Taco Seasoning for Taco Meat

Well, here it is Sunday, and looking for a quick lunch/dinner after church. I used to make tacos for Sunday dinner all the time when our kids were young as it was quick and they liked it (or at least they ate it). How could I lose? Anyway, decided to make it today as I thought I had all the ingredients. Turns out – no taco seasoning! After a quick search on the Internet, I came up with something I thought would work based on several ideas.

Taco Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. Ancho chili powder (this is a milder, sweeter chili powder that I really like – sub as you wish)
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea saltĀ  (you can use regular salt; I’m just a lover of sea salt as flavor seems brighter)
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper (this is really a ballpark measure – I ground until I was sick of it)
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • NOTE: I add fresh onions and garlic to my taco meat – otherwise you will want to add onion and garlic powder.

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. This batch should make 2 batches of taco meat, depending on how much you use.

If you want to know how I used it, here’s what I did today… tomorrow may be different šŸ™‚

Put it together with the hamburger:

  1. Brown 1 lb hamburger, draining fat.
  2. Add 3-4 cloves garlic and 1 onion, chopped. Cook until onions are done.
  3. Drain 1 15 oz can dark red kidney beans. Rinse, add to meat mixture and mash slightly.
  4. Add 1 small can of diced green chilies
  5. Add 2 Tbsp. of Taco seasoning and 1 cup of water. Cook until desired consistency, adding water if needed.
  6. Put your tacos together as desired.
  7. This went over VERY well with all present. The green chilies and kidney beans were a new addition and think I’ll keep them.

New Chili Recipe

Hot Peppers from our garden

Hot Peppers from our garden

I was at my sister’s this past week and she made chilil…. a nice dish to welcome the fall weather. It inspired me to make a pot of chili when I got home. Instead of my usual recipe where I marinate the meat overnight (which should be another entry), I put this together using hot peppers from our garden. Not sure what the variety of pepper it is, but it added a nice kick to the chili. Here’s a picture of the peppers in case anyone knows what they are (I didn’t plant them).

Here’s the recipe as I recall. There is no recipe to reference… just put it together as the mood suited me at the moment.

My New Chili Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 14 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4+ hot peppers, minced (wear latex/vinyl gloves when you do this – voice of experience speaking. You are NEVER as careful as you think you will be.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Ancho Chili Powder (much milder and a bit sweeter than regular chili powder)

    Chili server with tortilla chips

  • 1 Tbsp. Cumin powder
  • 2 tsp. of oregano
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Putting it Together:

  1. Brown hamburger, seasoning with salt and pepper as desired & then set aside.
  2. Heat Olive Oil and then saute celery, garlic, and onions until soft. Add hamburger.
  3. Add Ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano and hot peppers. cook a few minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, and kidney beans, mixing thoroughly.
  5. Cover and simmer 1-2 hrs to meld the flavors. Add water if it becomes too thick.
  6. Server with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt if desired.

Spaghetti My Way

I really like to make a huge pot of spaghetti sauce and serve it with whole wheat thin spaghetti. I think it’s a comfort food – at least for me. I used to make the sauce from scratch (many years ago), then went to buying spaghetti, and then with some input from my son, I used a purchased spaghetti sauce that has been “doctored up.” Here’s my version.

Spaghetti Sauce My Way

1 1/2 lbs ground beef, browned well, with lots of fresh ground pepper and some sea salt to season (son says to be sure and brown it well and don’t skimp on the pepper – he knows what he’s talking about!)
1 large onion, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 32 oz. jar spaghetti sauce – I’ve used a variety of brands with good results. Usually get a roasted garlic, or basil seasoned one
2 – 15 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup. chopped parsley
1 lb. box whole wheat spaghetti (I also like the Barilla Plus)
Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Start browning ground beef, draining any excess fat. When beef is almost done, add the garlic and onions and continue cooking until onions are limp… another 5-7 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, basil, oregano, and crushed red peppers. Add enough water to make sauce desired consistency. I usually add about 1/2 cup.
3. Cook spaghetti another 10 minutes or so until flavors are melded.
4. Add parsley and cook a few more minutes.
5. While spaghetti sauce is cooking, boil water in large stock pot. Add a couple teaspoons of sea salt, and cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain.
6. Serve sauce over spaghetti and top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

I like to serve this with stir-fried broccoli or mixed salad greens.

My Birthday Meal – Featuring Spinach-Beef Lasagna

Was invited out for an evening meal on my birthday, but both Alan and I felt we’d rather cook a meal at home instead, so had the inviters become the invitees. Ā Hadn’t made lasagna in a long time, so decided this would be the main dish. Served with roasted asparagus and mixed salad greens with a balsamicĀ vinaigretteĀ to complete the meal. One of the guests brought brownies for dessert (heavenly) and another a nice red Spanish wine.

Everyone absolutely loved the lasagna. And here is the recipe:

Spinach Beef Lasagna

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
26-32 oz. jar sphagetti sauce (I used a Basil Tomato flavor)
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup water, about (substitute a dry red wine for half the water – awesome)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
15 oz. carton ricotta cheese
10 oz. pkg of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/3 cupĀ ParmesanĀ cheese
2 cupsĀ mozzarellaĀ cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
8 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Brown hamburger, draining fat as needed. When almost done, add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are almost done – another 5-7 minutes. Add about a tsp of sea salt and about 1/2 tsp. black pepper. I grind my black pepper, so it’s hard to give an amount, but like putting a lot of black pepper on ground beef as it adds a nice flavor.
2. Add spaghetti sauce, diced tomatoes, basil, oregano, pepper flakes. Cook another 5-10 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust the seasonings as desired. The herb amounts are guesstimates as I just grabbed some out of the spice bag.
3. Add enough water to make the mixture a bit on the soupy side. The uncooked noodles will absorb this liquid during the baking phase. If it looks too soupy, cook it down a bit.
4. In another bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, and spinach.
5. In a 9 x 13 inch pan, put 2 cups of the tomato/beef mixture. Layer 3 noodles lengthwise, and then a 4th noodle across the top. You may have to break a part of the 4th noodle off to fit.
6. Spread the ricotta cheese mixture over the noodles, followed by 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
7. Top with 1 1/2 cups tomato/beef tomato mixture.
8. Add 4 more lasagna noodles in same fashion as noted above and then top with the remaining tomato beef mixture.
9. Bake in a 375 degree oven until noodles are done – 45-60 minutes (the whole wheat noodles will take closer to an hour).
10. Top with remaining cup of mozzarella cheese along with some more Parmesan if desired. Put back in oven another 5 minutes to melt cheese.
11. Remove from oven and let stand 15-20 minutes before serving.