Easy Taco Soup Recipe

Its getting to be soup time!  Cooler weather makes me crave a good soup.  If you like tacos, here is a soup recipe that is bound to please you!  This recipe isn’t my usual whole foods type but contains mixes and canned ingredients. Feel free to change it up as you like.

Taco Soup

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 (15 1/2-ounce) cans pinto beans
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can pink kidney beans
  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with chiles
  • 2 (4 1/2-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1 (4.6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
  • 1/2 cup green olives, sliced, optional
  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (1-ounce) package dry ranch salad dressing mix

Garnishes:

  • Corn chips
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheese
  • Chopped green onions

Brown the beef and onions together, drain if needed.

Add all other ingredients, transfer to a slow cooker.  Cook on LOW for 6 hours.  Serve with garnishes.

For a thinner soup, add a little beef broth.

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Baby Balm Recipe

I made some Baby Balm recently, what with all the new grandbabies … but its also great for dry heels and elbows and even to protect facial skin before going out into the wind or cold.

This balm is soft and smells so good. The best thing about it is that it WORKS for helping rashes heal and protecting baby’s skin from moisture and diaper messes.

Here’s my recipe, if you know anything about herbs and have preferences, you can substitute which herbs you like.   I used these particular herbs because they are safe for baby’s skin.

Ingredients:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the base, it calms itchy skin and contains vitamin E.
  • Shea Butter for calming rashes, reducing swelling and calming itchy skin.
  • Beeswax – I use pastilles because I don’t like grating wax, but its essential in this recipe. The beeswax keeps the balm in a more solid state. In warm weather you can add a bit more to keep the balm more solid.
  • Chamomile and Arnica for soothing chapped skin and Arnica has an anti-microbial action. You could use Calendula in place of Arnica if you prefer.
  • St. John’s Wort used externally this herb has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is a great addition to this balm just in case your baby does get a diaper rash.
  • Plantain for healing, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Lavender essential oil or Lavender flowers if you prefer not to use essential oils for its antiseptic qualities plus is smells good.

A kitchen scale is a great help with creams and balms. You’ll need to weigh out the beeswax and shea butter.  The olive oil can be measured in a regular measuring cup.

First you’ll need to make infused oil.  You’ll need extra virgin olive oil for this and organic herbs.  Most of the herbs that I can’t grow, I purchase from Mountain Rose Herbs. This isn’t an affiliate link I just like their products.

Making An Infused Oil

Put 1/2 cup of each of your herbs in a glass mason jar. Next, pour in extra virgin olive oil to cover the herbs and fill the jar all the way to the top. Just leave enough space that it won’t spill out easily when you move the jar around.

Cover the jar with a fitting lid and put it in a deep, Heavy bottomed pot.
Fill the pot with water to the level of the oil in the jar.
Place the pot over low heat and allow it to simmer for 4 hours, adding water if needed.

You could use an Instant Pot for this as well. I learned this method from Haniya Cherry at Traditional Cooking School. Place the filled jar in the insert pot of your Instant Pot and place it in the Instant Pot, fill with water to the level of the oil in the jar. Place the lid on the Instant Pot. Use the Slow Cook function and cook for 3 hours.

After the cooking time, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth.

Add 15 – 20 drops of Lavender essential oil and stir it well.

You’ll have around 18-20 ounces of infused oil to work with now. If you were going to use this for adults and hard working hands and feet you might even want to infuse it again with more herbs to give it more healing power. But for babies and every day use , this is fine.

We’ll start by using 3 ounces of infused oil, 1 ounce of beeswax and one ounce of shea butter. Remember to grate your beeswax or use pastilles. You can always make more than this, just remember that your ratios are 3 parts oil, 1 part beeswax and 1 part shea butter.

 

Put the beeswax and shea butter into a small pan and heat it on low til its melted.  Now you can combine the melted wax, shea butter and olive oil. There are a couple of ways to do this.

You can just combine them and stir with a spoon.

Or you could mix them together in a wide mouth mason jar using a stick blender. This is what I do.  I think it blends up the ingredients and gives the balm a lighter, somewhat fluffy texture. To clean your stick blender afterward, just run it in some boiling water, carefully.

 

 

Once melted, you just pour it into your prepared containers. The amount you make is up to you but if you used 3 ounces of oil and 1 ounce each of wax and shea butter you’ll have 5 ounces. Be sure you label the containers and if you’re giving it away be sure you write the ingredients down for the one you’re giving it to.

 

I buy containers from Specialty Bottle.

Let it cool and its ready to use.

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A Conversation With A Young Woman

 

Hello!  What a surprise!  I’m glad you stopped by come on in.  Sit there at the table, I’ll make tea. Do you like cream or lemon?

What’s on your mind? You look a little lost today.  OK, just breathe and tell me what you want me to know.

Here, have some tea, here’s a cookie too.

That’s really hard, friend.  Really hard.  But you and I know that there is nothing too hard for our God so let’s pray.

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Keepers Of Their Homes Is Not Out Of Date

 

Its not politically correct these days to promote biblical and godly living.  Its not PC to tell women to be careful of their homes and keep them as clean and organized as possible either. I’ve never really been in to being PC.

What I’ve noticed is that women today are under the impression that they simply don’t need to be concerned about a clean home, organized possessions, tidy children, modest clothing, a gentle spirit or planned meals… because happy children, a pleasant life, a relaxed mom, nice vacations or something else is more important. Who doesn’t want happy children, pleasant life, etc.? We all do! But there is a balance lacking in today’s teachings toward women. Its very much like what I always taught my children: You can’t have the fun times until the work is done.

If any of you don’t want to do the work, that’s OK by me.  I don’t make your choices. But there has to be a reckoning day when you’ve had all the fun and you find that there is simply chaos, bickering, sadness and strife in your family life.

I will always stand up and tell you that the right thing to do is to care about the blessings of a home and family and to do your best with them. Its not a stay-at-home-mom thing. Its a human thing.  

“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; foryou serve the Lord Christ.”                  Colossians 3:23-24

Women are generally tempted today to gratify and indulge all their personal desires and wants, even by a lot of Christian organizations and Christian mentors, instead of being encouraged to serve and be servants in life and in their homes. We’re told how much we deserve some time off (who doesn’t want a little time to themselves?) so we take it, lots of it. We’re told to let that cleaning go a few times too often and then we’re surprised when we’re still so stressed even after all the time off and relaxing.

The idea of being a servant has somehow become a horrible thing. But servanthood is precisely what Christ has called Christians to. I’m just here to tell you that this life is not all about YOU.  Life is about Jesus Christ and what He’s called us to do here. And one of the things He has definitely NOT called us to is a lack of self discipline and a attitude of entitlement.

The things you and I do to make our homes a pleasant place to live, does not make us heroes or martyrs.  Don’t misunderstand me here,  I believe many women do amazing work in their homes and in their places of employment, but a lot of attitudes could bear with some adjusting. Neglecting one’s home and family out of a place of self-centeredness is not admirable. Demanding attention or accolades for simply doing our duty as an adult is not admirable.

I’m going to always encourage women to build up their homes. I’ll always teach women to do their VERY BEST in keeping their homes a loving and inviting place. It may take scheduling for you to get it, it may take learning new routines and habits but I will always teach it. It may not be easy but nothing of value is ever easy.

I will never tell you that it is OK if your home is always sloppy or meals aren’t ever thought out. You and I both know that there are times in life when its impossible to do what I am asking you to do, but we know that those are the exceptions. The SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) has to be; living up to what God has called you for and equipped you to do. When you’re tired, you pray for strength. When you’re confused, you pray for clarity. When you’re overwhelmed, you pray for grace and peace. He will provide what you lack.

I will always teach women to put Jesus Christ first in their lives and in their homes. Putting Him first means that everything else falls into place correctly. Doing our best with what He has given us and where He has put us is how we should be living, not just schlepping through life with nothing of value to show for it.

 

 

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Unexpected Company

Some years ago having unexpected company was not an unusual thing. I guess people have gotten away from showing up unannounced at someone’s house. When I was a child though it was pretty common.

I still do get unexpected company sometimes and when the children were all at home, we started each day of our home school with the attitude of expectation that someone might stop by. Many days, they did.

I think it’s a great thing to be ready for company, even if you invite someone over. In the past there have been times when a friend was in need of someone to listen, so I’d invite her over and my home was ready.

So, in case you are feeling like you need to pull things together and be ready for unexpected company, here are a few tips and ideas.

I’m not telling you that you have to have your house in a state of perfection. But there are things you can do ahead of time to make it possible for you to minister to folks without stress and worry about your home and what you’ll offer them in the way of food or drink or a clean place to sit.

  • Start the day with the idea that someone might come over, or that you may see that you need to invite someone over.

After a while, your home and your mind will be in a state of constant readinessIt does work! I’ve done it.

  • Change one thing at a time that will enhance the way your home feels to guests.

Get rid of piles of papers and stuff. Give things a good dusting. Move out unnecessary furniture and clear off a place to sit every day.

  • Make some freezable meals and treats.

Or buy some cookies that you can put in the freezer and bring out for guests. Have coffee, tea or lemonade on hand. If you have a meal you can pull out of the freezer and pop in the oven, it makes it easier to say, “Stay for dinner”.

  • Pray that God will use you and your home to minister.

I think women in general have gotten away from this. But hospitality is still an important duty for Christians. Ask God to show you how you can better equip and use your home to bless others.

Do you have ideas and tips about preparing your home and yourself for unexpected guests?

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A Few Cantaloupe Recipes

I’ve tried all of these recipes and the one we really like is Cantaloup in Lemon or Pineapple. Cantaloupe gets a bit mushy sometimes so use not-quite-ripe melons for canning. We like canned cantaloupe but some don’t so try it and see if your bunch likes it!


Canned Cantaloupe

Fill hot quart jars with diced cantaloupe. To each jar add

1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons vinegar.
Fill with water. Some prefer to add one
stick of cinnamon to each jar.

Seal jars and water bath for 1 hour or
pressure can for 12 minutes at 5
pounds pressure.


Cantaloupe Jelly

• 1 pound cantaloupe
• 1 pound sugar
• 1 lemon

Chop up the cantaloupe and combine
in a large kettle with the sugar and
lemon. Cook until thick.

Seal in 1/2 pint jars and water bath for

30 minutes.

Cantaloupe in Lemon

• 1 pound cantaloupe
• 1 pound sugar
• 1 lemon

In a quart jar place the juice of 1
lemon, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water.
Fill with cubed cantaloupe.

Boil in water bath canner for 15
minutes.

Instead of lemon juice try using 6
chunks of pineapple and a little
pineapple juice.

Cantaloupe With Cinnamon

• 1 pound cantaloupe
• 1 pound sugar
• Cinnamon stick for every jar, cut to fit the jar
• Lemon juice

In a quart jar place the cinnamon stick, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 cup water.
Fill with cubed cantaloupe.

Boil in water bath canner for 15
minutes.

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Priorities Matter

This has been on my mind a long time so I will share it with you. I am concerned about how many bloggers promote a lazy lifestyle for homekeepers these days.

There is certainly merit in the idea that relationships and raising children in a godly way is more important than a clean and organized home. I mean, who would say that relationships are of less importance than homemaking? No one in their right mind.

But many bloggers have gone to the extreme and openly brag and boast about how sloppy, messy unorganized they and their housekeeping are. Maybe that’s their way of trying to make women who are struggling feel a little better about themselves, I don’t know. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

But you’re not going to find that method at CHK. If you struggle, let me assure you that you are in good company here. I want to encourage you, even if you struggle, to aim higher in all areas of your life but not be ruled or tied to any amount of perfectionism.

What I hope you will find here is encouragement to do better in all areas. Relationships, budgeting, cleaning, organizing, Bible study … none of us can do it all perfectly and that’s not the goal. The goal is to do *our* best for our families and for our LORD.

When we do our best, and try to make our homes and relationships better, we honor the LORD. When we sit down and put up our feet, figuratively, and refuse to push on to excellence, we are dropping out of the journey God has given us.

I am not telling you that you’re failing if you’re not perfect in your homemaking or relationship efforts. I am telling you that where ever you are in life, you can aim higher. Don’t sit back and be lazy. You only fail if you stop moving forward.

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A Few 1860s Recipes

ft defiance picnic

Each year I participate in an 1860s picnic by making all the food for the re-enactors and interpreters.  This year the menu was:

Roast Chicken
Pork Pies
Various Pickled Vegetables
Cheeses
Fresh Fruit
Homemade Bread
Butter
Washington Pie, which is a cake!

I usually roast some of the meat over a fire, but this year it rained so much that set up inside the interpretive center. I roasted the meat at home and brought it already cut up and ready to eat.

Roast chicken 1860s style its not much different from 21st century style. I washed and patted dry the chicken, filled the cavity with an onion studded with 3 cloves and added some salt and pepper. I rubbed the chicken with butter and sprinkled mixed herbs. Just use what you like I used thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano.
Roast in an oven or over a fire on a spit til done. Oven roasting takes about 3 hours in a 350*F oven, depending on the size of the chicken. When you grab the thigh portion and twist it gently, it should fall off the bone, that’s how you know when the whole chicken is done.Cooking a whole chicken on a pit over a fire is a bit different, but the doneness test is the same.

Pork Pie is a very old recipe and still very popular in the UK. The ones I make are simple and tasty. Most pork pies were made as a large pie that was cut into serving pieces. Sometimes smaller pies were made for travel or lunch at work. I made the smaller pies for the picnic so that no one would need a fork.

A traditional pork pie consists of three components: The crust, the filling and the jelly. I will give the measurements for the dough in grams and you’ll need to weigh the ingredients out on a scale set to grams. If you want to convert the measurements to ounces and cups you can.

I used standard muffin tins to bake my pies, you can research how to make a hand-risen crust if you prefer.

First you make the filling. Use minced pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon. In total you will need about 2 pounds of meat to make one large pie or a couple dozen hand pies. These pies can be seasoned however you like. This year I used a different recipe than I used last year. This year I used only 2 teaspoons of dry mustard. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and some black pepper. Last year I used 1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (leaves only), 1/4 tsp ground allspice, 1/4 tsp of fresh grated nutmeg,1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Any of these herbs and spices can be increased or decreased according to taste.

Mince the meat well, I used a food processor and mix in the seasonings well. Set aside.

Next make the crust. It is a hot water crust and must be worked while it is hot because as it cools, it becomes very difficult to work with. I cheated a little this year and re-heated some of the dough in the microwave in between making all the little circles for the small pies. I wrapped the dough in paper towels before microwaving it.

The dough consists of:
120g lard
450g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp milk
150ml water
1 egg yolk, beaten for wash

The Jelly is made to fill the pies after baking. The savory jelly fills all the nooks and crannies. The pork mixture will shrink on baking and then rattle around inside the pastry. The jelly keeps that from happening.

The Jelly consists of:
32 ounces chicken broth
3 rounded tablespoons plain gelatin
1 bay leaf
fresh thyme, 2 sprigs
salt
black pepper

Put the broth in a medium sauce pan, add the gelatin and let it soften. stir in the gelatin then add the seasonings, Bring to a boil, stirring. The gelatin should completely dissolve. I use a squirt top bottle to add the jelly to the pies, but you can simply spoon it in.

Assemble the pies:

Grease your muffin tins well, heat the oven to 350*F

I used a food processor to combine the dough ingredients, you could use a stand mixer or do it by hand but its a very stiff dough and will wear your arms out if you’re not used to it.

In a medium saucepan heat the lard, water and milk to boiling. Sift your flour and salt into the bowl of the food processor and cover the processor for mixing. Turn on the processor and slowly pour the lard mixture into the flour mixture. Let it run til you have a smooth dough that balls up on the blades.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out circles that will fit inside your muffin tins. Place one circle in each section of the tin, gently press it down into the tin but it doesn’t have to be completely touching the bottom of the tin.

Cut out all the tops for the pies.

Fill each shell with about 2 tablespoons of pork mixture, Just fill up the shell without overfilling. Brush a little egg wash on the edges and top with a pastry circle, pressing it down to attach to the shell.

Poke a hole in the top of each unbaked pie, I use a straw. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 350*F for about 50 minutes, until the pies are golden brown.

Cool the pies for a few minutes and then take them out of the tin to cool. While they are still hot add the jelly a little at a time til you fill each pie.

Let cool completely. These pies can be frozen and reheated or just defrosted and served cold. The shells are sturdy but very tasty.

Washington Pie
Washington Pie was made as early as the late 18th century for celebrations commemorating George Washington’s birthday. Traditionally made using cherries and kirsch, I made this one using raspberry jam. If you will click on the picture above and then enlarge it a bit you will see the Washington Pie at the very top of the picture.

For each cake, I made two:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350*F Cut waxed paper to fit your pans, I use 9×13 pans but you could use 2 8 inch round pans for each recipe. I use one recipe for a 9×13 pan.

After greasing the pan, place the waxed paper in the pan then grease and flour it over the waxed paper.

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix until very light. Sift in the flour and baking powder, alternating with the milk. Beat this mixture til its light and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pans and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until they are done using a straw or sharp knife inserted in to the middle. When you bring out the knife or straw it should not have any wet batter on it, which indicates that the cake is done.

Once its done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake on a cooling rack and peel off the waxed paper. Let the cake cool completely.

As I mentioned, I make two 9×13 cakes using one recipe for each cake. I usually leave one cake in its pan long enough to use it to top the other cake after spreading jam over it.

Dust some powdered sugar over the assembled cake and its ready to go!

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