Easy Taco Skillet Dinner

I love a quick skillet dinner- especially on a weeknight. This delicious family friendly meal is from my friend Mollie @Frugal Hausfrau. I have made it a couple of times, most recently for our Super Bowl celebration. Our meal has to complement the mandatory Super Bowl guacamole. 🙂

Even though it could be served as is straight from the skillet, we ate it in both soft and hard shell tacos. (The hard shells won as the favorite, by the way.) I think that eating it as a pre-mixed taco filling made it even more of a crowd-pleaser. I modified the recipe by using ground turkey and by increasing the beans, onions, and garlic. Great!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 1.25 pounds ground turkey or ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Sriracha
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes (I used Trader Joe’s fire roasted diced tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup salsa (I used Trader Joe’s garlic chipotle salsa)
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup white Basmati rice
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack
  • 1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • hard or soft taco shells, for serving, if desired
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish, as desired
  • sliced avocado, for garnish, as desired
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish, as desired

  1. In a large skillet with a lid, over medium high heat, add ground meat and cook, crumbling as it cooks.
  2. As soon as it starts to give up the juices, add in the onion and bell pepper, continuing to cook until the vegetables have softened and the meat is cooked through.
  3. Add the garlic, stirring for a minute or so until it becomes fragrant.
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper; briefly stir.
  5. Stir in tomatoes with the juice, salsa, black beans, and hot sauce.
  6. Toss the rice on top and add the 1 1/4 cup of water. Gently stir together, bring to a boil.
  7. Cover with lid and reduce to a bare simmer. Cook for 25 minutes until rice is just done. If possible, don’t lift the lid or stir until rice is finished.
  8. Turn off the heat. Using a spatula, gently turn the mixture from top to bottom. Add cheese to the top. Cover with lid and let sit for five minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
  9. Serve in warm taco shells garnished with green onions, avocado, and/or minced cilantro, as desired.

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Sheet Pan Meatballs with Chickpeas, Turmeric, and Lemon

This is a wonderful weeknight sheet-pan dish. It was full-flavored and relatively healthy too. I think I’m in love with crispy roasted chickpeas!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com, where the dish was loosely based on a New York Times sheet-pan chicken dish that I’ve also made and posted. I increased the amount of ground turkey, and meatball seasonings, size, as well as cooking time. I also used cumin seeds instead of fennel seeds.

We ate it with warm naan, brown Basmati rice, and roasted asparagus. The lemony red onions and yogurt toppings were essential and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6

Time: about 1 hour

For the Chickpeas:

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, hot paprika, or red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint leaves, or a mix thereof, plus more to garnish

To Serve:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 3/4 of a lemon)
  • 7 oz (almost 1 cup) plain yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
  • toasted pita wedges or naan
  • harissa or another hot sauce, as desired
  • brown Basmati rice, for serving, if desired
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine chickpeas, cumin seed, cumin, 1 teaspoon turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
  4. Roast for 25 minutes, until beginning to firm/crisp up. (The red onions will start to get very crispy and charred.)
  5. Meanwhile, make meatball mixture. Mix all ingredients- except the ground meat- in a large bowl with a fork. Then incorporate the meat.
  6. Form into 1.75-inch (about 2 T) meatballs, about 15 large meatballs. (I used 3 small cookie scoop scoops for each meatball.)
  7. Remove sheet pan with chickpeas from the oven (leave oven on) and move the chickpeas to the sides of the pan, clearing a space in the center.
  8. Lightly coat center with a thin coat of oil, either brush or spray it on, just to be safe. Position the meatballs in the center of the pan; I made 3 rows of 5 meatballs. Place baking sheet in oven and bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through, about 165 degrees in the center.
  9. Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  10. Combine yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  11. When meatballs are cooked, scatter remaining fresh herbs over the tray.
  12. Serve with lemony onions and yogurt, toasted pita wedges, rice, and hot sauce, as desired.

Two Years Ago: Broken Pasta with Shredded Pork & Arugula

Three Years Ago: Indian Butter Chicken

Four Years Ago: Caramel Chicken

Five Years Ago: Chicken Teriyaki Plate and Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs

Firehouse Chili Gumbo

This is the last “soup” that I have to share (for now!) in my cozy soup series. 😉 It would be perfect for any Super Bowl Sunday feast. It was layered with flavor.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. The original recipe was adapted from the one that a Louisiana firefighter named Jeremy Chauvin entered into a national cook-off run by Hormel Foods in 2017, and that took home the prize for America’s Best Firehouse Chili. It uses a roux as a base, making it a chili “gumbo.” I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Chili:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
  • 3 pounds ground beef or ground turkey, ideally coarse-ground
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons steak sauce (I substituted soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes

For the Gumbo:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 6-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon apple-cider vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, or to taste

For Serving:

  • sliced scallions, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and/or tortilla chips, for garnish, as desired
  • corn bread or corn muffins, optional
  1. Make the chili. Heat the oil in a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
  2. Working in batches, cook the ground meat, stirring often, until it has begun to brown at the edges. Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned meat to a bowl.
  3. Pour off excess fat, turn heat down to medium and return the browned meat to the skillet or pot.
  4. Add salt, peppers, chile powder, turmeric, oregano and cumin, and stir to combine.
  5. Add steak sauce/soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and diced tomatoes, and stir again. Cover the skillet or pot, and cook, stirring a few times, for 15 minutes or so.
  6. Make the gumbo. Place a large pot with a heavy bottom over medium heat, and put the butter and oil into it. When the butter is melted and foaming, sprinkle the flour into the pan, and whisk to combine. Continue whisking until the mixture is golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Add the onion, shallots, bell peppers, celery and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have started to soften, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Make the chili gumbo. Add the beef mixture to the pot with the vegetables along with the tomato paste, tomato sauce, tomato juice and ketchup, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes, then add apple-cider vinegar and hot sauce to taste.
  9. Take the pot off the heat, and serve, or allow to cool and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to cure. Heat before serving.
  10. Serve garnished with scallions, shredded cheese, and/or tortilla chips, as desired.

One Year Ago: Squash & Pork Stir-Fry

Two Years Ago: Duchess Baked Potatoes

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Sheet Pan Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Harissa Chickpeas & Tomatoes

We have such a big adjustment- to life!- at the beginning of the school year. I feel like we’re always pressed for time… especially when it comes to preparing a family dinner. I have a few weeknight meals that I’d like to share that have helped us during crunch time. 🙂

This delicious sheet pan dinner was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken and halved the harissa to decrease the level of spiciness. We ate it with crusty bread. Spicy and Great!!

Yield: 4 Servings
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons jarred harissa paste, divided ( I used Trader Joe’s Harissa)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko
  • 6 ounces feta in brine plus ¼ cup brine, cheese crumbled, divided (I used sheep’s milk feta)
  • ⅔ cup chopped parsley, divided
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey
  • 1 pint mixed cherry or grape tomatoes, halved if large
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
  • crusty bread, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in top of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Taste your harissa. If it’s extremely spicy, cut quantities used in recipe in half (…which I did!).
  3. Using a fork, stir 1 egg, ½ cup panko, ¼ cup feta brine, half of crumbled feta, half of parsley, 2 T (or 4 T if not halved) harissa, and 2 T oil in a large bowl until egg is blended and mixture looks homogenous.
  4. Finely grate or push 2 garlic cloves through a garlic press into bowl, then add 1 teaspoon salt and several cranks of black pepper. Be pretty generous here; 10 cranks wouldn’t be too much! Stir again with a fork.
  5. Add ground meat to garlic and work with clean hands until the meat is totally intermingled with panko mixture. Work it enough so that you don’t see big distinct pieces of meat, but then stop. Overworking could lead to crumbly meatballs. The mixture will feel very soft and wet and look a bit shiny.
  6. Pour tomatoes and chickpeas into the center of a large rimmed baking sheet. Add 2 T oil and remaining 1 T (or 2 T if not halved) harissa. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Using clean hands or a small spatula, toss everything together right on sheet until chickpeas and tomatoes are evenly coated.
  7. Next you’re going to form the meatballs, but don’t wash your hands if you used them—the coating of oil will prevent them from sticking to your palms. Roll ground meat mixture gently and loosely between your palms into about 14 to 16 golf ball-sized balls (it’s okay if the balls aren’t perfectly round; just try to make them about the same size). (I used a large cookie scoop and kept my hands clean.) Place on baking sheet, tucking them in and around chickpeas and tomatoes and spacing evenly apart.
  8. Bake meatballs on top rack until about halfway cooked through, 12–15 minutes. Remove from oven and take a look. The tomatoes should be starting to soften and burst, and the meatballs should look opaque and feel a bit springy to the touch. If not, bake a few minutes longer.
  9. Meanwhile, combine remaining 3 oz. feta, ⅓ cup parsley, and 2 T oil in a small bowl, then grate or use a garlic press to add in the remaining garlic clove. Toss with fork to distribute. Turn on broiler (to high if your broiler has settings).
  10. Place baking sheet back on top rack if your broiler is on the top of your oven. Broil meatballs, rotating tray once or twice if they’re browning unevenly, until browned and fully cooked through, some tomatoes are lightly charred, and some chickpeas are crisp, 8–10 minutes.
  11. Let sit a few minutes, then sprinkle feta mixture over meatballs.

Note: Meatballs can be formed on baking sheet 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and chill.

I’m bringing my dish to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #190, co-hosted by Shinta @Carmel Tinted Life and Diann @Of Goats and Greens. Enjoy!

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Sam Sifton’s Middle-School Tacos

We are counting down the days until the end of my son’s elementary school career. 😦 His 6th grade Graduation- a.k.a. “Moving Up” ceremony- is next Tuesday. So… it’s the perfect time to share this recipe for a popular Middle-School lunch! I’m getting him ready for his next chapter. ❤

The recipe for these “Middle-School ‘Gringo’ Tacos” was featured in a New York Times article titled “The Case for Hard Shell Tacos,” contributed by Sam Sifton. They were a wonderful upgrade from a taco kit. 🙂 I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, decreased the chile powder and red pepper flakes, and doubled the garlic. We topped them with grated cheeses, sour cream, guacamole, shredded iceberg lettuce, and chopped grape tomatoes. I served them with refried beans on the side as well. Great.

Of course, my kids absolutely loved them! Then they informed me that their school lunch tacos are served in soft tortillas. Funny. Maybe that’s an elementary school thing? We’ll see! 😉

Time: 30 minutes

For the Meat Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola, peanut or grapeseed
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 pounds ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1-2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute hot or sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or beef broth, low-sodium if store-bought

For Serving:

  • 12-18 hard taco shells
  • refried beans, optional

Topping Suggestions:

  • grated cheese (I used both cheddar and Monterey Jack)
  • sliced jalapeños
  • chopped tomatoes
  • shredded lettuce or cabbage
  • sour cream
  • guacamole
  • lime wedges

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the oil. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion, and cook until softened and starting to brown, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so to soften, and then the ground meat. Cook until it starts to brown, stirring and chopping with a spoon to break up the meat, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off excess fat, leaving only a tablespoon or two in the pan.
  4. Add the chile powder, cumin, salt, pepper, cornstarch, paprika and red-pepper flakes, and stir to combine.
  5. Add the stock or broth, stir, bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened slightly, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. As sauce cooks, place taco shells (on a taco rack, if possible) on a sheet pan, and toast in oven until they are crisp and smell nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Serve a few tablespoons of meat in each taco, along with whatever toppings you like.
  8. Serve with refried beans on the side, if desired.

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Shortcut Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs

There are so many end-of-the-school-year parties this time of year. A great time to share a crowd-pleasing casserole! I brought this baked pasta dish to my son’s pre-County Championship Swim Meet pasta dinner. I was thrilled when my friend’s husband asked for the recipe. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from such a fun book- Mad Genius Tips: Over 90 Expert Hacks + 100 Delicious Recipes by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine. I love Chapple’s column in the printed magazine and knew I would enjoy this book as well. The pasta and the meatballs cook in the oven. Truly genius!

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed basil, torn or chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti, rigatoni, rotini, fusilli, shells, or campanelle pasta
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 28 oz (about 3 cups) prepared marinara sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/3 cup torn basil, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, form the meat mixture into one-inch balls.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish, spread half of the pasta in an even layer.
  5. Arrange half of the meatballs (about 16) and mozzarella on the pasta.
  6. Spoon half of the marinara on top and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  7. Repeat with the remaining pasta, meatballs, cheese, and marinara. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Place baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  9. Bake for about 1 hour, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  10. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer, until lightly browned.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil and parmesan and serve.

Make Ahead: The baked pasta can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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Swedish Meatloaf with Caramelized Cabbage (Kalpudding)

I planned to make this Swedish dish after spending the afternoon at IKEA. 🙂 I knew that we could buy the lingonberry preserves for the topping during our shopping spree too.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sam Sifton. I used a combination of ground pork and ground turkey instead of ground beef. Next time I would double the sauce- loved it. Sifton recommended serving it with boiled potatoes. We ate it with mashed new potatoes (my husband’s request) and roasted asparagus. It was such wonderful comfort food. Great.

Yield: 6 servings

For the Meatloaf:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 head green cabbage, approximately 3 pounds, cored and shredded
  • 3 tablespoons molasses or golden syrup
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup chicken, turkey, beef or vegetable stock, ideally homemade or low-sodium store-bought (or water)

For the Sauce:

  • ⅓ cup lingonberry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
  1. Shred the cabbage in a food processor.
  2. Heat oven to 350, preferably on convection.
  3. Put a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the butter. When it starts to foam, add the cabbage and molasses, lower the heat to medium and sprinkle with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often, until all the liquid has evaporated and the cabbage is caramelized, approximately 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the cabbage is cooking, lightly mix the meats in a large bowl, then add the onion, cream, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Mix again to combine.
  5. When the cabbage is done, add about a third of it to the meat mixture, and mix to combine.
  6. Grease an 8-inch-square or 8 x 10-inch baking pan, and transfer the meat mixture to it, spreading it out to cover the whole surface evenly.
  7. Spread remaining cabbage over the meat, pour the stock or water over the top and place in the oven, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, to cook for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is very, very caramelized, almost dry and crunchy at the edges.
  8. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
  9. While the meat and cabbage cooks, make the sauce. Heat lingonberry preserves, vinegar and butter in a small pot set over medium heat, then add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Serve alongside the kalpudding.

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