Baked Tacos

This meal is by far–by far–the biggest hit ever for my family. It’s pretty simple–you make tacos and put them in the oven to melt the cheese. Easy with a big payoff–all the winning.

In my opinion, the tacos work better with a bean situation on the bottom (Simon and I like refried beans and black beans, Ian likes just refrieds, and Clara likes just black). Jason, of course, opts out of the beans, and I think his tacos are just a little soggy on the bottom, but he doesn’t mind; he raves about these tacos just as much as anyone else.

Ingredients:

  • 10 stand-up taco shells (Old El Paso is the only brand I know that makes these, but it’s the flat bottom, not the brand that is important here)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (or, you know, red onion if that’s what you have)
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed (I use a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained very well
  • 1 package (1 ounce?) taco seasoning (I use 3 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning)
  • refried beans (1/2 a can or so)
  • black beans (1/2 a can or so)
  • shredded cheese (most of an 8-ounce bag probably)
  • taco toppings of your choice: green onions, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, jalapeños, etc.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and bake shells by themselves for 5 minutes to crisp them up (they will fit rather loosely in a 9×13 pan, 6-8 down the middle and 2 or 4 on the sides).
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add the chicken, tomatoes and chiles, and taco seasoning to the skillet and mix well.
  4. When the shells come out of the oven, fill the shells with beans on the bottom (refried, black, or a combination), then the chicken mixture almost to the top. Top with a generous amount of cheese on each taco.
  5. Bake 7-10 minutes until cheese is melted.
  6. Server with your favorite taco toppings.
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Taco Tot Casserole

My friend Joan contributed this recipe to our freezer meal group years ago. It’s a very Nebraskan dish; right up there with “salads” made with whipped cream folded in. And seriously, don’t knock it. It’s super yummy.

1lb lean ground beef
1 – 1.25oz pkg taco seasoning mix
1 – 15oz whole kernel corn, drained
1 – 11oz can nacho cheese soup, undiluted
4 cups frozen tater tots
salsa (opt)
sour cream (opt)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a skillet cook beef until brown. Drain. Stir in taco seasoning mix and add water, cook as directed on package of taco seasoning. Spoon meat mixture into an
un-greased 2-quart casserole dish. Spread corn over beef. Spoon undiluted soup over corn and arrange tater tots in a single layer over this.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly and potatoes are lightly browned. If desired, serve with salsa and sour cream.

Yield: 5-6 servings.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

IMG_5255This recipe is endlessly adaptable. Your family likes their tacos hot? Add more red pepper flakes (we like it mild, so I only add half). Like it salty? Double the salt. Don’t like cumin? Use less or leave it out. You get the idea. The base amounts here makes about 3 tablespoons. In tacos, I like to use about 3 tablespoons per pound of meat, so when I make a batch, I usually double or triple the spices (pictured is a quadruple batch).

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (I use flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon flour (optional)

Directions:

  1. Stir all ingredients together until combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Just Like Chipotle’s Corn Salsa

My husband loves Chipotles’ corn salsa and now I think I might, too. This recipe, via how sweet it is, is delicious.

(Makes a big bowl)

1 12-ounce bag of frozen sweet yellow corn, defrosted and drained
2 medium-sized jalapenos, seeded and chopped (leave in some seeds for more heat if desired)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, torn or chopped
the juice of 2 (juicy!) limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix, mix, mix. Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Add more cilantro, jalapeno or lime according to your tastes!

Enchiladas

Originally posted in October 2008, this has been a regular in our household. Brook’s friend Melissa taught her how to make these, and Brook taught me. It’s an extremely flexible recipe, a little iffy on the measurements. It’s one of those recipes that gets better with a little experimentation.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken marinated or seasoned however you like (ranch dressing, cumin, salt, garlic powder, taco seasoning, etc.), cut into 1-inch chunks (Last time I made this, I used four large chx breasts and it made enough for 10 enchiladas)
  • Onions
  • Green peppers
  • Beans (refried beans or black beans or refried black beans)
  • Cheese
  • Tortillas
  • Enchilada sauce
  • More cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook chicken and onions and peppers with seasonings until the chicken is done and the vegetables are on their way to soft.
  2.  Spoon beans into a tortilla and add chicken mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll up the tortilla and set seam-side down in a baking dish. Repeat until you run out of filling.
  3. Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Add more cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Rice

This is a copycat recipe for Chipotle’s rice — and, yeah, I think it’s pretty close. The quantities are approximate, so you can tweak it according to your tastes, but this should get you started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked rice (in theory you could use leftover rice, but I think it’s probably better to prepare the rice fresh for this recipe)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime (2-3 tablespoons if you’re using the bottled stuff, which works just fine IMO)
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Ummm . . .  mix it all together when the rice is still hot.


Creamy Salsa Dip

From the Dannon yogurt lid, a yummy dip recipe (and a good way to use the rest of the plain yogurt orginally needed for Chicken Tikka Masala).

Ingredients

  • 2 C plain yogurt
  • 1 C salsa
  • 3 1/2 T chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 t sea salt

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  2. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use.