Recipe of the Week
Summer is about having fun, kicking back, relaxing and enjoying precious family moments that will feel even more precious when you look back later.
Sure, summer is about other things too (i.e. for adults family members, jobs, chores and bills don’t just go away when summer arrives). But there will only be so many years when your kids are young, living at home and free to fill their summers with fun.
This makes summer the perfect opportunity to create new family traditions, such as Recipe Nights, which is what this series is all about! Thus far, we have introduced you to all of the recipes below:
This week, we tackle tacos. Read on for a bit of history about the now-venerated taco and a fun recipe you can make as a family!
Tacos: A Brief History
If you had to take a guess, when would you think the taco might have been invented? According to the Smithsonian, the “taco” first appeared at some point in the 18th century.
The current reigning expert theory is that Mexican silver miners invented the taco and named it after a type of small charge they used to excavate silver ore from the rock face. They would take a small amount of gunpowder and wrap it in some paper and then insert the paper into holes in the rock face and light it. Then – BAM! The taco would explode and (hopefully) reveal a fresh vein of silver ore to be mined.
To lend further credence to this theory, traditional tacos are still today served with a generous helping of very hot sauce, making them “dyn-o-mite” in the mouth.
Tacos immigrated to the United States along with Mexican workers sent here to mine precious metals and build railroad lines. But tacos didn’t truly begin to appear in mainstream American cuisine until the invention of the pre-made taco shell and the founding of that fast food restaurant icon, Taco Bell.
Today, tacos are everywhere (thank goodness). They are also about to make a special appearance here in a recipe you and your kiddos can enjoy making together as part of your summer family recipe nights!
Making Modifications for Special Diets
If you or someone else in your family is on a special diet, such as vegetarian or gluten-free, tacos can easily adapt to fit the need.
There are lots of recipe options for gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and paleo taco shells, such as this great recipe featuring avocado oil. You could make these taco shells in advance to use for family taco night.
Udi’s, Guerrero Tostados and Ortega Taco Shells also make gluten-free taco shells.
For a meat substitute, try some of the great scrambled tofu or tempeh options (look in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store).
Summer Dyn-o-mite Tacos for the Whole Family
The reason tacos make such a great choice for family recipe night is because the preparation includes tasks for family members of all ages. The youngest can help set the table, take the ingredients out of the frig and wash the veggies.
Tweens and teens can help with (supervised) chopping, slicing and dicing and assembly setup.
And you, of course, will be in charge of any activities that require oven or stove use.
Here are the ingredients you will need:
- Taco shells (pre-made or homemade).
- Shredded lettuce.
- Chopped tomato.
- Chopped cilantro or parsley (or both).
- Chopped onion.
- Diced fresh avocado or guacamole (add cilantro, lemon juice, onion to the avocado).
- Sour cream.
- Cooked hamburger, chicken, pork or tofu/tempeh.
- Any other vegetables desired (i.e. squash, zucchini, bell pepper, et al).
- Shredded cheese of your choice (i.e. cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack, et al).
- Salt/pepper to taste.
Here are the supplies you will need:
- Saute pan and spatula to cook the meat or tofu/tempeh.
- Paper towels and a cooling rack to drain the cooked meat/tofu/tempeh.
- Cookie sheet and cooling rack for the taco shells.
- Chopping knife and cutting board.
- Bowls for each ingredient.
- Colander for washing/draining the vegetable ingredients.
Here are the steps to take:
Step 1: You will be in charge of cooking the meat or tofu/tempeh. You can have older teens assist if you like.
Step 2: Retrieve each ingredient from the refrigerator (cheeses, vegetables, condiments).
Step 3: Wash and drain the fresh vegetables, then chop, slice or dice as desired for taco fillings.
Step 4: If you are using pre-made taco shells (regular or gluten-free), set the oven to “warm” and place the taco shells inside on a cookie tray or upside-down on the oven racks to heat up. (As an alternative, you can also warm up the taco shells in the microwave).
Step 5: Cook the meat/tofu/tempeh in the saucepan and then allow it to drain on the paper towels over the cooling rack.
Step 6: Put each prepared taco ingredient (veggies, cheeses, meat/tofu/tempeh, condiments) into smaller bowls so each person can assemble their own tacos.
Step 7: Take the warmed taco shells out of the oven/microwave and place them on a cooling rack.
Step 8: Invite each family member to take a taco shell and start piling on the fixings!
Dessert Tacos – Why Not?
As a P.S., dessert tacos are equally fun and delicious (as well as easy to make)! You can use fresh-cut fruits, sauces, whipped cream, ice cream, nuts, cherries, sprinkles and more to make fabulous dessert tacos.
Don’t Forget to Share!
By snapping photos and posting them on your social media feeds, you can preserve the memories for your children and their children!