25 December 2013

Christmas 2013: Taco Seasoning!

Merry Christmas to all my readers!

We have started a bit of a tradition of making something for Christmas presents every year. I come up with an idea, (the earlier in the year the better) and start working on making it happen in time for Christmas. We then give our closest friends and family the same gift. Last year I blogged about the Christmas macarons that I made and packaged for gifts. They were a real hit!

As with last year, this year also involved a lot of experimenting with recipes and trying them out on my unsuspecting family members. We ate a lot of tacos, nachos and potato wedges coming up with this recipe. I think the kids were getting a bit sick of them. It's a wonder I didn't put them off tacos forever with the first batch, or the second for that matter!

My attempt at making a Christmas Tree from jars of Taco Seasoning

My first batch was based on a recipe I found on pinterest. The ingredients all sounded good, and matched up pretty well with those listed on taco seasoning packets, so I thought I'd give it a go. I read a lot of comments before I started, to make sure that it wouldn't be too spicy, as the kids and I don't cope well with overly hot foods. Based on the comments, I decided to halve the chilli powder and ground pepper, but leave in the chilli flakes for a bit of texture and bite. When I cooked my first batch however, I found myself reaching for a glass of water in a hurry. Man was it hot! I doubled the amount of mince to see if that would do the trick, but unfortunately that meant I then had 1kg of taco mince to try and get through. It was still really hot. The kids, who would normally eat 2 or 3 tacos each for dinner, struggled to just eat one each, and I only had two myself. My husband who doesn't mind a bit of spice in his life had issues with it too! I don't know if it was just the specific type of spices available in the US that were used in the original recipe, but I couldn't make out any flavours in my first batch, just heat.

We probably tried at least half a dozen variations after that, before settling on a recipe that we as a family all liked. We tried various types of paprika, onion flakes instead of onion salt (we didn't really notice a difference in taste there, but the flakes give it a bit of texture when you're not using chilli flakes.) Another thing my husband suggested was adding a bit of tomato flavour. I tried a few batches with a tablespoon of tomato paste and a teaspoon of corn flour in the seasoning mix to thicken it up a bit. That worked quite well, but when giving these as gifts we wanted as few extra things as possible to add.

Our ingredients
So here's what we came up with. Give it a try and let me know what you think. Remember, this is a mild recipe. If you like your tacos hotter, try adding chilli flakes back in, or increasing the chilli powder, or pepper for some lingering heat. But try this first and taste it before you add anything.

Taco Seasoning

1 1/2 tspn chilli powder
6 tspn garlic powder
2 tspn onion powder
4 tspn oregano
4 tspn paprika
4 tspn cumin
5 tspn salt
1 1/2 heaped tspn pepper
1 packet instant tomato soup

Brown 500g mince (we usually use beef mince), then add 2 1/2 Tablespoons of seasoning, and 3/4 cup water. Simmer for around 20 minutes before making up your tacos with your favourite extras. Experiment with nachos or use as a seasoning for potato wedges!

The amounts in this recipe will make up more than half a cup of seasoning, so you don't have to keep mixing it up every time you get a taco craving. Check out how much we made up for our gifts!

Our mixing bowl: a 9.3 litre tub

In case you were wondering, the jars we used are relatively inexpensive 5 oz jars from Ikea. (For those who like me need to do a calculation or google it to work out what that means, it's 0.625 of 1 cup).

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