Semi-Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Update: I started a new “Food Photography” album on Flickr.

It was a limited-time product, but now it is a mainstay on the menu. Taco Bell describes it as a “warm, pillowy flatbread covered in a melted three-cheese blend, wrapped around a crunchy taco and topped with a zesty Pepper Jack sauce.” One of my favorite items to order off the Taco Bell menu is the cheesy gordita crunch. As a recent college graduate, yes, Taco Bell is still a guilty pleasure.

I still live right off campus from Indiana University, and this week is Spring Break but I’m not on vacation. How about serving up cheesy gordita crunches and throwing together a fiesta?! Sand not included.

I was shopping in WalMart recently and came across some shelf products made by Taco Bell. I had no idea that they offered packaged salsas and sauces, so I purchased the Spicy Ranchero Sauce hoping that it’d be a good substitute as a cheesy gordita crunch sauce.

Spicy Ranchero Sauce, Ortega taco shells, cheese, and On The Border hot salsa. Not pictured: taco seasoning, ground chuck, water, lettuce, and Taco Bell Mild Sauce

You could definitely make your own sauces, salsas and tortillas and get really creative with it, but my idea came about quickly and I went for the faster, packaged selections instead. It’s actually a simple taco recipe, just with craftily constructed shells. I put the Spicy Ranchero Sauce on the side, and turns out I didn’t really like it anyways. Maybe just melting pepper jack cheese would have been more suitable. I can try that next time.

Start with:

1 box of Ortega Grande Taco Shells, Hard and Soft Tacos. It comes with 8 hard shell tacos and 8 soft tacos and is perfect for “cheesy gordita crunch”-making.

1 lb. ground chuck. This is enough to make six, depending how much fills the shells.

1 cup water.

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix.  I had Kroger’s on hand.

Lettuce. I had bags of romaine salad on hand that I sliced up.

Taco sauce. Of course, I used mild sauce packets from Taco Bell.

1 package of blended Mexican cheeses. The Great Value brand I bought at WalMart had Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso and Asadero cheeses.

Salsa. I typically have four different salsas in my fridge because I’m picky, but now my favorite is On The Border Hot Salsa.

Shells on top of cheese-covered tortillas. Photo credit: Isaiah Ashba

Ortega directions I followed but improved on:

Taco-seasoned ground chuck. Photo credit: Isaiah Ashba

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove hard shells from container and arrange on baking sheet.
  2. While waiting for the oven to preheat, brown the beef in a pan on the stove and drain the fat. Stir in 1 cup water and packet of seasoning mix, then heat until thickened while stirring mixture often.
  3. Place baking sheet with hard shells in the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Using a hot pad, remove sheet from oven, then take out soft tortillas from container. Shells will be hot, but gently move them to the side of pan or on another clean surface. Place soft tortillas on the baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on tortillas, covering the surface but still leaving space around the edges for cheese to melt. Place shells directly on the tortillas. Make an even amount of shells and tortillas. Bake for roughly 20 seconds, depending on oven. The cheese needs to be softened and melted but not completely.
  5. Remove baking sheet. Quickly but gently fold tortillas around shells and press together firmly around sides and bottom. Be careful because shells are fragile.
  6.  Fill newly made gordita crunch shells with beef, taco sauce, salsa, lettuce, cheese and enjoy!

Isaiah takes a bite.

Advertisements

Lights, Camera, Exercise.

Shooting a music video on the roof overlooking Rose-Hulman's football field.

Video production.

Although I was in media-related majors, I didn’t have production classes in college; I had basic shooting/editing projects in an Intro to Journalism class. This past weekend, I got to see and learn how Perfect Cut Productions produced a music video for Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s Sports and Recreation Center. I felt completely useless because I didn’t know how to assemble anything on set and would have hindered the crew further behind schedule, but that’s not what my job was anyways. Instead, I spent each day photographing behind scenes. I shot the crew at work and of their candid moments, images they could use for marketing/advertising purposes.

The whole crew: Nick Maudlin, Evan Richardson, Lorne Golman, Steve Mech, Michael Bennett and Alex Guevara.

Music, Red Bull and a blurry haze of exhaustion

Key elements needed for production sets that I learned: Red Bull, iPod/stereo, candy and chips. These provisions fueled the team for the 15-hour workdays and were much appreciated by everyone. Shout-out to Perfect Cut for the transportation, snacks and meals such as dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.

Sure, a music system of some sort is obvious for the set of a music video, but an upbeat, energetic and comical playlist helps heighten the crew’s work ethic and overall mood throughout the day especially when the days drag on and the tensions through exhaustion begin. If I could create a playlist for this post that would match what we rocked out to, I would. However, WordPress doesn’t have that sort of technology, I don’t think, so instead I’m going to include turquoise, italicized links for you to check out as you read to get an idea of what we used as motivation and inspiration.

Possible scene from "Silent Hill"

On the first day we drove up there, Friday the 17th, the entire drive seemed like we were in the movie, “Silent Hill,” because of the dense fog we tunneled through along the highway. Eerie.

The first day had scenes that included cool hand scanners, a faculty basketball game, Rose-Hulman’s elephant tusks circa 1959, the Vince Lombardi Trophy won by Super Bowl XLI Champions the Indianapolis Colts, elephant mascots and “Gators,” the men’s varsity locker room and finally a night-time jib shot of the building’s entrance at night complete with hyped students and Steve Mech, our talent for the video.

Night shot in front of the SRC.

The GoPro camera makes an underwater debut.

For Saturday morning, we started off with high dives at the pool. Lorne, the director, changed into his SCUBA equipment and shot Steve underwater. Steve, who was wearing weights, said, “I’ve always wanted to do this after seeing Pirates of the Caribbean,” and began walking underwater from a five-foot depth downwards to about eight feet.

“This is the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate so brave on the seven seas.” –Michael Bolton/The Lonely Island

Next came shooting a pick-up football game, the catwalk above a conference championship track meet, a fluid mechanical engineering lecture, cheerleader stunts and we finished on the roof overlooking the football field at night. I hope Steve conquered his fear of heights by this point. Before this night, I don’t recall ever seeing a silent and reflective group of guys. The roof, the football field, cold weather, a clear night sky and “Paradise” by Coldplay on blast makes for a humbling, thoughtful moment we got to experience both individually yet together.

Sunday was our final day of shooting—a frigid wind chill morning where we had to shoot outside in front of the SRC. Later we shot the weight room which included lifting weights and running on treadmills.

“I-I-I work out.” –LMFAO

We proceeded with shooting racquetball, karate, swing dancing and dance aerobics. Even with the usual down-time here and there, I feel like it was quite an active day.

Rose-Hulman's dance aerobics club dances to "Jai Ho."

Group critique.

Now to wrap up, I really enjoyed being on set and watching video magic happen, making new friends with the Perfect Cut team, and having access to basically wherever we wanted at Rose-Hulman’s SRC because it gave us really cool location/shot opportunities that I know will make this music video interesting and quite frankly AWESOME. Also, much thanks to Michael, Nick and Alex, the guys in the background who continuously assembled and disassembled the lights and hauled the equipment. Without them, we literally wouldn’t have gotten around, and I wouldn’t have such sweet lighting in my set photos.

Once Perfect Cut edits and completes the video, I’ll post it in another blog entry, so please be on the lookout for that.

And as always, go to my > Flickr < account for extra pictures, because you won’t want to miss them.

Side view of Rose-Hulman's Sports and Recreation Center.