Ground Beef & Chorizo Tacos

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's hard to believe it's been almost two years since I posted my ground beef taco recipe! Since then not much has really changed in our house on Taco Tuesdays. Sure, I have done my share of unique and crazy taco creations, but my son Jaden still prefers that I stick to "normal" tacos when it's his choice. And I'm okay with that. After a long day with the baby, writing, and working on other recipes, I'm really okay with regular ground beef tacos. Except when I have half a pack of chorizo in the fridge, because obviously chorizo tacos have to happen in this case, right? Right. This time Jaden didn't object, so an update to my ground beef taco recipe was born. If that's all you're here for, feel free to skip to the recipe part of this post way down at the bottom. It's very easy, and not too different from my original post although I have improved the process a bit. If you're up for the long winded explanation of where I'm at these days, that part continues below...

The other night I came across a few interesting blog posts from fellow food bloggers. The first, from Lottie + Doof, made some spot-on observations about the lack of diversity and originality in the food blogosphere. It's something I've begun to notice myself but I haven't quite been able to articulate my thoughts yet. The second post was over at Hummingbird High, by a blogger I found through Instagram recently. Her thoughts on purposeful blogging really caught my attention so perhaps give both a read when you have the time. This is all hitting me hard because I'm right smack in the middle of a transition from cooking as a hobby to cooking as a career, and it has impacted the way that I've blogged as of late. Social media has literally consumed my life in the past year, so much so that I'm on a hiatus from Twitter and Instagram so that I can get my shit together offline. I am so eternally grateful for the networking, a handful of genuine friendships forged, and the way social media has pushed me to step my kitchen game up. It keeps me accountable in a way, so when my audience came to expect daily posts I delivered. But somewhere along the way I became annoyed with everything else. If it isn't my photos - my labor - being taken and reposted without permission, it's dealing with micro aggression and trolling and strangers so far up my ass with fandom (that I didn't ask for) that they don't realize they too, are being abusive with their entitlement and demands for free content. Hyper-visibility has changed my social media experience and as somebody who cherishes introversion offline, it is taxing to be bombarded by hundreds of people I don't know on a daily basis. Daring to be Angela, the human being, and not The Kitchenista at all hours of the day has become challenging. Even in announcing my social media break I received emails that very day acknowledging my situation and at the very same time, requesting things of me. But more than all that, I lost sight of how I used to cook before posting food to social media became an expectation. Kathryn over at London Bakes shared some similar thoughts on this. Eye-opening, to say the least.

A couple years ago I was rushing home from work and just trying to get something decent together for dinner before I got too tired to eat. Fast forward to today, and unemployment crossed with being at home with a baby means I usually have an entire day to bang out recipes. That's not to say it's less challenging, because I'm easily doing more work in the kitchen than ever before and with more interruptions at that. But it's for a different purpose, between my blog and the cookbook, paid recipe development gigs, and the social media factor. I'd hesitate to say I'm not cooking authentically, because ultimately I'm still centering my work around what my family actually eats. But I do feel like I'm chasing trends and Instagram likes and influenced by food media in a way that I didn't used to be. I'm cooking things I don't really need to be cooking, just because the recipe will be cool or it will make a great photo. Worse, I'm dumbing down the things I do cook so that they more easily translate into a recipe for the masses. Like Kathryn, I also keep lists of future blog post ideas which results in hours at the grocery store as my mind spins into oblivion with more brainstorming. The guilt for me really sets in when my son gets that look on his face after asking what's for dinner, and instead of being excited he groans... "does everything have to be for a recipe?"

I don't know what the right answer is to that, because for better or worse pretty much everything I cook these days does need to (potentially) be for a recipe or at least a learning opportunity. I'm working around the clock to clear a path for myself in this industry, one that nobody else is going to make for me or teach me how to forge. Researching ingredients, staging my mise en place before every meal, documenting techniques and measurements, snapping photos and scribbling notes at every step, rushing to get finished before the sun goes down and I lose my light, scrubbing down the kitchen so that it can all be done again for the next shoot - that is what my meals look like today. All of that can become tiresome, even before I get to the hours of photo editing and drafting recipes at the end of every week, many of which get tossed because they no longer interest me when it's all said and done. Sometimes I feel like all the sacrifices don't add up. The money certainly doesn't add up, at least not today as I'm realizing I have blown through my monthly grocery budget yet again. Which brings me to the point of all of this rambling, and in mentioning the articles above.

I am at a crossroads with this blog. Food is still fun for me. It is exciting and fulfilling and I am every bit as passionate about cooking as I was when I started this, if not more. There is not a bone in my body that feels the same way about social media. I just don't. It feels more negative than positive right now which is not what I need to thrive and stay motivated. I am hoping that with the launch of Elevated Comfort, a site redesign, and a new purpose, that I can once again find the itch I had when I started food blogging. I'm in a weird place where I need to keep blogging to generate some sort of income for lack of other sources, but I don't really want to do the things that would be necessary to make my blog's reach any bigger.  (I do remain vigilant in not putting ads up and only accepting sponsored posts from brands that I feel strongly about. You'll never see recipes here that I wouldn't have posted had I not been paid to write them.) I am afraid of making any of this my end game, because it was never my intent. The potential for extra money is nice, but I don't desire to be a popular career blogger or a slave to social media because of my "brand." I want to cook, and I want to teach others how I cook, and I want to make a living doing it. For that reason I am funneling my energy and creativity into monetized ventures, like self-publishing a cookbook, private culinary services, and some other projects in the pipeline, most of which will be based offline.

I enjoy writing, and god knows I need some sort of outlet for the things I have going on in my life right now. So maybe, I will use this space - my space - to share more of my thoughts, along with some good food. If I lose followers for doing so, I'm okay with that. I'd rather be real here where it feels safe to do so, then spend my day keeping up appearances on Twitter and Instagram and trying not to scream every time I am asked for a recipe because I posted a sandwich for lunch. My personal life is in shambles right now, so to get online every day to chitchat like it isn't...well, that feels gross and painful, and I'm not able to do it. I'm not able to fake that any more than I care to cook solely for the purposes of blogging. I'm going to cook what I want to eat, and what I have the means to make, and if I feel like blogging about it for free public consumption, you'll find it here. If that means regular ground beef tacos, that's what it's gonna be. I know for damn sure I won't continue to stress out trying to post holiday themed recipes on time like the ones I've been scrambling to come up with for Easter. Christ, I don't even celebrate Easter. No pun intended.

I don't know y'all. I didn't write this with a plan to announce that this would be my last recipe although that sort of sweeping finality is appealing at times. To be quite honest, I'm hypomanic and haven't slept in three days and will probably regret sharing this post by next week. However, today I'm still here and I'm ready to try something different before I throw in the towel. I would prefer not to receive a mass of suggestions and unsolicited advice in response to this post. I am appreciative of the positive affirmations I do receive, whether verbally or by donation, but it is perfectly okay if you aren't compelled to do anything more than scroll through my photos and maybe once in awhile try a recipe. I appreciate you too. Social media serves a lot of different purposes to a lot of different people, and in some ways I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I need it to be for me.

Ground Beef & Chorizo Tacos

1 lb lean ground beef (90%)
1/2 lb Mexican chorizo, casing removed
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 tbsp Mexican spice blend (my recipe follows, or use your own favorite)
8 oz. can Goya seasoned tomato sauce
12 corn tortillas
Kosher salt, to taste
Grape seed oil, as needed

Suggested garnishes:
Diced onion
Diced tomato
Shredded lettuce
Chopped cilantro
Shredded cheese
Mexican hot sauce

Angela's Mexican Spice Rub:
2 tbsp Ancho chile powder
2 tbsp Mexican chile powder
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried Mexican oregano
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp cayenne
Zest of 2 limes

Makes approx 3/4 c. I use about 1 heaping tbsp per pound of meat. Add 1 tsp salt for every pound of meat when seasoning, or to taste. This is a great spice blend for chicken, beef, pork and seafood. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed container.

Note: The chile powders can be store bought, but I often grind a mix of toasted and dried chiles in place of the 4 tbsp above, such as ancho, guajillo, pasilla and arbol. Grinding your own whole toasted cumin and coriander seeds will also give you maximum flavor.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Suggested Equipment: Heavy skillet

In a heavy skillet, break up the ground beef and chorizo over high heat, then allow it to cook through and brown. Season with a half teaspoon or so of salt. Drain any grease in excess of two tablespoons.

Reduce heat to medium. Add some diced onions, and stir into the meat until they soften. 

Add the diced jalapeno, seeded if you don't want too much heat but otherwise just chop it all up, seeds and all.

Stir in the Mexican spice rub and another pinch of salt if needed.

Finally, pour in the seasoned tomato sauce and stir to combine. I love using this stuff in my recipes, it's great for saucy dishes.

Turn down the heat to low and allow the meat to simmer while you get everything else together for the tacos. After a few minutes some of the liquid will evaporate and you'll end up with a thicker consistency to coat the ground meat.

I still like to make my taco shells in the oven. Heat your tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds to soften them. Use a pastry brush to coat them each very lightly with a little oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Then lay each tortilla over two bars of your oven rack so that the ends fall to each side. Bake them like that at 375°F until crispy, 10 minutes or so.

When the tortillas have crisped up immediately remove them from the oven. They'll go from crispy to brown pretty quickly so those last couple minutes should be watched closely - mine were a tiny bit browner than I really wanted but not so much of a screw up that I was going to wait any longer for tacos.

Requisite shot of my garnishes, because blogging. This was before my daughter snatched an avocado and it ended up being her dinner.

Raven probably would have grabbed a taco if I had let her get any closer. I don't really blame her.

I don't think you need to be told how to serve tacos, so garnish as little or as much as you need for your tastes. The only part I urge you not to forget is that hot sauce. Spicy, messy tacos are where it's at.

My ground beef & chorizo tacos were delicious and easy and satisfied the child. Along with a cold beer, that's everything I was happy to achieve that day.

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  1. Sounds good! Gonna give this a try tonight since I have my

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