*Note: This recipe is a repeat of one previously published on this site. I am using a new recipe plugin to present recipes in a print-friendly format, and am re-publishing old recipes to make this feature available.
This “make your own” version of taco seasoning takes just a few minutes of mixing and measuring some everyday spices that are probably already in your cupboard. It’s tastier than what you’d find in a packet, and one recipe will make quite a few tacos (and it makes a great seasoning base for many other recipes).
Combine all spices in an airtight plastic storage container (if you have an empty used spice bottle, that would work great). Seal your container and shake until everything is well-blended.
Add one to two tablespoons of seasoning blend, depending on your taste preference, to one pound of cooked ground beef and 1/2 cup water and simmer until thickened. This mix makes up to 10 pounds of taco meat, and you can easily scale the recipe up or down, depending on how frequently you make tacos. This makes a fairly mild seasoning mix, so if you like some extra kick, turn the dial up a bit on the cayenne pepper.
Cornstarch is listed as optional because it provides thickening to the taco sauce. If you plan to use this seasoning for other recipes that don't require thickening, you may prefer to leave it out and simply stir in a bit of cornstarch when you are using it specifically for tacos.
I’m the queen of improv. Cooking that is. I would claim comedy as well, but the Guy would probably argue with me. So back to cooking. I’m always finding a way to “make things work” when I have a recipe I want to try but don’t have quite all the ingredients on hand. Google often comes in handy for this, as I find myself sitting down and typing in “substitutes for __________.” Or, sometimes it’s not a matter of making a recipe with less than the required ingredients, but figuring out if there is some way, some how that I can make something edible for dinner out of what’s already in my pantry and fridge, without making a trip back out to the grocery store after I’m home from work and already in my “comfy clothes” (read: pajamas).
Tonight started out as an effort to do the former–make a recipe I already had in mind work. The goal was this Mini Farfalle with Roasted Peppers, Onion, Feta and Mint recipe (yes, that is a really long name) I found the other day when I was planning my menu for the week. Ok, ok, I realize that, since I was planning ahead for this recipe I should have had all the ingredients. And I did, except the three I was already planning to omit–pine nuts, golden raisins and mint–because they just sounded, well, odd in the recipe. Several reviewers reassured me that the odd-sounding ingredients actually worked well together, but I wasn’t quite daring enough to try them. This week anyway.
So I got home tonight and started getting out the makings of dinner, only to find that the roasted red peppers I had planned to use had gone bad. I looked at the recipe, looked at what I did have of the ingredients (plus the chicken and bacon that I had decided to add for a little protein–the Guy doesn’t do well with no meat), and then poked around the door of the refrigerator to see what I had that could bring everything together in a somewhat tasty way.
The answer came in the form of sun-dried tomatoes. Have I mentioned that I love sun-dried tomatoes? Because I absolutely do. One day, I will share my recipe for feta-stuffed chicken, which takes advantage of sun-dried tomatoes in a beautiful way. The Guy said that is one of his favorite meals that I make–maybe the favorite. Which I guess explains why he loved my “impromptu pasta” tonight so much; it’s basically just a pasta version of the stuffed chicken. And in the end, not really very close the original recipe I was aiming for–but completely delicious.
Alright, I’m done boring you with the narrative explanation. Here’s the recipe:
Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomato with Bowties
12 oz. bowtie pasta (farfalle)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic (about two cloves if you’ve got fresh garlic–I had a jar)
1 small jar of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (about 8 oz.)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup cooked chicken breasts, chopped or shredded
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese (the reduced fat version tastes great, if you’d like to trim calories)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drain oil from sun-dried tomatoes into skillet; add onions and garlic and sautee until onions are transparent. Using a food processor or Magic Bullet, pulse tomatoes until finely diced (almost a paste). Add chicken, bacon and tomatoes to skillet; stir and heat on low until warm (only a few minutes).
Add tomato and chicken mixture to pasta and stir to mix. Stir in feta, basil and pepper, then serve.