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!
I sometimes forget that the crockpot is actually really ideal for summer meals since it doesn’t heat up the whole house, annnnd it means dinner can be less fuss when it is just too hot to think. I hate being hot. I love the snow and can’t imagine regular triple-digit-temperature days. Some crockpot food is really heavy and winter-ish but I want to keep looking for those that aren’t. I hadn’t ever made mole before but it was good, and something different. We had them as tacos but the poor pups had to smell chicken cooking all. day.
I saw the slow cooker chicken mole recipe in a Cooking Light magazine and loved the idea of chicken thighs cooking all day and making a different type of taco. I decreased the chipotle chile in adobo to just 1 (instead of 2) in case it was too spicy. I didn’t have smoked almonds, but used some mixed nuts and thought it was pretty good. I’d add a bit more water to the slow cooker…mine was on low for 8 hours (as instructed) but part of it got kind of burned along the edge when it got too low.
Chicken Mole Tacos:
from Cooking Light
squeeze of lime
side of guacamole
It was good, maybe not my favorite taco ever, but the flavors were nice. The chicken had a light smokey flavor and the cocoa made it have a light earthy taste.
I froze the leftover chicken and corn. I’ll assemble some burritos to wrap individually and freeze for the next time we need an instant dinner. Or it’d be good as some nachos too.
I froze some blobs of tomato paste the last time I opened a can. Then for recipes like this I just pull one blob out and nuke it in the microwave since I rarely need a whole can at once…even though the cans are itty bitty.
This pizza was almost something entirely different. One of my toppings spoiled before I got to it so that pizza will just have to hit on my to-make list until I get to it next. I tossed the slimed produce and then thought: what in this fridge can become pizza? The answer: everything! I had chicken and then I spotted our favorite bean dip that got me thinking Mexican pizza! I’ve made Taco Pizza on a Tortilla Crust and Taco Pizza Topped with Salad but this one is different because it sports this unbelievable bean thing. It’s not quite a dip, not quite a salad. We eat it as a side dish or dip tortilla chips into it. So good.
1 large chicken breast (or 2 small), cut into cubes
1-2 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 ball pizza dough
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup tomato sauce
6 oz shredded mozzarella/cheddar/jack cheese
1 cup 3 Bean Fiesta dip/salad
3 green onions, chopped
1 avocado or guacamole
(make the 3 Bean Fiesta dip/salad in advance)
Cook the chicken in the taco seasoning until cooked through.
Preheat the oven and pizza stone if using one, to 400-degrees.
Roll the dough out to be a thin flat circle, or as close to that as you can get. Immediately place onto the pizza stone to cook slightly and to stop it from shrinking back to a ball. Poke a few holes into the dough.
Bake 15 minutes until lightly cooked and starting to brown. Then remove from the oven.
Top with tomato sauce & half of the salsa, cheese, chicken, and 3 bean fiesta. Then return it to the oven.
Bake 15-20 minutes until the cheese melts and the crust browns. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Top with green onion & remaining salsa.
Serve with avocado or guacamole & enjoy!
I liked this pizza. The tang of the 3 Bean Fiesta is really the wow factor. The sweet/acidic bite to it takes it from being just beans on a pizza to a whole different flavor. Plus, it has corn, green pepper, and onion to make it really taco-ish. I love it but 3 cans of corn, plus the other veggies, means you really need a few people eating it, or some solid plans for the leftovers. I use the leftovers on salad, on tacos/burritos/quesadillas, as a side dish, or still as dip. It is best a few hours after making it but everyone loves it and I can’t say enough good things about it.
I haven’t made enchiladas in a while but I also had some kale I was hoping to sneak into something. Enchiladas seemed perfect. To tell the truth, I’m not a fan of raw kale but it is a good veggie to tuck into other foods. I know, I feel like anyone with a food blog is supposed to loooove kale. The health benefits are amazing but I find it so tough. Chard & spinach often score higher than kale anyway and I like them better. Greens, like kale, work well to dice up and treat like an herb. I didn’t highlight it, but it has a good place here.
This was a perfect make-ahead meal. I made the filling while I was making my lunch (see my taco salad with avocado lime dressing). Basically I ate pretty similar lunch and dinners on the same day, but I’ll take Mexican meals any day.
4 chicken tenderloin pieces (or 2 breasts)
2 tbs taco seasoning
10 oz black beans (3/4 of a can)
4 cups kale, with ribs removed
6 oz shredded cheddar
8 wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
Dice the chicken into chunks and sauté with the taco seasoning until cooked through.
While chicken is cooking, remove the ribs from the kale and chop. Steam the kale for 3-5 minutes to partially cook.
Mix together the kale, black beans, and chicken.
Assemble the enchiladas with tortillas, filling, a sprinkle of cheese. (save some cheese for the top)
Then roll them up and place with the seam-side down into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Pour enchilada sauce over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
Top with cheese and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese melts. Or refrigerate until you’re ready to bake. Or freeze for future use. I made 2 pans, each with 4 enchiladas. I baked one and froze the other.
These were really good. The sauce has some zip to it and the wheat tortillas, kale, and beans, make them a bit more nutritious. The filling really could be anything. Mine was heavier on kale and beans than chicken.
If you have any leftover filling save it and add some brown rice for a lunch burrito bowl!
My little one can sleep through the blender whirring, which is awesome. Sometimes he naps in the “office” and I clench my teeth when hitting that pulse button not too far away, but he hasn’t been bothered by smoothies, or dressings, or anything in the blender! I hope he continues to sleep deeply like his Momma. I made this salad feeling like a million bucks because I repurposed some chicken meatloaf by just warming with taco seasoning, AND had a use for the rest of the black beans, AND was eating salad. #winning
Don’t forget, excuse the shape of some of the meat since it’s first life was chicken meatloaf that was absolutely to die for, and no I didn’t photograph it as I dumped stuff in and hoped for the best. Seriously. It restored my faith in meatloaf. Also, excuse the fact that I forgot the black beans until after taking pics.
1/8 cup lime juice
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup vegetable oil
pinch of sugar
Put avocados, lime juice, garlic, sugar, and cider vinegar into a blender.
Blend on low and stream in oil until smooth.
Assemble salad and drizzle on the dressing. I kept mine pretty thick but you could add more oil & lime juice to thin it out if you’d prefer.
My salad had lettuce, cucumbers, cheddar, salsa, black beans, and taco meat. I originally thought I’d be putting avocado onto the salad but then used it for the dressing. It was really good! Because of the salsa, I didn’t think I needed that much dressing. I have to admit I dunked a few tortilla chips in the leftover dressing (which was a good choice) so I’m not sure how well any leftover dressing would keep. I think it’d turn avocado-brown, but be ok to eat.
Have you heard of Food Fighters on NBC? They pair a home chef in a few rounds against pros. Each round is a different food against a different chef. We saw this one guy make chorizo tacos with sweet potatoes and it had me thinking, “I can make those.” I hadn’t made chorizo before but I tried my hand at it. I tweaked what the contestant made but I was into the idea of tacos with sweet potato.
Ingredients: for 4 tacos, for 2 people
1 sweet potato
1/3 pound ground pork
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
2-3 tsp brown sugar
1 slice red onion, chopped
optional: Mexican crema or sour cream mixed with salsa/lime juice/etc for a sauce on top.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into quarters. Boil until cooked most of the way through…about 8 minutes.
Mix together the pork, vinegar, and seasonings.
Cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Taste it. Add some tomato paste or tomato sauce if too spicy.
When the potatoes are cooked, slice in thick slices and then in half by diameter.
Add the potatoes to a hot pan with a drizzle of oil and the brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, flipping once caramelizing on both size.
Serve the tacos on the flour tortilla with chopped red onion, and sweet potato.
My chorizo was spicy and I wanted some sort of creamy, cooling sauce. I mixed some peppercorn dressing with a touch of salsa.
I liked these, but I went overboard on the chili powder and the cayenne. It was a bit too spicy. The candied sweet potatoes were so amazing. We both loved them and need to make them more often. I tossed some crisp red peppers with lime dressing on the side.
Windsor was sniffing around nearby. It’s nice to have a sous-chef when he is laying down and not underfoot. Look how mature he’s getting!
I love shrimp tacos and I wanted to mess with a different salsa. I didn’t go spicy and wanted the corn to be toasty and pop with each bite. I threw in some broccoli slaw for a crunch. The shrimp was fully cooked so the grill was for char and smokiness. This dinner took 15 minutes without turning the oven on. Perfect for summer!
1 1/2 cups corn
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 cup red onion chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbs honey
6 jumbo shrimp
1 cup broccoli slaw
In a dry, hot pan, roast the corn until lightly browned, about 5 minutes on high heat. Then let cool to room temperature.
Mix together the tomato, lime juice, lime zest, onion, garlic, and honey.
Mix together and then let sit.
Skewer the shrimp, then brush with honey, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Grill the shrimp until lightly charred.
Toss the corn into the salsa.
Assemble tacos with tortilla, broccoli slaw, salsa, and shrimp.
The salsa was subtle. I liked the honey and lime flavors with the corn but I think I’d add more of kick next time. It was good and made dinner feel different, which is what I was going for. My grocery store never has cotija but had I found feta in the fridge I might have thrown that on there for more contrast.
These Mexican-inspired flavors into mac & cheese are sooo good. I made it wayyy back in 2011 but I thought since I love it so, it deserved a photo re-do. I use cheddar, corn, salsa, taco meat, and top it with tortilla chips. Sometimes I throw in tomatoes, green chilis, and black beans.
1/2 pound ground beef, chicken, or turkey
4 tbs taco seasoning
1/2 pound elbow pasta
1 cup corn
8 oz shredded cheddar
3 tbs flour
3 tbs butter
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup salsa
1 cup tortilla chips, crumbled
Bring plenty of salted water to boil for the pasta.
In a large pan, cook the ground meat until cooked through. Drain, and add taco seasoning, a splash of water, and reduce heat to low.
Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook according to the package. Be careful not to overcook.
In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir as the roux becomes a paste. Cook for about 3 minutes until it changes from yellow to light tan.
Whisk in the milk and until smooth. Add in 3/4 of the cheese, stirring until smooth. Add the last 2 tbs of taco seasoning.
When the pasta is mostly cooked, add in the corn for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the taco meat and tomatoes.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Drain the pasta and the corn. Then add to the cheese sauce mix.
Gently add the pasta in and mix. Then spread into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray, dotting with salsa and sprinkling in the last of the shredded cheese.
Top with crumbled tortilla chips.
Cover and bake 15 minutes.
Uncover, and bake another 10 minutes.
Serve with salsa and enjoy!
I really love the taco seasoning flavors and some of the taco-inspired-additions. The baking time gives it a chance to really come together, and is perfect timing to get everything else washed and away by the time it comes out. I don’t make it very spicy but you can amp it up a notch if you like!
It is already Cinco de Mayo. Here are a few ideas you can throw together in a jiffy IF you want to be all themey today and hadn’t already thought about it. My themey-ness is limited because my brain is about maxed out in preparedness for a huge work event on Thursday. Ease and auto-pilot are the names of the game this week. I do love how quick tacos can be though…
Here’s what I wish I were serving
Flautas filled with beef, chicken, pork, veggies, etc: They’re super quick and easy to prep. They’re a great appetizer or main dish. I love the crunch + cheese in one cute little roll-up. Mix up some ranch + taco seasoning for a creamy drizzle with a kick!
Grilled Pineapple Salsa: this is so easy, you could also grill some pineapple and just add that + black beans to your regular ole jar-o’salsa. Serve it with chips or on top of some chicken. Your call.
If you’re celebrating a bit later, you neeeed to mix up this bean dish. They’re sweet & tart and I hesitate to call it bean salad because that isn’t quite what it is, but bean dip isn’t quite right either. It needs to marinate for a few hours, or overnight. I make this often, as a side dish or to add onto tacos, or with chips. It keeps a few days and is great on a salad. Try it, you’ll convert everyone.
Go beyond your average tacos by using pulled pork
Or if tortillas + cheese + eggs are all you can will yourself to grab for a fiesta then Huevos Rancheros it is!
I love taco pizzas like this or taco pizzas like this
or taco inspired burgers are great