Saturday, August 7, 2010

At Your House After the Mouse--Beat the Heat Tacos

Another great benefit of freeze ahead cooking is the ability to prepare dinner without heating up the house.  A huge plus this summer!  It's supposed to feel like 115 here today. 

Tonight we are having tacos.  From the freezer, I have retrieved one pack of taco meat and one pack of black beans.  We always have tortillas and the other fixin's on hand.

Taco Meat:
I usually make 3 pounds at a time.  One big pot to clean and I have many easy meals stored away.  A little secret of my taco meat has carrots in it.  You can know that your family is getting a little more of their veggie requirement without a fuss.  The carrots also add a little sweetness to the mixture.  They hide well behind the tomatoes.  If they need to be totally incognito for your crowd, just make sure you puree them really well, adding a little water as needed.

My kitchen posts are more about teaching concepts and inspiring ideas, so again, this isn't a hard and fast recipe.

Per Batch:
1 pound ground beef, ours is really lean, but that's up to you
3 carrots, pureed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning

Brown and drain your ground beef.  Add in the can of diced tomatoes, the carrot puree, and taco seasoning.  Bring it up to a boil and allow to cool well before packaging for the freezer.  Use the same trick as the round steak.  Prepare freezer zip top bags with the amount your family will eat in one meal.  I still freeze these flat in a cake pan, but folding the bag in half makes this smaller quantity easier to deal with later.

Black Bean Dip/Side Dish/Burrito Filling:
I've been making a version of this for a while now.  For a super fast addition to your taco dinner, combine one can of black beans, drained, with one can of tomatoes with cilantro and lime.  Cook until the tomato juice has condensed by about half.  This is a great side on its own, rolled into a tortilla for a burrito, or combined with some cooked rice for a heartier option. 

I've started cooking dried beans since they are less expensive.  Prepare a one pound bag of black beans according to the package directions.  Add in two cans of tomatoes with cilantro and lime and one can whole kernel corn, drained.  The yellow of the corn looks really nice in the mixture.  It could use some green too, so I think I'll try some green pepper or fresh cilantro next time.  If you are making this with dried beans, you'll end up with a rather large quantity, so freeze it using the tips above. 

For both the taco meat and the black beans, I allow them to thaw on the counter for a half hour or so and then cut off the bag.  I reheat them each in a microwave safe bowl covered loosely with plastic wrap. 

With your freezer and pantry stocked with these recipes, you can easily cook a quick meal with minimal clean up and without heating up the house. 

Homemade tacos with black beans-- a great simple meal At Your House After The Mouse

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