Tag Archives: Chili powder

Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Bowl

My current job has a really fun Taco Tuesday tradition. Somehow I didn’t know about this into well into my time there but on Tuesdays, the line practically runs out the door while people wait for their yummy lunchtime tacos. Unfortunately I’m moving on and won’t be there for any more Taco Tuesdays. So, in homage to the cafeteria, PLUS to feed my hungry child, I decided to make my own tacos. In addition, my husband is always a fan of those taco salads that come in the edible tortilla bowl so I decided to surprise him with that treat for dinner too. Success all around! This dinner will satisfy your hungry family for sure!

Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Shell

To make the tortilla bowl, I placed medium sized flour tortillas into a brioche pan. I’ll be honest, I have no idea why I have brioche pans because I’ve never made (and possibly never even eaten) brioche (though I want to, after all, it is bread). But anyway, I put the tortillas into the pans, sprayed a light coating of nonstick olive oil spray on them, and baked them in a moderate (300 degree) oven for 25 minutes until crispy and lightly golden. Keep an eye on them because your oven may be quicker than mine and you don’t want a charred taco shell. If you aren’t lucky enough to be cluttering your kitchen cabinets with brioche pans, other pans will work too to create the shell, possibly a small metal (oven-safe) bowl. A quick pinterest search showed me that some people use an inverted muffin tin to get the right shape. So you have options. Or just use the taco filling for soft tacos, it’s still awesome!

Tortilla Shell

For the filling, I cooked onions in a large skillet until softened, then added garlic, chili powder, cumin, and coriander. You can use a jalapeno too if you prefer extra spice. Then I added ground beef and cooked it until it was browned. Finally, I added in a can of crushed tomatoes and let the mixture cook until the liquid was evaporated because no one needs watery tacos!

Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Shell

The last step is decorating your taco salad with all your favorite toppings. I stuck with veggies, just some chopped lettuce, tomato, and onions but feel free to dress it up with guacamole, cheese, sour cream, or whatever floats your boat! Picky eaters will love to adorn their own individual tacos.

Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Shell

Don’t forget, Cinco de Mayo isn’t too far off…this would be a perfect way to celebrate–with a large margarita of course!


Taco Salad with Crispy Tortilla Bowl (adapted from Everyday Food)

Yield: serves 6-8

6-8 medium flour tortillas

nonstick cooking spray

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (I used 4 small onions)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

1 jalapeno chile, minced (optional)

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

salt, to taste (I used 3/4 teaspoon)

fillings for taco salad such as lettuce, tomato, onion, olives, black beans, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, etc. (your choice!)


1. For the taco shell, place the tortillas into a brioche pan, on an inverted muffin tin, or in any oven proof bowl. Lightly coat with the nonstick spray. Bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes, checking frequently to ensure not too browned. Let cool slightly in pan.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Then add in the garlic and other spices, stirring the mixture together.

3. Add the ground beef to the pan, breaking it up with a spoon, and cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently to avoid sticking, until the liquid has evaporated, about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Carefully remove the taco shells from the pan and place onto a plate. Fill the shells with the beef mixture and your toppings of choice.


Three Bean Chili & Homemade Chili Seasoning

The Super Bowl is almost here and while football is not really my thing, any “holiday” where food features prominently is worth celebrating, I suppose. Chili is certainly a popular football game day dish judging by the zillion or so recipes for chili I found on a Pinterest search. So why is mine worth a try? Well, your whole family can eat and enjoy it. Your mouth will not be ablaze with the fire of 10 million habaneros, however your taste buds won’t be bored either. There is a touch of spice, yes, but the spice level was more than tolerable enough for my toddler, yet the chili was full of flavor thanks to my original spice blend. Also, this chili is quick to make. It doesn’t have to sit in a crockpot all day while you’re waiting to eat. You can certainly let it simmer on the stove for a bit to let the flavors meld or keep it in a crockpot on warm after cooking but if you want to make this chili after work for a weeknight dinner, no problem.

Three Bean Chili with Homemade Chili Seasoning

So here goes…brown ground beef, onion, and chopped bell pepper in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Drain off any excess grease then add in tomatoes and the three beans. To be clear, that’s three types of beans: black beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans. Then it’s time to add the spice.

Three Bean Chili

The original version of this recipe called for store bought chili seasoning. I opted to create my own. Another Pinterest search revealed a number of posts on homemade chili seasonings so I took the the best from each of them and ended up using dried minced onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and some brown sugar to balance out the smokiness of the paprika.

Homemade Chili Seasoning

Homemade Chili Seasoning

After all the ingredients were in the pot, I brought the chili to a boil, then let it simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with whatever toppings you prefer. I just like crushed tortilla chips for the crunchy contrast but sour cream, shredded cheese, or diced jalapenos would all work great. Enjoy the game!

Side note: this recipe serves about 8-10 but if you’re not feeding a crowd, the leftovers freeze really well. Just thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat in a pot on the stove.

Three Bean Chili


Three Bean Chili

Yield: serves 8-10

2 pounds lean ground beef

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 red or green bell pepper, chopped

2 – 16 ounce cans dark red kidney beans

2 – 16 ounce cans pinto beans

2 – 16 ounce cans black beans

1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with chiles

1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste

homemade chili seasoning (one batch, or to taste) or 2 packages store bought chili seasoning

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed

crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, or shredded cheese to garnish


1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef, onion, and bell pepper. Drain excess grease.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes and tomato paste, chili seasoning, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil.

3. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.


Homemade Chili Seasoning

Yield: enough seasoning for 2 pounds of beef/8 servings of chili

2 tablespoons dried minced chopped onions

1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Mix together all the spices in a bowl. Use right away for chili or store in a sealed jar for future use.


Ground Beef Two Ways: Part 2-Fajita Meatballs

I needed to figure out something to do with the other pound of ground beef we bought this weekend. I happened to be sitting on the couch while meal planning and was flipping through a recent edition of Parents magazine where they had a spread on various meatball concoctions. The fajita meatballs sounded like something that would fly in my household so I proceeded. They were super fast to make! I had them prepped and ready to bake well before Ground Beef the first way, the Cottage Pie, was even out of the oven.

In my mini Cuisinart food processor, which by the way, is a really useful appliance and for small things saves a lot of time over dragging out the full sized Cuisanart, I chopped up half a green bell pepper and half a yellow bell pepper. Altogether I had about a cup of chopped pepper, the specific color doesn’t really matter, those were just what I had on hand. I also chopped up about a third of a red onion and then tortilla chips, to end up with half a cup of finely chopped tortilla chips. The tortilla chips are subbing in for the typical breadcrumbs in this meatball recipe. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the veggies by hand and put the tortilla chips in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or something.

I combined the peppers, onion, and tortilla chips in a medium bowl and added a pound of ground beef, a teaspoon of chili powder, an egg, and a little bit of freshly ground pepper. I mixed them together by hand and formed them into a dozen meatballs.

I placed the meatballs, touching each other, in an 8×8 baking dish that I had coated with a tablespoon of olive oil and baked at 450F for 30 minutes, until they were cooked through, without any pink.


I think these meatballs have a lot of potential but as I made them, lacked a bit in flavor. Next time I would add more seasoning, possibly a fajita or taco spice blend. Also, I would have liked to have drizzled a little salsa on top to add some color and moisture. I plan to try them again sometime soon and will update when I do.


UPDATED December 6, 2013: Made these meatballs again tonight and with a little tweaking they were SO much better! I’ll edit the recipe below the reflect the new and improved Fajita Meatballs but in short, this time I used half a red and half a yellow bell pepper and blue corn chips (neither of those changes were really critical, just what I had on hand). The main change was that I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of fajita seasoning which made all the difference. You can use pre-mixed/store bought fajita seasoning or you can make your own. My husband made a bunch of fajita seasoning a while back so I just used that. Success! Easy, relatively quick (at least the hands-on part), and kid friendly meal.


Fajita Meatballs (adapted with minimal changes from Parents magazine, November 2013)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any combination of colors is fine)

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped tortilla chips

1 pound ground beef (I used 93% lean)

1 egg

1 teaspoon chili powder

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons fajita seasoning

salsa and tortilla chips, for garnish

The Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with the olive oil.

2. Finely chop, by hand or food processor, bell pepper to equal 1 cup, and red onion to equal 1/3 cup. Then crush tortilla chips to equal 1/2 cup.

3. Add the pepper, onion, and tortilla chip crumbs to a medium bowl. Combine with the ground beef, egg, chili powder, ground black pepper, and fajita seasoning.

4. Form into 12 meatballs.

5. Place the meatballs in an 8×8 baking pan. They will be touching each other.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are full cooked through. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa.

Chunky Vegetarian Chili with Thyme Cornbread

Today was one of those rare days when daycare was open and I had the day off from work. Since it was my son’s first day in his new class I sent him anyway and took the time to catch up on some cleaning and organizing projects. Before I knew it I had only an hour left until I needed to pick him up and I wanted to get dinner cooked before then, since he’s not so patient about watching me cook and he’s too little to help.

This chili was super fast to make. I got it simmering away in enough time to make cornbread and get a shower in before picking up the munchkin.

I roughly chopped up an onion, half an orange bell pepper, half a green bell pepper, and a couple cloves of garlic and sautéed them in some vegetable oil in my Dutch oven.


After that I added the seasonings, two cans of stewed tomatoes, two cans of rinsed and drained black beans, and a can each of rinsed and drained kidney and pinto beans. After bringing to a boil I reduced the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.


The cornbread was also really quick. After preheating the oven and coating an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray, I combined a cup of all purpose flour, 3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal, a tablespoon of sugar, and a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. I added 3 tablespoons of buttermilk powder. It would definitely be fine to use real buttermilk instead, just omit the water. I like to keep the buttermilk powder on hand for spur of the moment uses. To the dry ingredients, I added 3/4 cup of water, an egg, 1/2 cup frozen corn, 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. I stirred it until it was moist then transferred the batter to the pan and baked for 25 minutes.

I still made it to pick up my son on time. And as a bonus, he really liked the cornbread and seemed to enjoy the chili as well….more made it into his mouth than onto my floor, so I’m calling it a success!


Chunky Vegetarian Chili (adapted from Cooking Light Soups & Stews Tonight!)

Yield: 8 servings (1 cup each)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15 ounces each) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained
2 (15 ounces each) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounces) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounces) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

The Recipe
1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Thyme Cornbread (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2010)

Yield: 9 pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons buttermilk powder -or- 3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup water (omit if using buttermilk)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme (1 1/2 tablespoons if using fresh thyme)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Cooking spray

The Recipe
1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Coat an 8×8 pan with nonstick cooking spray

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk powder.

3. Add the water (or buttermilk if using instead of the powder), oil and stir until moistened. Then add the corn, thyme, and garlic and combine.

4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a knife inserted into the center comes out dry.


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