Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Homestyle Taco Meat

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The key to a really great taco is the meat. Simmered low and slow with a lot of bold flavors can take a taco to the next level. Don’t stop there, pick your choice of a vessel to serve your tacos, also important. Finally, finish by using your favorite ingredients full of bright colors and textures to fill your tacos. Eye candy is the best phrase I’d use to describe these tacos.

This is my recipe for Homestyle Taco Meat.

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Oregano

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I’m using two fresh herbs for my tacos. Oregano from my Hanging Herb Garden and fresh cilantro.

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Stuffing (2)

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Olive Oil

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Arugula

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans

If you want my recipe for Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

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You can choose between using plum tomatoes or grape tomatoes for your Pico de Gallo.

Pico de gallo

If you’d like my recipe for Pico de Gallo, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

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If you’d like my recipe for Chunky-Style Guacamole, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

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How about these Tex-Mex-Style Baguette Pizzas? Buy a jar of your favorite taco sauce to smear over grilled baguettes, top with shredded cheese. Place them under the broiler until the cheese becomes lightly golden brown and bubbly. Top with my Homestyle Taco Meat and fresh Pico de Gallo.

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Red Onion

Diced Red Onion (2)

Cilantro

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Yields: 4 servings (12 tacos)
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven, chef’s knife, 3 large mixing bowls

Note: A variety of fresh salsas and Pico de gallo are now available in the refrigerated section of the produce department in most grocery stores. Take advantage of these products to use as ingredients for taco meat, even guacamole.

Ingredients For Taco Meat:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 pounds of ground pork (substitute ground chicken, lean ground sirloin, or turkey)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced (substitute jalapeno)
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons of taco seasoning
1 lime, juiced
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups of beef stock, unsalted
3/4 cup of store-bought fresh salsa (cantina-style)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup of sliced green onions, reserve green tops for garnish, thinly slice the tops on the bias

Ingredients For Taco Seasoning:
1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano

Note: Recipe yields approx. 1/4 cup of taco seasoning.
Note: 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning per pound of ground meat.

Directions For Taco Seasoning:
Add all the ingredients for the taco seasoning into a medium-size mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Tip: Store taco seasoning, in an airtight container, in a dry cool place.

Options For Tacos:
2 boxes of crunchy taco shells (substitute soft corn tortillas)
2 (8-ounce) packages of Mexican blend shredded cheese
limes
Arugula
Avocados
Red onion, finely diced
Cilantro for garnish
Green onion tops for garnish

Directions For Taco Meat:
Set the pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and the diced onions. Stir and cook until the onions begin to soften and become translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the ground pork, 4 tablespoons of the taco seasoning, diced green onions (the white parts), minced Fresno chili, minced garlic, dried oregano, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper into the pan.

Using a wooden spoon break up the meat. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is no longer pink, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and fresh Pico de gallo, stir to combine. Next, add the Worcestershire sauce, fresh lime juice, and beef stock. Bring everything up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer, stirring occasionally, uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes.

At this point, all the liquid and seasonings have absorbed into the meat giving you a deep beefy flavor. Turn the heat off and add in the sliced green onion tops and cilantro leaves, mix to combine.  Transfer to a large serving bowl. It’s Taco Night!

To serve. I prefer the crunchy taco shells but really it’s totally up to you! This is my HomestyleTacos Meat.

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice With Black Beans

Chunky-Style Guacamole

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Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato And Zucchini Tart With Goat Cheese (3)

This Zucchini And Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart is a great alternative to eating meat. It’s really satisfying and delicious. The jam takes quite a while to make but the good news is you can make it in advance.

First, you want to caramelize the onions. Start with a sweet onion like a Vidalia. Vidalia onions are really the best ones to use for this dish because they’re naturally sweet.

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Puff Pastry (2)

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Puff Pastry

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Yields: 2-9 x 13 tarts 12 servings
Tomato Onion Jam Yields: 2 cups
Equipment: mandolin, 2 (9 x 13) rimmed baking sheet pans, rolling pin, chef’s knife, pastry brush

Ingredients For Tomato-onions Jam:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced in half-moons
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar for caramelizing the onions (optional)
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 box of Puff Pastry sheets
5 Roma tomatoes, 1/4-inch in thickness
2 zucchinis, sliced, 1/4-inch in thickness
2 yellow squash sliced, 1/4-inch in thickness
1 1/2 cups of roasted red bell peppers, julienned
1 (12-ounce) package of goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Garnish with fresh oregano leaves (substitute julienned basil leaves)

Directions For Tomato-onion Jam:
In a large non-stick sautèpan over medium heat, add olive oil,  the thinly sliced onions, sugar, Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Place a lid on the pan to give them a head start in softening, about 5 minutes, remove the lid. Cook the onions stirring frequently, preventing the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-low if you see the onions are starting to burn. Cook until they become soft and caramel in color, about 40 minutes.

Next, to the caramelized onions add the quartered and seeded Roma tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Turn the heat up to medium bringing the mixture up to a boil reduce heat to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down and jam has thickened and developed a jammy consistency, around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Thaw Puff Pastry according to instructions on the package. Once thawed, roll the sheet into approx. 11 x 13-inch rectangle. Transfer the sheet of Puff Pastry onto a lined baking sheet. Prick the center of the sheet of dough all over with a fork leaving a 3/4-inch margin on all sides. This way the center won’t puff up during baking. Repeat this process for the second sheet of Puff Pastry. Transfer the 2 baking sheet pans into the refrigerator to chill the dough, about 15 minutes.

Using a *mandolin, slice the zucchini, yellow squash. Next, using a very sharp knife slice the Roma tomatoes 1/4-inch in thickness.

After 15 minutes, remove the pans from the frig. Divide the tomato-onion jam between the two sheets of dough. Spread the jam all over leaving the 3/4-inch border on all sides. Next, layer the sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and sliced Roma tomatoes alternating them in color. Repeat process for the second sheet pan. Crumble goat cheese over all the veggies. Lay the julienned roasted peppers, here and there, on top. Drizzle the top of each tart with olive oil, then sprinkle each with Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Brush the edges of the Puff Pastry with an *egg wash. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until it’s nice and golden brown in color. Garnish with fresh oregano (or basil leaves) leaves. There you have it my Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

*Egg wash: Whisk together 1 beaten egg and a tablespoon of water or milk.

*Mandolin: A tool that allows you to slice vegetables in several widths and thicknesses.

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Caponata Chili

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Caponata is a Sicilian relish of eggplant and assorted vegetables. Usually, the skin of the eggplant is removed before adding it to any dish. Smaller eggplants, like the ones I’m using in this dish, the skin is tender and edible For this recipe, I’m using the ingredients from a Caponata-style dish and spinning it into a non-traditional chili. This is my Caponata Chili.

Caponata Chili

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Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes

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Fennel bulb

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Fennel

Olive Oil

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Oregano

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Caponata-Chili

 

 

 

 

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 6-quart Dutch oven, chef’s knife, 3 medium-size bowls, 2 small bowls, 2 large plates

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (substitute hot Italian sausage)
1 small (1 pound) eggplant, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 onion, diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
2 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 Poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 1/2 cups of zucchini, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 pint of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 Fresno chili, seeded and minced
1/2 cup beef stock, unsalted
1 (15-ounce) can of Cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 (9-ounce) package of frozen (Birds Eye) artichoke hearts, thawed
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, extra for garnish
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, freshly grated for garnish
1 pound (16-ounce) box of orzo pasta, cooked

Directions:
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat add olive oil and sausage. Using a wooden spoon break up the sausage. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until browned with no pink. Using a slotted spoon to drain the excess fat, remove the sausage, transfer to a medium-size bowl.

Remove all the fat leaving about 2 tablespoons in the bottom of the pot. Over medium-high heat add the diced onion, diced fennel Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Stirring frequently, cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until soft.

Add fennel seeds, dried oregano, chili powder, ground cumin, tomato paste, stir to combine. Next, add the diced orange, red, yellow, Poblano peppers, and minced garlic, and Fresno chili, stir to combine. Stirring occasionally, cook for another 4 to 6 minutes or until just tender.
Add beef stock to *deglaze. With the back of a wooden spoon, scrape all the bits off the bottom of the pot. Continue to cook for 2 minutes allowing the beef stock to reduce by half.

Add diced eggplant, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and cooked sausage, stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium, cook for 45 minutes.

Add dice zucchini, artichoke hearts, and Cannelini beans, stir to combine. Over medium-low heat, simmer for another 45 minutes until the sauce reduces slightly and thickens. Turn the heat off before adding 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano leaves, stir to combine.

To serve, I like to spoon a good helping of orzo pasta in the bottom of a porcelain bowl. Ladle the Caponata Chili on top, garnish with a few oregano leaves, from my garden, then finish with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I have to tell you it’s not your traditional chili but if you love Caponata-style dishes, then you’ll definitely love my Caponata Chili.

*Deglaze is the process of diluting sediments in (a pan) in order to make a gravy or sauce.

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