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.

Miss Merry