October 9, 2008

Jen's Tacos and Pinto Beans...Ole`!

I need an easy dinner tonight because I have had a harrowing day. I don't really want to get into the details, other than it has not been fun. I know...it is not really nice to say something like that and not give up any specifics. What can I say...it is my blog...and I am cranky. Let's just leave it at that! Anyway, I have some leftover salad ingredients that are not plentiful enough to make up a couple of salad. However, they can be stretched into taco fixings. Since I have an aversion to wasting food of any kind, I feel compelled to use every last bit of leftovers in my house. That includes salad ingredients that go south relatively quickly.

My taco "recipe" is really hardly a recipe at all. It is more of a combining of items in a skillet. Mainly, I use what I have on hand. It is super-simple, and requires little preparation. For example, I don't have fresh tomatoes; I will rinse and drain a can of diced tomatoes instead, and cook half of them with the beef. The other half will go into the beans and be used as taco toppings. You don't have to add all the 'stuff' that I add to the beef. The recipe is easily adaptable and you can add or subtract items, without detriment to the taco meat. Really, I add all the extras to clean out my fridge.

I think I will serve this meal with Jen's Pinto Beans ...and that is it. I bought the crunchy corn taco shells a while ago, so it will be nice to make some room in my pantry. This meal is always a family favorite!

Jen's Tacos

1 lb. of ground beef
1 packet of taco seasoning
3/4 cup of water
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 a can of diced tomatoes
1 small can of green chiles
1 chipotle pepper, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Taco fixings:
hard or soft taco shells
diced green onion
diced white onion
sour cream
shredded cheese
diced tomatoes
pickled jalapenos

Brown ground beef in skillet over medium heat. Drain off any extra fat. Add minced garlic, diced tomatoes, chipotle chile, green chile, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Combine and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add taco seasoning packet and water. Stir to combine. Let simmer until sauce is formed, and most of water has evaporated. For serving, place a scoop of meat in taco shell and top with the fixings of your choice.

Now on to the beans...

I decided to re-post my old recipes, instead of making you dig through my old blog posts to find them.

Jen's Pinto Beans

1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 14.5 oz cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of Ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon of hot sauce (Tamazula brand)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or regular dried oregano)
1/2 cup of Jen's Homemade salsa (or any salsa you like)
1 chipotle chile, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon of lime juice
3/4 cup of beef stock
plenty of salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped, to finish
1 tablespoon of butter, to finish

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add beans and stir for approx 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients (except for cilantro and butter) to pan. Stir to combine. Heat until simmering. Turn heat to medium and reduce mixture until slightly thick and sauce is formed. Add butter and cilantro, stir to combine, and serve.

Jen's Notes:
You could use dried pinto beans for this recipe too; however dried beans must be soaked in water beforehand to soften. Just follow the package directions for soaking and the result should be the same, if not better.

Also, I will add the 1/2 can of diced tomatoes...just to use 'em up!

The Result:
The tacos and beans were yummy. Seriously, can you really go wrong with taco night??? I don't think so. This is such a comforting, kid-friendly meal. I always think of my elementary school experience when we have this dinner. I always got super-excited for taco day in the school cafeteria. Sigh....yummy, yummy school tacos. Somehow, they always tasted better when served by an old woman wearing a hair net. Just in case you are wondering, I did not get excited for fish stick day. Even as a young child, I had definite opinions about my likes and dislikes. Fish sticks just horked me off. Bleeaach! Vile fish sticks. Although, I don't mind them now, as an adult. Ugh. Okay...how was that for a tangent? You get a dinner review and some insight into my little world I like to call "The Jen Bubble". Double Ugh.

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