June 9th, 2012
We have the Hungry Papa to thank for these adorable Beef and Bean Taco Bites. They were tasty because of me, but cute and festive because of him. I always give credit where credit’s due.
Last Saturday night was taco night at our place and we’d run out of shells**. The Hungry Papa went to grab tortilla chips and found the kind shaped like a scoop. He filled the crunchy bowl-shaped chip with the fixings spread across the table—taco beef and beans, cubed avocado, a particularly casual pico de gallo, and cilantro broccoli slaw—and, just like that, the Taco Bite came to be.
Tell me you don’t think these are genius?! First off, how cute would they be for a kid’s birthday party? They’re also pretty enough to be an appetizer at a grownup fiesta. (Pin that to your Cinco de Mayo board. Or, um, mine.) Even better, they make an irresistibly fun family dinner without any more work than a regular taco night. Seriously, what kid is going to say no to these?! It’s dinner in a TORTILLA CHIP. It’s THEIR SIZE.
I dare you to find a child who will resist. I tried. The Hungry Baby is a reluctant eater. In fact, he wasn’t feeling taco night. Until…
Okay, it helped that we’d taken the fiesta outside by this point. (Remember: This all happened after the taco shells were gone. We’d been sitting at the table for a while before taco bite excitement ensued.) But, still. He ate. Even the broccoli slaw that was carefully tucked in the just-his-size bowl.
The Hungry Boy ate, too (of course), but this time without picking through the layered together ingredients to ensure that they met his high standards.
He just popped them in, one after another.
So, yea, I think that these are genius and that you should think they are genius, too. Disagree? Take it outside the fiesta, cuz it’s only good times in here.
How-To: Beef and Bean Taco Bites
(can be adapted for kids 10+ mos)*
* Start by making homemade taco seasoning. It takes 4 spices and 2 minutes.
* Sautee onions in a light drizzle of canola oil and ½ can of tomato paste. Add taco seasoning and 1 pound of all natural, humanely raised, organic ground beef. (Not trying to hit you over the head with labels, but ground beef is one of those ingredients for which you want to go out of your way to get the highest quality.) If your beef’s got good fat content, which is preferable for taco night, it will give off a good amount of moisture. If it’s super lean, you may want to add a splash of water or broth. You don’t want the beef to be dry.
* Once the beef is cooked through, add a drained and rinsed can of black beans. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 2 minutes to heat the beans through and bring all of the flavors together. Taco beef done!
* Shred some lettuce. Sometimes I skip the lettuce and substitute a quick Broccoli Slaw with Cilantro Yogurt Dressing. (It’s perfect on beef and been tacos!)
* Cube an avocado.
* Chop some seeded tomato and toss with finely diced red onion. Add chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
* Shred some great, super sharp cheddar cheese and grab the sour cream.
* Assemble: Spoon some beef and bean mixture into the bottom of your scoop-shaped tortilla chip and top with the rest of the goodies.
*Note: I recommend skiping the taco shell or tortilla chips to share with kids younger than 18 months. For very little eaters, puree beef and bean filling and mix with mashed avocado and, if you like, a little bit of sour cream (or, even better, plain whole milk yogurt). It is safe to share this puree or mash with kids younger than 10+ mos, but I like to hold off on fatty meat like ground beef until 10 months.
**Note: It’s really hard to find crunchy taco shells made without any preservatives. So far, these made by Garden of Eatin are the only ones I’ve found. Let us know if you’ve found others!