed?

Sometimes, when I’m finally headed to my bed late at night, I’m feeling exhausted, limp, uninspired: dry, if you will. Why can’t I soak up all the flavor of my life right before bed, just like that dry bread did before taking his spot on the refrigerator shelf? Why can’t I lie on my soft, cool bed and soak in every positive thought from my life as I wait for dreamland’s arrival?

We CAN be like that French bread. When I soak up (or think about) all the greatest things in life right before bed, just like that dry French bread did, I spend all night blanketed in positivity. Then, what am I like in the morning? I am as inspired, as refreshed, and as vibrant as the flavor, texture, and smell of my Aunt’s American Capirotada in the morning.

As for the Casserole, in the morning, just:

1) Mix a stick of butter, a cup of oatmeal, a cup of brown sugar, and ½ cup of white sugar (will be a clumpy, crumbly goodness!).

2) Scatter the mixture over the soggy bread.

3) Bake at 350 degrees, covered loosely with foil, for an hour.

4) Serve with warm syrup and the option of slivered almonds and/or raisins to sprinkle on top.

So, as your dry bread settles in its flavor over night, you can climb under the covers of positivity and happy thoughts. Call it your night time Prayer of Gratefulness, your Meditation of Gratitude, or even your Happy Place.

I call it my American Capirotada.

June 15, 2012

Cooking with a History

by Kathryn Baldwin

Sometimes a memory can enhance a flavor, just like a memory clings to a song. Do you ever find yourself holding onto a song long after others are sick of it because it reminds you of… that one dance club in Mexico?… or that one car ride in high school? I do.

For me, food is the exact same way. Sprinkling sesame seeds on my mole enchiladas isn’t a meal-altering flavor boost; it reminds me of my host mother and makes me feel more and more nurtured with each bite. Eating ice cream out of a tall mug with added milk and a long, skinny spoon doesn’t change the flavor of the ice cream; it reminds me of my Pop and how I grew up admiring his quirky traditions.

Of course, this is all explained through Miguel de Cervantes’ words, written in Don Quixote (year 1605):

Translating from one language to another, …is like looking at Flemish tapestries from the wrong side, for although the figures are visible, they … cannot be seen with the smoothness and color of the right side.

As we choose our meal menu, or lost in thought as we chew, sometimes our dinner dates are sitting on the other side of the tapestry.

We may be thinking, “These purple potatoes remind me of that meal I had, sitting next to the clucking chickens in a rural Peruvian village.” But our dinner guest may be thinking, “Oh God, my ex boyfriend loved his stupid, purple Lakers jersey: I officially hate purple!”

The culture, the colors, the flavors, and the memories, which seep through our taste buds and into our souls with each bite, are ours to keep. I can try to describe why recipes or flavors speak to me, but you must cook with the passion that you find in your own history.


Giada tips her hat to Peru every time she cooks with Quinoa. I followed her recipe for “Quinoa with peas, potatoes, and olives” from her newest cookbook. I had tri-color Quinoa already in the cabinet to work with. Also, I didn’t hunt down “Peruvian potatoes,” I just used the darkest ones I could find (Did you know Peru has literally thousands of identified potatoes with names and distinct flavors?). I also packed the meal in a casserole dish and brought it to my sister’s for dinner a day later. Plus, I had it for lunch the day after that! Half of the recipe could feed a family of five as a side dish. My sister marinated chicken with lime, oregano, and red pepper flakes as the main protein. They were perfect together.

Come queens, come crooks! Come climbers, come quitters! Come coaches, come crews! This colorful, carnival of quinoa can calm cranky kids, can comfort complaining cooks, can connect cultural cues.

Keep cooking …

June 8, 2012

Taco Soup, My Adopted Brother

by Kathryn Baldwin



You are desperate for this soup recipe and you don’t even know it yet. Taco Soup was the fourth child born into my family (or adopted? Yes. we legally adopted my younger brother named Taco Soup). Since Taco Soup’s integration into the family, scouts honor, the Baldwin household is incomplete in his absence.

It’s time for you to take my mom’s Taco Soup recipe card and plant it in your family recipe book (or digital file?) permanently!!!!!!!


Making Taco Soup is as easy as eating ice cream; as soon as you do it, you know right away you’re going to do it again reeeal soon. Actually, if you fetch all of the ingredients, a stack of cans on the counter with a sticky note can leave the rest to someone else. I promise, you can confidently assign the cooking to any teenager or seemingly incapable significant other. Or you could get someone else to fetch the goodies, and make the soup yourself… behind your back…  with your eyes closed.

(Disclaimer. Please don’t actually close your eyes while making this soup. I don’t want KathrynGuacamole getting sued or anything crazy.)

Sometimes, you need a bowl of hearty, warm, Mexican goodness, and you don’t want to mooch off of your Mexican friends who are still served insanely elaborate meals daily (cough, boyfriend, cough). Good news! This Americanized, quasi-Mexican-esque tortilla-soup-ish dish saves you from that Mooch-Off-Of-Mexican-Cooks Syndrome. Trust me, your friends will be asking you for this recipe. Plus, the taco truck doesn’t always serve soup and sometimes you just NEED it. (I should have posted this recipe Superbowl week. I can’t watch the Superbowl without Taco Soup. Just one of those things…)




  • 2 lbs of ground beef (Or, I used 1.5 lbs of ground turkey. Beef is probably better in the winter)
  • one large onion (chopped)
  • 15oz can Ranch Style Jalapeño Pinto Beans (I couldn’t find it this time around so I just used Chipotle style Jalapeño pinto beans)
  • 15oz can regular pinto beans
  • 11oz can white shoepeg  corn
  • 4oz can chopped green chili (I use the “hot” version. This way the soup is spicy but perfect with the sour cream that cools it off.)
  • 14oz can Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes
  • 14oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 10oz can Rotel Tomatoes
  • 1 package of Original Ranch Style Salad Dressing powder
  • 1 package of “Taco Seasoning” powder
  • 2.5 cups of water (I added a vegetable bullion cube to offset this water… and for extra antioxidants of course.)






  1. Chop onion.
  2. Brown ground beef with the onion and drain grease. (I don’t drain the grease with turkey)
  3. Add a pinch each of Salt and Pepper.
  4. Add EVERYTHING ELSE to the pot!!
  5. Heat mixture until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, lid on, for 30 mins.
  6. Assemble as though it were a TACO!!!!  (Crush tortilla chips into a bowl. Ladle soup on top. Add a spoonful of jack or cheddar cheese and/or sour cream. Add avocado, DUH! Possibly a squeeze of lime? If I have cilantro, I add that too!)
  7. EAT. YUM. Pack leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. Assemble. EAT. YUM AGAIN!