Monday, April 7, 2014

Must Try ::: Taco Night!

All photos by {accordingtoame}

Spring is FINALLY here, today is the Cardinals Home Opener and with the awesome weather and fun plans are starting to fill the calendar, so naturally you want to make something fun for dinner.  

Lately, I am looking for more options for semi-healthy dinners that are not just thaw and cook from my Time for Dinner selection in the freezer.  And in specific, trying to avoid really "comforty" stuff like stews and chilis.  One of the favorites in our house, and I am sure any house, is Taco Night.  

Normally when I make taco meat, I mix grassfed, hormone free 93/7 beef with 93/7 ground turkey. That helps cut the fat down considerably and I never even need to drain it.  I usually let the browned meat cool a bit and then use my hands to break it down before I season it.  That isn't a quick process but it's totally worth it and each little bit of meat goes further.  Usually we have enough here for us to each have 4 tacos (I did say "semi healthy...") and then still have meat for a nacho night later that week.

Now, I have several recipes for various types of tacos, but this is the old standby and it's far from a "groundbreaking recipe." I've just found a "technique" for the meat that seems to make it go farther, and really cut down on fat and calories at the same time. 

Taco Meat Mixture 

1lb 93/7 Grassfed Ground Beef (or just the leanest ground beef you can get)

1lb 93/7 Ground Turkey
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (I often use pre-chopped, either fresh from produce or frozen Ore-Ida)
1 Old El Paso Stand and Stuff taco kit
2 extra packets Old El Paso taco seasoning (in addition to the one that comes from that Stand and Stuff kit)
1 1/2 cup water (more or less as needed)


In a large skillet, brown the beef, turkey and onions together. When completely browned, turn off stove, remove skillet from heat, and let cool down for about 15 minutes. 

Once the meat is cool enough to handle with your hands (you can wear disposable hair dye gloves if you want), start breaking the meat down into really tiny bits. The ultimate goal is really tiny bits if possible, but if your taste prefers chunkier bits, that's fine.  We just like it very broken down, almost like how Taco Bell does it--sidebar::: I haven't had Taco Bell in over 5 years, but this is how I recall their meat being broken down.  The onions are going to be practically invisible for the most part. They'll be cooked down into the meat. 


Once the meat is fully broken down, add the water and two packets of seasoning. If you like more seasoning, make sure you have a spare packet (it's included in the ingredients above.) I usually add about 1/4 or 1/2 of another packet, or a scoop from my giant McCormicks shaker from Costco to add extra if need be.

Turn heat back on to about Medium to reheat through.  While the meat is reheating, warm the shells in the oven.

When everything is ready to assemble, usually our process includes a small amount of black beans on the bottom of the shell, followed by a scoop of meat, shredded cheese, I add sour cream and taco sauce or salsa to mine, and then a TON of shredded lettuce to bulk them up more.

Package up remaining meat, and use for more tacos later in the week, or for lunch, or serve over chips with cheese dip and other nacho fixins.

A recipe I am looking forward to trying is the HG-Rific Taco Meat which is a crockpot version I got from Hungry Girl's email newsletter.  I have been waiting for a chance to try this out on the sly, because my husband is not a fan of mushrooms at all, and I am curious to see if he notices a difference in flavor or texture. I know he likes how I normally make it, so I might have to prepare him for an "experiment."  I wonder if using a mix of turkey and beef might still work? We shall see. 

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