Sunday, January 26, 2014

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

Teaching full-time again has put a damper on my ability to make elaborate meals. After dealing with teenagers for the better part of the day, I'm too tired to bother with much in the way of cooking. If I want to avoid eating out, I have to be in and out of the kitchen as fast as possible. I know many of you are just as busy, if not busier, and understand this feeling. 

Tacos are perfect for a quick meal. Even if I'm bone-tired, I can brown some ground meat and let it simmer in a mixture of spices for a few minutes. Plus, I usually always have all the ingredients on hand, and the clean up is very fast. Again, ideal for when you are exhausted. Even better, taco night makes an otherwise drab weekday night just a little bit more festive and fun.

When I was a little girl, I loved the job of measuring and mixing together all the spices for tacos. My mom had a cookbook that specialized in mixes, and time after time I would turn to the dog-eared page for tacos and measure out the spices. I did this each and every time we wanted tacos because unlike many of the mixes in the cookbook, the taco seasoning mix only made enough for one meal. Even as a kid this struck me as odd since it defeated the purpose of a convenient pre-made mix; I just didn't care back then.

Now that time is more precious to me as an adult, I do care. I don't want to take out a bunch of spice bottles and measuring spoons every time I want tacos. Especially since it's easily avoidable by making a large batch of taco seasoning mix once every couple of months.

I love this current taco seasoning, which is a spin off my childhood classic and one that I found a few years ago on the blogosphere. It's very flavorful with a smokey, spicy heat. Even though it's pretty spicy as written, you can easily adapt it to be milder if you're so inclined by reducing (or omitting) the cayenne pepper. I also like to sprinkle this taco seasoning on quesadillas, nachos, and even popcorn. Basically, anything that might benefit from a little Tex-Mex flair. It's an awesome blend to keep on hand in the pantry.

Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix

This can easily be halved if you don't make tacos very often and don't want over 2 cups of mix on hand. I personally can't get enough of it!

Yield: 2 1/4 cups mix (enough to season 9 lbs of meat)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup chili powder*
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup minced onion flakes
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (adjust or omit if you want it to be milder)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Store in an airtight container. 

For use in tacos: Use 1/4 cup seasoning mix and 3/4 cup water for every pound of meat. See recipe below for basic cooking instructions.

*Try replacing 2 tablespoons of regular chili powder with ancho chile powder for more complexity.
Beef and Bean Tacos (pictured above)

I usually fix turkey tacos to be healthier, but on a whim, I recently added beans to a batch of tacos I made with ground sirloin (I was trying to sneak a little extra fiber into our dinner). I really liked the combination and rotate this version in with our usual turkey tacos now. If you skip the beans, reduce the taco seasoning to 1/4 cup.

Yield: 12 tacos

Total Time: 20 minutes

1 pound ground sirloin
1 (15 ounce) can bean of choice (white, black, or pinto all work nicely)
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup water
12 hard or soft taco shells
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
Topping of choice: lettuce, sliced olives, salsa, etc.

Over medium-high heat, brown the ground sirloin, breaking it up as it cooks. Once it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes, drain off excess fat. Add drained beans and seasoning mix; gently toss to coat. Add water, stirring to combine. Allow to boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook, covered, until mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, heat taco shells according to package directions. 

Assemble each taco with beef mixture, cheese, and all other desired toppings. Serve immediately. 

1 comment:

  1. Our household equivalent to your tacos are spinach and hummus, wrapped in tortillas.