Thursday, July 18, 2013

Baked Taco Bites

Don’t you just hate dinner ruts? You know, when you make the same, maybe, six dinners over and over again and you can’t come up with anything new or you keep making the same things because they are easy and inexpensive? And then half of the time you just end up going out to eat anyways because you’ve gotten into a vicious cycle of “what do you want for dinner…I don’t care, what you do want for dinner?”  Please tell me that this is not just us!? This recipe was born during one of the worst dinner ruts that K and I ever had. I think we had eaten almost nothing but chicken tenders and mac and cheese for weeks.  One night I opened the fridge to find only a few left over tortillas from making quesadillas earlier in the week, a pound of ground turkey, and a few other odds and ends. Instead of going to the store, I decided that I could make tacos.  I had seen other recipes around the interwebz for things like cheeseburger bites and so I figured I would just apply the same idea to these and they turned out great. Ever since I started making these bites, I haven’t made plain soft shell tacos again.    

The taco bites are very easy to make; definitely a quick weeknight meal.  Start by sauteing the chopped onion over medium high heat for a couple of minutes in a little olive oil. Once the onion is starting to get soft, add the ground turkey (or beef), breaking into small pieces as it cooks all the way through.  Add a heaping tablespoon of homemade taco seasoning or one packet of the store bought taco seasoning. 

As always, the seasoning should be done to your taste. I usually add a bit of salt and pepper to the meat as it cooks and then the taco seasoning, which I find to be very strong and spicy (not hot, just lots of good savory spices).  The taco seasoning packets from the store are very high in sodium, so you shouldn’t need to add any extra salt.  Add the water and ketchup to the skillet, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until nice and thick.

I think the ketchup adds a contrasting sweetness to the tacos that cuts a bit of the savory-ness of the spice mix. You could also add a bit of tomato paste instead if you don’t like the idea of ketchup in tacos.  While your meat mixture thickens, prepare the tortilla shells. I use a 3” cookie cutter and can usually cut about 4 circles out of one of the burrito sized tortillas. You could use a large glass, biscuit cutter, or a cleaned tuna can with the top and bottom cut off to get the same results.    

Grease 2 muffin trays with baking spray or olive oil and press each tortilla down into the muffin cups. 

Once the taco filling is thick, add about 1/3 of the grated cheese and mix thoroughly.  Spoon the filling into each of the tortilla cups, filing just about to the top of the shell. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake in a 400°F oven for 15-20 minutes depending on your desired crispiness.  In the oven, the tortilla shell transforms into a cross between a soft and hard shell with crispy edges yet a perfectly warmed soft taco in the middle.   Let cool for a few minutes in the pan and then pop out of the muffin tray with a butter knife.  Top with whatever taco toppings you normally like. I just put a little chopped tomato on mine, but you can do lettuce, sour cream, salsa, whatever you like.  We like to eat these with rice pilaf cooked with sautéed onions and peppers or with a salad.  Now that I think about it, these bites would also make a really great party appetizer with a topping station full of standard taco fixings.  I hope you give these a try!

Baked Taco Bites
Makes about 18 bites

1lb lean ground beef or turkey
½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 heaping tbsp homemade taco seasoning (recipe below) or 1 packet store bought seasoning
½ cup water
¼ cup ketchup
About 4-5 burrito size soft flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings of your choosing: lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, etc

Cook onion in a large skillet over medium high heat until soft. Add in ground meat and brown until cooked through. Add taco seasoning, water, and ketchup and simmer over medium low heat until thickened.  Cut tortillas into circles and place in a greased muffin tin. Stir 1/3 of the cheese into the meat mixture, spoon into shells, and top with remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated 400°F for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from the muffin tray and top with your favorite taco toppings.

Homemade taco seasoning

4 tbsp of chili powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all spices, stir well to combine, and store in an air tight container. This mixture makes quite a bit of seasoning so it will last for a long while. 


1 comment:

  1. These are so cute! I am definitely going to make these and I love the party app idea!! I also like the homemade seasoning recipe - much better than the prepackaged stuff! You're so clever!! :)