Homesickness hits me really hard sometimes, considering I live across the country from most of my family and friends (and both of my poodles). Couple that with my Sandy-related cabin fever, and you get me, in the kitchen for three hours, making as many different taco toppings as possible. I really needed fluffy, fresh tortillas, too, like the ones you can find at any TexMex restaurant worth its salt. So I made those from scratch. This is what I do when I go crazy.
Fortunately, the toppings lasted for several days — partly because, in my enthusiasm, I made enough for six people — and I ate them in many different forms: tacos the first night, taco salad the next night, tacos again the day after that, and eventually in quesadillas (pictured above).
To make tacos, just put a scoop of everything listed below on a tortilla, roll up, and chow down. Taco salad involves a pile of lettuce with a scoop of everything listed below on top. For quesadillas, place one tortilla on a skillet, spread some beans on it, sprinkle some cheese, spoon on some taco meat, sprinkle more cheese, then layer in vegetables and cheese. Top with another tortilla, and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes (watch the bottom of your tortilla — don’t let it burn). Carefully flip and cook for 4-5 minutes more. I spread guac on top of mine afterward.
I present to you: my Emergency Tex-Mex Menu.
This is the recipe my Mom taught me when I was first learning to cook. It’s based on taste testing, which usually results in my eating half of the bowl before it’s ready. Add chunks of onion, tomato, extra garlic, extra whatever, to taste. I use lots of salt and lots of garlic, tasting as I go. I made this first, so I could eat it while I cooked everything else. With a fork. No shame.
4 Ripe Avocados
Juice of 1 Lime
3-6 Large Cloves of Garlic
4+ Tsp Salt
1 Diced Jalapeño
1. Peel and seed avocados, and mash in a large bowl until they’re creamy with a few chunks (again, this is a preference thing)
2. Add the lime juice, garlic, salt, and jalapeño. Mix. Taste. Add more ingredients to taste.
Homesick Texan’s Flour Tortillas
This is a great site for Tex-Mex copy cat recipes. After finishing the guacamole, I started the tortilla dough, because it has to rise a couple of times. I made the beans and diced the vegetables while these were rising. And ate more guac. And drank some wine. Oh, and these make incredible quesadillas the next day. Something about the way they toast to a crispy golden brown without forgetting to stay soft on the inside.
Un-fried “Refried” Beans
I love, love beans on my tacos. They’re better mixed with some pork fat (aka lard), but you can make a low-fat, easy version here. I puréed everything while the tortillas were rising the first time, then waited to heat it up until I started the chicken meat. Make sure you stir consistently to keep the beans from cooking to the bottom of your pan.
1 Can Black Beans
1-2 Tsp hot sauce (I had Tiger Sauce in the fridge)
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Spoon beans into a medium saucepan, reserving juice.
2. Using an immersion blender, purée beans until smooth. Add juice as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
3. Add hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken Taco Meat
I usually make this with ground beef, but was curious about the ground chicken in my grocery store. You could use ground turkey, too. Just grab a taco seasoning spice packet (I think I used this one from Ortega, but really just pick one at the store), and cook according to the directions. I didn’t start this until I finished making the tortillas, mostly to use the same skillet and save on dishes.
Fresh Chopped Vegetables and Cheese
I diced a white onion, a tomato, and slivered a green pepper. And grated some cheddar cheese!