Thursday, August 11
I have to confess something. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to Mexican food. I blame living 20-40 miles from the Mexican border for eight of the last 15 years, with the other seven years still being in California. One of my biggest fears of moving away from the San Diego area is that I won’t be able to access my favorite Mexican ingredients for cooking at home. No, really, it’s a true FEAR.
Now that you know I’m a snob, I have another confession to make. Ground beef tacos are not my favorite and I refer to them as “gringo tacos” in my head (especially when crispy taco shells are involved). This isn’t to say Mexican cuisine does not include seasoned ground beef for tacos, it’s just not my first pick and ground beef is never on the menu at any of my favorite Mexican restaurants. That all said, I will still eat and even cook ground beef tacos occasionally, it’s just never my first choice.
While we were visiting family the last few weeks, however, my sister-in-law Cora (who is a wonderful cook as well as a crazy talented photographer) made the best ground beef tacos I’ve ever had. Her Mexican friend Zu taught her how to make this delectable taco meat, and Cora has now passed that wisdom on to you and me.
Please note: The amount of meat you see in the picture above is the recipe below doubled.
First off, you will not need taco seasoning packets ever again. Stop buying them.
Secondly, after you make this taco meat, you will want to eat 10 tacos. You’ve been warned. (After Nate’s umpteenth taco he declared, “Why are these SO GOOD?!”)
Thank you, Cora, for bringing ground beef tacos back into my life in the most delicious way.Cora's Mexican Ground Beef TacosMy sister-in-law Cora gave me this recipe. Her Mexican friend taught her how to make this meat and it is scrumptious!Author: Cora WallinServes: 8Ingredients
- 1½ pounds ground beef
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (Cora prefers chipotle chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon paprika (Cora uses smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1½ - 2 tsp seasoned salt (to taste)
- 1 handful chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 pint quartered grape tomatoes
- Brown beef over medium heat in a large, preferably deep, skillet. Use a potato masher to really break down the meat as it cooks. (The potato masher is the secret trick to this recipe!)
- When the beef is about halfway browned, drain off excess fat, then add the diced onion and seasonings. Continue browning, then add the chopped cilantro and tomatoes.
- Reduce heat to low and cook until tomatoes and onions melt into the beef mixture, at least 20 minutes. You can add a bit of water as it cooks if needed. Also, continue to use the potato masher throughout the cooking process.
- Awesome served with fresh homemade salsa (like this one), pico de gallo and Cholula hot sauce...but you can eat it however you want!
Friday, April 22
Hi friends. Today’s recipe isn’t really a recipe at all. I would say it’s more of a kitchen tip and one that I am loving. Today I’m going to tell you how to make super easy chicken for tacos that tastes so good. And when I say easy, I mean easy.
My cousin Jamie gave me this idea and I will be forever grateful to her. We were cooking up tacos one night and had chopped up a bunch of grilled chicken thighs. Jamie grabbed some leftover taco seasoning and tossed it in the bowl. GENIUS. The chicken turned out awesome and now I make it this for tacos all the time.
You can use any taco seasoning, but my favorite is from Penzeys. Not only does this seasoning taste great, but it comes in a jar, so you can use as much or as little as you want. It’s so much better than a packet.
Also, I always grill my chicken and while this is super tasty with chicken breasts, chicken thighs are definitely my favorite. Just grill up the meat, cut into bitesized pieces, then toss with taco seasoning.
This seasoned chicken is also great on salad or in a wrap. Basically it’s the best. You’re welcome.
Tuesday, May 27
I have perfected taco night. No, seriously. When you have tacos at my house, they are the best. And, yes, I’m totally bragging. I can’t help it, I am in love with taco night!
Let’s begin with a little history. Until I moved to San Diego, taco night meant hard shell tacos, seasoned ground beef, iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, salsa and cheese. I’m not saying those tacos aren’t good. They totally are, in fact, that’s Cate’s favorite kind of taco. But when we moved to San Diego many years ago and started having dinner at Maria’s house, things started to change. Maria is a close family friend and she also happens to be Mexican. And, when we go to her house, she almost always feeds us homemade Mexican food.
One of our favorite Maria meals is carne asada, corn tortillas, homemade pinto beans and rice, topped with super spicy homemade salsa (of course!). Needless to say, these tacos are quite different than the gringo version I grew up with! Now, whenever I have corn tortillas and homemade beans, I think fondly of Maria and her kitchen.
So, anyway, back to the present. I have finally created the perfect taco night. It’s taken years of cobbling together different recipes, but all of the work has paid off! Thanks to Maria and my new neighbor Ari (also Mexican!) for their inspiration and recipes over the years, I’ve figured out how to create an awesome “taco bar” that will please Mexicans and gringos alike! 😉
Also, I will admit that you do not need ALL of the following ingredients to have a fabulous taco night. But, I will also tell you that when I do spend the time to pull all of this together, it really is magical! (Yep, dinner can be magical in my little world.)The Perfect Taco NightAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- The Tortillas:
- Corn tortillas: These are my absolute favorite for tacos of all kinds!
- Flour tortillas: Even though I gorge on corn tortillas, my family also likes to have flour tortillas handy.
- (Optional) Hard taco shells: It’s good to have some hard shells handy for the pure gringos in the group, like my daughter Cate and my mom Phyllis!
- Do you have a tortilla warmer? If you don’t, you should get one! I love being able to heat up a bunch of tortillas, toss them in the warmer and have them ready all at once when we dig in.
- The Meat:
- Grilled chicken: Whether you cook the chicken in a grill pan with a bit of olive oil on the stove or on an actual grill, simply salt and pepper the chicken prior to cooking and cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF. I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs. Sometimes, after I cut the cooked chicken into small pieces, I will toss it in a bowl with about a quarter of a packet of taco seasoning. Super yum!
- Taco Meat: Everybody still loves good ol’ taco meat! I often use a taco seasoning packet but, if I don’t have that handy, I just season the cooked ground beef or ground turkey with salt, pepper, dried garlic, dried onion, chili powder, paprika and cumin.
- (Optional) Carne Asada: We hardly ever have this because I’m lazy, but it makes for some darn good taco-ing.
- (Optional) Grilled Salmon: This is another one that we rarely serve on taco night, but when we do it’s delish! Click here for a recipe for grilled salmon that is flavored perfectly for tacos.
- The Rice:
- Whether you put the rice right on your taco or eat it on the side, rice is a necessity for the perfect taco night! Click here for a cilantro-lime rice recipe that works great!
- The Toppings:
- Grilled bell peppers and onions (both sliced thin before cooking)
- Avocado (sliced or cut into chunks) and/or guacamole
- Lime slices
- Shredded cheese
- Beans (pinto, black or peruan are all delish!): You can of course use canned beans, but homemade beans are really, truly easy to make and TASTE SO GOOD. Click here for recipe.
- Sour cream
- Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
- Chopped romaine lettuce or jalapeño slaw
- Chopped tomatoes
- Putting It All Together!
- Obviously one taco can’t hold ALL of the yumminess in the list above! Just mix and match your favorite ingredients! Here are my two favorite taco combinations:
- Chicken taco: corn tortilla, grilled chicken, beans, rice, peppers and onions, creamy tomatillo dressing, salsa, avocado
- Grilled salmon taco: flour tortilla, grilled salmon, jalapeño slaw, sour cream, avocado
This post was sponsored by Q Squared NYC. You will find dishes from the Heritage line, the Montecito line and the Provence Blue flatware set in some of the photos above. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I love having Q Squared in my kitchen and that opinion is 100% my own!
Tuesday, May 20
I was recently hired by The Salmon Council to develop a salmon recipe. I was trying to decide between salmon tacos or salmon with a balsamic glaze and just couldn’t settle on which recipe to pursue. I took the dilemma to Facebook (as one does) and the votes overwhelmingly came in for salmon tacos, so I decided to give them a whirl!
The Salmon Council did not hire me to do a blog post, but this recipe turned out so yummy I had to share it with you! Holy smokes, folks. Deeeeeeeeeeelicious. Seriously, this salmon was flavored beautifully, with a nice balance of salty, spicy and sweet. The texture of the fish was perfect and it paired wonderfully with the slaw on the tacos. Basically just super duper yummy food going on here.
Without further ado, the recipe!
Thursday, November 12
Today I’ve got a quick, tasty meal idea for you, thanks to my dear friend Angie who shared this non-recipe-recipe with me recently. It’s her go-to meal and it’s a winner!
In honor of The Pioneer Woman giveaway we’ve got going this week, I did this post Ree style, photographing every step of the cooking process. Thought it would be funny to finally do that with the easiest recipe on my site. Funny, right? A-ha-ha-ha-ha!Easy Peasy Bean TacosEasy to make and delicious to eat!Author: Jane MaynardRecipe type: Main DishCuisine: MexicanIngredients
- Flour or corn tortillas, smaller size
- Shredded cheese
- Can of refried beans
- Toppings you like on tacos…tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, etc.
- Preheat your oven broiler. Heat up the can of beans in a saucepan.
- Place the tortillas on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle some cheese on half of the tortilla (you can also heat them up on the stove, whichever you prefer).
- Pop the tray in the oven, broil until the cheese melts. This is seriously the hardest step of the process. You still with me?
- Schmear on the beans.
- Add your favorite taco toppings.
- Fold. Eat. Enjoy.
We really liked these tacos, and I loved how simple they were to make. But I’ve gotta say, I think a few grilled peppers and onions would give the tacos nice flavor and crunch…but yeah, that involves chopping stuff AND dirtying another pan. So don’t worry too much about it. These are Easy Peasy Bean Tacos, after all.