Tag Archives: ground meat

Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, this quick riff on taco salad might just be the ticket for dinner. Having a small party? Then just double the recipe and you can feed up to eight. Let guests prepare their own, layering on just the right ingredients to suit their own preferences. This way it appeals to vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Don’t eat red meat? Substitute ground turkey. Follow a vegetarian lifestyle? Swap out the meat for refried beans. Not into hot and spicy? Omit the jalapeños, and use a mild taco seasoning and salsa. Can’t tolerate raw onion? Cook it with the ground meat to eliminate some of the pungency.

Another fun twist is using beer instead of water when you add the seasoning to the ground meat. As you can see, this salad is very adaptable. I like to start with a layer of lettuce, followed by the meat mixture and cheese, then the peppers, tomatoes, onion, and olives. To finish, add a bit more meat and cheese, and a final topping of jalapeños and sour cream, if using,

To up the party ambiance, plate it all on some fun and festive picnic ware!

Adaptable Taco Salad Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 tostada bowls
  • 1 1⁄4 lbs. ground beef or turkey (or refried beans if going vegetarian)
  • 3 Tbsp. homemade or packaged taco seasoning
  • 3⁄4 cup water, or beer
  • 1⁄2 cup salsa (your favorite brand)
  • 1 head iceberg or Bibb lettuce, torn into 2-3″ pieces
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 1⁄2 each large red and yellow bell pepper, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1⁄2 red onion, cut into 1⁄4 dice
  • 1⁄2 cup black and/or green pitted olives, sliced thin
  • 1⁄2 cup pickled jalapeños, 1⁄4 slices, then chopped
  • Sour cream for garnish, optional

Directions

  • Prep all ingredients.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, brown the ground meat until there is no more pink, making sure to break up any large chunks.
  • Add the taco seasoning and the water (or beer), and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the salsa to the meat mixture and heta through.
  • While the meat is thickening, prepare the tostada bowls starting with a layer of torn lettuce.
  • Next, top with some meat and cheese, then add any of the other ingredients you prefer. Finish with another layer of ground meat and cheese, and top with sour cream and jalapeños, if desired.

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Homemade Taco Seasoning

Necessity is the Mother of Invention, right? Well, when we had a hankering for Loaded Nachos and realized we didn’t have a packet of taco seasoning for the ground meat, we just made our own. The Hubs did a quick Google scan and found this recipe from Sommer Collier.

Simple homemade taco seasoning is a great way to save money, use up spices, and make the best-tasting taco seasoning you’ve ever tried. It’s really simple. Just mix chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and black pepper. Then taste and add more crushed red pepper and salt as desired.

The recipe provided makes roughly the equivalent of a single store-bought packet of taco seasoning. If you want to make a larger batch to scoop and use at will, just multiply the recipe as needed. Which is exactly what we did back when football season was just beginning and nachos would be a recurring theme for months to come! The seasoning works equally well on ground or shredded chicken, turkey, pork and lamb.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • Servings: Yields about 3 Tbsp
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika  
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions

  1. Measure out all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well. 
  2. Taste and adjust the salt or spices as desired.
  3. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For a larger batch (the equivalent of about 6 packets), use:

  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. each paprika, crushed red pepper, and salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, black pepper

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Recipe from Sommer Collier of A Spicy Perspective

Go-To Quickie Dinner

What is one of your fall-back dinners when you really have nothing planned but need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so? One of our go-to recipes is based on pasta. We pretty much always have some in the pantry, and with a ground meat of some type such as beef, turkey, lamb, or sausage this becomes the basis for dinner.

And if there is no homemade red sauce in our freezer, we always have a commercial jar or two in the cupboard. Our current choice happens to be the great tasting White Linen brand with a low-sugar content which can be found at Costco. It weighs in at a hefty 40 ounces allowing for lots of add-ins.

We start with about a pound of pasta cooked to package directions, brown up a pound of ground meat, sauté chopped veggies and add some fresh herbs like basil or oregano. Top with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan Reggiano, pair with a side salad, dinner done!

There is so much flexibility with this meal concept. With a plethora of jarred sauce options, just select your favorite. However, you may have to use more than one jar’s worth if the volume is much less than 32 ounces. The following list of ingredients is for reference only—adjust the amounts according to your own preferences.

Every autumn we always harvest any leftover basil from our herb garden and blend it with some olive oil, fill silicone ice cube trays with the mixture, and freeze the cubes. They come in handy when making soups, dips, and sauces. We threw one in this sauce along with the jarred marinara.

Quickie Pasta with Meat Sauce and Vegetables

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 40 oz. jar marinara sauce
  • 1 lb. ground meat such as beef, turkey, lamb or sausage
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large red bell pepper, 3/4″ chop
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 8-12 oz. mushrooms, cremini or white, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb. pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • Grated Parm or Pecorino for topping
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or oregano, chopped, more for for garnish

Directions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. Pour olive oil into a large sauté pan and when hot, add the ground meat. Cook until no longer pink, stirring often, about 8 minutes (depending on your meat of choice). Remove meat from pan to a cutting board and chop smaller if necessary.
  3. Add the chopped pepper and onion to the meat drippings, cook until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking another 5 minutes.
  4. Return the ground meat to the pan with the vegetables and pour in the jarred marinara sauce. Over medium heat, cook the sauce mixture until hot while the pasta finishes cooking.
  5. Drain the pasta when done. Stir the fresh herbs into the sauce and plate each serving in large bowls, topping each with grated cheese and more fresh herbs.

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