Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Comfort Food {Tacos}

com·fort food
  1. 1.  food that provides consolation or a feeling of well-being and often associated with childhood or home cooking.

Do you have a favorite comfort food?  Mine is tacos.  All my family knows that when I start cooking tacos there's something going on inside me!  Its never anything very big; today I needed tacos because this utterly miserable cold weather has me in a slump!  

Here's a little back-story on why tacos are comfort food to me.   I grew up in New Mexico; my parents are still there on the home place where I was raised.   My mother cooked a huge pot of pinto beans at least once a week and we ate them with numerous meals.  We had tacos frequently.    We kids loved tacos.  Mom had to cook several platters as we would actually compete on who could eat the most tacos - and there were four of us kids!  My older brother always won, but I was usually a close second!  So, to me tacos are home, my momma and daddy, my siblings - all the things that bring comfort when I think of them.   (My Mom still cooks the very best tacos in the world and if she reads this blog post she's going to roll her eyes!)  

So I decided today to share with you how we cook our tacos.  

Start with a pound of really high quality ground beef.  We are lucky to raise our own so mine is a grass fed, low fat ground.  Throw it in a cast iron skillet and cook on medium heat.

Using a fork, break up the meat into very small clumps.  

Season with salt, pepper and cumin.  Sometimes I add a little minced garlic.   We do not, ever, season with taco seasoning, chile powder, or anything remotely tasting like Taco Bell.  EVER.   That just isn't the read deal!  (If you have ground beef with a lot of fat, strain that off now.)

Now for your corn tortillas.  You do not use the pre-cooked crispy shells like Taco Bell.  You buy the corn tortillas in the bag that you can find in Walmart with the flour tortillas.   The brand that I like the best are the Mission.  

(Side note:  We live in Tennessee now and when we first moved here I almost had heart failure the first time I went to buy corn tortillas.  There were none to be found in our little town.   We weren't here long before I found a little Mexican store in a nearby town that makes fresh corn tortillas every Sunday.  You can be sure that is a Sunday routine for me- stop and get my tortillas for the week!  Our Walmart does carry them now and when I'm out - like today - I do buy the Mission tortillas.)  

Put a little oil in another cast iron skillet.  My mother always uses lard (that is a real staple for every true blue mexican food cook).  But I have changed a lot in how we eat and I have found that grape seed oil is a great taco making oil.   You don't need a lot - I just drizzle it in the skillet.   Heat on medium til slightly sizzling.

Add your first tortilla and let it cook for a minute or so until is starts to bubble up like the picture above.  No need to turn it over, as you won't need to cook what will become the inside of the taco.

Add a couple tablespoons of the cooked meat to one half of the tortilla.  

Fold the tortilla over and cook a minute or so, then flip it and cook the other side.  You just want it barely brown - more like a golden color than a brown.  

You can have several stages of tacos cooking in the skillet at the same time.  When one is done, remove it from the skillet and stack next to each other on a plate.   Continue making tacos until all your meat is gone.  

Thats about the golden color that you want them to be.  Now, I will say that I have many many times cooked tacos without any oil - basically just grilled them in the skillet.  They are very good and taste wonderful.  They don't; however, have the crunchy comfort feel that I love so much!  And today these tacos were all about comfort!!

While I'm cooking the tacos I'm dicing onions, chopping tomatoes, thinly shredding lettuce, grating cheese (yes, you want fresh grated cheese and not that horrible bagged stuff!), and taco sauce.   Some people like olives, avocados, sour cream but we never did so I never find myself really wanting any of that on my taco.

Fill your tacos up and sit down and eat!  

I am so weird that I even love cold tacos.  So when we've eaten out fill, if there are any tacos left over I go ahead and stuff them with the fixin's, wrap in foil and have them the next day for breakfast.   Some people like cold pizza.  I like cold tacos!  

I'm all better now.  Had my comfort food fix (four of them!) and I'm headed down to see my precious grand girls and get my other comfort fix.  The weather is supposed to begin warming up tomorrow so things are really looking up!

Hope you are surviving this cold snap and keeping your spirits up.  I've love to hear what your favorite comfort food is and why!  

P.S.  Come back in a few days for the tutorial on my wall word art that I promised you.  


  1. Yep, growing up in Tucson I could eat tacos almost everyday! I eat them cold, too - crazy, right? :)

  2. I am craving tacos now. Yours sound and look delicious. I made meatloaf last night here in frozen Iowa; that is one of my go-to comfort foods.

  3. I missed my call for the invite :-)

  4. Tacos are a favorite with us too and we also had them last night! It was 8 degrees yesterday and we needed some comfort food. When our kids were growing up we always had tacos on Friday for supper and they still talk about how good they were. Thanks for such a cheerful post in this cold, cold weather!


  5. YUM!!! If we didn't have leftover Posole in the fridge right now I'd be very tempted to make tacos. My favorite comfort food is macaroni and tomatoes. We ate a lot of that growing up and like your tacos, it says home to me. I use tomato juice now instead of canned tomatoes but it works for me. I add way too much butter and probably too much salt as well, but when a body needs to be comforted you do what you have to do.

    By the way, I've been meaning to tell you since September to stop by and get a little gift for answering the question on my blog. You weren't able to reply via the blog but you did send an e-mail which should count just as much as if you had left a comment on the blog page. Hopefully, better late than never will apply here. Don't come this week though. We have Stitchin' Camp starting on Thursday and I'm all by myself now so I'll be super busy and we won't have time to chat :-) .

  6. Goodness you are so right about the lard. Had burritos for dinner tonight. The best is homemade tamales given as gifts during the holidays. Keep warm, Kathleen in Az

  7. Hi- Just found your blog today and those tacos look fantastic. I really want to try making them that way, but for right now the Husband does all the cooking, (long story) so I will have to wait.
    My favorite comfort food is "Grammie Soup"- it's a vegetable beef soup that my grandmother and her mother made. It instantly transports me to her kitchen and is my favorite 'winter' food!

  8. Dori, I love and thank you for sharing how you enjoy and fix your tacos... and I love how you dont use taco seasoning... I like it with cumin as well... but I never thought of the way you fix your shells and meat... love it and gonna try it... I guess my favorite go to comfort food would be Good Ol' Chicken and Dumplin's or Tomato Dumplin's for this Ky girl... just something about those two for me...
    So glad these frigid days are almost thru here in Ky... - 5 this morning with a windchill of -25.... so thankful school for my daughter was closed and hubby didnt have to work until 1pm.... Keep warm and toasty ...

  9. Dori, I had NO idea how to make tacos like this and fully intend to do so - thank you! They look delicious.

  10. Yum those tacos look delicious.
    My all time favorite comfort food would have to be grilled cheese sandwich and sweet potato fries. Since being diagnosed with colitis and an intolerance to gluten I have not had a grilled cheese sandwich. I really want a grilled cheese sandwich! Today was a comfort food kind of day and I almost caved but I didn't.
    I think today was the first time schools were closed due to the frigged temps. It's to start warming up here in Pa. Keep warm.

  11. Hi Dori! When I saw the first picture in this post my heart skipped a beat. As I continued to read my heart filled with memories. I have 3 brothers so there were six of us in my family. We had one income, one car and one little house. My mom was a great cook and tacos for dinner was always cause for celebration. She would stand at the stove and fry the corn tortillas while I browned the hamburger and filled the tacos. We usually made 2 dozen because my brothers were big eaters! The house smelled like grease and we had a big mess to clean up but neither of us cared. Those dinners are sort of framed in my mind. We made our tacos pretty much exactly like you do. Thanks for sharing this and providing a short trip down memory lane!

  12. Thanks for a good recipe to try! Love the photos. I like mashed or baked potatoes as my comfort food along with a meatloaf or meatballs.(meatloaf in the oven now��) the cold is brutal here in Minnesota! Temps are in the higher 20s BELOW with the wind chill as high as -50 !! That should warm you up there! Better today and warming each day through the weekend.warmer this morning only 15 below! Best comfort food week ever!

  13. Winter comfort food : Meatloaf and Roasted Potatoes :)

  14. I have been craving your tacos since reading your post a week ago. I finally made them tonight and they were delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  15. Me again, Dori :) I do this to your daughter, too, but I need to ask some specific questions about these tacos. I caught that you now use grape seed oil which I will look for. But do you have preferences for the type of cheese (it looks like colby-jack), the lettuce (it looks like iceberg) and the taco sauce? I want to try it just like you do it first. The hamburger is thawing while I type and the grocery list has begun. Thank you!

    1. Hi Barbara! I hope you check back to read this - I tried to email you but didn't have contact info attached to your name. So here you go: I use Colby Jack cheese, romaine lettuce sliced up VERY thin, and just Picante sauce. Seriously though any cheese (as long as it is freshly grated), lettuce or taco sauce will be good! Just FYI too - when I don't have my home grown tomatoes to use I always use little cherry or grape tomatoes as they taste better I think. You can find the grape seed oil in with the olive oil. I like it because you can get it hot without burning it (contrary to olive oil) and its super good for you. It's kind of expensive but you won't need much! Good luck, have fun and let me know how it goes!!! ~ Dori ~

    2. Thank you, Dori - I didn't see this until after I made, and ate, four of the tacos!! I did find the grape seed oil, used iceberg and cherry tomatoes (that were very flavorfull!). I used my favorite green taco sauce. They were SO delicious - thank you so much for sharing and teaching me a new way to do tacos. No more pre-made crispy shells, ick.