Introduction: Taco Tingler (Lip-Smacking Snack)
This recipe is a quick, simple method for making a very tasty snack. All you need is a box of hard taco shells, some tomato sauce, a cheese of your choosing, and a few select spices.
Preparation and cooking both only take a few minutes, and once you're done, you'll have a great tasting snack that will make you want to come back for more!
1 Box yellow corn taco shells (Example: http://www.amazon.com/Ortega-Yellow-Shells-18-Count-8-7-Ounce/dp/B000LLM7AO)
Several slices of any cheese, preferably American (amount will depend on number of tacos)
Ground black pepper
Steak seasoning (or similar)
Step 1: Prepping the Tacos
Initially, line the rack on your oven with a piece of foil wrap large at least enough to hold double as many tacos as you are planning on making. It might be a wise idea to leave a little extra space.
Take each taco and break it apart at the bottom. Don't expect the breaks to be perfect, they probably won't be, and don't need to be. Lay the taco halves out with the bottoms of each pairing facing each other, so the two halves form a circle.
Step 2: Saucing It Up
The next thing to do is to add the tomato sauce. You can use marinara or spaghetti sauce, it matters little, as long as the spicing of the sauce isn't so strong that it would overwhelm the spices you will be adding later.
Place approximately 3/4 teaspoon of tomato sauce on each taco half. Every taco and taco brand is different, so you might have to experiment a little. Keep in mind -- you can always add tomato sauce if you find you have too little, but it's a lot harder to get rid of it once it's on.
Once you've poured, spooned, or otherwise apportioned your tomato sauce to the taco half, use a fork or similar utensil to spread it across the surface of the taco half in decently proportionate amounts.
Step 3: Let's Get Cheesy
Once your sauce is properly spread, find yourself some nice, square cheese. Using whatever method you prefer, break it into small chunks. You can slice or shred it into finer pieces if you'd like, but cheese in that form will tend to melt more rapidly than the rest of the taco and leave you with ill proportioned cheese.
The solution that I have found to work best is to divide the cheese into roughly square quadrangled polygons. Exact size doesn't matter much, the point of this arrangement of cheese is to provide nice, even coverage on the taco that will melt nicely.
Step 4: The Reward Is More Cheese
Now that your cheese is evenly divided, begin the process of placing each bit of cheese on the taco halves. Exact order doesn't matter, concentrate on getting even coverage on each taco half, with a little bit of space in between each bit.
Of course, if you have extra cheese left over once you've coated each taco, feel free to eat it -- that's your reward for getting this far!
Step 5: Things Get Spicy
Grab your chosen spices, and unscrew the caps. Individual taste is very important in this step, you're going to want to choose an amount that suites your needs. I personally find that a light coating of each spice suits me well, but I tend to like spicy foods. Experiment.
Slowly move across the surface of each taco half, and shake the spice so that you get an even coating across the taco. You might want to begin with pepper, which is most noticeable against the cheese background, and then move on to onion and garlic powders. These three spices are the core spices, and if you stop right here and bake it, you'll have a great tasting snack. I tend to want a little more zing, and so add certain seasoning combinations, like steak or jerk seasonings. If you choose to do this, apply the same coverage as with the other spices.
Step 6: Bring on the Heat
As your tacos are now fully prepped, it's time to recombine them. Take one half of each (the smaller one if they broke unevenly, and set it on top of the other half, so that they nestle into each other with just a small air duct between the cheese layers of the top and bottom taco halves.
If you prefer, you can leave the halves as halves, and have twice the food to eat (or at least it will seem that way). It tastes just as good.
At this point, turn on the oven and set it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 'Wait', you might ask, 'should we not have preheated the oven? It's conventional to do so, and after all, this is a conventional oven.'
You're right, and no cook is going to tell you otherwise. But it turns out that for this particular recipe, if you set the oven to 350 right as you are done with prep, the tacos will be just about done by the time the oven actually reaches the designated temperature.
Exact? No. Efficient? Definitely. Consider the oven preheated beep to be your warning to check on the tacos.
Step 7: And...done.
When that buzzer buzzes, or beeper beeps, or whatever, go check on your tacos. If the layers of cheese are forming merging stalagmites and stalactites of gooey goodness, you're done. The shells should be just soft enough to sink your teeth into without significant resistance, and the tomato sauce and cheese will provide you with tasty meat that gives you a good, chewy feel, backed by the crunchiness of the shells.
Dig in and enjoy!
I hope this little recipe will bring a little culinary joy into your day or the day of someone you are baking for.