Thursday, July 19, 2012

Taco Night

It is taco night.  Set up the taco bar and have everyone make their own.  Here are a couple of ideas for setting up your bar and making baked bowls and shells. 

Unless you are a vegetarian, your taco bar should have at least one meat but two is better:  fish, shrimp, hamburger, shredded beef or chicken.  If you are vegetarian, you can add beans.  The nice thing about a taco bar your guests get to pick what they want.  Here is a list of possible items to put on the bar:  Mexican mix of cheeses, guacamole or avocado, limes, red rice, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, sour cream, peppers, corn, salsa verde, taco sauce and/or a hot sauce.  Here are a couple of ideas for the shells.  Don’t forget the soft shells also. 

If you want taco salad here is a great idea I saw on the internet.  Turn your muffin pan upside down, spray with cooking oil and bake tortillas for 10 minutes at 375F.  Use your smaller flour or corn tortillas.

Another idea for baked corn taco shells that sit flat is to bake them in the oven by draping them over the rack in your oven. 

I've been to wrestling meets where they serve individual bags of chips and add taco ingredients on top making a taco bag to go.  This could be used at a picnic or kids party.  Use the taco flavored chips. Set up the crock pot with your meat and have a selection of toppings along with a bottle of sauce and you are good to go. Break up your chips a little before adding the toppings.  Taco-in-a-bag saves on a mess and makes it fun food.  Just serve with a plastic spoon so they can get all of it. It is great for camping trips also. 

I also put out Scoop tortilla chips and my grandson likes to make mini tacos.  They can pile them high with their favorite ingredients and have super tortilla chips.

Saylor loves to make tortilla chips.  It is something we do most of our weekends together.  He cuts up the corn tortilla with a kitchen scissors and I fry them in the cast iron skillet in oil until golden brown and crispy.  Put on a paper towel and salt immediately.  These are great when they are still warm.  Top them with taco ingredients and they are super. 

I'll share a few recipes for homemade seasoning and condiments:

Taco Seasoning for Hamburger

1 ½ tablespoons of corn starch
4 ½  teaspoons chili powder
½  teaspoon onion powder
½  teaspoon garlic powder
½  teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried minced onion
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (add more if you like heat or leave out if you don’t)

To make your own taco seasoning, combine corn starch, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt. Stir in the paprika, and cumin.  Blend in the onion and ground red pepper.  Stir until all spices are well blended.

Crumble 1 pound of ground chuck into a large skillet over medium heat. Brown the beef. Remove from the heat, rinse meat with hot water, and drain water and grease from beef in a colander.

Return meat to skillet, and pour in seasoning. Stir in a cup of water water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until most of the liquid has cooked away, about 20 minutes.


Use ground chicken or pork using this seasoning or mix your meats while browning for a nice combination taco.  


3 large, ripe avocados, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 finely diced red onion (Once chopped, rinse in strainer with water running through it to take bite out.)
1 ripe jalapeño chili peppers, seeds removed and finely diced (Keep seeds if you like it hot)
1 clove garlic
1/8 teaspoon Kosher coarse salt
1/2 freshly squeezed small lime

You can do this in a molcajete, a blender or processor.

Add the onion, along with the garlic, jalapeño and some salt. Grind them together until the bits have fallen apart slightly, and the mixture looks wet and smells aromatic. Add the avocados and grind some more, until the mixture is mostly smooth, leaving a few avocado chunks here and there for texture. I like chunky guacamole.  Add your cilantro (you may substitute parsley if you do not like cilantro) and squeeze your 1/2 of lime.  Taste and see if it needs more salt.  Add more salt and lime juice if needed.

Homemade Taco Sauce

1 can (8 ounces) unseasoned tomato sauce, preferably no-salt-added
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce to taste (This will determine if you want mild, medium or hot.  For mild, leave it out completely)
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let set for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. (Store in the refrigerator after 2 hours.) Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Serve with your tacos. 

Salsa Verde

1 pound tomatillos, husked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile peppers, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 cups water

Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and chile pepper into a saucepan. Season with cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt; pour in water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes.

Using a blender, carefully puree the tomatillos and water in batches until smooth.

Hope I have given you some new ideas for taco night.  Make it special and get everyone involved.  Be happy and may God bless you and yours. 

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