I was making dinner tonight and thinking about how I really haven’t posted too much about food. I truly believe that food connects us to our home, past or present. There’s nothing like food – just one bite can take you back to happy memories of your childhood. My mom’s Spaghetti Bolognese brings me back every time to Christmas Eve and the anticipation of a visit from Santa Claus. I’m not sure if you are what you eat, but people really do connect their food with experience. My version of Taco Tuesday may not inspire memories like mine of Bolognese, but I do hope to include more future posts on food.
Taco Tuesday isn’t even an official meal night for the Hanley household. I just happened to make tacos tonight, which for alliteration purposes, is conveniently Tuesday. I think I may make my tacos a little differently than a majority of American households. I really try hard to avoid packaged and processed foods due to certain ingredient sensitivities in my family – mainly MSG. (You’d be really surprised where you find MSG once you start reading food labels). So, instead of purchasing the taco dinner kit in the international food aisle, I spring just for whole grain hard taco shells. Sometimes, I skip these altogether and make soft tacos using tortillas I pick up in the bread aisle.
For meat, I purchase Ground Sirloin instead of Ground Beef. I’ve replaced all my use of ground beef with sirloin. It’s a lot leaner to begin with and it doesn’t have all of the leftover parts that ground beef encompasses. It’s just a little bit better for you and lacks that “ick” factor. Some complain that the meat isn’t as juicy or as flavorful in ground sirloin. I believe when using ground meats, flavor comes from your seasonings. You also get used to the leaner meat and there’s usually far less fat/grease to drain. Awhile back we purchased some 80/20 ground beef for lack of a better option and we were pretty grossed out by all that fat that came running out of it! When I prepare tacos, I brown the ground sirloin on the stove. Once it’s all brown, I drain the little fat left behind. Instead of using a packaged taco seasoning mix that contains God-knows-what chemicals, I add a healthy amount of salsa. You could add homemade or store bought salsa. I prefer this since I am able to better control the ingredients by choosing (or making) a salsa with natural ingredients I approve. How much do I add? Enough to mix in the meat to season it and give it some good flavor. I then let it sit on the stove for a few minutes on a medium setting – long enough for it to bubble and thin out a bit. This step is important if you use leftover salsa that has been in the refrigerator since it’s likely cold and will cool off your ground sirloin. Nobody wants a cold taco!
After warming up the shells in the oven, I top them with the salsa-d sirloin, Mexican cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and maybe avocado if on hand. It’s a pretty quick meal without the processed/packaged junk! Shane has always enjoyed tacos this way and has confessed that he prefers my salsa method to the store-bought taco kits. Time will tell if my future children will have memories they associate with Taco Tuesdays (or Wednesdays, or Thursdays, etc).
What foods do you connect with strong memories? Does anyone else use this method for tacos? Any other twists on quick packaged dinner kits?