Fridge Friday: Triple Play Taco Bake

April 15, 2011 § 4 Comments


The “Fridge Friday” idea came to me at the end of last week when we had eaten everything from our weekend shopping trip and hadn’t yet been to the store to replenish our supply.  I looked around in the fridge for something to fix for dinner.  There wasn’t much but thought I might be able to make something with all the miss match items that remain.   I was up for the challenge.  A little meat, a little cheese, some torillas…Voila!   The result: Triple Play Taco Bake. 

Taking inspiration from the start of baseball season, I felt the Triple Play Taco Bake was the perfect name for the dish.  So, I know you want to ask what the triple play is in this recipe.  It stands for Easy, Tasty and Affordable.   This truly says it all.

I am so happy with the way this turned out, I will be posting a “Fridge Friday” every month.  I’m so excited to see what’s next.  Aren’t you?

FYI…Some of the measurements I have listed are a little odd since much of what I used was a leftover ingredient.  Also, the ground beef and tomato sauce were from the freezer.  They weren’t used up the first time, so I froze them.  They definitely came in handy.

Triple Play Taco Bake

  • 1/2 lb cooked ground beef
  • 9 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1/3 cup pico de gallo salsa
  • 6 oz Colby jack cheese, grated
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3  flour tortillas, burrito size
  • 10 grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 6 black olives, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the tomato sauce, meat, taco seasoning and salsa.  Put a bit of canola oil in the bottom of a casserole dish.  Put in a couple of tablespoons of sauce in with the oil.  Spread evenly on the bottom of the dish.  Add a tortilla (trim to fit, if need be).  Now layer  1/3 of the sauce onto tortilla.  Add 1/3 of the Colby cheese.  Repeat 2 more times until you have 3 layers.   On top the third layer, put the remaining 2 oz of cheddar cheese, grape tomatoes, green onion and olives.  Cover with foil.  Cooking in oven for 40 minutes.  After the first 30 minutes, remove foil and cook the remaining 10 minutes uncovered.


The Quick Fix

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve  started cooking something and gone to the fridge to get an ingredient only to find it was spoiled, there wasn’t enough or was completely missing.  What to do now?  I don’t want to run to the store for one item, plus I have other things on the stove cooking.  Here are a few tricks to helping you either get that missing item or substitute it with something else. 


Buttermilk is a staple in baking.  It has a ton of flavor and actually helps your baked goods rise to be light and fluffy.  This is an ingredient that is actually very easy to make.

1 cup whole milk or low-fat milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice (I’ve also used cider vinegar when in a pinch)

Stir to combine.  Let stand at room temp. for 15 minutes.  Stir again.  Let sit for another 15 minutes.  Use or store in fridge.  Will store for about 2 weeks.

Heavy Cream

This substitute for heavy cream cannot be whipped up to make whipped cream.  This is only good for baking or sauces.

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter

If you need this mixture it to be thicker (for a sauce), add 1-2 tablespoons flour to melted butter then add the milk.

Sour Cream

This isn’t as quick a fix as the others above, but will work nicely if you cannot make it to the store and have these ingredients handy.

2 cups light cream

2 tablespoons buttermilk

Pour ingredients into a hot, clean mason jar or anything with a tight-fitting lid.  Place lid on tightly.  Shake well.  Let set in a warm spot until mixture thickens up (5-8 hours).  Store in fridge.  Mix well before serving.  Will last in fridge for about 2 weeks.

That “Dirty” Word

April 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Now that I have your attention, I thought I’d discuss that “dirty” word.  You know…the word no one wants to address.  You think if you ignore it then the problem miraculously goes away.  But, it doesn’t.  It can even wreak havoc on your life and if you don’t have it, getting it can seem overwhelming.  I’m talking about…ORGANIZATION.  Isn’t that what you were thinking?  Okay, maybe it isn’t as “dirty” as it is “messy”, but I liked the title with dirty better.

Everyone hopes that one day the linen closet will fold itself or the medicine cabinet will automatically dispose of all the medications that expired 5 years ago.  The unfortunate reality is…we don’t have the desire or, in many cases, time to organize.     If you are like me, you probably have a place for everything, but finding it within that place can be somewhat of a challenge.  I think most of us fall into the category of “somewhat organized”.  I fall into this category more often than not; however, there is one place in my home that is organized to the nth degree.  Where you ask?  Where it matters most to many woman…my shoes!  Who cares if my son can’t find his underwear or shoes.  I can find my Kate Spade Espadrilles in less than a second.  Now that’s organized. 🙂

Because my friends constantly are shocked at my shoe organization, I figured it should be something to share with everyone. It really is easy to do. Really!!  All you need is a camera, bins, a good size closet and some extra time.

Step 1 – Go through your shoes.  Get rid of shoes that are out of date, worn out or broken.  If they are a great quality shoe and you think they can be repaired and are still in style, take them to a shoe repair to see if the cost of fixing them is worth it.

Step 2 – Now that you’ve weened out the old, count the pairs of shoes you have.  Head to the store for bins.  Buy one bin for each pair of shoes you want to store.  It is almost impossible to put 2 pairs in each bin unless they are flip-flops.  Boots will need a longer/bigger bin.  You should be able to store more than 1 pair of boots per bin.  I think I store 2-3 pair of boots per bin but will depend on the size of bin you buy for them.   The small bins will typically range in price from .99 cents to $2.99.  You might want to shop around for the best bin price, if you have a lot of shoes.  I’ve seen them at target, walmart and the container store.

Step 3 – Take a picture of each pair of shoes.   I’ve photographed them in various ways over the years, as you can see.  I think I prefer to have both shoes in the picture.  One laying on its side and the other on its sole (see picture below).  This way you remember what they look like from different angles.

Step 4 – Print the pictures.  I have put them into a collage and then cut them out so the picture come out 2 1/2″ wide x 1 1/2″ tall.  I’ve also printed them as 3 1/2″ x 5″ and cut them to fit on the box.  Do what is easy and works for you.

Step 5 – Tape them onto boxes using clear packing tape.  This tape will secure the picture onto the box.  With this tape, the picture won’t come off until you take it off.

Step 6 – Insert shoe into box and store wherever you have the space.  You can color coordinate them,  store them by season or style.  It is up to you.

PLEASE NOTE:  I started this when I had time (before kid), so just know I don’t expect any of you to following in my footsteps unless you really feel the urge.  It is a great way to keep track of your shoes and keep them in good condition.  If you do decide to do it, I want you to know that you will love it.  I do.

SALE = 4 lbs of ground beef = now what?

March 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

For some of us, every penny matters.  So when I see a sale on a good family food like ground meat, I buy it in bulk (and you should too).  This meat can be ground turkey, chicken, pork or beef.  If it is on sale, then buy it up. 

Once through the checkout, I head home, set it on the counter and begin to ponder about what to do with all this ground meat.  Then I look at the expiration/best by date, it says today.  Oh great…now I really have to do something with it and fast.  No wonder it was “on-sale”! 

I’ve come up with some tips on what to do with all that meat and here’s my answer:

First and foremost, divide the meat into 4 equal parts.  This gives you a pound per division.

  1. Put first pound into a quart size freezer bag and freeze.  This will come in handy for a future unknown dinner (TBD).  Note: Mark everything you freeze with date, so you know when you put it into the freezer.  Try to use frozen meat within a month or so of freezing.  If you wait too long, the meat will get freezer burn and not taste very good.
  2. Divide the meat into (4) four 4oz balls.  Flatten them out into patties.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Put the sheet into the freezer until the patties are frozen.  Once frozen, remove patties from sheet and put all of them into a freezer bag together.  Freezing them this way first, ensures they won’t be stuck together when you go to use them later.  The great thing about these patties: they can go straight from the freezer to the grill.  No defrosting required. 
  3. Cook 1 pound of ground meat in pan.  Once cooked, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Let cool.  Once cooled, place into quart size freezer bag, date it and freeze it.  This pre-cooked meat can be used in many ways.  It is a great addition to a jar of pasta sauce or use as a pizza topping.  I like to make quick cook tacos with it.  Place some of the meat into a pan with a bit of taco seasoning and water.  Simmer for 5 minutes and it’s done.
  4. With the final pound of meat, make dinner for that evening.  Options could include but definitely aren’t limited to the following: meatloaf, chili, sloppy joes, shepherds pie or meatballs.   I made the best Salisbury steak the other night with ground turkey.  I will share the recipe with you tomorrow.  Sorry for the wait!  It will be worth it.  In the mean time, doesn’t it look good?  It really is!!!

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