Easy Ways To Jazz Up Taco Night

by sockii

Start with a taco dinner kit in a box, and turn it into something fancier - and tastier - with a few simple tricks and recipe ideas.

I love tacos - who doesn't? Ever since I was a little kid, tacos were a favorite dinner meal. It was something I enjoyed helping my grandmother prepare in her kitchen because I could do something simple like chop the onions, shred the cheese, or just keep an eye on the taco shells warming up in the oven.

And while I pride myself on mostly cooking from scratch, there's still something about those "Taco Dinner Kit" meals in a box (from Ortega or Old El Paso) that I still love and crave every now and then! It makes for a quick and easy dinner meal in a pinch so I always keep some of these kits on hand.

But even if you're using a taco kit and seasoning mix, there are ways to dress up your taco dinners to make them fancier—and more healthy, too! Kids will enjoy these ideas as much as adults as they make for colorful, fun meals that you can eat with your hands.

Here are five tips for better home-cooked taco dinners that you and your family can enjoy:

1. Make some homemade, fresh salsas to go with your tacos

Three different salsasHomemade salsa is easy and so much tastier than what comes from a jar!

And it's so easy to make, too. Just combine fresh tomatoes,onions, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, pepper, olive oil and lime juice for a classic "salsa fresca". Or get creative and try a fresh mango, papaya, peach or plum salsa, depending on what's at the market or in season.

Read my article Fresh Salsa: Easy, Fast and Delicious! for more ideas on ways to make salsa: its basic components, different flavor combinations, and different ways you can use it besides on tacos and with tortilla chips.

Image: Three different homemade salsas: plum, tomatillo, and roasted tomato. Photo by sockii.

Need some salsa inspiration?

Check out these cookbooks for recipes from the classic to the innovative
Salsa Cookbook: 35 Salsa Recipes Anyone Can Make At Home

What Makes A Really GREAT Salsa? The Secret Recipes Behind It!Learn How To Make ...35 Salsa Recipes That Will Blow Your Mind & Become the Hit Of The Party!Here Is A partial List...

View on Amazon

Salsas and Moles: Fresh and Authentic Recipes for Pico de Gallo, Mole Poblano, Chimichurri, Guaca...

A collection of 60 authentic salsa and mole recipes from acclaimed chef/restaurateur Deborah Schneider, adapted for US kitchens. America has a new favorite condiment: salsa. And...

View on Amazon

The Great Salsa Book

This sparkling full-color cookbook features 100 widely varied recipes encompassing everything from tomato and tomatillo, chile, tropical, fruit, corn, bean, garden, ocean, and e...

View on Amazon

2. Think beyond ground beef

Shrimp tacoTacos are a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken, turkey, or even roast pork. Just shred the meat and warm it in a pan with the taco seasoning until bubbly and thick. (I always end up making turkey tacos after Thanksgiving!)

Ground turkey and ground pork are great alternatives too, for something different - just always be sure to drain the fat after browning the ground meat before adding the seasoning mix! I like to use a small strainer to pour off all the fat.

For the adventurous chef, try making tacos with sauteed ground venison or grilled venison steaks instead of ground beef. It's a much leaner alternative and a spicy, rustic salsa can ease some of the "gaminess" you might expect from venison.

And don't forget seafood, too! Shrimp, crab and white fish like tilapia and snapper work great in tacos. Leave the heavy seasoning off delicate fish, however; try just a quick light marinade in lime juice and season only with salt, pepper, and perhaps a dusting of chile powder.

Vegetarian options are great as well! Load up your tacos with black beans, guacamole, sauteed mushrooms or spicy tofu and you won't even miss the meat.

Image: Shrimp tacos. (Photo credit: JadedCore at morguefile.com)

3. Go for the guacamole

How about some guacamole for your tacos?

It's easy to make with fresh avocados and very rich in nutrients and healthy oils. I like Alton Brown's classic recipe.

Another great creamy topping for tacos is a Cilantro Lime Mayo - it's especially good on fish tacos but can work with just about any meat.

4. Try a fancy lettuce mix instead of basic iceburg.

Romaine, shredded carrots and red cabbage mix is great for tacos. Or for something more delicate and fancy, try spring mix baby greens. This is a great way to get kids to eat some more green and raw vegetables, and there are lots of good salad mixes in bags to use and try.

5. Make it more of a taco party with different fixings for everyone

Have a variety of small bowls or a plate of special toppings out on the table when serving the tacos, like pickled jalapeno slices, thin radish slices, black olives, fresh cilantro, or chopped onion (to make the raw onion milder, soak slices or chopped pieces in cold water for 30 minutes before serving). This helps make it especially easy for everyone to season and top their tacos exactly as they want. It's great for kids, too, who love to play with their food and may be fussy about the toppings they like or don't like.

Enjoy your tacos however you like them!
Enjoy your tacos however you like them!

Want to get even more creative with your tacos?

Then check out these great and unique taco cookbooks!

What's your favorite kind of taco? Do you ever make them at home, or only get them when eating out?

Updated: 10/26/2018, sockii
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login

You might also like

Fresh Salsa: Easy, Fast and Delicious

Salsa: it goes great with more than just chips! Salsa can be used to dress up...

50 Fabulous Fresh Tomato Recipes

Got too many tomatoes from your garden and don't know what to do with them al...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...