(Family Features) Busy school days demand meals that can match the pace of life. A Mexican-themed meal is a sure way to keep things festive and lively around the family dinner table.
Not only does a meal centered on Mexican-style foods let you spice up your menu, it also allows for plenty of personalization so even the pickiest of palates can be satisfied. That means less time for preparation and more time spent together.
Put a fresh twist on your next school-night fiesta with these ideas:
- An ethnically-inspired meal is a great opportunity to encourage kids to try out new flavors and experiment with foods they wouldn't normally eat. Sample variations of classic salsas, incorporate seasonal ingredients like jicama and diced sweet peppers to freshen up your dishes or put a spicy spin on a classic Italian favorite by creating Mexican-inspired stuffed shells.
- Get creative with proteins. Chicken and beef are common options, but heart-healthy fish and shrimp are also great candidates for a Mexican-style meal. Pork is another good choice for many Mexican dishes, and beans provide an excellent source of added protein, along with some flavor variety.
- Mex-up your taco night. Try an alternative to the traditional corn shell with an option like Ortega Good Grains Taco Shells, crafted with artisanal blends of real corn, unique grains and ingredients baked into each shell. They're made with whole kernel corn, giving them an authentic taste and a distinctive flavor, aroma and texture.
- Keep things kid-friendly and fun by focusing on finger foods. A large taco can be difficult for little hands to handle, but a street taco portion, a chimichanga or even nachos are more hands-on.
- Look for fun toppings that add an extra crunch. For example, new Ortega Crispy Taco Toppers, lightly breaded slices of real jalapeno or onion, provide a bold kick and are the perfect finishing touch for tacos, salads and even Mexican-style burgers.
- Don't forget dessert. No meal is complete without a sweet treat, such as a churro, flan, empanada or sopapilla. Many of these favorites can be prepared ahead of time so you can simply cook and serve for a perfect ending to your family fiesta.
Slow Cooked "Pulled" Chicken Tacos
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Chipotle Taco Sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 package (10 shells) Ortega Good Grains White Corn with Chia Taco Shells, warmed
- In medium pan, combine chicken, taco sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper, and cook on low, covered, approximately 2 hours, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165° F. Remove chicken from pan and shred using two forks.
- Turn heat to medium-high and reduce cooking liquid into thick sauce, cooking 3-5 minutes and stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and combine sauce with shredded chicken.
- Serve in taco shells with desired taco toppings.
Baja Chicken Pizza
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Green Taco Sauce
- 1 can Ortega Vegetarian Refried Beans
- 3/4 cup Ortega Homestyle Salsa (any variety)
- 1 Mama Mary's prepared pizza crust
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 can (4 ounces) Ortega Diced Green Chiles
- 1 bag (8 ounces) Mexican-style shredded cheese
- 1 bottle (8 ounces) Ortega Original Taco Sauce (any variety)
- 1 bag Ortega Crispy Onion Taco Toppers
- In large bowl or re-sealable plastic bag, combine chicken breasts with green taco sauce. Stir or shake to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- Bake chicken 15-20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F.
- Let chicken cool 10 minutes then cut into small cubes.
- In medium bowl, combine refried beans and salsa.
- Transfer prepared pizza crust to baking sheet.
- Spread bean mixture over dough, leaving 1/4 inch at edges for crust.
- Top with peppers, green chiles, chicken and cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.
- Top with taco sauce and crispy onion toppers then serve.
Mexican Style "Totchos"
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
- 1 package (32 ounces) tater tots
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 packet Ortega Taco Seasoning
- 1cup water
- 16 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
- 1 bag Ortega Crispy Jalapeno
- Taco Toppers
- Prepare tater tots according to package directions.
- Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Cook ground beef 4-5 minutes until browned, using wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Add taco seasoning and water. Cook until water evaporates and sauce is thickened.
- Top hot tater tots with cooked ground beef and cheese, and broil in oven 5 minutes.
- Top with tomatoes, sour cream and crispy jalapeno toppers, and serve immediately.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 package (1.25 ounces) Ortega Taco Seasoning Mix
- 1 cup water
- 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1/4 cup Ortega Thick & Chunky Salsa
- In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Add taco seasoning mix and water. Stir until combined and slightly thickened. Add beans, rice and salsa; stir. Cook 5 minutes more or until contents are heated through.
Start to Finish Time
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Photos copyright (c) 2008 Publications International, Ltd. Used by permission.
- 1 pound Bob Evans Original roll sausage
- 1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
- 1 can (4.5 ounces) chopped green chiles
- 1 package (1.25 ounces) taco seasoning mix
- 1 container (16 ounces) sour cream
- 1 jar (11 ounces) salsa
- 1 can (6 ounces) sliced black olives
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican cheese blend
- Tortilla chips
- In large skillet over medium heat, crumble and cook sausage until browned. Stir in beans, chilies and taco seasoning mix.
- Spread sausage mix into 7 x 11-inch serving dish. Top with sour cream, then salsa. Sprinkle olives, tomato and onion on top. Cover with cheese.
- Serve immediately with chips. Refrigerate leftovers.
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Whether you're hosting a watch party, or headed to a tailgate, having the right foods for the big game is crucial. Use these appetizer, side dish and dessert ideas to kick game time up a notch and try this recipe for a delicious dip that will be the hit of the season.
The warmer temperatures call for a menu that's light and healthy, but with a uniquely tropical flavor. For an easy, casual entrée with a beachy feel, Baja Fish Tacos and Mango Salsa are sure to please.
- 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 green onions, sliced (green tops only)
- 1 small jalapeño pepper (stem, seeds and membranes removed)
- 1 pound cod fillets, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, Mexican oregano and garlic salt
- 8 corn tortillas, warmed
- 2 cups shredded green or red cabbage
- 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (may substitute shredded Monterey Jack)
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Stir together all salsa ingredients in medium bowl; set aside.
- Place cod on 2 large sheets of parchment paper.
- Stir together dry seasonings in small bowl and sprinkle over cod. Bring edges of parchment paper together and fold twice. Fold ends under to enclose fish. Place packets on baking sheet and bake 15 to 18 minutes. Open packets carefully to let steam escape.
- Place equal amounts cod in each tortilla and top with cabbage, cheese and mango salsa.
15 to 20 minutes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Pair with Mirassou Monterey County Riesling
(Family Features) - Surprise! You already know this mild-tasting, delicately textured fish that swims wild in clean, icy Alaskan waters. You just didn't realize it.
Like the boy next door who's so friendly and easy going he's taken for granted - until his superman talents are revealed - genuine Alaska Pollock is finally making a name for itself. A kissing cousin to cod, this whitefish is the one you love to eat in so many good things, from fish sticks and fish tacos, to fish sandwiches, fillets and surimi seafood. It's a rock star in fish and chips, too.
Versatility is where Alaska Pollock scores top points. Alaska Pollock is flash-frozen within hours of harvesting and processed for breaded fish sticks, frozen fillets or surimi seafood. Its mild flavor and snow-white, tender flesh are particularly kid-friendly and appealing.
On the nutrition side, Alaska Pollock is a terrific source of protein and minerals, making it especially popular during Lent. Low in fat and calories, it's a product worth seeking out year-round.
Add sustainability as another plus for Alaska Pollock, harvested from the largest sustainable fishery in the world. Alaska Pollock fishery managers strive - and have for more than 30 years - to maintain the quality and capacity of the biannual catch while protecting the species' habitat and ecosystem in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The result of their long-term dedication is an abundant, economical fish.
The versatility of Alaska Pollock is highlighted with the cross-cultural flavors in the trio of recipes here. Traditional Thai ingredients such as red curry paste, ginger, green chiles and coconut milk spark Thai Fishermen's Stew, a zesty dish with built-in warmth for an evening meal. Classic south-of-the-border seasonings give Alaska Pollock Fish Stick Tacos lively flavor with plenty of family appeal. What's not to like about pairing fish sticks with guacamole, taco seasoning, lime juice, green onions and cilantro? Or prepare Alaska Surimi Seafood Breakfast Bake. It's an easy-to-make frittata-type dish that matches Mexican seasonings with Alaska surimi seafood.
Add everything together and there's no question genuine Alaska Pollock is one tasty fish worth looking for in all its delicious forms. To find more recipes featuring this versatile fish, visit alaskaseafood.org.
- 8 frozen Alaska Pollock fish sticks (about .75 ounces each) or 4 frozen breaded/battered fish fillets (about 1.5 ounces each)
- 8 taco shells or flour tortillas (5- to 6-inch each)
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 1 cup prepared guacamole
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Mexican or taco seasoning
- 1 lime, cut in 8 wedges
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup sliced green onions
- Prepare fish sticks/fillets according to package directions.
- In each taco shell, layer 1/4 cup lettuce, 2 tablespoons guacamole, 2 tablespoons tomato, and 2 fish sticks or 1 fish fillet.
- Sprinkle on small amount of Mexican or taco seasoning. Squeeze juice of a lime wedge over fish.
- Top with 1 tablespoon cilantro and 1/2 tablespoon green onions.
Calories: 322g Total Fat: 18g
Cholesterol: 10mg Protein: 8g
Carbohydrates: 34g Sodium: 260mg
- 1 large bell pepper, cut into strips
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 can (4 ounces) sliced black olives, drained
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions
- 12 ounces Alaska Surimi Seafood (Imitation Crab)
- 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons Cajun, Creole or Mexican seasoning
- 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Colby Jack or Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 8 eggs
- 3/4 cup water
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spray coat 9- to 10-inch baking dish. Place peppers, mushrooms, olives and green onions in baking dish. Sprinkle seasoning over Alaska Surimi Seafood; stir to coat. Add surimi and 3/4 cup cheese to baking dish. Blend eggs and water; pour over surimi. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
- Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until puffed and center is firm.
Calories: 324g Total Fat: 19g
Cholesterol: 374mg Protein: 25g
Carbohydrates: 14g Sodium: 1171mg
Servings: 4 to 6
- 2 bottles (8 ounces each) clam juice
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) organic
- tomatoes with basil and garlic
- 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chiles
- 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
- 1 can (14 ounces) regular or light coconut milk
- 1-1/2 pounds Alaska Pollock fillets, fresh, thawed or frozen
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- In Dutch oven, combine first 7 ingredients. Simmer covered 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and continue to simmer but do not boil.
- Meanwhile, preheat broiler oven to 450°F. Rinse any ice glaze from frozen Alaska Pollock under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Brush both sides of fillets with oil and place in baking pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heating element until opaque, about 5 to 6 minutes for frozen Alaska Pollock or 3 to 4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook just until fish is opaque throughout.
- Remove fillets from pan and break into large chunks. Stir into stew; bring to a simmer. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve piping hot.
Calories: 241g Total Fat: 10g
Cholesterol: 83mg Protein: 25g
Carbohydrates: 10g Sodium: 839mg