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Here’s what I think.  I think we go out to eat for several reasons.  I think we go out to eat when we are too busy and away from home.  We go out when we are too tired to cook.  We go out when we just want the taste of whatever it is we are craving. 

I think if we are to live successfully on our budget, we have to rebel against America’s obsession with restaurants.  We have to have an arsenal of meal ideas that are both easy to prepare and delicious enough to ward off cravings.

That’s what I think.

To that end, my family has been eating pizza and burgers and tacos a lot lately.  At HOME.  With the start of school, Lady was just too preoccupied to explore more creative endeavors.  But, I bet my pizza and burgers and tacos are tastier and healthier than their more expensive “fast-food” counterparts. 

And I say “fast-food”  in quotations because I prepare all of these in about twenty minutes.  It would take my family that long to get in the car and down the road and through the line at a fast-food joint. 

So today’s recipe is for tacos and guacamole.  Now, I realize you can just buy a little package of seasoning, to add to your taco meat, but c’mon, this is so much more fun! 

Getcha some ground beef or turkey going in the skillet. As it’s cooking, sprinkle it with about a teaspoon of salt.  If you prefer to limit salt, by all means, this is your dinner.  I happen to like salt and am not too concerned about it–remind me to tell you why. 

While the meat is browning, I put the tortillas or taco shells in the oven and chop some garlic.  This was one large clove, so I set a little of it aside for the guacamole, we’ll get to that.

When the meat is almost done, add your garlic.  Remember, we don’t want it to get browned and bitter and nasty.  Mmmmm. . . garlic.  Everything’s better with garlic. 

Well, maybe not everything.  Garlic cupcakes might be kinda scary.

Next, give it a good dusting of black pepper.  I don’t really measure, I just grind it over the skillet and make sure everybody gets a taste. 

I follow the same procedure with oregano.  Just sprinkle all over, not too heavy, but make it worthwhile.

Now add about 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of chili powder.

Then, a teaspoon of cumin. Ooh, cumin just makes it tacos!  Smoky and spicy and yummy.  My favorite spice!

Then, just a tiny bit of  cayenne pepper.  Best to sprinkle that in your hand before you put it in the meat.  It’s too easy to overdo it.

Give it all a good stir, and add a little water–about a half cup.

I know, water?  But it helps the spices spread around and adds moisture.  Let it boil off until it looks like taco meat not soup.

Don’t be afraid to taste it and see if you want a little something more.  Smell your spices, get to know them!

If you have a lime, squeeze a little lime juice over your taco meat.  It wakes it up!

Put the meat in a bowl and put a lid (aka a plate) on it until you get everything else ready. This helps to keep it warm.

Okay. Tacos ready.  But we need something to make this truly crave-able.

GUACAMOLE!

I am no expert here.  A few years back I called a friend to ask her how she made guacamole.  My moppet had a kid’s cookbook that called for it on tiny tacos and I didn’t know how to make it.  I didn’t even like the stuff.  She gave me a quick, easy run down on the guac and I actually liked it. Now I’m hooked.

Begin with one ripe avocado.  To check for ripeness, squeeze the avocado between your thumb and forefinger on its ends.  It should be firm, but yielding.  Mine was a bit soft.  Slice it in half by rotating the avocado–not the knife.

Then, remove the pit by whacking it with the base of your knife.  This can be dangerous!!  Best to hold the avocado with a folded towel like a mitt.  And, be sure to use the part of your knife that’s closest to the handle. 

Give the pit a twist and pull.  Now you have something like this.

Put your thumb and forefinger on each side of the knife and pinch the pit off. Like so:

Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the avocado into a bowl. 

Add your reserved garlic, or one small clove.

Awww, isn’t that pretty? Now, you want the green to stay pretty and these guys brown fast so, grab some lemon juice, or fresh lime if you have it.  And pour in just a splash.  I like quite a bit, but others have said my guacamole is too sour.  One to two tablespoons is plenty.

A little tomato, around 1/3 Cup diced.

Now, some salt, a dash of cumin, and a pinch of cayenne. 

If I don’t have garlic, I will use onion, but I have to chop it very fine.  I don’t like big chunks of onion.  And restaurant guac usually has cilantro in it.

I can’t stand cilantro.  To me, it tastes like soap.  But to those who like it, it seems like the more the better.  So if you are one of those people, you may add one tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro. 

But you’ll ruin your guacamole and I won’t eat it. 

So there.

Now, mash everything together with a fork.  If your avocado is too firm, you can use a food processor.  It will satisfy a craving, but it won’t be to die for. You want it to be creamy and smooth with just a few chunks of avocado in it.

Serve with chips and enjoy!

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