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Soup makes for a meal — minus the fuss

The cooler fall weather is the perfect excuse to serve steaming bowls of hot taco soup.

I recently made this in my soup kettle and transferred it to my crockpot to serve later in the day. I like the convenience of preparing the soup earlier in the day, and the soup was ready when guests were ready to eat.

I had bowls of crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese and sour cream to complete the meal. Served with sliced, fresh french bread made for a delicious meal with very little fuss when guests arrived.

Pam’s Taco Soup

Serving size: 10

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 envelope taco seasoning mix

2 14 1/2-ounce cans whole kernel corn, undrained

2 15-ounce cans chili beans, undrained

2 14 1/2-ounce diced tomatoes, with juice

Crushed tortilla chips

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

In a large saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain Stir in taco seasonings, corn, beans and tomatoes. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Place tortilla chips in soup bowls. Ladle soup over chips. Sprinkle with cheese and top with sour cream.

Apple Rum Dum

Serving size: 9

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 cups diced apples

1 teaspoon soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Butterscotch sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Combine all ingredients in one bowl; mix well. Mixture will be very thick. Pat into a 9-by-9-inch pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Serve warm with butterscotch sauce. To make the sauce, combine the sugar, brown sugar, butter and heavy cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Serve ladled over Apple Rum Dum.

Fall Party Mix

11 ounces pretzels

10 1/2 ounces miniature peanut butter filled butter-flavored crackers

1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup light corn syrup

2 tablespoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

10 ounces Halloween colored M&Ms

18 1/2 ounces candy corn

In a large bowl, combine the pretzels, crackers and peanuts. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla and baking soda (mixture will be foamy). Pour over pretzel mixture and stir until coated. Pour into a greased 15-by-10-inch baking pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Break apart while warm. Toss with M&Ms and candy corn. Cool completely. Store in air-tight containers.

GARY’S TIP: Instead of peeling new potatoes, carrots, and etc., to retain the valuable nutrition, use a wire chore ball to clean the vegetables.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Laughter is a tonic — try a dose.