lazy day taco soup

*Original post: November 2nd, 2015

It’s raining, it’s chilly outside, and I am tired from a very long Halloween weekend. The perfect meal for this situation: Taco Soup.

Not only is it ridiculously easy, it’s so yummy and will warm you right up!

Let me first start by doing a quick recap of Halloween. I took a few days off work and headed to my favorite spooky city, Savannah.

Ohhh yeah. That's right. Let me stay at your place and I WILL bring all of my Halloween decorations and take over. Throughout the weekend...

There were a lot of wigs.

There were a lot of stripes.

There was a lot of makeup. Overall, it was a spooky success. But also exhausting. Which brings me back to Taco Soup.

The ingredients are simple.

-two cans black beans (or one big can)

-two cans pinto beans (or one big can)

-one can diced tomatoes

-one can corn

-one can green chiles

-one can kidney beans

-package of macaroni noodles

-one packet taco seasoning

-ground turkey

-fritos (for garnish)

-cilantro (for garnish)

Brown the ground turkey. Once cooked through, add in the crockpot with all the beans, corn, tomatoes and chiles. There are certain things I like to strain and some that I don't. I do not strain the can of tomatoes, chiles, or black beans. But I will strain the corn, kidney beans, and pinto beans. If I'm feeling extra healthy I will rinse them off entirely. After all of this is in the crockpot, add the taco seasoning packet and about 4 cups water, more or less depending on if you like it soup-ey or stew-ey. 

Cook on low for 4 hours. When you are ready to eat, cook noodles according to the package. Layer the bowl with noodles on bottom, soup on top, and garnish with fritos and cilantro (and cheese if you like).

The perfect rainy day soup. Now get on your pajamas and enjoy.

I have listened to this song on repeat. It's good for rainy soup days. Listen here.

a ramen makeover

*Original post: September 14th, 2015

Let me start by telling you about my life long love affair with Ramen noodles. It all started back in the 4th grade when my friend Charlotte introduced me to them. Chicken flavor, ate them out of coffee mugs, INSTANT love. I immediately told my mother we must have them in the household. 

The love turned more intense in the 5th grade and became a daily obsession. Every day after school, my friend Courtney and I would get off the bus, go to my house, and make ramen noodles. I had moved on from chicken flavor and onto Oriental flavor (the BEST flavor). 

Moving onto 6th grade, still my favorite after school snack. New tradition since we were in a new neighborhood. I would come home from school, make my ramen noodles and take them to the basement with a Capri Sun and probably watch Degrassi or some other teen melodrama. 

Once I got into high school, I decided I was a mature human being and I shouldn't eat plain Ramen noodles every day. So I decided to spruce things up...adding a little soy sauce here and there, leftover chicken, an egg, cucumbers, all sorts of things. I eventually realized just HOW MUCH sodium is in those little packets of heaven and I gradually cut that out (for the most part). Over the years this has been tweaked and changed, but ultimately this is the recipe it has come down to.

Let's start with the basics. No matter what I change up for this recipe, these are a constant. Ramen noodles (obvi), cilantro, shredded carrots, and my special asian sauce that I pretty much use for any asian recipe I make. We'll get to that. 

I like to add in some kind of protein if I have it available. This is a great time to use leftover chicken, steak, shrimp, or I will just use tofu. Now I wish I could take credit for this adorable, perfect little chicken, but alas I cannot. I brought this one home from work and it is delicious. Rotisserie chickens from your local grocery store work great. I cut up about 1/4 cup chicken. 

Alright, so I used to be such an OCD freak about making sure I followed the Ramen instructions to a T. Always been a big rule follower. Exactly 2 cups water (no more, no less), setting a timer for 3 minutes (just watching the clock?? no way), and using the whole seasoning packet. I have since moved on from my OCD ways, in this situation at least. So it doesn't really matter how much water you put in the pot because you will be pouring most of it out anyway. Just eyeball about 2 cups ish.

Once the water boils add in the noodles and set the timer for 3 minutes. OK OK you caught me, I still follow that rule. While the water is boiling/noodles cooking, shred the carrots, prep whatever else you are adding in, and make the special asian sauce.

Here it is, the special Asian sauce of yumminess:

- 2 tblsp tamari (soy sauce is fine too, but I prefer the taste of tamari)

-1 tsp chili paste

-1 tsp ground fresh ginger

-1 tsp peanut sauce

- however much sriracha you think can handle (I use a few squirts, about a teaspoon) 

If I am using a protein, I let the chicken or whatever I am using marinate in this sauce while I get everything else together. 

Once your noodles are done, drain out how ever much water you want. If you used 2 cups water, I will usually pour out one cup. You want the noodles to still have some liquid, but not to be too soupy. 

Add in the sauce, chicken, carrots, cilantro, just a dash or two of the seasoning packet and voila!

A noodle makeover. Your taste buds will thank you.  

*A healthier option: throw out the seasoning packet entirely.

**An even healthier option: use rice noodles instead of ramen. 

Tunes while I noodle it:

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This song is seriously addictive, just a prewarning. Listen here.