Taco Night

Taco Night
Taco night is a tradition in many homes. Tacos are fun to eat, they’re enjoyed by kids and adults alike, and they can be a very quick, simple meal to prepare. Of course it’s super quick if you buy pre-mixed envelopes of seasonings, but like most processed food, this may not be the healthiest of choices. A quick internet search will turn up plenty of options for make-your-own taco seasoning. You can make some ahead in large batches and store it for future use. Here are some options for you:

Make your taco filling

So basically, for beef tacos, you’ll brown some ground beef in a skillet, add the seasoning of your choice, and you’ve got your taco filling! What about chicken? I’ve found the simplest way to make chicken for tacos is to either add chicken to a slow cooker or a pressure cooker with some broth and the taco seasonings. You can be very flexible with the chicken. I’ve used bone-in parts like thighs, as well as boneless breasts or thighs, and I’ve even used frozen chicken parts in the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. Simply add your chicken to the Instant Pot with about 1 cup broth, sprinkle liberally with your seasonings, and cook on the poultry setting for 15-20 minutes (20-25 for frozen). Allow the pressure to drop naturally when you’re done, then remove the chicken to a bowl, shred with two forks, removing bones if necessary, and adding juice from the pot to moisten if it seems to be a little dry. You can even add bell peppers, garlic, onions, or mushrooms when cooking the chicken if you like.

Taco shells and tortillas

All right, so you’ve got beef and/or chicken, but what will you put your taco meat in? The most common choice will be either soft flour tortillas, or crunchy corn tortilla taco shells. Look for flour tortilla shells without transfats (usually in the form of partially hydrogenated oils), and even better, without preservatives. You can also look for crunchy corn taco shells – the healthiest versions will contain only corn, a healthy oil, salt, and maybe a little lime.
You can also try your hand at making taco shells, and again the internet will provide a wealth of options. If you want to avoid gluten and grains, how about a plantain-based tortilla? I have used this recipe at least a half-dozen times, and it has been basically foolproof for me. It’s inexpensive, not difficult or time-consuming, and is great for taco night!

Taco toppings

Finally, you’ll want to have some toppings for those tacos, and here’s where you can get really creative. I’ve listed many options below – pick those you know your family would enjoy, or add your own! You can put the toppings in separate dishes and let your family build their own tacos.
Shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, mexican blends)
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped lettuce
Chopped onion (red, white, or green)
Olives, any color
Sliced avocado or guacamole
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream or greek yogurt (try mixing yogurt with a squirt of lime juice, a dollop of honey, a sprinkle of your taco seasoning, and some cilantro for a yummy cilantro sauce)
Salsa or pica di gallo
Taco night is prep ahead if you want. Both the chicken and beef fillings can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for 3 or 4 days, or even frozen. Then just make sure you keep a supply of your favorite fixings on hand, and you’ll be ready to pull off Taco Night any time the mood strikes.

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