In a large frying pan, brown the ground beef. When the ground beef is half finished, add garlic and finish cooking the beef. Add tomato sauce, salsa, chile peppers, and chile powder. Turn heat to low and let the sauce barely simmer until most of the moisture has been absorbed by the meat. Remove from heat and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to proceed with the tacos.
When ready to make the Beef Tacos, place the pan with the beef mixture over low heat. Gently heat until very warm.
Reheating or toasting corn tortilla shell options:
Cooking tortilla shells for the first time can be tricky, but it is really easy and you will soon get the feel for how you like them cooked. I buy corn tortillas from Trader Joe's that are a homemade product and a little thicker than the usual corn tortillas. They hold up well and do not split on me. If you only make 4 tortillas for 2 servings, the remainder of the meat, salad, and garnishes are great the next day for lunch.
Deep Saucepan - over medium heat, add 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Heat until a drop of water sizzles. Using tongs, dip one tortilla shell into the hot oil. When it starts to bubble, flip it over. When it puffs up, remove from oil to a paper-towel lined plate.
Frying Pan or Griddle - Moisten hands lightly with water; rub over tortillas, one at a time. Place tortilla flat into an ungreased heavy frying pan or onto a cast-iron griddle over medium heat; turn frequently until soft and pliable, approximately 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stack hot tortillas in a covered dish or wrap in aluminum foil. Keep hot for up to 2 hours on an electric warming tray or in a 150 degree F. oven. NOTE: In place of water, I sometimes use non-stick cooking spray.
Oven - Either spray or brush vegetable oil on both sides of the corn tortillas. Place the tortillas on the aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Place in the oven for just a few minutes, until they soften and become heated through. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree F. oven for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
To microwave - wrap a stack of tortillas lightly in paper towels and warm on high for 6 or 7 seconds per tortilla.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Using a slotted spoon, place a large spoonful of the prepared beef mixture into each prepared tortilla shell, keeping in mind that you will be adding salad later. Fold the tortilla in half and place on a large plate lined with paper towels. Continue with the remaining tortillas, filling as many as you have the beef mixture for. Place the plate of beef-filled tacos into the oven to keep warm.
To serve, Remove Salad and Garnishes from the refrigerator. Place the warm beef-filled tacos out of the oven and place on a heat-protective pad on your table.
Each person takes a taco and loads it up with onion, cheese, and salad. Top with your favorite taco sauce. Remember that you will eat the tacos with your hands, so do not overload or they will split apart.
Makes 2 servings.
Make enough salad to fill four (4) or more tacos.
Romaine lettuce, sliced into thin strips
Various colors of fresh tomatoes, cut into bite-size chunks
Cucumbers, cut into bite-size chunks
1 avocado, chopped into bite-size chunks
Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, salt, and pepper; refrigerate until ready to serve.
1 red onion, diced
Shred your favorite cheese (we like a combo of white cheddar and jack cheese)
Your favorite red or green taco sauce
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)
To prepare garnishes ahead of time, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.