Build a Better Burrito Bowl
Apr 06, 2017
This week my sister Julie is guest blogging from Chicago to give her take on family dinners. I hope you enjoy her perspective this week:
Hello from Chicago! When I was asked to be a guest on this blog, I thought to myself, “Now, how can I relate to a blog about quick family dinners on a budget?”—pretty much on every level, that’s how. Living and working in a busy metro area means a lot of time in the car and a lot less time for us to get dinner on the table. Putting together a meal that satisfies the differing tastes of two adults and a 4 year old? Challenging, but doable. Also, how about also $$ savvy and healthy(ish)? Oof. But hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and in the age of Pinterest and various grocery apps on our phones, we can do this folks!
We love going out for tacos. We have a favorite “hole in the wall” taco joint down the street, though I dare not speak its name, for fear that it will be more packed the next time we go. I realize most people reading this live hours away from us…nope, still not worth the risk. Anyway, despite choosing somewhere relatively inexpensive, we always end up spending slightly more than we set out to and there are never quality leftovers, if any at all (when was the last time your Mexican takeout reheated well, seriously?). Besides, I actually enjoy cooking, so taco night at our house it is!
“Wait, I thought we were making burrito bowls,” you point out. Okay, Nancy Drew. We certainly do traditional tacos from time to time—it’s a classic—however, I’ve realized that my favorite part about tacos is the fillings and all the toppings, but I could often take or leave the tortillas. My husband, Mike, feels the same about burritos. Plus, have you SEEN the size of an actual restaurant style burrito tortilla when it’s all unfolded? It’s HUGE. Like I need that sitting like a rock in my gut. Pass! So burrito bowl night was born—the perfect way to make one meal, but with endless combinations (depending on personal tastes), AND leftovers for a workday lunch or two.
I will include a basic “recipe” below, but in actuality, the ingredients can (and should!) vary widely depending on your tastes, dietary needs and (let’s be real) what’s already on hand in your fridge/pantry. This is a great “use up the odds and ends” opportunity. Half an onion from a recipe earlier in the week? Perfect. A can of beans that’s been staring at you and judging you from the cupboard for several months? Let’s do it. Burrito bowls are the snowflake of Mexican-American cuisine. Even when the same ingredients are prepared—the combinations will always look different. Check out my bowl versus my husband's bowl.
My four year old said to heck with the bowl tonight and still wanted to make a taco, which was also cool. She’s a purist. I’m fine with that. Although it should be noted, that her idea of a “taco” is a tortilla with black beans, shredded cheese and sour cream. She’s not always into meat options, but with all those beans, she gets protein and her iron count is always on point. No complaints from this mom.
So back to my “recipe”—I like to think of it more as categories to fill, which can be made easier with short cuts and cleaner* with substitutions. (*For the purpose of this blog, let’s define “cleaner” as mostly whole, non processed foods that you can identify and less artificial additives that you can’t.)
* This formula could also work with any kind of “bowl”, Mexican inspired or otherwise. Your bowl could just as easily include shredded rotisserie chicken, steamed asparagus stalks, fresh spinach leaves, a hardboiled egg, quinoa and your favorite vinaigrette—eaten chilled as a salad (note to self: make this later this week. It sounds delicious).
My burrito bowl: ½ cup Mexican yellow quick stovetop rice, ½ cup “taco” seasoned ground beef, ¼ cup sautéed green/yellow bell pepper and onion mix, ¼ cup plain black beans, 1 cup chopped romaine, ¼ cup sliced grape tomatoes, 2 T sour cream, 2 T shredded cheddar cheese, 2 T chunky salsa, sprinkle of chopped cilantro, dash of hot sauce and a couple lime wedges.
My bowl for the next day: I could have it the same way for lunch tomorrow at work and it would be awesome, but instead I’m remixing it and turning it into a jar salad (described by someone lately as the “darling of Pinterest”. So true!) You should definitely try the trend. Always layer ingredients wet to dry, starting with your dressing (in this case salsa) on the bottom and ending with your greens on the top. Then when ready to eat, dump out on a plate in reverse. Work lunch magic!
Me—clearly my bowl was genius and I enjoyed it.
Mike—enjoyed his combo and was pleasantly surprised at how much he liked the sautéed peppers and onions.
Sylvia—“I liked everything on my plate and ate it ALL…can I have a treat now?” Ah, kids…
Burrito Bowl night for the win!
As promised for a “cleaner” option, or when you just forget to pick up a seasoning packet…
Taco Seasoning (equivalent to 1 packet):
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp paprika
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
- Julie Maureen’s younger sister, awesome mom, and all around superior cook and dinner crafter