Friday, March 18, 2011

Casual Friday - Soft and Crunchy Tex-Mex Tacos

We all know Casual Fridays.  They became popular in the 90's as a cost-free perk for corporations to offer employees.  Somehow, we were supposed to be convinced that the company cared since we got to wear jeans and costing nothing. I walked out on a casual Friday in 1994 from the corporate world and aside from a brief stint as a temp in 1995 when we needed extra money, I have never looked back.  I have been running food businesses of one kind or another since then and my life is spent in black t-shirts and jeans so everyday is casual day for me.  

Casual Friday has taken on new meaning with kids since it is in reference to dinner.  With a limited food budget and two hungry boys that can outeat my husband, eating out is a rare treat.  To make it feel fun, relaxed and weekendy, we generally lean to a homemade version of takeout and many times include a movie.  Pizza (balls of dough for each person to stretch and top), Asian, Mexican. Still fresh ingredients, no mixes or prepared ingredients, but fun none the less. And we can all get in on it.  Whether it's a make your own (MYO as my kids call it) dinner with all the assorted toppings sitting out for tacos or pizza or everyone rolling spring rolls to go with curry, it's a great way to end the week with everyone hanging out and "working" together.

El likes to have routine and heard about someone having Taco Tuesday.  We tried it for awhile, but I found that in order to stick with it, I was having to actually buy extra ingredients each week to do this in addition to my LIST ingredients so I decided to wait and do it on the occasions when I found the ingredients already in my pantry and veggie box.  This was the week. 

I got Little Gem lettuces in my box and had organic ground beef in my fridge.  The taco seasoning is mixed on the fly (have you ever read the ingredients on the packages?  You probably have all the good stuff in your pantry and the bad stuff you don't want anyway so skip it and DIY.) and we always have cheese and yogurt which is our sub for sour cream.  Salsa is so easy to make and so much better than anything on a shelf that I always either have some frozen or the ingredients handy to make it. (Want salsa recipes, see my Everyday Mexican recipes, here.

Frustrated with crunchy taco shells that always fall apart, we went a different route and used corn tortillas, with a big pinch of crushed tortilla chips (which are around quite a bit as well) added to each taco to give them crunch.  Use soft wheat tortillas if you want, but with the corn they are gluten-free.

CWYG Stats

Veggie Box -  Little Gem lettuce

CWYG List Items - ground beef, onions, garlic, spices, cheese, yogurt, salsa (frozen)

Soft and Crunchy Tacos
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp paprika
1 cup water
corn tortillas
crushed tortilla chips, optional
shredded cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, salsa and sour cream for serving

Brown ground beef in a skillet, then add the onion and garlic.  Saute until the onions and garlic are softened.  Add all the spices and salt, then saute for another 2 minutes to toast spices.  Add 1 cup water and cook until the water is reduced to a thick sauce.

Serve on warm tortillas with crushed chips, cheese, lettuce, salsa and sour cream.

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