Saturday, January 31, 2015

Taco Tarts

I want to be totally honest. Even though my own family, my extended family, my friends, my children's friends, my children's former teammates ALL consider this my recipe - It Is NOT.

I found this recipe in either Country Woman or Taste of Home magazine. It was attributed to a woman who submitted it. I wish I knew her name so I could thank her! The website says it was originally published as Taco Tartlets Appetizer in Country Ground Beef 1993, page 7, and shares the recipe here:  I do not own this recipe book (I looked) and I am sure it was published in one of those ground beef recipe contests (do you remember their recipe contests for each issue?)

I bet I have been making these since at least 1993. Ground beef would go on sale for less than a dollar a pound (I remember when it was 99 cents a pound in the "family packs". I had 5 teenagers, load me up with "family packs").  This weekend, which just happens to be Super Bowl weekend, ground beef was on sale for $2.88 a pound at our local grocery. Thank goodness there were no limits.

Since the recipe on the Taste of Home website has no photos (what???) and since I have tweaked it over the years (or made it easier for the lazy cook) - I thought I would share how I make what we call Taco Tarts.

First I will share my philosophy on appetizers and large families. Recipes like this, which must be made in LARGE quantity are best either broken into a few days or, if you are lucky to have children to press into service, assembly line produced for faster results.

Second, the original recipe states that it makes 24 appetizers which serves 8 people. This is crazy talk! My family eats at least 12 each. That means the original recipe serves 2 members of the Merry family!

Third, the recipe can be time consuming, so why not just make more for later?

So - instead of 1 pound of ground beef, I started with 6 pounds of ground beef. Instead of 2 tablespoons of water, I used 12 tablespoons of water (or a little more) and, instead of measuring 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning, I used 2 envelopes full. And you could use even more for more taco flavor. Unless you make or purchase taco seasoning in a jar - just use envelope contents. Mush together with your fingers until well mixed.

The original recipe adds 1 cup of shredded cheese to the ground beef. I add it to the filling.
In a second extra large bowl,  you can mix 1 cup of sour cream or increase it to 6 cups like I did.  She adds 3 tablespoons of chopped black olives. I use 3 cans of black olives, run through my Sunbeam Oscar. She uses one cup of crushed tortilla chips. I used one large bag of crushed tortilla chips. She used 2 tablespoons of taco sauce; I used 2 jars of salsa.  As you can tell this recipe is very forgiving. Before mixing I added 2 cups of shredded cheese. More cheese could be added, but this was all I had.
 Mix well. Now you are ready to start. If you are only doing 2 dozen - hey go to it! If you are doing enough for an army - you may want to separate both mixtures into smaller quanities and put them in the frig for food safety.
As you could see, I use my 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to make "meatballs" which I then press into a mini muffin pan. You could make the meat mixture a day ahead and refrigerate the meatballs if you want to split up the work.
 Alternately you could assign one cook around your island to make the meatballs and one to press into the pan as shown.
And I am sorry I got my dirty kitchen floor in this one :(    I used to have some wooden thing from Pampered Chef to press down the meatballs, but honestly, just as easy to use your fingers.

Now - just fill them! I use an iced tea spoon. No particular reason. This could be a job for another child or willing participant.
 And bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes.
 The next portion of the recipe will call for a WHOLE roll of paper towels. When you remove the taco tarts from the oven, they will be sitting in a puddle of grease. Ick. I am not a fan of the grease.
Use a spoon (here I use a soup spoon, no particular reason) and remove each tart and place on a prepared area lined with paper towels. This will help drain the grease from the tart. 
You will be left with a mini muffin tin full of grease. Ick. Drain and then grab paper towels. I wipe off top of tin then ball up the towels and wipe out each cubby hole. This will use 3-4 paper towels for each tin full.  
 After tarts have cooled, I place them on clean paper towels in a glass container with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
 These are so much better reheated. They actually can be frozen at this point, just thaw before reheating. I place them in a circle on a paper towel lined plate and reheat in the microwave. Time will depend on the wattage and amount of tarts.  This will remove any residue grease from the tarts. I am a little phobic about that grease!

If you are a fancy pants, you can dab some more salsa on each tart, dab some sour cream, top with shredded cheese or a slice of black olive, whatever fancy strikes you! If you are making 240 of them like I did - they are just fine as is!

Miss Merry's Taco Tarts

6 lbs. ground beef
12 tablespoons water
2-3 envelopes of taco seasoning

Mix well

6 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese
3 cans black olives, drained and chopped
1 large bag tortilla chips, crushed
2 jars of salsa

Mix well

1 roll of paper towels
2 giant bowls
Mini muffin pan(s)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place one tablespoon of meat mixture in cups of mini muffin pan, press to cover bottom and sides. Put one teaspoon (or so) of cream mixture in each cup.

Bake at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Store in refrigerator in container lined with paper towels. Reheat in microwave on paper towels.

Makes 240 tarts which serves 20 people at my house. (regular serving size is supposed to be 3)

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Blog - Life Happens - Blog - Life Happens

Worse than Lifetime Movie Life Happens. More like Nightmare Theater Life Happens. Well, that kinda sums it up. And sometimes so much Life Happens that you can't even pretend that you can set a table or paint a room or, you know, stop and smell the roses (as in breathe).

But enough about that! This is blogland, not the real world, so let's get to the good stuff!

My last post was a newborn baby boy grandson! (I called him Hootie and gave him this hat before I met him)
And if that wasn't enough - the evening he was born by surprise - my youngest daughter and her boyfriend stopped by to show us a diamond and rename him fiance!
 And while I was quickly planning and preparing the bridal shower,
 another baby boy grandson; this one a baby brother grandson with a head full of hair (and doesn't the fold in the screen look like a halo?)
 and then a wedding!  (and FYI - a homemade brooch bouquet tutorial someday)
So, in the midst of Life Happening, there were some rays of sunshine!

And today, January 24, 2015, in spite of Life Still Happening, I set my table. So there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

We are interrupting this blog

series featuring baby shower preparations to show you what happens when are not quite prepared . . ..
Announcing Baby "Seb" - Sebastian Scott was our surprise gift on Mother's Day!

His parents had the new carpet installed in the nursery on Wednesday. Mommy had a substitute teaching job on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Her mother-in-law (me) made her go to Mother's Day Tea Party on Saturday. After church on Sunday, mommy and daddy were headed two hours away to her mother's to pick up the changing table and dresser so that mommy could start washing clothes and putting the nursery together before she taught on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Also on the "to-do" list was packing her suitcase and deciding what was still needed.

UNTIL - 27 days before his due date  . . .

First Modeling Gig- outfit provided by our local hosptial's "Sweater Angels"
Mr. Merry was putting new brakes on Miss Merry's car so that they can attend a wedding in Tennessee at the end of the month. Mommy and daddy picked up Miss Merry for church, marched in, sat in the pew, mommy tapped daddy's shoulder and we all three stood up and marched out. A mere 4 1/2 hours later, Baby Seb made his appearance at 5 pounds 11 ounces.

Mommy and Baby are doing fine. Gramma and Grampa are recovering after a marathon of crib, pack n play, car seat, vibrating chair and swing construction, baby clothes washing, food preparation, house cleaning and shopping!

Mommy and baby are doing fine. Last night was the first night home and her mother was able to come and stay through the end of the week. I understand NO ONE got any sleep at all. This morning was the families first outing, back to the hospital for blood tests and a check up. Seb is a preemie (a very healthy preemie) but they are keeping an eye on his low blood sugar, weight loss and jaundice.

Fortunately we held the shower two weeks ago (it is just the preparation posts that are lagging). This Saturday is the "diaper party" so I am cleaning my kitchen in order to start preparing roasters full of brats and cheesy potatoes and bake about 6 batches of brownies.

It's a BOY!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Downton Abbey Tea Party

Let's take a break from the Baby Shower Preparations and attend a Downton Abbey Tea Party!
This party was actually scheduled for January, but I live in Ohio and we were inundated with so much snow this year, the Friends of the Library had to wait until May to reschedule it!  I invited three of my "tea" friends to accompany me.

We started with a delicious cup of Earl Grey Tea!
And then were served some "light refreshments". This was day three of my latest diet and I would not call this a "light refreshment!"
We were served by volunteers from the Friends of the Library, straight from Mrs. Patmore's kitchen!

Our first speaker was Laura Loew from Lost in the Past, Medina, Ohio. She was fabulous! Attired in a 1925 frock and accessories (DA - Season 5), she began with an outstanding presentation of the fashions featured in each season of Downton Abbey. 

The tea was held in our local Episcapal Church which was originally built in 1818. This hall showcases windows and the woodwork from the original structure, but was built around the 1860's. 
 Laura showed magazine pictures from the day and compared the fashions worn on the show.
Laura is very knowledgeable about the costuming on the program and pointed out ensembles that were period, rental costumes and newly constructed.
Laura shared information from interviews with the cast members. Did you know that all of the women's contracts require that they are using sunscreen at all times in order to maintain those gorgeous white complexions?  In Downton time, only field labors sported a tan!
Anna surprised me the most with her "real life" self! Laura also brought a special outfit that she had selected for each character from her own vintage clothing collection. Outfits included complete accessories and sometimes included shoes! I will post more of these photos at the end of the blog. 
We were then served our "sweets" course during an intermission.

 Our next speaker was the program director for our local PBS station. She shared film clips, cast information, behind the scenes stories and interviews and updates on Season Five as well as other programs that we all follow on PBS! 
The PBS presentation was followed by a costume judging. Here are just some of those who came costumed in a Downton Theme:
And here are some of the outfits that Laura brought from her personal collection:
I am sure you were able to match each outfit with the character!

The tea was just lovely. I am hoping for a repeat next year.

Linking to:

Linking to:

Miss Merry