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Pat’s Pantry: South of the Border

By Pat Mills

As I set here fighting the urge to go get a taco, I decided to search for some new Mexican recipes. Who can pass up a spicy beef enchilada or a taco pizza? Don’t forget the frozen margarita. – Pat

Beef-topped bean enchiladas
1 ½ pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
12 flour tortillas (7 in)
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey jack cheese, divided
2 cans (2 ¼ oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained, divided

In a skillet, cook beef and onions until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the salsa, tomato sauce, cumin and garlic salt; cook for 3 minutes or until heated through. Meanwhile, spread 2-3 tablespoons refried beans over each tortilla. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon of Monterey jack cheese and 1 tablespoon olives. Roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9 x 2-in baking dish. Top with beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses and olives. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

Taco pizza
1 pound ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 cup water
2 prebaked Italian bread shell crusts (12 in)
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
¾ cup salsa
2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
2 cups (8 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
2 medium tomatoes, chopped, optional
1 cup shredded lettuce, optional

In a saucepan, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in taco seasoning and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes; set aside. Place crusts on ungreased pizza pans or baking sheets. Combine beans and salsa; spread over crusts. Top with beef mixture, chips and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-16 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with tomatoes and lettuce if desired.

Steak burritos
2 flank steaks (about 1 pound each)
2 envelopes taco seasoning
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon vinegar
10 flour tortillas (7 in.)
1-½ cups (6 oz) shredded Monterey jack cheese
1 ½ cups chopped seeded plum tomatoes
¾ cup sour cream

Cut steaks in half; rub with taco seasoning, place in a slow cooker coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with onions, chilies and vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until meat is tender, remove steaks and cool slightly; shred meat with two forks. Return to slow cooker; heat through. Spoon about ½ cup meat mixture down the center of each tortilla. Top with cheese, tomato and sour cream. Fold ends and sides over filling. Yield: 10 servings.

Refried beans
2 ½ cups dry pinto beans (about 1 pound)
3 quarts water
½ cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons pork lard, bacon fat  or olive oil
¼ cup water
salt to taste
cheddar cheese, optional

Rinse the beans in water and remove any small stones, pieces of dirt, or bad beans. Put beans into a pot and cover beans with at least 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer, covered, for about 2 ½ hours. The cooking time will vary depending on the batch of beans you have. The beans are done when they are soft and the skin is just beginning to break open. Strain the beans from the cooking water. Add the onions and lard/fat/oil to a wide, sturdy frying pan on medium high heat. Cook onions until translucent. Add the strained beans and about a ¼ cup of water to the pan. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the pan, while you are cooking them, until they are a rough puree. Add more water if necessary to keep the beans from getting too dried out. Add salt to taste. Add a few slices of cheddar cheese, or some grated cheddar cheese if you want. When beans are heated through they are ready to serve.

FOOD FACTS

• Leftover cooked meat can be kept 4-5 days in the refrigerator.
• Canned juices are usually an enriched product since the heat used in the processing destroys most of the vitamins.

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