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. ūüôā

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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Iceberg Wedge Salad with Green Goddess Ranch Dressing

This post is belated because I’m still recovering from my husband’s extravagant birthday feast. Recovering from preparing it… and from eating it (for many, many days!). ūüėČ I must say that it was well worth every minute AND every bite.

His special celebratory feast¬†usually involves fried chicken with biscuits and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and his favorite Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake for dessert. I have made Caesar salad as our “vegetable” in the past, but this year he requested a wedge salad. Yay! I love a change.

This recipe was adapted from Mad Hungry by Lucinda Scala Quinn, via Martha Stewart Living. I used 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to adjust the consistency of the dressing. I also adapted the way the iceberg lettuce was sliced to modify the serving size and simplify the eating process. We all LOVED it!

For the Green Goddess Ranch Salad Dressing:

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives and/or scallions, plus more for garnish, optional
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mild vinegar, such as white-wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and minced
  • buttermilk or milk (optional)
  1. In a large bowl or blender, whisk or blend all the ingredients except the buttermilk.
  2. Add just enough buttermilk to thin to the desired consistency, if needed. (I used 4 tablespoons.)
  3. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine. Shake well before using.

Note: Dressing will keep fresh in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Salad:

Yield: 4 Servings

  • Green Goddess Ranch Dressing (recipe above)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, cut into thick slices or wedges
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked until crispy
  • English cucumber, cut into slices
  1. Prepare Green Goddess dressing and set aside.
  2. In a 9 x 13-inch pyrex baking dish, bake bacon at 350 degrees for 20 to 3o minutes, until crispy.
  3. Place 1 iceberg lettuce slice/wedge and 4 to 6 cucumber wedges on each plate.
  4. Pour some dressing over top with crumbled bacon and minced chives over each serving, as desired.

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Pasta Primavera with Asparagus, Peas, & Cr√®me Fra√ģche

This quick and fresh dinner was truly springtime on a plate. It uses a combination of early spring vegetables- asparagus, peas, and scallions- which, as the author describes, makes it a “true celebration of the season.”

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the proportions and omitted the tarragon. I also used reserved pasta water to adjust the consistency of the sauce. Loved it!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed
  • 3/4¬†pound asparagus, ends snapped
  • 3¬†tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1¬†cup fresh English peas
  • 1/3¬†cup (5 large) thinly sliced spring onion, white part only (or use shallot)
  • 5¬†garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ¬†coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16¬†ounces pappardelle, fettuccine or tagliatelle, preferably fresh
  • 1¬†cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, at room temperature
  • 6 oz (3/4 cup)¬†cr√®me fra√ģche or whole milk Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup¬†finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon, optional
  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. While the water is coming to a boil, slice snap peas in half and asparagus stems into 1/4-inch-thick pieces; leave asparagus tips whole.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add snap peas, asparagus, English peas and onion. Cook until vegetables are barely tender (but not too soft or mushy), 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.
  5. Drop pasta into boiling water and cook until al dente (1 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, more for dried pasta). Drain well, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
  6. Transfer pasta to the skillet of prepared vegetables or to a large bowl.
  7. Immediately toss pasta with vegetables, Parmigiano-Reggiano, cr√®me fra√ģche and herbs.
  8. Thin sauce to desired consistency with reserved pasta water.
  9. Season generously with salt and pepper, if needed, to taste. Serve.

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Breakfast Sausage, Egg & Cheese Muffins

These moist, protein-packed, and full-flavored muffins are a wonderful savory breakfast. A full meal in a muffin! I love how they looked when they were sliced in half too. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living, inspired by the legendary Rebel Within muffin from the San Francisco bakery Craftsman and Wolves. Next time, I would slightly increase the salt in the batter (as directed below). We also sprinkled the cut side of each egg with salt prior to serving.

Yield: 9 standard muffins

  • 11 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon canola¬†oil, divided, plus more for brushing (optional)
  • 8 ounces breakfast sausage or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, about 8 or 9)
  • 1 cup finely shredded Asiago cheese (4 ounces)
  1. Prepare an ice bath. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add 9 eggs; boil 6 minutes. Transfer to ice bath until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

  2. In a medium skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook, stirring to break up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool slightly. Chop into pea-size pieces.

  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 9 cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin with baking cups, or lightly brush with oil.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

  5. In another bowl, whisk together remaining 1/2 cup oil, sour cream, 1/4 cup water, and remaining 2 eggs.

  6. Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.

  7. Fold in sausage, scallions, and 1/2 cup cheese. (Batter will be thick and dough-like.)

  8. Fill each prepared muffin cup with 2 tablespoons batter. (I used a small cookie scoop- 2 level scoops in each.) Nestle a cooked egg in each.

  9. For each cup, scoop 2 more tablespoons batter (or 2 cookie scoops) and flatten it slightly to form a disk. Cover egg with disk; gently press to seal.

  10. Sprinkle tops of each muffin with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

  11. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes in tin, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  12. Slice each muffin in half, sprinkle exposed egg with salt, as desired, and serve.

I’m bringing my “meal in a muffin” to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #168 this week, co-hosted by Petra @Food Eat Love and Lina @Lin’s Recipes. Enjoy!

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Weeknight Pork & Bean Soup with Cornbread Croutons

This rustic soup was described as a “delicious cross between baked beans and tomato soup.” It was quick to prepare and very flavorful. We ate it over rice, like a chili.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Grace Parisi. I increased the onions and garlic and used freshly made cornbread instead of a corn muffin for the croutons. We ate it with green salad and warm cornbread on the side. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 7 slices (9-10 ounces) thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3¬†15-ounce cans pink beans with their liquid
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken stock (I used homemade Turkey Stock)
  • coarse salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • 8 ounces cornbread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • chopped scallions, for garnish, optional
  • rice for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 400¬į, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon strips over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the crispy bacon to a plate and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the saucepan.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the fat in the saucepan and cook, stirring, until they are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato paste and maple syrup and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thick, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the beans and their liquid and cook until slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the stock and bacon strips, season lightly with salt and cayenne pepper and simmer the soup over moderate heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, spread the cornbread cubes on a small baking sheet and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are golden and crisp. Let the croutons cool slightly.
  8. Ladle the soup into deep bowls, garnish with the cornbread croutons and chopped scallions, as desired, and serve. (Serve over rice, if desired.)

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Squash & Pork Stir-Fry

I’m sure you’ve rushed around the grocery store thinking you’ve purchased the necessary ingredients to throw together a “quick” weeknight meal. Right? I thought that was the case for me… When ¬†I started to prepare this dish, I realized that I had ground pork instead of pork sausage and butternut instead of kabocha squash. I’m blaming holiday stress and distraction. (Well, truth be told, the squash was a conscious substitution- no fabulous kabocha to be found.) :/

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I doubled the recipe, used ground pork instead of pork sausage (oops!), seasoned accordingly, butternut instead of kabocha squash, and cashews instead of peanuts. I also omitted the sugar. I roasted the squash instead of steaming and sautéing it. We let the dish stand alone, but it would also be wonderful accompanied by rice. Delicious!

Yield: 4 Servings

  • 1 medium butternut or kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch pieces, approximately 4 cups
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound (80 percent lean) ground pork
  • 1 tsp coarse salt, plus more for squash
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for squash
  • dash or two of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and sliced
  • 1 T finely grated peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 cup¬†fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • 4 tsp¬†fish sauce
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • salted, roasted peanuts or cashews and chopped cilantro, for serving, as desired
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss squash with 1 T olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Place squash on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet. Add pork, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and paprika; cook, breaking into large pieces and stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, shallot, chiles, and ginger and cook, stirring often, just until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add roasted squash, lime juice, fish sauce, and scallions; toss to combine.
  6. Serve stir-fry topped with nuts and cilantro, as desired.

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If you like this you may also like:

Thai One-Pot

I made this quick one-pot dish so that my son could gobble it up before his swim practice. After practice, he used my husband’s phone to text me (repeatedly), “I’m starving! I need more ONE POT!!” He absolutely loved it. Needless to say, he ate all of the leftovers. ūüôā

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine. I lightened the recipe by using ground turkey instead of ground pork. I also used arborio rice. My serving had additional fresh lime juice squeezed all over the top. Tasty!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon canola or sunflower oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground pork or turkey
  • 3/4 cup short-grain rice (I used arborio rice)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 scallions including green tops, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • radishes, cut into thin slices, to taste, for garnish
  • 5 tablespoons chopped cilantro or fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • juice¬†from about 1 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
  1. In a large frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. (I used a 4-quart covered pan.)
  2. Add the bell peppers, shiitakes, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove.
  3. Add the ground meat to the pan and cook, stirring, until it is no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Spoon off the fat from the pan, if using pork. Season with 1/4 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Stir in the bell peppers and shiitakes, the rice, broth, soy sauce, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the cayenne.
  5. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, without removing the lid, until the rice is just done, about 20 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
  7. Stir in the scallions, cilantro, and lime juice.
  8. Garnish with additional lime wedges, radishes, cilantro, and scallion slices, as desired. Serve.

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