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Use up leftover taco meat

By on July 12, 2009

mini tacos
photo by ginnerobot

DEAR SARA: When we have tacos for supper, we always have plenty of leftover taco meat. What kind of meals could I make with the leftover meat? Thanks! — Carrie, Kentucky

DEAR CARRIE: You can make less meat or make most any dish that has ground beef, such as taco-salad, soup, casseroles, chili, nachos, lettuce wrap, spaghetti or lasagna, pizza, empanadas, omelet or serve over French fries or baked potatoes. Or make mini tacos. Use a muffin tin, add non stick cooking spray to each muffin cup, Place a wonton wrapper or refrigerator biscuit into each muffin cup, fill with heated taco meat and top with shredded cheese. Bake 6-8 minutes in 350 degree F oven.

DEAR SARA: Can pancake batter be made the day before? — Kay, Illinois

DEAR KAY: Yes, it can be made the day before. You can make the batter ahead of time or use it the day after you make it, if you have any leftover batter. If it’s leavened with baking powder, you can add a little extra or use double acting when you first mix the batch or add a little extra baking powder right before you use the batter. Or use a pancake recipe that uses yeast. If you mix a batch with baking soda the day before, your pancakes will end up flat. As a mini shortcut, you can pre-measure and mix the dry ingredients ahead of time and add the wet ingredients before you make the pancakes. You can also cook the pancakes and refrigerate or flash freeze them and transfer to zip-enclosed freezer bags. Reheat in the microwave by stacking three at a time for a minute, or in the oven or toaster oven by placing them on a baking sheet, covered with foil, and baking at 375 F for about eight minutes.

DEAR SARA: First question: How do you get the burrito (flour tortilla) to stay folded over? Second question: Can a homemade bean burrito be frozen? If so, can it then be warmed up to eat in the microwave? If it can, do you need to thaw it first? — JMoffitt, e-mail

DEAR JMOFFIT: You can place your filling in the middle. Fold the bottom up over the filling. Then fold over the left side, the right side and roll it upward. It forms an envelope pocket. Yes, you can freeze them, too. Freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, individually wrap in plastic or foil and place them into a freezer safe bag. You don’t have to thaw them beforehand. Put one on a plate lined with a paper towel and reheat in the microwave. They’re like the burritos sold frozen in the grocery store. You can make a burrito casserole, too. Just place your homemade frozen burritos in a 9-by-13-inch pan. Pour a can of enchilada sauce over your burritos, sprinkle on some cheese, and either bake or microwave it. After it’s heated, add toppings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes or salsa, a can of green chile peppers, onions, sour cream and black olives.

DEAR SARA: What do you think the shelf life is for Hamburger Helper? I checked the boxes that we have on hand, and there is no expiration date. Please don’t give me an explanation as to how “unhealthy” it is. I’m going to buy some with coupons when they go on sale, and in the end it’ll cost about 10 cents per box! (Pretty cheap meal!) I make it very occasionally and for convenience. — Q.M., Canada

DEAR Q.M.: It has a shelf life of a year from the manufactured date. The manufactured date is on the box. You’ll see a letter (which represents the month): A January, B February, C March, etc. The next two numbers represent the year, the next two numbers represent the day, and the last few digits represent the manufacturing plant. When in doubt, you can contact the company and ask about the codes they have on their products. Often, their phone number is on the product packaging.

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

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