July 16th, 2009

Beef Tacos, er “Beach” Tacos

Our beachy vacation featured yummy meals at night. Dinner was always a highlight of the day — after hours of hard play in the sun and sand we were RAVENOUS when it came time to eat.

So one night we made beef tacos (customized for each person, of course) with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and salsa. But this time we made the taco meat with fajita seasoning. It was a little twist on the tried-and-true taco seasoning packet. Plus, I added my own minced onions.



Oh yeah, I made a rice pilaf, too, to mix it up a little bit from the typical Spanish rice.  I added minced onions to that, too.  Mmmmm, oniony.

This was one meal EVERY person in our group enjoyed. And with 4 kids in the mix, that’s sayin’ something!!!

January 14th, 2009

Tacos 2.0

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know my sister-in-law Sandy takes every meal to another level of flavor-infused goodness.

Even something like tacos become THE BEST TACOS YOU’VE EVER HAD.


Here, Sandy tells us just what she did to wow our family with a smorgasbord of flavors, colors, and amazing scents — all the things that make a great meal.

Taco Night.  Our first meal in Florida as a large group came together pretty quickly.  Nothing fancy, but everyone really enjoyed it.  I think there were about 14 of us on taco night, and this meal came together in less than an hour. 

I think the secret to good tacos is using good quality beef and cooking it well, without quite as much seasoning as those little packages suggest you use.  Try using a little less (I use only about a third a package per pound of meat) and seasoning the meat with a little salt and fresh ground pepper and your favorite salsa or picante sauce.  This is a super quick meal that is fun for a crowd, and can really be put together very quickly if you get organized.  Do all of your chopping to start, then start on what takes longest.  Get your guests to help – chop garnishes, make margaritas, etc.

0.  Prep Garnishes and/or recruit volunteers to prep garnishes and get drinks going.


1. Begin Rice.  Dice all of the onions needed for the recipes (1 ½) and peel and dice carrot for rice. Start rice pilaf by cooking vegetables, and then adding rice, cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and set timer for 20 minutes. 


2. Begin Black Beans and Taco meat  : chop bacon and add to cold frying pan. Turn heat to medium and cook bacon until brown, add beans and picante sauce and cook over low heat until thoroughly warmed thru and beans are tender.  Meanwhile, heat oil and begin taco meat preparation as directed below. Add liquid to beans as necessary to prevent beans from burning. Mash beans as desired with potato masher, fork or handheld blender.


3. Preheat oven for crispy taco shells when the rice has just a few minutes left.  The taco shells take less than 5 minutes to warm up- don’t let these suckers burn, they go quickly!

Quick Tacos for a Crowd

1 Tbsp Canola or vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced small

3# Ground Beef, 85%-95% Lean Ground Sirloin or other good quality Beef

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 pkg taco seasoning (for 1# ground beef)                                                                                

Heat oil over medium/high heat in large heavy bottomed skillet or saucepan until shimmering, then add onion and cook until translucent.  Add ground beef, salt and pepper.  Cook until ground beef is brown.  If there is excessive fat, beef may be drained at this point.  Add taco seasoning and water as directed on package.  Cook as directed, adding salt and pepper and or hot sauce as necessary and to taste.

Scrumptious “Refried” Black Beans

6 strips bacon, chopped

2 cans black beans or “refried” style black beans

½ cup picante sauce or salsa

½ cup cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese


Spanish Style Rice

2 carrots, peeled and diced

½ onion, diced

1 package yellow rice, plus water for package directions (may substitute ½ cup picante sauce for ½ cup of the water called for on the package directions)


Taco bar Condiments:

Shredded Lettuce

Diced Tomatoes


Diced Avocado or Guacamole

Shredded Cheese

Crunchy Taco Shells

Tortilla Chips


September 26th, 2008

Oh, Taco, You’re So Fine

You’re so fine you blow my mind. (Who grew up in the ’80s?)

I got a new camera and my favorite subject (besides my kids) is beef.

Is there a support group for this?

Yeah, I know the photo is a bit dark. Cut me some slack. I’ll get better.

I made tacos this week and they were mighty tasty. Here’s what I did . . .

Scrumptious Tacos

1 lb. ground beef with Vidalia onion (check it out here)

1 pkg. “over-the-counter” taco seasoning (that’s code for McCormick taco seasoning packet)

Salt and pepper to taste

Add grated cheddar cheese, lettuce and whatever else floats your boat on your taco

Does anyone else horde the Fire Sauce packages from Taco Bell to use at home when cooking Mexican food? Nothing else in any store comes close to the hot, hot spicy taste. And it flavors my own cooking even better than it does icky Taco Bell.

I don’t actually eat there. My husband brings those packets home to me when he does. He’s a dear.

Enjoy your weekend and send me your own photos of your favorite beef dishes!!