Taco Extravaganza

From Sebring:

“He knew it in that instant because he also knew in that instant he’d do anything, absolutely anything, beg, borrow, steal, kill, crawl, lie, cheat, die, eat taco extravaganza…

All just for her smile.”

Yep, this is the recipe for Livvie’s Taco Extravaganza, the first meal she made Nick in Sebring.

Actually, it’s a recipe my Auntie Bec found waaaaaaay back in the day that she made just for her and me. We were both on a diet and she said we’d have a “free night.” Though, consuming a portion of this recipe meant we could have dieted for three months and this one “free night” would have blown all our efforts to smithereens.

It was worth it though, not only for the food but for the memory of my Auntie Bec making a big thing of this, both of us cooking it up and sitting and the dining room table (where we only sat for special occasions…like birthdays, holidays and “free nights” when you’re on a diet).

So I gave this recipe to my Livvie, wishing she had an Auntie Bec, who, memories of her, made Livvie smile.

Ingredients

  • Flour or uncooked corn tortillas (your choice but I’d chose the smaller taco ones, not the large burrito/enchilada ones—you’ll see why when you read the rest of the ingredients)
  • Vegetable or Canola oil
  • Box of Kraft macaroni and cheese
  • If you must, you can use the Velveeta kind – I’m a purist and they didn’t have the Velveeta kind when my aunt first made this so I go for Kraft.
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 package of taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can chili beans (or black beans in chili sauce, your choice)
  • 1 bottle French dressing (that “Catalina” kind)
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole (homemade or store bought, depends on how fancy you wanna get with this non-fancy recipe)
  • Sour Cream

I hate tomatoes so I wouldn’t willingly put tomatoes on anything (I even Ninja my salsa so I won’t get tomato chunks). But if you like tomatoes and/or onion, you can chop some up and add on the top.

Now, depending on how you portion out this goodness, I would say this serves 4. Between my AB and me on our “free night”, it served 2. HA!

How to do it…

First, get started on the ground beef. Brown that up in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s brown, drain the extra fat. Then put in the taco seasoning, beans and the bottle of French dressing. Once you’ve poured in the whole bottle of dressing, fill it up with water to about 2/3 full, shake it up and pour that in. Reduce the heat and let that simmer for at least 15 minutes. You’ll want some of that water to evaporate and all the flavors to cook into the meat and beans.

Now, make your macaroni and cheese as per the instructions on the box. Put a lid over it when done to keep it warm.

Shred lettuce, and if you’re doing any chopping, of tomatoes or onion, do that now.

You’re about ready pull all this together so you need to get started on the tortillas.

In another pan that will fit your tortillas, cover the bottom with a very shallow layer of vegetable or canola oil. Just enough to get the tortilla in to fry it in a way you’ll be flipping it and crisping both sides, not submerging it. Heat the oil on medium-high heat. Have a plate with a paper towel ready so when you’re done with the tortillas, you can let them drain (I would also carefully pat them with paper towel to get any extra oil off).

Once you’ve got the oil hot, put in your tortillas one by one. Crisp them to your taste but keep an eye on them and don’t forget to flip them halfway. Take them out and drain them on the paper towel plate.

I’d start assembling while the tortillas are going. The assembly is this delicious, artery-clogging layering of:

  • Tortilla
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Taco meat
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Salsa
  • Guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Tomato and/or onion

The taco meat will have a hint of sweetness due to the French dressing so if you have a “free night” and feel like tackling this mountain of not-a-damn-thing-good-for-you more than once, you may wish to fiddle with heat (in other words, seasoning, as in more taco seasoning, additional chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin or chipotle pepper).

You could also leave the French dressing out entirely and make a big stack o’ taco mac goodness.

And last, you can toss out the whole frying tortillas thing all together and just crunch up some tortilla chips and make this into a kind of taco-mac-’n-cheese-chili bowl.

Whatever way you like it, go for it. Just be certain after you have you have plenty of time to lapse into a food coma!

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