Ever since I have been living in Birmingham, Ala., in my cute little apartment, I have gained more of an appreciation and enjoyment for cooking. I have always liked to cook with my mom, but being on my own I have grown to love cooking. With my busy schedule sometimes, it is hard to find the time to cook lunch and dinner at home, but when I do I feel happier and healthier. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to cook more meals at home. For Christmas, my parents got me a new cookbook, Pioneer Woman. I love this cookbook because it has challenged me to try new things, but it also is fun to see different ways to cook my favorite dishes. I’m not a professional chef, and there definitely are better cooks in the world than me. But I’m here to share with you some of my favorite taco and Mexican dishes. I also have picked up a few recipes from other sisters during my travels!
The Basic Taco
I had to start with the simple basic taco. Basic tacos are probably the number one thing that I cook when I am in my apartment. They are simple and easy and make great leftovers. I recently have found a love for using ground turkey meat instead of ground beef. It is not only healthier, but to me it tastes the same once you add the taco seasoning. You’re probably reading this and saying “Emily, everyone knows how to make a basic taco…” I know! So, I’m just going to share what I love to put on my basic taco!
What Emily likes on her taco:
- Hard shell
- Ground turkey with taco seasoning
- Refried Beans
- Sour cream
- Corn salsa
- Hot Sauce
*** If you don’t have taco plates you are missing out! About three years ago, I came across these at the Dollar Store, and they have changed the game of eating tacos. I 10/10 recommend buying yourself a taco plate. They make it easy to build your taco and also are just so fun! I found mine at the dollar store but you also can find them on Amazon.
Crock Pot Chicken Tacos
My best friend Christina introduced me to these tacos during our freshman year of college. They are so easy to make and can easily be put together in the morning before school or work, and then ready to eat when you come home after a long day! They also are perfect for get-togethers because you can keep the crock pot on throughout the evening and everyone can have warm tacos whenever they want.
What you need:
- Crock pot
- 1 lb. chicken breast
- Salt and pepper
- 1 jar Salsa
- 1 can black beans
- 1 bag frozen corn
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken into the crock pot with the full jar of salsa. Let cook on low for 5 hours, high for 3 hours.
- Shred the chicken and add in the beans and corn, let cook for at least 30min or until ready to serve.
- Serve with your favorite taco toppings or smoother over nachos!
*This recipe also has variations that can be found on Pinterest if you search ‘crock pot tacos.’
Corn salsa has become one of my new favorite must-haves when I’m having tacos. I got this recipe from a sister from the Epsilon Delta Chapter. It is perfect because it goes great as a topping on tacos, is a perfect mix-in when I make burrito bowls, but also is great just with chips. And what I love most about this dish is that it’s super healthy and delicious. This recipe is similar to the recipe that Chipotle uses for their corn salsa.
What you need:
- 1 can corn
- 1 lime
- ½ lemon
- ½ cup chopped red onions
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, deseeded
- ¼ cup cilantro
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 2 tsp. salt
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the corn, red onion and diced jalapeño pepper.
- Squeeze 1 full lime and half of a lemon into the mixture. Use a spoon to mix everything together.
- Once mixed, add in the cilantro, paprika and salt.
- Mix well and add more salt to taste.
- Refrigerate before serving. Serve on tacos, nachos, burrito bowls, or just as a salsa!
Baked Tortilla Chips and Guacamole
A sister from the Theta Eta Chapter, Katie, is all about healthy and eco-friendly cooking. She shared with me a way to make homemade tortilla chips that are very flavorful and healthier because they contain less fat. This recipe makes about 240 chips! Katie also told me how guacamole provides essential nutritional fats from the fresh avocados. Try adding pine nuts for added flavor and protein.
What you need for the chips:
- 40 corn tortillas
- 2 tbsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 2 limes
- Cut tortillas into six triangular pieces.
- Toss in olive oil and season with salt, pepper, chili powder and lime juice.
- Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.
- Serve warm!
What you need for the guacamole:
- 6 avocados
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 bunches of cilantro
- 1 white onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded
- 2 limes
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Remove the pits and scoop out flesh of avocado.
- Mash avocado in a bowl to desired consistency.
- Dice the tomatoes and white onion and finely chop the jalapeño and cilantro and add it into the bowl.
- Squeeze lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
- If desired, add pine nuts for added protein.
A few notes from Katie: “These recipes are eco-friendly because they are vegetarian, which reduces water and carbon dioxide emissions. To be more sustainable, shopping locally and buying ethical products, such as organic, goes a long way to save the planet.” Katie is inheriting the Earth through cooking and currently runs an eco-friendly coffee shop on her university’s campus. Check out @RebelGrounds on Instagram to see what it is all about!
This next recipe is one from The Pioneer Woman. I made these the other night and ate them while I was watching the newest episode of Grey’s Anatomy and it was delicious. It looks like there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but it is so easy and worth it. The recipe said it served 8 people, but I needed to only feed myself so I cut it down by a lot! Below is the amount that I used in the nachos I made. To check out other recipes by The Pioneer Woman, check out her website.
What you need:
- ¼ tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ yellow onion, diced
- ½ lb. ground beef (I used ground turkey)
- Pinch of chili powder
- Pinch of paprika
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
- ½ can pinto beans or chili beans (I used black beans)
- ¼ cup hot water
- Tortilla chips
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- ½ cup Monterey jack cheese
- 1 large roma tomato, diced
- 1 small jalapeño, diced finely
- Cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime
- 1 avocado, diced
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and half the onion. Cook it until starting to soften, then add the ground turkey. Cook the meat. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Add the beans and hot water and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
- To make the pico de gallo, combine the other half of the onion with the tomato, cilantro, lime juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Stir it together and set it aside.
- To build the nachos, place a layer of tortilla chips on a platter or plate. Top with a layer of the beef/bean mixture, then all but 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Add another layer of chips, another layer of the beef/bean mixture, and the Monterey Jack cheese. Add a final small layer of chips, then a small layer of beef and beans, then a final sprinkling of cheddar.
- Microwave in 45 second increments until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (You may also place the platter into a 325-degree oven if it’s heatproof. Just leave it in until the cheese is melted.)
I hope you enjoy some of these recipes!