Taco Night Done Right

Sure, you can buy a set of pre-packaged supplies for taco night…it has the shells & the taco seasoning…I don’t know what else is in there.  At our house, we do tacos a little bit differently.  This all started with my Grannie, who LOVED Mexican food (who doesn’t?)…Taco Night at her house was nothing short of amazing!  A few special touches can really turn up the volume on regular old tacos.  I briefly touched on this way back in the early days of SGS.  I have since been trying to be more conscious about what we we eat, so I have given the taco seasoning in a packet the axe…most have MSG in them.   I tried several DIY taco seasoning recipes…and now have my own.  Most of the recipes I tried were too spicy for my little Owie, so I kept trying until I found something that everyone likes…the first time I made them with this recipe, DH proclaimed them to be the best tacos I had ever made (I’ve made LOTS of them).  So, here is the recipe for the dry taco seasoning:

Homemade Taco Seasoning
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 T chili powder
  • 1½ t garlic powder
  • 1½ t onion powder
  • 1½ t oregano
  • 1 T onion flakes
  • 3 T cumin
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 T pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients together. Store in container with lid, give a shake prior to using to mix ingredients.

Obviously, you can do this with a packet…I did for years.  I buy most of my spices (any that are available) at Costco, so I re-used one of the containers and made a quickie label for it…I really would like to make a prettier label, but that is pretty low on the to-do list ;).

I have a family of 6, so I need to do 2 pounds of meat to feed all of us.  Brown up the meat, and add 4 T of the dry seasoning to it (2 T per pound).  I use ground beef, you can use whatever you like…this would probably even work with shredded beef or chicken. 

Now, here is where my method differs from a packet…I add a can of tomato paste to my 2 pounds of meat.  I’m going to share my tomato paste trick, my Grannie taught me this.  Open the top of the can…

Then flip the can over and open the bottom, don’t worry it is thick enough to not make a mess on your counter…

Now, remove one of the opened ends…and press the end you left on through…

How easy it that?  See…

I find this easier than scooping it out with a spoon.  Now, you will need to add some water to help the spices and tomato paste get blended in with the meat.  I use 1½ cups of water for this amount of meat & tomato paste. 

Mix it all up until the paste is well incorporated…

So, now you have your meat ready for taco night…seems pretty ordinary…time to add that ‘extra’.  I fry my own shells.  I buy tortillas (corn for me, whole wheat for DH)…I have made my own & they are fabulous, but not sure my homemade ones would do as well getting fried, one day I will try.  I start with a small pan of oil over medium heat, let the oil get nice & hot.  The tortilla should bubble as soon as it hit the oil.

I use two forks to shape the shells as they fry.  I vent the bubbles by ripping small holes and pressing the air out.  I can’t get a pic of this in action because I don’t have 3 hands or a willing assistant.  This is what my shells look like when they are done…

I do one more little ‘extra’ to my tacos.  I make a salad to go on top.  The salad is not always the same, but the dressing is.  Yes, I top my tacos with a dressed salad.  My salad always has lettuce (romaine or iceberg)…and it always has oil and vinegar.  Just a shot of each, enough to lightly coat the salad.  I cut my lettuce really thin, like shredded.  Sometimes I add tomatoes…or cilantro…or lime juice…whatever I have.  You may like to add onion, my Grannie added onion…I don’t like raw onions.

From here, I always add shredded cheese…sometimes sour cream, hot sauce, black olives…whatever I have and am in the mood for.  My kids like soft tacos, I use big tortillas so I can wrap it up like a burrito…it keeps the stuff in the taco as the kids pick it up ;).

In the words of my kiddos…”These are a keeper!”…I think they are extraordinary.

Today’s secret revealed…sometimes I’m too lazy to shape the shells into the traditional shape…so we have tostadas ;).  For DH’s whole wheat shells, I trim down the regular sized tortillas (it is hard to find the small ones in whole wheat)…sometimes as an added treat for him I fry the discarded trimmings and top with splenda & cinnamon.  Whole wheat, sugar free cinnamon crisps.

 

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