Monday, May 4, 2009

Keeping it Simple - Taco Night

This is a favorite meal at our house. Whenever we can't think of something to eat we decide on tacos. Very customizable and always delicious. Skip those sodium packed taco seasoning packets and make your own. It's quick and a much better value. I've stopped measuring - but I'll do my best to give you an accurate recipe below.

My biggest pet peeve about making tacos is that they don't sell hard taco shells in packs of less than 10. With two of us, that's 5 servings of tacos! That's why this gets categorized in the 'good for leftovers section'. Make 1.5 lbs of beef and you're set for a few lunches and dinners. Or invite a few friends over for game night and eat it all!

Along with the meat, toppings include:
Fresh shredded sharp cheddar cheese (you could also buy the pre-shredded)
Shredded lettuce
Chopped black olives
Salsa (store-bought)
Fresh guacamole (see the last post)

Good side dish options:
Black Beans
Refried beans
Yellow rice

Taco Seasoning - without the excess sodium
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1 tsp. garlic powder
A few shakes of salt
A few grinds of black pepper
About 2 tbsp. tomato paste (2 good squeezes from the tube)

Brown 1-1.5 lbs. ground sirloin over medium-high heat
Drain excess fat and return to the skillet on medium heat
Add 1/4 cup of water and all of the seasonings
Mix well and cook until the water is absorbed

You could also substitute ground turkey or chicken for a different twist.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Mmm...muffins...meatloaf muffins

About three or four years ago I watched a 30 Minute Meals episode where Rachael Ray made meatloaf muffins. Growing up, we never had meatloaf. When I moved out on my own, I never thought about it as an option. Since I found this recipe I've been making this regularly! The technique lends itself to a lot of creative ingredient combinations. Stick with the basic meat, egg, and breadcrumbs and then its all up to your mood and your ingredients. Sometimes smoky and BBQ flavored, sometimes salsa and southwestern. This was a pretty traditional interpretation. We had leftover jicama salad as our side dish. Great combination of hot and cold, crunchy and smooth!

For the original recipe, click here. My version:

Meatloaf Muffins - This week's version

1 pound ground sirloin (or lean ground beef)
1 yellow onion, cut into quarters
1 orange or red pepper, seeds removed and cut into chunks
1 jalapeno, seeded and cut into chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup of ketchup + extra for topping
1/2 cup of smoky barbecue sauce
1-2 tablespoons of Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
Oil to grease the muffin tins

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place the ground beef in a large bowl
Place the onion, pepper, and jalapeno into a food processor
Pulse until finely chopped and then add to the bowl with the meat
Add egg, ketchup, BBQ sauce and seasoning to the bowl and mix
Add bread crumbs and mix until well combined (but don't over mix)
Brush muffin tins with either vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
I use a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup to scoop the meatloaf mixture into the tins and pat them down
Top each muffin with BBQ sauce (I didn't have any extra sauce, so I used ketchup on top)
Bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through
Use a spoon to remove from the pan

Makes about 8-10 muffins.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-25 minutes
Food processor, cutting board and knife, muffin tin, 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, spoon

Fresh Flavors....Jicama!

Some nights you just really don't feel like making a labor-intensive dinner. We had grilled some sirloin tips along with the mushrooms from the other night and were planning to take the steak for lunch. Instead, we heated them up and served them with homemade guacamole and a jicama salad. It's easy to get into a vegetable rut - asparagus, green beans, peas - and just keep repeating. One of my goals is to use more variety in our meals. This is a simple as checking out the new arrivals in the produce section and choosing seasonal veggies.

Since the steak was already cooked, it just needed a quick warm up. Guacamole is our favorite condiment and can be done in less than 3 minutes. The jicama salad is also very easy and quick. You just need a sharp knife and your ingredients! I used an assortment of veggies that we had in the fridge to create the salad. You could add and subtract ingredients according to your taste. It tasted great the next day too!

Jicama Salad with Citrus Dressing
1 jicama root, peeled
1/2 of a seedless cucumber (English cucumber)
1/4 of a red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 orange (any variety)
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 teaspoons of cilantro
Dash of salt

Peel jicama root, removing the outer skin
Using a sharp knife, cut the jicama into 1/4 inch sticks and place in serving bowl
Cut cucumber into 1/4 inch sticks and place into bowl
Slice onion and add to bowl
Cut the orange in half, then cut each half into 2 pieces
Using a knife, cut the peel way from the flesh making sure to cut off all the white pith
Cut into small wedges and add to bowl
In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the lemon and lime juice and cilantro
Pour over the salad and toss well
Refrigerate for about 20 minutes before serving

Makes about 6 servings as a side dish.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: None!
Sharp knife, cutting board, measuring cup or small bowl, serving dish, serving utensils

Lara's Guacamole
1 avocado
About 2-3 tablespoons of diced red onion
Diced fresh jalapeno (seeded) - amount varies based on personal taste
Juice from half a lime

Using sharp knife, cut avocado in half and remove the pit
Score the avocado into cubes on the inside (it will come out in cubes)
Scoop out the avocado into a serving bowl and mash until desired consistency
Add onion, jalapeno, lime juice and seasoning
Stir and serve immediately

Serves 2.

Prep time: 2-3 minutes
Cook time: None!
Knife, spoon, fork or masher, and bowl


Related Posts with Thumbnails