Monday, October 28, 2019

Tiny Taco Bites #MuffinMonday

These tiny taco bites are made with oven baked tortillas filled with spicy ground beef and extra sharp cheddar, then topped with a fresh pico de gallo made with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. They’d be great as an appetizer for your next cocktail party, especially if you are serving margaritas.

Food Lust People Love: These tiny taco bites are made with oven baked tortillas filled with spicy ground beef and extra sharp cheddar, then topped with a fresh pico de gallo made with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. They’d be great as an appetizer for your next cocktail party, especially if you are serving margaritas. For the taco seasoning, I use a brand called Tone’s. It comes in a large container so I just scoop out how much I need when seasoning taco and enchilada beef and even fajitas, rather than buying those little pouches of spice mix. Such a waste of packaging. You can always make your own, of course. Plenty of recipes online. For the tortillas, I love the ones at my local grocery store here in Houston, called mitad y mitad: half and half, by which they mean half corn and half flour. This is Texas, after all, where many aspire to be bilingual. They are flavorful because of the corn and supple because of the flour. Use whichever fresh tortillas you can find or your personal favorite.

Saturday night we were invited over to my brother-in-law’s home for an early birthday dinner of fajitas and margaritas. (He turns 50 on Thursday!) Of course, I always ask what we can bring. “An appetizer,” came the response. It just so happens that my Muffin Monday friends are going rogue this month, that is to say, using our muffin pans for deliciousness other than actual muffins. Otherwise I’d have made some savory mini muffins. Perhaps even my artichoke dip mini muffins. We all LOVE those. I also considered my sincere pumpkin patch cheese ball, because Thursday is Halloween, after all. It's not just adorable but tasty too.


But I’ve long been wanting to make tiny taco bites using Tostitos scoops. They are already perfect little bowls! I floated that idea by my younger daughter and she shook her head. Apparently she finds Tostitos too salty. And anyway, I thought that was an idea for another day, since it didn’t use a muffin pan. Then inspiration struck. I could make the tiny taco bowls myself with fresh tortillas and a mini muffin pan, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

As with most of my other fabulous ideas, when I checked the interwebs, there were almost 4 million results. It would seem tacos in a muffin pan are a thing. Never mind. These are delicious and bite-sized, and everyone at the dinner party loved them! Make sure you scroll down and check out all the other fun non-muffin recipes you can make in your muffin pan.

Tiny Taco Bites

For the taco seasoning, I use a brand called Tone’s. It comes in a large container so I just scoop out how much I need when seasoning taco and enchilada beef and even fajitas, rather than buying those little pouches of spice mix. Such a waste of packaging. You can always make your own, of course. Plenty of recipes online. For the tortillas, I love the ones at my local grocery store here in Houston, called mitad y mitad: half and half, by which they mean half corn and half flour. This is Texas, after all, where many aspire to be bilingual. They are flavorful because of the corn and supple because of the flour. Use whichever fresh tortillas you can find or your personal favorite.

Ingredients
For the beef filling:
1 lb or 450g ground beef (I used ground sirloin. Because it’s lean, you don’t lose much weight as it cooks. More to eat!)
2 tablespoons olive oil – if your ground beef is fatty, you might not need as much
1/4 cup or taco seasonings
2/3 cup or 156ml water

For the tiny taco bowls:
16-18 (6-in or 15cm) soft corn, half corn/half flour or flour tortillas
2-3 teaspoons canola or other light oil for greasing the muffin pan

For the pico de gallo:
3 ripe Roma tomatoes (approx. 1 lb or 450g in weight)
1/2 large onion
2-3 fresh jalapeños
Small bunch fresh cilantro
2-3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Pinch fine sea salt
Pinch sugar
Freshly ground black pepper

For topping:
4 oz or 113g extra sharp cheddar, grated finely

Method
Brown the beef in the olive oil over a medium high heat, breaking it up into little pieces as it browns. When it’s well browned, even crunchy in places, add the taco spice mix and the water.



Pop the lid on and lower the heat to simmer. Simmer covered for 5-7 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer uncovered until most of the water has evaporated, another few minutes. Remove from the heat and tip the pan to one side so any oil drains off and collects away from  the beef.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325°F or 163°C. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan with a little canola.

Cut the tortillas into 3 in or 7cm circles using a cookie cutter. (Save all the scraps for making your favorite tortilla soup recipe!) With a 3 in (7cm) cookie cutter, I got 3 taco bowls per tortilla. They don’t hold much so the seasoned beef was enough for 54 tiny taco bites! The perfect bite-sized appetizer, truly.





Use the bottom of a small glass or jigger to press the circles of tortilla into the mini muffin pan. I find it helps them release if you also grease the jigger.




Bake the tiny taco bowls in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through so they brown evenly. Watch them closely so they don’t suddenly burn. Remove them from the oven. Some of them will be puffy and not so bowl-like anymore.

As soon as they are cool enough to handle, use a folded towel if you need to, pick the puffed ones out of the muffin pan and put the glass or jigger back in it and press the bowl back into the muffin pan. Place to cool on a wire rack. Cute, right?



Continue cutting and baking all of the tortillas, until you have about 50 of them.

While they bake, cut the onion into small bits. Stem and chop the jalapeños small as well. When chopping the jalapeños, remove the membranes and seeds if your family and friends aren’t chili lovers. At our house we say, the hotter, the better.

Put the chopped onion and jalapeños in a bowl with the fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar and a few good grinds of black pepper. Stir well and set aside.



Cut the tomatoes in half and remove all the seeds and juice. We don't want the pico de gallo too wet or it will make the taco bowls soggy. Chop the tomatoes finely. Remove the hard stems from the cilantro and chop it roughly. Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the onion/jalapeño bowl. Mix well.



Turn your oven temperature up to 350°F or 180°C. In a large baking pan, arrange your tiny taco bowls and divide the spicy beef between them.

Top with the grated cheese.



Bake the tiny taco bites for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the beef is hot through. I actually made these through this step and then baked again for 10 minutes at 350° or 180° when I arrived at my brother-in-laws, just to warm them again. These guys are very forgiving though, delicious even at room temperature.



Top with pico de gallo or set the pico out with a spoon and let everyone top the tiny tacos themselves so they don't get soggy.

Food Lust People Love: These tiny taco bites are made with oven baked tortillas filled with spicy ground beef and extra sharp cheddar, then topped with a fresh pico de gallo made with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. They’d be great as an appetizer for your next cocktail party, especially if you are serving margaritas. For the taco seasoning, I use a brand called Tone’s. It comes in a large container so I just scoop out how much I need when seasoning taco and enchilada beef and even fajitas, rather than buying those little pouches of spice mix. Such a waste of packaging. You can always make your own, of course. Plenty of recipes online. For the tortillas, I love the ones at my local grocery store here in Houston, called mitad y mitad: half and half, by which they mean half corn and half flour. This is Texas, after all, where many aspire to be bilingual. They are flavorful because of the corn and supple because of the flour. Use whichever fresh tortillas you can find or your personal favorite.


Enjoy!

Many thanks to Sue of Palatable Pastime for her fun suggestion that we go rogue for Muffin Monday and use our muffin pans for other delicious recipes. This just might be a more regularly scheduled theme, if feedback is positive. Check out the other great recipes below:
Muffin Monday
#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

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Food Lust People Love: These tiny taco bites are made with oven baked tortillas filled with spicy ground beef and extra sharp cheddar, then topped with a fresh pico de gallo made with onions, tomatoes and jalapeños. They’d be great as an appetizer for your next cocktail party, especially if you are serving margaritas. For the taco seasoning, I use a brand called Tone’s. It comes in a large container so I just scoop out how much I need when seasoning taco and enchilada beef and even fajitas, rather than buying those little pouches of spice mix. Such a waste of packaging. You can always make your own, of course. Plenty of recipes online. For the tortillas, I love the ones at my local grocery store here in Houston, called mitad y mitad: half and half, by which they mean half corn and half flour. This is Texas, after all, where many aspire to be bilingual. They are flavorful because of the corn and supple because of the flour. Use whichever fresh tortillas you can find or your personal favorite.
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