Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Ground Keeper

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This week happened to be different from every other week. The reason being that instead of me searching and searching for a recipe, my mom already had a recipe chosen for me. This, in my eyes, was great because it saved me serious time. Yesterday, my mom mentioned how she found this recipe for taco pie, which looked really appealing. I have never heard of taco pie before; however, I was in for cooking something different and unique. She showed me the website, which just so happened to be the Betty Crocker blog –I mean who doesn’t love Betty Crocker? Anyways, as I was reading through the directions and the ingredients this recipe looked very reasonable. In the end, I was happy that I didn’t have to search for hours on end for a recipe, but once again I was not to thrilled to be working with raw meat… However, I wanted to conquer this ‘fear’. As a result, I was ready to cook Taco Pie. Well, hopefully ready.

Before I started to assemble the pie I wanted to make sure that I felt confident in the ingredients as well as the directions. To be honest, as I looked through everything I felt pretty certain about this recipe. Most of the ingredients were all very familiar and/or I have worked with them before. As well, the directions were very explicit and easy to follow. However, despite my confidence with majority of this recipe, I was a little uneasy about working with ground beef. Do I have to touch it? How do I brown ground beef? How do I know when the meat is cooked all the way through? The later is a serious question, because the last thing that I want to do is serve raw meat to my family. As mentioned last week, I dislike the smell, touch and look of raw meat so this was not something that I was looking forward to at all. Despite my aversion I needed to conduct some online learning.

I found this website to be helpful because not only did it provide a step-by-step process with pictures, but it also included a small tutorial video. Basically, you preheat your frying pan or medium saucepan for a few minutes. Once the pan is heated add the beef. Then, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mash, stir, twist and turn the meat so that it gets broken up and cooks. Keep stirring and mashing until all the pink has disappeared, and all the meat has turned brown. This indicates that the ground beef is fully cooked, which should take approximately 5-7 minutes. After the meat is cooked, if you would like, you could strain it in a colander to drain out all the fat and grease. After I went through and read these instructions, this process does seem very simple; however, my problem is that I just do not want to touch the raw meat. That being said, I will have to find a creative way to not touch the slimy meat.

After learning how to properly brown ground beef I felt a little better about this step. However, before I started to cook I needed to make sure that I had all of the ingredients. Thankfully, we had everything that I needed, which in the end saved me a trip to the store.

Recipe:

1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped (approximately ½ cup)

1 package (1 ounce) Old El Paso taco seasoning mix

1 can Old El Paso chopped green chilies, drained

1-cup milk

2 eggs

½ cup original bisquick mix

¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Salsa

Sour Cream, if desired

Directions:

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Depending on how hot your oven gets this temperature may be too high. I know that our oven gets really hot so instead of heating the oven to 400 I set it to 350 degrees.

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Place a medium sized skillet or saucepan on the stove. Heat the pan first before adding the ingredients. Chop the onion and then add to the pan and stir occasionally so that the onion does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the onions have started to brown add the ground beef. Mash, twist and turn the beef to break it up into small pieces. Stir occasionally so that the beef does not stick to the pan, and keep stirring until brown; drain. Prior to cooking this meal I let the ground beef sit on the counter in a bowl overnight because it was frozen and I wanted it to un-thaw. The sight of the raw meat in its packaging alone grossed me out. Blood was coming out of the sides of the wrapping and setting in the bottom of the bowl it was sitting in. I was wondering how on earth was I going to get the meat of the wrapping and transfer it to the pan. Well, the thought came to me immediately. I found some tongs and a pair of scissors and with some difficultly I managed to get the meat out of the packaging and into the sizzling pan. I was relieved in the end that I didn’t have to touch the meat, but I still ended up washing my hands after. I really need to get over this. Anyhow, once the meat was finally in the pan I took a spoon and started to mash and twist and turn the meat just like the website said. This was a fairly easy task; however, I found that the meat took longer than 5-7 minutes to brown. It took more like 15 minutes, but that could be a result of the stove not being hot enough. Now, even though the video said that the meat is cooked once it turns brown, I was a little worried or rather paranoid that it was still raw so I cooked it longer than necessary. Anyways, once the meat was cook fully to my likely, I drained it and placed it back in the pan. Once the meat is back in the pan stir in taco seasoning mix.

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Grease or butter a pie plate. Spoon the beef mixture into the pie plate and spread/flatten it evenly. Drain the green chilies and scatter on top of the beef mixture.

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In a blender or small bowl stir together milk, eggs and Bisquick mix. I decided to stir the ingredients in a small bowl because our blender appeared to not be working that day. As well, once all of the ingredients where in the bowl I used a whisk to smooth out all of the lumps. As well, I remembered to crack the eggs in a separate bowl so that I was not fishing for eggshells. I did happen to get a small piece of shell in the bowl that I cracked the eggs in; however, I just used a small spoon to scoop it out. Once the mixture is smooth, pour over the meat mixture into the pie plate. The mixture should cover the meat mixture entirely.

Place the pie plate into the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Then, sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and bake for another 10-15 minutes. Once the cheese has melted remove from the oven and let it cool for about 5 minutes so that all of the ingredients set. Serve with salsa and sour cream. Enjoy.

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I have to admit, this was not half bad. To be honest, I was a little skeptical about this recipe because I was not sure if it was going to taste very good. On the contrary, it tasted really good. The meat was seasoned just right, the Bisquick crust was flaky and the cheese was of course very gooey. As well, the result just so happened to look identical to the picture on the Betty Crocker recipe, which was very reassuring that I did something right. The rest of the family really enjoyed it as well. They said it was very flavorful and that I should really make it again in the future. As well, they suggested that next time I should top the pie off with some diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce to add some texture and crispness –just like the photo in the website. In the end, I was happy with the result. In total, this recipe only took me about half an hour to prepare, which is really reasonable. As well, I have to say that my mom did a great job in choosing this recipe. It was definitely different and unique as it is not one that you hear about. Maybe I should let her choose all of the recipes from now on!

Well, that marks the ending of the meat dishes. For the past few weeks I have truthfully been dreading the meat category, however, now that it has been completed, I realize that it really was not that bad. But I am still glad that it is over. Next week I move onto desserts and I am extremely excited! I love dessert! That being said, these next few weeks are definitely going to be my favorite.

Have any suggestions on what I should bake first?

Meat ya’ll here next week!

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