Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mexican Challenge

I got an email from a reader asking me if I take requests.  Well, sure I do!  Her email read something like this, "Heids McGhee, my family's favorite dinner is tacos and beans.  Can you walk me through how to make this dinner from scratch?  Thanks so much!"  I interpreted her email as this, "Heids McGhee, I have a challenge for you.  Iron Chef style.  Tacos and beans."  Well, I dove into this challenge the way I do everything, head-first with my eyes closed.

I got a crockpot refried bean recipe from

  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin, optional
  • 9 cups of water
  1. Place the onion, rinsed beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin into a slow cooker. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Cook on High for 8 hours, adding more water as needed. Note: if more than 1 cup of water has evaporated during cooking, then the temperature is too high.
  2. Once the beans have cooked, strain them, and reserve the liquid. Mash the beans with a potato masher, adding the reserved water as needed to attain desired consistency.               

*sidenote* In our family, some like mashed, some don't.  So, I only mashed half the batch.  Everyone wins.

Now, tacos are easy!  Remember these tortillas?  If not, here's a picture to refresh your memory. 

Or, if you want to get really crazy, you can do what I do...use a huge lettuce leaf as your tortilla shell. 

You can fill your tacos with whatever you chose.  Mr. McGhee and I are going to use leftover italian beef, but the minis prefer ground beef.  If you want to get a little crazy, you can add some cooked quinoa to your ground beef.  Tonight was not a crazy night in our house.  Ground beef, straight up, with these taco seasonings.

  • tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
1.  In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.                
2.  When ground beef is done cooking, add spices (use amount that suits your preference).

And, if you're one of those people that catches on quickly, you're probably thinking, "hey, I should make a large batch of that and store it in an airtight container".  Brilliant!

Once you have your meat on your taco/lettuce shell, add whichever toppings you choose....cheese, lettuce, tomato, green bell peppers, black olives, and guacamole.  "Guacamole?!?!" you say.  I get requests from people to bring my guac to parties.  And, I totally planned on sharing the recipe with you, except I don't follow a recipe.  I add ingredients and taste test as I go.  Here's what you need.

  • Avocados, mashed with a fork....DO NOT puree or overmash
  • tomato, diced
  • fresh squeezed lime juice
  • fresh cilantro
  • salt
After your avocados are mashed add in your tomato.  Add lime juice, cilantro, and salt as suits your taste buds.

This meal was a HIT tonight.  The pickiest kids in America McGhee minis loved it!

So there you have it!  My first challenge from a reader successfully accomplished.  Easy peasy.  What's next?  Give me another dinner, I'm up for the challenge!