Monday, May 7, 2012

Tacos Two Ways

The Ingredients

Originally this was going to be a one way taco post but... Today I had the privilege of having lunch with my fabulous high school friend, Katie, and her beautiful 10 month old daughter, Claire. Normally, a lunch date would not have any power over my dinner plans. However, we went to a restaurant that has crazy addictive rolls to dip in creamy crab soup. One bowl of soup and 4 rolls later, on the way back to the office, I decided that I should probably take the processed carb out of my part of the taco dinner for tonight. I had some romaine lettuce on hand and settled on a taco salad.

I'm going to try to start taking pictures of all of the ingredients together before I start cooking. I had never used the 'Stand and Stuff' type of hard taco before but they were on sale and cheaper than the store brand that I usually grab so I decided to give them a try. I will never buy a round bottom taco again!!! As you will see later, you can literally stuff these tacos to the brim with yummy fixins and they won't fall over on the trip to the dinner table. And let me tell you, fully stuffed and standing tacos make the happy husband even happier. The other thing that I don't necessarily advocate is the usage of pre-made seasonings. I did use some on this meal but it was the low sodium version. I find that the low sodium versions of the pre-made seasonings are actually pretty good and they are no more expensive. The last item that I'd like to single out now is the fresh cilantro. Our garden and potted herbs are really starting to take off with the warmer weather. The cilantro was started from seed in late winter inside and this was the first time I was able to use it :) The Happy Husband and I are working very hard on our garden this year and I hope to show you even more of our harvest throughout the summer.

Tacos are a great weeknight dinner because they are quick. I would imagine if you used the fresh salsa and prepared guacamole (Wholly Guacamole is a good brand) from the produce department of your grocery store you could get this meal done in about 20 minutes. I had the time and decided to make my guacamole and salsa at home in order to really control the flavors in my taco toppings. I also went with canned black beans to speed up the meal prep time.

I used ground beef for my taco meat today. I spoke with my sister and she was having tacos tonight too! She was having ground turkey for her taco meat and that is perfectly fine for this preparation. You could even use some, in my opinion nasty, fake, imitation ground tofu if that even exists. Although, if I were going to go vegetarian on this one, I would just bump up the black beans and maybe even add some diced mushrooms. You will want to brown the ground meat and break it up as it is cooking to 'taco meat' size. Make sure you DRAIN the fat from your ground meat before adding the seasonings. If you don't, you will more than likely end up with a gassy partner and a possible emergency bathroom situation, not to mention its straight fat and that's just plain nasty. Add the seasoning packet, or home made seasoning blend, to your taco filling as directed and set it to the side with the lid on to stay warm.

Black Bean Flavorings

I like to keep it pretty simple for the black bean seasoning. I saute some onion, garlic and jalapeno in a little bit of olive oil. If you were using dried beans you would want to add some salt here but there is no need for salt with the canned beans. Once the onion, garlic and jalapeno have softened up a bit, add the drained and rinsed black beans and a few tablespoons of water. You can also throw in some chili powder or cayenne depending on how you like your beans. 


Next you need to make the guac and salsa. If you were in a hurry and went with the prepared at the store toppings, remove the lid to the salsa, slice open the guac package and squeeze it into a bowl... DONE!! If you are an overachiever/perfectionist like me get ready to slice and dice. The guacamole, salsa and black beans all have similar ingredients so finely chop enough of each of the garlic, jalapeno and onion to cover the three toppings. For the guacamole, you will need to dice the avocado and tomato and add some lemon juice to the avocado for flavor and so it doesn't turn brown. Use a fork to mash together some salt, the avocado and lemon juice. Then stir in a little bit of minced garlic, the onion and jalapeno to taste. Add some tomato too to keep it traditional. NOTE: Lime juice is traditional in both salsa and guacamole but lemons were what I had, so that's what I used. Throw some of the freshly chopped cilantro in as well. For the salsa, just stir together a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, jalapeno, tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Make sure that you don't refrigerate anything that you make with fresh tomatoes. Cooling the tomatoes causes a chemical reaction that messes with (ruins) the flavor that you just worked so hard to create. 

Now its time to assemble your yumminess!! Remember that you eat with your eyes first so you will want to make sure its pretty. For the Happy Husband, I served the beans on the side with the tacos. I like to put the shredded cheese on the bottom, flat part, of the taco. Doing this will keep the tacos from getting too soft on the bottom and cracking when you try to bite into them. Next layer is your taco meat mixture. For the toppings, put a few dollops of light sour cream on the next layer. There really isn't much difference in the flavor between the light and full fat sour cream versions and the light is soo much better for you. Next, add your guacamole and salsa... go for as much salsa as you can fit in the top. You will love it!

After my carb coma wore off this afternoon... I realized I needed something a bit fresher for dinner. If you go this route... please take the time to make it pretty. Even if you are cooking for one, or if you are like me and you plan on stirring it all together as soon as you sit down. Cooking at home and taking the time to make it look like its from a restaurant is SO worth it. You will have something to be proud of and have a reason to enjoy your food for more than just the nutritional value it provides. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to try this one it looks so yummy!!!! the pictures are really good too!