Thankfully, dinner was already done and my wounded pride was repaired by the heaps of praise I received for the food I served.
This is a great time of year to consider deliciously simple, satisfying and flexible dinner building blocks that save time and money. With just a little forethought, it is possible to have homemade dinners on the table whether you're eating around races with your kids, meetings, studies, work, after-school or community activities.
How is this possible? Use the cook-once-eat-twice principle. Or in the case of the Taco Joe recipe I'm sharing, cook once/eat twice, thrice or four times. Prepare this big batch of Taco Joe filling and then divide it into meal-sized portions in freezer bags. Stash those bags in your freezer for those nights when you need a meal that is done in minutes. Simply thaw a portion of the filling and use one of the five variations or make up one of your own! It's easier than dialing out for pizza and it's better for you, too.
4 lbs. super lean ground beef
6 c. cold water
1 (12-oz.) can tomato paste
2 packets dry enchilada sauce seasoning mix (available in the Mexican foods aisle or near the taco fixins. Yes. I said 'fixins'.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional for serving: sandwich buns or bread, avocado slices or guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, tomato and onion slices, in short, taco toppings ...
Break up and brown the ground beef in a large soup pot over medium high heat. When just browned and no longer pink, add the water, tomato paste and dry enchilada sauce mix and stir well. Bring to a boil, stir well, and lower heat. Stirring frequently, simmer for about 30 minutes or until very thick. The goal for simmering this is to create a thick meat filling that holds together when scooped onto a bun. It should not have sauce running off it, but should still be very moist.