Every family has a different holiday tradition, and much to my delight, Mexican food is part of ours. On Christmas Eve, we sing carols by candlelight at the church and retire to my Mema’s house to eat homemade tamales from Rosedale, Mississippi. A spicy batch of chili, saltines and ketchup – that’s right, crackers and ketchup with tamales – accompany.
But it’s not just around the holidays that I enjoy a good Tex-Mex meal. If you’ve read this column before, you know Mexican food is a staple in my home, and I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes that fit the bill. So, today I’m going to share with you two. One is brand new and the other among my favorite, newly acquired recipes – mini pasta shell tacos and the world’s best, easiest black bean soup.
Mini Pasta Shell Tacos
What you’ll need:
Jumbo pasta shells (these come in several sizes, so select the one you prefer)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 small, sweet onion, diced
Salt, pepper, salsa, sour cream and chives – all toppings to taste
Preheat oven to 350°. Boil pasta shells until they reach al dente. You want to be sure they will hold up to being stuffed with meat and cheese, plus baked. Drain the shells and let them dry completely. In a separate pan, brown your meat with your onions. I sprinkle in a few red pepper flakes to give the stuffing some kick. Once browned, add approximately ¾ cup of water and taco seasoning; let simmer until water is almost gone – about 20 minutes. I use homemade seasoning, but if you’re in a pinch, I’m sure a pre-made package would work. Lightly spray a baking sheet with Pam, and lay your shells out on it. Fill each one with your beef mixture, sprinkle with cheese and drizzle with a bit of taco sauce. Bake until cheese melts, around 15 minutes. Don’t over bake, however, or your shells will get chewy. I serve them on a bed of lettuce and top them with sour cream, salsa and green onions.
Black Bean Soup
This is the best, easiest, fastest recipe of all time. Plus, it’s low in calories and fat, as well as gluten free.
What you’ll need:
2 cans of black beans
1 c. vegetable broth
2 c. salsa
Combine your ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth. Put on the stove and warm through. Seasoning this soup is totally up to you. I add a few pinches of salt, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic and chili powder, but honestly, it’s delicious with just the three ingredients. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese, dollop of sour cream and chives.