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Monday, November 12, 2012

Chile-Cheat Off~A 'Chili' Fall recipe by author and editor Fay Lamb!

Author and Editor Fay Lamb

A chili cook-off. The thought of entering one never occurred to me until I met a wonderful amateur chef by the name of Bob Chalmers. Friends of my mother-in-law, Bob and his wonderful wife, Lynn, had welcomed me into their home while I was seeking me medical treatment at Mayo Clinic.
Bob loved to cook.
I absolutely hate the idea of having a kitchen in my house. It shines like a beacon to my husband, a blinking light that reminds him from time to time that food can be cooked inside the home.
For me, the kitchen stands in my way—the space I have to walk through to get from the living room to the other side of the house. Who needs a kitchen when you have restaurants?
But while I stayed with Bob and Lynn, he shared recipes with me, and since it was free room and board, I wasn't going to let him know that the thought of pulling out a pan or opening up a package caused me to hyperventilate. I keep my breath shallow, and I listened.
Then Bob tells me, "Fay, there's a recipe you'll love. It's called Taco Soup. Including browning the meat, it takes less than ten minutes to throw together."
Throw together. That sounded much better than chopping vegetables and learning to use appliances such as a mixer, steamer, blender, and a Dutch oven (Who knew a Dutch oven is a pot and not an oven?).
Bob told me the recipe. It took him all of twenty seconds. I timed him. Any meal that only took ten minutes to throw together should take less than thirty seconds to explain.
1 lb. hamburger (brown/drain—that's important. I didn't realize that).
16 ounce cans of the following (Do not drain—that's important, too):
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cans kidney beans
1 can corn
1 cup of water
1 package of taco seasoning
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
Mix, heat, and eat.
Serve with Tortilla chips

That's it. The entire recipe. Throw together is an understatement. Other than the first go around where I didn't brown and I drained, this meal has turned out perfect every time.
So perfect, in fact, that when the pastor announced a chili cook-off for our church anniversary, I entered, determined to dethrone the Faith Baptist Church Chili Cook-off King.
As the day drew closer, though, there was a prick in my conscience. "It's Taco Soup, not chili," the annoying voice said.
My reply: "I haven't ever cooked chili, but I do remember it having hamburger, tomatoes, and kidney beans—all the ingredients for chili."
"But the recipe is for Taco Soup."
"Oh, well. I probably won't win. Everyone knows I can't cook."
The last bit of logic won out.
Yes, I cheated at a church chili cook-off. And I won! The winning recipe vanished in no time, and the Faith Baptist Church Chili Cook-off King was a very gracious loser.
Me—not so much a gracious winner. "I won. I won. I won." I danced around.
"You cheated. You cheated. You cheated," said the voice again. And this time, I'm not so sure it was my conscience.
So I came clean. Everyone now knows the recipe is Taco Soup. We laugh about my win from time to time, and I entered it in the last church chili cook off.
I lost, but the Dutch oven (I still can't get over it not being an oven at all) I used to cook the chili—I mean Taco Soup— was empty when I took it home.

Not your typical Christian fiction.
Michael’s fiancĂ©e, Issie Putnam, was brutally attacked and Michael was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s home to set things right.
Two people stand in his way: Issie’s son, Cole, and a madman.
Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart and protect him from the man who took everything from Michael so long ago?
Available through all fine book retailers, Amazon.com, and Mountainview Publishing (http://www.trebleheartbooks.com/MVLamb), a division of Treble Heart Books.


  1. Mary, thank you for the post. You are a dear!

    1. Great blog and recipe! I definitely will be making this. Thanks for contributing!

  2. LOL! Love that recipe. And congrats. Did that make you the chili-cook off queen?

  3. Ha! You're right. Taco Soup is really good.

  4. Marian: No. My pal, Bernie, is still the chili-cook off king. He's the one I stole the title from.

  5. Fay, the recipe sounds yummy. I'm a disaster in the kitchen but I'm going to try this one.

  6. LOL hmmm I make chili all the time in the winter - sometimes thick chili, sometimes chili soup...but hidden Valley Ranch Dressing??? I'll have to think about that.

    Your story sounds wonderful! God bless!!!

  7. Oh my gosh. You are hysterical. What a great story.

  8. Suzie: I only cook to remind my husband why we eat out, and Donna, you won't even taste the dressing. It blends very well. And thank you!