Oven Baked Tacos

As I’m preparing for dinner the other night, I asked Son # 3 to hand me a can of black beans. He proceeds to root around through the canned bean cubby in the pantry.

Son # 3: Mom, why did you buy garbage can peas?!?!
Me: Huh?
Son # 3: (holding up a can with a look of utter disgust) Garbage. Can. Peas. 
Me: Read that again. It says garbanzo beans.
Son # 3: Oh. Well they still sound gross.

You can’t make this stuff up people!

This was a fun new twist on our regular tacos. Usually, when I make tacos I bake the taco shells separately in the oven for 10 minutes so that the shells are crispy. When you add the ground beef and beans to the picture it’s a whole new story. They’re this perfect mix of crunchy and soft in all the right places. If you want to ensure an even crunch over your entire shell surface area, let more of the liquid evaporate out of your meat mixture. I topped my tacos with chopped roma tomatoes, taco sauce, and some lettuce. Sour cream, salsa, & guacamole were served on the side, because those are Mexican must-have for us. And, of course, no Mexican night is complete for us without some yellow rice. Everybody was happy. All tacos were served toasty and everyone’s cheese was melted to perfection before adding the toppings of their choice. Don’t like pre-made hardshell tacos? That’s ok, too. You can easily sub flour, or even corn, tortillas in instead. Who knew oven-baked tacos were the way to go?!

And for those of you with an eagle eye, we can all just ignore the dirty burners. While they stay on the proverbial to-do list, I’ll be honest in saying they only get cleaned twice once a year.

Oven Baked Tacos

4 Sons 'R' Us: Oven Baked Tacos

2 lbs Ground beef, lean
1 head of lettuce
1 onion
1 tomato
1 can re-fried beans, or black beans
1 jar of salsa
6 oz tomato sauce
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
12 taco shells
cheddar cheese
sour cream

Directions

1. Brown ground beef and drain. Return to pan.
2. Add taco seasoning, beans and tomato sauce.
3. Stir to combine and then heat until the flavors have blended.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with oil.
6. Spoon taco filling into taco shells and stack them side by side in a pan.
7. When shells are filled, top each with shredded cheese and cilantro, if desired.
8. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, watching so they do not brown much.
9. Serve and top with remaining ingredients, if desired.

Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (aka Cookout Casserole)

Baked Beans. Burgers. Typical cookout staples, right? Once upon a time, I never had any idea that they could be improved upon. Then a little fairy Godmother served these at a get together on a silver platter. Ah-mazing! I savored every bite. It was an intense, but brief affair. The clock struck 12, and just like that they were gone. The magic faded, but even after the party I couldn’t forget about them. It took some tracking down, but I found the maker of the magical beans, and there was no going back. This became a dinner, and cookout staple. Obviously, our family lived happily ever after in the kingdom of Beef & Beans.

Debut this cookout season in style. Be the belle of the ball by bringing these babies.

P.S. I’ve gotta tell ya, that these are great slathered on a hamburger bun too!

Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole (aka Cookout Casserole)

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef & Baked Bean Casserole

2 tablespoons vegetable oil or olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped, about 2 cups
1 pound ground beef
2 15-ounce cans Boston-style baked beans
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped, about 1 cup
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
6 slices of your favorite bacon

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef; cook about 10 minutes or until brown, breaking meat up with a fork as it cooks.
3. In a large bowl, combine the beef mixture with the remaining ingredients except the bacon; mix well. Pour beef mixture into the prepared casserole; arrange the bacon slices on top. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake about 45 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Uncover dish and preheat broiler. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bacon is nice and crisp.

Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

Although it only requires three ingredients (bread, cheese, and butter), grilled cheese is one of the most popular comfort foods in the world. The Ancient Romans were the first civilization to make a cooked bread and cheese sandwich, but many cultures have invented their own take on this ‘classic’ dish. In France, people enjoy Croque Monsieur (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich) while in Switzerland it is customary to melt the cheese and toast the bread separately before combining them. The American grilled cheese sandwich emerged in the 1920s when inexpensive cheese and affordable sliced bread became available. It is now a staple in cafés, diners, and school cafeterias across the country.

Despite this noteworthy past, and it’s longevity, today, it’s a sad world for the grilled cheese sandwich. Somewhere along the way it has been demoted from a classic comfort food to the dismal realm of the kid’s menu; thus, making it ‘socially’ off limits to the older-than-15-crowd. And when you’re an adult who just wants some melted cheddar between two buttery, toasty slices of bread…that’s a sad, sad thing. Being that I have the four sons, I jsut don’t care. Social norms be damned. If I want a grilled cheese, I’m having grilled cheese. Even if the waitress looks at me funny when I place an order for not 4, but 5, kid meals.

Still, being that April is ‘grilled cheese month’ and all, and I saw that waitresses’ questioning arched eyebrow,  I thought it was time for a revival. An upgrade, if you will, to make it worthy of a place in the world of socially acceptable adult fare. I know I’ve mentioned this in several posts before. I will never be to old for grilled cheese! At it’s most basic, it’s totally awesome. At it’s fanciest adaptation? It’s still freakin’ awesome!!

This is a far cry from your typical grilled cheese sandwich. Kick things up a notch with the salsa and chiles. If you happen to have a babysitter, enjoy it out on your patio with a margarita to make it REALLY good!

Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

4 Sons 'R' Us: Tex Mex Grilled Cheese

recipe adapted from Julie’s Eats & Treats

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco season
1/2 c. salsa
1/4 cup diced, canned green chilies (optional)
12 slices bread
1 tbsp butter
1 lb Velveeta

Directions

1. Brown ground beef in medium sized skillet. Drain fat. Mix in taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add salsa & green chiles.
2. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Cut Velveeta into 6 pieces.
3. In a large skillet place two pieces of bread, buttered side down. Top each piece of bread with one slice of Velveeta. On top of Velveeta spoon 1/6 of hamburger mixture. Place another piece of bread on top of beef with the buttered side up.
4. Cook over medium heat until bread is golden brown. Flip sandwich and repeat on other side. Repeat until all sandwiches have been made.

Creamy Taco Pasta

Better for you hamburger helper — that’s what we decided this recipe was. Reminiscent of hamburger helper, but without all the preservatives and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Creamy, cheesy, and delicious! If I haven’t sold you on it yet, where can you go wrong with a combination of two family favorites? Tacos & pasta?!  A perfect quick and easy, busy weeknight meal. Be prepared though. Dinner will be silent. Everyone will be too busy eating, or in my case, scarfing down their first helping so they can call dibs on whatever is left in the pot. 

Creamy Taco Pasta

4 Sons 'R' Us: Creamy Taco Pasta

recipe adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

1 pound ground beef or turkey
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained, or 1 cup salsa
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp dried cilantro leaves
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Once the meat is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin.
4. Toss in the dried cilantro right before serving for some added color and flavor. Serve with a green salad.

 

 

Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

I’m always on the look out for something new to do with meat. I can’t spend month after month recycling the same tried and true recipes. I have to constantly change things up, occassionally surprising everyone with an old family favorite that we haven’t had in a while. It makes everyone more appreciative, and more adventurous in light of their ever expanding palate. The sons took one look at these and dubbed them lettuce ‘tacos’, they took one bite and couldn’t get enough. I served them with some fried rice and a steamed Asian vegetable blend. Who has the time for an expensive family feast at P.F. Changes? I certainly don’t. Now, there’s no need.

Tangy beef with a perfect hint of spice is wrapped in refreshing lettuce leaves in this quick and easy Asian lettuce wrap recipe.

Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

4 Sons 'R' Us: Sriracha Beef Lettuce Wraps

recipe adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen

2 tsp. neutral-flavored oil like grapeseed or peanut oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1-2 tbsp Sriracha Sauce (depending on how much heat you want)
1 tbsp water
zest from one lemon
juice from one lemon (about 1 1/2 tbsp juice)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (or double that amount if you’re not using the cilantro)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 heads artisan romaine or iceberg lettuce

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, then saute the beef until it’s cooked through and starting to brown, breaking apart with a turner as it cooks.
2. While beef cooks, mix together the Hoisin sauce, Sriracha Sauce, and water in a small bowl.  Zest the skin of the lemon and squeeze the juice.  Thinly slice the green onions and chop the cilantro.  (Most iceberg lettuce doesn’t need washing, but if yours does break the heads apart gently and wash and dry the lettuce.)
3. When the beef is done, add the Sriracha Sauce mixture and let it sizzle until the water has evaporated, stirring a few times to get the flavor mixed through the meat.  Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, sliced green onions, and chopped cilantro.
4. Serve meat mixture with iceberg, or artisan romaine,  lettuce leaves to fill with meat and wrap around it, to be eaten with your hands.
5. This was definitely still good when the meat mixture was kept in the fridge and reheated for a very short time in the microwave, but I still liked it best freshly made.

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

I’ve always loved a good beef stroganoff. Typically, I use stew beef, but a few months back we tried it using plain old ground beef (since it thaws and generally cooks quicker) and it was just as big a hit as the original. We’re no stranger to using wine, even beer, in our cooking. Here the red wine adds the ‘oomph’ that puts this beef stroganoff ahead of the rest. This recipe offers gourmet flavor on a budget.

Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme and Red Wine

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef Stroganoff with Thyme & Red Wine

recipe originally from Manilla Spoon

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
4 tsp minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup chopped Bella mushrooms
2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
16 oz pasta (like penne) or wide egg noodles

4 Sons 'R' Us: Ground Beef with Thyme & Red Wine 2

Directions

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. While the water is boiling heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic for a minute. Crumble the beef and cook until it’s fully browned. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and Worcestershire. Stir occasionally.
2. Pour in the red wine. Let boil until it has evaporated.
3. Add in the dried thyme and mushrooms and let cook until the juices/liquid of the mushroom have been released. Pour in the beef broth and stir in the sour cream. Simmer until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Either mix the ‘sauce’ with the pasta or serve on top of your pasta of choice. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top is the perfect piece de resistance.

Hamburger Steak with Onions & Gravy

I’ve had Hamburger Steaks (aka Salisbury steak) before, but I’ve never really liked it. I thought I just ‘wasn’t a fan’, but then I got to thinking. I love meatloaf. I love gravy. Something was always missing for me…flavor. On a whim, I decided to try my own hand at this classic dish. It still seemed like ‘Mission Impossible’. After my family’s first bite, we all agreed: Mission Complete! Not only were the ‘steaks’ jam-packed with flavor, but so was the simple gravy. And where can you go wrong with caramelized onions?! Take it from me, serve these juicy ‘steaks’ with mashed potatoes. You won’t want to waste a drop of gravy.

Hamburger Steaks with Onions & Gravy

4 Sons 'R' Us: Hamburger Steaks with onions & gravy

1 lb ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp seasoning salt, divided
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Montreal Steak seasoning
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth & 1 tbsp cooking sherry

Directions

1. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and steak seasoning. Form into 8 balls, and flatten into patties.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties and onion in the oil until patties are nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the beef patties to a plate, and keep warm.
3. Sprinkle flour over the onions and drippings in the skillet. Stir in flour with a fork, scraping bits of beef off of the bottom as you stir. Gradually mix in the beef broth and sherry. Season with seasoned salt. Simmer and stir over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the gravy thickens. Turn heat to low, return patties to the gravy, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Serve & enjoy!

Korean Beef

I always have ground beef on hand. I get the best bang for my buck on lean ground beef by purchasing it in bulk at Costco. I come home and package it in meal sized portions, and then store it in the freezer. Knowing I’ve always got ground beef on-hand ready to defrost for supper, I’m always on the lookout for something ‘new’ to do with it. When I found this Six Sisters’ recipe and tried it, it was amazing! Simple, easy, and satisfying anytime I’m craving those ‘Asian’ food flavors. Save money, and forgo ordering out. Make your own meal, at home, tonight and still get your fix.

Korean Beef

4 Sons 'R' Us: Korean Beef

  •  1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • basmati rice, cooked according to package directions

Directions

  1.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown the ground beef, with the garlic, in the sesame oil.
  2. Drain most of the fat.
  3. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt, pepper, and crushed red peppers.
  4. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with green onions.