Thursday, August 1, 2013

Emergency tacos

While on maternity leave, V1.0 has still been going to daycare.  That may be flameworthy to some, but it has given me the fantastic opportunity to bond equally with V2.0, and also to get some things done around the house.

I've found my kitchen again, and that's a good thing.   We are eating more at home, which is really great, for both our budget and our waistlines (both always a struggle for this mama).

The trouble is that we like to eat out.  It is so convenient and doesn't involve a clean up.  I just need to be better about keeping certain staples around.

So, this afternoon, when I was thinking about what might be for dinner, I realized that we had ZERO to feed this family.  What could be healthy for mama, feed V1.0 and interest the mister without heading to the grocery store?

Emergency tacos.

I realized that I had everything to improvise a quick taco dinner already at home!  The only thing missing were the crispy taco shells and taco seasoning.

The last time I needed ground beef for some recipe, I only needed half a pound.  Luckily, I had browned the entire pound with chopped onion and froze half.  So, I threw that in a skillet to warm up.

Then I added a few cubes of frozen chicken broth to help get some moisture back in the beef crumbles.  "Cubes?" you ask?   I use a ton of chicken broth around here.  But never the entire container.  I always pour leftovers in an ice cube tray to use later.  Just pop them out and throw in a freezer bag and keep going!

To make your own taco seasoning in a pinch, add equal parts of the following ingredients:

Onion powder
Garlic powder

Then add chili powder, but two times the amount you did for everything else.   To clarify: if you used 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt, etc., then use half a teaspoon of chili powder. 

I have ancho chili powder on hand, so I did half ancho chili and half regular. The ancho is mild but a bit darker and I think it gives depth to anything calling for chili powder.

So, for my half pound of meat, I used a half teaspoon of everything and a teaspoon total of chili powders.

Throw that in the skillet and mix well into your ground beef/onion mixture. Give it a minute or two on low heat.

I hate to crumble lower fat ground meat when cooking. So, this is when I'm willing to dirty another dish. I throw the meat in the Kitchen-Aid, and using the whisk attachment on a medium speed, I walk away. :)

While that's happening, put everything down and cuddle this person:

Now, put her down and drag out everything else you're going to need:

Shredded cheese
Canned, refried beans
Whatever else you think sounds good

I also have some Bolthouse Farms Yogurt Ranch dressing (have you tried this stuff?!?!?!), and canned chipotles in adobo.  Did you know that chipotles are just smoked jalapenos?  This is another thing you can freeze in ice cube trays.  No recipe EVER calls for the entire can.  One thing to consider, however, is that some chiles lose a bit of heat in the freezing process. 

So, I made our own chipotle ranch by combining two tablesoons of ranch dressing, and one ice cube of adobo with a chopped chipotle. And I had a salad. Sans chips or tortillas.

The mister ate a taco and a salad with beans on the side. 

V1.0 had a beef and cheese quesadilla with beans and tomatoes.


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