Carolyn's Taco Soup

I've had a LOT of taco soups, and this one is definitely my FAVORITE. It uses taco sauce instead of taco seasoning, and I think that's what makes this taste EXTRA good. Thanks to Carolyn for sharing—I hope you don't mind my additions!

Carolyn's Taco Soup
1 pound ground beef
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can stewed tomatoes, pureed with liquid
1/2 bottle taco sauce
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
2 tablespoons chili powder
Dash of garlic salt and onion salt
2–4 cups beef broth (or more if desired)

Brown and drain the ground beef. Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot and simmer for at least 10 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and taco chips.

TIP: You can use any kind of chip you like, but my favorite happens to be Fritos. Other options include regular tortilla chips, or Nacho Doritos are even pretty tasty.


Healthy (and Easy!) Taco Pasta Salad

This recipe is so EASY, and it is really pretty HEALTHY. I actually never measure anything, but the amounts I've included below are a good start—you can add MORE of whatever ingredient you want if you think it needs it!

Healthy (and Easy!) Taco Pasta Salad
8 ounces rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 pound ground turkey or extra lean ground beef
1/4 onion, diced (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup light or fat-free sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (if you use the light or fat-free version, this will obviously be even healthier)

While the pasta is cooking, brown the meat in a large frying pan. When almost done, throw in the onion and bell pepper; cook until tender. Add the cooked pasta. Stir in the salsa and sour cream until completely coated. Add more of one or both ingredients if mixture seems dry. Stir in half of the cheese until melted. Sprinkle remaining cheese over individual servings. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: Another good addition to this salad would be a can of rinsed and drained black beans. Some corn would be really good as well. The great thing about this salad is that it is so versatile!


Turkey Burgers with Black Bean, Corn, and Red Pepper Relish

I can hardly WAIT for dinner to be ready every time I make this. It is such an EASY meal and so fantastic, I want it ALL the time. Even better is that it ends up being a fairly healthy dish! I guess you could call these mouthwatering burgers my GO-TO dinner. I don't have exact measurements for the relish, but I don't think it's really necessary. I usually just try and use equal parts of each. Ask me if you want estimates though!

Turkey Burgers with Black Bean, Corn, and Red Pepper Relish
Frozen premade turkey burger patties (I usually buy these from Costco, but the pic above is a homemade recipe of mine! I'll post it soon.)
Some chopped red bell pepper
Some black beans, rinsed and drained
Some frozen super sweet white corn
Condiments of choice (usually just ketchup and mustard for me)
Whole wheat hamburger buns

Cook the burgers according to package directions. We usually do them outside on the BBQ or inside on a grill pan or our George Foreman Grill. It tastes great any of these ways.

In a frying pan prepared with nonstick spray or a touch of extra virgin olive oil, saute the bell pepper for a couple of minutes and then add the black beans and corn. Cook until beans and corn are warmed through. Dress the bun with your condiments of choice and then plop your burger on the bottom. Scoop a LARGE spoonful of the relish over the burger and then top with the top half of the bun.

TIP: Although this makes it slightly less healthy, before putting your burger on your bun, top it with relish and cover with a slice of pepper jack or mozzarella cheese (the lighter choice). Zap it in the microwave so the cheese is just melted and then put on your bun. The cheese holds all the yummy relish in place, making it less likely to fall out of your hamburger as you're eating it.


Yummy Granola

This is a recipe my MOM has made for years. The first time I made it for my HUSBAND, he basically downed the WHOLE batch. Now I always have to DOUBLE the recipe if I want some for myself!

Yummy Granola
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds (I prefer slivered)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup sesame seeds
6 cups oatmeal

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then add the honey, water, and sugar. Stir until all is melted and combined.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients over top and mix well. Spread on a baking sheet with sides and bake at 250 degrees for 60 minutes, stirring several times. Turn off oven and open door a crack, leaving granola inside to cool completely. Store in a large ziplock bag or Tupperware container. Eat with milk for breakfast, stirred in with your favorite yogurt, as a snack, or even sprinkled over ice cream!

TIP: You can also add any kind of dried fruit to the mix once it has completely cooled. I love craisins or dried raspberries. Fresh fruit added to individual servings is also yummy! OH, and try experimenting. You can add different types of nuts or basically anything else you want!


Fish Tacos with Lime Cilantro Sauce

This is a very REFRESHING dinner that I like to throw together during my healthy eating times. I love the FLAVORS of cilantro and lime—so tangy and powerful, and the PERFECT sauce for these excellent tacos.

Fish Tacos with Lime Cilantro Sauce
Lime Cilantro Sauce
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup light or fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup light or fat-free sour cream
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced

Fish Tacos
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds any white fish (halibut, mahi-mahi, tilapia, etc.)
Small flour tortillas (or corn tortillas if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

To make the sauce, combine all the ingredients and then refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the tacos, combine all the seasonings and then coat your choice of fish. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until done (the fish will flake easily with a fork). When fish is done, break into pieces with a fork and then scoop in the center of your tortillas. Drizzle the sauce over top and serve. Makes about 4-6 servings.

TIP: To add some extra nutrients, top the fish with shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce and then drizzle with the sauce. You can also serve with lime wedges on the side so people can squeeze on extra juice.


Creamy Fruit Dip AND Caramel Fruit Dip

It's this time of year when my CRAVINGS hit hard for the really JUICY and sweet fruits of summer! Because those fruits are months away, I like to whip up these EASY dips for the sometimes dry WINTER fruits. Both are so easy and always good—and you're sure to get in at least one full SERVING of fruit when you eat it. Both recipes serve around 10–12 people and can be eaten with ANY fruit you feel like!

Creamy Fruit Dip1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temp
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup sour cream or Mascarpone cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy.

Caramel Fruit Dip
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy. (This recipe was passed to me by my cousin and good friend, Julie. Thanks for sharing!)


Breakfast Burrito

My New Year's resolution every year is to eat HEALTHY and skip ALL treats for the month of January. I try to eat EXTRA good foods for me during this time so I can try and drop any extra pounds I may have gained while gorging over the holidays. This is a classic that can really be used for ANY meal of the day.

Breakfast Burrito
1-2 large eggs (see TIP)
2 teaspoons skim milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup reduced-fat or fat-free cheddar cheese
1-2 tablespoons chunky salsa
1 whole wheat tortilla

In a frying pan sprayed with nonstick spray, scramble the eggs with the milk, salt, and pepper. When the eggs are mostly cooked, stir in the cheese and salsa. When the cheese is melted and the salsa warmed through, scoop onto the tortilla, roll like a burrito, and serve!

TIP: If you want to be EXTRA healthy, just use 2 egg whites and toss the yolks in the trash. And, if you want to be less healthy, cook up a sausage link or two and slice. Then just throw the sausage in with the cheese and salsa. Bonus: You can buy turkey sausage links that are pretty low fat and that taste great!