Taco Bar: Ground Beef Tacos

Taco Bar: Ground Beef Tacos

I know that it’s still pretty cold in many parts of the country, but around the bay area, it has been warm. Hot even. Uncomfortably so. Sometimes it is especially hot out, and super hot inside, and hot everywhere, and why is it so hot? Heat is the worst. Ugh.


Hot days make me avoid doing anything that will make it even hotter in the house. Like, you know, MAKING FOOD. (Or moving, for that matter). Luckily, I have a beef taco recipe that takes very little time and doesn’t do much to affect your thermostat. Thank goodness for quick, oven-top food.

Tacos are also a great food for entertaining. Just put out a bunch of ingredients and people can assemble their own yumminess however they would like. We did just that this past Friday. Taco bar!

The hardest part, really, is chopping all of the things that need chopping. Luckily, my handsome and wonderful boyfriend was on hand to do the food prep. He used to be a general manager at a deli and has retained all of his fancy/fast sous chef-y skills.

Here we are, post-eating at a Spaghetti Factory on his birthday. The day after is when I forced* him to do taco prep.


Mark, blissfully unaware of the taco horrors he would face in less than 24 hours.

*Asked politely and he very sweetly agreed.

We put out a really nice spread of ingredients and it all got gobbled up pretty quickly.


You’re looking at: limes, chopped cilantro, diced onions, sliced black olives, green and red salsas, sliced avocados, diced tomatoes, canned refried beans, jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. We also had shredded cheese, sour cream, the beef taco filling (recipe below), shrimp (which I tossed in garlic powder, salt, adobo pepper sauce, lime juice, and some butter before throwing the whole thing into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes), hard taco shells, soft taco shells, lettuce wraps (for the carb avoiders), and Adam cooked up some garbanzo bean flour quesadillas (for the slow-carb angle). It sounds like a lot of stuff, but many of the ingredients we already had on-hand in the cupboard or from our local produce box.

This all came together for some mighty fine tacos. Behold.


Don’t forget the shrimp tacos!


All together now!


The meat itself was flavorful and cooked up quite quickly. A nice mix of onions, ground beef, adobo chipotle sauce,tomato paste, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little butter.


Well, now I’m hungry again. Oh well. On to the recipe!

Ground Beef Tacos Filling
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Tacos are a great way to feed a lot of people on a hot day. Enjoy!
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 5-7
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1½ cups diced onions
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  1. Start by melting your butter in a medium pan.
  2. Toss in the onions, and cook them until they've softened a bit (about 3 minutes or so). Stir occasionally.
  3. In a large bowl, add your ground beef, tomato paste, garlic powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  4. Carefully strain some of the liquid out of the canned peppers and into a separate container (about two Tablespoons) . Unless you want a *really* intense flavor, I don't recommend including the peppers themselves. Just use the liquid around them.
  5. Mix the pepper juice into the beef, then add the whole mixture to your pan with the onions.
  6. Cook until there is no pink left in the beef and the meat is nicely browned. (Stir often enough to keep things cooking evenly).
  7. Serve as part of your very own taco bar and enjoy!


Szechwan Shrimp & Vegetable Stir Fry

Szechwan Shrimp & Vegetable Stir Fry

 I have to tell you. This was so so so so good. I will totally be making this again. I kept the heat level pretty low (since I’m such a wimp) but it still had small zing; you could totally turn it up a notch with out much difficulty.

I made the sauce first and let it sit the fridge for a few hours which makes this recipe even more simple than it already is. You could even make a larger portion of the sauce and save it in a container in your fridge for spontaneous stir fry.

Szechwan Shrimp & Vegetable Stir Fry
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Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian/American
Serves: 3
  • 4 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1½ Tablespoons soy sauce (you can add more to taste if you like)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4 coves garlic
  • ½ cup snap peas
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced carrots
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced celery
  • ½ cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1 pound de-veined and de-tailed shrimp
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. Whisk the first seven ingredients together until the cornstarch is completely incorporated and set aside until you're ready to add it to your pan. You can make this ahead of time and keep it in your fridge.
  2. Chop your vegetables and mince your garlic.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan (feel free to wok it though) and add your carrot/celery mix first so they could have a little more time to cook. On top of that add your garlic.
  4. After a few minutes I add the onion then a minute later add the snap peas and then a minute later add the shrimp.
  5. Toss it all around a bit and let the shrimp get coated in the oil and just a tiny bit pink.
  6. Add your sauce and then continue to toss gently every minute or so until the sauce has thickened and the shrimp are done.
  7. Spoon it over some hot white rice and enjoy!.


Again, I can not tell you how delicious I thought this was. I hoovered it as fast as I could and I was disappointed there weren’t seconds. If I were going to change one thing  about the next time I make it, it would be to make more!


Honey Walnut Shrimp

Honey Walnut Shrimp

This recipe is part of the “Chinese-Inspired” birthday party menu from Brie‘s birthday bash.

My goodness! I think this may have been the highlight of the night.


I was initially worried that homemade honey walnut shrimp couldn’t possibly live up to the amazingnessitude of our local Chinese takeout place, but I was totally wrong. This stuff (adapted from HERE) is great and you should put it in your face RIGHTNOW.



Honey Walnut Shrimp
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Incredibly rich and ultra indulgent, honey walnut shrimp is a lovely addition to any special meal.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese Takeout
Serves: 16-20
  • 4 cups water
  • 2⅔ cups white sugar
  • 2 cups walnuts pieces
  • 16 tablespoons of egg whites
  • 2⅔ cups corn starch
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 pounds large peeled & deveined shrimp (make sure they do this at the store for you, or else you will spend a day smelling like shrimp. It's your call/preference as to whether or not you want them to keep on the tails.)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup sweetened and condensed milk
  • 4 cups vegetable oil
  1. Whisk together water and sugar in a small pan.
  2. Bring to a boil, add walnuts, and boil for an additional two minutes.
  3. Drain and then spread walnuts in a thin layer on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or aluminum foil to dry.
  4. Whip eggs whites until foamy. Whisk in egg whites until very pasty and set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a heavy, tall-sided pan over medium-high heat.
  6. Dip shrimp into egg white batter, then fry until golden - about five minutes.
  7. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  8. In a large bowl, stir together mayonnaise, honey, and sweetened and condensed milk.
  9. Add in fried shrimp and stir until evenly coated.
  10. Sprinkle dried candied walnuts over the top and serve.
  11. Enjoy!





Wanna check out the rest of the Chinese-inspired menu? Try one of these!


Krab Rangoon

Krab Rangoon

This recipe is part of the “Chinese-Inspired” birthday party menu from Brie‘s birthday bash.

So, I had a lot to live up to with this recipe. Brie LOVES the crab rangoon from our local Chinese takeout place and had made it clear that, no matter what, she was going to eat some on her birthday. In fact, some of the takeout place stuff was served side by side with this homemade version (adapted from HERE), and I’d venture to say I might actually like the homemade kind better. (And Brie wanted me to add that she feels the same way). 🙂


Pro-tip – it’s important to wrap these things securely before dropping them in the fryer oil. They can come undone and then all is for naught. FOR NAUGHT. I put my boyfriend to work using this find from Pinterest, and they turned out great.

Try technique #2 - it works great! Basically, you roll it like a cigarette (leaving a small edge), and then pinch the ends together in the center.

Try technique #2 – it works great! Basically, you roll it like a cigarette (leaving a small edge), and then pinch the ends together in the center.


Krab Rangoon
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Just as good as the stuff you have delivered.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Chinese Takeout
Serves: 5-10
  • 2 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1 12 ounce package of flaked imitation crab meat
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon squeeze bottle garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 package wonton wrappers
  • Water (for sealing wrappers)
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
  1. Combine cream cheese, imitation crab, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl.
  2. Use about one teaspoon of filling per wonton wrapper, and wrap tightly using the technique pictured previously in this post (technique #2). Don't forget to dip your finger in water and run it over the edge of the wrapper before pinching it closed.
  3. Heat the frying oil over medium high heat and deep fry the crab rangoons in small batches until golden brown (about three minutes per batch).
  4. Serve.
  5. Enjoy.




Wanna check out the rest of the Chinese-inspired menu? Try one of these!