Tijuana Tacos

Tuesday 7 April 2020

One thing I love to do is to come up with delicious ideas for using things that I have in my fridge and larder.  This weekend I cooked us a small roast dinner for our Sunday lunch.  

Not something we have very often.  I had a quantity of leftover cooked roast beef and so today I set out to cook us something tasty using that and what I had to hand. 

I cut my beef up into small bits and fried it off together with some diced frozen peppers from the freezer and chopped onion. 

 I also added some spices and chopped black olives that were languishing in the bottom of a jar in the refrigerator.

Next I added a portion of refried beans that I also had in the freezer, along with some tomato sauce (and I don't mean ketchup), some water along with a splash of Worcestershire sauce and heated it all through.

Finally I added a generous handful of crushed tortilla chips that I had in the cupboard. I wanted to use them up before they got stale.  

They also served the purpose of adding a bit of crunch and thickening it up a bit more.

I used taco sized wheat flour tortillas. I like to toast these over an open flame on the top of my stove.  I just use a pair of tongs and hold them over the flame, first on one side and then on the other.

If you fold them in half right away, they stay like that, which makes them perfect for tacos. Not hard like the crisp ones, but not entirely soft either.  My husband doesn't like really hard things.

I rooted through the refrigerator and found some tasty things for garnishing.  I had some sour cream, in the  bottom of a pot that needed using up.

I also had some spring onions that I chopped up. They add a nice touch of sharp earthy flavours and crunch.

I shredded up the last of my lettuce to use, but you could also use finely shredded cabbage if you have it.  Red or green, they taste the same.

I grated a small chunk of sharp cheddar cheese and then chopped a few green olives that needed using up.

Finally I garnished with a few more crushed tortilla chips.

I was really, REALLY pleased with the end results.  These were very tasty. My husband  even had one for breakfast!

It made a great use of odds and bits from my refrigerator and freezer. Of course if you have fresh peppers, onions, etc. you can use them.  

Its nice to know, however, that frozen work well also.

I didn't have any salsa or fresh tomatoes left, but either one would also make a great garnish.

This recipe is all about showing what you can do with very little. 

This situation we are all living in right now is a great opportunity for us to really stretch the boundaries of our cooking, to think outside the box as it were.

Its also a wonderful opportunity for us to decrease our waste. To make do and use it up.  Something which we should always be doing anyways.

Tijuana Tacos

Tijuana Tacos

Yield: Makes 12
How to make something delicious from seemingly nothing at all.


  • 225g chopped cooked beef (can use leftover roast, or mince) (1 1/2 cups)
  • 225g of refried beans (1 cup)
  • 120ml tomato passatta (1/2 cup tomato sauce)
  • 90ml water (3 fluid ounces)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, trimmed and chopped (can use the equivalent in frozen chopped peppers)
  • 3 TBS chopped ripe olives
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • dash each celery salt and ground  nutmeg
  • splash or Worcestershire sauce
  • a generous handful of tortilla chips crushed
  • 12 taco sized soft tortillas, toasted
You will also need to garnish:
  • 1/4 of a head of lettuce, finely shredded
  • chopped spring onions
  • chopped fresh tomatoes (if you have them)
  • 2 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese
  • a handful of chopped olives
  • sour cream
  • additional crushed tortilla chips
  • Green Tabasco


How to cook Tijuana Tacos

  1. Spritz a large non-stick frying pan with some spray oil.  Add the onions and peppers and cook over medium  heat until they start to soften. Throw in the chopped beef.  Cook and stir for a few minutes, then add all of the spices.  Cook and stir until quite fragrant, then stir in the tomato sauce, refried beans, olives and water.  Bring to a simmer and heat through.
  2. In the meantime, heat your tortillas as desired. I like to hold mine over an open flame and toast them on both sides, folding them in half when heated.  Keep warm.
  3. Make sure you have all of your toppings ready.
  4. Crush your tortilla chips.  Stir them into the meat mixture, reserving a few for garnishing if desired.  Divide the mixture between the toasted tortillas.
  5. Garnish each with some or all of the suggested garnishes. I sometimes like to add a splash of hot sauce. (I like the green tabasco.)  serve immediately and enjoy!

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These were really, really good.  It makes me feel good knowing that I can use up all my leftovers.  It also makes me feel good that I can create something so tasty out of very little, and just what I have on hand. 

What's the most creative thing you have come up with when using up what you need to use up food-wise in the house?  Care to share???  Don't ask me why I called these Tijuana Tacos. It just sounded Mexican. LOL


  1. Another brilliant idea and so versatile as you can substitute what you have on hand, even making them vegetarian by using Quorn instead of meat. I love recipes like this.

    I come from a very large family and I think I learned to cook with nothing as a child. My mother had to be creative with what she had and she planned meals so nothing went to waste. Veggie peelings and bones were made into stock, the Sunday roast leftovers were made into sandwich fillings for school lunches, a cottage pie, jaffle filling or fried hash.

    I still do this to this day. Left over boiled potatoes from a meal are put through a ricer and made into gnocchi and popped in the freezer. Left over roasted veggies can be made into a salad, or put through a blender with added stock to make a soup. I also stretch a meal by adding chickpeas or some kind of bean or lentil to dishes. Left over pasta sauce and some old cheese can be used to make a pizza or a nice pasta bake. And I am the queen of substitutes and recipe tweaking - ha, ha. Then there's always the Swedish classic pitt y panna: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/pytt_i_panna_28950

    1. Hi Marie, although we didn't have a really large family when I was growing up (there were only three children) my mother was very thrifty and not a jot was wasted! She taught us well! You and I are from the same schools of thought! Thanks for the recipe link as well! Hope you and Lars are staying safe and well! I am sure you are! xoxo


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