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Loaded Tacos

Our family loves tacos!  They're one of our favorite foods and this particular recipe makes them a complete meal in and of themselves.  If you love tacos and make them frequently, you may have used packaged spice mixes to jazz up the meat.  If you've had to go wheat free or have other allergies, you may not be able to use them anymore, so here's one you can use.  However, with these tacos, you can go as simple as just salt and pepper in the meat -- the rest of the ingredients add so much flavor that you don't really need spicy meat.  You choose.  Just an option.  I got the meat spice recipe when I was first married from the mother of my best friend, Lois Ann, which is kind of ironic, because when my family moved from California to Salt Lake the summer I was 9, I'm not sure Lois Ann's family had ever had tacos before.  I remember my mom throwing a huge neighborhood party shortly after we moved in which featured our favorite Mexican dishes.  It was so funny watching people who had never had tacos before trying to figure out how to eat them without losing all the filling!  I recall my dad giving a demonstration of the proper way to eat tacos, to lower the frustration level and reduce clean-up :).  This was back in the late 1950's, and at that time Salt Lake had very few, if any, Mexican food places, which was a hardship for our family.  In California, there were more Mexican food places than hamburger places.  In fact, I was amazed to discover in Salt Lake that there was such a thing as a hamburger fast food restaurant -- I didn't recall ever having been to one in California -- it was always a taco fast food restaurant.  So there was learning going on on both sides of the fence.

Spicy Taco Meat

1 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
3/4 tsp onion salt
Cook together until meat is browned, stirring often.  Add:
2 tsp rice flour
Stir in well.  Then add:
2/3 Cup tomato juice
Cook 10 minutes more.  Serve.

Loaded Tacos

Corn tortillas -- we like the Grande or Burrito size tortillas -- they're bigger and hold more :)
Canola Oil -- just enough to cover the bottom of a skillet large enough to hold the tacos.  You can always add more if you're cooking a lot of tortillas and it gets too thin.
Fry the tortillas in the oil (try to keep it below the smoke point, but make sure it's hot enough to do the job), turning frequently until they're crisp, but not brittle.  If they go too far, don't worry about it -- just salt them when you take them out of the pan, break them into pieces and tell your kids you've got some "crunchies" for them.  I actually make a few of these on purpose -- they're yummy.  Homemade tortilla chips.  You can use store bought formed taco shells, but these are so much better!  Try it, you'll like it.  Fry all your tortillas at once.  Just layer them in between paper towels to absorb the excess oil and keep them warm.  When you're done and have taken your oil off the burner, grab your first tortilla with a paper towel folded in half underneath it in your hand and gently fold it in half, using your tongs to help create the crease.  If it cracks in half, you've got a crunchie -- move on to the next one.  Layer the following ingredients in the taco shell:

Meat -- spicy or plain (see above)
Cholula hot sauce (very flavorful but not too hot)
Grated cheddar cheese
Green onions, sliced into rounds
Lettuce, chopped
Tomato, diced small
Avocado, diced small
Sour cream
Black olives, sliced

If you'd like to combine the onions, tomato and avocado into guacamole to put on the tacos or to serve separately with the crunchies, here's a great recipe for it.

If serving guests and you're not sure what they like, you can put all the ingredients into separate bowls and let them load their own.  Makes for a fun party!

There you have it -- Loaded Tacos.  Let the fiesta begin!

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