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)


  1. Those look good. You must be used to fixing food for a big group. I will have to try this. Stay safe in all the snow.

  2. Yum! They look good. I bet they would make good appetizers too.

  3. Miss Merry, I am delighted to meet and so happy to have found your blog. This recipe is perfect for entertaining, I can't wait to give it a try. I was so touched my the photo of your grandson in his red sweater outfit "Sweater Angels" that is the sweetest thing I have hear in a long time. What a little darling, he has some growing to do to make his sweater outfit fit :) You can tell that i've been going through your posts. I am a huge Downton Abbey fan and that tea was so special. It would have been wonderful to be a guest.
    I am your newest follower, and I would love to invite you over to visit and maybe even follow me back.
    Happy to meet you.
    Connie :)

  4. Wow, those look fantastic, Miss Merry
    We have lots of snow here now too; hope you aren't "privileged" to be receiving more as the storm sweeps eastward.

  5. Miss Merry, I just popped over from "An old-fashioned world" and I love your recipe and the tea party below, I'll be following and looking forward to more good posts.

  6. Miss Mary , My family would love this and I sure wish I could get enough energy going for easter prep.I think I will save this post on My favorites for another time to give Myself a reminder to prepare ahead of time.Do You have another blog You are using lately? So glad You dropped by for a visit-Denise

  7. Miss Mary , My family would love this and I sure wish I could get enough energy going for easter prep.I think I will save this post on My favorites for another time to give Myself a reminder to prepare ahead of time.Do You have another blog You are using lately? So glad You dropped by for a visit-Denise

  8. I'm embarrassed- The post You just commented on,I hit publish by accident before it was ready- EEKS- thank You for visiting, but please come back now that I really published it.

  9. Hello, Miss Merry!

    I hope all is well with you, and that Spring is springing where you are. Ours HAS, but the COLD wind through the windows we had open yesterday has made the heat come on.

    I know you've been busy with those beautiful new babies and recuperating from working on the wedding. I hope you'll be posting again soon---I've missed you!


  10. That looks like a good recipe! I may have to try it and after all these years and your tweaks -- it IS yours!

  11. I just popped by to say thank you for your comments, Merry :)

    If I would have had time, I would have been in the trash bin LOL


  12. May 20th...

    Since this is the last post here, I take it that you are not blogging any more... But I saw a comment by you, in Gayla's ("Oatmeal And Whimsey") latest post... Saying; "I am my family treasure keeper - the curator as I call it - of generations of boxes cleared every time a house is closed."

    I know you are not unique. And I want to cry, when I read of ladies like you. It is sooooooo unfair! Unfair of past generations, to expect that those coming, will really love their old treasures. Or have to feel guilt-ed into it.

    Each generation has its own treasures. Each generation has the right to love their own things. Each generation needs to let go of the selfish belief, that the following generations, will keep and treasure theirs.

    And no sibling has the right to believe that one sibling, will do all the "keeping." No, no, no, no, no!

    My feeling. My views. The way I live. The way I dumped the contents of my family home, when it became necessary to sell it. Only keeping a very few things... Like the great, great, great aunt's wedding gown, in which our daughter was eventually married.

    And our children know, that I am not expecting them, to keep anything, they do not really want to. From our home.

    My views. My ideas. I hope you will not be offended, by my comment here.


  13. These look delicious! I have boys that will eat me out of house and home too so I know what you mean about needing to make plenty. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Those would really make great party appetizers!

  14. OMG I can remember .99 cent ground beef too :(

    I will have to come back for this recipe and try it next time ground beef's on sale, family pack for about 3.00 per lb if I'm lucky! :)


Thank you so much for stopping by to visit! I love your comments and suggestions and read them all.

Miss Merry