Oven Baked Tacos

You’ll love these crispy, melty baked tacos! The filling is made from both beef and beans, so it’s extra delicious!:)

You'll love these crispy, melty baked tacos! The filling is made from both beef and beans, so it's extra delicious! :)

What’s better than–and easier than–regular tacos? Oven tacos! I’m totally serious! These have been a thing for a few years now, so you may have already seen them before. But if you haven’t tried them yet, you should. ASAP. They’re a great way to make tacos for a crowd and in general, they’re just a great change up from regular taco night. Plus, it’s also fun to make homemade crispy taco shells! Though it involves being extra careful when you’re working with hot oven racks, I bet kids would LOVE to watch corn tortilla shells transform into crispy shells.:) I mean… I do, so what kid wouldn’t? Haha.

You'll love these crispy, melty baked tacos! The filling is made from both beef and beans, so it's extra delicious! :)

I’ve made this recipe as written below a handful of times, but I’ve always thought about how I could switch up the filling but keep the concept the same. I haven’t ventured very far yet–just subbing black beans from refried beans, but that’s a tasty start! I think these tacos would be great with shredded chicken, carnita meat, fajita veggies, pinto beans, or any other filling your little taco-loving heart desires! No matter how you make it, this dish is a favorite. It’s hard to decide what the best part of these tacos are–the crisp homemade shells, the bubbly and melty cheese, or the flavorful beef and bean filling… but I do know that these tacos have been part of our regular taco rotation for a couple years now so I hope you try them! If you need any sides for taco night, why not try my Mexican RicePerfect Black Beans, or this yummy Guacomole Salsa? Enjoy!

You'll love these crispy, melty baked tacos! The filling is made from both beef and beans, so it's extra delicious! :)

one year ago: Turkey Sloppy Joes
two years ago: BBQ Baked Spaghetti
three years ago: Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea
four years ago: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
five years ago: Spiced Waffles

Oven Baked Tacos

  • Servings: 8-10 tacos
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

from Macaroni & Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 8 to 9 corn tortillas [or for an easier twist, premade hard taco shells]
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces refried beans [from half of a 15 ounce can]
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning  [about half of a store-bought packet]
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
  • taco toppings – chopped lettuce, avocado, tomatoes; sour cream; cilantro; etc.

Directions:

Begin by making the crispy taco shells. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In batches, microwave tortillas in a damp dishtowel or paper towel, if you prefer, for about 20-30 seconds until tortillas are pliable. Coat on each side with cooking spray, then lay on a cutting board or plate. When all are ready, open oven and carefully pull out the top oven rack partially. Drape tortillas over rungs so they are hanging upside down and forming that hard taco shell shape. If you prefer, you can remove the rack before you preheat the oven so you can do this step with a cool oven rack and just slide it back in. I found it easier to do it this way personally though. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, until crispy, then carefully remove from the oven with tongs and allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Adjust oven temperature to 400 degrees, then spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, brown ground beef in a large skillet. Remove grease, then stir in tomato sauce, refried beans, and taco seasoning. Heat on medium-low for a few minutes to heat through.

Remove pan from heat and fill each cooled taco shell with the meat mixture. Stand each filled shell up in prepared pan. Sprinkle everything with cheese, then bake for 10-12 minutes, until cheese melts. Serve with desired toppings and enjoy!

Note:

To reheat and retain the crispy shell, heat leftovers at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, checking carefully so nothing burns.

Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce #bookclubcookbookCC

An easy baked tilapia dish jazzed up with a creamy, dreamy green sauce… this simple meal is fresh and flavorful, perfect for summer!

An easy baked tilapia dish jazzed up with a creamy, dreamy green sauce... this simple meal is fresh and flavorful, perfect for summer! #bookclubcookbookCC

Once upon a time, when I was a senior in high school, I took AP English. English classes at my high school were awesome–I had the best teachers, and we got to read some wonderful novels over the years. I realize I sound like a complete goody two shoes with those two statements, and let’s face it–I probably was. For one project in AP English [which was totally worth it, btw since I tested out of the two required English courses in college due to acing the AP exam], we had to read a classic novel independently and do a book report/presentation about it to the class. The details are a bit hazy since this was circa 2002, but I remember taking the official list of our book choices to Borders [rest in peace] and walking around reading the backs of zillions of books to make THE choice. This was important stuff, guys!! And it was before my infatuation with libraries. In those days, I could spend hours in a bookstore, especially my beloved Borders next to my favorite Panera. Good times!

An easy baked tilapia dish jazzed up with a creamy, dreamy green sauce... this simple meal is fresh and flavorful, perfect for summer! #bookclubcookbookCC

Anyways, after perusing my options, I settled on Love in the Time of Cholera by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez. I had two main reasons for my choice: first, it was originally published the year I was born, and two, I liked the cover. Great reasons, huh? These great reasons backfired on me–I hated the book. Not that you came to my blog to read about literary elements or theory, but one of the techniques used in this novel is magical realism–magic alongside everyday events. And if you know me, you know that I’m as realistic as they come. I don’t really like tv or movies with any fantasy elements, and that is how I saw this book. So now you know my feelings on Love in the Time of Cholera…which happens to be the May book choice for #bookclubcookbookCC, hosted by Danielle of Mostly Food and Crafts and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm. Yes, I am a little late, but I have a four week old baby so that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!:)

An easy baked tilapia dish jazzed up with a creamy, dreamy green sauce... this simple meal is fresh and flavorful, perfect for summer! #bookclubcookbookCC

Love in the Time of Cholera is set in the Caribbean, possibly Colombia, but if I remember correctly, it’s a little ambiguous. And what’s more Caribbean or coastal than a good fish dish? This baked tilapia is jazzed up with a creamy, dreamy coconut-cilantro sauce! It is a snap to put together, so it’s great even for busy new parents to make. [That’s me!] All you do is combine a few tasty ingredients in the blender or food processor and whirl away. The oven does the rest of the work. Love it! This fresh sauce is the perfect blend of tropical flavors with a wee bit of spice. How delightful! I’m sure we will make it over and over again this summer. Hope you love this dish as much as we did… and if you do happen to love the novel this recipe is inspired by, well, then please accept my apologies that I did not.:) Maybe if I read it as an adult I’d have a different opinion, but alas… have a great day, friends!

one year ago: Southwestern Cilantro Mac & Cheese
two years ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup

three years ago: Blueberry Burgers
four years ago: Parmesan Garlic Rolls
five years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 4 tilapia fillets, about 6 ounces each
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk [light or full fat, your choice]
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, chopped – deseed as desired
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray, then place tilapia in the pan. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, cilantro, ginger, garam masala, garlic, and jalapeno. Pulse until smooth. Pour sauce over fish, then bake about 15 minutes until tilapia is cooked through–it should be opaque in the center. Serve over rice.

SRC: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub

This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to The Avid Appetite, a fun blog written by Rachel. Rachel lives in Jersey City with her family and shares her love of family, fun, and food through her wonderful blog that she’s maintained for 5+ years. So many of her recipes sounded so delicious that it was hard to just pick one! After checking out my options, I narrowed it down to Pepperjack Pimento Cheese Dip, her favorite Iced Coffee recipe, Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges, and Berry Baked Oatmeal… and my final pick, Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I wish I had time to try everything!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub These buffalo chicken lettuce wraps certainly hit the spot! They were the perfect blend of spicy, creamy, cheesy, and cool. We enjoyed them during Selection Sunday last week [go Hoosiers!], but they’d be equally good during any sporting event, party, or get together. To be honest, buffalo chicken isn’t always my favorite–some versions are too spicy, and most versions are too messy–but this recipe may make me a diehard fan.:) If you like buffalo chicken, you’ll love this recipe!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub

I changed a few things with Rachel’s original recipe–namely, using feta cheese and ranch dressing in place of bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing, but the heart of the recipe is still there. If you’re a bleu cheese fan, knock yourself out, haha. I also added celery on top for some crunch! Yum! Thanks, Rachel, for this tasty treat!

one year ago: French Toast Casserole
two years ago: Tasty Mexican Lentils

three years ago: Quick Chocolate Pudding
four years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
five years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a meal
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

from The Avid Appetite

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 chicken thighs – I used bone in, skin on chicken thighs but boneless skinless would work too
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • extra virgin olive oil, if using boneless skinless chicken
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or bleu cheese
  • 1 head Boston or iceberg lettuce, washed and dried, then separated into individual leaves
  • 1/3 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken on a large baking sheet lined with foil. [If using boneless skinless chicken, brush chicken with olive oil.] Sprinkle chicken with pepper, paprika, and thyme. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Let rest for about 10 minutes to cool, then remove skin and bones and chop into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, place cream cheese, hot sauce, and feta in a large mixing bowl. Stir together and add chicken. Transfer mixture to an oven safe baking dish to heat through, or place in a skillet set over low heat. Cook until cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, spoon buffalo chicken into prepared lettuce leaves. Drizzle with ranch dressing and top with celery.

Enjoy!

Be sure to check out all the other recipes made by my SRC friends this week at the link below!

Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet

In 30 minutes you can have a deliciously wonderful dinner on the table! Take your go to easy dinner components–rice, chicken, and veggies–then toss them in a [slightly spicy] ranch sauce… and sit back and enjoy! 

Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet: In 30 minutes you can have a deliciously wonderful dinner on the table! Take your go to easy dinner components--rice, chicken, and veggies--then toss them in a [slightly spicy] ranch sauce... and sit back and enjoy!

If healthier skillet meals and casseroles are my favorite things ever now [minimal dishes, no real need for a side dish cause you have the protein + veggies + starch all in one happy mix], I can only imagine how valuable they’ll be once Baby Volde arrives in May!:) I’m planning on doing some freezer cooking before his arrival, but those meals will eventually be depleted and when I go back to work having these sort of tasty yet healthy meals on hand will be key to my happiness. I’m sure of it! So I’m making certain I find some good recipes now so I’m ready then. If this Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet doesn’t fit the bill for easy, yummy, and delicious while still being healthy, then I don’t know what would!

Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet: In 30 minutes you can have a deliciously wonderful dinner on the table! Take your go to easy dinner components--rice, chicken, and veggies--then toss them in a [slightly spicy] ranch sauce... and sit back and enjoy!

This meal is SO good, you guys. If you’ve ever looked around my blog or know me in real life, you know that I’m a Mexican/Southwestern/Tex Mex food addict. I could go for tacos, black bean and rice bowls, carnitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas just about any day. It’s not any one thing about that kind of cuisine–the spices, or the cheese, or the toppings, but all of that at once. And this dish, though it’s not “Mexican” at all, it reminds me of a Mexican/Southwestern/Tex Mex-influenced meal thanks to the combo of chicken, black beans, rice, and tomatoes, plus all the yummy toppings! Cheese! Sour cream! Cilantro! Scallions! Yum!

Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet: In 30 minutes you can have a deliciously wonderful dinner on the table! Take your go to easy dinner components--rice, chicken, and veggies--then toss them in a [slightly spicy] ranch sauce... and sit back and enjoy!

Seriously, this stuff is ahhhmazingly good! Plus it has veggies, so that makes it good for you! Ha.:) But it does, right?!? Don’t be put off by the “spicy” label on this recipe. It’s really only lightly spicy… the cheese and ranch combo cools things down, and if your family doesn’t do spice, then omit the crushed red pepper and cayenne and use regular diced tomatoes instead of fire-roasted. No matter how you make it, everyone will certainly love it! Though I’m a fan of making this dish with leftover roasted chicken, you can certainly make it with other proteins like ground turkey, chorizo, or even leftover shredded pulled pork for a new flavor profile. Now I have a new dinner idea for later this week because I just so happen to have a bunch of leftover pulled pork in the freezer! Score!:) Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Coffee Bundt Cake
two years ago: Strawberry Yogurt
three years ago: Cumin-Scented Cabbage Salad
four years ago: Extraordinary Grilled Cheese
five years ago: The Best Egg Salad

Spicy Ranch Chicken Rice Skillet

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Print

adapted from Well Plated

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups white rice
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cups bell pepper, chopped [I used a mix of red, yellow, and orange]
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can no-salt fire-roasted tomatoes or petite diced tomatoes [depending on your preferred level of spice]
  • 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
  • 2-3 tablespoons homemade ranch seasoning [or one small package from the grocery store]
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup water or additional chicken broth, if necessary
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
  • cilantro, for serving
  • chopped scallions, for serving
  • sour cream, for serving

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook until rice is tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add onion and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragarent. Reduce heat to low and stir in black beans, tomatoes, and chicken. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of ranch seasoning. Stir to combine, then add red pepper, cayenne, and black pepper to taste. Add additional ranch seasoning to taste. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes or until hot.

When rice is cooked, stir into veggie and chicken mixture. Add up to 1/2 cup additional chicken broth/water if it is too thick to stir. Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro, and scallions. For a creamy treat, stir in a bit of sour cream. Enjoy!

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup reminds me of chicken noodle soup, hold the chicken and add the meatballs. This version has tiny turkey meatballs and is SO tasty!

Italian Wedding Soup | thepajamachef.com

I feel like every other recipe I’m making and sharing this winter has been soup! But it’s just so good this time of year so I can’t resist.:) Before making this Italian Wedding Soup, I’m not sure I had ever really had it before. I just saw the recipe in a magazine and thought it would be good! Guess what? It was! Ha. Big surprise there, right?

Italian Wedding Soup | thepajamachef.com

Since I don’t have a family version or favorite restaurant version to compare this to, I can’t really say that this is the best Italian Wedding Soup of all time or anything like that. But I can say it’s incredible! And why wouldn’t it be? It really does remind me of a twist on chicken noodle soup. You have the same basic base: chicken broth, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, pasta… and then you add in some cute ‘n tiny meatballs [with a twist of lemon for some extra tasty oomp!] and some spinach. Then BOOM! You’ve got a tasty and interesting soup, hearty enough to eat alone, with some crusty bread and a side salad or a tasty sandwich. Enjoy!:)

one year ago: Falafel, Tzatziki, and Greek Lemon Rice
two years ago: Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
three years ago: Red Velvet Marshmallow Bites
four years ago: Sunrise Muffins
five years ago: Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Italian Wedding Soup

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Print

from September/October 2014 Taste of Home

Ingredients:

for meatballs

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey

for soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups small pasta [like acini di pepe, orzo, or ditalini]
  • 2 – 10 ounce packages fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • additional Parmesan, for serving

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the meatballs. Mix well–your hands are going to work best! Roll into small, 1 inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet and pop in the fridge to chill for a few minutes.

Next, begin on the soup. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and cook until almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add celery and cook another 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in chicken broth and season with pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Gently drop in meatballs. Allow to cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add pasta and allow to cook for another 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until meatballs and pasta are fully cooked. Stir in spinach, then serve, topped with more Parmesan. Enjoy!