Some of the gal pals came over for dinner & drinks one Friday night and I was making quite the menu plan but since it was a) hot out with a threat of rain and b) a Friday after work, I made myself keep it simple. I knew I wouldn’t have time for everything I imagined and with rain threatening I decided to skip anything grilled. I like build-your-own options for all diets & food preferences of these 6 ladies, which is also conducive to spreading out on my kitchen island. Plus, I always like to cook things I’ll be glad to have as leftovers. That meant: tacos!
I ended up with a taco bar and made some vegan-friendly tacos to share with you. They were in good company as part of a spread of taco filling options to either be vegan tacos or different additions to regular ground meat as a filling.
Taco-spiced zucchini & onions
Chili-lime sweet potato & black beans
toppings: salsa; guac-obvi!; green onions; cheese, sour cream; lettuce; tomato; queso
I also made my mom’s signature Three Bean dip/salad. It is vinegar-y and fresh. I love it as a taco side dish, or it’s nicely scoop-able with tortilla chips. Shouldn’t everything in life be nicely scoop-able with chips??
sweet potato & black bean one was nicely filling. It wasn’t all that spicy. I sprinkled a pre-cooked sweet potato with chili powder, a drop of sriracha & a squirt of lime juice.
zucchini & onions one good and had the flavor of what I think of tacos being – I sauteed the onions a few minutes and added the zucchini in to cook for the last few minutes with some taco seasoning. With a finer dice, it’d be a really tasty taco topping, versus filling too. Or swap zucc for mushrooms/eggplant as you like.
I’d totally eat these again. They’re handy to have in my back pocket for a use of leftover zucchini, sweet potato, or black beans. Or they’d be useful to spread a smaller amount of taco meat that wouldn’t be enough for everyone. Leftovers are fun in quesadillas to feel different!
This Mexican burger pulls out all the stops. Happy Birthday Burger Mr. J! The burger gets amped up with chorizo, queso, guac, and beans. I’be been saving this idea for awhile and it was perfect to plan for this one when I knew we’d have some taco leftovers!
Ultimate Mexican Burger
Ingredients: (for 2 burgers)
1 link chorizo sausage
1/2 pound ground meat
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
2 tablespoons refried beans
3 tablespoons guacamole
3 tablespoons salsa con queso
Mix together the ground meat and the chorizo and form into patties. Sprinkle half of the taco seasoning on before grilling the burgers. Grill until cooked to your liking.
While the burgers are cooking, warm the queso and the refried beans.
After taking the burgers off the grill, sprinkle with remaining taco seasoning.
Spread the beans onto the bottom bun, then add lettuce, burger, queso, and spread the guacamole onto the top bun.
Happy Birthday Burger Mr. J!
Here’s the history of the Birthday Burgers:
2016 it was a Mac & Cheese Stuffed Burger topped with bacon, onions, and tomato.
2015 it was a Picnic Burger with slaw & potato sticks
2014 it was a German Burger with horseradish, caramelized onions, pickles and a pretzel roll
2013 it was a Vermont Burger with maple mayo, cheddar, bacon, and spinach
2012 it was a Bacon Wrapped Burger
2011 it was a Stuffed Burger stuffed with bacon & cheddar or bacon & blue cheese
I know, you can totally figure this out on your own, but here are a few ways to amp up your burrito bowl. Mexican Street Corn and a quick dressing makes this so. much. better than just leftover taco filling…which is where I started. Taco night leftovers are the best leftovers out there but I love them in a completely different format.
Burrito Bowl (for 2)
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1/3 cup ranch dressing
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1 cup corn, cooked and cooled
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon mayo
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup ground turkey/chicken/pork/beef spiced with taco seasoning
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup black beans
Cook the rice.
In a small food processor, mix together the ranch, cilantro, and taco seasoning. Blend well and chill until serving.
Mix together the corn, feta, mayo, lime juice, and chili powder. Chill until serving, or make in advance.
Assemble together the rice on the bottom then top with ground meat, beans, lettuce, and street corn.
Drizzle with the dressing.
Serve and enjoy! I wish I’d had tomatoes, but we ate them all the night before. I had avocados but totally forgot! I started eating and then remembered salsa! Add whatever you have: tortilla chips; cheese; sour cream; queso; jalepenos…whatever you like!
Doesn’t everyone need more tacos in our lives? I sure do. I’m not at all offended if you skip right over this and continue to buy taco seasoning. I see both sides. The major benefits to making your own is to use however much you want/need at a time- without the constraints of a packet and b) to get the flavor without so much sodium or preservatives.
In our house, we will make tacos for 2 so we don’t need a whole packet of seasoning. Then I’ll save the rest and use it maybe 2 more times. The 3rd use of the packet might mean not-quite-enough seasoning. I also seem to have quite the stash of dried spices, sooooo I didn’t have to buy any to make this. You decide.
Ingredients: (about 3 servings, roughly 2x a packet)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Measure the spices out.
Mix it up.
Taste it and adjust to your preferences. It stores well for 6 months in an air-tight container.
I go low-spice, which is also why I chop the even small amount of red pepper flakes. You can totally adjust as you like, or triple the recipe and be all set for the year!
After having peaches in a little raw-topping for a pork tenderloin I made last week, I was obsessed with peach in a quesadilla. Ob-sessed.
Lots of cheese: colby jack, cheddar, and pepper jack + some ripe peaches/nectarines + chicken. Yes, please! This is the perfect catch-all if you have lots of small amounts of cheese around, or to use some leftover grilled chicken.
Ingredients: (for 1 large quesadilla, serves 2)
2 “burrito-sized” tortillas (or 4 fajita-sized tortillas)
2 chicken tenders, marinated and grilled (or pan-sautéed until cooked through)
1 peach/nectarine, diced
8 oz cheese: 1/2 colby jack; 1/2 sharp cheddar
2 oz pepper jack cheese (1-2 slices, or 1/2 cup shredded or sliced)
1 slice red onion, diced
salsa on the side
Pre-cook or grill the chicken.
In a large skillet (big enough to fit the tortillas) or on a griddle pan, spray with non-stick spray and bring to medium heat.
Lay a tortilla down and top with colby jack cheese, sharp cheddar, shredded chicken, nectarine, and onion.
Top with pepper jack cheese, and 2nd tortilla.
Cook for 2-5 minutes until bottom tortilla is crisping and solid. Spray the top quesadilla with non-stick spray and very carefully/swiftly/in one motion, flip the quesadilla over.
Cook for another 2-5 minutes until crisp and gently browned.
Cut in half, serve with a side of salsa. Enjoy!
This was so good with the juicy chicken, all the cheeses, and sweet nectarines. I looved the little bit of crunchy red onion in there for some balance. I don’t tend to go very spicy but you could totally up the pepper jack cheese quantity in there!
This was such a quick dinner and I loved that it wasn’t a run of the mill quesadilla. Thanks to the peach.
I road tested this pasta salad out and turned it into a meal by making it a vehicle for taco salads. It features flavors of a margarita, lime, with a touch of salt. I heard a tip of tossing the pasta in vinegar while it cools so I wanted to try it out. I think it works a bit, I don’t know that is changes the pasta salad to out of this world, but it totally has more flavor than many run-of-the-mill pasta salads.
1/2 pound rotini pasta
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup margarita mix
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tomato chopped
1 cup roasted corn
Green onions, chopped
fresh lime squeezed & zested (optional)
Boil the pasta and drain then toss with the apple cider vinegar. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before dressing it.
Whisk together the mayo, sour cream, margarita mix, chili powder, and salt.
If the pasta hasn’t completely chilled, then cover the dressing and mix later. If the pasta has already been chilled, then toss in the dressing.
Add in the veggies and herbs.
I think this would be great at a BBQ. I think it could have had more lime-ness. Next time I’ll juice a lime and zest it up. We topped them with taco-salad toppings like taco meat, avocado, and salsa. It was great for a bit of change from the usual taco salad. I used up some taco meat from the freezer and it involved very minimal cooking…many birds, one stone!
I looove pork tacos. I decided to sweeten the filling whilst on my never-ending quest to find my favorite salsa. I might need to be making my own. Hmm. Different story for a different day. I added some fresh pineapple and some pomegranate molasses. I love that stuff on brussels sprouts. Ahhh: stay. on. topic.
pulled pork shoulder (a great use for leftovers)
2-3 slices of fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
shredded white cheddar
salsa/pico de gallo
Saute the pork with pineapple and molasses over medium heat. The goal is to warm the pork through and soften the pineapple a bit…about 5 minutes.
Taste, and add more pomegranate molasses, if necessary.
Fill the tacos with the pork/pineapple, lettuce, cheese, white beans, and salsa.
Top with guac, and enjoy!
I loved the sweetness to these tacos! The pineapple was a nice touch of sweetness and tartness. The fruity touch was so great, and different than flavors we typically have. I added in some white beans, partly because I had them and it felt like they’d go. The little one eats beans but I’m always trying to use them before they get slimy.
I found my favorite guacamole and now I’m wanting better salsa. I want fresh salsa. It’s often too thick or too sweet. I like restaurant-style salsas. Sal-sa. I’ll have to work on that. Aren’t the taco stands so cute? I love my tacos upright.
Ok folks. You haaaave to make this. I’ve had Mexican street corn, Elotes, and wanted to try making some myself. It is normally on the cob but now that we’re out of that season, I wanted to make some as a side dish. It is such great flavor of sweet corn, salty cheese, lime juice, and a creaminess that is ohh so good. We ate this as a side dish for a fiesta dinner but it’d be fun as a dip too. Or in tacos! (or by the spoonful).
I skipped the jalapeno not wanting this to be too spicy for my crowd. I don’t know that it needs it, so do as you wish!
12 oz white & golden corn
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cotija cheese or feta (I don’t have cotija at my grocery store so I used feta)
1/2-1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional)
Cook the corn according to the package. (I used frozen corn).
Mix together the lime juice, mayo, garlic, chili powder, and some lime zest.
Add a splash of milk if it seems to thick, or mix it with the corn and then add if necessary.
Mix the dressing with the corn and cheese.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
I really loved this. So did the whole fam! It had a great flavor and texture. It was really great alongside our tacos. I admit I scooped with chips but with salsa and guacamole, I’d still keep this as a side dish. It was a winner and so quick. I’ll totally make this again…asap.
In an effort not to have the same taco-night each week, I wanted something a little bit different but still quick & easy. This fit the bill perfectly! I used queso as the sauce on some taco-spiced chicken and served it over a bed of black beans. The chicken was very hands off – just seasoned and popped into the oven. I liked the black beans as the base to make this really filling, with a slight cruch to the peppers, spiced chicken, and smooth & cheesy topping.
6 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
3 tbs taco seasoning
1 can black beans, rinsed
1/4 of a lime, squeezed for juice
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 cup queso blanco
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
In a baking dish, sprayed with non-stick spray, lay out the chicken. Sprinkle with half the taco seasoning. Flip the chicken pieces over and sprinkle with the remaining taco seasoning.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.
In a medium sauce pan, warm the black beans over medium-low heat. Add a splash of water, squirt of lime juice, and a little lime zest.
Add the peppers to the black beans and stir well & often, cooking for about 5-10 minutes or until the peppers cook a bit.
Check that the chicken is cooked through. Then spoon queso over the top and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
Spoon the beans onto a plate.
Place a piece of chicken on top.
I loved this. It had all the flavors and textures I wanted. I have nothing against tortillas and we LOVE taco-night here but this was a really great tweak on the usual. My little one tried black beans and he approved! Have you had queso blanco? It is perfect for this.
Today is my Sis’ bday! We’re celebrating with a Mexican fiesta! Ole!
‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.
I was craving sweet potatoes and got it in my head that it should be the base of taco-night. I thought the sweet vs spicy seemed tasty and healthier than the average taco dinner of course with some tortilla chips & salsa on the side ;) Mine was some leftover taco chicken and Mr. J’s had ground venison.
Half the potato and fork-fluff/squish the flesh.
Top with black beans cooked with a little water, green pepper, and onion.
Add some taco-spiced chicken or ground beef.
Sprinkle with cheddar and enjoy!
Mr. J had some ground venison that had been hanging out in the freezer.
I loved this! The potato was good vehicle for this and sweet potatoes are a good way to get some additional colors & nutrients into the meal. I don’t know that Mr. J would ask for this all the time, but it was super quick (since our taco meat was already cooked) and it is always beneficial to have us eating beans and sweet potato. The little guy ate some plain sweet potato. He’s loving the pieces of food!